Wednesday, April 24, 2019

BookMarks #53: A Gathering of Friends

Title: A Gathering of Friends – My Favourite Stories 
Author: Ruskin Bond 
Genre: Fiction, Anthology 
Setting: India specifically in and around Uttarakhand 
Published: 2015 

It’s a collection of Ruskin Bond’s best 21 short stories. And why do I say best? Because the selection has been made by Mr. Bond himself! And what a variety he presents. We see many autobiographical tales from his days as a young boy to a grown up writer trying to fend for himself and some stories from around his home. Some stories present a picture of an Anglo-Indian community left behind in India trying to assimilate itself into the newly independent country. And there are others which narrate the passages of life. 

My favourite part of the collection is that the stories do not necessarily have a beginning or an end. Many are just passages from journeys. Which is just an allegory of our lives as well. Nothing really happens in the story itself but the writing is compelling! And every paasage has enough potential to develop into full feature films (and a few of the stories have been put onto celluloid). 

A really good collection of tales. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

MovieNotes - Kissa Kursi Ka

Title: Kissa Kursi Ka (IMDB
Released: 1977
*ing: Manohar Singh, Shabana Azmi, Raj Kiran, Surekha Sikri
Director: Amrit Nahata
Language: Hindi
Genre: Politics, Satire

Basic Premise
The story of a politician’s corrupt rise to power and how he turns it into a dictatorship.


Its election time. And this old political satire becomes a must-watch. How politicians manipulate the common man and then play their own games in their lust for power. All this while professing to work for the Common Man, who is personified as a mute woman in the movie. 

The movie depicts how politicians cling onto power - manipulating elections, horse-trading, corrupt practices in government agencies from top-down, coverting with self-proclaimed godmen and industrialists, indulging in hyper-nationalistic banter with the neighbouring countries, even having a façade of war, manipulating and censoring media and resorting to all sorts of constitutional and under-hand tricks. Meanwhile the janta is exploited while the rich becomes richer. It also shows how people are expendable in this race for power!

The movie maybe four decades old but the message still resonates. No wonder the then government burnt the prints of the movie and banned it! And yes, in this politically charged up times, it is a grim reminder to the common man to make a learned choice and see through the façade of promises and fake news floating all around!

Rating: 8/10. A movie which stands the tests of time.

Previously on MovieNotes: The 15:17 To Paris 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Road Not Taken

So there I was keeping myself occupied/distracted/busy on a lighter work day. During the course of my random readings came across Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and got thinking. 

Life is all about the choices we make, every single moment. At this precise minute, I am typing out this blogpost, while there could be something else which I should have been doing and have made a conscious choice not to!

We always talk about not having enough time! But, then with so many things to be done, so many distractions all around us, where will the time appear from? After all every action, every thought is the road taken preventing every other activity /thought from occupying precisely that moment. And as time travel has still not been invented, like Mr. Frost we will never come back to the road not taken.

And that is precisely how the journey of life goes on. Every choice made leading to the next choice, while discarding the alternates! Hopefully some lead us on the path of self-improvement and some keep us just meandering along! And that is what makes all the difference to us and our environment! Just like the Butterfly Effect!

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- Robert Frost (1916)

Monday, April 15, 2019

BookMarks #52: I Do What I Do

Title: I Do What I Do 
Author: Raghuram Rajan 
Genre: Non-Fiction, Economics 
Published: 2017 

The book is a collection of speeches and articles by the former RBI Governor, Dr. Raghuram Rajan. Some of the works are from his tenure as the RBI Governor and some from his work in the Academia. The articles provide a glimpse of the work done by the RBI in shaping monetary policy, working with Government to control inflation, while occasionally facing off with the very same government! Other articles provide Dr. Rajan’s views on the world economics and the pros and cons of various monetary policies and their potential impact to the global economy. 

Overall an interesting read, specially since Dr. Rajan also clarifies his stand on the demonetization exercise carried out in November, 2016.

I particularly liked this line from the book on the global financial crisis of 2008 - "A crisis offers us a rare window of opportunity to implement reforms - it is a terrible thing to waste." 

Previously on BookMarks: The Sworn Sword

Thursday, April 04, 2019

MovieNotes: The 15:17 to Paris

Title: The 15:17 to Paris (IMDB)
Released: 2018 
*ing: Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone 
Director: Clint Eastwood 
Language: English 
Genre: Drama, Based on real events 

Basic Premise 
Three friends save a train full of people from a terrorist loaded with guns.

The main lead protagonists are played by the real persons themselves. This was certainly the most interesting bit abo ut the movie. This has its pros and cons - the acting looks terrible and yet has a real-world feel to it! e.g. the protagonists doing touristy things like taking Instagram-worthy selfies! 

There is more time spent on the background of the heroes than the actual action. The main event on which the movie is based on hardly lasts a few minutes. So there is hardly any build-up in that. Which in itself is not a bad thing. As the New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern said recently, the killer was a terrorist and need not be named. The movie depicts the life of the heroes only. How they ended up at that moment. The terrorist is just incidental. 

The message is clear. In times of crisis one must act! 

Rating: 6/10. Nothing to remember by though. 

Previously on MovieNotes: Stree

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

BookMarks #51: The Sworn Sword

Title: The Sworn Sword 
Author: George RR Martin 
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel 
Setting: Fictional continents of Westeros and Essos in the medieval times 
Published: 2003 

The story is one of the many adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall, a hedge knight, and his 10-year old squire Egg, who is in reality, Aegon Targaryen, the prince of Westeros. 

Ser Duncan is in service of Ser Eustace, who faces a water dispute with his neighboring lands, which is ruled by Lady Rohanne, the red widow. Dunk attempts peaceful solution for the problem, but in the end, amidst charges and counter-charges and raising of the past bad blood between the parties, the resolution is through a trial by combat. And in the end, a disappointed Ser Duncan and Egg move on to travel to the Wall. 

The second part of the series “The Tales of Dunk & Egg”, the graphic novel provides a background tale to George RR Martin’s universe of “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Egg moves on to become King Aegon, the ruler of Westeros while Dunk becomes the Lord Commander of his Kingsguard. 

Water disputes between neighbouring lands. Well haven’t we heard that before and are still hearing! 

Even though its just a graphic novel, it does provide a good commentary on the feudal system of the medieval times. Loyalties are switched around at the drop of a coin. Survival is the major aim of life, while belief in superstition is rampant. 

The novel through its flashbacks also reinforces that history is a winners’ tale. Which side is right and which one is wrong, is just a matter of perspective till the actual result of the war. Only the winner gets to decide right and wrong!