Tuesday, December 23, 2014

PK Disappoints

Film Review: PK
Cast: Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput, Boman Irani
Directed By: Rajkumar Hirani
Music: Shantanu Moitra and others
Most people who appreciate meaningful cinema were looking forward to PK. But PK falls flat. Aamir Khan disappoints. Raju Hirani disappoints.
The movie started on an innovative note and I liked the concept that Aamir Khan was playing the role of an alien. But then… what happened to the script after that?
Those who have watched ‘Oh My God’ will find PK rather dull. PK makes a mockery of some religious leaders, which I must admit is quite hilarious. We enjoy a laugh or two. But that’s not all. PK goes a step further and starts a subtle attack on select religions. That is upsetting because the movie stars a sensibly sensitive creative genius like Aamir Khan.
India is a tolerant nation. We Indians tolerate ludicrous religious extremism, ghastly terrorist attacks, violence against children, and more. So, we tolerate this nonsensical movie too! Incidentally, there was no reference to terrorist attacks in the name of religion! But the last thing we needed was the glorification of the Pakistan embassy!
I wonder why the reference to ‘the letter’ was traced back to the failure of the fraud swami (I cannot remember his very forgettable name…sorry!). After all, it was just a misunderstanding between two adults in love. No? Why did we need to attach a religious tinge to it?
For someone who keeps the country together with the powerful Satyameva Jayate, what was PK? A boring, biased, and mindless saga of a confused alien?
Next time, just the names Aamir Khan or Raju Hirani on the posters may not motivate me to buy movie tickets. Kya pata, PK banaya hoga!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Where are the clouds?

Once upon a time
Last month, on my flight back from Bangalore, I was happy that finally the sky was clear. It was a treat for my eyes to witness the white clouds floating all over the sky. I focused on one cloud. It looked like a mighty giant right out of a fairy tale. I smiled and moved on to another one. This one looked like a lion with its mouth wide open, ready to pounce upon its prey. The third cloud that attracted me was a longer one. It gave an impression that a child with long hair was looking at a computer screen and laughing hysterically. It automatically made me smile. “The captain has switched off the seat belt sign. You can now use your laptops and electronic devices. Please keep your mobile phone in the switch off or airplane mode only”, the lead cabin attendant announced. I unfastened my seat belt and fetched my laptop. As I opened my word document and got ready to resume work on my white paper, I looked outside the window once more. I did not see that happy child anymore. I had entered my own world of cloud.

The new age cloud
Today, technology trends such as cloud, social media, digitalization, mobile, and analytics are not just giving a face-lift to computing, they are reshaping our imagination too. When we say ‘cloud’, we do not necessarily mean ‘the clouds in the sky’!  We are talking technology, 90% of the time, especially if we are sitting inside the meeting room of an IT organization. It is a fact that looking at the increasing technological complexities today, most organizations are looking at solutions like cloud computing to handle their data management needs.

What is Cloud Computing?
In simple terms, cloud computing is a technology that allows you to create a network of a large number of remote servers over the Internet. Using this network, you can share data-processing tasks, have a centralized data storage system, and access your data on the go. In other words, you can manage your data per your needs, real time, without being dependent on a local server. Magical, isn’t it? While working on an important assignment last week, my colleague had forgotten to email the file to her client before leaving office. She had saved it in her laptop. On her way home, while sitting in a crowded public bus, she was able to send it. All she did was use the ‘One Drive’ feature on her smart phone. She not only accessed the file, but also reviewed it once more before sending it to her client. Her 3G speed was good, which made the process simpler. She did not panic for a trifle second.

So, if individuals like you and me can reap the benefits of cloud computing, imagine the advantages that organizations can derive! Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc. make the most of Public Cloud to process piles of data every second. Companies like IBM, HP and others are offering cloud based analytic services and more to millions of customers across the world.

On the flip side
Not all organizations or applications may benefit from cloud computing. Cloud needs network connections to work. If there are recurrent outage issues with your Internet connection, cloud computing would not be advisable. Also, security threats cannot be ruled out. Despite data security systems being robust, you should not store confidential information on cloud. Providers cannot guarantee that the networks are 100% secure. If your email account is hacked, that can be a threat to your business data stored on cloud. There may be cost and compatibility issues also.

Is there a ‘Happily Ever After’?
Cloud is among the most popular metaphors for the Internet and is here to stay. But perhaps, what is important is to shut down that laptop or smart phone once in a while and look outside the window. Take a deep breath, get a glimpse of the clouds in the sky and set your imagination free. Technology will evolve and cloud computing will be replaced by a newer version tomorrow. But those natural beauties flying in the sky – they will keep your hopes alive in a ‘happily ever after’. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yearning to Write

Writing is an art. Not all great writers are born with a natural flair for writing. How do they develop the skill then? In a creative writing course, I attended a couple of years back, I learned the first simple rule – Always write for yourself. There will always be like-minded people who will like what you write. Similarly, there will always be those who will not. If you try to please others, you will never be able to develop your own writing style. It is almost like singing. I have often heard successful singers say that they sing to satisfy their own soul. That is true of any art form actually. Don’t we love artists who are in love with their art?

Reading also helps writing. The more you read, the more you think, imagine, and adopt. If it is a childhood habit, even better. But does that mean people who do not read don’t make good writers? Certainly not. I know of a few fantastic writers who don’t enjoy reading. But they write for themselves, uninhibited. They are observant, creative, and knowledgeable. Someone who doesn’t read much may enjoy music, audio books, travel, movies, sitcoms, social interactions, and more. A writer can explore limitless possibilities and write through experiences. Again, all voracious readers do not necessarily like writing.

Writing connects you to yourself. Regardless of place, situation, or state of mind, writers always have a friend in their pen. Each new write-up helps the writer open up a wee bit more. The more we write, the more we get a glimpse of our soul, our inner self. Every writer has faced this situation at least once in their lifetime: I sit to write on a particular topic and start with the best of intentions. But I end up writing about something I had never imagined. Commercially, it may be a waste of time if I was being paid for that particular piece. But then, I discovered a part of me, in the process. Impromptu write-ups are precious, no matter how meaningless they may seem at that moment.

Writers have their own world. Writing keeps them passionate and self-motivated. Some writers like to write in the open, and get inspiration from the nature. Some like locking themselves up in a room when they write. There are annoying 'writer’s block' phases, but there are also happy 'writer’s delight' phases. Usually a delight phase is preceded by a block phase.

Writers are always cultivating their skill, even when they are not writing. Watch out ;)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Europe Calling!

2014 has been tough. Dealing with the departure of loved ones never happens. Perhaps it takes a lifetime. There were some sparkles of joy amid the tough times. The European vacation was one such breath of fresh air. I am writing this post to keep an account of the fact that we made our first trip to Europe in 2014.

Trinity College, University of Oxford
We travelled to three destinations – London, Paris, and Switzerland over 13 days. Thanks to Kesari Travels for organizing such a wonderful tour and sending such an amazing tour manager like Mr. Kedar Billay with us. My mom always wanted to visit Switzerland and she was thrilled when we reached her dream destination. My husband on the other hand wanted to spend time loitering around the streets of Paris. He did it too. And I had my heart set on London - especially as I wanted to visit the University of Oxford.  Done :)
Inside Louvre Museum, Paris
Though it is difficult to choose between any of the three destinations, I would say I loved Switzerland the most. It may be because we spent the maximum number of days there.
While the Trafalgar Square in London is amazing and nothing beats the Paris Eiffel tower, Switzerland is like a dream. Heaven. I haven’t been to Kashmir but now I know what they call it the Kashmir of Europe. 

While we were on a cruise on Lake Geneva, the tour guide told us an interesting story that left me in awe. Am sure aspiring authors would be inspired by this story.
Lake Geneva, Switzerland
Story synopsis: Sometime in the 19th century, the famous P.B Shelley and his wife Mary were on a holiday with Lord Byron and his wife in Villa Diodati, near Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The weather was too stormy and none of them could go for any outdoor activity. Since they had no option but to stay inside the house, Lord Byron suggested that to keep boredom at bay, each of them write a horror story.  Nobody took Mary seriously as she was a novice amid the great literary stalwarts. Mary was just 19 and took up the challenge to pen her story on that rainy night.

Guess what story she came up with? She created Frankenstein. The rest is history.

Jungfraujoch, Switzerland
Surprisingly, all through this trip, I had my favourite author Paulo Coelho's new book 'Adultery' in mind. When will I get to read it, would it be better than his previous books... I had been wondering. The book had not yet been released in India at that time. I knew I would pick it up as soon as I was back in Mumbai. When I finally got hold of the book a couple of weeks back, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the story is set in Geneva! Coelho also mentions about Mary Shelley and Frankenstein in this book!! Besides, currently, Coelho is residing in Geneva! It was a wonderful connect though I was a little upset that I didn't know he was in Geneva when I visited. I feel good thinking I breathed the same air he did for a day at least. Simple joys of life :)

I have to go back to Europe again – to explore the English countryside and spend some more time in London and Paris. Besides, I have always wanted to visit Eastern Europe. I want to travel there, live there, and just enjoy the coffee there.
Till then, I wish all my friends a Happy Mahalaya and a wonderfully fulfilling Durga Puja. May all your dreams come true. Stay blessed.

Monday, September 8, 2014

My Friend Ganesha!

Ever since childhood, I have been fond of God even though I am not particularly religious.
As a child, my favorite Goddess was Saraswati. Fasting for the Saraswati Puja every year used to be very exciting. It hardly had a religious connotation. I would get to wear a sari, have yummy narkel kul and topa kul (perhaps called Jujube fruit in English), and use doat- kolom to write the Saraswati mantra on coconut leaf. The best thing about Saraswati puja was that by 8 am the puja would be completed and so the fasting ended too! We could have as much kul as we wanted along with sweets galore. And yes, we were not supposed to study on Saraswati Puja...one more reason why that day was extra-special :). Goddess Saraswati has a veena (multi-string instrument) in her hand. Since I love music, I was automatically her fan.

Next, I was mesmerized by Jesus Christ. This may be the impact of spending too many years in a missionary school and college. But there is a certain aura about Christ that appeals to me all the time. Besides, churches and chapels have a calming effect which I enjoy. In my teens, I would buy pictures of Christ, as I would buy of Sachin Tendulkar and Salman Khan. I loved wearing a cross round my neck too. Jesus is symbolic of true love, peace, and compassion.
Thirdly, of course Loknath Baba. I learned about him from my father when I was in Class IV, I think. In Class VII, during my P.T class, one day, my sports shoes were not washed. I had completely forgotten to clean them the night before. In the morning, all I could do was paint some chalk on the unruly pair. It was almost like applying face powder on a black shoe. Our teachers were extremely strict when it came to snow-white sports shoes. I was very scared. When my teacher came for inspection, we were all standing in a row in ‘attention’ position. The girl standing next to me had dirty shoes and was sent for detention. I had kept my eyes shut and was constantly praying to Loknath Baba to save me J. And yes, it was a miracle! The teacher did not notice my unwashed shoes! She moved on to the end of the line and caught two more girls. Ever since that day, Loknath Baba is a family member. He didn’t come to my rescue during my Maths exams though! He asked me to help myself :p.
I don’t know how and when Ganesha happened. It certainly has a Mumbai connection. In Kolkata, in our puja room, my mother has several Ganesha idols. My favorite is a pristine white Ganpati. Mom usually drapes a green or golden silk scarf around him. He looks simple, yet gorgeous. He used to be pampered the most during Poila Boishakh (Bengali New Year) celebrations at home.

After shifting to Mumbai, I witnessed a lot more celebrations around Ganeshji compared to Kolkata. Today being the final Ganpati visarjan day (Immersion ceremony), I thought of writing this post. My fondness for Ganesha has grown a lot after I moved to Mumbai. Ganesha has an endearing personality and is more like a friend than God. He always seems so content with himself, perhaps that is the trait I admire the most. In my ex-office, there is a very elegant and cute little Ganpati that brightens our workplace. For years, I loved offering flowers to that Ganpati every morning. Simple things bring such unprecedented joy! After I left IBM, I miss that. But I know my friend Ganesha will always be by my side.
Happy Ganpati to everyone!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chiropractic Care

Have you heard of a chiropractor? You may not have, if you are in India. But if you are residing anywhere in the U.S, Canada, or even Australia - you may well be under chiropractic care already.

The concept was new to me and I learned about this discipline of noninvasive medical care only in January this year. I researched and read up more and was intrigued by this new perspective to healthcare.

In simple terms, a chiropractor is a doctor who has completed 'chiropractic school' just like an MD has completed MBBS. Chiropractors believe in natural healing and embrace the chiropractic philosophy which states that the human body is all powerful. Our body has the ability to heal itself naturally, without medication or surgery. Whenever there is a disruption in our nerve system, the natural functioning of the body is affected. Chiropractic care helps the body to gain back the momentum and perform at its optimal best. It changes your lifestyle, helps you imbibe healthy dietary habits, encourages you to maintain a daily fitness regime, and focuses on wellness for longer. 

India is not new to chiropractic though. Since time immemorial, we have had natural healing with ayurvedic, fitness through physiotherapy and treatment through homeopathy. Chiropractic is similar to all these disciplines. 

Chiropractors use different 'adjustment techniques' to heal patients -which gives them quick relief from spinal and nerve disorders, chronic ailments and longstanding mobility issues. Chiropractors don't claim to 'cure'. They make the body active by removing the obstacles that are interfering with the normal functioning of the body. The way our brain operates and how our nerve system keeps us going is great to know a chiropractor's perspective. 

Most patients go to chiropractors after they have tried every other medical doctor, surgeon, orthopedic etc. But ideally, chiropractic would be a better first choice. If naturally, our body can get relief from pain, why would we need medicines? Though chiropractic doesn't have an answer to everything and medical help is needed during emergencies, there is no harm in giving it a try. Sportsmen, children, pregnant mothers, people with desk jobs, senior citizens, and people with chronic disorders benefit immensely from chiropractic care.

I hope that in the near future, chiropractic gains popularity in India too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The World Cup frenzy!

The football fever is crazy! Okay I understand that we don't have a World Cup every year, but the frenzy is inexplicable. I get all the more surprised because India is not even part of the tournament! If this was cricket, I would sit glued to the TV for hours together because India plays a huge role there, specially being the world cup champions.

Coming back to football, there is no point in me trying to argue with lovers of the game on this. I don't understand the game nor have ever made any attempt to. I find it quite boring to see 22 people running after 1 football for 90 minutes or more! Unless there is a goal, there's nothing exciting about the game! In cricket, there are 4s, 6s, wickets, different ways to get out, different bowling techniques, batting styles etc which I like. But I fail to be able to watch a football match for more than 15 minutes. And I don't think I'll do any better in the next world cup.

The only reason I may watch the game for few minutes is due to some of the players - Messi being the favorite. 

Today, most people I know, regardless of their age, sex, city of residence, or sports orientation are going crazy about the world cup. Those in service are returning home early, taking a quick nap after dinner and waking up dot on time to support their favorite nation - mostly Brazil and Argentina. 

Even though I cannot relate to it or enjoy it, I deeply appreciate the passion of the people for this game. Also, I hope we always stay this way in India - we love what we love and stand by it, no matter what.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Freedom :)

Freedom means different things to different people. But nothing beats the freedom to dream! We are free to let our minds fly anywhere and dream. Just as realizing a long cherished dream is gratifying, so is the freedom to dream. It gives me a sense of "Ah, I can breathe freely".

The freedom to write everyday on my blog, the freedom to choose any font randomly, the freedom to choose what you want to write on, and the freedom to decide when - enough reasons to make me happy :).

Often the happiness that comes with freedom is ephemeral because freedom itself is short-lived. We don't realize when freedom turns into responsibility that we willingly embrace.

I feel that freedom and responsibility make a great couple. When you enjoy your freedom but also achieve your dream using it as a weapon, life is bliss.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Getting Social

Are you getting social?  
Today everyone just wants to get social - however, with whoever, whenever and wherever. Any reason is reason enough or most of the times, reason is not required. We use hashtags on almost every possible topic we write or comment on, when online. Whether in office or college, we expect people to 'get social'. These days even school children need to 'get social'. In fact, even animals are not spared. They are also expected to follow suit, under the able guidance of their social parents. Even filmstars, politicians, sportstars, artists, and religious leaders - all are in a race to 'get social'. The urban youth is perhaps leading the race by virtue of accessibility to information, technology knowledge and interest to stay connected.

How are we socializing?
Oh, come on! We all know that. Over the internet, social networking sites, instant messengers, voice chats, video chats, and more.

Why we love it?
Ah, when a friend of mine was vacationing in Goa, he was thrilled that each time he 'checked in' to a new beach, he got over 20 'likes'. When he shared a photo at his favorite restaurant, the likes and comments even crossed 100. What's more, he got at least 7-8 new friend requests after he posted his profile picture on a popular social networking site. He was posing on a water scooter and had his new sunglasses on, which he specially bought for his online friends to admire! Each day he returned to the hotel a bit early as he needed to upload fresh pictures. Since the wi-fi was slow near the beach, he couldn't post all the pictures from his cell phone! How frustrating! Such a wonderful opportunity to get social - wasted, I thought ;). When I asked who he was traveling with, he mentioned his family. His wife also loved the virtual world. Since the kid is just 4, they would often keep him busy with their tablets or phones. Thank god for online games! So, the child didn't play on the beach, I wondered! 'Are you kidding me?' he replied. 'My kid hates dirt and we are happy he doesnt create a mess with the sand and stuff!'. 

The interaction with this friend and several others often leave me confused. There are times that I don't visit any social networking site. I hate it when a social site reminds me to wish someone on their birthday! I don't even want the list - I know whom to wish and call up. Why should I wish someone who lived in my neighborhood for 18 years but we never spoke? Why should I even befriend him/her on a social networking site? When I am on a holiday - YES, I am on a holiday. If I do not 'check in' every 2 hours at every mall or eating joint I visit, if I don't use a 'hashtag' to express my emotions, am I unsocial? I talk to my family and close friends every day, even if they reside in a different city or country. Some of the people closest to me are not even on my social network 'online'. Or even if they are, they are the most 'unsocial' there.

Loving the virtual world.
We all love good pictures, good reviews, comments on our posts (that includes blogs!). I too love it all -- the colorful and vibrant virtual world around me. Like many others, I am enthusiastic about digital communication, collaboration and partnerships. But I don't understand what it has got to do with me being social! If I don't have my profile updated on a job site, you can call me 'technologically slow'. But certainly not unsocial. If I don't chat with you online but prefer to read a book or play badminton instead, you can call me 'ancient' but not unsocial. Besides, at that time, you are anyway busy multi-chatting and copy pasting similar responses to the others.

I think it's time for all of us to 'get social'. By that I mean - spending time with people who matter, enrolling for that long pending 'zumba' or 'foreign language' class, hanging out with friends, laughing our hearts out, physically visiting a charity or animal welfare NGO. Get social real-time. Don't fiddle with your phone when you are out on a date or visiting your parents for dinner after a week! The senior citizens, especially in India silently bear the unsocial behavior of their 'virtually social' children, everyday. For a start, why not switch off your phone and spend an evening listening to stories from their past? 

Are you ready to 'get social'?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

My 5 favourite books of 2013

It's already the second half of 2014 and this blog is coming a tad late but then I did want to make a note of my most loved books in 2013. This year, I haven't been up to speed. But I hope to read a lot more starting this rainy month of July. What more can a pluviophile ask for ;)

Here are my top 5 from last year

1. Manuscript Found in Accra - Paulo Coelho
I loved this one, just as I love everything by Coelho. This book reminded me of 'The Alchemist' and inspires right till the very last page. It explores hope, anxiety, knowledge, the future and other concepts with simplicity which leaves a profound impact on the reader. I must have read this book at least 10 times now! If you haven't, do get a copy. What's more - you will never fall short of inspiring quotes with this book in your possession.

2. Lowland- Jhumpa Lahiri
I don't know I appreciated the book more for its beautifully woven story or because of the Calcutta connection. Traces of the city in 1950s are depicted with such vivid eloquence, that I could visualize the story of the two brothers and relate to it very well. I wish Jhumpa Lahiri writes more. This  novel has been such a treat!

3. Best Kept Secret - Jeffrey Archer
For booklovers and mystery maniacs, there are some authors you just cannot miss! It is almost criminal not to read a Jeffrey Archer novel as soon as it hits the bookstores. For those who have been following the Clifton-Barrington series, they will simply love this third book on Clifton Chronicles. Powerful characterization, suspense, intrigue, revenge - Archer presents the narrative in his inimitable style and leaves the reader longing for more.

4. The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith
Okay, so I didn't buy this one till I learned that JK Rowling was writing under this pen name. But who would have imagined that the Potter queen would come up with such a gripping suspense novel! She is the storyteller every aspiring writer wants to be! She wonderfully underplays her private detective focusing more on the story than on her protagonist. That's makes the book even more engaging. With the second Cormoran Strike book released in 2014, Rowling has successfully created a new detective who is quickly climbing up the popularity charts.

5. Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg
This is one book for keeps. I would recommend it to everyone, whether they are avid readers or not. Sandberg, Facebook COO talks about why women empowerment is important and how women can make a big difference to the workplace. She starts with her own example, discusses 'pregnant parking' and how women make naturally good managers and leaders. I really like the subtitile 'women, work, and the will to lead'. This is an excellent book to gift to promising new leaders at your workplace, family, and friend circles. I have already gifted 5 copies of the book to women who I know would appreciate the vision. In fact, I too received it as a gift on a day I was feeling low. This book acted as an instant morale booster!

I hope to read more this year and come up with a new list hopefully by end of 2014. Till then, Happy Reading!

Friday, July 4, 2014

New Beginnings...

At some point in our lives, we all endeavor to make new beginnings. In the next fourteen days - I want to make an attempt too. Even if it is as simple as writing a blog every day over the next two weeks :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Bollywood Queens

This blog post has been long pending. Despite an innate desire to pen down my thoughts, it was tough to overcome the impending procrastinator that got the better of me each time I opened the blog. I tried to justify myself in the garb of 'too much work' and 'lack of time'. This hide and seek has been going on for almost a month now! Being the great Paulo Coelho loyalist that I am, yet again re-reading one of his quotes got me back on track. He says, “One day you will wake up & there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” Simple, succinct and true!

 Ah... so I wanted to write about the Bollywood movie 'Queen'. But no, it's not just about Queen. It's about celebrating the portrayal of meaningful characters in Bollywood. In 2014, we've had quite a few of them. It's a coincidence that all these protagonists are women. I'm thrilled that it is all part of mainstream cinema and the audiences have enjoyed them as much as I have. Since Queen has been like the icing on the cake, I decided to give a 'queen point' to each of these fabulous movies.

The year started on a positive note with an enjoyable romcom 'Hansee Toh Fansee'. Though I get starry-eyed when I see Siddharth Malhotra, I wasn't gung-ho about going to the theatre to watch this one. But then my movie-freak husband wanted to, and so I reluctantly obliged. (Am happy that I did.) A thorough  entertainer, this light-hearted flick was more than just a love story. Good script, great chemistry between the actors and enjoyable right till the end. For me, it had a message about believing in your dream and realising it. Sid and the others were fabulous but the real star of the movie was Parineeti Chopra. I'd give her a 'Queen of Spade' for this performance. A no-nonsense, matter-of-fact personality with a mind of her own, Parineeti's character, set in the Indian context is a role model for youngsters. An effortlessly meaningful portrayal.

The next movie I wanted to avoid was 'Highway'. After the dismal Student of the Year, I didn't want to watch Alia throwing tantrums on screen again! This time, at the behest of some incorrigibly adorable friends, I headed for 'Highway'. Story, cinematography, music, direction – tuned to perfection! Alia Bhatt mesmerized all with her soulful acting and spontaneity. For me, 'Highway' is THE Bollywood movie of 2014. I'd give Alia a 'Queen of Diamond' for this performance. A girl with talent like that is a DIAMOND and I hope she gets more opportunities to satiate her acting pangs. The movie conveys a strong social message and that makes it all the more special. Parents need to stand up for their children - whether it is dealing with abuse within the family, sexual orientation, or anything else. Powerhouse performance from Randeep Hooda too.

Finally Queen, another movie I was coaxed into watching by the husband! Queen is undoubtedly a Kangana Ranaut movie. Kangana is unassuming, unrehearsed, and unbelievably wonderful! She plays Rani, a gullible young girl who finds her true calling when she sets out to explore Europe all by herself, oblivious of the world around. Quite a lesson on staying self-motivated. Every scene has emotion, humor, thrill and Kangana's inimitable dialogue delivery :). Whether it is about Rani cracking 'santa banta' jokes with strangers, letting her hair down to 'Hungama ho gaya', or her Facebook updates, I haven't laughed this raucously in a very long time! I'd crown Kangana as the 'Queen of Hearts' for this portrayal.
One more shining star in 'Queen' was Lisa Haydon, who plays the bohemian Vijaylakshmi. For her unpretentious acting and lovable persona, I would like to give her the 'Queen of Clubs' for this entertaining cameo.

I hope we get to see some decent performances from the kings of Bollywood  that can match up to these showstopper acts by their leading ladies. And I don't mean action packed trash where cinematography and visual effects are the key players ;).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Life's Sudden Surprises!

Sometimes, life throws sudden surprises at us. Not all of them are pleasant and there is an instant sense of disbelief when you encounter such a surprise. It may be a breach of trust, unfolding of a new episode in your life, or just a plan that didn't work despite the best of intentions. While some people find it easy to stay emotionally detached, for some others - acceptance takes time. Ironically, these surprises are thrown at us when we least expect them and are perhaps in a happy frame of mind. To be fair, that's the way it should be! Otherwise how do we appreciate the good phase and the rewards that life bestows upon us?

Moving on by accepting things as they come is perhaps the easiest way to stay happy. More often than not, it is a trivial incident, a comment made in the passing, or a silly misunderstanding that disrupts your thought process and changes your perspective towards life! And as you grow older, you feel that certain things do not matter at all. You get that little jolt when unpleasant surprises catch you off guard, but it doesn't shock you anymore! You may get hurt temporarily, but there's nothing that makes you want to do something to change it. I don't know if we call that maturity or compromise. Whatever it is, it happens with everyone.

At the end of the day, we have learned. The experience has made us stronger to face the next sudden surprise of life!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Sparkle of Hope

There is always a sparkle of hope that keeps us going. Life would be nothing if it was not for hope. 

I came across an interesting tidbit on Mughal Emperor Akbar and his sharp-witted court advisor, Birbal. Akbar once asked Birbal to write something on the wall that would make a happy person sad and a sad person happy. Birbal wrote, "This too shall pass". When I read it, for a moment I was still. A happy person would 'hope' that moment continues till eternity and a sad person would 'hope' that good times will follow. Hope has this amazing capability to help us move on with life, regardless of circumstances, incidents, emotions, and changes. 

Towards the end of 2013 and at the dawn of 2014, I received terrible news from multiple quarters. I lost two dear friends and an adored relative. They left for a better world, but this was definitely not the age to go there! 

Towards the end of the January, I was reminded of the day my father left us to raise a toast with God. It has been 7 years now but it still seems that I spoke to him just yesterday. I have never written about him before. But today I am surprised by my ability to pen this down. He is my guardian angel and there is solace in the knowledge that he is happy with God. I am sure he has got a hoard of followers there with his incompatible ability to make people laugh and feel happy. And my doggies are also there with him, eating all those icecreams and chocolates that were forbidden. Ah, what a party they must be having! I know I will meet my father, my friends, and my beautiful doggies up there one day. So yet again, it is 'hope' that helps us to take baby steps when life seems futile.

On the career front, some of my friends have either turned entrepreneurs or have had glorious moments to celebrate at work. I know how hard they have worked and how long they have waited to see this day! They truly deserve this moment of celebration and I wish them all success in the years to come. Cheers!

On the personal front, two friends got married to each other :)). We couldn't be happier. I wish them a life overflowing with happiness in abundance.   

As we get ready for the upcoming months of 2014, I hope and pray that this year brings good health to everyone I know. 

I hope we have the strength to help people in need, the courage to stay honest to ourselves, the empathy to love animals as one of us, and the passion to follow our dreams.

Stay healthy and stay happy! God bless.