Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Books Read in 2008

  • Our Films Their Films by Satyajit Ray
  • Right Brain Teasers by Allen Bragdon and Marsha Monbleau
  • Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
  • The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
  • Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon by Neal Jamison
  • Area of Darkness by VS Naipaul
  • In a Free State by VS Naipaul
  • The Snowball by Alice Schroeder
  • The Films in my Life by Francois Truffaut
  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  • Jonathan Strange and Dr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  • India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
  • Za-to-pek Za-to-pek Za-to-pek by Bob Phillips
  • Spaghetti every Friday by Bob Fletcher
  • Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks
  • Isaac Newton by James Gleick
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
  • Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
  • Down Under by Bill Bryson
  • Clapton: The Autobiography
  • Jump the Shark: When Things go bad
  • Big Brands Big Trouble: Lessons Learned the Hard Way by Jack Trout
  • The Story of Classical Music by Darren Henley and Marin Alsop
  • On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Aleghieri
  • Famous Composers by Darren Henley and Marin Alsop
  • A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The 4 hour work week by Timothy Ferris
  • Games Indians Play
  • A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
  • The Devil's Cup by Stewart Lee Allen
  • The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
  • Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
  • Goodbye Mr. Chips by James Hilton
  • The Double Helix by James Watson
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
I am hoping that I will beat this number in 2009. 2008 started on a good note but some periods of heavy work dampened my pace. However some sick leave helped me get to this no. And considering the no. of books I have on unread as well as the ones I have abandoned temporarily, the no. may be easier to exceed than before. Lets see.

Happy New Year yet again to everyone


Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I like to believe that when we comment on other people, we use what I call a "looking through the window perspective." You are an onlooker and have little stake in that person and are making a fairly objective comment. However when you comment on people you are interested in, your perspective is "thru the looking glass." (a mirror for those of you non Carrollites).

Now, if I were to judge Ghajini as a normal movie, I 'd say passable masala flick. Aamir is serious eye candy. Oozing brawn all over and Asin looks very cute. The music is good (ARR, reliable as usual) and Prasoon Joshi does have atleast 1 good song (the The story is public knowledge. Thus, there is little else to comment on. Go watch it, if you are a masala movie watcher.

But since I am a self confessed Aamir fan... here is what I think ->"F* man, why does Aamir have to take off his shirt so many times? There is some poor editing in scenes with Asin when she actually does not act well. And why did the movie have to go on for 3 hours?! It is not utterly gripping for all of those 3 hours. In fact, it barely holds your interest for abt 30 mins. Another 1 hr would have been tolerable. 90 extra mins is unforgivable. And Jiah Khan who can't act for nuts, doesn't even look hot. She looks young, at best. Casting for non prime characters is pathetic, incl. the opening shot of the movie, where the doctor is discussing Aamir's ailment. This is one clear evidence (amongst many) of pathetic editing. Which f* doctor says he can't discuss the case more and then leaves the entire patient records for public use. And since when did medical records start looking like criminal records! Yet another editing f* up. The editor is supposed to tell the director, "Listen you d*, this seems silly, contrived and incredible (in the non-complimentary sense). Lets cut this..."

The interesting points in the movie are - This is the 1st movie in recent memory whose title is devoted to the villain, while the hero and heroine have much stronger roles in the movie. So that is unusual and welcome. Aamir looks very young on most occasions and doesn't have the drooping jowls he had in Fanaah. Thus it is credible that he can frolic with a pretty lass like Asin who seems refreshingly fresh (am not sure she was dubbed in). The romantic scenes in the movie when Aamir is contemplating his lady-love or day dreaming about her are well shot. If there is one fault with the movie, it is sloppy editing (Please go find the Oscar award ceremony acceptance speech of the woman who won it for "The Departed" and listen to Martin Scorsese's speech, a little after hers, to understand what I mean. Alternatively, see Pyaasa or Kaagaz ke Phool (hat tip to Sameer and Nandini for the allusion) to understand what a good editor will do.

Recommendation: Avoid it if you want to see good cinema. Donate money to a non-multiplex or see it if you can get tickets at some theatre for less than Rs.50.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Plans for the new year...

... actually the next few years...

1. qualify for boston
2. cycle across france for atleast 2 weeks, retracing parts of Le Tour
3. learn to bowl overarm (for a full over atleast)
4. learn to play the guitar
5. see barcelona

until a few years ago, 1 and 5 didn't exist. there is already a pal mad enough to agree to accompany me on 2 above. 1, 3 and 4 are solo pursuits.

applicants are invited for joining me on 5 above.

wish you a very happy & healthy new year. may the bourse be with you (that way, it will be a wealthy new year as well)

what are your plans?


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Here is my version of a Christmas present, one of the several lists that sprout around this time of the year. Fun reading
The Headhunter's Guide To The Top 10 Films Of 2008

Now I want to see Horton hears a Who!

Wish all the readers of this blog a very merry X-mas. Have fun, Take care


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Year Ending Purchases

Credit Card points helped buy every one of the below at ridiculously low prices. My only confession is that I didn't plan on buying any of them when I walked into Landmark this eve...

The London Marathon by John Bryant (Rs. 50)
Getting it right the second time by Michael Gershman (Rs. 25!!!!)
The Hours by Michael Cunningham (Rs. 125)
Splendid Solution (Jonas Salk and the conquest of Polio) by Jeffrey Kluger (Rs. 75)
The Calligrapher by Edward Docx (Rs. 75)
Ticket to Ride (inside the Beatles' 1964 tour...with a CD!) by Larry Kane(Rs. 125!)
Reader's Digest Dec 2008 issue (Rs. 50)


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Opus X-mas special quiz

After quite some time, went to a quiz - the Booze n Brains quiz at Opus along with my regular group of alcoholics with a quizzing problem (to modify the HASH byline). Was getting pained sitting at home for most of the last two weeks anyway.

And we won! Woo hoo, woo hoo!

And in true x-mas spirit, our prize money went to charity :) But hey, we kept the booze...

Tipsy yo Tipsy ye!


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why I am like a Poorly Produced report now...

Last Sunday I ran 31 km as part of my training for the Mumbai Marathon on Jan 18th. Late Sunday eve, I developed severe stomach pain and got operated upon subsequently for appendicitis on Monday. I just got home earlier today. Now, I am grounded for about a month or so.

Just like some readers of this blog, I had already made my contribution to Parivaar
since I didn't foresee this setback. I trust that most of you who had planned to contribute may still do so. I just felt that I should let my readers know since so many of you had supported Parivaar with my run. I expect to be able recover to run a marathon sometime early next year. I will keep you posted.

I am quite sad that I will miss Mumbai for the 1st time in 5 years. I am sad mostly since this also means that my plans for Boston in 2010 need a relook since I don't expect to start serious running till about Feb. I did consider walking the race since I can do 6-7 kmph with little trouble, but the risk to the abdomen exists precisely due to the strain due to the distance.

The only upsides are that I will exceed my reading quota from 2006 and 2007 over the next few days since I am mostly confined indoors. I also managed to finish reading Warren Buffett's excellent biography "The Snowball" while I was in hospital, y'day and the day before.

Curiously the surgeon said my appendix was as strong as I was, since he got to see some of my muscles. So hopefully I will get better and stronger from now on, since this niggle in the abdomen was what held me back for the last year.

And btw, the title refers to the fact that I am missing my appendix now

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Original PJ

My wife is not my better half, she's my vulgar fraction ;)
p.s. this is dedicated to Kiddo

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Wednesday - Stupid Common Man

First of all, here is another silent prayer for the unfortunate souls who died in the terrorist attack last week in Mumbai and I am not referring to the b*s who attacked Mumbai. The terrorists were neither unfortunate nor do their souls deserve a prayer. May they rot in hell.

Now, I shall try and be as brief as possible about the movie, which would be being true to its running time as well - around 95 mins. Excellent acting all round by Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah, Jimmy Shergill and others although Anupam Kher looks a tad overconfident, but the excellence of the movie overshadows everything. It is not a paragon of cinematic finesse, but a triumph of storytelling excellence with just the necessary wicked kick in the tale. No songs, no drama. Just plain good cinema. Good work by Neeraj Pandey (script, direction) and his team which had the courage to bring this light. "A Wednesday" tells the story of a man who holds the city of Mumbai to ransom for a day, asking for four terrorists to be handed over to him. The movie gives just the right raw feel of a nation whose citizens are currently awash with rage/outrage (make your pick), including yours truly.

The rest of the movie tells the incredibly prescient story of what follows. I believe every Indian must see the movie. Half of the reason the 1st paragraph is worded like it is, is due to the movie. The other reason is that I had decided to pay some homage to Mumbai in my first post in the aftermath of last week's attack. Please see the movie. If the producers/director are half as savvy as they were when they made it, they should rerelease the movie. They will make a lot of money, I think.

God bless Mumbai.