Friday, March 29, 2013

Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen

The President of United States(Aaron Eckhart) and a group of high officials are held hostage in this action movie directed by Antoine Fuqua. When the White House is under siege, the duty to protect the president falls on the shoulders of a guilt-ridden ex-Secret Service agent Mike Banning(Gerard Butler). He has a desk job in the US Treasury overlooking the White House. The job and the office makes it convenient for him make a dash across the road to engage in the rescue operation. While kidnappers pushes US into brink of creating chaos in the world, the speaker of the house(Morgan Freeman) dons the cap of the President of United States of America during troubled times.

Die Hard in the White House. This will be the easiest way to relate to the movie. Antoine Fuqua creates the White House elsewhere and beautifully merge it with real thing using computer graphics to make it believable. He almost succeeds. The "almost" part because we know the carnage on the screen cannot be shot on real location and we are unable to suspend disbelief. As a regular moviegoer, we are easily able to overlook this fact. The visuals are stunning and the action choreography is good especially the scenes involving the takeover of the White House. But is the White House so poorly guarded? As a symbol of power, it is strongly etched into the brain that most of us will refuse to answer affirmative on the question.

Gerard Butler looks ill at ease in a stereotypical role of a fallen hero plagued with guilt. He gets to do action and also mouth one-liners. The one-liners generates chuckles not for the fun quotient instead for the stupidity quotient. They end up as forced instead of being natural and funny. Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart are very comfortable in their roles although they have nothing much to contribute in this enterprise. The familiar faces of Angela Bassett and Robert Forster are wasted in a one-dimensional and predictable roles associated with this genre.

At the end of the day, the action and CG effects are good. The idea is to awe the audience. The movie is able to do in couple of sequences. You can watch it if you love this genre or if you do not have any other option.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: **

For trailer, click here.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

All roads to needs lead to Maslow

Maslow. If you have already heard of him, then you are either read a lot of business books or are a student of psychology. When the topic of motivation is discussed, there are seldom a book or a serious discussion that doesn't describe Maslow. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is the widely discussed theory when it comes to motivation. I say widely discussed. I may even stretch the words and meanings to say widely adopted. But I will never say widely implemented.

In a nutshell, the theory points out what is needed to motivate a person. There are 5 levels, the fifth level is the state of nirvana. The traditional carrot-and-stick approach is not the only factor that leads to improved productivity. If you are able to develop the feeling of belonging to a person, he/she can do wonders to your cause. In today's world, a manager is constantly searching for various means to motivate his/her team. At the same time, it is sad to see most of the people struggling to break the carrot-and-stick barrier.

It is easy to comprehend and speak. So everyone talks about Maslow's hierarchy of needs eloquently and often animatedly. To put it into practice is the most difficult part. A long time ago, my manager was discussing strategies on a product. After talking about what various actions that will help sales, he said this will eventually bring down the competitor and enable us to rule the world. At this point, I had a big smile on my face.

If you analyze it further as a cynic, this is only a piece of software. This is never make us rule the world. But he effortlessly put the possibility of ruling the world. In simple words, it is going to fetch fame for us. A new desire is created which did not exist before. This new desire is also a strong catalyst for igniting the creativity and also burning midnight oil. This was the reason for my smile.

Mind games are dangerous. You shouldn't play it. It is not everlasting. If you play this a lot, you yourself will be sucked into it very soon. Without losing your integrity, are you able to use Maslow in motivating others? If so, I would like to hear from you.

Tags: Musings,Maslow,Motivation



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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Are you comfortable with the mirror?

Can you look in the mirror? What an idiotic question! Of course, I can. I do it everyday when I brush, shave or comb. Then why is my friend asking this question of whether I can look in the mirror. These were the thoughts running in my mind immediately after my friend asked this question, pointing his fingers at me accusingly.

My friend has a point though he framed the question in a simple and misleading manner. There are many people in the world who cannot see themselves in the mirror. Don't mistake it for vanity. They are not like this because they hate their faces. They have done so many deeds in their lifetime for which there are ashamed now. There is no redemption. As a result, they have come to a point where they cannot stand seeing themselves. It is a sorry state to be in.

In spiritual terms, the question is same as "Can you see your soul?". This is a serious question. Can you? I cannot. I can barely pierce into the superficial flesh that adorns my soul. In a way, it is good. You don't worry a lot about something you can't see. Still there is a simple advice for you. Don't do anything that will make you shy away from mirror or soul (whichever you are able to see with minimal efforts).

Tags: Musings,Mirror,Soul



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Monday, March 25, 2013

DUI, French police and silent protests

DUI. Driving under influence. That was the subject of the conversation on way home from an office party. My colleague left his car at home and decided to take the public transport like a responsible citizen. It makes sense. If the cops catch you driving under influence, you lose points on your driver's license and pay higher insurance. If you have lost too many points, then you lose your privilege to drive.

The point systems in France works similar to any other developed countries in many ways. The rules regarding the upper limit and how many points for each infraction might change depending on countries. But the basic philosophy remains the same. That is what I gathered from the conversation. As with most of the conversation I engage with my friends, this one also was an eye-opener. The lessons I learnt varied from sharing in a relationship to silent protests from employees of a big organization.

My friend likes to step on the gas when given a chance. With hidden traffic cameras, he has also been recorded a couple of times. The camera captures the rear license plate. So the cops do not know who was driving. Although he could claim the vehicle was driven by a friend, he doesn't do that. Instead he asks his wife to share the points when he is in a critical juncture like redeeming his lost points in next few months primarily because of good driving habits or not getting caught by the cops. I didn't know sharing the points was a possibility in a relationship. It only means only one thing. There is a good level of trust in that relationship.

On an occasion, my friend was stopped by the cops. He paid the fees. Later in the court, he argued against the traffic violation on a technicality and won the case. As a result, there was no points accumulated although there was an acceptable financial loss. So, what is this technicality? The cops are supposed to tick one column in the paper served to you. The tick mark informs the offender about possible loss of points because of the traffic violation.

Here is the twist in the tick mark tale. The cops deliberately don't tick the mark. According to them, the offender pays the fine for speeding. But they should not be further punished with a loss of points. To make matters complicated, the bonus of the cops are depended on the traffic fines they are able to hand out. Isn't that weird? It gets more interesting. The cops hate to be on traffic duty because they believe they have to out there preventing more serious crime. But still, they have to do this because of bonuses. So they protest silently by not ticking the check box.

Tags: Musings,France,DUI,Cops



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Photos: A red jacket takes a break

The red rule. I am an ardent fan of this rule. So I shoot whenever I get a chance. Be it red hat, red glasses or red anything prominent. This explains why I took a shot of this red jacket when I saw it in Jardin du Luxembourg. My guess. The owner of this jacket is playing in the field. The action in the background provides drama to the photograph too. 


Picture Courtesy: http://www.facebook.com/photokkaran

Tags: Photos

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Photos: Chess while sun is out

I had posted the picture of people playing a game of tennis while the sun was out. As it was a weekend which was different from the kind we have been experiencing in Paris for a very long time, everyone had ventured out to enjoy the sunshine. I caught these two playing chess in the park. The beard and the intensity of the player made me reach for the camera.


Picture Courtesy: http://www.facebook.com/photokkaran

Tags: Photos

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Paris to India via Fashion

A few months back, I dragged my French friend for a Hindi movie. His girlfriend was away on a vacation and he had no plans for the evening. As we both love movies, I thought this would provide him an opportunity for introducing himself into our mainstream commercial movies. The movie was Ek Tha Tiger. A few minutes into the movie, he started laughing. "I know why your movies are long!", he said. After a brief pause, he added, "There is too much slow motion happening on the screen". This is not surprising as we all know this fact. What was surprising was the statement about fashion.

As for me, Salman Khan was looking good in the movie. The clothes were well cut to accentuate his well-tended bulging assets. To be more precise, his biceps. But then who am I? Untrained and a commoner as far as fashion goes. "Why is he dressed like in the sixties?". That sums up the bewilderment of my French friend. Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world. I have been instructed not to wear sneakers and display myself as a tourist in this city. On a visit to Paris, my colleague from Rennes openly wondered, "Everyone in this office spends so much on clothes!". My colleague is French. It is the French talking about Parisians.

Let Paris be Paris. Yesterday, another French friend was looking at the group photo taken at a offsite team building exercise conducted in India. Have you guessed his question yet? If not, here is it. "Why are these people dressed like it is 10 years ago?". Yes, definitely better than the sixties remark!

Is India so lagging in fashion? This is not my area of expertise. So, you tell me...

Tags: Musings,Paris,Fashion,France



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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Books: The Enemy

Jack Reacher tells us about the happenings in his life when the world welcomed 1990. The cold war is over. The Soviet Union is disintegrating. Berlin Wall is coming down. The arms races is ending. When you consider all these factors, it should be a better world in store for you. Forget about the future. The first few days of the year turns very hectic for Jack. It all starts with the murder of a one-star general.

Lee Child continues the Reacher series with this book. For a change, the author takes us to Reacher's past unlike the previous ones in the series. Normally, the series goes forward in time. But not this time! Since Lee Child tells it from Reacher's point of view using the first person narrative, it is very engaging. By setting the story against the military background, there is room for suspense, prejudice, crime and also worldwide travel.

This novel is a departure from the usual writing of Lee Child. Here, you see a writer who uses his skills expertly to keep the reader engaged till the very end. Reacher is able to deduce events quickly. But since this is a military investigation, his energy is more focused on finding the evidence in order to do the right thing. In addition, Lee Child also gives us a glimpse of the personal life of Reacher in order to emotionally bond the readers with his lead character.

By far, this is the best I have read in this series. Pick it up if you are in the mood for mystery and action.


The other books in the series are.

Tags: Books,Lee Child,Jack Reacher



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Movie Review: This is 40

Turning 40 strains the relationship between a married couple, Debbie(Leslie Mann) and Pete(Paul Rudd). Bringing up two kids, struggling with their business and quirky parents add to their challenges. Their 13 year old is no longer adolescent with dramatic outbursts while their 8 year old is still a kid. Pete's record label is not successful while Debbie's boutique is losing money. Pete's dad(Albert Brooks) is dependent on him for money while Debbie's dad(John Lithgow) distances himself away from his daughter. All these factors comes in a collision path as Pete and Debbie turns 40.

Judd Apatow is adept at making comedies by building a script around a single issue. He concentrates on the humorous part of the issue. Turning older has been treated as the issue here. I like to call this a spin-off as the characters appeared in his earlier movie about accidental pregnancy, Knocked up. It is always fun to watch a dysfunctional family because we all connect to such families in our way. But Judd Apatow gives a mixed bag experience primarily because of the length of the movie. At 133 minutes, the movie is long. We may forgive the length if the script is built in such a way that events are smoothly transitioned forward. Instead, the movie ends up still, refusing to move forward at times, while it is filled with many funny scenes.

Still there are entertaining factors namely the performances of Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. Their expressions are natural. They make a funny line into a hilarious one. They have great chemistry. All these factors actually make us overlook the slow pace and also make a serious scene into a comic one. Albert Brooks plays the role he has played many times before. John Lithgow has nothing much to add. Jason Segel and Megan Fox adds to the star quotient on the screen.

If you have nothing else to do, this provides a good escape.

Language: English 

Genre: Comedy

Rating: ***

For trailer, click here.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Books: Beyond the Cloud

SaaS. Software as a Service. This comes as an disruptive technology when the enterprises were spending megabucks on software to roll out to maximize their efficiency. The initial software licenses and the hardware, in order to host the solution, was compounded by the efforts spent in adapting the software to the specific needs of the buyer. At a time like this, Marc Benioff was bold enough to pursue his vision of "No Software". Technically incorrect, the idea was to host the application and provide access to enterprises to use the hosted application to remove the hardware costs from the equation. If this was not enough, they were going to charge the customer a monthly subscription fees similar to a pay-as-you-go mode.

We all know how the vision turned out. I am talking about the company founded by Marc Benioff. salesforce.com. But do we know what were driving factors and deciding events behind the success story of salesforce.com. This is what the author and founder of salesforce.com, Marc Benioff, tells in this book. With a dream to change the world and limited resources, salesforce.com  innovated to become a market pioneer and also leader. Humble beginning with respect to resources(both manpower and capital), they set out for a David-versus-Goliath battle against Siebel. Instead of building ground up, they capitulated on the successful and time-proven technologies available. When it comes to attract attention to their product, they came out with out-of-box ideas. All these are interesting and also inspiring to read.

Starting from basics and turning successful was just one of the hurdles. But when  salesforce.com  became successful, the company as a whole has to adapt without changing their core values. Sometimes after defeating Goliath, David turns into Goliath. Instead of transforming into the undesirable giant, salesforce.com  assimilates some of the good characteristics of Goliath as part of the adaptation process. When  salesforce.com  files for IPO, there are other challenges they face. They create a new market which did not exist before. Being the first means there are no written set of rules. This is the most interesting part of the book and makes it a must read for any budding entrepreneur. Disruptive technologies also has lot of challenges in addition to creating and capturing the market.

This books is recommended for two types of people. The first type are entrepreneurs(even if you are already one or you hope to be one in the future) and the second type are people associated with information industry. For the first type, there are a lot of lessons to be learnt from Marc Benioff's experience while for the second type, it is a history lesson.

Tags: Books,Marc Benioff,saleforce.com



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Photos: Tennis on a sunny day

Life was disrupted last week in Paris thanks to the unprecedented snowfall at this time of the year. But the week before last, we were blessed with sunshine. On that Sunday, I was out with my camera strolling in Jardin du Luxembourg. Although it was cold, the sun was out. The garden was crowded which is a delight for a photographer. The garden has tennis lawns. There were many groups playing tennis. I decided to click them. I decided to click them through the fence around the lawn. The lines you see along the edges of the picture is the fence.


Picture Courtesy: http://www.facebook.com/photokkaran

Tags: Photos

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Movie Review: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Chances are you have already read or heard about the German folklore involving brother-sister duo Hansel and Gretel. Tommy Wirkola takes the German folk-lore by slightly modifying the origin while keeping the essence and extends the story many years into the future. In the adapted or retold (depending on your viewpoint) version of the folklore, Hansel(Jeremy Renner) and Gretel(Gemma Arterton) are witch hunters as the name suggest. They are hired by a mayor of a small village plagued with disappearance of children. Here, they have to battle an evil witch(Famke Janssen) and also find out the truth about their past.

In the past few months, we have a lot of retelling of many stories. It was in last summer we had one of the influential and charismatic leader being portrayed as vampire slayer. So when a folklore is retold with the backdrop of witches and black magic, it is not much of a surprise. Unfortunately, the preposterous scenario fails to hold our interest in the opening reels itself. Ideally, a film like this should shock the viewers in the opening sequences. This shock helps the viewers to orient themselves into a new mode of story telling of a story they have heard many times. This never happens and the movie runs out of steam! Since the movie is in 3d, there are many tricks employed by the director like hurling objects right into your face. The director also tries to avert our attention by showing comically graphic scenes. Overall, these techniques do not help the movie.

Jeremy Renner, who usually is a dependable actor, is choosing the wrong scripts. This is one movie which he can neither salvage nor can make a difference. Famke Janssen has done similar role many times in the past. It is only Gemma Arterton who makes us smile in this boring enterprise. The smile is because of the foul language she uses. Here is someone who can be unlady-like.

Stay away.

Language: English 

Genre: Action

Rating: *

For trailer, click here.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Snow, beautiful yet disruptive

Snow. It is white which essentially brings the notion of purity to your mind. If you had grown up in a place where it gets hot and hotter, snow is something you long for. What can beat snow-clad landscape? What is more exciting than making a snowman after a bout of fresh powder snow? These are the exciting factors about snow. When you venture out in snow on a working day, the sights are no doubt beautiful. It provides many a moment when a smartphone-powered camera is insufficient. There are a lot of beautiful compositions but a smartphone-powered camera is inadequate to capture it.


As you can see, the white in fact energizing. But on a working day, heavy snowfall has side effects. When you look out of your balcony, you only see poor souls, without a garage, scrapping the snow off their vehicles. When the snow arrives at an unexpected time as it did happen in the month of March in Paris, there are other repercussions. The city of Paris seems ill-equipped to handle snow at this time of the year. This is surprising as we had snowfall earlier in the winter where life went on as usual without disruptions. But now, it is a different story. All bus lines were suspended due to weather. The trams stopped working. The trains were erratic stopping in the middle of nowhere.

The first picture shows the information at the bus stop stating the service is interrupted. The second picture shows the information panel on the overheard TV showing yellow. Yellow is for information. Usually, it is all blue with train information written on it. As there all lines were suspended, the TV shows information on yellow.

For the past two days, it has been an ordeal to reach work; an ordeal and unaccomplished mission. The first day, I attended a meeting from Leclerc. I had to run into the big shopping mall as this was the easiest way to remain warm. The second day, I reached the office, but not the desired one as the train was suspended in between. Today, it is sunny. Sludge is everywhere but I also see city officials engaged in the cleanup. The buses are running. I hope to reach the office today.

Tags: Musings,Snow,Paris



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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Photos: The girl with a ring...on her lips

It is a Chinese Parade. So what is this non-Asian doing in this parade? That was my first question. Even though it is a Chinese parade, the spirit was evident in all communities living in Paris. There were many non-Asian faces both as paraders and also parade-watchers. This girl caught my attention because of the ring on her lips. This presented a good opportunity to take the picture. Luckily for me, she smiled looking at the camera.

This was taken during the Chinese New Year Parade in Paris.


Picture Courtesy: http://www.facebook.com/photokkaran

Tags: Photos

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Photos: I have to run...So take my picture quick...

Good soul. That is how I think of the subject in the picture. I have reasons to believe so. Look at the way she smiles. She is posing for a good picture; not for her, but for the photographer. That is why you see her looking into the camera through the corner of her eyes, smiling. If you were there with me at the parade, then you would have noticed that she had little time to do this. She could pose only for a few seconds before slowing down the entire parade. She gave the best shot, trying to satisfy me and also the parade masters. That is why I call her a good soul.

This was taken during the Chinese New Year Parade in the China Town in Paris.


Picture Courtesy: http://www.facebook.com/photokkaran

Tags: Photos

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Photos: I carry the flowers

The face is the picture of the mind with eyes as it's interpreter, says Marcus Tullius Cicero. It is an interesting quote. Eyes carry a lot of importance to me. My photo-saar (photography teacher) constantly says, trying to get the point into my thick skull, "Get the eyes right. They have to clear". Anyways, it had an effect on me. I like to play with eyes while taking pictures. This shot was a moment like that. I deliberately masked her face with the flowers while letting the viewer read her eyes clearly. 


Picture Courtesy: http://www.facebook.com/photokkaran

Tags: Photos

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Photos: Dressed like a queen

I am not sure if it is the yellow color, the head gear or the smile. She is dressed like a queen. This was taken during the Chinese New Year Parade in the China Town in Paris.


Picture Courtesy: http://www.facebook.com/photokkaran

Tags: Photos

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Help is on the way depending on who you are with!

Have you ever been stuck in an elevator? I have experienced this predicament. By chance or luck, the elevators were designed to stop at the nearest floor and to open the door on all these occasions. Do you know there are people who are claustrophobic and hence avoid the elevators? Then there are others who use the stairs to stay fit. I used to work with the latter category where these people will climb up to the 9th floor using the stairs!

Anyways, the subject is about being stuck in an elevator. These days, there is a telephone installed in the elevator using which you can communicate with the maintenance crew. That also leads to interesting conversation. Last week, a friend of mine was in an elevator with his wife when it stopped abruptly

My friend didn't panic. He picked up the telephone in the elevator and talked to a voice on the other end.

Voice on the other end (VOOE): Hello

My Friend: *calm distinct in the voice* Please help.

VOOE: You are stuck in the elevator?

My Friend: Yes.

VOOE: You alone?

My Friend: No.

VOOE: *smile distinct in the voice* Are you with your girlfriend?

My Friend: *smiles* No, with my wife.

VOOE: *urgency and panic distinct in the voice* Hang in there, man. I am getting you out NOW.

Tags: Musings,Elevator,Wife,Help



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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Books: Hit List

I had taken up this book because I liked the earlier book by the author Lawrence Block which dealt with the same protagonist John Keller. This book is the second in the series. The first one turned out be an easy read, no mental anguish while providing many a moment to smile. A hit man leading a normal life. The irony is self evident.

This book isn't as entertaining as the predecessor. The first book was a collection of short stories from the life of Keller very loosely joined so as to give a chronologically evolving story for someone who is reading the entire novel but also not confusing for someone who is reading individual chapters. In this book, Lawrence Block chooses to tell a single story instead of the episodic format adopted in the first book. There is something strange happening in Keller's professional lives. Even though his job is killing targets, there seems to be more deaths around the assignments than what is normally necessary. How Keller figures out the mystery and solves it forms the story.

Lawrence Block has a way of writing which is humorous. The thinking and the nature of conversations of Keller might seem natural at first but is hilarious when you put it in the big picture. How can a merchant of death be discussing such mundane things when he is planning his next act or staking out the target? Although this is what is interesting in the book, the pace of the book is extremely slow which makes it difficult to read.

You may skip this one.

The other books in the series...

Tags: Books,Lawrence Block,John Keller




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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Customer visit from the point of view of a customer

A customer visit is a stressful event for everyone. You have to be in the best of behavior. Usually, it kicks off a flurry of activities. If you have been or are in the service industry, you know very well about what I am talking about. I want to turn tables and give you a perspective of the customer especially while preparing for visiting India.

A customer, who is visiting India, requires a visa. This is indeed gives out a feel good factor. We are not the only ones who has to go through the visa hell. But do you know it takes 2 weeks to get the whole process completed? That is the norm in Paris; 2 weeks to get the visa stamped on your passport. What I described just now is the easiest part. If the visa applicant has a Chinese origin, this process can still take 2 weeks provided you produce the invitation attested by a Chamber of Commerce. If you do not know of this particular formality, your turnaround time is more for this process. There is a delay at your side to figure out which department is going to get it attested by a Chamber of Commerce assuming you have figured what a Chamber of Commerce is!

So far, it has been about the visa hell. Now France is socialist as my American friends term it in a very casual manner. Whatever the "ism" means, everyone will admit the rights of the workers are protected here in France. They have union in organization if the total strength of the organization reaches 50. This means there are many different rules to protect the workers. One such rule says employees are not allowed to visit a service provider alone. This means the company has to pay for at least 2 people if they arrange for a visit. Now the person with Chinese origin hasn't obtained the visa while the person with unquestionable French origin has the visa. Unless they can find someone to accompany the one with visa, the whole trip may have to be postponed or cancelled.

Now that you see the other side of a customer visit. It is no bed of roses on that side too!

Tags: Musings,Customer,Chinese,France



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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Photos: You can take my picture

Some people are very comfortable when they see a camera. Definitely, this person qualifies as one. This one stopped walking, posed for me with a shy smile and walked away when I signaled the shot was okay. The shot was indeed okay when I came back checked it on the computer. Here is the result for you.

This was taken during the Chinese New Year Parade in Paris.


Picture Courtesy: http://www.facebook.com/photokkaran

Tags: Photos

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Do you mind the smell of incense?

You go into a restaurant. You get a table. You look at the wine selection offered and carefully choose a bottle. The waiter arrives with the bottle, shows you the bottle and then meticulously open it. The waiter pours a small amount into your glass. You carefully inspects it and then slowly drinks it. What happens next? You approve the wine. The waiter pours wine for your group, places the bottle at your table and then walks away while you carry on with your conversation. Have you ever wondered what happens if you don't like the wine? Does the waiter take the opened bottle back thereby giving you a second chance? I have wondered about it. But frankly, I do not know what happens in such a case.

Why am I thinking about all this? The other day, I was in an Ethiopian restaurant with my favorite dinner group when the manager came up with a strange question. "Do you have problems with incense?". The answer was no. A couple of minutes later, they served a dish, which had a distinct incense flavor, to the table near us. So the next table had ordered the dish. The kitchen had prepared the dish. Now they were concerned if the smell would be a problem for us as we were seated nearby. For me, this is too late in the game. Moreover, if the management has to worry about the offensive smell to people seated nearby, then they will ask to everyone in the restaurant considering the size of a Parisian restaurant. Finally, I consider Ethiopian cuisine as exotic. Leave your reservations behind if you are visiting exotic restaurants. When you walk into the restaurant, you are doing it for a new experience. Go with the flow.

By the way, Ethiopian dinner was indeed good. The vegetarian dishes was similar to our dal curry. The meat preparation reminded me of home. They add a lot of spices and cook it for a long time for the spices to seep into the meat. One of the dish was more like dry jalfrezi and another was like a hot Rajasthani meat dish I had in Jaipur named laal maas.

Tags: Musings,Incense,Ethiopian



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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Books: The Dinner

A dinner comprising of 5 courses and a story evolving during the course of the dinner. This is how the author Herman Koch has structured his novel. A few months back, I read an interesting novel told in a time span of a few days. Now, here comes an author who has pushed the limits to tell a story in a time span of couple of hours. If this sounds neither interesting nor challenging, then what can? Fortunately, this is interesting for the reader and challenging for the author.

Two couples are meeting for dinner. But the dinner is a pretext to discuss an important topic affecting their lives. This forms the basic premise of the story. In order to make the novel engaging, Herman Koch uses the perspective of one participant to narrate the story. Like a dish which exudes a particular flavor but reveals the different ingredients with each bite, the story unfolds during the progression of different courses revealing the psychological layout of different characters. What appears on the surface is different from what is beneath it.

The main theme of the book is hypocrisy and hatred. The style of writing and how the narrator of the story thinks makes us laugh initially at the various conclusions and then force us to think deeply about our surroundings with society included.

This is a compelling read if you love to read drama.

Tags: Books,Herman Koch




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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Books: Persuader

Jack Reacher is caught in the crossfire of a kidnap. Reacher intervenes just in time to thwart the kidnap attempt when he sees an young man is being abducted after his bodyguards are killed. While saving the young man, Reacher accidentally kills a cop. Now, Reacher is on the run with the young man. The young man offers to help as his dad is a very influential person.

Lee Child opens his new novel violently. The reader is shaken a bit at the onset as Reacher becomes a fugitive from the law. Why is Reacher doing this? We all know there are no chance events in Reacher's life. This makes us wait for the suspense to unfold. The suspense has a lot to do with Reacher's past life. Lee Child follows an unpredictable path in choosing the narrative. All of a sudden, Lee Child has switched to the first person narrative he left behind after Killing Floor. The intertwining of the past events and present day events through this narrative makes it an interesting read. But like with all Reacher novels, you can predict the motives by the middle of the book although there are some surprises.

Strictly for Reacher fans and others who is looking for an easy read.

The other books in the series are.
Killing Floor
Die Trying
Tripwire
Running Blind
Echo Burning
Without Fail

Tags: Books,Lee Child,Jack Reacher



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