Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Guest blogging: an invite.

My dear friends and followers, thanks for the kind support that you have been showering on me by visiting and reading this small blog. In return I have decided to give you a chance to feature on our blog. As a guest. So if you feel like contributing a post please feel free to mail your guest post to my e mail id

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Team : The Movie from past

Watched this new action movie in town, A Team, and had a BLAST! Great fun. Based on the tv series of the same name, A Team is the old action genre revived. Do you remember when real rugged men like Stallone, Chuck Norris and Arnold, and not metrosexual dudes like Vin Diesel, ruled the silver screens all over the world with daredevilry and non apologetic, politically incorrect, jingoistic movies like Rambo, Missing in Action, Commando? A team revisits the era, and how!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Yossarian's struggles

Read the novel Catch 22 last week... Many people from shelfari had recommended this book to me. That is the main reason I searched and found this anti war novel. And it turned out great! The novel is written by Joseph Heller and when it was published first in 60s there was very limited backing from critics.. Months later when it got published on paperback it went on to become a huge best seller.

Catch 22 is the story of Yossarian, the Chief bombardier of American airforce unit ('Officers, You are American soldiers! Soldiers in no other army can claim that!')

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Breaking ice in Ooty

I was totally psyched that day, I was feeling like killing some one and eating their head.... I wanted a recluse. I went to a travel agent and asked him which is the best place to go for two days for total relaxation. The guy recommended Ooty, and I decided to spend some time there...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stranded: A Mobile Game

Stranded is a mobile game which I downloaded last day. It is a long time since I have played any game, except Sudoku, that too once in a while. The plot of the game is similar to the television series Lost, I suppose, but I have never watched the series. Any way the game starts with a dream sequence from which the gamer wakes up to find himself and three others stranded in a remote island after a wreck. More people joins them with a possibility of a betrayer among them. Weapons and drugs get missing. They have to survive by fishing, hunting, farming and trading their produce with the aborigin tribals. And they have to uncover a horrible secret uncovered in the island before it is too late and island eats them all.

My favourite part is hunting where lot of birds, wild boars, snakes are to be killed. We can cook the meat and other vegetables that we farm... Trading is the strategy to win the game...A good time pass game...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Musical paradox

Only today I noticed this option of checking the most played songs in my mobile. I had seen it before but today morning only could appreciate the advantages of the feature. I was quite astonished to see the list because many songs that I considered favorites are not featured in it. And many that were quite mediocre was there in it. Surely my favorite songs list is not the one that I hear most! What a strange Paradox! I thought I would just list them in this post with a small review of my own. What I like about the song and what I think is not agreeable to my auditory nerves. And I will try to upload some videos of lesser heard ones...

  1. Madno from Movie Lamhaa:    I had down loaded this song last week and this is the topper of the list and with every right to be so. This is a great track. The best one of that album, penned by Saeed Quadri and composed by Mithoon. The song has something that reminds us of Maula Mere from Anwar, which is also composed by Mithoon, but it never gets in the way of appreciating this soulful melody. The insertion of Kashmiri Lyrics makes the song all the more exotic. It is a long song (more than 8 minutes) but no complaints. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Creativity, Puzzles and humour through lateral thinking

I had wrote on Lateral Thinking in a previous post. There I had given a very brief introduction on the concept and advantages of thinking the lateral way.In this post I am planning to show that it is not an alien concept and we encounter it in our every day life and even uses it some time to solve trivial problems without realizing...

So before we proceed I would like to recall the way lateral thinking is done. The mind continuously makes patterns with information accessed by it, that later becomes difficult to break or modify. Lateral thinking enables us to rearrange or modify these patterns and come to dramatic and effective results....

Creativity and Innovation

Creativity sounds a word too complicated... But basically many creative ideas originate when two totally different ideas are joined together or when the the information available to all is analysed from a different approach. de Bono calls it an outsider's approach. 
In his own words:
"For many years physiologists could not understand the purpose of the long loops in the kidney tubules: it was assumed that the loops had no special function and were a relic of the way the kidney had evolved.Then one day an engineer looked at the loops and at once recognized that they could be part of a counter-current multiplier, a well-known engineering device for increasing the concentration of solutions. In this instance a fresh look from outside provided an answer to something that had been a puzzle for a long time. "

Puzzles are of different types- mathematical, logical and some that requires out of the box thinking. Basically puzzles require us to arrive at a conclusion or a solution from processing certain information supplied to us. In case of mathematical and logical puzzles the processing is quite simple. A step by step procedure will already be there to move, and if this procedure is followed we reach the conclusion.
Haretown and Tortoiseville are 44 miles apart. A hare travels at 8 miles per hour from Haretown to Tortoiseville, while a tortoise travels at 3 miles per hour from Tortoiseville to Haretown.
If both set out at the same time, how many miles will the hare have to travel before meeting the tortoise en route?

Solution: The hare and the tortoise are together covering the distance at 11 miles per hour (i.e., on adding their speeds).
So, they will cover the distance of 44 miles in 4 hours.
Thus, in 4 hours, they will meet and the hare will have traveled 32 miles.

But in certain other kinds of puzzles these methods never work. In those cases the information given to us will be either partial, made to mislead the situation or both... There will not be any solution mathematically or logically. What requires is to think out of the box, from a new perspective.. To rearrange the patterns that are made by the information given to us.

A man lives on the twelfth floor of an apartment building. Every morning he takes the elevator down to the lobby and leaves the building. In the evening, he gets into the elevator, and, if there is someone else in the elevator -- or if it was raining that day -- he goes back to his floor directly. Otherwise, he goes to the tenth floor and walks up two flights of stairs to his apartment. Why?

Solution: The man is a dwarf. He can't reach the upper elevator buttons, but he can ask people to push them for him. He can also push them with his umbrella.


The best humor always is the result of lateral thinking. 
"If at first you don't succeed, skydiving may not be for you."

The first part of the statement reminds you of a quote that you are well aware. So the mind pulls out those patterns made in the past ready to use them. But by the time second part is stated, those patterns become obsolete.. because a new revelation is made..This causes humour. Some times lot of built up is made by using the patterns already created in the brain and in the final moment rearranging them to give a totally different picture.  

His face was pinched and drawn. With faltering footsteps he wended his way among the bustling Christmas crowd.
"Kind sir," he suddenly exclaimed, "will you not give me a loaf of bread for my wife and little ones?" The stranger regarded him not unkindly.
"Far be it from me," he rejoined, "to take advantage of your destitution. Keep your wife and little ones; I do not want them."

Here an atmosphere is created till the end and in the last reply, a sudden twist is mad, so that the hearer realizes that stranger has misunderstood the request which causes the mental pattern to get rearranged thereby creating humour.

Answer for the picture puzzle :


A true story?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thinking laterally

I attended a class some time back, where the guy asked us a question. He drew a point on a black board and asked whether any one can start drawing a straight line from there and meet the same point again. The exercise was to demonstrate the lateral thinking process. Lateral Thinking is a critical thinking method proposed by Edward de Bono who started a thought revolution, suggesting that thinking as a skill can be taught and practiced. Today Lateral Thinking is practiced in many class rooms and corporate offices all over the world with excellent and effective results. 

People generally associate the process of thinking  as a purely intellectual exercise and believes good thinkers are born genius. de Bono proves it other wise. As per him creativity and genius are not accidents or luck. They are the result of an organized thought process caused by rearrangement of thought patterns... Any one can think critically and get astounding results..

What is critical thinking?
Critical thinking involves judging the thoughts to find out any kind of errors, that is not obvious and can cause a variation in the results.  So when a statement is put forward, a critical thinker deliberately studies it from all view points, thereby determining whether to accept, reject or rephrase the statement... A Critical thinker,  while putting forward an argument ensures that it is logical from all sides and does not contain any factual or judgmental errors. It is self- corrective too. It is like putting forward a scientific theory and proving that it practically works in specified circumstances.Most important requirement for a critical thinker is to be free of bias, ego and having an open mind. Different common mistakes made by people, that obstructs critical thinking is documented in detail by Mr K R Ravi in his book "Thinking About Thinking" published by Jaico in India... Critical thinking is an essential habit to practice lateral thinking... But before knowing about Lateral thinking, it is essential to know about the normal way our mind works, that can be called as vertical thinking.

What is Vertical thinking?
The biggest advantage and disadvantage of human mind is its pattern making ability . Mind works by making patterns with information that it receives. Brain joins together all the stimuli (data) that it receives from different sensory organs in a particular style that is determined by the order in which  it receives them. And a code is assigned to it. When that code is given to the brain in future, it pulls out the whole pattern and then process it by adding or reducing more bits of information thereby constructing more complex patterns.  Language is the best code. When brain hears the word red, it registers immediately a sight that was associated with the word before and interprets the color... This saves a huge amount of time while thinking, when the code is given to brain a thought can be triggered with a huge amount of data associated with it as ready made patterns. So when you hear or read the word "Terminator", immediately the brain associate it with Schwarzanegger  and lot of inter mixed patterns of scenes, dialogues, sounds, images of friends who had accompanied to Cinema all loaded together. Then as per the requirement of the situation, brain takes up the patterns out, adds or reduces data to form a new pattern.

But it has a disadvantage that patterns in course becomes so strong by the addition of various irrelevant data that it becomes difficult to disassociate certain things afterward. Like US airport authorities having a problem with people with beard. All photographs of terrorists they have seen are with beards, so they associate a beard with terrorists, making life hell for innocent passengers. Also another important problem is the difficulty to rearrange the patterns as they are formed in the order data arrives in mind and not in the order of accuracy.

So vertical thinking is the normal method of thinking were information is stacked one above another like a multi storied building. It is difficult to rearrange data in this normal method...and it is where lateral thinking comes into picture.

What is Lateral Thinking?
In this approach we don't go step by step, we go parallel. Instead of relying on ready-made patterns solely, for thinking process, here either existing patterns are deformed and rearranged or whole new patterns are constructed. Lateral thinking involves in creating more paths, to a solution thereby increasing the chance of reaching there.

Vertical thinking is digging deep when no water is found, whereas lateral thinking is digging at a new place when result is not achieved. In  vertical thinking, solution as well as the path for reaching the solution are equally important, but in lateral thinking, only correct solution matters. Distance from problem to solution can be covered in an infinite different ways, if we are ready to break and rearrange the patterns...which brings us to the answer of the question asked to us in the class on lateral thinking... Answer is to draw the straight line in any direction to a distance equal to the circumference of earth and there, the point will be reached due to the curvature of earth. Only one guy answered it that day and humility does not allow me to reveal his identity.

Most of the details expressed in this post and in few others that I plan to make in near future as a continuation to the topic are not original. I had just tried to express the concept of  Lateral Thinking, as good as I comprehend. So all mistakes here are mine and basis of everything else are the work of de Bono and several others working in this field... If you are interested more details on laeral thinking and exercises to practice it can be found in the book Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono

Incredible Life and Death of my talkative middle finger

The middle finger of my right arm is talking to me... Absurd? It was quiet difficult to get used to this fact at first, but when I found out this was a situation I have to live with, I did a deep research on this phenomenon, through Google and Wikipedia, coming up surprisingly with much less information than I anticipated, actually almost nothing. So the situation is unheard of, unique and ... absurd.

My finger was not always like this.. well I cannot tell it for sure because I too found it accidentally. It was my 30th birthday, I was giving a candle light dinner for my family, my wife and two kids when a small fly entered my right ear... and impulsively I put the middle finger of my right hand in my ear...At first I thought it was the fly making some sound, but it had something humane in it... it was a very low rumble, continuous and sounded like a complain, but I was not at all able to decipher it, the volume was so less... I took my finger back and after a second, took it near my ear and  listened again... nothing. 

After this episode I waited for my finger to make another sound, just to make myself sure I am not going insane and I had to wait for another two days... I was in my office, giving a staff presentation, silence prevailed and all others were absorbed in the facts and figures. Suddenly I could hear some whispering, I was expecting it all the time, but it was louder this time... at first I pretended not to hear it... then I could not concentrate on the presentation and I took my hand from my pockets and stared at the middle finger like giving a rebuke... Probably it understood and was quiet... I am sure my colleagues might have found it revolting to see me poking my middle finger during a serious meeting but I was relieved that none complained later.

That evening when I reached home I could hear the grumbling sound from my finger. I asked my wife,
"Do you hear a grumbling sound?"
"May be the washing machine." She replied.
During dinner I asked her again,
"Do you hear a grumbling sound?"
"May be from TV."
I pushed my luck in bed, 
"Do you hear a grumbling sound?"
She turned around and slept without replying.
Next morning the first thing I asked her was,
"Do you hear a grumbling sound?"
I had to go to office without breakfast that morning.At least I am sure no one else hears the noise that my finger was making other than me.

Another month passed and I am learning the art of managing whispering fingers ...  Now the whispering has turned into audible sound, but I was unable to find out what it wants to convey because that language is a foreign one with no ring of familiarity.I tried showing my finger, the World Movies TV channel on the hope that it will pick up any of the language featured... But other than my family's wrath for not letting my wife watch her soaps and my kids their cartoons, this try also was a waste...

By now finger has possessed a new habit, it wants to speak eye-to-eye with me... or finger-to-eye, whatever it is... and it also likes to touch my other body parts... like ear, nose, like conveying some secret to them but most irritating is it wanting to touch any private parts, especially in public. It seems to live a life of its own, suddenly coming alive in the most embarrassing circumstances.. I suspected it was planning a mutiny against me along with my other body parts. I went to a shrink.
"Yes Mr. H. How are you?"
"Doctor, my finger is speaking to me."
He had a dead pan expression as if waiting for me to jump, or cry or behave the way people who are nut cases find ciivilized... We waited for some minutes... He was still staring at me with the same expression and I was feeling like acting demented just to make him comfortable...
"But it is not talking!" He exclaimed suddenly but with a calmness and depth that resembled an ocean..
"No! It is not."
"But you told it is!"
"It was! I don't know why it is silent now and any way only I can hear it talking." There! Now the guy will jump from his seat and will shout victoriously " Man, Congrats! You are the latest entrent to the crazy world of nuts!" 
No, he is keeping the same dead pan face, like I had just stated Newton's third Law...and the finger was silent! It is probably scared of shrinks...
I don't remember much about the rest... probably the guy hipnotized me and I just wished I didn't gave any of the skeletons in my closet away to him. I remember coming out of the consulting room and realising I have forgotten some thing inside. I returned without knocking and caught the guy talking animatedly on phone.
"You won't believe what all weird guys enter my office." or something like that with a vicious and gosippy grin on his face. He stopped after seeing me and wore his dead pan mask... I took my cell phone that was on the table and returned to office...

But the finger resumed blabbering once we were out... By the next week it was shouting... And I was not sitting idle. I went to a Baba Bengali who was the mobile cure for any problem below the sky... I had to run away from his den, a stingy room on the second storey of a building, that should have been taken over by Archeological departent long back, when my finger shouted at him, scaring him so much that Baba fell through the window to the pavement infront of the building  and probably broke his spine leaving him paralysed for life. 

I knew it was my destiny to live with this talking finger my whole life, unable to understand a word that the little creep utters andalways left to my imagination. I was returning from Baba when probably the finger felt a need to talk to my eyes... It came suddenly, without any provocation that I was jolted by the sudden-ness and I was on the road.. Something hit me hard, probably a Volvo truck, judging by the impact and I was flying high and long , maybe a couple of miles, for I was in  the air for an incredibly long time.. Darkness was creeping around from all sides and there was a sudden pain on my right hand... and my finger was screaming hysterically, and then every thing turned black. 

After a very  long time, may be years later, I opened my eyes to an irritating assault of white light, then blue and then every shades of every colours that ever existed in spectrum... A stout guy with a bum expression was staring at my face. I recognized my family doctor, it is funny how distorted familiar faces seem  when their noses are touching ours, or are almost close to ours, as was apparantly the case now...
"Hi Doctor."
"Welcome back dude. You gave all of us such a scare!"
"Well, what happened? How am I alive yet?"
"Come on, no one dies when hit by a scooter... You just got shocked senseless for a couple of hours. But bad news is that when you fell on the road a car ran over you, the middle finger of your right hand to be precise. We had to amputate it to prevent infections and other complications."
"Wait, you mean to say you cut it off? THE middle finger of my right hand?"
" Yes, as you were unconscious we had to get a consent from your wife and being a fine lady who is concerned of your well being she gave it easily."
I looked at my hand with a gaping hole in the middle, not knowing how to react...

Later my wife confessed that she was relieved give her consent to chop my finger off, as I was consistently embarrasing her by poking it in undesirable places in public... Years later, I still think of the middle finger of my right hand that used to talk incessantly, and used to wonder about all those endless conversations that took place between us, which I could never comprehend due to the language barrier... I will never know whether a part of my body was planning a revolt against me or if it was just announcing the next day's lottery results....

This is a rough draft of a story  I conceived in a sleepless night some time back which I was unable to put in words then... Need some editing, more humour and some finishing touch. Please give your suggestions. 
Note: If you find it similar to any other works of fiction that you had read before, probably I also might have read it. Please include it in your comments so that I can include that book also in my shelfari profile, where I keep track of books that I have read...

The B king!

What will you call an Indian movie star:

a) who was the heart throb of masses for two decades,
b) who recieved 3 national awards for best actor, first one being his debut movie,
c) two film fare awards- one for best supporting actor and one for best villain, a star screen award and countless other awards
d) deemed as a great dancing star and action hero in his times,
e) who was the most popular star abroad in 1980s especially in Russia after Raj Kapoor
f) who is a successful entrepreneur
g) who was the higest tax payer nationally for five consecutive years
h) who was a strong naxalite in his early years
i) who actually IS a self made star with a rags to riches story to tell
j) who has acted in several popular romantic and family dramas of his times
k) who run a parallel hindi movie industry outside Bollywood succesfully for a decade
l) who still essays powerfull roles in both commercial and off beat movies, every one of them critically acclaimed regardless of the fate of the movie,
m) whose appearence in mini screen was also as successfull as his illustrious movie career.....

What would you call the guy ....

No, No ... all guesses are wrong...

He is regarded and known as the King of B grade movies....

He is Mithun Chakraborthy

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rajneeti- A book with spoiled binding

Just watched Prakash Jha's much expected movie Rajneeti. Did you ever read a huge book with lots of chapters and pages that has a torn binding? Watching this movie is just like that... Story is good, acting is excellent but lot of characters and happenings crammed into 2.45 hrs makes watching a bit dull....
Rajneeti is an extensive journey into the dirty world of Indian Politics and it is based on the biggest political block buster of all times, the Mahabharatha. Remember the Shyam Benegal movie Kalyug starring Shasi Kapoor, Rekha, Raj Babbar which also took the theme of contemoprary retelling of Mahabharatha with a story of clash between two business tycoons? Something like that...

Biggest positive side of the movie is actors, a wonderful line of performing and underperforming actors who are part of this movie... Devgn, Shah, Katrina Kaif, Bajpayee, Ranbir Kapoor, Nana, Rampal and few more whom I forgot... The movie is fast paced, every scene lot of things happens, most of the scenes are multi starred and confrontation sequences... lot of energy flowing... Dialogues are top notch... Another good quality that I see is that the background scoring is minimal and really helps in digesting the heavy accented dialogues. (Katrina's included)

Negative is what I told at the start... Plots, subplots, sub sub plots, reels and reels of incidences and very poor editing... Many of the scenes go above the head...And climax is very lame for such a realistic movie, in Indian Politics no leader will ever go trigger happy... Climax was very Bolywoody....

And I wont give away the story because if I intend also it will take a lot of time and I have a flight to catch....

Then remaining part of the post is on actors... Manoj Bajpayee does probably his career best role, (atleast the best after Biku Mahatre of Satya) the guy just blasts his way into senses, like he often does during the political meetings in the movie.. Nana Patekar also gets a meaty role as an ever present suthradhar.... Ajay Devgn does the part of Karna and what to tell... the guy acts with his eyes... a shot of his eyes gives you despair, anger, inferiority complex, desire for power and a whole bunch of complex emotions according to the situation... Arjun Rampal shows great restraint in scenes where he terrorises with a smile and a few words.. especially the scene were he beats up the police guy, his eyes really look psycho... Kathrina Kaif's role is tailor made for her, bad accented, spoilt girl, going totally confused at turns of the events ending up as a Psycho's wife. Naseerudhin Shah does not have much work, but entire title sequence is his. Ranbir was the weak link... His role is like Al Pacino's in Godfather or more like Abhishek's in Sarkar... But the guy just dream walks through the whole movie with his droopy eyes and bored expression. In one way it was fine, because by watching him I felt things are not real and I was watching a movie...