Swansea 3 Arsenal 1

Swansea City moved out of the Premier League relegation zone for the first time since November following a shock victory over Arsenal. A horrendous error from goalkeeper Petr Cech allowed Jordan Ayew to score a tap-in which put the hosts ahead just after the hour mark, before Sam Clucas’ second goal made the result safe. Mesut Ozil’s sensational pass had allowed Nacho Monreal to open the scoring for the Gunners, but Clucas levelled for Swansea within a minute at the Liberty Stadium. Swansea earned back-to-back wins for the first time this season, while Arsene Wenger’s side have won only three of 13 Premier League away games this term.

Under new boss Carlos Carvalhal, Swansea have now lost only once in eight games and victory over Arsenal was their second successive win against a team in the top six. Free-scoring Liverpool were blunted in the Swans’ previous outing at the Liberty Stadium and the hosts carried on that form as they dominated their visitors in the early part of the match. Only a brilliant Aaron Ramsey tackle denied Alfie Mawson a tap-in from close range in the first half and an effort from Ayew looped over the bar off Mustafi with Cech wrong-footed and unable to act. Mawson also shot just wide as Arsenal failed to clear a corner, before the England Under-21 defender provided the defence-splitting pass that allowed Clucas to score his first goal since he found the net at the Emirates in the reverse fixture on 28 October.

While that strike was worthy of praise, Swansea’s second goal was entirely down to deficiencies in the Arsenal defence. Mustafi’s backpass proved awkward for Cech who sliced a clearance straight to Ayew and the Ghanaian slotted home from close range. Clucas wrapped things up on 86 minutes, firing home after another lung-busting run from the impressive Ayew. For the Gunners, chasing a fourth successive win at the Liberty Stadium, there was a keen sense of intrigue regarding Arsene Wenger’s team selection, with the imminent closing of the January transfer window. Arsenal hope to conclude the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before Wednesday evening, but that deal is thought to hinge on two others, including French striker Olivier Giroud switching from the Emirates to Stamford Bridge.

Giroud was included in Arsenal’s squad despite rumours to the contrary, but had to be content with a place on the bench alongside new arrival Henrikh Mkhitaryan. And it was clear from the start that Arsenal fans have, at the very least, mixed feelings on the potential departure of Giroud. His name was sung by the travelling fans throughout the match and if he is to depart, some Gunners fans will clearly miss him.

In The Bag

What’s in your bag?

Ahem, it’s a laptop bag. Or satchel? No? I guess it is a laptop bag. I have a now weathered and ripped in a couple of places bag that I carry to and fro work. Main things that I need and do keep in this bag are – no, not a laptop – an umbrella (hey I do live in Kerala) and a plastic bottle for water.

I also had a diary that I keep for notes and stuff at work. Maybe a couple of notepads again filled with notes about a project or a new work tool that I had to learn. There will be a pen or two and markers for when I have to conduct training sessions at the office. Let me clarify – the markers are from the office but I hate leaving them in the training rooms as sometimes someone comes in and picks them and then I have to go hunting for new ones.

I sometimes have a packet of biscuits or some dinner in it, wrapped up ofcourse, or maybe a small packet of M&Ms since that is my favourite treat these days. And I have started keeping a powerbank with me as well for my phone. And a spare asthma inhaler.

Purchased A New Phone

Me, the guy who did not like to spend more than Rs.15k or so on mobile phones has just bought a phone that’s worth Rs.33,000.

Me, the guy who said he didn’t think that his phone should best low interest personal loans cost more than his laptop just bought a Rs.33,000 phone and his little-over-2 year old laptop was Rs.23,000 when he bought it (and with discount got it for Rs.21,000)

I have never bought anything this expensive since my motorbike back in 1994. I always looked for lower end phone or mid-level phone around the Rs.12,000-Rs.15,000 range. When I bought a BlackBerry Bold in 2013 for Rs.17k, I almost screamed inside me.

Times have changed and I have been thinking for well over a year that I would like a good flagship phone. And this one, the OnePlus 5T is known as the flagship killer. It comes in two variants – 64GB and 6GB RAM one and the more expensive pay day loan application 8GB and 128GB RAM one. I bought the former. In midnight black colour.

I wanted white (keeping with the colour trend for the past three phones I have had) but they were out of them. Then there is the lava red colour but it only comes in the more expensive variant and I can’t fine the Star Wars (in white) variant as well but then I wouldn’t want that either. So black it is.

Stay tuned for an unboxing soon.

Change Of Place

If you could change anything about your apartment or house what would it be and why?

Well I would totally change where I live – yuk, yuk! Why this place, this apartment and this city? As the years go by, and I know it’s kinda too late for me already, but I keep thinking that I should have taken the plunge years ago and moved to Bangalore. Let’s face it; I would have enjoyed living and working there.

The last time I went to Bangalore, was work related and it was in 2010, I stayed in this old building which was partly renovated on the inside. So some of the apartments had newish painted walls and the flooring was less than 8 to 10 years old, though the buildings would have gone up in the early to mid 80s. I was so comfortable there during the 3 days I stayed in it. It had two bedrooms – the one I stayed in was very large with bay windows – a small living room/dining and a best low interest personal loans kitchen in the main floor and on the top (yes it was a semi-duplex) it had a bedroom and a large balcony/terrace.

All three bedrooms came with bathrooms attached. The negatives were that yes the living room was tiny – two 2-seater sofas and a 4 seater (6 if you can cramp in) dining table and a tv just in front of the steps going up to the second level and it felt cramped. But the bedrooms were big and the balcony was good sized too. I want that kind of a place. I’d make the top bedroom a media room com home office.

Prompt from 365 Blog Post Ideas and Writing Prompts

Saturday Evening Out

I woke up yesterday feeling under the weather, the effect of a slight chest infection that refuses to clear out. Therefore I decided to stay in for the day and see if I felt good enough to go out in the evening. The phlegm was making me cough every few minutes or so and it was not conducive for wanting to go out. So I spent the day at my laptop drinking a couple of cups of hot coffee and a light lunch later I watched Back To The Future and relaxed in bed.

By 5pm I decided to shower and shave and go out. I couldn’t any friends who were able to join me so I was on my own. By 6pm I left the house and went to an Idea Cellular showroom to get a new prepaid connection and SIM. I had to also go and get some money from an ATM machine halfway down the street perpendicular to the store as they couldn’t accept cash for the first recharge. Once I selected a number and handed over the cash for the recharge they gave me the new SIM. Which I haven’t tested out yet for some reason.

After that I went nearby for an early meal; Double Roti was the tempting place nearby and I had a delicious Ginger Hoisin Sauce cooked pork patty burger with bacon and a chocolate shake. Though with the phlegm, choosing a shake was probably not a great idea. After that I hired an Uber to get me to Center Mall and did some shopping at Big Bazaar. I bought a few things like shampoo, soap, deodorant, apples, a few snacks for the upcoming week including popcorn, coffee and sugar. While at the checkout counter I had to wait for the longest time because this one lady, with a small kid in tow, had the largest ever purchase I have ever seen in a supermarket.

She has three large shopping carts filled to the brim with lots of items. Including the most I have ever seen of biscuits/cookies (Unibic is having a sale), towels, kitchen utensils, vegetables and a whole plethora of other stuff. She needed a couple of guys from the store to help her get the bags down to the ground floor. After my shopping was done, I was feeling a bit tire and before came home, I took some rest for a little while and enjoyed a Lipton Ice Tea at Subway. Then I was watching Superman (1978 with the late Christopher Reeve) while munching on M&M peanuts.

Borg Vs McEnroe

Borg McEnroe, also known as Borg vs McEnroe, is a 2017 internationally co-produced multi-language biographical sports drama film focusing on the famous rivalry between famous tennis players Björn Borg and John McEnroe at the 1980 Wimbledon Championships, culminating in their encounter in the men’s singles final.The film is directed by Janus Metz Pedersen, from a screenplay written by Ronnie Sandahl, and stars Sverrir Gudnason, Shia LaBeouf, Stellan Skarsgård, Tuva Novotny, and Robert Emms.

I was a little less than a month short of turning 4 when this great match took place and as I ofcourse wasn’t into tennis back then, I never watched it. Around 1987 I first watched Wimbledon and became hooked to the sport (though I stopped following the sport by the year 2000 and football once again became numero uno in my life). We have a sports magazine called SportsStar in India and I was a subscriber for the next 8 years as I wanted my monthly tennis fix, other than watching it on tv and reading about it in the papers.

Around 1988 I became fascinated with Bjorn Borg, though he had retired a couple of years before that, and I even asked my dad to buy me his 1980 autobiography “My Life & Game”, co-authored by writer Eugene L. Scott. It was a look into his life, childhood and his years at the top of the men’s game which sadly ended prematurely at the age of 26 in 1982. He was an icon – and still is – for the sport. The movie focuses a lot on Borg’s state of mind during that Wimbledon, with all the pressure on him as he went for an unprecedented 5th consecutive men’s singles title. His heavily anticipated final with his rival McEnroe was one for the books.

It’s a must watch for all fans of the sport of tennis and those of us who remember Borg as the ultimate professional. The Ice Borg had cracked under pressure many times but he held it together in public. A 7.5 outta 10!

Fur Parent Without A Dog

You know the saying, that some people say about certain kinds of women who don’t have kids but are motherly and very caring? “She’s a mother without a child!” In that case then I’m a dog owner / fur parent without a dog since 2005!

I love dogs; cats too but given a choice of only being able to keep one or the other, I would pick a dog as my companion any day. I love most dogs – not rabid or wild or aggressive street dogs – and I love looking at videos or pictures of dogs. When I am out and about and see someone with a dog, I always ask if I can say “hello” to their dog. I give the dog a nice pet and a couple of times I have bought biscuits for them as well.

I love many breeds but my favourite is the Golden Retriever, just the way my dog Shawny was. I also love Labradors, German Sheppards, Dobbermans, etc etc. Small dogs, big dogs are all cool and sweet. Sometimes I find myself lost in watching and rewatching puppy and dog videos on Youtube for hours at an end. Just a few minutes ago I watched this guy’s video in which he was actually reviewing his guitar but the beginning was a very cute 45 seconds of his Malamute, like the one pictured here.

And oh, I so want one. Ofcourse, Kerala is not exactly the right weather for a dog this furry but still I can wish for one. Someday, if I ever do get outta this building I live in, I will get a dog again.

Thinking Of Getting A Major Phone Upgrade

Well, well, well. I never thought this day would come but it has. Atleast, I never thought this day would come, unless I suddenly feel into some unexpected and large enough sum of cash or got a job that paid me around 20k to twice more than I what I currently earn. I never thought it would come but it has. I am thinking about purchasing a higher end phone!

Gasp! Egads! Yes I am. It still is a phone that is supposed to decently priced for it’s features and is infact called a flagship killer as other phones are more expensive. It’s more than twice the price of my last phone, the Moto G4Plus, which I got with a Rs.6,000 discount as I also exchanged my previous phone, the Samsung J7 (2015 model). The most I have paid for a phone is the 17k I paid for a BlackBerry Bold 9780; my next phone was a BlackBerry Q10 which was Rs.13k and change which I got on a discount online.

So this time it’s about Rs.33,000 and the phone in question is the OnePlus 5T which is something I have been looking at for a few weeks now. When the 5 was launched I was eager but could not fathom spending that kind of money but after the 5T was launched in November of 2017, I have been drooling. Look for this space in the next few days if I do get the phone.

Food Review #211

Burger Hut’s Jumbo Cheesy Beef – The cheapest decent burger joint you can find in Cochin. Small burger patties with no fuss and none of the frills. Prices are very decent. They do have very decent shakes, a couple of which are pretty awesome. Decent fries.

Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said his side were playing with “more clarity” following the transfer of Alexis Sanchez as the Gunners came from behind to beat Chelsea and set up a Carabao Cup final with Manchester City. After a goalless first leg, Eden Hazard put Chelsea ahead before an own goal from Antonio Rudiger levelled it, and Granit Xhaka’s winner took Arsenal to Wembley. It came only two days after Sanchez’s drawn-out transfer to Manchester United was completed, with the Gunners getting Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return. A miserable couple of months for Arsenal has seen them drop to sixth in the Premier League, 23 points behind leaders Manchester City, and lose to Championship Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup.

But now this vital victory keeps them on course to win their fourth trophy in five years – and with it claim the only domestic competition that Arsene Wenger has not won in his 21 years at the club. “I felt that in January we paid a heavy price for uncertainty in our dressing-room,” said the 68-year-old. “Now we are back with more clarity. We know what we have to do. We can focus on our game. “We lost a great player in Alexis Sanchez but when a team doesn’t know what’s going on in the dressing room there is less clarity and focus on performances. We know we have to deal with it now.” The Gunners, bidding to win this competition for the first time since 1993, meet Manchester City in the final at Wembley on 25 February after Pep Guardiola’s side saw off Bristol City in the other semi-final.

Arsenal will play in their eighth League Cup final. Only Liverpool (12) and Manchester United (nine) have appeared in more (Aston Villa and Spurs also on eight). Chelsea have now lost just twice in their last eight away games versus Arsenal in all competitions (won three, drew four, lost two). Eden Hazard has netted three goals in his last two Chelsea games in all competitions, as many as in his previous 14. Ross Barkley made his first competitive club appearance in 248 days, since playing against Arsenal at the Emirates with Everton on 21 May, 2017. This was Chelsea’s first loss in 13 matches, since a 1-0 defeat by West Ham on 9 December in the Premier League.

Yet Another 3 Day Weekend Coming Up

Happy, happy, joy, joy, happy, happy joy joy joy! ***That old Ren & Stimpy song***

That’s what I feel like when we get a three day weekend. This is the 3rd in 6 weeks and really it has gotten to the point where I think at the office (or any other work place that has Saturday and Sunday off) everyone would be saying “Can we have 3 day weekends all the time please?”

Sure a lot of you guys may like to party all the three days but I plan to be indoors and in my room for 2 of them while I take advantage of a Saturday in between to go out and do a little shopping and then get some pizza and oh I dunno, maybe a beer. But yes the possibilities seem to be interesting. However I don’t go too crazy with my days off and curling in bed with a few movies I can watch at my leisure sure sounds the best way to enjoy some time off when you get to be my age.

So yeah, some going out and a lot of relaxation. That’s what’s in store for me this 26th to 28th!

Earliest Memories

What is your earliest memory?

I can remember a couple – one might be at 3 years old or so. I am not sure exactly what happened but I think that I was playing with some other kids in the apartment building that we lived in back in Kuwait and I must have fallen down the steps or something and cut my head. I know I was bleeding and probably crying a lot and the memory I have is of me crying and falling asleep on my dad’s shoulder and he carried me and I had a Kitkat bar in my hand.

I will always keep the Kitkat as a chocolate bar of my kiddie days due to this memory but it’s not something that I feel is absolutely correct as I can see the scene as if I were watching it from an outsider’s point of view. Although, I could have been looking back at me and my dad through a mirror but I doubt it. It’s probably my recollection is slightly suspect because hey I was 3 and I am now 41.

Something that is more lucid is what I normally would say is my earliest memory and I remember it well. I was a small kid and walked into the kitchen of the little apartment where we lived. My mom was cooking dinner and I had come in specifically to ask her a question “Mummy, how old am I?” She replied that I was about to turn 4 years old!! And so my earliest clear (as crystal) memory is at the age of 4, asking my mom how old I was.

Prompt from 31 Days of January Writing Prompts at The SitsGirls

Newest CCD Outlet In Kaloor

India’s largest coffeehouse chain, Cafe Coffee Day, is one of the places I mostly have visited for a (usually) cold coffee/frappe fix and a little bite to eat on weekends or other days that I am free. Ever since 2006 I have frequently CCD but in more recent months – since 2015 – I have preferred the more independent chains as even though CCD still has probably some really good frappes/lattes and other beverages, their snacks and sandwiches are very lacking.

Still it is convenient as they now have 3 outlets near me and one small one in Lulu Mall which is a place I go for movies. Yesterday I visited their newest outlet in my city and which is also very close to my residence. It is the spanking, brand new outlet on Kaloor-Kadavanthara road. It was opened in November 2017 and is a pretty cool place to while away some time in, while drinking your caffeine intake for the day.





Goodbye Alexis, Hello Henrikh

So it finally happened – Alexis Sanchez has been traded to Manchester United and in exchange Arsenal sign Henrikh Mkhitarayn. With Sánchez out of contract in the summer, Arsenal eventually agreed his departure as part of a swap deal for Mkhitaryan, who was allowed to leave United after less than two seasons at the club. The former Borussia Dortmund playmaker was also of interest to Arsène Wenger when he joined United in 2016 but was adamant that his long-term ambition had been Arsenal. “I’ve always dreamed of playing for Arsenal,” said Mkhitaryan.

“I always loved the way that Arsenal played and the way that Arsène Wenger has managed the team.” His arrival does partially soften the Sánchez blow, even if the Chile striker took aim at former Arsenal players for questioning his commitment and claimed that the club’s record goalscorer Thierry Henry had left for the same reasons as him.

Mkhitaryan has signed a contract until 2021 and Arsenal are also now close to agreement with Jack Wilshere to extend his deal that expires in June. Wilshere has been offered a reduced basic salary but a more performance-structured deal that could potentially be worth more than his current £120,000-a-week wage. Negotiations are also ongoing with Mesut Özil but, having been unable to reach any agreement for the past 18 months, the expectation is that he will now wait until his contract expires this summer before assessing all the options.

Arsenal’s new recruitment chief Sven Mislintat was the man behind Mkhitaryan’s transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk to Dortmund in 2013 and is understood to have pushed for his new employers to sign him this month. Mkhitaryan could be set to link up with former Borussia Dortmund teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with talks between the Bundesliga side and Arsenal said to be ongoing with a view to completing a £60m+ deal before the end of the transfer window. Mkhitaryan is Armenia’s all-time top goalscorer, scoring 25 goals in 70 international matches since his debut in January 2007, including their first hat-trick.

Patriots Day

Patriots Day is a 2016 American crime drama-thriller film about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent terrorist manhunt. Directed by Peter Berg and written by Berg, Matt Cook, and Joshua Zetumer, the film is based on the book Boston Strong by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge. It stars Mark Wahlberg, J. K. Simmons, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, and Michelle Monaghan.

Berg is back with his frequent collaborator in Walhberg (his loan equity last three movies all star Marky Mark). I’ve always liked Peter Berg as an actor (Chicago Hope & Aspen Extreme being two noteworthy credits) and this, based on a terrorist attack, a homegrown terrorist attack, and the manhunt that follows it, is probably one if his best works. The acting is superb! The direction is well done, even though I felt that the beginning was a bit choppy.

The movie itself focuses on the investigation and shows us what the main characters were upto – including the two terrorists – just before the actual act and the aftermath. A surprise cast member in a supporting role as the wife of Katherine Russell, Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife and Muslim convert is Melissa Benoist (Supergirl from the tv show). I was also made aware of officer Sean Collier, the cop who was shot by Dzhokhar & Tamerlan because he and his brother wanted to get another gun. Another thing I wasn’t aware of (having read some of the reports in the news but not all of it) was that the brothers also abducted a Chinese immigrant, Dun Meng, and stole his car in which they forced him to be in while they planned their new attack.

When Dzhokhar enters a Shell gas station to pay for fuel and some food, Meng takes his chance and quickly escapes the car and runs to the Mobil gas station so that he can call the police; the brothers flee in the stolen car. Using the stolen car’s GPS tracking number, police are lef to the pair which leads to an epic and ensuing shootout. The ensuing shootout sees several officers injured and/or killed. Tamerlan is wounded by Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese,  and run over by Dzhokhar, killing him. Dzhokhar escapes in the chaos; meanwhile, Tamerlan’s wife Katherine Russell and Dzhokhar’s college friends are detained by the FBI Hostage Rescue Team and questioned by and interrogation team. Katherine refuses to disclose any knowledge of her husband’s illegal activities, while Dzhokhar’s friends appear oblivious to his plans, despite having earlier found bomb components in his possessions.

Dzhokhar was later found hiding under the sheets of a man’s boat who then calls the police. Dzhokhar is quickly surrounded and arrested after a brief standoff. Dzhokhar was convicted on thirty counts and sentenced to death by lethal injection and is currently awaiting for his appeal in federal prison; his three college friends were arrested for obstructing the bombing investigation and authorities are continuing to seek information regarding Russell’s possible involvement of the bombings.

As a film I give it an 8 outta 10! I really like these kind of films based on true events even if many Boston-based publications criticized it for glamorizing the events it was based upon, and for the film’s focus on Wahlberg’s fictional character.