Don 2

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

It was a quick decision made a little after we boarded the company bus heading to Bharuch. We would watch Don 2. The back rows of the cinema hall was booked and the cinema house had taken the opportunity to hike ticket prices. We got a middle row seats for 9.45 pm show. We managed a dosa before the show by way of something to eat. As the show began, we found more colleagues from work.

Watching a movie here is an interesting experience. People are not inhibitted from whistling, passing comments loudly or clapping. Quite different from the sophisticated cinema goers to the multiplex in a city like Mumbai. But, here it’s sort of in a good way and it adds to the experience rather than subtract from it. I think if you watch a movie with opinionated Indians, you have to bear with some of their opinions as well.

The movie itself, despite the reviews I heard was very good. It was awesome. The storyline kept rolling, there was an element of mystery involved and in the end, the jigsaw puzzle is solved for us. The camera work really added in keeping that element of mystery while trying to find out how the hero managed to pull it off at all. The director (I like Farhan Akthar’s movies and believe in the auteur theory of cinema) does do us a service by not trying to force song and dance sequences where they do not fit in. I enjoyed the car chases (though not up to Hollywood quality) and the action sequences in the filmas well. The only bit of criticism that I can offer for the movie was its lacklustre sound track and that there seem to coincidentally seem too many Indians in Germany.

South of the Border, West of the Sun

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

Title: South of the Border, West of the Sun

Author: Haruki Murakami

Translated: Philip Gabriel

Publisher: Vintage International

ISBN: 978-0-679-76739-8

Pages: 213

Source: K J Choksi Public Library, Bharuch

Rating 4/5

I first heard about Murakami’s name in 2008 while reading Hugh MacLeod’s blog, gapingvoid. He had written a book about his experience as a marathon runner called, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running“. I had looked for a book by him in libraries in Mumbai without any luck. So, it was really stunning to find this book in a library in Bharuch. I finished this book in three days flat.

The story is simple. The changes in the man’s life are complex. The feelings of a man even more so. The man, Hajime’s feeling swings were almost similar to me although Hajime seems to be more lucky with the girls. It was interesting exploring these things myself and by myself. I do not think that these explorations bear sharing here.

I do not know how different these books are in Japanesse, the original language it was written in but the English translation is pretty plain. Perhaps this is what I found beautiful in this book. It does not try to be really exquisite about everything and is a rather average telling throughout.

It was a nice catch and an interesting self-brooding read. There are other Murakami books here as well and I hope I can get my hands on them soon.

A day in Baroda

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

I have been thinking of visiting the Planetarium at Vadodar/Baroda for the past few weeks. I have either overslept or haven’t been in the mood over the past few Sundays. A power cut early today morning woke me up and didn’t allow me to sleep any longer.

I reached Baroda a little after mid-day. An amateur astronomer and friend, Manoj Pai from Ahmedabad, had advised me to walk it up from the railway station since it was only a kilometer away. As I walked down a road (I just chose one randomly), I spotted the grand building that was the M S University. It blew me away. No photograph I took did it any justice (a repeating theme on this trip). I did not take any. I had admired the buildings that stood on the grounds and then had totally forgotten the reason for my being there. I took a right turn and reached what was a bridge. A small bridge made grand by ornate Mughal (I think) guard rooms. Below the bridge was a canal, now transformed into a nullah, an open drainage stream. A bunch of steps ran down a steady slope. They widened a little at the bottom. My mind almost got into the mode of reprimanding India’s lack of concern/respect/preservation/conservation of these beautiful structures but stopped myself.

Crossing roads in Baroda is more tricky than in Bombay. Here, vehicles don’t slow down and the turns are graceful. Such was the chaos on the roads that I was surprised that they moved aside for a passing ambulance. I had a sumptuous meal at Aangan restaurant. Now full and armed with the location of the Planetarium, I went towards Sayaji Park.

[The original blog post contained photos that I am not sure if I have or not. Will try to locate and recover.]

Sankalp Bhoomi
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On my way back in the train I saw an awesome instrument – made of a brown coconut shell and a stick. It seemed like an instrument that Kirk Kittell purchased from India when he was here earlier this year. It made an awesome monotonous and lonely music.

The Gemenids

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

It’s stunning how two streaks across the sky can fill up your heart with so much joy! Standing in my balcony in the cold climes of Bharuch with mosquitoes buzzing around, that was what my heart felt – pure joy.

Every December, the asteroid 3200 Phaeton causes the Gemenids. The meteor shower this year was thought to have been spoilt by the Moon light. This did not deter me from going out into the balcony at 1130 PM and look out at the sky. The sky was clear, the light from Bharuch was slightly obstructive to the viewing, the brightly lighted industries in the west, did not help matters either. I was able to see Orion clearly, though.

As I stood there, brushing away mosquitoes on my neck and slightly shivering in the chilly December air, a meteor streaked right across the sky. It was the first meteor that I had spotted – ever, in my life! Another streaked past barely ten minutes later. Then, for a long time there was nothing.

As the clock creaked past, 0030, I went back to bed, slightly disappointed that I did not see (missed, rather?) any more but happy to have sighted a meteor shower.

Dam 999

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

I wanted to write this before I became biased by any opinion and I doubted if my writing was coloured by said biased opinions. I watched Dam 999 today at FAME, Bharuch. I quite loved the film.

The story is dedicated to the 250,000 people who died in the Banqio Dam Disaster in 1975. The story apparently took 15 years before it came out from behind the Great Wall. I would thin that one incident would be sufficient to rethink dams and the way dry lands can be irrigated. It also is a story in anticipation on what politics between the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and political gains could potentially be disastorous for 3.5 million people living downstream of the Mullaperiyar Damin Kerala (note that the Wikipedia article seems more about the controversy than the Dam itself!).

I am not much of a film critic beyond saying whether saying I enjoyed the film or not.

#pincodegeo

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

During preparations of WikiConference India 2011, I had wanted to do an OpenStreetMap workshop. Lack of internet stopped us from doing it at the Conference venue as well.

After the Conference, I’m now trying to learn and edit OpenStreetMap myself. As I thought of basic things that could be mapped, I was reminded about my frustration of not being able to put a different (and correct) pin code for my locality in Google MapMaker. I have stopped editing Google MapMaker since there are a few issues there that are still not being sorted out. That’s a different blog post.

So, I started asking around on Twitter on whether there was a list of pincodes for all states of India. I found this from Gautam John via Sengupta who remembered that this data had been shared on a Googlegroup called Datameet.

:)

I have now uploaded the same onto Google Docs (thanks to Mehul Ved for reminding me this existed  ) where I have enabled public editing of this data so that we can geotag it (i.e. get latitude and longitude of the post office) and then perhaps even add it on the town/locality’s article on Wikipedia, where I hope the data will be useful.

Use this short link – http://goo.gl/c9ksz – to share the data set.

How this data can be edited and utilised is being discussed on a Google Group that I created for this purpose. Do join it if you like.

Google docs also allows you to download the data so that you can play with it as well in a format you like. Do play with it and let us know on the Google Group.

Rockstar – Review

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

This is the first movie review I am posting.

I really had only two options for a movie to watch and I chose Rockstar. The choice was quite easy since the other option was to watch the Adventures of Tintin (in Hindi). I am quite happy that I made this choice. Rockstar is a movie that plays with great character building, stunning visual scenery and awesome music. I like the open ended storyline and a back and forth narration.