Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman


I chanced upon this book in the sale in the Oxford book store sale. It was an amazing buy. I finished it in one sitting. The book opens on a night when an entire family is killed by an assassin named Jack. Everybody except the family's baby. He unwittingly escapes as he crawls away wait for it - into a graveyard. His mother's ghost before passing over begs the ghosts in the graveyard to take care of their baby son. He is named Nobody Owens (or Bod) and the ghosts decide to protect him from danger. This is the first dark book i have read where the ghosts are actually nice. The book is follows his adventures in and out of the graveyard. His relationship with his guardian, the ghosts in the graveyard and Scarlett,the only living girl he meets are pretty well bought out. You watch spell bound as Bod grows up to a young adult. Jack has still not given up on the hunt for Bod and the book culminates in a well written climax. 
I agree its a young adult book and not exactly meant for someone like me. I would give it a four out of five. Definitely worth the read. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Medici - Indira Nagar

We ended up here last Sunday after deciding to have some Italian food. The restaurant had a lot of French and Italian vegetarian options and so I was more than happy

Food :

There was more than enough choice for a vegetarian like me. The portions were small but the food was very tasty. I really enjoyed it. We had a cheese and potato starter, a pizza and some crepes. All of them were well made and if my companions are to be believed, the non veg was tasty as well.

Ambiance & Service:

The place was really good and there was no jarring music spoiling the ambiance. The service was initially courteous but I felt that it dropped after we did not order any drinks. Service charge is quite a bit in these places after all. The food arrived real quick though

Price:

It emptied our purse considerably. However, since we had gone expecting this, we were not that upset. A meal for two would easily come to around thousand rupees (vegetarian + no drinks).

A good experience if you feel like indulging yourself but best avoided otherwise.

Siruthai - Bark not a roar

For the uninitiated Siruthai is the name of a Tamil movie with Karthi in the lead. Siruthai translates to Leopard. This movie is a remake of the famous telugu "Vikramarkudu" starring Pawan Kalyan and Anushka. 

The plot follows Rocket Raja a local thief and con man whose glib talk and quick thinking helps him earn his living. All is well in his paradise and a very pretty girl is also madly in love with him. Things however, take a turn when a little girl lands up in his care and calls him her father. Then follows the all too well known story of two people who look identical but have very different characters. The plot is decent but the execution is very average. It becomes below average towards the last 30 minutes and I could not wait for the movie to finish.

Karthi is good with action sequences at times and comic timing works. But his performance is like a sine curve which peaks at times and then dips to a below average point as well. Only, it does not have any rythm to it. Tamannah is very very ok. But she does not have any role so she is not that jarring. I would say that this is a movie you can watch if you have absolutely nothing else to do and have ended up with a DVD of the same and you have watched everything else you have a lot of times.

The last laugh

The room was pitch dark and the glowing dials of the clock told me that it was three o clock. I had woken up from a deep sleep and I was hazy as I knew not as to what had woken me up.  I slowly opened my eyes and saw a dark figure standing right next to the bed, as though watching over me. Sleep fled and my heart jumped to my mouth. I found my throat parched and dry, my limbs paralyzed with terror. I could not move an inch and my dry lips felt cracked. I did not remember them being so cracked and dry when I had gone to bed. I thought of the water-bottle right next to me and in what I felt were my last moments, wondered if I would die thirsty.
The figure did not move. Or so I thought until I realised that it had no hands I could see. They were hidden in the darkness and then suddenly there was a gleam of steel, a sharp blade. I found my voice and screamed. I heard the voice of someone calling out to me.

"What happened? Don't be scared. Your screams woke me up. Did you have a nightmare? Shh..it's just a dream!" A known face greeted me as the shadow disappeared and he gave me my bottle of water. I felt unnaturally tired after the few hours of sleep and the fact that the knife was just from a not so distant dream sunk in. And yet I wasn't completely relieved.

The next day, I did not remember much of the events of the night except the numbing terror I felt. I went to office as usual. I did not like the work I did or the people I worked with. There was a lot of jealousy, backstabbing, power mongering and politics which they did not even try to hide. I was constantly on my guard, afraid as to which word of mine would be misinterpreted and how it would affect my chances in the organisation. I wanted to do something else, but the security and the salary held me back. I wanted to grow, I wanted to prosper, but i did not know how long I could consciously watch every word that left my mouth. I left office at the usual time and started on the long walk home all alone. I was aware of not being alone, but then I was taking a well used route and many people had gone that way before and many would take it after me. I will never be alone, but this was safe - unless I took a diversion.

I hadn't noticed it, but it was dark already. I saw a figure scurry behind me. I knew I was being pursued. The road was dark as the street lamps had failed. It was an unfamiliar road which I had been forced to take because of the road work happening in my usual route. I started running in the dark alley, surprising myself at this burst of speed. I could not see my pursuer but felt his presence all the same and something at the back of my mind told me that if he managed to catch me, my fate would be worse than that of the deer caught by a lion. The deer is but a lion's prey and there is nothing personal in that hunt. But this pursuit, I knew would destroy me in all possible senses and maybe still leave me alive. It was a fate that was in a lot of ways, worse than death.

For death and what came after it presented a puzzle that no Nobel laureate could solve. Losing face and living with it were horrors I understood and dreaded. It has destroyed many stronger minds. I knew, I could not survive that. I will not live through it. I ran as fast as my stubby legs could run, panting. Lack of previous exercise and sudden exertion as this, did not agree with me and to my horror, I lost my strength. I was acutely aware of it when my legs gave away and in a matter of minutes, I fainted. Right in the pavement, where I suspect many a man would have relieved himself and many a drunkard might have puked his guts out. Disgusted, I again lost my consciousness.

I awoke to the sound of the alarm. The laptop lay right next to my bed where I had left it last night or rather, early today morning after working till three am. I went through my morning duties in a haze. I could not separate my dream from my reality. The dream was so real and my reality so unreal. I did not know when i stopped dreaming, and whether my whole morning was still in the dream. I saw dark figures inside my own house in broad daylight. They disappeared the moment I gave them a closer look. They did follow me around when I was not looking. They added extra salt to the breakfast I made and poured honey into my diabetic father in law's milk. I knew it was my in-laws who were playing these mind games with me. They hated me. They were in on it too. They were there when the milk kept for warming boiled over and the microwave caught fire. I knew it deep in my bones. But nobody would believe me. I was being careless. What if this was a dream? Rather, what if I just wished it was? I could see the suspicion and mistrust in their eyes. It was bordering on fear. I did not know whom to turn to. I was alone in this battle. All alone.

I took an auto back home despite the short distance. The previous day had left me scared beyond words and I wanted to be as safe as possible. I was taken through a different route and I could see a car following me at a distance. He braked whenever the auto did. The auto driver seemed to be going at a slower pace than usual. He did not make use of the openings available and he he did not seem to be in the hurry in which most people belonging to his profession usually are. The auto suddenly slowed down and I was scared out of my wits when a lady with dishevelled hair poked her face in and screamed, "You are so dead my girl. So so dead." She disappeared when the auto gathered speed and I lost sight of her.

I looked at the auto driver in the mirror and I understood that he was in on it.

I was going to die.

It was going to be today. In a few minutes, the axe would fall and I would be unable to protect myself. I was all alone. Thankfully, the auto driver had to stop at the next busy signal. I thrust a crumpled currency note into his hand and jumped out of the auto. I ran amidst the noisy honks and ran as fast as I could, across the road. I might have escaped death from them and the many vehicles which braked just in time to stop themselves from becoming a part of the conspiracy. I knew it was a temporary escape. I knew, it was not going to last for long. The multiple shops near the road seemed full to the bursting point. I saw the new chips shop. It had not been there yesterday. Why was that guy staring at me? Suddenly, I saw the boiling oil and his hand holding the ladle as though waiting for someone to come near. He wants to flick that ladle and the oil will burn my face beyond recognition. No. I did not want that. I ran to the other side of the road. There were beads of sweat in my face. I opened my hand bag searching for a tissue. I dropped my hand bag as I ran for safety. I bent down to pick its contents and the shop disappeared. I could not understand. But I avoided the spot where it had been and hurried home.

The watch man gave me a strange look. He was a kindly old man who had always greeted me with a smile when I came back home. I liked him. But no, he was no longer what he used to be. When did we last share a smile? I could not remember. Things were coming to a culmination and the blow was going to strike. I was not going to go down without a fight. I was going to stand as long as I could. I remembered the dirty pavement, the auto in the horrible road and wondered if I would actually be able to. Something told me, I was going to fall easily. I could hear them laugh at me.

My son was lying in his cradle when I came back home. I played with him for some time and he smiled at me, in his own beautiful way. Nobody ever came to see him when I was with him. I felt they understood that he was my last link to sanity. I was no longer safe in my own house. The only safe place was with him. But that was not for long. I could not stay there forever. He was hungry too. I went to make dinner. I was distracted by the phone and by the time I came back, they had burnt my dinner and when I turned my head for a minute, placed my hand in the cooker. I sat nursing a big boil. After what seemed like eternity, my husband came home and did not look me in the eye. He had the burnt food and went to another room and sat writing. I did not remember when our conversations ceased. We used to be so happy together.
Nothing I ever thought could spoil the magic we weaved. I cursed his parents. They separated us. They did not love my son. They left their own grand child alone in the house and went for a walk. He was wailing when I came back home. I knew, they would kill my baby. Or was it another dream? They were nice people, who loved their son. How could they not love his flesh and blood? Was I really awake? The boil in my hand bore testimony to that fact.

I was locked inside the bathroom. I knew that I should not have gone to take a shower. I knew I should not have left the bathroom for so long when the bucket was filling up. I had gone to check on my sleeping son.

The water from the tap was unnaturally hot and I was being burnt. I could not close the tap as the tap was burning. I looked around in vain for the towel. The steam was covering my eyes and I realised that there was something mixed with the water. Water did not burn so. My hands became red and I cursed myself for having selected this house with a tiny bathroom. The washbasin was out of my reach. If I could reach it, I would get some cold water for my eyes. I could hear a dangerous rumble of the heater. It was going to burst any minute now. I thought it came with a safety valve. How could it become so bad? The heat was killing me. Suffocated, I fell down and hit my head on the very washbasin I was trying to reach. And then it crashed down on me. Merciful blackness flooded my consciousness.
The next day, there was no bump in the head indicating the accident. How could it be? The spot did not pain. Was that another dream? I did not know. Whether it was a scary dream or my life, it was still scary. I was not safe anywhere. Even in my own mind. What do I do? I can only run. I cannot fight. I do not have the strength. I walked out of the house, into the ready arms of the car that hit me. I hoped, it was not another dream.

The next day, the house was crowded with a few close relatives who were consoling a grieving husband. "The car driver was not to blame. She walked right into it. Her son's death killed her. She never admitted his death and was constantly afraid of losing him and everything else. No amount of convincing would work with her. I could not bring myself to take her to a doctor. She was not mad. I could not hospitalize her. We took care of her by ourselves. I did not know what to do. Oh, she is gone! What do I do now?"

Me? Gone? No way. I just fooled them all again. They are not going to take my boy away. They are not going to watch me fail. I shall laugh at them, I shall not fear. I am endless. I am no longer afraid. I am going to live, finally the way I want to.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I guess

I guess its the time of the year when I am just unable to write a word. Either I have no time or I have no words. I hope I can use the long weekend to get over this.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Amrita of the millenium

This was the name of a project I did in my school. It was around water pollution and the importance of water as a natural resource. Frankly, I have never felt the importance of water as much as yesterday and today. Like most people who have the luxury to own an internet connection, I never faced acute water scarcity. Usually, I was warned in advance and the inconvenience just involved taking water in a mug for brushing my teeth rather than using a tap. I used to crib for even that. Well, who doesn't crib for the smallest issues? Anyway, for the past two days, there has not been even a drop of water in my apartment complex. Luckily, we were able to manage the essentials with a little water we had in a bucket. But the other things like washing vessels, wiping the house etc, has simply not been happening.

I was so irritated all the time and jumping at anyone on any given opportunity. Then to calm myself, I did some introspection and I thought of all those people to whom this is a daily activity. They dont have offices where they get good water to drink and where they can eat something if they do not cook. How do they even manage?I have no idea and I am stunned by the magnitude of the issue. How can we expect people in this country to have a healthy life when we dont provide them with the most basic of resources? I am really scared as I ponder about this. I usually am very careful with water and electricity but if anything, the last two days have taught me the importance of that and I resolve to be more careful.

Maybe this is just a spur of the moment article. But i would be careful in the longer run, I guess.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kathalil Sothapuvathu eppadi

I watched this movie 2 weeks ago and thanks to multiple reasons have not been able to blog about it. But then, today I decided to let the creative juices flow and hence, here is my review.

KSE (as i would call it going forward) is the retelling of the age old love story in a new package. It is a very good effort from the director and I would have to appreciate that.The one big thing that works to the movie's disadvantage is the length. It could have been a little shorter and crisper. I heard that the director has given a few short films. Maybe, he could have set the trend of 90 min movies in tamil cinema. Or maybe, it is something that might not work in the drama loving Indian movies for a very long time to come.

There are a lot of refreshing ideas in the movie. The depiction of the point of view of the two characters over the same issue, bringing in relative strangers to solve problems of the heart, matter-of-factly bringing up facts around multiple love affairs which is something most film makers avoid talking about. Sidharth has done executed the boy next door role with finesse.He looks really young and healthy and can pass off for a college student. Amala Paul is okay. I do not think she can act, but since the role does not require  much of her, she has done a good job.

The songs are catchy and hummable. Overall, a positive experience as the director has identified the pulse of the population he wants to impress and has not failed in the execution.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

How Inflation hit me

I knew that something was happening out there. People were spending more money for the same things. But I had no idea as to the magnitude of the same until today. McD Softie has become Rs.15 from the Rs.10 it was in 2009. It increased to 12 sometime ago, but by then i had become obsessed with other things. Still, 50% inflation on something as simple as a softie stuck me real hard. :(

Boredom

I think one of the worst things in life is to reach a state where you have a lot to do and are still bored out of your wits. Nothing challenges you enough and you have a dislike for the things you can possibly do. Not just that, you also shamelessly transfer the blame to someone else just to avoid owning up that you are not doing your best. Thankfully, I am not yet bored with life or anything about it. But somehow when I meet people who are, I just get really angry and wonder why they are wasting such a wonderful resource (their life). They never understand what exactly they are wasting. I can only sigh and constantly monitor myself to make sure I am not stuck in such a rut. 

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Sometimes

Sometimes in life,
You really want to give it all up
Just rush to the bed and hide under the blanket
Hoping, just nobody would remember you are there

It neednt be a heart break..
It neednt be a failure.
Even a very small thing
Can simply set you back by many years...
At those moments, I remember
All that i wanted to stand for
All that i wanted to achieve
All that I managed to
and just go ahead

Thank you for making me this way
I know Ill fall,
I know Ill fail
But I sure do not want
to ever Give up
for no battle is lost
as long as even one warrior is standing