Sunday, December 30, 2007

Taare Zameen Par

Who needs drama? This was my reaction when my dear friends A and H suggested 'Taare Zameen Par' movie for a team outing on a Friday evening. Tearjerkers on a Friday evening - what has this world come to? Hmmm - Despite my dear friend V's tagging me to blog, I have been avoiding it and laziness is definitely not the cause. Shall we say reluctance? Whatever it is I hope I give sometime each month for blogging :) Well coming back to the Friday movie, I was devising all plans to give an excuse to avoid it and I am glad that my plans went futile.

As a young dad (Oh yeah! I have a 2 month old who is ‘igooing’ and ‘agahhing’ right now) I was told TZP is a movie must for the parents to watch. So off I went to see my first movie in Mayajaal. The movie is all about a boy Ishaan Awasthi, who knows not to write hat as h-a-t - he writes with an h inverted or the t is replaced with its mirror image! Alphabets - English or Hindi - are always Greek and Latin to him. They are all symbols, which just confuses him to an extent that he fails in his third grade. What's even more miserable is that his own dad does not understand his problem. If there are better words for uncaring - do tell me, for that is how his teachers are to him. With little solace from his big bro and his sweet mom, Ishaan passes his pitiful life that is filled with black and white - An irony as he uses bright colors to paint - painting beyond perfection considering his age. Infact the movie starts with his own paintings at the background as the titles are being displayed - the painting he has drawn in his bedroom wall.

Failing to attack the right problem, Ishaan’s dad puts him in a boarding school where he becomes more introverted. Progression is perhaps the last word this poor kid with dyslexia could ever be aware of - until he meets his Seraph who takes him from darkness and shows the ray of light - the light that makes his life colorful. Nikumbh the teacher for special children joins the boarding school as an art teacher and incorporates astute methods to teach Ishaan who inturn learns to write h, t and thus proper English thru painting, clay modeling, and big boards and develops his motor skills through computer games and building blocks. And in the grand art competition finale, his painting wins and is published as the cover page for that year's school magazine.

The whole movie is colorful as was aptly told by my friend S after coming out of the cine hall. If I were to list the top scenes in the movie (Oh we are approaching new year and the top n list fever has caught me too), I would say these: The differently abled children perform in the Tulips Day - the annual day for the school for special children where Nikumbh works and as soon as the show gets over, the children and their parents run and hug each other. The entire episode is a guaranteed tearjerker. The next scene would be - Ishaan is curious to know what his mentor has painted in the art competition. When he gets to know that it was his self-portrait that Nikumbh has painted (And mind you this has its potpourri of colors), his small eyes are filled with tears - and so is ours.

Well many thanks to my dear friend H who patiently translated the dialogues every now and then! And thanks to A and H who were the main reason to compel me to come to the movie. Needless to say the drive back in the 9pm office bus to home sweet home with M, A and J was equally fun filled!

With More Thoughts...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Maasil Veenayum…

From my reluctance in learning my own mother tongue there was this transition to a person who started to love Tamil literature. Thanks to my 10th grade teacher who was infact the sole reason for me to love Tamil. Infact I dropped the idea of continuing to read Tamil in my 11th grade when I learnt my favorite teacher would not be handling it and ended up learning French! That was the time subjects were chosen out of sheer love and respect for the teachers.

There was this poem about Lord Shiva in Tamil prose and it is a general procedure that poems in the prose section need not be known by heart. Yet 'Maasil Veenayum' enticed me so much that I landed up telling that even today in front of the Lord. Its a small and sweet poem comparing Lord Shiva’s blessings with the best of few categories like the Veena amongst musical instruments, the gentle evening breeze and few others.

Coming on to the second poem of this blog, this one is very famous among Tamil movie goers as this was sung with the sweetest melody in one of Rajni's famous movie. 'Kuniththa Puruvamum' depicts the beauty of Lord Shiva and the fact being, a male poet talking about the Lord's beauty is unique of its kind and more unique is that the poet wants rebirth after rebirth just to enjoy the Lord's beauty.

There are thousands more to write about those poets and their works. It’s good to realize that I am aware of a few of them and enjoy reciting them!

With More Thoughts...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Others

For an early to bed early to raise person like me, the concept of watching movies late in the night, forgetting and beating sleep is something little short of achievement. Exaggerated though it may sound, giving up a sound sleep for the sake of watching a movie had never been my cup of tea. Nevertheless, the concept started in the US of A and it all began I think with the movie 'The Others' - a suspense thriller which describes the concept of others from such a different perspective that just makes you awe at it.

Well - The Others - So how many times in a day - hmmm - a day is probably way too altruistic - in a week let’s say - do we think about the others? There is no rating of individuals in this blog based on the number you come up with - Its just to make us wonder - Is our selfless quotient satisfactory to our own self?

Mrs and I think a lot about these and in fact have decided on giving it to the needy and the poor atleast on occasions like anniversaries, birthdays and functions. Very recently we had invited 2 poor boys for lunch who were staying in a Mutt and studying for lunch. Amma's lunch was as usual at her best and we were so happy to see the boys having a wonderful lunch.

Not a long time back, I had received this forward from a good friend of mine - AJ's forward this time had a story that touched my heart. Here is the concise version of it. A holy man wanted to know how Heaven and Hell looked like and God was more than happy to show him. The Lord first took him to Hell - It had a large round table, in the middle of which was a
large pot of stew, which smelled delicious. The people sitting around it were thin and sickly.

They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms & each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew & take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. Now they went to Heaven and it was much similar to Hell - the table, the delicious food, people holding long handle spoons - longer than their arms - but they were all healthy and happy.

The Lord said - 'People at heaven have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.'

With More Thoughts...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Smart Ads

How much can you attract a mass of people in a matter of just thirty seconds? Now is seconds ever counted as a time slot? Nevertheless, isn’t that the time they give for the ads? Well yes - thirty seconds is all that these guys need to capture our attention and then to fall in love and finally shell out dollars and cents to buy the product. Ads are becoming smarter and more enjoyable nowadays - Hmmm - there are those which you might have wished that you had never seen, but this blog is all about their opposites – the smart ads.

A man runs fast and his friends are somewhere behind and we know not from where they are yelling and they say 'Man he has not even got the card out of his pocket - he is not going to make it'. The guy who is running uses his card in the Chase ATM and gets some money and runs back and gets into the car where his other mates were booing at him - He just withdrew those money from the 'most efficient' chase ATM before the signal turned to green!

And here is this girl calling her mom from the City of Lights - er - rather the Sin City - Vegas and says 'Guess what mom - Me and Mark are in Vegas' and the mom says 'So you are not going to get married Jen?' and Jen replies something and her poor poor mom is not able to hear her - poor connection, you see and so she becomes hysterical and shouts 'Jennifer, don’t make the same mistake that I made!' - And here is her daughter saying that it’s just a fun trip - just that we all, including Jenni's mom never hears it - So if you want a reliable communication go for XYZ.

Well there is this Tahitian dream ad from Wells Fargo for smart savings and the list goes on. One of my aunt even went from Brand S to Brand A only because of its good advertising campaign. Yet another aspect of advertising that always attracted me was the advertising slogans - Philips - Lets make things better and better still is 'Gods own country' - Kerala. Now who could not be attracted?

With More Thoughts...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Runaway Jury

It has been a long time - a considerably long time since I had read a novel with such ardent interest. Way back in the time when I was a Sidney Sheldon fanatic, I had read novels without the need of food or sleep. Quite recently I came across such a novel - a novel that was a page turner. Though I did eat and sleep in between, the two evenings that I happened to read this novel was not marked with any other activities. It was the evenings when I was reading 'Runaway Jury' by the lawyer turned author John Grisham.

A couple of days before I started this novel, I was loitering in the Valley Fair Mall with the sheer intention of window shopping. As always, just like most window shopping turns out to be an actual shopping for me, this proved to be far from making an exception. I entered this lone book store in the mall for the first time and I was browsing thru the interesting section of old collections they had had. And then I saw it - And it just occurred that I hit the jackpot - a cart full of books and each book was valued for just a dollar.

Readers Digest comes up with a special edition that has a collection of condensed books that are considered to be the best novels. Although condensed, the book gave an impression that I did not miss a single plot. So there were 4 wonderful gems packed under one roof - with glossy cover, it even had a book mark attached with the cover that can be torn and used! How thoughtful! The first gem was The Runaway Jury.

The most heart warming part of this novel was the rational behind which a man and a woman (Easter and Marlee) decides to turn sides in a judgment and when explained by this woman, it just hits you back emotionally. It is a thriller no doubt from the beginning (which is something that I earned for ever since I nailed completing Sheldons works) but the root cause with which the thrill came attached with, made this novel a must read. Now with a author on board, I am all tied up to complete his works.

With More Thoughts...

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Boot Camp

Vitamins, Anti Oxidants, Diet, Body Mass Index and Whey Proteins are no longer throttled to the vocabulary of medical students, doctors or dieticians - The time has come - The time when every Tom, Dick and Harry have started to know the importance and significance of these words in their life. The time when high calorie consumption have fallen into those verboten arenas and is looked up as sin. It’s the time when treadmills in combination with MP3 players have become one of the favorite electronic equipments and has been voted as Made for each other.

It has been almost a month now, since Sarah replaced Megan to take up the position of our new gym instructor. And from day one we knew the fun will continue and so it did - in the form of two different classes that I attend - one being the Core Strength Related Exercises and the other The Boot Camp. Both these classes have their uniqueness - one involves in strength, stretch, lesser cardio and more muscle toning, while the other involves hard core cardio and believe it or not, cardio had never been this much fun.
As I said, the Boot Camp deals with cardio and our instructor comes with a whole load of innovative ideas that keeps the heart pumping up! I have been in a class of four, six and even two and depending on the number of participants; our instructor on the fly comes up with the apt interesting segments - which is what makes Boot Camp special. The segment varies each week and since variety being the spice of life, these aberrations prove to be fun.

The relay is my most favorite segment, where say if there are four people - each person stands in the corner of the room. One person starts to sprint lengthwise, and as long as the person sprints, the other three do their activities - one might be skipping, one might be doing squats and one might be even jogging in the same place! Each one gets the chance to dash and by the time the cycle completes - you would be aching for some rest!

Such activity loaded team exercises are the best form of exercises. With comments passing by, the instructor boosting the spirits – there is nothing like a group exercise and you get to know a different group of people who have atleast one thing in common with us – Exercise and Fitness. Anyone would get bored to do a treadmill all alone day after day! With ‘Ice Ice Baby’ banging in the background, I am getting ready for my 3PM Boot Camp on Wednesdays.

With More Thoughts...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dinner in Deutschland

Dinner together is a concept that many families would love to incorporate in their home sweet home. It’s probably the time the family can sit and talk and enjoy their togetherness. For me it was not the dinner together - rather it was the breakfast together concept in the weekends. This trend continued after my marriage and there we were - mom, dad, Mrs. and self - enjoying the food and chatting.

The concept of having food together is something that I really love. It should obviously be implemented without switching on the idiot box for sure. Weeknights are never suitable for this dinner together concept. We all land up coming at different time and it’s so amazing even if two out of four people in a house have dinner together during the weekdays.

The dinner together concepts are being advertised in the televisions here at the US of A and dinner discussion ideas are being published in the website - Communicating and spending time with the people we love is vital - I have known kids who tell their dads never speak with them as he is out working all the time. Despite the fact that the dads work for the welfare of the kids, it is also essential for him to spend time with the family - and dinner time and post dinner walk are those apt time for those lively conversations.

Very recently by friends Shruthi and Ram celebrated their paper anniversary and Karthik and I invited them for lunch - So for the first time during my stay as a 'Bachelor Again' in the US of A, we had guests for lunch and this lunch together was fun. We had spread all the dishes around us and we passed them from one end to another and ate to our stomach's satisfaction. If such a small get together could bring so much fun, then dinner with near and dear would definitely be heaven.

With More Thoughts...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mail Etiquettes

In the tech savvy world that we live, long forgotten and gone are those days when we wrote letters in those yellow or green post cards! Dear or Respected Sir/Madam and Yours Faithfully are buried deep down in the core of the earth. 'The postman always rings twice' - happens to be a film and probably happens only in the films. The garish red post box has become a piece of rarity.

But along with these are also gone those etiquettes of letter writing? Are there no prescripts for the electronic mails? Or should we ever care or follow one, if it existed in the first place? Well, let’s take an example. There was this lady who had some issue with her newly bought Digi Cam and had e-mailed her young cousin whose cognizance in the field of electronics is - shall we say the 'Any problem solver'? So this cousin of hers mailed back the reason for her issue as well as the solution ending his emails with HTH and then With Love.

Our lady with the issue who was no short than intelligent herself understood the underlying cause for her problem as well as the solution and fixed her Digi Cam - however she had that nagging abbreviation HTH lingering in her mind - so nagging that she mailed her cousin especially to know what is HTH! Well - Hope that Helps was not helpful after all for our lady! Current day conversations, chats and less formal emails have become more like short hand - making them more and more cryptic.

In all likelihood email etiquettes are needed only when the desired parties are so nit picky about it. The rest of the world can live with cousins and the lady with issues by communicating with HTH, BRB, B4 or NE1. And if you are not way too eager to live behind the bars, probably you should be the cyber law abiding email writer too!

I still remember some of the very last letters that I had written, when I was in college and email was not that popular. I had written to my first cousin who was in the US of A - I think about 3 to 4 full pages of the function of her parent’s 25th wedding anniversary which took place at Chennai. I had written her every single conversation that we had had that day - despite the fact that the news reached her by phone the same day, I took all the effort to put it in black and white and mailed her. Well it just made me a happy man. Etiquettes or not, writing long mails/emails have always been my cup of tea!

With More Thoughts...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

E For Extreme

Watching Animal Planet has become almost an established custom in the house at BentWood Apartment, just like my dinner at half past eight. Being a newbie to the animal planet, my roommate suggested few programs which I started to watch with him rather with some reluctance. Very soon reluctance transformed into predilection that was so strong that I happened to watch this program regularly - even when I was home alone!

The program that I watch is the one which is all about the extreme nature of animals - extreme animals are discussed in the top 10 countdown vogue. The top 10 noise makers, fashion disasters, transformers and a whole variety of topic makes this program a worthy past time! 'Extreme Animals' emphatically keeps us guessing the top spot animals and in the event of which we learn a lot about them.

The most recent episode aired was the top 10 transformers where animals that transform itself into various shapes and forms during their life cycle were discussed. As any young science student could tell the butterflies' presence in such a countdown (From eggs to caterpillars to pupas and finally the fly!), the top spot was a totally mind-blowing parasite which takes about 5 to 6 various forms from its birth to death! Now who could have ever known about that!

The most intriguing part of these programs is how did people ever come to learn about them in the first place? The 30 minutes is filled with innumerable information and makes you wonder in awe at the work of these researchers! Besides these researchers there are people who understand the animals themselves and thereby provide invaluable information – people like Steve Irwin – the crocodile man for example who was considered to be the walking epitome for empathizing animals, no wonder was loved by the whole world.

With More Thoughts...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pasta It Is

The currently rather ill famed Lindsey Lohan starred in this wonderful movie when she was young. The advertisement to this movie would have this line - 'What's better than one Lindsey Lohan? Two Lindsey Lohans!' - Well atleast in this movie's perspective it was damn true as the ebullient twins try to reunite their divorced parents by switching their places. So what's the movie 'Parent Trap' got to do with Pasta? 'Pasta It Is' - is my much loved line in this movie when Dennis Quaid utters to his wife when he meets her after a long time. What an introduction to Pasta!

I had always wanted to eat good pasta, however never had that chance - until recently. It was during our road trip to the City of Angels that I happened to devour this food item. We were in Marie Callenders’ and I was as usual frantically searching for a vegan food in the menu card that my waitress gave me. After pondering and deliberating for quite a long time (and with hunger in the corner it seemed eternity), I found that there was nothing in the menu card that I could order. So I decided to get the help of my waitress to choose the food for me and she was kind enough to suggest the vegetarian pasta! And I heard myself saying out loud - 'Pasta it is...'

Besides serving our tasty buds pasta makes an excellent choice for healthy food as it is grain based. The beauty of pasta is that it comes in a variety of shapes from the simple string shaped ones to the decorative fancy shapes like Farfalle and Rotelle. My love for pasta infact started after my acquaintance with the television personalities 'Giada De Laurentiis' and 'Marie' of Everybody Loves Raymond. Giada's Italian Cookery shows and Marie's most popular dish in the soap - Lasagna (pronouced - La-san-ya), paved way for my love affair with pasta!

So the vegetarian pasta that my waitress served en route to Los Angeles, was indeed delicious. With a wonderful spread of lightly sautéed broccoli, baby carrots, tomatoes, the entire main course was just yummy. For a bill just under $10 for each person, the lunch was well its worth and having had my pasta, needless to say I was in cloud nine!

With More Thoughts...