Mar 30, 2009

What Shade Is Your Brown

Published in Inside Outside August 2008
Brown is the color of soul food. Brownies, brown bread, plum cake, dark chocolate, beer… How will it be if various shades of brown – auburn, burgundy, sepia, ochre, rust, mahogany and other such come together to create a ‘taste’fully done up living space? Delicious? Yummy? Delectable? With a home designer like Hameeda Sharma of AH Associates, Hyderabad, at the helm of affairs, this space gets transformed into more than just awesome. It is practical, comforting, urbane, sophisticated and above all, spells class - just what the owner of G-2, a big business tycoon who loves to keep a low profile wanted, for his second floor guesthouse at Trendset Vantage, Banjara Hills. It may be a sheer coincidence, but brown in color psychology (representing Earth, mud etc) is associated with rewinding and rejuvenating oneself. Bang on for a guesthouse.
The spacious 3,000 sq feet apartment is an exercise in thoughtfulness. The décor and design elements are not just for looks, but for comfort and practicality as well. Take the wooden ledge in the foyer. Most would think it is for a décor niche. “It’s to sit and put on your shoes on an average day and as a candle holder for an evening party,” says Hameeda Sharma. Incidentally, the wooden panels on the foyer wall deftly cover up the electrical fittings fro the entire house. In the dining space, the marble countertop is not just to put on some brass jugs but to convert it as a buffet counter for an impromptu luncheon. Ditto with the luggage racks in each of the guest bedrooms!
“This is a guesthouse and we don’t expect our guests to stuff in their huge suitcases into the wardrobe. So there is a provision for a knee length table that facilitates easy usage of the suitcase without having to bend all the way down.” Interestingly, the luggage rack has steel protuberances to make it easy to put it, pull in front and back and remove it without any pressure on the handle. “Luxury is not just about duvet beds and mercerized bed linen, but about little details that make it easy for the guest without them having to disturb the host,” says Hameeda. She says the brief for the house was that guests should go back home wanting to come back here again ASAP!
However, there were a few issues that definitely seemed like sore thumbs while designing the house. First, the house enjoyed no view of the outside. Second, a prime window of a bedroom was overlooking a walking corridor. “A playful bamboo lattice in the balcony offsets the lack of view from the backyard. The bedroom with a window overlooking the corridor has been suitably compensated with such interesting and innovative lights and lamps that they wouldn’t bother opening the window instead spend time admiring the flickers from the stenciled table lamp or the Olympic ring showpiece on the wall,” quips Hameeda.
The apartment has three bedrooms, a spacious living room, a bar, kitchen, dining space and an entertainment room. The living room which houses the bar has been designed in such a way that the various spaces – dining, main seating, secondary seating etc all seamlessly connect with each other to allow the guests in a party walk into each other for a conversation. At the same time, the rooms are all tucked in private corners neatly to ensure privacy to the inmates of the rooms.
Color co-ordination was the real challenge as the apartment has various zones. Each zone had to stand out yet have the same thread across. “Brown seemed to be the apt choice as there was a host of choices in this color. So if its chocolate brown in the hallway, it’s walnut brown in the dining, it is classic wood brown in the main bedroom. Some of the rooms have such precise co-ordination, you’d think the room was accessorized first and then painted. “The painting of the eye in the master bedroom and the cream laundry basket are sheer coincidences,” laughs Hameeda about the décor co-ordination.
The entertainment room is certainly the star of the house. With burnt orange décor and seriously sensuous wooden ledges sitting pretty to hold in the remote controls, chords and the sockets for the electronic gadgetry, the room looks techno, almost as though you were sitting in a high-end recording theatre. The wooden flooring ensures there are fewer echoes when the music goes on.
To give the eye an easy view of the various niches of the house, the accessories have been deliberately chosen in symmetric geometric shapes. For instance, a regular round or oblong lamp is replaced with a neat, straight cut, tall rectangular lamp shade. Elsewhere, a staid handcrafted one gives way to dramatic, stenciled meshed up lampshades. Of course, Hameeda confesses to using several camouflage techniques to cover up some boring walls. “In the dining space, we were left with an odd stretch of wall adjoining the hand wash space. Instead of cluttering up the little space with paintings and accessories, we simply used gracious blue wallpaper on the wall with accent lighting. As a central focal point, a hanging lampshade has been used.” The small space looks bigger than it is, thanks to the mirror on the hand wash unit.
The centre of the house is the vantage point from where you can soak in the browns of the house in one go. From the brown wood flooring at the main seating to the brown on the wall painting opposite the bar, G-2 is a harmony of burgundy, auburn and other delectable shades. What the brownies, brown plum cake, dark chocolate is to your soul, these browns are to your eyes. ‘Taste’fully done up, right?

Mar 24, 2009

Funny View, Punny Review

Sambhavi IPS Published in in 2003

Sambhavi (Vijayashanti) has three thugs chasing her. She has only one bullet in her pistol. She takes out a knife and places it before the gun. The bullet splits into three and the thugs die.

Next: a gangster is chasing La Femme Sambhavi. The lady has a gun but no goli in it. So she waits for the gangster to shoot. As soon as he does, she opens the bullet compartment of her gun and catches the bullet. Then, she closes the bullet compartment and fires. Reliable sources in Tollywood say there was another scene where Vijayashanti suffers from a brain tumor that, according to the doctors, can't be cured, and her death is imminent. Then, in one of the fights, the lady is shot in the head and the bullet passes through her head taking the tumor along with it, and she is cured! But they had to chop this scene out because the running time exceeded its tolerance limits. Long Live Lady Superstar. Awww okay, okay, fine! What's a bit of exaggeration if it makes for a funny read! Most of you also know the above descriptions are inspired by a funny forward that did the rounds when Baba released. But trust me, some of scenes in Sambhavi IPS look far dumber than what has been mentioned above in this Kartavyam meets Vijay IPS meets Police Story meets Lockup Death meets Police 100 meets movie. Thanks to the She Spies meets Lara Croft meets La Femme Nikita meets Kiran Bedi meets Chitra Ramachandran meets Lady Superstar avatar of Vijayshanti, the result is a 'frustration meets boredom meets ennui meets tedium meets annoyance meets disappointment' experience. There is not an iota of novelty in this 82nd sequel to Kartavyam, VS's cult movie back in the last millennium, except that now she wears XXXL sized polo neck Tee shirts in the stunt sequences. Inspired by Sidney Sheldon's If Tomorrow Comes, Sambhavi IPS starts off as a fairy tale. She has a rocking career, a flirty husband and a precocious son. Toss in a new-age super cool mavagaru and a Jane Fonda fitness regime on weekends, we have the pre-intermission of Sambhavi IPS. Post the siren bell, life goes topsy-turvy because Sambhavi's husband suddenly decides to shed his image to become a womanizing, corrupt and greedy thug. He plans his own murder and frames his wife in it, so he can sell his son for a price and live in sin with his paramour in the beaches of Goa. Sambhavi is not your average woman. So like Tracey Whitney in the novel, she decides to pay back her husband in the same score and seeks parole. Once she is out, she has to fight off several criminals and get to her son. Some of the excuses given on why the husband decides to suddenly turn so evil are so lame that you want to roll down the floor laughing. In the second half, this guy opens an ugly restaurant in Goa and starts wearing floral shirts. Methinks Sambhavi shot him dead more because of his atrocious dressing sense and preposterous taste. There are exactly three-and-a-half scenes that look interesting in the movie and are what got this movie its rating. A half star is for the stunt director who makes Vijayashanti fly up in the air and remain there till the end of the movie. But for these antics, there is nothing else to redeem this average flick. Not even the mandatory duets. On the whole, the movie comes down with a thud, after flying up with a bang just like Vijayashanti. Like movie, like heroine.

Mar 16, 2009

Hello??? Wrong Number hang up u *&^%

Published on www.jaalmag.cpm at least a decade ago :)
Foreword: This piece is a tribute to the ingenuity of systems engineers at software companies in the country who program the most creative and user-unfriendly automated response systems in their EPABX systems. Here's a byte-by-byte account of a harmless telephone call to XYZ to reach a certain Mr ABC.

Me: Hello!
Other end: Hello!
Me: Hello!
Other end: Welcome to XYZ company, the ulti…
Me: Hello! Can I…(still under the impression it's a human voice, and not an automated response)
Other end: …mate solutions in networking, software, RDBMS, *&^%$…
Me: Hello!
Other end: If you know the extension of the person you desire to reach, press 1. Or press 2 for operator assistance
Me: 1! (I trust technology more than fallible humans, you see)
Other end: Now press 1 for adminstration, 2 for accounts, 3 for datawarehousing, 4 for godknowswhat, 5 for hangupyouloser
Me: 3 (that sounds vaguely familiar)
Other end: Welcome to the datawarehousing section of XYZ company.
Me: He..Hello
Other end: Press 1 for first names starting with A to F, 2 for second names starting with G to H, 3 for first names with G to H…
Me: Sheesh…but I dunno what his official name is
Other end: Press 8 for middle names with vowels, press 9 for names with consonants, press 0 for…
Me: Taking a chance again I press 3…
Other end: You have reached the extension of XYZ. Sorry, the person you have reached is not in his seat and has switched on his voicemail box. Press 1 to disconnect and 2 to leave a message
Me: Press 2
Other end: Voice goes mute
Me: Hi XYZ. Please call me back at this number seven-zero…
Other end: Sorry, XYZ's voice mailbox is full…Please try later..
Me: Hello, hello (making a last ditch attempt..)
Other end: Sorry, your call has expired. Thank you
Voice goes mute again…

I hang up here to retry the whole procedure, this time taking the assistance of the human receptionist, as against the inhuman, er, the automated voice response system.

Me: Hello
Other end: Hello!
Other end: XYZ company, May I help you!
Me: Can you connect me to Mr ABC please.
Other end: Is ABC his first, second or last name ma'm.
Me: Well, err. I am not certain.
Other end: Please hold on Ma'm…(Titanic again in the background)…
Other end: Hello!
Me: Yeah Hello!
Other end: Can you tell me which module he was working for Ma'm.
Me: Please, I have better things to do than remember his module's name and number
Other end: Difficult without such crucial information, but I'll try Ma'm
Me: (Now losing my patience). But if I give you the name, can't you just go into your database and tell me the possible names and extensions.
Other end: Sorry ma'm. Our database got corrupted. After the September 11 blasts, the software economy burst, our stocks fell, we lost profits and in cost-cutting the database manager was fired.
Me: But then…
Other end: Ma'm. I think we've got the person Ma'm… (Titanic in background again)
Me: Hel. Hellooo…Can I talk to XYZ please?
Other end: Well, he quit just last week. He's now with EFGH company. And the number is six-four-three…

After dialing six-four-three…
Me: Hello
Other end: Hello!
Me: Hello!
Other end: Welcome to EFGH company, the ultimate…
…and the story goes on

PS: Ignorance is bliss, but not when you need to reach your friend and you are ignorant of crucial details such as his/her module name, strategic group number, date of appointment, Details such as blood group and idenfication matters may be of added help.

Mar 4, 2009

Classics Out Of Stock

Published in Big Hyderabad, May 2008

Classic, for a long time, meant boring, unexciting, unchanged with time, stuck in the past etc. Last evening’s trip to the supermarket put the word classic in perspective. Amidst all these ‘new, improved, with extra XYZ and other such add-ons, today Classic means in its original, uncorrupted form. It means fiercely resisting change to retain its virgin charm. It means sticking to its guns to keep its charm intact.
Bread, I asked the supermarket counter guy. He pointed his finger to a bread counter, neatly stacked with a wide array of breads. Spinach bread, methi bread, garlic bread, masala bread, pavbhaji bread, brown bread, health fibre bread. I asked, “But I just want bread. Not the garlic, masala, health or any other version. The regular, plain, classic bread that I used to eat as a child.” I went back without my bread.
Same with popcorn, at Numaish, the Hyderabad Industrial Exhibition at Nampally Grounds. The big, noisy stall with garish yellow bulbs welcomed me with his big, plastic smile. “Popcorn,” I asked. “Tomato, butter, masala, Chinese, kya chahiye?” he threw a barrage of choices at me. “Simple popcorn”, I said. “Woh flavour next week ata,” he said reassuringly, as though it were another flavour by itself.
At a popular restaurant in Punjagutta, I had to choose between executive thali, special thali, power thali. Where has the good old meals where I get a round plate with six little katoras and a mound of rice with crunchies gone?
At the junk food store, for a simple snack like Potato chips, I had to agonize between chilli chatka, Rajasthani Chutney, Spanish Tango, Indian pepper, American Cream and Onion, Garlic Tomato and whateverthehell that was. Do you have the classic salted flavour, I asked. “Yes. We do have that flavour in this brand of chips. But since it doesn’t really sell and nobody wants classic, we are out of stock,” the man behind the counter said.At the hep coffee place with scores of youngsters sporting PYT (Pretty Yuppie telephones), it was another big choice when it came to coffee. Hot coffee, cold coffee, international coffee. In hot coffee, it was Espresso (without milk), Americano (without milk, but lesser coffee bean), Latte (with milk), and more such. Where is my regular coffee buddies???