Movies Reviews-Releasing 28 June 2013, Friday–Redemption, The Heat & White House Down

Review of 3 Movies being released in the US and the rest of the world:–

1 Redemption—

2 The Heat––sandra-bullock-and-melissa-mccarthy-118729355.html

3 White House Down—

If you love action go for number 1, if you love comedy a la Sandra Bullock go for number 2 and if you love extreme action disaster movies go for number 3

Summer Solstice Thought

A rare two rupee note.
A rare two rupee note. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Summer Solstice thinking: when I was a toddler my grandmother would always call Christmas a ‘Badaa Din.’ I thought then that she meant Long Day or ‘Big Day.’ I always thought it described the length of the day but today it dawned upon me she meant a big day for the former white rulers of India. She as a young girl had seen the days of Empire under Queen Victoria,  or the Mallka (Empress). She had lived through an era ruled by King George V and King George VI. She was definitely aware of Queen Elizabeth.

I also used to wonder ‘how this day can be long when it gets dark so early on the 25th of December?’ Thus on June 21 of 2013 I have figured out what a simple phrase meant ‘Bade din kee chhootian’ was nothing more than Christmas Holidays and not as I confusedly thought ‘holidays of the long days.’

When Indians Die it is So Boring

When Indians die it is so boring

It is 7 am in India. Twenty four hours have passed since Indian television started showing videos of devastation in Uttarakhand. At least a hundred people have died in the floods, the collapsing houses and stranded traffic jams.

There is no mention of it on the BBC ( I checked again they are mentioning it now on the website) or CNN(Still no mention of it on CNN one hour later). The protests in Brazil; US talks with the Taliban; the G8 meeting in Ireland; Hong Kong switching of its lights after 11 pm; the NRA T-shirt debate; boy missing in Mexico and Snowden. It goes on and on. There is no mention of the human toll in what is just the beginning of the monsoons in India.

India is a forgotten state. It is ignored because it has always people dying. Indian lives have no value for the rest of the world.

It is truly amazing. Is there not one Indian keeping an eye on the events in India in these news organizations. Thousands of pilgrims are stuck near the temple of Kedarnath. This is not worth reporting? If this is not navel watching television, what is?

Mail a Fide

Two Hour Letter Posting


If you are homesick and thinking of coming back to India, think again. Arret! Stop! Achtung!Parada!

 My printer’s ink cartridge was stolen (yes of course this can happen too when you are here) by some good for nothing person. I had to send a letter urgently. It was a Saturday. Post offices close by noon on a Saturday.

Why did I need to send a hard copy? It was a government department and their email address was defunct. Reason? They cannot handle so many emails. They would also get trapped because then they would not be able to deny having received the letter.

I typed out my letter and mailed it to my email address.  Now I had to go to a cyber café and open my mail and print the retrieved letter. Unfortunately there is only one cyber café in our locality. The owner of the shop depends on his helper to open the shop. The gentleman decided on that day to come in late.

I made two trips to the market. I lost one hour in that. Finally when the cyber café was open the two computers were already occupied by some internet surfers. I waited twenty minutes to access and print my mail. While the letter was being printed there was a power failure. I looked at the café helper. ‘Don’t worry back up will kick in.’ I sat there not worrying but worrying despite his smooth command. Finally, of course I had not brought an envelope, my fault. The stationer seeing a morning prey refused to sell a single envelope. I had to buy a packet of twenty envelopes which I am certain will last me a life time.

I got into my car. Someone had parked behind me. It is a paid parking. The attendant searched for the owner and found him eating samosas in a nearby shop. Finally I could get out. Lo and behold a traffic jam. Two gentlemen of whereIknow not were disputing their rights of entry and exit. I decided to take the long way around and reached the tiny post office which I am sure only the neighbours and I know about. There are no signposts anywhere marking its existence. It is a secret post office.

I began writing the address on the envelope at the Speed Post counter. ‘Hurry up’ said the lady, ‘I am closing in two minutes!’ I scrawled quickly.

‘Seventeen rupees’ she said peremptorily. I gave two tens.

‘I don’t have change.’

I dug through my wallet and came up with the exact amount. Time of mailing 11:59. Why Speed Post? It has a tracking number and you can check when the letter was delivered to the government department so that they will not be able to deny it.

Sadly, they did deny it. They told me to sue them, glared at me and sipped at their sweet tea.

You are welcome ladies and gentlemen to a country where you are helpless against red tape. You are just a human body existing in a limbo land of despair and apathy. You have rights but you have to fight for them every time you step out of the house. Welcome to India. The system works only for bureaucrats, civil servants and politicians.

Book Review ‘The Owl Knows’ by Roy Owenby

Book review of The Owl Knows
This is a modern western on the Eastern shore.
Sometimes while reading about an unknown place I always feel a map would be wonderful in understanding the progress of a novel. This should not be a tough proposition with interactive maps available on many travel sites. It would be a good idea to show a map and the movement of the cast in this novel.
The hero Johny saving the girl in a sports car stuck on a tree limb is a bit far fetched with the hickory logs bridge. Why did he not use the rope and pull her up instead of wasting time in building an unbelievable bridge?
Otherwise the book is fast paced and ideal material for a teleplay. With some good editing it can become even better. A map will make the reader’s job easier which will make it possible to orient oneself around Franklin and to under stand the Creeks Matlock and Compass and their relationship to other things like Bob Allison Camp ground.
The author I am sure is a young person who wants to fill in all the idealistic tales he can dream of. He also has certainly a love of wild life and a penchant for its poetic description.
Roy Owen throws a large number of characters on the canvas of his novel and then brings them admirably into a solved jigsaw puzzle conclusion. Racy stuff. Great for a long boring flight. The book gripped me after page 150 like a giant condor and took me on a thrilling ride on the Appalachian Trail.
This is perhaps a first salvo in a great career of future writing. I would have been happier if the author had given us more details of each character with some mannerisms. The novel then would have truly become alive.
Overall a great reading experience and a classic thrill a minute novel.

Lingua Franca

Lingua Franca

Once I imagined I would return to Toronto, a bilingual citizen. I took French lessons at the Alliance Francaise in Chandigarh. I did three levels of the language lessons but soon was overwhelmed by the suspicion of young women who thought I was a dirty old codger there to enjoy their delightful company. Alas my dreams of going back to Canada are on ice. I do keep reading French lessons. I read and understand but do not speak because my French accent is soaked in Punjabi. I have tried it on tourists, they’ve fallen on their knees and begged for mercy.

Punjabi is a guttural language of the German kind.  It is as manly as you can get.  You can say like was it Charles V? Holy Roman Emperor that ‘I use German to talk to my horses.’ I have no horses to talk to but I do throw an occasional phrase at the walls. My wife told me it sounds like someone breaking bricks with a hammer.

My daughter was coming from Toronto and I told her to get some French book so I could improve my vocabulary. I meant something simple. She brought Angels and Demons in French. I then had to buy the original English version. The words did not seem to match. I paid a visit again to Alliance Francaise and there I found Asterix comics in French. I read about the Gauls in French now and am forever in fear of having my comics stolen. I have the French words translated in the margins in my horrible scribble.

Right now the comics are lost in transit after we shifted to a new house. I am now reading Angels and Demons in English so that later I will be able to read the French version with some clarity.  I am becoming an expert thus on CERN, Rome and The Vatican. If there are any people struggling in DLF Phase I please contact me and we will suffer each other’s French with some sympathy.

The young girls suspicious of my motives in the French classes always used to ask ‘uncle why are you learning French?’(One more thing no one calls you uncle or aunty in Canada, you are a young man even at eighty) I told them the language would improve my job chances back in Canada. They did not believe me. I look too Punjabi, the Canadian polish has worn off after traipsing the dusty streets of Gurgaon and Panchkula. Someday I shall be back in Toronto with my perfect French and floor my erstwhile compatriots. Talking about Canadian polish the first time I went to Canada I had my hair shortened to the extreme? I had heard a haircut was very expensive in Maple land.

Big mistake, I began to look like someone from an Interpol ‘WANTED’ notice . I remember the airline crew treated me pretty badly because of that and add to this the fact of my Punjabi English there was a lot of confusion with the British air hostesses. So that when I asked for water the air hostess brought me vodka. It did not help the situation though the shot of alcohol did boost up my morale.

My English was not understood by the natives of Mississauga either. A simple word pronounced by me as Tow yo ta had to be corrected by my landlady to Toy –o- ta. I am forever in dread of the word Toyota since then. Eventually my Tow-ron-tow became the native trrawnto.  Exeunt Punjabi English and enter rolling r’s. I even learned to say ‘eh?’ Remarkably eh is eh in French too.

French and Punjabi do not mix. They are like oil and water. Toronto will be like a refinery for me. I might even shift to Quebec for some time. It will take out the sting of Punjabi from my French or at least my English.  Oh, Canada!

Wolf Hall–Hilary Mantel

Portrait of Thomas Cromwell. New York, Frick C...
Portrait of Thomas Cromwell. New York, Frick Collection. Oak panel, 76 x 61 cm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Henry VIII of England, who devised the Statute...
Henry VIII of England, who devised the Statute as a way of alleviating his financial problems. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

I loved the book. I have had a strange fascination for Henry VIII. Perhaps it was the Herman’s Hermits song fifty years ago, ‘I’m Henry VIII, I am,’ or the movie ‘Anne of the Thousand Days,’ with Richard Burton as the king. Perhaps it is the tit-bit that a cannon ball used in Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII burned down to ashes the famous Globe Theatre. Most probably it was an interest in the Tudors as a whole in English history.

The book is really a biography of Thomas Cromwell. It is a fictional biography filled with exciting details about the blood steeped throbbing heart of the butcher’s son who rose to be the King’s right hand man.

The book brings to life the family drama of Henry VIII, his first wife Catherine of Aragon and his second in Anne Boleyn. Dark and poignant. Thomas More and Cardinal Wolsey come alive through a new verbal lens handled superbly by Ms Mantel. The book is a magic portal into the early sixteenth century. It is a time machine in the guise of a book. A must read for historical fiction lovers. Hilary Mantel is a deserving winner of the Booker Prize twice over.