Saturday, November 25, 2006

Uncanny Valley

"When it's almost perfect, all you see are the flaws"

For all the Sci-Fi freaks out there. The Uncanny Valley. Interesting concept.
Credit to Agent reddy and his fetishes for all things not human. I still think the most revolting thing I've seen is the dude in tarams who first scratches his crotch and then makes Molaga Bajji. I'm sorry I can't find a wiki link for this one.

An ode to the Batli

I was reading this post by Pi's brother-in-law. Who by the way, happens to be one of the funniest men on the blogosphere, and better still, the man knows his booze. I can't believe I just said blogosphere but really you ought to go read that link. The reason I'm putting this link up on the blog is quite simple. I scrolled through my entire Gtalk list and could find a grand total of 3 people who'd enjoy reading it.

The world is dead. I mean it. Not enough people here know their booze. Or even like it for that matter. And that positively kills me. I mean this here is the land of the eccentric engineer. The land of free thought and eternal youth. And most importantly the land of no sex. Booze should be taking root and sprouting cousins by now. But for fuck's sake, the boys in my wing have forgotten how to drink.

It's a sad sad world everyone.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Life or something like it

I came into IIT expecting lot. I came in expecting stuff like geniuses who never study and people who always did only what they loved and had this uncanny knack of always finding brilliant solutions to unsolvable problems. I came into IIT expecting to find demi-gods. And I did. It took me a while to discover the life they were leading. But as I go on I learn more and more about what it took to live life like they did. Drink life. Right down to the very last drop.

One of the things that seemed to define people who I respected the most was their ability in extra-curricular activities. Almost every one of the seniors I looked up to was brilliant at music, sport, quizzing, oration, word-games or dramatics. Everyone of them handled their academics and (at least) one other passion with amazing panache and they excelled.

And so when I was moving through my first year of college, I discovered something. I figured that the only real way I'd actually fall completely in love with college and engineering and everything about it would be if I found something else to add that dose of crazy colour to my life. I had to find my calling. I tried out everything. I ran from the freshie quiz to the NSO selections for basketball to the hindu crossword.

And then I found the stage.

The stage. Oh I could go on and on about the stage. About how everytime I stand on that soft green carpet in CLT and face the audience I feel like I've attained some higher form of existence. I really can't describe it, I know I can't. But I'll try anyway.

I've seen sportsmen kiss the court before they step on to it. I've seen that they always start with their right foot and then look up at the sky. I'd always wondered what made them feel so strongly about the game. I even thought I understood to a large extent what they felt when they took to the field. But I didn't I really really didn't. Until I found the stage.

The feeling is quite incredible. It's something about the potential it seems to radiate. It almost feels as if the stage has a pulsing core of energy that's just waiting to be unlocked by the performer who steps on it next. Because in front of you are people, all sorts of people. Juniors, Seniors, professors, strangers, friends, lovers, parents. It really doesn't matter. What matters is that from the time you step on to that stage to the time the lights go off, you are the center of their world. All their senses are focussed on you. And if you do your job well then you'd have done something surreal.

You'd have made them feel.

Something. Anything.

It's not just about the rush. It's about the potential something like stage holds. It's about the potential that a script or a monologue or just a mime holds. You go on stage and feel. Feel the character you're supposed to play, the speech you're supposed to deliver, the joke you're about to crack, the tears you're about to shed. And everything else just fades away. You are their world and your world stretches just as far as the spotlight does.

And so in my first year, I acted for the very first time in my very first play. It was something brilliantly charming. Written by an equally brilliant senior. It was called "Yet Another Nameless Play".

It was the cookiest pantomime anyone had ever seen. He'd thrown in everything but the kitchen sink. I'm sure if you'd given him a slightly more relaxed time limit he'd have managed to throw that in as well. I remember the story and all the lines from the script like I'd performed it yesterday.

It had Dr.Frankenstein, Igor, Adolf Hitler, His P.A., Robin Hood, Rabi Tuck, Not-So-Little John, a SAS agent, a Jamaican guide, a soothsayer and a very unnecessary hero. It had toilet humour and clever twists. It had very bad German grammar and a brilliant song and dance routine.

"Hitler he only had one ball,
Goering had two but very small,
Himmler had something simmler,
And poor ol' Goebbles had no balls at allllll!"

I was allowed to play Hitler. Which was quite surprising because it was quite a large role and I was a fresher in every sense of the word. But thats the thing about college. In here, it doesn't really matter who you are as long as you can do the job. And so there I was with the Chaplin moustache and the Swastika playing the most confused Hitler ever to have graced the stage.

The play went brilliantly. The timing was perfect. Kaka was inebriated Rabi, a role that couldn't have fit better. 10g was genius as Robin Hood. MCP was the mad-scientist, literally. I spoke my first lines in Broken German. I learnt first hand about how a small change in intonation can make a line infinitely funnier. But the show-stealer was Jumma as Igor and his inch-perfect "YEESSSSSSSSSHHH MAAAASSSSSSSTER!"

We had laughed and had the craziest rehearsals, in the wing, in the mess, in our rooms. Pretty much anywhere that could fit us. And the play was beautiful. The crowd laughed its guts out when we sang and had crossed over into hysteria by the time Raavan danced to "Men in Tights". And so I lived my first play. And smiled.

That year we came second. We lost out to Saras who'd finished a 23 minute master-piece that pretty much disoriented everyone. The dramatics competition was inundated with comedies and pantomimes in particular. When Satcho and Cubba ran around in skirts and fake mammaries trying desperately to defend the Dramatics title. Aafi adeptly polished off a beautiful abstract drama by Girish Karnad filled with freezes and a crazy dhoti-dance and won it in style.

I of course was pissed. I argued abstraction was bullshit and that we were by far the most entertaining. And we were. I grumbled and sighed. And then I saw the rest of the cast. They were jumping and dancing and singing together and looking at me with an almost paternal look. And then, I understood. It didn't matter as long as you put up the best show you could have. And that we did. 10g won best director that year, and deservingly so, because he'd managed to make 12 people who'd never before been on stage pull off one of the best pantomimes CLT had ever seen.

I fell in love with theater right from that day. And I've never looked back. It's something I rarely write about. And I've always wondered why.

Maybe its because I really didn't want to. Like Ganja once said,

"Some memories are like butterflies, pinning them to a page just takes the life out of them"

Oh and yeah we won Dramatics this year. For the first time in over 20 years.
It felt good.

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