Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Solace from the scriptures

Yet again, I find something apt and amazing in the Gita.

The scriptures say that there are 5 things that influence the outcome of any activity

1. The situation an individual finds himself in
2. The individual
2. His skills
4. How he uses those skills
5. Unknown factors

When I look at these five things that suit everything In life, I realise I only have control over who I am , what I know ( I can pick up skills) and what I can do with what I know. I can never know how the outcome will be though I can hope for something and I can never be sure of the situation I will find myself in. If I think that I have so much control over life, then happiness and I will never know each other.

As I try to do the best I can, today I promise myself that I will try as hard as I can to not be affected by the reward. Often, I do things for the joy of doing it but I expect something in return. It could be acceptance, it could be acknowledgement or it could be something more. By expecting the reward for an action, I am desiring something I can't control and setting myself up for sorrow. The moment I stop doing things for the pleasure they give me,I am trading my happiness for trouble and resentment.

This zen like attitude is going to be very difficult to attain and I wonder how long and how hard the competitive me has to work to attain it.

But I am confident that at work and at home, this is going to make life so much easier. Do your duty irrespective of the outcome. Do it the best way you know how to do and never let inaction stemming from fear of lack of rewards dictate how you dispense your duty.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Devdutt Pattanaik's Sita - not a book for me

Of the epics, I've never been able to identify with the Ramayana.

Why would an individual place his duty to the society over his duty to his self or his family? Maybe that's how the ideal world ought to be, but in such a world the society wouldn't have unfair expectations of its members too. It wouldn't expect a prince to live in the forest no matter how much he doesn't mind it and it wouldn't accept him abandoning his wife.

I liked the way Devdutt Pattanaik describes the Ramayana in his book. He's researched the different retellings and he tries to be impartial to the region while retelling the epic. I had avoided this book for so long as knowing my history with this epic, I wasn't sure I would like it. I finally gave in to temptation and as I read the book today, I realised I cannot be dispassionate about a philosophy I'd like to identify with but really can't.

I love a lot of shorter stories in the book and I love the way it's Sita who questions the norms while it's Rama who obeys it blindly as he as a king doesn't want to challenge convention. I like the romanticised relationship which is shown to be extremely intellectual providing companionship to the mind. But I cannot understand how such evolved individuals let the world around them dictate most of their actions. Maybe it did not matter to them as the author keeps pointing out but unlike Sita and the subjects of Ayodhya, I can only see the injustice of it all.

Maybe my individualism makes me adore Krishna much more but I am struggling to understand ram and see if I could any day reach the state of mind that he and Sita had. Maybe the day I learn to treat everything in life dispassionately and accept fate, I can appreciate their understanding but until then, I'll have to learn to live with being unable to appreciate a wonderful epic.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

When things get out of hand

When things get out of hand
As they usually tend to do
When days seem endless
And the nights mere short breaks,
When the moments can only be spent doing
And not a second wasted thinking,

I still pause to enjoy the breath of fresh air
For thanking life for life itself
Is the only way to remain sane.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Flying without wings

I am flying without wings
For otherwise, it aint gonna be
it cant last for it aint
it cant be alive
except in the dreams
i hold so close

I am flying without wings
the sight around me pleases
and i continue to float around the void
I forget all that i ought to
and dream of that which i want to
Reality for a change cannot catch up

I cant wonder why, for i am stopping myself
before it is too late
But i know fully well, that the thought cannot be stopped
that the dream will come true, someday or the other
The years in the interim just numbers filling in papers
for the world to see

I am happy to imagine a day so much further in the future
So difficult to attain
So impossible to even day dream about
Still, I am content - for the flight is so pleasing
and the dreams keep my energy alive.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Duty

Duty is a very very funny word. First, it takes quiet sometime to acknowledge something as your duty and secondly, you are swamped with so many damn things that is your duty. Maybe, it depends on an individuals personality, but the more i thought about the word, the more i realised that duty is a simple function of three things:

1. Motivation:

Motivation to do the tasks post which we can say the duty was done. Motivation is to a large extent dictated by the acceptance of the duty in the first place. In a lot of cases, i have seen that the acceptance is something that seldom comes.

2. Skill :

Motivation is often followed by introspection on ability/skill. Here, two things happen. You either have it or you dont. Then, when you dont, you go ahead and moan and quit Or you try to learn and improve. Ability is but a function of motivation.

3. Time :

You have the motivation, you have the skill but not necessarily the time. Then, prioritization comes in.

The more i look at the three things, the happier I am that at least theoretically, duty is so simplified.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Shudh desi romance - fresh but adulterated

Another thing I did this long weekend was watch movies. The one Hindi movie I watched was this. One line review - watch it it's directed well and the cinematography is brilliant.

The plot is funny bordering on ridiculous at times and follows the life of three "youngsters" two of whom are not ready for commitments. Somehow I did not completely agree with their philosophy that commitments dont click. From personal experience my commitments been one of the best things that's happened to me. Also their lack of responsibility appalled me and since I was busy being miss.judgemental, I missed out a few good moments in this pretty funny romantic comedy.

The actings pretty good and we have a really talented lead pair here. Tara is unfortunately just good looking and can't act to save her life. The cinematography is brilliant and I wanted to go visit Rajasthan after watching the movie. All songs are hummable and the gulabi one is my favorite.

Do watch it for a lot of nice moments and do not over think it. :)

Sansom's Heartstone - doesn't strike a chord

I liked dissolution but could not find any other books of Sansom's. I was so happy to have found this and now a small part of me wishes it hadn't.

The plot follows the hunchback lawyer Mathew Shardlake as he investigates two cases - one of a ward whose resources are being misused and the other is concerning the past of a young woman who fancies him. Both plots are long drawn and the 600 odd pages are enough testimony to that. Shardlake is interesting but the other characters don't leave a great impression. I liked Hugh's characterisation a little but despite the many pages in huge book I felt it did justice to no character but Shardlakes.

More than anything, to me this book was an interesting read for it educated me a lot about English history. Be it around the court of wards, the futility of war or Henry the eighths rule, this book serves as a good history lesson. I was wiking a lot of names and incidents. My history professor grand dad would have been proud of me.

Unless you are ok killing an extremely long weekend, I would recommend against picking this book. It can draw you in, but you can't extricate yourself easily as the pages just keep sucking you in and I don't mean in a good way always.

A good way to end my 5 day vacation. I shall wait for my weekend to continue the reading and gardening. Weekdays are just too busy.

Growing your own food

A few months back on one of my trips to Kerala, my mom in law got me some small ornamental plants for the front lawn.

Planting those made the garden look lovely and I went to buy a few flowering plants ( more about my ornamental garden in another post) I saw some veggies there as well and wanted to buy it. After much contemplation and space planning, we bought a lemon and a banana. My maid saw them the next day and got me seeds from her village. Seeds of beans, brinjal, bhindi, palak etc.

First we had an amazing beans harvest (this despite the squirrels eating up a lot of the beans). Then it was the lemons. We still get them on and off. Now it's the palak. There is something very satisfying about growing your own food. We are eagerly awaiting the harvest from banana, tomato, brinjal, lady's finger, chilli and palak.

All has not been amazing and we have been worried by squirrels - I actually don't mind the eating it up as I don't get to see squirrels much and I started keeping dal out for them, then there was some pest and all my chillies died. I threw out some chilli in the backyard and that's started sprouting now. I am planning another set of plants to sow and I'm going to buy some pots to keep them in. Nature teaches lessons on patience, peace, growth and life from my garden. I am a lot at peace when I look at my plants and I am more patient than I used to be. Waiting for the veggies to come is a humbling experience and a very joyful one.

There's still construction on in the back and that's slowing down growth and I am spraying water to rid my dear plants of all the construction dust. If you had told me 6 months back that I would spend holidays hunting for organic pesticides and manure, I would have laughed at you and called you insane. That's what I do now on some weekends and seeing how things are going, I am sure there is going to be some more of that in the future as well. Give gardening a shot and see if you have it in you to change your world. :)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The adventures of Sally - fly around

As a kid, I couldn't appreciate Wodehouse much. It took time to get his humour. As I grew up when I learnt he'd also worked in hsbc, he became my inspiration. I probably can't write like him but I can still read and appreciate.

Wodehouse always puts a smile on my face and he did it again with this witty, warm book about a do gooder.

Sally inherits some money from her dead father and things get complicated for the young heiress when the dependencies on her increase. Her fiancée, her brother and everyone else has high expectations of her and the silver lining is her friendship with a red haired young man she met when she was abroad.

Sally is adorable and I did want to give her a earful for a few bad decisions. Ginger is weak and still likable. Bruce and his family, Mrs.Meecher and her boarding house and a host of quirky characters make this book an interesting read. A good one to start a holiday with. It gives you that warm fuzzy feeling that's difficult to lose.

If you like Wodehouse you would love this one. I like Jeeves books better but since it had a girl on a vacation in it, I appreciate it today. :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dodger - dodge it

The book is supposedly inspired by few famous personalities and has quite a few historical characters playing key roles in it. I was taken aback to find names like Dickens, Peeler, Disraeli etc thrown around.

The plot follows a tosher - Dodger who has a unique career of finding money in the sewers. He accidentally saves a young woman from killers and gets the attention of personalities like Dickens, Disraeli, Peeler etc. - now that is unbelievable and the many such coincidences make this book fail.

I know that I shouldn't be giving such a harsh review in the first para but Pratchett disappointed me a lot. I would have loved something in the lines of Johnny or even truckers but I get a book which is perhaps like nation - flawed and incomplete.

Dodgers character is unbelievable and though I enjoyed his wit, I had to brush up my history to better appreciate it and I loved this book for that. The other character around whom the story revolves- Simplicity is anything but simple. However she is unfortunately unimpressive. Dodger steals her thunder. Solomon, Dickens and the other characters are entertaining but it's difficult to relate to them or like them much.

No die hard Pratchett fan will ignore his book and I can't believe that the Pratchett I adore wrote this book. I am still getting over that. The characterisation is a little incomplete and the plot slows down and sometimes puts you to sleep. The characters speak in cliches and the story is not that impressive either.

That being said, the book wasn't all that bad, objectively, my expectation ruined it for me.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Anita Nair's Cut like wound - your brain might bleed

I am a mystery buff and I loved Nair's ladies coupe. When I heard Nair's mystery was set in bangalore, ( for the uninitiated, i love the city I've made my home in) I literally grabbed it. I wish I hadn't. It was a big disappointment. It read like a book written after the author had watched a lot of b grade mystery movies in a row. I mean give me a break - idealistic cop tired of system and becoming a loser, his girl friend back in town from abroad, his wife working in some random place away from him, a nutty serial killer murdering people nobody cares about - it's like too many blockbusters cut and pasted together. I was so irritated.

The main character Borei is boring. He is one of the most unimpressive characters I've come across in the recent past. I couldn't understand why his character was so hyped. He mocks at CSI and doesn't have the common sense to run a trace on the number that calls to inform people about the murders. That's common sense dude. The characters girl friend from the past Urmila is again ridiculous. Just there for some sleaze. That relationship is anything but pure. The sidekicks are so dumb and act like paper puppets. Actually paper puppets might sometimes change and behave differently than expected because of the wind but these geniuses are worse.

The villain is from a 1970s tamil movie. Everything about him, his back story, his friends, the whole aura - ridiculous. I wish I hadn't picked this up. It's about a bangalore I don't know. Somehow it doesn't seem researched enough. Perhaps it's real but considering I don't want to do anything with the book again, I doubt I'll follow up. Disappointed more than you can imagine.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wind through a keyhole - for those who love storms

I've never been a fan of Stephen king. I shudder as I think of a couple of his books I read in college. I still have sleepless nights if I think about them. Perhaps that's his mark as a brilliant writer. Just not the type I enjoy. I have not read the dark tower series but I still wanted to read this book as I was recovering from being sick and wanted something very badly to save me from the monsters inside my head that were having a field day.

It was a decent read but pretty scary and disgusting in places. The descriptions made me feel crazy bugs crawl down my spine. The plot was different and both the stories in it, that of a younger Roland and a story his mother read to him as a boy,"wind through a keyhole", were dark and full of despair and sorrow. There was definitely a glimmer of hope but I really did not like so much of the atmosphere around the book. I could feel the characters walk around me. Roland and tim were characters I couldn't connect to. Both of them were similar, trying to do things to please a parent and trying to overcome the unavoidable loss of the other. I could sympathise with their plight but couldn't connect to the characters or root for them for they were too lost for my taste. The creature from Roland's back story and the characters in tim's are far too fantastic to believe and in a way I am glad for that for I am sure this book is going to give me nightmares for a few more days to come.

Maybe this is suitable for those that like dark humor and horror. A brilliant book of that genre - perhaps..

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Anita Nair's The better man - could have been better

After ladies coupe by the same author, I wanted to read more of her books and I picked up this book. I was not completely disappointed but was not impressed either. I enjoyed watching Kerala come alive in front of me as I read the book. I could almost hear the monsoon and see the big imposing tharavadu and the paddy fields. I could feel Mukundans fear, loneliness and understand his desires.

The writer has taken a simple story of a man with numerous ghosts from his past finding himself and told it with such breathtakingly beautiful prose. The book should be read for the experience, for a feel of the place - for anyone who has visited Kerala will relate to it and for the plot which is fresh and simple.

Mukundan, the protagonist just makes me want to punch him in places. His impotence and lack of control on his life is too irritating to be true. One screw loose bhasi, anjana and krishnan Nair are much more in control of their lives than he is and though their influence rubs off on him, it is not long lasting and he slips back and forth between what he can be and what he is. The transformation though interesting to watch, makes the reader become impatient after a while and gives one a feeling of coming across something good - but incomplete in a way you cannot put your finger on.

That being said, this book is definitely worth a read for anyone who likes Kerala and knows what it is like to stay there for a few days. But we warned that the book feels a little unfinished and abrupt. As though the author decided to stop writing and start again in places. The conflicts are resolved in a hurry and that acts against the whole feel of the book.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My blog on Indian mythology

I've started blogging on Indian mythology in a separate blog. Call it my attempt to better understand my roots - www.enroutetoenlightenment.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Krishna key- better lost than found

Quiet easily my most difficult read this year. The book is slow, writing varies from flawed to bad and the author keeps insulting the readers intelligence by calling out obvious ways the plot falls together.
I picked the book up as it's based on Indian mythology and though I appreciate the research that could have gone into it, the da Vinci code imitation was a little too much for me to bear.

The characters don't catch your fancy despite detailed descriptions like "she had the body of a Rajput and the brain of a tamil engineer" (not verbatim but something like this) and the authors fancy to explain clothes and brands worn by his characters. I am so sad after reading this book and I need something better to recover.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The canvas of life

In the long run, one way or the other, it all evens out. You win some, you lose some and you draw on a few. Everything is a battle - major or minor and everything is an unchangeable part of the wave of life which somebody has already painted on a canvas. So long ago that the stars were suns then.

Your enemy today becomes the one you lend your hand to tomorrow and the one you stood by will leave when you least expect. You rise to fall to rise to fall and I wonder what the point of it all is, for in the long run it all evens out and when we weigh the scales they balance. What we gain and what we lose I guess becomes the crux. What we want and what we do not, what we reached and what we did not, what we saw and what we did not.

Life my friend keeps laughing at me and today for a change I laugh with her. For this midnight, there is a clarity. I see the canvas like one glimpses the universe and I know it will all even out and already everything does, though I usually hold on to the lows and go behind ways to fix it.

I love this clarity and the sense of peace that settles on me like the dew on my favourite rose. One I know might not last long - as my frustrations and dreams will catch up soon, like the rays of the sun. It is needed for sustenance - which in my case is my constant evolution, my constant desires and the thrill of the ride . But until then, I will laugh. Until then I will look out and see the stars and count and be thankful for all those moments that have made this endless journey to the end worth it.

Ocean at the end of the lane - Neil Gaiman

There are dreams and then there are dreams. Then you reach a stage where you cannot distinguish the waking world from the sleeping one. There are times when you fail to see all that's big and beautiful as there are too many dark things around. There are times you fail to see darkness as there is some distraction. Both come back. Both are merely locked away in your brain and you hold the key. A glimpse of a strangers face, a forgotten tune, a hidden momento - all these and more will remind you some day and you will not forget for a few more moments. Neil Gaiman inspired me to write all this after I read his brilliant book.

The plot follows an middle aged man who returns to his childhood home. He reaches a house where his friend from childhood lived and revisits their common memories. Memories of things, dreams and the story that was forgotten and never retold. A compelling narrative that makes you pinch yourself. A well written novel that reminds you that perhaps our ghosts are much closer to home than we think and that perhaps all that we remember need not be the way it was.

Read it to remember, forget, desire, fear and fall in love.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ladies coupe - Anitha Nair

I haven't been able to pick up a book in 2 weeks. I heard Anita Nair in today's Bangalore literature fest and picked up her book from the oxford stores stand over there. I started reading in the car, paused to eat and when the lights in the car did not help me read and finished this book in a sitting. It was poignant, thought provoking, sensitive, angry, judgemental and accepting all at once.

More than anything I loved the premise of the book - 6 women sharing their life stories in a ladies coach in a second class compartment. For the uninitiated, the Indian railways is kind enough to offer 6 seats or more in most trains for women.

Akhila has been her family's provider ever since her father passed away. She fit into the role without a second thought and her life changes completely post that. The portrayal of the emotionally starved Akhila is real perhaps cliched and still heart wrenching in places. The loneliness she feels despite playing a crucial role in a family is not that difficult to empathise with and I was drawn to the cotton saree wearing clerk in the income tax department. She is at cross roads in her life as she no longer wants to stick to the roles she is used to and she is unsure of what to do with her life.

She boards a train to kanyakumari and meets 5 women, across different Agee groups, each in different stages of dependency, or rather, each at a different stage of the process of moving from a moth to the butterfly. One refuses to take the pressures, one is already so sheltered that the pressures aren't that scary anyway, one comes up with a sadistic approach to happiness, one defies social norms and follows what the heart wants her to and one - the one left for the last is the strongest of the lot. Each of the stories was similar yet different and though this is not the best prose I've read, I really liked the style of writing. The ending could have been a little less controversial but in a deeper sense, perhaps this was the one act that had to be committed to attain the much needed respite.

While some might argue that Akhila's transformation is too sudden, I feel that the 5 conversations in the train just gave her the final burst of energy she finally needed to break out and fly.

A good read if you want to glimpse into a world that is full of colorful, drab and colorless all at the same time depending on the glasses you wear to look at it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Life as we do not know it

There is so much we know and much much more we do not. I wonder today how much there is to the life I know nothing about and how long I ought to work or wonder to even appreciate that which I know. I can only hope I get to glimpse all I possibly can before it's too late.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A medicine for the soul

I used to sing a lot as a kid. Somehow as i grew up, i lost touch with one hobby which meant a lot then. Recently, i got an opportunity to sing in a group gathering and post that, I have been practicing the songs i liked as a kid. I found this in you tube and i am mesmerized by her voice. M.S was awesome. Her music lives on years after she is no more. I am planning to buy some of her DVDs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPwG5kYfLgI

Monday, September 09, 2013

Now you see me - see it

The star cast caught my attention and I really wanted to see the hulk and Morgan freeman together in a movie - boy was it worth it.

The plot is relatively straightforward - four talented magicians with decent individual acts are brought together by a mysterious benefactor. In their first show together in Las Vegas they teleport a French man in the audience to France and steal 3 million euros from his bank. They are arrested but nothing is proved and they are let go. Their next heist follows the very next day and the bank balance of an insurance mogul is reduced to nothing. The mogul reaches out to a man who has made a career of explaining  magic tricks and asks for his help in catching the gang before its too late. Whether the gang escapes from the cops hot on their trail and what their motivation is forms the rest of a very racy plot.

The cast, screenplay and the direction is brilliant. The actors have done an amazing job in enchanting the audience and the director is so good with building up towards an abracadabra finale. A very interesting must watch for those who like thrillers and mysteries. :)

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A grateful prayer

There's a time to let go and a time to hold on..
There's a time to dream and a time to work..
There's a time to hope and a time to give up..
There's a time to welcome and another to hide..
There's a time to wish and a time to change...

Sometimes I miss the obvious
At the others I spot the almost impossible
The mazes numerous I've seen
Knowingly and unknowingly
The multitude of seconds
I've held eternity in my arms..

Thank you for all of this..
Thank you for the life that's mine
Thank you for the pieces which fit
Thank you for those that don't
Thank you for the will
Thank you for all that is
And for all that will never be.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chennai express - flies and just saves itself

Shahrukh Khan was one of those heroes i loved as a kid. I grew up and did not find anyone else to fill his shoes - so though his movies did not become better with time, i continued to have a very soft corner for him. When i saw the trailer, i hated the movie. Being a South Indian, some of the scenes and Deepika's hindi just put me off. Still, i could not avoid SRK and i knew i would watch it just like how i sat through Jab tak hai jaan and a few others.

On a lovely evening, I went into the theater and i was strangely delighted!! The movie began and maintained the pace so well until it plummeted to horrible depths in the last 30 minutes. SRK was awesome with his comic timing but Deepika was the best part of the movie. She was lovely, comic, irritating, annoying and lovable all at the same time. She has improved by leaps and bounds over time and man, i am going to add her to the list of actors whose movies i dont miss.

The plot is simple - by a strange twist of fate, SRK ends up in the house of a gunda in south india. He is supposedly in love with his daughter who is looking for ways to escape a marriage fixed against her wishes. He gets consistently beaten up, ridiculed and is such a big coward that as ridiculous as the situation might be, it doesn't become a hero giri and the movie moves towards the expected ending. The songs are hummable and i have been conditioned by the radio channels to fall in love with a couple.  (though i doubt if i can ever accept him doing a lungi dance let alone listen to that.)

A good watch if it were not for the last 20-30 mins but yeah, Rohit Shetty had to end the movie one way or the other. The comic timing, the horrible tamil accent & stereotypes(which makes me laugh at the movie) and of course the lead pair make the movie pretty watchable. Atleast once.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Soothu kavvum - funny and not very flawed

I am surprised I missed watching this one for so long.

A very different plot for a tamil movie. A group of good for nothings with a hallucinatory boss take up kidnapping with a set of five rules. Their initially profitable venture goes for a toss when a corrupt business man asks them to kidnap the son of a straight forward politician. The son has however plans of his own and stages his own kidnapping. Our supr gang kidnaps him back and get in touch with the dad who contrary to expectations goes to the cops. How the gang manages to achieve their goal forms the rest of the plot.

The characters are intelligently carved and the plot is air tight. The humor is the best part of the movie and I really enjoyed the experience.

Definitely worth a watch.

Trance - hooked

An art heist goes wrong and an invaluable painting is missing. The employee Simon who helped with the inside job is in a coma and has hidden the painting and forgotten about it. When torture doesn't reveal the location the group is convinced he has definitely forgotten. They take him to a hypnotist and she becomes wise to the gang harassing Simon. She offers to help them in return for a percentage of the profits.

How the painting is found and the real intentions of the gang are revealed beautifully as the plot progresses.

The acting is brilliant and the relatively tight screen play prevents the viewer from losing interest. I loved James Mcavoy and the relative ease with which he could switch and portray emotions was impressive. Rosario Dawson as Elizabeth banks does an amazing job.

A definite watch for the screenplay, direction, acting and plot. The climax is a slight let down but still forgivable.

Singham 2 - a loud growl

Surya used to be my favourite actor and I still do have a soft corner for him. Singam was a brilliant albeit brainless watch and I was hoping it would be a good sequel.

The hopes dashed when I saw motiwani (that's my name for Hansika) as a school student my hopes were dashed to pieces. I sat through it as I really was in no mood to do anything else.

Durai singam is on a covert mission to weed out arm dealers in tuticorin. He works as an ncc master in the interim in a school and charms Hansika and manages to figure out a drug cartels intentions. He is forced to take his role earlier than necessary as the violence in the city becomes unmanageable. He still doesn't know the entire group behind the drug smuggling and accidentally arrests an African drug lord.

With villains chasing him and the drug lord baying for his blood and his love waiting, the hero rises to the challenge with his signature style and saves the day a little to unbelievably.

An average movie for action lovers - maybe worth a watch if you like surya.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Counting blessings

Its so easy to complain, crib and cry. Effortless.. Today I take this moment to be thankful for all the beautiful blessings in life. Thank you I feel blessed. :)

Saturday, August 03, 2013

EPIC - well crafted and enjoyable

Ha - i finally got to watch the movie. The plot is a combination of honey i shrunk the kids and avatar without the human intervention.

The story centers around a forest where a lot of smart tiny people live. They protect their queen who is the life of the forest. Every 100 years, the queen gets to pick a successor. When she is about to pick one at an auspicious moment, she is killed. Her guardians are devastated. She has however breathed her spirit into a bud which can help save the forest. The bud ends up in the hand of a human being, a girl M.K who has come to live with her eccentric scientist dad. She is shrunk and she joins forces with the leaf men to save the bud from the villains and also figure out how to grow back in size.
There is a cheeky leaf man who has given up trying to be a protector, his mentor - the best of the men there is who the queen was in love with, a crazy guardian of the secrets and memories, a ridiculous villain with a rat coat and his equally stupid son, the very lively heroine - all these characters make the movie an interesting watch.

Since i watched it on a flight, i cannot comment on the 3D, but i think it would have been lovely to watch it in 3D. It was just so beautiful. Definitely worth a watch.

Ashes

Here i am sitting in an airport on what would have been my saturday evening, watching passersby and wondering when i am going to get to move. Its not my turn yet and i dont know when it would be. I feel so exhausted and i wonder at the hundreds crossing me. Their destinations, dreams, desires and how so quickly they seem to be zipping about. Airports seem to make me philosophical, perhaps because i am not too frequently in them and i dont often have so much time to kill - alone.

We seem to zip through life all the time. Without pausing the savor the few minutes we have left. I wonder - whats the point of it all. When all is said and done, its just ashes which remain. Ashes which cannot even begin to describe the person you were and which will disappear so quickly with time. The memories we try to craft, the moments we try to save - why? Just a wild tiny hope that sometime years after we are gone, we are remembered fondly. Would we even know that? Is there something called an afterlife? Or are we like the tube lights which are useless without electricity? Its a bad analogy as while the human body decays, the tubelights dont. I wonder about after life and i wonder what it entails. I know the one way to figure it out is not the way i want to take for a very long time. Sometimes i think we do all this, so that while we live, we can fill our days with these things and not worry about the ashes? The ashes are all that will remain.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Why horror?

Why do people watch horror movies for fun? I really cannot understand that. It's one of the mysteries of the world I guess.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Inner peace

There is this brilliant scene in Kung fu panda 2. In the beginning of the movie master Shifu catches a drop of water with his hands and releases it without blinking. Po, the panda is spell bound by the demonstration of inner peace the master is trying to achieve. He doesnt even know if he will be able to find it and through the movie you watch him and wonder if he ever would be able to. That doesn't seem to be his priority or his inclination. Right towards the end when his dear friend lays hurt, he finds what is within him and of all things catches a cannon ball with his hands.

He finds the difficult inner peace and saves himself. I know its a cartoon movie and often my fascination with these is questioned, but I adore that scene. It reminds me time and again that what I need is somewhere within me and I just have to concentrate to find that.

I don't want to catch a cannon ball as yet but I often hope and want to catch the elusive thoughts of mine and pen down something I find worthy and beautiful. Often not the fear of not being able to write or being saddled with the same recycled thoughts scare me and I don't even try. Maybe like Po I need to find that peaceful place within. Maybe I will and maybe then my mad world will change.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Opportunities

They say that the right ones don't come knocking twice. But looking at the million around I wonder which is actually right for me. Or is there even a need to look outside when I already am holding very single thing I can ever want right in my hand? I know not. The choice has left me choice less and I can just simulate possibilities and ponder - does it even make any sense?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Focus

True focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity. How do I go and then stay between the two zones? I am still evaluating the options

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

To be or maybe not

There it stands
Somewhere in a distant corner
Not so distant any more
It walks
Crawls
Runs
Races
Crawls
Walks
Alternating - playing with my mind
Knowing fully well
I've noticed it
Knowing fully well
There's a little me somewhere
Scared, scarred and just tired
Not ready for the battle.
I see an alleyway
A hint of a hope
A tiny silver lining
I see it clearer in my mind
I know I can escape

The warrior in me
refuses to give up
I look the monster in the eye
And just face it

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

So what

So what if everything is a what if?
So what if every day is different?
So what if the odds are definitely against it?
So what if normalcy would be deemed a thing of the past?
So what if it might not be?
So what if its the last thing that might be?
So what if i lose everything i hold dear as of this instant?

So what?
When the stars become mere black holes
and when the world as i know it turns to dust,
would it matter?

When the breaths i take for granted each second
cease forever
and when the memories are somewhere far far away
lost in a universe beyond the point of recall
would it matter?

Should i now bet on all that isnt
bet all that is?
I know not...

Friday, June 21, 2013

All my life

All my life, someone or the other has kept telling me about how much my life would change due to something or the other. When I went to high school they said I'd not have time for anything but education. When I went to college, they said I'd change my outlook towards what's cool and what's not. When I started working they said that without an MBA I'd not get what I want. Then they claimed I wouldn't love what I do. It was old fashioned they said.
When I got married they said everything would turn upside down.
I listened, wondered, worried and let it be. With time I've accepted that some rules are there for exceptions to not even acknowledge them. There are a few who create the trend and who keep trying to live life in their own terms. A post dedicated to the few I know and the many I don't who set their own rules and change the trend. Thank you for being there and making me feel normal when I crave for normalcy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The best laid plans

Just when you think you had it all figured out,
Just when you begin to build castles
Just when you dream of fluffy interiors and funny bouncy dogs,
Just when you think you have hit the sweet spot,
Just when you finish drawing the best laid plans,
The key players just turn and run
The foundation shifts just a wee bit
and everything disappears before you blink

The best laid plans are too much fun
All cos mostly they remain there
In our minds and in our dreams
for my dear friends time and fate intervene
I see destiny carve a path real different
and I wonder - how can i survive?
Knowing fully well i will
Knowing fully well that the curved balls are the most fun
Knowing fully well ill start planning again
Knowing fully well that while i want it to succeed,
This one too will meet its predecessors
In the world where dreams and hopes and lost aspirations wander
In the world where there are a lot of what ifs
In the world where hope springs eternal

Locked away in a forgotten compartment in my mind
I have dreams and plans too many
I regret not dreaming even one
I regret not losing even one
But wish I do in my bleakest hours
that some what ifs could have been
and i take a minute to mourn for one which now
is closest to my heart
and carry on...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Man of Steel - This steel rusts

I am a huge fan of superhero movies. I am ready to suspend common sense for hours and enjoy the ride. Enjoy the visit to fantasy land and fly in the moonlight in bikes or in the sky with funny men in strange suits, or with secretive rich kids or with an alien or even with a God. But this time around - man, i could not watch this massacre of a movie knowing that a mind like Nolan's was behind it. How could he do this to us?!

The movie begins well - the first five minutes atleast. There is a dying planet and brilliant mind which is seeking to save it with his loyal wife. Another soul intent on saving the planet chooses a different route which results in a bloody coup. The two friends clash and a "hope" for the planet is shot out in to the sky. Then the fight, the destroyed planet, the bad theatre (Q cinemas) all added to my angst. Top it with the disconnected story telling and a curious reporter following an alien who has covered his tracks, whatever that means. The plot goes completely downhill after an alien ship is spotted. I dont even want to talk about it here lest someone who was dying to watch the movie accidentally reads this and curses me.

Superman in this movie, is not dying to show his blue and red suit, he tries to save the world when he thinks its time and is ready to give up a lot to protect his identity. Still, he is not able to bring a lump to my throat. There is no emotion in the movie and that is what irks me more than the screenplay, the lack of chemistry between the lead pair or the sad villain. I felt nothing when earth was being destroyed or when Lois Lane was attacked or when she was saved or when Superman was convinced that Earth was his home. Nothing and I am so sad i watched this movie with so  much expectation.

There is no point talking about the actors or the screenplay or the music.I am just too sad to continue beyond this - plus my brain is failing me as i forcibly sat through this brilliant piece of art for hours. I am so not talking about the climax because if i start i am not going to stop.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How do you

How do you even acknowledge, let alone judge, evaluate and strategise to destroy the demons that are out there when you are busy struggling with the ones that keep coming from within?
Even if you manage to focus on one damn demon, what about all the rest which keep jumping around hoping, praying and preying on the little attention you have left?
Interesting to only think about bang in the middle of the night.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Taj Conspiracy - Manreet Sodhi Someshwar

I don't usually read Indian mystery novels unless they are extremely popular and in the recent past, i have not had the chance to figure out what is popular so effectively, i have not strayed beyond the safety net of established authors. A birthday gift ensured I picked up and read one end to end. I have to admit - I enjoyed the experience.

The plot begins with the murder of the supervisor of the Taj. A researcher - Mehrunisa, discovers the body when she comes to the Taj ahead of opening time to keep up her appointment with the supervisor. Arun Toor, the supervisor was a friend of sorts and she is surprised and shocked. Further misery and grilling awaits her in the police station when the body disappears. We, the lucky readers get to meet a python taming creature who feeds the dead body to the pet python. Why the supervisor is murdered and left in the said position in the said place forms the crux of the story. There are a lot of interesting stories around the Taj effortlessly woven into the book (on how it was a possible Hindu temple, how it was bought from a Hindu king etc etc). As much as i love conspiracy theories and as much as i don't think its a symbol of love, i have come to admire the Taj over the years and I really don't think it matters as to who built it for what. What matters is the beauty that it is.

It is nice to read about dal, roti eating population that i am familiar with in a book. But the same thing works against the book as none of the characters are people you would encounter normally. You have a half Persian, half Punjabi female protagonist who is interested in Renaissance art (come on it was Da vinci code which got majority interested in the art from then), then there is this professor who has spent his entire life studying the Taj (he did not remind me of my grand dad who incidentally has published books on the Meenakshi temple), then there is this weird niece of his who is a Kashmiri pundit. The two policemen are the straight cop stereotypes and I could not connect to them. The jihadi waiting to blow up the Taj, the nutty character who recounts gross tales through his diary and the urine drinking politician are just wasted to a great deal and we could have happily done without them.

As much as the plot was an interesting Indianized take, I really felt that book could have done with a lot more editing. The chapters just begin and end real randomly and I had to spend a lot of time trying to not lose track. Mehru has fire but she is still not warm enough to inspire me or make me fall in love with her characterization. The almost romance was too shallow for me to enjoy it and none of the other characters, even the Pamposh who is my usual type struck a chord with me.

The mystery is not too apparent and for that i have to give it to the author. A pretty decent read but not the best there is. 3 on 5.

The thrill of the chase

"Pleasure lies not in discovering truth but in seeking it" - one of my favorite characters in a television series quoted this in an episode today. I went ahead and found out that it was Tolstoy who had said it eons ago.

I love the chase. Be it when i try to make sense of some really difficult data or when i try to figure out what it is i should do next or when i am planning a nice long vacation - whatever be the case, i love the chase. In a way, I have a "what next" existence. I really need to keep moving all the time. Finding new goals, defining new horizons and constantly making sure I am doing the best I possibly can. I enjoy periods of complete solitude and silence when i recalibrate myself but it is usually a very small portion of my eventful life. I realize and accept the role the chase plays in my life and I wonder how long am i going to seek? When shall i stop and find pleasure in the discovery? Or is it just that this attribute of the life I love is going to be a permanent one - maybe that even defines me? Or does it already define me?

Monday, June 03, 2013

Paul

I dont know how i missed this movie. Could be because it was just around in the indian theatres for a few days. Could be because i did not see the alien in the image.

For the uninitiated, the 2011 British American movie follows the life and times of an alien who is trying to escape from the big man with the help of two British geeks who are on a road trip in the US of A. The foulmouthed, cigarette smoking alien has been around for a very long time and is more human than most humans. He has a funny bone and is a pretty interesting watch. The situations the two geeks face (who is adam shadowchild) is a lot like some i run into in life but the line is very strongly drawn there. They are too ridiculously geeky. Their bond is also lovable in its own way and maybe because i was in a forgiving, happy mood, i envied the relationship.

The geeks are joined by a god fearing damsel who is shocked beyond words by the antics of the alien. You watch her "evolve" from detesting Darwin to calling herself "Charlotte Darwin" and you really cant help but like her for her growth.

The cops chasing the alien to take him back to the base are the only sad part. Playing hide and seek? Really?!! Thats testing the limits. The agent and the voice on the phone are again a little too cliched but definitely more tolerable than the two nuts.

A definite watch. Not once but maybe just twice. :) Maybe i liked it as i watched with an awesome set of friends. The movie was hilarious, thought provoking and entertaining.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

First things first - This phase of my year is called "Deepika Padukone almost fan". I somehow wanted to watch the movie as she was in it. Beat that logic. Anyway, that phase also coincided with the "i want to watch a fluffy movie" mood. Which is what i want a reader to remember before delving further into this review.

I loved Ayan Mukherjee's "Wake up sid" and i was convinced i am going to enjoy parts of this movie and i actually did. The chemistry between the lead pair is lovely and barring a few idiotic logical flaws (how did deepika's character manage to muster enough money to go to Kulu Manali overnight? the fight with the gundas is just ridiculous), a few cliche stereotypes(Laura Aunty, Deepika's over protective mom, Ranbir's lovingggg dad), a few out of the place scenarios (how are you playing holi in the middle of summer? then, how does it look like Rajasthan in December?!) the movie was actually pretty ok and in a way entertaining

Deepika and Ranbir did their roles pretty well. They had to of course enact the illogical scenes but if anything they have matured with a finesse and i enjoyed watching them on screen.

Deepika, seems too simple for a girl who is a doctor. The hours of study and the dedication is not something anyone can muster and for someone like that, she tries too hard to simple or sexy. Just a little jarring when she does all her dances and her i have to win everything attitude gets bugging at places. Aditya Roy Kapoor can act and i guess he will do much better in the movies to come. Kalki has a funny role and i really dont know why the director got her such a silly fiance. You can also marry normal people and they dont have to go jump into a pool right before an engagement and go hug a guest and wet his suit. I might do that if i cant stand the guest of course but thats not what this software engineer's intention is. I hated that characterization and I m not going to forgive the director for that.

A feel good movie that is decently made. A one time watch.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Man and his mountain

I'd driven to Nandi hills a few weekends ago and was spell bound by the drive as well as the scenic views. As I was discussing with those that had coming along, we realised all of us have a very soft spot for the mountains and hills. It's not just those where the temperature is lower its also the others which are equally attractive. What makes us fall for the tall rocks? I really don't think the answer is going to be simple. Early man built temples, the next ones tried climbing, the later generations built stations and the current fuel hungry one just drives and feels the power and pulse of the precious generations in a place as close to and as far away from reality as possible.
I want to explore the relationship a lot more in detail. I love the mountain, I loved the sky and was enthralled by the new horizons. :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Espresso Tales - Alexander McCall Smith

In my McCall Smith spree i decided to experiment with Scotland street series and i found it engaging but not excellent.

The plot centers around the residents of 44, Scotland street and their interconnected lives. You have a boy genius, a confused young art lover, an old anthropologist, a complacent and self centered banker and their interesting every day lives. I loved Bertie (the boy genius) and i found his situations real. Luckily for me, i have been reading books that have interesting real world parallels and have by virtue of that enjoyed the experience a lot. The pushy mother and the unresponsive father were a little too extreme in places in their stereotype but that is what books are sometimes about.

Bruce was another character that interested me. Not because i gave two hoots about him but because he was too irritating to ignore. His complacency was extreme and annoying and for want of a better word - real. The smaller characters like the winking dog, the coffee shop lady and of course Ramsey with his memoirs are quirky and lovable in their own way.

A decent read but yeah not an awesome one. I loved the twists and the interconnectedness of the characters best.


Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams

He is awesome. The he in question is of course the man i fell madly in love with when i read H2G2. He is at it again - not a masterpiece like the former but this comes close (almost). I had read the second book - The long dark tea time of the soul and had until recently not found this one in any of the shops i frequent. I feel today that maybe i waited too long.The book is a brilliant, engaging and entertaining read.

The plot is a little confusing in the beginning and you wonder what is common between a cranky professor who can do magic tricks, a computer genius who works for a really rich genius and dates his cello playing sister, a creature which believes the whole world is pink and the titular character who makes his appearance more than halfway into the book. The way they all come together and save the world is a very different experience to read. Add to this his way of making references to Coleridge and my reading up Kublai Khan to make sure i understood - that is what i would call as being close to a readers heaven.

The characters are all eccentric and engaging. The eccentric business man leaving his thoughts on a answering machine, the love-hate relationship between the genius and the cello playing girl friend and of course the much scorned son who has lost his publishing firm and is always in the way of one thing or another - they are in their own way way too normal. I loved Dirk Gently a little more than the second book in this one possibly because he had a lot of funny dialogues.


I am definitely going to re-read this book very soon as it was a very different experience and unless one can go through it, one cannot appreciate it even a wee bit. A strange book but nonetheless one of the best i have read.

The 2 1/2 Pillars of Wisdom - Alexander McCall Smith

Frankly, the title made me pick the book up. I was really curious to see what it was about and since i found McCall smith an ok writer, i bought this book.

The plot centers around a professor - of Philology no less and chronicles a part of his long life. Professor Doctor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld - his name is a mouthful, so for the purposes of this review, let me call him Igelfeld. There are three interesting stories or novellas as part of this collection - Portuguese irregular verbs, the finer points of sausage dogs and the villa of reduced circumstances.

Igelfeld was wildly entertaining as he was too boring and normal to be anything else. His constant competition with his two colleagues, his attempt at falling in love, his confidence about his position, his obstinate stand on not teaching students and of course his addiction to his work - Portuguese irregular verbs was all a little too real for me and i could draw a lot of real world parallels who are maybe not so cranky but are weird in their own way.

The book was pretty well written but i would give it 3 on 5 stars simply because the last one was a little too long for my liking. Igelfeld's adventures get a little too out of hand for me if you are going to make him an expert on sausage dogs, operate on a friends dog accidentally and make him the president borne of a revolution in a country. Maybe i have let out a little of the plot but this book  like a lot more is one which you read to enjoy the experience of reading and not one which is going to keep you sitting on the edge of your seat where you keep wondering what is going to happen next. A good read on a dull day but not his best.

M is for Magic - Neil Gaiman

I have a very soft corner for Neil Gaiman, largely because of Morpheus's spell. I knew this was a YA book and i still wanted to read it as i did enjoy the graveyard book and Coraline to a certain extent. This collection was for the most part mind blowingly awesome and i was a little irritated to see a story from the Graveyard book crop up here but otherwise it was a decent read. I have been having a really crazy month and hence reading these short stories, losing myself in their charm and getting back to work without being too worried about missing the main thread was a blessing in disguise.

I loved How to sell the Ponti Bridge and was a little disgusted/surprised by the Epicurean club. I had read the story of the Cat (The Price) and the witch in other books and like Gaiman says in his introduction, stories read in the right age, never do leave you so i remembered them all too well.

I still cannot believe that this is a book for Young adults as it was a little too mature for that audience. Maybe, children and young adults are far more accepting than i give them credit for and exposed to a lot more gore than i think they are.  

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Responsible commitments

Ownership, Responsibility, Commitment - call it whatever - the term suits the particular day and time and place but the theme remains the same. We are all responsible for something or the other. Every body alive has the responsibility to sustain the body that gives the thought and soul a form. Everyone has or tries to form bonds with other human beings. Bonds to which we have to inherently commit - even if not to a person but to the thought of forming a bond ( psychopaths excluded). Everyone has some task to perform even if it is breathing. Something for which we have to take an ownership. I am not sure if many of you would agree with me but through the few sentences I have written in this post till now I was just trying to ascertain as to how none of us can escape from these big words and how we exhibit this through some small but very important actions.

Now that I have tried to establish that, let me get down to what I do best - rant. When every body knows these themes, why do they not inculcate it in their everyday activities? Oh yeah, here I go again answering the question I myself posed - because they don't give a damn. I see my maid not bothering to lock the back door she opens, I see a watchman not asking a random stranger who the hell he is, I see a cop not doing anything about a guy jumping a red signal, I see people every damn day not acknowledging their responsibilities let alone attempting to execute them. I am not perfect and I don't say this in a self righteous tone where I want to show I am super human but attempt to show I am human but I say this in a simple real tone- 'I make mistakes' but I always try when I know the mistake (of course!) to take responsibility for it. There are times I refuse to acknowledge it and somehow the instances where I take up the moral responsibility and the instances where individuals seem to ignore that completely are just not matching up.

When faced with a dilemma, I often want to go ahead and do the task myself but I am not here to save the world. So how do I go about this? How do I retain my sanity while not losing it? The 'it' in case being my temper or my patience or my happiness. How do I balance it when I have to interact with those who are irresponsible and don't care about things which matter? Or am I being too righteous by dictating what should matter in the first place? Am I causing imbalance where there is balance by expecting responsibility or am I attempting to create a balance by expecting it? Do I have the right to expect it or am I expecting it because that's what the norms say I should expect?

I really don't know and I really am thinking about this for some more time. If I want freedom then with that freedom comes the basic right that everyone has to choose what they want to do and that since there would be conflict, there would be a law and that law by virtue of its existence would curb the freedom. Whether its the freedom of a select few or of the multitude, it does curb it with the hope of sustaining the created life and the harmony in the society. Should I be comparing the responsibility with a law for controlling a freedom to achieve a great good or should I be comparing it with a ban for preventing the freedom for selfish means? When I get down to it selfishness works for the self while selflessness works for those around. Also, freedom in an ideal world is where like minded people strive to create harmony where the laws are not even needed because the ethics are more than enough. Am I expecting the ethical ideal which can become the social norm? I know not.

Thoughts from a safe house on a rainy night

In my recent book reviewing frenzy, I haven't written general gyan in a while. Bangalore had amazing showers today and I loved listening to it for the few minutes I had. The days have been pretty hot and I had been looking forward to the rain often while buying something nice to drink in the afternoons. I felt so peaceful until I realised that the clothes I had put out to dry were still up there in the terrace and i couldn't take them. It's all dripping wet. In a few seconds the peace disappeared and here I was upset that the much longed for rain wet the clothes that would dry anyway and got water into a room (whose source I am yet to ascertain). I was anxious and my inner watchman was surprised - again. Getting what I wanted was not making me happy - again.

How do you continue to remain in a state of contentment? Is it by giving up your attachments as a few books recommend? Then, how can I call something contentment if I don't know anything else? It is called changelessness. Is changelessness then the best state? Uniform predictable weather with no sudden downpours, uniform traffic flow with no dead animals or accidents, uniform work load with no sudden dead lines, uniform conversations with no emotional drama, uniform relationships with no expectations. Is that what I should aspire for? The longer I think the more I realise that unless things remain static, the things you want cannot give you happiness for long periods of time and unless things remain predictable, you cannot effectively plan. I can aspire to reach from state a to state b and state a and b should not change. Only my movement should happen. But then, isn't my movement itself causing a change to both the states? Assuming someone else wanted a or if a disappears or that b was a state created to accommodate me, i can be happy and say that this static and predictable universe is what I strive for. Where I continue to experience change. Hilarious.

And here is the catch - things can never remain static and nothing is predictable. So what's going to happen to my pursuit of happiness? Is it always going to be a pursuit? I remember writing about it a while ago and I wonder how this recurring theme in my life is going to converge or how my internal watchman is going to come to a conclusion and when. Progress cannot happen unless we keep moving and unless we are pushed out of our comfort zones we seldom move. So is all this change in aid of progress? What is the progress for then? What does it achieve? Evolution couldn't have happened without discomfort but at the end of the day, what's the point of evolution? It produced you, me, the geniuses who make blogging possible of course but when the world ends a few hundred years later, would anything have mattered? When I breathe my last a few decades later would all these questions have got answers? Why the mad rush? Are we just responding to the urge of our selfish genes?

I love life and so would every live human being or insect or animal. Every damn thing would have a sub conscious affection for the very thing causing us to have those feelings. So maybe the whole point of all this is the pointlessness of it in the long run to the universe and the importance of it in the short run to the tiny population which is observing the particular life, action, or whatever you choose to call it. Maybe

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Iron man 3 - he does it : again

He is smart, has oodles of charisma, is rich, has awesome toys that can fly around with him and oh yes, he can single handedly outwit powerful enemies and save the world - again. Of course I am talking about iron man in the most recent edition iron man 3.

The plot is not water tight but the screen play keeps a attention deficient viewer engaged. Downey jr just sweeps any body off their feet with his awesome charisma, so much more obvious in this movie as he spends most of the time outside his faulty suits. The special effects are amazing and the music and background score mind blowing. I watched the credits roll as the music kept playing in the background and I got to watch the last scene with a special guest. I am still in a high when I think of the movie and I guess I'll watch it again for all the reasons above.

The villains are scary but ridiculously funny. The selfishness and misplaced love for one self and the loved ones around is a recurring theme in some movies that I miss having mindless villains like the joker. It's ridiculous to compare Guy Pearce with Heath ledger but seriously I was hoping for more crazy. I see the world around me and I keep confirming there are more crazies around than anything else. I want to see them beaten in these fantastic movies - at least. Pepper pots finally gets to kick in an otherwise forgettable role. She ain't no black widow but her presence does light up the screen a bit. The precocious kid trying to help the iron man, the hot (literally) villains and the flashy cars worked well for the movie.

The mandarin and the head of security were wasted. Even the newly branded iron patriot was, but not to a very great extent so I shall let him be the almost non existent side kick as usual.
All said and done, its a Downey jr movie through and through. Watch it and fall for the iron man - with or without his suit.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Service of all the dead - Colin Dexter

I did not know why the hell i picked up this book. I am never picking up another book of his unless i really want to make an effort to forget everything in life.
The plot is confusing, the characterization crazy to say the least and the writing very trying. I almost got my readers block back thanks to this weird book. Do not waste your time reading it. I am so disappointed. :(

A stranger is watching - Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark is another pop corn read for me and I was lucky enough to pick a bunch of her books at a discount sale. :)

This book deals with a topic i have never been able to make up my mind about - Capital punishment. As a man faces death penalty for a crime he did not commit, the actual murderer is plotting another horrible death in the same family where he wrecked havoc a few years ago. Steve lost his wife Nina 2 years ago to a very angry killer and is only now ready to welcome a new love in to his love. The object of his attention though does not see eye to eye with him on the topic of capital punishment and on the day he is about to profess his love to her, she is whisked away with his 6 year old kid by a mad man who wants money from Steve to spare their lives.

In a race against time, the FBI and Steve try to save 3 lives and catch the kidnapper before its too late. An interesting thriller, well written but not too awesome. The kidnapper's characterization was a little shallow and i did not really like the main characters too much to fall in love with the book too. A decent read on a lazy afternoon without too much of mental strain. :)

The Sunday Philosophy Club - Alexander McCall Smith

England has always been one of those countries i have admired. I guess it stems from my admiration for the British English and the various authors who taught me the language when i was a kid. After the beautiful experience with Botswana in the No 1 Ladies Detective agency series, I was expecting something similar with the Sunday Philosophy club and i was pleasantly surprised to find something in a slightly different vein here.
The philosophy is a lot more obvious here and somehow i did not really like the nosy Isabel Dalhousie and her moral obligation to look into the death of a young man who while falling down had looked into her eyes. Her co-dependent relationship with her house keeper, the strained interesting relationship with her niece and the funny relationship with her niece's ex are a nice read but not too captivating. The plot is also watery and it is just the occasional philosophical monologues which kept me captivated. Unfortunately, i have not had anyone to discuss the morality of obesity or lying with as whenever i begin the topic, i seem to automatically lose the audience i would have otherwise had.
The ending was a real let down and i was a little disappointed with the book. Still, i would rate it a 3/5 for the occasional gems and for the simple fact that it got m thinking about a lot of things i have been safely ignoring in life. I am going to read this series to figure out if i like it more/dislike it as it progresses.

The Kalahari Typing School for Men - Alexander McCall Smith

The fourth book in the No 1 Ladies Detective agency series featuring Precious Ramotswe. This book can possibly be my favorite in terms of themes explored.

Precious has competition in the form of an Ex-CIA male detective who wants to rule Botswana. Her ever dependable assistant detective is struggling to make ends meet and decides to launch a typing school to earn a little something. Love blossoms in the most unlikely place and she is left reeling from it. The children who had been adopted from the orphanage bring their share of problems and it was a nice experience to watch all issues get resolved.

The books are a lot more predictable now that i have got the hang of it but i still like reading them. The empowered female characters make me love the series and the beautiful portrayal of a country i want to visit is just icing on the cake.

Irrespective of color, caste or country a lot of our issues revolve around such similar themes. If we paused for a few minutes from our perennial microscopic judging and looked at things at a higher level, maybe, just maybe the world would be a better place to live in.

Morality for Beautiful Girls - Alexander McCall Smith

Book 3 of the No.1 Ladies detective agency. Though it does loop back to the previous books, it is not necessary to have read the same. In this book, Precious's fiance is depressed with life and she does not know how to care for him. The way depression is described as a disease and her love and concern is touching, but thats about it and the author does not revisit it in too much detail.

The extremely efficient assistant detective takes up running the fiance's business and i had to admire the way the author made her take up the world of men so easily. I mean, the attitude was condescending in a few places of course but showing that the car and the type writer are just machines was admirable. The mystery that Precious solves of the government man was interesting and surprising. The issue of family ties and the strains in a relationship when a new person comes into a closely knit family was well portrayed. The titular mystery of course was way too hilarious to be true. The apprentices in the workshop had a slightly larger role than before and i had some fun at their expense.

Overall, it was a decent read in line with the first two books. It is my new pop corn fiction. The questions and the subtle themes the author poses through the book give the pop corn a nice flavor and makes me want to have more of it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tears of a giraffe - Alexander McCall Smith

This book picks up right where the first one ended. Precious is happily engaged and by a strange twist of fate inherits two children.Before i go further with the review let me first state that this part rankled me for though she might be kind and understanding, I really don't understand how a woman can really be ok with a man thrusting two children on her without consulting her. I am all for adoption but I am all for equality and partnership in life too.

The secretary gets promoted while solving a crime whose resolution I did not like, the mystery of the white boys death being cleared up was a tad too magical too - a little like that of the teachers son in the first book. The incident with the maid was too ridiculous but then people bear grudges for reasons sillier so I was only saddened that it fizzled out so easily.

The detections are not predictable you have to give Mr.Smith that - but the reader is not completely astounded by the revelation either. Precious can never be Miss Marple not that I liked her as much as Poirot but there is something about her and this entire plot which makes me want to read more books in this series. I love the feel of Botswana and the little nuggets of possibly patronising information I get about the country in this series. Someday when I go to see it for myself I will hopefully be able to condemn or congratulate the author.

The no 1 ladies' detective agency - Alexander McCall Smith

I love mysteries and I am a sucker for strong female characters as I usually don't see enough of them in books. :D.

This book was my second tryst with Mr.Smith and his first book in this series. This ones about a lady detective in rural Botswana and I really liked her. She is gutsy, interesting, charming, patriotic and more than anything a survivor. Africa has been a country which has fascinated me and the best part about this book was my being able to read about it in a quiet everyday fashion. The book deals with a lot of themes - infidelity, loyalty, patriotism, domestic violence and of course equality.

Precious, the female protagonist sets up her detective agency with the inheritance left for her by her father. She has different clients and also the attention of the local mechanic and she sets about trying to make the world a better place.

There are way too many plots and sub plots but I liked the way it came together and the easy read the book was. There is precious little but precious and thats one of the weak links in the book. Not the best book I've read but definitely worth a read.

Snuff - Terry Pratchett

Considering my Pratchett craze, I was more than happy to grab a paper back and read his new work. I was a little disappointed by the time I finished it. I've always liked Vimes and the fact that he was human has been the one thing that's made me adore his characterisation. Unfortunately he has been portrayed to be almost super human in this book and I couldn't somehow commend it.
The plot follows the Vimes family go on what they hope is a nice vacation to the Ramkins country estate. Vimes is completely oblivious to the class distinctions and manages to ruffle a few feathers unwittingly. His copper instincts tell him there is something off about the place and he investigates the same with a very watered down and really boring version of carrot in the rural settings. Carrot, Angua, Colon and Nobby make a very small appearance leaving the reader wanting more. Goblins are the focus in this book and sadly I was disappointed. After the finesse of handling discrimination in Thud, I expected more from Pratchett in this version.

The characterisation of Vimes is really weak. Young Sam is adorable in places but a little too much of a kid in most parts. Sybil with her characteristic wifely qualities is interesting but not for too long. Wilkins the butler was my favourite in this book and that was only because of dearth of other characters. :(

Pratchett's good but really not as good as he used to be. I really hope he recovers in the dodger and gives me something to root for.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dan Arielys inspiring TED talk

As I contemplate over the innumerable things that are busy confusing me, this speech just made me sit up and applaud. Some of the thoughts he has written about in articles/books but hearing him deliver it was awesome. As I look at the many people around me, I choose to be more aware of how to make their lives marginally better through some things we all know but keep forgetting. Awesome speech Mr.Ariely - some day I hope to run into you. 

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_what_makes_us_feel_good_about_our_work.html


The eleventh commandment - Jeffrey Archer

After being let down by the best kept secret, it was with some amount of doubt that I picked this one to read. Thankfully, Archer managed to put my doubts to rest and I had a very enjoyable time reading the book. I would not call it his best work but I am surprised that I have missed reading it for so long.

The plot follows the life and times of Colin - one of the CIA's best kept secrets. He plays a huge role in changing the course of international politics and despite his devotion to the country, he does not know how much he has been deceived by his boss who is all set to use him as a scape goat to save herself. Helen Dexter, the ruthless CIA director who just looks upon the presidents as a change in scenery is surprised when the current first man of the USA fails to take a liberal view of her interfering silently in international affairs. While she is being investigated, she decides to sacrifice Colin and if and how he manages to save himself forms for an interesting read.

As again, the book succeeded and failed at a lot of levels. Though I liked the pace,I could not really love the characters much. Colin was not someone I wanted to root for as I could not begin to understand him. Helen, Maggie, Tara and Joan who could have been a bit more interesting were relegated to the sidelines and I wished to have gotten more time to spend with them. The loyalty that Colin inspired was unexplainable and though I wished I had friends like that, I wasn't all too envious of his life and everything about it.

A decent well paced read I'm glad I devoted my sat noon to. 4/5

Friday, April 12, 2013

Best kept secret - Jeffrey Archer

I read Archer first when in school and was damn impressed. Then I found Forsyth and I did not really revisit him that much. I chanced upon this in a sale and decided to try the book.
The plot initially seemed more like a recap of the first two books in the series and later like a prequel for the many to come. The book failed for me because I couldn't relate to the characters. Not even one of the many illustrious folks or the vindictive ones. I loved his Kane and Abel at school and I'm sure I'd enjoy it now too but this one was a let down.

It was interesting enough for me to finish it though neither the family of confused, forgiving, loving and powerful individuals nor the rich, bored, vindictive ones stayed n screen long enough for me. It wasn't rambling but it could have been much shorter. If he'd wanted to draw it out, he could have made the interactions and lives a lot more colourful and for lack of a better word alive. I felt like I was reading random newspaper articles stuck together in a family scrap book for anyone to make sense of. A narration without too much emotion. 3 of 5 simply cos I could finish it without dozing off.

The Inimitable Jeeves - P.G.Wodehouse

I love Wodehouse. He always manages to put a smile on my face. This one had enough of Bertie and Jeeves for me to laugh until i cried every ten pages. Add to it romantic and sentimental Bingo, the scary Aunt Agatha, the nutty twins and all the wonderful angels, the book was fun. Wodehouse is he king of humour and I am glad I picked this one out to add to my collection.

When I get down to it, the plots predictable, Jeeves and Bertie's ego clashes ridiculous at times and the men too dumb to be true and the women way too cliched. But tats what makes Wodehouse so awesome. I can enjoy the British humour without worrying about what might happen to whom. A good read on a bright nice day. No cloud would mark it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ponder?

Sometimes I think it's time to think
Think if the race is worth it in the first place
Think if you still want to keep running
Think if you like the coach you are saddled with
Think if who you are is no longer being defined by you
Think and not do anything but that
I know that such a time ought to come.

I see it watching me
From right around the corner.
I look at all the tiny little ties
And I wonder if strong enough they are to bind
Strong enough to last the test of time
Strong enough to help me overcome adversity
Knowing what I do I doubt
Knowing what I do I hope
Maybe it ain't the right thing after all...

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Death in the stocks - Georgette Heyer

I guess I'm going through this phase of discovering new authors. I'd heard of GH as a historical fiction author so had never really gotten around to reading the books as that's one genre I don't read usually. When I saw this book in time out, I decided to give it a try and I was glad.

This is a murder mystery which follows an eccentric family whose head, the eldest brother is found dead in the stocks of the village he frequents in the weekends. His half siblings, a corrupt junior and his former romantic liaisons are under the police scanner. The stakes are high and everyone stands to gain something be it easy money or a rich inheritance or face saving or best of all revenge. As the cops try to zero in on the criminal, the author portrays the eccentricities of the family beautifully. I loved Tony and Kenneth though they were a bit tiring at times.

The book cannot be compared to a Poirot mystery in terms of the characterization or to an Forsyth in terms of the pace and the nail biting but it was still a decent read. I think I'll try the rest of the books next. Not favorite author material but a definite decent read.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Manuscript found in Accra

Paulo Coehlo has been one of my favourite writers. I have read and liked most of his books. Alchemist was never in the list though. I read the preface and bought the book expecting a story but was sadly greeted by a collection of lectures. There was an over dose of philosophical nuggets and I guess I was not looking forward to so much of outright preaching. I prefer making my own inferences and think through a book. I should not have finished it in one sitting.

This one I am going to read some parts later on when I want someone to tell me things. For now I would just say that i did not savour it so much.

For the rest of you out there - if you want some interesting nuggets of wisdom on varying topics collected in one place and if you like making notes as you read and you like to ponder over things, you will enjoy this book. Coehlo does repeat a few things he has spoken of in his previous books but when you get down to it, if you remove the specifics of incidents, the learnings on love, sacrifice, joy, sorrow, disappointment etc don't change too much with time or place.

Friday - a wasted Saturday

I like watching movies on Saturday mornings and decided to watch this as I hadn't watched anything in Malayalam for a long time. I was so irritated to say the least with the movie experience. The movie begins well with a few distantly infer related story lines but after sometime you get tired of waiting for something to happen.
The movie has all the typical emotional exploiters - an about to be married girl, her struggling grand father, an expectant but barren mother, a mother who has just given birth to a healthy kid, a lovey dovey couple a poor auto driver, a righteous policeman. Not one of them struck a chord with me. The film has its moments of course considering the number of characters in it but it was a movie made to exploit emotions not to make you feel anything. I had to finish it because I started it but I would advice against watching it.
Not worth an afternoon or a morning as the attempt is not too successful.

The dog who came in from the cold - Alexander McCall Smith

This is the first book of his I had read and I was not familiar with the characters. This is one of those books with multiple story lines connected by a theme, the theme in this case being the fact that all the characters live in Corduroy mansions or are related to characters living there in some way.

We have William an ageing wine connoisseur/loving dog owner who is caught in the middle of possibly the most adventurous thing that has happened to him and is unsure about his next move. Then there is Caroline who has fallen almost in love and is wondering if her feelings are returned. Her room mate Dee who is always hard on cash has a brilliant idea for a product and is struggling to find a backer. There are also a couple of publishers - Barbara and Rupert. Barbara has found love and Rupert is still angry with her for having taken over a flat which he thought was rightfully his. These characters and some more like Terence are an interesting watch.

There are way too many plots and all are funny. Unfortunately though sometimes its difficult to keep track for the exact same reason. I read somewhere that each chapter in this book was published in a newspaper first - so I guess the breadth of characters is forgivable for that reason.

I enjoyed the book a lot though I had to read it over a week. It was a decent read and has inspired me to try more books of his.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Silver linings play book

I like Bradley cooper. I like off beat movies. I feel movies about the smallest incidents make a large impact at times. So I obviously had really high expectations for this movie in a lot of ways and it did not live up to it.

The plot was interesting, I wasn't even against the pace which my fellow audience were complaining about but somehow I felt the movie lacked the soul. I did not care what happened to the characters. It's not because they are dealing with mental illnesses. It's not because they have lost love and are trying hard to get back to their feet. It's because the struggle that is life does not come through. Towards the last fifteen mins, I felt like I was watching a Bollywood movie. I did not find too many silver linings. They were just cheap silver plastic paper lines cut out very shoddily and put around make shift non existent clouds painted dark by a colourblind painter.

Jennifer Lawrence can never be compared to dear Portman in black swan. I felt none of her emotions and I really wonder why the movie was acclaimed so. A decent watch but not Oscar material.

Death on the cape and other stories -Mary Higgins Clark

I like Mary Higgins Clark and though id never rate her as high as Christie, I really enjoy every chance I get to read her books. She's the one that breaks my not reading phase usually. This was a decent short story collection. Not the best I've read and not a Poirot collection but a very engaging one.
I did not expect the Alvirah Meehan ones in it as I had already read it in the lottery winner. I hate it when the sneak the news ones in with the old. This book has boosted my confidence that I can write and how even simple plots can be made interesting. A decent read for a sat noon but that's about it.

Angel of the dark - Sheldon/bagshawe

I was never a huge Sheldon fan even in high school but considering he's dead I thought I'd pick this book up and see if my opinion has changed. After billing I looked at the book closely and realised it was completed by a bagshawe. I was actually not biased and I really wish I'd been.

The plots about a series of murders across the globe over a decade. The first one in the us begins with the death of an elderly man whose young wife is raped and rescued in time by a young earnest cop. She disappears soon after her treatment and donates all the money her rich old husband left behind to charities. The cops career is in ruins as he tries to find the missing wife and the murderer. He gives up and becomes a big shot in the Interpol.

A young writer investigating the death of his father stumbles upon a few clues indicating that his dad ( the rich old man in the us ) was not the only one who was brutally slaughtered. The murderer is global. How a journalist who doesn't earn much have the time and energy to figure all is out is beyond me. The begins a cat and mouse chase to catch the angel of death.

I hated the way they pictured Mumbai and Bangkok and I really couldn't read the book after that. Since I had to finish it I did and it was a god damn ordeal which I wouldn't want anyone to go through. A very bad fare.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Delete

After one of those crazy days, I was looking at my over crowded gmail inbox. The satisfaction I got of deleting each email individually was amazing. Thank god for small mercies.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Edible Woman - Margaret Atwood

I guess I'm in a sort of Atwood phase right now. Her third book I've finished in a week. This one was a scary read on a way for though it was written so long ago, lots of it is still relevant to modern India. The woman struggling for her identity, settling down to a comfortable choice, confused about the changes around her and losing part of her personality in an attempt to come to grips with it. The first and third part being in the first person and the second part in third person narration was so relevant that the changes I noticed conveyed something far more powerful than anything the author could have written.
Marian, is just your normal woman working in a survey company. Her relationship with Peter is relatively new but one thing leads to another and they end up getting engaged. She has a room mate intent on having a baby but sure about not wanting a husband. Throw an eternally pregnant friend, a Victorian land lady and a bunch of virgin colleagues with an eccentric english student and you have the stage set for a crazy roller coaster ride.
I was bugged with Marian after a few pages. What an idiot. Where the hell was her sense of self? How could she let herself be swept away by the tides of life so easily? What was this silly pretend feminity of hers? Then again a lot of people are happy with the set roles they ought to play in life and I did not want to get into the whole, "this is what is wrong with the world" song of mine. I am finally able to accept it as part of life. Duncan, the nutty man is probably the only real character. He is whiny, self centered and possibly self destructive. But at least he seemed real to me.

I could not buy into a lot of parts in the story, the submissiveness of the women, their lack of independence or financial stability and the so called men who have no guts. Marian's not eating was scary to say the least. I end up eating when I am stressed and so I found it silly. But the sad part was not being able to swallow a spoon of rice for a bit after reading her description of it. My love for food won over as did my zeal for living and I am not hung over the book. A definite read.

Bluebeards egg and other stories - Margaret Atwood

I never thought short stories could convey so much. Convey a world, paint it, make you a part of it and make you feel so much. Atwood's collection has done just that. I loved some stories more than the rest but in one way or the other they touched a chord. Be it the complacent wife thrown off balance by her husbands suspected adultery or the cat that means more to a man than anything else could or the slightly eccentric artists. The way Atwood plays with prose is a beautiful experience and I enjoyed that more than anything else.

She is mean, happy, carefree and of course brooding in the different stories in the book. The titular one was my most favourite and there were a couple I don't remember too much about now. But the book is definitely worth a read and it has inspired me to write sorry create. :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

To build or not to build

I was reading a book and this particular line caught my attention - "you shouldn't have a kayak or binoculars or anything unless you are prepared to let it sink". As usual, my mind started on its own track. I have a few things I've really worked for and I throw myself into anything I pledge my commitment to. I've reached a certain stage where I see a few of those efforts being threatened and I wonder - should I go all the way, have the kayak and be ready to watch it sink? Or, should I stop this process of building, slow down and watch the stars rather than other things and not build? The second idea is horrific to me as I really can't think of being that way. How can I not build? How can I be idle? How can I give up? But maybe in all the how can i's I am missing the what if.
The fighter in me doesn't want to give up while the rebel is wondering at the consequences. As conflicted as I am, the moral and ethical tone has a clear upper hand and I have left it to my imagination to convince my morals or go with them. Some day I will reach a stage where at least in my imagination I don't give a damn. Somehow I know that day won't come to pass for the things I have committed to. I take them too damn seriously. Maybe I should adopt the masala movie dialogue - I forget how it goes," ek bhar commitment diva tho Khud ka nahi sunta" - you get the drift and make peace with how I am and how I am going to be no matter how many curved balls are thrown at me. Maybe that's the best way out. Making the peace - I really need a swim right now!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Loss

All of us have lost. In one form or another, a person, thing, a relationship. Some losses we get over pretty fast and some haunt us for a really long time no matter how hard we try to tide over it.

Over the past week, I have been trying to convey my condolence for a loss very uselessly. Every time I try to say or write something I just can't do it. It is way too empty. Useless. Mere words that cant begin to capture something so horrifying. How do you express support when no level of it can help one get over the loss? How can you express condolence when whatever you say cannot begin to capture the role played by someone who can no longer be seen only remembered? I don't know.

I lost my grandfather in December 2011. Even today I remember the moment I got the news and how I was hoping my mom was wrong. I remember his face as he was resting peacefully in the box before we sent him to be cremated. The man who hated the cold spent his last few hours on earth ( his body rather) in an ice box. I couldn't help but wonder at the irony that's life. I was working when he lay there cold as I needed something to distract me. It's not like it was sudden. He was 90. We knew his time had come. We knew nothing much could be done but I hoped. Today I remember that hope, the way it fizzled down in the eight hour journey home from bangalore and I remember that emptiness I felt before the many things came in trying to fill it up. I am never vocal about it but I still miss him at times when I am really in need of appreciation. Nobody has ever given me the kind of encouragement he had for he blindly believed in me and did not see my faults.

As I see more and more people around me coping with loss, I wonder how human beings cope with somethings nothing can prepare us for. As we age, we see more, we love more and we lose more. Somehow in that process we manage to evolve. I feel very sad as I can feel the pain of someone and I marvel how at times we don't need words to know something and how incidents in the lives of those around us help us to rethink our priorities and wake us up. Life, my best teacher tries to teach me every damn day no matter how much I ignore the lesson and today, I am watching a truth told to me that I know I cannot make peace with. A path I know I ought to tread and introspect and realign my priorities which have to go beyond my FY13 goals I enter in a system of record. Whether I am ready to even see the path and accept it let alone tread it is another question altogether.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hercule Poirot's Christmas - Agatha Christie

I stumble across a holiday for murder in a used book store and the book blurb caught me by surprise. I started reading Christie when I was in my early teens and had finished most of her books by the time I went to college. One of the first tasks I set for myself after I started earning was to collect all her books. Here it was - a book I was sure I did not have let alone read and I bought it without bothering to leaf through the pages. No surprise it was a book I'd read and it was just so disappointing.

I love Christie for the atmosphere she manages to create and for her characterisation. If you read her books closely you notice the tiny details which make up the entire canvas and you appreciate her for that. The plot in this one is about the murder of eccentric millionaire whose interest in seeing his children together for Christmas is anything but over board. You get to dislike and see his point of view early on and in a few pages he is dead as a door nail with his throat cut. There is nobody who doesn't have a reason to not kill him as he is cruel, conniving, inconsiderate and has a bag of uncut diamonds worth a fortune in his unguarded shelf. Hercule Poirot, inimitable as ever chances to be in the district when the crime was committed and he is called to solve it. The detection is admirable and I got bored with the characters who were left and longed for the dead man to make a come back.

The family's feuds both internal and external were interesting initially but got a bit too predictable for me towards the middle. The lukewarm romance was no consolation either and though I knew the ending, my loyalty to Poirot kept me going. Definitely not the first Christie I would recommend but it's worth a read on a lazy afternoon.