Dan Brown’s Inferno – Bad to worse

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Inferno is like beating on the dead horse or expecting the dead hen to lay eggs. Agreed that ‘Da Vinci code’ caught the imagination of the masses and ‘Angels and Demons’ was even better, but Dan Brown needs to move on. Through Inferno, he brings upon another adventurous chase full of symbols but there is no freshness in it.

Robert Langdon with all his symbiology wisdom is back in Inferno and is accompanied by Sienna, a lady with scarred past and extraordinary IQ. The story is set in Florence, Europe. The story is way absurd and i will not dwell into it. Inferno does capture imagination at times and story telling abilities of Dan Brown come out well. It also pieces together history and presents it well to modern readers.

Overall disappointing. Inferno and ‘The Lost Symbol’ have been disappointments for me. I hate to say this but i will be more cautious before taking on Dan Brown’s next novel.

Six things that made me happy today

1. A positive discussion with my manager which will impact my career big time🙂

2. Positive news on wifey’s job hunt. She is just completing her masters and ready to work in a couple of months

3. Found new friends at workplace

4. Every Tuesday, i have to leave office early and i hate to do this. I was about to leave today when i was told that i am off the hook for today. Means i can continue working till my usual hours🙂

5. I was listening to songs while driving to work when i realized the after effects of yesterday’s 4 inch snowfall. The nature looked so picturesque today!

6. Got to know about Dan Brown’s new novel. It’s not yet released but i pre-ordered nevertheless.

The day is not yet over and i hope some more serendipity in the hours left🙂

Life of Pi – Movie review

So wifey and i decided to watch a movie last week. We were weighing between special chabbis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_26) and Life of PI (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_of_Pi_(film)) and after having watched LOP, i think it would have been been a historic mistake to miss it. Anyhow, the reason why we choose LOP was because it promised more interesting visuals and animal presence, which would keep my 5-yr-old-son occupied. Needless to say, we all loved the movie and it compelled me to write my own review about it. Given below are my thoughts:
1. The movie is not as good as the book, which was kind of expected. But i don’t think it could be made any better. When i heard that LOP is being made in a movie, my first reaction was that of disbelief because i could not imagine how someone could transform the story into a movie.
2. And looks like i was not the only one who found it difficult. Life of Pi was rejected by several hollywood directors and Ang Lee was not the preferred choice
3. Ang Lee is a genius. Period.
4. So is Yann Martel, to have thought of such a story.
5. The acting in the movie is brilliant. I heard that Ang Lee handpicked Suraj Sharma (young PI) after auditioning some 3000 people. I really wonder what criteria he had in mind when he was auditioning all those folks. Regardless, Suraj Sharma did justice to the role.
6. Irrfan Khan and Tabu (Pi’s parents) has small but strong roles in the movie and it was a smart decision from Ang Lee to cast them for the role. And i think these actors did justice to their roles.
7. The star of the movie is the tiger, Richard Parker. The way his feelings and outlook to life is shown in the movie is really touching. He also comes out as an intelligent cat.
8. The plight and fight of Pi to remain alive was very captivating to watch. The way he dealt with the tiger and untimately trained him was beautiful.
9. I liked the fact that Pi was not shown sulking for long for his lost family. Instead, he started fighting for survival as soon as he grasped the situation.
10. I did not understand Gérard Depardieu’s role as the cook. He was shown as rude and racist and also had a fight with Pi’s father (Adil Hussain). He did figure in Pi’s made up story to insurance agents and his portrayal did influence Pi’s characterization of him in the story. But i wonder if a seasoned actor like Gérard Depardieu was required for the role.
11. I really liked India’s portrayal in the movie. Indians were shown as intelligent, tolerant to religions, and thinkers in the movie. It was refreshing to find the following missing from an India based story – taj mahal, poverty, corrution and facinated-to-white-skinned folks.
12. I loved the fact that there was no stupid love story in the movie. Indians would understand what i mean.

Overall, Life of Pi comes out as must watch movie and we thoughly enjoyed watching it. It is highly recommended and i would easily give 5 stars to it.If possible, do read the book too.

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Reading books

There was a time when I used to be a voracious reader of fiction novels. I still have a pretty impressive collection of books and to some extent I used to consider myself a bibliographer. Other than fiction, I relish autobiographies and various forms of smart writing stuff. Reading always gave me a ‘high’ and confidence and I think it shaped my personality/outlook to a good extent. It was my means of disconnecting from the world and recharging my batteries.

Now I have been married for several years and have a toddler at home. Among these, and office work, and some other optimistic future plans, my reading has taken a backseat. It’s one of those days today when I am really missing it. I have 2 books currently at home which have been high on my reading list for long, but I just don’t have time for them now. It makes me wonder if my life is heading in the right direction. If I don’t have time for things I love, or people I love, there must be something seriously wrong in what I am doing. Or maybe it’s my outlook towards life. I am running hard to fulfill expectations and my personal goals but looks like they don’t align well with my feel-good-factors. Or maybe it’s a temporary thing. I don’t know.

Managers….

This happened with me when i was leaving my last company. And the company before. Only difference was that i did not accept the counter offer. But every time it made me doubt the intentions of my managers. If they really felt that i was worth it, why was i being deprived till then? And if i accept it, won’t it be injustice to my peers? But of course, there is more to it than this but i have never been able to understand this management style. And what PHB does in this strip, is very very common. Unfortunately!

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Adorable and inspiring

I recommend you guys reading a blogpost – http://alwayshappykya.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/favored-grace/. I found it while blog surfing. It has a very real life touching story of an American family who adopted 2 girls from Bangalore, India. One of them is just 2 years old and blind. This blog gives glimpses of the love and affection that the family is showing on the 2 girls, the effort they are putting up to make them happy and some emotions of the children itself. I found it really touching and hats off to the couple!!!

Last weekend, when we were celebrating Thanksgiving, I saw another such family. It was an Indian Bengali family who had adopted a white American kid. I have no words to express what a treat to eyes it was. The bond between the parents and the kid was mesmerizing. This kid was reciting Bengali songs along with her mother and it was so cute. In times like now, when we see so many wars and hate in the world, it is families like these which have broken the race barrier and symbolize love in true sense. It also makes us realize that we all have the ability to contribute to the society in big and small ways.

James Bond is losing his mojo

I am a big fan of James Bond movies and have watched all movies in the Bond series. I was born in the era of Roger Moore and had to catch up for the golden times of Sean Connery and the other Bonds around that time. I remember having video cassettes of bond movies like ‘Moonraker’ and ‘The man with the golden gun’ and those were among the prized procession that I had in my childhood. James Bond for me symbolizes a dream character who is super smart, flashy, desirable and willing to risk his life at the blink of an eye. He is also supported by MI6 in equipping him with gadgets which are ahead of the time and tasks which are almost impossible to achieve. And there are huge implications of Bond’s missions – be it from preventing wars, thwarting nuclear attacks and so on. He has no weakness and yet never fails to extract the best out of an opportunity (read women). He is stylish to the extent that his preferred drink is also talked about – shaken and not stirred martini. And then there are bond girls.Image

Then came Daniel Craig. He started by getting beaten around by bad guys and messing up his assignments. Then he fell in love… why??? In his latest movie ‘Skyfall’, he takes notches ahead to show his humane side. He is declared as carrying a childhood trauma and fails the fitness test at MI6 miserably. He is a documented alcohol and substance abuser. All the gadgets that he gets in the movie are a finger print controlled pistol and a radio! He is reduced to seducing prostitutes and drinks at a local bar in Turkey. To top it all, he gets an assignment to stop the villain from destroying MI6 and preventing him to kill M, his boss. In the end, M is dead and James Bond is responsible for it to some extent.  By the way, this assignment also resulted because Bond had messed up his last assignment. Speaking of MI6, their London based headquarter is attacked and the identity of all their agents stolen. MI6 has to shift their office to an underground office made during World War 2. Bond is outsmarted several times in the movie and just prevails in the end…….. James Bond looks old or ‘past his prime’ and loser towards the end. This is just not the Bond movie that I am used to and the trend/evolution of Bond is unsettling.

Many people have appreciated the human side of bond and that he is more realistic now. Well, I don’t. I don’t because most of the other heroes in film industry are like that. James Bond was different and a dream character and that was what distinguished him from the crowd. Is it really necessary to re-invent bond’s character? Coming back to the movie itself, I didn’t find any bond girl. If Moneypenny was supposed to be it, then it didn’t click. At least for me. And the movie was very long.

All in all, Skyfall is a disappointment for me. I am seeing the downfall of my favorite movie character. James Bond is losing his mojo. And I am not liking it.