Dec 30, 2012

Books I read this year....

This post is just to pen down the books I read this year. No particular order, just noting them as I remember.

Stieg Larrson's stunning millennium series (Recommended)
1. Girl with Dragon Tattoo
2. The Girl who played with Fire
3. The Girl who kicked Hornet's Nest.
Review - This is a stunning trilogy. As morbid as the coincidence may be, but it describes how evil societies are to girls and women. This book talks about Swedish, but the recent case in India is no different. Indeed our country lacks the machinery to tackle this menace. That we don't have a deterring punishment history for past cases is a tacit go ahead to the potential criminals.

John Le Carre's (Recommended)
4. Our game
5. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Re-read this)

Review - Le Carre remains one of the darkest authors I will ever read. Our Game was a new book and not as great as his Smiley series. But TTSS was once again fun to read! Smiley as a spy is something that tells on how cerebral that vocation is. And how movies have trivialized it with the likes of Mr. Bond. Yet, I love both these characters, Smiley as well as Bond.

John Grisham's
6. The Litigators (Recommended)
7. Theodore Boone: The Accused (Recommended for teenagers)
The Litigators is a different story told by Grisham. The best part about the book - you can identify with the protagonist. Loved the book. Not pathbreaking, but immensely entertaining.
So it is for #7 there but for teenagers.

Michael Crichton's
8. Timeline (Not Recommended)
9. Rising Sun (Recommended)
10. The Disclosure (Recommended)

I started reading Crichton recently. And have I enjoyed his writing! Immensely insightful. Consider #9 and #10. Such polemic about things like globalization and corporate games in fiction is incredible. Plus the breadth of subjects Crichton can cover is unbelievable. Science fiction, thrillers, aliens, dinosaurs... wow!
By the way, Timeline is something you can avoid. Quite ordinary and full of holes in the story.

Dan Brown's
11. The Symbol (OK if you like Dan Brown)
The line above has told you what you want to know.

Michael Lewis'
12. Liar's Poker (Recommended)
Brilliant non-fiction. I read his Big Short back in 2010 and I loved it. This one is also immensely entertaining!

Wodehouse's
13. Much Obliged Jeeves (Recommended)
Wodehouse is way too big for me to say anything. Read it, enjoy it!

14. Rubbish called Greed (Sorry to have noted this.... but utter waste of time)
This author is called Chris Ryan. I hope no other author turns out like him.

Will add as I remember the missed ones...

WISH YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thanks,
Sid

Dec 23, 2012

Changing Stance on Media for once

I am not a fan of Indian media, to be specific TV media. It hardly does any investigation, waits till someone like Kejriwal exposes using publicly available material, is purely opportunistic and believes in total sensationalism.

But for a change, I think this precise attribute of theirs is keeping alive a subject that has been swept under carpet far too long. Government, Police and other actors have been oblivious to the fact that they need to not only investigate post-facto but also PREVENT CRIME by good governance. It may be fear, respect or education but a potential criminal needs to be converted to ordinary being as much as possible.

For God's sake it was 9.30 in the night. And we are talking of DELHI not some kheda where there is no power line at that time! Shifts across cities end at 10pm or 11pm. Hospitals, BPOs, cinemas, hotels, buses, trains they all operate at this hour.

Some of the incomprehensible lines our highly competent politicians have said, "Girls need to be more careful with their clothes", "Why go out this late"... what are you talking about! If our good finance minister wants a country as vibrant investment destination with healthy finances, safety comes first! If Government wants more revenue, thereby implying more tax, people need to spend. And spending by volition happens if streets are safe. Not when people are scared of darkness.

There was a tweet from Nitin Pai stating the need of urgent approval of police reforms, which may be correct. But I have been hearing about police reforms for at least 10 years now.



Our governments just sit on them and do nothing. This is not a rant. Take the Janlokpal bill, after the protests and several anshans by Anna and team, see how it has been made to fizzle out. The protesters have all disintegrated. Same with police reforms. Where is the political will to do something like that?

In such time, I admire the channels because they are keeping alive this subject in people's minds. This is required. It is required as long as some meaningful change happens. Unfortunately history of our country in concerted public action has been not promising in independent India.

Dec 16, 2012

Life of Pi - Visuals and Metaphors

Life of Pi is a stunning movie.

I have not read the book. And those who have read have mentioned that the movie tries to remain as faithful as possible to it. Ang Lee brings to us another wonderful story with stunning visuals and some very good acting.

I have seen Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, which too had a lovely story told with some brilliant visuals, great cinematography by Lee.

Life of Pi begins with Irrfan Khan narrating his birth and childhood. His parents (Tabu and Adil Hussain) are owners of a zoo and a botanical garden. The story of his name "Pi" is an amusing anecdote told nicely. The story moves ahead where Pi and his family and their animals begin a journey to the new world.

The bizarre, incredible and stormy journey begins with a thunderstorm on the ship. Pi survives and ends up with a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena and a tiger on a lifeboat. There, the story begins. Pi, armed with a book, some food and his father's advice, and the tiger share some moments of glory in the story. The story takes us through a magical journey with a denouement as brilliant as expected.

Trust me when I say that I cannot describe it on the blog. Go, go to your nearest theatre and see it. It is recommended for children of 8-9 years and up. But you do need some patience and that is a small weakness, since we are talking of cinema here.

The story is a metaphor to how one must live a life. One can wonder whether it is the best way to explain things, but the extreme example makes it a brilliant medium.

Suraj Sharma, as Pi, is magnificient. So is Richard Parker. Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain, Tabu, Rafe Spall, they all add up well. But the movie belongs to Pi. The special effects, 3D images and the vistas shown are brilliant.

4* of 5* from me....

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