Monday, January 19, 2015

Do you have my name?

Have you come across a person who bears the same name as you? I am not restricting to your first name by this question. When I say the word name, I mean the name as in passport; name and surname included. Sporting a very uncommon name, the chances of finding the person with my name are nil except when I stand in front of the mirror. So the story of Elizabeth Gallagher is intriguing and also uplifting for me.

Jordan Axani is left with a non-refundable tickets in his ex-girlfriend's name, Elizabeth Gallagher. So he decides to find a person with the same name. What are the chances of finding the person with the same name? What are the chances of the person with the same name agreeing to travel with him? The chances are slim. But it did happen. You may read the full story here.

The search for Elizabeth Gallagher and how they spend the vacation is intriguing. There are so many questions that arise in our mind. The story demonstrates that open mind is the key to finding new friends. It also demonstrates you can have fun when you have the right frame of mind. More importantly, it is uplifting because Jordan turned around his situation.

Have you seen the newspapers lately? The news is depressing. Sometimes, we need to hear uplifting news, something that makes us feel good. I feel it is important we read such news. In order to pursue, we read many self-help books. Then why can't we read something happy in the news to lighten our moods?

Tags: Musings, Jordan Axani, Elizabeth Gallagher

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Movie Review: Locke

Have you ever watched a movie in which there is only one central character on the screen? If you rewind back a couple of years, Ryan Reynolds did an entire movie buried in a coffin. How do a director and scriptwriter keeps us engaged in such claustrophobic environment? Locke is such a movie. Written and directed by Steven Knight, Locke unfurls inside a BMW X5. The lead character, Locke played by Tom Hardy, is driving from Birmingham to London. Although the movie is not happening in real-time, we get to see only Tom Hardy and hear the voices of many actors.

Locke is at crossroads. He is overseeing one of the biggest concrete pours in Europe and tomorrow is the big day where nothing can go wrong. But tonight is also important as he wants to do the right thing. Torn between the duty, righteousness and obligation, the ride from Birmingham to London is not an easy one. He is constantly on the phone with his boss, his subordinate, his wife, his kids and the person whom he is going to visit in London. None of them are making this journey an easy one for him. Despite setbacks, threats, and emotional breakdowns, Locke is determined.

The mental turmoil of Locke is safe in the hands of Tom Hardy. We see a Tom Hardy not bulked up or not wearing up mask. He shows us he can act very well. The actors, providing the voices, keeps us engaged when the drama unfolds. Andrew Scott, soon to be featured in the latest James Bond and who is the modern age Moriarty for Cumberbatch's Sherlock, shows he doesn't need camera to act. We do not see him in the movie. We only hear him. He makes sure we will not forget him.

Locke is not a movie that has to be reserved for the big screen. You may watch in the confines of your home, may be alone. But it is worth a watch if you love serious movies.

You will find more information on this movie here.

Language: English

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Books: The Happiness Advantage

What is important in life? Happiness or Success? Out of the two listed above, which comes first? Happiness follows success according to primary belief. Is that true? Does success follow happiness or is it the other way around? Shawn Achor believes the latter is true. If you are happy, then you will eventually have success. How is happiness important? How can we achieve happiness? Shawn Achor uses this book to answer these questions.

Shawn Achor has structured the book well. In the first part, he tells us how happiness is essential and the various personalities who embraces the advantages of happiness. Without going into too many details, Shawn outlines the main findings from this field. In the second part, he explains the seven principles for achieving the Happiness Advantage. These principles have real-life stories associated with them. The real-life stories make the book captivating. As a result, we do not want to let the book go. If you have read other self-help books, these principles are not new to them. But Shawn compiles them in such a manner, these principles make perfect sense. The final part is the conclusion.

The book is perfect as a three-act drama. At the same time, the book provides a wealth of information on how to improve your professional and personal life. You might want to buy this book. You should not only buy the book but also read it occasionally to ensure you are not straying from the path.

Tags: Books,Shawn Achor,Happiness,Success

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I am not Charlie

I am unable to remember his name. However hard I try, I fail. But I vividly remember the determination on his face. We were all eight years old, not a time when convictions has gained a strong hold on us. Neither has the evil ego injected its venomous roots in our mind. He was calm and unflinching. Of course, this calm determination triggered the rage in all of us.

I am unable to remember how it all started. I remember he was standing by the window. Somebody asked him a question. He refused to answer. That somebody poked him with words and threatened him with a belligerent stance to evoke a response. But he refused to answer. Neither did he move. As silly as it may sound, the next attempt was to displace him from where he was standing. He refused to. Gradually, more and more people came to the aid of somebody including me. All of us wanted to defeat his spirit. When we pushed him around, he held on to the windowsill.

I am unable to remember how that ended. Were we able to displace him? There were many of us. So it should have been easy. Or did he let go of the windowsill for a moment that gained us a momentary victory and then grabbed the windowsill again? If he held on to the windowsill despite the pressure, then it sounds poetic. If he did let lose his grip on his windowsill to retain it back, then it sounds believable. In both cases, justice was served.

I am still unable to remember his name. Although I was only eight years old, I clearly remember this day. Even when faced with a bunch of bullies, he was determined not to give in. I may not remember the date but the day. The day was the lowest point of my life. There are many of this kind, but that day takes the cake. The day also is the day when I realized I was a coward. There is no fun in being a coward. Who glorifies a coward? Who wants to be a coward, living in fear?

I have given up on trying to remember his name. Today, I can give him a new name. Charlie Hebdo. He is Charlie. I am the coward who can't tolerate individuality. I am the coward who can't tolerate expression. I am the coward who can't tolerate opinion. I am not Charlie. Je ne suis pas Charlie. He is Charlie. I also realize I am not alone. There are many of us. I do not have to fear that I will be singled out. I am surrounded by my kind. I am secure. At the same time, I am also curious. Will Charlie be able to regain the grip on the windowsill this time?

Tags: Musings, Charlie Hebdo, Coward

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hunger to be loved

BBC tackles the various issues with adoption in South Korea though one of their recent articles. The article reaffirms a universal fact about cultures. Culture never ceases to surprise us. In addition to this, the articles also teach us a valuable lesson through Stephen Morrison. At an early age, Stephen was adopted by American parents. Now he goes back to Korea to meet his pals from the orphanage days and also to encourage adoption in the Korean society. Before adopting, he had a hunger to be loved. Being adopted not only satiated the hunger but also transformed Jonathan academically.

All of us have potential. But are we putting this to use? In Stephen's example, he was able to transform or realize his potential when his hunger was taken care of. If you analyze this further, don't we all have the same hunger? No man is an island. Forgive me for not being gender neutral. No man can survive without external feedback. There are many people who can change their rise from their lowest points in life when you give them destructive feedback. In my parlance, The "High Noon" phenomenon. A lonely sheriff fights a battle for a town despite constant discouragement and disappointment. But the majority of us can rise above and beyond our true capabilities only with constructive feedback.

The hunger, to be loved, is latent in all of us. It is easier to take care of this hunger both at home and also at work when we realize it is hidden and not immediately visible. At home, it is as simple as a kiss a hug or a mantra of "I love you". But I strongly advise you not to practice these simple techniques at work. If you still go ahead disregarding my advice, then you will get into trouble at work first and at home later. At work, there is even a simpler way to get this working. You could thank one of the colleagues for what they have done well. Now what do you thank for? Finding what to thank for is the tricky part. Why don't you have a simple goal of thanking someone before you go home. If the above goal is not specific enough, pick one person for a day and make sure you are going to thank that person for something. Once you have set your mind on thanking that person for something, you will find an act that is worthy of your good words.

If you follow my advice, there will be many happy people around you. Of course, this outcome is expected as we have dealt with their hunger. But what about your hunger? When you surround yourself with happy people, don't you think the chances for someone to reciprocate your act is higher?

Tags: Musings, Hunger, Work, Love

Monday, January 5, 2015

Reading Buses, togetherness redefined

Reading Buses. I love it. There are many buses under this logo in and around Reading. The buses have are a number, and a color associated with them. So you see a purple, a pink, a green, a black, so on and so forth. Although the tickets are costly, the buses are convenient. There are frequent buses especially during the rush hours. During weekends and off-peak hours, your wait might be as short as 20 minutes and as long as one hour depending on your route. On the positive side, Reading is not a big city.

If you depend on these buses, you might have noticed a strange phenomenon. Most of the bus stops have a display board indicating the arrival time of these buses. These are real-time display. Sometimes, they show a bus arriving in a few minutes. Then it turns to the most desirable status. DUE. Mostly the bus arrives within a minute or so. If the bus does not show up after a couple of minutes, the display board has an interesting way to deal with these late-comers. The display board kicks out the defaulter and refuses to show it.When you are wondering about what happened, the next bus is due. That is when both of the buses, one that disappeared from the display board and the one that is now due, appears at the same time. In some cases, these two buses are different. One might purple and the other pink. In other cases, it might be two purples arriving at the same time or two pinks. In even stranger cases, there might be three purples arriving at the same time.

All of these buses have the same starting point. They also can see the next bus ahead of us. Isn't it possible to delay the start? Isn't it possible to have an interim stop to leave a sufficient gap between the bus ahead? Why would these buses want to stick to each other? The services should be abundant and frequent. Isn't that the purpose of a great public transport system? 

How does the display boards on the bus stops work? If it is real time, why do buses disappear from the board without even arriving at the bus-stop? Why isn't there only a static timetable for the bus routes? Isn't it time to have this information dynamically, through an app or a website?

Tags: Musings, Reading, Bus, Display

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A little bit of Kerala in London

London is a melting pot for cultures. Being a host to multiple cultures would come easy to London. After all, London was the capital of an empire where the sun never set. I should have thought about this while going for the New Years Parade. There was a time in my life when I used to go to parades every weekend while in Paris. Then I became disillusioned by seeing the same performers in the parade. What is the fun when every parade is a slight variation of the previous one? Then I stopped going.

I decided to check out the New Years Parade in London. Unfortunately, I arrived at Westminster Abbey fashionably late and hence the parade was about to be over. In Paris, I used to come early to the starting point and left after the parade had commenced. Although I departed earlier from the venue, I would have a lot of shots to take home. This time, I was slow in taking pictures. I need to be quicker. More practice will make me faster.

The surprising factor was a Kerala segment in the New Years Parade; men wearing jubba and mundu and women in traditional Kerala saree. The weather was cold, and they were under-dressed for it. However, it pleased my mind to see those men and women giving Londoners a glimpse of chenda melam.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Years Eve, Fireworks and Fear

Like many big cities around the world, London also displays her might during the New Years Eve by lighting up the dark skies with fireworks. The fireworks on the New Years Eve may not add up to the best when compared to the others around the world. But London has a unique backdrop for these fireworks. If you analyze further, the skyline of the city is the differentiating factor when it comes to fireworks. The amount of money spent or the duration of the fireworks is not what makes the picture drawn on the sky dazzling. The fireworks lighting up the buildings makes all the difference.

This year, London decided to make it a paid event. While London hosted around 5,00,000 onlookers along the River Thames, they decided only to sell tickets for 1,00,000 spectators in designated areas. These selected areas are supposed to be the best vantage points. But why make it a paid event? If London cites the cost of the fireworks for making this a paid event, then aren't they cities around the world where it is free? If London is concerned about security, then this is also a failure! The city is creating a class divide by making this event a paid one.

There is one more disturbing factor. If you scanned the news at the end of last year, the authorities kept urging not to show up for the fireworks if you didn't have a pass already. The plea was suitably coated with fear generating warnings. It almost sounded like the authorities are telling everyone to take care of themselves. Fear is becoming a universal tool. The good guys and the bad guys are using it. As we become older, we become susceptible to fear more easily.

Tags: Musings, London, Fireworks, Fear

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