Friday, December 25, 2009

USA Vs. France

No this is not a political battle - this a clip from Cheers. I am currently watching the 11th and last season and I am surprised and impressed that they have kept the same high-quality going in the story and the humour has become better as the show progressed.

This is one of the most hilarious episode, so much so that I watched it twice within 24 hours. Henri, the French loverboy/con artist, has been trying to egg Sam into accepting a bet - whoever gets the most numbers from beautiful women by midnight wins. Sam is above this kind of thing, but...well, watch what happens.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Too Relaxed - From Newsradio

I am into last season of this one, second viewing and good as gold. Here's a scene where everybody thinks that the news director Dave (splendid guy), is too stressed. So Joe, makes a sound machine for him. And then they think he's too relaxed. Station owner Mr. Jimmy James goes in to fix that, here's the result.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Free Software For Writers or Authors

As you know I have been trying to write a book and as you might not know I have a few other writing projects in the oven. More than once I have felt the need to have a software tool that could help me organize the huge amount of text that goes in a book. For example, my current book, the one mentioned on it's own blog has several places where I have put in brackets and written "How many times do I say this?", it's easy to forget something like that when you have 200 pages of text that you travel through back and forth, back and forth. Hence, the need for a tool to assist.

With a google search I found a tool called the Storyboard. It seems nice and best of all it's free and open source. So, I am going to try that. If you have a need for this go to -

Oh, remember my ranting post about MS-Word being a piece of crap because it crashed and I lost data? Well, Storybook saves each input as it goes along, so no losing data even if it crashes. Neat huh?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hindi Movie - Woh 7 Din

I like this movie, an old classic, though I don't like the climax but well, no director usually goes again the public sentiment, any other climax would cause the movie to flop at the boxoffice.

So, here are 2 clips from it, one a comedy scene that I absolutely love.

The other, a powerful, emotional scene that refers back to the comedy scene.

Nida Faazli - The Common Man's Shaayar

Well, I am only going to re-quote. While looking at some Hindi blogs I across this blog called shreesuvach, I am posting the direct link to the post.

After giving due credit, here are the lines that compelled me to post:
" निकल आते हैं आंसू हंसते-हंसते,
ये किस गम की कसक है हर खुशी में
गुजर जाती है यूं ही उम्र सारी;
किसी को ढूँढते है हम किसी में.
बहुत मुश्किल है बंजारा मिजाजी;
सलीका चाहिए आवारगी में."

और इन पंक्तियों को पढ़कर अगर मुँह से "वाह" ना निकले तो अपनी नब्ज़ ज़रूर एक बार चैक करवा लें.

" फासला नज़रों का धोखा भी हो सकता है,
चाँद जब चमकें तो जरा हाथ बढाकर देखो.."

For my English-reading readers, the poet says,
"The distance may very well be an illusion of the eyes,
When the Moon is shining, just try to reach out.."

No, I won't dissect it for you. :)

एक पोस्ट मातृभाषा में

एक ज़माना था कि मुझे लगता था कि हिन्दी में कंप्यूटर्स पर काम करना यानी जैसे हम लोग वापिस जाने कि कोशिश कर रहे हैं और वक़्त कि रफ़्तार को रोकने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं, लेकिन वक़्त के साथ साथ मेरे विचार भी बदलने लगे और मैने महसूस किया कि इतने बड़े देश की इतनी पॉपुलर भाषा को अगर कंप्यूटर्स सपोर्ट नहीं करेंगे तो बात अधूरी रह जाएगी.

खुशी की बात ये है कि मेरी तरह और लोगों ने इस बात को समझने में इतनी देर नहीं की और इस दिशा में बहुत सी तरक़्क़ी इस बीच में हो चुकी है.

ये पोस्ट मैं एक वेबसाइट पर टाइप कर रहा हूँ और ये देख कर हैरान हूँ कि कितना आसान है हिन्दी में टाइप करना इस phonetic editor में. ग़लतियाँ तो हैं ही नहीं और रफ़्तार बहुत अच्छी है. इसका नाम है Quillpad और URL है अगर आपको हिन्दी आती है तो टाइप करके देखिए बहुत मज़ा आएगा! और अगर आपको हिन्दी नहीं आती....तो मैंने कुछ कहा ही नहीं :D

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get Smart - Laser Smart

Another sexy and funny scene from the same movie - Get Smart. I like this movie.

Bruce - Reading News With a Difference

I recently re-watched Bruce Almighty, a very funny film with lots of good, hilarious scenes. I selected this one because this is the silliest, in my opinion.

Get Smart - Dance Scene

This is a very funny movie, but don't think it's very famous. I liked this dance sequence that's both funny and sexy at the same time. Watch to the end.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fifty Fifty

I have always loved this simple scene from the movie terminal. It's a very small scene, basically just one dialogue but worth watching.

It's a great way of looking at things, especially something to remember when you are thinking how hard it is to do that particular thing and want to give up. Oh, but not if you live in America, remember what she said, "America doesn't work that way." :)

The Switch

Please read this in the order it is written watching the video clips as you come to each one. You'll enjoy it the most that way.

So, the story, ladies and gentlemen, is of a man who wanted to perform the legendary maneuvre called "The Switch". Nobody in the history of the human race had ever performed this switch before but this young man was ambitious. Maybe too ambitious for his own good!

It all started like this. Jerry Seinfeld was dating this woman named Sandy. Now Sandy, while a very personable young lady had but one flaw.

Her words stayed in his mind and he decided to test this theory.

And then, to make matters worse, he met...the roommate!

And so, Jerry is thrown into the middle of an emotional turmoil.

They all but accept defeat.

But where, there is a will there is a way. And so...

Jerry puts the devious plan into action, not sure of his footing but urged on not only by his desire for the roommate but also for the unparallelled achievement of...The Switch! Will he succeed where better men than him failed?

Jerry is in over his head. Can he cope with this new development? This unforeseen complication in his plan! Let's watch.

And here folks, you have the whole story!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

HIMYM - Know Your Girlfriend!

Don't you wish there was a class like that about 'your' girlfriend?

G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra - Lights, Colours, Sounds = Garbage

After a long wait and with much anticipation I finally got my hands on the "G.I.Joe:The Rise of Cobra" DVD and watched it as soon as I got it.

In short, it's a mixture of lights, colours and action sounds that lacks meaning. In very short, it's total garbage!

You know I review a movie only when it moves me emotionally, either positively or negatively. This one just pissed me off completely!

So, let's start dissecting it. I will discuss the plot in detail because I wouldn't want you to waste your time on it. Not much of a plot anyway.

The title - absolute crap. It has nothing to do with Cobra of any kind and the attempt to connect it is even more pathetic than the title.

A better title would be "Attack of the Nanomites", because that's what the movie is all about - microscopic, mechanical creatures that can "eat" through anything, called Nanomites and developed by a corporation called MARS for NATO. There are 4 nanomite warheads developed, and are to be delivered to NATO complete with their KILL switches. And of course, the bad guys are after these things.

The hero "Duke" and his friend "Ripcord" are not G I Joe's in the beginning, they come in contact with the Joe's when they are attacked by the bad guys and the Joe team saves these 2 and the warheads, everybody else dies. So, these 2, of course, want to "join up". They are put through the training and god knows how they pass - they act like puppies more than soldiers if you ask me, one as a lovesick puppy and the other as a heartbroken puppy.

I like human heros with their strengths and weakness, but this hero, esp. in this kind of movie, is all weak! That includes a weak mind. The best thing you could say about him is that he's too stupid to be bad. There's one scene where his ex-fiancee is holding the bag of the warheads alongside her bad-man accomplice and this moron (the hero, Duke) has a gun pointed at her while both of them have no guns and out of sword range....and he lets her walk away with the warheads because he can't shoot his ex-girlfriend!! Now, would you want that kind of dedicated soldier guarding your country?

The dialogue is all made up of tired, old cliches. There was not a single dialogue in the whole 1 hour 57 minute movie that impressed me. The attempt at levity would make you groan, the jokes are that bad! Dialog delivery, maybe because of the poor quality dialogues, is very bad.

Usually, the objective of this kind of a movie is to present the superhero (in this case Superteam) in a positive light. This movie does the opposite. After watching them at work, I wouldn't hire them to walk my dog. They can't do a single thing right. They fail all their missions and assignments one by one. One example - The bad guys want to shoot the Nanomite warhead at the Eiffel Tower, the Joe's get to know in advance where they will "weaponise" the warheads but they are so late in arriving that they have to start the chase from the time when the bad guys are getting into their SUV (Truck for Americans) and driving towards the Eiffel Tower. Imagine this scene, their SUV is outside the lab, the girl has yet to get into it, and the Joe team arrives in their fully-equipped, sci-fi weapons loaded kind of van but do they shoot at the SUV and blast the bastards to kingdom come? No! That'd be too easy, that'd make common sense. So what do they do? They chase the bad guys, on foot, in accelerator suits. Nice chase scene made up of lots of *boom* *bam* *crash* sounds which I think is the director's idea of "action".

Well, finally, after a long and at times boring chase sequence the Joe's fail as the bad guy launches the warhead. Then they can't get to the KILL switch until it's too late to save the Tower. Some team!

The most interesting thing in this to me was, WHY were the bad guys DRIVING to the Eiffel Tower? According to the demo shown in the beginning, the nanomites will continue eating through everything until killed by the KILL switch. They had the potential to destroy the world, if unstopped, hence the need for a KILL switch. So, why go to Eiffel Tower when you want to destroy Paris? (That was their objective.) If I were a bad guy, I'd just fire the warhead at the farthest building I could see and start driving in the opposite direction with the KILL switch in my pocket.

Not just this but with other things also it seemed that the villain's plot was just as bad as the director's plot for this movie.

There are several flashbacks in the movie, most of which detract from the speed and don't add anything to the impact. There are way too many fight sequences with a variety of weapons but none of them impress. Most of them are nothing more than a haphazard mixture of lights, colours and sounds. You feel like you are watching a comic book being enacted.

Common sense is lacking in the whole movie which pisses me off the most in any movie. In one scene, General Hawk, the big boss of the Joe's says, "Give me a satellite uplink. I want to see everything that's going on there." An UPLINK is to upload data to a satellite, if you want to download data from the satellite, like images uploaded from another station, then you need something called a DOWNLINK. If you are making a movie and can't spend 30 seconds to get your facts are pathetic!

It's very clear the director doesn't understand technology and wants viewers who understand even less. The nanomites are shown other than as attack critters, as particles that can control the mind if injected into a person. Apparently, for the director, nanomites equals "magic goblins".

The bad girl/good girl in the movie is Sienna Miller. And even with a hottie like her, they have not been able to generate any sex appeal, except a little when she makes her first appearance. The other heroine, Rachel Nichols, is also gorgeous, but again, the camera work and direction are lacking in taking advantage of her beauty.

The climax is also equally crap. Apparently, the only thing the director was conserned about, was to leave a couple of doors open for a sequel. Well, count me out, mate!

On the whole, a "must miss" movie.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Seeing is fighting

I was watching a movie today, a very old Hindi movie, when movies used to have a unique element called - a story. This movie is called Laila Majnu and is based around a couple of legendary lovers.

I really loved the movie and might do another post about the movie itself, but here I want to talk about one aspect of it. There was a scene where the hero is engaged in a sword fight with the heroine's evil brother and as the fight continues I suddenly realize that I can "see" the fight. No, no, I was not blind before or any miracle like that, just bear with me here. I could see exactly what both the characters were doing, their footwork, the somersaults, the running; I could see what the sword arm was doing, I could see what the swords were doing, I could watch the whole fight and follow it very easily.

I actually watched another scene in another old Hindi movie called "Amar Akbar Anthony", in this one the fight was unarmed combat between two of the heroes and and the common factor was the detail I was able to see - I could see who kicked whom, where and how hard and how he pushed the other one and all of that.

Now contrast that with the current movies, both English and Hindi - there are 17 different shots every second, showing 17 different things - hero's feet in extreme close up, villain's hands in extreme close up, a bystander...again, in extreme close-up...and all kinds of techno-fabulous sounds going on all the time. You can't really see what's happening, what are they doing to each other, that you can't follow, you have to play Sherlock Holmes...when you see the hero's face in extreme close-up distorted with pain, you have to infer that the villain must have gotten a good hit in, if you see the villain's lip bleeding in the next shot, you infer that the last *whap* sound you heard must have been the hero's fist connecting with the villain's face, and so on and so forth.

Let me take a very specific example. In the last Bond movie called Quantum of Solace, there's a fight scene in the beginning, Bond vs. a bad guy, hand-to-hand combat going on. Since it's a dynamic situation both the fighters use whatever item they can get their hands on to hurt the other guy. Now with this background...we see a piece of rope hanging in mid-air, we see Bond's face, his eyes, obviously noticing the rope, then we hear some techno-fabulous *whap* *boom* *crunch* type sounds...what do you infer?

I inferred that somehow Bond used that piece of rope strategically to hit the bad guy. But how? What was the ingenious gambit that he devised? I have no freaking clue!!

So while the director is sitting in a Los Angeles penthouse counting dollar bills, I am sitting in the theatre thinking, "You bloody wanker! I didn't pay 12 quid to see a piece of rope!! Show me what the f**k is going on, you idiot!"

My point is that technology has progressed a lot in the movie-making business but it is possible to abuse that technology and be so carried away by the amazing, super-powerful, stunt-designing computers that you forget about the man who pays his hard-earned money to see what tale you have spun for him. And then they ask why people don't watch movies on cinema any more!

Now, here's my plan - any time there's a movie like that on the cinema that I am considering watching, I am going to call the director and ask him:
SG: "Listen, dude, are you the kind of director who goes for technology in a big way?"
SG:"Okay, no harm in that I guess. But are you also the kind of bloke who sometimes gets carried away with technology and forgets about the craft of filmmaking?"
Director:"Yes, I guess so."
SG:"Hah! Then I am sorry mate, but you would be interested to know that I am not going to watch your latest movie!"

And with that, I will hang up, leaving him to deal with the sense of doom that he starts experiencing!
Pretty good, eh?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

MS-Word is a piece of s**t!

Warning: This is a rant post! I write it to vent my anger rather than for your amusement.

I am working on this book, you know. You would know if you have checked out my other blog - And of course, nobody uses pen and paper for such things these days, at least I don't, so I write in Word and save it. Then I edit it and save it as a new version. So, tonight I was working on version 0.4 and making changes to it.

Word has some peculiar issues. One of them is that after I have been editing for an hour or so, it would say that it could not save the file, ran out of memory or out of space or some such crap. I learned computers in India without the luxury of a battery backup behind the computers I used to use, so I have this excellent habit of pressing Control-S about every 2 seconds. So, now that I know about this stupid behaviour from Word, all I do is, I close the file without saving, open it again and resume working. I never lose more than a minute's worth of work.

But I was working on 0.4 when the problem occurred, Word said Problem, I closed the file, it asked me to save, I said no, then it asked me to save a ~*.tmp file, I said no and exited!
And what do I find? My file has disappeared. The v0.4 file that I had saved before and worked on a few times, the whole file was gone! Vanished beyond a trace! Instead of a minute's worth of work I have lost about an hour's worth of editing. And editing is such a chore to redo.

That's it! I am through with Word. I am moving to Open Office!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ghazal - Farz karo hum ahle-wafa hoN

When I was buying that song - O des se aane waale bata...I saw this ghazal in the same album "Paigham-e-Mohabbat" by Abida Parveen and the mat_la (the first sher) seemed kind of cheeky, so I bought it.

This time the whole ghazal in Hindi script so it's easier to read.

फ़र्ज़ करो हम अहल-इ-वफ़ा हों, फ़र्ज़ करो दीवाने हों
फ़र्ज़ करो ये दोनों बातें झूटी हों अफ़साने हों

फ़र्ज़ करो ये जी की बिपता जी से जोर सुनायी हो
फ़र्ज़ करो अभी और हो इतनी, आधी हम ने छुपायी हो

फ़र्ज़ करो तुम्हें खुश करने के ढूंडे हम ने बहाने हों
फ़र्ज़ करो ये नैन तुम्हारे सच-मच के मैखाने हों

फ़र्ज़ करो ये रोग हो झुटा झूटी पीट हमारी हो
फ़र्ज़ करो इस पीट के रोग में सांस भी हम पे भारी हो

फ़र्ज़ करो ये जोग-बिजोग का हमने ढोंग रचाया हो
फ़र्ज़ करो बस यही हकीक़त बाकी सब कुछ माया हो

इब्ने इंशा

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book review - Diplomat

One big advantage in having a blog is that you can write about whatever you feel like. Today I feel like talking about a book.

This book is from the east region of India, the area called Bengal, that was divided in two parts in 1947, Pakistan got the Eastern part and we got the West Bengal. I like to read literature from all parts of India and I have read and loved many great books from Bengal that were actually translated from Bangla to Hindi.

This book is called Diplomat, written by Nimai Bhattacharya. Unlike Shankar and Sharatchand Chattopadhyaya I have read very few of Nimai Bhattacharya's books and liked only a couple of them, but the ones I have liked, I have loved dearly. Diplomat is one my most favorite books, not just by Nimai Bhattacharya.

The story is simple, but the author's style of writing is intricate. He writes stories like one weaves a fabric, many threads, moving back and forth in different patterns all the time....but there is one prominent thread, the story of Tarun who is an excellent diplomat in Indian Foreign Service and a great person...he is loved by his colleagues and appreciated by his superiors, he is the kind of man who makes friends anywhere he goes. During the course of the novel he does go many places as he is transferred as part of his job - Cairo, London, Berlin, Delhi, and finally again London.

But Tarun has a secret sorrow, a secret that everybody in the foreign service knows, he is looking for his lost love - Indrani. This was a girl he loved since before he knew the meaning of the word. And he lost her in the riots that followed the Indian partition. Ever since he has been looking for her, without much hope left....

This is the central thread of the story, but other events happen and countless little stories are woven around Tarun that keep the reader hooked.

But a great book is not just a narration of events, a great book is one that gives you an insight into life, into people, into yourself.

I read this book long time back, borrowing it from a library, I forget which. Even though it was long time back and I was quite young, I still had sense enough to try and retain the book. I couldn't keep the library's book so I had it xeroxed - yes, illegal in 19 countries, I am sure. I kept that xeroxed book in my papers in India for a long time. But I missed it. This time when I went to India in August I looked for my old xeroxed books and found it.

I have just finished reading it and even though I know the main story very well and I remember the last scene almost verbatim, it still brings tears to my eyes, just that last page. That's the beauty of the narration!

One insight that I got from this book back when I first read it was that we all want to be loved, but we all also want to love, and to not have anyone to pour your love and affection on, that is just as big a misfortune. Of course, the author says it much better in the original language (actually in the translated Hindi), but you can't stop me from trying. :)

Read more books!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

O des se aane waale bata!

So I mention this song again. Well, it's only my all-time favourite. But this might be the last time I mention it.

Tonight I found the soundtrack so I thought I'd tell you. Actually, after looking high and low for this MP3 I found it on Amazon UK and was once again amazed at how much of Indian content is available on Amazon and other UK sites. Good for me, eh?

I am used to buying Audio CDs but buying MP3, I think this was the first experience. Buying MP3 from Amazon is quite a nice experience, you can sample a few seconds of each song in the album and buy either individual songs or the whole album, with a single-click if you are logged in. You can download the purchased MP3 immediately, which is what I really wanted.

I just heard the song after buying, it's well worth the small price.

Before the song Muzaffar Ali speaks in in his baritone voice,
गुलाम तुम भी थे यारो, गुलाम हम भी थे

नहा के खून में आयी थी फ़स्ले आझादी

मज़ा तो तब था के मिलकर इलाज--जाँ करते
खुद अपने हाथ से तामीर--गुलसिताँ करते

हमारे दर्द मे तुम, और तुम्हारे दर्द मे हम
शरीक होते तो जश्न--आशियाँ करते

तुम आओ गुलशन--लाहोर से चमन बरदोश
हम आयें सुबह--बनारस की रोशनी लेकर,
हिमालयों की हवाओं की ताजगी लेकर,
और इसके बाद ये पु्छें, कौन दुष्मन हैं?

(Ali Sardar Jaffery)

Then Abida starts singing in her powerful voice and you forget everything else -

देस से आने वाले बता, देस से आने वाले बता
किस हाल मे है यारां--वतन, वो बाग--वतन, फिरदौस वतन
देस से आने वाले बता, देस से आने वाले बता

क्या अब भी वहाँ के बागों में मस्ताना हवाएं आती हैं
क्या अब भी वहाँ के पर्बतपर घनघोर घटाएं छाती हैं
क्या अब भी वहाँ की बरखायें वैसे ही दिलों को भाती है
देस से आने वाले बता, देस से आने वाले बता

(Akhtar Sheerani)

वो शह़र जो हमसे छुटा है, वो शह़र हमारा कैसा है
सब लोग हमें प्यारे हैं मगर, वो जान से प्यारा कैसा है;
कैसा है?
देस से आने वाले बता, देस से आने वाले बता

(Ahmed Faraz)

क्या अब भी वतन मे वैसे ही सरमस्त नज़ारे होते है
क्या अब भी सुहानी रातों मे वो चांद-सितारे होते है
हम खेल जो खेला करते थे, अब भी वो सारे होते है
देस से आने वाले बता, देस से आने वाले बता

(Akhtar Sheerani)

शब बज्म--हरीफ़ां सजती हैं या शाम ढलें सो जाते है
यारों की बसर औकात है क्या, हर अंजुमन आरा कैसा है;
कैसा है?
देस से आने वाले बता, देस से आने वाले बता

(Ahmed Faraz)

क्या अब भी मेहकते मंदिर से नाकूस की आवाज आती है
क्या अब भी मुकदस मस्जिद पर मस्ताना अज़ान थर्राती है
क्या अब भी वहाँ के पनघट पर पनहारियां पानी भरती है
अंगडाई का नक्शा बन बन कर, सब माथे पे गागर धरती है
और अपने घरों को जाते हुएं हसती हुयीं चुहलें करती है
करती है?
देस से आने वाले बता, देस से आने वाले बता

(Akhtar Sheerani)

मेहरान लहू की धार हुआ, बोलान भी क्या गुलनार हुआ
किस रंग का है दरिया--अटक, रावी का किनारा कैसा है;
कैसा है?
देस से आने वाले मगर तुमने तो इतना भी पुछा
वो कवी जिसे बनवास मिला, वो दर्द का मारा कैसा है?
कैसा है?
देस से आने वाले बता, देस से आने वाले बता

(Ahmed Faraz)

क्या अब भी किसीके सीने मे बाकी हमारी चाह बता
क्या याद हमे भी करता है अब यारों में कोई आह बता
देस से आने वाले बता, देस से आने वाले बता
लिल्लाह बता, लिल्लाह बता, लिल्लाह बता, लिल्लाह बता

(Akhtar Sheerani)

Lyrics stolen from the original link I posted on the last post on this ghazal. Here it is again:

Still alive

This is just to confirm that I am alive though not kicking. Not kicking in the literal sense because I am a peaceful guy, but really because even though I have been back from India for more than 2 weeks, I have been having some dental problems, and I am sure you can understand how distracting tootache can be.

Things have been getting better though, and currently I am working on my book The ODM story. No, it's not a puzzle, check out my other blog for a fuller explanation -

I will be posting to this one also soon.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Seinfeld - The Opposite

I love this TV show but the problem with posting from this show is that every episode and every scene is so funny that before I know I'd be posting about 20 GB of video stuff. But finally I did decide to post an entertaining and educational clip from the show. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Driving her crazy

The movie is called "License to Wed". Robin Williams is great. He plays a priest who runs a mandatory course for couples who want to get married in his church. His course is meant to put them through the paces, have them experience the most difficult times in a marriage. This video clip is the last test in the course. I am not telling you the ending, but the clip is watchable for itself.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One more crazy driver

Yes, me! (But hehe, that's not me in the photo.)
I finally passed my practical driving test for my full UK driving licence. On second try.
It was a beautiful day for it, the sun was shining, a cool breeze was blowing, the birds were singing...let's not get carried away, shall we?

This time the examiner was not severe and strict but a nice, gentle, helpful older gentleman who made me feel quite at ease with his manner and I am sure I made fewer mistakes because of that.

This time I chose not to have my instructor with me during the test, I decided that that puts extra pressure on me and is no use to me as my instructor didn't remember the mistakes I made on my last test and the feedback from the examiner.

I got only 5 minor faults, out of a possible 15, if you get 16 you fail. One of the 5 was that I shunted back and forth to get my reverse parallel parking right. My 3-point turn was acceptable, even though I made it 5-point turn with an extra bit or reverse and forward.

On the whole, I passed, my examiner said, "Well done, Sunny!" and I am happy about it as a dog who has just got a driving licence.

Now, to buy a car. Fun stuff.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Helping the butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it had and it could go no further.

Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we could never fly.

(author unknown)

I got this story long time back from a friend as a forwarded message. Since then, more than once I have had to think about this story. It applies so aptly to life and the decisions we have to take in our lives.

When it comes to helping our kids shape their future, it becomes a painful task of finding the right balance. On one hand is the feeling of letting them down, not helping them enough, not letting them have the benefit of our guidance, our wisdom, and the lessons we have learnt from our mistakes. Then on the other hand is the fear that if we help them too much we are providing them a crutch, spoiling them, ruining their chances of ever becoming a strong, motivated, winning individual.

Of course, they don't make it easy because they do want all the help we can provide but refuse to learn anything from our mistakes. Advice they'd always take with a grain of salt but help and support is always welcomed and often demanded.

Struggle is such an integral part of our life that there is not getting away from it. Until you tire your muscles to the point of exhaustion, your body will not grow new muscles. You will see no increase in stamina until and unless you drive your body the point of exhaustion and beyond it. The same applies to the brain, and any other resources we have.

Struggle defines us, it makes us what we are destined to be. I look back fondly on the 17 and 18 hours days now, but at that time they were murder for the body. I constantly had the sleep-deprived feeling in my eyes and never missed a chance to take a nap, even for 5 minutes.

I look back on the days when I used to work all day and then go to my friend's house at night. No, not to party, to study Visual Basic. The reasons for this were twofold, he had a computer and I didn't, plus he wanted to learn too and two heads are better than one. There I'd work all night with him on some VB project and maybe sleep 3 or 4 hours in the morning, then get ready and go back to work for a new day. I had fun in that, too. Struggle was a way of life, then and now.

How do you explain that, how do you instill that feeling into someone?

"What we acquire too easily, we value too little." Very true. But try telling that to a kid who wants to get ahead in life, quickly, easily and without any painful lessons.

There is an English expression - "Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind." I don't like it. It lacks a certain pizzaz, that flair which I like to have in my expressions. But unfortunately, I can't replace it and it is indeed a true saying.

Finding that balance, and making it work, seems to me tougher than balancing a mountain on the tip of your nose. And yet, when you see a little butterfly struggling it's hard to curb the impulse to grab the scissors...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Ordering drinks

You know how I always told you, 'it's not what you say, it's how you say it', and you didn't believe me? Well, here's proof.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lick the Liberty Bell

There's a lesson in there somewhere. Try and see if you can find it. Otherwise just laugh your ass off.

How it all starts:

How Barney gets the idea to lick the Liberty Bell. Liberty Bell, for those who don't know is a real historic bell in Philadelphia. I used to live in Philly and I have seen it, but no, I have never licked it.

But will Ted do it? He's too much of a regular guy to do something that rash. But they, Barney is a rut-buster, after all. Are you asking the inevitable question - what does it taste like? Read on..I mean watch on!

Now, are you thinking of licking the Liberty Bell yourself? Hmmm, perhaps this post should have one of thoese "Don't try this yourself" warnings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Movie Review - Hello

Crappy name, crappy movie. I got it without knowing it was made on Chetan Bhagat's book "A night in call center". I had avoided that book after reading his first one. His work, I think can only be described as "fluff", there's no substance to it. Just take a cross section of the mundane, every day life, and put it on paper - that's it. No plot, nothing thought-provoking, nothing to make you feel happy that you picked this book up. 

The movie was the same - a good star cast reduced to toally lacklustre characters. The happenings are quite typical to any call center in India and the solution to problems  quite stupid and unbelievable. Though, in all fairness I don't think the author would have written the stupid solution that stupidly. 

Anyway, I am not going to waste any more time on that crappy movie except to warn you don't waste your time on it. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Newsradio - Video clip

Yes, video clip from a radio program. This is an old American TV show based around a radio station.

I like this particular clip because it's..well, it's comedy, why analyse it, just watch it.

Project Declutter - Confessions of a Shopaholic

Usually, when it's Diwali time my parents force me, against my will, kicking and screaming, to clean my room to get it ready for a whitewash and in the process a willy-nilly re-organisation and decluttering happens.

But even though I wrote that in the present tense that's a thing of the past. Now, I live in the UK, now I live alone, well almost alone if you don't count my housemate. And we don't need to count him for this as he doesn't force me to winter clean or reorganise my room. 

So what then? Why? Why suddenly this interest in de-cluttering? I didn't even know there was such a word, I thought I was inventing it when I typed "Project Declutter" in my MindMap. (Mind Maps, what a great idea, remind me to tell you about this some time!). 

Anyhoo, if I start to track the idea back to its origin we might be spending the night here, so let's just say that the amount of clutter in my room got to a point where it was almost crushing me, forcing me to stay on the bed all the time and carefully pick my way through the clutter when I felt the need to pee and did need to leave the room. 

The reason it took so long to start this project was its sheer size, it's mammothness. Also the intricate relationship that exists between different lots of clutter - if I do move the books where do I put them, I do want to straighten out this drawer but where will all this stuff go...and so on. 

But there were some incentives as well, some things that did inspire me to start this project. I mean other than the expected incentive of being able to walk around in my room without tiptoeing like I am on a guided tour in a minefield. (If it's an unguided tour, I just won't move an inch). 

One such incentive was that I could buy more stuff for this project. You know what, I have been thinking, that even though I may not be (I say may be) as sexy as Isla Fisher I may still be a shopaholic. And if you say that it's a girlie thing to shop, I will yell "sexist" at you. Even though I do like to shop in a store, (my neck turns on its own any time I pass an electronics store), my most favourite is online shopping. Nothing like the rush of typing a keyword in search box and getting 17,202 records back. And, I love Amazon!

Well, this in itself reminds me of Isla Fisher in her recent movie Confessions of a Shopaholic. But when I am doing the decluttering I am even more acutely reminded of her and how she does her own decluttering. 

Just yesterday when a friend asked me what I am up to I said, "I am working on decluttering my room and my life." And she said, "Decluttering your life...that sounds ominous!". 

And yet, your room and your life are so intertwined that one cannot be cluttered or decluttered without affecting the other. 

Now that I think back on it, the indicator of the rising amount of clutter in my room was the number of books on my night-table. Usually I keep one or two books there on the edge that I am reading. Recently it started growing into a pile. I was adding to these one or two books because there was no place for me to move the books I had finished. So, before this little tower should start to rival the Eiffel Tower and I get a letter from Paris, I thought I should take action. 

While I was waiting for new bookcases to arrive (they have now and they are lovely, by the way), I just took all the surplus books and lined them up on the window sill. Just casually I ran my eye over the titles and realized something. They were not just books, they were dreams, aspirations, enquiries of a curious mind and the efforts to be a better man. By arranging them in a visible, orderly manner in a bookcase I will have more access to them and more of a reminder to pursue these projects that I lauched into with vigour at a time but then let pass out of mind. So, you see, decluttering, room and life both. 

Since this is a huge project, not the size of Bhakhra Nangal but still big, I can fill several pages with details and thoughts regarding this. But in all fairness to my readers, I should stop here. 
As usual, your comments and thoughts are welcome. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Trying out

What kind of glasses should I get?

Usually it's a big question for anyone once they get the slip from the optician telling them they need glasses?

But the same thing applies when you want to buy sunglasses though the dependency is not that big so the commitment is not the same. It can be though, if you are buying really expensive ones and you are not a prince like me. :D

Today the question came up as my beloved nephew got prescribed glasses. He asked me if there's any web site that can analyse what kind of glasses would look good on his face. (What am I, a magician?). Well, fortunately in this case I was able to deliver.

And then I started playing with a couple of them myself. And then I thought maybe my readers would like to (or need to) use these as well. So, out of the few services I tried, I am posting the couple that I liked. Plus, my photos in different glasses. Do tell me which ones I look best in.

The links are at the bottom, after the photos. Yes, you have to look at the photos, that's the price for the info. :D

The way it works is you upload your photo, then you adjust it so their software can calibrate it then you can try as many frames/glasses as you like.

And this is the pair of sunglasses I actually own. I bought them for my trip to South Africa. Yes, they are Ray-Ban. ;) 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Memories of South Africa

I don't know who to blame, I took so many photos in South Africa and now I can't find a single one of them. 

But let's start from the starting. I have a G1, that's the latest in cellphones, they call it the Google phone, the grandfather of iPhone, iPhone killer, Android phone, and a few more names....but it's supposed to be the Cat's whiskers, the dog's doodads, the works! And it is!

More about that phone some other time, right now I am lamenting the loss of my photos. I had such a hectic schedule in SA that I hardly got time to take out my digital camera. But I had my G1 with a 3.2 megapixel camera and on the long road journeys I snapped quite a few photos...don't worry I wasn't driving. 

But somehow, when I got back I had none of those photos on the SD card. So, now all that I have left from that trip is this one photo that I posted from the phone directly to my Picasa albums (I told you this phone is the space-age thing). 

This photo was taken on the way back from Johannesburg to the O R Tambo airport. The car was rushing on at about 140-160 kmph, but see the clarity of the photo, it's not my magic, it's the G1. 

Hey, I just remembered there were others who were very active with a camera, esp. one chirpy little girl in my team. I can ask them for the photos they took. :-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Don't say that!

There are some things you should never say to your friend. 
Here is an example. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Flight Simulator X petition

I don't usually do the petition stuff but I do love Flight Simulator X and Microsoft is being stupid. 

So, here's the link, read the one page letter and sign if you feel like it. No pressure.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

5000, baby!

Okay, so what if it took more than a year, finally the visitor counter hit 5000! And to celebrate, let's have a clip from the American classic Three's Company. This is from season 3, episode 1 called Double Date. If this does not have you in stiches, you need to see the humor doctor. Call my secretary/nurse for an appointment. :-) 

Friday, February 27, 2009

New Hindi Movie Review - Dostana

I review of a movie only if it was very good or very bad. This is the second type. 

The plot: 2 heterosexual guys pretending to be a gay couple in order to get 2 rooms in a flat because they love the flat so much. Well, it's a great flat. The 3rd occupant of the flat is the flat owner Neha, a beautiful, young, single girl! Of course. 

I guess it's supposed to be a romantic comedy, but romance is tacky and comedy is weak and most of the time disgusting. 

The star cast is fine, but none of them can act worth a damn, not in this movie. But that's mostly the fault of the direction and screenplay. The dialogues are a total washout, no originality, no color, no idiom, just plain, boring, simple like written by a schoolboy. 

The single msot thing I hate about weak Hindi movies is the lack of common sense and that's in abundance in this one. The emotional scenes are actually cringe-worthy, most of them. 

The way they have presented the whole thing I think it's offensive to gay and straight people alike. It's especially offensive to girls; in real life no girl can be fooled for so long by a man or men acting as gay and as poorly as these guys do. 

Music is okay as modern Hindi music goes, nothing special. No songs will survive more than 2 months. 

Priyanka Chopra is a gorgeous girl and they have presented her in a lot of lovely, sexy dresses. However, the picturisation has failed to show her as glamorous or desirable. 

I had decided to see it only because Shilpa Shetty was in it, but she's in as an item girl in the first song during credits. I think I will keep the song and throw away the movie. 

Conclusion: DON'T watch it!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Finer Things in Life

"Sunny, you have no taste for the finer things in life!", she says. 

All because I wouldn't go to the bloody opera with her. 

And that brings up a very interesting question - what are the finer things in life and who decides? 

As always I am going to pose the questions and leave you holding the bag for answers. 

  • Why is wine tasting a finer thing while drinking beer while watching sports is uncouth? 

  • Why is watching a boring, insomnia-curing opera is finer but watching a 2-hour rollercoaster of action and suspense with Messers Stallone and Schwarzenegger is not? 

  • Why is reading mind-numbing, brain-killing fat-ass classics is a finer thing even though they were not written for today's life, but reading an interesting, action-packed thriller is junk? 

Well, the answer to who decides is simple - the society! How is it decided? I may not have the definitive answer but I have some theories. 

  • Anything that's so expensive that only an elite group of people can do it, is a finer thing in life. Case in point - Theatre vs. Movies, Wine vs. Beer. 

  • Anything that's so mind-numblingly boring that doctors can prescribe it in place of sedative is a finer thing. Case in point - opera. 

  • Anything that's fun and enjoyable is eithe forbidden or dirty or both. Case in point - sex. 

  • Anything that's cheap and easy to obtain is junk. Case in point - Burgers and Pizza. 

You know the finer things in my life? 

Any moment when I can enjoy the music (any kind of music) and move to it, with or without a pretty girl for a partner. (I am no dancer but I believe in the old adage from Bali island "If a man is happy, he can always learn to dance.") 

Any stupid, silly comedy show that makes me clap and burst into laughter. 

A smile that comes to my lips after I finish a nice meal that I cooked for myself. 

An evening with friends where they are being just as silly as I am (or usually beating me at it) and it doesn't matter what the silliness was wrapped around, a game of pool, a movie or a dance class. 

A parcel that brings me a new book. Read or unread. 

...actually, I have a few thousand more but they all have one thing in common, I don't give a hoot if they are the official "finer" things or not. My life, my rules! [Hmmm, not a bad title for my autobiography! ;) ]

Monday, January 26, 2009

To strive, to seek, to find

Yes, I know I have not blogged in a while, but I have been spending my online time, (which means all the time when I am not asleep or not in the bathroom), in my virtual life Second Life. I will tell you about that in some other post. For now I want to share what actually compelled me to post tonight. It's a clip from the very last episode of Frasier. Season 11, episode 24. 

He is reciting part of the poem Ulysses by Tennyson, the same poem is mentioned in the Heinlein book I am currently re-reading "To sail beyond the sunset". Indeed the title itself is from the poem. 

Oh, this clip also contains 2 of my most favorite quotes from Frasier which he may re-quoting but they are my all time favorite quotes anyway. Prizes for guessing which ones are those. 

So, with that much ado, here's the clip. 

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