Monday, August 30, 2010

Generator sets inside the GCDA shopping complex



If you take a stroll inside the GCDA Shopping complex lining the Marine Drive in Kochi, it is hard to miss the red colored contraptions kept outside the shops. They are carefully placed so as not to obstruct the flow of traffic into the shop! Wires run from the body of the contraption and magically disappear into the shops.

This red colored contraption, known as generator set, is a saving lifeline for most of the shopkeepers here! How can you sell your wares if a prospective customers cannot see it adequate light; be it natural or artificial? The blackouts or the power cuts can be overcome with these. The side effects of the generator sets are the irritating hum of the motor and the smell of the burning fuel in the air!

Neither the sounds nor the smell bothered me when I visited the GCDA shopping complex on the eight day of Onam. What intrigued me was the number of generator sets to be found in the corridors of the shopping complex. The shopping complex has been operational from the 90’s. But still, it lacks a central generator set that can power the entire shopping complex inconspicuously.

There are still certain small things in Kochi which has not changed over the years. Unfortunately, it is me who has started demanding more from the city!

Picture 127 Picture 128  Picture 129

Tags: Musings,GCDA,Kochi,Generator Sets

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Books: Sh*t My Dad Says



Justin Halpern moves in with his parents after his girlfriend breaks up with him. His dad Samuel Halpern is a retired radiologist. Samuel possesses an unique way of communicating with others. He uses a lot of expletives like sh*t and f***ing! As they sound funny, Justin sets up a twitter account where he updates the little pearls of wisdom coming from his dad’s mouth. Very soon, his follower counts reach amazing proportions. As a result, he ends up with a book deal which resulted in this book.

The book has an introduction followed by 17 chapters. In the introduction, Justin tells us the genesis of the book. Each chapter deals with a specific event from Justin’s life. Justin learnt an important lesson from these events. The title of the chapter reflects this lesson. While reading the chapter, the lesson is not right in the face. This makes the reader read the chapter and then find the link between the event and the title. The chapters ends with one-liners from Samuel on many issues.

The book is a very fast read. The one-liners at the end do not have any connection with the chapter. It must have been added to invoke more laughter from the reader. Even without it, the book works. In some occasions, the one liners do give out what will follows in the next chapters.

Justin’s book deals with his dad. Beneath the loud spoken and expletive-spitting man, there lies a caring and loving dad who will not accept anything less for his kids. The book is heavily loaded with humor. But the humor doesn’t drown the emotional and sentimental aspect of the relationship.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Tags: Books,Dad,Justin Halpern

Friday, August 27, 2010

Books: The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ



Philip Pullman writes his version of the story of Jesus. In his version, Mary and Joseph had twins – Jesus and Christ.  He starts with Mary; her birth and her subsequent marriage to Joseph. He ends his story long after the crucifixion.

The title is blasphemous. But if you can overcome the initial distaste towards the title, it is an interesting read. If you have heard the story of Jesus, then this book brings you an alternate narrative of the story. It will amuse you and also make you think. When you think , you will also try to differentiate between faith and the salesperson associated with the faith.

Regardless of your religion, you can pick up this book if you are ready to examine your faith, if you are familiar with the story of Jesus and if you are not offended by a new interpretation of a religious story. Once you satisfy the above three criteria, you will be amazed at the thoughts this book can stimulate.

This book is a part of the Myth series which consists of a series of novels from various writers all over world trying to reinterpret popular myths. 

Picture Courtesy: http://thegoodmanjesusandthescoundrelchrist.co.uk

Tags: Books,Jesus,Christ,Myth Series,Philip Pullman

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Preparing for Kaala Poottu (Cattle Race)



Kaala Poottu (translated as cattle race) is very popular in Palakkad. In fact, this is a tourist attraction. On my way to Bengaluru, I came across a crowd on the highway around 5 kms from Palakkad. The crowd was gathered on the side of a paddy field. I also found herds of cattle there. On pulling over, I learnt about the preparations of the cattle race in progress. I clicked pictures and also took videos. The skies were cloudy and the paddy fields looked lush in the reduced sunlight. I couldn’t stay there for long and watch the race.

Picture 148 Picture 149 Picture 152 Picture 153 Picture 154

Tags: Travel,Videos,Kaala Poottu,Palakkad,Cattle Race

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What does it take to buy liquor in Kerala?



Picture 135 What does it take to buy liquor in Kerala? Little did I realize the “what” till I went shopping on 21st August. One of the foremost things you need is strong legs. Then, you will also need patience in abundance. There is a very long queue in front of the liquor store. So, you will have to wait for your turn. For this, you require both strong legs and patience.

It also helps you to note down the rack on which your precious poison rests if you are purchasing the less popular brand. One of my friends with an exquisite taste wanted Haig. Popular and desired as it may sound to you, it is definitely not very well known here; at least not in the beverages store near Pipeline junction in Palarivattom. The person at the counter was speechless after hearing the word “Haig”. A disaster was quickly averted by pointing to the rack behind him showing him the exact location of the “Haig”.

Avoid purchases after sunset. It isn’t bad to shop for liquor in daylight. In fact, the state exchequer is always happy when the sales figures arrive after the festival season comes to an end. In effect, you are contributing to the state revenue. Remember the taxes are taken forcibly from you. Here, you are making the state self sufficient on your free will and with a happy mind. At the same time, please avoid buying from Chalakkudy at any time of the day during the festival season as the highest sales of liquor was registered here. They sure know how to have a gala time. The problem is neither the residents of the Chalakkudy nor the shops there. The problem is you. Your legs and patience might fail!

Planning always help. If you plan well, then you could stock upon the liquor without any difficulty. You can easily identify hours or days when these stores are less crowded and plan your visit accordingly. When there are less people around, buy more as you don’t have to bear the cross of keeping the fellow liquor lovers waiting. You may still need to find the location of less popular brands yourself as drinking a particular brand of poison is your choice and not the choice of the person at the counter.

Transporting liquor from other states, where there are options to obtain it without strong legs and patience, is not planning. I retract. It is planning. But some have a very narrow point of view and term this as smuggling. Most of these narrow minded people wear khakhi apparels with a cap and also display stars over their shoulders. These khakhi wearing breed do not possess a sense of humor. Be forewarned!

To give you a sense of what transpires in front of liquor store, please see the picture. This was taken in front of the beverages store near Pipeline junction in Palarivattom.

Tags: Musings,Liquor,Kerala

Books: Notes From A Big Country



After living in England for nearly 20 years, Bill Bryson moves back to US. After moving back to his native country after a long period of time, he notices many changes in people and culture. As part of his column for the Mail on Sunday, he comments on the changes. This book is a compilation of the articles published in his column.

The articles were published 10 years back. So, some of the issues dealt here has already been highlighted by others in the recent times in other forums. So, you will not find anything new in this book considering the era we live in. Moreover, a commentary tends to be taxing on you after you have completed half the book as reading a collection of articles at one shot is different from reading individual article weekly.

Bill Bryson’s style is unique and interesting. He adorns his verbs with adjectives. In this process, he pairs his verb with an odd adjective, which often has a negative connotation, bringing in a hilarious twist. In addition, he uses combines two statements with negative meaning to paint a different picture. This forces a careless reader to come back, examine the sentence again and laugh out loud.

Pick it up and read random chapters. It will surely bring a smile to your lips.

Picture Courtesy:Amazon

Tags: Books,US,England,Bill Bryson

Monday, August 23, 2010

Movie Review: Naan Mahaan Alla



A group of college going students are thick friends. They are heavy drug users. They spend their time playing sports and doing nothing of significance. None of them have girl friends. Possessed by envy and desire, they attack an young couple who visit a run down section of the beach. They injure the boy and rape the girl.

Meanwhile, Jeeva(Karthi) is a carefree young man. He is very sharp and quick with words. When he attends his friend’s engagement, Jeeva meets Priya(Kajal Aggarwal). Being quick witted, he is able to grab Priya’s attention. Very soon, they fall in love with each other. Karthi’s dad is a call taxi driver while Priya’s dad is a criminal lawyer.

How these two seemingly independent story lines collide forms the rest of the story. This movie, directed by Suseenthiran, offers a mixed bag experience for the audience. Even though the wooing phase of the lead couple has been witnessed umpteen time before, Suseenthiran is able to infuse energy and also freshness in those scenes. The visualization of the song which shows the lead couple has knowing smiles, wide eyes and lip-to-lips. Although all the lip smooches are covered up using the traditional methods of turning away faces or taking the camera away, it still shows how movie makers have progressed avoiding vulgarity or sensationalism. Suseenthiran has also cast the right faces to play his characters and he has extracted natural performances from all his performers. On the flip side, the story drags after the initial reels. It gathers momentum when Jeeva embarks on his investigation culminating in the final action scene on the beach. The action scene is a departure from his rest of the movie where Jeeva dons the superman avatar. But, the action scene is excellent. Jeeva fights four people at the same time. The camera, the action choreography and the CGI make the final scene a must watch.

Karthi excels as Jeeva. His Jeeva is energetic and spontaneous. He is able to convincingly portray an irresponsible young man who does not know anything about life other than to enjoy life. He makes us laugh during the major part of the movie. When he transforms in the second half, we sit up and watch. He is fantastic in the final action scene. The CGI and the pulleys might have helped him perform those stunts. But there is fury in his body. Kajal Aggarwal has a brief role and is completely forgotten in the second half. When she is around, her beautiful eyes do that talking. Every one in this movie has performed well.

The plot is wafer thin with enough moments that captures your attention. If you are going for this, don’t buy popcorn at the beginning of the movie. There are many places in the movie where the pace slackens. Reserve your visits to the popcorn stall till then.

Language: Tamil

Genre: Drama

Rating: **

Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

Tags: Movies,Karthi,Kajal Aggarwal,Suseenthiran,Drama

Nalambalam: Irinjalikkuda Sreekoodalmanikyam Temple



Picture 101 Sreekoodalmanikyam Temple is the second temple in Nalambalam and the main deity here is Bharatha. There is a legend behind the name, Koodalmanikyam. Long ago, a strong ray of light emanated from the forehead of the deity. On examining the ray of light, it resembled the rays emanating from the stone known as manikyam, one among the navratnas. In order to compare the ray of light, they initiated the search for the best stone in the area. The best stone was with the king of Kayamkulam. So, it was brought to the temple. When the stone was placed beside deity, the stone magically fused into the forehead of the deity. Koodal denotes the fusing and the manikyam indicates the name of the stone. Hence the name.

Picture 102 The deity is also said to be very powerful. There is another legend behind this. Long ago, a powerful Brahmin visited all the famous temples in the area with the intention of extracting the power behind the deities. He was successful in doing this wherever he visited. He used his conch to store the extracted power. But when he reached the Sreekoodalmanikyam temple, the deity made the conch slip from his hand. The conch broke on touching the ground and all the extracted power stored in the conch was absorbed by the deity, making him very powerful.

The main offering here is the lotus garland. The lotus are tied together using a twain making it resemble a garland. This garland is offered to the deity. Meenoottu which is famous in Tripayar Sreeramaswamy temple is also a favorite here. There is a big pond that is dug adjacent to the temple. The pond features good variety of fishes. Like in all temples, fishing is strictly prohibited here. The deity is famous for helping the devotee in health related issues like respiratory issues and intestinal problems.

See below for the (amateur) video of the temple pond. You can see the fishes in the water.

Also see,

  • Nalambalam Origins
  • Triprayar Sreeramaswamy Temple
  • Tags: Travel,Nalambalam,Sreekoodalmanikkyam,Irinjalikkuda

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    360 degree view from the Chinese Fishing Net Bridge in Kochi



    It was cloudy after the sudden downpour at noon. The sky never cleared and sun was not to be seen. Yet, it was beautiful to walk through the Marine Drive walkway in Kochi. The view from Chinese Fishing Net bridge was fabulous.

    Tags: Travel,Chinese Fishing Net,Kochi

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Nalambalam: Triprayar Sreeramaswamy Temple



    Rama is the main deity in Triprayar Sreeramaswamy temple. If you are planning to visit all the four temples in one day, you should start your day from here. The temple opens at 3 am in the morning. During the month of Karkidakam, the locals start at 3 am in the morning in order to complete one circuit of all four temples by 9 am in the morning.

    As evident from the name, this temple is located in Triprayar. The main entrance of the temple is from the river that flows through Triprayar. There are steps that lead up to the temple. The main offerings in this temple are vedi vazhipaadu and meenoottu. Vedi vazhipaadu in an overly simplistic way can be described as bursting of crackers. But the powder used and the vessel for this purpose produces more sound than crackers. The sound from this offering is used to awaken the deity. Meenootttu is translated as feeding of the fishes. The people throng on the steps that lead to the water and feed the fishes with rice grains. There is no fishing allowed in the water fearing the wrath of the deity.


    View Larger Map

    See below for the pictures of the temple. You can also see devotees on the steps leading to the temple feeding the fishes. Also, a video that show how vedi vazhipaadu is offered. The video gives you an idea what it is about and is not taken in the Sreeramaswamy temple.

    Picture 097 Picture 094

    Also see,

  • Nalambalam Origins
  • Tags: Travel,Nalambalam,Triprayar,Rama

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Nalambalam: Origins



    Picture 108 Nalambalam means four temples in Malayalam. Nalambalam is a group of four temples; each one devoted to one of the four sons of Dasharatha, from the Indian epic Ramayana. Lord Dasharatha had four sons – Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna – and each one is the main deity in these four temples. Three of the temples are situated in the district of Thrissur while one is in the district of Ernakulam, close to the Thrissur border. Growing up in Kerala, I ignorantly believed that Kerala did not have a popular temple dedicated to Rama. So, I was surprised when I found not only Rama but also his brothers not so far away from my home in Kerala.

    Most, if not every, temple in Kerala has an associated legend about it’s inception. As for legends related to Kerala, there is no one better than Kottarathil Shakunni to chronicle these. But I have gone through his Aithihya Mala (published in 8 volumes and later published as one book featuring all these 8 volumes) many times. I do not remember seeing anything about a Rama temple. Knowing my penchant for reading (and also regurgitating the same on the blog), my sister picked up a booklet detailing the origin and stories of Nalambalam. It is a 34 page booklet written by Radhakrishnan Pottakkal in Malayalam. This gives a lot of insight into these temples.

    Many centuries back, Vakkayil Kaimal had a bizzare dream. He was a prominent figure near the place that is called Tripayar now. He had dreamt of coming across four idols from Krishna’s reign. In a few days after the dream, some fishermen netted four idols while fishing. After consulting the astrologers and the scholars, it was decided to place these idols at four different places and built a temple around each. These temples came collectively known as Nalambalam and consists of

    1. Triprayar Sreeramaswamy Temple
    2. Irinjalakkuda Sreekoodalmanikyam Temple
    3. Tirumoozhikkulam Lakshmanaperumal Temple
    4. Payammel Shatrughnaswamy Temple

    Tags: Travel,Nalambalam,Rama,Thrissur,Ernakulam

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    How to watch TV when you have conjunctivitis?



    How do you survive without TV when you are struck by conjunctivitis? You can let go of everything except TV. Especially when the TV offers never ending soaps and the reality shows. The never ending soaps might hardly contain two minutes of a trace of a plot when you have discounted the advertisement and the montages of the actors reacting in various angles with jarring music in the background. What if this trace of a plot turned out to the turning point? The reality shows comes in two flavors – the reality show and the junior reality show! Both of it are not to be missed.

    Now that the decision is to watch these entertaining features on the TV, the only option is to contain the damage to the eyes. The damage can only be reduced by limiting the stress on the eyes. This can be achieved in two ways.

    The first way is to kiss goodbye to the visuals. Lie down in any comfortable furniture or even floor with your legs pointing away from the TV and back of your head facing the TV. Now listen to your favorite program.

    The second way to render the rays, emanating from TV, less powerful. This way, you can see the visual; but in a blurred manner. This can be easily accomplished by placing a nearly transparent curtain between you and the TV.

    Are you smirking at me already? I agree you might have employed the same methods during your childhood. If you had loving parents like mine, the chances are that your parents would have screamed or beat the living daylights out of you! At this age, I’m confident that this treatment will not be meted out to me! Because I’m not the genius who devised these methods during conjunctivitis phase! It was my mom who was trying to extract the best out of life by employing the above methods.

    Parents! They teach you one thing all your childhood and go on to demonstrate the reverse for the rest of your life!

    Tags: Musings,Conjunctivitis,Mom

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Movie Review: District 9



    20 years back, an alien ship comes to rest above Johannesburg, South Africa. After observing the ship for a few months, humans entered the ship by breaking in and finds extraterrestrials inside the ship. They are subsequently moved into a government camp known as District 9 inside Johannesburg. The extraterrestrials are confined inside District 9 and the humans nicknamed them as prawns based on their appearance.

    At present, District 9 has turned into a slum and the South African government decides to relocate 1.8 million extraterrestrials to a new government camp known as District 10. In order to execute this decision, a private company named Multinational United(MNU) is hired. One of the top level executives at MNU, Piet Smit, entrusts this job to Wikus van der Merwe(Sharlto Copley) who incidently is the former’s son-in-law.

    A naive Wikus decides to serve eviction notices to the extraterrestrials before asking them to move to District 10. So, he enthusiastically enters District 9. But very soon, events unfold wherein Wikus is persecuted by the humans and is on the run. He has to return to District 9 for help. This forms the rest of the story.

    Neill Blomkamp directs this movie which is an adaptation of his short film named Alive in Joburg. The underlying themes of the movie is human mistrust towards anything foreign and corporate greed. The story is clich├ęd. Yet, it stands apart primarily due to the way in which the story unfolds. The story is told in a documentary format where in the some of the characters are being interviewed after the events. The documentary is interspersed with actual happenings. The actual happenings are shot using handheld cameras which is constantly moving or overlooking someone’s shoulder. This technique makes the movie thrilling and racy. The CG is difficult to distinguish in this movie. The background score is haunting and add extra dimension to the drama that is being played out in the screen.

    The second thing that works for the movie is Sharlto Copley’s performance. During the course of the movie, Sharlto effectively transforms from the naive pleasant employee into a fugitive trying to survive. Wikus is a coward and is often conflicted. He is helpless and pushed to a corner when he reacts; trying to bring normalcy back into his life. During the initial phases, it is Sharlto’s energy, in introducing his compatriots and explaining the process while serving eviction notices, that gives the movie a fast-paced tone. Sharlto’s anonymity in the Hollywood arena also acts against the audience pre-judging the character.

    Must watch! The subtexts may be lost in the action. But it is still thrilling. This is not suitable for children and those who can’t watch graphic violence. There are a lot of bodies bursting out in this movie!

    Language: English

    Genre: Thriller

    Rating: ****

    Tags: Movies,Sharlto Copley,Neill Blomkamp,Thriller

    Movie Review: The Rebound



    Sandy(Catherine Zeta-Jones) discovers the philandering habits of her husband while editing her kid’s birthday videos. Following the shocking discovery, she files for divorce and moves into New York City with her son and daughter. In spite of being overqualified, she takes up a fact checking job with one of the TV networks. Aram Finklestein(Justin Bartha) is recently separated from his wife who was using him to get a green card. Aram is well educated with college degrees. Yet, he is unsure about what to do in life. He works in a coffee shop and lives with his parents.

    When Sandy moves into New York City, she rents out the apartment on top of the coffee shop where Aram works. By chance, Aram ends up as a babysitter for her kids. In the process, Aram gradually gets friendly with the kids. As part of the rebound, a friends sets up Sandy on a date that turns out to be a disaster. Slowly, the two people, who are on a rebound, develops a friendship and also get attracted to each other. But, Sandy is 40 while Aram is 25. What happens in their life forms the rest of the story.

    Bart Freundlich directs this movie based on his script. The movie has situations that evoke laughter like Sandy venting out anger in a self defense class, Sandy’s first date after separation. But the emphasis is not on the comedy or raunchiness associated with a relationship between younger man and older woman. The film focuses on the two people trying to find the confidence to stand up on their feet after a disastrous relationship. This makes it an interesting watch that also surprise you at many places.

    Justin Bartha delivers a performance which is very different from his “National Treasure” outings. Aram is laidback like his earlier roles but confused at the same time. His portrayal of a confused guy trying to find purpose (and finding love enroute) takes away the shine from Sandy on whom the script is written around. Catherine Zeta-Jones does well as Sandy effectively conveying the conflicted emotions.

    The posters are misleading. This is not a comedy but a drama. But, it will still make you laugh at places. You will also be surprised as on how the movie shapes up. This is not to be watched with kids.

    Language: English

    Genre: Drama

    Rating: ***

    Tags: Movies,Catherine Zeta-Jones,Justin Bartha,Bart Freundlich,Drama

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Are we so gullible?



    Have you been approached by cops in broad daylight to remove your ornaments for examination? If it sounds weird, this is an experience of a lady who was on her way home near the Sarjapur-Outer Ring Road junction in Bengaluru. The cops were perched on motorbike in full regalia. There were conducting a survey on what kind of ornaments were worn by people as thefts are on the rise in the area. At least, so they claimed! The lady politely asked these cops to visit her home so that the survey can be done in the confines of her home in presence of her dear ones. On hearing this, the cops lost interest in pursuing this further.

    If you think on this further, these are not cops but con artists. It shows how easy it is to impersonate the law enforcement officials and the audacity of the con artists. A con cannot succeed without a victim. In this case, the victims are us! Are we so gullible to fall for such schemes? Do we suspend thinking while encountering an uniformed official?

    Picture Courtesy: www.team-bhp.com

    Tags: Bangalore,Cops,Ornaments,Survey

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Books: The Girl who Played with Fire



    Salander goes globe trotting after the Wennerstrom affair. She has stopped talking to Blomkvist. She spends time immersed in learning the mysteries of Mathematics. On her return to Sweden, she buys a new apartment. She rents out the apartment to a friend. While Salander is busy, Blomkvist is busy with the latest sensational article that is going to published in May edition of Millennium. The article deals with sex trafficking and it is written by Svensson and his girlfriend.

    Bjurman, Salander’s guardian, is filled with hatred towards Salander. He wants to take revenge on Salander for the misery she has inflicted on him. He starts digging information about her and comes across an episode titled “All that Evil” from Palmgren’s journals. On seeing this, Bjurman recognizes an opportunity.

    Very soon, Salander is a fugitive charged with multiple murders. All the psychiatric evaluations mdo not work in her favor. What is “All that Evil” and how Salander is involved in the murders is told in the rest of the story.

    This is Stieg Larsson’s second book in the Millennium Trilogy and comes after the first offering The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the trilogy. The books begins around an year after the Wennerstrom affair detailed in the finishing pages of the first book and covers a span of 4 months. Like the predecessor, the main theme of the book is abuse of women. It also questions the ethics in journalism which results in sensationalizing news based on incorrect findings.

    Stieg takes a long time to set the stage. The mystery or the murder takes place around the middle of the book. This considerably slows down the pace making the reader wonder where all these is leading to. This book also do not have an epilogue which makes the book end abruptly. There are no red herrings on the motive of the killer. So, we are also surprised when the truth is gradually revealed. Salander is abused by men all through her life. But it is also some men in her life who relentlessly pursue the truth. This is the irony in the story.

    If you can’t digest violence, please keep away from the book. Else, it is a fast read.

    Picture Courtesy: http://www.girlwhoplayedwithfire.co.uk/

    Tags: Books,Stieg Larsson,Blomkvist,Salander

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Movie Review: Peepli [Live]



    Budhia(Raghubir Yadav) and Natha(Omkar Das Manikpuri) returns home after meeting with the bank officials. They are brothers who make a living by farming. Their inherited the farm land from their ancestors. Now, since they are unable to repay the loan taken from the bank, the bank is going to take over the land pledged against the loan. Budhia is older than Natha. He chose not to marry while Natha has a family. Their mother and Natha’s wife Dhania are always at loggerheads.

    When Dhania hears about the bank’s next move, she is livid with anger. Budhia and Natha approaches one of the local politicians for help. Everyone at the politician’s house is worried about the local elections and laugh at Budhia’s and Natha’s predicament. They playfully advice them to commit suicide for getting financial help from government. The calculating Budhia slowly persuades the dimwit Natha to commit suicide for his family. Natha agrees. By a quirk of fate, Natha’s suicide plan gets media attention. The rest of the movie shows how Natha’s life changes.

    Anusha Rizvi debuts as a director with the movie which is also based on her script. The script, written intelligently, deals with poverty. In order to build her story, she uses the premise of farmer suicides. The script does not point fingers directly. But, after seeing the movie, the reasons are evident for the viewer and there are many reasons. Anusha’s brilliant script hammers this point by treading the fine line between preaching and playing it down. The movie makes you laugh and think at the same time. Anusha has chosen unknown yet brilliant actors for all the key roles. There are only two famous faces – Raghubir Yadav and Naseeruddin Shah. Even though major portion of the movie is based in Peepli, the canvas is bigger. Anusha demonstrates her skills in showing us the grand scale of things without moving away from Peepli. In spite of this being her maiden venture, she has handled the crowd scenes brilliantly. The editing is by Hemanti Sarkar and in many places, it is clever since the starting dialogue of the a scene feels a like response to the ending dialogue of the previous scene. The movie is produced by Aamir Khan productions and distributed by UTV. Like their earlier collaborations, this one is also a quality product.

    All the performances in this movie are excellent. If a person has at least two lines to speak, the chances are you will never forget the actor after leaving the hall. Omkar Das Manikpuri is excellent as Natha. Natha’s loneliness and fear moves us in many scenes. As the scoop artist, Vishal Sharma brings the house down with his reporting.

    The movie covers many topics – poverty, media, politics, bureaucracy, innocence, growing up, selfishness – which all of us can relate to. The movie will neither shock you nor disturb your conscience. But, this will definitely provoke you to think. That is the success of this movie. Go for it. The language used is coarse. In defense, the topic of the movie is for adults.

    Language: Hindi

    Genre: Drama

    Rating: ****

    Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

    Tags: Movies,Raghubir Yadav,Omkar Das Manikpuri,Naseeruddin Shah,Anusha Rizvi,Aamir Khan,UTV,Drama

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    How do you interpret “Thanks!!!”?



    Of late, I have been reading official emails where a simple thanks is followed by repeated exclamations. The exclamations appear in pairs or triplets. The pattern cannot be predicted. It could either be “Thanks!!” or “Thanks!!!” depending on your luck!

    Repeated exclamations are used for emphasis. But what is the emphasis here? It is a thanks! Is the sender indicating the joy for a job well done or frustration for a job that took so long?

    I generally limit my exclamation to one while expressing displeasure. Whenever I express gratitude, I refrain from using exclamations. So, I keep wondering if this is a new style.

    What do you think?

    Tags: Musings,Thanks,Exclamations

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Search for a substitute team member



    Finding a substitute for a team member is a challenging task. The necessity for a substitute arises in two circumstances – when a team member resigns or when a team member applies for a leave. During resignation, you can use the advantage of notice period to hire from the market or look internally for a substitute. But, the situation is different when someone applies for a leave. For a short duration that could be anywhere from a day to a week, the tasks can be rescheduled. But what happens when a team member takes a long leave. That presents a challenge.

    I came across such an application from a team member. The reason was simple. The team member was getting married. After all, everybody needs to find a partner and solemnize the deed. Also, once the deed is sealed, they also need to go for a blissful sojourn before being weighed down by the practicalities of life. This justifies the reason for the long leave. So, we embarked on a quest for a substitute. There was no point in hiring from outside. So, we looked internally to find unassigned human resources. We found the right fit and had the substitute reassigned in a very short period of time. For once, all of us felt good. Instead of reacting, we had acted.

    Then, the existing team member started the initiation process with the substitute. The progress was swift and we were gung-ho on the outcome. After five days, the existing team member barged into my room and exclaimed, “You know what?”. I shook my head indicating my ignorance. He continued in an exasperated tone, “The substitute is getting married around the time I’m getting married”. On hearing this, I closed my eyes for an instance. After digesting the news, I opened my eyes and let out a long sigh. Then I asked, “ Are you both getting married to each other?”. He shook his head in a disgusted manner. I interpreted his disgust as a “No”.

    Now, the search for a substitute for the substitute is on.

    Picture Courtesy: http://content.etilize.com

    Tags: Musings,Long Leave,Substitute

    Madras eye?



    “Madras Eye!!!”, exclaimed my friend after looking into my eyes. My eyes have turned bright red giving me a sinister look. Conjunctivitis had unleashed havoc in my life. Just like a hurricane that leaves behind devastation in it’s wake, conjunctivitis has left it’s trail of destruction in my life.

    I was at a small ceremony in Kerala to celebrate the 60th birthday of a dear one! Everyone who attended the ceremony is down with conjunctivitis! So much for precaution against a communicable disease. Now, there is nothing much to be done other than to wait for the ordeal to get over!

    Coming back to my friend’s statement, it kept me wondering! Madras Eye? Shouldn’t be called the Chennai Eye? When are the purists going to wake up and rename it?

    Tags: Musings,Conjunctivitis,Madras Eye

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Books: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo



    Mikael Blomkvist has been sentenced to prison by the court for defaming the famous industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Five days before Christman immediately after the sentence is read out, Blomkvist is tired and is at crossroads both in his life and profession. He doesn’t have any energy to fight back. All his life, Blomkvist was an excellent investigative reporter in the financial domain.

    Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander an employee of Milton Security meets with a client Dirch Frode along with her boss Dragan Armansky, her boss and CEO of Milton Security. Salander reads out her findings from her investigation on Blomkvist. Salander is very good at unearthing secrets despite her demeanor as a junkie with multiple tattoos including a dragon tattoo.

    Based on Salander’s report, Blomkvist is invited into the home of Henrik Vanger, Frode’s boss and retired head of Vanger companies. There, Henrik has a pretext and a real objective for Blomkvist. The pretext is to write a autobiography of Henrik while the real objective is to solve the disappearance of his favorite grand-niece, Harriet. Harriet has been missing for 36 years!

    “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is written by Stieg Larsson and is the first book in the Millennium Trilogy. Larsson weaves a mystery very early in the book and thereby hooks us. The events occurs in a time span of little over an year starting from a few days before Christmas and ending a few days after the next Christmas. In this tumultuous year, the lead protagonists undergo changes both in personal and professional lives. They also travel across continents briefly to uncover the secrets. The books is divided into four parts – Incentive, Consequence Analyses, Mergers and Hostile Takeover. The epilogue is aptly called Final Audit.

    A family that has a lot of secrets in the cupboard combined with a disappearance nearly 4 decades above provide an excellent premise. How does the investigators solve the mystery, where most of the leads have been overwritten by sands of time, makes the story racy and chilling. When the secret is revealed, the audience are shocked and disturbed like the main protagonists. Stieg’s main theme is violence and abuse on women. All the women in his book has a troubled past. He also touches upon the anti-Semitism that is active yet dormant.

    There are a lot of real sick men in this book. So if you do not have the stomach for pain and dominance (with a sexual flavour), keep away from this book. If otherwise, you can read this. It is an excellent thriller. The book is set in Sweden. So it refers to Swedish companies and Swedish celebrities. It is better to be near computer too google these when you are reading this book.

    Picture Courtesy:Wikipedia

    Tags: Books,Stieg Larsson,Blomkvist,Salander,Dragon Tattoo

    Sunday, August 8, 2010

    How temple visits have changed!



    Picture 092 Yesterday, I spent my day hopping from one temple to another. Being the karkidaka masam – the time of the year dedicated to your dead ancestors, it is auspicious to visit 4 specific temples in one day. So, my mom wished. Like a dutiful son, I complied. Being the holy month coupled with the day falling on the weekend provided a lot of insight into the devotees and the temple authorities.

    All these temples put up barricades to regulate the queues. And, there were long queues resembling the hairpin curves on the roads leading to the hills and mountains. The curves were many and often extended till the exit gate. The devotees possess patience in abundance. This is evident from the long queues and how patiently they wait in the queue for the darshan. On the flip side, they wait only till the sree kovil(central sanctum) is opened. Once the sree kovil opens, the queue breakers get into action. They either plead with a smile or fight fiercely to get into the queue. If you want to see god as a dividing factor and not an uniting factor, please visit famous temples during auspicious seasons.

    Despite all these, the temple authorities emerge as winners. I remember a time when my mom and myself spending hours standing in the queue to get darshan. After the darshan, we run into a nearby hotel to overcome fatigue. Now, the temple authorities have refreshments like water and even buttermilk in some temples for the devotees. The water bearers walk along the line and help the devotees. In addition, they also allow old people and people with small kids to get inside the inner sanctum.

    Tags: Musings,Kerala,Temple

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    What is the RTO trying to tell us?



    Picture 091 Today, the wait for the school van was tedious. The van, a Maruti Omni in my case, is operated by a private owner. This service was recommended by the school authorities. My daughter attends a school that is a small organization and does not offer classes beyond KG. They cannot afford a bus of their own. So, they can only recommend a similar service run by an external party. But they are still kind enough to act as mediators whenever a problem occurs. The problem always is about money.

    After waiting for 30 minutes, I dropped my daughter to school in my car. At the school, the authorities told me about the strike organized by the the van operators to protest the lightning inspection by the RTO in Banashankari and subsequent diktats on the number of children allowed in such a vehicle.

    I have been blissfully ignorant about this issue of overcrowding inside such school vans. My daughter is the first to be picked up and last to be dropped off. So, I see her going to the school in an empty van. The price they charge is exorbitant. But this arrangement also gives me an opportunity to start my day at a lethargic pace.

    I was relieved when my daughter named only 6 other children in the van! It is still crowded. But then, what if she has to travel in a general compartment on a train. It is better to get her accustomed to the little difficulties of life. Thus, I reasoned.

    I also read the story on TOI. The RTO inspected the vans accompanied by the crew from TOI. Now, I wonder what was the motive behind this operation.

    Was the RTO trying to generate public awareness?

    Was the RTO trying to signal us to brace for a hike in the school transportation as the law is coming down on the van operators with vengeance?

    Was the RTO trying to stimulate the local economy by generating opportunities for more van operators?

    Was the RTO trying to generate more revenue for the government?

    Tags: Musings,Bangalore,Parenthood,School,Van Operators,RTO

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    Books: A Geography of Time



    Robert Levine explains the geography of time based on his experiences through this book. Having worked and travelled extensively outside the USA, he was initially surprised when people turned up late for their appointments. At the same time, these incidents helped him uncover a lot of interesting facts about time.

    Levine explains Social Time at the beginning of the book. In order to explain the concept of Social Time, he borrows the word “tempo” from the music theory and applies it to human time. Levine examines the various elements of tempo like economic well-being, the degree of industrialization, population size, climate and cultural values. He then explains the concept of duration which mostly depends on our psychological clock and the psychological clock is also responsible for making our time fly or drag. The psychological clock is influenced by 5 factors – Pleasantness, Degree of Urgency, the Amount of Activity, Variety and Time-Free Tasks.

    Levine proceeds to tell the brief history of clock time. Surprisingly, there was a resistance in converging to a standardization of clock time as we know it in the present day and finally, industrialization fastened the world to converge. After explaining the history of clock time, Levine introduces the concept of event time. He also describes the characteristics of cultures living in clock time and social time. Finally, he touches upon the 10 rules to the waiting game.

    Once the concept of Social Time is established, Levine explains the research done by his team around the globe in 31 nations and also 36 cities in United States. His research was focused on finding where the life was fastest. In order to identify the pace of life, 3 standards were used. They were walking speed, work speed and accuracy of public clocks. In this comparison of the nations, Japan and Western Europe ranked the highest. The non-industrialized countries from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America came at the bottom. Levine also examined the the physical well being, psychological well being and social well being of the people living in 36 cities of USA. Levine also shares some of the contradictory data about Japan based on his research and explains the reasons behind it.

    In the concluding part of the book, Levine quotes a friend who talks about the people living in the border of Mexico and USA. His friend explains how they switches from event time to clock time as soon as they cross the border. Citing this example, Levine confirms that it is possible to switch between these two paradigms and the change your pace. In order to switch effectively, he lists down 8 lessons that will help people to accomplish this task.

    Levine narrates anecdotes from his experiences and also borrows them from the experiences of his colleagues. The anecdotes make this book an interesting read. The book is written in a simple style. The research findings do not end up as boring numbers in a tabular format as Levine walks us through these in his characteristic casual and humorous style.

    There is so many things about time we do not know. If you want to find it out, pick up this book.

    Picture Courtesy: http://books.google.co.in

    Tags: Books,Robert Levine,Geography,Time

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