Thursday, August 28, 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Once I saw what was happening, I was surprised, guilty and then finally accepting. I dont want to have it all immediately. I might not be my age forever, but nothing can stop me from being as alive at 75 as i was at 18. Nothing, except myself. I cannot afford to think that my life is over by the time I hit the 40s. I think, once i finally, completely, internalise the last bit, my stress levels will reduce and I will learn to live one day at a time, seeing the world for what it is and being thankful for all that he has blessed me with.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Its a 1-4 player game (not a typo, you can play it alone) and the objective of the game is to clear the Bavarian forests and build settlements while making glass and brick from the resources at hand.
You have a landscape board dotted with forests, pits, groves and water bodies. These have to be cleared to build processing/instant or bonus buildings. To build buildings, you need specialists and resources. Every player starts of with some resources needed to make brick and glass. They have to use up the resources to make glass taking the help of a few specialists. All players have the same set of specialists but they can choose when to play the same. For eg, the woodcutter can clear a forest and give you wood which can help you with making glass. There are 4 production rounds and at the end of four, the player with the highest total wins.
Sounds simple? Well, when we tried setting it up, it really was not. We got carried away by the board. It is beautiful to say the least. Very detailed imagery, a heady collection of powers for the specialists and the production board is plain lovely. I am not a serious gamer yet and so i loved the intrigue as to what the card i wanted to build might reveal. All three of us had played the game for the first time and our strategies were so different. We had a few friendly scuffles over the specialists but then, the game took us a good 1 hour to play. The different landscape boards, the specialist cards and the buildings had me drooling. The buildings could have been a little more impressive but that could be because we only picked a few and worked on building the same.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
There are 24 cards in 4 different colors and you have to use those cards to complete a phase. A phase can require you to create a run (1,2,3 is a run) of select number of cards or it can require you to create a set (1,1,1 is a set). Once you complete a phase, you have to discard or build with your hand until someone exhausts all cards. Trust me, luck plays such a big role in this game. If you finish a phase and are out, you are lucky and you can go on to the next phase. But if you dont, you have to get points for every card you hold and start from scratch again. Whoever finishes all the phases first wins. If there is a tie, the total is taken into account.
I had calls in the evening so we decided to go with just 5 phases. I can imagine this game being fun when there is a larger group involved and I am hoping I can get to play it this weekend.
For the uninitiated, this is a deck building game. Say, if you have played rummy, you keep and discard cards depending on the hand you are forming. In a deck building game, you build a deck which you can draw out of when needed.
One of the funky things about the game is this attrition die you throw in and subtract the points from the total of your battle against your enemy. This is a sucker and you always have to have more strengths just to be safe! There are these awesome neutral cards with vivid imagery and you can pick them up too! Some help you add one strength to your unit when you battle. Some help you to throw a card and pick up a couple more, some help you to just gain brute strength.I loved the neutral cities as they gave me such an awesome influence and helped me purchase enough gold. I was lucky enough to figure out the importance of neutral cities and higher value cards early on.
I should have read the sleeve and stopped myself. I just could not. Like how I'm drawn towards something so horrible I'm convinced its not real and convinced it is and I should be running somewhere - very very fast. I did not and I am up at 120 writing a review for a book I should not have read in the first place.
The detainee is set in a dystopian future where the government, unable to deal with the increasing numbers of old people and unable to pay out their pensions due to a debt crisis has devised a simple solution. They're left to rot with garbage in an island away from the city. The propaganda was so effective that anyone without the means to support themselves or with family that's willing to, is shipped away. They live out of salvaged garbage and await their death.
A band of warloards who control the garbage hunt them down every time there is a fog. Hunt because there are surveillance satellites that on normal days shoot first and talk later.
Big guy Clancy, an ex muscleman left to rot finds a hidden tunnel and that changes his life and that of those around him.
Enough about the plot. The book was disgustingly dark with glimmers of hope thrown in. The characters and the love seemed a little contrived. The writing was brilliant - I give you that. Too realistic for my taste and given my view of the world I almost believed it.
I want to think of the world as a beautiful place but I guess this book struck a chord with the part of me disgusted by some of our realities. A good read for those with the stomach for it and I think I'm going to read part two as I can't help myself. I have to know. Know how bad it becomes.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
But then, there are conspiracies and conspiracies within conspiracies to keep any reader occupied. The Imperial zone as i like to call it within the Old City in the heart is brilliantly depicted. I loved the similarities and the differences between Djan and the Imperial kingdom. Like in the first book, Drothe is but a victim of his circumstances, but he really uses his wit to turn it to his advantage.
The Drothe - Bronze bond was missing a little but the magic was slowly coming back towards the end. There were a few sentimental parts in the book and I loved that Drothe hung on to Degan's sword the way he did.
I had guessed the secret of the Degans somewhere in the middle of the book but it wasnt too obvious to a casual reader. I wanted it to be true.
I am really looking forward to the next book. I hope Drothe comes to peace with his role as a grey prince and I get to learn more about that world. The epilogue hinted at it and I am happy. I want to see his character to evolve to become much more and hopefully the sexy assassin learns more about him and his night vision and enlightens me as well. There are enough loose ends to warrant a next book but not too many to leave a reader guessing.
Oh man, i am liking reading a fantasy series. Long Live Douglas Hulick for making me read and fall in love with a world that is dancing right in front of me. I am hazy from lack of sleep but alive like I have felt very few times before. :)
The book is set in a world where an all powerful emperor rules the imperial kingdom. The emperor rules as three incarnations, each incarnation nothing but a part of his soul passed on through the power of the Angels who want him to rule. There is an underworld in his kingdom where Upright men lord over the thieves. There are myths about a Dark King who brought together the warring kin and who was shut down by the emperor. The world of the Kin is a complex one with multiple players. There are Noses like our Hero Drothe who collect information for the Upright men (the Kin Bosses, much like local mob heads) and then there are Mouths who can control magic and then there are scribes who can copy stuff and Cutters who have ways of making people talk which are not always pleasant, Oak Women and Men who guard the Kin and Degans, an order about which nobody knows much, but which has powerful swordsmen, undefeatable at best and who operate through mysterious oaths. The worlds of the Imperial Court and the Kin collide at times, but it is never bloody and there is a curfew of sorts between the Kin bosses.
That is, until Drothe stumbles upon a mystery by accident. One of his men, who was supposed to get him a relic, does not do so and dies rather than tell who has it. He starts following leads while working for Nicco, his boss who wants to know what is happening in Ten Ways a hell hole of sorts. He comes across a relic which changes his life and the way he sees the world around him forever. This is my attempt at writing the synopsis and trust me, i haven't done any justice to the intrigue, the charm and the aura of the book.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Have you ever run in your life? Run like nobody's watching? Run like nothing matters but the wind in your face and the ground beneath your foot? Run like nothing is more precious than this instant? Run to tease, to play, to just live?
Well Laika knows how to. Watching her run in an enclosed area is a pleasure. I get bugged if she runs away from us as she manages sometimes , but I love watching her run. She's my miracle. My reminder to enjoy the smallest things in life to the fullest. Thank you darling. You are an inspiration.
The last three weeks have been magical to say the least. I've had some very beautiful revelations, traveled for pleasure and work, spoken in a conference, enjoyed different cuisines, temperatures and cultures and effectively taken a much deserved break from the work I love.
I know its over and I have to get back to the grind but I've promised myself to see a little magic everyday ( inspired by the book the secret garden) and I'm going to keep that promise. I've become more positive over the last two months thanks to RK giving me an interesting view of life and this magic is all that I need right now. Life, here I come. You'll see me greeting you at 645 am now. Looking forward to this phase.
I've had my eye on these cool retractable leashes for the dogs. I found it too damn expensive here. I've lost count of the times I've had some injury to my hands because of holding the leash when these jokers get excited and the scratches in my legs bear testimony to all I've braved to help them relieve themselves. The retractable leash with the cool handle is an awesome solution and I'm glad I found a good pair in Walmart for quarter of the price here. I know I can't categorize it as a necessity but this is one purchase I don't feel guilty about.
A particular realizations been dawning on me and its not a pleasant one. I pride myself on being a careful spender and today I had a look at my last month expenses. I was shocked by the numbers. All of it was in deals of one form or the other. I've sworn last week that I wouldn't buy things I don't need and I really resisted the urge in the US and did not buy clothes. This feeling of being discounted and taken for a ride is not a pleasant one.
Friday, August 15, 2014
While flying through London earlier this week, I was stuck in the line for close to two hours. It seemed to take forever and it was super boring. Today , I just breezed through security in less than 5 minutes. It felt so awesome. Thank you god for all your mercies.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I had a really lovely time in the super duck tours in Boston. I was enthralled by this vehicle that could go on water and land. Add to it the fact that I got to learn about this awesome city, it was a wonderful experience. Our crew had a few rehearsed lines but nobody could debate their knowledge of the city. I got to know a lot of quirky fun facts. About a molasses drum that over flowed and killed people, about Rose Kennedy who was baptized, married and given a funeral in the same church, about brutalist architecture, about movies shot in Boston and of course about the history of the town. Anyone here should walk around or try to know more about this city. The old and the new co exist so beautifully here.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Am accessing the priority lounges for the first time in my life and wowwww!! they are awesome. I need to make sure I get enough points to keep accessing them and travel with style.
London was so crowded and security took ages to clear. But it was fun watching people scurry around. I had a 4 hour lay over so the one hour queue did not perturb me..
Am on my way to Boston via British airways and I'm conflicted. I love flying and this time around things haven't been too smooth. They forgot to give me immigration form and luggage tag and this after standing for an hour in the queue post an online check in which I needn't have bothered about.
I hope my checked in luggage reaches soon and in one piece.
Friday, August 08, 2014
When the truth fails, we take refuge behind the lies
The mind and the heart knows the distinction
But the lies are far prettier any day..
The lies can be painted, tweaked and easily rewritten..
The lies can be shared faster and remembered quicker
Remembered to suit any need and modified in any way
Someday the truth pops up for its never fully hidden..
We switch on partial vision and happily move forward
When truth fails to satisfy, lies abound
And they succeed in becoming the truth
I see it, I know it but I want to believe that in the longer run truth always triumphs
In one form or the other.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
Today, we were in Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer is the only living fort we saw. Here you can watch people walk by with cows and fortifications with canons all in one place. The king has rented out the queens palace to shop keepers. Tourists are a major source of income here now.
We went to this haveli called Patwaji ki haveli and there is a museum in the first house. We were directed upstairs and when I looked down I saw an auction of Indian artifacts in progress. A beautiful wall hanging was going at 100$. I was taken by our guide, a local to the house where its brought whole sale from. It was 1000 rs there. I was sad as those who need the money never get it and the middle men make a killing.
Monday, August 04, 2014
We left happening Udaipur on 3rd to reach the quieter Mt.Abu. We were greeted with a heavy mist. The drive through the hill side was pretty slow with the mists making visibility very low. We managed to reach the Dilwara temple and it was such a unique experience.
We walked through the pristine temple complex where no cameras are allowed, soaking in a very divine atmosphere. The mists seeped through the domes and as I sat admiring the jain thirtankars, I could feel something very calm and soothing trying to communicate with me. For a change I saw things through my eyes and not the camera's. The craftsmanship here is mind boggling and I wonder why such beauties aren't thrown open to the outside world more.An unforgettable afternoon.
Sunday, August 03, 2014
Saturday, August 02, 2014
Friday, August 01, 2014
They say that the world is a small place. Today I got further proof for that. We're in Udaipur for vacation and today is BITSian day. To the uninitiated, Sachin n I are both proud BITSians. One of my criteria for shortlisting someone to marry, was that he should have studied in BITS. We missed the celebrations last year and this year I chanced to see a meet up happening in Udaipur.
I sent a message to the number listed and though we were pretty late in coming back from gamboling around the city, this wonderful gentleman sent a car to pick us up. We met so many folks from our alma mater, extremely successful and humble men from all walks of life that I am all the more inspired to do something useful.
It was a very different evening for us in a strange city and frankly I felt very much at home. Life is sometimes full of wonderful coincidences. Long live bits pilani..