Thursday, December 24, 2009

Radio gaga, not RJ gaga but definitely, Blade Shankar gaga!

Chennai has a good number of FM radio channels. I hardly bother with music CDs when I am driving because I have the radio that offers a variety of channels and shows, playing both latest songs as well as the oldie-goldies all the time.

The problem with radio is the whole RJ business!!

Radio Jockeys often do not seem to realise that what we listeners are so NOT interested in is their verbal diarrhea, general blabbering including animal noises in greeting, lengthy intros and bye-byes, or worse, when two RJs go 'dialogueing' -- this is particularly very painful as they seem to exclude us listeners and are on their own trip! 'Play the song, idiot' I say. Tiresome is the word for most RJs.

Oh and also, we listeners, would like them to be useful if at all they must be a part of all radio channels -- announce the songs and relevant stuff, weather predictions, traffic jam infos... and perhaps lace it all with some humour. That's it. And please, RJs, keep it brief!

If there is one guy who keeps things brief (and sadly so!!), it is RJ Shankar of Suryan FM. He is popularly called 'Blade' Shankar because of his show that aruthufies people. Full of 'kadis'/poor jokes (PJs) supposedly, and other trivia.

At a time when people are tending towards Eenglees too much, this guy is amazingly so very steadfastly and appealingly local. He happily lacks the IRRITATING put-on English/Tamil accent that makes you want to smack the RJ on the mouth. Stay 'Thamizha Thamizha' I sayyy! Either speak Tamil or English. Don't be a wannabe-English speaking Tamil RJ.

I have wanted to blog about Blade Shankar for so long. He puts a smile on my face many mornings and sometimes even makes me guffaw. Thought: Driving alone and guffawing to oneself is perhaps not the best sign of sanity! But aana,(!), this guy is super-talented. He has a voice that is so Tamil and so local and ...seems to have a real character to match. His quick wit is now legendary.

And what's more, his 'Blade No.1' show from nine to ten a.m. is also interactive. He invites listeners to call in with kadis/PJs in between songs, and has a quick session at the end called 'Kundakka Mandakka' where he gives out a 'Blade password' for the day which could be: 'Blade number, number Blade, Blade One' or some such -- just a little tongue twister he comes up with everyday. Then, he sits back and has fun at the caller's expense. He has some fun/good rules not the least of which is that he encourages humour that is not allowed to hurt people's sentiments.

He also gets some hilarious, equally whacky callers (not me...yet) who enjoy every minute of his ripping. Some call up and chuckle loudly on air instead of saying the Blade password, others will say their full names for effect or tease Shankar directly, and so on. Shankar in turn will promptly say 'upbeatu' which means 'you have lost' or some witty rejoinder. He clearly seems to enjoy outwitting the caller and sometimes, when the caller wins, he is only grudgingly gracious about it and it is all so natural!

The great thing about him is that not only is the show good (wish it could last longer), but the songs he chooses are also great. Popular numbers. Not like some other shows that go all out to dig out songs that are best forgotten!

Some oho-ahas about Shankar:

1. He does great imitations esp. of Sivaji Ganesan and generally, has a voice with 'character'.
2. He does not slurp and slobber over celebrities he interviews on air.
3. His Tamil is great and local, as Tamil should be spoken -- proper Tamil accent and all, and his English is good enough.
4. Even the way he says 'Yippo saahng varudhu, kellunga kellungua, kettukitteyy irunga!' is a bit comical.
5. The way he trips on callers is great fun.
6. Even if he does not get a response, he can come up with quick retorts to silences.
7. His cricket commentary is laced with his trademark humour.
8. The way he answers riddles put forth to him by his callers -- whether or not he knows the answers, is, you listen and see what I mean! He can even come up with a 'jodi riddle' to them in context -- out of the blue!
9. He talks to himself too at times -- quite a riot he is.
10. He is up to date and seems genuinely positive.

This guy is clearly out to entertain.

Whether am radio gaga or not, am gaga about Blade Shankar.

Cheers, Blade Shankar, keep it up!

Kekkaren, kekkaren, kettukittey irukkiren!

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Losing certain relationships ...happens.

Have lost two 'acquaintances' in the last year and one other important relationship since's been quite a few years now. Perhaps because it is December or something, signalling the end of this year -- a year when I feel I have thought much about...well, much, compared to years gone by, here I am posting about some 'thinks'!

The two acquaintances -- yes, they are just that obviously, I was associated with for around 2-3 years. Right from the beginning, there was no real emotional attachment despite a lot of friendliness and so, the loss when it happened was more a very minor disappointment (more in the PERSON than anything else) coupled with some amount of anger for having been 'taken for a ride'. These are people who essentially used and threw. Ok, lesson learned. Continue on paranoid, suspicious mode.
Looking back: -
Acquaintance 1: Was pushy, unfair and ...unfair some more. I am to be blamed of course. You are only a fool if you are willing to be one. Hmph.
Acquaintance 2: Was overly-nice and the MOST pseudo person (could only see this in hindsight for sure, although a suspicion lurked) I have come across till date. Well, at least I was spared this experience for this long.

The other one lost since many years is what I would call an ex-dear-friend. 'Ex' not because I detest her or anything but she is an ex-friend because she is not a friend right now and clearly may not even care if I am alive or dead. That's how I perceive the complete silence or cut-off.
No sweat. I am alive right now!! Why I became 'ex' is known in entirety only to her. Was so curious for the longest time, but time does heal some questions... quite disinterested in that right now in spite of posting about it. I could rant and rave about HOW could she do this to me and AFTER ALL this time, etc. having been friends from smallchildhood, but clearly, she must have huge, valid reasons. Besides, she was beside me during the toughest phase of my life, so I do wish this ex-friend well and am not even very sorry that she is no longer by my side. I miss her sure, as I am certain is vice-versa (so modest, Teesu!!), but...maturity rears its ugly head and belts out into my wax-filled ear 'que sera sera...'

Yes, whatever will be will be. Indeed. Lesson of the year perhaps?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Marley and me

Actually speaking, although this book was highly popular, the subject itself was nothing extra-ordinary. In fact, it was quite disappointing. I mean, my dog Sandy has done far more write-worthy stuff than Marley and I am sure I am not the only dog-owner to think this way. So why was this book popular?

I guess it was because of the open, unrestrained eulogising of the man-dog relationship and the man's best-friend concept.

I did laugh and cry with the book (as I suppose I do with many books!), but the movie was quite a let down. As usual, movies cannot live up to books and the beauty of words, and the pictures they create in your mind. The absolute beauty of books and reading them is, you as a reader, are as responsible for enjoying books as the authors are for penning them. But the movie has to do the entertaining all by itself!

In 'Marley and me', it did not really. But as a tribute to dogs and my own Lab Sandy, I did laugh and cry a bit.

But give me 'An Incredible Journey' any day again. If you are a dog/animal-lover and have not watched it yet (from the late seventies or early eighties I think), now is a good time.

Giggling when you shouldn't

This whole giggling business is said to be reserved for girls, but I don't think so. I do personally know a few guys -- quite manly ones, who join in the giggling fits. Only perhaps, they may not really 'giggle' but indulge in much chuckling. No-control is the key point.

My big sister and I spent much of our fun-childhood times giggling at the silliest, funniest things or at most inappropriate moments but, over the years, having become ahem, mature and all (what IS mature anyway?), we have cut down quite a bit on the inappropriate giggling save for two horribly inappropriate moments which I am about to share.

Recently, at an engagement of a family-friend's daughter, my akka (er, I NEVER call her that cos she has prohibited me from doing so) and I were sitting close to each other. We were chatting fairly normally about this and that through the evening. Then came the formal announcement of the engagement over the loudspeaker. At this point I should mention that our friends are of a different faith and so, we were / are not very familiar with the religious rituals associated with an engagement of theirs. The moment was solemn and after some words about the engagement ceremonies underway, the male voice resonating over the loudspeaker broke into what was a clearly religious chant -- because the voice began reciting some holy words-like stuff. For a while I concentrated on being quiet and listened in all earnestness -- for what reason I now don't know. I mean, I do not know the language, I am not at all the serious or silent types, and I am also not highly religious with respect to my religion leave alone other people's.

I started to try to be good (which I clearly cannot be!) and listen, and this was clearly a big mistake. The words and the way in which they were uttered began to sound terribly, horribly funny. To my horror, bubbling up inside me despite my best attempts to stop it, was a mammoth giggling fit. I thought I should do something to distract myself (second mistake) and so, I looked up only to see my sister looking like a stuffed chicken, all hunched up at the table. Her face was pink and her cheeks began to expaand. Sure signs of the same crazy blood running in both of us and we both gave in simultaneously to the giggling outburst, although we were pretty silent about. But neither of us is anywhere close to petite (HRUMPH) or inconspicuous, and am shamefully sure many people noticed our faux pas. The more we thought about how inappropriate it was, the more we had to giggle ...until she got up and ran out to go to the bathroom for some -- ANY respite, from the giggling. I also got up and followed suit. I could not BEAR to look anybody in the eye. The voice meanwhile continued. The moment we entered the Ladies, we were able to pull ourselves together but only got back to the hall when we were sure we were 'normal' again.

If you think THIS is inappropriate, check the next one out.

The next incident was more than a decade ago. And just to prove that we are not horrible horrible people who giggle at OTHER people as such or without a care for other people's feelings, this incident deserves a mention here. At this point, I have got to say that giggling is NOT something you can always control. Maybe some people can, just the way they can control their urine for extraordinarily long periods. Yes, giggling falls under the same category.

Anyway, this was some SERIOUS business. At least the other giggling fit was at a happy occasion. This was at my father's funeral! Needless to say, we -- my sister, my mother and I, were simply shattered. My dad was an exceptional father and family man. Did I say exceptional? I meant EXCEPTIONAL. Wonderful. Stellar. Therefore it followed that we were heartbroken and sobbing -- my sister and I, sitting just next to his body, er, him. This went on for a bit. Then came...the crow. Yup, you read right. A crow sitting outside the silent, mourning house, cawed loudly just then and not just loudly. He cawed out of pitch repeatedly and it really was ridiculous. Never before then nor after, have I heard one caw that way!! We both spontaneously broke into giggles and immediately shushed ourselves...with 'how inappropriate!' murmured between us only to shrug and tell each other later that our Dad wouldn't really have minded(!!). Laughing is a good thing. Even if at a funeral. Shocking, but...our Dad, so don't judge.;)

The point of this post? To explain away our guilt brought on by our improper conduct caused by a bodily function that cannot be controlled sometimes...for some people anyway.


Guess then, this too has to be labelled 'Absolutely Vetti'.

Note: Not that we are problem-free people who run around town giggling like maniacs! These are giggling 'fits' termed so for a reason.

Argh. Enough Said Teesu!

Newsreaders or Actors?

When I was young, there were a few regulars on few channels, who would read the news on TV. They were pretty poker faced and barely managed a funny grimace-like little expression by way of a smile at the beginning and end of the news session, with 'Namastes' / 'Vanakkams'. Throughout the news reading, they were most conscientious, barely stuttered or mixed words up, and were basically, classy readers with near-perfect diction and seemed to treat their jobs as newsreaders in the most matter-of-fact, objective way possible. They seemed credible if lacking in a sense of humour.

The first one to change the newsreading business in India, was Prannoy Roy it seems (to me), with his 'The world this week' (I THINK that's what it was). He had a sensible face bordering on 'quite' handsome although with a rather weak voice, but with all this, he still seemed more interesting than the average newsreader. He was different as he seemed to FEEL some of the news he was bringing to us and 'his news' was also interesting.

However, today, you see it all on news channels. Newsreaders themselves are a great source of entertainment. There are even downright comedian-ish newsreaders now. On a more annoying note, some try very hard to please. Pseudo to the core. There are those who pretend to care when actually, all they very obviously care about is delivering hot news and staying ahead of their competitor channels. Many stammer, blabber and interrupt people they ought not to be interrupting. Sure they all have their work cut out for them, probably by their bosses, but I can crib as a viewer, right?Then, there is much eye-rolling and serious-face putting and worse, the long-suffering expression as if the world rested upon his or her shoulders.Hmmm.

Basically, I do so miss the older newsreaders who delivered news as news minus drama which, by the way, was saved for the other programmes. When newstime came, it was time to sit down and catch up on the happenings and so, everybody would drop what they were doing and assemble together to listen with interest.

Now, yes, we get 'nimit to nimit' news which can be useful, but it may well include which bigwig relieved himself where and how many vegetables actress-size-zero ate in one day. Huh, there is news all the time and it includes much rubbish and repeats and so, you need patience to get to 'actual news'.

Generation is gapping I sayyy!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Where did they go?

Sparrows and crows. They are missing in large numbers from Chennai or so it seems to me.

Sparrows -- those cute l'il birds, so harmless and...homely. When I was young, I was crazy about birds (not 'and bees', heh heh) and animals. There were these sparrows that used to make my home theirs. A nest on top of the water-heater in the bathroom or on one side of the window sill that was close to a tree, etc. We would never disturb the nest and eventually, eggs would be laid and fledglings born. Then, when they started moving about, and the mother birdie was away at work, I would play with the chicks or whatever they are called. In fact, one of them and I had a game -- he or she would skuttle into the drain hole in our verandah and I would catch his tail and pull him back...repeatedly. What a fun way to spend childhood afternoons eh? I was quite gentle with him I daresay. So light and so sweet -- sparrows are. And where ARE they now, by the way?

Crows. Mostly annoying and sometimes even mean or menacing. In school, they would be alert in large numbers during lunch break and would fly pretty close and be very bold indeed about their preference for our sambar rice. After lunch whilst strolling around the playground,they would even swoop down and flap very close to our heads and had once or twice actually pecked kids on their heads. Not to mention unerring 'kaka-pee' targets that our heads and torsos posed to them. Smelliest pee considering the small size of the pee-blob. Ugh. So, basically, not too fond of the crows. But like comfort food, in Chennai, they are comfort birds. Their 'caaaa-ing' cannot be heard that much these days. Why?