If I Were an Animal

I’ve changed my animal doppelganger a few times over years. Given that I’m a Leo, I always identified with the lion. I loves lions, always have and always will. But since then my fav animal has changed several times.

My fav animal and that’s what I would want to be if I was an animal, would be a wolf. A mean, snow & forest patrolling wolf. One bite and I could convert you into a werewolf kinda wolf. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. Or a sheep in wolf clothing.

Man I’d love to be a wolf!

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The Devil’s Double

You’ve no doubt heard the stories of Saddam Hussain have several doubles – men who looked a lot like him – as his fear of being assassinated made him employee these doppelgangers. This ia similar such movie but about his son Uday’s double.¬†The Devil’s Double is a thriller film directed by ¬†Lee Tamahori¬†and starring¬†Dominic Cooper,¬†Philip Quast,¬†Ludivine Sagnier¬†and Raad Rawi and a Sundance entry. Dominic Cooper, last seen as Howard Stark (Tony/Iron Man’s father) in Captain America: The First Avenger, does an amazing acting role in The Devil’s Double, a preposterously entertaining and appropriately gut-wrenching biopic/drama about Uday Saddam Hussein, the late Iraqi dictator’s sadistic youngest son. Cooper also portrays Latif, who is forcefully employed to be Uday’s double.

Latif Yahia an Iraqi soldier fighting in the Iran-Iraq war is called¬† to become the ‘fedai’ or body double for Saddam Hussain’s playboy son Uday. Latif & Uday studied in school together and even back then the resemblances between them were noted. Uday refuses to take the position but is imprisoned and tortured by Uday’s men and finally agrees when his family is threatened. Latif is fixed up and undergoes minor cosmetic surgery to iron out the differences and is given lessons to mimic Uday’s mannerisms and volatile behaviour. He is given access to all of the luxurious benefits of the Husseins’ fortune, including massive palaces, expensive wardrobes and Uday’s¬†various other exotic cars.

Uday seems to have a morbid fascination with Latif, calling him brother and getting upset as Latif seems to not enjoy or appreciate the opportunity. Latif at one point runs away from a nightclub to go and see his family but is caught & brought back by Uday’s soldiers. One of Uday’s favourite passtimes is to cruise the city streets looking for young schoolgirls who he forces to join him and escort him to parties. At one such party, in honour of Suzzane, wife of ¬†Egyptian President¬†Hosni Mubarak’s, Uday becomes enraged at Saddam’s bodyguard & food taster Kamel Hana Gegeo, who introduced Saddam to Samira Shahbandar, which devastated his mother,¬†Sajida Talfah, and he also expresses jealousy at the trust his father places in Kamel. When Kamel interrupts Uday’s sexual advances towards a 14 year old girl he had abducted that same day, Uday butchers him with an¬†electric carving knife¬†in front of all of the guests. The girl is also beaten and her naked body dumped the next day.

Latif continues his role and at Basra even rallies the troops but an attempt is made on his life (thinking that he is Uday). To Uday’s great concern, Latif nearly loses a pinky in the assault, which presumably would mean Uday would have to have his amputated to maintain their resemblance, but doctors are able to save Latif’s finger. While Latif recovers, the father of the 14 year old girl comes to confront him demanding justice. Uday who overhears this orders Latif to kill the man; Latif instead slits his own wrists. Later at Uday’s birthday party in a nightclub (where Uday orders the women to dance naked at gunpoint), Latif confronts Uday which escalates into a fight and a shootout. Latif uses the distraction to escape along with one of Uday’s lovers Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), with whom Latif had been having an affair. The two escape to Malta but scared of being unable to ever see her daughter again Sarrab betrays Latif who is almost killed by Uday’s snipers. ¬†Uday calls Latif and offers him one final chance to return to Iraq, threatening to kill his father if he refuses. Latif says he will not return and his father is killed.

Latif does return to Ira later, to kill Uday. With the help of the father of a bride who Uday had raped on her wedding night and who later commited suicide, Latif ambushes Uday while the latter is in his car attempting to lure young girls. A few shots at fired at his car and Latif mangles Uday’s genitals with a direct shot (this assassination attempt is based on the real one in 1996). Uday is not killed and survives while Latif leaves Iraq. The movie is based on Latif Yahia’s book of the same name, although many of the events have been disputed by several people, some even claim that Uday never used doubles. Whatever the truth is, it makes for a good movie with a compelling performance by Cooper in a dual role. Philip Quast as Saddam gives you the creeps. Highly entertaining and screw the fac that it did fail at the box office. 7 outta 10!

How Often I Travel

Rarely but mostly that is also because of choice. One reason is that I hate traveling by train. Indian railways are all about the smell and stink of the trains, unless you want to pay through your nose and upgrade to first class. I hate traveling by train and avoid it unless there is no other option but to travel. I have only traveled for work 3 times in my life. The first time was back in 2001 when me & other guy from our marketing company were sent to Kanoor to meet the client and undergo a day long training under them. It was 7 hours of sitting in a train to the city, reaching in time for a 2 hour rest at the hotel (also owned by the client), an early morning hot shower and a large breakfast. Then the 4 hour training followed by their generously large portions of almost everything on their menu for our huge lunch followed by a 2 hour nap! More training in the evening after which me & the other guy walked around the nearby city area for 3 hours followed by a nice big dinner. Then 7 hours sitting in a tightly packed train general compartment, not willing to even get up to take a leak as you will lose your seat.

The other two times I have traveled for work are already well documented in my blog, a 2 day trip to Trichy in Tamil Nadu and a 3 day workshop in Bangalore. Both times I had a lot of fun and the trip to Bangalore was by bus which, although the buses were crappy with seats that had long passed their sell by date, were still comfortable. Luckily for me I never had any issues during those trips and had good, fun stories to share when I came back.

Other than that I haven’t really traveled much except to Calicut, to where I moved briefly for work back in 2002 till early 2003. I later went for a 3 day visit back in 2005 for a wedding, reception and then visiting with friends from that brief stint of living in that city. We had a nice day, which was also a harthal day, but we managed to get a couple of bottles of vodka, some eggs ala omelets, egg burgi & egg curry, some beef roast and plenty of bread & porottas. We had a drinking session that started at 2pm and ended at 9 pm. I was so satisfied and full and drunk silly. Needless to say I slept for 12 hours after that!

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