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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Alice in Wonderland :(

I decided some time ago that while I read mystery and thrillers, I would also like to read the classics that we used to read in childhood.

Alice in Wonderland is the first one I picked up.

I also saw the movie last year and felt like reading the simple story all over again. It was fun. I started this and read this while having lunch at office every day.

BUt then something happened and i sudenly got bored.

Was it too childish for me??

Dunno!

So it rests in peace for now. I abandoned it after about 25% and will pick it up maybe later this year or maybe next year or may never...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dubai Fountain and Om Shanti Om !!


I have been Dubai for almost 24 months now (16 months in 2008/2009 and 8 months of 2010/2011) and have visited The Dubai Mall (TDM) several times. On every occasion, I have tried NOT to miss the Musical Dubai Fountains. There are 10 minutes musical shows every half hour starting from about 7 PM. So I have seen them so many times and they are fun and often exhilarating to watch.


There is a nice instrumental music and the 100’s of water jets dance to the tunes. It is almost a soothing feeling and the Dubai Fountains are amazing crowd pullers. I have always loved them.


 
Watching them is a Bliss


BUT Today … it was NOT.


Today … It was amusing. Hilarious. And downright comic.


(Disclaimer: There are absolutely my personal thoughts and I won’t be surprised if no one chooses to agree with me :) …

But the fact is the moment I heard the first note of music, a smile formed in my head (yes .. that is possible). The second note of music (which came after a few seconds pause) made the smile appear on my face although a very measured restricted smile. (Measured and restricted bcos there I was standing in full business suit with my laptop bag slung over my shoulder and an eBook Reader in hand .... smiling at nothing …. People would think I had gone nuts)


By the time the third note rang out through the atmosphere and the fountains erupted, I just couldn’t help the grin on my face. I was simply beaming. And that beaming smile stayed for the full duration of the song.


This was the first time I had heard them play a Bollywood Song to the fountains. No, not just instrumental (as it is always been) but full blown bollywood masala song with lyrics and all.


And in all the glory of blollywood masala, they chose the song from the Shahrukh-Deepika starrer ‘Om Shanti Om’ and the song was …. "Tum Tana Nana ,, Kaise sajna se nain milau”


I wasn’t very sure if they would have synchronized the song and the fountain dance but to my amazement, I found the 100’s of water jets actually dancing perfectly in synch with the music. It was a job done to perfection.


It was a fantastic experience and I left TDM smiling all the way to the Taxi and continued to smile even after. I was so ‘affected’ by the whole experience that I started typing this post on my laptop as soon as I perched myself comfortably in the taxi and typed until I completed it.


So that was my smile filled evening at TDM.

Addendum ....... The Fountains were not the only reason for the evening being a good one. I should not forget to mention the half an hour I spent ‘licking’ Gelato (ice-cream) (yes … licking … not eating … I was indeed licking it off the small tiny spoon for a change) at ‘The Works’ in ‘The Dubai Mall’ … it was a nice experience eating an ice-cream so peacefully at leisure after such a long time and reading an interesting novel on an eBook Reader!!

 I am actually looking forward to visiting ‘The Works’ again for another big scoop of their Gelato while I sit back and enjoy the dancing Dubai Fountain (you can actually watch the Dubai Fountain while sitting inside the Works .. although you can’t hear the music) and reading an eBook.




Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Green Thing !!

In the line at the supermarket, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized to her and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."

She was right, that generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soft drink bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the factory to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. They were recycled.

But they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's nappies because they didn't have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in a 220 volt energy gobbling machine - wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand - me - down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right; they didn't have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of a cricket pitch. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. They didn't have air conditioning or electric stoves with self cleaning ovens. They didn't have battery operated toys, computers, or telephones.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn fuel just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They used hand operated clippers to trim the shrubs. They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; they didn't have the green thing back then.

They drank from a glass filled from the tap when they were thirsty instead of using a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But they didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people walked or took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

They didn't have the green thing back then.

This came in as an email forward and it has come several times from different sources in past few months. I have invariably read it completely every time I have received it so decided to put it up on the blog so that I can read it whenever I feel, I need a reminder of the Green Thing.

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mis-Match and Team Work

I am sure you might have seen the following image (a cartoon) ... sometimes used with the caption of 'Team Work' !!


But I am sure you haven't seen this one .... The REAL one ...



Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mumbai Spirit and Terrorism

Came across an article published in DNA authored by FakingNews.com fame Rahul Roushan

It made for some interesting satirical reading on the state of terrorism in India and how Mumbai Spirit becomes a keyword for any and every news item after a terrorist influenced tragedy strikes the city (or for that matter any other city)

Although, personally I feel the Government can't do much to prevent terrorism strikes and bomb blasts since it is simply not possible / feasible to monitor and check each and every person & vehicle visiting each and every part of the city / country. Such a task will require a police force which would be 10% of the country population. PEOPLE in general will have to play police and even then it might not be possible to pin point and stop a guy from visiting an individual from entering a crowded place with a bomb in his bag/vehicle in a peak hour and leave it there.

All the articles which criticize the government for not taking adequate measures to stop terrorism and terrorist attacks don't probably realize the difficulty of the task nor do we have a visibility of the information on how many attacks are actually prevented and foiled by the combined action of our police force, intelligence force and other allied groups.

Yes … we can get paranoid about security as USA does and have absolutely stringent security checks at all airports, train stations, bus depots, inter-state and inter-city highways, temples, major community centres, public festival places and so on …. But then the same set of people or probably new ones will write long emails, blogs, tweets and speeches on how the government is getting paranoid and causing unnecessary inconvenience to the common man while the terrorists go scot free.

So there is need for being slightly practical rather than being critical of the Governments' efforts. Yes, there is a lot more than can be done which our Government and its inefficient machinery are not doing. But we should not expect miracles. Countries with no terrorism problems are not those where the Government is more efficient in this matter, they are simply those in which the terrorists are not interested.

Well … coming to the article which made me write this … I enjoyed reading the article and have nothing against it. I have enjoyed the writings of Rahul for quite some time and look forward to more J The Article here and Faking News website here.

And while you are there … the following article might be of relevant and interesting read
 

 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Head Spinning Read !!

 

The following is the introduction to a short piece of fiction spanning about 125 small pages. Read it and you might understand why I am sharing this.

 

This is not a Dilbert book. It contains no humor. I call it a 132-page thought experiment wrapped in a fictional story. I'll explain the thought experiment part later. God's Debris doesn't fit into normal publishing cubbyholes. There is even disagreement about whether the material is fiction or nonfiction. I contend that it is fiction because the characters don't exist. Some people contend that it is nonfiction because the opinions and philosophies of the characters might have lasting impact on the reader. The story contains no violence, no sexual content, and no offensive language. But the ideas expressed by the characters are inappropriate for young minds. People under the age of fourteen should not read it. The target audience for God's Debris is people who enjoy having their brains spun around inside their skulls.

After a certain age most people are uncomfortable with new ideas. That certain age varies by person, but if you're over fifty-five (mentally) you probably won't enjoy this thought experiment. If you're eighty going on thirty-five, you might like it. If you're twenty-three, your odds of liking it are very good. The story's central character has a view about God that you've probably never heard before. If you think you would be offended by a fictional character's untraditional view of God, please don't read this.

The opinions and philosophies expressed by the characters are not my own, except by coincidence in a few spots not worth mentioning. Please don't write me with passionate explanations of why my views are wrong. You won't discover my opinions by reading my fiction.

The central character in God's Debris knows everything. Literally everything. This presented a challenge to me as a writer. When you consider all of the things that can be known, I don't know much. My solution was to create smart-sounding answers using the skeptic's creed: The simplest explanation is usually right.

My experience tells me that in this complicated world the simplest explanation is usually dead wrong. But I've noticed that the simplest explanation usually sounds right and is far more convincing than any complicated explanation could hope to be. That's good enough for my purposes here. The simplest-explanation approach turned out to be more provocative than I expected. The simplest explanations for the Big Questions ended up connecting paths that don't normally get connected. The description of reality in God's Debris isn't true, as far as I know, but it's oddly compelling.

Therein lies the thought experiment: Try to figure out what's wrong with the simplest explanations. The central character states a number of scientific "facts."

Some of his weirdest statements are consistent with what scientists generally believe. Some of what he says is creative baloney designed to sound true. See if you can tell the difference. You might love this thought experiment wrapped in a story. Or you might hate it. But you won't easily get it out of your mind. For maximum enjoyment, share God's Debris with a smart.

 

So what do you think …. Does that intro sound interesting?

Now that you have read the intro and your interest levels are spiked … here are some excerpts from the book.

 

God's Free Will (chapter name)

"Does God have free will?" he asked.

"Obviously he does," I said. It was the most confidence I had felt so far in this conversation. "I'll admit there's some ambiguity about whether human beings have free will, but God is omnipotent. Being omnipotent means you can do anything you want. If God didn't have free will, he wouldn't be very omnipotent."

"Indeed. And being omnipotent, God must be able to peer into his own future, to view it in all its perfect detail."

"Yeah, I know. You're going to say that if he sees his own future, then his choices are predetermined. Or, if he can't see the future, then he's not omnipotent."

"Omnipotence is trickier than it seems," he said.

<End of Chapter J>

 

Here is another one ….

 

Willpower (chapter title)

"You're very fit," the old man observed.

"I work out four times a week."

"When you see an overweight person, what do you think of his willpower?"

"I think he doesn't have much," I said.

"Why do you think that?"

"How hard is it to skip that third bowl of ice cream? I'm in good shape because I exercise and eat right. It's not easy, but I have the willpower. Some people don't."

"If you were starving, could you resist eating?"

"I doubt it. Not for long, anyway."

"But if your belly were full you could resist easily, I assume."

"Sure."

"It sounds as if hunger determines your actions, not so called willpower."

 

I am sure the above two excerpts spiked ur interest in the book. I had read 'God's Debris' by Scott Adams 5 years ago in 2006. I chanced upon it once again and decided to read it again. It was as head spinning as it had been 5 years ago.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

June Reading …

 

A flight journey (was home for a week J), waiting at the airport and a once a week travel in a cab to a distant place (min. 30 min cab ride) increased my reading time in June. Helped me read more J Also, I read something other than the regular mystery stuff

 

1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

I had read a Mitch Albom last year and had liked it. It was emotional stuff which sets your heart thinking about the most important aspect of our life, which we tend to ignore - people. Five People was no less.

It turned out to be another emotional read … often making me stop and think about my own life and people around, people who came and went away, who stayed in touch and those who broke all contact, people with whom I have been in touch all my life and also those with whom I had a chance encounter and they are set permanently in my memory with hardly any change to meet again (although hope is hopelessly optimistic emotion … the hope to see them again, meet them and talk to them is always alive)

The story itself teaches (which preaching) a few important lessons of life; How people have impact on one's life and how we impact others life; How forgiveness is a very important and critical virtue for our own good, more than for others; How life can be very different if we choose to make it so …

 

2. Feluda: The Mystery of the Elephant God by Satyajit Ray

A very good one wherein Feluda is pitted against an adversary he is delighted to meet; someone who really challenges his intellect and becomes an adversary to reappear in later stories too. Another interesting aspect of the story was that when the story begins, it talks about a 'Machchli Baba (Fish Saint)' who is called Ebony Baba also because of his smooth and very dark skin.

I kept wondering where the Elephant God fit into this story only to realize towards the end that the story revolved around the theft of a small statue of Lord Ganesha … who is the Elephant God of India. The actual story never referred to Him as the Elephant God and hence I did not make the connection. How stupid of me to miss this point !

 

3. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

I have been reading this one at a snail's pace for last couple of months. Decided to give it some high priority and finish it off this month. The story started off nicely and then suddenly it began to stall, slow down and sputter. I don't really have very strong views on this one. Neither too good, neither too bad. It had its own twists and turns in the story and some suspense and mystery.

The interesting aspect was actually how the story travelled as two parallel stories in different eras of time; the narration alternating between the two stories. What was missing is the connection between the two stories. The story simply alternated without connecting the two stories; except at the end. Mind you, the stories were related but not well connected. Also, I found the climax pretty anti-climactic.  

Maybe I have come to expect too much from 2 parallel stories.  Matthew Reilly's TEMPLE was a fantastic novel in this respect, 2 stories across two timelines run parallel, narration alternating between the two and the stories feeding into each other … something Labyrinth didn't do.

 

4. Feluda: The Bandits of Bombay by Satyajit Ray

This one was a nice mix with all the makings of a Bollywood Masala Movie … in fact it actually had a movie being made in the story J and that too on the novel written by Jatayu !!

 

5. Sherlock Holmes: The 'Gloria Scott' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This one was a short story where Sherlock relates to Watson, an incident which led him to take up detective consulting as a profession. This wasn't actually a case to be solved. It was just a narration of an incident. Nothing Interesting

 

Did not read any Three Investigator story this month …

 

Series Completion Score (as of 30th June 2011):  

Three Investigators    13 out of 35

Feluda                         12 out of 35

Sherlock Holmes         19 out of 56

Total                           44 out of 126

Friday, July 01, 2011

Movie Round-up Jan-Jun 2011

Movie seen in the first half of this year …

Jan to Mar None at all … a dismal quarter without any movie theatre visit !

April broke the spell with Dum Maro Dum and Scream 4 (Premiere) which were seen in Sharjah and Dubai theatres respectively

May was Hanna (Premiere) while June was Cars 2 in 3D (Premiere). All these premiere shows were seen in Reel Cinemas at The Dubai Mall. Tickets won in the Facebook contest.

I also saw Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (in 3D) during my Mumbai visit in May-June.

So all in all … 5 movies in the past quarter !

Cars2 was the best of the lot with PoTC as second best (although I was personally disappointed with the movie). The other movies were average.