Monday, December 15, 2014

Movie Review: The Lunchbox

The Lunchbox resembles You've Got Email. You've Got Email was the most recent adaptation of the many correspondence courtship drama made for the screen. It was able to grab our attention due to hard-to-find-now but the then Hollywood sweetheart Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Internet boom and popularity of AOL. When compared to this biggie, the Lunchbox is small in every kind of measuring yardstick. Ritesh Batra, the director of this movie, is not a celebrity. Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur plays the protagonists. The former is an international star but not at the same star status as Tom Hanks, and the latter is an unknown face. Finally, the correspondence is set in the lunch box where they write each other letters using pen and paper! In spite of all these, the movie captures your attention. A simple movie can be very effective in telling a touching human drama.

You may have heard of the dabbawalas in Mumbai. Although their method might seem chaotic for an untrained eye, their efficiency is unparalleled. Even Harvard had come to Mumbai to study their delivery system. A mix-up by the dabbawala places the lunch box prepared by the young wife Ila(Nimrat Kaur) on the desk of Saajan Fernandez(Irrfan Khan) a widower waiting for his retirement. At the end of the day, Ila is surprised by an empty lunch box. She thinks her husband is happy with the new recipe on which she had ample help from the auntie living upstairs, never seen in the movie, but heard through the movie. She decides to write a thank you note and puts in the dabba. This correspondence starts the friendship between two lonely souls living in a crowded city. In real life, this might never happen. Otherwise, the Harvardwala would never have conducted a study on dabbawalas. I am quoting one of the characters in the movie here. 

A simple narrative style, an eye for detail, excellent acting and photographing Mumbai combines together to keep us engaged in the movie. The movie is about two lonely people who haven't got anyone to communicate. Saajan lost his wife to death while Ila is losing her husband to his work. The two lonely people are living in one of the busiest and crowded city in the world. The irony itself captures our attention. They exchange letters not to philosophize instead to connect. The yearning of the protagonist to reach out finally pulls us into the drama. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, in a very short role, proves his versatility. The man can play anyone. Ritesh Batra does not carry any excess baggage as this is feature film debut. But he handles his subject and his actors like a veteran.

This lunch box contains a simple meal. But this would be most fulfilling meal you have eaten in a long while. Go for it.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Choose your off-site wisely

Off-site is one of the favorite events to enable team building. As the name implies, the venue is not your regular work location which provides the much needed and deserved break from the monotonous or stress-ridden environment. Who doesn't like that? But off-sites can also be detrimental. I learned this lesson recently from a friend of mine.

The friend was looking forward to the off-site announced by his firm. The company was trying to shoot two birds with one stone. They were providing back to the community and also building the synergies between the various teams with the off-site. In order to accomplish this objective, the company took all of their employees on a mission to rebuild one of the recreational centers for young adults with special needs.

I don't know how off-sites work in your place. The friend turned up over-dressed and under-prepared for the day. When I met him at the end of the day, he was groaning from 8 hours of hard physical labor. He summed up the off-sites in the following words. " I work hard for 8 hours every day. How is this different? There is no fun. Moreover, I am in pain. My body is aching all over!"

I am afraid this off-site is going to have an adverse effect on the friend. He might resign! I wonder what he would cite the reason in his exit interview.

Tags: Musings, Off-site

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Books: Think Like a Freak

For most of us, Freakonomics is the book that made us look at numbers and their interpretation in a different way. The books also happen to be an excellent example of Lateral Thinking. Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner, the authors of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics and self-proclaimed freaks, plans to show us how to think like a freak. In the ever-changing professional fields, thinking like a freak will get you into the hall of fame. So it is not only the right time but also very essential to share this knowledge.

Steven and Stephen are good story tellers. Like their previous books, this one also has a lot of stories. There are tireless doctors who crusade against the scientific community and also an unassuming Japanese guy who become a champion by wolfing down hot dogs. No doubt these are interesting stories told in a captivating way. Unfortunately, the stories are the upside of the book. The rest of the book is a series of mantras that will help you think different, think outside the box or think like a freak. These mantras are an amalgamation of the popular self-help books.

Except the interesting stories and the style of writing, there isn't nothing much you can get from this book. You may want to pick up this book while waiting for the next flight. Easily read and more easily forgotten.

Tags: Books,Steven D Levitt,Stephen J Dubner,Freak

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Doctors and Daddies

A father is always protective of his children, but he is overly protective of his daughter. A daughter always brings the best in a father. You may be toughest person on earth. But when you daughter describes the world, you might want that to be the truth even though your intelligence might point to the opposite direction. I had an interesting conversation with my daughter the other day. When I was talking about paying consultation fees for a doctor, my daughter was surprised.

Daughter: *quizzing* Why do you have to pay a doctor?

Me: *patiently* They need money for various things.

Daughter: *pausing for a second to digest this fact* But I thought doctors were sweet. That is why they are doctors, and they don't money.

At this point, I realize I have to break another fragment of the perfect world my daughter has created in her mind. So I carefully think on how to approach it. Once I have formulated my line of reasoning; I resume.

Me: *slowly* They do accept money. Haven't you seen me paying at the hospital before going to see a doctor? *mentally heaves a sigh, thinking it is going to take some time for my daughter to digest it*

Daughter: *instantly* Yes. But that is because you are sweet and so you pay the doctor.

To be frank, everything after the word "sweet" was a blur. I was flying high after that. Who am I kidding? I am still flying high.

Tags: Parenthood,Doctor,Payment

Monday, November 17, 2014

Restaurants, Accents and Jobs

Over the weekend, I visited a local restaurant serving a potpourri of Asian food. If you been to a Chinese buffet already, then you know what I am talking. The restaurant has a similar theme; the difference is in the spread that belongs to a couple of regions in Asia instead of sticking to Chinese items alone. The wait times are long in this restaurant, but they turn their tables very quickly. They can turn tables quickly because they have a lot of tables. The restaurant has a seating capacity like a stadium. Even though it I am exaggerating with the similarity to a stadium, it is a dining hall and not a restaurant. Keeping aside the food, it is the waiters and waitresses that caught my eyes.

For an Asian restaurant, I expected a lot of Asian faces among the crew. You may call me prejudiced. Although I scanned the crew, I could see very few locals; the few locals carried the tag displaying "Trainee". The trainees looked like a rush job. Most of the other names and also accents indicated they were from Eastern side of Europe. This finding was amusing for me because a couple of days back we went on a team lunch to an Italian restaurant. Diwali is long past, but the pain of organizing a Diwali lunch fell on my overburdened shoulders. Based on everyone's calendar, last week was the only time when all of us are not on vacation or training. Why Italian for an Indian occasion? If that is your question, don't you know Indians and Italians go a long way? 1972 to be exact; Godfather released in 1972 and we all are ardent fans of this movie. That is our Italian connection.

I called up a highly rated Italian restaurant near my work. I was happy to hear an accent at the other end. I was happier to find the accent wrapped in a beautiful voice. Like a naive person, I assumed the restaurant was run and managed by Italian immigrants who will provide authentic Italian food. All is well that ends well. The food was good. All of us had fun. The beautiful voice also turned out to be more beautiful in person with a great and perfect teeth. But she was not Italian. She was from Spain living in England because she wanted to learn English. To my Indian friends, please don't bother asking the name of the restaurant in order to teach her English. She wants to learn English and not Hinglish. To my British friends, if I had denied the pleasure to my brethren, why would I reveal the name of the restaurant to you?

If you analyze further, both the cities - where I live and where I work - are so small that I call them villages. There are still many jobs out in these small places. Then why is immigration a problem? 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Photos: Trafalgar Square

This is another shot of Trafalgar Square taken at night.

Tags: Photos

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Photos: Green Lantern at Trafalgar Square

The reality is different from the perception. Here I was in self-imposed exile, mostly involved, in a self-flagellation, about my lack of interest in photography. After two consecutive moves from Paris and in the process of adjusting to a new environment, I doubted my photography skills because I couldn't either find time or was not happy with the end results. Then comes a day when you go through the treasure trove and finds pictures that are worthy of sharing.

I had taken this picture at Trafalgar Square a year ago. These days, I don't carry the tripod around. This picture motivates me to take my tripod again. I like the fountain lit in green and felt it would be interesting to try out using long exposure. You can see the result below, and I hope you like it.

Tags: Photos

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