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Awesome Day In Lulu Mall

I had a nice visit to Lulu again today. I have made up my mind; the best time to go to Lulu is during the morning and afternoon on a weekday. Never again on a weekend or a holiday. Especially if I want to go food shopping at the Lulu Hypermart, which is difficult to do. I love to go to Lulu Hypermart and planned to do it today after taking a leave from work. Going there on a Saturday or Sunday evening is a no-no for me. I hate crowds, especially gangs of women with screaming kids. If you know any couple who are thinking of having children, take them to Lulu Hypermart during the busy hours – they will change their mind.

Last time I went in there were two ladies next to me with 4 carts, hardly 5 to 6 items (of which one was onnaka chemmeen) and 4 screaming terrorists inside the carts! Crying because someone did not give them what they wanted! Plus this small little fella who grabbed my shoe and tried to climb up using my pants!

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Main agenda #1 – go to the newly opened Burger King on the 3rd floor of Lulu Mall (which I shall review in another post). After that late breakfast / lunch or brunch, it was in for a movie – I watched The Legend of Tarzan in 3D. While I watched the movie, I had a medium Pepsi and a small popcorn, caramel flavoured! Hmmm it is so delicious but a little too sweet. Very light too, the cheese flavoured popcorn at Cinepolis feels heavy but this one is so light. But yeah a bit too sweet. Made my Pepsi taste a little less sweet.

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The movie done, I went to the Hypermart and marveled at the huge collection of food, fruits, pre-cooked, wrapped, canned food, drinks, snacks, candy and what not! It is an enormous store and I love it. Love the fruit & sweet sections at Lulu’s Hypermart. I ended up buying some apples, mangoes, dates from the fruit section, big bell peppers, baby carrots (didn’t know carrots are born as babies), mushrooms, a french baguette, some large garlic cheese bread and kubhoos among other stuff. Great haul.

I ended the visit with a quick ice cream. Finally got me some Cold Stone Creamery ice cream, another new outlet that opened a few weeks back. I opted for the Coffee Lovers only small in a waffle bowl. It is really good but expensive too. Also they need a bigger place; minimal seating and a family were hogging two tables even though they were done. I stood and had mine but couldn’t finish the waffle bowl once the ice cream was done. Lesson learned – break the cone and sprinkle it on the ice cream. 9.5 outta 10 for taste but at that price….. perhaps a 7!

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Cue the Violins

If your life were a movie, what would its soundtrack be like? What songs, instrumental pieces, and other sound effects would be featured on the official soundtrack album?

I must have mentioned something before but oh well – tune the electric guitars, tune the drums and tune the keys. My life’s soundtrack is hard rock n heavy metal! I want soaring loud guitar solos and pounding drums. Music from Metallica, Guns n Roses, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Rush, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Dream Theatre, Led Zepplin, Deep Purple, etc etc. Some ballads and some rockers and some instrumentals too – a la Joe Satriani, Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen!

Lots of other bands and songs out there from my childhood to today that I love and I can find exact moments to pay certain moments. When I was happy, sad, angry, horny, in love, loved, hated, hating, lonely, pensive, crazy and tired. My life’s story can be told in songs from rock n’roll.

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com

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Independence Day: Resurgence

Independence Day: Resurgence is a 2016 American science fiction film directed by Roland Emmerich and written by Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicholas Wright, James A. Woods and James Vanderbilt. It is the sequel to the 1996 film Independence Day and stars Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Jessie Usher, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Angelababy, Brent Spiner, Vivica A Fox and Travis Tope.

The story picks up 20 years after the events of the 1996 film; mankind has made quite a few technological advancements in the defence of the earth. The international community has recovered and the United Nations has created the ESD (Earth Space Defense), a united global defense program that serves as Earth’s early warning system. The main defense force uses technology salvaged from the remains of the alien forces, with military forces assembled on the Moon, Mars, and Rhea, while the Area 51 base has become the ESD Headquarters. But will earth be ready if a massive attack happens?

When David Levinson, now director of the EDS, goes to meets with Dr. Catherine Marceaux and warlord Dikembe Umbutu, asks permission to enter a fallen alien spaceship discover that the ship was drilling a hole and that the aliens sent a distress call to its home planet before their defeat. Furthermore, Umbutu and former U.S. President Thomas Whitmore experienced recurring visions of extraterrestrial logograms ever since their personal encounters with the telepathic aliens and try to decipher them. A spherical ship comes out of a wormhole near the moonbase Levinson is convinced that it belongs to a different extraterrestrial race that is benevolent and urges the world’s governments not to attack, but they vote to shoot it down regardless. Against orders, ESD pilot Jake Morrison picks up Levinson, Marceaux, Umbutu, and Floyd Rosenberg on a space tug and they head for the crash site, where they recover a container.

And the fear comes true….a giant spaceship, about 3000 miles wide comes towards us destroys Earth’s planetary defenses before approaching the planet. The massive gravity of the ship also lifts structures from most of Asia. The debris falls all across Europe, where the tug manages to escape before heading on to Area 51. It lands on the Atlantic ocean nd drills a hole in the middle of the ocean to harvest the heat of the core, which will destroy Earth’s magnetic field in the process. The aliens also raid the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, killing President Elizabeth Lanford along with most of her Cabinet. At Area 51, General Joshua Adams is named the designated survivor andimmediately sworn in as the 46th President. The harvesters held in captivity in Area 51 all start to shriek, they are celebrating. Ok so what do we do?

Well Dr. Brakish Okun, who was in a coma for 20 years after being attacked by the alien in the first movie, comes out of it. He this container houses a giant white sphere of artificial intelligence; its mission is evacuating survivors from worlds targeted by aliens, whom it calls harvesters, and building a resistance force, one already profoundly feared by the invaders. Whitmore interrogates one of the harvesters held in captivity since the last war. The ESD learns that the harvesters, while similar to Earth’s insect kingdom, are not like locusts as they initially believed but exist in eusociality and that their giant queen is commanding the invasion. They conclude if they kill the queen, her attendants will retreat. An ESD fleet of hybrid fighters, led by Captain Dylan Dubrow-Hiller, stages a counterattack on the queen’s chamber, but they are caught in a trap within the mothership which wipes out nearly the entire unit. Dylan, along with Jake and fellow pilots Charlie Ritter and Rain Lao, manages to escape by hijacking two alien attack craft.

Knowing the queen has become aware of its presence, the sphere’s A.I. wants the ESD to destroy it to prevent the harvesters from learning its secrets. The ESD forces instead hide the sphere in an isolation chamber, and use the space tug with a transmitter copying the sphere’s signal as a decoy to lure the queen’s personal ship to a trap filled with fusion weapons. Whitmore flies a tugboat towards the mothership with bombs and destroys the ship, sacrificing himself in the process, but the queen escapes as she has a large energy shield on her biomechanical suit. Patricia flies a hybrid fighter and attacks the queen and neutralizes it’s shield, allowing Dylan’s arriving party to kill the queen before she can take the sphere. The queen dies and all the other aliens stop the attacks and retreat from the earth. Okun reveals that the sphere has asked them to lead the resistance, and offered them new technology in preparation for a potential assault on the harvesters’ homeworld.

Ok, just take that all in. There are some similar elements from the original with Whitmore; especially having similar things happen to him as in having the alien speak through him (like Okun) and sacrificing himself to destroy the ship (like Randy Quaid’s character). The two male leads could easily have been replaced by anyone, hardly any of the new characters have anything much memorable about them. But then in a movie of this magnitude and fast pacing action, I hardly expected any characterization and instead we get more cliches than you can count. It’s ok, fast paced adrenaline is expected and cheered in this scenario. But can the earth actually put aside their petty differences and unite and do all this advancements as shown in the movie (well it’s only for the defences so maybe I can believe that) in just 20 years?? Bases on the moon and other planets nearby with fully functioning quarters and ships? I doubt it. But still worthy to watch on the big screen. So….8 outta 10?

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UEFA EURO 2016 – Day 16

Italy produced a passionate and tactically superior display to end Spain’s quest for a third consecutive European Championship title and secure a mouth-watering quarter-final tie against world champions Germany. Using wing-backs Mattia de Sciglio and Alessandro Florenzi to brilliant effect, they were the more potent attacking team until they withdrew in defence of their lead in the final stages. Giorgio Chiellini scored the game’s opening goal, bundling home from close range after David de Gea had parried an Eder free-kick in greasy conditions in the first half. And Southampton striker Graziano Pelle sealed victory in injury time, volleying home from eight yards after an attempted clearance from substitute Matteo Darmian’s cross had looped up invitingly as Italy hit a tiring team on the break.

The scoreline could have been a lot worse for Spain were in not for a series of outstanding saves by Manchester United keeper De Gea. He made three in the first 45 minutes before smothering an effort from Eder in the second half after he had been put clean through by a sublime flick from Pelle. Italy played with an intensity and fierce determination that hinted at their ambition to avenge their 4-0 defeat in the 2012 final. It was only in the latter stages that they were subjected to any threatening, sustained pressure – but Sergio Ramos headed wide and Gianluigi Buffon saved long-range efforts from Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique. And with full-time looming, Buffon made a brilliant dive to his right to save a close-range effort from Pique before Italy broke clear to score their decisive second.

England suffered their worst humiliation since they were knocked out of the 1950 World Cup by USA in Brazil as Iceland shocked them in the last 16 of Euro 2016. Manager Roy Hodgson resigned after the abject embarrassment of losing to a nation ranked 34th in the world – and with a population of just 330,000 – despite taking the lead through Wayne Rooney’s fourth-minute penalty. Iceland equalised within a minute as England failed to deal with a trademark long throw and Ragnar Sigurdsson bundled home from close range. England’s shameful performance was summed up by Iceland’s 18th-minute winner when goalkeeper Joe Hart was badly at fault – just as in the win over Wales – as he let Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s shot through his hand. Hodgson made changes as Iceland dug in, but the underdogs had as many chances as England before the final whistle blew on their Euro 2016 hopes and his four-year tenure as manager.

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UEFA EURO 2016 – Day 15

Hosts France came from behind to beat the Republic of Ireland, who finished with 10 men, and reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. The Republic got off to a stunning start, leading in the second minute, as Robbie Brady converted a penalty after Shane Long was fouled in the box. But the French hit back through Antoine Griezmann, who nodded in the equaliser before driving in the winning goal. Shane Duffy was then sent off for a professional foul on Griezmann. Didier Deschamps’ side will face England or Iceland in the next round at Stade de France on Sunday, 3 July (kick-off 20:00 BST). However, defender Adil Rami and midfielder N’Golo Kante will miss the match through suspension, after picking up their second bookings of the tournament.

Striker Long had said before the match that his side were not motivated by “revenge” as the sides met for the first time since Thierry Henry’s controversial handball led to the Republic’s elimination in a World Cup qualifying play-off in 2009. This was the Irish’s first appearance in the knockout stages of the European Championship and their pocket of fans dressed in green at one corner of the stadium in Lyon responded with delight as Paul Pogba bundled over Southampton’s Long and Brady converted the spot kick via a post. It could have been worse for the French had Daryl Murphy’s hooked shot not been tipped away by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. But in the end, they did not have enough firepower up front, failing to hit the target thereafter and ending the tournament with just three goals from four matches. Under increasing pressure in the second period, Martin O’Neill’s defenders held out until the 58th minute, after which they crumbled.

Germany enhanced their status as favourites for Euro 2016 as they overwhelmed Slovakia in Lille to set up a quarter-final against Italy or Spain. Centre-back Jerome Boateng gave the world champions an eighth-minute lead with a superb 25-yard volley before Mario Gomez poked in the second. Julian Draxler, who provided a superb assist for the second, made it 3-0 with a near-post volley after the break. Mesut Ozil also missed a penalty for Germany in the 14th minute. Slovakia’s best chance fell to Juraj Kucka, whose header was brilliantly tipped over by Manuel Neuer. The last-eight tie between Joachim Low’s side and one of the other fancied teams takes place in Bordeaux next Saturday. The three-time European champions have set a standard. Their performance in Lille was arguably the most dominant by a team at this championship.

After three average group displays, this was more trademark Low. The 56-year-old is a coach who does not believe in rigid roles, and against Slovakia the movement of his attack stretched the opposition defence. Germany started in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Draxler on the left, Ozil in middle and Thomas Muller on the right of the attack, just behind striker Gomez. But Draxler often interchanged with Ozil, and Muller spread himself about the Slovak half. Jan Kozak’s side spent the match chasing the Germans, and the game, after Bayern Munich’s Boateng rifled in the first with a brilliant piece of opportunism. They should have made it 2-0 but Ozil’s tame spot-kick was easily saved by Matus Kozacik, after Gomez had been fouled by Martin Skrtel. That miss did not knock the Germans off their stride, however, as the excellent Draxler teased Kucka down the left before finding Gomez, who scored his second of the tournament. And despite playing at a lower tempo after the break, Germany still managed to score a third when Draxler placed a near-post volley high past Kozacik.

Eden Hazard scored a dazzling solo goal as Belgium defeated Hungary to book a Euro 2016 last-eight tie against Wales. The Chelsea winger was outstanding in Toulouse and capped off a good Belgium display when he cut in from the left, beat two players and fired in low. Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld headed Belgium ahead and Michu Batshuayi made it 2-0 when he tapped in. Hazard then scored his superb goal in the 80th minute before Yannick Carrasco fired in the fourth in stoppage time. Belgium and Wales will meet in Lille on Friday. They underwhelmed at the 2014 World Cup, but the most promising Belgium squad since Guy Thys’ 1980 runners-up suggested they could be set to fulfil their potential on the big stage. At times, they made hard work of it against the Magyars, but they did create 25 efforts on goal.

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne had seven of those, including a brilliant first-half free-kick that was tipped over by 40-year-old Gabor Kiraly. The 24-year-old also provided two of the four assists. Both he and Hazard were the most potent weapons, with Everton striker Romelu Lukaku failing to marry willingness with goal threat. It was Spurs defender Alderweireld who gave the Belgians a 10th-minute lead when he headed in De Bruyne’s free-kick from the left. After soaking up Hungarian pressure, they finally scored a second when Batshuayi slotted in Hazard’s square ball, only two minutes after coming on. Hazard made it 3-0 with the goal of the game. Belgium broke from the Hungary area, De Bruyne played a pass to the feet of Hazard who dived in from the left, eased past two challenges before slotting into the keeper’s bottom left. By this point, Hungary had given up the fight and were handed a knockout blow when Atletico Madrid’s Carrasco, on as a substitute, slammed in from a Radja Nainggolan through ball.

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UEFA EURO 2016 – Day 14

Poland will meet Portugal in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 after beating Switzerland on penalties in the first knockout game of the tournament. Arsenal newcomer Granit Xhaka was the only player to miss in the shootout, with Grzegorz Krychowiak scoring the winning spot-kick for the Poles. Jakub Blaszczykowski had put Poland ahead six minutes before half-time. Switzerland hit back through Xherdan Shaqiri’s sublime finish, an overhead kick from 18 yards. Switzerland had never scored a penalty at a major tournament before, but they got off a flying start in the shootout as Stephan Lichtsteiner produced a composed finish down the middle. After Robert Lewandowski levelled for Poland, Xhaka hit his penalty wildly wide to give the Poles the advantage. Arkadiusz Milik, Kamil Glik and Kamil Grosicki also scored for Poland while Shaqiri, Fabian Schar and Ricardo Rodriguez found the net for the Swiss to make it 4-4. The winning kick by Krychowiak sparked scenes of jubilation among Poland’s large travelling support in Saint-Etienne.

Having reached the quarter-finals for the first time, Poland are just two wins from the final. They dominated the first half without managing to kill off Switzerland and there remain doubts about their frontline. Star striker Lewandowski is yet to find his best form in France, where the Poles have only scored three times in four games. They should have been ahead after just 22 seconds here – Milik shooting wastefully over after Yann Sommer’s throw out to Johan Djourou almost let in Lewandowski. But they did go in front on 39 minutes, Blaszczykowski scoring his second goal in two games by firing home at the end of an excellent counter-attack. Switzerland, lacklustre in the first half, were much improved after the break and Lukasz Fabianski had to pull off a world-class save to keep out Rodriguez’s curling free-kick before Haris Seferovic struck the bar. They deservedly equalised with a stunning 18-yard overhead finish from Shaqiri – the former Inter Milan and Bayern Munich man showing brilliant technique to score.

Wales reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 as Gareth McAuley’s own goal gave them victory over Northern Ireland in a tense last-16 encounter. Northern Ireland shaded much of the game and largely snuffed out Wales’ attacking threat, but they also lacked a cutting edge in attack. Wales only managed one shot on target and the game was settled by the one moment of real quality at Parc des Princes. Northern Ireland’s resistance was finally broken when centre-back McAuley turned Gareth Bale’s low, whipped cross into his own net. It means Wales – in their first major tournament finals since the 1958 World Cup – will face Belgium or Hungary in the last eight in Lille on Friday. Chris Coleman’s side were blunted by their dogged opponents, but the scrappy nature of victory and the winning goal will matter little to their jubilant fans.

For Northern Ireland, the manner of defeat was galling, particularly for the 63-cap McAuley, who had scored in the 2-0 group win against Ukraine, which had helped his country reach the round of 16. Both sides were playing a first match in the knockout stages of a major tournament since 1958, when they reached the World Cup quarter-finals. Parc des Princes was awash with green and red as fans mingled and revelled in the enormity of the occasion – but the match failed to ignite during a cagey first half. Northern Ireland’s intention to frustrate their opponents was clear, depriving Wales of space with a careful pressing game held together by rigid positional discipline. They also posed a counter-attacking threat, with one early break leading to a chance for Stuart Dallas, whose shot was saved by Wayne Hennessey.

Ricardo Quaresma scored late in extra time as Portugal defeated Croatia to set up a Euro 2016 quarter-final match against Poland. The substitute headed in from two yards after keeper Danijel Subasic could only palm Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot into the path of the Besiktas winger. The contest was a turgid affair for much of the 120 minutes. Croatia’s Domagoj Vida and Marcelo Brozovic went close with headers, and Ivan Perisic’s effort hit the bar. Portugal’s last-eight match will take place at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Thursday. The match in Lens was abysmal. There were no efforts on target until the goal in the 117th minute, creativity was lacking, passes misplaced and the game was blighted by niggly fouls, with 18 in the first half alone. The respective defences got on top of their marked men early in the match, with the lauded La Liga trio of Ronaldo and Croatia’s Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic suffocated for space.

Ronaldo looked more frustrated than he had in other matches. He dropped deep and pulled out wide in a bid to get involved, but the ball to him was cut out more often than not. His 33 passes were the third fewest of the Portugal starting XI, although he did provide the crucial assist for Quaresma. That goal came on the counter-attack just a minute after Perisic’s header had struck the Croatia bar. Another substitute Renato Sanches drove forward with the ball and found Nani, who in turn laid the ball to Ronaldo at the far post. The Real Madrid star fired in a low angled shot that Subasic blocked, but the loose ball looped into the path of Quaresma, who was left with a very simple task.

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Food Review #96

The McDonald’s Big Spicy Chicken Wrap – tender, juicy chicken coated with a hot & crispy batter and dressed with fresh salad consisting of lettuce, onions, tomatoes & seasonings. Further topped with delicious, creamy sauce and supple cheese slices. My current favourite item at McD.

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Dead Man Walking

Better late than never is a recurring theme for me when it comes to movies. Here is an awesomely acted movie from the 90s. Dead Man Walking is a 1995 American crime drama film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, and co-produced and directed by Tim Robbins, who adapted the screenplay from the non-fiction book of the same name. The movie also sees roles from a young Jack Black, Scott Wilson, Peter Sarsgaard, R. Lee Emery, Roberta Maxwell and the late Robert Prosky.

Sarandon plays Sister Helen Prejean, a non-habit wearing nun from a rich family in Louisiana, who has corresponded with death row inmate Matthew Poncelet. Poncelet has been in death row for 6 years after being convicted of raping a young girl and killing both her and her boyfriend. His older friend with whom he committed the crimes, a man named Carl Vitello, who was sentenced to life imprisonment. With just a few days left before his execution, Poncelet asks Helen to help him with a final appeal. Helen, who usually helps the poor and orphans, agrees and goes to meet him at the prison. In her interactions, as well as some tv interviews, Matthew comes out as being arrogant, sexist and racist and shows no remorse. He affirms his innocence, insisting Vitello killed the two teenagers. Convincing an experienced attorney to take on Poncelet’s case pro bono, Sister Helen tries to have his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

Slowly he starts to open up to her. Helen also goes to visit his mother and brothers and also visits the families of the two teenagers. The families do not understand Sister Helen’s efforts to help Poncelet, claiming she is “taking his side.” Instead they desire “absolute justice”—his life for the lives of their children. The application for a pardon is denied and Matthew prepares himself for his execution. As the day nears, Matthew asks Helen to be his spiritual advisor on his final day, to which she agrees, despite the misgivings of the pastor. As she talks to him about redemption, Helen advises Matthew that to be redeemed, he must confess his crimes. Just before he is taken from his cell, Poncelet admits to Sister Helen that he killed the boy and raped the girl. As he is prepared for execution, he appeals to the boy’s father for forgiveness and tells the girl’s parents he hopes his death brings them peace. Poncelet is executed by lethal injection and later given a proper burial. The murdered boy’s father attends the ceremony still filled with hate, but shortly after begins to pray with Sister Helen, ending the film.

A stunning showcase of two heavyweights when it comes to award winning acting, this film is a must see despite the lack of fast paced scenes or major shocks etc. At the 68th Academy Awards, Dead Man Walking was nominated in four different categories: Susan Sarandon won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role, Sean Penn was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, Tim Robbins was nominated for Best Director and its main track “Dead Man Walkin'” by Bruce Springsteen was nominated for Best Song. Awesome mood music by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam sets the tone as well. A solid 8.5 outta 10!

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Deadlines & Finishing Stuff

Tell us your tried and true techniques for focusing when that deadline looms and you need to get work done. In other words, how do you avoid wasted days and wasted nights?

The only way I know how to do it is to clear myself of all distractions and do it alone. Preferrably in a place where I won’t have access to tv, music, internet and books – unless related to the work that I have to do. Therefore I cannot do it at home. And avoid too much food, though drinks are needed. Lots of water, coffee or a cold drink if available. Small snacks are welcome and I usually like keeping a bunch of coffee toffees with me to get me through the day or night. Make sure that a bathroom is not too far away for those breaks.

Other than that there is little that I do. I find it when I need to concentrate and do a lot of written stuff (as in type in an excel sheet on a computer) than it is best that I do not have too much distraction. Avoid wasted days and nights.

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com

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Might As Well Jump?

What’s the biggest risk you’d like to take — but haven’t been able to? What would have to happen to make you comfortable taking it?

I’ve been thinking about this for so long….moving! I would have liked to have moved from here to another place. Maybe Bangalore or Chennai. I liked my one week Chennai visit. And I certainly loved Gurgaon more than Chennai. But yeah Bangalore is more my kinda city and I would loved to have moved there….15 years ago or more. I think now it’s just too much of a risk for me to move. It would take a really well paying job for me to get my ass outta town now.

Hindsight being 20/20, I should have made the move a long time ago. At a younger age and it would have made my life all that much more better. But I stayed and I stayed and I have reached a stage, many years ago, of being in my comfort zone. Meaning I do not want to risk it. Meaning, how will I get all my things done and still have the free time for my leisure and laziness and not have to adjust much. Financially if I do get a really nice package for a salary, I guess it would make sense. Because I do want to give money to my mom and dad. And to be able to do that and still have the kind of lifestyle that I want to live (which is really not extravagant at all) I think I will need a nice sack of cash at the end of each month.

I have looked but never really looked. But if that ship does come a calling, I should set sail. I think!

Post from The Daily Post at WordPress.com

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UEFA EURO 2016 – Day 13

Iceland scored a dramatic injury-time winner in a pulsating match to eliminate Austria and set up a last-16 tie against England in Nice on Monday. The contest might have lacked the six goals shared between Portugal and Hungary in the other Group F game, but there were ample opportunities to score that many, plus a scintillating – if cruel – conclusion. There was always likely to be despair for one of these teams – and it happened to Austria after substitute Arnor Ingvi Traustason slid in at the far post to seal a victory that lifted Iceland from third to second in the group. The signs of an entertaining contest were there from the start when Johann Gudmundsson rattled the woodwork in the second minute, before Jon Dadi Bodvarsson ended a sequence of 19 international games without a goal when he controlled a flick-on before shooting low past Robert Almer from eight yards.

Austria should have equalised from the penalty spot – there could have been three spot-kicks given in the match, with both sides denied decent second-half shouts – after Ari Skulason was judged to have pulled back David Alaba. Aleksandar Dragovic, back in the side after suspension, took responsibility but struck the same part of the goal frame as Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo did against his team on Saturday. Substitute Alessandro Schopf equalised with a crisp low strike after a mazy run into the area during an increasingly open second half – and should have found the net again but was denied by Hannes Halldorsson. Kari Arnason made several crucial blocks close to his goal-line, but the decisive third goal came at the other end of the pitch. A nation of 330,000 qualifying from the group stage at their first major tournament is a feat that must be applauded after finishing second in Group F with five points.

Portugal will play Croatia in the last 16 at Euro 2016 after Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in a six-goal thriller against Hungary in Lyon. A Zoltan Gera half-volley put Hungary in front but Ronaldo set up Nani to fire in an equaliser before the break. Two deflected Balazs Dzsudzsak strikes twice restored Hungary’s lead early in the second half, but a Ronaldo flick and header levelled on each occasion. Hungary progress as Group F winners, with Portugal through in third place. Portugal had been on course to play England in the last 16 as they occupied second place in the group at the final whistle in Lyon, but it was Iceland who claimed the runner-up spot with a dramatic injury-time winner against Austria in Paris.

Portugal, who would have crashed out had they lost to Hungary, have now reached the knockout stage in all seven of their European Championship appearances. Hungary, who were denied a winner when Adam Szalai’s shot hit the post, will now play Belgium, who finished second in Group E. Ronaldo appeared to be feeling the strain of not having scored at the tournament when, during a team stroll ahead of the Hungary match, he grabbed the microphone of a reporter and threw it into a river. The 31-year-old came into the match with no goals from 20 attempts in the first two matches – including a missed penalty against Austria – and cut a forlorn and frustrated figure after Hungary took the lead through Gera’s superb strike. But the Real Madrid star set up Portugal’s equaliser when he played a piercing ball for Nani to drive in a low shot which beat Gabor Kiraly at his near post. And when Portugal twice fell behind to Dzsudzsak after the break, Ronaldo responded by rediscovering his scoring prowess just when it was needed. His first goal – a deft flick from Joao Mario’s cross – made him the first player to score in four different European Championship finals tournaments.

Robbie Brady’s dramatic late winner sank Italy and sent the Republic of Ireland into the last 16 of Euro 2016. Martin O’Neill’s side knew only a victory would secure a place in the knockout stage in France but had failed to find a way through the Azzurri’s defence until Brady headed home Wes Hoolahan’s cross in the 85th minute. That sparked mass celebrations from the Republic players, bench and supporters under the closed roof at Stade Pierre Mauroy, which had largely been taken over by the Boys in Green. Defeat made little difference to Italy, who already knew they would top Group C and made eight changes ahead of Monday’s last-16 match with holders Spain. But the Republic join them as one of the best third-placed sides – and will face the hosts on Saturday – after one of the most famous wins in their history that started a huge party in Lille. Euro 2016 is becoming known for its last-gasp goals so it was perhaps predictable there would be some late drama as the group stage came to a conclusion.

The army of Republic fans certainly never gave up hope, although it had seemed their side had, again, run out of ideas. After managing only one shot on target in their first two group games – Hoolahan’s goal against Sweden – O’Neill understandably went for a more ambitious approach on an all-or-nothing night for his side. But with Jon Walters unfit and veteran striker Robbie Keane only having the legs for cameo appearances these days, the only way he could bolster his attack was by calling on Ipswich striker Daryl Murphy, who is at times prolific in the Championship but has never scored in 20 games for his country. Yet the Republic did look more dangerous, particularly in the first half when Murphy saw a header tipped over and James McClean could, and probably should, have had a penalty when Federico Bernardeschi barged to the ground inside the box. After the break, Italy had looked far more in control until the final few minutes. Hoolahan wasted a golden opportunity when he was gifted the ball on the edge of the box, and it looked like the Republic’s last chance in France had come and gone – until Brady proved otherwise.

Radja Nainggolan’s superb 25-yard strike secured Belgium’s place in the last 16 of Euro 2016 and knocked out Sweden, bringing to an end Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s international career. Victory in Nice meant Belgium finished as Group E runners-up and will face Hungary in Toulouse on Sunday. Sweden exited the competition with one point from three games in which Ibrahimovic failed to score. It seemed Belgium might start matching the expectations around their talented squad with a 3-0 win over the Republic on Saturday. But they laboured to a win against a Sweden side that have been toothless throughout the campaign. Roma midfielder Nainggolan’s 84th-minute swerving right-footed finish, angled into the bottom-left corner via a slight deflection, was a moment of high quality. However, a starting XI that featured six Premier League players and featured just one change from the win over the Republic lacked decisiveness in the attacking third of the pitch.

Kevin de Bruyne was the most industrious option for Marc Wilmots’ team, providing the cross for Thomas Meunier to flash a header wide and putting through Romelu Lukaku for a one-on-one chance which the Everton striker squandered – but they still have plenty of room for improvement. This was probably Sweden’s most effective performance of the tournament – they mustered four shots on target, having not registered a single one in the previous two games. They were unlucky not to lead minutes before Nainggolan’s winner, when Andreas Granqvist’s header was cleared off the line by De Bruyne. But Sweden finished bottom of the group with one point, an unfitting way to end the international career of 116-time capped Ibrahimovic, the country’s record goal scorer. The 34-year-old, a reported target for Manchester United after he left Paris St-Germain this summer, announced this week he would retire from Sweden duty. He failed to add to his 62 international goals and did not register a shot on target until this final group game. His own frustrations were echoed by Sweden, who did not see one of their own players find the net in the tournament – their only goal was scored by the Republic’s Ciaran Clark in the opening 1-1 draw.

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UEFA EURO 2016 – Day 12

Poland reached the knockout stages of a European Championship for the first time as they finished second in Group C after a win over Ukraine. Arkadiusz Milik had a shot saved and Robert Lewandowski sent an effort over as Poland missed two early chances. Ukraine, who were already out, went close when Andriy Yarmolenko shot wide. Jakub Blaszczykowski curled in a left-foot shot for the winner after 54 minutes and Poland will now play Switzerland in the last 16 on Saturday. However, Bartosz Kapustka will miss the match in Saint-Etienne after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament. A win by a bigger margin could have seen Poland leapfrog Germany, who beat Northern Ireland, to top the group but they rarely looked like adding to their lead.

And while they will celebrate their progress, they will also have concerns over the form of striker Lewandowski. He scored 42 goals for Bayern Munich in 2015-16 and was the top scorer in Euro 2016 qualifying with 13 goals. The 27-year-old was rightly regarded as Poland’s key man for the tournament, but has not had a shot on target in his three games so far – and is without a goal or assist in 523 minutes of European Championship finals action since a scoring against Greece at Euro 2012. Lewandowski should have ended that run early on when he was found by a right-wing cross only to sidefoot wide from eight yards, while he also produced some clever footwork before scuffing a shot wide.

Northern Ireland were beaten by world champions Germany but still advanced to the last 16 of Euro 2016 after the Czech Republic’s 2-0 defeat by Turkey. Germany wasted several chances before and after Mario Gomez scored the game’s only goal in Paris. The Czechs’ loss meant Northern Ireland go through as one of four best third-placed teams as they have a better record than Albania and Turkey. Michael O’Neill’s side will face Wales or hosts France in the last 16. Northern Ireland finished the group stage with three points, the same number as Albania and Turkey, but boast a better goal difference than their rivals. They have reached the knockout stages of a major tournament for just the third time in their history.

Despite losing, Northern Ireland’s fans were in boisterous mood as they stayed inside the Parc des Princes long after the final whistle. The players were given a rousing reception by the fans in green shirts who sang themselves hoarse from the start of the match. They looked in trouble early on when Germany – who win Group C ahead of Poland on goal difference – created a number of golden opportunities. But resolute defending, outstanding goalkeeping and a bit of luck saw NI’s defence breached on just the one occasion. O’Neill’s side would have suffered a heavier defeat but for the heroics of Michael McGovern. The keeper, who is out of contract after two years at Hamilton, pulled off a series of magnificent saves and has never conceded more than one goal in any of his 14 appearances for his country. But another fine record – Northern Ireland having let in just one first-half goal in their last 22 matches – did not survive at the Parc des Princes. Their resistance was broken by the recalled Gomez, who struck his 28th international goal, turning in Thomas Muller’s touch from 10 yards out.

Turkey kept alive their faint hopes of reaching the last 16 of Euro 2016 and eliminated the Czech Republic with a hard-fought victory in Lens. The result guarantees Northern Ireland go through, while Turkey must wait until Wednesday to learn their fate. A neat finish from Burak Yilmaz put them ahead, prompting Czech pressure which saw Tomas Sivok hit the post. Volkan Babacan made a string of saves before Ozan Tufan smashed in from 10 yards to move Turkey third in Group D. Fatih Terim’s side and Albania in Group A are vulnerable on three points and results on Wednesday could see a host of countries in Group E and Group F replace them to qualify as one of the best third-place finishers. Turkey had not scored in the tournament before Tuesday’s match, but they looked revitalised in northern France and knew that with each goal they scored, their goal difference and hopes of a continued stay improved.

They looked a lot more like the team who arrived at Euro 2016 with just one loss – to England – in 16 matches, and they bravely soaked up what the Czechs threw at them to inflict a defeat which could be the last action of Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech’s international career. Turkey would surely have taken these slim hopes of progress back in 2014, when a poor start to qualifying left dreams of appearing at the tournament in tatters. Terim – in his third spell in charge of the national side – changed eight of his starting XI between the beginning and end of qualifying and though his squad sneaked through, they had looked blunt in France until Yilmaz flicked home Emre Mor’s cross. Borussia Dortmund’s Mor – at just 18 years of age and with only a handful of appearances in Norwegian league football to his name – sums up Terim’s switch to youth.

Spain will play Italy in the last 16 of Euro 2016 after a late Croatia winner condemned them to second in Group D. Spain took the lead when Cesc Fabregas dinked the ball over keeper Danijel Subasic and Alvaro Morata tapped in. An Ivan Rakitic lob hit the woodwork for Croatia, who equalised when Nikola Kalinic turned in Ivan Perisic’s cross. Subasic saved a Sergio Ramos penalty and Perisic’s late winner gave Croatia, who finished top of the group, a tie against a third-placed qualifier. Perisic lashed in an 87th-minute shot in a thrilling match to inflict Spain’s first defeat in 15 games at the European Championship since losing to Portugal in Euro 2004. Croatia will now play on Saturday in Lens, while Spain’s mouth-watering tie against Italy – a repeat of the 2012 final – will take place on Monday in Paris. This was an eagerly anticipated game because of the quality at Croatia’s disposal and the type of test they were expected to give the reigning champions.

From that point of view, Croatia pressed and pushed further up than Spain’s previous opponents – Turkey and the Czech Republic – and, despite going behind, caused plenty of moments of uncertainty at the back for Vicente del Bosque’s side. Spain centre-back Ramos gave the ball away early on and Perisic had a shot palmed away by keeper David de Gea. De Gea was then dispossessed by Kalinic and the ball fell to Rakitic, whose chip hit the crossbar and the post before bouncing the wrong side of the post for Croatia. Spain again dominated possession but their resistance was finally broken when they conceded their first goal in 735 minutes at the Euros as Kalinic stole in front of Ramos to turn in Perisic’s left-wing cross. A weak punch from De Gea led to him having to save Tin Jedvaj’s shot before Marko Pjaca sent an overhead kick wide. Spain’s keeper and their defence looked vulnerable when exposed before they were caught out on the counter-attack, with Perisic’s strike beating De Gea at his near post.

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Food Review #95

Today’s double food reviews, from one lunch and beer drinking session, is tempura prawns and tandoori chicken from Chouchyn.

Delicious tempura prawns from the Couchyn beer & wine parlour that is attached to the Grand Hotel on MG Road, Cochin, Kerala. Paired with that sweet & tangy sauce.

Delicious tandoori chicken from the Couchyn beer & wine parlour that is attached to the Grand Hotel.

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UEFA EURO 2016 – Day 11

Wales swept past Russia with a breathtaking display in their final group game at Euro 2016 to reach the knockout stages of a major tournament for only the second time in their history. Aaron Ramsey’s beautiful clipped finish put Wales ahead before Neil Taylor scored his first international goal as Chris Coleman’s side seized control with an inspired first-half performance. There was no let-up in the second half as the irrepressible Gareth Bale struck to become the tournament’s leading scorer with three goals. Playing in their first European Championship, Wales take their place in the knockout stages of an international competition for the first time since a goal by Pele saw them beaten by Brazil in the 1958 World Cup quarter-finals.

There was security in the knowledge a draw was probably enough, while even a defeat coupled with an English win against Slovakia could have seen them progress as one of the best third-placed teams. Yet Coleman and his players did not want to rely on anyone else. With their destiny in their own hands, Wales wanted to take care of business in Toulouse. They did so in spectacular fashion, overwhelming a ponderous Russia side with one of the most impressive performances in Welsh football history.

England manager Roy Hodgson’s gamble of making wholesale changes backfired badly as they stumbled to a goalless draw against Slovakia in Saint-Etienne. Hodgson made six changes, including resting captain Wayne Rooney, from the win against Wales – but a limp performance means Chris Coleman’s side finish top of Group B and England’s life is now more difficult if they go deeper into Euro 2016. England had the better chances, with Slovakia keeper Matus Kozacik saving well when Jamie Vardy broke clear in the first half, as well as blocking crucially from Nathaniel Clyne after the break. Rooney came on for the struggling Jack Wilshere after 55 minutes, but the pattern was set and Slovakia defended manfully for what should prove to be a precious point.

Dele Alli had also a shot kicked off the line by Martin Skrtel just seconds after coming on as a substitute on the hour. England now travel to Nice where they face the team that finishes second in Group F – either Hungary, Portugal, Iceland or Austria – next Monday. It was a major surprise that Hodgson chose to make such mass alterations to an England team that had finally picked up some momentum with Thursday’s last-gasp victory over Wales. That win put them in position to top the group by beating Slovakia. Instead, with nothing decided and with the group still open, Hodgson chose to leave out Rooney, Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane. Hodgson introduced Vardy and Daniel Sturridge, who both scored against Wales, as well as Clyne, Ryan Bertrand, Wilshere and Jordan Henderson. It gave England a disjointed look and they ran out of steam and threat long before the end.

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UEFA EURO 2016 – Day 10

After a day of rest round three of the group stage began in dull circumstances:

Switzerland and France played out a Euro 2016 goalless draw which took the Swiss into the last 16 and saw the French win Group A. Paul Pogba – recalled by France in one of five changes – was lively and hit the woodwork twice in the first half. French substitute Dimitri Payet also struck the crossbar with a brilliant volley from Moussa Sissoko’s cross. Switzerland could have had a penalty when Bacary Sagna pulled Blerim Dzemaili’s shirt in injury time. France will now play the third-placed team from either Group C, D or E – meaning Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are both potential opponents – in Lyon on Sunday. The Swiss will face the second-placed team in Group C, who are currently Poland but could be Germany or Northern Ireland, at Saint-Etienne the day before.

Albania recorded their first major tournament win with victory in Lyon over Romania that gives them hope of reaching the Euro 2016 last 16. Giovanni de Biasi’s team finished their Group A campaign with three points and will now wait to see if they are one of the four best third-placed teams. FC Zurich’s Armando Sadiku scored the only goal of the game when he headed past keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu. Romania’s Florin Andone went close with a shot that came off the bar. If Albania do reach the last 16 then they will face the winners of Group B, which contains England and Wales, or the winners of Group C, which includes Northern Ireland.

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