Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Band baaja baraat

I'd gone in without expecting much from this one, was quite prepared to pan it in fact.

so over-all I'd say I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, its precisely that kind of 'band-baja' type of movie, meant to entertain, and I'd say it does a half decent job of it.

On the flip side, if you haven't stayed in Delhi for at least an year, you won't appreciate it much, a lot of the humour simply comes from the nuances of delhi, its language its attitudes, its heart.

 yes! a mainstream hindi movie! relying on nuances of speech and behavior and script! and no - not much of the humour is the below-the-belt-hence-universally-appreciated( or at least half universally).

The two main actors do a pretty good job, the story sticks to being simple, without any sub-plots, you see lots of color and dancing, you have a hearty laugh, and come home smiling.

not a bad way to spend an evening.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Age of Kali - William Dalrymple

Its a collection of essays. That these are essays and not a single topic book, is one thing I missed realizing in the beginning. I kept searching for a unifying theme and continuity and would have saved myself the useless search if I'd read the back cover to start with.

For the remaining part, I'd say the first few essays on the Bimaru states were rather bleak. Maybe these were targeted at a western audience, for myself I can't say I learnt,  the sad state of affairs is well know, and couldn't find many insights.

The remaining few essays, specially the one on the island of reunion were rather more interesting. Also the ones on Pakistan.

Overall not bad, although perhaps it can be read selectively.

Death

It can be an ugly thing to view. As you see a thing bleed slowly through a thousand cuts, sometimes gasping painfully, at other times still, almost resigned to the impending end, and then just as it was going, it gives another primordial scream at the unfairness of it all. And a human voice sooths it saying - there there there, its going to be ok, everything will be fine, i've just given a painkiller, while twisting in one of the knives further.

But is it really unfair? things have to die, we all know that. As enchanting as the chimera of eternal life sounds, we've seen that eternal life doesn't ensure eternal youth. Eternal youth basically goes against every law of nature not to mention physics.

So things have to die. And its not pretty to see. But does it have to be like this, ugly, longdrawn, painful, full of stabs and fake promises?

Does it?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pink Sheep - Mahesh Natarajan

I've loved his short stories ever since I found them on the net a few years back. I always looked forward to the next one, and was seldom disappointed. 


So I was looking forward to the book and the slim volume of 18 stories completely lives up to my expectations. 


The stories usually focus on people and their everyday lives and relationships. The language and the story seems so simple and straightforward, but they're rich in their observations of the little quirks of what makes people tick. Of how people and relationships can be simple and complex at the same time. Of how people can surprise you, and a relationship isn't just the what you think it is, or between who you think it is.  

I just realised, that I'm almost about to wind up this post, and I've missed saying whats supposed to be the most important part - that this is gay fiction, since the main protagonists are always gay. However part of the power of the stories is that if that concept doesn't bother you, and really it shouldn't, there's nothing at all in them, that you can't relate to, as a human being. 

In short - a must read.







Thursday, December 09, 2010

Acquisitions and hoarding

Its been an year when I've tried to cut down stuff. Minimalism and all.

And its when you try to cut it down, that you realise how much you have, and how ALL of it, absolutely, must stay with you.

Sometimes its because it was a gift. Sometimes because you believe you will use it on a special occasion. Sometimes because you never know when you might need it. That broken down recorder that never plays, might just get fixed one day. That cd that you never will watch again, since you hate the movie? Oh but that was one of the first things we bought together, its sentimental value ! Oh my! How about that dress? Its a bit .. umm flashy, but still nice , still nice. Well lets see, I might wear that on a special , umm flashy occassion. Just that the right occassion hasn't presented itself in the last 10 years. 

All in all, its been very tough going. Although I've had some minor victories, out went a big stack of teen diaries and letters, never read in many many years, and never to be read again. And some clothes followed suite. And so did some books.

But things are going to get better I'm sure. Soon the sentimental gifts are going, and so are the 9 year old receipts for god knows what. Soon!

Friday, December 03, 2010

kabhi kisi ko ..

As n said, either its too little, or its too much, never just right :P


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gran Torino

Nice movie, definitely worth a watch.

The Deathly Hallows

umm.. can't say I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. I don't think I've seen all the movies, and haven't read any of the books.

and really there's very little in this movie itself to recomment it, apart from it being the penultimate harry potter movie, and so a must watch.

Drop any expectations of story, acting, direction, bla bla.

I guess it really can be avoided.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The social Network - David Fincher

Decent movie, I can't say I knew anything about the creator of facebook before watching the movie ( no not even his name) , so I've no comments to make on the veracity or otherwise, of its portrayals.

However as a well told story, made into a well directed movie, it gets good marks.

The main character is the smart but socially inept college kid, wanting to be a part of the 'in' clubs. There's the classic mixture of superior self assurance and insecurity. The first scene sets the tone, with him trying to talk to his girl friend about his aspirations, and the insecurity covered by megalomania ensures the relationship ends that very day, and ends very badly.

As the movie proceeds with switches between the court cases that he's deposing in, interrcut with flash backs of how things went in college as he set up facebook, the tale gets interesting. However the recurrent theme of his complete self absorption and inability to understand  what makes relationships tick, occurs throughout. ( yes, ironic!) And the last scene, like the first, I thought was pretty apt.

In my reading, the realistic characterisation was a big plus in making the movie interesting. I don't think there were any heroes or villains - reminds me of real life !

Definintely worth a watch.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Corruption

why the outrage??? why I ask?

don't we all do every  bit that we can to ensure that it continues? yes , that includes me, much though i wish i could claim a higher moral ground.

at any rate here's a thing it would be good to remember.

a begger in the street , who hasn't got either roti , kapda or makaan would often wonder what people need a 10k a month for. perhaps he manages 2-3k a month, (if he's a rather unlucky one) He'd probably  be able to manage beautifully in 8k a month.

your maid , who's probably got roti, kapda and makaan or some sorts, would often wonder what people need 40k a month for. she'd probably be able to manage beautifully in 30 k a month.

You, you've probably got a half decent roti kapada aur makaan, but also have a humoungous color tv and car, would probably wonder what people need 2 lakhs a month for, we'd probably be able to manage beautifully in 1 lakh a month. ( give or take a bit)

and then your super boss, with the super sized roti kapda aur makaan, and perhaps also a posh set of cronies to maintain, would similarly wonder why people need a crore a month. He's struggling, but then all he needs is perhaps about 70 lakhs a month.

and so it goes of course. the current tales quote numbers which make the mind boggle. policians making a crore a day. but of course , we need to remember , its all relative. the great minister probably has outflows to match his ridiculous ill gotten gains.

ill - gotten, the word which makes me laugh loudly. i think i finally understood the joke a few years back, when i sat there wondering what fudging bills meant. apparently it meant, taking source code html of the bill format, and modifying the number a bit.

And it seems it was the done deal. everyone did it. heck the company wanted to you do it - thats why it left the option open , and turned a blind eye to your obviously faked bills. onsite bills, house rent allowances, medical, and what have you.

its all ok, didn't you know? everyone does it, thats how it works.

and then as the years went by, one realises, it was ok everywhere. railway tickets, marriage certificates, graduation degrees, passports, birth certificates, phone connections, every damn bit of your life.

oh yes, i know the million ways its expained,
- the system doesn't pay the people enought so its ok to pay them a bit extra/
- its really a small thing compared to what the politicians do,
= welcome to the real world, this is how it works, do you want to survive or not? do you want in or out?

etc etc etc

so, for those of you, fuming in your mouth about the gazillion scams which seem to be getting much media attention these days. ( perhaps the media wasn't paid, or perhaps they just have too much time to fill up)

here's my suggestion - shut up, and take a look at your own life. and once you've verified you're all clean, with no excuses, then you can resume howling about the 2g, 3g and the various 4D multi dimensional scams which are all around us these days.

aap chai paani ka kya denge sahib???

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Immortals of Meluha - Amish

I found it rather readable, the constant irritants of Jai Shri Ram, and absurdist glorification notwithstanding.

The basic story is set in semi-mythical semi-historical setting of the harappan times around 2000 BC or so. There's an empire of the Suryavanshis, who bear a suspicious resemblance to the jai sri ram rajya type, artificially forced into harappan settings. ( ie the right wingers dream world etc). Shiva, is a reluctant protagonist, caught in the battle and intrigues happening there, since it seems to be his destiny.

Initially the writing seems mediocre, but the plot does pick up, and the story gets interesting, the whole 'great indian civilisation' myth notwithstanding.

Readable, bits are boring, bits are irritating, but still good enough to want to make me read the remaining 2 parts of the trilogy!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Hairan hoon main..

tujhse naaraaz nahi zindagi, hairaan hoon main, ho hairaan hoon main..
tere masoom sawalon se pareshaan hun main, ho pareshaan hoon main..

jeene ke liye, socha hi na tha, dard sambhalne honge,
muskuraon to , muskurane ke, karz utarane honge,
muskuraun kabhi, to lagata hai,
jaise honton pe karz rakha hai
...
aaj agar bhar aayi hain, boondein baras jaayengi
kal kya pata, inke liye, aankhen taras jayengi
jaane kab gum hua, kahan khoya,
ek aansoo chupa ke rakha tha
....
zindagi tere gam ne hamein rishte naye samajhaye
mile jo humein dhoop mein mile, chhav ke thande saaye


priceless Gulzar again..

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

May I hebb your attention pliss - Arnab Ray

Rather disappointing. The introduction itself set off alarm bells, bits were funny but it was too long, and it made no sense. The remaining chapters were similar, ( funny in bits, but far too long). Finally I just gave up, fast forward, just as I'd done for the nobel prize winning works, although this one seems to be at the other emd of the spectrum.

I remember stumbling on the blog 4 years back, and thinking - wow this is a treasure trove! I had a hearty laugh at the IIPM post, was touched by the cellular jail post, laughed again at some of the funny movie reviews, and generally made sure that it remained a part of my rss feeds over all these years.

And even though I no longer find the posts as amazingly funny as I did back then , I still find the blog interesting. ( why don't I like it as much as I used to? who knows -  maybe I've changed, or maybe the posts have changed, who knows - remember you never step into the same river twice).

But the book can really be avoided, the blog is much better.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Built To Last - James Collins & Jerry Porras

This was the bible of my previous company, and we were all given a copy on joining. Took me almost 8 years to  pick it up and read it though!

Not a bad read, although its again on topics I don't usually read or know much about. It basically traces companies which have 'stood the test of time' so to speak, and are still around to make their presence felt. The authors have tried to find commonalities in these companies which were built to last.

Its a decent read.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Updates and The Little House - Philippa Gregory

This was the week, when many job cuts were announced at work. Some colleagues have got their notices. The rest of us have been told the numbers, but not the names, while we play the 'who's going to go' game.

And someone in the team, has already calculated, how a potential job loss would be pretty devastating for most of the men in the team, ( most of whom don't have working wives) but not so for the women ( who of course can easily live off our husbands)

And as I went home to a, yet again, maid-less day, trying to keep the house from disintegrating into dirt and chaos, attempting the much hated cooking, I began to read the 'little house', finished it off within 2 days. Its a book that leaves you angry.

The story is basically a working woman, who loses her job and then gradually gets drawn into the rut of 'family politics'. The perennial power struggle that follows every marriage, where the odds are stacked unfairly.  In the novel the woman is an orphan, an affect our lofty culture attempts to achieve through kanyadaan, bidai and tradition.

Its hard to describe it really, although its a conversation about the little things which I've often had with friends. The constant clashes over 'how' to run the house, how to manage the baby. The additional balance of power, controlled by money. The division of what constitutes house work, and how is it to be managed. The changing  nature of relationships and the struggle against the change.

Overall it was a pretty gripping book, and although the end loses touch with reality in one way, its one thats interesting and chilling in more ways than one.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Inspite of the Gods - Edward Luce

Good read about the politics and economics of India, even for people like me who don't normally read on these topics and have only a nodding acquaintance, if that, with the concepts.

The book is written in an engaging style, and does not make too many sweeping judgements. It touches on most of the topics that the political and economic issues touch on, and also included some social ones which aren't usually that popular among the more mainstream media. ( corruption, fundamentalism and political extremists are easy to blame, there are other issues for which its not so easy to find scapegoats.)

But most of all, I love the way he ends a few of his chapters with a wicked one liner, which leaves one laughing for a while.

Worth a read.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

How to stop worrying and start living - Dale Carnegie

Good common sense advice as usual. Of course the hardest part of all these self-improvement/productivity/etc kind of things is following the advice, and I don't think I've been able to do that much.

Worth a read, perhaps to remind yourself of the obvious!

Monday, October 04, 2010

How to Kill Your Husband and Other Handy Household Hints - Kathy Lette

It was picked up on a whim - the title looked funny and the blurb assured me it was.

Have to say, it didn't turn out to be quite as funny as I thought, or its very possible that my sense of humour is drying up. Perhaps it was just me, but the caricature of the husband seemed far too close to reality and got me more pissed off than amused.

As if the subject was unfunny enough- the style of writing tended to get rather jarring too, what with attempts to fit in a funny similie in every damn page, heck in almost every sentence. har cheeze ki ati buri hoti hai - including the trying too hard to make everry line funny.

Overall passable at best.

Animals People - Indra Sinha

Its a fictional account of Animal - a young man who walks on all fours, his back having bent badly, and who absolves himself of all humanity.

Its set in Khaufpur, which is a pretty straightforward take on Bhopal, and you know pretty soon, what 'that night' is about.

But its a story that needed telling, without adding the million facts and figures to it, which is just how its done. The kampani and the sleazy politicians, are the ever present backdrop , but the people are real, alive. And when there's no 'magic realism'/'artificial plot development' going on, its a rather gripping book. Its not a long litany of everything wrong that was done, and the statistics of the suffering. Its a story, set against those things, which reminds you of the humanity around - lost and found.

Its worth a read, but I didn't quite fall in love with it. It again has long abstruce passages, which don't make a lot of sense to me, and the story really falters at places.( Aside - did a google, and it seems these passages are an exercise in magic realism, something which Rushdie specialises in - that makes a lot of sense, since I found all of midnights children and satanic verses completely incomprehensible. )  The worst I think is the end, which just goes on and on, as I rapidly fast forwarded the pages.

Still worth a read, I used to lament why indian books and movies often seemed to skim over our own history and geography, seems like that is changing.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wall Street - Money never sleeps

Pretty forgettable movie.

Not much going for it in terms of story etc, mish mash of silly love story and the wall street debacle.

adding the worst of bollywood to hollywood, they couldv'e added a song or two to it, while they were about it, would've made the silliness complete.

Avoid.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Getting things done - David Allen

Read on g's reco, and was a rather decent read.

One of the productivity improvement kind of books, how to get your life organised etc etc.

I find it hard to follow all of these principles 100% of the times, but did pick up a few handy tips.
- the 4 D's approach, do it, defer it, delegate it, dump it!
- the immediate next physical action identification
- the need to systems to organise a lot of the data into
etc etc

And keeping a 0 inbox policy really helps- I've managed to keep it at that for the past few months, and there's definitely a tangible relief!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dabangg

Good watch, the sort where you leave your brains behind, and enjoy the riot.

Personally I don't like Salman Khan , he looks like a pumped up robot, and acts like one. I think he does this in every movie, this one included. But somehow the robotic look fits right into the movie!

Additionally yes this is absolutely the alpha male fantasy movie of the 80s -  ( the kind I usually don't like). Complete with the innuendo ridden dance steps, and even the fight scenes with the fellow hosing his opponents leaving nothing to the imagination.

So how come, I'm still not offended? I guess its partly because it doesn't take itself very seriously, they always put in a tongue in cheek sequence somewhere, which although it stops short of being an outright parody/spoof, is still enough to remind me - hey its just a movie.

And partly, its just a well directed funny movie, keeps the pace moving, doesn't try convoluting the cliche ridden story too much, and doesn't try too hard.

All in all, as they say - paisa vasool.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Motivation

It wasn't hard back then.. I wasn't at the receiving end. It was a long time ago when mam had posed the question. I hadn't bothered to answer then. 

We were in English class, madly completing our Chemistry homework. And we were in English class, and there was pending work for English as well. Our English mam was one of the nicest teachers we ever had. Perhaps the nicest. If there was anyone in class who didn't like her, I didn't know.



Yet there we all were, madly completing our Chemistry assignments.

So the question was why. As our gentle, sweet and much loved English mam asked why, someone piped up - Chemistry sir will beat us, you won't.

I remember feeling wierd as someone stated the obvious. I also remember mam asking, 'thats rather sad you know. What does that say about us as human beings..''

The question trailed away unanswered, if fear is a bigger motivator than love.. then why love at all?

All these years I'd forgotten that question. Until today. I'd sat crying for something, wondering why I couldn't get it.. wasn't I loved enough? And then , poof, all of a suddenly, I did get it, and it stuck suddenly stuck me that it was probably done out of fear, rather than love.

So here I am, wondering all over again , if fear is the bigger motivator.. if cracking the whip is more likely to get things done than love ever is.. why do we bother at all. Why indeed?

All I know is that then I wasn't at the receiving end, and somehow it hurts a great deal more to be at the receiving end.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Poirot investigates - Agatha Christie

Classical agatha christie , although i prefer the longer stories to the short ones.

This was a collection of short stories featuring the much loved vain Poirot. Its reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, perhaps since its written in the first person account of a friend of Poirots, just like Watson. 

decent time pass.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Girl who played with Fire, The girl who stirred the hornets nest - Steig Larsson

Absolutely un-put-downable trilogy! Was up till the wee hours of the morning, in the middle of the week, determined to survive the office on black coffee, but unwilling to let go of the books!

Of course to start with I've always liked this genre - thrillers. Lots of action, intrigue, consipiracies and what not. And I guess the fact that I haven't read anything of the sort in a long time, probably added to the charm of these two. But the fact remains, that they were still a really pacy read, specially part 2. Couldn't catch hold of the first one, so will read that later. Part 3 was also good, although the wrap up could've been better.

They are set around the Girl with the dragon tattoo, namely Lisbeth Salander, who's a pretty compelling character in her own right. She seems a bit unusual, but you find yourself rooting for her all the way, through all the plots and intrigues against her.

Whats also interesting in these books, is the subtext of misogyny which you'd have thought wouldn't be present quite so much in the idyllic, or so we thought, Sweden. The original title of the first one in swedish was "men who hate women". But perhaps on second thoughts, thats not so surprising after all. I guess attitudes of that sort would take more than just a few decades of policy to reverse.

Must get hold of part 1 of the trilogy!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse

Was ok, a bit too intellectual for my taste, and I'm not quite sure what it was supposed to mean.

A young man in the times of Budhdha, goes out to explore , hmm what ? the meaning of life perhaps. He goes through the circle of life, embracing ascetism, hedonism, sex, knowledge at various stages. And at the end where does that finally leave him? I'm not quite sure.

This is the third nobel prize winning book that I've read and not liked, and I think I'm seeing a pattern here now - they all tend to be shortish books, where not much "happens" in terms of action. There are passages which are supposed to mean something - and they seem to scream quite loudly that they *mean* something, however they go wayyyy over my head.

And after reading them, I get the distinct feeling that I wasted my time.

Note to self - avoid nobel prize winning works in the future.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

You know something is wrong when..

..you wake up with a splitting headache, running nose, hurting throat, and with a feverish glazed look, think the happy thought - yippie this means i needn't go to office today!!!!!

something is definitely wrong then. Of course all those enlightened souls will tell you that something is very very wrong with *you* yourself. How there will be millions of starving ppl who'd kill to have your job, etc etc. As a matter of fact, I'm reading the father of all of those - Dale Carnegie, but i guess i need to "invest" more in it!

At any rate, while I introspect, on whats wrong, I'm enjoying all of the ill health. C'est la vie, not to mention, ze indemnites de maladie. Wah wah kya kafiya bana hai!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Salt

A friend while watching a james bond movie , in which wierd-incredible-flying-thingies were happening, had turned to me and said - its not very different from stuart little is it.  She and I had just watched Stuart Little a few days back, and had laughed at Stuart sudden flight in a toy aeroplane.

Salt is the james bond silliness, but in female avatar. Spy stories, which stretch probability at the seams with an uncommon strength. Could've added a few young good looking males while they were about it - never mind, some day it'll happen. For the rest, the usual spy madness, lots of chases, plots, subplots, surprises and the like.

Didn't mind watching it, since that was exactly what I'd gone expecting!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happiness

Its funny, the most sought after thing in the world, and we can't always tell what would make us happiest. At a simplistic level, when you want a thing badly, and you get it you're happy.


What do you want badly? oh yes sure, there's the preset list of things we all want - more money, meaningful relationships, achieving big hairy audacious goals, bla bla, but are those necesarily things that overshadow anything else?

Sometimes, you could get the same level of happiness, by just getting back what you have, if you're only made to lose it. Then you ache for it to be back, and it returns , and you're happy. You get a decent night's sleep everyday? Lo and presto - you're cursed with insomnia, and the next time you are able to sleep through the 8 hours, could your happiness know any bounds?

So at times we define our unhappiness in terms of what we're missing, what we never had, or whats been lost...

and then at other times, one wonders, what if there's nothing i want any more..

what then.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Inception

Good movie, but not exceptional. Worth a watch definitely, but couldn't see what was so cult - ish about it.

Its set in a world where people can enter each others dream worlds. One man, with a chip on his shoulder and a ghoul in his sunconsious, is given a job to do in this dream world, who then assembles a team to do it, and how they go about doing it. A sort of sci -fi thriller you can say.  

As for the concept itself, I don't think its particularly new - nn and I looked at each other , said star trek, and sniggered. There was a voyager episode, which had exactly the same group-lucid dreaming, right down to the totem part.  There are lots of movies, which pick similar kind of themes, so I'd say it wasn't totally sensational.

Next for the execution part, again, if seen from a taut thriller kind of view, again good but not sensational, in fact it got to be a bit of a drag in parts where all you saw were exploding things. I remember stifling back a yawn while the wife was whining for the nth time, and the only distraction was more things exploding all around.

And finally the last scene was something screaming out right since the beginning, could've certainly be made more interesting.

All in all, worth a watch, but puhleez if this is a classic, then the standards for classics have fallen abysmally! And people, a little more reading and watching of science fiction please, there's really a rich rich world out there!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Udaan

I quite liked it, and would recommend it highly.

A teenager is expelled from his boarding school, and comes back to a dad he hasn't seen in a while and a step brother he didn't know about. The dad turns out to be more an authoritarian boss than father, ruthlessly dismissive of his writing aspirations.  There's also an uncle living in the city, although, significantly not in the same house. The dynamics of the family, the stand offs, the cross currents, the fights, the changes and adjustments are beautifully handled.

Somewhat gritty and wrenching, and definitely not for light viewing. The small town and bachelor household feel is brought alive and used well. This is not an India of "some time back". Its this very decade, just that not everyone needs to use the "wake up sid" setting, and not everyone lives in a metro  The pace is slow in many places, where many frames seem immobile, I thought those pauses were needed, however its probably not everyone's cup of tea - certainly not the "i need action in every frame, now" crowd, of which i think we had a sample in the hall.

Overall its very realisitc, almost to the point of feeling like a documentary at times. The characters are beautifully etched and very well enacted. The weakest link in my view is the the lead actor, but otherwise quite well done, all the remaining cast were really good. The songs and poems blended in beautifully as well.

One thing probably worth a mention - I remember thinking during the movie that it would resonate more with guys, the cast is almost exclusively male, and there are bits which probably need a shot of testosterone to fully empathise with. Thats something nn also said while we were discussing it later. Still its too good a movie to miss, a lot of it is pretty universal.

A must watch, and I'd like to watch it another time certainly. There's much in it that you can ponder over, I think its much much more than just a "breaking free to chase dreams" movie. And it isn't a simple straightforward one either.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tired, exhausted and just about fed up... the neverending bills, 'responsibilities', infantile relatives, work, planning, finances, todo lists, provision shopping lists, hospitals, compromises, adjustments, just the grind of day to day existence..

Desperately need a vacation, a break from everything and everyone. And who'd have thought that I say this from the midst of a 10 day break from work. Sigh, when's my quota of TLC arriving? when when?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cuckold - Kiran Nagarkar

This was quite a rewarding book. To start with its the sort of historical fiction I quite like, set in the India of a few centuries ago, a bit historical, but also fictional. The problem with strictly historical books is that they have to rely so much on verifiable facts, and thats a big problem when you're trying to develop a character. In some cases you have sufficient to go on, to try and sketch together and stitch together the many parts which make a human being. But often, there's not enough to go on, specially for tales this old.

So this fictionalised tale of the unheard of husband of Meera, and the many people around it, is very readable, in the many layers it manages to weave around all its characters. Along with that, it also manages to keep a good grip on the narrative, with a sufficient feel of "what happens next" going on in the background.

All in all, well worth a reading.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Another weekend, another set of chores... whew, weekends seem more exhausting than weekdays these days.  Need to clear this backlog of todos and get back to vegetating ASAP!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Raavan

avoid avoid avoid. No redeeming features in the watery movie, it just makes you weep at the wasted time and money, the producers and your own.

No story, direction, no acting, no dialogues, no layers, no depth, just about nothing at all. Abhishek and Aishwarya make you want to give them one tight slap each tho, and wipe the make up off them , the one which has obviously stuck on despite all the water.

AVOID.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Hardy Boys

A hardy boys "mystery" polished off recently. This one didn't have too much of a story but was enjoyed nonetheless.

I think at the rate I'm going, I'll soon be picking up the Enid Blyton again soon !

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Is it like that everywhere?

Is is ? Really ? What if this is as good as it gets? What if there isn't anything else?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Indian culture ( or suchlike!)

 Never thought someone could write about marriages and their aftermath in such a funny manner.. and that too a guy!!!!!! ( yes yes, I have a poor opinion of their general divining capabilities!)

Much respect! and laughter!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

10 K!

So after the 5K some time back, I managed to complete my maiden 10k as well this week. Much walking was done in the duration, but still managed a timing of about 1 hour and 20 minutes, rather better than I expected.

Of course the feeling of running with a ton of other people, is a high in itself, and the absolute nicest feeling in the world is to have people cheering you along the way. Reminded me of school, and those sports days, what kickass days they used to be! The sound of some cheering you on, the best feeling in the world.

So lets hope, the next time can be a bit better than this, better prep, faster and more constant running, and the same thrill of eating up the miles, the wind in your hair, and a song in your soul!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Polterguest, my polterguest!

So yes, laughing is all one can do. While frowning today, I remembered this by Ogden Nash, and smiled !

I've put Miss Hopper upon the train,
And I hope to do so never again,
For must I do so, I shouldn't wonder
If, instead of upon it, I put her under.


Never has host encountered a visitor
Less desirabler, less exquisiter,
Or experienced such a tangy zest,
In beholding the back of a parting guest.


Hoitiful-toitiful Hecate Hopper
Haunted our house and haunted it proper,
Hecate Hopper left the property
Irredeemably Hecate Hopperty


The morning paper was her monopoly
She read it first, and Hecate Hopperly
Handing on to the old subscriber
A was of Dorothy Dix and fiber.


Shall we coin a phase for "to unco-operate"?
How about trying "to Hecate Hopperate"?
On the maid's days off she found it fun
To breakfast in bed at quarter to one.


Not only was Hecate on a diet,
She insisted that all the family try it,
And all one week end we gobbled like pigs
on rutabagas and salted figs.


She clogged the pipes and she blew the fuses,
She broke the rocker that Grandma uses,
She left stuff to be posted or expressed,
Hecate Hopper, the Polterguest.


If I pushed Miss Hopper under the train
I'd probably have to do it again,
For the time that I pushed her off the boat
I regretfully found Miss Hopper could float.

                          -Ogden Nash


By Ogden Nash

Copyright Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What if today was the last day of your life?

I know we've all heard this statement in various places.. chicken soup for the soul stories, self help manuals, forwarded emails and what not...

but what if it really really was? How do you react when you hear of someone just like you, who passed away, suddenly, without warning, without excuses of an accident? Perhaps its even more hard hitting because it wasn't someone close to you personally. A respected colleague, but not someone you share a relationship with. Perhaps its hard hitting, exactly because you don't have any personal baggage to cover the fact staring you in the face. It could be you. Anytime. Life is ephemeral, you won't get any answers in a hurry, and not much warning either. Deal with it.

There isn't much point to living scared, but then there isn't much point assuming there's all the time in the world. What if there isn't ? What would you choose to do? Would you take that insurance policy? Would you leave that last bit of code unfixed, or fixed? Would you take that expensive house? Would you patch up with that old friend after all? Would you throw caution to the winds and dance in the rain? Would you do something you always wanted to, but always put off? Would you change anything, or nothing?

Such thoughts, like life, of course are ephemeral as well. But perhaps there's no harm in taking some minutes off and wondering....

Friday, May 14, 2010

Diagnosis, treatment and .. guesswork.

When I was in school, I remember we all went through a period of "crazy for books by Eric Segal". I can't remember which was the first one, but I remember that Doctors was devoured by the whole circle of friends, the tattered copy getting passed around, after much covering and recovering with brown paper. In hindsight, the novel seems a rather cheesy, but apart from the improved vocabulary, it left one lingering affect - a strong belief, that the practice of medicine, is more guesswork that knowledge.

I think the lines were these - "Gentlemen, I urge you to engrave this on the template of your memories: there are thousands of diseases in this world, but medical science only has an empirical cure for 26 of them. The rest is ....guess work."

That number might or might not be true, or it might have changed, or perhaps it wasn't meant to be anything other than fiction. However the years showed, how hard diagnosis always was, how little we really understand our bodies, and even less our minds. The past few years were specially revealing, as we reached an age, when one after the other, parents of friends and cousins, rapidly declined in health. As the stories emerged of malpractice, extortion, incompetence, carelessness, I was reminded again and again, of the word guesswork. Not everyone is equally talented at guessing, and the faster you guess, or the better you use the tools to help you validate your guesses - the better you can be as a doctor. There are many things that can help with your guessing, experiance, knowing the patient, updated knowledge, etc etc etc. But at the end of the day - its finally all about guessing.

I was reminded of that today as I trawled through the net for the umpteenth time, looking for answers, and  finding numerous reports with numbers, which look suspect to say the least. And mental ailments seem so much more of guesswork than the physical ones. Its a depressing scenario every way you look at it. But then such is life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Confidence / overconfidence?

I guess a workplace rant was over due... Why is it that some people insist on making every statement, like they absolutely must be right, and as if they can quote a million pieces of data to back up their statements, even when all they have a statement heard third hand , and no knowledge on the matter?

In a majority of the cases, most of our knowledge is shaky , sketchy and iffy at best. Its fine to state what you feel you know, perhaps even back it with a "I'm quite confident its correct." But whats with the misplaced overconfidence and aggression? The absolute refusal to say - "Thats what I know, here are my sources, I could be wrong".

I guess part of the problem tends to be the words we use, our body language, how red in the face we get, defending a statement we made, which at best was just a statement. The more instances in which we push ourselves into a corner and try to cover by sounding more overconfident, the more we erode our credibility.

I guess its unfortunate, but after a point, a lot of people just get on my list of - "not to be trusted for any facts, unless independently verified". They're actually eroded the trust they could have got for their areas of expertise, if only they'd claimed a little less confidence in the areas which are NOT their areas of expertise. Sad, but that's the way it goes. Trusting your little nugget of information, when you're wrong, can cost me more, than not trusting anything you say.

And amazingly, this doesn't come only from the vocal extrovert people around. Sometimes the shy, softspoken people are the worst offenders, almost as if since they speak so little, every time they do, they absolutely must be right.

Come on fellow workers, a little less confidence won't kill you!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Thought for the day - Sunscreen.

nn had introduced me to this song a long time back. Have always loved it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfq_A8nXMsQ

Some of the lines are just priceless !

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

How to tame your dragon.

I quite liked this one. Its almost like a throwback to kiddies fairy tale stories, simple black and white story. Easy answers. Touching scenes. Cute characters. Doesn't strain the brain. Doesn't try too hard. And some great visuals to take it up a notch.

Nice.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mukammal Jahaan.

Somehow in the past week, everything has ended up reminding me of this. Priceless Nida at his best. The endless search of all those friends trying to get married, or trying to stay married, or searching for the better job, the better house, trying to find trade offs, yeh nahi to yeh sahi. From the trivial to the not so trivial... But finally, there it is- the mythical 'complete' world .. it doesn't exist.

kabhi kisi ko mukammal jahaan nahi milta
kahin zami to kahin aasmaa nahi milta

jise bhi dekhiye vo apne aap mein gum hai
zubaa mili hai magar humzubaa nahi milta

bujhaa saka hai bhala kaun vaqt ke shole
ye aisi aag hai jisme dhuaa nahi milta

tere jahaan mein aisa nahi ki pyaar na ho
jahaa ummeed ho iski vahaan nahi milta.

                                - Nida Fazli

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Red Beard - Akira Kurosawa

Was not really enjoyed at all. Having liked High and Low so much, I'd perhaps expected this one to be interesting as well.

A doctor is packed off to a remote hospital full of poor people, run by the enigmatic "Red Beard". His initial rebellion against the rules and his situation is gradually turned to acceptance and eventual respect, as he gets to see all manner of life's cruelties. The stories of the patients  form many of the sub plots, if they're anything to go by, I'd say our sexual instincts are the cause of all of human kinds miseries. Much character development happens, although it seemed a rather haphazard growth in all directions.

But I can't say I saw where, if anywhere, the movie was going in 2 hours ( and it didn't help that there was no fan or AC, and it was sweltering hot - a fact that might or might not have a bearing on my response to the movie). However at the end of the 2 hours, when I'd thought that all the sub plots had been fixed, and the momentous realisations made, and I thought the movie was finally closing, I was a little dumb founded to see the word intermission appear.

Apparently its a 4 hour movie. I say apparently, since I could only watch upto the intermission, at which point both my patience and my sweat ran out. Perhaps its meant for a really lazy afternoon, when you have infinite time, patience, and hopefully electricity. I'll leave that for someone else to judge.

And much commiseration with the fellow sufferer A. Note to self - in future check the movie length before venturing into the unknown!

Monday, April 19, 2010

High and Low - Akira Kurosawa

The immediate reaction after seeing this was that it was good. However the more I thought about it later, the more I'm convinced that it was really great.

Its a little hard to nail down a theme/genre, part social commentary, part crime thriller perhaps. Its set in 60s Japan, where rich shoe maker, faces some opposition to his work ethic. As he digs in his heels, and his son is kidnapped, we see rapidly shifting scenarios, and the movie just jolts you out from any set ideas you would begin to have. There are quick turns, not so much in the turn of events, ( although there are those), but also in your perception of the situations, which keeps the movie engrossing.

All in all, a pretty rewarding movie. Leaves you with much to mull over, long after its over.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Running in the rain!

After a blistering spell of heat, what can be more welcome than a light drizzle?? A heavy shower I'm sure would be more welcome, but then we can all make do with our little bits of heaven!

And while there's lightening and storm and then a steady rain, whats more fun than taking a run in it? Pure exhileration. Yep my timing was awful, but hey I enjoyed every minute of it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ageing

I've wondered lately - when does one grow up and become "mature". What do we mean by mature anyway? There seem to be large cluster of necessary attributes for maturity and wisdom- large, vague and sometimes self contradictory.

Its a bit disconcerting to realise, that as the years roll by, although you can see the change in yourself, you can't always assume more 'maturity'. Its a realisation borne out not only by your own experiances, but additionally reinforced by the people much older than you. Nah, they don't seem to be a great deal wiser than some of the youngsters around.


So does older and wiser always hold up? I don't think so anymore. Yes there are some attributes typically associated with youth, and some with age. And yes there are some things we learn with age, but those changes are mostly due to the experiances life doles out to you, and perhaps a few due to the body and mind slowing down.

I think one of the most defining moments was when I realised how stubborn we get , and how set in our ways, as we grow older. Its a strange stubbornness, quite unlike a child's. For a while I thought, it was just me. Then I looked around and saw, that the worst offenders were the 50-60 years olds. And then I began to see other tell tale signs, growing in me, and well established in people much older - signs which seem the opposite of maturity.

Yes, some people seem very reasonable and mature ( again by the wierdly vague standards) but I think thats usually more to do with their temperament to begin with, and very little to do with age. And then of course, we all do have small pockets of intelligence, which perhaps we manage to hold on to.

But all in all, rather depressing to think that as we log in the years, no magical wisdom and maturity will come on a silver platter. Chances are the downslide will begin, and we'd actually need to work harder to fight it!

hmph....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins

A pretty well written book, and I personally liked it a lot since I am an atheist and could see myself going - "Exactly" at various points in the book.

The book takes up the various arguments for "god" and systematically demolishes the ( usually non-existent)  proofs for them. Of course the classic cop out by the believers always is - its a matter of faith, which is supposed to trump all arguments and logic. This line of thinking is also analysed and alternatives suggested, which seem as good as the god delusion.

I guess at least reading a book like this is good to remind myself that being an athiest is an option, and there's nothing particularly "holy" about people's religious beliefs. At any rate their conviction that offences to religious beliefs trump all other offences is just that - their belief. Its a topic as open to discussion as any other, and really under no circumstances can an offence to anyone's humanity overtake an offence to someone's religion.

The insistence on refusing to discuss, and keeping a holier than thou attitude is simply a sign of keeping their head firmly in the sand. And if thats the approach the believers want to take, they really should keep their hands there too!

The Hurt Locker

Did not like it AT ALL. In fact its been a long while since I've felt like walking out of a movie hall.

And considering how well decorated this movie was, the nearest experiance that comes to mind was the huge irritation I felt while watching 2001 a space odessey - the feeling of increasing helpless as to what everyone found in a movie that I could barely sit through.

So in a nut shell - 3 us army guys defuse bombs in iraq. The usual shaky , noisy feel of war movies is there which i don't like much. Then they have the usual mix of misplaced bravado and childlike fear you see in all war movies. Then they defuse some more bombs. And you wonder why on earth are you sitting through this damn boring movie anyway? And then they defuse a few more, and a few more gruesome ones about human bombs and all. Then towards the end, there's some intellectual shit scenes about the important things in life, ( apparently babies are the only things that make the grade) And then they just go on defusing more bombs i guess, I kind of lost the continuity there.


Anyway - story zilch, editing sad, direction sad, new momentous take on things - none, camera - gives you a headache.


Complete waste of time and money. Avoid even on tv and dvd.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky

Couldn't complete this one. It was quite good in the first half or so that I read- well written passages, and a decent story line.  However I don't think I can stomach much of the heavy going poverty and misery, specially one that would go on and on- its a long book!

A student, struggling to survive in the miserably poor neighbourhood, contemplates committing a crime. There are many characters and sub plots which make the book interesting. However, as I said, the unremitting spotlight on the poverty begins to grate on the story, and I just left it midway.

The theme however is fascinating, what constitutes a crime? Is it always so easy to characterise? Does a crime remain a crime if its a culture? And then of course the second part - punishment. What is punishment - is it prevention? Or forgiveness? Or revenge? More on this another time.

Maybe I'll pick it up again some time.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Snow Country - Yasunari Kawabata

I can say this with conviction now - Nobel prize winning works go wayyyy above my head. The last one had been hard to digest, and this one is just the same.

Set in the snow peaks of Japan, the books is basically about a man who returns there, and meets a geisha. There's not a lot more to the story as such, its full of passages, which I'm sure are supposed to mean something, but didn't quite mean much to me.

Note to self - avoid the intellectual books!

Monday, March 29, 2010

12 Angry Men

Quite a fascinating movie. I remember watching the hindi copy few years back, and being quite impressed. Had been waiting to get my hands on the original for a while now.

The basic setup is quite simple, a poor delinquent boy is accused of murdering his father. There is circumstantial evidence and some eyewitness testimony go against him too. It looks virtually like an open and shut case, and a jury of 12 men is asked to return an unanimous verdict. The movie is shot almost entirely in the single room where the jury debate the case.

There are a handful of interesting psychological insights one gets as the movie progresses. Of course the first one is, how our own thinking and background color whatever we see and express an opinion on, even when we think we're being objective. Then the interesting bits about our "mob mentality", how a thing as simple as a vote can depend so much on who goes first, whether its secret, etc etc. Then there's the point about how things work out differently in a team where you get different skills, even if initially you thought they were skills that aren't needed. There's quite a list of things which makes it interesting.

Definitely worth a watch!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bikhre Bimb @rangashankara

I really liked this play. I think it was well written, with the right level of dramatisation, sub texts and build up.

It starts with an author who's always written in Kannada, writing an English novel, which becomes world famous and of course earns a lot of moolah. She gives a short tv talk, taking a few pot shots about the whole english/kannada debate. And then just as she's leaving, the TV screen comes to life, and you seen another pratibimb of the author, talking back to her. As the focus seems to shift away from the language questions, to her own life and the novel, a lot of things shatter/scatter. You get the feeling that perhaps the question of language was after all tangential. In a way it is, although it connects up in the end.


I think Arundhati's acting left a lot to be desired, going rather over the top in most places, - I understand that some places needed to be over the top, but I thought most of it overdone. That was a bit disappointing since I'd heard rave reviews about her performance.  The technical aspects could also have been a bit better perhaps, the screen resolution was wrong, and the sound could've been better.

However , all said and done, I still think it was a damn good play, keeps you engaged, and also leaves you with enough to mull over!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Love Sex aur Dhoka

Another one coming from the maker of Khosla ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky. I had loved the previous two , so was quite looking forward to this.

Overall, I'd say I quite liked it.

Its covers three sub-stories, the first covering a ddlj-not-quite type "love", the second takes on the trickier and the sleasier "sex", and the final part focussing on "dhoka". In a way however the three themes run subtly throughout the gritty movie, shot entirely with a handheld cam, or cctv style cams. It suites the tone of the movie , and its well utilised, although I'm not a big fan of the shaky jerky handhelds.

I don't think its as good as the his previous movies, but still worth a watch. For one thing, bits of "delhi" are again caught amazingly well, the way oye lucky did. Then again, I thought the second part was pretty good in isolation. The third was so so. 

The first part where he hits out at ddlj most savagely, and cinematically pretty ineffectively was something I loved nevertheless. No matter that it is a pretty poorly made sequence, I personally hated DDLJ so much, that I was just waiting all these years for someone to take it apart, even if in a shallow manner the way its done here. I remember writing in my diary then ( gosh its been a while! - 15 years ago), and trying to analyse why the sachchrine sweetness irritated me. Why expecting parents to come around sounded silly then, and still does. They don't come around, they sit there under the weight of all their prejudices and egos, wasting the best years of your life, and sometimes it can get much much worse. It was sad that hindi movies tended to take simplistic views about "running away" ala QSQT style or "obeying parents", as if life is that simple. The whole problem of course ties in with our concept of parenting, which I disagree with. But lets leave that topic for another day.

All in all , worth a watch, but be prepared, its rather hard hitting, and a shallow look can even leave someone thinking ( and yes there were a bunch of people like that in the hall) - "abe, aise to main bhi camera le ke ek movie bana lun!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What I talk about when I talk about running - Haruki Murakami

Quite liked this book.

Its basically just a collection of random thoughts from a writer who's also a long distance runner. He writes about some of his runs, his writing, and a few bits about life in general. Some parts tend to get a bit boring.

But the 2 parts that I really enjoyed were some of the descriptions of the runs. Although I've never managed to keep up a regular running routine, somehow long distance running always fascinated me. The second part was somehow his perceptive and rather practical thoughts about aging. Thats something I totally loved, how he's treated it as something inevitable, which brings changes you might not always like, but which is nevertheless ok.

Nice to read something like this once in a while.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Downloading Nancy

A rather dark disturbing movie. Although I found it engrossing, when I thought about it later, I realised it could've been much better, if they'd made the characters a little more nuanced.

The movie basically centers around a rather unhappily married woman, who'd been badly sexually abused in her childhood, and the lingering scars that leaves. The pain motif runs through most of the movie, and the various forms it takes.

While I loved the direction and editing, I really thought the characters could've been etched better. A few more layers to the two men, would've made it a much more thought provoking movie than it was.

Worth a watch, but only if you can stomach that kind of genre.

Anger.

I guess anger comes in a bell curve, suddenly peaks and then subsides. But sometimes it leaves you with questions, which keep nagging long after the anger is gone.

I guess part of the anger began with the conversation with a friend yesterday. The realisation of the fact that you might kick up a storm for using the swimming pool in your housing society. ( which presumably is for swimming , but then who knows. Maybe its meant for breeding fish.). 

The anger had probably had time to simmer down, when a recipe dumped on me left me more frustrated. I don't enjoy cooking. I tell myself to do it, the same way I tell myself to understand taxes and work on finances. These are things needed for survival, and so,  against my instincts, I try to learn about them. However I don't enjoy anyway giving me recipes when I'm not in a mood to listen to them, specially when its obvious I'm the victim by virtue of my gender. Why aren't the same recipes stuffed down the throat of the menfolk around? Even when its obvious they enjoy cooking more than me?

And yes, the onslaught remained on today. This , I could barely even believe. I have to check this , it just can't be true. All this running around, simply cause I'm married? WTF, I shouldn't have been.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Live In vs Marriage

I guess having had an experiance of both, here's my recommendation.

Live Ins. Any day. Every day. Marriages don't give you shit. Not unless you are a traditional woman, willing to pay the traditional prices for the traditional safeguards.

If you're looking for parity, wtf avoid marriages anyway. Why is the tokenism needed for the man you love anyway?

Of course one only realises things in hindsight.Too late then.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset

Loved both the movies! Its kind of hard to nail down the genre, I guess romantic comedy.. hmm comedy? perhaps not. Found it described as a drama somewhere on the net.. drama ?

At any rate, the story is probably the easiest to state , a guy and a girl meet and stroll all over a city ( vienna in the first one, and paris in the second) and talk. And I guess thats all the movie shows.

But what makes a movie where the two characters just talk, so engrossing? I don't know, somehow the things they talk about, the pauses, the whole subtle tension , of time, of attraction, of uncertainity... It just struck a chord.

Definitely worth a watch. Its like evesdropping into your own brain.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Blind Side

Saw this yesterday, thought it was ok. Worth a watch, but nothing exceptional, no not even Sandra, though I like her in most movies. 

A white lady adopts a black boy, almost accidentally, and of course there's a journey you take from there. As far as the depiction goes, it was rather touchy feely, and I have nothing against that. I enjoy my share of such movies, but I can't say they leave me feeling 'wow'

As an aside, perhaps the circumstances of the screening left a bit to be desired. Much ribbing happened about how it was illegal and stuff. I don't think I gave much of a damn about that, I mean come now, you can't have gradations of rights and wrong, and we all know we're in the wrong. What I found a bit more irritating was the whole idea putting up a "womens day" screening for "women". And I think thats where a lot of the ribbing was coming from, although I'm sure no one would say so. Perhaps if I felt so strongly about it , I shouldn't have gone. But then maybe I didn't feel that strongly about it. I've skipped meals for movies when I was on a budget. This was just a small feeling of this whole setup being wrong. No matter, I relieved my conscience by asking the fellow why, which he obviously couldn't answer, and then went ahead and watched it anyway !

Chasing dreams

Managed to run most of the 5 k, yipie! totally hadn't expected to be able to do it, considering that i had not run even 200 metres in the past 2 months! Not to mention that I've never really been able to pick up the morning running in the past 8-9 years. Too many excuses, and too much of irrelevant stuff cluttering up life.

Anyway, self pat on back is in order. And much gratefulness for the yoga classes, ( even if interrupted for more than a month) and the inspiring kids, some of whom were actually running in bathroom slippers.

Hopefully this won't be a flash in the pan, and perhaps next time I can better my timing.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Up in the air

This was a really funny movie, and was thoroughly enjoyed. George Clooney was great as the miles collecting, relationships hating guy,  who flies all over the US, firing people, and giving the occassional lecture. The first 3/4ths of the movie was fast paced, witty and funny. 
The movie took a bit of a dip towards the end, as the usual cop out of trying to make everything right began. Luckily it didn't go too far, and it was still good to see that at least the ending retained at least a bit of the original flavor. 
All in all worth a watch, with a special reco for anyone's who's shared that special relationship with airports!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More About People by Ogden Nash

Wheew what a day! The perfect mail for today! Thanks G ! :)
      

        When people aren't asking question
        They're making suggestions
        And when they're not doing one of those
        They're either looking over your shoulder
      
        or stepping on your toes
        And then as if that weren't enough to annoy you
        They employ you.
      
        Anybody at leisure
        Incurs everybody's displeasure.
      
        It seems to be very irking
        To people at work to see other people not working,
      
        So they tell you that work is wonderful medicine,
        Just look at Firestone and Ford and Edison,
      
        And they lecture you till they're out of breath or something
        And then if you don't succumb they starve you to death or something.
     
        All of which results in a nasty quirk:
        That if you don't want to work you have to work to earn enough money so that you won't have to work.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nine Stories - J D Salinger

Had last read Salinger a long time ago in school, and had been a little shaken by A catcher in the rye. I'm not sure what shook me then, whether it was the subject, the language or the precocious 1st person narration.

This collection of 9 short stories was not quite that shaking and was rather interesting. 2-3 of them( eg banafish) tended to be a bit too abstract for my understanding or taste. I quite liked most of the others, specially since they  had rather differing tones. The one with 2 old friends conversing about their lives seemed almost banal, and the "mystic" Teddy was predictable but memorable.

Overall a rather satisfying read.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Surreal.

just about describes it I guess.

As I sit here, trying to filter out the insane wails, tumbling over guilt and frustration of office work, thinking of relationships and how strangely they are built, trying not to look far ahead into the future, throttling plans, knowing they don't always come true.

As I sit here, I wonder - why are we here again? And why is it that traditionally defined problems sometimes leave me unmoved, and conventionally 'irrelevant' things leave me shaken?

As I sit here, contemplating the fate and foibles of human nature. Death, vanity, prejudice, insanity, fear,
I'm confused. Why are we here again?

Surreal just about describes it.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Song for the day..

heard today on radio,

Ik din bik jayega ..

priceless.

The lady of Burma @ rangashankara

This one was also caught a while back as part of the Bangalore habba.

It was a solo performance, almost a dance drama, enacting the life of Aung San Su Kyi. It was ok, not particularly exceptional. Averagely written, averagely directly, averagely enacted.

Watchable but not very memorable.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Antigone @Chowdiah

Was seen some time back at the Bangalore habba that was happening. The play itself seemed a bit of a disappointment, realised a bit late that I'd read it in a collection of the 3 Theban plays that I have.

Antigone is the free spirited girl who's determined to bury her brother's body, which her uncle, the king has ordred to be left out to rot. 

I can't say I enjoyed reading them much, I don't think I quite have the appreciative gene for these old tragidies. At any rate the doubly adapted play also didn't seem to make it any more interesting, although there were good performances from Naseer and Ratna.


The entire part before Naseer comes on stage seemed to drag, and although Ratna was exuberant , I couldn't quite see the point of most of that part. Once the dialogue started, it seemed to lift the sagging play, and I thought perhaps there would be something to it after all, however the ending again somehow fizzled out.


Overall a disappointment apart from their individual performances.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

happy days @ rangashankara

A Samuel Becket play. Having heard and read about 'waiting for godot' all these years, and having just missed that one a while back, I was quite keen to catch this.

It was quite interesting. Definitely heavy going, its something called the theatre of the absurd I gather,  but interesting nevertheless. I'm sure it was in no small measure due to the excellant acting.

The performance consists of a strident, hell bent optimism of a woman buried waist down in a sort of sand mound. She fights off the horror of the situation, warding off the depression with straws -rituals,  platitudes, memories and the plaintive cries to her husband, who's somewhere around, and sometimes answers in monosyllables, and sometimes, many times, does not.

Its the sort of play, that leaves you to ponder over your own straitjackets and burdens.  Do we ignore the absudities? Do we 'thank our lucky stars'? Can we really fight , and should we? What is the nature of the relationship with the spouse? How far does the  religious crutch carry us? And is life really empty and meaningless? There was a short discussion after the play with the 2 actors, which was interesting, reminded me a bit of english classes long long ago, ( Luckily I always had good english teachers. )

All in all , worth a watch, but be prepared for the rather heavy going.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Balance

a fine balance
between whats gone and what is to come
between whats taken and what can still be given


a delicate balance
between the error and the correction
between atonement and the hope of redemption


the tortous balance
between the can't that is the hearts cry

and the head  which insists - try

The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins

I'd gone looking for 'the god delusion', but ended up with this one instead.

I can't say I ever understood Darwin's theory of evolution very well, just had a rough idea that he said life evolved from aquatic microbial life through ever more complex organisms , and then we descended from monkeys - the better known and better hated part for the more biblical minded .

Its rather an interesting read, in that it sort of tries to explain the "why" and "how" of the evolution theory. This particular theory takes the approach of defining a gene as a piece of the chromosome as something that lasts for a long time over generations, and then considers this to be a sort of preprogramming unit which is selfishly trying to survive. Sort of a microscopic view as opposed to the rather more commonly layman understanding of a group or herd , or even the individual trying to survive.

I don't think I understand enough to be able to take a stand for or against the theory, but it sure made interesting reading. Some crucial bits still seemed to be glossed over,  eg why the complicated move from molecular to giant lumbering robots as dawkins calls us? or even trickier, why bisexual evolution, when single celled division could've gone great guns? or even the very basic idea of how genes themselves have been defined, seems a little iffy.

Interesting questions, and there are quite a few others to which it seems to give rather convincing explanations. ESS or an evolutionary stable strategy was a particularly neat way of explaining some rather common questions about why this and not that.

Looking for the god delusion even more now!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Park @Rangashankara

Saw this play over the weekend. It was quite decent. 3 people fight over 3 park benches. At a surface level the humourous exchanges were well written, and the comic timing was mostly spot on. Mush laughter ensued.

At a deeper level, the larger questions about space, ownership, identity and subtle human foibles so to speak were invoked, mostly quite well.  Without making it too much in your face, or making it too oblique to catch. I quite enjoyed the fun they made out of the whole "analogy" bit, bringing in some analogies, just in case you were not in a mood to read in deeper into the situation!


However there were a couple of rather jarring bits, almost unexpectedly bad, compared to the rest of the play. Luckily they were few and not too long, but they were a bit surprising. The so called "origin" of the first fellows malady was cringe inducing to say the least. Interludes of the three explaining their backgrounds seemed disconnected and forced. And the 2-3 places which tried to show the struggle and confusion in mime, sans dialogue, didn't seem to quite blend in with the rest of the tempo of the play.


But all said and done, quite an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Avatar

Amazing visuals! A simplified and decently told story ( nothing much new or pathbreaking on that front tho)

Having laid bare our mother earth, the humans now want to mine the super valuable unobtainium ( yes i kid you not!) from another world - Pandora ( yes I still kid you not! ) Unfortunately for the humans, but fortunately for the storyteller, the bulk of the deposits lie right under a central settlement of the natives, a lovely people called the Navi, who're fully in touch with their mother pandora. So humans send in Navi looking, human controlled avatars in to persuade/spy. And I guess  its not hard to guess the  story from there.

However, I don't think would have the same appeal 20 years from now.  There's really nothing beyond the scenic beauty and awesome cinematography, special effects, and the like. Nothing lasting really beneath the surface.  And I can't help wondering , if such effort and money had to be spent, couldn't it have been on something lasting at least? But then perhaps it was a business trade off, a simpler , black and white story would have a more mass appeal.

Well so be it, for now its certainly worth a watch, specially in 3D. Luckily, the movie doesn't use its effects ( 3D, cgi, or anything else for that matter) simply as gimmicks. Within the parameters of story telling, it keeps props as instruments of the story telling, and not a proclamation of "I can so I will" .