BevCo’s First Self-Serve Outlet In Kerala

Back in April the Kerala State Beverages Corporation Ltd. (Bevco) announced that it will soon open three posh liquor outlets with self-help counters in the cities of Cochin, Kozhikode (Calicut) and Thiruvananthapuram. This move was seen as a means to woo its high-end customers; I say finally the State liquor corporation plans to enter atleast to the 20th century! Unlike other countries and perhaps some Indian states, Kerala current sees the BevCo’s with cutomers not allowed inside the outlets. You have outlets with counters setup and you have to stand in cue outside and in between the metal bars setup to form some kind of order and wait for your turn. Once you reach the counter you ask for your beer / vodka / whiskey / brandy / rum or other drink of your choice and wait the minute or two as the men behind the counter get them for you from the shelves behind them. They then wrap them up in newspapers and hand it to you as you fork over the cash.

Going by the government policy not to open any new liquor outlets, the corporation plans to open these on the first floor of existing shops where space is available. The corporation is losing considerable revenue from its premium customers who are wary of waiting in long queues and under the gaze of onlookers to buy their bottles. These customers would rather walk in to a bar and pay a higher price for the drink than wait in the queue, say officials. The facility is being planned to meet the requirements of drinkers who opt for premium brands, and no new shops will be opened. Only rum priced above Rs. 500 a bottle, and brandy and whisky with a price tag of Rs.700 and above will be sold through the self-help outlets. In Kochi, the corporation is looking for space in central city areas, including Kaloor and Palarivattom, officials say. The corporation will spend around Rs. 10 lakh a unit, which will be air-conditioned and spread over an area of around 1000 sq ft. It also expects a sale of around Rs. 1.2 lakh and 160 customers a day.

The serpentine queues outside the retail outlets — often portrayed as indicators of Kerala’s fad for alcohol — need not reflect the real picture, say corporation sources. One outlet caters to around one lakh people in Kerala where there are only 338 retail outlets. It is a negligible figure when compared to around 7,000 outlets in Tamil Nadu, 8,500 in Karnataka and 6,500 in Andhra Pradesh, they say. Each of these shops in neighbouring States caters to an average of 8,000 customers a day.

Dark Skies

Dark Skies is a 2013 scifi/horror movie written and directed by Scott Stewart and produced by Jason Blum starring Keri Russell,Josh Hamilton and Dakota Goyo. The movie relies on the actors talent, some good camera work and reactions to the weird stuff that’s happening rather than big budget special effects and gizmos for the techy stuff or blood & gore for the horror. Jason Blum
Couper Samuelson & Jeanette Brill co-produced this movie on a budget of $3.5 million.

Daniel & his wife Lacy are parents of 13 year old Jesse and 8 year old Sammie. The couple are going through a rough patch as Daniel’s previous employers went bust and he has been out of work for over 3 months which puts them through a financial strain. Jesse & Sammie communicate at night from their respective bedrooms via walkie talkies with Jesse reading Sammie ghost stories of the Sandman. Suddenly strange things start happening in their  house – partially eaten food scattered over the kitchen counters and floor when everyone is sleep. One night Lacy comes down and sees canned and packaged foods stacked up in towers all over the kitchen projecting a strange sign on the ceiling and asks Sammie if he did it. The boy replies that it was the Sandman. Another day after they wake up they find that all the photos have been removed from their frames in the family room. With the cops thinking that the boys might be acting out to get attention, Daniel setsup the alarm system in the house but it goes off without any visible cause and the alarm company can’t explain it.

One afternoon Lacy sees 800 birds, which animal control find out to be from 3 different flocks, all crash into the walls & windows of their house as if they were drawn to it somehow. The birds are taken away for testing but no explanation is found. Finally one night Lacy is wakened by Sammy talking and witnesses a humanoid figure standing over his bed. Horrified, when she turns on the light, the room is empty, and they find Sammy in the front yard. Immediately after this experience, Daniel installs security cameras around the house. Lacy begins to research online for an answer and it all points out to alien abduction. She finds pictures other children have drawn that are very similar ones Sammy has drawn of a child and three tall, grey figures holding hands beside a house. Daniel however is instantly dismissive of her theory. Jesse reacts to his parents arguments by smoking pot with his friends. Lacy finds herself losing 6 hours of the day – she was at a house showing it to possible buyers when she stopped in a daze and hits her head against the glass windows. When she comes to she is at home and told by her boss to take a few weeks off. Daniel has a sleepwalking episode after which he has a nose bleed. Jesse also has a blackout. Daniel has a job interview and is offered and accepts the job. Sammie is the most affected as he goes off into a trance once in a while. Soon, it is noticed that there are bruises and marks on the boys and child protective services is notified. It was also noted that the marks were symbols that were applied with a brand. Daniel is finally convinced when he sees 3 gray figures standing over the beds of everyone in the family and he also has horrific nightmares. He & Lacy go to see an expert on these type of situations.

The specialist Edwin Pollard calls the beings the Greys informs them that many have dealt with the Grays, with most cases ending in an abduction. Pollard has a wall in his apartment covered in newspaper articles about missing children. Pollard warns the Barrett’s that they should be hyper-protective of their child, who has been “chosen” and that they must work together in order to save their son Sammie who they feel is the one targeted as he seems to have been the first one they came in contact with. Then maybe the aliens will move on to another family. Daniel boards up all  the doors & windows of the house while Lacy goes to get a guard dog, as Pollard says that dogs can sense the alien beings. On July 4th, the family spends the evening having dinner together and watching the fireworks on tv and generally trying to find happy things to say. Suddenly the transmission cuts to static  all the lights begin to flicker, and the dog starts barking ferociously at the boarded up front door. Lacy puts Jesse in his room with Sammy and tells him to protect his brother. She stands guard outside the door with a knife in hand but doesn’t see the alien behind her and as she checks another room the door shuts behind her and she can’t open it. Meanwhile Daniels sees the screws coming off the boards on their own and a bright light shines through the door and he shoots at it. He then runs upstairs and gets his family into the master bedroom, and they huddle together on the bed. Lacy sees the Grays standing around the bed and screams and Jesse blacks out. In his trance, Jesse sees his brother in the hallway and approaches him. As his family watches in horror, the Grays appear out of nowhere, surround Jesse, there is flash of light, and he is abducted.

Three months pass and the 3 of them have moved to a new place. While go through some of Jesse’s stuff Lacey finds old drawings that he drew a few years ago and that involved three grey figures holding his hand in front of a house. The movie ends with the boys’ walkie-talkie coming on and Jesse’s voice screaming “Sammy!” multiple times amongst a lot of feedback before it firmly says Sammie’s name as Sammie and Lacy listen in horror. And the movie cuts to black! Very well acted with emphasis on the reactions of the cast, good camera work and interaction rather than special effects and blood & gore. Worth a watch. 7.5 outta 10!

5 Things To Make Me Smile

mindbump suggested by Ace of Stars

“What are 5 things you can do to turn a frown upside down?”

I really think it depends on the person and the situation. Like if it was me I would:

  1. Crack a joke. The dirtier the better. Limericks, dirty jokes – anything to tickle my dirty mind.
  2. Play some of my favourite music. Especially the rock anthems! The air guitar is brought out and I play along.
  3. Play some comedy clip of one of my favourite stand up comics. Sure fire way to hilarity!
  4. Have a drink. Beer, vodka or brandy on ice with some 7up or cola!
  5. Eat your favourite food – like pizza! Always puts a smile on my face.

How would you turn a frown upside down?

Sherlock : A Scandal In Belgravia

The second season starts on the same point at which the first one had finished; with the cliffhanger at the pool.  The standoff between Sherlock and Moriarty is interrupted by a phone call to the latter. Moriarty claims to have gotten a better offer & lets Sherlock and John leave alive. In the following weeks Sherlock  becomes a minor celebrity after John blogs about his activities. During the investigation of  man who died in the countryside, Sherlock & John are called to Buckingham Palace by Mycroft.  He and a palace official reveal that Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), a  dominatrix  known professionally as “The Woman”, took compromising photographs of her and a female member of the royal family, and wants the pair to retrieve her mobile phone on which the photos are stored. This is after Sherlock goes through a hilarious episode when he is naked without his robe. Using deception the duo makes their way into Ms. Adler’s home but it seems that she was expecting them and appears naked in front of them – so Sherlock is stumped and cannot educe anything about her!

Very soon CIA officials  led by Nielson break into the house and demand that Sherlock open the safe, which he does after realising the combination is Adler’s measurements and opens the safe, which is booby-trapped with a handgun that kills one of the assailants. After the rest are disarmed, Sherlock takes the phone which also contains other valuable information. However, Adler sedates him and steals the phone back before escaping. Sherlock later wakes up in his bed to find that Adler tampered with his phone, by adding a personalised ringtone of Adler sighing erotically whenever she sends him a text. 6 months pass and Adler sends Sherlock her phone (which requires a code that he does not know to unlock), and he realizes she will be found dead; her mutilated body is later found and identified. However John is contacted by someone, who he thinks is Mycroft, and goes to an abandoned power station, and runs into Irene Adler instead! She had faked her death to shake off the people who are out to kill her for the phone. Sherlock, who followed John, also sees that she is alive. Sherlock returns home to find that Nielson’s team are making another attempt to take the phone, by imprisoning his landlady Mrs Hudson. Sherlock tricks and overpowers Nielson, and throws him out a window. Later on, Adler reveals that she is still being hunted and asks Sherlock to decipher a code she stole from a Ministry of Defence (MOD) official. He effortlessly cracks the code, revealing it to be an airline seat allocation number. Adler secretly texts the flight information to her contact, Moriarty, who in turn texts Mycroft, revealing that he is now aware of the MOD ploy to fool a terrorist cell that was attempting to bomb a plane.

Adler then attempts to seduce Sherlock but they are interrupted by government officials who take him to Heathrow airport.  His suspicions that a similar situation to that during World War 2 is occurring are confirmed by Mycroft; the US and UK governments have decided to fly a ‘dummy plane’ full of corpses so as not to alert the terrorists while avoiding casualties. However, as Sherlock unwittingly helped Adler and therefore Moriarty crack the code, the scheme was foiled. Adler reveals a list of demands to Mycroft, including protection, in exchange for the release of the information on her phone. Adler further taunts Sherlock by revealing that he meant nothing to her. However Sherlock realizes she is lying, as he previously took her pulse that proved otherwise. He opens the phone with the password “SHER” (so that its screen reads I am Sher-locked). With her leverage gone, Adler pleads for protection, as she is unlikely to outrun her enemies, but Sherlock and Mycroft turn her down. Some months later, Mycroft informs John that Adler has been beheaded by a terrorist cell in Karachi, Pakistan, but asks him to tell Sherlock instead that she has entered a witness protection program in America. Sherlock appears to accept this and asks John to give him Adler’s phone. After John leaves, it is revealed in a flashback that Sherlock actually went to Pakistan to pose as her executioner, revealed himself to her, and rescued her.

A lot of fun, perhaps the best episode of the bunch so far.

Spending Time With People – Energized Or Tired?

After spending time with a group of people, do you feel energized and ready for anything or do you want to hide in the corner with a good book?

Well it depends on the kind of event that I was with the said group of people. There are some kind of gatherings which will energize you, fill you with laughter and though and make you feel like there is nothing that you can’t do. Irrespective of the hour of day, you feel like you are raring to go and could use with further activity and perhaps even adventure. You want to take on a task, maybe go out or maybe find another group and spend more time within their midst. You feel that the day has just begun and you are full of life. You want action!

In some other cases it will feel like you have been taxed to the maxed and all energy has been sapped outta your body. This could be the case if there was a lot of food and or drink involved. Then it’s a case of after the spending time, all I want to do is go to sleep for a few hours. This can usually be the case. Especially if it was really good food and the belly needs the downtime to do the digesting. And plus usually alcohol makes me drowsy, especially if I have had more than 3 drinks.

Tighten logic with malleable spanners

My First Visit To A McDonalds In India

Finall the Rosh has come back to McDonald’s! After a gap of 26 years or so! Yes the last time I was in a McDonald’s outlet was when I & my family still lived in Kuwait and that was around 1987! Since then I have never been to one. The one year I lived in Bangalore (1995-96) there wasn’t a McDonald’s franchise open in India yet. The Golden Arches have had their business run in India for quite a while but they only opened services in Kerala & Cochin this year when they debuted at the new Lulu Mall.

They then announced that they would be opening a second outlet in the city on MG Road which is much closer to me and opened a few weeks back. I’ve been waiting to go there since then but only went in today for lunch.

This is just opposite to where I was sitting.

I ordered the McSpicy Chicken burger with fried and a coke combo! Very good fries.

Best bun I have ever tasted, so soft and smooth. Excellent burger with a spicy kick to the sauce that they put. Yum indeed.

Changed My Laptop’s Hard Disk

I had my laptop’s hard disk replaced today. My 320GB was having tons of issues with bad sectors up the ying yang and Windows crashing every couple of days or so. Whenever I download files and it falls on some of the bad sectors, Windows crashes and I get to see the Blue screen of death – which always sends chills up my spine. It had been going on for a long time and I had hoped to get a new one soon. Cash being the problem. Anyway I couldn’t wait any longer.

After checking around for the best options and a trusted place to go and have it done at. A few calls to some friends and I settled on IT Net at Ravipuram. I went there this morning at 11:30 and gave them my laptop. They had a new 500GB drive installed in my laptop and installed Windows 7 plus MS Office and a few other essential software that they could provide. By 4pm I got a call saying that it was completed and I went back there to collect my pc.

Goodbye old 320GB drive. You served me so well for the past 3 years :_(

Hachi : A Dog’s Tale

Even though I knew the story in advance I was not prepared for the ending of this movie. I love dogs, I have had a dog who was my best friend for 11 years until she died. All the sadness of losing her came rushing back to me and I was an quietly sobbing by the end of the movie. Ok, I was bawling my eyes out. They should have warnings on these kind of movies. Hachi : A Dog’s Tale is a 2009 American movie  based on the true story of a faithful Akita Inu, the titular Hachi. It is a remake of the 1987 film Hachi-ko, literally The Tale of Hachiko. It was directed by Lasse Hallström, written by Stephen P. Lindsey and stars Richard Gere, Joan Allen, and Sarah Roemer. Hachi is portrayed by three Akitas named Chico, Layla, and Forrest — each playing a different period in Hachi’s life and his home.

A 11 year old boy, Ronnie, is telling the story of Hachi in his class as a project about ‘My Hero’. A young Akita pup is sent from Japan to the United States, but his cage falls off the baggage cart at an American train station, and by mistake the tag address is ripped apart. He breaks out of his cart and roams the station of the town where he is found by college professor Parker Wilson. Parker tries to leave the pup at the lost & found but the station manager, Carl (Jason Alexander) does not want to keep him there, so the professor takes him home. His wife Cate does not want to keep the pup at their home, so Parker promises to find a home for the Akita the next day. However he has no luck in finding space for the pup at the local pound and has flyers posted about town. He sneaks the pup onto the train and takes him to work, where a Japanese college professor, Ken, translates the symbol on the pup’s collar as ‘Hachi’, Japanese for the number 8, which signifies good fortune. Parker names the puppy Hachi and bonds with the dog. Parker attempts to play fetch with Hachi, but he refuses to join in. Meanwhile Cate receives a call about someone wanting to adopt Hachi. After seeing how close her husband has come to Hachi, however, Cate tells the caller that Hachi has already been adopted.

A couple of years pass by and one morning when Parker leaves for work Hachi follows him to the station. where he refuses to leave until Parker walks him home. That afternoon Hachi sneaks out of the house again and walks to the train station, waiting patiently for Parker’s train to come in. Parker relents and this becomes a daily routine for them – every morning Parker walks his dog to the station and after the train leaves Hachi goes back home. In the evening when Parker comes back on a returning train Hachi will be waiting for him patiently and the two walk back home. This becomes a familiar sight to a lot of the store owners, vendors and other commuters who greet Hachi in affection on seeing him. one afternoon Parker attempts to leave, but Hachi barks and refuses to go with him. Parker eventually leaves without him, but Hachi chases him, holding his ball. Parker is surprised but pleased that Hachi is finally willing to play fetch the ball with him. Worried that he will be late for the college, Professor Parker leaves on the train despite Hachi barking at him. At work that day Parker, still holding Hachi’s ball, is teaching his music class when he suddenly suffers a fatal heart attack and dies. Meanwhile Hachi waits for several hours at the station but does not see his master. Finally Parker’s son-in-law Michael comes to bring Hachi home. The next day, Hachi returns to the station and waits, remaining all day and all night. As time passes, Cate sells the house and moves away from the town and Hachi is sent to live with her daughter Andy, her husband Michael & their new baby boy Ronnie.

However at the first opportunity Hachi sneaks out and heads first for his old home but on seeing complete strangers there he goes to the station once again waiting for Parker, eating hot dogs given to him by Jasjeet, a local vendor. Andy arrives soon after and takes him home, but lets him out the next day to return to the station, saying she wants him to live with them but will understand if he wants to leave. Hachi licks her hand goodbye and goes off. For the next 9 years Hachi goes to the station waiting in the same spot for his master and at night sleeps under an old abandoned train. His story makes it to a newspaper, that profiles his loyalty and snaps photos of him waiting in his spot. 10 years after Parker’s death Cate returns to the town and goes to her husband’s grave where she meets Ken. Arriving at the station, she is stunned to see Hachi, old, dirty and weak, still maintaining his vigil. Overcome with grief, Cate sits and waits for the next train with him. At home, Cate tells the now ten-year-old Ronnie about Hachi. A feeble Hachi returns to the train station later that night and lies down in the snow to die, dreaming of past days with his master. His dreams include a vision of Parker once again coming through the train station doors to greet him. Hachi is then shown alone one last time lying on the snow with his eyes closed before the camera sweeps upward into the night-time sky. The movie then returns to the class room as Ronnie is winding up his story on why Hachi is his hero. His story has clearly moved his classmates, some of whom are in tears as they clap. Ronnie then leaves for home where his father is waiting for him with Ronnie’s new puppy, another Akita also named Hachi. The two then head for a walk down the same tracks where Parker and Hachi spent so many years together.

The closing cards reveal information about the real Hachiko, who was born in 1923. After the death of his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, in 1925, Hachiko returned to the Shibuya train station the next day and every day after that for the next nine years. The final card reveals that the real Hachik0 died in March, 1934. But actually Hachiko died in March 8, 1935, not in 1934. A photo of his statue in the Shibuya train station is the last image shown before the credits roll.

I haven’t cried after watching a movie in years. This is only movie number 3 that has done that to me so far. When the final scene of Hachi just before he dies and he has visions of meeting Parker and spending time with him – that did it! I miss my dog, my Shawny, so much even 8 years after she passed away. This movie is for dog lovers everywhere and movie lovers. If don’t even get a lump in your throat by the end of your movie, please call the mortuary cause you are dead inside! 9 outta 10 for me! :_)

5 Things In Your Backpack

mindbump suggested by Altered Words

“If you were going to take a journey and could only put 5 things in your backpack, what would they be? Why? “

Ok are talking about stuff including clothes (shirts, pants, underwear) and toiletries? You know the basic stuff that is so important to your sense of hygiene and just being a human. Without including the essentials in clothing and say toothbrushes & paste, here is my 5 things in my backback.

  1. Deodorant! You never know when you’re gonna met that super awesome babe of your dreams on this journey. Better to be prepared.
  2. A tablet pc or a netbook / 13 inch laptop. Let’s face it, you always gotta be connected when you are on the go. And instantly upload all those awesome pics and blog about your journey.
  3. An umbrella. It does not need any reasoning, unless you are someone who lives where it had never rained in your lifetime.
  4. Medical kit. For medical emergencies. Good, common sense. Including a bunch of my asthma inhalers. Because I have asthma.
  5. Flashlights / torches. For when you get stuck on a dark part of the world and some creepy crawly with a blood curling shriek is headed in your direction!

That’s my 5!

The Best Meal You Will Ever Have! :)

If any of my friends want to come to India, I shall take you out for a nice meal. In fact I want to take you out for …

This will be the venue

What would you like to drink? I suggest we start with some Child Beer and then move on to the hard stuff!

Here is the food menu

For the pure vegetarians, I’m afraid all we have are these but they are extremely testy!

Would you like to try our combo? They are a surprising hit with most of the ladies!!!!

Olympus Has Fallen

I honestly stayed away from trailers, promos, reviews and interviews of a lot of big budget movies this year and that is so true of Olympus Has Fallen. I almost forgot about this movie until a few days ago and finally watched it last night. Die Hard In the White House – that’s the phrase that kept playing in my head from the moment the White House was taken over by the terrorists and I feel like they should have gone with that as a tagline for the movie! You can call it an homage, to me it’s like rehashing an old formula and frankly I wasn’t very impressed. Still I stuck with it and the cliches and cheesiness of trying to make a patriotic hero out of a fallen one and – are we now going to see Arabs moving out as villains to make way for North Koreans in Hollywood blockbusters?

The movie, directed by Antoine Fuqua, stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Morgan Freeman. Butler co-produced the film with Alan Siegel & Mark Gill. The cast is rounded out by Angela Basset, Dylan McDermott, Radha Mitcher, Cole Hauser & Melissa Leo and a brief appearance by Ashley Judd. So what’s the movie about? Well we have the President Benjamin Asher boxing in a private ring with his lead Secret Service agent, Mike Banning, before he is called to get ready for a party. Banning has a friendly relationship with the Prez, the first lady & their son Connor. On their way from Camp David to a fundraiser party, a tree falls in front of the President’s convoy, making the vehicles skid out of control on black ice on a bridge. The President’s car hits a bridge and hangs on balance at the edge; Banning is able to pull Asher out but just as he does so, the car falls into the icy river below, killing the First Lady and two agents. 18 months later, Banning is now working at the Treasury Department, quite near the White House as seeing him reminds Asher of his wife’s death. So that’s fallen out of favour part. Ok, now the South Korean PM is on his way to the White House for a meeting with the US Prez. That’s when all hell breaks loose.

Among his entourage are North Korean supporters and they and a large guerrilla force who have infiltrated the group begin the attack on the white house. This group includes Dave Forbes, an ex-US Secret Service agent turned private contractor. The guerrilla forces, mount an air and ground assault that results in the capture of the White House. Several Secret service men are killed but they are able to inflict considerable damage to the Koreans before dying. In the melee Asher and several top officials are held hostage in the White House bunker where Prime Minister Lee is killed by Kang Yeonsak, an ex-terrorist & the mastermind behind the attack. He hopes to reunite the two Koreas and demands that the US military withdraws it’s force from South Korea thereby leaving the nation at the mercy of the bigger military forces of the North. He also seeks to destroy all of America’s nuclear weapons in their silos and turn the United States into an irradiated wasteland as revenge for the death of his parents when his mother was killed by an American landmine and his father was executed for crimes against North Korea. He demands the access codes  to a system in the bunker called Cerberus: a fail-safe device that self-detonates any U.S. nuclear missiles during an abort, which are held by three top government officials within the bunker, including the President. Asher orders the other two officials to reveal their codes to save their lives, certain that he will not give up his code.

Banning meanwhile has shot, fought and karate chopped his way into the white house, killing a bunch of the terrorists on the way. disables the internal surveillance and gains access to Asher’s satellite phone, which he uses to maintain contact with Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), the Speaker of the House who is now the Acting President. He must first find and rescue Connor, which he does and leads him to the roof where waiting US soldiers pull him to safety. Forbes is sent to find and kill Banning but the traitor is found out and killed after a brief fight. Meanwhile, Trumbull orders an aerial SEAL assault on the White House, but Kang’s team deploys an advanced anti-aircraft gun system in his possession owned by the United States, called the Hydra 6. Banning pleads to abort it but but it proceeds and Kang’s henchwoman Lim (Malana Lea) annihilates the assault force before Banning can stop it. Kang retaliates for the attempted infiltration by killing Vice President Charlie Rodriguez. Banning then uses the controls in the Oval office to cut Kang from the communications and the terrorists bring Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan outside to kill her but with Banning’s help she escapes and several of Kang’s men are killed. With Kang’s forces dwindling, he fakes his own death as well as Asher’s death by sacrificing several of his men and the remaining hostages.

Finally it’s just a couple of his men and him, so Kang activates Cerberus and attempts to escape. Banning catches up to them kills of the men and finally engages in a violent knife fight which ends in Banning killing Kang by stabbing him in the head. Just as he promised him earlier! He then ultimately disables Cerberus with the assistance of Trumbull. Banning and Asher escape the White House. After the events, Washington begins to heal from the attack and Banning once again becomes head of the Presidential Detail with Banning observing President Asher as he addresses the public. Hero is redeamed and all is well. The end! Die Hard rules! 7 outta 10 just for the amazing effort to attack the White House!

Worst Experience Ever At A Restaurant!

I’ve had one of the worst experiences in a restaurant that I can remember. In my 37 years I can’t remember this bad a situation and I’m glad that I was the only one affected this afternoon and that there were no other patrons at the cafe. Especially no families or women! This afternoon, after a visit to the bank and then going around checking various computer stores for the best deal I can find to replace my laptop’s dying hard disk I went t have a beer and after that stepped into Wood Manor’s Pizzeria at Woodland’s Junction on MG Road. If you remember I had visited this restaurant in May after which I had raved about the place & it’s food in particular. My cousin has since visited it twice and both times his experience was good. Today, my experience – not so much. Now Wood’s Manor is a big hotel and they have this sidewalk pizzeria adjacent to their building.

As I stepped in to the place I saw that they had three tables filled with people so I took a table at the end of the place. I sat down and the server brought me a menu and I asked for water first. I then ordered a thin crust medium and a 7up. I wish I hadn’t! That’s because the three tables were occupied by Omani men who were in Cochin on a work project for their company. They were staying at the same hotel. They had some training that they attend in the mornings and are free from 1:30 pm onwards. Being Muslims observing the Ramazan fast they weren’t having lunch or anything to drink. But they were still sitting there taking 3 tables. Soon a couple of more joined and now it was 4 tables! And they were talking so loudly, yakking their heads off and making a nuisance. They sat with their feet up, mobiles & tabs open and shouting across the tables acting like it was their home! I was put off and wanted to leave. I tried eating my meal but couldn’t do it in peace. It ruined my appetite and I can’t be sure if the pizza was actually bad or if it was the lousy ambiance that made it appear so. I just wanted to get outta there.

I complained to the waiter who apologized for the behaviour of their guests. He said that the management has told the Omanis to tone down their noise and to not sit at the tables if they weren’t going to order and bother paying customers who were having their meals but the Omanis haven’t stopped doing whatever they wanted to do and act as if they bought the entire hotel. I wrote a highly negative feedback in the slip that they gave me along with the bill. As I was leaving I spoke to the F & B manager of Wood’s Manor and asked him is this the way they were planning on running the restaurant. His apologetic answer was basically the same – we’ve told them to please tone it down and respect the hotel’s norms but they aren’t doing so.” They are guests at the hotel and they should respect the rules of the hotel but it is the responsibility of the staff & management to enforce it. If those guys aren’t behaving they could speak to the leader of the group who brought them here and have them set things straight. But the management of Woods Manor haven’t done that. About 20 minutes or so after I left the hotel, the same manager called me back and said that he has spoken to the group’s person in charge and that they should have things in place soon. Plus they are to leave back for Oman in a couple of days.

Whatever – your food is  good, it’s a nice place to sit and relax enjoying a meal but you’ve lost a customer who would have been a loyal patron had this lousy experience not happened!

The Listener – Season 1

I finally caught up with this series. I started watching the show, first two episodes, many months back, but didn’t continue until a few days later. Just a couple of evenings ago I finished watching the entire 1 season of 13 episodes of The Listener. It’s a Canadian drama / cop-detective series with elements of science fiction in it. The show is about Toby Logan played by Craig Olejnik, a paramedic with the ability to read minds, who finds himself consulting with law enforcement to make a change in the world by helping others. His past is sketchy as he does not have much memory of his family and just brief visions of his mother. He was sent to many foster homes before becoming an adult. His close friend and partner is Ozman “Oz” Bey (Ennis Esmer), who usually drives the ambulance. Oz is the comedic relief as well as the sympathetic & lovable sidekick. Lisa Marcos plays Charlie Marks, a young detective who Toby approaches with information and despite an initial mistrust, she becomes his friend and confidant and she learns of his powers. Rounding out the main cast is Mylene Dinh-Robic who portrays the lovely Dr. Fawcett, an on-again-off-again girlfriend of Toby before they become more serious towards mid season. She is the last of the main cast to know about Toby’s abilities.

Until now, Toby has kept his ability to listen to people’s surface thoughts a secret and the only one he has shared it with is his old counsellor and confidant, Dr. Ray Mercer (recurring star Colm Feore), prior to the series’ first episode. As he passes people by on the streets of Toronto with his partner Oz, Toby picks up on strong emotions, which he calls “hits” from people, usually of a desperate nature and tries to help them out. He reaches out to the newest detective in Homicide, Det. Marks who sees him with suspicion. But as Toby’s information and him helping out people bears fruits, she soon becomes an ally and defends him to her boss Det. Sgt. Brian Becker. Toby soon has to confide in Oz about his abilities and although Oz is initially spooked he soon sees the benefits and joins in on Toby’s missions to help others, like a young transgender teen who runs away from BC to live in the streets of Toronto and gets involved in a drugs gang. With Toby helping out and trying to reach out to the teen, Marks is able to put some dangerous pushers and gang members in jail. Toby’s abilities will also help out Oz’s family in finding out an unsolved murder – that was faked – and wins his friend $100,000 so that Oz’s family can save their restaurant. After rescuing a young woman from a fiery car crash, Toby is troubled by visions of her missing son. Clearly traumatized and frightened by her son’s abduction, Toby is unable to get her to share any information. And as his own fears for the child’s well-being increase, he realizes he’s going to have to act quickly to make sense of the mental dissonance that plagues him.

After saving a childhood friend from a burning building, Toby tracks town an arsonist that he believes might be responsible for a series of fires in the city. After meeting a young woman at a nightclub who is later found dead, Toby is considered the prime suspect and must clear his name. After a shooting in Chinatown, he then helps a blind woman solve the murder of her brother, who may have been involved in illegal activity. Toby then connects with a young faith healer whose miraculous gift has put her life in jeopardy. It turns out to be a fake but the girl was convinced by her uncle that she had a gift. Charlie Marks almost gets raped by the serial rapist she is investigating and Toby helps her out and they manage to get him before he can hurt her. Charlie then enlists Toby’s help to to use his telepathic abilities on a traumatized teenager who witnessed the murder of his parents. A patient dies after a hit-and-run, he discovers the man was convicted of embezzling four million dollars and his death wasn’t an accident. Toby’s paramedic skills are questioned when, while trying to save the victim’s life, he disturbs a crime scene. He aso learns that “John Doe” (Gordon Pinsent) an unidentified patient suffering from Alzheimer’s could be linked to his past and that his dead mother may be alive.

As the season ends Toby finds a car that his mother was driving, crashed by the side of a bridge and buried in snow but find the car empty. He is happy that she must be alive but now must search for her all over again with no clues to follow.

What Do You Like In A New Place?

What’s your favorite part about visiting a new place — the food? The architecture? The people watching?

Everything I guess. The sightseeing is ofcourse a big must. I want to see all the buildings, the stores, the malls, the stadiums and the architecture of all the cities I go to. What kind of big buildings do they have? What are the landmarks? Are there any interesting & awesome structures around? What about the hangout places and the places that everyone likes to go to be seen?

The food is essential. When I was much younger I had this fear of getting sick from eating food in a new place. Like when I travel to outside the state and we happen to eat meat from a city or town there, will the preparation style clash with my tummy and leave me hogging the toilet. I remember back in the 19th grade we went on a long trip to Kodaikannal for 3 days from our school. I refused to eat anything other than biscuits and bread for breakfast, rice & curd with a little veggies for lunch and either bread or chappathis for dinner with a veggie stew. All three days. While my classmates hogged on chicken and fish. I became a bit more liberal about my choices in my 20s and now can’t wait to try local delicacies in a new place.

The people watching is another fun thing. You know a place is amazing when you see a lot of hot chicks everywhere. Some eye candy, some sight for sore eyes is very important in each place that you go and I always associate other cities & towns by the hot women I have seen/met there. So bring on the people watching. It’s awesome!

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Oblivion

2013’s Oblivion is a  post-apocalyptic science fiction film based on Joseph Kosinski’s Radical Comics-edited unpublished graphic novel of the same name. The film was co-written, produced and directed by Kosinski. The movie stars Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo & Morgan Freeman. It was released in April of this year.

The movie reminds me a lot of Planet of The Apes, Moon & oddly enough Logan’s Run. The movie is set in the year 2077 but to understand what happens we have to check out the events of the year 2017. I’m going to do this the opposite way than in the movie so as to tell a story, the story of the movie. It will be less confusing for me as I type it down. So, NASA diverts a space shuttle, the Odyssey, carrying astronauts Jack Harper & Victoria “Vic” Olsen towards a the Tet (as it will come to be known as), an alien artificial intelligence housed inside a massive tetrahedral space station that appears near Saturn. Upon approach, the Tet drew them in with a tractor beam. Recognizing that capture was imminent, Jack was able to jettison the passengers, which included his wife Julia, who orbited for sixty years in suspended animation. The alien intelligence then used Jack & Vic to make up thousands of clones, with their memories wiped that have been ruled under a police state. The Tet also used powerful flying drones to decimate the planet of Earth, destroyed the moon that caused lots of tsunamis & massive earthquakes. A vast majority of the planet lies in deserted & uninhabitable conditions. The surviving humans were forced to dress in  metal armours that prevent them from being recognized as humans and shot on sight by the drones and live as scavengers in isolated underground buildings. However the clones of Jack & Vic do not know this.

The  clones of Jack & Vic believe that the earth was invaded by an alien race known as Scavs, who destroyed the moon and killed many humans. They were only defeated by the use of nuclear weapons, which left most of the planet irradiated and uninhabitable. The Tet uses one clone of each of them to man from bases that hover well above the earth’s surface & also act as the couple’s homes. Each base is assigned a number and each Jack acts as a techman repairing the drones and each Vic acts as the supervisor controlling things from the base with the help of advanced technologic equipment. Our movie focuses on the Jack also known as Tech 49 as he & his Vic live in Base 49. Each day the couple wake up have breakfast after which Jack & Vic work as a team to maintain the autonomous drones that defend the power stations from the few remaining Scav bandits. They receive their orders from Sally, their mission commander, who is stationed on the Tet. The couples believe that the Tet is a human space station that orbits the Earth. They have also been programmed to believe that the surviving mankind has settled on Saturn’s moon Titan, which is powered using energy harvested on Earth by giant ocean-borne power stations that generate fusion power from seawater. Jack heads to the surface each day on his space ship (that looks a lot like a futuristic hybrid of a helicopter) in the air & a bike on land and tracks the drones for repair with the help of Vic who sits at the controls and views him through remote camera. He must also look out for Scavs,For some reason, Jack also has a secret retreat in a forested area on the surface he sometimes visits. He also is plagued by visions of a mysterious women, who is from a time before he was born and before the war (circa 2017).

On one such mission, Jack tracks a crashing NASA shuttle pod that was launched before the war. Although the others are killed by the drones, Jack is able to save one woman – the same as the one in his visions & dreams and he brings her to his base. On waking up he finds her name is Julia and she won’t say much but they are able to salvage the mission recorder. Vic seems openly hostile to Julia for no apparent reason. The next day on the surface, Jack & Julia are captured by Scavs who are revealed to be humans living in an underground stronghold. Their leader Malcolm Beech tells Jack that the alien invasion was a lie and demands that Jack reprogram a captured drone to destroy the Tet by delivering an extremely powerful nuclear weapon. When Jack refuses, Malcolm releases the captives but urges them to seek the truth in the so-called “radiation zone” that Jack is forbidden to enter. As they leave, Jack takes Julia to the ruins of the Empire state building, the same place he has the visions of her and she reveals that she is his wife and that he had proposed to her in that location. As Jack and Julia share a kiss, Vic watches via her video link to Jack’s ship and, when they return to the Tower, refuses them entry. When she informs Sally that she and Jack are no longer an “effective team,” Sally activates a drone that kills Vic. Before the drone can kill Jack, Julia uses the weapons on Jack’s ship to destroy the drone. Sally requests that Jack return to the Tet and bring Julia, but they flee in his ship instead, pursued by more drones.

They crash in the radiation zone, where Jack comes face to face with Tech 52, a clone of himself. He fights the clone, who begins experiencing memory flashbacks before Jack renders him unconscious. Jack then finds Julia has been seriously wounded by Tech 52. Jack impersonates Tech 52 and goes to Tower 52, where he encounters a clone of Victoria, and steals a med kit to help Julia. Shocked the two return to Beech and Jack agrees to reprogram the captured drone to destroy the Tet. As they are about to leave, three drones enter the complex and shoot at the humans and wreak havoc inside, destroying the reprogrammed drone in the process. The humans finally manage to destroy the three drones, but are forced to find another way to deliver the nuclear bomb to the Tet. Jack proposes delivering the bomb himself. To throw off suspicion, Julia suggests that she accompany Jack, since Sally had requested that he bring her to the Tet. It is during Jack’s flight to the Tet that he listens to the mission recorder from Julia’s ship and gets to know what happened. Sally was their supervisor at NASA mission control, with other personnel, including Julia, on board in cryogenic capsules. Upon approach, the Tet drew them in with a tractor beam. Recognizing that capture was imminent, Jack was able to jettison the passengers, who orbited for sixty years in suspended animation until Beech sent the signal to recall their craft.

Jack enters the Tet and meets the “Sally” persona of the alien intelligence. Jack opens the sleep capsule to reveal Beech; Julia simultaneously emerges from another sleeping capsule in Jack’s secret forest retreat. The two men trigger the nuclear bomb and destroy the Tet at the cost of their own lives. The destruction of the Tet also deactivates the remaining drones around the world. Three years later Julia, who became pregnant during a night she spent with Jack at the retreat, is raising her daughter in the retreat which is surrounded by lush vegetation and fruit bearing trees as the earth recovers. A group of surviving humans, the Scavs, arrive at the retreat and Jack Tech 52 emerges from the group. A voice-over by Tech 52 reveals that his previous encounter had re-awakened memories of Julia, and he had searched for her since the Tet’s destruction. Having the same latent memories as Tech 49, he then reunites with “his” family.

Stunning visuals, special effects and gizmos. Story line – not so much. I can see why it didn’t do so well at the box office. It doesn’t really offer us anything new. I’m giving it a 7 outta 10!