Friday, December 29, 2017

Texas tour

Winter break was spent in a Texas tour. Temps in Texas ranged from 20F to 70F in the last 2 winter weeks of Dec and sometimes in the duration of the same day.

Inspite of standardization, these are the things that stand out about Texas.

  • Not enough greenery. Nope. No big trees, just shrubs. Very much brown color-tone like the Millenial Bangalore.
  • No rivers or ponds or brooks. Very few man-made ones were there.
  • No recycle bins anywhere - not airports , offices, apartments. Shocking !
  • Plethora of Indian restaurants in every city. Each with different choices within Indian cuisine, I had forgotten they exist. Indo-chinese, Chennai style, Kerala style, Andhra mess, South buffet,.... 
  • Birds on electric lines. Pics in the bottom of this post.


NASA Johnson Space Center.
A tour of the facility in tram which ends in Rocket park. And some fun Space setup in the main building. This is the only thing to do in Houston apart from a trip to downtown.

Water Wall Park near Galleria in downtown Houston. Its a thing of beauty to see so much water falling from such a large height. And I guess this man-made waterfall counts in a place with no natural waterfalls, I think. Everyone's eyes need this view.

Houston Downtown


An hour drive from Houston.

San Antonio

Tower of Americas

Riverwalk: No real river. Manmade canal works for Riverwalk.

San Antonio downtown - art district


State Capitol


State Park Trail

Graffiti park is an interesting place to go.

Austin downtown


Downtown lit for the holidays


There were birds everywhere. Surprising for December.
Birds on electric lines, signals. And most shocking were these crowds in a Dallas mall parking.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Run nay Fitness Report 2017

This year's focus has been more on fitness then on running. Atleast for the first half year, I worked on picking up skils for weight-training and strength-training. Once the gym machines and dumbells stopped scaring me and I had a ST routine, I could ramp up my running on the remaining days. Not on the exceptional race-training mileage, but just enough to know that I have not forgotten it.

I did kick off 2017 with a Commitment day 5K. But rest of the Jan and Feb were my least mileage ever I think. Jan was a continuation of the workout series I joined in Nov 2016. Then in second week, I was busy packing and then went on an India trip for 4 weeks. And another week of settling down after return. I slowly crawled back to running in Feb-end. And got into a flow in March. In April, I woke up to the fact that I had signed up for some races. Which meant it was time to get serious.

All this while I had been riddled with self-doubt, for a while now. Reading some workout books makes me realize this is the usual cycle of a relatively short workout-life. But it does not help me find solution. I needed to choose between reducing running distances vs increasing strength.

In June, I found the word I was looking for. I had been asking, how did I run so fast in the first year of running ? How did I loose weight in the first year only ? How come my toenails never went black again after that year ? Answer is intensity. Yes I have been very cautious in my running, simply to avoid any injury. But that meant reduction of performance.

By Nov I had made my peace. Its possible to balance running and strength training.

I did reduce the number of races. But I ran them with my Run-buddies. So they were very enjoyable. This is in addition to hte usual goodies of great location and awesome support that each on of them offer. I can even notice my progress in times.

Temp Name Date Distance Time
20F Cloudy Commitment Day 1-Jan-17 5K 40 min
53F Get in the Gear 29-Apr-17 10Mile 2:20:00
54F Lake Minnetonka - Half Marathon 7-May-17 Half-Mara 3:01:53
69 Minnesota Half Marathon - StPaul 5-Aug-17 Half-Mara 3:05:01
57-87F City of Lakes Half - Calhoun & Harriet 11-Sep-17 Half-Mara 2:57:34
35F Cloudy No-Wind  Minneapolis Halloween Half Marathon  28-Oct-17 Half-Mara 3:06:54
35F Sunny No wind Hindu Mandir Thanksgiving 5k 24-Nov-17 5K 37 min

Weight control
For the overall goal of weightloss, I took help from Personal Trainer. It is worth all the fees charged. I learnt most of the workouts and how to do it. I actually introduced the needed diet changes because PT said so; and found out I can do so much more even within a restricted diet. All past experiments actually helped me with the transition, without making me feel deprived. Plus there are so many time-lapse recipe videos floating on FB, its bound to leave some impression.

But every single change takes a month or so to adjust and only then you move onto the next changes. Trying to do everything at once wont work.
Make a calorie log for a week or so. That gives an idea on
  • what foods to discard, just downright stop buying,
  • what foods to replace with something better
  • how to reduce calorie count by 200 every month till you reach the goal of 2000/1800/1500 whichever works for you. This also means it takes months to bring down your regular calorie intake - not a few weeks of dieting.
There was also the realization that there is a range of difference between Thin, Fit and Healthy. People can be one of these or all of these, but they do not mean the same thing.
Different lifestyle behaviors can bring about each of these results. But its easy to avoid comparing one goal with the other and being disheartened. Just something to keep in mind.

S1:E9 Mr Monk and the Marathon Man
Before I end, I want to share this I found this year, from my favorite show. Mr Monk & Running - I couldn't believe ! And him fanboying an elite runner in SF Marathon. Lovely.

S1:E9 Mr Monk and the Marathon Man.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Reading Book list of 2017

Libraries are a blessing. This year I took up and gave up about tens of books. Imagine the expense and guilt-trip if I did buy them. Also, this year I had nothing in mind to read. Nothing noteworthy seemed to be around. So I guessed I could explore picking something up with no set mind. Read books I do not want to read. See how it goes. In process I left many half-read. Brought a bunch of Art books and browsed through before returning to library. But here are some I finished and felt good about it.

The Panem Companion - Unofficial guide to Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games - From Mellark Bakery to Mockingjays - By V Arrow

So I am a Hunger Games Trilogy fan and find them flawless. I have read the 3 books more than thrice. So this time, instead of going through them again, decided to pursue other related books. One of them is this one.

The introduction and first few chapters felt like drudgery and bunch of dense words. But soome its picks up steam with some interesting chapter ideas and content.
Got to know some scandalizing theories coming from internet fandom (which I haven't explored) and I find them incredible, but hmm possible and I never thought of.
Loved the chapter on root of character names.
Disappointed that the book did not draw any parallel with East Europe situation in 80s. That's what I have seen on TV all the while, even Emil's book.

Becoming Odyssa - By Jennifer Pharr Davis

Last year I read her book on the Appalachian Trail Record endevour where she became the record holder for fastest thru-hiker. This book is on her first steps in hiking and those adventure. Again a lovely read to immerse myself in a jungle.

Read My Pins - Madeleine Albright

Fascinating. Being a fan of Madam Secretary, I wanted to read Mad Albright bio books to extend the binge. This book in first person narrative talks about her early years, start of her career, many diplomatic meetings. I was thrilled to read about the gift of Horse by Mongolia, which appeared in MS (S3Ep11) but no mention if the scandal shown in the show really happened. The common theme through them are the various brooch pins she wore through them. There is also a chapter dedicated to talking about value of ornaments and bauble in various royalty, societies and America. Good quality color pics enhances the reading. Hence makes for a quick reading.

She used pin to convey moods or convey her approach before any diplomatic meeting. Pins became her signature. There are thousands of pins captured in this book and stories around them. Its really fascinating.

The Marathon Made Easier - Cliff Temple

Published in 80s or before I think. Very simplistic when read now. All Run magazines and online articles seem to have built on each of the chapters and tips from this book.

Hal Higdons - Masters Running - A Guide to Running and Staying Fit after 40

Highly recommended book for those continuing/starting to run in their 40s. Detailed book which covers many aspects.

Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes - by Elyse Kopecky and Shalane Flanagan

First off Congratulations to Shalane Flanagan for wining the NYC Marathon ! Yeah ! 
She is a reputed Olympian runner and I have followed her races and this one is so much deserved. Its a sight to see her cross the finish line - her stride, her thrill and there was no competition around her - she was the only leader finishing. Beautiful.
I got to know of this book via her social media. Good recipe book for new ideas, very good quality pictures. 

Hidden Figures

I read & saw Hidden Figures book & movie this year. 
The genius of the 3 ladies (computer) and the whole group they worked with, shows through. Not just 3 but 100s of ladies were experts in Math and Science; so much so that computing was associated with ladies. So, how did the skill gap happen and demographics change between 60s & 90s Tech boom ? 

Samething in India. I remember my early 90s CompSci batch was viewed as ladies branch vs manly Mech. Now there are news articles of male programmers bullying female ones. How the flow changes in a few generations ! 

In USA, bullying/teasing middle school girls who excel in or are interested in STEM and gently goading them towards makeup, looks, baking and crafts has reaped its rewards.

The Eye Of Minds - James Dashner

It popped up in Recommendation after I read "Ready Player One". So naturally I have to make comparisons. Don't care if it was written by the author of Maze Runner. This is just a filmsy book written on RPO template. I will always be a RPO fan and will measure others harshly. The game scenarios or situations written were so boring I skipped through most pages and went for the ending.


What books did you read this year ? Which one stayed with you ? Which one sent you on a journey of knowing more on the same topic or theme ?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Karnataka Mallige in Hindi Movies

{[ Alert: Long, sectioned post with as many pics & links as I could find ]}

This thing about growing up in a place, which is culturally not what your family is from, can as expected and is well-known, cause many confusions, discomfort actually, in those growing years. Trying to fit in local, but that feeling of always lagging behind and, thanks to pre-existing labels, not being accepted where you try to fit in. This could be happen when growing up in different states in India or moving outside India. In this conflict, the only place you know you fit in, is Home. And the other is in Popular media. So seeing your representation in the most popular media is pretty thrilling. Hindi movies and Doordarshan has been more a part of me than Kannada movies and TV channels, thanks to the places I grew up in. So excited-pointing out, every time a Kannadiga  showed up onscreen, was one of the exciting points of watching experience. Here are few of the very well-known names.


In the 50s and 60s, Kananda producers were not actively making Hindi movies as much as movie producers from Madras. However a lot of director/producers did show up, while some exclusively created Hindi content.

Puttanna Kanagal - an iconic figure in Kananda movies, remade his Kannada movie Naagarahaavu to Hindi Zehreela Insaan, based on 3 Kannada novels by T. R. Subba Rao (TaRaSu). Hindi movie had the same Chitradurga location. O Hansini song was pictured same as Baare Baare song, which was shot very inventively. Max of the song was in slow motion, and in some scenes the screen was split with one in normal speed and other in slow motion. It was ahead of its time. I did not see the Hindi movie, but saw Naagarahaavu and few other of Puttanna's Kannada movies as a school-kid. Almost all of them about mis-fits and their tragic situations, put more fear in my mind than any horror movie.

Ahista Ahista (1981 film) is remake of Puttanna's famous Kannada film Gejje Pooje (1969) based on a novel by M K Indra. Emotional story, so was very involving. Lovely actors all in the movie and perfect music by Khayyam.

Produced by NFDC, Girish Kasaravalli made bilingual Ek Ghar with Deepti Naval and Naseeruddin Shah in 1990. It was fun to watch these to prime Hindi stars speaking Kannada.

I don't count Guru Dutt in my favorites, considering the darkness in his works; even though I have seen all his romantic and light-hearted stuff too. No one can discount the high level of work he had produced. When I grew up and fell in Wiki rabbit-hole, I learnt that Dutt was not his last name (it was Padukone) and he was not a Bengali as is the impression, but a Konkani. That was a shocking discovery for me.

Shyam Benegal's filmography is mind-blowing. Even for a masala-movies kid, I can bet I have seen it all. That's because they are all entertaining and engrossing. And hence why I am not naming any one of them. Ok, my movie recommendations - Trikal, Manthan, Kalyug, Junoon, Mammo, Welcome to Sajjanpur, Well done Abba. Bharat Ek Khoj was my Gen TV series and now it can be an official educational tool. Yatra is a great trip for a Railway and the 80s nostalgia. It was much later that I learnt that Benegal is a village in Kar.
Nishant cast photo
Shabana Azmi, Shyam Benegal,  & Smita Patil at Cannes for Ankur

Yet another film the impressed the masala-movies-child-me was Garam Hawa. Story-telling and absorbing actors worked here again. This milestone movie of Hindi Cinema, was made by Mysore born MS Sathyu.

In the 80s & 90s, I heard of Manmohan Shetty as almost exclusive producer of Govind Nihalani movies and shows. And later as the owner of influential AdLabs. His daughters Pooja Shetty-Deora and Aarti Shetty are taking it to bigger scale.

Malgudi Days is an ultimate example of Kar impact on national level. Made by Kannadigas, it went on to become a National favorite and even today a trigger of nostalgia for the 90s kids. Based on a book by R K Narayan, made by Shankar Nag, this show was made by all Kannadigas and shot in Agumbe, Bangalore and Tumkur. Eventually Master Manjunath , showed up in Agneepath and Vishwatma, there was lot of finger pointing - by us at the screen and repeatedly saying "Swami Swami". Kids you know.

R K Narayan and Shankar Nag

A very influential Mumbai grown personality is Director Rohit Shetty. His movies have always been  the big mainstream ones, my favorite being Chennai Express.

And then there is this entity, I cannot cannot ignore. Not a director or producer or any star. But has played a role in Hindi movies. That is the Vijaya Bank. It was a matter of pride, everytime Vijaya Bank credits played on screen of Rajshri Production movies. Anecdotes of Tarachand Barjatiya visiting VB branches are legendary among the VB alumni who served in Bombay in the 80s.

Vijaya Bank credits in Maine Pyar Kiya

Vijaya Bank credits in Hum Aapke Hai Kaun


The most iconic figure would have to be Fighter Shetty . He was a villian side-kick in hundreds of masala movies. But I liked him best in Sikandar. This was a Black and White children's movie, where 3 kids and their puppy went on a road adventure. Among all people their encounter, they do get picked by Fighter Shetty, who does his typical menacing best. And at the end of his sequence, he turns out to be the most sweetest teddy bear.
Fighter Shetty aka M B Shetty
And my current favorite Reshma Shetty. Was surprised to see her in Royal Pains on Netflix. And pleasantly surprise that she was the prime cast. Well acted in a well written role. She has a great career too.

Many superstar heroines from the 60s-70s, did act in token Hindi movies, without relocating. Bharathi worked in numerous Hindi movies, and it was thrilling to watch her in Purab Aur Paschim.
The most prominent migrant from Bangalore to Mumbai of this age, has to be Deepika Padukone. DP grew up in Bangalore, debuted in Kannada movie and then went on to rule the Hindi movie scene. She had a blockbuster debut in Hindi and followed it up with substantial work. Recently, Anushka Shetty (a Telugu movie vetren) in Hindi dubbed monolith Baahubali.

But before DP and after Bharathi there was a Shetty wave in the 90s, homegrown in Mumbai with roots from Karnataka. Shilpa Shetty and Sunil Shetty played main roles and acted in all Masala movies. Since they were in popular movies, I got asked a lot of questions by my school friends - thanks to the same last name. And Aishwarya Rai - came in via international fame and was totally a queen in every movie she worked in.

Girish Karnad was handsome and impressive in Kalyug and Manthan. And he was such a frequent appearance in lots of movies and TV shows. Among recent appearances, his most memorable is as Salman's boss Shenoy in Ek Tha Tiger. Hope he appears in sequel as well.

Anant Nag - the most endearing one in all his roles. I grew up watching his typical hero-wala Kananda movies and then remembered seeing him in number of Hindi movies previously. He was part of many Shyam Benegal movies, as it turned out that he had a base in Bombay too before moving to Bangalore.

Shabana Azmi & Anant Nag in Ankur

Prakash Belawadi is active in Kannada scene, but its always great to spot him in the recent Hindi movies. His presence had enriched these movies - Madras Cafe, Youngistaan, Talvar, Airlift and Te3n. I don't know of anyone else who can equal his portrayal of manipulative or grumpy or negative roles.

Prakash Rai/Raj menacing villian in many Hindi movies and a prolific actor in all 4 south Indian languages, not to forget National Award wining actor.

Arundathi Nag, an eminent Kannada personality appreared in a few Hindi movies & TV shows, mainly Dil Se & Paa.

Padmavati Rao has appeared in numerous Hindi movies. I remember her for a detective show on DD, name of which I have forgotten and can find a trace of it online. Unbelievable that she doesnt have a Wiki page !

And Poonam Shetty, who played the role of Shrutakirti, Shatrugun's wife in Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana. Even if her role was minor, seeing the Shetty name in the Cast credits of this iconic 90s TV show was very talk-worthy. She would be the first discovery for my gen.
Poonam Shetty in Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana


With Rohit Shetty, I was thrilled by him having the same last name on such a huge popularity scale. But I appreciate how he includes Tulu or KAR specific in his movies, given that Tulu or Karnataka may not have featured as importantly in his growing up years. He included Pili vesha dance in Kashmir Main Tu Kanyakumari song.

There was an entire sequence with prominent dialogs in Tulu and a North Kar village location included in Singham. It was controversial, some ripple in quite waters, but it was thrilling to see its inclusion in a wide release movie. I hope the controversy did not dissuade him from including more in his future movies. Chennai express tackled many points about South Indian languages and includes bits of all those languages and cultural references.

Speaking of Tulu, in the movie Welcome, Sunil Shetty (in a cameo as himself) spoke Tulu with Nana's character (Uday Shetty).

About Kannada in Hindi movies, I can't remember any. I faintly remember there was a non-mainstream movie (with MS Satyu connection, I think) in which characters in a train, spoke in many Indian languages. But I don't remember anything else about it.

Movie Characters

Sadashiv Amrapurkar as the main villan Rama Shetty in Ardh Satya (1983). Inspite of being the villain, every Shetty I know was impressed.

Nana Patekar as Uday Shetty in Welcome (2007) - Full fledged Shetty in main protagonist role. And on the whole, every scene in the movie was funny.

Inspector Vishnu Kamath in Dum Maro Dum (2011). I am counting in Goa ka Konkani as well because he was the protagonist and with no irritating South Indian-ism stereotype in his character. Abhishek entry sequence was too good to see in HD and he was the best part of the movie, all good dialoges for him. "Cuna tha. Chuna lagaya." and more.

Girish Karnad  as Salman's boss Shenoy in Ek Tha Tiger (2012). He had some chunky crucial scenes as Tiger's mentor. And the most whistle-maro moment was the scene where he asks Gopi for the number of countries in the world :D

Dr Varun Shetty in Krish 3 (2013). It was great to see Arif Zakaria after a long time, but his name was totally unexpected, so I went "Ai ?"

There are more Shetty's in different Web Series Short Films.

More Names:

Nakash Aziz (singer), Neetha Shetty (Model, Actress);

Happy Karnataka Day  ! Jai Karnataka !

This post is a result of months of typing and single person research. I have obviously covered only the prominent and very popular personalities. And also because they were who, I saw in my TV time. Today, the second and further generation Kannadigas, growing up outside Karnataka and those migrating from Karnataka, are the numerous skillful contributors in different departments making up the Hindi movies.

It is said that Kannadigas outside Kar, do not unite, do not form their groups, are shy to talk in Kannada as much as other South Indian regionalists. Yes very true observations. But it's because we are not threatened by any fear of loss of Kannada or our identity. We are living up the language and Karnataka link, as we go, wherever we go.