Thursday, January 27, 2011

Community Cooking

I term it “community cooking” for lack of better word! There is nothing joyous when the expatriates come together to make food!

See the video below, capturing a slice of life from community cooking!

Tags: Videos,Expatriates

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Arc de Triomphe



Every country has a monument dedicated to the lives lost by the soldiers in the process of making it safer. All of them are shaped like an arc. Is that coincidental or by purpose? I have seen three of them so far! The first one was the Arcul de Triumf in Bucharesti, India Gate in Delhi and finally Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Arc de Triomphe is an awe-inducing structure dedicated to the numerous French lives lost during wars. This is located in Paris. If you have an aerial view of this place, you will notice a significant point. There are 12 avenues that leads to this monument. If you look at it closely, the avenues radiate out of this monument.

Picture 019

Tags: Travel,Videos,Arc de Triomphe,Paris

Monday, January 24, 2011

Maison de Victor Hugo



Picture 048 Maison de Victor Hugo is a museum in Place des Vosges in Paris. This museum is in fact the redecorated apartment where Victor Hugo and his family lived between 1832 to 1848. Four of his major works were written while Hugo was living in this apartment. This museum was established during the centenary of the writer’s birth. The rooms in this museum are arranged in such a way to provide a glimpse into the various phases of the writer’s life.

Victor Hugo’s life is divided into three phases – Before exile, Exile and After Exile. As a politically and socially active citizen, Hugo openly criticized Louis Napoleon(Napoleon III). As a result, Hugo had to move out of Paris following the 1848 revolution. He returned back to Paris in 1870. There are seven rooms in this museum depicting the three different phases in the writer’s life.

The phase “Before Exile” comprises of two rooms – Anteroom and Reception Room, Place Royale. Anteroom is filled with pictures of Hugo’s childhood and youth. This room contains the portraits of his parents and also siblings. The Reception Room shows where Hugo met with his friends and contemporaries while staying at this apartment.

The phase “Exile” comprises of three rooms – Juliet Drouet’s Chinese drawing room in Guernesey, Juliet Drouet’s Medieval drawing room in Guernesey and Victor Hugo’s study. Juliet Drouet was Hugo’s mistress and he spent most of his time during exile in Guernesey in the house known as Hauteville House. The Chinese drawing room and Medieval drawing room are recreated from his abode in Guernesey.

The phase “After Exile” comprises of two rooms – Victor Hugo’s drawing room, rule de Clichy and Victor Hugo’s bedroom, avenue d’Eylau. His famous portrait is hung in this section on the walls of the drawing room. The bedroom is decorated with various items including the writing table where Hugo wrote while standing up.

The museum features many portraits and other memorabilia donated by his friends. For an avid reader, this place strikes a chord as it is the nearest one can be to the talented writer.

Picture 045

Tags: Travel,Videos,Paris,Victor Hugo

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Movie Review: Buried



Paul Conroy(Ryan Reynolds) wakes up in a coffin. At first, he is disoriented. Then he searches to find a Zippo and his cell phone. Slowly, he recollects the events. He is a truck driver involved in a non-military role to transport supplies. A group of trucks were ambushed by militants. Now, he is buried underground in a coffin somewhere in Iraq.

Paul tries to contact his wife and his employer unsuccessfully. He then contacts FBI. After the conversation with the authorities, he is contacted by kidnapper. The kidnapper asks for $5 million as ransom. He negotiates with the kidnapper to lower the amount to $1 million. Then he frantically tries every avenue – his wife, his employer and the government – to help him out of the situation.

Rodrigo Cortes directs this gripping thriller. The entire movie takes place inside the coffin with only one actor on the screen. It is like a first person narrative where camera pans out of the coffin for only a few seconds during the entire movie to showcase either the helpless state or shocked state of the protagonist. It is difficult to focus only on the main protagonist throughout the entire duration of the movie and yet make the movie engaging. This is made possible by the direction and the script. The movie tells a story set in contemporary time. But it also serves a metaphor for the common man trying to make a honest living but gets entrapped by conflicts that he is powerless to react or solve.

Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy effortlessly convey the multiple emotions of a trapped man. Paul is an ordinary citizen trying to make both ends meet. He tries hard to remain calm in a difficult situation. But he is overtaken by strong feelings often! Ryan scores in many scenes. The narration of will on the voice recorder of his phone and the look on his face when he is betrayed (by his employer and also the government) are a few scenes worth mentioning.

This is a must see.

Language: English

Genre: Thriller

Rating: ****

Tags: Movies,Ryan Reynolds,Rodrigo Cortes,Thriller

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thou shall not offend thy manager

“I don’t want to offend my manager”. That is how my young friend rationalized his behavior! With so many horror stories about middle management, you would be surprised when you hear such statements. Before you start wondering what it was all about, let me tell you. The conversation took place between my friend and his mother.

It was not about the long hours he has to put in. It was about his newly acquired taste for liquor. Now, there is a even bigger question hidden beneath the rationalization. Why do men have to rationalize this behavior to their mom? As I’m do not posses the right technical expertise to answer this, let us say there was a need and move on.

Obviously his mother wasn’t happy about this newly acquired trait. But, my friend presented his defense. His organization throws a lot of parties. Everyone drinks at these parties. He doesn’t want to be the odd man there! I wish I was working for the same firm for I have not heard of a better fun-filled workplace!

“You can drink juice. No?”. Pat came the counter-argument. Anyone who argues with a woman should have better sense! They are no theory which is entirely foolproof when you present it to a woman! But I’m sure he had a fitting reply to this question – a specific answer or an evading counter-question.

During those days, my friend was working in Mumbai, a city far away from his parent’s house. His mother visited his bachelor abode one day. She met most of his friends during that visit. All his friends were from the same firm. There she found a teetotaler among his friends. She had only question for him. “Don’t your manager feel bad when you don’t drink during parties?”.

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

Tags: Musings,Offend,Manager,Mother,Liquor

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Movie Review: Season of the Witch



Behmen(Nicolas Cage) and Felson(Ron Perlman) are two knights who take part in the Crusades. They are thick friends and have been fighting side by side. After seeing innocent women and children being slaughtered in the name of God, Behmen is filled with remorse. So he and Felson decides to go back to their respective villages. On their way to home, they see the country affected with the Black Plague. Everyone believe it is act of the devil.

Behmen and Felson are captured after being recognized as deserters. But, they are soon released on one condition. They should assist in transferring the girl (Claire Foy) to a remote monastery. The girl has been identified as the witch responsible for the plague. The holy men residing in the monastery will determine her guilt. Behmen and Felson agrees to accomplish this mission if the girl is given a fair trial.

Behmen and Felson are accompanied by the priest Debelzaq, the knight Eckhardt, the swindler Hagamar and the altar boy Kay. They put the girl inside cage drawn by horses. Then, they begin their journey to the monastery. The journey is fraught with dangers.

Dominic Sena directs this lackluster action movie. During the opening of the movie, there is too much focus given to the battles during the Crusades unsuccessfully trying to focus on the previous life of Behmen and Felson. The battles end up as repetitive and thereby boring. The movie picks up tempo during the journey and quickly loses it too.

Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman fails to evoke any connection with the viewer.

Avoid it at all costs.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Nicolas Cage,Ron Perlman,Claire Foy,Dominic Sena,Action

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shatter the dishes for good luck!

The floor of the Greek restaurant was strewn with broken pieces of porcelain dishes. I stepped carefully so as to avoid stepping on them. Why didn’t they clean this place? I wondered. I have witnessed similar mishaps in other restaurants. But, the hotel staff were quick to clean up the evidence immediately. So, it was surprising to see the floor covered with leftover from an earlier unfortunate incident.

I seated myself at a table while watching the live band at work and also three women dancing near the band. I presumed them to be performers. But two of them turned out to be the diners. As soon as the song ended, these two women returned back to their table. In between the song, there was a distinct sound of another dish crashing on the floor.

This is silly as there were evidently a lot of waiters in the restaurant where were either careless or possessed slippery fingers. Yet, I was only one who seemed disturbed by this fact. All the people at the other tables were unperturbed. So I looked towards the direction from which the sound originated. There were no waiters serving in that section. Also, the section was near the entrance.

When the noise of another dish hitting the floor was repeated after a few minutes, I could not contain my curiosity anymore. I waved at one of the waiters and asked him the reason when he came over to my table. “For good luck!”, replied the waiter. The answer calmed me down. There was a guy at the entrance who was throwing the dish at intervals and also inviting the passersby to come in.

I spent a little over an hour at the restaurant. It was easy to identify the pattern behind the dish throwing. It coincided with a lady stepping into the restaurant. More than good luck, it was an effective way to signal the men inside to turn around and check out the lady. Men will be men; always helping the brethren!

At least 5 dishes were broken in one hour. But, where is the money for these dishes coming from? Is it charged as part of the menu? Are these dishes so cheap?

Tags: Musings,Videos,Greek,Dish

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Movie Review: Law Abiding Citizen



The happy world of Clyde Shelton(Gerard Butler) comes tumbling down when Darby and Ames breaks into his house one night, rapes and kills his wife and daughter. During the trial, Prosecutor Nick Rice(Jamie Foxx) cuts a deal with Darby. Ames gets a a life sentence and Darby a reduced sentence. Nick is convinced this being best way for justice instead of letting the criminals go free because of inadequate evidence. Clyde is shattered to hear this.

Ten years later, Nick witnesses the execution of Ames using the lethal injection. During the execution, something goes wrong and Ames dies a miserable and painful death. So, Nick and his team race against time to identify the perpetrator. They conclude Darby as the next victim. Before they could reach Darby, Clyde lures Darby into an abandoned warehouse. At the warehouse, Clyde brutally murders Darby after hacking him into pieces methodically while keeping him in full senses to feel the pain.

Following Darby’s murder, the police arrest Clyde. Clyde is moved to a prison where Nick meets him. During the meeting, Nick realizes Clyde has changed over the years and is a difficult man to apprehend. He also has an agenda which is not clear. Soon, more lives are taken in the outside world of those who are connected to the prosecution of Darby and Ames while Clyde is imprisoned. What is Clyde’s agenda and how is Clyde able to perform all these gruesome murders forms the rest of the story.

F Gary Gray directs this unimpressive thriller. The movie picks up momentum when Clyde reveals his transformed self. From there, it is a cat and mouse game between Clyde and Nick where the former has an upper hand. Then the movie loses steam. The viewer loses interest when the whole mystery is solved because it is so preposterous. Towards the major part of the movie, Clyde’s character is difficult to read because of ambiguity behind his motives. What is driving  him? Revenge or Madness?

Gerard Butler as Clyde is impressive. Clyde has all the happiness in life till his world shatters. Then he is lost. After this, he quietly turns into a mean man. All these various phases are effectively capture by Gerard. Jamie Foxx has nothing much to do in this movie. Moreover, we have seen him playing similar helpless roles before.

Skip it.

Language: English

Genre: Thriller

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Gerard Butler,Jamie Foxx,F Gary Gray,Thriller

Movie Review: Machete



Machete(Danny Trejo) is a fearless Federale. When he comes close to apprehending the drug log Torrez(Steven Seagal), the latter bargains with the life of Machete’s wife and daughter. Both of them are brutally murdered by Torrez while Machete helplessly looks on. Three years after this incident, Machete is now roaming in the streets of a border town in Texas.

In Texas, Senator McLaughlin(Robert De Niro) vehemently opposes the illegal migration from Mexico. Electrified fence along the border is one of his re-election slogans. Unknown to the public, McLaughlin also funds a group of violent vigilantes commanded by Von Jackson(Don Johnson). This group patrols the border and kills anyone crossing the border illegally. Meanwhile, there is a wide underground network which support these illegal immigrants. This is run by a woman named “She”. Agent Sartana Rivera(Jessica Alba) of Immigration Department suspects “She” is actually Luz(Michelle Rodriguez) who operates a food van.

After watching Machete in action at one of the underground betting places, Michael Booth(Jeff Fahey) approaches him. Booth offers Machete $150,000 to kill Senator McLaughlin. Machete accepts the job and gives all the money to Luz. But the assignment turns out to be jinxed. Machete finds himself at the vortex of intrigue.

This movie is directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis.Similar to many of Robert Rodriquez’s earlier movies, this movie also shows signs of cheaper production values. There are many groan inspiring and impossible scenes(made possible with CGI). There is moderate splashes of nudity and ample display of blood. Blood erupts like a fountain whenever Machete hacks down his opponents. At the end of the day, it is not the nudity or the blood that turns the viewer off. The incoherent script does the job. The story focuses on too many things – a Mexican hero who uses crude equipments mostly comprising of gardening and other household equipments, anti-immigration sentiments picked up from the news headlines, a padre who can be funny and expert in using firearms, a sensuous agent who tracks the hero and finally switches sides in addition to falling in love with him, a wayward girl(Lindsay Lohan) who love drugs but takes up arms to avenge her father’s death in a nun’s uniform and the “SHE” the sexy goddess who is responsible for the resistance. None of the topics are covered in depth or sincerity. The movie eventually degenerates into a whirlwind tour trying to explain everything to the viewer in a limited time.

Danny Trejo does not exude charm necessary for such a hero. He is miscast. The movie has a lineup of big and famous stars. All of them end up mouthing dialogues that sounds silly. The two notable exceptions are Cheech Marin and Jeff Fahey. Cheech Marin brings the house down with his portrayal of Padre. Jeff Fahey rises above the script to portray the bad man.

This is typically a guy’s movie. If you are planning to go for this one, make sure you are accompanied by your close set of friends. And get ready to boo.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Danny Trejo,Steven Seagal,Robert De Niro,Don Johnson,Jessica Alba,Michelle Rodriguez,Jeff Fahey,Cheech Marin,Lindsay Lohan,Robert Rodriquez,Ethan Maniquis,Action

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Movie Review: Somewhere

Johnny Marco(Stephen Dorff) is a successful Hollywood actor who currently lives in a hotel named Chateau Marmont in LA. He has reached a stage in his life where he has no purpose. So, he spends his time partying, drinking and having mindless sex whenever there is an opportunity! His wife and his daughter does not live with him. At times, his wife drops his daughter Cleo(Elle Fanning) under his custody for a few hours.

Suddenly one day, Johnny is entrusted with Cleo for a few days. His wife wants some time off and instructs him to take care of Cleo. With Cleo around, Johnny is unable to continue his previous lifestyle. He takes Cleo everywhere he goes including the movie promotions in Italy. How Cleo affects Johnny’s reckless lifestyle and also outlook towards life forms the rest of the story.

Sofia Coppola directs this drama which reiterates that cinema is in fact a director’s craft. The movie deals with a few days in the life of Johnny Marco, clearly demarcating the life before, during and after he spends time alone with his daughter. In reality, Johnny leads a fast but hollow life. Sofia successfully demonstrates the aimlessness, hollowness and loneliness in Johnny’s life. There are many instances of this. When Johnny watches the two pole dancers, who are in fact twins, in his room, the emphasis is on the boredom. When Johnny is invited by the girl next door to make love, he does that in a very casual way depicting a routine that has lost a sense of excitement. All through the movie, the camera is carefully placed to show the actors in a constricted space. This effectively captures the mood of the scene – be it boredom, affection or helplessness. The only minus point of the movie is it’s abrupt ending.

The performances are overshadowed by the direction. Yet, Elle Fanning delivers an endearing performance in this movie. The affection with which Cleo prepares food for her dad, the condescending look on Cleo’s face on finding her dad’s lover in their room and Cleo’s worries about her mom are all beautifully captured by Elle.

This is recommended for art house lovers.

Language: English

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****

Tags: Movies,Stephen Dorff,Elle Fanning,Sofia Coppola,Drama

Friday, January 14, 2011

Shortcut to God



Is there a shortcut to God? If my mother were to answer this, it would be an emphatic no! That also explains the long hours spent in queues to catch a glimpse of God at the various temples I have accompanied her. The longer you wait tirelessly, the sweeter is the result. That is her philosophy.

But there are shortcuts to God. A decade ago, I bypassed the long queue to catch a glimpse of god at one of the famous temples in Kerala. The friend, I was with, knew a priest in the temple. Though the priest was at the bottom rung of the hierarchy, he was still able to get us in without having to wait in the queue.

I agree this was a special case. Recently, I listened to a fellow expatriate recounting his experience in Shirdi. When he visited the temple, he found two lines; one of which was called a shortcut. Using the shortcut, you can still see the deity but from far. But it was a very short queue. Being a resourceful man, he chose the shortcut. But he used his digital camera to zoom in and have a closer look! He claims he had the best sight in the shortest time!

Picture Courtesy: http://urbantitan.com

Tags: Musings,God,Short Cut

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Movie Review: The Green Hornet

Brett Reid(Seth Rogen) is the only son of Jame Reid(Tom Wilkinson), the publisher of a highly successful newspaper. Having lost his mother at an early age, Brett grew up emotionally distancing himself away from his father who is always busy running a successful newspaper and shying away from responsibilities. The sudden demise of his father brings the responsibility of the newspaper upon his shoulders. He entrusts the newspaper to his father’s trusted aide and goes back home. There, he fires all his father’s employees working at his home.

The next day morning, Brett realizes that he has also fired Kato(Jay Chou). Kato was responsible for making the awesome coffee served to him everyday in the morning at his bedside. Brett brings him back and the duo bonds together. Kato was responsible for the cars in the house and he shows Brett some of the modifications performed on the cars. Brett is amazed by Kato’s work. Later in the night, Brett urges Kato to go out with him to do something wild.

As part of their late night escapade, Brett and Kato sever the head from the statue of James Reid. Later during the night, they also save a couple from thugs. They are both caught on the camera but unrecognizable to anyone watching the footage. When they are dubbed as the bad guys by the media, Brett hits up on an idea. They decide to do good to people but project themselves as bad men. In order to achieve this, they use Brett’s newspaper. In the newsroom, they create the Green Hornet and the sidekick.

Brett and Kato starts having more and more fun when they adorn their alter egos. Soon, they come under the attention of Benjamin Chudnofsky(Christoph Waltz), a gangster who is behind all the crime in the area. Will the Green Hornet and his sidekick be able to put an end to Chudnofsky? When Lenore Case(Cameron Diaz) is hired as Brett’s secretary, the friendship  between Brett and Kato is strained, causing cracks to appear in their partnership.

Michel Gondry directs this superhero action movie which ends up as a mixed bag experience for the viewer. The movie starts off differently from other superhero movies. Two guys bond and decide to have fun. But then, it degenerates into a comedy movie from Seth Rogen’s repertoire. This is no surprise as Seth Rogen is also part of the team responsible adapting this radio program and TV series for the big screen. 3D effects play a vital part in the final climactic fight. When the superhero and the sidekick are fighting the villains inside the publishing house, depth powered by 3D makes it an exciting watch.

Seth Rogen delivers the dumb guy act which is similar to his earlier movies. Jay Chou captures the viewers attention in his role as a multitalented Asian sidekick. There are “blink-and-miss” references or homage to Bruce Lee who played the same part in the TV series. Cameron Diaz has nothing much to offer in this enterprise. Christoph Waltz makes you sit up on your seat with his portrayal of Chudnofsky. Christoph does not ham. But he gives a restraint performance which is riveting and different from all the other supervillains one has seen on the movie. Unfortunately, he has very little screen space.

You can watch it if you do not have any other options.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Seth Rogen,Jay Chou,Cameron Diaz,Christoph Waltz,Michel Gondry,Action

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Movie Review: Little Fockers



Greg Focker(Ben Stiller) and his wife Pamela(Teri Polo) are now proud parents of 5 year old twins, Henry and Samantha. Greg has been promoted to a management position at his hospital. Greg and Pamela are planning the birthday party for their kids. Greg’s mom, Roz Focker(Barbra Streisand), is now a successful TV anchor of a popular chat show. She will be attending the party. But his father Bernie Focker(Dustin Hoffman), who took off to Spain to learn Flamenco and find his true calling, will not be attending the birthday party.

Meanwhile, Teri’s parents, Jack Byrnes(Robert De Niro) who is also a retired CIA operative and Dina Brynes(Blythe Danner), are getting ready to attend the birthday party. The week before the trip to meet his grandchildren, Jack is angered when he hears the news of his older daughter’s divorce. In the agitated condition, Jack suffers an heart attack. But he survives the dangerous phase with his fortitude. He then calls up Greg and appoints him the caretaker of the family. He also christens him “GodFocker” over the phone. In order to secure the family, Greg has to provide a proper education and also a sound financial house for his kids.

Will Greg succeed in doing this with an overbearing father-in-law breathing down his neck? Kevin Rawley(Owen Wilson), Pamela’s super rich ex-boyfriend and Andi Garcia(Jessica Alba), super hot medical representative for an erectile dysfunction drug Sustengo, make matters worse for Greg.

Paul Weitz directs this comedy which is third installment of “Meet the Parents”. The movie leaves the viewer with a sense of deja vu as we have seen most of the comedy and drama before. Eventually, it provides a few isolated laughs. The movie tries hard at several places – Greg and Jack are mistaken for a gay couple, Greg and Andi gives an enema to a fat patient, Greg’s son catches Greg holding Jack’s penis, Pamela admonishing her mom to keep the volume down while making love and much more. The movie has only one thing going for it – the ensemble cast. Throw in the appearances by Harvey Keitel and Laura Dern and the movie does have a lot of stars to boast! As for performances, there is nothing to write about.

Wait for this on DVD or skip it.

Language: English

Genre: Comedy

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Ben Stiller,Robert De Niro,Dustin Hoffman,Owen Wilson,Jessica Alba,Paul Weitz,Comedy

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Experiments with Sushi



Picture 002 I love sea food. So, I am unable dismiss sushi as raw fish! But my first two attempts at eating sushi ended up as damp squibs. On both occasions, I started with a lot of gusto despite the warnings to take it slow and easy. My enthusiasm died after a couple of bites into the food. Then I quit.

I tried sushi for the first time in 1999. After a gap of three years, I tried it again in 2002. When I shared this experience with good friends who are also sushi lovers, they urged me to try it again with the right mix of wasabi and sauce. But I could never gather courage to do so. It is not the raw fish but the possibly unfinished plate of food that bothered me.

A newfound friend in Paris took me to a sushi restaurant last week. This time, my friend explained all the “how-to”s of eating sushi. After dipping into the sauce with wasabi, sushi turned out to be a pleasure ride. Moreover, a whole new world opened in front of me; a world of Japanese restaurants. I do not have to restrict myself to Hibachi.

Tags: Musings,Sushi,Fish

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Movie Review: Love and Other Drugs



In the 90’s, Jamie Randall(Jake Gyllenhaal) is only person without ambitions in a successful and rich family. He is a med school dropout while his siblings are all very successful. After being thrown out of his job at a local electronics store for his promiscuous activities, Jamie gets selected as a medical rep for Pfizer with help from his brother Josh Randall(Josh Gad). Jamie is posted in Ohio where he is teamed with Bruce(Oliver Platt) for promoting Zoloft. Bruce dreams of moving to Chicago where the big league is. In order to promote Zoloft, they have to get Dr Knight(Hank Azaria) endorse the medicine. But Dr Knight is a Prozac loyalist.

Jamie uses his charm on the ladies in the front office to get close to Dr Knight. But he is not able to get Dr Knight endorse the medicine. On one such occasion, he meets Maggie Murdock(Anne Hathaway). Maggie is in very early stages of Parkinson’s. Jamie is interested in her. So, Jamie contacts her and asks her out for a date. On the first date, Jamie realizes that Maggie is different from his previous flings. Maggie understands Jamie’s motive clearly. They dump the food, goes to Maggie’s apartment and make passionate love. After the first date, they decide to embark on a physical relationship without emotional attachment. But soon, Jamie is attracted to Maggie and wants to take the relationship to the next level. But there are two problems. Maggie is fiercely independent and her condition will aggravate demanding more than what Jamie could possibly offer. Will Jamie and Maggie come to terms with the reality?

Edward Zwick directs this drama which is based on the non-fiction book “Hard Sell: Evolution of a Viagra Salesman” by Jamie Reidy. Edward successfully delivers an interesting and mature love story through intelligent witty conversations laced with facts regarding medicine and medical conditions. Edward is able to bring in many subtexts to the movie without meandering from the main plot. There is a lot of nudity in the movie; enhancing the strong emotions the characters feel towards each other. Moreover, the nudity is a clever move from the director as it make the characters more intimate to the audience.

Anne Hathaway steals the thunder from everyone with her portrayal of Maggie. Anne’s Maggie is an independent spirit who was in bad relationships in the past. Now, she does not want to get involved with anyone. She is very difficult to read. So, the audience ends up wondering how she is going to react. In all instances, Anne surprises us.

This is not suitable to watch with kids because of nude scenes. If you are in India, do not watch this movie. The censor would have unleashed havoc on many scenes diluting the impact. Instead, wait (or pray) for an original version on DVD. For everyone else, it is a worth a watch.

Language: English

Genre: Drama

Rating: ***

Tags: Movies,Jake Gyllenhaal,Anne Hathaway,Edward Zwick,Drama

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Do you miss me?

Excerpts from a conversation between a dad and (nearly) five year old…

Dad: *with a lot of hope* Do you miss me?

Daughter: Hmmmm… No.

Dad: *regains composure and replies in a weak voice* Okay.

Daughter: *after an uncomfortable silence* What is that? Missing?

Dad: *after thinking a bit* Do you want me to come back home soon?

Daughter: *excited and in a loud voice* Yeah! That is what I ask everyone. When are you coming back? *pause* Is that “missing”?…

Dad: *beams*

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

Tags: Parenthood,Missing

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tour Eiffel



Tour Eiffel. That is how the iron lady is known here in Paris. The metro prominently display this name against the station to be disembarked to reach the tower for the convenience of tourists. Tour in French means Tower. It was confusing for me in the initial phases as I mistook it for the English word!

If you are visiting the tower, then you should get down at the Trocadero Metro station instead of Bir-Hakeim Metro station. Bir-Hakeim is officially listed as the Metro Station for Tour Eiffel. But, If you get down at the Trocadero, you will enjoy a clear view of the tower standing tall majestically exuding elegance. Moreover, the base of tower is not far from this point. You can reach there in 5 minutes by walking.

Tour Eiffel is divided into three levels. There are two options to reach the first and the second level; stair or escalators. A separate escalator is available for going to the third level from the second level. Three of us formed the unlikely trio to climb the tower on the day after Christmas. We opted for the stairs. The climb to second level was 650 odd steps. For us, It was a slow climb but not tiring.

From the second level, the city and some of the landmarks are clearly visible. There is audio visual tour available on the second level. The audio visual tour is an iPad loaded with an application which has a 360 degree view from the second level with landmarks highlighted. On clicking on the landmarks, a short video appears with the history of the landmark. The application also has other videos describing the Tower, the history and the architect. If you are new to the city, then you can choose a position on the second level and use this tool to learn more. Although the rental charge is only 7 Euros for this iPad, your credit card is used to lock 500 Euros for damage or theft. This is cancelled when the equipment is returned.

The tickets for third level are sold on the second level. After purchasing the ticket, you can use the elevator to go up to third floor. This elevator is covered with glass and is situated in the middle of the tower. Hence, the ascent is scary especially if you are not too comfortable with heights. On top of it, you are thinking of various scary scenarios!

The third level provides a good view of the city and the adjoining areas. The distance to the major cities are written overhead indicated how close or further away are from these cities! I saw Bangalore, Calcutta and Chennai displayed there. Frankly, I wasn’t even bothered about cities in other country. At the summit, they also sell champagne by the glass. This is useful if you are in the mood to commemorate your achievement!

See below for pictures and videos.

Picture 013 Picture 005

Tags: Travel,Videos,Tour Eiffel

Saturday, January 1, 2011

NYE 2011



For the past few years, I have been accused of slacking during New Year’s Eve. During last year, I was frantically searching for an auto rickshaw in HSR Layout to get home sooner after gruesome day at work. Luckily for me, I reached on time to be with the family. We quietly welcomed 2010 inside the safe confines of our home. This year, being away from home, I had initially planned to go to bed early and quietly step into 2011 without much fanfare. Thanks to my new friends, the plan changed.  But when I stepped out of the hotel, little did I know that I was going to usher in the new year at the most unlikely place!

A dinner followed by a visit to Tour Eiffel. That was the plan. At this time of the year, the area around Eiffel is crowded with New Year revelers. Welcoming NYE there is in fact exciting. There will a lot of stories – sour and happy - of drunken merrymaking to recount later! We also had a bottle of champagne and several champagne glasses. When the clock strikes, the champagne will flow!

The dinner went well and we had 25 minutes to reach Trocadero. On reaching the Metro station, we were surprised to find the crowd waiting to board the trains! The security personnel were deployed to control and restrict the flow of travelers to the platform. After a long wait,  we were allowed into the platform. But when the train arrived, it was impossible to step in. While we were scrambling to board the bus, the new year arrived!

Eventually, we went to Musee de Louvre. It was a good venue to open the bottle of champagne!

See below for pictures and videos.

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Tags: Musings,Videos,New Year,Eiffel,Louvre

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