Monday, August 29, 2011

Conan the Barbarian

I think i must have taken leave of my senses for sometime last saturday. The result, I ended up watching one of the most irritating and gory movies in 3D in a theatre. Talk about Bad luck.

The story line is simple - take your horse, wave your sword around, go cut a head, then walk around for sometime, go cut another set of heads, also punch a few people in the wrong places, then set out to another useless destination again.

Apart from that story line,you also have these awesome characters:

A crazy witch who likes the taste of blood and thinks baldness is fashionable,
Her crazy father leading an army of nuts who drag a ship on land
His multiple, each more uglier and dumber than the previous set of lieutenants
A hero who worked hard on his muscles and has to throw away his shirt at every possible opportunity
A heroine who tries to act like a feminist in some places and like a helpless dumb damsel in other

If you still haven't got the crux - DONT WATCH IT UNLESS YOU NEED LESSONS ON HOW TO CUT HEADS OR HOW TO SCREAM IN TERROR.

Robots and Empire - Isaac Asimov

I am on an Asimov Spree i think, not unlike my Terry Pratchett stint a year ago now.

This book is the final one in the robot series. I missed Robots of Dawn which follows the Naked Sun. The book is more philosophical and has a lot of discussions thrown in between the two robots. That if you ask me is the major USP of this book. The plot is a simple power struggle between the Settlers and the Spacers. The settlers are the earth men who are finding planets of their own to occupy and trying to live their lives in a peaceful fashion. Your spacers(rather their ancestors) had done this thousands of years ago and they look at the human beings with scorn. A lot of them are traders and one among them is a D.G.Baley, a descendant of Elijah the policeman from the Naked Sun. He seeks Gloria's help in finding out why the Solarians have vacated their planet. His intentions are anything but scientific as he wants to sell the robots from Solaria to other Spacer planets and make some money.

What happens to them is an interesting sub plot. The main plot involves Giskard and Daneel, the two robots and their struggles to come to terms with the three laws of robotics and their constant arguments on how something more than the three is required. A very interesting book though not as good as the Naked Sun.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ente Keralam

Let me get this clear - it is a restaurant on Ulsoor road. :)

They know how to create a mini Kerala - you have to give them that. The ambience is awesome. The place was empty and we were soon the only people there. The service was pretty fast and the food was really tasty. The Alleppy vegetable gravy with its tangy mango taste just egged us on to eat more. The appams were really fluffy and soft. The idiyappam was hot and yummy. A kerala parotta made out of wheat only completed the already perfect picture. It is one of the few places where i actually can say that everything was perfect (except the price of course).

Apart from the rates, the only other glitch was the really slow billing. We waited longer for the bill than we did for the food to arrive. I would recommend this place for the food and the ambience any day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hindsight

Don't ask me why (or like a few people i know brand me crazy) but i have this habit of making a list of the worst possible and the best possible things that happen to me over a period of time and contemplating why things happened the way the way they happened and if i hadnt expected it, i wonder what i should have done. You know, learning from one's own life.

Anyway, so today i was thinking about a few disasters and in retrospect they dont seem as horrible as they did when i was actually going through them. Also, the effects of the same were slowly either forgotten or did not leave an untreatable scar. That set me wondering, why cant we, the apparently most evolved species in the planet, control our anger when things actually are happening? Because five years down the line (in the worst case) or even 2-3 weeks down the line, we are hardly going to place importance to a missed bus or a traffic jam or a missed phone call. Why all the anger and the frustration? I shall try to live as i preach and see if i am able to control my emotional reactions to things by pure logic alone. Logic, tells me it is not going to be that easy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The rise of the planet of apes

I am not talking about the movie though i initially wanted to watch the same. :)

It was a Tuesday morning like any other. You hardly expect it to be different. We were getting ready to work when we heard some noise in the house. I dismissed it as somewhere outside and not inside the house. The noise repeated and my suspicious husband went ahead to investigate and found a 3.5ft monkey sitting in our dining table and eating his dinner ( which i had packed and kept aside). When he attempted to chase it away, it snarled at him and ran into the kitchen. He locked it in the kitchen (of all places seriously) and barged into our bedroom and went armed with a badminton racquet but our surprise guest had departed by then.

We found out that it had removed two boxes of cereals and had dropped one inside the house as it was not able to carry both and the other, it had carried to a nearby tree and had dropped it when unable to open the same. The iron wala told us that the monkey had slid down the wires from our building to the tree in true Tarzan style - that i do admit to regret missing. I pity the poor monkey - must have been really hungry to eat what we had cooked. :D

I wanted to call this post Tupperware ki jai ho but my other half felt this title was more appropriate. :)


The naked sun - Isaac Asimov

A science fiction and a whodunnit. Can it get better? Obviously not! Asimov proves yet again that he is the master story teller no matter how many years pass. :)

Asimov's plot begins in Earth. But wait, this is not Earth as we would want it to be, but rather a planet which is subdued and is no longer in the race to conquer the galaxy, let alone leave its own planet. People live in cave like scenario without any contact with the naked sun - in any form whatsoever. Enter Elijah Baley, who is called upon to one of the more superior planets in the outer rim - Solaria to investigate a crime. He knows nothing of the planet or of the crime and is instructed to not just investigate the crime but also to understand the people and their customs better.

He is taken in a spaceship full of robots. He is surprised to be greeted by his earlier partner Daneel, who is another robot but is assumed to be a human by the rest of the robots because of its humanoid structure. Daneel is from Aurora, a planet far more powerful than Solaria. His presence indicates political intentions at play.

Baley is a little stunned by Solaria where people live alone in huge estates and view each other through 3D and not see each other personally. He is surrounded by robots and does not like the thought of the same. He has been called to find out the murderer of a prominent Foetologist. However, the robots in the planet (there are around 10,000 for every human) are so efficient that they effectively cleaned the body and performed the funeral rather than collect the clues to identify the murderer.

Stumped at every move by the strange planet with its different customs, we watch a helpless Baley who is very sweetly but firmly commanded around by the robot, Daneel. Baley finally takes command of the situation and goes ahead to see the many people involved in one way or the other with the dead man (meet them in person) and attempts to solve the crime.

A very interesting book full of subtle hints at the world in general and the numerous flaws we have that we all simply over look and ignore whenever possible. Definitely worth a read.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Phobidden fruit - Indira Nagar

I like trying different cuisines and in that enthusiasm landed up in this place which advertised Vietnamese cuisine. I would have to do it the pros and cons way yet again. 

Pros : 

1. Ambience : The ambience is awesome. I really liked the seating and the choice of songs
2. Location : It is a little difficult to find them but they are located in a good place with ample parking space.

Cons: 

1. Service : The service was bad. The waiters were incapable of speaking properly let alone suggesting suitable dishes
2. Food : It was okay. It was definitely not great.
3. Cost : It was definitely not value for money. 

I would not recommend this place for a vegetarian, but then for all you know the non veg might be good. :)

The Gods themselves - Isaac Asimov

Awesome clean well written science fiction. The plot revolves around the alternate universe and its connection to the universe we know. The book is structured in three parts. The first part occurs in Earth. Earth had received a metal from the para- universe and they construct a Pump to pump energy into their world - clean free energy by nuclear fission. We are slowly brought to terms with the dependence on the para universe for earth's energy needs and how powerful a movtivator greed and ego can be. Ee have a protagonist in the first part who tries to save the world from what he thinks is going to be definite doom.

The second part happens in the para universe. The universe is composed of the soft and the hard ones. The hard ones are more like the controllers and the soft ones live in triads composing of a left-ling(the rationals), a mid-ling(the Emotionals) and a right-ling(the parentals). Dua is a left-em in the triad - an emotional who is also rational. Here, the story becomes all the more gripping and you try to come to terms with the bigger plot the people from Earth are missing. Dua is a lovable rebel and Odeen reminds you of a typical scientist. 

The last part happens in the moon where a rebel scientist is trying to create clean energy after being ousted from Earth by the father of the electron Pump. There is a lot of undercurrent and parallel stories in this part and the political issues between the Earth and the Moon is bought out really well. I loved the book - definitely worth a read. One of Asimov's best for sure. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Of crank calls

Is it just us or is the rest of the world also getting crank calls from airtel every damn day? This after subscribing to the do not call and do not disturb lists. Sigh. It is a strange world. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Best laid plans

Say they do,time and again
That the best laid plans often do fail.
Subscribe I do, to this simple philosophy
that life full of surprises, simply detests plans.
Plan i do, hoping against hope
For somehow that habit has found its way into my DNA

Every time i get thrown off track,
I pray i have the courage
to restart - on a new clean sheet.
I look around my mind
and identify those numerous sheets
discarded over time
and file them i do, safely somewhere
So I can revisit and perhaps reuse
some or most of them someday

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch

A drama which is actually a tale of deception, betrayal, friendship, wit and of course revenge. A very well written fantasy novel - though the fantasy part of it does not involve so much magic as i would have liked it to.  The plot is really simple. You have a group of con men who create elaborate plots to separate the wealthy from their wealth. During one of their successful cons, they are driven into a plot and web woven by a much bigger drama king than our Locke. The harassers become the harassed and the story just spins out of control and becomes really dark from this point on. The first half is just the set up with us getting used to the various characters in the book and also offers a sneak peek into their past. The second part is racy and it details as to how the Gentlemen Bastards get out of the web they seem to be caught.

You cant help but start liking Locke, the garrista of the Gentlemen Bastards and his sense of humour and his intelligence. I really did almost fall for the character. There is also the typical lovable giant - Jean Tannen, who is Locke's comrade in arms and a person a little more balanced. Both of them offer plenty of comic relief apart from the Sansa twins and the little apprentice Bug. 

If you dont mind the language, you will definitely enjoy the book for though predictable at places, it is thoroughly enjoyable as well. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The ring of Solomon

Jonathan stroud has done it again. An amazing book with the incomparable Djinn Bartimaeus. I was unable to put the book down once i began. The plot is simple - the Djinn Bartimaeus is now in the employ of a magician in King Solomon's kingdom and of all things he kills his master. An angry Solomon who commands 17 magicians by virtue of possessing a powerful ring, wants to bring the murderer of his magician to justice. He asks Khaba, the most ruthless of the 17 to teach Bartimaeus some discipline. Of all things, Khaba employs Bartimaeus in constructing the temple of Solomon, without magic. Our hero goes berserk and is again punished by Solomon to go and capture a few bandits who are harassing his subjects. After that is one awesome roller coaster ride with a pretty assassin, a generous king, a lovely queen and of course our irrepressible Djinn. I loved the book. Definitely worth the read.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Park Plaza

I think i have been the chennai branch of this restaurant a really long while ago. This thursday we went to the new branch in Marathahalli and just loved the experience. The ambience was good, the service really nice and the food of course awesome. 

I loved the starters and the choice of desserts the place offered. The staff were courteous which all the more added to the charm of the place. Of course, all good things come at a price and at 730rs per person, the buffet was actually expensive. I would suggest this place if you really want to treat yourself somewhere and have a quiet, uninterrupted conversation with a few friends or a special someone. 

I dedicate this post to Nigam who very kindly treated us there. :)

The small bachelor - P.G.Wodehouse

I realize i have been on a reading spree. I did have to make up for those many days of not reading anything at all. The plot is simple and of course predictable. Yet as always, there is a peculiar charm in reading a Wodehouse. There are a host of small and well etched characters which give the whole story its above mentioned charm. There is no way actually you can review a Wodehouse because all there is to it, is the wit and the pure joy of reading. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Balance

For sometime i have been thinking about the word "balance". The truth is, whenever i think about it, i conjure up a mental image of a scale, which is slightly tilted. Maybe, it is a sub conscious representation of how sometimes life is. Even a balance is imbalanced. But then, when you get down to it, cant you sometimes define balance as a state of equilibrium? One side is definitely at an advantage over the other, but it remains that way. It could be in the way you spend your time, it could be in your thoughts, in food or even in exercise. Do we sometimes, in an attempt to bring about a balance, lose the equilibrium and cause the scales to keep moving around and upset our lives?

I just wonder. I think what is more important is accepting the equilibrium.
Of course, if you think it is not worth it and the state of imbalance for sometime is manageable and even required, it is your call to make.Again, another decision that should not be ignored. The loss of an equilibrium to bring about a balance which is closer to what you want.

Neverwhere



I thought i would never enjoy a book as much as i did the discworld series. I am glad to admit i thought wrong. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is one of the best books i have read in a long time. The plot is well executed and I could not put it down once i began and i read well into the night - which again is something i have not done in a long time.

I have not watched the television series and I now think I should. The plot revolves around Richard Mayhew's life - his engagement to the accomplished and gorgeous Jessica, his career and the security around everything in his life. Everything changes the day he saves a girl in the road and takes her home. Things take a strange turn when the girl (called door) asks him to communicate with someone who can help her travel safely. A hesitant Richard complies by following a series of crazy directions given by a rat. Door is safely escorted out by the Marquis. However, things only get worse from then on. The two assassins who were initially behind Door, now add Richard to their hitlist as he saved the girl. He can no longer be seen by anyone and he gets to know more about "London Below" , the magical realm which co-exists with the familiar London above. What follows after that is a racy adventure as Richard sets to regain his lost identity and help Door avenge the death of her family. You have angels, mad earls, the usual character with shades of grey, a crazy female body guard and of course a beast which seems to hold the key to the whole mystery.

A very interesting read. I am looking forward to reading more of Gaiman's works. I think Sandman should be the next in line.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Phasmaphobia

It's not the ghosts I see that I fear
It's but the fear of the unseen.
That which lurks in the unseen corners
Waiting to pounce on a flaw
Minor and perhaps non existent.
Yet I seek it
To remove what maybe doesn't exist
Hoping for a better tomorrow
Unmindful of spoiling the today I clutch
So precious, so fragile, so beautiful
I let the ghosts rest or lurk
Or do what they please
For my today is mine alone and i know
I can always face the tomorrow
I am a survivor. Made to be one.






--
Harini Padmanabhan

Life before man - Margaret Atwood

Yet another well written book. This one deals with three individuals and their struggles to attain their numerous conflicting desires. You have Nate and Elizabeth, a married couple with little left in their marriage except their children whom they both love. Both of them have affairs outside the marriage and they have come to an arrangement around the same. However, things go haywire when Elizabeth's lover shoots himself and when Nate falls for Lesje, Elizabeth's coworker. How these individuals come to terms with these changes and how they morph and adapt forms the rest of the story. 

I really liked the book as it is very real and human. There is no obscenity in it and all the interactions no matter how crazy are believable. As i say time and again, sanity is but a relative term. You see the insane side of seemingly sane individuals and wonder how simple things can challenge your sanity. The book portrays the highs and lows of life and also how life can change you into what you never thought you would become. A deep and dark read not meant for those that arent ready for it. 

Ulsoor Lake

I just wanted to go out of the house and visit some place nice. By a turn of fate, we ended up in the Ulsoor lake and I have to admit, i was stunned. The lake was beautiful and the mist that rose above it in the evening was just splendid. However, there is no such thing as perfection and the path way around the lake was just too muddy. We had to walk very carefully for we were scared of the puddles around and not to mention stray dogs. But I really think that if maintained properly, this would become a much better place and can even get the BBMP some money.
There were just too many couples there, hidden behind trees and in other shady corners that it gave the place a seedy aura. But apart from that, I really think that place has much more potential and can be made one of the hot spots of the city.

MTR

I have heard a lot about this place. I had been there a long time ago when i was in school and had really not enough memory about it. So last night when we were wandering in forum value mall, we decided to see if there was enough space in the place and luckily for us, it was almost free. They had a thali for 150 bucks and it was quite well made. The combination made it unique. It had kara bath, kesari bath, bisibele bath, dosa, vada and some nice chutney and gravies to go with it. Not to mention a strong coffee.  The combination made it unique and nice. I am still surprised that we were able to get a seat. It was good food and I am glad for forum value mall. 

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Zindagi na milegi dobara

I agree with the title. I think people react in two ways when they hear this - 

1. They say, we should live our life like we might die tomorrow - lets go party
2. They say, we should live our life to the fullest and make things beautiful 

This movie's philosophy is the former. I am not too sure i agree with it completely. However, i have to admit it has been made well. It is bollywood's attempt at making a hollywood style movie with a lot of bro bonding. I felt it was like a chick flick at more places than one. The one good thing about the movie is that the songs are really nice! You also get a chance to watch Spain in her full glory. It is a beautiful place and I am inspired to go on a trip there. :) I really don't know what else to write about the movie for, in 15 mins you can easily predict the plot and some cases, even the next scene. But despite its predictability, there is something nice about the movie which makes you sit through to the end. It is a good watch if you are not looking for something intellectually challenging. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A pleasant surprise

On Saturday we decided to go to Shivasamudram for a quick evening trip. However, when it was 4 and we were still 60km from the destination, we decided to take a nice detour. That, turned out to be the best decision of the week!. We ended up in Mutathi, where there is a tributary of the river Kauvery and to reach it, we had to drive through a beautiful forest. I loved the peace and quiet of the place and the fact that we were able to find some place where we were undisturbed.

The landscape : 






An attempt to capture the quiet waves : 



Monday, August 01, 2011

X Men First class

Yet another sequel which lived up to its expectations. I am happy this did not turn out like pirates!! Compared to the other X men, in this one, the plot was simple. But still, the action sequences were quite well orchestrated. I loved the part which explains mystique and the beast's origins. The Professor and Magneto's characters were quite well etched and both the actors had done a brilliant job. I am surprised that we never had the telepath girl and some of the few characters who were part of this movie.I just hope we get to see more of them in the movies to come. I wont mind watching azarel in action again.
However not all was great as there were a few missing pieces and some portions are still left unexplained and even worse, there is a little disconnect between the other movies in the series with incidents that happen in this one. Unfortunately since i dont want to give out spoilers, i would have to work it out for myself. :)

I would rate this around 7.5/10. Worth a watch