Monday, November 21, 2016

Change at the zenith of success

There are many things to be learned from successful chefs. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Massimo Bottura making a new dish out of a mistake. Now I have come across Francis Mallmann. The documentary provided a good view of his home in a Patagonian island and cooking in the open in this beautiful landscape. It makes you long for this kind of life. Then the reality of daily humdrum of life hits you. Coming back to where we started, what is that make successful chefs full of wisdom? It may be a harder subject to follow. So I will restrict myself to his pearls of wisdom.

One of the advice from Francis Mallmann is actually a no-brainer. Tell the truth without fear. Don't we know this principle already? But Mallman also admits this is not an easy task. You gain the courage to speak the truth with careful consideration without malice as you age. All of us want to quicken this process. Don't we?  It is the second lesson which is far more important. Cooking is teamwork. So he has to rely on his team members a lot. But he also changes his team members frequently. The change is not because the team member is incompetent. He changes when they become successful and have established their comfort zone in the team. According to Mallmann, the relationship can only go downhill from this point. So it is better to change the person. Somebody else on the team will step up to fill the void.

How many of us are courageous to change the composition of a successful team? Most of are quick to change but only when the relationship starts to deteriorate. So the change happens when the relationship is sliding down the slope and when it is at its zenith. I have witnessed resistance to modifying the composition of the winning team.  On the other hand, I have also seen cases where the change was inevitable to salvage the team albeit late. But I have not noticed people shaking hands and parting when the going was good. This act requires a lot of courage. Although this sounds like a wise advice, will we be able to break the shackles of our bad habits to adopt it?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Books: The Rosie Project

In his own words, Graeme Simsion was an IT consultant. Since he is also the author of this book, Graeme has switched profession. Since I also belong to the same field, I was naturally curious to know how interesting the book is and how fortunate is Graeme's switch. For the first book, he creates Don Tillman, a genetics professor in Melbourne. He has never been able to find a partner and hence wants to use science to identify the perfect match for him. So Tillman builds an elaborate questionnaire which will help him eliminate the time wasters. As you can see, the premise is absurd and captivating on account of its absurdity.

The books rest on several key things which are familiar to us. Sometimes what we seek is closer to us than we think it is. Opposites attract. Those are many of the things which will come into our mind as we read the book. But these are just revelations. What makes us laugh all through the book is the simplicity of Tillman's thinking. He is a nice person who doesn't understand sarcasm and is very inept at social behavior. So when Graeme describes Tillman's scientific approach to matters of the heart, it accentuates the impracticability and hence provides excellent fodder for a comedy. Tillman starts with the Wife Project but it soon get diverted into the Rosie Project.

There are talks on making this book into a movie. If you believe the various tidbits on the net, Graeme intended this as a screenplay. He decided on the novel to gain popularity. If you examine, most of the plot twists are cinematic, but we overlook this factor because Tillman's reactions to these twists are explained by the author. However, if this is a movie, how will an actor translate the workings of a mind into acting? As a book, it is enthralling. But as a movie, it is a risky business. If you are looking for a light-hearted read, pick this one up.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The rise and fall of a laddu

Women. An enigma wrapped in a riddle. Or is it the other way? Before you start accusing me of becoming a poet, I didn't say it. I am paraphrasing a friend. Why is he coming out with such revelations? It started with an innocent SMS which had far deeper connotations.

Are you there?

That is how it started. My friend's heart skipped a beat when this message arrived out of nowhere from a friend. What was weirder was the sender of the message, a member of fairer sex, had drifted into his thoughts a few days before. They were talking to each other almost every day and then suddenly everything had gone cold. So the sudden message caught him off guard.

I saw someone who reminded me of you.

Another message followed immediately. This time, my friend reminisced into every minute detail of her. He could envisage her smile and all those little things that made him crazy about her. He was excited because this seems to be the beginning of a new beginning.

Remembered laddu?

He replied, no longer being able to contain himself. She had always called him a laddu. He never asked her why. He has never been called a food item by anyone. So when she first called her laddu, he quickly succumbed and let his imaginations run wild.

Yes yes. He is short and round like you. Laddu...

My friend concluded the story. Women! They raise you all the way up and drop you like a hot potato. In this case, like a hot laddu.

Photo Courtesy: Lyrical Lemongrass

Saturday, November 5, 2016

What should we share?

In the recent interview with NPR, Charlie Brooker the writer of the show "Black Mirror" articulates an interesting hypothesis. According to him, we are not black and white. We possess different characteristics. We exhibit these character traits based on the situations and the people involved in the case. Social media are making us a monochromatic organism. I have oversimplified the concept. Charlie Brooker has eloquently put forward this reasoning in his own words

Social media has made it as - you know, and the internet and technology in general has sharpened all of those things. I guess they've always been there, that performative nature of life has always been there that you sort of perform, you know, to everyone to an extent, don't you? You sort of perform your personality, I guess, to everyone on some level. It's just that I think it's more - well, my little theory is that we've got - that - I remember - my theory is that we've got - that we used to have several personalities, and now we're encouraged to have one online. So - but by which I mean I remember once having a having a birthday party - or was it a book launch? - something - anyway, a party. 
And people from different aspects of my life showed up. So there were work colleagues who showed up and there were people I'd known since, like, college who showed up and there were people I'd only just met who showed up. And I behaved differently with all of these people in the real world. But once they were all together in one space and they were all mingled in in one group, if I walked over to them, I suddenly didn't know how to speak, do you know what I mean? Because, like, with some of them I'd be - I tried to be all intellectual and erudite and with others I'd just swear and curse and be an idiot. And suddenly, when they're all in one space, I don't know who I am. 
And I kind of feel like the one sort of thing is that online you're encouraged to perform one personality for everyone. And I wonder if that's one of the things that's feeding into the kind of polarization that seems to be going on is that you're - I think that lends itself to groupthink in some way or some kind of lack of authenticity. I wonder if we're better - better equipped to deal with having slightly different

When you think deeper, aren't we wary about what we post on the social media? Sometimes we loosen up and then we end up in trouble. Consider the case of my friend who has been assigned a project which takes him to different countries in what is considered widely as an unexplored yet blessed continent. He works there for two weeks and travels back to his base. So what do you do on the weekend sandwiched between the two weeks? He explores the area. As a result, there are a lot of pictures which finds his way into the social networking sites. Very soon, a comment popped up on his stream. The author jokingly queried if he was having too much fun and too little work. In a closed room, this comment would have evoked a chuckle. Instead, the situation turned tense before it was defused.

Who is to be blamed in this case? The person who posts the pictures or the person who commented? It poses a conundrum. If you ask me, I don't have the answer. But I am all in for posting pictures. Life is too short to see all the places. When someone posts a picture, two things are happening. The first is we are happy to know that they are alive and kicking. The second we get to experience these beautiful sights with our eyes and become part of their happiness.

You may remember the old adage. Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow. But in some cases, sharing doubles the pain. Take another instance. A good friend of mine went suddenly silent on the social media. As he was very active on social media before his disappearance, the absence was very conspicuous. When I reached him, the reason for the abstinence was due to a job search. The recruiters were checking the social media for more information on the prospective employees. As a result, he wanted to go off the radar.

Photo Courtesy: Chris Jone

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Movie Review: 7 anos

When an entire movie is set in a constricted space, then the fate hangs on two things. It needs to have great performances or a shockingly evolving theme. If the above two criteria are met, then you have a sure winner at hand. If you look at one of the famous movie namely 12 angry men, it ticks both these boxes. So it remains a classic. There have been many attempts to reproduce the underlying themes ever since. If you look in the near past, then you will find Locke and also Buried which share this similar premise. The Spanish movie 7 años directed by Roger Gual one such film. The film succeeds in holding our attention although the ending is abrupt akin to a great party halted suddenly.

Vero(Juana Acosta), Marcel(Alex Brendemühl), Luis(Paco León), and Carlos(Juan Pablo Raba) are unable to come to a decision related their joint venture. As a result, the responsibility of mediation falls on the shoulders of José(Manuel Morón), an outsider. The general belief is that there is a solution as long as we communicate openly and work towards a resolution. However, are these four people able to arrive at a decision which is agreeable to all parties? We keep asking this question from the start and are eager to know the result. There is an animal lurking in all of us. We realize this aspect as the movie progresses. The discussions start off amicably before everyone loses their decorum and starts attacking each other. At this point, we are shocked by the behavior of various parties. When push comes to shove, there are no scruples.

Roger Gual progressively builds tension in us by tight shots and close-ups combined with performances. He makes us see the best and worst sides of individuals thereby forcing us to question our principles. Although a drama, this movie can also be classified as a thriller. It is an interesting watch.

Language: Spanish

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Books: All the light we cannot see

It has been over seventy years since the World War II has ended. Numerous writers have devoted a lot of literary ink on this topic. So how does a novel set in this ear appeal to you? I approached it with skepticism. There were some interesting points in the beaten to death theme. The story unfolds in the walled city of Saint-Malo, a picturesque location but an unlikely setting for a novel. The main protagonists are a blind French girl and a German boy. On the outset, it looks like a love story combined with the coming of age. I was right about the latter part. Was I right about the former part, find out for yourself.

Marie-Laure grows in Paris. She loses her eyesight due to cataracts and depends on replicas made by her locksmith dad to move around the city. When the war breaks out, the father and daughter move to Saint-Malo where the girl's great-uncle lives. Werner is an orphan in the town of Zollverein in Germany. His interest in radio devices takes him to special training camps and all over Europe before Werner descends into the city of Saint-Malo. How are these two people linked?

Anthony Doerr has already the won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for this book. In this novel, Anthony Doerr explores the tragedy of conflict and war. It is in aspect the author can find the similarity to the chaotic world of today. The protagonists are victims of chances. They are children, and their belief system is developing. They are thrust into the world of conflict aiding the opposite sides. The author uses the Allied bombing of the walled city to segregate two clear timelines, lives before and after the war. During the initial part of the book, the author flips back and forth between the past of the characters and what happens in Saint-Malo during the fateful day. This technique keeps us on edge. The post-war section makes us melancholic.

At 545 pages in the Kindle edition, the number of pages is more than that of a regular book. Keep this fact in mind when picking up the book. This book details human emotions. So it is more of a book for which you have to devote time to savor it.

Photo Courtesy: Amazon

Friday, October 28, 2016

Movie Review: The Riot Club

Appearances are deceptive. When I saw the poster of this movie a year back, the tail suits worn by the lead actors, unknown faces for me,  gave an impression of a period drama. Although there were posters splashed across the city, the design did not generate any curiosity. Hence it is one of those British films which gets overshadowed by what the cousin across the Atlantic ocean has to offer. There are two things that you need to know before you even rent or stream this movie. This film is an adaptation of the play "Posh" by Laura Wade. The second is the Bullingdon Club, an exclusive unofficial all-male student dining club based in Oxford. The Riot Club is a fictionalized version of the Bullingdon Club.

The Riot Club was formed after the death of Lord Riot, a hedonist. There are ten members, selected by invitation from the existing members. The story opens up in the present time where Alistair(Sam Claflin) and Miles (Max Irons) joins Oxford. Both of them have diametrically opposite personalities, and they are inducted into the Riot Club. During the annual party of the club in a nearby country pub, things get out of control. When we come together as a group, our morals and principles become diluted. The popular belief is a group acts better than an individual. However, we have often seen the opposite. The film explores this theme as the annual party of the Riot Club shows how a group can get corrupted without any remorse. The members of the Riot Club are wealthy and belongs to the upper class. The class divide and the contempt of the less privileged are the other themes explored in the movie. Sometimes it is also dangerous to sit on the sidelines and not make your point. Miles learns it too late.

The movie has to depend on performances and not on expensive CGI. The director Lone Scherfig uses the authentic location. You cannot miss Oxford in the film. She has shot inside the colleges and also on some of the easily recognizable areas in Oxford. Even the country pub is an authentic location. Of the performance, Sam Claflin stands out because he is the bad boy of the group. After seeing him playing a cute boy in many movies, it is refreshing to see him as a manipulator. He starts as an insecure student and goes on to become a wicked man. Although the transformation is abrupt, the performance is distinctly clear.

The Riot Club honors hedonism. So you cannot watch it with the kids. However, as adults, this is a must watch because the movie is questioning us. It might be the beast in some and the weaknesses in the rest of us.

Language: English

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sarcasm and Negativity at workplace

You are in a hurry straddling between your team members who are busy working towards a deadline. A colleague emerges out of nowhere, directly in front of you. You have not seen this colleague for a long time. The colleague inquires. "Hi..How are things?" How would you react? If you have already played this scenario in your mind, let me add a couple of more details. The colleague belongs to the opposite sex. Not a head turner but this colleague is flashing one of the warmest and the most genuine smile while posing the question. What will be your reaction?

I am not the "you" in the above incident. Neither am I the colleague. If you thought I was one of the two, then you are reading my posts for the first time. I am always the person lurking in the background, scouting for the next blog post. I am never the hero. I am the innocent bystander. In this silent role, I was shocked by the reaction the "you." The "you" in question replied with a smirk. "Rahu is having a fabulous time." If you are confused about Rahu, I am no expert in Vedic mumbo jumbo. But the "you" was mentioning the times weren't right because of the strange alignment of stars. I guessed as much. That brings me to the question of the day. Do we have to negative and sarcastic at work?

When someone is asking your well being in an earnest way, what is the need to reply in the negative? There is always a gentler way of sharing bad news. Aren't we supposed to be restraint? Sadly, when people tend to be negative, they also tend to be sarcastic. Sarcasm is a very useful tool in creating a funny situation in literature. But I don't think it has helped much in a workplace or a relationship. What do I know? I have very poor life experience. Bingo! That was sarcasm. Wasn't it? Recently, a friend was a target of sarcasm.

The friend was visiting another city on business. There were two offices in the city, and my friend was going to one of them while his boss was working in an another office. So he emailed his boss. "How long will you be there?" My friend wanted to know his boss's schedule to visit him for a face to face meeting. Pat comes the reply. "As long as it takes." My friend was confused. What does this mean? 4 pm, 5 pm or 9 pm. Was the boss angry at him? He struggled with these concerns for a long time before newer problems caught up with him.

The negativity and the sarcasm affect us. Even the most pleasant persons are affected in the long run. I know many individuals who have crossed over to the dark side. A friend who was the most pleasant person until recent times is an example. He was typing away on his laptop when his boss turned up. He refused to look up when finally the boss caved in. "How are things shaping up?". The friend looked up and stared for a few seconds before he replied. "As good as it gets." He then continued typing. The boss was baffled. He asked with nervous laughter. "What does that mean?"

In case you are worried, my friend still has a job.

Photo Courtesy: Peter Forret

Friday, October 21, 2016

Books: A man called Ove

There are two things interesting about this novel. Firstly, the author Fredrik Backman is a blogger who is debuting with this novel. A blogger is never short of stories to tell. They may not be able to weave a coherent story, but there have a lot of exciting episodes. So if you are short of time, the book can be read at your leisure with sufficient breaks without losing the overall plot. Secondly, the Fredrik Backman is from Sweden. I have only seen mystery writers coming from this region. So a fiction and not a crime or thriller caught my attention.

Ove is an old man who is always fighting with the world around him. He is never happy. As the story starts, an interracial couple moves in as his neighbor. When they reverse their trailer, they destroy Ove's flowerbed and overturns the postbox. Ove reluctantly helps the couple, and this act changes Ove forever. In the past, we have encountered many grumpy old men in real life, books, and movies. It is Fredrick Backman narrative style which makes Ove different and intriguing than the ones we know. Fredrik Backman devotes each chapter to tell us about an event in Ove's life. All through the book, he uses non-linear narrative like a seasoned player. He switches between the present and the past. You can never understand a person without knowing his history. Fredrick Backman realizes it. So he describes the present which makes us laugh at the old man's eccentricity. But when he explains the past, our smile dies quickly, and we empathize with the old man. Even after knowing the history, the author still makes us laugh with Ove's escapades in the present. It is quite evident that the author wants us to have a fun filled ride with adequate room for thought and reflection.

The book is translated from his original language. The emphasis is on the narrative and not the style. After reading the book, you are engulfed with a warmth and newfound love for life. There is an explanation for human behavior. Are we ready to let go of our initial reluctance and delve deeper to find out more about people we try to avoid? There are a lot of profound messages in spite of this book being a quick read. There is no time like now to read this book.

Photo Courtesy: Amazon

Thursday, October 20, 2016

No more shopping lists

Automation is the buzz word. The machines are taking away our jobs. There are even talking about Universal Basic Income so that we still have money to spend while we will not have any job. Isn't that a dTream come true? We do not work. However, we get paid. When you get over the initial euphoria, there is another angle to the UBI. We are back to being kids. Whoever is handing out the UBI becomes our parent. While we debate our fate, there is no dispute about automation is going disrupt our lives. So the article by HBR caught my attention.

Quoting Amazon's Dash buttons, the article infers the following.
" closets and refrigerators in the home will place orders directly with the retailers’ algorithms, sparing the consumer the need to prepare shopping lists, remember which products to buy, and go to the trouble of doing everyday shopping. Products will flow to the household like a utility, as electricity and water do.
Although the article is a guideline on how marketing changes as a result of automated shopping, I could not get past the reference to shopping lists.

Every week, my wife prepares a list of purchase and sends it to me. Though I dread this list, it has become a part of my weekend ritual. I use this list to undertake the journey to the local grocer. The list is unstructured in many ways. Sometimes, I have to go to multiple stores to buy all the items. Most of the time, I go through a couple of passes in the grocery store as these items are arranged differently in the list and the store. To tell you the truth, I reorganize the list to ensure I take the shortest possible path in the grocery store. Don't be surprised. Blame it on the no man's land created by efficiency and obsessiveness.

Considering the never-ending struggles with the weekend shopping, I should be happy to see the obsolescence of shopping lists. Strangely, it makes me sad. As a result of automation, my worth to the family has come out. They do not need me for getting the groceries. What is my contribution once the automatons take over? What would I do with all the free time? My head is spinning.

Photo Courtesy: Bruce Turner

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Buying a watch is not as easy as you think

The story unfolds in a picturesque country. The country was created in a tiny space set up by three bordering countries namely France, Germany, and Italy. Had these three countries come any closer than they have due geopolitical reasons, our story would have happened elsewhere. The country in question is not only known for romantic destinations but also for punctuality. It may be because of this trait of these countrymen that they are also makers of the finest devices to ensure timeliness. If you haven't guessed the country yet, let me spell it out for you. I am talking about Switzerland and their watches.

If you are planning to bring a watch as a souvenir from your Swiss visit, then you need to listen to this story. In like Flynn. So you may think. But the reality is anywhere near that phrase. As usual, the protagonist of this story is not me. I wish I were leading an exciting life like all my friends who have been part of this blog. The truth is my friends live a more colorful life.  The story features my friend who lived in Switzerland. We wish to go there for a vacation, but my friend has lived there. Hopefully, my earlier point about my friends makes sense now. On a fateful day, my friend decides to shop for a watch.

My blissfully ignorant friend walks into a store selling watches. My friend's goal was to buy a watch. My friend was puzzled that none of the watches on display features price tags. He disregarded the warning bells, attributes this strange phenomenon to something Swiss, and steps into the shop. A friendly store assistant greeted him. The store assistant sat with my friend and patiently understood the requirements of the watch right from the color to the size of my friend's hands. At the end of the interaction, my friend was eager to try the watch. But the store assistant asked him to wait as they have to make the watch for my friend to his specifications. The total cost was a 5 figure number. My friend was quiet about his initial reaction on hearing the price. But he went silent at this point while recounting the story. If he was reminiscing, his facial expression was so painful that I didn't want to pursue further down this road.

To quickly escape, my friend said he was on vacation and hence couldn't wait for the watch. The store assistant assured him not to worry as they deliver the item anywhere in the world. Sometimes, the businesses take the word customer-friendly very seriously. At this point, he paused again. He refused to divulge more information. I am not sure how he came out of this predicament. But I am confident he didn't buy the watch because he was not wearing a Swiss watch when he was talking to me.

Photo Courtesy: Blake Buettner

A gift which cannot be used

There is always a leaving do whenever someone resigns or retires from an organization. Leaving dos are always associated with parties and gifts. Under normal circumstances, both are to be cherished. There might be extreme cases to the left and the right of the spectrum. Recently a friend narrated an interesting incident.

A colleague of my friend was leaving the organization. As a result,  there were two gifts presented to the co-worker. The first was an iPad Mini. It is a fitting gesture. The second one was a pen. Once the pen was handed over, they instructed. Do not write with this pen.

At this point, my friend was taken aback just like us. Why would you gift a pen and request not to use it? It doesn't make any sense. So they explained. This pen is a gift. This pen is not for writing. This pen is for passing it over to your next generation. So the pen moves down your bloodline.

I do not doubt my friend. But are there gifts like these? It is a lovely gesture of your friends and colleagues to give you a gift that doubles up as an inheritance for future generations.

Photo Courtesy: Kenneth Moyle

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Pappettan on follower count

When a group of photographers met up, the conversation steered into Instagram. I was part of this group along with Pappettan. All of these photographers are already part of this social network and post regularly. As their photographs are exceptional, the count of followers of these photographers has been gradually increasing.

Photographer 1: *excited* I posted the pic from last week's trip.  And do you know what happened?

Rest of us: *disinterested*

Photographer 1: *ignores and continues* The gorgeous actress from the recently successful crime drama followed me on Instagram.

He shows the star's handle listed as a follower of his Instagram account

Rest of us: *hiding our jealousy and nods*

Pappettan: *after a brief pause* So what? Look at the photographer 2

Photographer 2: *suddenly wakes up and looking suspiciously at Pappettan*

Pappettan: *continues with a sly smile* This actress is only following you on Instagram. His wife is following him everywhere!

Photo Courtesy: Patrik Nygren

Monday, October 10, 2016

All of us are not made equal

Some of the motivational quotes tell us we are made equal. It is upon us on how to achieve greatness. Are we created equal? Philosophy and religion may say this. Today I was watching a gymnastic class for kids. After looking at a bunch of kids performing acrobatics, I have come to the conclusion that philosophy and religion may not be right.

Kids are an enthusiastic crowd. During the gymnastics class, they were divided into various groups depending on their skill levels. They were given the same kind of exercises with differing difficulty levels for the different groups. It was fun to watch the kids perform these activities. In one of the exercises, they have to run, jump up a raised platform, place their hands on the platform and then perform a somersault. There were some experts in the group. For most of them, it was improvisation, and that is when I realized not all are made equal.

There is an element which marks the kids apart from the crowd. They may be able to do this seemingly difficult task. But one factor makes all the difference. Grace. During the learning phase, some kids recover from failure gracefully. They not only recover but also perform the act with grace when successful. You can learn grace. It is an acquired skill. But some of us are born with grace. Of course, they are at an advantage in everything.

Photo Courtesy: Malingering

Sunday, October 2, 2016

0 to 10K: Final Transformation

Author's Note: This is the final of a three part series.

You can find the other parts using the following links.
0 to 10k: The desire to rise
0 to 10k: Finishing 5K

During the fifth week of the "Couch to 5K program", I started pain in my shins. I had decided to spend as little as possible to cross the 5K barrier. As a result, I had not bought a new pair of shoes. Instead, I was running in an old pair of shoes. When I reached the fifth week, I was sure this time was going to be different, and I will be completing the program. I have been running three times a week despite my frequent official trips.

When I shared my pain with a friend, he immediately narrowed the problem to the shoes. My friend who participated and completed the marathon had insisted that the shoes are the most important thing for a runner. I had conveniently ignored the advice. As I could not stall expenses forever, I visited the Sweat Shop, underwent a gait analysis and walked out with a new pair of shoes. The pain in my shins vanished with the new pair of shoes.

To maintain my interest, I had initially chosen three different routes for the three runs in a week. As I ran longer, two routes proved difficult because of busy roads and frequent interruptions due to traffic light. I decided to use the on the road leading the to the University of Reading There was a busy intersection, but it cleared out fast. Then there is a lot of activity at the University. There are fellow runners, people playing various sports and students walking inside the University. When I finally ran five kilometers, I was circling the football field twice before leaving the University towards the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Soon, this route became repetitive, and the motivation levels went down.

I decided to change the route. I ventured out of the University and circled it from the outside to arrive at the Cemetery Junction. I realized I was covering more than seven kilometers this way. I became more emboldened. Instead of returning home from Cemetery Junction, I went inside Reading City Center before returning home. Very soon, I was circling the University, going inside the Reading Center from the east, proceeding to the west and then returning home. I was circling the University and also the Reading City Center now. I was also running 10 kilometers by doing so. 

My joy had no bounds. I was doing 10 kilometers in one run. I performed this feat at least once a week. This achievement was the second good thing to happen. A few weeks before this feat, I had gone in for a second health check. The doctor was happy with my lifestyle changes were working out. 

Nothing is impossible. We learned it as children. But I have abandoned these learning while growing up. As far as running is concerned, I have undergone many humiliations by consistently underperforming. I am not sure if underperforming is the right word for finishing last. So being able to run ten kilometers reaffirmed the learning. When I finally accomplished this feat, my confidence also increased manifold. It did not transform my body into that of a Roman God. But my mind underwent a transformation. There are no impossible tasks. There are only tasks which you are either interested to do or not interested in doing. 

Photo Courtesy: Petr & Bara Ruzicka

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The secret marriage

If there is one habit about me which makes me proud, it is reading. I like to read. There are periods when I can never finish any books. When I look back, there has been a gap of years when I had taken up books and never finished it. After a disappointing stint of unfinished books, the interest is ignited again, and there are heaps of books I finish in a short time. Despite all these minor hindrances, I still feel reading is one of the best habit inculcated in me. Being surrounded by my father's collection of books definitely helped me.

As a parent, I am trying to pass this habit to my daughter. It is interesting to note how your kids mirror your childhood. My daughter likes to read, attracted to understand the story and not the storytelling technique. In an attempt to instill the love for classics, we found a children's book which is an anthology of the works of Shakespeare. It contains the abridged version of the bard's famous plays. When my daughter has finished reading one, I ask her to summarize the story for me. She had recently read Romeo and Juliet.

Daughter: *uninterested* Romeo and Juliet belonged to two families.

Me: *listening*

Daughter: *uninterested and trying to remember* Juliet is a Capulet and Romeo is a Montague.

Me: *impressed with her pronunciation of the family names*

Daughter: *continues with less enthusiasm* Romeo and Juliet fell in love.

Me: *uncomfortable and wishing she leaves out the gory details*

Daughter: *nonchalantly* They get married secretly.

Me: *confused* Did they get married? *racking my brains to remember the story* I don't remember reading it.

Daughter: *in a matter of fact tone* They married secretly. It is a secret marriage. That is why you don't know about it.

Who can counter that argument?

Photo Courtesy: Lefteris Heretakis

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

0 to 10k: Finishing 5K

Author's Note: This is the second of a three part series.

You can find the first part using the following link.

0 to 10k: The desire to rise

I was living in Paris staying away from the family in those days. During those days, it is hard to find the energy to get up in the morning since the situation was far from ideal. As my family was living in India at that time, a cloud of lethargy had descended on my life. I was doubtful of uncovering reserves of energy to pursue a new hobby even if it was for better health.

Despite adverse conditions, I kept planning to reach my end goal of long distance running in my mind. The first step was simple. I should be able to run non-stop. One of the initial plans was to run and walk alternatively. I will run for a minute and recover by walking for two minutes. Over a period of time, I will gradually increase the running time while decreasing the recovery time. While contemplating this plan, I downloaded the one of the "Couch to 5K" programs. Despite all these efforts, I was still missing the spark to light up the fire.

Then, my assignment in Paris ended. As a result, I had to return to India. After settling down to the routine at home, it was my wife who encouraged me to go for a walk or run in the nearby park. The park is built around a lake and has a track for running or walking around the lake. It is crowded from 6 am. I decided to put on my running shoes and use the Couch to 5K program as a guide. Gradually, I was able to run for a burst of 4 minutes. When I was progressing with the running, a new assignment resulted in me shifting to the UK.

The move to the UK was a setback. Again, I was away from my family. The long hours at work and the late night binges to meet impossible deadlines had a detrimental effect on the waistline. Fortunately, my wife joined me in a few months. She helped with the diet. I had unsuccessful stints in two different gyms. During this time, I was able to run continuously for 20 minutes covering a distance of 2 kilometers on the treadmill. But I was not a regular.

I was due for the yearly health check. After the examination, the doctor explained the health risks due to my age. Although these may not be high, there are factors which I needed to control. The doctor asked me to change my lifestyle and advised to exercise regularly. I chose running as the activity for changing my lifestyle and infusing energy. As I had spent already spent money on gym memberships and running shoes, I decided on spending as little as possible in this venture which was started and abandoned many times in the past.

The only option was to use the streets in Reading, the city I was living,  like my treadmill. NHS has a free "Couch to 5K" program. Unlike other apps, this is a podcast. The podcaster talks to you, and there is music. They have a program which lasts 8 weeks. By the end of 8 weeks, you will be able to run for 35 minutes. When you run for 35 minutes, you would have covered a distance of 5 kilometers or more. The program is designed for beginner runners. I chose to run after 8 pm in the evening. The first few podcasts were only 20 minutes. Gradually over a period of 8 weeks, I was able to complete this program. 

Covering 5 kilometers in 35 minutes is not a laudable task. There were a few inconsiderate runners who had ridiculed my pace. But there were a few lessons to learn at the end. There are many things in life where you will minimal support from outside world. If you are lucky, you will get one supporter for every ten detractors. If you do, thank your stars and get on with it. Most of the times, you will have to find motivation within yourself. Secondly, you don't need an expensive or grand plan to achieve your goals. A simple plan is sufficient if you have the resolve.

Photo Courtesy: Photokkaran

Monday, September 26, 2016

0 to 10k: The desire to rise

Author's Note: This is the first of a three part series.

How can one run non-stop? The question haunted me for many years. After running a few meters, I would end up gasping for breath. Even from the school days, I lacked the stamina to run fifty meters. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I gave up. When I hit the gym, I used the treadmill for walking. I could even run for a couple of minutes with high difficulty. Even though I understood the importance of a twenty minutes of running to get the prep the body, I never could get to this point.

While living in Paris, I called up my young friend to check his plans for the evening. That day was unexceptionally dull, and hence I desperately wanted to break the monotony. He was catching the Metro from Montmartre. I was surprised as the station was far away from where he lived. He had run from Boulogne to Montmartre covering a distance of more than 10 km. I was not only impressed but also convinced. The 10 km run is an attainable task. The casual and confident tone of my young friend assured and encouraged me.

The above incident was not enough to get me put on the sneakers and run through the streets of Paris. In fact, I never ran through the streets of the city of light. I have walked her beautiful streets countless times. A minor consolation. But the conversation was sufficient to open up my eyes. A few months later, a photographer friend of mine described her experience after running the first and only marathon. She is a researcher, a species who will encounter a lot in Paris. According to her words, the experience gave her a high which lasted for a week. This exuberance was the observation of her fellow researchers.

The second incident described above was intriguing. Can a person remain on a high after running a marathon? How does running transform a person? As always by habit, I turned to my trusted source while troubled with a riddle. I went shopping for a book and eventually found "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. The book focuses on a group of people who loves running and their techniques. On top of these topics, the book also explains how the author prepared himself for the run. He trained himself under professionals. The transformation of the author reaffirmed the fact anyone can run on the lines what my young friend assured me a while back. 

On a pessimistic note, the author might have spent a fortune to train himself. He had the book and the publisher backing him. Where does that leave an ordinary mortal like me? I don't have the power to draw on the same resources as the author. What is the cheap alternative for people like me? When these thoughts were played out in the back of my mind for several months, I came across the programs named "Couch to 5K". The name is unusual enough to grab your attention and also to make you relate to what the program offers. The program is designed for people like me who never attempted to run.

During this time, I went to shoot pictures of Marathon de Paris of 2013. A year back, I had gone for the same purpose. At that point, I had chosen the starting point of Avenue des Champs Elysees. The morning was cold and breezy. Hence, I couldn't stay for long. So this time, I decided to wait for longer and visit the finishing point. The sight at the finishing point is uplifting. There were family members gathered at the finishing point cheering their dear ones as they crossed the finishing point. Watching people crossing the finishing line, I could understand the secret behind the exhilaration felt by my photographer friend. More than that realization, the sight of a man lighting up a cigar after finishing the marathon. The way he was holding the cigar with a big smile said it all. He had worked hard for this achievement. And it was no small feat. Now he rewarded himself.

I am not a cigar man. I will never understand the craze for that. But I saw the satisfaction and the pride in that man's face when he lit up the cigar after running the marathon. I believed running would give me the same pleasure. At that point, I decided to rise from my comfortable mental couch and run.

Photo Courtesy: Photokkaran

Friday, September 23, 2016

I hate this lunchbox!

Most of my colleagues pack their lunch from home. I like to see the open lunch boxes because each of them features a different dish. It is unlike the few choices you get from the cafeteria. Each dish has a different story to say. A friend of mine recently told me a story of a lunch box.

A colleague of my friend used to pack lunch from home. She always packed curd rice. For me, it is one of the easiest dishes to make. While it is not too time-consuming to prepare, curd rice has the added advantage of cooling you down in seconds. You can season the curd rice with different ingredients.

During the lunch hour, the colleague opens the lunch box. She stares at the content in the open box for a few seconds. During this time, her face displays a gamut of expressions, the prominent being hatred. Finally, she removes some of the ingredients and eats the curd rice.

After a few days, my friend couldn't resist his curiosity. How long can a person bring the same dish? Moreover, the colleague's facial expression clearly shows her dislike for this dish. So my friend decided to find out the truth. He approached her and started firing a series of questions.

My Friend: *gently* I notice you always bring curd rice.

The Colleague: *absent-mindedly* Yes. *after a brief pause* I pack the same dish for everyone in the family.

My Friend: *smiling* But you don't seem to like it.

The Colleague: *defensive* That is not correct.

My Friend: *still smiling but a bit confused* Judging by the expression on your face when you open the lunch box, I thought you hated it.

The Colleague: *understands my friend's concern* I like curd rice. But I don't like the seasoning.

My Friend: *feeling light after identifying the cause* Then it is easy! Don't use those ingredients for seasoning.

The Colleague: *exasperated* But he likes it so!

The "He" referenced here is her husband. Like I said, every lunch box has a story to tell.

Picture Courtesy: Harsha K R

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lessons from Massimo's lemon tart

When I look at the lemon tart offered by Massimo Bottura, it reinforces two things in my mind. The first one is about beauty; it can exist in imperfection. The second one is about mistakes. The world doesn't stop because we have erred. There may be redemption and reprieve.

Massimo's dish is called "Oops! I dropped the lemon tart". As the name reflects, it is what happened in reality too. While preparing the lemon tart for a customer, the sous chef affectionately called Taka dropped the lemon tart. Massimo was quick to recover and see the lemon tart from a different angle. As a result, you have a lemon tart which taunts you into trying it. Massimo also turned around a situation which would have ended up as an embarrassment.

We often strive for perfection. Why does everything have to be perfect? Haven't you seen a person with crooked teeth but has a ravishing smile? Haven't you heaved a sigh when a freckled face lighted up the room? In a traditional sense, those aren't perfect. It is still beautiful.

Sometimes, you see the world through different eyes by making a wrong turn. It may not always be the case. But there is always the possibility of discovery through a mistake. As a result, we should be encouraging people to fail. It is better than living in fear of failure. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Where is the time, dude?

When I came across the article on the free-time paradox, I was surprised. In a nutshell, the article states the rich has less time for leisure while the poor has more. The article came to my attention a few days after a friend commented on a workaholic friend. The workaholic friend featured twice in our conversations over a period. The last conversation was a few days before I came across this article.

In the first conversation, my friend extolled on one of the enviable characters of an ambitious person which our workaholic friend possessed. "Our workaholic friend is determined to get to the highest level in the organization. Our friend is constantly thinking about what next to do. All of us relax after achieving a certain threshold of success. We can't keep up the same energy levels. Our friend is tireless and enthusiastic." The second conversation was a melancholic one, awe giving way to concern. "Our friend is thinking of building an empire. He is constantly on emails or calls with his subordinates until early hours of the morning. As a result, his personal life is in shambles."

We make money to secure a peaceful future and to enjoy the finer things in life. But when we grow richer, we have lesser time for ourselves or our dear ones. The riches are never enough. I envy the poor people mentioned in the article. I wish I could just slack off. Then the reality dawns. They are living in their parent's place because they have avoided the errors made by mortals like me. The mortals yearn for companionship and a desire to produce better versions of themselves.

Photo Courtesy: JD Hancock

Monday, September 19, 2016

Old is not gold anymore!

I am over 40. So a recent study of how it is difficult for workers in Silicon Valley, who are over 40, caught my attention. Were others given preferential treatment because of my age? Frankly, I haven't yet noticed. The article is worrying. The concern stems from fear. Will anyone need my expertise? Will I be able to run as fast as the others? Will I have to compromise on my principles?

There are different schools of thought regarding what happens after 40. One of them says about your life restarts. As far as I am concerned, I did not press the reset switch. Neither did anyone. There were two occasions in my life where my age was mentioned. During a high-pressure project execution, I was trying to do many things at a time. The wins were few and insignificant while the losses were noticeable and damaging. As I had walked reluctantly into the fifth decade of existence, a friend remarked. "He just turned 40. He is grappling with the existential crisis". I panicked on hearing it and quickly decided to forget about the statement. The other instance was during a heated discussion when a friend decided to throw in the age factor. The friend advised me to plan for retirement as my employable days are over. Of course, it felt harsher and crueler than I could sum up in words.

With increasing life spans and escalating costs, I often wonder if it is ever possible to retire. Some people are smart enough to create something with their intelligence and retire to a peaceful life. But what about the rest of us? When I was in my mid-thirties, a team member was astonished to find that I knew about Yahoo Messenger. When you work with a young team, there is a sudden hush when one enters a room. So I can easily understand why people want to stay younger with the help of plastic surgery.  It is a sad situation but totally understandable. I for one cannot throw a stone because I color my hair. It might not be plastic surgery, but I am still covering up the reality. It still does not answer my question. What do I do if everyone else still thinks I am too old to do any job? Will my confidence of accomplishing the impossible and possessing a sharp mind good enough to go on?

Photo Courtesy: Archive New Zealand

Friday, September 16, 2016

Movie Review: Serra Pelada

Serra Pelada was a gold mine in Brazil. The English translation of Serra Pelada is Naked Mountain. But the movie is known as Bald Mountain in English. I definitely would have to ask the translator or the studio on why they chose such a bland name for the movie. Even if the film had retained the original name in Portuguese, it would still have invoked our curiosity. Coming to the gold mine, people uncovered the precious metal in 1979. The mine was in full swing in 1980 and closed in 1986. The story of this film unfolds when the mining activities are in full swing during this period. The movie tells the story of two friends arriving in Serra Pelada with a dream to become wealthy. The two friends Juliano(Juliano Cazarré) and Joaquim(Júlio Andrade) have known each other from childhood. They are both of different temperaments. In the mines, they begin a partnership. As they amass wealth, their friendship becomes strained because of differing morals and principles.

We have seen many rags to riches story on the screen before. The sudden accumulation of wealth generates greed for excess and hunger for power. This indulgence poisons one's mind and alienates dear ones. Finally, there is the descent into despair and the longing for a new start. Such a theme always draws us to a movie even it is beaten to death before. The director Heitor Dhalia has set this story against the backdrop of the gold rush in Brazil. This move may have a significant effect on the local audience. The local audience would have either belonged to that era or have heard about the tumultuous times from elders. As this depicts a historically significant period in Brazil, outsiders like us are also naturally inquisitive to know more. So Heitor Dhalia succeeds in getting us the first part of generating interest in the movie. Unfortunately, he fails to keep us glued to the seats because the film gives us a sense of deja vu. We may have been able to overlook this fact because of the performers. They are great. In addition to the two leading men, there is Wagner Moura (well-known face after Narcos on Netflix) in a small role but an eccentric character. If his presence is not enough for the movie, he has also shaved the front of his head to portray a bald man. While Heitor Dhalia spends time in finalizing the appropriate cast, he doesn't devote as much time to tell the story. As a result, the storytelling is hurried and makes us lose interest somewhere along the way.

Even though the movie is not able to do justice to the era honestly, it still stands out for one thing. The inhuman conditions of the miners in these claims came to light with the photographs taken by two photographers separately. These photographers were Alfredo Jaar and Sebastião Salgado. These photographs show miners climbing the hills with ores, and these miners resemble ants. The mining has also caused environmental damage. The movie captures these in a disturbing way. I am not sure if these are stock shots or recreations. Whatever be it, these scenes blend with the film seamlessly causing us to wonder about the length people will go to make a living and fortune.

It is still worth a watch if you have nothing else on your list.

Language: Portuguese

Genre: Drama

Rating: **

Monday, August 29, 2016

Pappettan tackles a late arrival

In professional life, there is always a need for a meeting. When there is a meeting involved, there are always two opinions about it. Meetings waste a lot of time. There are many people called into a meeting where most of them are irrelevant. There are scores of articles written about how to organize and conduct meetings. As I have nothing new to add on that subject, I will stay away from such topics. At the same time, I would like to address a misconception about the action items generated in a meeting.

Recently, I was in a meeting with a group of people. In the current scenario where remote collaboration is becoming not only necessary but also attractive, the meeting was a teleconference. Pappettan was in the room along with me and several others. One of our colleagues joined late. By the time our fellow member came into the meeting, we had finished all the major items. 

One of us: *with a smile* Welcome.

Late Arrival: *sounding apologetic* I am sorry. I got caught up in something else.

One of us: *hiding the smirk* We are finishing up the meeting.

Late Arrival: *disappointed* Oh!

One of us: *seriously* There are a few action items. You are the owner of the majority of them.

Late Arrival: *slightly agitated* Because I wasn't there, it was convenient to put all actions on me.

As soon as the late arrival completes the statement, all of us become quiet. We realized we had touched a raw nerve. None of us were sure how to tackle the situation. At this point, Pappettan took charge effortlessly.

Pappettan: *chuckles* Hello Late Arrival. I am Pappettan.

Late Arrival: *silent and tensed*

Pappettan: *explains as gently as possible* There were action items on us too. But since we were in the meeting, we could address them immediately and close them.

Late Arrival: *silent*

Pappettan: *continues calmly* Since you were away, we parked it. Now that you are here, you can close them like we did.

Photo Courtesy: Office Now

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A young lady learns about Suffragettes

Sitting with your daughter while she is learning can turn into a humbling experience. While my daughter was practicing her comprehension skills, I noticed the text was about suffragette movement. Although I didn't know a lot of about this topic, I knew just enough to know it was a women's movement. So after my daughter finished the text, I asked her to explain what she read to me. As I was not happy with her explanation, I decided to hammer in the point.

Me: *seriously* You are a woman! *panics, pauses and rethinks the strategy* You are a girl!

Daughter: *looks up and fixes her eyes on me questioningly*

Me: *confidently* You should know about suffragette. It was a women's movement.

Daughter: *expressionless*

Me: *energetically* Women couldn't vote. Suffragettes were fighting for the fundamental rights.

Daughter: *silent*

Me: *determined* Women couldn't go to colleges. Girls couldn't go to schools.

Daughter: *breaks the silence* That was good.

Me: *confused* Why?

Daughter: *explains in a matter of fact tone* Then, I wouldn't have to learn all these. 

Photo Courtesy: U.S. Embassy, the Hague

Friday, August 26, 2016

India Type of deals

“India type deals.” Or should I read it as “Small is beautiful”? Since you can’t bottle has become old, package the wine in a new one. Earlier, the big companies used to shun small deals. It is up to smaller fishes in the market to go for the small deals. What is the reason for the sudden interest in such deals? Is this the direct result of the scramble for revenues and margins?

The other buzzword used is automation. I may sound like a Luddite or a retrograde. The reality is that services industry has not attained the maturity in this space yet. They will eventually get here. But currently, there is an emphasis on automation and pressure to deliver. The unnecessary pressure is not creating the right atmosphere to foster creativity. As a result, there is a tendency quickly fix some broken piece in a complicated process and label it as saving because of automation. This course of action does not foster the right environment to encourage creativity and end-to-end thinking.

Read Vanitha Narayanan's interview on India Type of Deals over here.

Photo Courtesy: Indi Samarajiva

Friday, June 3, 2016

Pappettan never gets bitter

Do you feel bitter when a friend lets you down? You may be disappointed. But does that disappointment turn into bitterness? While you answer the question, do you know that bitter words can destroy a good relationship? If you are feeling resentful, then what you utter will also be bitter. Most of the time, you spit out how you feel. It takes extraordinary abilities to control the negative emotions. But I stand corrected. There is one person who is above all human weaknesses. That person is none other than our Pappettan.

When the sun came out of hiding in the spring, we organized a photo walk. The mission was to photograph the lovely spring flowers in their natural habitat. After deliberation, we narrowed on a day where there was ample light but low temperatures. We can drape layers and layers of clothes to warm ourselves up, but we are unable to coax the weather god. On the day of the mission, a friend of ours decided to back out. I was consumed with rage and hatred, but Pappettan kept his cool. When we reached the destination, the levels of anger has climbed exponentially. At the meeting place, the rest of the friend raised the obvious question? Where is the other friend?

I was about to explode at this stage. When I had formulated all my bitterness and was about to respond, I heard a calm voice beside me. It was Pappettan. He had anticipated this moment and taken the lead quietly. "It is quite cold today for Spring. You know he can't handle cold. So he decided to skip." With this rationale, everyone accepted and felt sorry for the friend who missed the event. It also made me pause and rethink the whole scenario. Yes, our friend couldn't handle cold weather. It was the reason for him to skip the photo walk. But why was I concentrating on my disappointment and not the real reason for him to miss the occasion? 

Photo Courtesy: Navaneeth KN
Tags: Pappettan Says

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Pappettan and Vincent Bhavana

Over the weekend, I saw "Maheshinte Prathikaaram." I have heard a good review about the movie. Fortunately, the glowing reviews did not dampen the viewing pleasure. It is an intriguing movie as it is not easy to pinpoint the success of the movie. You might come up with many points, but the story will not be one of those points. That is the brilliance of the movie. There is a wafer-thin plotline, but you are hooked. When compared to "Premam" which was tightly packed with conversations, "Maheshinte Prathikaaram" diametrically opposite. Mahesh Bhavana, the protagonist, is a simpleton. In a harsh tone, we can call him the proverbial frog in the well. He doesn't get out of the well. But he sees his well in a different way giving the movie a flavor of coming off age. And Vincent Bhavana is Mahesh's dad who indirectly influences the change.

There are many similarities between Pappettan and Vincent Bhavana. Before we delve into the similarities, let us address the obvious differences. Obvious is the keyword is here. There is a difference which is not very apparent. I will treat this difference at the end. Pappettan and Vincent Bhavana are not the same agewise or looks-wise. Pappettan is decades younger than Vincent Bhavana, and he is also more handsome than the latter. Then they are both photographers, sees beauty all around them and can inspire people. Vincent Bhavana in the movie advises his son on the essential trait for a photographer. As a photographer, you have to sense a beautiful moment about to unfold before you and be ready with your camera. This line also happens to Pappettan's favorite. Compassion or an inordinately strong experience can groom you to predict the beautiful moment.

Now to the differences. According to Vincent Bhavana, you can learn photography, but you cannot teach photography. It is a philosophical statement. You can point and click. But that does not guarantee a good picture. Unless and until you appreciate and value the beauty around you, there will not be great photos. Vincent Bhavana leaves Mahesh to figure this out. Pappettan does not stop at this point. In fact, he tries to open your inner eyes. He will help you in every which way possible to fasten your learning process.

Tags: Pappettan Says

Monday, May 30, 2016

Books: Running with the Kenyans

Adharanand Finn writes about his experiences in training for a marathon in this book. If you look at running, Kenyans have been dominating this field. They have been winning medals in most of the famous events. This book tries to understand what make Kenyans such good runners based on the author's experience. As Finn tries to learn running from the Kenyans, Kenya seems to be the best place for getting that education. So, Finn packs his bag and moves to Kenya for a year.

Finn has a family. So it is not easy to relocate to Kenya even for a short duration. Fortunately for him, his partner and his children are excited about the move. The life in Kenya is different from the one they are used to. But they make the best use of it. This aspect is inspiring for the reader. It is not easy to embrace the unknown when you have a comfortable life. The non-fiction genre is full of authors trying out different things once they attain a certain age or after a breakup. Unlike the other, Finn is not undergoing any existential crisis. He sincerely wants to surpass his personal best.

The book is not a comprehensive training material for a marathon. But the book effectively captures the Kenyan spirit and their aspirations. The author tells us why there is an onslaught of Kenyan athletes and what does it mean for them to win these races. The book also gives us the information about various camps and races in the country without endorsing any one of them.

See for yourself. Any expert will give you this advice. Finn takes this advice seriously. Instead of lightning visits to the camps and interviews with various people, he prefers to live in Kenya and undergo training for a year. This way, he can understand the culture better. So the book is like a travel book with a sports background. The narration is factual. Although the language is not humorous, it is not dry either. Having spent a year in Kenya, Finn is the best person to write about this topic.

When compared to Born to Run, this book is less entertaining. But for someone who is a challenge the status-quo in training or life, this book is an inspirational one. You may pick it up if you are athlete and needs reaffirmation on your goal.

Tags: Books,Adharanand Finn,Kenya

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lets do curry for dinner

What is British cuisine? Fish and Chips, Sunday Roast, Bangers and Mash... A few years back, I used to treat British cuisine as an oxymoron. After having lived over here for the past two years, I have grown respectful towards my host country. But there is also another interesting phenomenon in Britain as a result of two factors. The first one is the empire where the sun never set and the second is the liberal immigration policies towards the Commonwealth countries when the sun finally set on the Empire.

While living in colonies, they must have developed a taste for local food. They carried the love for ethnic food back to their country. The immigration policies during the second half of the previous century ensured the ethnic restaurants sprouted up in various parts of the country. The majority of these restaurants feature Indian cuisine. For ease of convenience and also to bulk up the numbers, I have grouped Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisine under Indian cuisine. Sometimes, simplification is best for comprehension.

A few months, I was traveling by a single carriageway. Out of nowhere, I saw an Indian restaurant. I looked around for signs of prominent office buildings, supermarkets or houses. I couldn't find any. I was passing by Exeter, and I found a Kerala restaurant there. These restaurants do not feature dumbed down version of food sold in India. The food is equally spicy. A Brit will eat the food without upsetting the decorum featuring one of their prominent characteristics namely stoicism.

The Indian cuisine has almost become the national cuisine over. To tell you the truth, I do feel jealous. What do you expect? They have adopted my cuisine. At the same time, I do feel happy too. To understand this feeling, you will have to hear the praises heaped upon the Indian cuisine. The discussion of cuisine invariably leads to a discussion of culture which in turn is fascinating for both the parties, me being one of the parties.

It all leads to a dilemma when you arrange for lunch or dinner at work. Everyone wants to eat Indian. When you are the host, everyone expects to go to an Indian restaurant. When you love food like me, it is really a dilemma.

Photo Courtesy: Johnny Silvercloud

Tags: British Lessons


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Photos: Looking into Bristol

The suspension bridge is always a wonder. Bristol has one. With a curious wonder of the nature, there there is a hill where we can watch the suspension bridge and also look ahead into Bristol. There is also an observatory on the bridge.

This photo was taken from the hill near the observatory. If you like the picture, please feel free to visit my facebook page and like it.

Tags: Photos, Suspension Bridge, Bristol

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