It’s An Up And Down Story

With the recent spate of issues we’ve been having at the apartment with regards to the elevator needing repairs and other residents (the ones in the floors 1-3) being reluctant to shell out their share to fix it / replace it, my family is thinking of moving. The elevator has broken down several times in the past month and a half and it is only being repaired partially in order for us to continue using it. But the ideal thing is for us to replace the whole thing as it is quite old.

We and the families in the floors 4 and above have set aside money to pay our share of the cost of the replacement but we cannot go ahead as the families of 3 floors haven’t coughed up their part right now. Hence we have frequent outages of the elevator. It is working now but who knows when the fuse blows out again. This means a walk up 7 set of stairs for me which is taxing on the lungs and legs of most of us. I have walked up most nights of the past month and a half as I come back from work.

Dad cannot climb up and when the elevator is down he goes to stay at my sister’s place. Mom is however stuck at home on those days even if she could go to her sister’s place or my sister’s place for a few days. It is frustrating for us and we are considering moving to another place. I am not sure but with such an old elevator, even if working, will we get a good price? Especially when they come to know that it goes out frequently and needs to be replaced, meaning a good amount. We shall see; for now it’s fine. But I think we will be on the lookout for a new place.

How Should Parents Address Internet Pornography?

How Should Parents Address Internet Pornography?

I remember having this very discussion on a Facebook post that I shared where a former schoolmate of mine, a mother of a teenage boy, was furious that I had mentioned that I didn’t want to ban pornography. Her argument was that young kids would see it and get affected by it. Another friend joined in the discussion and he was with me : we don’t want to ban pornography but we don’t want kids to be exposed to it. If you are worried about your child watching porn online, monitor their internet usage and be more active in controlling what your kid sees online.

I honestly believe that if you have young kids at home and you plan on giving them a laptop / desktop with Internet access, do not give them the connection in their room. Keep their personal laptop or tab with them but restrict their internet usage to a system kept in the living room or dining table or whatever, in plan view of the rest of the household. Be near them when they have to go online. Put parental locks or controls or whatever needed to restrict certain websites.

Look at the end of the day, he or she is going to see something that you don’t want them to see. Either by accident or they might be with a friend who has unrestricted access to stuff online or otherwise. Educate your kids, let them know why you don’t want them to watch this stuff. Tell them that there are genuine concerns that could affect their thinking. Do something constructive and treat them like you respect their opinion too but care for them.

Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times

It’s A Really Dark Late Afternoon

Looks like it’s gonna rain pretty heavily this evening. It’s been so hot and humid this past several weeks that some rain is quite welcome. Now, I know a brief shower just makes things worse and makes it more warm but good solid rains and monsoon winds cool things down here a lot. It rained a couple of times the last few days and I hope it picks up and we get an early monsoon season.

The nights could use some cooling down. Once I close the windows in order to keep the mosquitoes and various other insects away (yes even on the 7th floor we get flying insects) it starts getting a bit warm and on some nights it’s so hot and humid that my sheets stick my thighs due to the sweat. Like a friend once said to me on a particularly humid and sweaty March evening back in 2007 “How do people here have sex in this heat and being so sweaty?”

His joke withstanding I do understand the need for some cooling down. It’s gotten quite dark outside now and it’s not even 4pm! Guess that heavy rain is going to fall any minute now.

Meeting People Of Another Race Or Ethnicity

How Often Do You Interact With People of Another Race or Ethnicity?

Not often in real life. I live in Kochi, India and there are foreigners who come to visit the place and a few who work over here in MNCs and/or the BPO sectors. In recent months I have met more foreigners face to face than I ever have. One reason, we have American clients and hence from time to time they do fly in to our offices for various reasons.

The other is that we also have offices abroad and for a week a colleague from the Philippines was here with us (there were 2 others but I only interacted with the one as she was from the same department as I am) and it was so much fun as she is a really sweet and lovely individual. We also have 5 Egyptians who are working in our office and they have been here for 6 months, 3 of which I have been there as well. Those are the most I have interacted with at any point of time.

Other than that I have mostly interacted with people online and I don’t care what race / ethnicity they are as long as they are good people and treat me with the common courtesy and respect that is due to an individual and I will definitely treat them with respect and offer them friendship. Afterall we are all human (though I know some of you do not act like it) and we are actually one race. One species.

Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times

Have You Been Peer Pressured?

Do You Unknowingly Submit to Peer Pressure?

I’ll you what; I used to submit to per pressure and not because they forced me or anything but just that it was what all of them were doing.

My cousins, almost all of them, are huge cricket fans. I grew up for the first 11 years of my life in Kuwait and although there were a lot of Indians and most of my friends were from India, cricket was not a big part of our lives there. I was more of a football fan and I still am. But because they all watched cricket and my uncles watched cricket I watched it along with them, especially when it was during the holidays. I liked playing it a lot more though but since I turned 15-16 I gave up watching the sport because…well, I don’t like it. I find it boring, I can’t stand the commentators and I can’t stand most of the Indian players and their stupid acting in commercials and I hate that other sports in India does not get the support, government financing, sponsorship or importance that this one does.

The other thing was cigarettes. I don’t smoke anymore and only briefly smoked from the age of 17 till I was 22. I smoked so little that it was never a habit but it was due to my cousins and then my friends that I started smoking during my late teens. I only smoked certain brands and I liked it for a while but I have asthma and it was stupid to continue. One day when I was 22 I just thought to myself “smoking is shit and stupid” and I have never smoked since then. I don’t plan on starting anytime soon. I can’t stand the smell of smokers when they come in after a cigarette and smell of that disgusting stink. Ugh! It fucking blows.

Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times

Package Containing 3 Star Trek Starships

So, after a gap of 20 plus days the box is finally here. Using $50 that I earned doing some paid blogging for a client, I purchased 3 more Star Trek starships from the Official Star Trek Collection done by Eaglemoss. After spending over 10 days in Indian customs and the post office, yesterday I finally got a receipt from the local postman saying that the package was at the post office but I had to pay Rs.463 as duty tax against it.

Since he came to inform me this just as I was eating lunch and then had to get ready to go for the office, I didn’t go yesterday but went this morning as soon as the post office opened. I went in and paid for the package and took the box back home. Although there was some confusion for them as I had said “parcel” which is a different service and this one had come via Indian Speedpost.

So my name and address cleared the confusion and I was handed over the package and I came back home for an unboxing and taking photos and a video. My internet is a bit slow and hence I can’t upload the video, as it is quite large in size, at the moment. So I will do follow up posts in the coming days.

Switcheroo

If you could switch blogs with any blogger for a week, with whom would you switch and why?

Not for the reasons of wanting someone to write my blog through their eyes and experiences but more for me to experience things that they normally do. I wish I could change places with a few of the bloggers that I like and admire and even am jealous and envious of their lives and where they live.

I would always want something better for myself and my family and hence would want to live in a better place, in a better residence/house and have a better job and better leisure. And better options for things that interest me (sporting games, music & movies) and other things. And I do envy these people’s lives and love reading about them and they things they did, the places they went to and the sights they saw, what they ate or drank and I wish I could also be in their shoes. I love seeing the pics that they share and want to be in those pics and enjoy that life.

I know some of you will say that I have it better than a lot of people and that I should be grateful but really if we didn’t want to better ourselves and our lives that we might as well stop living.

Prompt from the Daily Post at WordPress.com

High Noon Thoughts

At noon today, take a pause in what you’re doing or thinking about. Make a note of it, and write a post about it later.

I was wondering if it was going to rain today and whether it would rain a lot or just make a small trickle and make things even more hot and sweaty than it already is. And I was also thinking about how much I would love for it to rain down heavily with a winds blowing in cold air through the windows and how I would love to go and stand out there in that rain and let the cool waters wash away this heat and sweat.

I was also thinking about a few women and how much I miss being in love and having a girl be in love with me. How I miss being kissed and kissing, being touched and touching and how I long to be held and hold a woman who loves me.  How I miss and am missing about on having a woman who waits for that time of the day when we both can be together and spend time talking about how our day has been. And how good it would be to have this woman hold me while we slept after we had made love. I have the same desires as a lot of people and this longing isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

I wish I could turn back time and make a lot of changes in my life, change the decisions I made, take a right instead of the left turn that I took and done things differently. I know I can’t, no time machines exist and hence I must

Prompt from the Daily Post at WordPress.com.

Exodus : Gods And Kings

Exodus : Gods And Kings is a 2014 biblically-inspired epic fantasy film directed by Ridley Scott. It was written by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian. The film stars Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, María Valverde, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley. It is a loose interpretation of the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt as led by Moses and related in the Book of Exodus.

Since the story is known to most people who have read the Abrahamic religious myth legends, I’m only going to focus on some points I made on the movie itself:

  • Excellent shot & produced film. The special effects and sets and costumes are so awesome looking. I love epic films and films set in the distance past and this one stylistically was great to look at.
  • I also think that the actors did a fine job. Well chosen in most cases, Ben Kingsley gives the movie a bit of that class, Christian Bale was awesome as Moses as were everyone else. María Valverde (Zipporah) is so beautiful and lovely and she did a fine job, despite the big age gap. Joel Edgerton plays the main antagonist really well, as a jealous and suspicious prince and then grief-stricken king/father who’s son is dead, so well. Only negative is that Sigourney Weaver had such a small role -waste of a talent!
  • The story & writing is weak. You only get a documentary style telling of a tale and are missing the angst, passion and character development. Despite the grand scenes, it lacked excitement and the only time I felt any was during the parting & crashing of the waves. It didn’t feel like an epic saga and this is something I notice is the movies of late – the movies from the the 60s, 70s didn’t have the technology of today but they did the best with what they had and the movies were so much better. Atleast in this genre.
  • Some believers complained about the Biblical inaccuracies; some controversy arose over statements from Ridley Scott that he would be looking to natural causes for the miracles, including drainage from a tsunami for the parting of the Red Sea. According to Scott, the parting of the Red Sea was inspired by a tsunami believed to have been triggered by an underwater earthquake off the Italian coast around 3000 BC. Another critics said that there were fewer than 10 plagues depicted in the movie, the crocodiles were not involved and the Israelites themselves were also affected by the plagues. The movie was banned in a few countries, including Egypt, UAE & Kuwait. I say don’t take things so seriously and get a life!
  • The depiction of Malak, the representation of god, in particular was of interest to me. He sounded like a tantrum throwing brat, helpless to do anything for 400 years and all of a sudden seeks the help of this one man, a displaced Hebrew who didn’t even know he was one for most of his life, to led the chosen people back to their land! Yet he can cause plagues and the parting of the Red Sea? Loved it!

Overall I did like the flick enough to rate it a 7.5 outta 10! I can’t give it any higher as they should have focussed on the characters a bit more rather than the settings and the effects. Still worth a watch.

When Do You Choose Making A Phone Call Over Sending a Text?

When Do You Choose Making a Phone Call Over Sending a Text?

Whenever a sentence or two will suffice to make the information know or pass the message onto the other person, I will choose to send a text. That is most of the time – and I can choose either SMS or Whatsapp or even Facebook chat or send an email via my phone – that I choose to send a send a text instead of calling up the person. I think if I had to make phone calls I would lose a lot of time in passing on small bits of information and/or letting people know about a minor detail.

Minor information and detail can be sent using a text or Whatsapp message – which is being used for a lot of official purposes as well right now and it’s free – and hence we are reliant on them. Now if it is something urgent and I need a reply right away or am expected a reply right away I will make that a call instead. Somethings just can’t be left to chance; what if the person does not see the text immediately and takes their own time in replying back? You can’t take that chance in such cases and hence you will have to press call and speak to them in person.

What if I don’t really like the person? Text! What if I really like the person? Call the lady in question

Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times

Weekend Burger Lunch & Revisiting Velocity

This weekend, like most this year, I looked forward to going out for the afternoon and getting some food and some beer. As previously mentioned, as of April 1st of this year, Kerala has no more bars other than the ones that are there in the 5 star hotels. I can’t afford to go to the 5 star hotels and the rates that they would charge for their wares. So the government (you can bet all those fucking politicians are visiting the bars often)is discriminating between the filthy rich and the rest of us. It’s the end of civilization.

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First up at 11:30 am was a visit to Cocoa Tree (one of two 24 cafes owned by Avenue Reagent hotel) on MG Road along with my cousin Sujith and we had some cold coffee (I had the choco crunch frappe pictured here and he had the caramel frappe) and burgers (he had the classic beef burger and I had the chicken burger; both had bacon).

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Post that Sujith & I, after chatting for almost 90 minutes, left to go to Velocity and get some beers. Sujith’s older brother Sarath was on his way to Cochin from Bangalore and we waited for him but he was delayed so we started on our first beers. The main area of Velocity was still under renovation and hence we went to the underground section which had an ok looking bar/parlour.

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They had a good selection of beer, including some I hadn’t seen before and even some cans. But I am gonna miss drinking vodka or rum and especially Long Island Ice Teas in bars. We snacked on egg burgi or egg masala as we downed the beers.

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Sarath came by at around 3 pm and we had a couple of more beers. No this basket of empties are not ours. We only had Carlsberg beers, which is the preferred brand and if that isn’t around then either Tuborg or Kingfisher. But it felt kinda depressing to sit in that area and know that we can now only afford either beer or wine (who really goes out to drink wine in Kerala anyway) and it makes me sad and angry. Hopefully the next election changes things and we can get back our bars.

The Pyramid

The Pyramid is a 2014 December release and is a horror/supernatural film in the found footage vein but a little more cleaner production than your usual run of the mill stuff. Directed by Grégory Levasseur, produced by Alexandre Aja, and written by Daniel Meersand and Nick Simon the film stars Ashley Hinshaw, Denis O’Hare, James Buckley, Christa Nicola, Amir K and Daniel Amerman.

Drs. Miles & Nora Holden, an American father & daughter archeologist duo are leading an excavation dig 50 kms away from Cairo when they discover a 3 sides pyramid unlike any other seen before in Egypt and much older than the ones in Giza. Along with them are technician Michael Zahir along with documentary director Sunni & her cameraman Fitzie. As they open the apex, a rush of toxic fungal stale air rushes out causing one of the workers to get infected and convulsed. Due to the uprising in 2013 Egypt the team are ordered to evacuate the site by morning an Egyptian army soldier is sent to ensure that they do leave the site. The team however does not want to leave without getting a good look inside the pyramid and send a robot (a miniature version of the Mars rover), Shorty, in to investigate. Shorty is damaged by an unseen creature and the signal is lost, causing Zahir to want to go and fetch it as he could be in trouble with NASA, who he borrowed it from.

As they try and make their way through to the robot, the floor in a chamber collapses and after they fall down to the next level, one of Zahir’s legs is caught underneath a large piece of the ceiling and the other four are unable to move it. Sunni tries to climb up a shaft to the level above but a creatures leaps at her and scratches her face, causing her to fall down. They leave Zahir behind to find another way out, only to hear him scream, and return to find only a bloody trail leading up the wall. The remaining four are chased by what is later revealed to be cannibalistic cats who have lived in the pyramid for generations, eating on the older ones to survive. The soldier rescues them out of a tunnel but is himself pulled back into the tunnel by an unseen and powerful force. The shocked team then escape a sand tunnel only for Sunni to accidentally fall into a spike pit and get impales and have the cats eat at her flesh. Although the other 3 try to rescue her Sunni’s wounds are fatal and she dies. The remaining 3 move on and find a burial chamber and as the speculate about a way out, Miles has his heart torn out from behind but a large hand and is dragged away. Nora & Fitzie hide in another section of the chamber though Fitzie shortly returns to watch through the camera as the large creature – part man, part jackal, weighing Miles’ heart.

As Nora learns from a hieroglyphic, the creature is Anubis, and the pyramid was constructed to imprison him as he became relentless in his pursuit to join his father Osiris in the afterlife. Anubis captured humans and tried to find a pure soul by whom he can escape to the afterlife. Nora & Fitzie find a way out and climb a long shaft to get out of the pyramid but both are caught by Anubis. As Nora comes to she finds Anubis killing Fitzie and about to measure her soul and she manages to free herself by cutting the ropes that bind her using a knife she had with her. She lashes out at Anubis and wounds him, causing the cannibal cats to attack him smelling blood. She makes her way out of the shaft and into a tunnel that leads out via a cave but the fungal infection overcomes her and she passes out at the entrance. As she comes to, a small boy finds her and the camera with her and as he turns around Anubis comes at them and grabs them both as the scene fades to black and the film ends.

Not very original or scary at all but it was an ok watch for the night. Production is decent and there’s less annoying stuff than most horror films but it’s not enough to rescue this film from the tons of horror stuff that pile out the dvd/bluray sections. 6 outta 10!

Arsenal 4 Liverpool 1

Arsenal tightened their grip on a place in the Premier League’s top four while inflicting damage on Liverpool’s Champions League aspirations with a convincing victory at Emirates. Arsenal scored 4 goals, 4 beautiful goals, I might add to record their 10th win from 11 league matches. The Gunners set the platform for a vital three points with a devastating burst of three goals in the last eight minutes of the first half from Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Raheem Sterling – starting up front for Liverpool after the midweek interview with the BBC that cast further doubt on his long-term Anfield future – battled hard and won a late penalty from which Jordan Henderson pulled a goal back.

In reality, however, this was little other than an afternoon of unrelenting misery for an abject Liverpool, who had Emre Can sent off for two bookable offences before Olivier Giroud delivered the final blow with a spectacular fourth for Arsenal in the closing seconds. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will feel a place in next season’s Champions League is now within his grasp but Liverpool’s hopes are fading as they followed up the 2-1 home defeat by Manchester United by being convincingly outplayed. The win puts Arsenal nine points ahead of Liverpool with seven games left, while manager Brendan Rodgers’ side also trail Manchester United by five points before Saturday’s meeting with Aston Villa at Old Trafford. Liverpool were without captain Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel, who were serving three-match suspensions for stamping in last month’s match against Manchester United.

It was Liverpool who should have gone ahead after 18 minutes when Philippe Coutinho sent Lazar Markovic through on goal but he mysteriously passed on responsibility to Sterling, matters made worse by the failure to find his intended target. There was little indication of the mayhem to come as the game moved towards the interval – but Arsenal delivered three heavy hits to Liverpool in the final eight minutes of the half. Bellerin’s finish for the first, cutting in from the the right before a precise left-foot finish into the bottom corner, was exemplary but the defending of Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno was nothing short of shambolic as he virtually ushered his opponent into a dangerous position. Arsenal’s second came three minutes later as Ozil curled a delightful 25-yard free-kick beyond Mignolet and the third arrived on the stroke of half-time when Sanchez scored with a thunderous shot from the edge of the area – although it passed suspiciously close to Liverpool’s keeper before going in.

Liverpool were offered some hope with 14 minutes left when they were awarded a penalty for Bellerin’s foul on Sterling. Henderson’s penalty was not exactly convincing but it did the job as it sneaked past Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina. Any Liverpool hopes of a comeback were soon snuffed out when Can, who had picked up a foolish yellow card for dissent, made a wild challenge on Arsenal substitute Danny Welbeck and was sent off. It was fully deserved but there was an element of justification to Liverpool’s protests after Bellerin escaped a second yellow card after conceding a penalty. Giroud’s final goal was simply the gloss on a fine Arsenal display – and the final insult for Liverpool.

Three Letter Words

Three Letter Words

So apparently we have a prompt that says to give a go at writing a complete post without using three letter words. This is hard to do. However I have decided to give it a shot; having said so I think that it isn’t that tough as I expected it to be. Once I decided to make an attempt it basically is just a different look at ways that I communicate & type.

So it might be a very conscious decision to select each word as I type along and making changes in my mind as well as on keyboard to make sure that we stick to said restriction of avoiding three letter words. Gosh darn it, this is extremely hard, frustrating albeit interesting to do so.

Well I guess I am able to only do so much with this restriction. It is irritating me at this moment so I am ending this blog post at this point. I wasn’t aware of my reliance on three letter words until I started making this attempt at writing a post with such a restriction.

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com

It’s A Text, Text, Text, Text World

How do you communicate differently online than in person, if at all? How do you communicate emotion and intent in a purely written medium?

Well for starters I do not use “emoticons” in real life. Or say LOL, ROLF or ROTFLMAO out loud. I also do not share funny pics and images as a reply to other people’s statements or questions. And I do not type ‘K’ online or say that in real life either.

I admit that my people are a text / SMS crazy lot and when Whatsapp came along that became like the thing to do and almost everyone who has a data plan is on Whatsapp as it is free and quite convenient to keep in touch and pass along information, images/photos and even video on it. Since you can carry it with you wherever you go, it has become close to essential. I myself am in a few groups and cannot escape from the almost constant barrage of messages being passed along on a minute by minute basis.

Prompt from the Daily Post at WordPress.com.

What Were Your Favorite Childhood Shows and Characters?

What Were Your Favorite Childhood Shows and Characters?

Tv shows are so vivid & memorable from  the past. Comedies like The Jeffersons, You Again, Two Of Us, The Cosby Show, The Muppet Show, Gimme A Break among others that tickled my funny bone as a kid and these were shows were ones that I watched with my family. And once in a while with my friends.

My craze & love for science fiction started when I was pretty young, too young to understand the concept of scifi. I was 4 years old when I first started watching reruns of Battlestar Galactica. Later on it was V which was the subject of much debate & discssion of pre-teen me and my friends. We were fascinated by aliens and spaceships and the possibility that there were indeed alien races out there was something we thought just had to be. Somewhere in there Star Trek, though in much limited quantities creeped in (unlike my fanatic following of it now).

Other shows like The A-Team, Knight Rider, Knight Hawk, Remington Steele, Moonlighting, Starsky & Hutch, Misfits Of Science, etc were more popular and something that groups of us watched together at the time. It didn’t matter who was watching, all of us loved those shows and enjoyed them equally.

Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times