The Robber Bride By Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride is set in Toronto in 1993 (then present day) and revolves around 3 women, who are close friends, united by the effect that a 4th woman, Zenia, has had in their lives. Infact, they have almost nothing in common except for the fact that Zenia has stolen their lovers from them at one time.

Once a month, the three now middle aged friends meet for lunch in a hip cafe called The Toxique. On their recent gathering, in walks Zenia, who they had thought was dead. Infact they had attended her funeral. The novel alternates between the present and flashbacks featuring the points of view of our 3 women – Tony, Charis, and Roz respectively. Zenia has given 3 different versions of her history to the three women and in the end they and us are sure as to which her true version.

As we learn, in the past Zenia has approached all 3 friends at different times for help, sympathy, love & money and betrayed them all in turn. She had affairs & stolen Tony’s husband West, Roz’s’ husband Mitch & also part of her business and ratted out on Charis lover & US draft dodger Billy. At the present stage, it seemed that she had also hooked Roz’s 22 year old son Henry – but it was later revealed that she was selling him drugs and that he was infact gay.

The chapters tells us the stories of these 3 women and how Zenia comes into their lives. All 3 have had struggles and pain in their lives and Zenia snatched what little love & happiness they got. Tony was the luckier one in that West comes back to her after Zenia is through with him and they live together. But Charis has no clue as to what happened to Billy and Roz’s husband Mitch is killed in what seems to be a suicide, after living with Zenia and then being dumped by her.

Zenia faked her death to get away from her life and live anonymously in Europe but then she comes back, haunting the three friends. They approach her individually at her hotel and she taunts then but when they decided to confront her together, she is found dead in the hotel pool. Her death is left as a mystery, as much of her life & origins were, and it also turns out that she had terminal cancer which would given her 6 months more. The 3 women resume their quite lives.

Going To A Party Tomorrow

The company is taking a lot of us for a day out tomorrow. It’s on the pretense of conducting a workshop but it’s more for inter-departmental bonding – between Ops, Quality & Training – or so it is hoped.

I’m all for it, infact it is desperately needed and is atleast 2 years too late to actually make any difference but hey, just the effort is worth it. I’ve been able to take my team out for a day long workshop & fun in January and would like to continue taking them out for more such events. Ofcourse budget is very critical for things  like these. Anyway this is three departments and the budget is way bigger than anything I can pull out after sending a few request mails.

The venue is the Fortune Islet Resort @ Koramkotta Dweep. If you remember last year I had written a post about an evening we spent there. That was a night to remember – we had so much fun. This time I’m there are so many more people (almost 40) & taking my team along with me, which is always preferred. I hope they enjoy it as much as I know I will.

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Are You Ready For Stanley Cup 2010 Semifinals?

Eastern Conference 1st Round

WSH vs MTL (Canadiens win 4-3)  |  PHI vs NJ (Flyers win 4-1)

BOS vs BUF (Bruins win 4-2)  |  PIT vs OTT (Penguins win 4-2)

Western Conference 1st Round

SJ vs COL (Sharks win 4-2)  |  NAS vs CHI (Blackhawks win 4-2)

LA vs VAN (Canucks win 4-2)  |  PHX vs DET (Red Wings win 4-3)

Eastern Conference 2nd Round

(4) Penguins vs ( 8 ) Canadiens  | (6) Bruins vs (7) Flyers

Western Conference 2nd Round

(1) Sharks vs (5) Red Wings  | (2) Blackhawks vs (3) Canucks

Just What Is A Harthal?

Lady Banana left me a comment asking me what a harthal day was. Instead of a reply comment, I thought I’d post it here.

A Harthal is a strike usually called by political party/parties against anything that they feel is unjust, like rise in price in diesel, petrol, fuel, food & basic commodities, arrests or attacks against an influential political party etc. This is mostly against what the general public wants and the people are usually against harthals. On a day when a harthal is called buses, taxis, autos & trains usually don’t run their normal routes. Due to harthals, there are great financial loses. The states in India which are usually affected are the ones that have huge Communist allegiences like Bengal & Kerala.

Movie theatres and other public places of entertainment are closed down, stores, restaurants & shops remain closed, schools & colleges are closes. Most offices are closes as well.  Political parties conduct marches on the street and they stop/block your way so that you are delayed in reaching your destination. They might break the windows of stores that open on this day – unlikely as most store keepers know better and they won’t open on a harthal day.

Earlier we were forced to suffer 24 hour harthals but now it’s usually 12 hours and that too from 6am till 6pm. So companies like where I work, have their staff come in before 6 am and drop them home after 6pm in order to avoid issues & injuries. This inconveniences a lot of us and we are forced to go through this suffering because of the fucking politicians.

Yesterday they stopped many trains and the passengers were forced to wait for many hours, stuck in the railway station. What these bastard communists party assholes did, was that they forced people to be stranded without food and in many cases without water, while special food was catered only for the political party members! This is your politics Kerala & India – and it fucking sucks!

Saga Of Working In The Office On A Harthal Day

Prologue: I set my alarm for 3 am on my BlackBerry Curve and settled back to watch a movie that I had recently downloaded.

  • Went to sleep at around midnight with about 25 minutes of the movie left to watch as my eyes were playing peek-a-boo-i-see-you on their own with no commands being given by myself.
  • The alarm woke me up at the unholy hour of 3 am but I could barely lift my head up and so I hit the snooze button (which is set for 5 minute intervals).
  • At 3:05 am the alarm wakes me up from my 5 minute slumber and I angrily hit snooze again. By now I am regretting my decision to work on a harthal day.
  • At 3:10 am I hit the snooze button for another 5 more minutes of shut eye and this is it. It’s 3:15 am and I just have to get up and out of my bed…which has never been so inviting in it’s existence.
  • I wash my face with somewhat cold water. Next I brush my teeth.
  • I go to the kitchen and make myself a big cup of strong black coffee and hope that the first sip will wake up all my sense. The coffee is extra strong and bitter and it does the trick.
  • I watch the end of the movie as I enjoy my coffee and then attend the call of nature. As I come out of the loo, I notice that it is 4 am and I have a missed call. It’s from the office, informing me that a company cab will reach me within 30-45 mins.
  • I take a long shower and a shave, iron my shirt and then proceed to get ready for work. I get two calls from colleagues, who are in the same cab,  informing me where they were at that moment and that they were headed towards me.
  • By 5 am I am in the cab and we’re headed to pick up one of my trainers, Wasim, and then we’re off to the office. We reach by 5:20 am – still unholy and it’s still quite dark.
  • I switch on my system and check my mails and then settled back with a novel that I had brought along with me – no use trying to work until 9 am atleast. After a while, I push the back rest of the chair as far as it will go and relax. I remove my glasses and close my eyes and take a nap.
  • My nap is intermittent and it’s annoying as I can not sleep properly while in a chair. I wait till 8 am and then go wash my face and look for Wasim so we can go and grab some breakfast and coffee. We go and call Amritha from HR & get poori and potato masala, that is so thick & filling, for breakfast.
  • 30 minutes later I’m back at my system and working at a very luxurious pace. The potato masala does not seem to agree with me and I learn that several others have met the same fate. Luckily for me the work is pretty light.
  • At 1pm, we learn that lunch might be delayed so me and 3 members from my team – Wasim, Ajeeba & Rajeesh – volunteer to go last for lunch. We sit in a conference room and chat about stuff and munch on a handful of jackfruit chips and banana chips. By 2:30 pm we go to the cafeteria for lunch but have to wait for 15 more minutes.
  • Lunch is served and it seems to be ok. But they also serve us these huge bananas – in hindsight, we should not have eaten them.
  • Back to work till 6pm. We actually get some real work done and I’m happy with the report I was working on. I check for the cab timings and learn that I can go on the 6pm cab. Yippee, only 12.5 hours in the office!
  • I & Wasim wait for the 5 other executives to board the tempo traveler. Ajeeba’s husband has come to pick her up and Rajeesh lives 2 minutes away, so he chooses to stay back in the office and walk home later.
  • By 6:20 pm we are on our way in the traveler and after 4 people are dropped off, including Wasim, I reach home, as the clock strikes 7 am. I change my clothes and get some coffee, happy to be home.

Epilogue: working on a harthal is not worth it, unless you live quite near the office and/or have your own vehicle. Otherwise, it’s a pure waste of time. You waste a lot of time just  getting to the office and end up having to wait a lot. If you have the opportunity, you can also try to arrange a fun day at the office with your team or else arrange an impromptu workshop that they need. But harthals need to killed off as it has no place in the modern world.

The State Must Be Paralyzed!

The state must be paralyzed – screamed the heading, quoted by the secretary of the Kerala State Committee of Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) Pinarayi Vijayan. I’m sure that it will, thanks to you and your party.

The Indian state of Kerala will suffer through another unwanted & unwarrented state wide harthal – a political party led forced stoppage of work, travel & normal routine of life. You cannot go to work at a normal time, you cannot travel on the streets freely and you cannot go and do anything fun or otherwise in public. The politicians demand that you sit at home and waste a day, thinking about the rise in prices of commodities.

So, against your own wishes you are held hostage to the whims and fancies of the political parties! And we call this democracy?

Star Trek: TOS Women 5

Continuing on my theory that women in the 1960s were hotter than women of any other decade, let me present to you the absolutely charming, sexy, beautiful & demure Leslie Parrish who played Lt. Caroline Palamas in the classic episode Who Mourns For Adonais? Palamas was the archeology & anthropology officer of the USS Enterprise under Captain Kirk’s command and thus when the ship was confronted by a powerful alien being who dressed like, appear like and claimed to be an ancient Greek god, she joined the away team who met the being.

The alien who calls himself Apollo (an ancient Greek god) as moved by Palamas’ beauty, and quickly became infatuated with her. He transformed her standard uniform into a long peplos, which he felt was more appropriate attire. Appropriate for her and intoxicating for her male viewers. Wow, she is a sight to behold in that skimpy outfit which hides none of her curves.

On several occasions, Apollo left the remainder of the landing party alone, taking the young lady elsewhere to entertain her. This created tension between the alien and Scotty, who was also interested in Palamas; on two occasions, this drove Scotty to attack Apollo, with unfortunate results for the ship’s chief engineer. And, she began to develop feelings for Apollo, in return. Kirk knew that Apollo fed off attention and especially Palamas’ attention. So he ordered the young Lt to reject the “god”.

Heavy-hearted, Palamas left to meet with Apollo at his call, and on her captain’s orders she rejected him, pretending that her entire association with him was part of her study of alien civilizations. Apollo was first confused, hurt, and then enraged. He expended a great deal of power to impress her, summoning a storm and crafting a gigantic image of himself in the sky.

About this time, Spock and the Enterprise crew managed to pierce Apollo’s hand in places, and they attacked his power source through these holes. Apollo, having expended much of his energy in his rage, was unable to prevent the destruction of his temple. Without it, he was powerless, and he “spread himself on the winds”, joining his old companions in oblivion, an event that left Palamas weeping. But look at her power – she brought down a so called “god”!

Sens Out Of Playoffs

So that’s it. The Ottawa Senators blow a 3 goal lead in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the defending champs the Pittsburgh Penguins and lose the series 2-4. The Sens go home and no doubt a few of them will probably still play some more hockey for the World Championships. And some of them will want to put the disappointment behind them and go to their summer homes and play golf or do other stuff.

Most of them will want to play more hockey and try and get over the bitter taste of loss and see if they can win gold with their national team. Ofcourse it’s not the same as winning the most difficult trophy there is to win in all of team sports. So there’s more playoff action in the weeks to come. With the exit of the Senators, I’m going to put all of my support behind the Vancouver Canucks. This looks like as good a year as any for the West Coast team.

Go Luongo!

American Idol Guests Screw Stairway 2 Heaven

I only have a passing interest in American Idol. There is some genuine talent and some really good songs sung by some really good singers but overall it’s still mostly….boring!

I don’t know when it happened but the singers that they think have really good vocals are all these dumb morons and the songs that they think have great lyrics are all these sappy, crappy rnb & pop songs. Then it’s all those crying cause the song touches them deeply, reminding them of a loved one (who just so happens to attend the show for the very first time) who’s been through so & so, and the camera pans to that person! And when you check the lyrics and the reason – they won’t have any goddamn connection!

Another thing, sometimes the song is great and the singer has done a fine job but the judges come down on them and vice versa. There’s this white girl on the show this season who screams in every song and she has got this literal big mouth too! The guests are usually horrible but they do have some nice surprises as well. Credit giving where credit is due. But this last one was not a good surprise.

Mary J Belch is yuck, she sucks. I can’t believe that people think that she is a great artist. She appeared on stage and she stank up a genuine classic rock & metal number. She stank up a song I never thought a drunk parrot could stink up. She massacred Stairway To Heaven! That’s right, Mary J Bleach sucks so bad, I almost didn’t recognize the song but then it’s hard not to know the music. And who was playing bass up there – Idol judge Randy Jackson!

Mary J. Bitch also was moving on stage, swaying like a drunk orangutan! And who was playing lead guitar up there? Steve Vai. I am a big fan Vai, but he has this of habit of being a little bit of a sell out. He has his gal pal Orianthi on guitar as well. Overall there were like 7 people on stage who couldn’t do 1/6th as good as 4 people (that’s Led Zepplin) would have done on any given night.

Sheesh! I need a couple of beers after watching that.

Stargate Universe : Episode 11 “Space”

A week passes by after the events of Justice (in reality for us a few months as the network wanted to wait until after the 2010 Olympics had ended) and Col Young is coming to terms with his decision of leaving Dr. Rush on the barren planet. Camille suspects that Young may have killed Rush due to tensions between the two and she confronts the former about it. When Young decides to report to Earth by using the communication stones, instead of his mind being switched with the body of a Stargate Command personnel,  Young finds himself on an alien spaceship!

He watches a blue alien on a platform in the ship. Meanwhile the alien who is now in Young’s body attacks the crew of Destiny. The stone is replaced and the minds are reversed back. What we later find is that Dr. Rush took one of the stones with him and he was found by the blue aliens on the barren planet, when he accidentally triggered a distress signal on the deserted ship on the planet. The aliens have probed Rush’s mind and are now interested in Destiny.

After the ship drops out of FTL drive, they see the aliens mothership following them and soon attacking them by using several smaller ships. One of the smaller shuttles breaches Destiny’s shield and cut a hole on the ship. They abduct Chloe and then take off in their ships. . Scott requests that they send the shuttle back out to retrieve Chloe, as the ship hasn’t tried to depart. Young denies the request. He also believes that the attack may have been a distraction to take prisoners. He wants to rescue her his way, by using the communication stones.

Once again Young uses the stones and switches bodies with an alien on the ship. In the blue alien’s body, Young explores the huge ship and finds to his surprise, a tank in which a very much alive Rush is kept. He frees Rush and convinces the scientist that he is Young. Meanwhile, Young’s body is kept restrained but the stones stop working due to the influence of the alien’s devices. Now the alien on the ship attacks Rush, who overpowers and kills it.

The alien ship begins to attack Destiny again, this time more aggressively. Knowing through Rush that Chloe is also on the ship, Rush goes in search of her and rescues her. Having learned the layout of the vessel, he takes her to the fighter bay. Meanwhile, Greer and Scott, having yet to launch the shuttle, notice that the fighters are retreating again, except for one. Rush and Chloe are in it and climb back aboard the Destiny and reunite with the crew.

In the mess hall, Rush tells Eli, Chloe, Scott, and Volker that after he was able to “free himself” from the “rock slide”, going along with Young’s claim, he entered the crashed ship, and began checking the systems and explains how the aliens found him. Later Rush & Young agree to put aside their differences for the sake of the crew. In the final scene, Rush meets with Wray in the hydroponics room. They both agree that Young is dangerous, and Rush points out that he was nearly killed when he tried to do something about it. She assures him that “Next time will be different.”

Bret Michaels In Critical Condition

Poison lead singer & solo artist Bret Michaels is in critical condition suffering from a brain hemorrhage, his publicist said Friday. Michaels’ New York-based publicist, confirmed a report on People magazine’s website that said the former Poison frontman was rushed to intensive care late Thursday after a severe headache. The report said doctors discovered bleeding at the base of his brain stem.

The 47-year-old glam-rock reality TV star had an emergency appendectomy at a private care facility for diabetics last week after complaining of stomach pains before he was scheduled to perform at Sea World in San Antonio, Texas. Michaels later wrote on his website that though the surgery “has taken its toll,” doctors expected him to make a full recovery. Michaels is currently a contestant on the third season of Donald Trump’s NBC competitive reality show, The Celebrity Apprentice. For the first six episodes, Michaels served as a lighting rod for the show’s male team, avoiding being fired in the boardroom.

Before joining The Celebrity Apprentice, Michaels starred as the lothario on VH1’s lusty reality dating series Rock of Love from 2007 to 2009. For three seasons, Michaels searched for the women of his dreams amid a sea of implants, tattoos and thongs. He also served as a judge on the fifth season of the USA singing competition Nashville Star in 2007.

My Lunch With The Team

Things have been a little hectic the past couple of weeks. I was ready for a little fun and so were my team members. Unfortunately with very little time in between conducting so many batches, we are forced to get whatever we can and find some time for relaxation in between. We make best with what we can.

I thought a little lunch out of the office was in order. First I had to see if we had the budget for it. I quickly sent an email to the Senior manager for Training and to the center head asking for an approval for the cost of a nice lunch out. I also put in the words “I haven’t taken them out since end of January”. That’s not completely true; I took them out in March but it was my treat and so I paid for it. I got the approval quickly and I asked the Admin team to make the necessary arrangements at Hotel Sea Park. Unfortunately Rekha couldn’t join us as she had an engagement with her family.

So I told the gang that we would go out for lunch and to build hearty appetites. With a batch certification going on, it would be tough to spend much time out, so we worked out a plan. Roopa (who is the trainer whose batch is undergoing certification) would stay back in the office along with Wasim. The rest of us would go to the hotel and order the food and once it was served (since it does take them some time to prepare it and bring it to our table), I would give Wasim a call and he would bring along Roopa on his bike. Thereby we save time.

So by 1:30 pm Rajeesh, Anusha, Ajeeba & I took a cab from the office for the short ride to the hotel. Firdous had gone to the mosque nearby for prayers and joined us there. We ordered food – Hyderabadi biriyanis, mutton biriyani, chicken fried rice, beef masala, chicken 65, fish fry and chilly chicken.

We chatted loudly while we waited for the food to arrive and everyone was quite hungry. Just the waiters placed the plates in front of us, I called Wasim up and asked him to come to the hotel with Roopa. The food was served and in walked the two of them and we all dug in. The food was delicious as usual but I was disappointed that the fish fry was not what I had expected. I wanted the huge karimeen that they are known for but they didn’t have any that day.

Still the Hyderabadi biriyani was fabulous as was the chicken 65. The beef was a disaster as no one remembered as to who ordered it and it was the only dish that was wasted. Satisfied after a good meal, we all wanted ice cream and they served us that as well. By now, 90 minutes later, we were all filled up and content and we took the cab back to the office and completed our work for the day.