Sunday, July 31, 2011

Books: Pardon My French



Charles Timoney compiles a list of useful French words into this book to help expatriates understanding French conversation better and also educating them on the cultural history behind the words. Charles lived in France for a considerable period of time. Like any expatriate, he had his share of difficulties in adapting to the new environment. These experiences form the primary source for the book.

In order to navigate at ease, Charles has divided the book into sections like Food and Drink, Education, Entertainment and Sport etc. He also a specific section denoting the language of young people and slang. He also gives quick tips about grammar. In each section, he starts with words in the alphabetical order barring one section. For each word, he uses different techniques to describe the meaning. On some occasions, it is the correct usage while in others it is the cultural genesis. There are a lot of French sentences used throughout the book. So if you do not understand French, it is better to have your French to English guide or Google translate.

This book is only suited for someone who has lived or still living in France. For somebody who is still living in France, this serves as a good reference. For somebody who has lived in France, this provides a lot of lighter moments. For someone who is planning to visit France, this is not for you yet.

Tags: Books,Charles Timoney

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The world doesn't come around...



Eloquence. The French strive for it. But what works in French might not work in English especially when you are not a native speaker. That is what happened In the conversation between me and a prospective landlord.

So, here I am after checking out an apartment in Bois Colombes. We are done with the initial drill which consisted of a guided tour of the premises and also the apartment. Now, I ask the prospective landlord. "What are the things you require from me?". It is an open ended question.

The question doesn't translate well. He is giving me a blank stare. So I ask him, "I meant documents, deposits...". At this point, I stop mid-sentence. The documents refer to the ID, Salary proof and the other quirky papers that depends on the whims of the landlord you are meeting.

I make a connection with him by the mention of documents. This is evident on his face. He says, "The world doesn't...". He is having difficulty to formulate his words into a sentence. He struggles with these three words for one more time. Then he says "The world doesn't come around with documents. The world. Yes".

I am confused now. What does he mean? The world works on documents. I think so. I nod trying to mask the puzzled look on my face. Then it strikes me. What he says is simple. The word "yes" will not come out of my mouth without documents.

So you still remember what I said about the French and eloquence?

Tags: Musings,Eloquence,Paris

Friday, July 29, 2011

Movie Review: Columbiana



In Columbia, Don Luis dispatches his right hand man(Jordi Molla) to kill Fabio when the latter announces his retirement. Sensing the imminent threat, Fabio hands over a computer chip to his young daughter Cataleya(Amandla Stenberg) and instructs her to contact the US Embassy in case something happens to him. Fabio and wife are killed before they could escape to safety. But Cataleya escapes from the killers and contacts US Embassy. The US Embassy helps in her transport to US. Once in Miami, Cataleya slips away from the embassy official and travels to Chicago. At Chicago, she reunites with her uncle Emilio(Cliff Curtis) and her grandmother. Cataleya expresses her desire to become a killer to avenge the death of her parents. Emilio enrolls her in a school to get proper education first.

Now, years later, Cataleya(Zoe Saldana) is a trained assassin who carries out the contracts taken by Emilio. But unknown to Emilio, Cataleya has been killing high profile criminals for the past four years. After killing these criminals, Cataleya draws a Columbian orchid(Cataleya) on their bodies as her calling card. A FBI agent(Lennie James) has been tracking 22 murders in this style for the past four years. He is convinced about this being a message although he is not able to figure out the intended recipient. So he releases the details of the murders to the media. When the news hit the headlines, CIA is uncomfortable. Don Luis was given asylum by the CIA and now lives in New Orleans. CIA asks Don Luis to clean up the mess. Cataleya's revenge plans are accelerated by an overprotective & worried uncle, an obsessed FBI agent, a confused lover and vengeful Columbian thugs.

Olivier Megaton directs this thriller which is produced by Luc Besson. Like all the previous productions by Luc Besson, this also has a wafer thin plot but comprises of many adrenalin pumping sequences. The chase and action sequences along with the casting of Cataleya, both young and adult versions, are the strengths of the movie. The initial escape sequence of young Cataleya through Columbian rooftops & streets, Cataleya's escape from the FBI and fist fight in the climax are impressive.

The movie rests on Zoe Saldana and Amandla Stenberg. As the young Catalena, Amandla Stenberg captures our attention with her expressive face and her antics. As the adult Catalena, Zoe Saldana conveys the meanness and the helplessness effectively.

If you like predictable thrills with occasional surprises, this is for you.

Language: English

Genre: Thriller

Rating: **


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Times are tough!



In Paris, the landlord can only ask for a month's rent as a caution deposit. So I was surprised when the agent requested for 3 months of rent; one month's rent each for caution deposit, first month's rent and last month's rent. Normally, it is caution deposit and first month's rent. So, I asked her the reason.

The agent gave me two reasons. The first was sensible and the second reason was surprising. For a furnished apartment, the owner can ask for more than one month's rent. This sounded okay to me. Then, the agent added. The times are tough for everyone. So the extra month is good safety mechanism for the owner. How is this right?

How is this right if times are indeed tough? In tough times, how can you shell out extra money? In tough times, how do you expect people to pay exorbitant prices? Aren't you accelerating the downfall by these stringent measures?

Tags: Musings,Paris,Rent

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Movie Review: Super 8



In the sleepy little town Lillian, Ohio during 1979, Charles Kaznyk is all geared up to shoot a movie using a Super 8 camera. He plans to take part in an upcoming competition. His close friend Joe Lamb(Joel Courtney) is handling the special effects. Joe recently lost his mother due to a freak accident at the nearby factory. His dad Deputy Jackson Lamb(Kyle Chandler) and Joe are still coping with the tragedy. Charles is worried about the production values for the movie as the competition is fierce. He decides to film crucial scenes at a remote train station. He has also asked Alice Dainard(Elle Fanning) to play a critical role in his movie. On hearing Alice's name, Joe is excited as he harbors a secret crush on her.

When Alice arrives on her dad's car to take Joe, Charles and others to the shooting site, she is at first reluctant to proceed with the plan because of the hatred between their respective fathers. But, they soon become comfortable with each other at the shooting site. When the cameras are rolling, a train pass by. Before the train passes the station, it meets with an accident with an oncoming truck resulting in destruction of the train and the station. The shooting crew narrowly escapes death. They find their Biology teacher still alive inside the truck who warns them against talking to anyone regarding this incident. Very soon, USAF personnel arrive at the location. Before they are spotted, Joe, Alice and their friends escape with the camera and the film rolls.

The next day, the train crash is shown on the TV networks. Despite the best attempts from Jackson, the USAF personnel do not divulge the contents of the train. They do not even share the shipping manifest. Joe, Elle and their friends resume their normal lives. They even go shooting their amateur movie using the search operation by the USAF as the backdrop of their movie. But, there are mysterious events in the town. Humans, animals and machines disappear. The innocent group of teenagers stumble on something bigger and wilder than their imagination.

JJ Abrams directs this thriller whose script has all the necessary elements of a typical Hollywood movie. The most interesting part of the movie is the unfolding of the events from the teenager's perspective. Their calm life is threatened by the mysterious events in their quiet little town. But on the flip side, the movie is reminiscent of many other successful movies in the past. It mostly brings in a deja-vu from Steven Spielberg movies. This is not surprising as the movie is associated with Amblin which Spielberg's production outfit.

Elle Fanning stands out with her portrayal as Alice. She displays her versatility during the filming of the movie within the movie and also during the tender moments with Joe.

Go for this if you are left with no other options at the movies. Otherwise, wait for the DVD.

Language: English

Genre: Thriller

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Joel Courtney,Elle Fanning,JJ Abrams,Steven Spielberg,Thriller

Parents and their influence



Matha-Pitha-Guru-Daivam. This is hammered into us from an young age. In the order of importance, parents are placed before the teacher who in turn is placed before god. In life, there are many instances to prove this saying. Last Friday was yet another one for me.

Of late, I have been hunting for an apartment. To find an apartment in Paris is difficult; a topic that can go on and on. So, I will make it short. It is an humbling experience.

With the population on the rise, there are many applicants and hence the landlord can have their pick. They are several other factors like tenant's right which makes it a risky venture for the landlord. Even after knowing the pitfalls, sometimes I think being a landlord is a lucrative option.

So from my available options, I had zeroed on an apartment. This was a furnished one with a new look in a locality which is a stone's throw away from La Defense. I went through the rituals associated with a prospective renter. I submitted all the documents proving my identity, purpose of stay and income. The landlord promised to tell me the final decision on Friday. And on Friday, he promptly told me the final decision. No!

I am okay with the rejection. But the reason was the eye-opener. He decided to rent it out to two students whose “parents” agreed to be the guarantor for the rental agreement. Like I said before, Matha-Pitha-Guru-Daivam.

Tags: Musings,Parents,Paris

Monday, July 25, 2011

Crue



When you are strolling the alleys of Paris, you might come across these markings in green, titled “Crue Janvier 1910”. These mark the level of the water during the great flood of Seine in the year 1910. “Crue” in French translates to flood. But please do not pronounce it as “croo”. The pronunciation is more complicated (or sophisticated depending on your view).

To give a visual perspective on how the water was, I have another picture showing the level of the street. During the flood, the people had to swim or use boats to travel in Paris.Picture 014Picture 015

Tags: Travel,French Lessons,Crue,Flood

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Plan and visualize?



Picture 026 Place Dauphine. This is the name of the street in Paris, engraved on a building. But, do you notice anything unusual about this?

You would have to zoom in to the picture and look at it more clearly.

If your eyes are sharper than mine, you will see a faint “P” before the actual “P” in “Place”. What explains the extra P? The worker might have started his handiwork before he realized his mistake. That is one of the possible explanation.

It is a good lesson for all of us as we all have to plan and visualize beforehand in order to avoid embarrassment later.

Tags: Musings,Travel,Paris,Plan,Visualize

The Water Lady



Picture 034 I have visited Notre Dame de Paris many times. I always troll the streets during my visits. I noticed this lady for the first time today when I was with a group of expatriates.

It is a water fountain serving the thirsty. The lines are long and the place is crowded with visitors from all over the world. So, there are many thirsty people around.

Check out the water lady. The water flows from her hand.

Tags: Travel,Paris,Fountain

Friday, July 22, 2011

Incidents in the life of a customer service representative


Customers can give you nightmares. At the same time, they can also make you laugh. The following are the excerpts from a customer service representatives day of work. The customer service representative works for a state-owned railway company in Europe.

  • A customer walks in and demands. “I want my money back”. Then, he places his ticket on the table. The customer service representative take a look at the ticket and replies. “But this is a free ticket!”.
  • A customer wants to obtain a ticket. So, the customer service representative asks, “Tell me your destination”. Now the customer is angry. “Why should I? That is a private matter!”

Tags: Musings,Customer

Lessons from the visit to Musee Guimet


Buddhism spread to other parts of Asia. This is something I have not only read in books & magazines but also learnt in school. Even this learning could not hide my surprise when I found common characteristics in the Asian culture while strolling Musee Guimet in Paris.

Musee Guimet is a museum dedicated to showcase the various Asian cultures by displaying valuable and priceless sculptures from the past. It also host paintings from these culture but are very few in numbers compared to sculptures.

Spread over three floors, it has sections dedicated to many countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Japan etc.

All of these countries had a sculpture of Buddha. Depending on the country of origin, the figure of Buddha had either a smooth edge or a sharp edge. My definition stems from headgear worn by Buddha.

The names of many of the figures had origins in India. One of sculpture of a deity with 1000 arms was named Sahasrabuja. It was from one of South Asian country.

Even though we look different, there is so much in common that I am not aware of...

Picture Courtesy: http://www.guimet.fr

Tags: Travel,Musee Guimet,Buddha,Sculpture

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The real meaning of DTC



While working with a young team, you have to be aware of their popular-speak. Don't try to adopt it. But be aware of it.

For the past few years, I have been working with teams which is full of young people. Often, the team members are younger to me by more than a decade. Sometimes, I flinch when I hear their jargon. In other instances, it brings a smile to my lips. This ignorance can also lead to embarrassments of epic proportion like what happened at my current workplace.

In the current engagement, the customer can come up with random request that results in update of data set in the production system. According to the orgnizational nomenclature, these type of requests are classified as Demande de Travaux Client. Over the period of time, it has been abbreviated to DTC. But whenever we approach the customer with such a demand, the customer becomes angry. As these requests cost them money, we assumed it to be the reason behind the anger. But it was not so.

In SMS-speak popularized by the young generation, DTC is the abbreviation for Dans Ton Cul. According to my friend’s careful and guarded translation, it means “in your backside”. After hearing the popular meaning for this abbreviation, I realize why my customer is angry everytime I ask for DTC. No matter how polite I am, this is neither a pleasant nor an agreeable request.

Tags: Musings,French Lessons,Request,Customer

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is it a clear message?



“What does he want? He is not sending out a clear message.” That was my friend crying in anguish about his boss.

My friend was upset when a systems integretor announced a 14 day delay for a critical deliverable on the eve of delivery. As everything was hunky-dory until then, he was completely shocked. By this time, he had also scheduled the testing phase of the solution with other contractors and his internal customers. Now, he has to go back, cut the sorry figure and announce the delay to everyone. This is never an easy task.

So, he stormed right into the office of his boss. There, he poured out all his worries and frustrations. After listening to him, his boss suggested to escalate the matter. Once escalated, the boss was sure the systems integrator will reduce the delay.

A pause transpired after they zeroed in the plan. Then the boss warned him to be careful. The system integrator will reduce the delay at the cost of quality.

The last statement was not a clear message according to my friend. Now should he escalate to reduce the delay or should he accept the delay?

Tags: Musings,Message,Delay,Boss

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Books: Casino Royale



James Bond also known as Special Agent 007 of MI6 is entrusted with a new mission by his superior M. The mission initiated from the corridors of this secret organization is to hasten the economic downfall of Le Chiffre. Le Chiffre, who is working for the Soviets and is the masthead of Soviet controlled trade union, is already in economic doldrums. As a last resort to tidy up his balance sheet, Le Chiffre is hosting a high-stakes baccarat game. Bond has to infiltrate this game and beat Le Chiffre. In order to accomplish this mission, the London HQ assigns Vesper Lynd as his partner.

This is the first book written by Ian Fleming with the famous spy as the main protagonist. The book is nothing like the movies. The book covers an important mission undertaken by 007 and in the process the reader is acquainted with the psyche of the secret agent. The emphasis is not on the glamor and the girls but seemingly mundane yet dangerous life of James Bond. The novel is told from Bond's perspective except for a very brief period. Ian, using elegant and smooth prose, describes events vividly. The novel is set a few years after the World War II. The danger, suspicion and cloak-and-dagger routines associated with that era is excellently captured in the book. The women are treated with slight disdain but not as playthings in the book contrary to the popular belief.

Recommended if you really want to know how it started. But be warned there are no huge set pieces and frequently changing locations in this book.

Tags: Books,Ian Fleming,James Bond,007

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Books: The Devil’s Candy



“The Bonfire of Vanities” is a novel written by Tom Wolfe on the excesses of the 80’s. Set in New York, the novel highlights and mocks the prejudices and flaws in the residents. After the novel became a hit, Warner Bros acquired the rights to the movie. They entrusted Brian de Palma to direct. A novel well liked do not necessarily turn into a block buster movie. For “The Bonfire of Vanities”, the outcome was disastrous. Despite a dream star cast comprising of Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith and others, the movie tanked at the box office.

Julie Salamon writes this novel which chronicles the making of movie “The Bonfire of the Vanities” and also it’s release. The book unfolds like a novel where Julie tells us the story in four parts - the Preproduction, the New York Shoot, The Los Angeles shoot and the Postproduction. She tells us about the processes, the technicians and executives thereby giving us an unique look on how a movie is made in Hollywood and the compromises involved in making a movie. During the making of “The Bonfire of Vanities”, Julie had unrestricted access to the sets and other areas of production. This has helped her piece the novel together using her first hand experiences and interviews with the cast & the crew.

The book does not give the reader an analysis of the failure. Instead it is a narrative on how this movie was made. This book is recommended to a movie lover who is interested in learning how a movie is made and also how studios operate. It would help if you have read Tom Wolfe’s novel before.

Tags: Books,Julie Salamon,Tom Wolfe,Bonfire of the Vanities

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ok to urinate but not ok to litter



Having adequate number of toilets is a bane everywhere. Yesterday in Champ de Mars during the Bastille Day celebration, there was a huge crowd. But there weren’t enough toilets around. The only way to find them was to walk out of the park into the side streets. This is inconvenient as you have to go through the security checks again.

So, I found a lot of people using the park as their toilets. Luckily for all of us in the park, these people would find a secluded spot near the bushes or even inside the bushes on the periphery of the park to do business. The periphery was nearly empty as everyone crowded in the center of the park.

Though there is lack of restraint with respect to the place of urination, the crowd were very disciplined with respect to littering. You could hardly find any group throwing remnants of food or the food holders in the parks. Once food and beverages were consumed, all of these were neatly packed in plastic bags to be thrown into the garbage receptors.

Tags: Musings,Toilets,Littering,Bastille Day

Bastille Day 2011



Fireworks lighting up a tall steel structure. That is how I sum up the Bastille day celebrations on July 14 of 2011. When the perpetually illuminated tall & thin building goes dark without power and the fireworks throw light on it in different colors, the result is spectacular.

There are two best views of Tour Eiffel; from Trocadero and Champ de Mars. Champ de Mars is the grass laden open space ideally suited for picnics. On Bastille day, a huge stage is erected facing Champ de Mars where various artists performs from 6pm to the time of fireworks which was after 11pm this year.

In order to get inside Champ de Mars on this day, you have to walk through the security checks where your bags are checked, bottles opened and smelled for alcohol sometimes. Even at 6 pm, there wasn't much space to sit on the grass as the early birds had marked their territories by then. Despite the security checks, many people were able to smuggle in alcohol. By 9pm, there were a lot of drunken merriment in the park.

After 11pm, the fireworks started. The fireworks were choreographed with songs from "West Side Story" serving as the background score. The sounds of the fireworks were often drowned by the music. The fireworks was similar to paint running down long sheet of paper with Tour Eiffel already sketched on it. The finale was a sparkling Tour Eiffel with a whole lot of fireworks in the background.

After the fireworks, it was difficult to get back home. All the nearby metros are closed. On top of it, the cops regulate the flow into the metro in order to avoid congestion. So, I had to walk till Arc de Triomphe to catch a train.























Tags: Travel,Tour Eiffel,Bastille Day

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2



Lord Voldemort(Ralph Fiennes) opens Albus Dumbledore(Michael Gambon)’s crypt and takes the Elder Wand, one of the three items comprising the Deathly Hallows. Harry Potter(Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley(Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger(Emma Watson) have no clue about the rest of the horcruxes. After burying the Dobby’s body and questioning Ollivander(John Hurt) about wands, Harry enlists the help of Griphook the goblin to break into the vaults of Gringotts. Griphook agrees to help in return of Gryffindor’s sword. After successfully retrieving the horcrux - Hegla Hufflepuff’s cup, Griphook escapes with the sword leaving Harry, Ron and Hermione behind. With some quick thinking from Hermione, they are able to escape from Gringotts.

Harry has visions of the horcruxes since he shares Lord Voldemort’s thoughts. This leads them to Hogsmeade where they meet Aberforth(Ciaran Hinds), Albus Dumbledore’s brother. From there, they enter Hogwarts through a secret passage. At Hogwarts, Harry confronts Professor Severus Snape(Alan Rickman). When Harry is about to attacked, Minerva McGonagall steps in to save him. Snape flees Hogwarts. Soon, Lord Voldemort assembles his army of deatheaters for an attack on Hogwarts. Although the school of magic and wizards can defend itself, the entire exercise will only delay Voldemort. Harry has to find and destroy the rest of the horcruxes in a very short time.

David Yates directs the final installment of the final film in this series. Everyone is aware about the outcome of the confrontation between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. So, the emphasis is on tying the loose ends, finding the horcruxes and the final battle. The movie scores on the pace and also on the special effects. The audience is hooked on to the visually pleasing events which progresses fast. The collage giving a view into Snape’s mind is worthy of mention. The epilogue of the movie where all young characters are portrayed older with makeup and special effects fails as it induces laughter.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson continues to shine in their respective roles even though Rupert has lesser funny lines than the rest of the movies in the series. It is Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes that impresses. Alan’s Snape is a difficult one as he has to portray a different side of the character which is more humane and instantly yields sympathy from the viewer. He has do it without completely letting go of the persona he has built up in the previous movies. Ralph’s Voldemort shows a sleazy and slimy side of himself which was never seen before in the series. This time around, Voldemort is scared and careful without losing the wicked side.

Strictly for Potter fans. Without reading the book and seeing the first part, this will not make any sense. All of Potter fans can rest now. It has finally ended.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: ***

Tags: Movies,Daniel Radcliffe,Rupert Grint,Emma Watson,Ralph Fiennes,Alan Rickman,David Yates,Action

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Importance of curtains




When I was relaxing in my balcony yesterday after dinner at around 10:30 pm, I witnessed a man performing an obscene action from one of the high rises directly across me. He was visible waist up through the glass window and he was not wearing a shred of clothing on his upper body. It was difficult to decipher his actions.

He seemed to perform these obscene actions for invoking my wrath. So, I narrowed my eyes to have a clearer view of the proceedings more than 200 meters away. As I was busy interpreting his actions, a girl emerged from under the invisible part of the window close to his body. Immediately after this, he closed the curtains.

Now, the situation was clear to me. It was not an obscene gesture aimed at me. I’m glad. At the same time, I have two appeals; aimed at two different groups of people.

The first appeal is to the people engaged in such activities. Memorize this word. “Planning”. It is going to help you a lot. If you have time to get naked waist up, then you had enough time to close the curtains. It all boils down to planning. If you do not plan well, you are being a burden to everyone around; especially the single (and also forced-to-be-single) people out there. If you do not have a curtain, then I suggest you get one as soon as possible. Alternatively, if you do not have time to close the curtains before you get naked, then the curtains do not deserve to be closed.

The second appeal is to those people who intend to visit my room afte reading this. There is more than 200 meters separating the place I live in and other high rise. Remember, I talked about narrowing my eyes to have a clearer view. On top of it, these are accidental sightings. If you are still insistent, I suggest you bring a binoculars.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The other meaning of little




"Are you okay with little drinks?". Yes, that was what my French colleague asked.

I promptly replied, "I like lots of alcohol!".

My French colleague is hosting a party in the office before she goes on maternity leave. She wanted to check if she can serve wine during the party and she approached me for an answer.

Anything that is not major or big automatically becomes little. For instance "I have a little question", "I have a little issue" etc.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Movie Review: Larry Crowne



Larry Crowne(Tom Hanks) works for U-Mart. After spending 20 years in Navy as a cook, he has taken up this sales job in retail business. He is shaken when he is downsized from the workforce for lack of college education. Without a job, he cannot even repay his mortgage. The bank is also unwilling to refinance his mortgage. When his search for a new job does not yield any results, he decides to enroll in a community college.

To survive without an income, he sells some of the items in his house and buys a motor scooter from his neighbors Lamar(Cedric the Entertainer) and Bella(Taraji P Henson). Arriving at the school, he meets another motor scooter enthusiast Talia(Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who takes a friendly liking for him. At the communication class, he meets his professor Mercy Tainot(Julia Roberts). Mercy is an alcoholic who has no interest in the students with a very short attention span. Later, in the economics class, Larry bumps into Talia. Talia enrolls Larry into her gang of fellow motor scooter riders. Soon, there are changes in Larry’s life.

Tom Hanks dons the dual hat of the director and the leading man in this comedy. He has chosen a story of a common man forced to change the course of his life in troubled times and portrayed it with liberal doses of humor instead of going the melodramatic way. This makes the proceeding interesting and gives a good feeling for the audience. The story has a multitude of characters who are all striving for a good life. The credit goes to Tom for telling a story without getting lost in this multitude of characters. Thankfully, the emphasis is on Larry’s struggle and not on romance.

Larry Crowne is a tailor made role for Tom Hanks. Period. It is Julia Roberts who surprises as an alcoholic spreading negativity all the time.

Watch this when you get a chance. This movie will make you smile.

Language: English

Genre: Comedy

Rating: ***

Tags: Movies,Tom Hanks,Julia Roberts,Comedy

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Is he gay?



"Which girl do you like in your group?" A seemingly innocent question prevalent among the guys. But when my French friends asked this question to my Indian friend, the answer was immediate. "I don't look at these things!". This short and quick reply opened another question in my French friend's mind; a question about his sexual orientation. “Is he gay?”.

Knowing the person and having discussed similar topics with him, I was sure on his inclinations and interests. Yes, he is shy and takes time to open up. But if you have abundance of patience and time (like me), it is easy to get a response from him.

His response also provided fodder for other hilarious events. It did make my French friend and his companions nervous for my Indian friend accompanied to most places during their stay in India. So his interactions were always analyzed. They struggled to classify his interactions as an friendly one or an invitation.

The final stroke was the SMS they received after they boarded the return flight. The SMS was short asking if everything went well. The flight was scheduled to take off in the wee hours of the morning. The timing of the SMS only added to their suspicions.

Tags: Musings,Gay,SMS,French

Books: Moonlight Mile



Twelve years back, Patrick Kenzie had located the missing child Amanda McCready. At that time, the decision made by him almost ended his relationship with Angela “Angie” Gennaro. But now, he is married to Angie and they are both parents to a three year old daughter. In a changing world, Patrick is taking up odd jobs to provide for his family. He deliberately stays away from potentially dangerous jobs. When Amanda’s aunt Beatrice pleads Patrick to find a 16 year old Amanda who has gone missing again, Patrick and Angie cannot stay away for long. This is one chance for them to redeem themselves. But, the world is more violent and volatile than the past.

This is the sixth book in the Kenzie-Gennaro series by Dennis Lehane. The main theme of the book is the search for the truth. But the most interesting part are the subtexts. Patrick and Angie are older and they have a family. They cannot be impulsive like in the previous books because of safety of their family. They want to leave all the violence behind. But it is not too easy. So, the book effectively transfers the fear, nostalgia and longing in the minds of lead protagonists into the mind of the reader.

The book thrills and hence it is a brisk read. If you are new to the series, read the previous ones before you take this one up.

Tags: Books,Dennis Lehane,Patrick Kenzie,Angela Gennaro

Friday, July 8, 2011

"a cheval" and "faire le pont"




a cheval translates to a horse. It is pronounced “aa shevaal”. I have heard the word chevalier before. I came across this when Sivaji Ganesan was conferred the title by the French government. My guess is there is some link between these two words as chevalier translates to a knight.

faire le pont means to bridge. It is pronounced “fair lu pon”. This is a new term for me.

What is common between these two words? None. Well, not for the French. They use it with respect to holidays.

Let us take the first word a cheval. If you are taking a week of vacation spreading between two weeks (for eg: Wednesday of one week to Tuesday of next week), then the French says they are on a horse. It is similar to sitting on a horse. Your legs on either side of the horse.

The second word is more interesting. If you have a holiday on Thursday and a working day on Friday, then the Friday becomes the bridge ala faire le pont. This could also happen when you have a working day on Monday and a holiday on Tuesday.

Tags: French Lessons,Horse,Bridge

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Books: Prayers for Rain



When Karen Nichols commits suicide, Patrick Kenzie experiences pangs of guilt. Patrick had met Karen only once when she sought his help to get rid of a stalker. Months later, Karen tries to reach Patrick and leaves a voicemail in his machine. Patrick in his haste forgets to return the call. Now, the sudden news of her death shakes Patrick.

For Patrick, Karen was the poster child for prim and proper. What drove her to suicide? Patrick decides to unravel the mystery. To find the truth, he enlists the help of his estranged girlfriend Angie Gennaro and his childhood friend Bubba Rogowski. Very soon, he is pitted against a sick and devious mind.

Dennis Lehane continues the Kenzie-Gennaro saga with this book which is the fifth in the series. This time around, Dennis makes the proceeding more personal and emotional as Patrick’s inner circle is threatened. Patrick and Angie are the same; tireless and adamant to find the truth. It is the schemes hatched by the antagonists to exert pressure on Patrick and Angie that makes this a very interesting read.

Go for it if you are already a Kenzie-Gennaro fan. As this book has many references to what happened in the past, you will not find it interesting if you pick this up without reading the earlier ones in the series.

Tags: Books,Dennis Lehane,Patrick Kenzie,Angela Gennaro

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