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Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness. Not!

[Photo courtesy Cottonbro at Pexels.com]


There was a very popular example that my parents, teachers and other grown-up's used to overuse when I was a boy. "Even the dog wags its to tail to clean its spot before sitting down." Every single grown up used to love this example.  Any sign of laziness or untidiness spotted, and they would whip this out like the cowboy in the wild west whips out his six-shooter. 

If I were as much of a smartass then as I am now, I would have said "Yes, he does but he also runs around naked all day and drinks from the toilet. Will you please choose my role models more carefully, mom?" 

But I wasn't. But now I am. So, here I am to prove that cleanliness is NOT next to godliness, it's quite the opposite. Dirtiness is the godliness. What happens when a clean thing and a dirty thing come in contact? Who wins? The dirty. One rotten apple can ruin the whole basket but one good apple can't make a rotten apple good. What's more powerful?

And dirtiness is indestructible? When you are "cleaning" things, you are not cleaning anything, you are just transferring dirtiness from one place to another. Think of any activity where you are cleaning something, you will realise that you are making something else dirty. Dusting? You dirty the duster. You wash the duster. You make the water dirty that you wash it with. There is a whole cycle of dirtiness that's unbreakable and unescapable. Dirtiness like the soul is indestructible. "Nainam chhindanti shastrani..." Weapons cannot kill it and fire cannot burn it. 

What is the dirtiest topic in the world? Sex. But without it the human race could not survive or propagate. So, dirtiness is essential in this world. 

I hope I have made you feel better about not doing any cleaning this Easter weekend. 

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Loved and Lost but Why?


Shakespeare has this famous quote (among his many quotes) "It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

Other than the general principle that having experienced something is better than not (not always true) have you ever wondered why it's better to have loved and lost? I will tell you. 

If you have never loved than you would not understand 100% of the world's songs, plays, music, TV shows, novels, stories and films. Okay, I might be exaggerating by about 1.7% but generally it is true that if you have loved, ever, you can understand how a character behaves, in real life or in a fictional world. No matter how stupidly a character behaves you would be able to understand why they are doing it. You may have done that exact stupid thing in your life when you were in love or maybe something even stupider. My money is on the latter. 

By having lived through that kind of intense emotional experience you can understand how someone can be so short-sighted, petty, jealous, insecure, unreasonable, illogical, or loyal, committed, determined, selfless and devoted. You may or may not agree with their logic, but you get it. 

These days I am totally in love with this Hindi TV show called "Mere Dad Ki Dulhan" (My Father's Bride). It's the story of a father and daughter - Amber Sharma and Niya Sharma. They lost her mother 8 years ago and now they have the most co-dependent, emotionally stunted co-existence two people ever had. After a few preliminary incidents, Niya becomes convinced that her father should marry again so that he can be happy and they can both be emotionally independent.

Varun Badola and Shweta Tiwari are in the title roles with Anjali Tatrari playing the daughter. Because of the star cast, you know right from the beginning what the end is going to be. But it's not in the destination, it's in the journey. And the journey of this show is delectable. The beginning episodes can be a bit frustrating because of so much fighting and emotional drama going on but there are quite a few good scenes and episodes in them also, and the show gets better and better as it progresses. I found it on Youtube and watched it all the way through. It took a three months' break when the Covid-19 lockdown hit India, but I found the show after it had already finished so I didn't have to wait for those three months. Those episodes have a lot of gaps because it's a Sony show and they cut out all the scenes where there was copyright music playing. Lots of editing jerks, noticeable. Fortunately, I found it on their website Sonyliv.com and now I am able to watch the full versions of the episodes. Yes, it's worth watching, again and again. 

So back to my point. There are many, oh so many scenes in the show where I scream "Amber Sharma, don't do that, man!" at the screen but even when I am telling him not to do something, I can understand why he is doing that or what he is feeling. I would not have known that if I had not felt and done similar things in my own life. Loved and lost.

I might do more posts on this show to discuss some of my favourite things from it. But I already highly recommend it. 



Saturday, April 03, 2021

What parlez-vous do you speak?

 


 


Recently I received the Census 2021 form in the snail mail. It said right on the envelope that I was legally bound to respond to it. Don’t you love it when they send you a letter with that text right on the envelope? Well, at least it was not a traffic ticket. But I did go on Google to check that they were telling me was truth and not like the TV licence thing. Oh, that’s a different story altogether.

 

Anyway, I know census is important and I expected that they would be doing this online this time, so I didn’t mind filling out a form. It was slightly longer than I expected but not too bad. I struggled with the educational qualifications bit, no, no, I did go to school, honest. I went to school in India though, and they didn’t make it easy to map it to the British education system on this form. I had to search around a bit on the web to find out which options to choose for that and I am still not 100% sure that I clicked the right buttons.

 

The biggest issue was the language question. They asked what was my primary language and I got stuck. French and German were out, while I do know a few words of those, at most I can say my name and that I am hungry. Spanish is even less of a candidate as my favourite sentence in that has something to do with a tomato that’s reserved for the soup.

 

At the moment I speak English most of the time but then I live in England so why wouldn’t I? But I was not born speaking English. No, even though I was born in Delhi, I wasn’t born speaking Hindi either. My first words were probably “ma” and “da” like most children but after that I did learn Hindi because it happened to be my mother tongue.

 

But that was years ago and since then things have changed a lot. In addition to learning English in school, I fell in love with the habit of reading and Enid Blyton, Ian Fleming and Arthur Conan Doyle contributed to my education as much as my English teacher, Mr. Kaushik. Add to that my love for the action movies in English - James Bond, Mission Impossible, Broken Arrow - and you can understand why I am as comfortable in English today as I am in my mother tongue.

 

And that was my problem. The question didn’t call for my mother tongue or any kind of official language but “What language do you use most at home?” So, I tried to sort this out with a few questions to myself.

 

What language do I think in? Both. Depends on which topic I am thinking about but these days is 80-20, 80% English, 20% Hindi.

 

What language do I dream in? Again, both. It depends on the characters in my dream.

 

What language do I speak at home? Hmmm, considering that I live alone that is covered by the thinking language, but let’s say what language do I use with my family? That depends on the family member I am speaking with but the family members I speak to most are bilingual and which language we use depends on which language we start speaking in.

 

Ultimately, I answered Hindi based on the last two questions.

 

What language do I curse in? While I do curse fluently in both languages (and a couple more) when I am genuinely pissed off and need heavy curse words that would be unprintable, I resort to Hindi.


What language do I do my calculations in? I can do maths in English and I can count to ten in French and German, if you gave me a column of figures to add and I had to it in a hurry I would have to use Hindi numbers.

 

Problem solved. But it was quite an interesting analytical trip down the labyrinth of my brain. I usually enjoy those.

 

So, what language do you parlez-vous in?

 

Friday, April 02, 2021

Blowing Your Own Horn


 Some things are so obviously good or bad that they become universally accepted as such. Like humility. 

In the Hindu epic Mahabharat there is an instance when Yudhishthir, eldest of the five brothers, tells his younger brother Arjun (who is the basically the hero of the whole piece) to put down his bow called Gaandeev (yes, they had names for all their bows, these superarchers) in the heat of the battle. Later Arjun is in distress because he had taken a vow to kill anyone who tells him to put his bow down. (Don't ask me why.)  

Lord Krishna who is friend, philosopher and guide to the five brothers comes to the rescue and tells Arjun to speak rudely to the elder brother because to use the word "thou" to an elder is equivalent to killing him. Ok, so that's what Arjun does. But then he wants to kill himself because he spoke rudely to his elder brother. Again, Krishna pitches in with great advice. He tells Arjun to praise himself because according to the Hindu scriptures he who praises himself is as good as dead. Crisis averted. 

This is how bad self-praise is in the Hindu culture. But then look at the Urdu culture. In Urdu poetry, a ghazal is not considered good poetry if it contains an element of "khud-shanaasi" which means self-praise. 

For years, this is what I used to deal from. But while it is good to have a modest, self-effacing outlook in life, (it's crucial for stand-up comedy), it doesn't go so hot in job interviews. I can't tell you how many job opportunities I have missed because I answered the questions from a realistic and more modest mindset. It took me a while but I finally understood that when I used a modesty scale to assess and portray myself in front of potential employers, my humility got transferred to them as fear that I would not match up with their requirement. Once I understood the problem, it was easy to implement the solution. I simply started answering the same questions with 110% confidence instead of my original dose of 80%. 

The moral of the story is - not everything is good and bad in clear contrast, you need to apply a grain of intelligence even before using a concept as inherently good as humility. 

Saturday, March 06, 2021

The Time That Spends Us



"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." - Anais Nin

I have this movie I watch once every month. It's a Hindi movie called "Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani", translation "The craziness of youth" Youth as in the period of youth in life, not a young person. 

Yes, you did read it right, I watch it once every month. I have seen it more times than I can count. Why? No, it's not like one of those "It's a wonderful life" kind of movie that's a ritual for the world to watch. It's a purely commercial movie about a boy and a girl (aren't they all?). The basic premise is extremely simple - he wants to travel the world and do everything in one life, she wants a simple life. Of course, they fall in love, but at different times. 

Spoilers below if you haven't seen the movie but it came out in 2013 so you have had 8 years. 

There are many reasons to watch this movie so many times but one of the important ones is that every time I watch it, I see different things in it. Now spoilers. In the end, the hero decides to stay in India in order to marry the girl. I never agreed with that decision. I even have my favourite shot where I would end the movie if I were the director. No, I don't turn it off there, I still watch it fully every time. But I always think he's wrong. Ambition over marriage? Ha! Until now. Five seconds before starting this post I was thinking about this dialogue that he says to her when he's proposing. 

"Beet_ta waqt hai lekin kharch hum hote hain. Aur isse pehle ki main poora kharch ho jaoun, tere saath thoda waqt bitana chahta hoon."

[Translation: We don't spend the time, the time spends us. And before my balance runs out I want to spend some of that time with you. ]

Suddenly today it made sense to me. Spending time with a loved one can take precedence over travelling, job and even a lifelong dream. I still don't know if I agree with him but at least now I can see his viewpoint. 

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." The movie is always the same, every scene, every shot, every camera angle. That doesn't change. The reason I see different things in it every time is because I change. 

Do you have a loop movie that you watch as many times as possible? I can't be the only crazy person in this world. 



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 androidpolice.com 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 - https://signal.org/

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:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.wellbeing&hl=en_GB

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.

UK
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B083RDVZ24
India
https://www.amazon.in/dp/B083RDVZ24
Canada
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B083RDVZ24
US
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083RDVZ24
Germany
https://www.amazon.de/dp/B083RDVZ24
Aus
https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B083RDVZ24
Spain
https://www.amazon.es/dp/B083RDVZ24

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.