Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.

When I go from hence
let this be my parting word,
that what I have seen is unsurpassable.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

You have been erased!!!

Disaster struck in office on Monday. My computer refused to boot. I have three machines in my cube. I use two of them for (secret...wink, wink) developmental activities. The third is for communicating with the outside world. It is my email machine, the machine I use for browsing the net and, since the last few months, also the machine I use for blogging. In short, it is my lifeline. So of course, it had to be the machine to conk out. I had to spend a three days out of touch with the world. Not that it bothers me the least, I am only too happy to be left alone. But work suffered. I have got a new hard disk now and am back online. However, I have lost all personal data that was on the old disk. This includes online passwords, bank and credit card passwords and statements, pictures and everything else I had accumulated in the last three years that I have been using this machine. Its like the soft copy of the last three years of my life has been erased. Feels funny. Strangely enough, what I am most bothered about is the loss of a Eva Mendes wall paper that I had set as desktop background. It was a beautiful black and white portrait of the lady. I spent last evening looking for that wall paper all over the net but did not find it. Passwords and statements I can find again, but beauty lost once is lost for ever. I think I will now switch of the computer and spend some time mourning my loss. In case you haven't guessed already, I love Eva Mendes...
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Friday, 15 August 2008

Cinema: Mere Baap Pehle Aap

MBPA is probably the first film to show a father fantasising about his son dancing with lots of semi-nude women. Unfortunately thats the only interesting thing in the entire movie. MBPA is one of those movies which make you think more about what could have been than what has been. It is full of interesting sub-plots that have not been realised. It seems like Priyadarshan had lots of plots in his mind and could not decide which to make a movie out of till the end. As a result the focus of the movie changes from one scene to the next and justice is done to none. MBAP start of well enough. We see two friends past middle age, Rane and Mathur, who set out in search of a bride for Mathur. They encounter a series of hillarious misadventures with a strict cop, ACP B.B. and we think the movie is about to carry the adventures further. But then enters Rane's son and takes him away. We see a nice little family of two where the traditional roles are reversed and the son is the father's guardian. Now we expect the story to develop along those lines. But then enters an anonymous woman who stalks the son and claims to have been wronged by him in the distant past. But this story is disposed off hastily and the father is made to meet a woman from his past. At this point the film loses its way completely. Suffice to say that at the end of the mandatory three hours both father and son pass their agnipariksha and live happily ever after. Throught this time all I could think of were the half a dozen other movie that could have been made from each of the sub-plots. Take the story of Mathur and ACP B.B.. Everytime Mathur goes in search of a bride he ends up being hauled up by B.B.. Their story would have been interesting. Instead, we are merely told towards the end that Mathur has convinced B.B. to marry him and thats about it. Or the story of the father and the son in reversed roles. That would have been a first for the Hindi film indutry. But we don't get that either. And by the way, the baap here is the one who wants to get married while others don't want him to - exactly opposite to what is conveyed by the title and the promos.

Of the actors Om Puri is the worst. He is extremely irritating. He looks very uncomfortable (as he should) in a meaningless role dancing on beaches with babes in bikinies and leering at any woman who happens to be in front of him. He is only funny when he is with Archana Puran Singh as B.B. This is the first time I have liked this lady in any movie. She is the only one I felt sorry about. The charactor was tailor made for her and she was doing justice to it before being edited out of the movie. Akshaye Khanna and Paresh Rawal were competent as usual but they deserve a flop this time just for signing up for this movie. Genelia does not have much to do. I can't really find fault with the actors when they don't even have a story to back them up. All my venom is reserved for Priyadarshan. He has been going downhill since Hungama. This movie continues his descent. I just can not understand what he was thinking when making MBPA. Somebody should tell him that just having Rawal and Akshaye in a movie does not make it a comedy.

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Tuesday, 12 August 2008

A wall paper for programmers

I found a forgotten wall-paper when cleaning my hard drive of junk today. It is so hilarious I had to put it up here. It is a list of possible icons for various HTTP client error codes. I don't remember where I got it from. If I did I would have acknowledged it. Please let me know if I am violating any copyrights.

For illiterates: HTTP codes are the mysterious numbers you see on your browser when you are not able to access a web page. These numbers tell you (or will tell you if you have the sense to interpret them) what the problem is. For example, 404 means the page (or resource) you requested could not be found.

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Sunday, 10 August 2008

Cinema: Aamir

Why would a terrorist organization go to all the trouble of forcing an unwilling man to commit a terrorist act by kidnapping his family when it has thousands of volunteers who would do the task willingly? That's the question that bothered me all through the movie. If you can ignore this question though Aamir is a pretty good movie. It is the kind of inexpensive no frills movie that I like. The plot is simple. The protagonist, Aamir lands in Mumbai from London. As soon as he gets out of the airport somebody throws a cell phone at him. He is wondering what to do with it when it starts ringing. Aamir takes the call. The caller tells him that his family has been kidnapped and he will have to follow certain instructions if he wants to free them. The movie follows Aamir all over Mumbai as he deals with the situation. All the action happens in half a day. One situation follows another and the action almost never lets up. It does get a little tedious for a little time in the second half before picking up again for the climax. This is mainly because of the lack of characters and dialoges. The movie concentrates exclusively on Aamir. We see only brief hazy shots of the caller on the phone. Some other minor characters turn up from time to time to help or hinder Aamir. This is not a big problem for most of the movie as Rajiv Khandelwal as Aamir is more than able to carry the film on his shoulders. He is perfect as an ordinary guy who does not understand what is happening to him. He just wants to go home to his family and carry on with his life. It is all like a bad dream for him. I especially liked the part where he finally realizes what all this is about and reacts to it. Aamir is a very well shot movie. It captures Mumbai like few movies have done. In keeping with the no frills look, there are no songs or heavy background tracks.
I have heard Aamir is actually a "remake" of a foreign film. Since I have not seen that movie I cannot comment on that. Even if it is, that does not bother me. A creatively made remake may sometimes surpass the original. Aamir is a serious effort at making a realistic suspense thriller and it has succeeded.
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Friday, 8 August 2008

Bookmarks: Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie

I got yet another Poirot mystery from my boss yesterday. Its called Elephants Can Remember. After reading it what I truely want to say is: I wish they couldn't. Christie is nowhere near her usual top form here. There is no real mystery for the reader here. Christie's forte is in letting the reader see all that is visible to her detective, sharing all clues with him, letting him try to figure out the puzzle on his own and still surprising him in the end. Here unfortunately, the reader is able to figure out the solution long before Poirot gets to it. I found myself struggling to concentrate on the plot after the first few chapters, a thing that rarely happens between me and Christie. One of the reasons was the distracting attempts at humour. These come from the person Mrs. Ariadne Oliver. This person is said to be a caricature of Christie herself. Now, I for one believe that caricatures do little to improve any suspense thriller. They merely loosen up the plot. I have never liked this character in any of Christie's novels and must confessed to being biased from the outset. But even by her usual standards, Mrs. Oliver was a little too irritating this time. For instance, the first three pages were devoted to describing her trying on her hats. And it is she who brings up the reference to elephants. Having made her point she, or rather Christie, should have let go of it. But elephants keep coming up in all conversations up to the point where they become tedious. So between Mrs. Oliver and elephants we somehow get to the climax in the twentieth chapter but it isn't really a climax because we already know the solution somewhere around the fifteenth chapter. And to top it all the motive for the crimes is really sentimental mush. The whole plot hinges on the fact that multiple women loved a man and he in turn loved multiple women. The ending where everybody is professing his/her love for everybody else was really embarrasing for me. For anyone not obsessed with eading all Poirot mysteries, reading this one would be an elephantine waste of time.
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Bookmarks: The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes by Jamyang Norbu

After completing Rabindranath's biography, I have run out of new books to read and have taken to rereading the old books on my shelf. The first such book was The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes by Jamyang Norbu. Norbu attempts to fill in two missing years in Sherlock Holme's life between his apparent death in The Final Problem and reappearence in The Adventure of The Empty House. By his own admission Holmes spent the two years in Tibet disguised as a Norwegian named Sigerson. Norbu takes this as his point of departure and follows Holmes in his travels in India and Tibet.

TMSH is a delightful pastiche. Jamyang Norbu has maintained seamlesss continuity from Doyle's stories in both language and atmosphere. His description of 1890s India from the bustling crowds of Bombay to the hills of Shimla is superb. His recreation of Thibet and the forbidden city of Lhasa is fabulous. My personal favourite is the passage describing the traveler's first view of the city as they enter through its gates. Norbu draws his characters from not only Doyle's stories but also from Rudyard Kipling's works, Kim being the most prominent among them. Since Watson cannot be here his shoes are filled in by Babu Hurree Chunder Mookerjee - one of Kipling's creations - who becomes the Bengali Boswell to Holmes. In fact, the tale is populated throughout with characters from Kim and the language is nearer to Kim's than to any of Doyle's works.

The book has decidedly political overtones. This is not surprising given that Jamyang Norbu is an eminent Tibetan political activist fighting for its independence. The events in the book happen in 1892, the Tibetan Water-Dragon year. This is just about the time when China was making her first moves to grab Tibet. Setting the story in this year allows Norbu to introduce a political backdrop. Needless to say, all the villains are Chinese.

TMSH is an extremely well researched book filled with interesting nuggets of information about the peoples, events and places of those times. The narrator is an enlightened Brahmo Samajist and is as such familiar with most of the prevelant philosophies and scientific theories of his times. One of the most amusing conversations in the book takes place when a character mentions that the light waves are electrical and magnetic vibrations. Though we know it to be true today, our narator, true to his times, dismisses it as bakwaas and having "nothing scientific about it"

(To be completed)

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Monday, 4 August 2008

An online conversation...

Transcript of a chat I had with a female friend of mine this afternoon. My friend requested anonymity. So I have removed my her name. Otherwise it is a word to word transcript spelling mistakes, sms lingo and all.

i see you'hv been writing quite a bit:)

yes :)

Sent at 12:55 PM on Monday

u know what
this is the season for girls

as in?

most new babies are female
a frnd of mine had a girl
she is the thrd frnd to hv a girl
last year it was all boys

i thot...
lots of women proposing to you

i wish :(

come on
with such writing
you'll be a hit among women journos

i dnt know any journos :(
neways writing is the last thing women look for

what do they look for then?

writing indicates brains/intelligence

women like that

women luk for dumbos

i thot men look for dumbos

of course they do
both luk for dumbos


and since the world is full of dumbos of both sexes
nobody has any problems hooking up

and getting married

except a few poor souls like me

me too
me too:)

Sent at 4:13 PM on Monday
i thot u said u r surrounded by intelligent people in ur co. :)

i am...
some women
men r married

same here with women

Sent at 4:17 PM on Monday
u know wht this is a funny conversation
i will post it on my blog
after hiding names
u mind?

go ahead
but hey..
no names

yeah i said that "after hiding names"

Sent at 4:21 PM on Monday

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