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12 Strong

This is a pending movie review considering nowadays it belongs to my reading when I can find the time and this is your quintessential war movie. If you’re in it for the thrills and spills, strong language, explicit action sequences with missiles and horses in the same frame then you won’t be disappointed. Not to mention, the ladies can feast their eyes on Mr Macho himself aka Chris Hemsworth. The movie is also helped by the fact that it is based on a true story and furthers the American perspective of the war on terror.

Chris Hemsworth, 9/11, Afghanistan, war on terror, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Green Berets, Jerry Bruckheimer
12 Strong

The movie is stupendously shot thanks to the effervescent producer Jerry Bruckheimer who knows a thing or two about action movies from his heyday. The movie is based on the first retaliation by America against the 9/11 attacks by sending the Green Berets led by the new Captain Mitch Nelson portrayed by Chris Hemsworth ably supported by an effective star cast including Michael Shannon and Michael Pena where the team has to take the help of the Afghan Warlord General Dostum in order to pave the way for the conventional warfare which was to follow in its aftermath.

Definitely a one time watch for the adrenaline junkies and if you want to see repercussions of the sophisticated type against the mindless terror that takes shape across the world from fanatics driven by the unthinkable.

Catch-22

A book review of Catch-22 is a difficult proposition but something I might as well try because of this gem of a book cannot go unnoticed without an opinion. It is a satirical work of fiction by Joseph Heller who creates Yossarian in the middle of a battle between 1942-1944 dring World War 2. There are many who have stopped mid-way through reading it and find it difficult to finish it but I am not one of those. I have read a few in my time and am planning to gift my son a collection that I am building for him through Amazon’s 100 best reads and I can safely say that this book is definitely a part of it.

Catch-22.jpg
Catch-22

John Yossarian the protagonist finds himself in the middle of the war spectacle and tries to provide perspective filled with humor towards the inadequacies of the theatre, the perpetrators from both the sides, the bureaucracy or even God himself. The following is an excerpt from the book to drive home the point.

Don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways,’ Yossarian continued, hurtling on over her objection. ‘There’s nothing so mysterious about it. He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us. That’s the kind of God you people talk about – a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?’
‘Pain?’ Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife pounced upon the word victoriously. ‘Pain is a useful symptom. Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers.’
‘And who created the dangers?’ Yossarian demanded … ‘Why couldn’t he have used a doorbell instead to notify us?”

MUST-READ, Thoroughly Enjoyable!

Bohemian Rhapsody

It’s been more than a year that the movie was released and I for one have conflicting thoughts about it. I wanted to start off by giving it a heading called, “fall in love again” but then I juxtapose with the lead character Freddie Mercury and I am left bemused. First, the positives, the recreation of a bygone era replete with characters/ superstars of a bygone era is second to none and Rami Malek deservedly got the Oscar nod. The music is what binds the story together because if you were born in the early eighties like me then it would have been difficult to miss Queen no matter which part of the earth you belonged to. There is a realism involved in the narrative since even when Freddie Mercury was alive, he led a very colorful life which wasn’t helped by his promiscuous tendencies, his cross-dressing and his larger than life persona. The musical journey transcends a bygone era culminating with Live Aid Concert for Africa and the band reuniting after a lot of upheavals brought about by personal ambition and greed overtaking artistic compulsions.

Bohemian Rhapsody.jpg
Bohemian Rhapsody

The negatives would primarily be based on his sexual escapades considering Freddie was unabashedly gay who had his fair share of flings but then who am I to judge. Not too much to critique since the movie is a celebration and should be enjoyed as such. Whether you are homophobic or a Queen hater, you cannot miss it as it is a gem.

Fine Dining And An Anniversary

There aren’t too many special occasions that we as a family go out of our way to celebrate but the one exception to the rule is when it comes to my anniversary. It gives us an excuse to dine out in the capital(Delhi) and is yet to be disappointed with eating out considering it was only our third anniversary that we were celebrating. A good month before the celebration, we were watching an old episode of Master Chef India on Hot Star with my Mom when we came across the Judge Zorawar Kalra’s restaurant Pa Pa Ya’s chef Sahil Singh who was competing with a contestant who had won a round in Master Chef. Sahil Singh outperformed the contestant in the face-off and as an icing on the cake, Zorawar asked him to include the winning dish in his restaurant menu. Needless to add, that was all the inspiration I was looking for. Need to give credit where it’s due by mentioning that Zorawar Kalra under the aegis of his company Massive Restaurants is slowly but surely changing the face of fine dining across the country which is no surprise why he had made it as a judge in season five of Master Chef.

Pa Pa Ya, Saket
Pa Pa Ya, Saket, New Delhi

Just for trivia sake, I might add that out that the first anniversary was also at a Zorawar Kalra restaurant, Masala Library By Jiggs Kalra named after his father. Pa Pa Ya is situated in the chic mall Saket Select City Walk and as an introduction is an Asian Bistro with typical offerings from all across the region including but not limited to Thai, Chinese, Japanese, etc. The ambiance is grand and the restaurant is nicely done with a well-equipped bar catering to every taste bud.

One of the USPs of the place is the not to be missed Sunday Brunch and reservations are recommended. The price scales up beyond 2k per person depending on the kind of alcohol that one might fancy. Another point to note for young couples like me who have toddlers or babies is that the restaurant is accommodating with children less than 10. The food on offer is quintessential Asian fare which leaves you wanting for more even if it’s brunch. We started with the restaurant namesake Papaya Salad which was a novelty followed by a starter called Chicken with Thousand Chillies. This was followed by Jigae Chicken soup which was average. There was an unlimited serving of Dim Sums and Sushi and I ate till my heart’s content. There were also generous helpings of the following as well such as Sliced Braised Chicken, Ching Mai Curry Shrimp, Peking Duck which was tender and alluring, Yaki Udon Noodles, Khao Pad Kar Pao and to top with a dessert called Chocolate Ball on fire.

Pa Pa Ya can be reserved for special occasions especially if you have a penchant for Asian delicacies and I am glad that my better half and my son were able to enjoy to the hilt as well.

The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy

It’s been ages since I read this one and my primary focus would be to do it justice as a book review because I thoroughly enjoyed it while reading. Absurd is a premise well associated with the book which eventually translates to the ‘understatement of the decade.’ Consider this as a start, right before the earth is about to be demolished before making way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is saved by Ford Prefect who is a researcher and together they commence their journey through the stars and planets with each supposition more ludicrous than the next though with the underlying theme which still makes us human and our day to day activities that keep our suppositions and our opinions for granted.

 

Douglas Adams, Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect,
The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

The entire novel is a volume which has six parts to it namely:-

  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  2. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  3. Life, the Universe, and Everything
  4. So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish
  5. Mostly Harmless
  6. Young Zaphod Plays it Safe

The genre it belongs to is sci-fi and if you’re in it then you’ve probably read it till now but if not then try and get through the first installment and if the humor about God, marketing professionals, warmongers, philosophers, scientists, political leaders, etc doesn’t get to you then Douglas Adam’s with would surely as a writer par excellence and you wouldn’t find it a drag. Highly recommended.

Two Nights And I Might

This actually happened with me a month or so back and the only word that I can equate it to is Utopia for there is nothing else that a man can ask for between his wants and desires. My shift is from 5:30 pm till 2:30 am since we cater to the Eastern Time Zone and when I want to unwind after a hard day then we go to a hotel called Park Plaza, in the vicinity for booze and revelry at Melange which is their bar. Names and referral points are being changed but this is based on a true story.

Melange, Park Plaza, Vincent, Chris, Saket Jha, British Airways Cabin Crew,
2 Nights And I Might

Vincent is a former colleague with whom I no longer talk because of what transpired but we used to hit it like a house on fire since we shared similar tastes in sports, movies, booze and brotherhood. We were on a hiatus and hadn’t been talking when he gave me a buzz and said,”lets catch up.” My obvious reply was to go for it even though I was selling myself short in terms of the work hours but since Vincent was coming from the other side of town, I gave it a miss to the last couple of hours on a Wednesday. We met in the car park when he told me that he thought that he owed me a session with booze in tow considering he had got back to drinking after ages albeit for a short while. So off we went to Melange in the vicinity to get tipsy or tend to tipsy. Started with our pints and lit our smokes when a guy who had been drinking for a while from the looks of it called out to Vincent to exchange pleasantries. Vincent being the “sport” that he is went along and before I knew it, the two of them were jostling for a game of one-upmanship which is typical of Delhi lads where putting down the other person overrides the premise of a conversation. Later did I get to know that Vincent was talking to a certain Saket Jha who was a Bihari(one of the backward states in India but can’t say it for Saket. More on that later). The conversation veered towards girls and sluts in particular with Saket boasting and Vincent giving him just the right kind of encouragement while Saket was slurring and swaying. We were joined by another gentleman who was a British Airways cabin crew from whom there was a ready supply of apparently Brit cigarettes JPS. Eduardo also joined in considering we were the only blokes around and it was a favour to the waiters on call since now the waiters only had to serve one table. Eduardo had the audacity of proclaiming in the middle of the conversation in the midst of Indians in the middle of India that the only reason why Indians were good in English was because we had been colonized by the British which was ironic considering it came from a Swiss bloke.

We had spent a good couple of hours by now, enjoying the Champions League semi final between Liverpool and Barcelona even though we are Man United supporters. There was a steady stream of alcohol which was inadvertently sponsored by Saket who kept boasting about his lineage and his spending power. I met Vincent in the loo to ask him because I was surprised that he was trying to enjoy a conversation with a perfect stranger and he was till trying to put him down even though he was sponsoring the drinks to which Vincent replied that for him it was always about taking someone’s case especially if he was asking for it which made me a silent spectator and a happy free loader. By this time, Chris and Lilly also came by to give us company after finishing work at the office and it was around four am. The conversation veered towards the unpredictable when suddenly, Vincent refused to keep shut and Saket got really annoyed and Saket removed his shoe to come across to Vincent to hit him with it. I thought it was a bit too far fetched and wouldn’t materialize when Chris butted in saying that Saket couldn’t do it or he wouldn’t let him do it since Vincent was like an elder brother to Chris. Saket walked up to Vincent across the table with his shoe in his right hand to strike Vincent with Chris about to intervene and Saket bends down and kisses Vincent on his lips! I almost puked being homophobic by nature and unfortunately I was the only one watching which was a cross between a snog and a depiction of appreciation. I thought this night couldn’t get any worse being in a sausage fest with only Lilly for a chick when Saket rattled off about carrying plenty of cash. Vincent encouraged him by questioning how much did he have and would he put it on the table.

Saket in his stupor puts USD 1500 on the table and Vincent picks it up to admire or count it which is when Saket says, “keep it” to Vincent. Vincent offered to return it to him a couple of times and Saket refused. Vincent nonchalantly walks away with the cash and Saket calls his chauffeur which I realized later because he left in an Audi A6 five minutes after that. Vincent, Chris and Lilly partied their guts out at another location while I was still taken aback with what had happened and I left for my place.

The next day brought its own trials and tribulations with Vincent jogging his memory and trying to find out Saket which was the right thing to do so he asked me for a favour if I could check again at Melange for him. The next night after office i warned the Manager at the bar to notify me if he sees Saket again because he had left a wad of notes with a person who was drinking with me. Chris also joins in later and there is a group of four women and a guy drinking at the next table, who we later realized were the British Airways Cabin Crew including the pilot and we drank our share. The bar was about to close so the women wanted to go out for a smoke and one of them walks by looking at us and she has a tattoo on her thigh and I say, “Nice tattoo” while Chris says simultaneously, ” Nice tat”. I followed up and asked for a cigarette when she invited us outside while Chris was busy taking her snapshots of the two thighs with her tattoos on it. We continued the conversation outside and I declared at the outset that I had a wife and kid to go home to and I wouldn’t bother them too much. Ronnie offered the smokes and started chatting like there’s no tomorrow. She offered us the role of guides for them as tourists to find out the “real India” even though the others were skeptical and refused but Chris wanted to be a part of it and I said no. Ronnie talked about her difficult childhood and the sacrifices her father in particular had made to bring her up while Chris asked me in Hindi if he should bang her tonight. In the middle of the conversation, seeing Ronnie getting sentimental, I started singing “Wonderwall” by Oasis and the three of us started singing. The others had left by this time and she also talked about her favourite Welsh band Stereophonics. All said and done, she invited me for drinks in her room and I politely refused. The next day, Chris thanked me and acknowledged my contribution by stating that if it wasn’t for me, Ronnie was impressed by my mannerisms and communication skills, he wouldn’t have slept with her later. I replied,”Anytime, every time”

A Star Is Born

I’d like to begin the review of the movie, ” A Star Is Born” with a couple of different comparisons with the common denominator being the Oscars and those are:-
1. A Star Is Born is a musical odyssey in the fiction genre which will dominate this year’s ceremony common with the biographical Bohemian Rhapsody( more on it in a separate review) with the lead actors justified for being in the limelight for their respective performances.
2. This year’s Oscars are an exception because a few of the contenders are actually mass acclaimed movies rather than only critical acclaim such as Black Panther. 
Now, to begin a movie review by harping on the Oscars can bring its own pitfalls but allow me the indulgence considering I was taken in by the Oscar mania and this should’ve come out a long time ago to coincide with the ceremony par excellence for the movie going audience. This is the fourth remake of a story having been told to earlier generations as well and Bradley Cooper took a multitude of roles in this one by acting, co-writing, producing and singing in it.
Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Jackson Maine, Ally
A Star Is Born

The story is about a popular country singer Jackson Maine played by Bradley Cooper, who has a penchant for his booze and whose career graph is receding even though he’s been playing to packed houses on his country tour when he comes across the hotel waitress Ally played by Lady Gaga who is a part time singer as well. Jackson is blown away with her voice and the movie plays out a contrasting graph of her careers along with their love/married life. Jackson Maine is a complex character portrayal with a self destructive tendencies with his drunken stupor with a cocktail of drugs while in the spotlight with Ally who has her own issues with her nose and a burgeoning following towards stardom. A point to note which would be hard to miss by anybody watching the movie is the soundtrack which enhances the movie going experience manifold asking for more. Given the chemistry that the lead actors enjoyed while filming and during post production, the audience was taken in by their respective personas and were disappointed to know that the two leads in fact enjoyed healthy relationships and were not romantically involved which was a pity.

Definitely worth watching for the coming of age of Lady Gaga as an actor in a lead role and the multi tasking attributes of Bradley Cooper.

This Country Is Going To The Dogs

Elections around the corner,

Promises being doled out in plenty,

Country caught up in a world wind of stories,

Is it really worthy of my time, am I getting senti?

This country is going to the dogs

Jingoism ruling the roost,

Unemployment taking a backseat,

Where are the issues that we really care for?

Is it only about drink and meat?

This country is going to the dogs

Have we forgotten the cow being more important than the woman,

Or the PM not giving a single interview to the press,

I’ve had it with the hyperbole,

Enough of this mess!!

This country is going to the dogs

Winging, whining, moaning, berating politicians galore,

Bemoaning a lack of opposition, makes me sore

Less the education qualification, more the criminal cases behind,

It is nothing but democracy rewind,

This country is going to the dogs

Usurp power at all costs,

Let the ‘others’ go to hell,

My park has 7 different benches meant only for two,

The only thing aplenty should have been a well,

This country is going to the dogs

I just finished watching Gully Boy,

Talks about food, clothes, house and internet,

Can’t wait to press N.O.T.A on the EVM

Nuf said, can’t do it no more, fret,

This country is going to the dogs

Lok Sabha Elections 2019, Indian Jamboree, Politicians, Hopeless scenario, Gully Boy, N.OT.A, EVM
Vote

Great Expectations

This is a novel that I had heard so much about but never got a chance to read which is obviously why I am writing this now as a review. Students nowadays in Delhi schools have to read Khalid Hosseini or for that matter, my mom who had to read Shakespeare while in college along with several other classics but Great Expectations came with an ‘amazing read’ bookmark from Amazon which should have eased me into it. I did finish it in a jiffy by my standards but what came to mind is a particularly Indian sub context by comparing Charles Dickens and Manmohan Desai, the erstwhile director of Hindi movies who churned out several hits primarily based on coincidences, lost and found stereotypes, larger than life characters,contemporary aspirations and Great Expectations is so much more.

Miss Havisham, Pip, Joe, Estella, Great Expectations book review, classic, Manmohan Desai
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The story revolves around the protagonist Pip who is an apprentice to his brother in law in a forge and how he dreams of making it in the whole wide world against the reality that he finds himself in. Another facet giving impetus to his thoughts is his liking for Estella who is rich beyond his means and has the demeanor and personality of a heartless woman inspired by the irrepressible Miss Havisham. By a sudden turn of events and a quirk of fate, Pip finds himself with inherited riches and how he navigates troubled waters, pun intended, is what the book is all about. A book written in 1861 can still hold forth such is the power of the pen and is much appreciated with the intricacies and nuances involved wherein one finds a pleasant journey rather than a time warp of the industrial revolution.

Arguably one of Charles Dickens’s finest works and a must read for avid readers and I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

Delhi 101

There are “Perks of being a wallflower” for yours truly since I am an Executive Assistant(EA) to the Managing Partner of a firm which is about Information Technology but the last few days have been a pain(understatement of the decade) considering I walked a tightrope between being an EA and a Personal Assistant. Right in the midst of trying to search for a maid, a nanny, a chef and a Hindi tutor for my boss, I was given the added responsibility of being a guide to the President of a portfolio company and that too on a Saturday. Having been born and brought up as a true blue Delhiite, never really crossed my mind to see my city from the white man’s perspective which is what Joe was from Texas .

So I picked him up from his hotel in Gurgaon by booking a cab for an entire day for Rs 2,500 with a useful driver(more on that later) to boot. The itinerary had been set considering Delhi was in the midst of nonseasonal rains and we started in right earnest. Our first stop was Qutub Minar which is what the jpeg is all about. Its a minaret built eons ago by a Mughal emperor and is quite well maintained by the Archaeological Society of India. Bare in mind for all the non-Indians, there is a differential price mechanism in place for the tickets wherein the foreigner has to pay a substantial premium compared to the Indian.

Qutub Minar, Lotus Temple, Old Delhi, Executive Assistant
Qutub Minar

The next stop was The Lotus Temple by the Bahais and I couldn’t really fathom the rush whether it was due to a Saturday or the fact that there was no entry fee. One of the standout structural marvels of the city and every time I see it, I am reminded of the Sydney Opera House. Now, the driver more than earned his share of accolades because he had done it a few times with “others” so he took us to a joint in a decrepit neighborhood in which a building with three floors excluding the basement had stacked all things Indian what a tourist would want as a souvenir without experiencing the hustle bustle of a bazaar in the sweltering heat such as show pieces with intricate works, traditional clothes for all shapes and sizes, jewelry etc. all at a reasonable price. My man, Joe spent Rs 12,000 on gifts for his entire family consisting of five members.

The final stop was over Old Delhi which really is what Delhi is all about where the market are the lanes, places of worship, roadside vendors selling their merchandise, thieves on the prowl, congestion, cinema hall etc. Partake in the delicacies at your own peril unless you have the digestive tract of an ogre with wide variety of sweets, non veg, veg, street food, Karims, Qureshi Kebab Corner etc. I almost got robbed had I not been alert because a thief opened my back pack from behind so be careful when in the vicinity.

We were spent by the end of it. Early evening around five, Man United to play in another three hours so we drowned our vibes in a couple of pints and I headed home. This episode does have a silver lining because I quite enjoyed the experience and wouldn’t mind repeating it for the right incentives, what say?

Boys will be boys

Another weekend comes to an end hoping that more could have been done or achieved vis a vis the family or get together but Monday Morning blues had another thing coming. Having slept for close to five hours, I had to get up in order to get me, my wife and my son’s passport updated due to our pending Israel trip. Little did I know what lay beneath. Having reached office, Chris suggested that me and him get wasted since he broke up with his long standing girlfriend right in the middle of having a double shot of Americano black coffee. Not one to let go of spur of the moment plans, I immediately agreed only for him to back out at the last minute.

I was resigned to the fact of toiling for the rest of the shift only to realize that Chelsea V Man United was on in the FA Cup rounds. Now, this match was all about the futures of the managers considering Sarri and Ole Gunnar Solsjaer were at opposite ends of the spectrum considering how their philosophies were playing out out in the open.

To put matters to perspective, Chris tells me that he has a quota of ready made booze stacked in the car for the taking. So I pick up a quarter of Bacardi Black Rum and rush to the cafeteria for a disposable glass and cola to dilute it with notwithstanding the fact that a colleague Nathan who was off for a half day was willing to give a ride to hotels.

Now, when in New Delhi, there are a plethora of options right next to the Airport that would fulfill your accommodation needs. Please realize that I am on the wrong side of thirty and to watch the match in one of the hotels would be a Herculean task which is when Nathan tells me that he would be ready to give me a ride halfway through the destination. Alas, midway through the journey, it dawns upon me that I have left my wallet in the office. So I sift through the hotels on offer in trying to catch Man United in action against Chelsea finally honing in on the Aloft Hotel where the receptionist tries to upsell by offering a room to watch the game when I just wanted to see it uninterrupted in the lobby.

Match goes along expected lines with Man U emerging victorious while some guys from Mumbai are busy playing pool to prove a point and a lesbian couple giving me the vibes thinking I’d reciprocate which was not to be.

Did I mention that I took a half day and Nathan dropped me 3 kms away from the cluster of hotels and I walked it all the way up without any regrets?

Here I am after ‘checking’ the fourth hotel for the match and waiting for Chris to pick me up. Credit should also be shared with my best bud Vincent Lamba who interspersed my sordid saga with his invaluable repartee. Thank God for mobile devices.

Not to mention, Glory Glory Man United!!!

For or Against

This is a formulation of an opinion cum review after watching Vice starring Christian Bale as the biographical/ drama of the life of Dick Cheney who as the Vice President of the United States wielded immense power and whose decisions have made a lasting impact on not just Americans but world polity as a whole considering the sheer depths to which the politicians can go to for their clamour for power. The movie was enjoyable with an equal dosage of funny as well as serious moments and had Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell as the supporting cast.

Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Lok Sabha Elections 2019, Parliament
Vice

Given that the present incumbents, the BJP, are the ruling party and enjoyed a simple majority during their term, I hadn’t been able to decide for a long time whether I would want to vote them to power again since there is a lot of criticism that I can associate with them along with some positive changes that have come about in their time as the government.

A simple majority has allowed the BJP to gain a foothold across the landscape and drive home their agenda of a government which is forthright in its approach to work for the benefit of the people but there is not much that I can look back and count as achievements for it if I try and equate it rationally. There has been all round improvement in the sporting sphere with impetus from the government and I’d like to give compliments where it’s due because it is not just cricket but other sports that are getting a share of the limelight.

This is a critique of the government because Prime Minister Modi came to power by proclaiming that each individual in the country would be richer by Rs 15 lakh if they were able to bring back the black money that has been hoarded in offshore accounts by businessmen of dubious distinction. However, in Modi’s time, fugitives such as Mallya ran away with more than Rs 7,000 Cr or Nirav Modi who stole more than 14.000 Cr and was allowed to run away in broad daylight by committing the most audacious robbery in banks or Lalit Modi who had a sprawling empire but is taking refuge in an undisclosed country by duping the exchequer and still managing to have close relations with the ruling elite.

Demonetisation was uncalled for exercise and an abysmal failure and I also wrote about it earlier and so is the tax for all ie the GST because having talked to people on the ground, I have come to the conclusion that GST is still not clear in the public eye and is going through teething troubles. The combative form that the BJP has taken as the sole proprietors or guardians of the faith also belittles the office when even the Prime Minister becomes partisan by ignoring the minorities, Even God can’t save the nation when a cow can have ‘standing’ and reverence and not a woman in comparison.

This is what got me thinking since I can draw parallels between the Republicans in The US and a right-wing government at the helm in India. The fact of the matter is that the BJP is a reflection of the Congress and they are worse in their state of affairs and even though the Lok Sabha Election in 2019 may not be a foregone conclusion, I definitely have a clarity of thought which would help me decide who to vote for in the Parliament Elections.

Thanks!

Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood is an original by The Beatles and Haruki Murakami while writing the book wasn’t shy enough to admit and I wouldn’t mind placing him in the great pantheons of Japanese writers such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Kenzaburo Oe etc with the ease of writing, the languid pace with which he builds a crescendo of qualities of the characters, the contemporary backdrop that he provides which is hard to miss and even easier to identify with. Norwegian Wood is a timeless classic which I would recommend to the next generation or my son to better understand teenage angst, the rebellious college streak, the fight with loneliness and the unfortunate circumstances wherein one is unlucky to lose out on his/her fixation, crush, love. It is simply put a narration of a love triangle which is seamless and bountiful in its horizons where life is all about possibilities without a care in the world as long as you can be with the one whom you love all inclusive of the emotional and physical traits.

Haruki Murakami, Kazuo Ishigoro, Kenzaburo Oe, Toru Watanabe, Naoko, Reiko, Midori
Norwegian Wood

The story revolves around Toru Watanabe who is friends with Naoko but she is going out with their best friend who meets an untimely demise and Murakami dwells into their contrasting longing for the things in life amongst the opposite ends of the spectrum. Toru finds redemption in Maori who breathes life into his college life with zest and chutzpah while Naoko falls into an abyss and finds solace in her mate Reiko while all are against the Tokyo existential loop of hope.

The reference to The Beatles is pronounced and so is the ready narrative and lucid description of the characters who blend into one another with an amalgamation of points of note all across the story.

Before I fall short in my effusive praise or the number of reasons why you should read it, I suggest you do.

Hell or High Water

I pulled the plug on my Netflix subscription after I found that I was paying for it beyond my means and just before I did that, I watched Hell or High Water because apparently it is highly recommended among movie buffs when you Google movies to watch on Netflix. Another drawback of Netflix is apparent considering if you watch it over a sustained period of probably more than a year which is what I did then you would realize that the content whittles down to zilch and you hit a brick wall. Hell or High Water is your modern wild west with a decent star cast and a plot that just about holds your attention. Ben Foster and Chris Pine are playing bank robbers who indulge in hara-kiri because their mama’s farm is about to go through foreclosure and they don’t have the money to stall it with Jeff Bridges on their tail as the Texas Rancher along with his Indian partner Gil Birmingham.

Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster, Texas Midlands Bank, Netflix,
Hell or High Water

Each and every character on the show is human and flawed but there is no lack of quality in the acting prowess of the lead characters. The Rangers are on the wrong end of their lives and are subdued and outrun by the thrifty duo of the Howard brothers where Toby Howard, played by Chris Pine, is a divorcee who is trying to make it up for his kids while the other Howard, Tanner is just out of prison, played by Ben Foster who is completely believable as the eccentric and neurotic anti-establishment prisoner who wants his share of comeuppance.

Definitely worth a watch especially if you’ve seen a plethora of options from Netflix.

Molly’s Game

I, Tonya, Roma, Molly’s Game, Tomb Raider, Ex Machina are some of the movies that I have watched in recent times or am going to watch in the near future and the one common thread among all is that these are woman-centric movies with the protagonist being the fairer sex and I am all for it cos they have all been worthwhile till now. Molly’s Game is a true-life story of Molly Bloom who was an Olympic Class skier who eventually ran the world’s most exclusive high stakes poker game for celebrities across fields and who became an FBI target unwittingly because of her proximity to the Russian Mob.

Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Aaron Sorkin, Molly Bloom, Biography, Crime , Drama
Molly’s Game

The direction is slick by Aaron Sorkin who wouldn’t have had the most difficult task considering Molly is still alive and if that wasn’t enough then she had also written a book before the movie to fall back on. The movie is a cine goer’s delight with an all-star cast consisting of Jessica Chastain as the irrepressible protagonist who delivers a performance with a lot of promise of equally good things to come and panache. She is ably supported by her fictitious lawyer Idris Elba and her father Kevin Costner with whom Molly delivers the scene of the movie for me when she has a candid three-minute session with her father all guns blazing in the emotional context.

True stories or biographies have a certain resonance since they are easy to identify with and packed with a lot of realism which is why I thoroughly enjoyed it and in the same vein would recommend all and sundry to follow suit on a story that needs to be told and heard around the world given what Molly Bloom has achieved until now.

Roma

If ever there was a Netflix swansong for me then Roma is the answer because it is highly recommended from my side since it is the well-told story in the life of a maid in Mexico during the 1970s. The movie has garnered ten nominations for the Oscars and is heavily favoured to win and I for one, wouldn’t be too surprised since Alfonso Cuaron has delivered a masterpiece which is in tune as much with its simplicity as much as its narration against the backdrop of the Mexican state going through some turmoil.

Alfonso Cuaron, Yalitza Aparicio, Cleo, Netflix, Oscar Nomination, Drama
Roma

The story’s protagonist is Cleo, played by the irreplaceable Yalitza Aparicio, who is a maid in a middle-class household and is a multi-tasker to the core by handling the kids, listening to orders in the house, cooking, washing, cleaning and eventually taking time out to date.

Roma is a well-told story and is in complete black and white which appeals to the senses given the backdrop in which it has been shot. Alfonso Cuaron, given his penchant to lead from the front and deliver cinema extraordinaire, has directed Roma after Gravity in 2013 and is a front-runner for the Oscars.

Beasts of No Nation

This is a movie that comes highly recommended by the house of Netflix but I can see why it bombed at the box office even though it had the star power of a certain Idris Elba who might just end up being the first black bond if the rumour mills are to be believed or if you go by his tweet in the recent past. Anyways, the movie has a high rating on IMDB but one cannot find Mr Elba in the credits which do seem strange because I know when I see him and he was definitely a part of Beasts Of No Nation. The story is about a child soldier, Agu and the horrors that are brought about in a fictitious African country employing child soldiers on both sides of the divide.

Agu, Netflix, Idris Elba, Drama, War
Beasts Of No Nation

The movie could do with a few twists and turns to make it more engrossing. However, to harp on the atrocities on a boy hardly in his teens does not always make for compelling viewing. This is an in house production by Netflix and even though the fare that they have churned out till now can best be described as mediocre, I am pretty sure given their millions that they would eventually get better at it.

Doctor Strange

In the competition between Marvel and DC, I think Marvel is streets ahead but just before you make up your mind or are influenced by mine then think again because of Doctor Strange is a complete waste of time as movie watching experience and even the star power of a certain Benedict Cumberbatch cannot save it from sinking. The movie. though. is highly rated on IMDB.

Marvel, Benedict Cumberbatch, Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Netflix
Doctor Strange

The story revolves around a certain Dr Stephen Strange who has a horrific car accident which is in complete contrast to his existence where he was renowned for his handiwork on patients. On a journey of physical and spiritual healing, he needs to ignore his wit and ego and try and imbibe the reality beyond his known source of existence and take a call on the betterment of humanity. I never followed the comic character and was drawn more towards the Marvel cinematic experience rather than anything else but sad to admit that disappointed would be the understatement of the decade. Watch it only if you have to.

The Walk

This is a movie review of The Walk which is a real life story of Philippe Petit, a Frenchman, who walked a tight rope between the World Trade Centre Towers in 1974 which was a unique feat at the time and would remain so for an eternity considering 9/11. The movie has a decent rating on IMDB and is well supported with the cast starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role ably supported by Ben Kingsley and directed by an astute Robert Zemeckis who has given a few other memorable offerings.

Philippe Petit, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Robert Zemeckis, Biography, Adventure
The Walk

The movie is all about the trial and tribulations of one man, Monsieur Petit who has the single-minded devotion to walk the talk and duly inspired by his mentor, Papa Rudy, has the wherewithal to overcome the trials and tribulations such as a rag-tag crew, “finding his feet” in a foreign land, last-minute glitches, logistics hurdles etc. The movie captures the imagination and the brevity of the one man who made it possible all these years back and who might just give Cirque Du Soleil a run for their money.

End of Watch

The next few blogs including this one are my swansong to Netflix having tried it for the last year and didn’t find it feasible in terms of the monetary aspect so this is a review of the movie End Of Watch starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena among others. The movie was a one time watch considering it was an offering by the prolific David Ayer and is shot documentary style to capture the daily rundown of two LAPD officers who are also good pals and what happens in their daily lives. Of course, given their line of duty, we come across almost every kind of felony there is on the streets to make it seem more meaningful.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, David Ayer, Documentary Style, Netflix, Action, Crime. Drama
End Of Watch

The story captures a few drug traffickers and human traffickers but there is also an underlying power struggle between the Blacks and Hispanics and how the two cops eventually meet their match in a confrontation larger than life. The movie is for all Jake Gyllenhaal fans for he is the centre of attraction and gets your adrenaline kicking at the seam given both his looks and brawn. David Ayer also wrote Training Day and this offering is typical fare for your quintessential crime/action drama with loads of chutzpah. If you have Netflix then this has to be one of the more watchable films on offer.

Her

This movie is one of the hidden gems of Netflix and something that I had wanted to watch for a long time and I wasn’t too disappointed considering I’m not a fan of cyber romances even though this would be a reality sooner rather than later. As far as Artificial Intelligence systems go, this is a work of art by the director Spike Jonze and the movie is of the ilk such as Ex Machina.

Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Samantha, OS 1, Spike Jonze
Her

The story revolves around Theodore played by Joaquin Phoenix who is a writer going through his final phase of reaching a divorce who falls in love with the world’s first Artificial Intelligent Operating System, OS 1 with a voice over from Scarlett Johansson and how the two “beings” try to come to terms with each other and reality.

The plot is intriguing and the pace is slow but the joy can be derived by imagining that we are not too far away from AI systems and love could be a reality that we might have to comprehend anew. Theodore is your average Joe who likes his video games and hanging out with friends, slowly but surely falls for the intelligent Samantha and for further proof of the storyline and the competency of the lead players, I would definitely recommend it for the mature viewer.

Good Riddance

With the attacking ethos of Manchester United in turmoil, the side languishing in the sixth place, player discord doing the rounds of the press conferences, player renewals coming up for world beaters such as De Gea, thoughts of dumping Pogba, not giving enough opportunities and confidence in grooming youngsters were some of the factors that led to Jose Mourinho’s downfall but what really took the cake was the abysmal defeat at Anfield to the arch nemesis, Liverpool which was the final nail in the coffin at the cost of sounding repetitive.

Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Pogba, De gea
Manchester United

When a stalwart such as Sir Alex Ferguson or an Arsene Wenger retires, it is way beyond difficult to replicate the instantaneous philosophy of an institution that has been carefully nurtured over the years with dedication and precision. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed on a stop-gap arrangement for a period of six months and has been categorical in stating that the players need to enjoy the football which is what its all about for a behemoth of an organization with millions of followers all over the world who want to see goals galore, back to the basics of the beautiful game with the sponsors in tow with the philosophy. The Gaffer begins his innings away from Molde and at the only Premier League club that he managed in his career.

With not much brouhaha, I would like to end with some potent lines, not original, but which are ingrained in the subconscious of millions such as myself and to inspire countless others. So let bygones be bygones.
It’s not just a kit.
-It’s our skin. 
It’s not just a stadium.
-It’s our home.
They’re not only 11.
-We’re millions.
It’s not just 90 minutes.
-It’s a lifetime.
It’s not just football.
-It’s life!
Glory Glory Man United!

Cyber Hub

Cyber Hub in Gurugram or Gurgaon reminds me of Clark Quay in Singapore with a variety of pubs and restaurants on offer and over the past few years, it is your quintessential hangout spot in the midst of the powers that be a.k.a corporates and MNCs but am not really sure if you could score with a chick here, tongue firmly in cheek. Been here a few times and my most recent visit compelled me to pen my thoughts hoping to act as a savior to the adventurous among the readers. Cyber Hub is situated in DLF Cyber City and lies on the outskirts of Delhi. It cannot be missed if you’re a foody or if you like your drinks with an ambience.

Restaurants, Pubs, Bars, Gurgaon, Gurugram, DLF Cyber City
Cyber Hub

The place caters to all and sundry with numerous options for gaming, open-air performances, giant screening of matches, electronic product manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung vying for space with cafes such as Starbucks, Chai Point, Farzi Cafe, restaurants  such as Oh Calcutta, KFC and bars such as the Wine Company to name a few.

The entire Cyber Hub is spread across three levels including a ground floor for kiosks and the infrastructure provided is second to none given as it is the flagship of one of the premier real estate companies of India, DLF.
If you’re in Delhi and you have time to while away then Cyber Hub is the place to go to and you won’t be disappointed.

El Chapo

Its been a year watching Netflix and the only reason why I started was that Netflix offered Narcos and so, one year down the line, at almost the same time I started, I chose another series, El Chapo. The only thing that it has common with Narcos is that it is based on a drug lord but it is intriguing nevertheless and I binge watched it over a week without being too disappointed. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera had a reign of close to two decades and the series showcases the dark underbelly of Mexican drug cartels in their prime such as the Guadalajara Cartel, the Juarez Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel, the Tijuana Cartel and so on. My boss is an American multi-millionaire and I was taking him to a symposium for mobile devices when he looked at the traffic and said, “Mexico and India are very similar, you close your eyes, open your eyes and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.”

Joaquin Guzman Loera, Netflix, Conrado Sol, Marco de la O
El Chapo

Marco de la O is a convincing portrayal of  “El Chapo” and is ably supported by the conniving politician “Don Sol” The series starts with Joaquin’s triumph against all odds by supplying Pablo Escobar’s cocaine through his routes and how he repeatedly overcomes the odds to gain a position of strength and power by making it to the Forbe’s list of billionaires in the world. The authenticity of the narrative is intact since the entire series is in Spanish and hardly deviates from the original take of events going by the other reviews that I came across.

A series I would highly recommend though a word of caution since I am homophobic and there is a lot of explicit scenes where Conrado Sol indulges with his partner. But who am I to blame considering Bohemian Rhapsody released with Freddie Mercury how he used to be in his elements.

Wonder Woman

After watching the movie, my status update on Facebook was that Wonder Woman is DC’s saving grace and this review is no different. Another interesting point of note is that Wonder Woman is a God and Princess of the Amazons, so it is no surprise that it is an offering by Amazon Prime Video to drive home the point as far as crossover marketing is concerned. ‘Gal’ Gadot as Wonder Woman is a revelation and carries the movie on her able shoulders along with Chris Pine who enacts the role of a World War 1 spy at a crossroads so to speak. The movie has a rating of 7.5 on IMDB and finally, DC can look Marvel in the eye with its latest offering considering the franchise was not able to come up with the goods on the popularity scale of superheroes.

Gal Gadot, Ares, DC Comics, Chris Pine, action, adventure, fantasy
Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot is Diana or Wonder Woman who is being trained as an indestructible warrior of the Amazons oblivious of the happenings of World War being raged when Steve Trevor played by Chris Pine enters the realm and warns about a war to end all wars. This is when Diana leaves her protected shores to fight with men as one against evil.

The story, locales, situations and the overwhelming feeling of being at war is a breeze and it was more than once that I had goosebumps while watching it which could be a combination of several factors such as the movie delves into cliches pertaining to war without sounding preachy, the relationship of a young Diana striding her own path against the better understanding of her mother, not only the character of Wonder Woman but also its portrayal by Ms Gadot who provides a real dose of girl power by carefully negotiating topics and connotation of sex, violence, pangs of adulthood etc.
The movie, coming from the staples of DC would be suspect given its runtime of 150 minutes but one hardly notices the time which is a testament to the movie which stays true to its ethos as a female-oriented narrative and for all those moaning and cribbing, just go watch it for yourselves eh?

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

This is a movie review which was an offering by Amazon Prime Video and something I was looking forward to considering Denzel Washington was playing the lead character and I wasn’t left disappointed. The movie has a rating of 6.4 on IMDB and I believe that it should be a few notches higher than it is because the Writer-Director Dan Gilroy has come up with an intriguing subject matter and a complexity of characters and situations to ultimately deliver a compelling storyline with a contemporary feel all in all.

Denzel Washington, Dan Gilroy, Crime, Drama
Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Roman J. Israel, played by Denzel Washington is your idealistic Defence Attorney who experiences several jolts in a short span of time which results in him making drastic decisions which have extreme repercussions. Roman is ably supported by a character George Pierce played by Colin Farrell who is an extremely successful lawyer with his own firm.

The world over, what makes the realms of newsprint and propels the media towards is a lot of negativity which is somehow glazed over when projecting across to a global audience. However, Roman J. Israel exposes the dark underbelly of the US justice system and tries to project a Utopian view or the larger picture and definitely manages to strike a chord.
A definite recommend to movie aficionados of all ages particularly for the powerhouse performance by the lead character and the backing of the others in front of the camera but the real winner is the story.

The Remains of the Day

Its been a long time since I read anything of note so I tried my hand with an author who I had liked previously but came to love the second time around with an offering of The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro who is a winner of the Noble Prize for literature and the novel has also been adapted to a movie of the same name starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

Kazuo Ishigoro, Nobel prize for literature, Booker Prize Winner, Stevens, The Butler, Miss Kenton, Lord Darlington
The Remains of the Day

The book is beautifully written and is the story of Stevens, the butler who undertakes a journey to rehire a past employee and how he reminisces about a master, Lord Darlington, who he served for 30 years and his interactions with Miss Kenton. The nuances that an author can capture of a bygone era and put it across succinctly for a reader to identify defines his authority and his reach and Kazuo Ishiguro is second to none in that respect.

He has also written Never Let Me Go but I’d like to go so far as to type that The Remains of the Day is arguably his best work and would highly recommend it.

Goa again in six days

 With the start of the holiday season in North America and a long weekend coming from Thursday and Friday would be holidays on the account of Thanksgiving, I decided to have a vacation with my family to the tried and tested Goa for six days. I had already booked my accommodation via Air B n B and the return flights were by Air Asia well in advance. Now, having been to Goa plenty of times would still make it different given the responsibilities that I would have to undertake in terms of my son and wife and not go chasing my highs and girls, yes read separately.

Thanksgiving, Goa, Curlies, Anjuna, Cohiba, LPK, The Black Sheep Bistro, Anand Seafood, House of Llyods, Arambol, Shiva Valley
Yours Truly

Left on a Tuesday with an early morning flight which was wise in hindsight considering my son wasn’t too cranky which could have been an issue otherwise given the proclivities of the aircrew and going by recent snippets in the national and international arena. Warning: When travelling with an infant/ toddler in tow then make sure that you apologize beforehand to your fellow passengers and make the cabin crew aware of the dilemma that you might face with a baby in hand which is what we did.

Had already booked a rental cab for the entire duration of our stay and the guy was there with it at the airport itself and took the entire amount upfront along with my driving license. The property for lodging was top notch and we straightaway headed to Anjuna beach for a rendezvous at Curlies to absorb the Goa air and take in the tranquillity away from the city vibe. This was followed by a meal at Anand Seafood which was a spicy affair and I would not recommend it for the faint hearted or somebody who is not accustomed to the Indian palate. Also, my humble suggestion is that if you do go for fish then steer away from Pomfret to inadvertently inflate your bill which you could do without.
Goa is an alternative lifestyle propagated by the hippies and the young Indians going there by their hordes and if you are into psychedelic-trance then you have to be at Shiva Valley on a Tuesday to immerse yourself in the experience and leave your blues aside with an iconic rave under the moonlight.
For the adventurous, there are quite a few options for sea water sports which could be tried at the various beaches in Goa, the casinos are also a viable extension if you have an inkling for gambling and like the rush and last but not the least for families such as us, one could also try their hands and feet at go-karting to while away time constructively. Nightlife cannot be complete without a mention of my favourite joint in Goa which has plenty of suitable competition in the offing but if you’re in North Goa then do visit Club Cubana, the nightclub in the sky for those who are into old-school nostalgia and drinks by the pool.
The Black Sheep Bistro in Panjim is a highly recommended joint for what they offer in terms of drinks and eatables which are just rightly priced and you wouldn’t have guilty misgivings about the place known for its cocktails. However, the distance could be an issue since it is in Panjim but the incentives could be the umpteen casinos lining the sea while you get there. Arambol is a beach with a relaxed vibe and its pristine surroundings give it a welcoming feel with a sizable number of Indians also attending.
Some of the creme de la creme hangouts that I would like to suggest would be Cohiba which has three different bars and a dance floor. Not to mention, a live band playing to the galleries. We had a gala time ‘at it’ and had a swish set of people for company. LPK is another club vying for eyeballs and is not too far off the pace. It is a recent addition but you wouldn’t know about it given the throngs that hang out there. Thalassa is a classy Greek restaurant which was under renovation but somewhere I had already been which was a disappointment because I couldn’t show off to my wife but I kind of made up for it with another one of the ilks by the name of House of Lloyds and you have to try the pork chops which are a must-have.
As a penultimate soiree, we went to Antares, another decent restaurant followed by the Arpora Saturday Night Bazaar which went on till 3 am and is a must visit for souvenirs and a feel of mini-India.
Man, I’m done with Goa but I’m glad at the culmination of events and something that I could look back on with my family as a truly blissful experience.

Jack of all trades, Master of Sum

This edition of my musings is dedicated to my father and my wish if only I could be ten per cent of the man that he is given his qualities since he is almost seventy and tonight was like no other. My shift timings are 6:30 pm to 3:30 am IST which basically means I stay up at night more often than not but dad being the man he is, did not sleep the entire night which was after as far back as I can remember to celebrate Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Birthday which falls on 11/24/2018 this year and the whole Sikh community celebrates it as one. Over to you dad.

Prabhat Pheri

Guru Nanak was born on Kartik Poornima falling in Oct-Nov 1469. Guru Nanak’s father was Mehta Kalu and Mother Mata Tripta and his elder sister were Bibi Nanki. Right from his birth, he behaved unusual, not like an ordinary human and created his presence differently both amongst Hindus and Muslims. As time went by, he got married and had two sons,  Sri Chand Ji and Lakshmi Chand Ji besides, he also served as an employee of Sultanpur Lodi

Once enlightened, he remained underwater for three days. He devoted his entire life for the upliftment of the society by making it casteless and removed the myth and superstitions from the day -to -day life. Bibi Nanki was the first lady who could see the superpower in her younger brother and became the first to accept him as a direct messenger of God/ Nirankar.

He left his family on four occasions known as Udasis and travelled more than 30,000 km as far as Ceylon, Burma, Russia, North-East, Bihar, Orissa, Karnataka, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iran so on and so forth. His philosophy and dharma have the following three principles:
1. Kirt Karna (One should work)
2. Wund Chhakna (Distribute among others, what one earns)
3. Naam Lena (Remember God by creating a clear mind)

Some of his beliefs and sayings are as follows:

Ek Onkar ie there is only one god for the entire universe having no colour, no shape, doesn’t take birth or die but the entire world works under his command

Manas ki jaat sabhe, ek hi pehchaan bo(there is no difference in the human beings such as a caste which is a creation by man when one is born) Therefore, the entire human race is a casteless society.

Nanak naam chad di kalan, tere bhaanein sarbat da bhalla which means that one should always pray for the well being of all which implies self also but others come first

Based on the principles of Guru Nanak, the concept of langar ie Community Kitchen to serve and feed humans is a prime principle adopted and accepted by all his followers. Therefore, in every Gurudwara, there is a provision for langar for all those who visit, irrespective of his caste, colour, creed and financial status. It is also accepted by his devotees to do kar seva. Thus, maintenance of Gurudwara, preparation of langar, distribution etc is being done by one and all. It is also a system adopted by his disciples to spread his message of peace, love, to gather in the morning 10-15 days before his birth and recite his words in kirtan and move in the localities so that everyone is reminded of the principle of Guru Nanak and the society remains balanced, cheerful and happy. Where their mun (heart) remains on the ground and Mut (wisdom) remains high.

This creates a situation of tolerance, acceptance of views of others so that society does not get disturbed with trivial or serious matters.

Thanks, Dad. So, on the auspicious occasion of Guru Nanak’s birthday, on the 19th of November, there was Prabhat Pheri which is a congregation to spread the teachings and recite hymns in honour of Baba Nanak which was hosted in our house on behalf of my father. The subsequent photos will try and depict the story how it unfolded on the anointed time.

Dad, Prabhat Pheri, Coriander or Dhania
Coriander or Dhania Cutting

Step 1: Dad started burning the midnight oil by cutting the Coriander or Dhania as a first step in the preparation of the chickpeas or safed chholey.

The Chickpeas, Safed Chholey, Utensils, Prabhat Pheri, Food for the congregation
Pots and Pans

Step 2: The pressure cooker from the halwai or sweetshop was defective and dad had to prepare for the contingencies.

Kitchen, Pressure cooker, Pressure Cooker as a bucket
The Pressure Cooker

Step 3: The sheer enormity of the vessel dwarfed any other concerns that I had and it was 1 am and the congregation was expected at 6 so the time was running by.

Whistle podu, cooking the entire night
Segregation of the Chickpeas

Step 4: The air was leaking from the main pressure cooker and the chickpeas had to be segregated into smaller ones that we had for our household chores.

Pressure Cooked Chickpeas
Pressure cooked Chickpeas

Step 5: The pressure cooked chickpeas were separated and the masala or curry was being made in the meantime

Utensils, curry being prepared
Preparation of the masala or curry
Step 6: Preparation of the masala or Curry
Chickpeas Curry
The mixture of Masala & Chickpeas

Step 7: The amalgamation of the curry masala and the pressure cooked chickpeas which were a finale as far as the dish was concerned.

Curry Masala
Curry Masala

Step 8: Dad emptied the curry masala to mix it with the chickpeas and the portion was fit to feed at least 50 people or enough for the congregation.

Sheer size, chickpeas for 50 people
Ready to roll

Step 9: Top view of the chickpeas.

Final touch
Tasty

Step 10: Final touch to the chickpeas being given by dad before ready to serve.

Kulche(bread), kachori, paper plates, glasses, shukker parre
Food for thought

The chairs were loaded with goodies for the expected crowd which consisted of paper plates, disposable glasses, a pack of laddoos, kachori, shukker parre, kulche(bread)

This is what 40 liters of milk looks like
Let there be milk

This is what 40 litres of milk looks like wherein each pack consisted of 12 litres in three separate trays plus four additional litres.

The vessel to boil the milk
The vessel

The vessel to boil the milk which weighed more than 45 kgs alone and took two persons to carry.

Ground Pistachios
Ground Pistachios

Ground Pistachios to enrich the milk.

Kadha Parshad, Gyani Ji
Kadha Parshad

Gyani Ji making the Kadha parshad in preparation of the expected devotees.

Pistachios and Cashew Nuts for the milk
Pistachios and Cashew Nuts for the milk
Bifurcation of the chickpeas
Bifurcation of the chickpeas

The chickpeas were separated into two separate containers for the devotees who would be assembling in the house on the first floor and others who would be getting together in the park in front of our house.

View from the top
View from the top

View from the balcony on the first floor and the preparations being set in the park in anticipation of the congregation which went by smoothly.

Guru Nanak before leaving the world entrusted the Guru Gaddi to Bhai Lehna Ji named by him as Guru Angad. The subsequent eight Gurus have the same thoughts/ philosophy till Guru Gobind Singh Sahib who in turn directed the Sikhs to have no other living Guru except Guru Granth Sahib which would remain the sole criteria for obtaining solace, happiness or solution to all their problems once they sit before the Guru Granth Sahib to obtain the answer. Therefore, Guru Granth Sahib is being respected as a living Guru having a citation from various noble souls(Sants) be it Muslim Fakirs, Baba Fakir, Kabir Ji, Ravidass Ji, Naam Dev Ji and many others.

Rush

Another sports story which was even more interesting given it was about Formula 1 in a bygone era of 1976 about the rivalry between Niki Lauda played by Daniel Bruhl and James Hunt played by Chris Hemsworth and their fight for the World Championship as Ferrari and Mclaren drivers respectively. Even though the movie was released in 2013, it assumes a lot of importance because the ownership of Formula 1 has shifted from Bernie Ecclestone to Liberty Media and today the Constructor’s Championship was decided as it went to Mercedes AMG Petronas while the Driver’s Championship went to Lewis Hamilton earlier. Couldn’t do without mentioning the goings on given that I am an avid sports buff.

Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Ron Howard, Niki Lauda, James Hunt, McLaren, Ferrari
Rush

The movie justifiably has a rating of 8.1 on IMDB and in no small measure by an able Director, Ron Howard. Niki Lauda can still be seen at the races till this day but in equal measure, it is about the rivalry that he shared with James Hunt and is often the case in sporting rivalries when the two protagonists are a study in contrast and the rest can be a facade.

Given the tumultuous times that McLaren nowadays find themselves in, the movie epitomizes the thrills and adrenaline rush associated with revving engines and gorgeous distractions, the movie is a celebration of why boys will be boys.

I, Tonya

Given the dearth of movies based on sports on Netflix/ Amazon Prime/ YouTube, this week was dedicated to sports stories in varied times which were critically acclaimed as well as worth watching. I, Tonya is a riveting tale shot smartly as a documentary about the life of Tonya Harding who was an ice skater for the US and also represented it in the Olympics. Margot Robbie embodies the personality and twisted circumstances of the character and makes it a riveting watch which also won a lot of plaudits.

Margot Robbie, Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan, Figure Skating, Biography, Comedy, Drama
I, Tonya

The film is all about the life and times of Tonya Harding, the figure skater, who undergoes a lot of twists and turns given the kind of company she has at a very young age and eventually what she makes of her life in capitalist America, no harm intended.

Since the movie is a tell-all account, it leaves little to the imagination and there is smart direction by Craig Gillespie to maximize the dark humour and the utter stupidity on the show as the years unfold. One of the more interesting dialogues in the film is by LaVona Harding played by Allison Janney who tells her daughter,” you f ck dumb, you don’t marry dumb” to an impressionable Tonya since she is in complete disagreement with her.

All in all, a movie well worth the effort and a must recommend given the complexity and hardships involved.

Outlaw King

One of the reasons for joining the Netflix bandwagon was because I wanted to be in the thick of things in terms of the content on the show which is both relevant not only for its release but also for its popularity as a worldwide audience. One of the more contemporary and compelling reasons to watch it is because a lot of the star cast is a repetition of the Game of Throne character actors and also for people more inclined to the geopolitical aspect wherein the Scotts are still wrangling with the British to cut the “umbilical cord” or Scottish independence which has been a war cry ever since the days of William Wallace, remember Braveheart and Mel Gibson?

Chris Pine, Robert The Bruce, William Wallace, Scottish independence, Prince Edward, Action, biography, drama
Outlaw King

The movie is about Robert the Bruce who declares himself the King of Scotts only to be proclaimed an offender of the British Empire and an Outlaw which begins a cat and mouse game of one-upmanship between the opposing forces and how the Scotts are able to outfox the English in a telling climax with The Battle of Loudoun in the end with Prince Edward running for cover.
The cinematography, direction, the action sequences are all top notch with an excellent performance by Chris Pine. Ever since HBO hit the jackpot with the Game of Thrones, not many instances by rivals have been worth a mention let alone compete. However, I can safely say that Outlaw King falls in the former category even though I haven’t and I won’t watch Game of Thrones, tongue firmly in cheek.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Another recent addition to my movie watching escapades which brings me to the review of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and one of the prime reasons why I wanted to watch it was because it made a lot of “noise” during the academy awards which always gets me interested. The movie has loads of dark humour coupled with noteworthy performances from the actors in question and also seeks to make a statement of the cliches/procedures of American society.

Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Chief Willoughby, comedy, crime, drama
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

The movie is about the inaction of the authorities after the murder of the daughter of Mildred played by Frances McDormand who puts up three billboards at the entrance of the town questioning the inaction and more importantly the town’s sheriff played by Woody Harrelson who is caught up in procedural matters and is at pains to come up with the justification. He then involves Dixon on the case who is a typical Mamma’s boy with a penchant for violence and what eventually transpires in the movie.

Not your typical popcorn flick but a hard-hitting drama that tries to get to the bottom of the underlying psychology in the American space and does not make any bones about it. One time watch for sure.

Deadpool 2

One of the more recently released movies that I got to watch courtesy YouTube movies and my bucks were well spent or in other words, the movie was well worth it. Ryan Reynolds reprises his role as the protagonist Deadpool or Wade Wilson with his humour intact which is what got the movie going in the first place. It has a lot more chutzpah, razzmatazz and overall effect since it brings together an ensemble cast of Marvel Comic characters and is contrary to the notion that sequels seldom live up to their predecessors.

Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Marvel Comics, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Deadpool
Deadpool 2

The cast is well supported by accomplished actors considering in a superhero movie there isn’t much to do in a movie than look good with the CGI(Computer Generated Imagery) but a shout out goes to Josh Brolin who plays a future cyborg Cable who tries to stop a budding mutant FireFist played by Julian Denisson from creating mayhem, of course, with the help of Deadpool who assembles a ragtag team of players in order to achieve their objective.
One of the few movies that impressed me the first time primarily because of the superhero’s nonchalance and foul-mouthed commentary with humour and I wasn’t disappointed a second time around. 

Pain And Gain

This is a movie based on a true story which was released in 2013. However, the events in real life happened sometime in 1994-95 which is currently a part of the Netflix bouquet and something I enjoyed as a combination of star power and the monumental stupidity with which it actually happened as depicted in the movie. The film has the tagline, “Their American Dream is bigger than yours”

Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, Michael Bay, Comedy, Action, Crime
Pain And Gain

It is a brave foray by the Director Michael Bay in the comedy genre but the movie is more about the gravity of the crimes committed by a bunch of novices who thought they were answerable to none. Daniel Lugo(Mark Wahlberg), Paul Doyle(Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal(Anthony Mackie) are gym buddies who hatch a kidnapping of a millionaire in Miami, Florida and how it puts in motion a chain of events where the kidnapping goes horribly wrong and everything goes for a toss.

The lead actors give credence to the movie with their realistic acting and I have no hesitation in stating that the movie is worth it only because of the two “protagonists” One time watch at least.