The Gunman.


How can I not go to a movie with Sean Penn in it?  And when the show timings are very convenient in the afternoon, it is cinch that I would go despite not knowing anything about any of the other actors, director, producers or anything else.

With that background, let me share my views on the film that I saw yesterday.  The leading lady Jasmine Trinca produces a very credible performance and I will certainly see any other films that will feature her.  And before I forget, Sean Penn delivers.

The film revolves around hanky panky that happens in Africa with mercenaries killing people and doing other nasty things to enable multinational corporations to exploit the mineral wealth there.  Sean Penn portrays one such mercenary who kills a Minister and then scoots to save himself and his employers from getting caught, in the bargain losing his lady love.

Years later, nemesis catches up with him and he is forced to return to his killing ways to not only save his own life but also his lady love’s and that part of the film is what Shackman calls the popcorn and action experience that keeps one glued to one’s seat.

All in all an entertaining afternoon particularly when it is all over and done with under two hours of theater time, and the film gets my usual rating for such action films.

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How Old Is Old? II And Let’s Twist Again II.

Cathy from New Zealand is normally a sedate commentator but suddenly can come up with a googly or for my American readers, a curve ball.

She has given a link to a blog post that is simply amazing.  Suddenly, New Zealand is beginning to look very interesting.  They reached the finals of the ICC World Cup Cricket tournament last week after a remarkable pre finals matches.  In fact, my bet was on New Zealand winning the cup but Australia was simply too good.

I tried to buy the film on DVD from Amazon India without success but shall try and get it one way or the other.  Maybe by even getting my niece from NZ to buy it locally and to courier it to me.

Thank you Cathy.  You are incredible!

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How Old Is Old?

“Do you know how long a year takes when it’s going away?’ Dunbar repeated to Clevinger. ‘This long.’ He snapped his fingers. ‘A second ago you were stepping into college with your lungs full of fresh air. Today you’re an old man.’

‘Old?’ asked Clevinger with surprise. ‘What are you talking about?’


‘I’m not old.’

‘You’re inches away from death every time you go on a mission. How much older can you be at your age? A half minute before that you were stepping into high school, and an unhooked brassiere was as close as you ever hoped to get to Paradise. Only a fifth of a second before that you were a small kid with a ten-week summer vacation that lasted a hundred thousand years and still ended too soon. Zip! They go rocketing by so fast. How the hell else are you ever going to slow down?’ Dunbar was almost angry when he finished.

‘Well, maybe it is true,’ Clevinger conceded unwillingly in a subdued tone. ‘Maybe a long life does have to be filled with many unpleasant conditions if it’s to seem long. But in that event, who wants one?’

‘I do,’ Dunbar told him.

‘Why?’ Clevinger asked.

‘What else is there?”

~ Joseph Heller in Catch 22.


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My Driving Skills.


Please do note that Donald is driving Daisy in India in a Right Hand Drive vehicle on the left side of the road. Very local!

Not that this post is about Donald and Daisy, but that cartoon always stays in my memory for being so un American!

A young friend dropped in for lunch yesterday and it was quite a hot day. After lunch, I offered to drop her off to where she was going which is just about a couple of kilometers away. She remarked that she has heard a lot about my driving skills but has never experienced me driving her anywhere, but suggested that she should take an autorickshaw instead of me sacrificing my siesta.

I felt that she was perhaps scared to be driven by me as GOK what stories she might have heard about my driving skills and readily accepted her offer to forget being chivalrous and saw her off and had my siesta.

I however wondered subsequently if she was scared or whether she was really being considerate about my siesta! I am still wondering.

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I was preoccupied with a very difficult crossword puzzle when I was hailed from the veranda by a very young friend who wanted to say hello. He took one look at my face and asked why I looked so worried!

I said that I was preoccupied with some mental gymnastics and nor worried and he simply could not fathom the difference between the two states of mind.  He insisted that being preoccupied with something is also worrying whereas I define worrying as indulging in morbid thoughts of negative developments in the future.  This cartoon I think explains it quite nicely.

Please click on the following image to get a larger resolution. I thank Mitch for this lead.

What do you think? Is being preoccupied with a puzzle the same as worrying?  The dictionary appears to support my contention though not quite in the same words.

Posted in Language, People, Raves and Rants | Tagged | 8 Comments

Let’s Twist Again!

A friend Marie has suggested that I learn these moves for my next command performance. Thank you Marie.

Our dialogue went something like this:

On receipt of the link I: “You are underestimating my skills!”

Marie: “Video please, video please!”

I think that I will oblige her. But not quite just now. I need to get myself properly organised by getting into a pair of trousers to start with, having been in a lungi for GOK how long.  In the meanwhile, here is something that might just inspire Marie and others of her and my age group to get out and DANCE.

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A Working Peace System.

MitranyDavid-1966To the best of my knowledge, David Mitrany has been the only person who has really attempted to come up with a suggestion for a global working peace system. Unfortunately, he is not as well known as he should be and it was by accident that I came across his work some years ago when I was involved in a discussion group on intercommunity peace initiative. Mitrany saw the division of the world ínto “competing polítical units” as ‘the root of international conflict. A world federal government, he argued, would eliminate these divisions but would be impossible to establish given the modern “disregard for constitutions and pacts” and continuing nationalísm. And this was way back in the sixties of the last century.   Since then international and other conflicts have only worsened and now we have the spectre of inter religious conflicts also added to humanities woes.

There have been others who have talked about this and even written about it, but not using the precise terminology for the topic of this LBC post. What however matters for the subject matter is that the ground realities today leave little scope for optimism for a working system of peace.  Here is just a small example of some of those realities.  The writer does not cover all the conflicts everywhere, but that is understandable.

I personally do not think that a working system is possible to evolve, but Mitrany’s theory of Functionalism as a possible solution in international relations is worth reading for some intellectual kite flying if one is so inclined.  In fact, I bet that even Mitrany would have had serious reservations about the implementability of his suggestions if he were to be alive today and sees how irrelevant the existing mechanisms viz the UN and its affiliate bodies have become.

So to Shackman and my readers I say, I am glad that I have had a fairly long innings without serious personal loss due to conflict and I hope that before something happens to change that I peacefully go away to the permanent peace that I am told exists after one’s death.

This topic was suggested by Shackman, for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently eight of us write on the same topic every Friday.  I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort.  The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, PadmumShackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!

Posted in Blogging, Books / Reading, People, Relationships, Sociology, Writing | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Without Comment.

My blogger friend Cathy from New Zealand posted this anecdote on her Facebook page.

“I saved a young Asian teenager who wasn’t looking at the road status – too busy chatting on her cellphone – from being mowed down by a large 4-wheel drive vehicle. She actually following me as I stepped behind another car to cross, then I stopped. Fortunately I felt her shift around me and I put out my arm – she probably thought I was going to attack her!

We got to cross and she was still chatting on said phone when obviously the person she was talking to in another language told her to hurry and say “thanks” – and then continued on with her phone chat…

Those phones are a nightmare, I shouldn’t have to worrying about the body attached to them…”

The following really truly happens. Please click on the image for a larger resolution.

without comment

And it happened again. Just as I was about to publish this post, I received another cartoon in the mail from Bikehikebabe. Please click on the image for a larger resolution.

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NH 10.


My date who preferred her siesta to going to a movie with me yesterday, decided exactly the opposite to day, treated me to a movie and even drove one way! We had a relaxed outing but the movie was anything but relaxing to watch. India has now got its own wanna-be Quentin Tarantinos and rural India provides enough opportunity and story lines to oblige them. This particular one is based entirely in Haryana and the story revolves around the practice of honor killing for same gotra marriage.  It gets your adrenalin pumping about a quarter way through and it does not stop except during the intermission.

Gurgaon is where the story begins and moves on to NH 10, National Highway number 10, for the uninitiated. A young urban couple off for a motoring holiday take a country road off the highway and witness a brutal attack on another couple for breaking the gotra code. One thing leads to another and the story ends with a massive bloodletting by the heroine.

The beauty about the film is its simplicity, dark portrayal of a live social problem in that part of the country, and the caste/gotra equations there.

Anushka Sharma comes up with an amazing performance. Apart from playing the lead role, she has also co produced the film and the presence of Anurag Kashyap as another co producer ensures that there is never a dull moment.  All the other actors, unfamiliar to me, deliver very credible performances, but it is Anushka who carries the story on her shoulders, and how!

I have just added another actress, Anushka Sharma to my list of favourites!  And almost like icing on the cake, one of my old favourites from the 1980s Deepti Naval, delivers a powerful and unexpectedly vicious performance with panache and aplomb.  Hard to compare her role here to her unforgettable Miss Chamko role.

I have mentioned in a few of my reviews of Hindi films that I am increasingly getting impressed with what the current crop of producers, directors and actors are coming up with and this is yet another instance of such a conclusion.

It is a film worth seeing for people interested in seeing a heroine oriented story told in a highly professional manner, who can put up with a lot of violence. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have no hesitation in giving it a  rating.

Posted in Blogging, India/Pakistan, Movies, Relationships, Sociology | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Second Best Marigold Hotel.


This film will not make any sense to someone who had not seen the prequel The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which fortunately I had. My friend Ramesh with who I had gone to see the sequel had not and I had to explain quite a few things. His two loves, Jaipur and Mumbai featuring in the film mollified him somewhat but some DVD seller will now benefit by selling him the prequel.

I had wanted to see how Richard Gere would fit in into the cast and I was quite pleased with the way his role developed.  From some comments made earlier by friends who had seen the film overseas, I did not expect his role to be more than a cameo and I was very pleasantly surprised.

Judi Dench and Maggie Smith give their usual top notch performances, and Dev Patel, if somewhat hamming at places, is very credible.

Despite my date for the afternoon having decided to choose a siesta over her ancient escort, I am glad that I went.  More so, because I drove after a long time.  All in all a great afternoon, with the movie being the icing on the cake,  but I caution my readers to see the prequel before you see the sequel to understand the story better. I have no hesitation in giving it  rating.

Incidentally, there is a little monologue delivered at the end of the story by a cameo actor which came in handy as things are wont to in my life to offer a comment in a blog post by another reader.

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”


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