inner child


I grew up watching ‘Aladdin‘.

It was on this set of video cassettes which also housed ‘Sleeping Beauty‘, ‘The Little Mermaid‘, ‘The Jungle Book‘, and ‘101 Dalmations‘. And all those movies.. their sequences, their songs, their jokes.. they’re just about etched in my memory (as well as my sister’s; she probably loved those movies even more than I did). Then, of course, there were the Christmas Special movies that aired… of which one of my top picks (at that age) was ‘Hook

And thus I came to recognize Robin Williams: in my mind, he was the only child-like man who could have brought Pan to life 1. Did I know, at the time, that Robin Williams also voiced Genie? Not in the slightest. All I knew was that as much as I enjoyed watching these movies, there was someone behind the screen who enjoyed doing those voices and that dialogue even more. Channeling an inner child who was really having fun during all of this.

A few years after my incessant watching of ‘Aladdin, one of my more distinct memories is of my dad and my uncle taking me out with them – fitting the “older” kid that I was then – for a Grown-Up Outing. We caught the train to VT, made our way to Regal Cinemas, and walked into a show of ‘Mrs. Doubtfire‘. At the time, the places where you could catch a Hollywood movie were mostly relegated to that triumvirate near VT, so this was a real Trip and a Big Deal (for me anyway). ‘Mrs Doubtfire‘ remains a movie that I can happily sit through to this day (I actually skipped through it recently). I have a distinct memory of acting out the entire movie with my cousins later that week, probably barely doing the genius of Williams’ comedy any justice at all.

The point of this correlation? I grew up watching Robin Williams and his movies. I also have vague memories of watching ‘Jumanji‘ (another recent watch: 90s CGI at its worst), ‘Patch Adams‘, Flubber’, ‘Bicentennial Man‘, and ‘Robots‘, among others (thanks, cable TV). In hindsight, I dare say that this set probably barely hold up as 90s movies, though Williams is clearly (still) enjoying himself in them.

Skip forward a few years more and I eventually discovered my inner movie nerd and got down to the more serious Hollywood fare. And this was a Robin Williams I didn’t know could exist. ‘Insomnia‘, ‘Dead Poets Society2,’Good Will Hunting‘. Dark, deep, inspiring.. and not even the slightest hint of the cackling funny man I had grown up watching.

Very recently, I watched  ‘Toys‘ and ‘Popeye‘. ‘Toys‘ is likely one of the weirder movies Williams ever did in his career, and doesn’t quite work… maybe because the character falls in between the dark and light extremes that Williams could do so well. But ‘Popeye‘ is as pitch-perfect a recreation of the cartoon as it gets.. basically propelled by RW in his début role, nailing every little mannerism perfectly. While it’s a complete co-incidence that things came in such a full circle (honest!), I cannot help but reflect on how much more I might have loved ‘Popeye‘ as a kid — I “required” less from my movies. More obviously, watching 80s movies as an adult in 2014 is a very different experience from watching these movies as a kid in the 80s. But still, there was something there… something about the little bon mots Williams muttered under his breath that hooked in me as an adult, but he was clearly playing the part for the sake of the kiddie audience.


And so, reading about RW’s death this past week hit a lot closer to home than I expected. It’s a little hard to believe such a constant fixture of my childhood has passed on. Not just that a fine talent has met a sad end, but more selfishly, it made me feel like my own childhood was somehow retreating even more into the mists of time. A vague disappearing act is slowly being enacted because the actor who brought those parts to life is no more. I’m sure watching ‘Aladdin‘ or ‘Hook‘ will always trigger something in me.. but should one really stay fixated in the past, even just to relive that ‘being-a-kid’ feeling? Which reminds me of how much time has passed since I was a child.. among other things, well, I have a child now.

A little ‘un who’s just beginning to discover so many things around her.

Hopefully, among them she’ll happen upon something with the Robin Williams brand of humor, zaniness, and child-like fun that I grew up with.

Which, even years later, never fails to remind you of that inner child you can so easily forget.

1. In retrospect, ‘Hook‘ does not hold up as well as it should. But I am always transported back to being a kid watching Williams re-learn how to fly. Just so much fun.
2. Incidentally, this movie is more than a little tarnished by the fact that I kept thinking how badly ‘Mohabbatein‘ riffed off it.

date a girl who is a geek


Find her with a knowing smile when calzones, Junior Mints, and Yev Kassem make an appearance in conversation. Spend the night talking about how 221B Baker Street formed the doorway for you to discover the world outside Enid Blyton. Find the night has almost sped past and you’ve barely started talking about the common books you’ve read.

When you find a girl who is a geek, try not to let anyone else find her. Enthrall her with talk of  how Marvin epitomizes an attitude we should all strive for. Distract her with stories from the Silmarillion. Talk to her about Kurosawa, and where Sholay parallelizes Shichinin no Samurai. Discuss the finer points of Rahman and Ilaiyaraja. Discover from her a world of movies that you did not know of, but one she can quote from unerringly.

When the time is right, give her the lowdown on Spider-Man – why Part 2 is a pitch perfect rendition of Doc Ock, but try not to go into  the parts with the Clone Saga. Or tell her of the Batman mythos, while side-stepping the Bat-Mite. Try not to continue talking about the trivia of comicbookdom, instead, read a book together. Aloud. You will laugh together, a shared memory will be formed… one that far surpasses discovering a Marvel or DC multiverse. Remember, a girl who is a geek does not treasure clichéd traditions such as “dinner-and-movie” nights.

It is a challenge to date a girl who is a geek. Continue reading

its a page, its a post.. its a further update!


Y’all thought that threat of “updates soon” was all bull, didn’tcha? How does it feel to be proven wrong?

Before I get back to my usual dose of random.. one must first pander to the need to talk about having an awesome time with the Mrs.

No, this has nothing to do with  obsessively importing blogs from one place to another.

Absolutely nothing.


Its been a whole year since that monumentous monumental event. (“Monumentous” is apparently not a word, suggested alternatives include “monstrous”, “portentous”. Hm. Food for thought.)

Celebrations should have been in short order. Which we didn’t quite do on the day.

No, this has nothing to do with the Mrs wondering aloud what possessed her to marry me. And no, I absolutely do not keep congratulating myself on managing to push through the marriage before the full implications of being married to me dawned on her.

To be honest, we did do a small candlelight dinner with all the trimmings.. but nothing monumental. Mostly my fault, conferences always kill the mood around Jan-Feb. Every year. Including this one.

That said, good things come to those who wait.

I took G to Disneyworld.

Continue reading

the cup


Some say that this past Saturday was one of the happiest days of the planet.

About one-fifth of the world’s population was celebrating. All at the same time.

48 hours after the event, it remains at the back of my mind… images of how it all happened, how it all came together, that final six, the sense of relief, the sense of euphoria at watching it happen the way we’ve dreamed of.. for a long, long time.

Continue reading

winters come and go.. a feeling resonates (forever?)


A year ago, I started writing this post with the words: “It is now the second consecutive New Jersey winter that I will be enduring. The 4th overall.”

A year later, the thought hits home stronger than ever, except that it is now the 3rd consecutive winter to endure out of a total of 5 so far in the US. 7 winters that I have been away from Bombay. During which I have gone through 8 different “homes” distributed over 5 different towns (2 different continents). Today I can say I look forward to going back to hearth and home (and a Mrs due to whom it seems worthwhile) at the end of the day. And yet, a thought lingers at the back of the mind..

One would think that you get used to some feelings. Every time I have gone to Bombay and then have to finally leave.. it sucks. What I feel now is tangential. A feeling where one is stuck and you know you are not leaving. You make a home. You feel happy. You somehow get past the fact that this is not “back home”, at long last. After 6 winters of feeling the lack of “that home”, the stage is reached that you have a viable alternative.

And yet, you want it to be even better. You want all of this, back there. You wonder how much better or how much worse it will be. You hear horror stories of Bombay today, of how it is not the place you think it to be. Why its such a bad idea to even consider settling in India. How its a rose-tinted lens that you are remembering it by, and that getting out of that country is probably the best thing to do. Never go back.  If only I had a cent for every time I have heard the thought “Bombay/India is best experienced as a visitor today”, I could probably afford to go back to India.

Something I read on Ebert’s blog probably says it well enough:

I identify with the meaning given to “nostalgia” by Tarkovsky, which in one Russian sense means a longing for one’s home so sweet and sharp one might almost leave home in order to feel it.

If anything, the recent return travel of parental figures may have slightly exaggerated what I feel. It seems memories of being in Bombay are filled with lots of people and lots of talking and lots of noise. Even sitting alone in the afternoon flipping through a book (or even channels on the TV) while the house naps.. the sounds of an outside world, a bustling city going about a daily routine permeated to where I sat 4 floors up. Horns, yells, drills, motors. And made everything seem so much more alive. Here? The winter brings with it a deathly silence from the outside at any time of day, a quiet that creeps into the house.. trying steadfastly to kill what efforts we make to combat it. Somehow hustle-and-bustle seem alien to this world, almost as though everything should happen soundlessly. Take for instance, the fact that neighbors’ dogs you meet in the corridor of your building seldom bark. At most a muted nip, destroyed in the throat before it is heard. Bombay? Dogs must fight to have themselves heard, even late at night.

I try not to think too much about what is to come in my life. Yes, it scares me… but that is not what really stops me. It is a worry that such plans and schemes will make me into the kind of person I don’t want to be — the person who does not want to return because it doesn’t fit into his current plan (as the Joker says, “Schemers.. schemers trying to control their little worlds.“). Which eventually becomes he cannot return, because he is too out of touch with a reality that now feels.. unreal (for lack of a better word).

It feels as though I need to focus on only today for now. Try and hold onto thoughts and feelings that make me still want to go back home. And make sure that I do.

what you can live without


(Note: Post has become much longer than I intended it to. You’ve been warned)

I recently realized that I was relying a tad too much on a 4 year old external hard drive. I went about acquiring “stuff” so that I may reverse this worrying trend.

Yes, yes, funky tech stuff.

And.. you guessed it. Midway through backing up, the 4 year old drive decided to conk. In one fell swoop, I lost 4-odd years’ worth of photos, movies, music and comics. All of which had been carefully archived over the past 4 years, regularly updated, organized and so on.


It took me a few weeks to get over thinking about the loss and what I could have done to avoid it.. all the time. Yes, it still twinges a bit when I remember a particular incident, the photo that I had of it.. and how I no longer have it. I’m recovering what I can from sundry sources.. but the large majority is history (I am still missing 2-odd years of photos). All of my personal collection, my random experimentation.. all of it. Poof.

Gone. Continue reading