Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Xmas!


Get your own snowman at http://snowman.yahoo.com/#/intro

Monday, December 14, 2009

Trivandrum: The Promise

There is some real and quality effort underway in promoting Trivandrum and it's potential. Good work, TDF.

Even if 50% if what is proposed gets realized, the city may be in for a complete makeover.




Thursday, December 10, 2009

Reciprocity

Dont mind one more from Loudon. A different genre. Pretty serious and sensitive rendering ...

Could not get hold of lyrics. Please post if you have them.



Saturday, December 5, 2009

Father and Son

A nice song for Saturday evening. From Loudon Wainwright III. Enjoy!



Lyrics:

When I was your age I was just like you,
And just look at me now; I’m sure you do.
But your grandfather was just as bad
And you should have heard him trash his dad.
Life’s no picnic, that’s a given:
My mom’s mom died when my mom was seven;
My mom’s father was a tragic guy,
But he was so distant and nobody knows why.
Now, your mother’s family, you know them:
Each and every one a gem,
Each and every one a gem.

When I was your age I was a mess;
On a bad day I still am, I guess.
I think I know what you’re going through;
Everything changes but nothing is new.
And I know that I’m miserable; can’t you see?
I just want you to be just like me.
Boys grow up to be grown men
And then men change back into boys again.
You’re starting up and I’m winding down;
Ain’t it big enough for us both in this town?
Say it’s big enough for us both in this town.

When I was your age I thought I hated my dad
And that the feeling was a mutual one that we had;
We fought each other day and night:
I was always wrong; he was always right.
But he had the power and he needed to win;
His life half over, mine about to begin.
I’m not sure about that Oedipal stuff,
But when we were together it was always rough.
Hate is a strong word; I want to back-track;
The bigger the front, then the bigger the back;
The bigger the front, then the bigger the back.

Now you and me are me and you,
And it’s a different ballgame though not brand-new.
I don’t know what all of this fighting is for;
But we’re having us a teenage/middle-age war.
I don’t want to die and you want to live;
It takes a little bit of take and a whole lot of give.
It never really ends though each race is run,
This thing between a father and a son.
Maybe it’s power and push and shove,
Maybe it’s hate but probably it’s love,
Maybe it’s hate but probably it’s love.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Kerala Cafe



A novel experiment in Malayalam cinema. If you have not seen it, I would recommend watching. (http://www.keralacafe.in/)

A good anthology of 10 stories all claimed to be connected by the common theme of journeys. While the anthology in itself was good, the connection was very feeble if any. Some characters in these stories who share nothing else otherwise in terms of their profile, circumstances or role in the movie spending some time in the Café is hardly a connection in my opinion. And in one case, it was just a phone call to somebody working in the café. But that apart, the individual movies themselves had existences of their own and done well.

Below is my ranking of the 10: 

1. Lalitham Hiranmayam
2. Makal
3. Aviramam
4. Bridge
5. Island Express
6. Puram Kazhchakal
7. Nostalgia
8. Happy Journey
9. Off Season
10. Mruthunjayam

BTW, I feel like watching the movie again. The movie is personally special to me in that this was the first movie in a theater for my daughter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Children's Books

Reproduced below is a compendium of children's books that appeared in Young World of The Hindu today. A good list, I thought, when you are in the market next time to buy a book for your child. The first ten in this list were called out as 'Must Read.'

• Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass: Lewis Carroll
• Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
• Charlie And The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
• Heidi by Johenn Spyri
• The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
• The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
• The Mahabharatha by Vyasa
• The Narnia Chronicles by C.S.Lewis
• The Ramayana by Valmiki
• What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge
• Hardy Boys by Enid Blyton
• Swami and Friends by R.K.Narayan
• Feluda series by Satyajit Ray
• Stories from Ruskin Bond
• Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
• Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson
• Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
• Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
• The Boggart by Susan Cooper
• Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume
• Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
• Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chikka Tirupati

Another day, another trip. This time to a nearby place, Chikka Tirupati which means 'Little Tirupati'. Twenty-seven kilometers from Bangalore city limits and a nice short drive away is this cute little temple. There are signboards on the way (my advice: when in doubt, just take the left!). Areas in and around Sarjapur are quite green and that makes this short drive, a scenic one.


There are many farms en route and we stopped in one of the Chrysanthamum farms on the way back. In addition to being great spas for the mind, these stops also offer good photo opportunities. While clicking our way to glory in the field, there was this one small boy who came running and was curiosly watching what we city aliens were up to. He figured out none of us had seen so many flowers in one single place together before and he let us have fun. I offered to take his snaps and in his true village innocence said, Yes and readied himself for the click. And when we walked back to our car 10 minutes later, there was placed on the windshield of our car a nice big chrysanthamum flower. Oh boy, you really warmed our hearts by this nice gesture.



Every short trip through a village always gives back nice memories. Village is where life is playing out. Producing real products from the earth. Where men and women are naturally in harmony with the environment. Where there is still place for little pleasures. Villages are real, authentic. For all the material comforts a city offers you, sad that it still lacks genuineness. Never warms one's heart and mind.

So here I am, blogging from a big city about a nice little village on the outskirts.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Drive of Life



Have been making more long-distance road trips these days and made another enjoyable visit to Trivandrum couple of weeks back. Unlike the earlier trips which were all marked by a sense of urgency to get to the destination, this time it was a pretty relaxed drive.

From Bangalore started pretty late, around 7:00 or so in the morning, had a 1-hour long breakfast buffet near Hosur and still managed to be in Palakkad for lunch by late-noon. Taking the Mettur dam route and thus bypassing Salem helped (while taking this route, look out for a diversion on the left couple of kilometers before the Mettur dam and thus avoid getting into the dam to save some time unless of course you necessarily want to drive through the dam, which by the way is a beautiful drive). We stopped over in Palakkad for the day with a visit to Malampuzha dam in the evening (relived the memories of a trip there with my parents and sister 25 years ago!).

Next day was another one of lazy driving with generous stops for breakfast and lunch (a sumptuous one at a new-found place called ‘The Travancore Palace’ in Cherthala; would highly recommend that if you are in the area). Stopped at Kollam, Jyothi’s ancestral home for a break and reached Trivandrum by around 7:00 in the evening! Contrast this with my earlier trips to Trivandrum; when we start from Bangalore at 4:00 A.M and reach Trivandrum by 6:30 P.M the same day and you realize how relaxed the trip this time around was.

The next five days were spent savoring ShashiTharoorville!!! (borrowing the term from one of my colleagues in Bangalore)

The return journey was also made a two-day affair with the change being that the stop-over was in Guruvayoor instead of Palakkad. And was in Bangalore by lunch time the second day.

Done with the mundane details of the trip, was musing how a drive is more than a drive really. Isn’t it a metaphor of one’s life itself. A microcosm of the macrocosm of life.

Planning a trip, the build-up of expectations as we approach the day, kicking off the trip, the journey itself with it’s share of experiences and then touching down to the destination; don’t all these resemble one’s journey of life, in a way. You (and your family) is out there on the road trying to get to some place, so is the case with everybody else out there. You are on your own and but also not completely on your own. Potholes on the way that you have to avoid smartly. There are guys ahead of you and behind you any time and all the time. Some close, some not so close. Some in more hurry than others. All forms, shapes and sizes. In your direction and opposite. Some racing, some slowing. Some overtaking, some falling behind. What is beyond the next curve is unknown. But you have to face it and then look out for the one after. And at the end of it all, if you manage to reach your destination safe and in good spirits, you arrive.

But by that time the journey is over!





Friday, July 24, 2009

All For This One Moment

Flying back to India after a two-week looooonnnnnnnng trip to the US. Unlike my previous trips , this time around in one single place all along, Burbank off LA.

The business trips are fun and not-fun. Fun for the work that gets done in the face-to-face meetings, thrill of going to new places and meeting new faces. And not-fun for the trouble of being away from the family. But then the not-fun part morphs into the greatest joy of a travel when you are packing your bags for the return trip. I have my bags packed, hotel bills settled and will be shortly on way to LAX to catch the return flight.

The feeling of anticipation of getting back to one's family is something special. As a leading airlines puts it, 'All for this one moment'.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Daughter

On a hot day, sitting alone in a hotel room in LA had few options but to surf channels. And doing so chanced upon a movie, 'Knocked Up'. Enjoyed it. For good reasons, was moved by a song in the movie. Takes only a little over 3 minutes. Highly recommended for fathers with daughters.



Credits

By: Loudon Wainwright III
Lyrics:
Peter Blegvad

"Everything she sees
she says she wants.
Everything she wants
I see she gets.

That's my daughter in the water
everything she owns I bought her
Everything she owns.
That's my daughter in the water,
everything she knows I taught her.
Everything she knows.

Everything I say
she takes to heart.
Everything she takes
she takes apart.

That's my daughter in the water
every time she fell I caught her.
Every time she fell.
That's my daughter in the water,
I lost every time I fought her.
I lost every time.

Every time she blinks
she strikes somebody blind.
Everything she thinks
blows her tiny mind.
That's my daughter in the water,
who'd have ever thought her?
Who'd have ever thought?
That's my daughter in the water,
I lost everytime I fought her
Yea, I lost every time."

Kerala and Back!

After a long time, made a quick trip to Kerala covering Guruvayur, Chottanikara and Ambalamugal over the weekend. In all, 1200+ kilometers in a span of 60 hours. Not bad I think, looking back.

I am not a big fan of pilgrimage trips that too covering a series of ones in one stretch but a trip to Guruvayoor was something I had promised my better half a long time ago. And since any way we were going up to Guruvayoor, it made sense to cover the other two places as well. We had been postponing our long distance trips for a while now because of the pending car upgrade. Now that the car upgrade is itself being deferred, wanted to cover whatever we can in the smaller car. And the fact that we have at home a new I10 of my SIL is helping matters, of course. For me, any trip (any day for that matter) is incomplete without something to say about food, so this trip also had some fond food memories. Especially the meal near Alwaye with steaming brown rice and beef!

First leg of the drive from Bangalore to Thrissur was a breeze with nice roads all the way up to Palakkad. Though the stretch from Palakkad to Thrissur which had a lot of potholes scattered all around the place considerably slowed down my averages, we were well in time in Thrissur for a relaxed lunch at the Spoon restaurant. The last 28 kilometers or so from Thrissur to Guruvayoor had it's scare though with the multi-coloured private buses zooming past through the comparatively narrow roads. They come at you at 80KM or plus from behind and honk like hell till you give way. I soon realized it is a battle I should not get into and religiously gave way every time I sensed a rainbow (in the form of a bus) behind me. I sorely missed our dear vehicle inspector Srinivasan ...



We were off to Chottanikara and Ambalamugal the next day morning and the drive was a pleasure. Driving through some plantation areas in Ernakulam were really energizing. The drizzle lashing against the rubber trees were an awesome and priceless sight. The only disappointment was that in the hurry to cover all places in our agenda we could not stop to savour the environment. No photos either! Back in Guruvayoor in the evening and after a darshan and a Thulabharam with Nidhi on my lap, we called the day off.

Sunday morning gave opportunity for another round of darshans at Guruvayur and we were off to Bangalore by around 7:30 in the morning. The drive back was uneventful and by evening we were back in Bangalore, with a heavy heart.

Missing Kerala. There is nothing like one's own home land, I guess.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Trivandrums's gets it's Obama

Photo Courtesy: Flickr

Election results are turning out to be a pleasant surprise.

Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Congress Party are being voted back to power. This time with probably the freedom to enact policies on their own. And being the original chief protagonist of the economic reforms unleashed in the country last decade, I hope, he will use this opportunity to lead India further ahead in the path of economic development. India is truly lucky to have got Dr. Singh for another five (i hope) years.

Huge relief that the Leftists got reduced to an insignificant number in this round of elections. India would a far better place with lesser of those types around.

Personally, delighted to see Dr. Shashi Tharoor emerging victorious in Trivandrum with a huge margin. Congratulations, Shashi. Very proud to be represented by this new face in Indian politics. Huge expections from you ...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

One more ZooZoo: This time a Mallu

Looks like a coup from some Mallu in O&M; a gentleman Mallu trying to woo his better half with Parotta, Puttu, Kadala, Kappa & Meen, while on their trip around the world


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Before You Die

Yahoo! Movies has released a list of 100 movies to see before you die. The list includes one from India.

Have a long way to go before I die ...


The full list @ http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/100-movies-to-see-before-you-die.html

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shashi for MP

Elections are round the corner and heartening to see people like Dr.Shashi Tharoor in the fray. Calls are made during every time there is an election for educated people to enter the fray and none of the previous attempts bore anything fruitful. People like Mr. T. N. Seshan who were exemplary in their civil service careers biting dust in the political stage being sad examples.

Given the history, the entry of Dr. Shashi Tharoor (http://www.shashitharoor.in) is an interesting development and I think he is doing the right thing by standing as a Congress candidate for Lok Sabha from Trivandrum, Kerala. Previous attempts by people of this standing were more in their individual capacities and no wonder those attempts ended where they did. In India, support of the major political parties is a major ingredient for success in elections and with the pro-UDF tidings currently in the state of Kerala, I feel, Shashi definitely has set up the best platform for a win.

Sporting a solid resume and a clear vision for Trivandrum, Shashi is one of the best qualified candidates in the general elections this time. So here comes , a chance for Trivandrum to elect India's next Foreign Affairs Minister.

The irony is that Shashi who came to Kerala to teach the Mallus good English is now toiling hard to pick up decent Malayalam. Also, now I wonder, for people like Shashi isn't the Rajya Sabha route a better choice. May be that is his plan B.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Curious Case of Oscars

Photo Courtesy: The Times Of India

Jai Ho ...

Eight awards and three of them to Indians. Recognition is always a moment of joy and when it comes from the most celebrated film academy, it is all the more sweeter. So, for sure a moment of great pride. Congratulations to all the winners and especially to the Indians among those.

Particularly happy with the Oscar (www.oscar.com) for 'Smile Pinki'. Unlike films, documentaries tell real stories and when it is able to make an impact when told through the cinematic medium, it turns out to inspire many more useful initiatives. So a real good purpose served.

I stand by what I said in an earlier blog; Slumdog Millionaire (SM) does not work for me. I simply don't get how Danny can win the Best Director for his over-the-top work in SM or how SM can win the Best Picture award. Of course, here assuming SM won on it's strength and not because all the other nominated films were poorer.

But I understand Oscar is a business at the end of the day and I will leave it there.

Jai Hind ...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My (borrowed) Take

Photo Courtesy: The Hindu

Here is Mr. Hariharan's take on Slumdog Millionaire and something which is completely 'My Take' too. I couldn't agree one bit more. Here it is; what I wanted to say but couldn't ...

http://www.hindu.com/mag/2009/02/15/stories/2009021550180500.htm

Well Done, Hariharan!

Monday, January 26, 2009

True Lies

Cartoon Courtesy: The Hindu

The above cartoon is a bit dated, could not post earlier as I was facing some issues with uploading images in Blogger. By the way, given the progress or lack of it with the Satyam episode, the value of this cartoon seems to have only been multiplied. So going ahead and posting it still!

Chayamukhi: To See, Not Look ...

Photo Courtesy: P. Sandeep, Flickr

Based on the epic Mahabharatam, 'Chayamukhi' is a very enjoyable drama from Mohanlal, Mukesh and team from Kerala. They were in Bangalore yesterday and was lucky not to have missed the opportunity to watch it.

Malayalam cinema's biggest star, Mohanlal is an actor extraordinaire and watching a drama with him in the lead role was a memorable and thrilling experience for me. With his aura, Mohanlal was a towering presence on stage and was ably complemented by other actors, musical scores and all the other things that went into the making of Chayamukhi.

The story is a largely a trip through the minds of Bheeman and Keechakan (played by Mukesh) and to a lesser extent that of Draupadi (Aparna Nair). Bheeman is on a long journey to find his true love. And one that helps/that-does-not-help him in the process is a mirror named, Chayamukhi. Chayamukhi, per story, is a magical mirror looking into which helps one see his/her heart-throb. Gifted to Bheeman by Hidumbi, it changes hands (to Draupadi and then to Keechakan) before getting broken into pieces, creating a lot of heart-burn in the process.

In the story, Bheeman fails to realize his true love but playing that role, Mohanlal with his flawless act and dialog delivery wins a immeasurable amount of love from the audience. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and there were times when I felt transplanted to a different world altogether. A kind of feeling that only a drama and not cinema can offer. The story is punctuated with great music and time utilization (an un-interrupted total duration of 2 hours and 10 minutes) and on-stage depictions (of a forest, river, winter festival etc.) are worth mentioning.

Don't miss it, if there is one being played in your city and I for one wouldn't mind watching it one more time, :-)

Update (02/02): My friend Pramod, shares a link with pictures of Mammootty, the other great of Malayalam cinema, playing Bheeman.

http://sify.com/movies/malayalam/imagegallery/galleryDetail.php?hcategory=13733817&hgallery=14790323

This one is based on noted writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair's novel, 'Randamoozham'. Reserving my comments (and can-not-avoid comparisons with Mohanlal's Bheeman) till I get to see Mammootty in action.

Mammootty, when are you planning to come to Bangalore, as Bheeman?

Black Man in White House


It was my first witnessing of the US President inauguration and the family joined me in watching the proceeding on television. Like many others are saying, may be this is a significantly important event of our times and not to be missed. Around 2M attending the event (in a city of 600K total population as somebody said) on a day when the maximum temperature was zero- degree celsius was real testimony to the excitement around.

All the major Indian news channels were covering the event live and I switched from Times Now to NDTV when Times Now started speculating on the 20-minute delay to the leaving of the Obamas to the Church, the first event on the agenda.

Obama's journey so far is already film-material. The massive expectations of him is going to make the job that much more difficult, but I feel, he will come out good in the end. With the job he has, the most important thing to do is to ensure that he surrounds him with the best and brightest. He did that very well during the campaign phase and has started on a good note with the appointments so far.

Wish him well and I eagerly look forward to his handling of the most important job in the world.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Today's Special: Made In India

Watched the newest sensation about India, 'Slumdog Millionaire'. A huge disappointment.

Incredible, how quickly a halo can be engineered around a product, service, individual or a country for that matter. India is the latest find of the world. Winner of four Golden Globe awards and one which includes another first to India, 'Slumdog Millionaire' is a thoroughly ordinary movie.

While I am happy to see India and Indians being recognized in the world stage, what if all those that are grabbing attention are the very ordinary types and may not be the really deserving ones in the first place. These days it looks more like, pick an Indian if one is around; from Booker Prize to Miss World to Golden Globe. For, if you take the Indianness out of Parvathy Omanakuttan, she hardly looks Miss World-material for me. While I enjoyed the background score in the movie 'Slumdog Millionaire', the track that won the Golden Globe for A.R. Rahman is the typical 'once-heard-move-on' kind that the Bolly- and all the other -woods in India churn out in thousands every year.

While congratulating Arvind Adiga, Parvathy Omanakuttan and A.R. Rahman on their feats, I am finding myself completely lost ...