Tuesday, December 30, 2008

There will be blood

Had watched this at home a while back. It was ok, didn't drag too much while watching it, but can't say it left too much of an impression either.

Wasn't aware that it was loosely inspired by Oil! by Upton Sinclair, a book I'd read in school , and which I think I've almost completely forgotten. Talking of Upton Sinclair, I think it was The Jungle which left quite an impact when I'd read it around the same time as oil. Maybe I'll reread oil sometime.. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bikhre Tinke - Amrit Lal Nagar

This was one of the 2 hindi books picked up while I was in Delhi last, and was finished off in the past 2 days.

Pretty much a disappointment - seems like the guy doesn't know the first thing about story telling. The story lurches from one incident to another, and doesn't focus on anything at all. 

Considering that this is a much decorated author, maybe I'll give one of his more popular novels a try some time, however this one was certainly a waste. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

yo yo

All it takes to feel great one fine morning, is to feel half way human after you've been feeling like a lump of diseased meat for a week. 

And likewise , it just takes a step back to the energyless lump category to feel miserable again. 

sigh, no yesterday looked good, today not so good..

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Recent reading.

Gosh its been a long while since I've put up an update on all the reading I've been upto, lets see I've almost lost count over the past months. So here's a short summary while I get back in groove:

1. Bitter Chocolate - Pinky Virani
"Good" would be a strange way of describing a book thats on Child Sexual Abuse. But it is certainly a book that needed writing, and if it leaves you with a not so nice feeling in the pit of the stomach, well thats certainly needed. That its a problem thats huge and horribly under - reported is something which we realised in our school days.
And it was funny how, when monsoon wedding came out, so many of us immediately caught on to the sub plot, simply at the first scene. No easy answers, but yes it happens, with people you'd trust, heck mostly with people you'd trust.
Essential reading for all parents. 

2. Agatha Christie
Sparkling cyanide, good wholesome fare as usual !
Black coffee - interesting, this one was originally a play, and was later adapted by someone else as a novel, nice all the same.

3. Johnny & the Bomb- Terry Pratchett
A kiddies book, but I quite enjoyed it. I guess I haven't grown up much !

4.  The Shining - Stephen King
Well written and a good read. More so, because I've never been much of a fan of the horror genre, either in books or movies. Still I thought this one was well written, and just the right mix of horrifying and good ol story telling. 

I'm sure I've read a few others recently and forgotten. Will update if I can remember. 

For now I'm taking a short break from reading. In fact I'm trying to take a short break from reading, tv and rationing internet if possible ( this is what is called a stretch goal) 

Will just try to catch my breath back, the past few months have been umm - for lack of a better word - packed. 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Another day

another day, another night

the same reactions - bewilderment, dismay, anger, helplessnes , frustration, .. fury? 

i don't know what to feel anymore. or say. 

i don't think the numbers matter, or the absurd coverage. 

whats awful, is that the only allowable term for mass murders, used to be called 'war' between 'sides' throughout millenia. It was in war, that you could kill germans, burn witches, guerrila attack us terrorists. There was a side you chose, and you killed the other side. Sure there was collateral damage. But there were sides.

It is no longer so. because there are no sides. we just have hooligans, sure they invoke their dear damned religion, and  but at the end of the day, they are a bunch of trigger happy hooligans.  Of course, they are trying hard to hide that, and to create sides, and i guess succeeding. 

I'm on the fence as usual. Maybe by the end of their antics, they will manage to firmly create the sides. Then we can all live happily, hating the other side. Maybe I'll also end up falling to one side. 

And then again, maybe I won't. 



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Is probably so named, because thats what it leaves you yearning for, :) I doubt if poor bond got so much as a quantum of it. 

I'm not much of a bond movies fan, I tend to watch them without too much analysis, giving reason a wide berth. Like the cartoons, the Tom and Jerry's where no matter what happens, Jerry remains the same , so does Bond, not a scratch that lasts beyond 2 days.  

Its good fun tho, the whole idea of the invincible hero, taking on the baddies, decade after decade, bedding fresh females, trying new toys like invisible cars ( hmm now those were missing in this one) and generally having a blast in endless action sequences. 

Although if you ask me, I'd enjoy the cartoons a shade better , if they had a female protagonist, bedding younger ( oh much younger, no wrinkles!) males, who of course should conviniently die horrible deaths to give the correct "oh my god" feeling. And she could generally be having a good time beating up the baddies, trying new weapons, saving the hero, the world, and maybe even the romulan empire , all in a days work. 

But then as always I'm a minority of 1. Sigh too bad, no harm in dreaming that some day there'll be movies with me as target audience! 

 

Saturday, November 01, 2008

drafts

was just trying to add a new post, and realised I've left so many drafts in the past month. whats wrong? or is it just a reflection of all the things i leave mid way in life? ( I've started the analysis, but i don't think i'll be completing it!) 

books, movies left unreviewed - when i began this blog, I'd promised myself, i'd keep a regular record of that, something i can come back to later and reflect on as time passes. so haven't done that recently. 

for now, if there's one word that can describe me , its - tiiiiirrrred. just so tired. some day i will get a good nights' sleep. some day soon. 

in other news i've had a formal status change. i'm happy, even if i can't quite explain why! :)

time for sleep now!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Brother Nikhil

touching, nice, rather too sad, and yes a bit slow and faltering in places.

But I still love it. Its got pretty much a perfect cast ( juhi, sanjay suri, purab , lilette, victor bannerjee, it can't get any better) , can't think of anyone who didn't do full justice to their character. And as with raincoat, a second viewing lets you catch nuances you'd missed the first time around. Relationships can be complex, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, father/mother, the someone special ( yes not everyone even gets the use of the word spouse) .

Although 'my brother nikhil' doesn't explore them nearly anywhere as well as it could have done ( perhaps because it really bites off a great deal more than it can chew, and then loses a lot of steam towards the end) but it still stands head and shoulders above all these big budget, totally plastic, totally blinkered main stream hindi movies we still get. Someone give these ddlj, kkhh, qsqt, and the likes, a budget cut!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Jaane tu ya jaane na

Sweet movie overall. i think it was the humour and the great support cast, which lifted it from being just another partly formula movie, to a really enjoyable one.

Its got the usual, boy girl are good friends, nothing more ( now when will we get a movie, which really really shows that such a thing is possible???) . Clear cut black and white etching of good boy and bad boy. 6-7 songs, and a fight or two later, the boy and girl realise they're in lau after all.

But the parts I totally loved were Ratna and Naseer ( poster boy? !! ) , and teeny weeny, but hilarious appearance of Paresh Rawal.

Like I'd said earlier, its really good to see genuinly funny hindi movies these days. The non - slapstick kinds!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

2001 a space odyssey

sucks sucks sucks, as far as i'm concerned about 80% of it can be edited out, with great benefit to the viewer. 

Gosh I can't remember when I've been so frustrated watching movie before, if its bad, its usually either worth laughing over or at least walking out of. 

I did neither in the course of watching this one, with increasing blood pressure, based solely on the fact that I'd heard such good things about it on the net. I kept waiting through indescribably booooring, dragged out sequences ( if ever have to watch people walking in zero gravity for 5 mins again, i'll barf. And maybe those pretty color graphics were path breaking 40 years back, but these days you get them non stop everywhere, and surely even back then, you didn't have to go on and on and on showing swishing colors for eternity?) 

Mistake. anyway, going by the great reviews on wikipedia and imdb, i must be in minority, but what can i say, i wish i could bring back kubrick and leave him on jupiter. Argh. And more importantly, who was the editor, wait lemme check . hmm someone called Ray Lovejoy, who certainly should be on jupiter as well. 

deep breathing, thats what i need to do. 

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Wednesday.

Saw this one last week, and thanks to the universal recommnedations from almost everyone, shelled out the money to the useless innovative multiplex.

As an aside, there was a time, when I felt really bad that halls were closing down, that people tended to watch movies at home, rather than go to the hall. Now I'm resigned to the fact. There is just no way, no way at all, that the rates are commensurate with the experiance. I think I will increasingly turn to buying CDs and DVDs.

Anyway, back to the movie, it was a good movie as movies go. Good restrained acting by both Naseer and Anupam. As for Jimmy , he's done a good job, but for me he's eye candy, he just needs to be there :)

Yes the last bit of speech was a bit overdone, and could have been better. It also did not help that I guessed what was coming far too early, probably the result of having read too many mystery stories, reading too much into the hen- pecked husband incident, and knowing at some level that for so many ppl to have liked the movie , something like that had to come.

I think it also helps the movie that it has come at a time when there is such a flood of terrorist attacks that even our numbed, wearied senses have been jolted. Almost everywhere you turn, there is a sense of shock and disbelief. More so because I for one, can't quite put my finger on "what" do these people want? What do they get ( apart from the obvious money) by doing this? And then finally after a stage, comes the anger, I don't care what they want. "They" need to go. Period.

And then while we are stewing in our helplessness , along comes this.

I'm not taking anything away from the movie, which I thought was reasonably well made. But I do think that the literal wave of endorsements its got, ( mine included ) has also to do with the timing. Viewed in isolation, as nn and I had discussed, this could have been a great movie, but stopped short at being just a good movie.

WhatToWrite ??

Its been a busy 5 days, starting with a team outing , a quick trip to Delhi, another marriage, and then the ongoing discussions... There's been a ton of stuff I've been wanting to blog about, couple of books, movies, work, endings, hope for beginnings, however I find that I'm sleepless on this sunday night ( ouch monday already! aargh!) and quite unable to compose my thoughts in order to write a proper, logical , free flowing post. 

Failing which I'll scribble random thoughts instead.. 

The year and a half went past rapidly. Not something I'm very proud of at work.. but hoping that change shall be good! The team outing was fun.. I'd forgotten what an exhilerating feeling it is to whizz past on skates. Its also nice to let your hair down, and get into kiddie rides once in a while, reminded me of all the Appu ghar and Essel world days. 

Once in a while, its not so bad to almost miss a flight, and be the last one to board, just in the nick of time, grinning from ear to ear!

Cleaning out memories from a house can tell you interesting things, things  you'd forgotten about yourself, or perhaps chosen to forget. Looking at photos, cards, letters from long ago, feels almost like peeping into someone else's life, so much water seems to have gone under the bridge. That person, was that really me?? Hmm interesting, so perhaps I'm still like that, just don't realise it!

Its not easy to come to terms with the fact that some relationships have come a full circle, and the change is permanent. looking back will not help, and neither will filial guilt. 

Delhi's roads remain as they were 15 years ago, then as now, useless loafers roamed them at midnight. Then as now, I was lucky to get away alive and with my moral character (!) intact. And I have no regrets.

No ms chief minister, it is not adventurism. It is a sorry statement on your leadership that you consider ordinary citizens walking/driving on public spaces as adventurism, shame on you for suggesting such a thing, or expecting employers to provide "safety" for mid night travellers. Does that also mean that you have totally given up on those of us, who might need to use the roads for reasons other than work? The problem madam, is not police patrols, but the police personnel, who refuse to lodge FIRs. Police, who think in a certain way, of course you think the same way, and so do most of the judges of this country, and unfortunately most of my friends. 
So all I can say is, that in my view you are all wrong. Constitutionally and ethically. 

In other news, another one bites the dust! I wish her all the best, and do hope, that she will not vanish into the mists of the-married-ones, who crossed the threshold and never came back, ( there are a good number of those already!) 

A friend prepares to start sketching again, lets hope we get to see some of those famous funny cartoons soon!

And then there is the ongoing saga. Which I guess will continue for a while, lets hope it comes to a happy conclusion, the clash of ego's notwithstanding! :) 


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I refuse.

Yes thats my answer. I refuse.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I lost everything in the post natal depression - Erma Bombeck

Sort of funny. Some parts are hilarious, some parts go completely over my head. Its not really a story or anything, just a collection of funnily written takes by a ostensibly hassled housewife.

Not bad to pass the time :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Change

is inevitable isn't it?

I've seen myself change over the years. And I don't mean the change of black hair to white. I had principles. And then , as I started disliking them, I had others. Groucho would've been proud of me.

I had a phase of vegetarianism, which lasted a few years. 

I staunchly believed that all citizens are equal before the state and law, and then one fine evening, a spontaneous celebration left me wondering whether its really all that wrong to have prejudices. Don't the prejudices often grow out from statistics? 
 
And by the same logic, I once believed that while hiring/ interviewing people for office, there shouldn't be a prejudice in favor of 'good' colleges.  And then with the same statistics logic, I wondered if it is really so wrong to be prejudiced?  

Not so long ago, I was a developer starting out at the bottom, when everything the seniors did was flawed. We laughed at the forwards which showed all the funny contradictory things the higher ups did. And then the other day, I saw one of the old forwards, and realised that my sympathies had shifted almost entirely to the much maligned senior :)

And finally, what triggered this post was the distinct realisation in the past few weeks, that I have zero sympathy left with the Amitabh and Hema of Baaghban. You set aside the caricatures of the children/parents figures that the film portrays, and with what is left, I find myself fully rooting for the children.  Would I change again in another 20 years, if I have children of my own? I hope not. 

I will perhaps write in detail on all that I feel is wrong with our "culture" of "respecting" elders. For now, I just feel a sense of relief, that I've finally broken free from the load of bull we've always been fed in this area. 

Change is good. 

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Nemesis - Agatha Christie

I think I'll rapidly reread and reenjoy all of Poirot's cases again, thanks to the library! :) This was also devoured afresh. Must have read it a long time back, had pretty much forgotten the mystery.

Am also on the way to wading through the complete Perry Mason series which is good fun as well! Finished the case of the rolling bones.

Time to replenish reading material.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Aamir

Had seen this one also some time back. I quite liked this movie. Not very many new ideas, but the usual standard arguments and counter arguments, put across reasonably well. Decent acting, and it keeps a good pace. It is after all partly a thriller, and so needs to keep the pace.

Doesn't do much of a job of explaining why the protagonist is picked for special treatment, and so leaves a few loose ends. I've heard its a copy of Cavite, would like to see that if I get a chance.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Amu

Had watched this a month back, but never got around to writing about it. I quite liked it. Some patchy acting by supporting cast( I wonder what was Brinda doing there? ) , and a rather non polished look, reminds you of those parallel cinema movies of the 70s-80s sometimes. Good acting by Konkona of course, ( I absolutely love her!) Overall a story well told, ( and of course we don't know what the government edited out)

And it is rather interesting isn't it, that its a part of our history thats so thoroughly buried and forgotten. It was quite real and close when it happened. I remember distinctly standing on the roof of the house we then stayed in, counting the burning houses all around. There were at least 5-6 visible from the relatively short 2nd storey roof. The policeman shooing us kids away and telling us there was a curfew on. The playtime discussions of whose father was keeping mid night vigils and how. Did I wonder then why my father didn't ?

I don't think I wondered then, or for many years after that. But watching Amu recently and the subsequent discussions with nn who feels quite strongly about the whole issue did result in some get me thinking about some things.

Yes it was a pretty blatant state instigated/organised/ condoned/ and finally forgotten violence. No justice was ever served, and every 5-6 years you still get a random feature on some show about the widows still fighting for justice. But the fact is that not only is the whole thing forgottten, its been forgotten with a vengeance. That this movie was buried is pertinent, because not only was it buried, it was buried so effectively that most of us didn't even hear about it. Which is somewhat different from the burial for all the other bombay/gujarat movies, whose banning evokes much coverage.

So the obvious question of why its forgotten, perhaps isn't that hard to answer. After all who benefits from raking it up ? Justice for all, as we all know, is just a platitude, there has to be some mileage somewhere for someone important for anything to happen, which isn't the case here.

The other question, more interesting perhaps is, what changed? What changed in such a way that it became a 0 mileage issue? 2 decades back, when you boarded a DTC bus, and the sign said - 'seat ke neeche bamb ho sakta hai' , you glanced down if you saw a guy with a turban and beard. That changed. It changed so completely, that I'd forgotten that people ever had such prejudices. However, nowadays, we'll glance down if we see a guy in white cap and beard.
I don't know the answer to that one - what changed.

And of course there's the third question, should it be this way? That history should be rewritten, and books, movies and plays banned because they may raise questions? What if the questions are long forgotten? Is it any different if the questions are asked everyday anyway?

I don't think it should be this way, I guess I'm still young enough to believe in the ideals about justice. But the cost benefit equations seem more complex than they once did.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A lifetime of patience.

Spoke to someone after years and years. Had thought a few times about her in these score of years. Convinced myself that "everything must be ok". There's such a nice web of "normalcy" we weave for the benefit of world at large. but so often there's still a private hell to come back to.

My approach in life has always been one of "run". Whenever a problem has come around, my first instinct has always been to give up and run. Over the years I came to recognise it as such, and did try to change.

But when i look around now, i sometimes wonder. Is patiently staying and fighting always the better option? the answer perhaps is blowing in the wind.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Maan gaye mughal-e-azam

pop quiz for the day - which is the worst movie that I've seen at the movie hall?

maan-gaye-mughal-e-azam probably wins . Its given tough competition by 2-3 others ( oops , shiva, a now forgotten one with Saurabh Shukla wearing wigs aargh!). But I think it just edges past them, or should i say below them.

However I think the beauty of this movie is that with such an amazing cast, it manages to stink so badly that the stench just floors you!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Raincoat

Saw it again yesterday on TV. I'd loved it earlier, and I loved it again. amazing screenplay and dialogue, good editing, decent acting ( probably the only movie where i could stand Aish).

And a second viewing shows up so many things you missed the first time around. Perhaps I should watch a whole lot of my favourite movies a second time!

the line i remembered the first time around, and which again caught attention - yeh aapka prayashchit hai... ya pratishodh? Hmm so much of the movie hovers therein!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Dream Deferred - Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?


by Langston Hughes


Monday, August 04, 2008

Murder.

I'm not sure it evokes the kind of horror in me that its supposed to. Ok let me make that crystal clear, murder in my womb is my prerogative, as long as the life is in my womb right upto a day before the damn delivery. And no one else has any right to preach what is right or wrong.

It might be wrong in their books, if so they can apply their rules to their lives.

And I'm all for murdering little lives in my womb if I want to, I'm sorry its my body, whether the life is healthy, unhealthy, male, female or any damn thing. Its my frigging body it will draw sustenance from after all. If I decide to eat junk, smoke like a chimney and fast every 5 days a week, and generally make sure the "life" goes for a toss, would someone be able to stop me? Should someone be able to stop me? Sure one fine day I might childishly decide I changed my mind, and if so I shouldn't have to give justifications to the government, the society and some random strangers. I don't see by what right someone else can tell me what to do with it. Least of all the government.

There was a time perhaps when the individual had to bow before society norms. There was a reason for it, the very survival of the species was at stake. When we were helpless in the face of plagues which wiped millions, we had to ensure the best chance of survival to every life possible. Individualism wouldn't have taken us very far. I'm sure we're not at a stage of such a precarious edge where the survival of the human species is concerned. I'm sure a few years would take us closer to babies being produced in factories, which might not be such a bad idea. Of course thats assuming the funds are channeled for that kind of research rather than passing laws and wringing hands and passing moral judgements on abortions.

And the argument that this is the same as any other murder is just infantile. This is a unique situation where this life is dependent for its very bed and breakfast on me. It exists due to my actions. Applying any other citizens individual rights to it is ridiculous. It doesn't have an individual existence yet. Why is its right to survival more important than mine to live an unhealthy lifestyle?

Which is interestingly linked with the other question of taking one's own life, another law I disagree with strongly. The government does not own my life does it? How than can it make a law threatening me with imprisonment for a failed suicide attempt? ( its actually funny if you look at it, you'd better get it right the first time, or you'd be punished for failure!) This one is actually even more fraught with contradictions than the one on abortions. To take just one, if I choose to stop eating, would I be force fed? And if so, how come those starvation deaths were not avoided ?

A Beautiful Mind - Sylvia Nasser

Just finished the book, but can't help talking about both the movie and the book, since I saw the movie first. Which in fact brings us to the interesting question of movies based on books, and which one should you read/ see first. But we'll leave that topic for another day.

Frankly in this case, I think the movie had very little in common with the book. The movie though brilliantly made and acted in, is a very limited and simplified account when it comes to covering John's life. It covers mainly the schizophrenia, which I thought it did beautifully. I specially like the idea of starting out from a patient's viewpoint and how real everything is to them. However there's a lot more to him in the biography of course, a third of it doesn't even begin about his illness.

The book is a much more detailed and researched bit. In fact I would say too detailed - too many names and facts. Perhaps that inevitable with a bio, however it does diminish the enjoyment for someone who's not familiar with the mathematical circles. It does a fair job of sketching his mathematical achievements, the person himself, warts and all, the hint of the illness always lingering in the background, and the final interesting background of the Nobel itself which perhaps was the main reason that we've heard of him at all. Overall an interesting read, but could've been more interesting with less names, and more well ideas..

I loved the name though. The beauty implied is very different from the one portrayed in the movie, and thats interesting. After all beauty does lie in the eye of the beholder.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Patience

is what I lack. I wish I didn't get frustrated and lose my temper.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Dark Knight

Watched it recently, although missed the first 20 mins. ( Which is perhaps significant, since I don't know what I missed, and I'm one of those sticklers for watching the complete movie) Anyway for what its worth, i'll scribble my opinions based on what i saw.

Liked it overall. Definitely no comparison with lame spiderman flicks. Wasn't a big fan of batman either, although I liked jack nicholson as the joker .

This film is certainly a better balanced one, doesn't descend completely into special effects and elaborate twists. keeps some semblance of plot. Doesn't add too much dripping emotion where none is needed, ( although it does add more than needed in a couple of places)

And of course to state the much stated, the joker is certainly the sight for sore eyes. Great acting by him, although I'd go further to say that the remaining cast was all pretty good. ( barring that single female, who was definitely very very sad. surely they could have found someone who could act? )

overall a movie worth spending money to watch at the hall, but I'm not sure what all the hype about "all time greats" is about. I mean its looks great only if you consider that it has to be believable, inspite of the silly cape flapping gentleman. And inspite of various places it slows down, ( and yes it does, i even saw someone catching a quick nap!). And there's no way it even comes close to movies like shawshank redemption, schindler's list or one flew over the cuckoo's nest.

Monday, July 14, 2008

News

What constitutes news? I'm not sure what news is, however I'm pretty sure about what it is not. About what should not be plastered on the so called 24 hour news channels.

I'd pretty much stopped watching the news, but still the glimpses one gets during the increment decrement round are bad enough. And for the past few days I'm actually getting to see whole minutes of them as I'm no longer doing the surfing.

There was a movie I'd watched once - Mad City, which left quite an impact. Perhaps I watched aeons ago, while I was still stupid enough to think that what came on tv was a big deal. That if someone said something "in front of millions of ppl" it *must* mean something. I think that movie illustrated quite clearly what is called trial by media. And also what is the meaning of distortion and character assassination.

Does anyone even check up on such a basic thing as cause and effect? That when you rattle off two words in the the same sentences, do they actually have any relation to each other? You'd think someone would at least wonder how mental trauma can cause paralysis? You'd think twice before labeling someone "haiwan"? You'd have at least some sense of proportion about say 10 routine brutal ( I mean brutal) murders in a village, and a random rare murder of good middle class girl in city? You'd have something useful to say when plastering a useless so called wrestlers face for 2 hours in the name of a "feature" ?

Bah!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Motorcycle Diaries.

A bit too slow and uneventful for my liking. And tho the "lets see our world " struck a chord, the outlook somehow seemed somehow different. Not sure what made me not quite identify, perhaps it was just too male in its viewpoint? Can't quite place my finger on it, but certainly a bit of a disappointment.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Never Let me go - Kazuo Ishiguro

Couldn't put it down once I'd picked it up. Not that the plot was impossible to guess, you can make out similarities from cheezy hollywood movies.

But then the appeal is not about the "plot" or story, so to speak, but the way its hauntingly written.The setting perhaps is incidental, or at least not what grabs you hard. No, what holds you rivetted. is the atmosphere of something just beyond your reach, something lost, something you've always been trying to find.

And in the way you follow the characters and sometimes know just what they feel, although you have nothing in common with the "chilling jigzaw" of alternate reality thats been described on the cover jacket.

Maybe I'll try reading remains of the day as well. Perhaps the book will do what the movie certainly didn't do - grab my attention.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Double sin and other stories. - Agatha Christie

Another Agatha Christie polished off. I realised that I'd read this one before, but enjoyed it again nevertheless.

This also had a couple of short stories which didn't feature Poirot or Miss Marple, which were good all the same.

That reminded me of one of her Mary Westmaccot books I'd read years ( just checked up , it was Absent in the spring) which also impressed me a lot. There's something about the way she writes, it not just the plots, mysteries or her characters, it also about how with simple straightforward english, sans any long winded boring descriptions, she can evoke a great deal of atmosphere in a situation.

Now on to another book.. tv is out of my control now!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Perry Masons - Erle Stanley Gardner

The case of the shoplifters shoe was read. Acquaintance renewed with the Perry, Della and Paul after a long time.

The courtroom dramas are good fun. Not quite in the same league as my dear Hercule Poirot which I'm reading again now, but quite enjoyable nevertheless.

A few murders, mysteries, and questions - who was it, and I'm happy!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The musty smells of a treasure chamber..

hmm can't think of a title for this post.. started with the "library smells" but realized that it sounds as if a library smells bad! Which is not what i was trying to say at all..

I went to a library today after ages, and got myself a few books. The first thing that stuck me, was the typical musty smell of books.

Brought back all the memories of the DPL, conveniently located within the apartments perimeters. the first library that started it all. The love of reading. The 10 paise membership and 5 paise fines. The Enid Blyton's, Nancy Drew, graduating to Ellery Queen. the James Hadley chase picked up by mistake, ( yes a book can actually make you want to puke! ) It was the tiny one room library , but it was such a crucial part of growing up from 8 to 14.

We moved houses later, and there were other DPLs. The same nondescript book binding ( was it green? blue ? grey? or just some shade created in the painters mixing palette? ) the prices had increased , ( ah inflation! from 10 paise to 50 paise! ) The library was much bigger, a good few rooms! But then also further from home. Change two buses and walk a bit.

But the smell was the same. The smell of books, old paper. Hope, dreams , fantasy, escape, and occasionally some learning as well!

Then there was a period of library less ness. Books were obtained mostly from friends. studies took over. then work. somewhere along the way book reading diminished. Money was easier to come by than time, or so I told myself. It was easier to pay lip service to the love of books by installing book shelves and buying books. some read, some unread, for months, even years on end. Borrowing from friends continued to be the main source of books. but then, thats mostly a smell less transaction. And it never has the same element of randomness, the thrill of discovery..

But today, after a break of a few years, I got back into a library, and remembered again, just what fun it is to inhale that musty smell, walk down a row of books, pick up an author you've wanted to read, NOT think about whether it is worth buying, and just say, lets try this and see :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Memento

I guess this is an example of what is called- non - linear narration, a rather interesting technique. The story starts at the chronological end, and works its way backward, taking you through interesting questions about "memory". The main protagonist suffers from a "condition" as he calls it - he remembers things clearly up to the day of a head injury , after that he can not make any new memories, everything fades away.

Good movie. Sort of a whodunit. Keeps you guessing from the beginning and doesn't let you down in the end!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cheezily bad Movies

So having watched a great deal of good hindi movies in past 2-3 years, i watched a couple of classic horrors on tv recently.

Started with Sharabi, and it was roaringly cheezy. Ek gana khatam nahi hota tha, ki doosra shuru ho jata tha. And of course got to see that typical naari with pallu firmly in grip.

next was Aan - men at work, which didn't seem to be a movie at all, just a collection of well known actors in different scenes. Or possibly it wasn't meant for someone of my limited IQ. I just couldn't cope with it, and had to run away from the tv and hang my head in shame.

Today was Suryavansham. Rib ticklingly atrocious. Old men, young women, pallu in hand, ( ah collector woman too - wat a pragressive movie i say!) and everyone hung up about sons and vansh. Bah.

Makes me remeber why hindi movies once made me puke. Full of caricatures of ppl, rubbing in the same society in your face, that you'd rather escape, and not an iota of creativity in sight.

Good thing I live in the times I do!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Disappearing Daughters - Gita Aravamudan

A rather disturbing book.. and it reminds you again of just how convoluted the problem is. No easy answers at all.

Some years ago I'd have flippantly remarked - things will even out all right. Or dismissed the parents as weak / cruel / stupid /uneducated morons. Now I'm not so sure.

Some of the worst offenders are the very well educated, smart, seemingly well adjusted folks, who you'd never imagine could consider such a thing. Good middle class parents , worried just that wee bit more about their sons performance at college than daughters. Parents regretting having educated their daughters so much that its hard to get them married now. Parents collecting dowry, and telling themselves that its just something to improve their daughter married life, not dowry.

No solutions in sight. Some of the numbers are very very unsettling.

Mumbai , 1984 , 7999 abortions out of 8000 were females.
Amartya Sen's estimations - 37 million Indian women missing already in 1987. Would you call those murders? Does that call for action on a war footing?
Dharmapuri , tamil nadu - 1997- 1999, over 3000 *recorded female infanticides , areas with 2 boys to 1 girl
Punjab 2001 - sex ratio below 850 in the *whole state.
south west delhi ( yes the posh well educated south delhi) - 2001 - sex ratio - 845.

Will things change? Who knows..

Saturday, June 14, 2008

dus kahaniyan

i'd seen this one a while back, but never got around to writing about it. This was a movie I'd enjoyed. A set of 10 disjoint mini movies so to speak, with no connection between them at all. Couple of the stories were good, and other mediocre ones, were lifted to a higher place by some good acting. Make you remember why people like Shabana Azmi and Nana Patekar are worth watching even when the stories and other stuff isn't wort much.

Even tho couple of them were pretty much forgettable, the overall effect was still good. Looking forward to hindi movies!

Agatha Chrisitie's

Two of them were devoured recently. Agatha Christie remains one of my favorite authors, any time I'm sick of life, or of too much heavy reading, and need something to unwind with , her mysteries are what I turn to.

This time it was "Evil Under the Sun" and "The Mystery of the Blue Train". Both were polished off in the span of a fortnight, when it was pretty hard to concentrate.

I absolutely adore Poirot! And I love the way Agatha, manages to usually pull off a surprise in spite of your best efforts in every second novel. Hope to complete all her works in this lifetime!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Things I've learnt.

  • Growing up is not about getting the answers... it about relearning the questions, and unlearning the easy answers of adolescence.

  • Unexpected kindness floats where you least expect it- from total strangers at hospitals, from seniors at the workplace. The bird with feathers still sings.

  • The best laid plans of mice n men, gang aft agley and leave us naught but grief and pain, for promised joy. - Burns got it right years ago.

  • Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want.. doesn't mean that they don't love you with everything they've got.

  • We all have reserves of strength that we can tap into and survive. jeevan kya hai, tez hawa mein deep jalana hai..

Friday, May 30, 2008

The worst of times...

Its part of growing old perhaps, but it hurts all the same. Some aches that you thought had healed, and some totally new ones as well.

The smells of the hospital, the useless running around, the incompetent nurses, the extorsion racket in the medicines, the confusion and fear. And then after all that.. what? The stroke remains and there's still no magic wand for schizophrenia.

I'm tired today. Perhaps if it wasn't for my lifeline of friends, I would have been tired much earlier. My reserves are all used up doing the sort of things I"m no good at.

And of course the colosal calamity is that I don't have a brother or a husband. Yes, thanks society for reminding me of that once again.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Elizabeth Costello - J M Coetzee

The book was bought mostly for its small size ( on a day when I needed something which would stuff in my small bag!)

Pretty much too intellectual for me, although there were passages in it which were interesting and perhaps worth a second read.

no more J M Coetzee for me

Monday, April 28, 2008

Whats the point of it all?

One of those days, or perhaps weeks/months/years, when life seems empty and meaningless. ( yes yes, I guess this is when I should enroll for the advanced course of the landmark forum , but i guess my first session's fiasco, i guess i'll give it a miss.)

A combination of star trek, elizabeth costello, a friends blog and some vella time on hand, have me pondering - whats the point of it all? The march of civilization , the daily existentialist angst, the rat race, the progress, the fulfillment of potential or lack of it?

The questions start small as always -

Self 1 - i'm sick of work/ home.
Then of course one goes into analysis mode -
Self 2 - so tell me , help me understand this - why am I sick of everything?
hmm , why indeed ?
Self 1 - Its because I want "something else"
Self 2 - I see, and what exactly is this "something else? " Why is it needed?
Self 1 - its, umm , its a change to.. well i'm not sure really, just something else which will make me happier, and well yes happier.

after that its all downhill. From what defines happiness and is it that important anyway, down to are we any happier now than we were a 1000 years ago, and then down to what is the purpose of life after all, its just a 1 second journey. Its a journey I've often made, and haven't found it take me anywhere.

So i'm where i started out.. whats the point of it all ? No answers..

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The usual suspects

A rather tight whodunnit - thriller kinds. I quite enjoyed the movie. Some good acting and equally good direction, although perhaps somewhere near the end , you find yourself half guessing the ending.. but that doesn't take anything away from the way even the end has been filmed.

Obtained as usual from the treasure trove of books and movies! Thanks again! :)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Gaban - Premchand

Just finished the book, and I really liked it.

I haven't read much in hindi, mostly because I never I grew up in very Angrezi environment - english newspaper, english movies, english medium school. Although papa waxed eloquent about hindi, and never quite forgave me for not taking it beyond 8th standard, but thats where things were. Read assorted short stories now and again, and perhaps a novel or two before, but never really picked up the proper hindi environment.

Something I'm trying to remedy now. And this was a pleasant beginning. It was a well written story, was scared that it might be too moralising or full of social issues sans story, but I found it just right. A good story, well written, with just the right mix of the influence of the times. The last 3-4 pages were a bit of a let down, but I guess thats ok.

Now back to completing the short stories which i had left midway.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dilli ki nazakat!

The two mythical nawabs are in good ol dilli with their friends.

PN & F- Pehle Nawab & friends
DN & F- Doosre Nawab & friends

PN - Pehle aap
DN - Nahi nahi, pehle aap
PN - are, aisi bhi kya baat hai, Pehle aap
DN - hum to keh hi rahe hain, pehle aap
PN - are nahi ji, mujhe zara jaldi hai, pehle aap.

background - please mind the gap

DN - ab jaldi to yahan sab ko hai, pehle aap peeche hatiye
PN - dekhiye agar aap pehle peeche nahi hatenge to humein dhakka dena padega
DN - pehle chadhne waalon ko peeche hona chahiye, utarne waalon ko utarne deejiye
PN - are ja ja, bada aya niyam banane wala
DN (pushing to get out of the metro)
PN - ( pushing to get into the metro)

background - darwaze se hat ke khade hon

Both groups fall back, the doors close, and thus PN misses train, DN misses stop, and another day in the life of Delhi goes on.

PS - Yes I've been to Delhi again, and yes the same nostalgia, the same rude awakening.

I will never have another "home" , no other city can have those host of memories from school, college, work, friends, decades of life and memories. No other city will have a dozen fm channels in hindi, and soul satisfying chat and gol gappas in every nook and cranny.

But just two years away have weakened me, and I can't stomach it any more, home or no home. I can't stand the people any more, even tho I'm one of them. Yes we are rude, shameless, needlessly pushy, and probably less law abiding than some other city dwellers.

American Gangster

Okish movie, worth a watch. First half drags , but the second half gets back in groove.

Nothing very new or different, it a usual story of drug lord and cop. Funnily enough, there was a scene or two that almost seemed a tribute to bollywood! It helped that it had Russel Crowe and Denzel Washington, two actors I really like.

To be watched when there's an evening to kill, and the only things on TV is news about Sehwag's toothache and Khali's dinner. In such a scenario, HBO/ Star screening this would be worth turning to!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Juno

A sweet little movie. Reminded me somehow of Little miss sunshine and trans america. Perhaps because of the typical american setting.

Good acting by the dame playing Juno.

There's something about these movies..
the humour , sometimes dry, sometimes in your face..
The very very non - indian , not- identifiable setting..
the not so "normal" situations -

and yet something that touches a chord across the cultural divide.

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden.

Okish book. Not too many surprises. Disappointing , almost Mills and Boon style ending.

The saving grace was the interesting snippets of life in Japan, not something I've read before.

Cabs and Safety

Stayed back at work till 8:30 after a very very long time. Big mistake anyway. Compounded that mistake by asking for company transport. - Yes yes, I wasn't thinking, I should have just manged on my own. And found that being a female, asking for a cab now matters.

That was something which had irritated me when HPs trial by media and society was happening, and I found myself entirely in sympathy with the company. The blame for what happened I feel had little to do with the time and place . Whether it is a late night cab being taken or a maid working in someone's home in broad day light, there are risks we've all learnt to live with. For that matter I think there must be many more rapes which domestic helps have to deal with. But that isn't our middle class media's concern. No sir, the only cases they pick up are when a medical student is the victim, or the good middle class


So what was the result of all this ? I've taken upteen cabs at all times from midnight to dawn. Not something I enjoyed because I hated missing my beauty sleep. But at least I could take them when needed without having to worry about finding a male to accompany me.

Not so any more.

Lessons learnt -
1) if the work didn't get done in regulation hours, it can wait another day
2) if it can't wait, it's better to venture out on one's own, once its done.
3) the media didn't make things better for me, it just made things more difficult.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Unwaba Revelations

Some background first - as a genre, this is something I've never liked. The fantasy/ whatever one. I've specially disliked the details of mammoth books like Lord of the Rings, its endless detailing and creating of an alternative reality to do the same done to death good-vs-evil. With imaginary species and silly goals like throwing the ring down the river of fire.

Nevertheless, I loved the first of this trilogy - The Simoquin Prophesies. And I quite liked the second one too. The humour was delicious, specially the references to things typically indian. The story itself was rather interesting, and it was good to see that by the second book, the easy slotting of good and evil itself had blurred.

But I guess it was too good to last. I was bitterly disappointed by the third book - the unwaba revelations. There was such an awful long description of a stupid meaningless battle right in the beginning that I almost left the book mid way, and thats saying a lot. Somehow I fast forwarded past that, and it got slightly better as it went ahead. But overall it was nowhere close to the first two, not half as funny - and as far as I was concerned that meant it had pretty much lost its charm.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thought for the day.

When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

-Dale Carnegie.

Time and again when I feel like ranting about people , I'm reminded of this quote I read 15 years back. So apt, so true, so insightful, so .. obvious? But yes when my own pride and vanity is hurt and I'm crying out saying - why, why, why - well then it helps to remember, the other party wasn't being rational either. They're also behaving like a wounded animal shorn of all logic. And there is not point in asking why, just accepting and moving on.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mithya

Nice movie, great acting. Sort of noirish, so to speak.

I'm not sure that a comic thriller is really an apt description. Specially in the second half , comic is not what would spring to mind very often.

But the cast and their performance is excellent and I'd say the storyline is pretty good as well. It doesn't go down the well trodden easy answers - new guy takes all storyline, the surprises along the way keep the suspense alive.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Vintage Bradbury - Ray Bradbury

I had always thought of Ray as science fiction writer. But after reading this collection, I must say that I think horror is a more apt descrition.

His stories are absolutely scintillating. There were some I read years and years ago, and I still remember them distinctly. The fruit at the bottom of the bowl. There will come soft rains. And then a good few ones in this collection as well- The skeleton, Ylla, The small assasin..

But the stories are all rather dark, and gloomy. There are only so many of them that I can read, before they get to me. The sheer horror he manages to evoke in a few pages, with totally novel ideas- a "dying" house, obsession leading to complete madness, contemplating our skeletons as something more.

After a few, I really need a break from the brilliant horror!

Adrian Mole and the weapons of mass destruction - Sue Townsend

Very time pass book. But then I hadn't read something as light hearted in a long time. Almost reminded me of some of the books I'd read as a teen.

Was funny in parts. But its not easy to identify with the setting, and a good few of the references are not quite clear to me, so I'm sure some of the jokes fall flat in their faces because I simply don't understand the context.

Farewell Adrian, I hope you don't go to jail for debt, and your son gets back from Iraq safe and sound. And yes I also wish you a happly life, since I doubt we'll be renewing our acquaintance.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Manorama 6 feet under.

Another movie I liked ! There seems to be a flood of them in the past few years, which is good news.

Could have been cut short just a wee bit, but I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery. Of course I could be a little prejudiced, because as I wrote earlier, I love the genre.

It reminded me somehow of an Agatha Christie. Yes , not everything in a murder mystery is 100% plausible, but the question is , can it take you for a ride and would you enjoy the twists and turns? In this case , yes I did. A few twists every now and again, keeps you guessing, and if its a little slow at places, well I'll forgive that.

Who was the girl? Was it a murder? What was the motive? But if.. , then why..? I like :D

All rounders.

hawa ka rukh kuch aisa hai, ki sab hi sab kuch kar len to kitna achcha ho

Socho zara,

a team of 11 all rounders.
a rotation of the players at all batting positions
all the players trying all variations of bowling
and keeping wicket by turns

socho zara..

Umm yes my workplace inspires me into innovative thinking every day !

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Taare Zameen Par.

Saw the much hyped "Taare Zameen Par" yesterday. And I must say I was a rather disappointed. Perhaps it was a case of too much hype, with at least 20 people having told me that it was an amazing movie that I must watch.

So after much waiting we finally caught it on PVR ( yes the boycott PVR andolan, is currently suspended) The theme and the idea behind the movie is something I really liked. The fact that the ordinary and the little out of the ordinary (even if its not quite the "extra ordinary") is part of normal life. The fact that not everyone has to be a winner. The fact that schools can often become obsessed about marks and nothing else. And of course the quote which I'd mentioned few days back as well- they also serve who only stand and wait.

However that being said, I do think that even if I agreed with everything the movie was trying to say, I didn't quite like the way it was said. Yes, it was too "mainstream" for my taste. The first half dragged. There were too many meaningless songs. There are no excuses for the pompous dialogues in the second half by Aamir Khan. There are no excuses for the caricatured characters, and none for the contrived scenes dripping with emotion.

And since you have to make this for the "masses" , at the end of the day you can't really stay true to your flagship dialogue - every child is special. Because vindication only came in the movie for the excellent painter, who eventually learned to write as expected, - not the ordinary-special child who simply would never make the cover of the school mag.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Roz Ek Kahani

Read something in Hindi after a long time. But perhaps meaningful literature is not my cup of tea. At any rate this compilation certainly wasn't.

The book had far too many ordinary stories which went on and on. And I'm not sure I understood them, or could see their point. And I could do with some variation on the themes, you'd think there was nothing else in life except men desperate to get laid.

It didn't have the famous "Toba Tek Singh" and "Khol Do", which I had read earlier and liked. I guess it was just a bad compilation.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

They also serve..

do they? The ones who only stand and wait ?

Not in a mood to blog about anything. Just wish I could take a break from work, or what passes for it.

Or from life, or what passes for it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Johnny Gaddar

I totally loved this one. I wouldn't have believed that a sort of crime -thriller hindi movie could be so perfect. Thats one genre I've always loved, whether in books, movies, or serials, and I always thought that good hindi ones were few and far between.

This then is a very pleasant surprise. The story is good, the script tight, the characters are realistic and well played and the editing competent.

It keeps you with the now-what feeling right up to the very last frame. Thats specially commendable, since its not really a whodunit, since we know in most of the frames who's done what. And I really liked the not-so-macho character of Johnny, quite unlike the usual protagonist.

Lets hope there are more where this came from!

Om shanti om

passable movie, nice idea, averagely done.

The tongue firmly in cheek look at bollywood was a nice idea, but I thought some of the sequences really dragged a lot.

If nothing else the dar-e-disco song was thoroughly enjoyed :D If the movies are going to be time pass, I sure could do with some eye candy !