Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The King Of Good Times

Let's start with a question.

How long do you think  can you can manage without a watch?

A few hours ? A few days ?

How about three months and 4 days ?

Thats how long i have survived without a watch in this crazy world that often finds 24 hours to be too short for a whole days work.

Its not a fact i am very proud of, and thank God for keeping me from losing my job,but it surely is an achievement of some sort.

The reason for the radial white patch on my left wrist instead of a titan quartz watch was that my regular watch repair guy was out of station for a very long time, three months and 4 days to be precise.

"You could have gone somewhere else genius", You may wish to tell me, but wait till you finish reading this story.

 A few weeks ago i had written a post about Nadeem, a tyre repair specialist who deeply impressed me by his commitment and work ethic.

This post is about another expert, the best at the craft of watch repair.

Meet Girish ! The owner of a small watch repair shop close to Jalahalli cross in Bangalore.

Taking an Impromptu Autograph 
Ever since i can remember he has been our 'go to' person for any watch or clock related problem for the last 25 years.

To describe his shop in a couple of sentences - Its built on the same lines but only 2/3rd's the size of Harry Potters room at 4 privet drive in the Dursley mansion.

At one point of time half of his shop's space was taken up by the trunk of a large coconut tree that curved its way right through the middle of his chamber en route to the sky.

So, what makes this man so special?

Here's what.

Like Nadeem and puncture repair, Girish too is fastidious when it comes to repairing watches, and like most experts he follows a strict protocol to keep himself from missing anything important.

He starts by taking off removing the back panel.
Then he checks the watches battery with a specially designed LED bulb.

Most of the time pieces i give him have battery related issues, he promptly changes them and restores their function to full capacity, I refer to this as the battery transplant surgery.

Well that's the case with most watches, not all, not mine and especially not  on this day.

"This does not look good boss". He remarked after one glance at my watch.

It looked fine to me.

He changed the battery, but it didn't work. The LED bulb test revealed that the new battery was working fine, there was some other problem with my watch, something serious as he had observed earlier.

He opened a small tin box that he had hidden in the drawer below his desk.

"Whoa! Isn't that a toothed forceps"? I Exclaimed loudly.

He didn't react.
He removed the battery and in its place he kept the forceps and started rhythmically pressing down on the tiny panel behind my watch.

I know what you're thinking? CPR FOR THE WATCH !!!!
Well, that's exactly what it looked liked.

When CPR failed to revive the watch, I expected Girish to look up at me and say-
"Sorry Sir ! You're time is up".

But instead he opened his drawer again and took out what appeared to be a resistor or capacitor of some sort with large dials on it, he then placed the leads of that device on different positions in the watch and a minute later he looked up at me with a serious look on his face and said- "Sir, There's still hope".
No, Thats not my watch !

The forceps and the unknown device disappeared into the drawer.

He reached down below and drew out what could only have been the smallest vacuum cleaner in the world and carefully initiated the 'suctioning' of my poor old watch.
2 minutes of intense cleaning later he got up from his seat and fished out a small heating device which he promptly placed across the tiny electrical panel on my watch.

He then replaced the new battery in the empty socket behind and turned it around to see if it was working.

A smile spread across his face.

My watch was ticking again.

He wiped the small layer of sweat that had formed on his forehead and let out a heavy sigh.

A job well done.

We both smiled, it was after all just a watch, but the sheer ecstasy of saving something that is apparently beyond saving is something words cannot describe.

What I learn from every such experience is that its is possible to excel in any walk of life, it doesn't matter if you are crammed up in a small room on a busy street repairing watches or working in a large operation theater with complicated medical equipment saving lives, with a little effort and ingenuity you can out rival any competition and shine.

One more thing,like all masters of their crafts, Girish adds the final touch to all his work by the most important step of all - Setting the the time on the watch !!!

Wishing you the best in whichever line of work you are involved in-

As Always, Yours Truly

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Horror..... the way it was meant to be !

The Orion Mall In Bangalore

There are many things I like about the Orion mall in Bangalore, first of all its one of the few places close to home where I can hang out, second-most of my friends live nearby so nearly all of our reunions are 'Orion based’, third-the food is great, and finally I love the way the parking staff greet me every time I drive into the basement of the mall, it makes up for all the annoying security checks they put me through.

I watched ‘The Phantom Menace’ in the galaxy theatre at MG road in 1999, the theatre has been closed for a long time now, but the memories of watching the movie there are still fresh in my mind, I still recall the pod race scene in the film, the sound system was spectacular and when Anakin Skywalker wins the race I yelled out loud in the theatre full of people, fortunately for me I wasn’t the only one doing so.

Go Anakin Go!!!

I never intended for this blog to be about writing film reviews but since movies form a big part of my life I can’t help sharing a recent movie watching experience I had with you.

The enhanced cinema experience at PVR cinemas Orion is really something worth trying out, if you already haven’t; I didn’t chose to watch a 3D movie or a special effects laden blockbuster to inaugurate my first time at an ECX cinema it was a rather low budget horror film called ‘The Conjuring’ which had received surprisingly good reviews that brought me to the multiplex on Thursday.

Horror movies are usually looked down upon, it’s not entirely the fault of the audience or the critics, lately the whole genre has taken a heavy beating thanks to the movies becoming all about increasing helpings of gore, grotesque monsters and loads of sleaze.

In sharp contrast ‘The Conjuring’ is tribute to old school horror films, the movies that depended on delivering spine chilling scares relying on eerie background scores and moody spooky cinematography.

My brother is a huge horror movie aficionado; in fact he is the biggest fan of the genre I have ever known, the only thing is that he has some criteria that need to be met first before watching any horror film, he generally waits till the last day before the movie leaves the screen to avoid a large noisy crowd, he makes plans months in advance and refrains from watching any of the trailers & if he’s watching the film at home all the curtains and windows have to closed with every light in the room turned off and if you have to open your mouth at any cost it shouldn’t be to talk.

We expected a thin crowd for the matinee at the cinema on Thursday afternoon, we were shocked to see that except for the front four rows the hall was booked, sitting in the front rows not only causes a lot of eye strain it also is a ‘pain in the neck’ but fortunately the seats and screen were so well arranged at ‘Audi 10’ that I didn’t make much of a difference to us.

The movie began on time, I have always felt that adding a ‘Based on a true story’ tag to a film gives it a lot of credibility especially if it belongs to the thriller/horror genre, James Wan is a smart filmmaker if you've seen the movies ‘Saw’ and ‘Insidious’ you’ll know, he not only brings up the whole true story thing at the beginning but also gives a brief but yet menacing introduction to the plot and as the name of the movie comes up you find yourself already hooked.
Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga do a great job as Ed and Lorainne Warren
The plot is very basic, a haunted house, a new family that moves in and weird occurrences that follow, and yet wan uses some really innovative techniques to bring out the scares in you.

I don’t understand why at any given movie screening there are people who seem to have been brought in there by force, when we willingly choose to go for a horror movie we are basically paying reasonably large amounts of money to get scared, I don’t understand why these people have to hoot, howl and clap their way through the film and spoil all the fun.

I generally keep quiet in these situations, in fact while watching a bollywood horror called ‘Phoonk’ few years back I remember changing seats 7 times to avoid these guys, but enough was enough this time things were different, I turned around and……. pleaded with them to keep quiet :-)
It worked! (You don’t always have to shout!!!)
The couple sitting next to me nodded in approval, this movie deserved some respect.

The second half was better than the first, the scares came at regular intervals and there were no disturbances except for the screams that erupted in small pockets from here & there.

To summarize, the direction, the background score and the acting get two thumbs up; on the downside the movie tends to proceed slowly initially, apart from this flaw I didn’t find anything else wrong with this film although a few people may find it offensive that The Conjuring borrows heavily from many classic horror movies such as ‘The Exorcist’, ‘Poltergeist’  and even ‘The Shining’but like i said before director James Wan does not disappoint.

And yeah, one more issue i have with this film is that it’s also been messing with my sleep pattern for the last 3 days.

The movie is still running in theatres, if you have a couple of hours to spare an a brave heart go ahead and watch it,  I can say with a certain amount of certainty that you will  not be disappointed.

As Always, Your’s Truly


Thursday, August 1, 2013

One Step Closer….

I have often wondered how great it would be if life remained static.

A life where friends stayed friends, where parents never grew old & where love lasted for a lifetime, I have found it annoying and unfair how life changes every minute, the most dynamic process existent in the world is probably life itself.

Does life ever wait, does time ever stand still? 
Is there a pause button on the remote control of life?

It’s funny how we find answers to some of life’s most complicated questions in the simplest, most basic scenarios from our day to day routines.

I spent a good portion of my morning today at the Jalahalli branch of the State bank of India, this is one of the busiest branches of the bank in the whole city. They have close to a million registered accounts and irrespective of what day of the month it is, or what time of the day you happen to come here, it is perennially busy.

On most days the token allotted to you will be at least a hundred numbers away from the one being attended to. Many of us in fact plan days in advance before visiting the bank, on many occasions I have taken the token in the morning and returned in the afternoon to find my turn yet to come.

I had gotten everything ready yesterday itself, the forms were filled, the letters to the manager were written, the cheques were signed and I was armed with my passbook and a pen waiting for the gates to be opened at the branch early this morning.

Fifty people waited with me, some people tried to put their hands through the gaps in the collapsible gates and windows in frail attempts to reach the token dispensing machine first.

At 10:00 AM the gates were opened, I was right in the middle of the crowd so I didn’t have to move, the people from behind pushed me in.
We stopped still in our shoes, the bank was being renovated. The counters were gone, the token number display and the token dispensers were switched off.

I couldn’t believe it, we now had to form queues and wait in line for our turn.

I had plans, nothing great but something that would keep me occupied for the entire morning.
But now, with the token system gone I had no other choice but to wait in the queue that grew longer by the second.

The problem was that I had three different things to do at the same bank; three different things meant three different officers three different queues, hours and hours of waiting.
And guess what, after spending a good amount of time in one ‘Q’ I was told that I was at the wrong counter.

I sighed heavily and repeatedly looking at the good old worn out token dispensing machine and reminisced the days when I would push the red button on it, take the small piece of paper that came out warm and clean and go about my business.

Oh, how I missed those days.

The young couple waiting in front of me were arguing about the movie show they were about to miss because of the delay at the bank (apparently it was the man’s fault), and the elderly man behind me kept complaining about how important it was to have a line dedicated exclusively to senior citizens.

I yanked my phone out of pocket and plugged in my headphones.

The song that rang out in my ears was ‘Bon Jovi’s-One step closer’.

I have heard this song a thousand times in the past, and just a couple of days ago I was thinking of deleting it from my playlist.In the song Jon talks about a lot of bad experiences he has had in his life, but irrespective of what has already happened to him in the past he finds himself one step closer to his destiny.

As the music played I looked again at the crowd around me, the lyrics started making a lot of sense to me right then.

One step closer, everyone in the room was taking one step closer, some were walking toward the counter, some towards the exit, but no matter how insignificant the purpose of their movement, they were moving forward.

I Broke off from my line and took a seat in the lounge.

Fine, everyone around was moving but I wanted to see what happened if I stopped in my tracks and refused to go with the flow, I wanted to know.

Nothing happened, people went about their business, money exchanged hands, drafts were issued, cheques were cleared, the tea break made way for the lunch break which made way for the second tea break and the time drew nearer for the bank to close for the day.

That’s when I got it.
I realized right then that it didn’t matter whether I moved ahead or not, the world didn’t stop, the clock didn’t stop ticking, and the earth didn’t stop revolving around the sun.

Tomorrow the bank would open again, and it wouldn’t matter if I came around , the work would go on as usual, it was up to me if I wished to get the job done or not.

Everything and everyone was moving……… one step closer.

Closer to what? You may ask.

There’s only one answer to that, like it or not, with every passing minute of every single hour and every single day we are moving closer to our respective destinies.

Life is not going to wait for you, just like everything else in the world it has an expiry date and it’s going to get there whether you are ready or not.

Everything in life changes, and we may not necessarily love these changes that happen from time to time, but I guess it’s always better to step in and seize the day instead of just standing by and watching life pass you by, because, trust me when I say this-life will pass you by, and as I realized it today at the bank it doesn’t wait for anyone.

The Latin phrase ‘Carpe Diem’ now means a lot to me, I hope it will to you as well.

Until Next Time.