Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tango the night away

A long time ago, Ashok and I had decided that we should go to the theatre (not the movies) often and try and catch at least 4 shows a year. This resolution was after we saw a great Beethoven show in February this year.

Yesterday morning, as we were lazily sipping our coffee, Ashok reminded me of this decision and said we were falling way behind and there were only 2 months left in the year. So we quickly googled (yeah, its a verb now and where have you been??) and I was shocked to see that there were 140 different events happening in Munich that day. After a quick perusal, we decided on the Tanguera and were glad to see that there were still tickets available.

The show was for 80 minutes and to my surprise, without a break. It was more or less like a musical with a storyline and all emotions - love, anger, passion, anguish - were expressed solely by tango dance moves. Although it was an age old tragic love story (boy loves girl at first sight, girl works for a cruel club owner, club owner beats up boy, girl sold as a call girl, boy rescues her, they have a brief moment of happiness, club owner kills them both), the execution was amazing. The music, the costumes, the lighting (that totally fit the mood), the scene settings (which were changed at a lightning speed) and above all the dancers from Buenos Aires were all brilliant.

What was interesting to note was when the story began with people coming from Spain to Argentina, there was a dance piece where they celebrate their life in a new land and the dance had tapping steps similar to Flamenco clearly showing (what I considered) the Spanish influence in Tango Argentino.

The cabaret performances when the girl is stuck as a ''show girl'' were a tad monotonous and lacked variety but I guess not many people will complain when the long legged girls tango in skimpy costumes. This is the only part that makes me retract one star from the otherwise 5-star performance.

If you are even remotely interested in Tango, you would enjoy it immensely. But be aware that this is a show for adults and not for the whole family.

Picture Copyright: BB Promotion GmbH

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Of Jackets and Shoes

I went shopping for a winter jacket today. I saw one in the store and was not sure if it was a fall jacket or if it would work for the negative temperatures in winter too. So I asked the store employee and he tells me it is a ''übergangsjacke" i.e a transition-jacket used to transition from fall to winter. I thought to myself....dey, enna velayadareengla ??

I already have a spring jacket, a fall jacket, a winter jacket (that is close to breathing its last which is why I went shopping) and 2 rain jackets (one of them is a sports jacket for when I go running) and now this fellow comes and tells me that I need a jacket to transition between the seasons, marana kadi ayiten naan !!

Shopping for clothes was one of the toughest things for me when I first came to Germany and choosing what to wear on a particular day, even tougher and no, it was not a girly choice of what will look good on me but it was a much simpler problem on what would make me comfortable. I have worn turtle-neck sweaters to classes and have felt too warm, or just a shirt and have felt too cold. It took me a while to figure out that there was a concept of dressing in ''layers'' (shirt under a pullover under a jacket) and you take them off or put them on depending on the temperature.

What's the deal with everyone wearing black, grey and brown in winter ?? Isn't the depressing weather reason enough to dress up in bright colors ?? There have been many winter days when I have come out of my apartment to go to work and have noticed everyone dressed in black and grey and it always makes me feel like the whole street is going to a funeral. Yes, its easy to decide to buy bright colored pullovers and jackets but difficult to find them since the winter collection in stores hardly ever go beyond the sober colors !

With these problems came another one when I started working. Now apparently besides the seasons, I also had to make sure that I had formal jackets that I can wear to a client meeting or a conference. The client seeing me in an informal jacket for a split second before I take it off (to sit down in a heated room all day) has somehow the powers to put the kibosh on the deal !

For someone who has never seen or owned a jacket until 20 and prefers comfort over fashion, this is frustrating, very frustrating ! But the frustration levels go rocket high when the problem of jackets meets the problem of shoes.

As a teenager, I have read a number of English novels and in all of them there were always allusions to girls being crazy about shoes and having way too many pairs. I never understood that since I always had only 2 pairs (besides the school shoes) and most likely they were both from bata, one the Rs 99.95 slipper that I wore everyday to go out and the other, the Rs.159.95 one that amma made me wear to weddings and other special occasions.

I come to Germany...boom ! I suddenly have a dozen pairs - for different seasons, for different purposes (running, work, casual) and for different costumes (you can imagine how inconvenient boots are with a salwar or a sari) and when I have trouble with these already, there is another huge factor - fashion. Apparently knee-length boots are not a great idea when wearing knee-length skirts. I go ballistic if I hear suggestions like these and I want to shout, ''I don't care, I am comfortable and I like the way I look and you can go jump into the sea for all I care!!!''....

....and then I realised if everyone thought this way, there will be no fashion industry, an industry that spends millions on creating fabrics and style that last one year and are shunned the next and that spends more millions on convincing people about they gotta do what they gotta do and I gotta do what I gotta do.... if you spot someone in a bright red jacket, a bright maroon scarf and wearing comfortable shoes that probably don't match the jeans, on a dull depressing day in Munich, its most likely me :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Endhiran screening in Germany

For those in the Munich and Stuttgart area, who missed it the first time, here is another chance to watch Endhiran on the big screen (which is actually the only fun way to watch it) and at half the price. It is screened on 23rd and 24th.

You should be able to get tickets directly at the theatre if you walk in half an hour before the scheduled time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Vethalapakku in Germany

Navarathri means a bunch of memories….small girls running around in pattu pavadais, listening to carnatic music, dodging from having to sing carnatic songs, kutti krishnars playing with kutti kurathis, thengai smell from all the different varieties of sundal, temple visits, covers and covers of vethalapakku, last minute adjustments to the mud park or refilling the choppu saman of chettiyar bommai with rice or dal, muddling with the twinkle lights that suddenly stop working, singing loudly at the end-of-the-day aarthi with a sense of accomplishment…..and now you know why I end up with a dazed look for a few minutes everytime someone mentions the word.

For the last few years Navarathri also meant….
….calling home every alternate day to listen to the latest golu kadai – also an excuse to listen to amma say ‘nee illama golu golu madhiriye illa’ as often as possible
….calling periyava over the weekend to convey Navarathri namaskaram
….watching TV or newspaper clips of a friend or relative’s golu and then calling them to hear them describe it very proudly
….congratulating friends in the US for taking the effort to create a walmart-ikea style 1 step or 3 step Golu with bommais that they carefully brought from India
….listening to subrabatham and all other sacred chants I have on my laptop on Vijayadasami and actually attempting to do something new and useful (I always feel guilty and wrong if I don’t stick to my Vijayadasami schedule….habits die hard!)

And this year, there was a wonderful addition to that list…being invited to vethalapakku !! Until this year, I did not have any tambram friends in Germany who actually managed to celebrate Navarathri and so this year, when I got an invitation for vethalapakku, I jumped at it even though the family lived 135 km away. Ever since I got the invitation, I had this mental image of celebrating the day exactly like I would have, had I been in singara Chennai. The one thing I forgot to factor was the weather….the @”§%§$%@! weather !

I woke up to find it raining and the maximum temperature was 6 deg C. As I realized that I would never survive the travel in a cotton salwar (that I had happily unpacked from my suitcase for this occasion) on such a day, I also thought to myself “There is no way I am getting vethalapakku in a jeans and pullover”. As I reached their house, the first thing I saw was a kutti girl in pattu pavadai waving to me from the balcony and my spirits soared. As soon as I got in, I told my friend to give me 5 minutes and then I happily got rid of the jacket and the boots and the scarf and the what not and changed into my cotton salwar (that I had packed and protected from the weather), took my time to wear matching bangles and earrings, made sure my bindi was not washed off in the rain and finally took a look in the mirror and felt ‘This feels like Navarathri’ :)

I came out and saw that my friend’s family that also included her in-laws from Chennai were all traditionally dressed too and as they invited me to lunch, my heart skipped a beat at the sight of the vazha elai (banana leaf)…never before had I had food in a vazha elai in Germany ! I sat there smiling (read, showing all my teeth) when my friend’s mother-in-law slowly filled up the elai with all the items in the right order – payasam, followed by pachidi, followed by kootu, kai, vadai, rice, paruppu and nei (ghee). I usually make a small gap for the sambar right in the middle of the paruppu sadham and my cousin always said ‘paaruda, dam katta aramabichita’…with that fond memory began my lunch, my very special Navarathri lunch :)

After lunch, we spent time talking (maybe a little gossiping :D), looking at photos and then I spent some time playing cards (remember the memory game?) with the little girl…and before we realized it was time for coffee. After the namaskaram-vethalapakku and take-some-sundal-for-the-journey-back session, I started getting ready to leave, politely declining the invitation for evening tiffin (I wasn’t going to abuse the invitation, I want another one for next year!). Some hugs, some goodbyes later, I was going back home after what felt like a day with my cousins, a day with my cousins during Navarathri....

PS: I have to write this in Thanglish, any charm will be lost in translation.

Monday, October 4, 2010

O'zapft is

...yes, the October fest is over and this year when the Mayor tapped the keg (that's right) and said ''O'zapft is'' (you thought I was swearing, didn't you? Its slang for “the keg is tapped”) it proudly celebrated its 200th Birthday.

Oktober fest
The October fest ends today (and yes, it starts in September) and I am going to miss…

…the heart-shaped Lebkuchen (cookies)

…people in traditional costumes

…staring at the rides and the Zelten (tents - don’t be thrown off by the word tent, it can hold 100s of tables, 1000s of people and atleast 10,000 litres of beer!) of the different breweries as I walk by the Theresienwiese

…general festivity in the air with office goers taking 2 hour long lunches with one too many beers

I will however not miss…
… buses and underground system being so full (and usually they are half empty) that its better to walk
… people drinking beer at 10 am being considered normal
… watching pretty girls in beautifully dressed Dirndls horrifying innocent bystanders (like yours truly) by throwing up on the road
… Theresienwiese taken away from Joggers
… and finally stone-drunk people who go around breaking glass doors (the pic shows the handiwork of one or more of them on my building entrance door - click on it to see the cracks up close)

This year the biggest highlight was the ‘Historische Wiesn’ that showcased 200 yrs of October fest. It had:
- A Museum that showed the mobile homes people used when visiting the October fest in 1925, for example.
- Rides that were almost 100 yrs old (Doesn’t the photo remind you of poi kal kudirai ??)
- A Horse race arena (pity there were no actual races since that would require extra security measures). Apparently, it was all about the races when the October fest first began
- A festzelt where people can eat and drink (I loved seeing old people attired in those really traditional costumes. One old lady actually had 4 fresh roses pinned to her blouse!)

...and it will start all over again in another 49 weeks ! Auf wiedersehen !

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Endhiran - Just Pass

Yesterday in an article in the times of India, there was a phrase that caught my eye ''the phenomenon that is Rajini'' - I realized how true it was when we went to the theatre at 10:30 pm and saw it swarming with all Indians and Srilankans in Munich and I thought to myself that if one wanted to meet the community and make new friends, there can be no better venue !

Since someone came up with a brilliant idea of allotting tickets WITHOUT seat numbers, there was quite a bit of drama (pushing, yelling, swearing, scramming to find the best seats) before everyone settled down to watch the movie. Just when I was thinking that this is starting to feel a lot like the FDFS in India, people started whistling and throwing paper flowers when Rajini's name was screened (just the name not the man) and obviously when Rajini first appeared, I almost went deaf from the whistling !

After that ''Thaliavar'' intro, let me come back to the movie (spoiler alert).

The +++++++
- The ''desi'' touches with the robot (his Rajini walk, his changing hairstyles) and over all the intial introduction of him to the world is very enjoyable
- The climax where the swarm learns from one another and takes all kinds of shapes (Remember the swarm of nanorobots from Micheal Crichton's Prey ? There is probably a slight chance that Shankar will get sued for this)
- Mosquito scene
- The bad robot (reminded me of those villain roles that Rajini had so successfully done in the past)

The -------------
- The top most for me is that this is not a Rajini movie, I mean, anyone else could have played this role. I mean when I saw Mottai Shivaji I thought to myself "Man, no one else can pull that off with so much style'' and there was no such moment during Endhiran.
- Santhanam and Karunas' comedy track: Even if we condescend to accept them both as robotic research assistants, what kind of them smoke and drink sarayam in the lab and goad the robot that he cant drink or smoke ??!
- Too many songs, especially inserted in all the wrong places. I could have made my peace with them had I liked the songs in the first place. They were too techno and Aishwarya wearing costumes that she couldn't pull off did not help (My heart broke when I saw flab), inspite of the exotic locations.
- Too many cliched and ergo, unwanted scenes (why should even hero robots fight bad guys wanting to molest the heroine), the movie could have been 30 min shorter !

And what's the deal with Ash quietly watching when Bad robot Rajini is on a killing spree !? She can ask him not to harm Rajini but she cant do that for other innocent people ?! should not really ask logical questions when watching thalaivar padam but I couldn't help wonder about this.

One thing is for sure, its very clear why Rajini is in the movie because with no one else can they make back the 200 crores (or more) invested in this movie with this story/screenplay.

Verdict: Watchable, but just once (and if everyone does that, they get their money back and more at these ticket prices !)

PS: It was hilarious when there were a couple of German dialogues in the movie and the audience shouted saying ''We dont need subtitles'' :D !

Friday, October 1, 2010

Man of the moment....

Rajinikanth doesn’t wear a watch. He decides what time it is
Rajinikanth’s email id is gmail@
Rajinikanth can drown a fish
Rajinikanth once kicked a horse in the chin. Its descendants are today called giraffes
Rajinikanth can strangle you with a cordless phone
Rajinikanth did, in fact, build Rome in a day
Rajinikanth electrocuted Iron Man
Rajinikanth knows Victoria’s secret
Rajinikanth killed the dead sea
Rajinikanth can divide by zero
Rajinikanth once got into a fight with a VCR player. Now it plays DVDs
The Bermuda Triangle used to be the Bermuda Square, until Rajinikanth kicked one of its corners off
Rajinikanth has counted to infinity, twice
Rajinikanth can play the violin with a piano
When Rajinikanth does push-ups, he isn’t lifting himself up. He is pushing the earth down
Rajinikanth can delete the recycle bin

Just got this as a has to accept, the man does have style....
Let's see if that shows in Endhiran tonight...Review tomorrow :D !
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