Friday, December 31, 2010

Last update on resolutions - Books

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Books - the one hobby that has been with me ever since my first grade! My secret wish growing up was to get a job where all I had to do was to read novels day in and day out (sigh! how far I've come since then!) This resolution was to read books that hit the New York bestsellers list and other books suggested by friends. The reason for this resolution was that I was running out of favorite authors and books. After all, there are only so many Michael Crichton books and Sujatha books in this world.

The book journey has been really good and I've added a few authors to my favorites list (Nicholas Sparks! Steig Larsson! James Patterson!). Also, I tried various books like Push and Dear John and The Shack (I would read them but not if I had had other choices) that I usually wouldn't choose. Goodreads helped me track the books I've read and has been great at finding other similar books. Generally, I like most of the books I read - simply because they let me imagine how things are and how things can be. So, its hard to classify as like and don't like in books. Here are some best ones I read this year (this list is by no means comprehensive, I'm just listing those that I remember after a long time - for more books that I tried this year, check my previous posts under resolution/books tag or my Goodreads page(link on the side)):
1) The Complete Persepolis - really good book - I can't wait to try other graphic books in different genres.
2) Princess: A true story of life behind the veil in Saudi Arabia - one of the best books I've read to date!
3) Twilight books - I finished the series this year - though I loved the first of the series, its been interesting to see how the entire series played out! But there are so many spinoffs of vampires and fairies and nymphs and other worldly characters that I just don't want to read any more of these stories. One series was good but they've beaten this topic to death.
4) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - the best of the trilogy - you connect to the characters and their quirkiness. The books become darker as they go and I ended up not really liking the last one.
5) Stephanie Plum novels - this series is light reading and had me reading all the ones that came out. It is funny and looks like Nancy Drew novels for adults :D
6) Under the Dome - one of the most original ideas for a novel - Stephen King rocks!
7) The Help - one of the books that required some serious reading and it was worth it all.

There were a few novels like The Shack that, though written well, were not to my liking. I don't think I'll read them unless I have so much time that I'm pushed to reading them. Also, this year I've started reading more blogs and online article sites. So the amount of stuff I read this year is really good (yeah, yeah! I'm patting myself on the back ;)). All this wouldn't be possible without the wonderful library system in Neverland. I've gotten almost all books from the library (though it IS some work to reserve them regularly, finish them on time and return back for more books - sometimes I've run fines when I couldn't finish books on time). I've also bought a few books at Half Price books (a godsend for older books) and Barnes & Noble (the best place for newer ones). I considered buying a kindle or a nook but decided against it for various reasons. Now, with my library going e-books route, I'm getting tempted to revisit that decision. However, nothing is as satisfying as the feel of paper and the smell of books when you read them (yeah, I'm old school in that issue).

Though I'm not going to continue this resolution in 2011, I'm sure going to keep at reading books off the bestsellers list. The only difference would be that I wouldn't be pushing myself to do it. Even though it was fun doing it, it did take some discipline to read the boring and tedious books instead of reading just what catches my fancy at the time. One thing I've noticed: things I'd have read diligently a few years back (the long and boring ones especially), I now find myself impatient when reading them and wishing I could finish them faster. The average attention span has gone down and the authors have to work harder to keep the reader's attention to the subject. This is especially true for novels with long descriptions of things and places. I've lost the ability to lose myself in George Orwell's descriptions or Ayn Rand's long monologues (Francisco's speech in Atlas Shrugged or John Galt's speech in the end). This is similar to losing a comfortable position with an old friend - you may be discovering new things about your friend but yearn for the older days together. 

This seems mainly due to the large amount of options we have at any given time. When I read something, my brain does know that there are other options that can give instant gratification (Facebook refresh issues anyone?) and cannot get into the serious reading mode(strangely, I can still read the work related stuff and papers without loss of concentration - it does require effort though). When I checked with other friends about it, they reported similar things. So, I'm going to scale back my reading a bit, try to space things and see if I can recapture that ability to read long passages. But no pressures!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last update on resolutions - Movies

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Finally, we are looking at the last few weeks two days of 2010. This year has gone past so fast that I'm left wondering whatever happened to the 365 days in it. All things said and done, I had a lot of fun filling (or trying to complete) the two resolutions that I had for this year: watch more movies and read books in the New York Bestsellers list every week. 

Firstly, movies. Ummm! What can I say about them. At the beginning of this year, I was a green horn in movies, mostly due to the fact that I used to watch a grand total of five or ten movies a year (combining all the languages I knew). For that movie to hit my horizon and make me watch it, there had to be fate's play in it. It had to be hugely popular, I had to be free to watch it, there had to be friends to watch it (my watching a movie alone was a rare event before this year, or rather last August) AND there had to be someone to constantly egg me to watch it. All this combined was as regular as the meteor showers happening on a night with clear skies and visible to the naked eye! (which is next to never). Now, I can identify the major directors (I knew only Speilberg and Cameron before) and the actors (the number has gone up from a measly 5 to about 10-15 now - atleast I can say, actor X from movie Y is the guy on movie Z as well). 

I found out I just can't stand slow movies and movies with subtle plots (500 days of Summer, anyone?). Add to that list, crass movies and gory ones (Saw series - though brilliant in story, I couldn't watch even one without gagging) and movies with crappy endings (the latest to join that list is Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey). And, I do like urban action movies but really can't get the wild west action (unless there is a fast story to it). Science fiction (Inception!!) and anything to do with animation (I've even watched Princess and the Frog :D) and romance (how about the Proposal?) and comedy and kids' movies (Up!!) are totally fine with me. I can also watch movies with stories I've not seen before ( ranging from Animal House to American History X) even though they might not fit into any genre said above. But there have been movies like The Notebook which I've hated mainly because its slow even though it falls under romance genre. 

I've received a lot of help in finishing this resolution: my friends around me and my roommates watch a lot of movies, discuss about them and take time to appreciate movies. This is vastly different from how it was before last year. My friends took care of English, Tamil and Telugu movies while my roommates took care of Hindi and Telugu. I got to watch a lot of bakwaas Hindi movies (before this year, I wouldn't have imagined sitting through movies like All the best and Golmaal but now I've watched them all) but there were some good ones as well (Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, 3 idiots, Wake up Sid). Even though I watch a lot of movies with friends and roommates, I do catch up with some movies on my own too. Angadi Theru was a good one I discovered that way.

A caveat: Even though I've watched a LARGE number of movies, I'd have skipped some parts of it (I've lost the ability to sit through songs and fights in a movie and have even searched for a forward button in theatres) and not seen some parts of it (scary chases (I've closed my eyes when the Tree was being attacked in Avatar and during the climax in Transformers) and brutal killings (Rakth Charitra, ugh! I was hovering on the forward button... but Surya acted well in it)). Some of my friends opine that only watching a movie completely counts as watching it. But I think that as long as I can follow the movie and not watch the boring/slow parts, songs, fights, etc. it can still be considered. Two reasons for this: one, I'm not a film critic to watch the complete movie and then criticize it. I watch it for fun and if I don't like something, I can totally skip it. IMDB has been great in helping me keep track of the large number of movies. My IMDB ratings are for my tracking - just to say how likely I am to watch it again in future. And two, if the movie cannot hold my attention to keep me engrossed enough to not skip it, then I can skip it. Movies like Endiran and Inception and Up! have me watching them without so much as thinking about skipping even a small scene in them. So, to each his own in deciding to figure out resolutions.

However, this resolution took a lot of time since I had to carve out time from other stuff to watch movies (since watching movies was not in my list before). Most weekends saw me trying to complete that week's quota of movies. Some days, I had to give up something else to watch movies - just for the sake of watching it. I'm going to take a step backward in 2011 and not force myself to watch all the movies that release (I already started doing it in December for some of the tamil movies - they were that crappy). Instead, I'm going to stick to genres and popular movies/directors/actors I like and see how it goes. So, this resolution achieved what it was intended for - give me a crash course on movies in general and help me identify what movies I like. Here's my list of top 10 favorites in 2010. Let me know how it rates against your favorites of 2010.In all, it was a fun ride and helped me sift through all the good, the bad and the ugly out there in movies and figure out what genres and directors (and sometimes even actors) I liked and more importantly, what I did not. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Manmadan Ambu!

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Not a review post but I'm hitting the top fifteen things that are on my mind about the movie (this is what happens when you see a late night show and are all hyped up to go and sleep):

1) Loved the witty one-liners. Yosichu ezhuthi irukaanga. Adhuvum Sangeetha character sema supera dialogue solranga. 

2) The first half of the movie was slow (not the unbearable slowness of No country for Old Men but still slow enough for a Kamal movie) but second half seekiram poiduchu. First halfla makkal phonela pesiyae konnutaanga. 

3) The movie could be cut short by atleast half an hour and it would be crispier and more effective.

4) The song with reverse shot was too good. Kozhapaama, supera thandhu irukaanga. I wonder how they matched Kamal's forward lip sync with the reverse shot.

5) The entire movie is taken outside India (except for a few scenes). But location supera choose pannama sothapitaanga. I wonder if normal people would appreciate the Pantheon. Padathula Madhavan characterkae adhellam avlo puriyala (seriously can a hot shot businessman be this much of a kinatru thavalai? bad characterisation). Idhula enga irundhu normal makkalku puriyarathu? 

6) Thank God there were no aruvai duets between Kamal and Trisha or Madhavan and Trisha... I was totally bracing myself for one.

7) Kavidhai solrenu comedy pannitaanga... avanga sonna rendu poemum sema weight subject. Can't expect the common man to understand the whole meaning of it in the fast pace that they say it. Avangalum slowaa solla try panni irukaanga... but adhu work out aagala.

8) Minus the kavidhai scene, I really didn't understand how Trisha and Kamal started loving each other. Acquaintances ivlo seekiram lovers nu aanathu lightaa comedyaa irundhadhu.

9) Ambujaakshi - interesting and different name. But sadly Trishaku acting ku chance romba kammiya kuduthutaanga. Sangeetha had more chances to act than Trisha, which she had used really well. She's got some great talent. Another person who got wasted was Usha. Avanga character semaya start panni, villi rangeku ethi apdiyae lite pannitaanga.

10) The kutti payyan and ponnu were good. Extra kelvi kettu kozhaparathula andha payyan nallave panni irukaan. But en kannadi rendu perukkum?

11) Restroom scene vakaama, Kamalku padamae panna theriyaathu pola iruku. Worsht guy!

12) Sadly, the entire cast is looking OLD. Madhavan looks bad bad and bad, Kamal has too much muscle ( but avar ageku he looks good), Sangeetha is trying to look great (and does manage it most of the time) but age does show, Trisha looks jaded. Ramesh Arvind and Urvashi kekave vendaam. When I first saw Urvashi, naan apdiyae shock aayiten! MMKR la vandha andha cute girlaa idhunu.

13) The Mallu couple were plain irritating after the first time. Avangala vida, they could've added a proper comedian like Santhanam for the effect.

14) The last thirty minutes (?) of the movie was a laugh riot. A mindless laugh riot, but a laugh riot nonetheless.    

15) They crowded the second half too much and stretched the first half thin with no story. A better break would have been right after Trisha knows about the accident from Kamal. It would have given more substance to the first half and more explanation of their love in the second half.

The last thirty minutes laugh riot, the witty one liners and of course, Surya on screen, are the main reasons for paisa vasool for this movie! Yosichu paatha, this movie has so many things in common with Sathi Leelavathi, Thenali, Panchathanthiram, etc. But sadly the quality has been going down as the years go by. Makkalku idhuve pothumnu nenaichutaanga pola! 

Verdict - a one time watch movie; can watch certain scenes again for the dialogues.
Rating - 6!! (imdbla indha padathukku entryae illanga!!)
Manmadhan Ambu - good enough, but not excellent!

PS: Surya on screen was one of the best scenes in this movie, even though he did a cameo! ;-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

சும்மா சொல்றேன் சிதம்பரம் - 2

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மக்கள் ஏன்பா facebookல பிறந்த நாள் போட மாட்டேன்கறாங்க?
அப்புறம் ஏன் wish பண்ணலன்னு feel பண்றாங்க?
ஒன்னுமே புரியல உலகத்துல!

Monday, December 20, 2010

சும்மா சொல்றேன் சிதம்பரம் - 1

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சீசரின் மனைவியாய் இருக்க ஒரு தகுதி வேண்டுமெனில் சீசராய் இருக்கவும் ஒரு தகுதி வேண்டும்.

PS: அப்போபோ எதாவது தத்துவம் தோணுது/படிக்கறேன்/பாக்கறேன்... அத சொல்லி மக்களை படுத்தலாம்னு ஒரு நியூ ஐடியா. அதான் இப்பிடி எல்லாம்... ஹி ஹி. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A day with Akaash!

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PS: I found an old blog draft with Akaash and thought I'll complete the draft today.
Akaash is a cute little boy who is 4 "becoming 5" who makes life and all the small things in it interesting! And he is Akaash and not Akash or Aakash (the spelling I use most of the time and get corrected! By him, nonetheless!!).He is my land lady's son and is always up to something. Our story starts two years back.....

Two years back:
It's been a while since I've lived day in and day out with young kids (not counting the few days I catch with my nieces). So, imagine my surprise when the teeny tiny son of my land lady comes in marching and wants to play sponge bob with him. I had no idea what sponge bob was and was wondering how I'd play it (effects of too much protection from kids commercialism - read toys). Then, during that golden summer, I spent a good amount of time with him - playing sponge bob, picking tomatoes, trying to scare the old kitty in the neighbor's house and so on. I didn't get to spend much weekends with him but the weekday evenings were fun times for us. A good way to relax after a day in office (yeah, planning trips and other recreations was sure hectic!!)

A year back:
I moved Neverland to S and my first thought was to stay there again. And I got to do it, six months later. Now, Akaash was older and had moved onto Thomas the Train and Power Rangers and Dora (yeah! Guys do watch Dora too). On most days, work ensured that I went back home only after he had slept and weekends were spent traveling. So I didn't get to spend my last December holidays in Neverland.

This year - Summer:
January to summer was spent planting the yard (not that we'd do much since my landlady hired someone to do most of the work and we just planted some of saplings and plants for fun - tomatoes and tulips are my favorite) and partying and evening trips to the lakes. Akaash graduated from playing with real toys to playing with the Wii. Since it was his last summer before he started school (and we feeling sorry for him for starting the institution of school - you don't get holidays forever after!!), icecream trips and play dates abounded. Throw in a few bday parties and the summer with him was nice!!

This year - Fall and Winter:
Thanks to Akaash and M (the Kinect boss), my game playing skills grew rapidly and I got reintroduced to Super Mario, Ninja Turtles and car races and introduced to bowling, baseball, etc. The entire Fall season was spent either playing at home or at M's place. Akaash's latest obsession was Buzz Light year and others in Toy Story. The cold season is letting us devise new indoor games and recreation stuff. For my part, I made sure he reads atleast three books a day and he is my staunchest supporter for the library! :) The stories about his school and his friends and his teachers and classes and homework is a new tale that I look forward to every day. The countdown for Halloween and the drama around it was exciting followed by similar ones for Diwali and Thanksgiving. Now, he's all eager about Christmas and we've put on light decorations of Santa, reindeer and candy canes.  

In Retrospection:
College was the kind of fun where we go and experience something new all the time. Most of my activities now are still similar to college life (read movies and trips and hangouts with friends). But this past year, it's been a different kind of experience to see someone (especially a young kid) get excited for all the small things like lighting diyas for Diwali, lights for Christmas, baking cakes and cookies, the first tomato of the season, etc. He has something to marvel and be excited about everyday. Though he has his own temper tantrums (you should see him trying not to eat food (unless there is chicken nuggets or milk involved) and when his dad comes to pick him up for the weekend), he is my youngest pal in Neverland and makes life a lot more interesting. I'm all set to have fun for the rest of the journey and can't wait to see how it would turn out. Making the change to live a life different than what most of my friends and I (in the past) was accustomed to has brought on its own challenges and experiences. And Akaash was one of them. And I'm glad to have decided to take this one on! :)
Now, if you excuse me, I've to go and win the MarioKart and reach the castle! :P

Thursday, December 16, 2010

After death, now what?

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This idea popped up in one of the random conversations that happen over a day. 
"What happens after death?"
Now, now, I'm not going to get into ghosts and spirits and souls and stuff. Lets get more mundane. What do people do to the body after death? And what do you want to be done to yours? My host wanted his body cremated in Varanasi and strewn in streets there since he loved India so much. His wife wanted to be buried just outside their house overlooking the hills. Her reason was that she can have the same view forever that she enjoyed every day while drinking tea. 

Frankly, both creep me out. I don't want to be thrown as ashes in a place where no one knows me and I know no one, even if I loved that place. I love Kodaikanal and some of my happiest memories are there. But I know no one there and no one knows me. However much I love those places, I don't want my ashes on Coaker's walk or at the Devil's kitchen or Berijam Lake. And, I don't want to be buried anywhere because it would be damn uncomfortable to let the body be. Hollywood movies have greatly contributed to my imagination of what happens to the body after it is buried. The maggots feast on them, the worms hit the body and so on and so forth. Ugh! No way am I subjecting mine to that state. 

Guess, that leaves only cremation. The old style of "from ashes to ashes and from dust to dust". However, you have no physical way to remember someone. Once they go to ashes and dust, that is it. Pictures and memories fade and there is nothing tangible. If someone wants to grieve and express it, then there is no way it can be done. I remember my granny's death some five years ago. That was the first death I've seen in close family and was in denial for almost a year. I think having a place where I can go and think about her (some place other than home) would have helped me come to terms with it quicker. The 12 day grieving process that Indian customs have is sometimes not enough since the mind is in shock. Now, that one of my grand dads is dead and I haven't even grieved properly, I'm not sure how things would be if I went back home and saw his chair, house and everything related to him. His house where I went for holidays and special occasions would never be the same. I can't imagine him not being around chasing us for all the pranks that we did.

So, I'm torn between the choices. Maybe be cremated and have the ashes buried in some place nice? Yeah! That seems like the best option. But what if seeing it, my loved ones grieve more? Uh! Then its the worst option. Guess I'll stick to cremation, nice and simple. And have my ashes thrown into Kaveri! 
What do you want to do after death?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A twirl and a swirl

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A twirl and a swirl,
Then a swirl and a twirl
Tell me Alice, at the end
Does the twirl become a swirl
And a swirl a twirl?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Last Thanksgiving Trip

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As I was digging through some old mails, I came across mails sent before last thanksgiving holiday. Some of us friends did a 4 day trip through the following loop. It was tiring but loads of fun. I don't know if we'd all get to do it together again! Here's to all past trips and fun times!
PS: I'm staying back in Never Land this year - Enjoying home for a while! What are your thanksgiving plans?


Monday, November 15, 2010

Collective power

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Still among the best ads I've seen - shows what collective power can do.
It clearly portrays how the different factions of the society act. Small things like the sleeping policemen, the politician who only worries about himself, the girl in the auto complaining about the state of affairs, the guy in the car going out to help after admonishing looks from his wife all lend a subtle touch of realism. And, the expressions of the small boy to each of this - chanceless!
But the use of the rains, though appropriate, is a bit over the top. Maybe, we've gotten so used to this technique that it has become a cliche and hence is not giving the full intended effect. They're surely beating it to death!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Election Time

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It's election time in US for the senate and house. We've been inundated with ads and informercials about the candidate and party. I couldn't help comparing it with the election propaganda in India. But that is another story for another day! 
Here's a cool site that helps voters decide whom to vote for: Vote Smart. This site lets people see which candidate most aligns with their opinions and political stances. I wish we had something similar in India too. That would help people decide based on the representatives and not go by just the party. Do you think this idea would succeed in India?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Finally, fall!

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Fall is here finally!
The leaves are turning golden yellow with some turning deep red while others turn a Hokie orange. The combined effort is worth the chilly mornings and dewy cars that I have to clean up before I start to work. How I wish I had my camera (I lost it at Dubai while in transit from here to home) to capture the glory of it all! Every day drive is a pleasure now (more than at other times) and I've started taking a round about route to work just to see the trees there. My campus is very pretty with trees arching in yellows and reds and getting to work early means you have the road all to yourself. Also, there is a set of hedges in the parking lot that have turned a deep red while all others remain green. I catch myself imagining how the entire mosaic would look like when seen from the sky. It sure would be pretty!

However, the nights come early too and by the time I reach home, the lights have faded. My roommates and I have stopped our evening walks (we did it during summer time when we had sunlight till 8 pm) and have resorted to watching movies instead. We watch a mix of Hindi and English movies. That, with cooking and cleaning up and general chatting, fills evenings and nights! Not that I'm complaining but I do miss the sun and walk part of it! We are thinking of morning walks (which never work because of our varied schedules) but the chilly mornings tempt one to snuggle into the comforter instead of braving the cold. 

This is my fourth fall season and though I've seen it many times, it still does take my breath away to see a tree perfectly red on one half and totally green on the other side. I have a favorite tree that I compare every day to its previous day shade and it never fails to amaze me how much changes over a few days. Also, if you are in US and are thinking about a special place for seeing fall colors, the Blueridge Parkway is the place to go. I've not seen a more colorful place in fall, in all its glory and splendor! Every time you drive by, Nature shows a different visage and you feel as if you've never been at that place before. And, that is what I call a cure to eternal boredom!! :) 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Perceptions

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Perceptions change at the most unexpected of events; today was one such day. I had a normal day with work and got back home after discussions. Then came K's call: that one call changed priorities and made me appreciate life and think about what-if scenarios which were all less-than-good than what is happening now. Truly, God knows to give what we need rather than what we want.  Though sometimes the medicine is bitter, swallowing it is the best thing we can do.

For the past few months, I've gotten into a ok-now-then-what mood which, by itself, is not too bad but combined with elements like impatience, is dangerous to handle. This has been a great time to figure things out and I'm glad for it(had you asked me a few hours back, I'd have totally cribbed! And now I'm grateful for life and its choices!). Life throws so many curve balls and I saw a teeny-tiny one today that has led to subtle shifts.

On a different note, looking back at my blog, I don't seem to be writing a lot nowadays. I'm not promising to belt out posts but lets see if I can capture daily life onto these pages. Should be interesting!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Yaarellam varanga?

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[Disclaimer: Ulagathula Aarayiram kodi makkal irukaanga... avangala, rendu per ivanga. So, reel real ellam kalandhu vandhadhu idhu. So, reelaa realaanellam overaa yosichu time waste pannama olunga comment panni idhu epdi irukunu sollunga!]

Pattu and Kittu were friends in Cheppur. They did most things together. Here is a leaf out of their life book.
[A few years back]
Kittu: Pattu, namma naalaikku hike porom.
Pattu: Oh ok! Yaarellam varanga?
Kittu: X vara, Y varaan, blah blah blah blah...
Pattu: Seri seri ok! Namma polaam.

[A week later]
Pattu: Kittu, namma movie polaama?
Kittu: Ok!
Pattu: I'll call X,Y, blah blah....
Kittu: Ok!

[A year later]
Kittu: Pattu! Padam porom
Pattu: Oh ok! yaarellam varanga?
Kittu: Enna padam theriya vendaama? yaarellam varanganu therinja porumaa?
Pattu: Nee epdiyum nalla movie thaan choose pannuva! And naan epdiyum unnoda thaan vara poren. Eppo naalum, enga naalum. Athaan asking other questions.
Kittu: Eppovum adhe kelviyaa?

[A week after that]
Pattu: Kittu! Namma theme park polaam
Kittu: Ok!
Pattu: We are going on ... and other details blah blah blah
Kittu: Ok!
Pattu: Acho! Yaarellam varanganu ketka maatiyaa? X vara, Y varaan, blah blah...
Kittu: Questionum neeyae kettu answerum neeye panra. Very good!
Pattu: Worshtu po! Unakku lifela idhae question thaan vara porathu. Neeyum appo ellam enna nenaika thaan pora!
Kittu: Ha ha ha.No way! (Chitti V 2.0 rangela oru villathanamaana sirippu)

[A few years later]
Kittu: Namma innaiku padam porom
Kittu's wife: Seri... yaarellam varanga?
Kittu: En ellarum idhe ketkareenga?? [and thunks himself]

[A few years after that]
Kittu: Namma innaiku park pogalaam
Chintu (Kittu's kid): Ok pa! yaarellam pa varanga?
Kittu: !!!

[In the end, we see Kittu singing "Andha naal nyabagam vandhadhe nenjilae... "]

Monday, August 30, 2010

Eggshell walk

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Pretty are the eggshells
But they are still eggshells
Be careful when you walk around them
Coz you might break some and wish you hadn't
It all requires an intricate dance
To keep the world intact

It takes a hop and halt
For the sunny yellow egg
A quick ballet
For the gorgeous green one
A twist and turn
For the pretty pink one
But what move do you use
For the ruby red one?

That is a hard one
For it requires not only
A twist, a turn and a ballet
But also a triple point shoot
To make sure you go right thru
The basket called life!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Finally, some Indian cities!

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I'm always interested in comparing how the costs would be for regular items and activities in different cities. So far, I've only come across apps that are US-centric. Finally, I found a website that includes pretty much all the big cities in India with reasonably accurate data. Check out Expatistan. This lead to some interesting discoveries. For example, did you know that Chennai was cheaper than Coimbatore and Bangalore cheaper than Chennai? It was funny to see that Big Mac meal (I'm assuming they mean the happy meals that you get in McDonalds) was costlier in India than in US. Talk about following the west at any cost, ha ha!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quarter cutting and Boss A Baskaran

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Recently I came across two movie trailers that had me expecting the movies themselves: Adhuvum, tamil movie... been a long time since that happened for comedy movies!

First, Quarter Cutting - looks interesting. I've already seen the Tamil Padam by the same team. And it was really good. So waiting for this one eagerly.
En favorite was "Naan Sura da" :D :D


Second, Boss (A) Baskaran - Most of Arya's movies that I've seen are serious ones. This is his first attempt at proper comedy (or atleast that is what the trailer shows).


Paapom epdi porathunu!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Road Not Taken!

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She plodded on,
Onward and Upward
Creating a new path
Despite the tumbles

"This hard work would help
The Voice would become better
There'd be a new path
That'd be my work"

She thought hard
She thought long
And took this path
The new, hard path.

She failed to realize
The Voice was failing
That this work sapped
Its remaining strength

For now, the Voice needed
Not tough love but touch love
Not needles but nourishment
Not revolutions but recuperation

A rejuvenation to its former self
A restoration to its former glory
A replenishment of its former strength
The strength that was the Voice's and its alone

She realized it midway,
And looked frantically to the elixir
She looked with disappointment
At the uncompleted new way

Though she was sure
About the new way's need
She wasn't sure (if)
Her work was to satisfy that need

Her loyalties to the Voice,
She searched for another path
That took her to the elixir
In time to save the Voice

She wandered about
Dragging the Voice along
In the deep dark jungle
That obscured all the paths

She stumbled upon a path
That pointed to the elixir
It strangely looked similar
To a forgotten erstwhile one

"Tis the same, take this one"
The Voice breathed a small whisper
Drew a sharp short breath
And fainted on her bare shoulders

With the weight on her thin shoulders
She thought hard but fast
Decided to take the familiar path
And leave the new one for another day

She wasn't sure if she'd return
Return to finish this work
But she knew she needed new tools
For the game of this path is different

She wasn't even sure (if)
This path took to the elixir
But knew this one (was)
Better than the new one.

What surprises Fate has
She has no idea
Nor does she understand
Why she had to create the new path

All she knows is
To keep the Voice alive
She needs to be here and now
And move onward and upward.

Lets wish her good luck
And Godspeed in her work
To reach the elixir soon
To get the Voice again!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

August already!!

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Phew! Time seems to have flown this summer with the last two months just whizzing by. On the first day of August, I was lying on my bed that morning when I thought "Today is Aug 1... and that means just 5 more months for 2010 to be OVER, like INFINITELY over". And that scared me because that means we have lesser time to make more memories this year. Does that ring a bell with any of you??

Now that we are in August, its time to do a resolution look back post on my book reading resolution that I set for myself. I should say that the librarian has become my new best friend. Also, starting now, I'm thinking of doing a point system for the books I read (something like IMDB). I have my personal rating system there as well (more on that in a later post) and thought it would be better to have a similar one for the books too, based on how likely I am to read that book again. Other factors in that rating would be how likely I'd recommend it, who would I recommend it to (just my friends, or my age group, or everyone in this world!) and how likely I'll own it (I have a stringent system for buying books. I don't buy a book unless I think I'll read and reread and reread and ....  you get the idea! This is the result of moving three times and I don't care about lugging books unless I really care about them. I'd rather have five books that I read and reread and depend on library for the rest to lugging a thousand books and not reading them - your idea of buying books might be different. So feel free to take this part of the rating with a pinch of salt). Here goes the rating system:

10 - This book would be with me always, in every place I live and would definitely own it. (Eg: Naintha Ullam, Anne of Green Gables)
9 - I would totally recommend this and would love to curl up with this one. Probably would own a copy. (Eg: Harry Potter books, Ponniyin Selvan)
8 - Really good, I'd recommend it for most people but not good enough for me to own it (Eg: Da Vinci Code)
7 - Good with a different perspective. Recommend it for certain people who I think can handle such perspectives. (Eg: Push)
6 - Ok for a one-time good read. Please don't buy it until you read it once and like that genre/author/story. (Eg: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
5 - Ok... read it if you are looking for some book to read. Don't buy unless you really like the author/story (Eg: Plum books)
4 - Ok... if you are really wanting to read one and can't find a better one. I don't think people would own these books; they are more library-ish or lending library-ish.
3 - I wouldn't suggest it to anyone, but you can read it if you want to. You've been fairly warned!
2 - I'm thunking myself for wasting time reading this book. (Eg: some of the trash books I've read)
1 - Why, oh why, did the author waste his time, the publisher's time and countless readers' time in making this book? (Eg: frankly, I've not read any that hits this low... but I might surprise myself sometime!! So, this is the catch all bucket!!)

From my experience, most of the books would fall between 4 to 7 and I think it would take months for a book to join 9 and 10. I hope I don't ever hit 1 or 2 - might be because I read books that are recommended by family/friends or by popular sites. Lets see!

Disclaimer: I do realize that, unlike movies where you can get a common consensus about a movie, books are more personal and the reader's imagination and previous experiences play a huge part in making a book likable or not. But with the books list exploding, it's getting harder for me to remember the story line and the exact emotion the book stirred in me. For them to happen, I should give more time between two books to let a book settle on me. For, again unlike movies where you can immediately get an emotional response, books need to settle into daily lives to bring out an impact. With reading so many books, I don't let enough time go by between books to do full justice to them to settle down. But that said, with so much information bombarding us every day, it would be hard for anyone to give days to ponder on each and every book they read. Taking all these into account, this rating is very personalized to my views. Take this rating as a general review if you are thinking to read one of the books on the list but don't expect it to be the 'be all and end all' of book review ratings.

PS: I wish there was one stop shop for rating books. I do know that there are different services like GoodReads (this is by far the best I've liked), Shelfari, LibraryThing, etc. but I prefer something like the IMDB that combines books, the author infos, reviews and other interesting titbits. I'm sure people would switch to it, pronto! Is anyone out there listening?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

தேவைகள் தேவைப்படுகின்றன

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தேவையற்றது தேவையாகும் போது
தேவையானது தேவையற்றதாகி விடுகிறது
தேவைகள் தேவைபடுபவயாகவே இருத்தல் வேண்டும்
இல்லையெனில்
வாழ்க்கை தேவையற்றதாகி விடும்

Friday, June 25, 2010

Home - really good!

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One of the best and most disturbing videos I've seen in recent past. I'd strongly recommend everyone to click through this link. Though embedding is disabled and the video is long, its well worth our time to even become aware of the extent of this issue.

I'm sure everyone knows about this issue (one of the most popular topics ever since I was in grade school) but the extent of impact, that is where this video scores. Lets do our bit to spreading it! Do share it with your friends and family as well to increase awareness.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy bday Daddy!

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Dear Dad,

             I wrote about you three years ago and each word of it is still so true. You've proved it even more. Though I'm thousands of miles away from you and we get to talk only a few minutes every week, you still stand tall as my hero, the one person who I wish to imitate in every single thing, the one person for whom I want the world to be perfect. You still remain the "better than the best" dad in the whole universe. As I travel further in this world, meet more people and get more experiences, I see how well that title suits you :)  From being a parent to being a friend and confidante, I'm yet to see anyone who handles all with so much ease, so much elan as you do. Though miles away, I still imagine that I hold your hand when I cross some place difficult and the world again becomes easy to navigate.

           As A and I cross into adulthood, it becomes more apparent as to how difficult your job was and how well you've done it. We are lucky to stand on the shoulders of a giant, cradled by the love that still beats strong as it arcs across the entire world and soothed by the knowledge that wherever we are, we are still your daughters, your princesses for whom you made a magic world come true, a world that had the right amount of everything that a person can ask for. When the world turns dark and gloomy at times, I remember to take a leaf from your experiences and wisdom and hey presto! the world becomes fair and square, sunny and bright immediately. The support and faith you've shown in us, its mind blowing and hope we live up to your expectations and dreams. When I get treated as your daughter even thousands of miles away, I am humbled by the number of lives you've changed by your thoughts and deeds over these years.

            In the past three years, I've moved from the world I knew to a totally new one with completely different experiences. Through all that, one of the few things that has remained constant is the surety of your love and belief in my abilities even when I have doubted them, through all the trying and turbulent times. For all that and many more, thanks a ton! The journey so far has been beyond words and I'm sure Lady Future has more fun experiences in stock for you. And you, with your usual way of handling things, would add life and laughter to each of those experiences and show the world how they should be lived, making both the traditionalists and the modernists happy at the same time. Here's raising glasses to you and a happy year, a year filled with all your wishes coming true! And more memorable times together!! 

Happy bday Daddy! 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

கண்ணும் காட்சியும்

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கண்ணில் காட்சி தோன்றி விட்டால்
கற்பனை தீர்ந்து விடும்
கண்ணில் தோன்றா காட்சியில் தான்
கற்பனை வளர்ந்து விடும்

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A sad day for speed-driving!

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The first thing I see today morning is a link to an article that one of my friends forwarded. It was titled "As sure as night follows day, you are going to get a traffic ticket soon". Uh-oh! Not a good start at all... It looked like something B would say! But the mail was not from him. And I digged in. Before we go on, here is some background on my driving. I'm generally a safe but fast driver. I tend to think that if the driver and the car can handle it, then going faster is not wrong as long as you follow all the rules (excepting the speed limit rule of course!). Though I do drive fast, I always always follow the rules (especially the ones that are necessary/important). Never would you see me jumping a red light or do violent/crazy driving. Sure, I sometimes hit the pedal and do some zip zap zooming but all in such a way that the car is under my complete control. Almost all of my friends know it and I get teased for the fast driving now and then. 

Ever since one of my friends got his ticket, I've been tagged as "The next person in the group to get a ticket". Its even been predicted that I'll just surpass the officer's expectations and go to jail for speeding instead of getting measly tickets (oh God! no!!). And, as days went by, I kept hearing more and more stories of how someone got a ticket. Just the last weekend (yup! Memorial day weekend), a total of ten people that I knew got tickets (one of it was my friend's brother who was visiting - for not wearing seat belts in the back seat! Heights!!). And most were surprised that I hadn't gotten one. 

Now, me, wanting to hold on to non-ticketed state and not wanting the hassles of being ticketed (read: being a lazy bum), started following all the rules religiously (including doing a full stop before turning a right on red, B). Though this has toned down my driving considerably, it has also taken the fun out of driving. I miss the zip zap zooming and am afraid to actually take the highways for long drives for fear of just pressing on (and getting tickets).

According to me, the one thing that differentiates good drivers from great drivers is being able to drive safe AND fast. As far as I know, only a few people go on to become great drivers. Even among my friends, I am not comfortable with everyone's driving. Sure, I trust their driving. But not enough to sleep off in the car! I'm ever on alert mode to make sure things are fine. Sadly, that makes me a very light sleeper during car travels (either very short periods of sleep or longer periods of very very light sleep). So, naturally, I want to be one of the great drivers I know. I know I drive safely (read: don't do anything stupid, take calculated risks, handle situations without any issues, etc) but as for driving fast, I guess I'll have to stop that soon. And be stuck in the good drivers list for some time! Ugh! 

PS: I'm seriously considering not doing long drives/not using my car much AND/OR a trip to Germany (just for beloved Autobahn).

PPS: I'm also thinking of getting a GPS with the speed option on and training myself to drive looking at the GPS instead of the speedometer of my car. We should rather have the GPS speed-check in place of the speedometer. Oh bother!

Friday, May 28, 2010

வானவில் பெண்

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வானவில்லின் துண்டொன்று மண்ணில் வந்து 
யாருக்கும்
சொல்லாமல்
பெண்ணானதோ?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Middle path

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Undecided she was
Under an Alpine tree
Dreams or Trust?
Doth the question

She stood a long time
Deep in thought
She wanted both
Dreams and Trust

Yes! She was selfish
In wanting both
Yet she was ready
In giving up other stuff
To get the path she wanted
To realize the dream
To rejuvenate herself
To reclaim the prize!

She started walking in the middle
With the Voice looking on
She forged a way through the middle
With the Voice cheering on

She was treading the road not created
She was creating that read
She was making something live
Sheer will power, I should say!

She came across a chasm on her path,
In dire need of a bridge
A bridge of sweat, honor and phoenix feathers,
Cemented by solitude
This bridge was needed for all
To cross the chasm and claim the prize
This bridge was her dedication to Voice
To gain the elixir for her Voice!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Is middle class going into a crisis?

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I strongly believe that to improve something, the first step is to analyze it. And what is the easier than analyzing numbers, through finance and economics? It might have come from my mom, a Commerce prof herself. But I think numbers tell a magic story, for those that are ready to hear it. I don't claim to hear all of what numbers say, but sometimes try to listen to swatches of it every now and then. The following video does a comparison of middle class in US, then and now. And the facts are quite scary! Not that we can do much about it but we can try to do our best - for if not for that, what else is life?

P.S.: I'd love to see some similar studies on classes in India. Do we have any?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Movie-phobic?

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Note: this is a series of posts through my movie-normal to movie-philic to movie-phobic journey. This journey hasn't ended but I've been meaning to write them on my blog and finally found some time to give you guys a heads up on what's happening!

Movie-normal?
Movie-philic?
Continued...
I was watching about 2 or 3 movies/week and was happy with it. However, in recent times, the number of good movies has reduced a lot. Or maybe I feel so, with my limited experience with the movie world. As a result, as said in last post, I started skipping songs and fights and parts of movie where nothing really happened. I was reaching the magic number (8 or 9/month) pretty fast but I wasn't getting any fun out of it. It started turning into a chore to go look up movies, get them/go to the theatre to watch them and finally spend time to watch them. Most of the movies were not worth this effort. So, in order to get more fun out of this, I started watching even more movies (Yep! Just like throwing good money after bad!) with the hope that among all the movies that I watch, atleast some of them would be to my liking.


Sadly, that was not to be so. I realized that increasing the number of movies actually didn't increase the fun I got out of this activity. Rather, it got the bad-movie counter soaring! (Was I picking bad movies all the time? Nope! I was just choosing the movies from lists and new movie category).And at one point, I just didn't want to watch a movie anymore. I was discussing this turn of events with M (an avid movie watcher himself) and he commented that I was trying too hard to enjoy movie-watching. That set me thinking: I'd rather do nightouts reading books (yup! I'm guilty of doing that!) than do nightouts watching classics like The Godfather. I once slept through The Godfather trilogy showing that some of my friends had planned. We got the popcorn and someone started the first one. And I was nodding away to dreamdom within minutes of the first scene. I still get teased for it because I slept through all three trilogies and the breaks that my friends took that day. Frankly, I remember waking up at 6 am to see the rolling credits of the last movie and thanking God that I didn't have to watch it again.

I also know some of my friends who'd be horrified at the idea of sleeping through The Godfather. They love movies and derive a lot of pleasure out of movie-watching. With my experience so far, I have this conclusion in mind: people's tastes are different; as I can stomach a wide variety of books, so can some people stomach a wide variety of movies. I'm way too picky about movies and have a lot of ifs and ands to watch a movie (the movie Kites was a good example. As soon as a friend asked if I wanted to watch it, I made sure to read the reviews and learnt the story and only then, decided whether to go or not. I didn't like the story, but liked the hero. Nevertheless, story is king in a movie; this one had a story I didn't like and I just didn't go.). Not everyone is like me since they don't have so many conditional clauses for, duh, movie-watching. And I'm totally fine with it - atleast I know I tried something and found my comfort level in it. Trying to add more variety to the mix I have is a good experiment, but surely something that might backfire badly.

So, here I am now, taking a break from all the hectic movie watching and not making any special efforts to watch new movies - I'd rather go with friends and have fun because I love spending time with friends and join them for dinner, games or an occasional movie rather than trying to make sure I watch all the movies that get released.I'm still going to continue this experiment till this year's end and then decide which I am (movie-normal, movie-philic or movie-phobic). I have a strong suspicion I might end up somewhere between movie-phobic and movie-normal compared to the rest of the world. Unless, of course, the filmdom decides to wow me with really good movies from now to December. Ah! How I wish for it to be true! :)


P.S: Serials are fun but I'd rather watch them on TV randomly when I get a chance rather than watch them on purpose(Oh! Its just me, honey!). So, watching serials when I get bored of movies is not really an option for me - yup! I'm the legendary character who has completing Friends on her miles-long to-do list after starting it years back. (And I am getting closer to striking it off - just within a few years from now - isn't few such a safe number? :D)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Movie-philic?

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Note: this is a series of posts through my movie-normal to movie-philic to movie-phobic journey. This journey hasn't ended but I've been meaning to write them on my blog and finally found some time to give you guys a heads up on what's happening!


Movie-normal?
Continued...
Now that I had all the information I needed, I set about googling for movie lists with the genres I liked. After a lot of mix and match, I found that I liked movies that had a good dose of romance and comedy and sensible characters. A strong female lead was a definite plus. One of the first movies that I watched was The Devil Wears Prada. I totally loved Meryl Streep (though I didn't know who she was then) for her acting. There was one scene right at the end of the movie where she sees Andrea (Anne Hathaway), gives her a kind look and then turns haughtily to the driver to say "Go!". In that one word and gesture, she communicates so much to the audience. That scene made me consider that there was something to the movie world where an actor can emote so many emotions and implications with just a nod and a well placed word. That made movies more powerful than books and I was sad that I had missed it for so long. I was ready for the next movie on the list.

I remember watching Confessions of a Shopaholic, Mr & Mrs Smith, Just Like Heaven and my childhood favorite, Kramer vs. Kramer. I was delighted to find that Meryl Streep had acted in Kramer vs. Kramer. Then I watched a lot of movies, english, tamil and hindi, but not much stood out. There were some good ones, like It's Complicated, The Proposal, Alice in Wonderland, Alvin and the Chipmunks, 3 Idiots, Avatar,Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, etc. But there were also movies like (500) Days of Summer (I couldn't sit through the movie - even though most of my friends said it was great! Guess its the slow-movie thing again!), Public Enemies (I expected the movie to have a good ending - but it was not to be so! And it seemed to drag at first and then the movie was over in the last 15 minutes), When In Rome, Leap Year, etc. This made me wary of watching movies. I spend around 2 hours to watch a movie and in the end, if I don't enjoy it, then its time that could've been better used.

I found that IMDB reviews and ratings were a big help. I glanced through the movie and the synopsis and if I liked that movie and felt the story was right to me, I watched it. This made me finish the top 250 list faster than I expected. And my movie counter was increasing! But I was still in the 2 or 3 movies/month and needed more movies. This was around the time I started watching movies on my friends' lists. M's list was a great one - I needn't even read through most of them since the 8s and 9s were usually good ones. I also started watching movies that I heard my friends talk about (one of them being The Butterfly Effect which was highly recommended but I didn't enjoy watching it). As I finished the 9s and 8s on M's list, I realized there were some movies that I was just not comfortable with.

As I plowed through his list and any and every other list I could get my hands on, I found that there were more bad movies than good ones. Especially with tamil and hindi movies, I started fast forwarding songs and fights and sometimes, even parts of movie where nothing just happened. This one act greatly increased my movie watching speed :P I went from 3 movies/month to 7-8 movies/month. Which was about the best balance, I should think so.

But life is life and things don't go as you plan. As the rate of movies I watch and the movie counter increased, the rate of bad movies/movies I didn't like also increased. Rather increased exponentially! From what I understand, out of 100 odd movies that come out in Tamil/Hindi, there are about 3-5 that would pass my filter. That is less than 5% of movies. With English, it was harder to judge; there were more movies with different stories and I had no way to know if a movie was good or not unless I tried it (Iron Man 2 was one such movie - I thought I might not like it, but the technology used was cool :) and it was worth the effort). Any idea how I can reduce the rate of bad movies watched? What tactics do you use to weed out bad movies from the good ones?
...Continued
Movie-phobic?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Movie-normal?

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Note: this is a series of posts through my movie-normal to movie-philic to movie-phobic journey. This journey hasn't ended but I've been meaning to write them on my blog and finally found some time to give you guys a heads up on what's happening!

As you all know, I love books! But I also made a resolution this January that I would watch as many movies as possible. I've never been an avid movie goer simply due to the choices my family took when I was a kid. My parents would happily spend thousands on books for us to read but would frown on movies. It was my mom's strong belief that kids' imaginations would develop better if they had to imagine the characters and bring the words of a book to life. In a movie, everything is already laid out to you and all you have to do is enjoy it. I'm not saying movie watching is incredibly easy (as I found out recently) as I've seen friends watch movies with as much pleasure I get from reading a good book.

As a result, the number of movies I've seen in the past twenty odd years (not counting the one in Neverland) has barely crossed 300 (and yeah! I counted - thanks to IMDB). Since I have a number of friends in Neverland who are avid movie watchers, most of the conversation revolved around movies, old and new. But it remained a mystery to me as to how people can watch and watch and watch some more. So, this January, I decided to watch all the movies whose review I liked/recommended by friends. It would be in English, Tamil, Hindi (thanks to my roommates) and Telugu.

As a first step, I made sure I was watching atleast two movies a week (that's eight movies a month - which is A LOT for me - I can happily live without watching movies for months). This was an easy one since we (friends and I) would go for a movie atleast once in three weeks or a month. And my roommates watched atleast a movie over the weekend (usually Hindi). All I had to do was to be a part of both groups and I had crossed off two movies from the required list. Then I attacked the Top 250 list in IMDB. I started with the goal to watch all the movies from top to the end in that list. How hard can it turn out? All I had to do was watch the movie! But it turned out to be harder than I expected.

The first one, The Shawshank Redemption, was such a slow movie that I eventually fell asleep on that one! And it was the number one movie ranked by people all over the world. Imagine my surprise! If the majority of the world liked something, how bad can my chances of liking the same one be? But I found out that I can't stand slow movies (from my experience of watching No Country for Old Men with J) and decided that movie-by-movie strategy is not going to work out at all! Now what was I to do?

I didn't have any favorite actor/director to start the movie list with. And, I definitely didn't want to just watch any movie. Even if I was ready to do so, how would I ever search for the movies? I don't know the names nor the actors nor the directors nor the genres.... wait a minute! I could decide the genre and watch movies from it. But there was a problem with this too. I wanted to watch a variety of movies and was open to movies of different genres. After all, I was into this for different experiences and sticking to a known genre ALL THE TIME would take the fun out of it. But the genre idea was a better one than anything else. So, I made a list: comedy, romance, action-but-with-a-meaningful-story and non-philosophical movies were to be the first. I'll sample all movies that I come across: the ones that my friends recommend, talk about, new movies that come up (any genre) to keep the variety in picture. Now I was all set to take up the movie-resolution-challenge.

When would I stop? When I hit 10-12 movies/month (averaging 3 movies/week - something that most of my friends have been doing) or when I figure out if I liked this one or not (I've not really tried movie watching as something to do consciously (Before this, I've always watched a movie if I heard really rave reviews about it AND liked the cast AND had the time to go for the movie AND didn't have anything better to do AND wanted a break from whatever I was doing! Phew! that is a long list of conditions to satisfy)  - so I don't know if I like it or not - I want to give it a fair shot before I decide eitherways) or when I find out what interests people in movies.
...Continued
Movie-philic?
Movie-phobic?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

One year@Neverland!

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Among all other things happening, a year has quietly slipped by since I moved lock, stock and barrel to Neverland. Its been an interesting journey so far, with some good, some bad and certainly a lot in between. One of my friends opines that I wouldn't feel the same when I finish my second, third and subsequent years. Its the first that is very exciting. I don't have an answer for it yet. But, as my alpine path winds, I hope to see flowers and ferns at that point compared to thorns and thistles. Lets see what life brings...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Resolution lookback - 2

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Its two months already and here I am with the list of books in the past two months. But two things affected my reading this time: first, I was away for about a month (yup! I was in glorious India!) and second, I started watching a lot of movies (M would probably laugh at this statement but they were a lot compared to where I started... but more on that in a later post!). So I might not have as many books as last time. Lets dig in to find out:
  1. Uglies - suggested by Aths. It was good but since I read Pretties already, I wasn't surprised as to how it ended. Guess that's the price one pays for reading the sequel first.
  2. Little Bee - a poignant tale between an African girl and a British mom. Good amount of twists and turns.
  3. I, Alex Cross - as expected from the author and genre. But I liked it.
  4. Olive Kitteridge - fascinating since it brought out the subtleties in human personality very well. A slow read though.
  5. The Help - been on the bestsellers' list for about months now. And rightly so!! Very powerful tale. One of the few books which I want to read again later in life for I feel I haven't gotten all that the author tried to say. I'd probably get it better when I have more experiences in life.
  6. The Piano Teacher: - okish but I couldn't connect to it much. So, I didn't enjoy it much!
  7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -Very intricate puzzle. It was nice to put it together but I didn't think the means justified the ends.
  8. Dead and Gone - Ok! The market seems to be flooded with this genre (Guessed it? vampires! ugh!). When Twilight came, it was novel. But now, it seems to have been based to death. Okish read but there were a lot of questions which I guess would have been answered if I had read the prequels.
  9. Let the Great World Spin - good story base but too watery a narration for my preference.
  10. Just Take My Heart - I've already read too many stories with the same theme and frankly this one wasn't written compellingly enough.
  11. The Host - good one. If you like vampires and other-worldly stuff, you should give this one a try. Its lighter than vampire stuff but still an interesting take!
  12. The Swan Thieves - deep with a curious mix of art, philosophy and mystery. But they could've reduced the number of pages....
  13. At Last Comes Love - trash
  14. Executive Intent - nice but I'm getting jaded with this genre (political thrillers). So, even if books are good enough for a regular reader, I guess I'm looking for something more (may be a better twist, different handling, etc)
  15. Summer on Blossom Street - sweet story with a good mix of characters.
  16. The Burning Land - Reminded me of the "The Other Boleyn Girl". It might be that it had a similar base but I couldn't shake the feeling that it was handled similarly.
  17. Queen of Your Own Life: The Grown-Up Woman's Guide to Claiming Happiness and Getting the Life You Deserve - read at recommendation of my friend. I wasn't impressed with it but I guess I'm not the right audience for it. 
  18. Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia -  one of the most candid books I've read in years! I guess this book warrants a post for itself. But, a definite read!
Add to this some trash books and some tamil books. The count comes up to 25. Not bad considering that I was away half the time. But I guess I'll be reading lesser in the coming two months since its glorious summer in Neverland and I want to make use of it as much as possible. Also, I'm trying to find a sweet balance between watching movies (I'm interested to know what fascinates so many people in it) and reading books (my hobby). Any suggestions on how you manage them?

P.S: My friends and I, we had gone on a bus ride (a rarity since we usually take the car) on a workday morning (another rarity). And the passenger next to me was reading "Dear John". It was such a good feeling to recognize the book and remember the story. :) I'm glad I'm doing this exercise.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Adobe and Apple: its getting hotter!

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For the past month, ever since Apple decided not to support Adobe in iPhone 4.0, things have been stewing around. It was not a bed of roses even before this news came, but this one exacerbated the situation. Its funny to see how Apple and Adobe, two companies with great technological contributions to the world, are reacting to the situation. Steve Jobs, in his thoughts on flash, condemns Adobe's "proprietariness" and trounces Flash (which I think he has to have a lot of gall to do so). And, Apple responds in kind. Here are some more articles (CNN Money, CNet News, Info week) on the situation.

As a consumer, all that I care about is, I want the two technologies to work. Period.I just want what I pay for.I don't care for childish whims and patriarchal gestures from Steve Jobs or anyone else for that matter. If flash was that bad a technology, the market would tire of it and would look for other technologies to replace it. That is how markets have been! And trying to remove one of the most important players of website design is like trying to shoot your own left foot while trying to dance a salsa.

Steve Jobs is within his right to say he wouldn't use Adobe's products since he feels Flash is not the way of the future and doesn't want his customers to use it too. And Adobe is right to stop further development of products that would complement Apple's. However, Steve overstepped in that he prevented usage of ALL THIRD PARTY APPS for development and usage. And, that is like trying to shoot your left foot when you are being chased by a hundred dogs!

Apple happily converted the situation to a Goliath Apple and David Adobe (that was trying to protect all third party apps) which was clever of them. And who wouldn't? When the situation is so clearly given on a platter? So for now, I'm on the side of Adobe, oops no, on the side of the third party apps being used on Apple products. I loved what someone from Adobe replied to all this hulla-bulla: Go screw yourself, Apple!

So, Steveji, please reverse your decision to prevent all third party apps for the iPhone (or probably the iPad in future) would not have succeeded so much without the help of millions of developers not affliated to Apple. Sure, Apple provided the base but we can't live with a stripped out base. We need the accoutrements to make our life easier, better and more interesting! And, you owe that to your customers, us!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Priorities! Priorities!

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Note: This is a quick update on the take-back-my-life challenge that I'm doing right now.

It all started last Friday evening. I turned down some invites to get the blissful sleep. And boy, was I proud that I'm sticking to the plan!! Saturday and Sunday didn't throw much surprises but I was supposed to visit a cousin of mine which I dropped because of my weird priority-based decision-making. And, I'm thunking myself on the head for it since she delivered a baby this week (I so wanted to be there with them and planned it for months but other priorities took up life... guess such is life!). I also did everything that I had originally planned to do during the weekend and kept most of my calls below ten minutes. Pat on the shoulder, Alpine!

Then came Monday, with a vengeance. I had a class all morning and returned back to work to be swamped with enough for an army to do. I started chipping away on them (hence no posts on Monday and Tuesday) and finally got a handle on work today. But, as a result, all the planning that I had done for work on these two days have taken a back seat and I've to play catch up again. Add to this, a shopping trip with a friend and meeting my niece (aw!! she is so soft... like the insides of the softest flower). That led to further screw ups and now I'm back at square one with work and personal stuff. Any ideas as to how I could've handled things differently?

One thing though, living a priority-filled life sure does take off the guilt that we face, for it becomes a conscious decision that shows how we would have done the same thing, given another chance. Yesterday was a long day starting at 8 am in the morning till 11 pm when I got back from the hospital. I was ready to hit bed around 11.30. THEN, a vfriend of mine called and I was filled with the dilemma if I had to follow the max 10 minutes rule or not. I decided that talking to my friend was more important than even precious sleep (remember, priorities? And this friend was ranked higher than a hard-day-so-need-sleep one... there are very few above it in the list) and we happily spent hours chatting. I do feel groggy today but its such a nice feeling to wake up with a grin! And it IS totally worth that effort! I'd do it even if I had a thousand more chances :) So, priorities do have their usefulness...

Ok! Now I'm back to work while I try to save my plan for the week and get some semblance of control over it. Will keep you updated on the weekend to come.