Monthly Archives: April 2005

Karan Arjun

The maintenance folks of my apartment complex are doing some roof repairs and they’ve been hammering and drilling over my head all day. All this has resulted in putting a very bad roof-related song in my head — chhat par soya thha behnoyi, main tane samajh ke so gayi from Karan Arjun (1995) picturized on Mamta Kulkarni pretending to seduce Amrish Puri, no less. Oh, the sheer joy. By the way, if you have a better roof song to suggest, please do so and I will be eternally grateful. So thanks to how my twisted mind works ..

The roof —» chhat par soya thha behnoyi —» Karan Arjun —» Karna —» the Mahabharata

.. I found myself discussing the Mahabharata with a friend. Don’t look so shocked. I, like every other kid, read a healthy dose of Amar Chitra Katha comics while growing up, so I can sound like I know what I’m talking about, even when I don’t.

So I got thinking about Karna and what a tragic and fascinating story his life was. One of the last few good men. He was a good son, a loyal friend, a righteous man and a skilled warrior. In fact, he is said to be a better archer than Arjuna, but Arjuna refused to compete and find out. Karna’s unknown parentage was used against him. It was beneath Arjuna to fight someone whose lineage and kshatriya antecedents were not known, you see. Total crapola, I tell ya. And thus, Karna never got the respect and glory he truly deserved. A terrible victim of circumstances.

The story of his birth is rather interesting too — Karna was the son of Kunti from Surya, the Sun God. Kunti, while still a young girl, served and cared for Rishi Durvasa with great devotion while he was visiting their kingdom. Pleased with her dedication he taught her a special mantra. If she thought of a God while chanting the mantra, that God would appear before her and she would bear a son with him. The son would have the God-like qualities of the God in question. Immaculate conception, of course, so don’t get any ideas.

But Kunti had her doubts. She thought Rishi Durvasa pulled a fast one on her and the mantra was fake. Plus she was hajjaar curious, so she thought she’d test it out. So she looked out her window, thought of Surya and chanted the magic mantra. Ta-da! The Sun God appeared and .. long story short, Karna was born. Major problemo! Kunti was unmarried, so the fear of social stigma made her go bye-bye baby. Karna was put in a basket and floated off into the Ganga river. Now you know how all those Hindi-film babies end up in baskets in rivers all over. Kunti’s idea. Karna was found by a charioteer Adhiratha and grew up as his son although it’s a miracle he didn’t grow up to be a basket case. Anyhoo, many years later, Kunti married Pandu and re-used the mantra successfully to give birth to more sons — the Pandavas.

Q: So, now that you know the background, what would you call the story of Karna’s birth?
A: A beta-test!   (Beta = Hindi for Son)

Yes, you have been taken for a ride (in a chariot, no less). The whole mythology lecture was just a setup for a bad PJ. That concludes our usual quota of mindless nonsense. I shall make myself scarce now. Jaati hoon main ..

Photoblog : I ‘heart’ Yash Chopra

I 'heart' Yash Chopra
I ‘heart’ Yash Chopra
Somewhere around home, Boston, Massachusetts

April showers bring May flowers, they say. Wonder what April snow brings? More woe? Last night we had snow. Again. Now, some of you may find the idea of white fluffy snowflakes softly drifting to the ground, rather poetic and beautiful. Total Robert Frost in Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening types. Yes yes, six months ago, I thought so too. Was ready to wax eloquent about the untouched beauty of the first snowfall and what not. But that was then and this is now.

Weary and wiser after six hundred snowstorms, I sing a very different tune now. A good helping of Hindi film dream sequences is just what I need. Some gorgeous blue skies, sun-soaked tulip fields, bright yellow dupattas fluttering against the warm breeze .. Yeah, Yash Chopra is my new best friend.

Ephemeral spark of the jobless mind

Early morning creativity at work here, so not to mind, pliss.

Q: What do you call a good-looking but dumb babe, who says contradictory things?
A: A foxymoron! ;)

I am quite happy with myself for this creation. The oxymorons amongst my readers (the smart kind, the plain vanilla ones and the tutti-frutti types) are to not take offense-woffense, please. Thankoo.

Kilroy is here

Target audience for this post:

  • People who endured the painful egg-puns in my last blog and no longer believe in the virtues of the egg — the egg-no-sticks.
  • Patient people who waited for the Kilroy post I have threatened to write. Thanks Shantanu!

Once upon a time I mentioned about my mom, the teacher. Today we shall finish that thought. It should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog, that I love to get on a soapbox and preach. Give me a captive audience and I’ll sit and give fundaes on irrelevant things in life, till the cows come home. (Once they’re home, I expect them to listen as well.) And with a teacher-mom at home, I like to believe that this lecturing habit is in my genes, as opposed to other parts of my wardrobe.

So what’s the lecture topic for today? Kilroy. Why? Because my sidebar has a doodleboard with the title Kilroy Was Here that has mystified many a reader and resulted in interestingly varied queries:

  • Who is Kilroy and why was he above your doodleboard?
  • Why only Kilroy? Why can’t I have my name instead?
  • Why was Quickgun Murugan not here?
  • Who is Roy and why have you killed him?

Yes, the blog world has been terribly excited with the buzz surrounding this phrase, it seems. And like any good mystery, this too should be solved. So here’s the scoop. Of course, you search-engine savvy folks could have found out for yourself. You probably already did. But if I can turn a simple Google search into an elaborate whoop-de-doo, you think I’ll pass the chance? So here it is. Information paraphrased from various websites. Why reinvent the wheel?

KilroyDuring the World War II, the phrase ‘Kilroy was here’ began to appear wherever US troops were. It was often accompanied with the image of a face with a long nose and two big round eyes or small dot eyeballs peeking over a wall or a line representing a wall. Everything else, except sometimes his fingers gripping the top of the wall, was hidden behind the wall itself.

James J Kilroy was a ship inspector at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, USA. (Ooh! Local boy!) It was his responsibility to check on how many holes a riveter had filled in a shift on any given day. In order to prevent double counting by dishonest riveters and to prove to his supervisors that he’d been doing his work, he began marking ‘Kilroy was here’ inside the hulls of the ships being built. He used yellow crayon so it would be easily visible; this way the off-shift inspectors wouldn’t count the rivets more than once and pay the riveter for work he hadn’t done.

Once the ship became operative, carrying military troops that were headed overseas and bound for the war, the phrase was a complete mystery. Why it was there and being found in such out of the way places made it all the more mysterious. All they could be certain of was that Kilroy, whoever he was, had ‘been there first’. As a joke, troops began placing the graffiti wherever the US forces landed and claimed it had already been there when they’d arrived.

Whoever originated it, Kilroy quickly became the United States super GI who had always already been wherever men were sent by the military. The game quickly became a challenge to put the picture and slogan in the most unlikely places imaginable first. It is said to be atop Mount Everest, on the torch of the Statue of Liberty, on the underside of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, on the Marco Polo Bridge in China, on huts in Polynesia, on a girder on the George Washington Bridge in New York and scrawled in the dust on the moon. There were contests in the Air Force to beat Kilroy to isolated and uninhabited places around the globe.

The cartoon part of the graffiti has a different origin. According to some, it is originally British, named Mr Chad, and apparently predates Kilroy by a few years. It commonly appeared with the phrase “Wot, no ____?” underneath, with the blank filled in by whatever was in short supply in Britain at the time — cigarettes, spam, etc. Sometime during the war, Chad and Kilroy met and merged, the American phrase appearing under the British drawing.

The combined logo plus doodle gained popularity, initially appearing wherever the military went, but soon spreading in use amongst civilians as well. And thus was born, the most ubiquitous of all graffiti.

And now, it has appeared on my blog. Much joy!