Wednesday, October 8, 2014


One more reference to Indian Culture! I don't know where this is going to end up but this whole "invoke Indian Culture to make my regressive point" thing is, frankly speaking, getting a tad out of hand. I think referring to Indian Culture has become akin to using a joker while playing a game of rummy. It can be whatever you it to be. There are so many people in different contexts referring to this "mythical thing" that I am resigned to this becoming a valid argument (by the looks of it, it already is!!). I am dreading it but I think we aren't far from the day when we get to hear things like this - 
Why do you publicly urinate? Because it is Indian Culture! 
Why do you flout traffic rules? Because it is Indian Culture! 
Why don't you wash your hands after using the toilet? Because it is against Indian Culture! 
Why do you beat your spouse? Because it is Indian Culture! 
Why are you a lecher? Because it is Indian Culture! 
Why do you have double standards? Because it is Indian Culture! 
Why don't you fight corruption? Because it is against Indian Culture! 

This rant of course is courtesy the news that Yesudas - that doyen of Indian classical, devotional and popular music - said the following about women: 

"What should be covered must be covered. Women should not trouble others by wearing jeans. When women wear jeans, people are tempted to pay attention to what is beyond it, thus forcing them to do undesirable things. They should not try to become like men but must behave modestly. The attire is unbecoming of Indian culture and what lends beauty to a woman is her demureness.

I got to this news a couple of days after the fact but that didn't stop me from having a "what the... what!!!" reaction. Better still, I came across this news as I was waiting for the better half to dress up in, guess what, her new pair of jeans! So as soon as she was done and came out to ask me how she looked in them, I replied in the only way I knew I should. With a lecherous look I said that she was forcing me to do undesirable things :D which was the cue for her to frown and punch me in the arm (I ran away yelling domestic abuse but that romance between me and my better half is not what I want to call attention to right now).

Coming back to Yesudas, where do I start? Let me start with Indian Culture. What the heck is it? Someone please define the damn thing once and for all so that "morons like me who are still living under the influence of every thing bad that the British had introduced into this great country of ours" do not raise any question against it every again. Seeing how a pair of jeans do indeed cover "what should be covered", someone please also explain how this troubles others? Now coming to the aspect of temptation, I marvel at the intellect (or lack thereof) which absolves the person getting tempted of all responsibility for giving in to temptation. I don't see the difference between this and saying that payasam and laddus are to blame for the epidemic of diabetes in India. In this line of thinking, the act of people getting tempted seems to be accepted and acceptable instead of it being questioned. However, the icing on this cake, the pièce de résistance (to use some french), is the assertion that a person's attire can "force" another to do undesirable things. SMH!!!

In spite of much head shaking that ensued and the crick in the neck that it gave me, right now I do want to call attention to two other things. The first is the fact that this person has an absolute conviction about this opinion in his head that he is ready to express it in a public forum, on a stage and that too in a setting that wasn't related to women's clothing. However, given the fact that every other person with access to a mike and a podium is taking recourse to the same line of thought regarding women, this is not very interesting in and of itself. The second one is the more interesting, and worrisome, thing about this whole discourse as I have seen it unfold on the interwebs. The various media reports are predictably full of the "backlash" that these comments have invited featuring all the usual suspects - women's groups, feminists, political parties et al - but the actual eye-opening reactions are to be found in the comment sections of these news articles and online message boards. Here the mood is more equally divided down the middle rather than being lopsided against him. Further broadly categorizing them, the crowd in support of Yesudas seem to take one of two positions. One is that he is right and this group basically agrees with the content of his opinion. The other position is that, irrespective of the content, he has the freedom of speech and he can express his opinions (aka spew nonsense). 

I don't have anything to say about the "Freedom of Speech" crowd because it is a justifiable argument and to an extent, it is good that people recognize that he has the right to say what he wants to irrespective of how others might feel about it. As long as he doesn't cry and complain about the backlash that will follow, I don't have a problem with him opening his mouth and letting the world know exactly what he is like. 

I do have a problem with the other set though. The set that agrees with the content of his opinion. Think about this - these are the folks who have access to the Internet, have a basic handle over the English language to be able to comment on on-line articles and know how to use message boards. Based on these facts alone, I would hazard a guess and say that these folks are educated, are computer literate, are comfortably placed both economically and socially and have a fair bit of exposure to the world around them. And these are the folks who find nothing wrong with Yesudas' opinion about how women should dress, how women in jeans is unbecoming of "Indian Culture", how women should behave to be perceived as being beautiful and most importantly, how women wearing jeans are responsible for forcing people to do undesirable things. If this is the demographic that entertains ideas and opinions like these, then I don't see women's condition in this country changing for the better any soon.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Definition of Life!

What is common between the following - Flying a plane, Medical diagnosis, Driving a car, Building stuff, Reading? Think about it and you should get it. In the meanwhile, here's another list - Autopilot, WebMD, Self-driving Cars, 3D printers, Message readers. This list can actually be summed up in a single word - automation. And that is also what is common to the items listed first. We are living in the era of unprecedented automation and while it is good, I am trying to wrap my head around where this will lead us eventually.

I remember reading somewhere that the basic necessities in life are the trifecta of roti, kapada and makaan (for the hindi challenged out there, it is food, clothing and shelter) and much of human endeavor on a day to day basis is either to possess these, safeguard these or supplement these. When human endeavor which goes towards these are automated, when every possible avenue of human exertion is automated, because we can, what will the humans do?

The current pace of this conversion is, to put it mildly, disconcerting. Disconcerting because I am trying to think what I will do next to keep myself busy and am drawing a blank. If I don't have to work to produce food, get it to my place of living and cook it, if I don't have to put in any effort to design and build my place of living, if I don't have to worry about learning how to read because stuff is read to me, if I don't have to worry about remembering stuff because data storage, retrieval and notifications will call them out, if I don't have to walk or run because we have vehicles for transportation and if I don't have to learn to drive or ride because the vehicles do it by themselves, if I don't need a proper voice for singing because auto tune takes care of it, if I don't need to learn how to play an instrument because 'electronic music' ... well I guess you get me drift. 

It is intrinsic to our way of thinking to do things in the most efficient way possible because usually that also happens to be the easiest. But we are increasingly finding out that the major road-block to getting things done in the most efficient manner possible is us, humans. And we appear to be in a tearaway hurry to remove this inefficiency from our daily life. I am just wondering what the definition of "life" would be when we reach that goal.

Monday, September 8, 2014

El Goog

I seriously think that Google should re-brand. I am sure there are a lot of different names this behemoth has been called over the years and my favorite has been "El Goog". So my recommendation is that they go right ahead and make it official. Change their name to "El Goog". Ask me why and I will tell you this: with the Glass now being made more widely available and with the this-makes-privacy-invasion-oh-so-easy sentiment still very much prevalent, the company is just one crooked thought, twisted mind and perverted action away from being labeled "Go Ogle" (See what I did there!?). So for your own good Google, please rename yourself. Your current name might no longer invoke the image of many zeros following the number one. Just lechery!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Veshti - The beacon of Indian Culture and Tradition

This whole dress code business has been swirling around in my head for the last few days. To provide context, here is the back story , for anyone who is actually interested. High Court Judge is invited for a book release happening in a private club (Tamil Nadu Cricket Association Club). He arrives wearing veshti (aka dhoti). He is turned away for not following the dress code of the club. Cue hurt ego, invocation of Indian culture and tradition, sensationalist head lines, uproar in government and new bills passed!! (check this and this)

This is the dress code business that is doing the swirling in the old noggin. I should confess that it's been quite a while since I have figured out that the whole public discourse around "Indian culture and tradition" in this country is a sham and that I have put down some deep roots in the camp of  skeptical-about-anything-that-involves-our-culture-and-tradition. So coming as I am from that perspective, it's been an unseemly mix of comedy and horror with which I have followed this business. Comedy, because of the... well, comedy involved in this whole thing. Horror, because the warped mindset which puts the undefined and amorphous concepts of culture and tradition on a pedestal and makes them "holy cows" is the mindset which is in charge of the public discourse in the country. To paraphrase Geena Davis from the movie "The Fly", I am afraid, very afraid.

Moving on, the whole veshti (aka dhoti) thing has now been settled in favor of the white cloth. Probably the only occasion when waving the white is not a sign of surrender! One more slap delivered to the face of the British, never mind that it comes some 65 years after they actually left! My aforementioned fear aside, I was wondering what will happen if they start applying this dress code logic to areas beyond privately run clubs. Specifically to one other place that all of us immediately think of when talking about dress code - Schools. And colleges I might add, given all the draconian dress codes being introduced there. We will probably have all boys come to school only in veshtis. Pants and shorts are British, so they are not Indian tradition and culture. This veshti has to be worn over a mandatory loin cloth, may I add. Modern underwear as we know them - whether they be the elastic banded briefs or the naada-sporting striped shorts made famous on the silver screen by Senthil in the south and Shakti Kapoor in the north - are also after all remanants of the British assault on our culture, so its time to put a taboo on them. All this is for the pubescent boys of course. If you are pre-pubescent, well only loin cloths for you kids. You need to grow 'em before getting the right to cover 'em!!! Indian tradition demands it. And yes, by the way if you are wondering about what they should wear above the waist, I refer to our tradition and culture again and say that any odd piece of cloth will do. (I have not ventured into the realm of gurl's clothing because current logic starts only from a guy's attire and hence extrapolated to cover guys only. And anyway since our tradition and culture has a different yardstick  for gurls, the extrapolation is moot. So I am leaving the gurls out of this, for now.) There we have it then - suddh desi boys and men looking and being all cultural and traditional right from childhood.

I must say, tongue firmly not in cheek, that that is the direction we are headed. So buckle up and enjoy the ride because getting off doesn't seem to be an option.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My journey so far...

P.S. This is a pre-script, added to warn you. tl;dr. There, good deed done. Now its your fault!

My first encounter with it, up-close and personal, was when I was still in college. I still remember it in quite a bit of detail...

It was probably sometime in 1998 (or was it 1999?) and I was busy lolling at home during a weekend when the phone rang in the house. Those were the days when we had one phone in the house, a land line, and it was in the living room right next to my dad's spot (you see, the whole "you are sitting in my spot" thing that Sheldon Cooper is famous for these days is just a rehash of what my dad did for close to two decades back then. His reasons, of course, were not the same as those of Sheldon's). So of course my dad picks it up and then calls out saying it is for me. I rush down (from my room upstairs) trying to figure out who it might be. I take the phone and it is from one of my closest friends in college who has never, ever called me on the phone (till then) and she asks me to immediately hang up and step out of the house. A little confused, I step out and there she is at my gate grinning widely and waving it, her brand new cell phone. It was one of those early Nokia thingies with the stubby antenna housing sticking out of from the side which housed the extensible antenna. That was probably the first cell phone in our college and we were all pretty excited. Excitement by association! You didn't have to have it, as long as you had a friend who had it and you could flaunt the friendship. That's how we rolled back in the day! Same thing happened with one of the guys who had his own car and another couple of guys who got their first bikes. But the cell phone was more exotic at that time.

I would eventually get my own but only after I had finished college, got a job and started seeing that I was probably one of the few people on the floor not having one. I went 4 to 5 months before giving in to the perceived peer-pressure. Off I went into the closest mobile phone store I could find and after much consideration walked out with a Sony Ericsson T100 with the blue trim, a sim card from one of the two operators I was aware of at that time and one of those fancy (for the time) belt pouches with a velcro'ed flap to hold my phone in it. That was the best bit. I used to feel that I was one-upping my peer-pressure-applying peers every time I took my phone out of the pouch with the flair of a Clint Eastwood drawing his 6 shooter with practiced nonchalance (that’s what I hoped I looked like!). It took me a while to wise up to the fact that a phone which was not even 10 cms tall would never make for a good 6 shooter! Anyway, the best part about getting that phone was revealed to me later when I met the smart one for the first time and she had the same phone in hand! A Sony Ericsson T100 with red trim! I guess, somewhere in my subconscious, that was when the first seeds of romance were sown and the rest, as I say, is the last decade of my life. Coming back to my cell phone, the T100 was my loyal weapon of choice for quite a long time seeing off the challenge from three different holsters, a fair number of drops, numerous encounters with my keys, incessant messaging (SMS was free; calls were charged. You do the math!) and the odd call. After what seemed like an eternity of hard knocks (4 years and some change) the keypad gave up. It was then that I decided it was time to get a new phone.

Enter the Samsung E250. This was a phone I knew I was going to buy even before I decided to buy a new phone. When I saw it first, I still had the T100 but the slider in the E250 had caught my attention. You see, it brought back memories of the phone from the movie “The Matrix” which was pretty impressive in my book and the E250 slider was the closest that my purse would permit me to emulate it. So E250 it was at the first opportunity I got to get a new phone. Unfortunately, me growing out of my Neo phase happened to coincide with me getting the E250 and the appeal of the "schlick" whisper of the sliding mechanism wore off pretty fast. Not to say it wasn't good as a phone though. Moreover, it had a camera! Oh. My. God. A camera on my phone was the kind of upside you bank on in a prospect when your main reason for investing in it goes bust. Anyway, the camera made up for whatever else that I thought it lacked. It lost out to the T100 which was sturdier and more comfortable to type, it definitely was not the phone Neo used and it was definitely not even the next best thing out there but it put a camera in my hands along with the phone and all else was forgiven. Oh, I should tell you here that I never once used that camera. I just felt great that it was there if I wanted to use it (just like having a Nuclear deterrent option, you know). I lived with it for a couple of years but it became increasingly obvious that it was not up to it. The only thing it didn't have a problem with was ... I don't think there was any area which escaped. The sliding mechanism, the key pad on top of the slider, the number pad, the speakers, the battery, the screen - all of them saw the inside of a maintenance shop at some point. I persisted with it because it was just about adequate for my needs at the time - keeping in touch with the girlfriend. But after one too many issues with it, I had to bite the bullet.

And that bullet was the Blackberry Curve 8320. That was the beginning of my still-on-going dalliance with smart phones. Yep, some people wouldn't call that phone smart but then I am not some people. I was a little intimidated getting this one because to me it represented power. I had so far seen it only in the hands of the big and mighty at work. And in the hands of the smart one. In fact, the 8320 that I got was the smart one's which she had handed off to me to start a brief fling with an iphone! Yep it was back then and I guess, somewhere in my subconscious, that was when the first signs of Blackberry's impending doom started becoming visible and the rest, as they say, is the resultant slow death of Blackberry that we have been living through. Again coming back to the phone in hand, I slipped my SIM in, powered it up and there it was, MY blackberry! I could feel the proverbial power course through my hands till I realized it was the tingling sensation you get when your hand is starting to go numb (I was lying on my side resting on one hand). That minor false positive aside, I was feeling pretty good about it and spent a bit of time trying to get familiar with it. The trackball was a slippery thing, the UX was totally new and most of the stuff was not where I expected it to be. But the best bit about the phone was the key board. You don't call it a key pad when it has a full QUERTY layout and a SHIFT key for good measure, no sir. That key board fit my hand like a glove and till date that's the best typing I have done on a non-laptop mobile device. It had a conference call feature which was pretty nifty (by my standards) and in time I also figured out how to set up my mail box for office mails. Yay! I was finally joining the big and mighty! That last part however turned out to be a big mistake. The self-imposed compulsion to immediately look and respond to your mails as soon as the light starts blinking soon wore out whatever excitement was there. It started becoming bad enough for me to get rid of the mail box from the phone and let my laptop take over the sole responsibility of being the mail man. The blackberry became just another phone in my hands and very soon it was starting to show its age (I was the second owner after all!). It was that time again, time for me to move on.

In those days, I had my mind set on a Nokia N8 either in black or silver. I went into the store, tried the N8, walked out of there with the original HTC Desire and for the next few years was using the Sony Ericsson X8 to take my first steps into the world of touchy feely phones. Confused? Let me back up a little. Remember I had taken over the blackberry when the smart one moved on to an iphone? Well, the iphone got stolen and she bought a white X8 as the replacement. That was my first brush with Android and my first brush with a touchy feely phone which was not the iphone. Moreover I had a soft spot for Sony phones given my experience with the T100, so the X8 was met with a lot more enthusiasm from my side than did the iphone. I was still using the BB at the time and was getting more smart phone savvy by the day (which basically means that I started noticing the fact that increasingly people around me where getting touchy feely with their phones while I was still clacking away on the BB keyboard and I was ok with it). Having such easy access to the X8 also gave me a peek into the world of Android with its "apps" and "widgets" and "Market" and what not. It got me researching for my next phone online and that is how I fell in love with the N8! It looked unlike any other phone on the market at that time and it was by Nokia (who had a reputation of making rock solid phones in both the literal and metaphorical sense). There was also the Desire which was one of the new kids on the block from the Android stable, with its simple, clean cut design and the promise of a bigger screen than anything either of us were used to. When the time came to replace the BB, I was set on the N8. In the store however, we saw the Desire, tried out both the phones and put the cash down for the Desire because Symbian was already dying and the smart one liked the sleek Desire better than the bulky (in comparison) N8. That's how I went to buy the N8 and walked out with the Desire. And by the time we reached home, the smart one was smitten. She was like, "Can I use the HTC phone? Pleeeaaaaaasssssseeeeeeee!!". That's how the X8 ended up being my next phone. Irrespective of that, I was firmly into the world of Android and smart phones and the whole touching, pressing, swiping thing started feeling a bit more natural. I also started keeping track of the happenings in the world of smart phones. The iOS vs Android debates, Apple vs Google arguments and the fun that Apple and Samsung were having in various courts of law around the world became staples and I learnt that Jailbreak, Root and Brick were not necessarily what I knew they meant. The X8 stayed with me through multiple jobs, some exciting times and most of my travels until I suddenly found myself using some other phone.

This was the first time in my cell phone journey that I had switched phones for no real reason. No performance issues, no repair troubles or anything. But I replaced it anyway because there was something better which became available. The HTC Desire! That was time when Samsung had just established itself not just as the undisputed 800-lb gorilla but a veritable king kong in the market and HTC was making a concerted effort to get back a firm foothold in the Android world. They planned to do that by unleashing their first ever "One" series of phones. The One X was the flagship which received most of the spotlight and accolades and comparisons and stuff but the real gem was the One S. It was sleek, sexy, powerful and affordable (in comparison!) and the smart one was smitten once again. So, cut to her birthday later in the year and voila! A brand new black HTC One S neatly wrapped and presented. Consequently, out went the Desire from her purse into my pocket. It was no longer the same new, mint condition phone I had unpacked a couple of years earlier. It was a battle hardened piece of machinery which eventually got pushed to its limits, rooted and ROM'ed. Coming from the smaller and mostly un-molested X8, the Desire was bigger and better in all ways. I was more smart phone literate than ever (I knew a lot of popular sites from which to get Android news!! That counts right?) and felt confident enough to take the next step with it. I boldly put it under the knife for my first rooting experience; followed that up by installing the first custom ROM (XDA forums FTW!); followed by me running amok among the settings and app installations and un-installations; followed by installing and trying different custom ROMs and more tinkering with settings. I finally ended with restoring the original ROM and settling for a rooted phone, with apps that I know I use and a custom launcher. It’s got a single dent and scratch near the volume keys as a tribute to all the times it has been dropped on different surfaces, the battery has been replaced once and is threatening to die on me again and running out of space is a near daily irritant but apart from that it was great ride, a ride which came to an end a couple of days back.

I have finally got my Nokia. Not the N8 but an equally good looking phone nonetheless – a black Lumia 925. I am entering the world of windows phone and am starting to figure my way through it. So here’s hoping for less frustrations, less drops and scratches and dents and an all-round easy ride with the new phone. Fingers crossed.

As the smart one wanted me to point out, the 925 was actually bought by her for me. It is brand new and is mine and mine alone.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blockbuster Movie Night

Went to catch a movie last night. The 10 PM show or the night show as we call it. It was a few minutes short of 3 hrs long and there was the constant threat of falling asleep in the hall what with the 'pongal' I had for dinner, the comfortable seats, the AC, the time of the night and what have you. That, however, didn't happen and I am still not sure if I am glad for that or not. Still trying to figure that one out.

How was the movie, you ask? Well, one word. Wow! Don't mistake me. I mean that not in the I-am-blown-away-that-some-one-could-tell-a-story-in-such-an-entertaining-and-riveting-manner-that-I-can't-come-up-with-any-other-adjectives-other-than-riveting-and-entertaining-but-that's-probably-only-because-of-my-limited-vocabulary kind of way but in the I-just-spent-three-hours-of-time-I-could-have-spent-getting-some-much-needed-sleep-watching-the-same-old-worn-out-tropes kind of way. As I look back on the experience, the only good part I can think of is that I didn't pay for the tickets and am pretty sure I am not going to pay up when my friend comes around to asking for it! ;)

Anyway, here are the worn out tropes (I learnt this word very recently and I am showing off! :) )

#1 - Single dad with a teenage daughter who is down on his luck; daughter's boy friend; dad - boy friend at loggerheads; all of them caught in a life threatening situation and comedy relief thrown in to reduce tensions. The movie ends with dad giving them the ok and they all live happily ever after.

#2 - Hero is being hunted; multiple un-related bad guys; one bad guy is hunting him to imprison him, another bad guy is hunting him to kill; first bad guy is a real bad-ass with cool moves and cooler weapons; second bad guy is a crazy, evil schemer waiting for his chance; hero gets caught; he gets help from an unexpected source; he escapes; more unexpected help; final battle; some really unexpected help; first bad guy is vanquished and the second bad guy slinks away to wait some more. The movie ends with Hero promising to keep in touch and going away.

#3 - Did I forget to mention that the dad and his entourage are happily leading their life on a farm before all hell breaks loose when the 'gobermint' agents land on their property to cause trouble? My bad. Can't have a movie without a stick-it-to-the-Man under current, now can we? Along with it, we also have the breathless action taking place all around huge buildings in metropolitan areas (including 'phoren' locations).

#4 - This I can't and shouldn't forget. The good guys can't die or get hurt or get caught or remain caught or anything like that. The bad guys just can't catch a break or anything like that, the cops and even the armed forces can never get to the scene on time or bring down anybody of consequence or anything like that.

All of the above are from the same movie. The perfect formula for a summer blockbuster, full family entertainer of a movie with a big name, super star hero that we are so used to seeing in either Hindi or Tamil or Telugu (those are the Indian languages I know and follow). So imagine my surprise when I got all this while watching Transformers: Age of Extinction

It felt very much like watching a Mahesh Babu movie remade in Tamil with Vijay in the lead, the rights of which have been bought by Ajay Devgun for the Hindi version. With robots and stuff thrown in of course. There was enough applause and cat calls and whistling inside the hall when the main characters (Optimus Prime, BumbleBee and Mark Whalberg) appeared on screen for the first time that you would be excused to think that it was indeed a Vijay or an Ajith movie. Of course there was no prancing and singing around in some scenic location which was a dead give away and once the special effects start, the quality of which till date remains firmly outside the realm of what any of the copycat '-woods' in India are capable of, all bets were off. You knew fo' sure that you were watching a Hollywood movie.

But there is that one redeeming quality which is missing in this movie which each of the previous three episodes of this mega serial had. Eye-candy in the form of Megan Fox and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. They got rid of that and inadvertently brought out all the other short comings in sharp relief. Make no mistake, this movie will rake in the moolah just fine. It just didn't feel like a Transformers movie.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I have known the smart one for a little over a decade now. We have been married for a little over 5 years. The one "advice" that I remember getting the most is that I should expect her to change once we get married and apparently that's the same advice she got too, though to her they said it was I who was going to change! We got this basically from all the experienced friends we had, most of whom were yet to get married. Thinking back now, it is surprising how many of our friends and family who were married didn't give us that advice! :)

After these 5 years, if I look back, I can see that we have indeed changed but we have also adapted and adjusted (I guess that's what happens in all marriages. In all relationships, in fact). I have adapted to her being a wee bit 'OCD'ic about certain things and she has adapted to me being a lazy bum around the house. I am waiting for her to get used to me cribbing and irritating her intentionally which I find funny. She still thinks I am being a jerk when I do that. (Needless-English-lesson alert: The word "crib", when used as a verb, apparently means "to copy" if you happen to be informally British; means "to steal" if you just happen to be archaic irrespective of which part of the English speaking world you are affiliated to; means "to restrain" if you happen to be archaic but not in the mood to steal; means "to grumble" if you are a dated Brit or an English literate Indian. From India. Not to be confused with native Americans who are also called the same, because, you know, 'Murica!!!)

This reminiscing is brought to you courtesy of my having read "15 ways to stay married for 15 years" in the Huffingtonpost, the reference to which I came across in a column I was reading in a newspaper. Anyway, somewhere in that piece it says, "You and your spouse are a team of two. It is you against the world. No one else is allowed on the team, and no one else will ever understand the team's rules." I concur. :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Trilogy awaited

It's been exactly less than 24 hours since I walked out of a brightly lit cinema where I had been to catch a much anticipated movie. Before anything else I might or might not write about this, let me see if I can list down the different 'blockbuster-movie' staples covered.

Romance - Obviously! And not just among the characters you would imagine!! :D
Duets and Dancing - You betcha! Again, not among the characters you would imagine!! :D
Soundtrack - So good and fitting that now bagpipes don't remind me of the Scots anymore.
Action (shooting-beating-and-blowing-up-things variety) - Big Bada Boom
Plot Twist - Of course
Humor and Comedy - But of course
Locations - My. Next. Vacation. (When I can cough up the dough that is!)

So any guesses as to which movie I am talking about? I will give you a clue - It takes place in a village which is twelve days north of hopeless, a few degrees south of freezing to death and solidly on the meridian of misery.


Yep, "How to train your Dragon - 2" just got released and almost 24 hrs out, I think I am still feeling the effects of the endorphin release from all the laughing and smiling I did watching it. I haven't read any of the books, so I didn't have any bias going in. I also consciously kept away from reading or watching any reviews of the movie because I wanted to enjoy it and form my opinion based on my own observations instead of having to constantly keep matching the scenes unfolding on the screen to some reviewer's comment to see if they were right, which I unfortunately tend to do all the time. But I am not trying to write a review here. The first movie is one of my all time favorites, so I was ready to like this iteration right from the time they announced there would be an iteration. Let me just say that part dos of the story of Hiccup and Astrid and Toothless and Stoic and Gobber and Berk and the others, as it looks when seen through my fanboi colored lens, is just as much fun and laughter as the first one was and it moved the various story lines forward.

What I want to think about is what the next iteration could involve. 

- We have the romance between Astrid and Hiccup (she is referred to as "my future daughter-in-law" by Stoic) - It could go sour for any number of reasons and they could turn enemies (Remember that Astrid is one heck of a warrior and now rides her own dragon)

- We have Hiccup's mom in the frame now - There is that whole lifetime when she went missing, which begs the question - are there other sides to her which will come out?

- We have Toothless who is older and figuring out what all it is capable of - Maybe his metamorphosis into a big, powerful dragon while giving us a beginning story and a peek into why there haven't been other night furies in the picture so far

- We have Hiccup who is older and figuring out what all he is supposed to be capable of - He is the genius builder, adventurer with an irreverant streak (Tony Stark, anybody?), is a wanderlust at his core , is a cheiftain's son and of course is the main protaganist. Way too many trajectories to explore for this guy. 

But of all the possible story lines I think the most interesting part are the bad guys - Drago and his bewilderbeast alpha dragon. They have lost face, lost the war, lost control, lost power and not the least, lost a significant part of their body. But they are still alive!

So bring on part-3, I say. With the characters stacked up the way they are and given how bloody enjoyable the two stories woven around them have been so far, I can only wish it doesn't take them another 4 or 5 years to bring us HTTYD-III.

Trivia Quiz

1. Who is black and cute and funny and extremely dangerous if provoked?

2. Who is black and white and cute and funny and extremely dangerous if provoked?

3. Who are black and white and orange and cute and funny and extremely dangerous all the time?

Answers in the comments, if you please.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I had to get this out of my system :)

So there I was on my virtual surf board surfing in the choppy waters of the net called youtube ( See what I did there?! :) Do pardon that excuse for a metaphor but I guess you got the point) when I came a video about someone talking about how God created the universe in 5 or 6 days and then rested over the weekend. You know, the whole let-there-be-light and adam and his rib and the apple and the snake and that darn box which apparently should have been left closed. Now I don't have any problem with what people believe or want to believe but what got to me in this exposition on 'creationalism' is the fact that it was part of an argument against science!!!

I am paraphrasing but the dialog went something like this: " are asked to accept a lot of stuff - like evolution, like how life formed, like how humans came to be and so on and so forth - based on the words of a few scientists. This is called science and it is supposedly good. You are asked to accept a lot of stuff - like God, like how man came to be and so on and so forth - based on the words of a few men of yore. This is called religion and gets so much flak. Why don't we realize that people espousing evolution as scientific fact are just asking you to accept it based on faith and that makes it as much a religion as any other... ". So if my understanding of this is correct, what he was saying is that science is as much a religion as any other "traditional" religion because we just need to have faith and accept what we are told about things we don't have an explanation for. Fair enough I suppose. I mean, as part of our daily life we don't really see things like electrons and neutrons, do we? Nor can we actually verify things which are supposed to have taken place millions of years back or are supposedly happening slowly over the last so many millions of years. So I can see why it might be equated to a faith based system like a religion.

However, one simple thing that people making this argument keep forgetting or missing or avoiding is that science, especially those fields which involve explaining all the heretofore unexplained phenomena that we see around us, is ever evolving. There was a time when we thought the earth was flat. There was a time when when we believed that we were the centre of the universe. There was a time when we waited for a gaint snake to swallow the moon every month. There was a time when diseases were thought to be because of a curse or because of bad deeds in a previous life. We now have more rational, observable and provable explanations for all of these and more. Our understandng of these has evolved just as the science has evolved. Which just goes to show that while science might ask us to take some things on faith, it doesn't insist on holding on to that same faith in perpetuity. In fact, the core tenet for anyone wanting to pursue science is to question established norms and try to prove them wrong in a repeatable and verifiable way. That, in my opinion, is why any attempt to show science and religion as equals will fail to find acceptance.

PS: That was a long rant but has been cathartic. So no apologies.

PPS: God of the gaps! Listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson talk about this. Makes a lot of sense.

PPPS: In matters of God, I am agnostic. I think that is mainly the consequence of me being born a Hindu. When you have 330 million Gods (give or take a few thousands!!) to pay obeisance to, I guess it was bound to happen. I am not complaining though. I love the temples (make no mistake, I am talking only about the physical structures, not the inane things they insist you do there) and I absolutely love the 'prasadam' they distribute there. It gets my goat however when someone tries to shove their religion down my throat.