Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Harry potter

Everyone has written about Harry potter. What new are you going to write about him?

I watched the 6th Harry potter movie (Half blood prince) last week and then felt the maddening urge to read the 7th book again. And thus yesterday i started to read the 7th book and finished it before i went to sleep (3 am). Harry potter 6th is probably the best of all the harry potter movies so far. As the characters have grown up, even the movie directors have come of age. It still lacks some key things such as no role of Voldermort (if you have such fine actor playing him, use it), half blood prince logic is not explained properly etc. But even with its flaws, it still a good movie to watch.

The seventh book(deathly hallows). What makes Harry potter 7 interesting is that it meets the readers expectations in terms of how the series should end. A lot of criticisms against 7 has been that the writing is very ordinary, there is no prose etc. My answer is so what? The best part to me about 7th is that it combines all the great things discussed in the first 6 books. It is like the last episode of Seinfeld where they call all the interesting characters of all seasons. In 7, we get the gringotts bank, the wand maker, the place where he was born, the chamber of secrets, the roof of requirements, the pub in hogsmeade, kreacher, dobby etc. Everyone gets a part to play in the final conclusion and it is done in a way that fits everything. To me Harry potter is like a puzzle where pieces come together at the end. It is very difficult to meet the expectations of so many fans and the beauty of hp7 it does so and in a way that is not only fitting but a perfect one.

One of the constant questions that are asked is Which one is better? Harry potter series or Lord of the rings? In terms of movies, there is no doubt, ofcourse it is the LOTR trilogy. In terms of books, it is a very hard question. But if i had to choose i will give my vote to LOTR. LOTR is more of a story and less of a puzzle. Harry potter is a great book to read the first time, it is a puzzle having twists and turns etc but once you know the secrets, there is little excitement to read it again. In contrast, in LOTR even if you know what is going to happen, the beauty lies in the way it happens. The writing is very nicely done. Plus LOTR talks more about the good and evil, burden, sacrifice, greed etc. It plays with these emotions very well. Its characters are better defined and have more depth in them. In harry potter, it is almost black and white either you are good or bad. But in LOTR, this is not the case. Elves and dwarfs do not like each other, Aarweh's dilemma etc.

But both are the best fantasy novels that i have read so far.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sweet at heart!

Sweet at heart!

While biking back from my work,
I see a woman everyday,
under the shades of a tree
next to her SUV
with radio turned at a loud volume
she dances, yes! she dances.

Alone she dances,
with no care for the world,
making a complete fool of herself
without any doubt in her mind,
sheer joy and carpe diem.

People like me,
stop, hear, watch,
they react
surprised,happy, sad
and then go away.
No one dares to give her any company.

I dont know if it makes any difference
to the picture in your mind
The music she hears is jazz.
And also her color is black.

Eleanor Rigby

Its been a long time since i posted a song. But this does not means that i am not listening to songs anymore. Infact, i have been trying out Pandora - the internet radio station that plays similar songs. And it is very good indeed. Here is my profile page - http://www.pandora.com/people/arvindbatra (in case you are interested)

So somehow Eleanor rigby came on Pandora and i was in enough attentive mood to give my proper attention to it. Or i think that the song was powerful enough to distract me from whatever i was doing and took me in.

It is a Beatles song - one of their first and it is truely a pshychedelic song. The lyrics are quite good. But the best thing is the the string music and how it pumps up this otherwise sad song. Amazing! Clearly Beatles didnt play the stringed instrument but still whoever came up with the music - my big thanks to you!

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from ?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong ?

Father mckenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near.
Look at him working. darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Eleanor rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father mckenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Thursday, July 16, 2009


The standard class 12 physics problem - You have a wheel and a box on top of it. You apply some force on the wheel. What happens to the box? It topples following an angular path.

I experienced the topple effect on Sunday. I was sitting on two wheels instead of one, (my bike) and instead of applying force to move forward, force was applied in reverse direction aka speedbreaker. Suddenly my head which an instant back was about 5 feet above the ground was resting on the ground. In lay man terms, this whole thing is called as falling down from bike. No major injuries - only small bruises at elbows.

There was a time when everyday there wold be bruises on my elbows and knees. Falling down everyday was like a scheduled activity on my calendar. And here i am, watching blood coming out and seeing how quickly clotting takes place.

I had always wondered what happens when people are in an accident. In movies, to give special effect, they slow down the scene and give reactions from different angles. It looks great there. I wonder if people also feel the same way - Do senses operate at higher precision levels when you are in an accident?

The answer in my case is big no. I had no idea what happened in those milli seconds when the vertical distance of 5 feet was covered. I was top one instant and on the floor in the next one.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Movie reviews

Reviews/recommendations -

1. Firaaq - Directed by Nandita Das, starring Naseer bhai, Paresh Rawal, Deepti Naval, Sanjay Suri. It is a movie set in Gujrat, one week after Godhra and how it has affected different lives. With such a cast, the acting bar is very high and direction is also quite good. Since the subject itself is too hard to take on, i think this movie does a great job in diving into the lives of normal people, but at the same time it is not very heavy to watch too.

2. Taking of Pelhalm one two three - The old one. This 70s movie shows how to make a suspense drama without the ludicrous action sequences present in today's movies. The tension thread in movie is taut throughout with 90 mins getting over in a second.

3. Spaceballs - A hilarious comedy movie. Must watch with friends, watching alone will spoil the effect.

4. Public enemies - So-so. But johnny depp is excellent.

Giving back

My new flatmate has got an amazing collection of movies. Over the last 2 weeks, i have seen 3 other people who like to buy and collect movies. Movies are displayed like we do books. Needless to say, movies are almost equivalent to books. So, then i felt ashamed that i do not have any movies in my collection because so far i have been living on internet. I have decided to build my own collection of proper movies from now on. This weekend, i thought i should start my collection. The first question is - Out of the finite gazillion movies that i have seen which one i like the most to order it the first. This was a very hard question than i thought. So hard that at some point i decided to drop the whole idea of making a collection.

But one should always go back to roots when doubts of this magnitude arises. So, i ordered the Decalogue by Krystof Kieslowsky. Why? THree Colors - Blue was the first Kieslowsky movie that i saw and it was also one of the first international movies for me. For some abstract mystical reason, i found that movie to be very beautiful, very different. I think i can say that the passion for watching good movies came on me only after watching Blue. It is still one of my fav movies. So, returning to roots meant buying Kieslowsky movie. I should have bought the three colors trilogy but i have already seen them. So i started with Decalogue. It will not be a long time before i get to Dekalogue.

Next was to buy some Indian movies. So i ordered Mira Nair's Monsoon wedding, Namesake and Salaam Bombay. For some reason, i find myself going back to Namesake more and more these days. The soundtrack could be that reason, or so could be Kal Penn or Irfan Khan. "The greatest journeys are the ones that bring you home" - one of the best taglines i have ever seen. Irfan saying this line - "Do as you want" or when he says - "You remind of everything that followed." The funny/artful picturization of - "yeh mera deewanapan hai". Somehow this movie is growing on me. I think i know the reason. I am afraid of it.
Its been a long time. It is very difficult to pick up something when your momentum breaks. Still, here i am, trying to overcome my writers block.

Living here in US of A, there are certain things that i would love to see back in India. There is a list of many things but some of them are impossible. Here is what i think is feasible and somebody, somebody should just do it.

1. Faster internet connection and that too cheap. Here, a 6mbps line costs about 50$ and is good enough for each house. Even if you can provide this service for 2500Rs (50$), it is worth it. The awareness level changes exponentially just with internet. And a recent study of search engines show that the faster the search is, the more is its usage.

2. An equivalent of Jon Stewart. aka media police. The standards of Indian news channels is so low that it is very difficult to watch them. The rat race is both the cause and effect. I need someone to show them the mirror on bad job they are doing. Jon Stewart in his true liberal, fearless attitude exposes these 24 hr, garbage producing shows and nails them to the wall.

3. Better university websites. Some univs like JNU, IITD have done it but there is still a lot to be done. One part is spreading lectures which is not that difficult. The other part is to automate (make it online) the admission process, upload all documents online, etc etc. Like the way banking is done.

4. The whole culture of enjoying the weekend. I do not remember doing anything great in weekends there. But here, every weekend is something to look forward to. Either to relax or to go and see some place, or to just read a book sipping coffee.

Someone will read this and think - thats all he wants! and then laugh on me. My response would be - yes, thats all i want. Rest, is already done :)

Book Review : In Custody by Anita Desai

As part of my goal to read 20 Indian books this year, I was exploring good listicles on Indian books. Most of them had similar items but th...