Friday, December 28, 2007

The Kite Runner - Book Review

After a long time, probably after I read 'The Life of Pi', here's another book which keeps you engaged till the end. Its a sad and tragic story of a boy from Afghanistan. Its a work of fiction by Khaled Hosseini and his first one, did this in 2003. He is from Afghanistan.

The book starts with a story of a boy in Afghanistan in a well-to-do family with access to English DVDs, good food, Mustang, a influential father and most importantly a divine friend. The book is named 'The Kite Runner'as this divine friend is a great kite runner. A kite runner is someone who runs and loots the cut kites. Amir, the rich kid and the Hasan the poor kid. The story moves easy and well in the beginning with details on Afghan life and mostly about Kabul before Russian war era.

It all funny and good-read till Khaled makes the first blow where Hasan gets badly treated by a group of rowdy boys. Wont tell you the actual thing but I was very shocked and I actually stopped reading this for a while. It seemed like a big effort to again pick the book and resume. From then on the story turns and more tragic thing start to happen. Amir gets into that guilt mode since he could not save Hasan. Then the war happens and they have to flee to Pakistan and then later to US. Amir has lost his mother very early and his Dad was never too excited about Amir for he was more of a creative kind with little or no interest in sports or more manly occupations.

The story then moves leaps n bounds with Amir finally moving to US, finishing his school there, finding a girl, comes back to Pakistan to meet an old friend of his Abba. Its a not a thick tome but Khaled has been able to add so much that you keep engaged and connected. Infact in last 100 pages, there are many new twists and discoveries. Its not only a story of a boy by now and rather takes you to society and a country. In last few episodes so much happen that you start to get nauseating at times.

The finish line has not been decorated too much, it sorts of end on a subtle note. Nothing great happens in the end, probably a realistic end to a heroic story. If you dont like reading tragedies then avoid but if you are interested in reading human relations, those secret aspects of ourselves, the innates then do read.

There is movie on the book and is getting released shortly so read the book first before watching the movie.

Overall Rating - 4/5

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fluid Lounge Bar - Mosaic Noida

There used to be this old hotel called 'Shipra' just opposite sunehri market or Atta as more popularly known. In its place has come up a new one called Mosaic and withit comes a new lounge bar for Noida-ites called 'Fluid'.

Its on the back side and has a very trance-party kind of entrance. Not a very large place, at two levels. Its all white with plush sofas strewn around giving that top luxury feel. Infact there is not much furniture apart from these plush sofas and chairs/stools. Basement is more suited to have a private party but I doubt whether they would give you the whole space.

I always had beer so really can't say on how they do in terms of cock-tails but the collection is decent and you get all the usual ones here. I went as part of group and for a conformation of 35 persons, we got it at 1050 per head for unlimited drinks + snacks (two veg, two non-veg). Staff is polite and responsive. For additional 250 you can also club in the dinner but for a normal walk-in they wont offer the dinner and you would need to walk-up to their another restaurant called 'Latitude' to have food. Snacks were average.

They play all kinds of music, usually loud but nothing special about the music so Superstars would still beat them fair-n-square on music and food quality.

All in all a place with a different decor, same liquor, expensive but worth one visit.

How to reach - Reach Sector 18 of Noida, NCR. Ask for Hotel Mosaic and then ask for Fluids.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Om Shanti Om - Review

Rating - 3.5/5

Ok. So finally I managed to watch this movie. Probably one of the most talked movies in recent weeks. SRK himself admitted that there is not a single TV Channel, Radio Station, News Paper, Magazine etc etc where he has not given interview or has not missed any opportunity to promote the movie. So much so, that when he was there in T20 World Cup Finals early this year, there was hue and cry on him using (abusing) every appearance of his as a promotional event, he was reported to have been distributing music CDs, which is fine I guess. I always happened to find this amusing piece on Saakshi's blog which I feel may not be enough researched. To read it click here.

Anyway lets come back to movie. Movie is doing very good. After beating 'Saanwaria' heads-down its doing brisk business and would do better then SRK's last movie viz. 'Chak De India'. I also wrote a review on that. Seems like I am getting to watch all this new movies :)

OSO starts with a well edited song sequence from 'Karz' where apna SRK is watching the shot being done by Subhash Ghai, it was really delightful to hear Kishore in his full steam, singing 'Om Shaanti Om' (the old, more popular tune). First 30 minute of the film go really really well, the quality of production is excellant, Farah seems to have a good control in the beginning, Shreyas is impressive, SRK is all overwhelming. Good comedy. So far so good. Next 30 minutes or so are sort of average. I personally felt that during this part, they were trying to establish this point of ' want to do something really from your heart....entire world conspires to make it happen....'. Paulo Cohello must be a happy man. During this time, when SRK has a close-time with Shanti (Deepika, she is fabulous) , somehow those real deep emotion handling was , you know, not really happened well. I was expecting to be SRK during this time, a time when actor does something really close to what you feel and then you start to live this life. Farah just gave away, SRK was not giving much time to Shanti and the whole '.........when you love something.....' philosophy doesn't stick too well. I think this is the time when the movie would ideally have stuck with the audience but it was sort of lost.

The next 1 hour or so is pretty Bollywoodish, not much fun except that song where you are served with so many of yester year starts. Its really fun and satisfying to see Dharam Paaji, Jeetu, Rekha and almost all the new breed, wonder where was AB. SRK dies, comes back, is a star, usual stuff.

And then finally time for good to win over evil. So the villain is trapped, old Shaanti comes back as new Shaanti, those spooky stuff. Last reel. The actor-Shaanti is caught by villain as the fake Shaanti so he challeges her and finally the real bolywood happens. Old Shaanti who died comes back and makes the chandelier fall. You tend to real wait to have a finish.

so all in all a decent entertainer, more so because of SRK, Shreyas and Deepika. Some of the things which were really odd were

1. SRK1 dies when he was young but not very young. So his mother must be 50ish. He comes back after 20-25 years and his mother doesn't look more then 60.
2. Shanti1 is a super star. When Shanti2 comes, no-one really says that she looks same as Shaanti1.
3. SRK2 is at least 30 years younger to Villain, his prev-janam Mom, his old friend. But after couple of reels he start to again talk-behave-boss like SRK1.
4. Villain kills Shanti because he fears that he would be bankrupt. Later he makes more money by getting much more insurance cover and marrying Mittal's daughter. Mittal was shown to have agreed to get his daughter married because he has put tons of money in the movie. So if he is killing Shaanti (which means he is also killing Mittal's hard earned money), how come he gets all.

If you can think of more, add your comment.
But then its bollywood :)

Friday, December 07, 2007

'Do Disturb' Regsitry

A country which has more phones then water hand-pumps or clean toilets or almost every other thing really needed a 'Do No Disturb' registry. This is effective from Sep1,2007 and all telecom service providers need to maintain this registry. If you are registered and you get a call then you can complain and there are fines for first fault and greater fines for subsequent faults.

So far so good.

There is no single registry so its a sort of pain, more so when in future we are talking about no portability and so on, but better then not having any thing.

So why I am writing it all here, we all know it, whats new. Well, couple of weekends back I was driving at about 100 KMPH on a not so great highway, between Ambala and Zirakpur, the other important thing was I was driving a big car and the power-assist of brakes were not working. Which means that I was much more alert and tired because it used to take lot of effort to stop the car at times. It was early morning, other passengers were either sleepy or dis-interested, so amid all this a bulb flashed and I thought that why not have a 'Do Disturb' registry. Instead of asking everyone to get added, we would rather do the opposite. It would be nightmarish for tele-callers since the default would be NO, and I doubt how many of us would take the pain to add them selves to 'Do Disturb' registry.

Noble thought.

The other aspect of this could be that there could indeed be folks who do not mind an occasional call for a bargain-deal or about an exciting housing project. And probably by adding some inducing-factor, we can actually motivate people to get added. This inducement could be in the form of
- Get added to 'Do Disturb' and get 15 SMSes free
- Or Get added and receive three caller tunes free

Once such a database is up then we can give access to this DB to telemarketers for a service fee. Also mechanisms could be put in place such that a subscriber to DoDisturb doesn't receive more then 3 calls a month or a some golden no. To scale this system, we can have ip-telephony software and one can call only using that s/w so we also rope-in telecom providers. I am sure if I create such a registry today, we would definitely get some good ideas and can evolve and refine this.

But I think its a decent thought to be pondered more.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Caspian Bar and Restaurant - Noida

Overall Rating - 3/5

We had lunch at Caspian Bar and Restaurant, a not so old chip in Sector 50 market in Noida. This market is gradually coming up to speed but its still looks and feels like old-world (pre mall area) shopping complex with blaring gen-sets, all kind of vehicles, cartons, congested alleys and so on.

Since its close to my place of work, we were there to celebrate a colleagues birth day. We were 11 of us. This place has two level, lower level being more of bar and the first floor as a family restaurant. I think the restaurant can house 40 odd people, not too many but not too less as well. The decor and interiors and not impressive but decent. The staff is polite but not polished, probably they would benefit from some hotel-training.

Some of us had beverages (alcoholic as well else) and the report was not too great. They have happy hours but no happy hours for cock-tails, which sort of takes the fun out of happy hours. The drinks are otherwise priced ok. 150 odd for a bloody-mary is not exciting but thats what the market price is these days. Indian beer bottle costs about the same.

Food is right priced but the potion size is small. It hits all the more since its served in this real deep containers which actually is a set of two containers , the top one being not too deep.

Service is ok. It still takes them quite a white to fetch that extra butter naan, probably kitchen is a little afar.

All in all, a not too bad place to go but nothing great to write home about.