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Saturday, February 06, 2021

Award Shows and The Divine Plan

 Film award shows strengthen my faith in the divine plan and the universe having a purpose. 

Think about it: 

  • The person winning the award is always the very favourite of the person announcing the name. 
  • The project they are winning the award for is the one that just happens to be the closest to their heart. 
  • Noone ever wins an award for an un-special project. 
  • The person who inspired our awardee the most in their life, just happens to be sitting in the first row in the audience. 

You can't explain these things without admitting that there is a god and there is a plan for all of us. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Et tu, Insta?

Following my post Bye Bye Whatsapp my friend Harsha pointed out that Instagram is also owned by Facebook and has anybody read its privacy policy? 

So, I read it and Insta's data sharing is as intrusive and invasive as Whatsapp is going to have. So, for the moment, I have turned off all permissions for the insta app on my phone and the app still works. I never entered my phone number in that and they will still have my usage data but that every website and their brother do via cookies these days. 

That's where I am drawing the line for the moment. Telling you in case you didn't know that Insta can use your camera for face recognition and use it for their purposes. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Bye Bye Whatsapp

 Heinlein once said "Don't appeal to a man's better side, he might not have one, appeal to his self-interest instead."

Everybody has a self interest and big businesses have big interests. 

I am answering the question you haven't asked yet. 

Whatsapp is going to start sharing their user data with Facebook from 8th Feb 2021. 

When someone asks "Why?" about anything, usually the answer is "Money."

Facebook and Whatsapp are owned by the same corporation and Whatsapp has phone numbers and other data from their users that Facebook doesn't have. Some of this data may include the location of the users as Whatsapp is exclusively a mobile app. (Yes, I know they have a web client but it is tethered to the mobile app.)

By getting this data from Whatsapp, Facebook will be able to serve more ads and other marketing to their users. 

There are two caveats to this in my case: 

1. I am in UK and the new terms will not apply to UK and EU users. Yet. 

2. The new terms are optional. For now. 

Here are the reasons that I am still moving away from Whatsapp on 1st Feb 2021. 

1. Even though it's not applicable in UK, I have family and friends in India, US, Canada and other non-EU parts of the world. Being in IT I do understand how much data an app can collect on me through those indirect channels even if they can't share my data directly. This is called "Big Data" and  you would not believe the tools that are available to analyse this data and create amazing trend reports. 

2. I already hate FB for how much of a marketing-whore it has become. I plan to move away from it later this year. 

3. The terms maybe optional now but they won't be for long. 

4. This is just an evil trend and I want to dump this app now. 

And, this one is a bonus. 

5. So many of my friends and family are moving to Signal that I can easily move. 

Credit to my nephew Gaurav for bringing this to my attention. Now he's the trendsetter in our family. 

Here is a poll from on this issue. Apparently out of the 10000 respondents only 30% are still on Whatsapp. 

Android Police Poll

If you are looking to move to Signal, here is the download link -

It's an open source app, has a proper desktop app that connects with the mobile, same as Whatsapp used to do. Yes, I have read their privacy policy, no evilness so far. It has end-to-end encryption like Whatsapp. 

Finally, I can't resist this quote from "Serenity". 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Coolie No. 1 - Could Not Handle the Baggage

David Dhawan has not done any favours for his son by starring him in the remake of Coolie No. 1 which was already a successful movie. Now the movie itself is okay. It's as mindless as David Dhawan's movies usually are and there's an even a little bit of entertainment in it. But the biggest problem is that when you star in a role that another actor has already done before, you will be compared to him. 

Now Varun Dhawan is an ok actor, not great but ok. He did alright in both the Dulhania movies and even in Main Tera Hero which had much less of a story. But he is no Govinda. Govinda and David Dhawan invented this genre of comedy which was mindless and entertaining with not even an iota of common sense anywhere. Does David think that he can make anybody Govinda? 

The movie itself is ok, not mind-numbing crap but not as good as the original. I watched the 1995 version with Govinda right after watching the new one and the old one is much better. The biggest reason for that is the cast. The new cast is good, David has smartly surrounded Varun with good comedy actors like Javed Jaffrey, Johnny Lever, Rajpal Yadav etc. but the old cast was even better with actors the calibre of Kader Khan, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Tiku Talsania. And yes, Karishma Kapoor was great in her role, Sara Ali Khan, poor girl. 

Even though a majority of the new film is copy-pasted from the old one including exact copy of scenes and line-by-line copy of dialogues, there is still a lot missing. The characters in the old one were much better fleshed out even with the same scenes. The biggest victims of that are two main characters - the father of the girl where Kader Khan was replaced by Paresh Rawal and the other is the heroine herself - Sara Ali Khan. 

If you take her out of the songs, poor Sara might even be called a guest appearance in this film. I am not talking about screen time, I am talking about character development. Sara has not been given much to do. She almost looks like a young girl wearing her mother's saree and playing "house". 

My verdict is 2.5 stars out of 5. I would not go so far as to say don't watch it, but I won't recommend it to anyone and I won't watch it again myself. 

Still, the film might do well on the box office for various reasons. I don't care. My review is never influenced by the money a film makes or what others think about it. 

The biggest reason for me for watching this film was the promotion episode on The Kapil Sharma Show. Day 2 of the promotions included some of the comedy actors and it was hilarious. If I had to set a percentage I would say the movie is about 20% entertaining compared to the TKSS episode. 

One of the things that struck me as funny was Varun Dhawan having a pity party for himself on the show that his father and brother don't listen to his ideas on the set. That's like crying that you have to go to school in the blue Mercedes when your favourite colour is white. Firstly, he is getting these movies because he is the son of a director. And second, you are an actor, your job is to shut up, dress up and do what the director tells you. When you become so smart that you know better than the director, dare to direct. 

Two examples for these things. 

I like Ranbir Kapoor's attitude on the nepotism issue. He accepts that he is getting these opportunities only because he is a star son. He acknowledges that this opportunity could have gone to someone else. Then he says he tries to do the best job he is capable of to do justice to the role and try to do it better than someone else could have done. 

Prabhudeva, who is a very successful actor as well as director, when he is working as an actor in a film being directed by someone else, he doesn't give suggestions, he just does what the director tells him to do. 

Well, that's all for now and if I don't talk to you before, Happy New Year 2021. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

My Dear Forgotten Friend

 My relationship with my blog has become like that of an old friend you used to meet every day and suddenly there's been a long distance between you two. You haven't talked in such a long time that you don't even know where to start when you meet after a long time. 

मिलते थे उसे हम कभी पल पल के फरक से, 

फिर रफ्ता रफ्ता फर्क ये सालों में आ गया

फिर यूं हुआ की आँख से आँसू निकल पड़े,

चेहरा कभी जो उसका ख्यालों में आ गया 

Milte they use hum kabhi pal pal ke farak se

Phir rafta rafta fark ye saalon mein aa gaya, 

Phir yoon hua ki aankh se aansoon nikal pade, 

Chehra kabhi jo uska khayalon mein aa gaya. 

[I used to meet him every moment 

then this grew into years, 

Then it got so that his face in my thoughts 

filled my eyes with tears.]

(Ha, I made it rhyme this time.) 

I still come on here once in a while and do a movie review or some random post like the friend who never has time to actually talk to you but keeps sending you all these useless forwards on whatsapp. 

But from my side also, I feel like - I am not gonna start telling you my life story just because after six months you suddenly messaged me and said "aur batao"!

So, here's my idea to fill this rift. I will give a very quick summary of some of the things I have done since the last time we actually talked. 

The biggest news is that in September 2019, I moved from Doncaster to Oxford to enrol in a master's degree program. It's called M.Sc. Digital Media Production. Remember I used to be very much into photography, filmmaking and vlogging? Well, that's why. It's going well. It's a one-year program that I am doing in two-years as a part-time student because I still need to earn my daily bread by working full time in IT. 

It's going well so far. I have survived three semesters and need to do 1.5 more. 

I told you this so that we can have more conversations and when I talk about what I am doing for a certain module you wouldn't be lost without a clue. 

More later. Let's keep in touch. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Baaghi 3 Movie Review: Brawn Conquers all

 If you have 8-pack abs and big biceps you can pretty much do anything you want - that's the message that Baaghi 3 gives you. 

Let me do this review quickly checklist style so I don't have to waste any more time on this movie, oops spoiler alert. 

Music - Nothing memorable or enjoyable. I am really irritated when people "recreate" songs, yes, nobody does remix these days, it's all recreated. If the songs are from new movies it's even more irritating. Some people would like the item song by Disha, I didn't like it. I like Disha, she's supercute, but the song was directed awfully. In a film being directed by a choreographer you expect a better dance number. And the lyrics...wait, there were lyrics? 

Action - The stunts by Tiger are truly impressive, there's no denying that. But stunts are a spice in the dish, you can't make a dish with just red chilli and garam masala. I don't know what gave Ahmed Khan the conceit to think he could direct action but I wish he hadn't. 

This is a general grievance I have with Indian filmmakers. When it comes to directing action they have all graduated from the 120fps school of filmmaking. I agree with Peter Mckinnon that everything looks sexier in slow motion but these directors have taken this to the level where it's not cinematic, it's tedious. I love watching fight sequences but these just annoy the hell out of me. Before this Rohit Shetty did the same thing in Golmaal 3 (or was it 4? Who knows? Who cares?) where the hero would hit 10 punches then 10 goons would fall from the sky and take about 65 seconds doing that. Trés irritable! 

Performances: Some of them are good, Riteish Deshmukh, Jackie Shroff a few other characters. Tiger, not so much. He had acted better in Heropanti. In this one, no acting only stunting. But I don't blame him, I blame the director. Shraddha has done ok, but there wasn't much for her to do. Ankita Lokhande, ha, don't make me laugh. 

Dialogue: There are a couple of funny ones in the beginning, but then they go from mundane to pathetic. 

Direction: Very, very weak. Absolutely clichéd from start to finish. In the future if I saw a movie was directed by Ahmed Khan, will it make me want to see it? Big fat no!

I don't know how many people caught it but they stole a couple of scenes straight from "Taken" and one shot from "Wonder Woman". There was a good chance to grab a "I am Spartacus!" scene later in the film but probably Ahmed Khan didn't have that DVD. 

In terms of realism, the movie has stretched suspension of disbelief like chewing gum and taken it past the limits of elasticity. 

Did you notice I didn't talk about the story? That's because you already know the story if you have seen the trailer. If you haven't let me tell you the story now. 

"Action hero goes to Syria to rescue kidnapped brother." Done. 

Full disclaimer: My bias. I have seen Ahmed Khan only on TV in Kapil Sharma's shows. He choreographed Kapil in Kis Kis Ko Pyaar Karoon. Every time he comes on his show he makes fun of Kapil's dance skills. We all know Kapil is not a great dancer but there is such a thing as grace. Ahmed Khan doesn't know it. It irritates me.  

Recommendation: Watch it on the TV screen when it comes to streaming while you have dinner. The 120fps action will fit perfect there. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Change is not the enemy

Change is the only thing constant in life. 

Not a novel thought but what I want to talk about is the type of change. As I see it, change is basically of two types - voluntary and involuntary. 

Let's take an example from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (I mean, why not?). It used to puzzle me that sometimes when Dr. Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk he is the machine of mass destruction. Then other times he is working side by side with the Avengers like they all went to the same high school and ate lunch at the nerds table for years. What gives? 

Thanks to the internet where you can find everything from a tiramisu recipe to the way to properly groom your dog, I found that Hulk's behaviour depends on the trigger that caused him to transform from Banner to Hulk. If he did it himself he was the well-behaved model citizen, but if something, usually an act of violence, forced him into becoming the Hulk then he could be mean as your mother-in-law after you tell her that her thanksgiving turkey was a bit dry. 

We may not have been exposed to a truckload of gamma radiation in our lives (I don't know about you, but I wasn't. In case, you are reading, Dr. Banner) but our response towards change is very similar. Maybe it's the old teacher in me or I just know how much you like examples but I feel like giving you an example. 

Take this case of old Timmy (Or John, or Dave, or Raj) whose girlfriend dumps him. That throws him into a pit of depression which takes a while to fix even after copious amounts of junk food and help from good friends. But if this same rascal dumped his girlfriend, he won't feel so sad. He might pretend to be upset about it, if he is a decent person, but he really won't be that sad. 

Similarly, if a person leaves a job to start his business or just change cities or whatever, they take it in their stride even if things are quite hard for a while. In contrast, if they get fired from the job, they don't like that so much. 

The main reason for the difference in our response, I think, is from anticipation and preparation. And, the sense of being in control. When you do something that brings a change in your life, even if it is a tough situation,  you are prepared for it and mentally ready to face the consequences. But if something is done to you which brings about the change in your life, it's a shock that you have to first absorb before you can deal with the actual, physical consequences. 

Sometimes the change that is "done to us" is not really so bad. That's where the expressions like "blessing in disguise", "silver lining" and "look on the bright side" come into play. Sometimes a change can be a mix of the two types like getting married. You decided to get married, that's what you "did" and then all the future changes are "done" to you by her will. Happy married life. 

My conclusion is that if we can keep this in mind that change is change no matter what type of trigger it had, maybe it will help us bounce back faster and deal with the change better. 

Having said that, how do you like the new layout of the blog? ;-) 

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Amazing Ghazal from Nasir Kazmi

 Kya zamaana tha ki hum roz mila karte they

raat bhar chaand ke humrah phira karte they

Jahan tanhaaiyaan sar phod ke so jaati hain

In makaano mein ajab log raha karte they

Dekh kar jo hamein chup chaap guzar jaata hai

Kabhi us shakhs se hum pyaar kiye karte they

Kar diya aaj zamaane ne inhein bhi majboor

Kabhi ye log mere dukh ki dava karte they

Ittfaqat-e-zamaana bhi ajab hai Naasir

Aaj wo dekh rahe hain jo suna karte they

Nasir Kazmi

Monday, August 31, 2020

50+ Scratches

Yeah, it was a bank holiday and I wanted to blog something. Took the tag from Bikram's post and decided to enlighten you about my life. :) 

This tag is pretty simple. Just strike out the things that You have not done so far and to make it a bit spicier add a line or two as explanation to the ones that you have Done..

1. Graduated high school … Yes. Long time ago

2. Kissed someone… Well, I am single so I better not answer this.

3. Smoked a cigarette. …. Yes, but not properly. For various reasons I wanted to smoke so many times, but always found some reasons to not. So, smoking a cigarette for me means holding one between my fingers and pretending.

4. Got so drunk you passed out… Never. Not a big drinker.

5. Rode every ride at an amusement park… Nope. Don’t like roller coasters and the scary rides. I am only good for very gentle ones like boats and stuff.

6. Collected something stupid… when I was a boy we used to make playing cards out of match boxes, but I don’t think it counts as stupid because my friends did it as well and we used to play against each other.

7. Gone to a rock concert…

8. Helped someone... Of course. Isn’t that part of being human?

9. Gone fishing… Nope. Vegetarian.

10. Watched four  or more movies in one night…I am sure I have, have even watched at least 3 movies in the single day on the cinema. Probably 4 also at some point.

In India, people used to hire a VCR for the night and play movies back to back, 3-4 movies a night. Have attended some of those sessions. That deserve a post of its own.

11. Snorted cocaine/Weed.. Never EVER going to do that.

12. Failed a subject… more than once.

13. Been in a car accident… a few, unfortunately. A bike accident too after which I had amnesia temporarily.

14. Watched someone die…

15. Been to a funeral…

16. Burned yourself… Yes, many times, but not enough to need a hospital.

17. Run a marathon… Not gonna happen.

18. Cried yourself to sleep… Unfortunately, yes, a few times. Last time was when my mother passed away.

19. Spent over 10,000 bucks in one day… If bucks means Indian rupees, yes, many, many times. If bucks means US dollars which is like 430,000 rupees, yes, that too.

20. Flown on an aeroplane…  Many times. Took a flying lesson also on a Cessna 172.

21. Written a 10 page letter… If emails count then yes, on a paper letter, no. And even with emails not the love sick kind of letter, just giving advice to young ones.

22. Gone skiing or Sailing… No, but hopefully, soon.

23. Cut yourself… Many times, but not enough to need a hospital.

24. Had a best friend… still do. And I have many very close friends. I am very lucky that way.

25. Lost someone you loved… Yes. More than one, unfortunately.

26. Got into trouble for something you didn’t do… Does homework count?

27. Stolen a book from the library… Nope. Never stolen a book from anywhere. Begged and borrowed many books many times.

28. Gone to a different country… A few. US, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Netherlands, Denmark, Scotland, Wales, England, France, Sweden.

29. Watched the Harry Potter movies… First two, got bored in the third one.

30. Had an online diary... My blog counts as one I think.

31. Fired a gun… Yes. Came 4th in a firing competition in NCC.

32. Gambled in a casino… Several times. I enjoy it a lot, yet somehow never end up becoming a degenerate gambler.

33. Been in a school play… Kind of. Not like a real play, but been in some performance pieces at school time and later also. Wrote and directed some skits later.

34. Been fired from a job… Not in a “You’re fired!” kind of way but I worked as a contractor for many years.

35. Taken a lie detector test… No, never needed to.

36. Swam with dolphins… Can’t swim.

37. Voted for someone on a reality TV show… Oh God, no!

38. Written poetry… Yes, you can even find some on this blog.

39. Read more than 20 books a year… I probably don’t average that now but when I was younger I used to read a lot. I have probably read that many a month sometimes.

40. Loved someone you shouldn’t have… Yes. Many times.

41. Used a colouring book over age 12…

42. Had a surgery… Nope. Hope I never need  it. Really scared.

43. Had stitches… No and hope never need it. Fingers crossed.

44. Had more than 5 IM conversations going on at once.… 5 is a light session for me.

45. Been in a fist fight… Been in fights but not real fist fights. Always been a coward, always avoided fights. How do you think I developed this sense of humour?

46. Suffered any form of abuse…

47. Had a pet… Not me, but when I was very young we had two dogs. I don’t count that as me having a pet though.

48. Petted a wild animal…

49. Dyed your hair.. Yes, and still do. My unique style.

50. Got a tattoo… No. I have commitment issues.

51. Had something pierced… Nope. Low pain threshold.

52. Got straight A’s… First two years of school I did well, then went down. Now, doing my Master’s at an advanced age and got distinction in both my module in semester 2.

53. Taken pictures with a webcam.. Yes, many times.

54. Lost something expensive… My heart. Again and again.

55. Gone to sleep with music on…Everybody has.

 Take it forward people, and please comment here with your link so I can read yours. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Malang: Full of irritating cliches

Malang' box office collection Day 2: Aditya Roy Kapur and Disha ...

Note: This is not a review, it's a rant.

Was watching Malang last night but had to stop because its logic was offending my sensibilities too much.
Disha Patani says "I am afraid of heights." then jumps 40 feet from a cliff into water. If you can jump like that then you are NOT fucking afraid of heights!
"Ek dar do baar nahin lagta." She says.
Teri maa ki aankah, sala ek dar hazaar baar bhi lagta hai.
Kahan se laate hain ye aise faadu logics?
When I got to the scene where Aditya Roy Kapoor is beating up 25 guys who all have guns, in a narrow corridor, and no bullets are hitting him direct or on richochet, I turned it off. That got too much for me.
I had only started watching it for Anil Kapoor's character anyway. His character is good, and he does it like a pro.
There were other annoying scenes in that like Anil Kapoor pass Aditya as he's trying to blend in a procession of similarly dressed guys. AK senses that it's him but doesn't stop him. Cops grab a man on MUCH less suspicion than that.
AK gets on a scene when Aditya has just killed a man. He sees Aditya inside and knows he's the killer. But instead of pulling out his gun and shooting him AK tries to climb in the window to chase him. That would be fine, except AK's character is a well-known encounter specialist.
The characters and events of Aditya and Disha meeting and falling in love are so cliche that even I hated it and I usually love a well-directed cliche.
And btw, isn't this a law now that when they alcohol use or smoking on the screen they have to show a warning "Injurious to health"? In Malang they are showing drug use but no such warning.
I do hate movies and TV shows that glamorise substance abuse unless they are portraying it in order to warn against it. Not in Malang. According the Malang culture taking drugs is cool.
The songs, including the title song, oh my God, who wrote this crap?
And speaking of characters and events, who was the guy who slept with his maid?, he pulls a gun on Anil Kapoor, another cop, in lockup, to stop him from beating up a perp, and pulls the trigger. Bas kya?
Have you ever seen a movie where a killer calls the police and the police chase him while he keeps killing cops? Yes, I have too, only about a 1000 times!
It doesn't help that Aditya Roy Kapoor cannot act. Even in my faovurite film Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, he was the weakest link in the chain - "Kaise nahin dekhta, bunny, tera show hai!" Give me a break!
But the thing that mystifies me is how did they get Disha to look ugly? Disha Patani is a hot girl, she looked absolutely adorable in M. S. Dhoni, but in this one...yuck! Maybe my impression is coloured because she leads the main character into drug use.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Digital Detox - Digital Wellbeing

Saturday afternoon, on the long Easter weekend suddenly I realised I was spending way too much time on social media viz. Facebook and Whatsapp and more than that it was in meaningless, pointless activities. The main test of everything is how it makes you feel or how it makes your life better. This was making me feel stressed and angry AND it was not making my life better in any way.

Following from that logic, I could see the next action clearly. I closed the browser windows that had Facebook open, closed the Chrome app called Whatschrome which I use for interacting with Whatsapp messages on my computer, and uninstalled Whatsapp from my phone. Also uninstalled FB messenger from the phone.

By no means was I planning to make all this permanent, but I felt like the long weekend would be a good test to try it out and see how I felt.

The logic behind this is that if I feel the need to share something I could blog about it. If it was not important enough to warrant a blog post then it was not important enough to share. If I felt the need to read something, I have many books, both paper and electronic, in my reading list.

I also had interesting assignment work to do for my Uni assignments and there's always office work to catch up on if you really feel bored.

Now, what, you ask, was the result? The result was amazing. I never like those Ted talks or web articles where people say things like "I gave up social media and became a millionaire!" or "How I got my life back from social media." Well, you know the kind of things I mean.

I have always maintained that Facebook is not the problem, social media is not the problem, your habits are the problem. You can do whatever you want, nobody is forcing you, you have to take control. But remember that quote "The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." My habits were getting to that point. Thankfully, I have a very stubborn personality.

Speaking of stubborn, a few hours after I closed Facebook I started getting notifications on my phone about things my friends had posted. Not things about me, not a photo of me, just things general things they had posted so that I would go and look at Facebook again. So, I had to uninstall Facebook.  I had already turned off all notifications from it but it was still doing it which I considered evil behaviour.

This was a weekend and a weekend during Coronavirus lockdown so I didn't have any obligation to be productive, but I still was. Productive, and creative. The increase in focus was phenomenal. Yes, I did feel the withdrawal, but as I said, strong, stubborn personality.

I had many, many thoughts that I wanted to post about on FB, but each time I asked - why? And each time the answer was, it doesn't matter. Another quote I love "Nothing matters very much. Very few things matter at all."

For communication, I still had my email. All my family and all my close friends have my phone number so I was available for emergencies.

Now, where do we go from here?

During these 3 days I wrote, I read, I watched movies, I did my homework, even did some office work. And I felt a physical lessening of mental stress. Like, seriously. I shit you not.

It follows that this is a good idea, just that this was an extreme case. I will need Whatsapp to talk to family, friends and classmates. I will even need FB to communicate with some friends or read my friends' updates. But it all doesn't have to be in a constant stream. I can and will regulate it keep it to the point where I don't have to silence 3 different devices before sitting down to meditate.

Google makes an app called Digital Wellbeing that helps you monitor and regulate your social media habits. I have just installed it and I am going to use it to control my social media as well as communications patterns.
Here is a link if you would like to try it as well:

Maybe I will report back in a couple of weeks to say how much it has helped me if it does.

Tonight, I am still enjoying the freedom. Tomorrow morning I will check back on Facebook and reinstall Whatsapp.

Have you ever felt the need to distance yourself from your digital habits? Would love to hear your thoughts. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

My First Ever Book - The Road To Nowhere And Back

I am not sure if you have looked at my other blog or not,  but I have mentioned that many places including a few videos on my vlog that I wrote a book. No, no, don't be too impressed. It's only a travelogue and that too a simple one. It's simply the story of my trip to Khardung La on bike with some friends.

The trip itself was amazing. It was terrible but it was amazing in a terrible way. The Himalayas provide with beautiful views but not with great roads. So, the combination of that was what created this terrible amazing trip.

The story of the book is quite long and a testamonial to my laziness, but finally after having dragging my heels over every part of the book process I finally published it. I made the decision to self-publish which is something I was deadset against in the beginning but the more I dealt with publishing firms and the publishing process the more I liked the self-publishing option.

With that story as the background here are the links for my book. It's called "The Road To Nowhere And Back".

These are all Amazon Kindle store direct links to the book. I have kept it free for Kindle Unlimited members so if you are a part of that you can read it for free.

I need some reviews for the books so if you can check out the book and take a few minutes to write a short review, I would really appreciate that.


Wednesday, December 25, 2019

No News is Indeed Good News

I actioned this policy (see photo) almost 3 years ago in Feb 2017. I am happy to report that the policy worked brilliantly. I did not get depressed from the news any more even though I have a faint inkling that there might be things happening in the world.

The funny thing is that I didn't get depressed even during the last months of 2019 when I completely uprooted my life and moved across the country, and was stone-cold broke for a few months (still stoney broke but not cold).

That brings me to the conclusion that we (editorial 'we') get more depressed by the general news even more so than by the things that happen directly to us.

For those who may be interested I use a Chrome add-on called F.B. Purity to suppress the news, ads and other junk that Facebook itself pushes to the page alongside your news feed. For the actual posts shared by people in my friends list I simply unfollow the person if their posts contain news of the world.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The Bliss of Cubana

How many moments do you have in your life when you actually have that feeling of "bliss"? When you know you are happy and nothing exists outside of that moment?

I have had a few in my life and if you just muttered "Lucky duck!" you are absolutely right. One recent moment that I want to share with you happened a couple of months ago in "Cubana".

In case you don't know it, Cubana is a Tapas Bar in Sheffield. This is where I used to go for my dance classes. I learnt to dance salsa there, and also learnt to dance Kizomba. At one point it became such an integral part of my life that I could not imagine a Tuesday night without Kizomba at Cubana. If I started driving from my home without thinking about it, my car would drive to Cubana on autopilot!

Of course, I must give part of the credit to my dance teacher Richard Chongtham who taught the classes and DJ'ed the after-class socials. The Cubana provided a nice backdrop but Richard made it come alive with his classes and his music. The lovely people populating the dance floor helped a lot as well!

So, the moment. This was one of these Tuesday nights when I was there after the class enjoying the social. At this precise moment, I was plopped down on one of the sofas like it was own my living room and watching the dancers dance. I had had some dances already and I knew I would have some more soon. There were my lovely friends around me and my favourite DJ was playing Kizomba music (Shhh..don't tell Richard, he gets airs!)

At that moment if you had asked me to rank my life on the happiness scale, I would have put it at precisely 100%.

Now, Cubana and RCDance (Richard's company) are changing it up. Cubana will do something different on Tuesday nights and Richard will hold his classes someplace else. Nothing lasts forever in this ever changing world.

But I have the memories of the wonderful moments, that one and a lot more moments in Cubana. So, thanks to the Cubana management (they are genuinely nice people) and thanks to Richard. And, of course, to my dance family!

Here's to the moments of bliss and the people who contribute to them!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

6 Lessons I Learnt From 9/11

Whether I like it or not on this day I am reminded of that day. I was in US, in Philadelphia, working in an American company. The news came as it happened and we watched as the horrific events unfolded. It was not a good day for humanity and I know it shook everybody's faith for a moment.

From the events of the 9/11 and the aftermath, I have a learnt a few lessons that I'd like to share with you.

1. Life is short, don't get stuck in trivial stuff.
2. We got through it as humans, we can get through anything with each other's help.
3. The best thing we can do is to be kind to others at every opportunity we get.
4. Things can always get worse, but that would be no life to live in the fear of that. Be thankful for what we have and be strong to face what we must.
5. Love and kindness should not be reserved for those related to you or close to you. There are so many stories from ground zero that show the value of kindness and compassion wherever it is needed.
6. Even horrors at this level cannot kill our humanity. We went on, and we will carry on.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Earworm Episode - The Big Bang Theory

Wow! What an episode! The Big Bang Theory season 9 episode 10.

Sheldon gets a song stuck in his head that he can't stop humming it but can't remember which song it is. The combination of these 2 things starts driving him crazy. It takes him more than half an episode to figure out which song it is.

Then he wonders why he had this song stuck in his head. The chain of reasoning takes him back to Amy and how she softened his life. This leads to Sheldon saying one of my most favourite romantic lines "She's like the dryer sheets of my heart."

I feel that that's an amazing way of thinking about a romantic partner, somebody who softens your life, someone who makes life more fun and who gives you the strength to face life's challenges. Love is the thing that makes you weak and strong at the same time!

The way they have written this episode, and how they have edited it - it is fantastic!

Also, the other man in the picture, the actor called "Stephen Merchant" (tall, British, Dave on screen) his role is so hilarious I was laughing out loud even when watching the episode a second time.

This is one of my very favourite episodes, my recommendation is - go and watch it again.

Generally speaking, the writers of TBBT are really good in writing fights and resolution scenes. There are so many that I can't name them all but see how they created then resolved the issue at the time of Leonard's marriage.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Bharat - Made For Stupid Audience - Movie Review

"If you cast popular stars and put some masala scenes, helped by some clever editing, then even if the film has no story it will be a great film." That's the thought behind this film.

I really like Salman Khan, he has a great screen presence. But if he stars in a formula crap I can't say that it's a good film. This is a pathetic execution of a lame idea and you can see that in everything. There are a couple of formula scenes which are ok, but on the whole it's a stupid film made while thinking that the public is stupid.

Salman's acting is very good, but weak in the old avatar. The director, and the actors, have no idea how an old person talks, walks and behaves. It's like they have never observed an old person of the human species.

The make up artists of this film should be expelled out of the industry! The main characters who are supposed to be old are actually made to look like cosplay characters.

I had said after "Tiger Zinda Hai" that I have finally seen Katrina act. Unfortunately, that streak stopped there. Nobody can blame her of "acting" in this film. She's a beautiful girl and directors usually use her for her glamorous presence. In this film even that's not there. Her dialog delivery is her weakest part and they have given her way too many lines in this film.

"The promise of a man to his father." that's the catch line of the synposis. What stupid rot! If he had not promised he would not take care of his family? WTH, man!

It was not so boring that I could not finish it but there were 7 places where it pissed me off and I wanted to turn it off because it offended my sensibilities. Still, I somehow finished it.

I am so glad I didn't go to the cinema for it. Thank god for Amazon Prime Video.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Circle of Obvious Advice

I used to make fun of my dad for giving the same advice every time I travelled. I mean, come on, I was 'mature', I was not a kid anymore. For God's sake, I was going to another country for a professional job! How much more responsible and adult could I get?

But no, he would give the same advice every single time "Go carefully. Keep everything secure. Passports, visa, do you have your ticket?" etc. etc.

And today when two of my young friends are travelling from India across the globe I am so anxious to give the same advice "Do you have your passport? Visa? It will be crowded on the airport, don't drop anything. Be careful while taking photos. Have you packed your warm clothes?"

Very annoying, right? They are young only compared to me but they are mature and smart people in their own right. They are quite capable of taking care of themselves and bright enough to make their way for their success.

But this urge, this need to give the most obvious advice doesn't come from a logical place it's more of an emotional need. We say those things because we care about the person even if we they don't need that advice. When someone says "drive safe" it's not like you'd have driven into a telephone pole without their advice, it's that they care about you and would like to see you safe and happy.

All that preamble to say "Bon voyage" to my friends Harsha and Sagar! Take care, guys!

Safe paths and happy trails!