Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Jagga Jasoos

I am so glad I saw Jagga Jasoos in theatre. I had to rush in the 2nd weekend, coz I was not sure it would last another week. Ekdum 1st class movie. Am so glad it was made and released. The doomsayers have been predicting that long-delayed movie won't last. Now I hear, it took 3 years of production and release. Can't make out that from the movie, cause lead roles appearance remain consistent in the movie. Thanks to workout lifestyle. And looking at such a complex movie from making point-of-view, I can imagine why production took so much time ?



First thing I liked was the latest trailer. The adventure scenes were enough for me to decide on theater viewing. I needn't wait for reviews to decide on that.


Despite rumors, I did not see much similarity with Tintin (and I am a qualified Tintin fan-expert). The village mystery, circus, military outpost, train and plane sequences are staple for any adventure movie. That's what we go to see. Kids are still talking about Fire, Knife-throwing, Eggs and Clock-tower mystery. Makers must have done something good if kids are impressed. And I am thankful movie treated death causally. People were getting killed in shootouts but no one lingered on it, so it has escaped notice. Except that I bring it up.

There are so many artistic elements. So much work has happened. And not just good prod design or set. Just crafting of each of the scene and its execution. JJ world was definitely an extension of Barfi world. Same hilly woodsy town in the first half for Manipur. Same serenity and soft visual tones. Visually all scene are so well composed. Activities which can be simple actions, are done in interesting way, so mind never wanders.

Special callout to using technology - CGI (when older Ranbir visits the house playing his childhood memory in Phir Wohi song) and oil painting matte finish for clock tower mystery. They have used retro item props for nostalgia - dial phones (no cell phones at all), old plane and train. So time period wise this movie is just a happy place of your pleasant memories. Adventure is covered in the second half which completely moves to Africa/Morocco, with a stopover first at Kolkatta. Director Anurag Basu sneaked in a reference to Bhilai, Chattisgarh as well, a town he grew up in.

Loved it how they incorporated multiple languages in the movie - Ranbir speaking Manipuri, Katrina singing in African.

The dominating thing in the movie is music of course. Technically there are like 4-5 songs. But the rest of the dialogues are all sing-song rhymes. All of it. And it was good too. All except the children backup singing and dancing for Sutradhar - that cheery overload was irritating. End movie credits for music ran for like half the time. Obviously so many were involved in the music. Shillong & Africa choir among others.

Due to all the singing, and I only realized it much later, I did miss Ranbir's voice. An angry tantrum is his signature and this one had it but without his rant. Missed that. It was like English-Vinglish without Sridevi dance.


Only after the movie release, T-Series has blessed us with Audio jukebox. Earlier it was difficult to find a decent video song too. Except Galti se mistake and Ullule.  Tushar Joshi is lovely in Musafir, and gives just a hint of Shaan in his voice. Kids have been giggling non-stop at Galti-Se-Mistake dance steps. I love it for the Bihu beats & instruments. And the modern dance for Ullu Ka Patta. Now waiting for more videos after I overheard kids singing Chocalaty Chunnu. There are no lyrics yet too for these other songs.

I know my review is not going to help anyone decide on whether to watch this movie. But I loved the movie and again, am glad it was made. More so as it's an Indian movie with catchy beautiful Hindi songs and using a fairly recent historic event as backdrop for the overall mystery. I could use this movie, to showcase the good part of Indian movies to my kids.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Paddy Harvest

My Aunt shared these photos in our Udupi family Whatsapp group. Totally stumped me with nostalgia. I have seen all of these activities in my Ajja-Ajji's house. All during my school time summer vacations.


Not my Ajja's actual house, but it had similar architecture.
I knew little then, about these activities. I will blame my Mom of course, cause she didn't want us kids from lolling in the hay, and then be itchy all day and scratch our skin off.

But these farming activities were the taken for taken-for-granted things for us, and ever the constant of life. And hence now it pinches me when I look at the pics. Who knows if they continue doing this ? Will I get to see them again ?

Best monsoon means easier tilling of the slushy fields.


Planting rice plants



After harvest, paddy is thrashed to separate the husk and rice in a pile.


These activities takes up all the verandah and surrounding spaces.

Rice/paddy is then packed in rolled balls. I need pics of those.

  

Mangalore cucumber, harvested and lined on the ceiling, hanging on strips of coconut leaves.


All pictures from the internet; no credit to me or anyone I know. At least some of them have watermarks.  Of course I didn't have any digital camera when I have seen these activities. And now I don't have any opportunity to see them. Hence God bless those admins of FB pages (BeautyOfTulunad) dolling out full on nostalgia.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Starter Pack for Trail Wanderlust

When your daily sights are cars, architectural marvels and kitchen chores.
When you longing look at the trees lining your daily commute.
That's when its time to hit the trails.
Run or hike or walk in there and be reinvigorated back for life.

If that's not an option. If TV and books is still you go-to. Then feast on the below and make do till the next chance.

Madhumati

Images of the mist-laden jungles, trails, brooks and waterfalls in song Aaja re Pardeshi.
And there is more in the rest of the movie.




Riki Tiki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling

One of the classics which was a must-read for a few school years.
Image may contain: 1 person
And the recent Jungle Book movie, immersed in deep jungle images only. For added nostalgia, there is the TV animation show, which played the Hindi dubbed in the late 90s. Apart from the anime drawings, its most remembered for "Chaddi pehenke phool khila hai" credits song and more of Gulzar's quirky lyrics on Vishal Bharadwaj's music, Mowgli's voice and Nana Patekar as Sher Khan.


Jim Corbertt

His books are the real thing. His life was in those jungles in Northern India. Each story in every book of his is a total trip through every nook & gnarled root of some jungle. His devotion to everything jungle is the core of who he is. Oxford publication print copies are awesome quality. Special mention for the lovely black and white illustrations inside.



Phantom comics

At one point I was suffering from an acute bout of Phantom nostalgia. I was longing for the yellowing crumbling pages on which Diamond comics printed Mandrake and Phantom. I am managing with this library copy of 1920s printed on supreme quality paper and hardcover.
Mandrake was interesting for the magic tricks he performed while saving others. And Phantom universe was rich of his bravery, and the ensemble in his stories. Mainly his location were those thick jungles of Ivory Coast, along with beaches and some quick trips to NYC.

 

 

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I read it in 2015 and wrote about it. It is an account of her through-hike of PCT, mixed with her past in Minnie. Reading through it, is like being out there in the jungle hiking too.


Hunger Games

First one specifically. Every time Katniss escapes to the woods, its such a relief to us reader too. And then when she faces the same jungles in the Games, scary as it is, we know she will survive it.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Devaluing Math & Science

I have to begin with sharing Vinod Khosla's medium post.

Is majoring in liberal arts a mistake for students?

Critical Thinking and the Scientific Process First — Humanities Later

So happy this is being spoken about now. Till middle-class parents kept saying this to their kids, it was uncool. I hope more cool folks spell it out too.


There is an India version and simplistically put, yet highly precise, on Live Mint.

Literature graduates aren’t the answer to India’s job woes

There is an urgent need for a revamp of the education system to provide holistic learning which includes crucial skills that allow a person to earn a reasonable livelihood

There is this thing that has creeped in wildly in popular culture. That Math trigonometry, Science - Bad bad; Humanities - goody good. It's become the lazy go to point to create sympathy. Or to make a point.

In a lot of fiction or near fiction writing, it is a general lazy-trend to "imply" that Math-Science is forced by parents on unwilling high-schoolers while humanities is an loved and the only preferred option by kids.

For example, this one.
17 Kaafi Useless Things All Indians Were Taught In School That We've Never Needed As Adults
How is any of these useless? Is twitter & arguementive training the only thing needed ?
Why this intense effort to devalue Math & science and only promote Humanities and Performance Arts ? How did they come up with a list like this ? How did they expect anyone who went to school in 90s to agree with them ? Have they not seen the large nostaglia packages specifically 90s kids ones.

There is beauty in life, in grown-up adult life thanks to Math and Physics as well as Geography and History. Knowledge of History gives you enough fodder for gossip. And that if Geography gives you the wanderlust, enough to make you a camera yielding globe-trotter even while whirling around something mundane 8-5 day job.

Negating a child's achievement of 50% or 98.8% because the neighbors kid got 99.2% - now that is deplorable horrible parental behavior. And that is a totally different thing. I mean if not anything else, but just the role models of internet should be enough to show that the nerds rule the world, not sports jocks (to use 2 words, I have no idea what they actually mean in life). Sheer diversity in Science and technology fields, along with well-paying career path in those, are alone to lure kids in STEM path.

And the same whisper campaign continues for corporate jobs. Drudgery, non-challenging 8-5 desk jobs. Oh the disdain at a well-paying job which keep your personal life in order. This kind of motif has taken on the Gemino Curse or Doubling charm and multiplied throughout MSM generated opinion articles.

I can't even begin to list how many kids I have met who have been exceptional in their STEM fields and yet faced self-doubt because it's more glamorous to write a book or make a movie. If anything, this is the time when you can do both. It is so possible to come back from office and indulge in activities that bring in joy. Take classes or be active in leagues in art, cricket, sports, fitness, writing. There are just way too many forums to compare notes, and then to showcase your output.

Unless the regret is not being part of the industry, living a life of 24/7 thinking, talking, meeting people absorbed in that world. I agree if the longing is for that, then the secure, methodical, "well-settled" life brought by a corporate job is not the same.

A huge amount of Political science material and generic literature have been generated by folks, who went through the technical stream. Loads of runners, musicians, artists all hold a corporate day job thanks to their technical studies. It keeps them from being starving moody artists.
How can dedicating a life to hedonism be glorious ? Its only self-destruction.  Actually a lot of literature has been created by those living a mundane life. Technical studies are not a lost opportunity here. Instead it builds the very strengths these creators have - discipline, networking, technology tools.

To quote Stephen King (from this panel in Zen Pencils), "Life isn't a support system for art. Its the other way round."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bus stops - Dwitiya - The Americas

Minnesota bus-stop photo, in the first post Bus Stops Bus Goes, grew insane, so here comes the sequel post.

 Minneapolis

Metro transit in Minnesota connects all suburbs to downtown and few other main places. It goes via the expressways and once in a town, it stops every 2 blocks. Then these are connecting stations in major malls.


Bus-stops in quint suburbs are amusingly simple but just as efficient. First reaction is, "Is this it ?" Disbelief, "Will the bus really stop here ?"




I have seen butterflies at a neighborhood Bus Stop. Which is very impossible at a Bangalore Bus-stop given the crowds, and noisy vehicle around. But that did happen at a Minnesota bus-stop - in Spring yes. (Need a special reminder as Minnesota is synonymous with snow).



In Office districts, there are stops where multiple numbers buses will stop, every 2 blocks.



And then there are some with shelters.


Bus stops at shopping malls, have multiple shelters for buses spreading in different direction and connecting other malls.




Speaking of snow,  Metro buses are just as functional in Winters. A sudden snowstorm before the rush hour, will give no time for cleaning up the roads and only that can delay the bus arrival timing.  Otherwise its business-as-usual in winter.


Along with Metro Transit, there are few other private service from suburbs to downtown. Some fancy with Wifi for those who want to start work before reaching office.

Metro monorail connecting Downtown, Mall of America, Airport and those in between. Great way to beat the parking hassles in those areas. Trust me, I agree now after facing 45 minute wait in 1 mile to VMAC parking near Minnehaha Falls. I kept looking longingly at this monorail while locked in my car waiting for the queue to crawl forward. I made it to the race startline with few minutes to spare.


Toronto

Here is the sole surviving photo of my 2005 trip to Toronto. I was so impressed by my first visit trip in a non-Indian subway, I wrote an entire post about it. but alas without pics. Clicking every single thing was not as epidemic in 2005.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Running Fuel

A whole lot of articles have been written in detail. I don't want to copy-paste any, so have the links in below section.

Here I will just summarize the points which I would usually say verbally to anyone in concise manner. But reading about fueling, is very good for the understanding this concept and then come up with your own solution for your long runs.

Any run beyond 1 hour means blood sugar/glucose is exhausted and you are running on empty tank. Since the wheels are still rolling you don't notice. And then suddenly legs and brain stands still and you wonder what happened ? Sheer will-power will only get you so far. This is the reason to eat up something before that 1 hour is up. And then every 30-40 minutes.

And that something is at least 200 calories with sufficient carbs in it.

If you run in loops, then leave the food/nutrition with water at your rest stop. If its a no-repeat trail, numerous belts & backpacks are available to carry nutrition with you.

Nutrition choices are enormous. It can be locally available fruits (banana, figs, dates, candied pineapple, Agra petha) and/or processed options (Clif bars, Gu, beans, gels, electrolyte/gaterade/powerade).

Getting an electrolyte drink along with water is crucial. It will refill the electrolyte lost in sweat. And it will help body absorb the plain water you are drinking.

The glucose-dense food will quickly nourish after the stores exhausted after 1 hr run. They gives the jump needed to go the extra mile.

Here again remember to refill before your body exhaust. Cause the newly ingested food will take sometime to kick in.

 

Runner World Links:


How to Eat During Long Runs | Runner's World

The Proper Way to Fuel Before a Long Run | Runner's World

What to Pack for Fueling on Race Day

Mid race Fuel - Runners World

Fueling For Long Runs

Best Sports Drinks for Long Runs

Stay Hydrated on a Hot Run

The Proper Way to Fuel Before a Long Run

For Super athlete:


A Fueling Plan for Every Distance

Fuel the Machine: Eating to Maximize Endurance Exercise Performance

Power Up Your Performance with Taper-Week Nutrition

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Different worlds

They say its a small world. I always felt it's a really large world.

Being in a non-makeup world, someone would not know what concealer is? Or get excited about the beauty of a half-moon handbag.

Cricket is supposed a binder for Indians. But now, it is IPL vs other T20 vs One day vs Test matches vs Local league matches. There are just way too many to keep track of. Then there is Cricket vs Football. Football with its innumerable Clubs, international and local.

That dreamy world of being a Fan of a movie star. Oh its an endless rabbit-hole. Something that has been united into Fan Clubs, even before the online world made its presence. Its self-absorbing world and can get combative when faced with imagined rivals. Now the fan clubs have diversified, to catchup with the diverse set of celebrities. Just their social media shows the mind-boggling number of followers (mix of fake and real).

TV show world as well. There are a 1000s shows to choose from, in different languages and genres. We can totally drown in a TV show, know everything about the story line, sub-story, cast, background info. Even fan fiction. Cross-overs. Heartache when the favorite character dies or actor changes or anything bad happens. But the person next door in our real life, maybe living in a different TV show world.

So many of the 90s and before shows were epic and have a thread of nostalgia for that generation. That's because those were the only show every watched and hence more common things to discuss. Even with Cable arrival for nearly a decade, there were every few top ones and they were watched by all. Its only 00s or later, that the audience split, so even each in a family have their own choices. And with Netflix and other streaming ones and different unwinding times, the islandification will be complete.

Books have long been that individual pods we can escape into. The cozy private world, inhabited by whatever the books has painted. It can be argued that these books, shows and movies and fan following is all imaginary world. Its in the mind. Real life is with family and friends. But here too exist those division building their own exclusive words.

In real life,
the student worlds of tween, teen and collegiate
vs single new adult world
vs couple world
vs parents of single child
vs parents of multiple children
vs parents of small kids
vs parents of grownup kids
vs single working parents vs both working parents
vs empty nesters
vs retirees.
Perspectives are so different for each of these age groups. Every time I read a blog or article or even book, I wish, they would print the age of the writer at the time of writing. Even though the work will gain its own life in future, its worth knowing what kind of eyes wrote it ?

World of actual people cliques and social media cliques behave so differently.

No wonder data is the God today. Marketers would like to aim right at their targets and get better success rate at lesser costs.

After obsessing over a book, its characters or a movie and knowing everything about it. After residing its world, no matter how far removed it might be in time or space, there comes a time of realization that that world is imaginary. Its not real and can never be reached ever. The world we left behind. Of our 20s, our teenage, our childhood. It can't be revisited on this plane. This realization is  when the obsession ends.

So there ! There is hardly any overlap in world. Every time we step from one world into another, whether physical world or online, among people of different worlds. Instead of feeling inadequate or self-doubt, remember that its impossible to master all worlds. There has to be a pause for learning, for fitting in.


No one can change other people. They are what they are in that situation. Trick is to avoid that situation. Avoid landing in that world. There are multiple worlds co-existing. Just reside in the one which works for you.

Its such a large world and there are so many multiple worlds, we often don't meet those we intersected before. Sometimes this is a great argument for "What will they think ?" kind of thinking.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon - 2017 - Race Recap

Having quit Get in Gear Half at 10 miles last week, I was so unsure about Lake Minnetonka. I had signed up for the thrill of it - 2 Half Marathons in the space of 8 days, yeah ! I had done this in 2015. But with the GiG outcome and plantar fasciitis after, I was in panic mode and trying to cancel-refund my registration for this one. My email got a standard response - they would not refund. Very obvious, being so close to the event date.

So with this in background, I whiled away the week in vacation mode. No thinking about the race at all. La la la la. I got in a 3 miler on Thursday because there was nothing else to do and by now the feet-sole pain had reduced. Still not thinking far, I decided to pickup packet on Sat morning. There was absolutely no crowd at the school location, very peaceful. So at night I decided, I will show up at the start location and see how it goes. Star aligned and I could get my hubby to drop me off. Plus point here, was not carrying my car-key in water bottle through the race.

Race morning my hubby dropped me at the shuttle pickup point. And shuttle bus took us to the start line. Among all the races, I find this one unique about its energy of racers converging. It could be because of the location, but this one seems seamless. Runners parking in different streets and converging towards the school for shuttle bus. And then after drop-off near Wells Fargo bank, gathering on the Wayzata Blvd. Its a great place for race start. Wide streets, cozy but spacious for such a large gathering. I guess the residents are inconvenienced only the first few hours, till the last runner has left and cleanup crew has finished. This race is point to point - it starts at Wayzata and ends at Excelsior.

Where is Waldo ?

Race kicked off in pace waves. Winding out of Wayzata through Orno, the first 5-6 miles was like being in Mahabaleshwar. Houses were all cozy hill-station type with perfect natural greenery around. This race is a tour of great real estate. Other runners too felt it so. Afterwards, my run clubbers were posting some of the estate listing on FB to each other saying "This is the one I was talking about".

At the Relay exchange point, I kept wondering if it was the real mid-point, in terms of miles. I don't know the exact mile it was on and since my math-brain stops working when I run, I could not figure it out for the next few miles. That way it kept me occupied. My Run club came to cheer us from the same club. They are awesome ! They clicked me here, as I barreled down hill.


Then came the Tonka bay area. Till here, the views were all of different parts of lakes, boats, piers, fishing groups, people relaxing in their garage on Sunday morning. The Final 12th mile was on Minnetonka Trail. And 13th mile was in residential area, slowly winding to the Finish Line at Excelsior Park. Only in this mile did I felt like yes I am actually going to make it ! This pic was clicked by the MN Series photographer Dave Cameron. He is my favorite coz he has got some great pics of mine in the past races. I am unbelievably serious about it - "no sarcasm" (like I have to add everytime, for my kids).

When I rushed through the last 0.1 mile, I tried to avoid looking at the clock, but a glimpse showed something like 3:12. I did not mind it. I was glad I actually finished. I was still in the race (so to speak). Later when I checked the result online, it was 3:01:53. Woohoo ! That's even better than some of the Half's of last year. And considering the hilly route for this one. Wow myself !

Finish area park was void of past runners. They must have obviously rushed to the return bus. Volunteers were still around, and they had not started packing stuff, so that's positive note. Got my chips and banana. Family was late. I borrowed a phone from a volunteer to call Hubby and joked, "My family thought I will finish at noon haha". This race had a right start of 7:30 for this kind of weather. Ended the morning with a picnic in the park, watching the Lake, sitting by on the bench, facing cool breeze. Beautiful.


Did I talk about the race swag. The shirt is awesomely cut, very unusual from standard design. Material is perfect - not too flimsy to be cold, not bulky thick to be hot. Medal has a lovely fish design.
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Friday, May 5, 2017

Bus stops, Bus goes

Bus rides are a thrill for children. Well it did make some sick, but in general it's fun to wait for that gigantic thing, then hop in, grab a seat and be zoomed to your destination. And buses are a lifeline for grownups, especially those commuting for work. Everything is linked to the bus timings. That immense trust on the driver. That insane rage in case of any lapse.

Here is my photo-listicle of bus-stops, bus and subway from Bangalore, Udupi and Chennai. Bangalore pictures were sourced from my family. They are not named or linked simply for their privacy reasons.

 

Bangalore

Bangalore Kemmpegowda Majestic Bus Stand - that's where it starts. It is truly majestic. Buses from here connect every nook and corner of the city and suburbs. All buses are timely and very frequent. Other major bus station hubs are KR Market and Shivaji Nagar.



Some of the aerial view shots are so beautiful. The intra-city bus stand platforms are shaped in concentric half circles.


I used BMTC buses for around 12 years. Ranging all times of the day. Covering my new adulthood years. Years when the most growth happens. While squished between a range of every-changing crowd, I felt like I have a lifetime supply of material for thousand books. As it stands, here I am with a blog-post to covering it - which is more photo-heavy than wordy :)

Bangalore buses have it all. There are (were) Red buses, Blue buses, Brown Pushpak, Red Volvo, Pink Women's only and BMTC keep innovating very often.



Almost all big organization run their own private buses for their employees commute. In spite of that, it's amazing how the Bangalore traffic has slipped into unparalleled chaos.


Metro services started a few years back. I did not get a chance to ride the metro, but my cousin shared these pics. They look awesome. I ,like all Bangaloreans, have borne with it's construction for years, decades and most lines are still in-progress. Now that some of the Metro lines are functional, its hmmm good I guess. Everyone will enjoy the benefit most, once all construction is complete and cleared. And Metro ride's are always sci-fi level of thrilling and fun.



Udupi

Udupi main bus stand. Facing Manipal-Malpe Road. Stones throw away from Manipal. Pushpa Bakery just around a turn and so is the Kediyoor Hotel. Narrow lanes in between, all teeming with traffic. This bus-stop mostly serves private bus service. The other bus stand connecting Mangalore and villages in between, is further up from here. And the City bus stand is walkable distance from there. Best landmark for it is Alwyn Bakery on the opposite side


The below bus stand is on Court Road, between Taluk Office and Big Bazaar.




Chennai

Fascinating book stalls - latest magazines lined on a string, all pulp fiction books in different languages. A very standard feature in all central bus stands and even railway station. This picture is from Chennai Central Bus Stand. I was waiting here for Airavat Vovlo bus to Bangalore.