Monday, November 24, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire...

It so happens to me that, many books in my personal collection and those that I have read have plots that form the storyline of a major blockbuster later. Be it Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Namesake' or Mariane Pearl's 'A Mighty Heart' or Dan Brown's 'Da Vinci Code' and many more. I don't know why but the words sinks in better for me or is it because after reading a book, I form my own framework and don't like it to be altered for good or for not-so-good.

Recently while reading an article on the internet, it freshened my mind that I had read something on similar lines, about a year back. What's that?

Well, those who have read the Vikas Swarup's spectacular debut novel, Q&A can read my mind. It's the story of Ram Mohammad Thomas, a (don't be surprised about the name, the book has more details.) poor orphan who can't read a newspaper and has never attended school but goes on to win India's biggest quiz show, Who Will Win a Billion? answering all twelve questions on dot to the point. Each chapter in this book untangles how an incident or episode in the deprived individual's life provided an answer to each question.

Plot is brilliant and it's the story of struggle between good and evil, a reality check by a very young boy who has no other choice in life but to survive.

Now from what I can make out from the plot line of Danny Boyle's 'Slumdog Millionaire' is that it has dotted link to Q&A's plot. I may be correct or in-correct in my view because I have not seen the movie, just guessing from what I have read so far.

The chief protagonists are Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), his brother Salim and Latika played in her adult avatar by Freida Pinto. The movie 'Slumdog Millionaire' is quickly finding a widespread audience and has been acknowledged world over though its casting list is a bit obscure for now, leave apart Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan. Freida Pinto who had made a few TV appearances and hosted a travel show is making her debut with this movie.
Pinto feels that "Slumdog" captures the Mumbai she knows better than any film she's seen, despite its having been directed by a Brit (although Tandan, who receives a co-director credit for the film, was apparently instrumental in making sure dialogue and situations were culturally accurate).

As for her own work, Pinto says, "It was literally like I'd put in 22 years of research, just everything I'd seen in my life, without knowing I would ever do a film like "Slumdog".
You know, my name is Latika.

The frames marvel of color and music and life in Boyle’s Mumbai. The scenes of kids running, jumping, scaling trash heaps expresses the existential climate that thrives in one part of the metropolis. That's reality and you and I know that. The music is downright Rahmanistic. Isn't it, try it yourself.

The movie is already out there in theaters, and methinks I will go and watch this movie in the cinema hall. Are you going too?

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Monday, November 17, 2008

It's foggy today...

the rhythm's festival is on
someone weaving wet water reeds
today also there is smoke
the mood is laid back
no mood for bits and bytes
need a book and some chai
similar days spent in scotland
chasing my thoughts
only that my breath was colder.

but then i am to put back
all these frames get back to life.

Wet with mist

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Postcards from Bylakuppe...

There is a riot of colors which I can feel, when the vehicle accelerates on a dust-covered road, its noise annunciating modernity's further invasion of a calm form of society. Which is this new place?

Whenever anyone talks about Tibetans in India, the places that pop up in our minds are Darjeeling and Dharamasala. But there is one such settlement down south where there is a fully grown community in the town of Bylakuppe, near Mysore, 250 km from Bangalore. Apparently, after Tibet was invaded in the year 1959, the State of Karnataka offered land to any Tibetan who wanted to settle in this land. Quite a huge number of people accepted this offer and today this small patch of land is home to a magnanimous temple and a Buddhist monastery.

The entrée

This is named as the Namdroling Monastery, often called the Golden Temple of South India. The title 'Golden Temple' is befitting because the structures are bathed with a layer of glittering gold, and this make the edifices more conspicuous from a far off distance.

The abode

There is a series of structures and each of these looks more or less the same. As I entered the monastery, the air was absorbed with chants and loud voices of Lamas reading something. I feel they were rote learning some slogans from scriptures which seemed to have been written ages back. They were dressed in ochre and red robes.

Monks in the Monastery

The monotone of drum beatings and pipes intermittently filled the environment because it was the prayer time and all the disciples were busy with their respective activities.


Once I entered the main entrance hall of the monastery, I was awe-struck by the grandness and richness of three larger than life gold plated gigantic statues sitting on a platform.

Made to Perfection

Richly painted murals dolled up the walls and even the ceilings. Dragons twirled up the walls. Colors, colors and colors and nothing but colors are what define the interiors of the main temple of the monastery.


Since most my friends were in a hurry to drive back, I had to listen to them even though I wished to spend some more time at this place. All I had with me was half an hour so I was not able to capture some interesting compositions of the monks. I cannot take pics in a hurried situation. For me what works the best is, go to the place, trip around and see things and then, when the elements are in their most natural form, make my own frames and click pics bindaas.

Seems we got a bit derailed here, let's get on track again. One more striking feature is the myriad hues of flags that one can see fluttering in all corners of this structure. Is it the embodiment of hope? A hope for an independent state after having made an epic journey so far.


Or is it that the road ahead seems a bit dark and direction less.

More details about this place are here.

Also don't miss shutterbug, Anita Bora's post soaked with some brilliant pics here.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Just like that...

There was nothing special about this composition. Just in the wild bush something had grown and this was during a trip to a hill resort. Somehow it caught my senses and even though I had gone few yards ahead, took a few steps back and clicked it.


I don't know if it came out the perfect way. But something came at the end and that's what you see above.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote and Grab a free Coffee....

Yesterday, while I was reading the New York Times online (, I found an AD by Starbucks before it could let me read the front page. Later, I learnt that Starbucks is offering a free cup of coffee to anyone and everyone who vote on the 4th of November'08 for the US Presidential elections.

Now, a questions is it a conscious initiative to stimulate civic participation or is it a ploy to jack up its own business which is going through a tough patch during a period of economic downturn when 600 of the 7,200 Starbucks branches in America were planned for shutdown a couple of months back.

Whatever be it, I unquestionably vouch for the fact that drinking coffee, makes one feel good. Definitely so after you have come out from the voting booth, after having cast your ballot. The hope remains, may be my vote would make a difference.

So ahead, vote and grab a free coffee at Starbucks.

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The Last Lecture...

I generally don't like reading autobiographical books, but sometime back, I had picked a book after reading reviews about it. It was for the simple reason that I was thrilled when I heard the first few minutes of a lecture (nah nah not the kinds that we have in grad schools, anyways I was always a last bencher) by the central character of the book on iTunes. To me it is always more pleasurable to read a book, rather than to see it, converted into a movie or a television series.

So pause, pause after 2 minutes of viewing the video on my iPod and I made sure I read this book. For all those who believe that 'The Last Lecture' would be a gyan book considering the word 'lecture' in its title, please don't be misguided. Once you have completed reading it, you would realize the real worth of this book. I am not sure, if someone would buy my views but that's how I felt once I flipped the last page of this book.

The Last Lecture is a book on Randy Pausch, a Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon. It centers around a remarkable speech he gave - Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams after being diagnosed with terminal cancer on September 18, 2007. The book is simple and talks about living a satisfying and productive life and these are cited by means of incidents that Pausch confronted and faced in his personal life. That’s why people say, there is no better classroom in this world than 'Life'. This word of wisdom may sound hypothetical but that's true to the core.

I felt the kernel of what Pausch wants to convey is that, dream, dream, dream and work towards it.
"Almost all of us have childhood dreams; for example, being an astronaut, or making movies or video games for a living. Sadly, most people don't achieve theirs, and I think that's a shame. I had several specific childhood dreams, and I've actually achieved most of them. More importantly, I have found ways, in particular the creation (with Don Marinelli), of CMU's Entertainment Technology Center of helping many young people actually *achieve* their childhood dreams."

"It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the dreams will come to you."

Randy Pausch, was recognized as a pioneer in human-computer interaction and design, and one of the very first person who worked extensively on virtual reality research. Although diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer in September 2006, it was his spirit and zest for life that won him accolades as a teacher and a mentor. Though he is no more, (he left this world on July 25th, 2008) he has left behind a treasured legacy.

One of the most important points that Pausch speaks about that impressed me was 'Head Fake'. What's that?

When we send our kids to play organized sports -football, soccer, swimming, whatever - for most of us, it's not because we're desperate for them to learn the intricacies of the sport.

What we really want them to learn is far more important: teamwork, perseverance, sportsmanship, the value of hard work, an ability to deal with adversity. This kind of indirect learning is what some of us like to call a 'head fake."

There are two kinds of head fakes. The first is literal. On a football field, a player will move his head one way so you'll think he's going in that direction. Then he goes in the opposite way. It’s like a magician using misdirection. Coach Graham used to tell us to watch a player's waist. "Where his belly button goes, his body goes," he'd say.

The second kind of head fake is the really important one - the one that teaches people things they don't realize they're learning until well into the process. If you're a head fake specialist, your hidden objective is to get them to learn something you want them to learn.
Limpid style of telling things and it’s so simple that it aplies to each and every aspect of our lives. Pausch mentions in his book that, there were few hidden intentions of delivering the speech, Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams at the University.
"The lecture was for my kids, but if others are finding value in it, that is wonderful," Pausch wrote on his Web site. "But rest assured; I'm hardly unique."
This was probably the best gift he would have offered his three kids: Dylan, Logan and Chloe who would miss their father when they grow up. Kids definitely bask in the warm cocoon of their fathers and their presence makes life more meaningful. One of my friends, Kishore has written a letter to his father and sent it with the hope that he would reply to it soon.
"Under the ruse of giving an academic lecture, I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children."
Pausch loved his wife, a lot and this lecture was his gift to his wife whose birthday was on the same day, as he delivered the speech. Before concluding his talk, he invited his wife, Jai to the stage, embraced her and the entire crowd sang 'Happy Birthday' song for her. Another head fake, if you got it.

What goes deep down and finally settles after reading this book is the message of optimism. When Pausch was asked on the day of his lecture, 'What was the best thing that had happened to him that day?'
He replied, "Well, first off, I'd say the day's not over yet. So there's always a chance that there will be a new best."
Well, can one think of a reply that is more optimistic and affirmative than this, when one knows that six months down the line there is no road ahead?

A jubilant read definitely for book lovers. For others, even though you can watch the entire lecture on some forums or video website on the internet, just try on this book. And I am pretty sure each and every word would distill and settle down as you turn the pages.

Keep reading and remain connected.

(Note: None of the pictures used in this post are taken by me.)

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