Day Of The Jackal

Write about a book you read that stayed with you after you closed the last page.

The Day of the Jackal (1971) is a thriller novel by English author Frederick Forsyth about a professional assassin who is contracted by the OAS, a French dissident paramilitary organisation, to kill Charles de Gaulle, the President of France. The OAS, as described in the novel, did exist and the book opens with an accurate depiction of the attempt to assassinate de Gaulle led by Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry on 22 August 1962; the subsequent plot is fiction.

I was so fascinated by this novel that even if I was already familiar with the story (having watched bits of the the 1973 film with the same title that is based on the novel) and it being a very popular one among my cousins and uncles, I was still engrossed when I first read the novel back in 1994. I couldn’t put the book down as it was so fascinating and well written. I was so into it that I got and made black coffee when the lead detectives drank black coffee and at age 18 I had picked up occasional smoking and lit one whenever the detectives smokes.

Ofcourse I was even more fascinated by the life of an assassin who was a bit of a playboy and carefree socialist in his lifestyle but a cold-blooded killer when hired to do a job. I always thought, what it would be like to get jobs to do that you are hired for, maybe a few times in a year, make a lot of money so you can live off it for the rest of the days. Like say each job paid you $500k or more so you only had to do it 3 maybe 4 times a year and enjoy the rest of the time pretending to be an heir who was left a good sum of money so you can drink, enjoy the beach and date models and live in exquisite hotels all over the world.

And the mind of an assassin. How he gets ready, steals passports, forges documents, smuggles in weapons to get ready for the kill. And how no one can stand in his way. Except ofcourse the detective who won in the end. But it almost too late and luck had a big part to play in it. I love this novel and have read it several times since.

Prompt from 31 Days of Writing Prompts for May at the SitsGirls

Arsenal 0 Villarreal 0

Arsenal’s Europa League hopes were dashed as Villarreal sealed a semi-final victory that will almost certainly end the Gunners’ unbroken 25-season run of appearing in European competition. Trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Spain and knowing that victory in this tournament represented their only realistic route back into the Champions League, Mikel Arteta’s side could not find a way past the visitors’ stubborn defence. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck the post with a volley but it was a rare moment of threat in a display strangely passive for large parts.

Nicolas Pepe and Emile Smith Rowe both fired efforts wide early in the second half and Aubameyang hit the post again with a downward header later in the game, but such moments were few and far between. That the defeat came at the hands of former boss Unai Emery will be especially galling for the Gunners. Emery was sacked in November 2019 after 18 months in charge, ultimately leading to the appointment of Arteta. With Manchester United seeing off Roma in the other semi-final and Chelsea and Manchester City into the Champions League final, Arsenal’s loss ruins hopes of a Premier League clean sweep of European competitions this season.

More importantly for the Gunners, though, the result effectively ends their season and their European chances – a big blow to a club that, a little over two weeks ago, was one of 12 prepared to walk away from the Champions League in order to join the proposed European Super League. Arsenal have been a mainstay in European competition since the 1996-97 season, much of that time spent in the Champions League under Arsene Wenger, with the last four campaigns in the Europa League. But that run is now over, serving warning that the Gunners are arguably at their lowest point in terms of on-field performance since George Graham was sacked in February 1995.

10 Day Lockdown

With Kerala reporting nearly 42,000 cases on Wednesday, the highest-ever single day spike, the state government announced a nine-day complete lockdown in the state from 8 May morning to curb the spread of the virus. The lockdown will come into force on 8 May morning and extend up to 16 May, according to official sources. Strict lockdown-like restrictions are already in place in the southern state and the Pinarayi Vijayan government decided to clamp the complete shutdown in the wake of a severe spike in the positive cases.

According to a report in Mathurbhoomi, the govt announced the complete lockdown after the state police department reported that restrictions which came to effect on Tuesday, was not as effective as expected. Earlier on Wednesday, after Kerala reported the highest-ever single day spurt in positive cases adding 41,953 infections, Vijayan had described the situation as serious and said stringent measures will have to be taken to curb the surge. The government  also announced several other decisions to strengthen the anti-COVID measures by deploying medical students and government officials to tackle the situation on the ground.

He also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the state should be allotted 50 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine and 25 lakh doses of Covaxin. The Centre should take into account the number of people waiting for the second dose and those who have registered for the first dose while allocating vaccines to the states.

Weird Laws In Norway

Leaving infants outside in below-freezing temperatures: legal
If you’re not from the Nordic countries, chances are you’ll be shocked to see that leaving sleeping babies in their strollers on streets, alongside cafes, and without a parent, is normal, legal, and even encouraged at times. Some parents claim the practice builds character and immunity against diseases.

Not having beer during your Christmas feast: (technically) illegal
When Norway was Christianized in the early Middle Ages century, many rulers led with the intent to honor God through their laws. For King Hakon the Good, this was done by brewing beer at Christmastime. If no beer was brewed, culprits were forced to pay a steep fine.

Norwegians were purportedly ordered to brew beer in preparation for All Saints’ Day, in addition to the Christmas beer, some centuries later. Punishments for refusal to comply were much stringent than the Christmas beer, demanding an initial fine, and eventual exile if the “criminal” activity persisted.

Mandatorily carrying a firearm: legal (in some places)
On the Arctic island archipelago of Svalbard – located halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole – residents share their home turf with wild polar bears. Polar bears pose a danger to humans who get too close or endanger the bears themselves. Because of this, it is illegal to leave a human settlement in Svalbard unless you’re carrying a firearm, or are accompanied by an expert carrying a firearm.

Being buried in Longyearbyen: illegal
Another strange law out of Svalbard. Some people (mistakenly) think that it’s illegal to die in Svalbard. Laws regarding morbidity in a certain place, formally known as the prohibition of death, date back to the 5th century when Greek inhabitants on the island of Delos considered the island too sacred for someone to die there.

Though dying isn’t outlawed on Longyearbyen explicitly… It’s discouraged. Temperatures on the world’s most northern settlement can reach less than 30 degrees Celsius. The extreme cold forces the ground into a permanent state of permafrost: nothing thaws and nothing decomposes – including dead bodies. Not only do they take up space, but they also pose a health hazard as well, as viruses or diseases are perfectly preserved too.

What I Learned Blogging

What have you learned since you first started blogging?

What have I learned? Well one thing, which was almost obvious to me, is that I love blogging. I used to keep a daily journal for a while as a teenager. Ages 15 to 19 I maintained the journals and I wish I could have saved them. Then I picked it up at age 21 but it became mostly just a few notes on the page. Doing it online made a lot more sense.

I also noted that a lot of people start blogs but then they stop after a while. I maintained it because I love the process. I also want to keep a record of things that happen in my life, as boring and bland as it may be. But it is interesting to me. When I am old and retired, I will spend many hours going through the old posts over a coffee or a beer and smile.

I also learned that you can make money online using your blog. That was an eye opener for me. Back in 2008 it was once a year and by 2011 it became a few times a year. I started getting quite a lot towards the end of 2018 and in 2020 it was quite a lot. I still make a few thousand here and there and it gives me so much pleasure when I get paid for doing what I love.


The First Thing

What is the first thing you see in the morning?

It kind of depends on how I wake up. Which position I wake up in from sleep. If I wake up on my back, I usually see the wall in front of me on which my tv is mounted. On top of that is a small teddy bear which was given to me as a gift many years ago. I will also be able to see the work desktop given to me from the office as it is right next to the tv and the end of my bed.

I usually tend to sleep on one of my sides. If I wake up on my right side, I will see the curtain and my window on the right. Which is ok but usually it gets a bit too sunny so I don’t usually like waking up on that side of my bed. On the left is the chair I keep a bottle of water and my phones and my inhaler. After that is a little space and then the dvd shelves that houses my collections. I like waking up to seeing that.

That’s what I get to see. I am curious as to what you guys see the first thing in the morning. If you read this, leave a comment below.

Prompt from 31 Days of Writing Prompts for May at the SitsGirls

Night Shift For The Week

Back to work on Monday but it is the dreaded Dracula shift. I hate this shift. It is the dreaded 9:30 pm to 6:30 am shift for this week. Ugh! I barely can get used to it. I hope it is only for a week though.

Today, or I should say tonight, I will go to the office for a day. I will need to set things up for a new set of 24 or 25 new hire folks who are joining the company. That is gonna take some doing and I guess I will have to go there to make sure things are all right. From Tuesday I can come back and work from home. Which is good.

So I will book an Uber by 8pm and head to the office. I will work till 6:30 am and have breakfast and then head out back for home and hopefully will be able to get enough sleep.

Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored on his first start since recovering from malaria as Arsenal prepared for their Europa League showdown against Villarreal with a confidence-boosting win away to Newcastle at St James’ Park. Mohamed Elneny scored his first Premier League goal for the Gunners, before Aubameyang – on his first start since 3 April – secured the points in the second half. Speaking after the game, the Gabonese striker paid tribute to his “incredible” doctors for their part in his recovery.

Arsenal trail 2-1 after the away leg of their semi-final tie with Villarreal and victory in the north east of England was their first in four games. The Magpies had an excellent April to distance themselves from the bottom three but they struggled to impose themselves on Sunday. Steve Bruce’s side, who lost Fabian Schar to a straight red card after a late challenge on Gabriel Martinelli, remain nine points above the relegation zone with four games remaining. Arsenal, who host Villarreal on Thursday, move back above Aston Villa into ninth place in the table. Arsenal travelled to Newcastle in need of victory after what manager Mikel Arteta described as a bad week of results before kick-off. A disappointing draw against relegation-threatened Fulham was followed by defeats at Everton and Villarreal.

But with morale low, the trip to St James’ Park came at the perfect moment. The Gunners had won their previous six games against the Magpies, keeping five clean sheets in the process, and they got off to an impressive start. Elneny was the beneficiary when Aubameyang mistimed his shot, to open his league account on his 66th appearance. Granit Xhaka also forced Martin Dubravka into an smart save in the first half, before Aubameyang made it five goals in five appearances against the Magpies with an acrobatic finish after Martinelli’s pin-point cross. The Gunners’ season now rests on whether they can overturn the deficit against Villarreal to reach a second European final in three years.

The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects is a 1995 neo-noir mystery thriller film directed by Bryan Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie. It stars Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Chazz Palminteri, Pete Postlethwaite, and Kevin Spacey. The plot follows the interrogation of Roger “Verbal” Kint, a small-time con man, who is one of only two survivors of a massacre and fire on a ship docked at the Port of Los Angeles. Through flashback and narration, Kint tells an interrogator a convoluted story of events that led him and his criminal companions to the boat, and of a mysterious crime lord—known as Keyser SĂśze—who controlled them.

Fruits For Life

Have you ever canned your own fruits or vegetables? Share a memory or recipe.

No we do not really can our fruits and vegetables. When my family lived in the house in Thrikkakara (oh how I do miss it so much) we did have some fruits & vegetables that we grew in our backyard.

We had bananas, mangoes, gooseberry & wax apples which grew quite a bit. A lot of neighbourhood kids would ask to come and collect wax apples and we usually let them in and let them collect as much as they wanted in small plastic bags. We also had coconut trees and jackfruits a plenty. Speaking of jackfruit, we used to sell a lot of them as always had more than we needed. We also gave a few to our relatives each year. And funny enough my golden retriever Shawny seemed to love them a lot.

We did store some of it for ourselves but never canned or froze them. I did used to keep some mangoes in the fridge and when a couple of my cousins came over we would make juice outta them.

Prompt from 31 Days of Writing Prompts for May at the SitsGirls

Racy Jokes About Priests

Did you hear about the new Exorcist movie? The Devil came to get the Priest out of the child.

How do you get a nun pregnant? – Dress her up as an alter boy.

The worst part about church is that you’re constantly switching between sitting, standing and kneeling; I mean, why can’t the priest just pick a position and f**k me already!

A priest and a rabbi run out of a burning church and the Priest says “what about the children” the rabbi says “fuck the children” and the Priest says “do you think we’ll have time”

Boy goes to Confession Boy ” What are you doing father” Priest “Its called masturbation and soon you will be doing it” Boy ” Why do you say that father” Priest ” Cause my hand is getting tired”

Travel Back In Time

If you could time travel to any year, which one would you visit?

I am not sure. There are a few years that I wish I could go back to and visit my childhood again. Some really special years come to my mind. I really like the first two years of the 1990s. Add 1993 in as well. I think if I could go back I would make quite a few changes to my life and choice and still enjoy the times. Especially since those 3 years had such great music being released as well.

I would also like to revisit my 18th year in life for different reasons. I want to make a few changes for events that happened that year. I think I would like to do that very much. Also I want to go back and visit the period between October 2004 to 2005. I worked a lot during that time but I also had a lot of fun and was very satisfied with the work that I did during that time. I enjoyed myself. I have never ever had that kind of satisfaction again.

For some reason I also want to go and visit August 2nd 2005 once again. That was the day I turned 29. I dunno why but that birthday, a rainy, gloomy day I spent on my own and having a late lunch with drinks always sticks in my memory. I just want to do it again.

Prompt from 31 Days of Writing Prompts for May at The SitsGirls

5 More Weird Laws In Belgium

6. Belgium allows the personal possession of cannabis

Although Belgium historically had a strict stance towards all drugs, Belgium relaxed their laws on the personal possession of cannabis in 2003. Now in Belgium it is legal to possess up to 3g of cannabis. Recent comments have hinted at stricter policies but will likely mostly affect smoking in public, while possession continues to still be technically legal.

7. The Belgian King can mobilize troops in independent Congo

Although the Congo declared independence in 1960, the Belgian King can by law mobilize the ‘Belgian-Congo’ military and take any necessary means to protect the country in a war, or even implement proactive measures in times of peace. Naturally, this is a law that has not been invoked much in the past few decades.

8. ‘GAS’: a ban on civil and social practices

The biggest source of Belgium’s weird laws is the Communal Administrative Sanctions (Gemeentelijke Administratieve Sancties, or GAS). These were a number of relatively minor laws, with fines up to €250. Introduced in 1999, they gave local authorities the power to address petty nuisances. A number of municipalities used GAS to cover their civic duty, like restricting children’s games for safety reasons.

9. Dogs and oxen can propel army vehicles

Several of Belgians weird laws revolve around the pursuit of advancing technology. One such law dating to 1939 concerns the military, which dictates that ‘beasts of burden (horses, oxen, dogs, etc.)’ can be requisitioned for any vehicles employed by the army. Although, perhaps that wouldn’t be useful if a drone runs out of fuel.

10. You can keep your last cow, pig, goats, sheep, and chickens

Belgian law provides a list of items that a bailiff cannot seize. Although a handy list, it includes some outdated elements such as livestock and one month’s worth of livestock feed. It is yet to be seen if this law would safeguard the chickens and pork fillets in your freezer.

Villarreal 2 Arsenal 1

Nicolas Pepe’s second-half penalty gave Arsenal renewed hope of reaching the Europa League final despite a semi-final first-leg loss at Villarreal as both sides finished with 10 men. With the Gunners trailing 2-0 and a man down following Dani Ceballos’ sending off, Pepe stepped up and fired home a precious away goal from the spot after Bukayo Saka had been tripped in the box. It means Mikel Arteta’s side go into next Thursday’s second leg with genuine hope of reaching a second Europa League final in three seasons and with the potential of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

They appeared to be sinking without trace when Manu Trigueros fired in an early low, angled drive for the home side before Raul Albiol slammed home at the back post following Gerard Moreno’s flick-on from a corner. Ceballos’ red card with 30 minutes left, courtesy of a second booking for standing on the boot of Daniel Parejo, looked to have sealed their fate. But Bernd Leno produced two good saves to keep the home side at bay before Pepe – playing as a false nine – had his say. Villarreal may still have fancied their chances of scoring again, but this was hampered when they too were reduced to 10 men, as Etienne Capoue shown a second yellow for a late tackle on Saka.

The ‘Yellow Submarine’, managed by ex-Gunners Unai Emery, will go into the second leg on top, but facing the prospect that just one unanswered concession will send them out. Defeat in this tie would likely prompt a new level of soul-searching at the club, who currently sit 10th in the Premier League and need to triumph in this competition to extend their record of appearing in continental competition to 26 successive seasons. It could have been even better for the Gunners, but substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was denied by a fine save from Geronimo Rulli, leaving Pepe’s goal as their sole reward.