Saturday, October 21, 2017

Bus stops - Rest of the World - Tritiya

Bus stops - The Sequel- Rest of the world


I have visited and riden the India bus-stops in this post. And those in Bus stops - Dwitiya - The Americas.

And here follows a photo-listicle of bus-stops from places I have not been to - Amsterdam, Singapore, Japan and Denver. My family and friends sent it to me thanks to my relentless badgering. They are not named or linked simply for their privacy reasons.

Basic system of all transportation is same. Monorails on color coded lines, online apps for timetables, Automated machines to dish out daily passes. Local color comes from the commuters.

 Amsterdam

Bus-stop

Central
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Singapore

Japan


Denver 

Train station

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All of the bus-stop pictures were sourced from my family and friends living across the globe. They are not named or linked simply for their privacy reasons.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Salilda ke Sung Suhana Safar

This post is my ode to a Salil Chowdhury phase.

There is so much longing and feels in his beautiful songs. I feel the need like I could churn out a 10K words worth essay, to convey the beauty. But of course, like it usually maps out, feeling boiled down to a teaspoon of words. Large feelings might pour out into very limited words.

Publications

So then I have been looking for really great writeups about Salilda. Here is what I found and that makes me satisfied.

Website dedicated to Salilda which is a great collection of all things Salilda:
http://www.salilda.com/

And an article here written by his grand-daughter - so it is very personal look. I could imagine myself peeping through one the thick wooden old-world doorway in their house.
http://www.indianmemoryproject.com/tag/salil-chowdhury/

This is not directly about Salil. But it talks about most of the movies featuring his songs.
https://baradwajrangan.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/between-reviews-remembering-roy/

I guess I am looking for a fan group, where others have an equal outpouring of feels. Or a blog with more in-depth writings on his music.

Mix-tape

I have played all of these on repeat so many times - if they were on CDs or casette tape or LP, they would have worn out. This mixed tape has just the right songs.


Madhumati

Flute and other sound instruments rule in every song. I am curious to know all the orchestra instruments played in "Zulmi Sang Ankh Ladi" song. The opening chorus in the same song is enchanting. Jungle sounds creep in and even the sounds of silence in some of the songs is so striking. The way Lata's voice flows in different levels, is so soothing. Words in each of the songs are too pure for this world. North-east India music esp Bihu, influ



Anand

Mysterious start sequence of "Kahin Door Kahi Din".
Orchestra and string and wind instrument sounds in this Manna Dey gem - "Zindagi kaisi ye paheli".
Jovial conversational tone of "Maine tere liye". Plus the very beautiful Seema Deo in the video.
Lata's voice and tabla taal in "Jiya Lage Na".
Hard to believe there are only 4 songs in this album.


More Songs:

Choti Si Baat & Rajnigandha - they don't have a Video Jukebox on youtube. But they should. Just look at the million views on their exiting non-HD songs. Listen to the instrument strains in each song.The flute strains in background music is like cool breeze wafting the curtains in the movie. That background music from "Choti si Baat", eventually became a song - Tere galiyon mein hum aaye.

A lot of his songs just need to heard, not seen. They definitely gel with the movie. But they are also individual art pieces. Their movies need not be watched. Just experience Lata's voice and Flute harkat in "Mere mann ke diye".




Not all are here

Everything shared here is only my personal favorites. I was introduced to them in the 1980s in my Bombay/Mumbai years when I was in Elementary school. However now the value of these songs are beyond nostalgia. Salilda music is all pervasive in Indian music. His strains are in many many works. Just reading about them is exhausting. I would rather enjoy the feels they create in the listener.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Spectating TC Marathon 2017

TC Marathon is the big deal local Marathon event of the year. Frankly its the only local Marathon for the Twin Cities, something which does not involve driving for more than an hour or looking at hotel logistics.

This year 2017, I arrived at the cross of Summit Avenue & Oxford Street, to cheer for my Lifetime Run Club buddies. This is the 24th mile. I monitored my run-buddies run on the TCM app and timed to arrive here as per their times. By then rain had picked up and their times for this milestone were delayed. But this was the loudest cheer zone for sure, with music blaring from Mill City Running truck parked here.


Lifetime Run Club cheering zone was here since 8 am and inspite of sitting through the rain for 5+ hours, was just as high-spirited in their cheering. My kids cheered on, rang cow-bells and held umbrella with one hand and held out the other for high-fives. Rain did not bother them as much as I was worried.


All the 5+hour finishers were rushing past. You could see last 24 miles on their face, yet the prospect of finishing it in another 2 miles. Rain kept its relentless pitter-patter on them. So many memorable faces - a father-son pair, Ann-Blake's husband, a 74 years old Senior who was disappointed at having missed sub-4 hour finish.


This pair had the words SHAME & DISGRACE printed on their t-shirt. I had read about it on Twitter in the morning and so was excited to actually see them.

Finally my Run clubbers arrived. Everyone was out to scream and make the lodest noises. #LadyCrew who had finished 10 mile earlier in the morning, had joined the Marathoner at 20 mile.



Then the Mother-Daughter team joined them from here. The best supporting Run Club team #LadyCrew.

For spectating in 2014, I went to Lake Calhoun with my daughter. It was 35 F that morning. This was around Mile 6 of the marathon. I got to see all the runners - Elite, mid-packers till the very last one. Everyone still fresh from the start.

In 2015, I went to spectate at Summit Avenue. That is the 24 mile and I was there at around 10:30 am, a very bright sunny morning. With the race start at 8 am, I was there at the exact moment all the leaders passed by. What a view.

And last year, in 2016, I got the privilege of running the TC Marathon.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Netflix Recommendations

Here are my Netflix Recommendations, I can't recommend them enough. And last I checked, these are still on Netflix. Don't be mislead by my conciseness - each of the show & the characters are rich.

Burn Notice - Set in Florida. Ex-Spy & friends solve cases to help people while trying to get back his Spy job. 

White Collar - Set in NYC. FBI agent enlists Art-Thief solve other big-budget theft cases.

Leverge: is well similar to above in genre. Problem solving thriller of a team of 5 and well-packed in each episode.

Death in Paradise - Set in Caribbean St Mary's island. English inspector & local team solve cases. Sun sand & coconut trees everywhere. Best viewed in snowed-in January winter.  

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - Australia production set in 1920. Mystery. Saucy heroine & interesting team. 

Murdoch Mysteries - Canada production set in 1800s. Mysteries solved by scientific-minded Detective Constable. Entire cast is endearing. In different episodes, they bring in some future gadget or tech and pretend like they are the early inventors of that. Some of the real life celebs of those times are brought in characters in some episodes.


Father Brown - BBC village priest & friends solve murders.
Good show, first coz adorable Arthur Weasley actor plays the lead, then the whole repeat ensemble cast grows on you. The village setting, green open surroundings, stone houses grow on you. 
Other notes: Everyone wears colorful dresses 1950s fashion. Old British did not stick to monochrome or dark colors like US, but more fancy color choices like Indians. Everyone is prom & proper in manner. Village reminds me of our own villages, atleast South Indian Kar. Just no plastic or paper trash or garish billboards around. Tourism hype apart, all European small towns are like Indian small towns & villages.Everything seems romantic when described in English or some fancy language or on Instagram. 


Bletchley Circle - Great follow-up to Imitation Game movie. Set in the same place. 4 coders who are retired after war and dealing with the duller life, where they play a secondary role now. Meanwhile new mystery brings them together.  

Madame Secretary : Set in Washington DC State office and White House. But depicts the real corporate talk, life and politics. Real world dynamics. Not dramatic or exasperated sarcasm. Very textbook showing what to speak, when and to whom. All about problem-solving.

The Crown: Impressive but not additive to go on a marathon spree. Each episode is full enough to keep you satiated and to process it before you are ready for the next episode. It is capturing cinematic-ally, by the varied cast and their acting, gently walks us through historical events. Its only 1 season old with 10 episodes, but they have plans for more seasons - something to watch out for.


All of these are best for that quite TV watching after a tiring weekday. They are in proper bit-sized 40 min-1 hour chucks, with no cliffhanger to click on the next episode. Or go on a marathon binge if you can afford it, for full immersion in their setup. 

All of them are mystery genre, but not extreme thriller, not horror, not gory. Grownup up but not scary for rest of the family. They have a season long mystery to solve, but each episode has a mystery which is solved by the end of it. Monk was the only perfect show, which had an addition mystery was was show-length and which never distracted from it and actually wrapped it up cleanly in season finale. but unfortunately Monk no longer on Netflix. All of them have an interesting ensemble. Each interesting character, and something to like in each.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

City of Lakes - Half Marathon - 2017 - Race Recap

I had run the City of Lakes - Half Marathon in 2015. And this year I got a chance to run it thanks to my Run club buddies.



Lovely perfect September morning. Temps must have been in the 60s. Cloudy sky. So I ditched my cap this time. We parked in one of the side streets around Lake Harriet and walked to the start line at Beard's Plaisance, near tennis courts. Turns out the finish line was at Lake Harriet Bandshell, so the return walk was 1 mile. Yes, it counts as recovery walk.

Race first loop was around Lake Harriet, then through the road to Lake Calhoun. Here the elite runners form Africa were returning to Harriet after completing Calhoun. Ah what a sight. I got to see the the lead female runner from their group. Then a loop around Lake Calhoun, where we encounter the first timer-carpets for 3 mile. Weather was still perfect temp and cloudy sky. After looping Calhoun, it was back to Harriet and when I reached the tennis courts, the group from Africa was leisurely walking after after finishing first. I yelled a Congratulations and they politely replied and said I was doing good :)

The next loops around Lake Harriet and then Calhoun did not feel so long or endless. At Mile 11 at Calhoun, I did feel an anxiety rush into me, sort of negative thoughts which I had distracted from for so long. So the pace dropped in the last 2 miles. But I knew that my pace must have been great in the initial miles. I had minuscule walk breaks this time.  Finish time was 2:59:34 hour with a pace of 13:53. So thrilled to be sub-3 hour after almost 1 year. I have my Run-club buddy to thanks for, who I ran with throughout.



At the finish line, I was joking that this race is the first, where they touch-our-feet for Namaskar at the end :) Because the volunteers pull out the timer chip strapped to the shoe-lace. Good thing - they know we are not going to be able to bend for another day or two.


Swag was a lovely medal in the shape of sailing yacht or boat - apt representation of Lake Calhoun & Harriet. And a glass mug. This one had opaque etchings instead of colored one in 2015. T-shirts here, are for category winners.



Sunday, September 3, 2017

Mishti-Doi Craving

I recently identified a feeling and called it "Bengali-craving". Not Bengali food, not fashion, not language. I have not lived in Bengal or indulge in any of these at any point in my life. So I don't have much explanation on what that craving was ? But I noticed it a few weeks after watching Vicky Donor and Kahaani.

Bingo, I blamed it on the diet of Doordarshan. Specifically of 80's and 90's, when at any given point of time, they did play a show in Hindi with it's roots in Bengal. Shows based on Rabindranath Tagore's work, Mahasweta Devi's stories, or movies by Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Bimal Roy and some of Basu Chaterjee's movies. I guess the imagery stayed back more than I knew. That way I can also blame Hemant Mukhrjee, Salil Chowdary, RD Burman and Bappi Lahiri, who used a lot of melodies between their Bengali and Hindi films

Among all, this one is the sweetest memory for me. Satyajit Ray's Apur Sansar, end sequence. I was captivated by the location and sannata, just the wind and few dialogs.




So yes, this craving meant a repeat show of Talaash. Come to think of it, this Doordarshan TV serial had all the big-shot Bengalis associated with it.

Once Nostaligia was covered, we needed something current, something of this age. Not that anyone went away, but Bengaliness is coming back on center-stage again.

Beginning with Vicky Donor. Protagonist was Delhi-Punjabi but the heroine was Bengali and they had some Kolkata locations as well. That is what triggered this in the first place.
Vicky_Donor

And soon came Kahaani (2012). That was some sucker-punch of a movie. I am a nobody to praise its excellent Kahaani/Story ! It needs to be seen. Cool Bidha Bagchi and really really sweet Rana. Their unique poster lead to a really interesting movie. And one side-effect is - it makes me hum a lot of 80s RD songs. A lot of them played in background, in Bengali.

Kahaani

Last few years has definitely seeing a surge in Bengali-backed movies. And then thanks to Netflix I got to see these 2 new movies a billion times.

Piku


I still don't know what Piku means, but nevertheless I have watched this movie like 50 times.
Ad-films background of the director shows up, in those well composed shots, which last under a minute.

Very interesting dialogues and sequences. People speak up at the same time. 2-3 disjointed thread run through a single conversation. Someone says no & does exactly that. Every single talk around constipation is included at different intervals. True depiction of how bugging 60+ & their adult kids dialogues.

Classic trope of AB having a side-kick to make things interesting, and his friendship with Raghuveer Yadav. Deepika and her kajol eyes. Her bickering with AB and defensiveness when outsiders/Rana comment. Irfan is a gem as usual, every sequence he was part of.



Production quality is impeccable. Piku's cluttered house, but with impressive wall artworks. Rana's messy house. Trip packing sequences and getting up at dark O' thirty for a long road trip. For a road trip movie, they picked great locations. Night time Ganga ghat at Varanasi, so many sights in Kolkatta, Delhi.

Music by Anupam Roy has been on loop in my Youtube.

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy

detective-byomkesh-bakshy

So when the movie trailer came out, I was turned off. Not believing they could making something watchable for something in my favorite genre - Raj-era environment, Calcutta, Detective, Mystery. And later it lingered on Netflix for a long time, before I watched it.

Movie was very tightly made. So when it ended, I did not understand many things, I had to re-watch it - just to answer, "Wait what" questions. Then, I guess I played it 50 more times. Everytime kids came back home, they would be exasperated, cause this was always playing on TV.

Superb and controlled acting by Sushant as obsessive-compuslsive about finding the truth. Tough Ajit, and that gang of bachelor boarders. Really menacing villain - his end sequence with heavy metal background music, elevates this to SuperHero movie level. No mention of 'Satyanveshi' word - hope that happens in a Sequel.

detective-byomkesh-bakshy


In terms of frames, I could put a snapshot of every single scene here and still not be satisfied. This movie is worth watching with unblinking eyes. Production values were superb. The way they built outdoors locations and crowds. And blended CGI into it. The Making videos are educational.

They ended with an awesome hero, trusted friend and a menacing nemesis. That is the perfect combination for a franchise. So looking forward to the sequel. Everything so far shows it is not in plans. Attention of all producers and makers have dissipated.

Music - now there is no equal for it and yet it was prefect in the movie and very hum-able outside. Yes no item or dance number yes, chalega. All songs were in background, spreadout and blended with the background music. Heavy metalish in a Raj-era movie - and no one notices.


2017 includes its share.


Jagga Jasoos. This one was eye catching thanks to rich imagery of Africa and North-East India. Its Bengali-heavy maker team did add their nostalgia elements. But there were no clihed Bengali stereotypes in the movie. They did not even say "Cholegaye" in Khaana Khaake Chalegaye, :D In the story, there was a stopover at Kolkatta, but without any sightseeing, just tram and few other studio props. Offline I did find out about the Bengali specific Easter eggs (agapastala, tiktiki, shundi), but it no way changes the flavor of the movie.

Bengali-ness simply enriched these movies, without overwhelming it.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Minnesota Half Marathon - StPaul - 2017 - Race Recap

I really really enjoyed this year Minnesota Half Marathon on Shepard road, St Paul. Multiple factors.

For the 7:15am start, I left home at around 5:40am. For the first, it was a carpool commute with my run buddies. It lightened the stressful morning ride and was fun laughing at different experiences on the way back.

Parking for this race is in Rivercenter ramp. Vehicles going in, queued up on the 7th Street W. I did get anxious and thought should park at the lot opposite Excel Energy, but I was stuck anyway, so crawled to the Rivercenter ramp. It wasnt so bad. Loads of free parking space. Parked it closer to the lower level, because exist it o lower level. Don't want to climb the stairs up after the half race.

Run crowd was not very large. It did not feel crowded and pressured to push fast in the begining. nor was it lonely in the last 3 miles. I am amazed by the paces of the first half. The extra long time in the last 4 miles, I think I took extended water breaks and yes slowed down the pace. But mentally I was better focused than I have been in past years races.

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The race in itself was fun too. Loads of fun cheering squads, who had come to inspire their family/friend. 2 ladies holding a glittering stone covered Flamingo on a stick. A duo holding Unicorn helium balloon. And in my pace group, there was as Blind runner with her guide. Such an inspiration.

Historically, this race has always been the hottest - being in August. I think that is why I skipped it in 2015, or maybe it was some other reason. But the spectre of heat was always hovering around. Last year, they did take some temperature control measure. Same thing this year. 7:15 am start. Route winding westward. More trees lining the sides and center dividers. But the biggest unexpected surprise of all, was the cold-wave that came in that mid-week. Coldwave ? In August ? In Minnesota. Yes. Thunderstroms dipped the temps to 50s and it never went above 70F that week. The effect of that on race morning was so very useful for us runners. Throughout the race duration, it was supercool, cloudy hence hardly any sunny patches, and breezy thanks to the River by this route. I forgot my cap in the car, and I did not miss it at all.

My finish time was exact same as last year - 3:05:01. Yet instead of disappointment , I am more accepting. Coz I actually enjoyed this race.

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The race gear. Ah, I cant stop gushing over the shirt. Its is such a geat design - the sleeves, round collar and the hem-cuts. Just perfect. Material is perfect - not too filmsy that it would be see-through on being sweaty, but very lightweight. Medal was cute too.



Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017 - USA Edition

I had no plans and no prep. Cause MN was not in the line of actual line of total eclipse. And Twin cities have been dark all of August thanks to unexpected rains, thunderstorms and hence cloudy skies throughout. Husband and kids decided to drive to Kansas City MS, where total eclipse can be seen. I did not even think of borrowing 1 set of glasses from them. Bamm !

And when the day arrived, it was usual Monday morning for office. But at 1 PM, FOMO kicked in and watching online was not enough. So I stepped out of the office building, and great there was an impromptu Solar Eclipse Watching party was going on.

Birds were chattering and flying around aimlessly. Not something you see everyday. Nice to know this is true, after reading about it a thousand times.

Without googles, phone was handy to look at the sun directly. Clouds were helpful in reducing the glare. But for a long time could not make out anything about the eclipse. When I waved my fingers around to look at the sun, then something showed, in-between the finger gaps.

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And then when light clouds moved on the sun, that's when the upside  Down Banana or the sliver of the Sun showed up. Wow it was beautiful !

Here I am borrowing a friend's picture without permission. This is a great shot. This is how it looked.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155554914160690&set=a.10151412360355690.502482.789795689&type=3&theater&comment_id=10155555026645690&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic&notif_id=1503342054641105

It took me half hour to recover once inside the office building. It could be my cultural fear of Solar Eclipse or thanks to staring at the sky for 15 minutes, no matter how cloudy.

It's easy to dismiss a natural phenomenon, that it won't be spectacular. It will be long drawn. Can't get good picture. Oh why bother ? But even the most unspectacular one, in words or photogenic picture, has the capability to move you when experienced. And this 2017 Total Solar Eclipse is monumental. One which occurred in US after 38 years. One which brought out people across US on a Monday afternoon.

So much fun chatter online. Some really marvelous one liner jokes on Twitter. Some of it brings about the realization - something taken so for granted - that the eclipse will be at 1:07 PM and we could plan the whole day around it. That prediction is all thanks to science and how much it has progressed.







https://twitter.com/bottlerocket
Bottlerocket via Twitter

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