Sent “on the move”/ “from my iphone” and things like that

Now-a-days, I often get messages from my colleague Ooonuj that end with:

  • “Sent on the move from my iphone. Please excuse typos and brevity.”

Most of the time, the actual message is shorter than the signature line, something like “OK” or “Will Get back to you” or “On Dec 6”, so I am not sure what kind of typos to account for (is it really Dec 6? or Jan 6? or Dec 7?)

If I did not know Ooonuj well enough, I may have seen hidden messages in his signature line. Here are a few of them:

  1. I own an iphone, and I want everyone to know about it!
  2. I am on the move most of the time
  3. I work while I am moving
  4. I have sent you a message (or responded to you). Therefore, I have met my response time service level. The fact that I have not answered any of your questions should not be held against me
  5. Now that I have sent some response, the ball is in your court
  6. I know how to use the word “brevity”
  7. If I typed something wrong/ stupid, I will blame it on “typos” (I am covered)

However, knowing Ooonuj, here is the real explanation:

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Movie: Madras Cafe (2013, Hindi, India)

Movie: Madras Cafe (2013, Hindi, India)

Madras Cafe is a political thriller seen through the eyes of a RAW field operative, set in the middle 1980s (through early 90s) during the ethnic struggle of Tamils in northern Sri Lanka. The movie starts with the peace accord (brokered by India) and traces the behind-the scenes events that lead to the death of the ex-Prime Miniter Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

Madras Cafe Poster

Directed by Shoojit Sircar
Released in August 2013
Genre Political thriller, espionage
Cast
  • John Abraham, as Vikram Singh, a RAW field operative
  • Nargis Fakhri as Jaya Sahni, a British war correspondent of India origin (who speaks English throughout the movie)
  • Siddharth Basu as Robin Dutt, boss of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) who directs the covert operations in Sri Lanka, and mentors Vishal Singh
  • Prakash Belawadi as Bala, Major Vikram Singh’s immediate superior for the asssignement and local RAW team leader based in Jaffna
  • Rashi Khanna as Ruby Singh, wife of Vishal Singh.
Music by Shantanu Moitra
Produced by John Abraham, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, and Ronnie Lahiri
Language Hindi (with a smattering of Tamil and English)
Length 2 hours 10 mins

This movie, released in Aug 2013, received good reviews, but did not last long in theatres – its box-office performance is reported to be “average”.

The Plot

The movie starts with the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord in 1987 aimed to end the Sri Lankan civil war between militant Sri Lankan Tamil nationalists rebels (such as the LTTE) and the Sri Lankan military.

The peace accord is violated and the IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) is brutally attacked by the Tamil rebels (who were supposed to be protected by the IPKF). The Indian government attempts to salvage the situation by trying to manipulate various factions of the Tamil rebels, to ensure that the less brutal factions win the planned provincial elections, and continue to be on India’s side.
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Book: Demons of Chitrakut by Ashok Banker (Ramayan series book-3)

“She slapped him.

She put all her strength behind the blow. His face was flung sharply to the right, his vision blurring out of focus before the world swam back into view, accompanied by several motes of swirling light, and he found himself facing the wall. ……

‘Stop it,’ she said….”
— Chapter 22, Kaand 1, Demons of Chitrakut   

The above is an interaction between Sita and Rama, when he tells her that he has to go on a long exile, alone

Cover Demons of Chitrakut

Title Demons of Chitrakut
Series Volume-3 of the 8 volume Ramayana series
Author Ashok Banker

NOTE: Please read the comments on the whole series here , as the reviewer’s opinions on the series are expressed there.

The Story in Book-3

The high-level storyline in this part of the series:

Rama and Lakshman, under the guidance of Vishwamitra, have decimated the host of asuras moving towards  Mithila and Ayodhya. Rama weds Sita and Lakshman weds Urmila (Sita’s sister). The other brothers of Rama marry Sita’s cousins.

The wedding party on its way back to Ayodhya is challenged by the axe welding sage Parashurama – the confrontation between Rama and Parashurama is captivating. Back in Ayodhya, the duo of Manthara-Kaikeyi manipulate Dasharath to exile Rama. Sita and Lakshman accompany him voluntarily.
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Book: Siege of Mithila by Ashok Banker (Ramayan series book-2)

“… saw the deep blue wave of brahman ripple outward from the tower itself, rolling harmlessly over humans and their animal friends and the city and its structures. But when it reached the Asura armies massed on the south bank of the Sarayu, the effect was numbing.

The dense black hordes of Asuras disintegrated as the wave touched them, turning them to powder…”

— Chapter 13, Kaand 3, Siege of Mithla

The above passage is towards the end of the book.

Prince of Ayodhya Cover

Title Siege of Mithila
Series Volume-2 of the 8 volume Ramayana series
Author Ashok Banker

NOTE: Please read the comments on the whole series here , as the reviewer’s opinions on the series are expressed there.

The Story in Book-2

In this part of the series, Rama and Lakshman, having completed the task of cleaning up Bhayanak-van of the hordes of asuras start their journey back home to Ayodhya, along with sage Vishwamitra.

Vishwamitra decides that they need to make their way via Mathila, the city where princess Sita lives, because Ravana has amassed an army of asuras to invade Ayodhya and this army is about to trample Mithila on its way.
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Cheating at a Petrol Pump – is this a common ruse?

Petrol PumpOne day while driving from Bangalore to Mysore, we stopped somewhere near Maddur to pick up some petrol. Looking at the fuel gauge, I thought it will be good to top up petrol worth Rs 800/-..
As we drove to the first accessible petrol station without a crowd, the attendant smiled, opened the lid to the petrol tank and asked “How much, sir?”
“Petrol of 800 rupees”, I said.
He reset the pump counter and asked me to ‘check zero’.

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Movie: The Lunch Box (2013, Hindi, India)

Movie Review: The Lunch Box (2013)

Lunch Box Poster

Directed by Ritesh Batra
Released May 2013
Genre Romance, Relationships, Art Cinema
Cast Irrfan Khan as Saajan Fernandez, an insurance company officer approaching retirement
Nimrat Kaur as Ila, a homemaker
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Shaikh, Saajan’s replacement at work
Lillete Dubey as Ila’s mother
Nakul Vaid as Rajiv, Ila’s husband
Music by Max Richter
Produced by Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga, Karan Johar, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Arun Rangachari
Language Hindi
Length 1 hour 44 mins

When The Lunch Box was released in India in September 2013, after winning several awards and getting rave reviews from critics, it went on my “must see as quickly as possible” list, especially since the movie had Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the cast. A friend who saw it a few days ago also had some good things to say about it.

And then the controversy about the Oscar nomination for the Best Foreign Film category from India (The Lunch Box did not get selected, a movie titled The Good Road was nominated by the selection committee), whetted my appetite even further. I saw the movie on Sept 28th in a Multiplex in Bangalore.

Please be aware that the review below may contain “spoilers” (i.e., information about the plot of a motion picture or TV program that can spoil a viewer’s sense of surprise or suspense :-)).

The Plot

Saajan Fernandez (played by Irrfan Khan) who works in the Claims Section of a public sector insurance company, is approaching superannuation and is proposing early retirement. He is a crusty widower, a loner, and not very friendly with his colleagues or neighbours. He avoids training and handing over of his duties to his proposed replacement Shaikh (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui).
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Book: Prince of Ayodhya by Ashok Banker (Ramayan series book-1)

“…  three breathtakingly graceful leaps, it took him to the veranda that ringed one side of the circular chamber. Sword slashing through the gossamer folds of the translucent drapes that could conceal an assassin. Turn, turn, breathe, slice, follow-through, recover, resume stance. Guru Vashishta had trained him superbly…”

— Chapter 1, Prince of Ayodhya

The above passage is not about Bruce Lee in the movie Enter the Dragon, but about Rama in Ashok Banker’s first book of his Ramayan series.

Prince of Ayodhya Cover

Title Prince of Ayodhya
Series Volume-1 of the 8 volume Ramayana series
Author Ashok Banker

NOTE: Please read the comments on the whole series here , as the reviewer’s opinions on the series are expressed there.

The Story in Book-1

At the start of this series, young princes Rama, Lakshmana, Shatrughan, and Bharat are back in the capital city of Ayodhya after a long training program at sage Vashishta’s ashram (sage Vashishta is also king Dashratha’s counselor).

Rama is often plagued by nightmares of attacks and destruction of his beloved city (Ayodhya) and kingdom (Kosala).
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Book Series: Ramayan Series by Ashok Banker: Mythological epic retold as an amazing and imaginative fantasy

This is an eight-book series where Ashok Banker retells the Ramayan in the style of the modern “fantasy” novel, like the Lord of the Rings series by JRR Tolkien.

The first of the series was written in 2003 and series was completed in 2012 with the eighth book.

Here are the images of the covers of these books:Ramayan Series Cover Images

I had heard the Ramayan in bits and pieces in my early childhood. Later, I read abridged YA versions and graphic art forms (called comics then) from Amar Chitra Katha. Somewhere along the way I consumed the English versions by Rajaji (C Rajagopalachari) and R K Narayan. I was eventually put off this epic by Ramanand Sagar’s teleserial in the 1980s, where it became morlistic, dull, and full of cardboard charaters.

Anyway, a few years ago, my wife (Swapna) had purchased the first of the series, and I picked it up just after she finished it. Once I started reading it, I just could not put it down. I gobbled-up the first six of the series as and when they were released. I was under the impression that the series was over with the six books (maybe there was a gap between the publishing of the sixth and the seventh book, or something in the sixth book gave me that impression). However, I recently discovered that Banker has added two more volumes to the series, making it a total of 8 books.
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Book: The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

I had read this book around four years ago, and had liked it. So posting a review of the book on this blog has been on my list for a while now.

The full title of the book The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less (How the Culture of Abundance Robs Us of Satisfaction) makes the author’s thesis / proposal pretty clear. Anyway, here is a passage from the book that contains the key theme:

“Freedom and autonomy are critical to our well-being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefitting from it psychologically.”

Chapter 5- The Paradox of Choice

This engagingly written, semi-academic book on consumer psychology brings in new insights into impact of excessive choices available to consumers in terms of speed of decision making (and whether a decision is made at all), and the statisfaction with the decision after it is made. The book also looks at two types of people – the ‘maximizers’ and the ‘satisficers’ in the context of decision making (when faced with many choices).

The gist is as follows:

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Movie: Ek Din Achanak (1989, Hindi, India)

Movie Review: Ek Din Achanak (1989)

Ek Din Achanak is an art film of 1989, based on a Bengali story titled Beej. The movie is directed by veteran Mrinal Sen and has won a lot of awards national and international awards.

Ek Din Achanak Poster

Directed by Mrinal Sen
Released in 1989
Genre Drama, Suspense, Relationships, Art Cinema
Cast Shabana Azmi as Neeta
Shriram Lagoo as Sashank (Professor), Neeta’s father
Uttara Baokar as Neeta’s mother
Aparna Sen as Aparna, a student of Professor
Roopa Ganguly as Seema, Neeta’s younger sister
Arjun Chakraborthy as Amit, Neeta’s brother
Manohar Singh as Neeta’s uncle
Music by Jyotishka Dasgupta
Produced by N.F.D.C.
Language Hindi
Length 1 hour 45 mins

The Plot

One rainy day, when the streets of Kolkatta are flooded, Shashank, a retired professor (played by Shriram Lagoo) steps out of his middle class house for a walk and does not return. His family – comprising his wife (played by Uttara Baokar), his elder daughter Neeta (Shabana Azmi), younger daughter Seema (Roopa Ganguly), and son Amit (Arjun Chakraborthy) tensely wait for him to return and start the process of tracing him after a day or so, by contacting hospitals, informing the police, enquiring with acquaintances, and so on.
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