Brighthelmstone chronicles

    Preface

It is pretty damp to see how a pattern oriented work life changes the way you look, prioritize and do things
work

For instance, my blogging which has over the years been a pride of mine (not that I got an award or monetary reward for the content in it, but speaking more from a posterity/ cherishing memories’ and thoughts’ point of view) Not that I had no stuff to write oF. I did. But just that I postponed the documenting (notice how I instinctively use “documenting” and not “writing” … work-lingo by-product! Phew ! ) Or alternatively, just thought of it as a pastime that is nice to have, but can be back-seated in the shadow of better things to do! (Not that I have really done anything better though .. )

Anyway sorry for digressing like an aimless dilettante. The idea here is to talk about my Business trip to Brighton in the United Kingdom (UK)

Pier

    Brighthelmstone

If the wonderful ‘reader’ (this can be anyone or just me in the distant future … hmm I am thinking Donnie Darko ish stuff now! Before I digress again, I will park that thought and get back to Brighton) put in so much dedicated effort :P to actually look it up, you would know that the ancient name of this touristic city is “Brighthelmstone” which I guess, justifies the title, haha ! I just find this name more conducive to sometimes-megalomanics like myself ! (Dont blame me for this! Grew up on RajniKanth )

    I have been here for quite some time

I have been here before in September and October but owing to the same reason as mentioned in the Preface above, I didn’t muster enough enthusiasm to document this (Oh no! Not “Document” again ) . Also, owing to the whole micro-blogging revolution, my updates have been going very well with Twitter and Facebook, but just not with the self-fulfilling openness of writing in your own blog

    Weather

It can get cold here.The Southern English climate is, as anyone might have already guessed, unpredictable. When it rains during a climatic temperature of 3 degree Celcius , it feels like “icicles shot at your face with a machine gun” (Ok! This catchphrase is now officially my most often-used metaphor this month!)

Ice_rain<

I was a person who kept complaining about the heat in India and was not used to temperatures less than 16 degree Celcius (Hyderabadi winter! Yes! Thats all it goes down to) Living here for a brief period has given me a life-long enlightening feeling about seeing the Sun. So when there is Sun here this time of the year, the feeling is of relief, pure and pristine. But of course it does not last long and folks go back to weather-induced-depressive-moods again.

sun and cold

But then of course, humankind has always found means to fight negative mindsets. The highly tentaive depressive mood is perhaps what drives people here to “get a life” rather than give in to “hibernating under your blankets and eating lots of cheese” . People make it a point to socialize more and also do more sport. Party and Get exercise! Now thats what I am talking about … (now by exercise, I dont mean “go all Arnold”, even walking on a Sunday instead of taking a taxi is exercise by my book)

    London

Now talking of weather reminds me of one thing …

    my ordeal on November 10th

! I wanted to go catch the Manchester-Arsenal match ( Dont be impressed! I didnt get tickets, plan was to see it with a friend of mine in a sports bar near London Bridge ) But then North-bound trains from Brighton to London were down due to bad weather . Boy ! Was I peeved …

London

Anyway, I have been to London in October though. Thanks to these two (Akshay and Manasi) I had a fantastic time. God bless them!

AkMa

Hey did I say God ! Its a coincidence ( would not like calling it Providence ) that I saw the fantastic movie “Rush” in England (considering its got a British central character … played by Chris Hemsworth ..yeah! Thor goes F1-driving!)

    The book

Talking of providence reminds me of this book

book

In times like these ( read, all outdoor plans failing due to bad weather …yes! the November 10th ordeal again ! ) , I have been reading this book. The book obviously champions atheism . As tempted to speak of it as I am now, I will save this for another day. Hmm.. do I hear the faithful taking out their chain-saws to judge that post? :) Yes yes ! The time will come …

    Food

Now lets talk of food ..not unlike the rest of England, there is the famous “fish and chips” which I somehow am not a big fan of

fish&chips

I did try it once but was not particularly thrilled about it. Its just fried fish and a bad version of quickly fried potato. Perhaps its notoriety comes from the fact that it is warm fried food that can be instantly made. A sort of quick-fix and filling solution to a hungry stomach in cold English weather ..hmm … fair enough !

Talking of food takes me back to the November 10th ordeal. I had to compensate myself for the frustration of missing hanging out with pals because of no trains due to rains. I got myself a mammoth treat to please myself. Well ! At least one good thing is that you can get everything in a TESCO store from canned alcohol to quick-fix-takeaway food (yes even hot food) By the way, unless you do some sort of responsible recreational calorie burning, do not try this level of junk-snacking at home :P

food<

(to be continued … )

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Skyfall: the review

Bond is back for the 50th time on celluloid.

The plot

The plot is already out due to the non-uniform releasing of the movie across the world… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skyfall

Bond is  human

Daniel Craig’s James Bond  shows transitions to “being  human”   (Salman Khan would be grinning with pride at this!) . All the way from the death of the woman he loves  in Casino Royale (2006)  to the death of Judi Dench’s in in the current one, Skyfall.   

Not to mention a tad more escapism of Bond, depicting him to be taking a vacation after being presumed dead and trying to live life like a normal person (for a while of course, before he decides to start saving asses,err .. I mean, arses !)

There are further teeny weeny anecdotes like infinitesimally subtle humour, sometimes even at Bond’s expense.

One more personal touch is the climax where the final battle happens in Scotland  at Bond’s family estate called Skyfall  ! There ..the title has been explicitly justified …

The title

No! Pardon the author’s skyfalling attempts at comedy. The whole title the author guesses, is based on the theme of agents going rouge! So the ‘skyfall’ here is referring to the realistic depiction of traumatized agents getting back at their organization (in this case, MI6)

Current bond vs the rest

Skyfall is a  more realistic depiction of the trials and tribulations of her majesty’s secret service,  as compared to the more super-hero like James Bond portrayed by Pierce Brosnan who keeps saving the planet from incredibly “out of the world” schemes! (That said doesn’t take away anything from Brosnan’s  Bond who , in spite of digressing away from the original characterization of Ian Fleming‘s spy, is still perhaps the most popular Bond   and the most stylish bond )

In a private screening of the movie, Roger Moore (who was also Bond) said that the best Bond was Sean Connery, but Skyfall might change that. Check out the interview here

But yes! It needs to be said that bringing the whole James Bond franchise to the Skyfall type of story telling does make it shift away from the recently seen Bond-ness . But it also makes it like any other  “non-JamesBond spy movie” :(

But despite that, perhaps, the brand-power of James Bond (the character, not Daniel Craig) will end up scoring above other standalone spy movies! Hmm …

Bardem: romantic to psychotic

The villain is Mr.Silver , former agent turned madman,  who is back to wreck havoc on MI-6 agents and kill the MI6 boss M (Judi Dench), who he believes betrayed him. Fabulously played by Javier Bardem, with his metro-sexual  portrayal of the bad guy.

For many of you who might not know, Bardem is a popular Spanish hero who is married to the awesome Penelope Cruz. He often gets to romance different hot ladies on screen (as seen in Vicky Cristina Barcelona)  . Anyway took a while for me to finally realize it was him in Skyfall , what with all the blonde wig and effeminate crazy-man acting !

Changing the boss

Judi Dench the original M looks old, probably is retiring from movies. The  whole I am the madame I am the boss  aura about her made legendary in Goldeneye, Tomorrow never dies, etc seemed to have faded a bit.

Anyway, it gives a Ralph Fiennes fan immense delight when the latter  becomes the new M at the end of Skyfall ! Honestly, the director Sam Mendes keeping his role to a minimum, 3 scenes and a few dialogues to be precise, is a good thing. Why ? Because , there are people in this world who believe RF can steal the thunder even from Daniel Craig if the former gets too much airtime ;)

The Bond girl

Berenice Marlohe is the Bond girl who is perhaps just there to keep the whole casanova  image of bond alive.Beyond that, she had a role which is useless compared to the previous Bond girls (they were somehow part of a story, this current bond girl’s character is relatively not!)

But well ..on second thoughts, maybe not! When the villain Mr.Silver (Bardem) kills her, there is no evidence of sorrow on Bond’s face (considering he has had a night full of romance in a boat with her the previous night before she is shot). From this little observation, we can certainly say there is an attempt to depict Bond as becoming more and more thick skinned  !

—-

All in all , its a good movie.

Some might even predict that this is the Bond movie that is capable of winning major awards for acting. Nope..unless filming standards fall globally, not too sure about that prediction!

But nonetheless, definitely a good entertainer of a movie.

Theory of Indian RELATIVE-ity : #1

Disclaimer: Hypotheses in the following post have neither been verified nor quantified.

#Naukri Axiom MMXII-X: “The Theory of Indian RELATIVE-ity  “

Boy : Uncle ji ! I got job in Hyderabad/ Bangalore
Boy’s uncle : Abey useless fellow ! Money u spent on IT course vaapas kitne saal baad milega …

(fast forward x yrs)
Boy: Uncle ji ! I got job in Calcutta
Uncle: Abey useless fellow ! Communist banjayega tho khaane keliye sirf laal janda bachega

(fast forward x more yrs)
Boy : Uncle ji ! I got job in Mumbai
Uncle: Abey useless fellow ! Insurance agent bangaya kya ? Lekin tera apna insurance premium bhar paayega ?

x-x

(fast forward some more years) Boy : Uncle ji! Getting married

Uncle : Abey useless fellow! Teri to …

Boy: Wait! Girl’s dad is rich ,,,

Uncle: Waah mere bhaanje ! Mujhe hamesha pata tha tu sabse useful hain ! Dahej kitna mila ?

PIC OF THE DAY

Of Dhak and Tikona

Confounding my lethargy in writing a more real time update on my recent  treks! Yet, doing little about it other than finally sitting down to write in the face of pre New Year boredom…

Dhak Bahiri

It is an amusing name and this site has a formidable reputation for its difficulty level among the Western Ghats.  JPat  and Kansal seemingly had already been to this place before. So we had no qualms regarding the operational delay of finding trails

Anyway, this one too was in the Karjat area in the Raigad district. Enroute to reaching there, we sped on Landy‘s Micra (all treks these days of ours are preceded by a gloriously scenic  drive along the Mumbai Pune express way) Seemed like the guys in the car had a weird fetish for hats

Following the drive which was (as usual) laced with ‘Pitbull’ music and Landy’s dance-driving, we hit upon some rough roads along the Sahyadri. Owing to not knowing where exactly the Dhak hills were , we ended up going in circles around the Sandshi village area over ridiculously crooked roads (if at all we care to tag them as  ‘roads‘) . Took some roller coaster- like car riding and a verbal exodus of Landy’s road-cribs before we reached the hill’s foot

Surprisingly women are not allowed on this trail. Might sound sexist, but it is probably because of hygiene, safety and security issues

We found little refreshments at the village at the bottom   so we had nothing to stock our bag. As a result of which some of us gladly ate apple peels left behind by some previous trekkers :|

There were moments where everyone except moi  were sitting on the edge of a steep fall.  I was quite scared (being a sucker for height phobia) that they might fall off and that I would be framed for culpable homicide *wondering*

Anyway we did find the good fortune to see the peak amidst mystique-building mist at the end of an ardous trek

x-x-x-x-x

Tikona fort

The more recent trek had been the one to Tikona fort. Not as long as Dhak Bahiri but a tad steeper and more rocky. Which presents a different kind of challenge to trekkers. Borders more on explosive energy than stamina

This time around, we had Dhaval, a colleague of Landy and Kansal …along with Rantu.The trek to tikona fort had to be preceded by a long drive and exploration routine along endless winds of kaccha i(bad quality)  roads. It took us  long to  find the hill. We actually stopped at tony dhaba  before we reached the trekking site. To stack up on the refreshments in order to avoid the man vs wild contingency we threw ourselves into the last time (ref: Dhak Bahiri and the apple peels)

But anyway the interregnum between the Tony dhaba landing  and the Tikona was filled with analysis and estimation of the  number of people required to finish ostrich meat in a single lunch session

The trek at Tikona was smooth till we reached the top to open our breezers and Parle-G biscuits. And then it happened. An army of monkeys decided to raid us in order to satisfy their carnal urge for Parle-Gs

We picked up our stuff and ran till we reached the Bajrang Bali point

All in all this trek was an all day event. Well interspersed was the drive back home with Landy’s speeding  and the wild wild west like scenery of the Tikona fort area

x-x-x-x-x

Ra.One Review : You burn Raavan so many times because you can’t kill him

First day first show of Ra.One . Thank my lucky temporal cosmologies that it released during the Diwali holidays

Purpose of such expensive movies

I now believe in a certain theory about a direct correlation between mega budgets and positioning a visual treat as the foremost USP of a film.

The most expensive Indian movie made to date (surpassing the budget of the previous topper, Enthiran) gives what such a mega-budgetory extravaganza promises …. a visual treat which in itself is a thing of awe for the average Indian movie-goer. ( Talk about the Indian success of Enthiran or Avatar, for example)

Anyway nothing wrong in it. How else do you justify , what else can you possibly contrive with super budgets other than have tons and tons of special & digital effects :)

One important conceptual point   ;)

G-One (the good digital guy played by SRK)  and Ra-One (the bad digital guy played by Arjun Rampal …yes! Ra.One is Rampal , not SRK as some gullible chaps might be strutting around thinking!!!) are digital manifestations made of optical fibres or electromagnetic rays coalesced into tangible manifestations of energy; whatever! I don’t really know ! But mind you ! They are not robots or any sort of mechanical beings made of metal…

The plot

Ra.One = Major plot from Terminator 2: Judgement day  + Hero powers & special effects of Iron Man + Villain’s creation-idea from Virtuosity

Bien sur!  The whole virtual man protecting the kid  idea is straight out of Terminator 2.

The HART concept about a high-technology core that resembles a human heart embedded  into both G-One and Ra-One,  is a direct lift-off from Iron Man. The whole optical fibre shit from where the AI filled gaming characters come out into the real world , is Virtuosity…

The special appearances and gimmicks

The kid’s dream featuring  Priyanka Chopra and Sanjay Dutt (as Khal Nayak) in the opening scene . And even the three imaginary Chinese ladies called Uski -Lee (lol ! ) , Teri-Lee (Rofl !)  and Sabki Lee (Lmao!)! All these are there only for the whole SRK-Ego-trip phenomenon which we are getting to see more and more these days  (For a similar observation, watch the Don2 trailer with the slogan, The king is back ;) )

Well ! Well ! But me being a fan and all , I wouldn’t really crib too much about it . The gimmickry in question was actually pretty visually breathtaking (SRK fighting Khal Nayak ((Sanjay Dutt)) with the latter rapid firing punch-dialogues that would make your laughter nerves itch )

Action -sequences

They were good very good. For an Indian movie, the effort and soul put into the action sequences and related effects is quite visible.Sometimes you might wonder what’s the point ?  But this is an action flick and thats how action flicks around the world are ….

The real Ra.one stands up

Arjun Rampal is amazing as the villainish Ra.One with his whole voice, his physique and sense of random alacrity. He was good ! Perhaps they should have given him a little more air-time rather than focus on G-one’s  goofy doofy humor  in the second half.

Chammak Challo

I don’t need to analyze this :) But I had to mention it ;)

My verdict

Here are some more reviews to look at… TOIimdbrediffDC

As for me, I like it ..not as much I would like a brilliant movie, but the way I would like a popcorn-fare!  Though the concepts have all been borrowed , re-hashed and jumbled up from Holly wood sci-fi movies, the execution of the movie shows the effort and the heart put into the movie. And for that , my appreciation! Anyway, whatever the SRK-bashers might be tempted to say, nothing is going to stop the movie from becoming a profitable venture (for all we know, it probably had already recovered its money from distribution sales even before the movie’s release)

The trilogy of Demetrios Askiates

The Mosaic of Shadows (Demetrios Askiates, #1)

The Mosaic of Shadows by Tom Harper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first story-laced book centred around the crusades. And boy! What a start :)

Light hotheadedness apart, the book gives what you would least expect when you start reading it, and that is a suspense thriller set against the backdrop of the first crusade. So the surprise element , the novelty of the concept and the racy tempo add to a gripping story-line. It is also curiosity-inductively new for one who knows less about the history of the crusades.

x-x-x-x-x

Knights of the Cross (Demetrios Askiates, #2)Knights of the Cross by Tom Harper

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is more political than its predecessor and the follower. The author tries to squeeze in a mystery sub plot into the main plot but somehow, the flow doesn’t come as naturally as it did in the first part (‘mosaic of shadows’)

Apart from that, its the most stand-alone book in the trilogy if one reads only this and avoids the other two.

x-x-x-x-x

Siege of HeavenSiege of Heaven by Tom Harper

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very high and rich depiction of the trilogy’s end. Lacks the mystery of the first part (mosaic of shadows) and the political aura of teh second (knights of the cross). But does make up for it by adapting a straight in-your-face narrative overtone of the final seige of teh holy city.

The theme involved is more military than political or suspense in the third part. Lags a bit towards the end but picks up pace again towards teh gory climax. An interesting read and one that adds variety to the diverse overtone of the trilogy.

View all my reviews