Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Yup, have been away a loong time, haven't I? The usual story, doing this and that, yada yada yada, so let's leave it at that.

Payal has been on my case to restart the blog so well, this post is dedicated to her. Whatever I can churn out in this post...

Sooo... what have I been up to... Well mostly, bowling, of course. We'll leave that one for later. The other interest I seem to have got now is balcony gardening. Bought a ton of plants in January, mostly during the Lalbagh flower show, and then got obsessed for a bit watching them grow. Trouble is, obsession wasn't accompanied by much knowledge, as a result quite a few of them have gone the scraggly route :(. But they're still fighting, that's the spirit.

Maybe I'll introduce them bit by bit later on. Give me some excuse to coming back to write!

Meanwhile, here is the latest photograph of the balcony corner. It's a night shot.

See the empty pots in the right corner? Hmmm, time for another visit to a nursery.

Speaking of which, I did stroll into one today in Jeevan Bima Nagar. It's an interesting one, run by an association / NGO for the disabled, who are trained in horticulture. Nice idea. In fact, had bought quite a few plants from them during the January flower show. However, while the nursery was very well laid out - very spacious, I must say - I have to also admit that quite a few plants did not look very good. There were some geraniums that drooped, and quite a few had holey leaves. Nonetheless, I did see some good packs of Blue Daze that had me very interested, but I ended up holding back. I do hope to see them at the August flower show, and will pick up something then.

Maybe will take the empty pots along and drop in to the Koramangala nursery on the way back from paying the electricity bill at Bangalore One...

Ramble over. Toodle-oo.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Human Nature - how did the Tardis integrate John Smith?

I have a HN/FoB collage as my desktop wallpaper. Quite a work of art courtesy Picasa, if I say so myself!

Seeing the storyline on the desktop nearly everyday, it's got me wondering - so it's all right that the Chameleon Arch began transforming the Doctor to John Smith, but what actually happened once the conversion was done?

Did the TARDIS magically integrate them into the village? One minute, in the TARDIS, poof, next moment John Smith is teaching history?

Or did John Smith get up in the TARDIS and look around and say 'Where am I?', leaving Martha (in what must have still been an inprobable dress for John Smith) to improvise?

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A Wednesday - what's the big fuss about?

As part of my big-slobout-on-first-free-weekend-in-weeks, have lined up a slew of movies to catch up on.

Last night was the so-acclaimed Bollywood thriller, 'A Wednesday' - a story about the Mumbai Commissioner of Police trying to stop an unknown terrorist from blowing Mumbai up.

For fear of spoilers, shall avoid direct references, but really, while the script may be good, I thought the execution was shoddy and without detail.

Here are some:
- The Commissioner of Police promptly moves from his typical government-style office, through the corridors lined with portly middle-aged constables with air guns, to the next room which looks like a mini-NASA room, and orders that no word of the threat leaves the room. Shortly after, he meets the Chief Minister's aide and a news reporter outside  in the same corridor and proceeds to inform them of the threat at hand in front of the same portly middle-aged constables.
- Jai Singh's wife is ostensibly leaving on a long train journey to meet her mom. Within the four hour period of the movie, she is already on the way back - probably so we empathise with Jai Singh as he embarks on what could be a suicidal mission.
- it's very cool to have the 'terrorist' HQ on the terrace of an abandoned building under construction, but really, in a movie that claims to be reflective of grim reality, how practical is that?
- The mystery of Arif. The Commissioner pulls Jai Singh aside to say something 'secret' about Arif before they leave, and there's enough background music for us to sit up and notice, but till the end we never get to know what that is. I suspect it was the director / writer's attempt at inserting a red herring, but it looks instead like an end they forgot to tie up.
- You're telling me that if the cops went all the way to have that mini-NASA room, they didn't have a hacker on immediate call? And that hacker, well, alright if he's a kid, but again, you think it's practical to show him that flippant?

In any case, the twist in the tale was interesting - might not have guessed it if I hadn't read about vigilantism in the reviews.

However, in Bollywood, one needs to make a clear choice in whether one wants the movie to looks realistic, or take off on a typical Bollywood flight of fancy. Bollywood does not mind the latter, even welcomes it with open arms, but when you're sitting on the fence, you have a slightly 'meh' product. Can see how it can't have been our submission to the Oscars.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Move over Jobs, give in Yang - Doctor Who universe votes for MS

I've been way behind in updating the blog with Doctor Who views and reviews, so much so that Season 4 has passed me by.

Nonetheless, shall try do summat about it soon.

But meanwhile, here's a rather interesting (ominous?) observation on the future Whoniverse: Wonder if the BBC had thought that through?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ah, bowling paydirt!

Pretty good time for me at bowling recently.

Fourth in the nationals, best ever average then, and then off to HK as of the India team to the Asian Bowling championships, to post higher averages and my highest score!

Quite a good high, that trip...

Lots to do though..... speed, speed, and more speed... weight, weight, and less weight...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Doctor Who S4E01 - Partners in Crime

Basic plot – There’s a new cure to obesity. Invented just so Donna can meet the Doctor again.

The details of what happened (Spoilers!):

Donna’s realized post-Runaway bride that it was silly to pass up the Doctor’s invite to travel with him (really Donna, how daft were you then!?), and has been looking for him ever since. How does she look for him? She looks for trouble. Alien trouble. Chances are, the Doctor’ll turn up.

So she chances upon Adipose Industries, where Ms. Foster has just announced a new pill-cure for obesity. Pop it once a day and ‘the fat just walks away’.

Obviously, Donna isn’t buying it and decides to do a little investigation of her own. She poses as a Health and Safety officer and manages to get hold of the client list and a pendant that Adipose offers as free gift.

From the client list she visits Stacy Campbell. She’s lost 11 pounds in 5 days and is now all set to dump her current boyfriend because she can ‘do better than him now’. She excuses herself to get ready for the ‘dump-date’. Donna, waiting, starts to look at the pendant she whacked from Adipose Industries, and does a little fiddle with it.

And that’s when the alien stuff starts.

With every fiddle from Donna, we see Stacy give a little lurch, till the latter checks her tummy and finds her flesh squeezing out a fatty little… little… well, I don’t know what to call it… baby being. Fatty little baby alien being, obviously. Ah, we’ll call it Fatty Little Alien Baby, or FLAB, in short. (And that’s original, RTD, mind you)

Ms. Foster senses the FLAB’s ‘birth’ ( ‘We have an unscheduled parthenogenesis’), but also realizes that the birth has been witnessed (by Stacy). Now she can’t have witnesses now, can she? So she ‘activates full parthenogenesis’ which causes the now panicking Stacy to ‘burst up’ into multiple FLABs. When Donna gets there, there’s nowt of Stacy and just one FLAB who gives her a cheery wave before it ‘walks away’.

‘The fat just walks away’. Get it?

Now that’s good enough trouble, so the Doctor can’t be far away. He’s been doing some investigating of his own at Adipose Industries as ‘John Smith – Health and Safety’. Interestingly, he was doing his investigating at the same time as Donna, but thanks to some excellent camerawork, missed bumping into her.

(All those bobbing heads, looked like it was a Hammer Heads game in there for a while!)

Anyway, back to the Doctor’s investigation. The Doctor also gets hold of the client list and a pendant, and in addition, fends off a flirty invite. (‘You be Health, I’ll be Safety’.) From the client list, the Doctor now goes to meet Roger Davy, who claims he’s lost a kilo every night by 1:10 am. Why the time? Because that’s when Roger’s burglar alarm keeps beeping off for no reason, and he checks his weight before going back to bed. That gets our good Doctor thinking, and he asks Roger whether he has a cat flap. Which he does, but Roger insists he is ‘not a cat person’. The Doctor reminds Roger that one can not only enter through a cat flap, but also exit through a cat flap, and muses ‘The fat just walks away…’

And then, just as the Doctor's leaving and advising Roger to lay off the pills, his… his… (oh dear, what do you call that thing)… Fatty-Watty Detector (?) starts beeping. That’s the same time that Ms Foster got the ‘unscheduled parthenogenesis’ alarm, so now you can place the Doctor’s time in the story.

The Doctor tries following the signal and runs around. Since the Doctor is following the signal from Stacy’s parthenogenesis, we see that the Doctor and Donna are running around in the same neighbourhood, but do not meet just yet –that’s reserved for some excellent acting and probably the lone brilliant screenplay in this epsiode.

Time to call it a day, for both the Doctor and Donna. We’re now given tidbits to what Donna’s life is and has been about: She’s unemployed at the moment, was employed with Health & Safety for all of three days before she walked out (probably realized the Doctor wasn’t going to drop in. Or she whacked the ID card), stays with her chattering mother, has a granddad she dotes on, and her granddad likes looking out into the sky. She tells her granddad (Gramps) that she’s looking for a man in a blue box.

Meanwhile, Ms Foster has figured out that the only way an unscheduled parthenogenesis could take place was if someone had stolen an extra pendant out of the Adipose building. She checks the security camera and thinks she’s found the infiltrating lady.

Next day- time to infiltrate the Adipose building. The Doctor sonics his way into the building and hides in a basement closet. Donna walks in with her Health & Safety card and proceeds to while the rest of the working day away hiding in the washroom. When the rest of the office leaves in the evening, the Doctor pops out to do his probing. Donna is about to step out when her mother calls her on her mobile, nagging her to get her car back home. Just then she hears Ms Foster from outside and cuts the call.

Ms Foster threateningly advises the infiltrator to come out, but Donna stays put. Foster’s men-in-command begin knocking down the door of each cubicle, and Donna nearly resigns herself to being caught. But Donna wasn’t the only investigating human, there was also Penny Carter, a reporter, who’d found that Adipose’s research claims were fake. Penny was the one Ms Foster was looking for, and they found her before they got to Donna’s cubicle.

The Doctor uses the window cleaning platform to descend and peek into Ms Foster’s cabin. Donna follows Penny and Foster as they enter the latter’s cabin, and peeks in to the room through the glass panel the door has. Penny gets tied up in Ms Foster’s office, where Foster eventually informs her that the FLABs are called Adipose, that they are proper beings. Ms Foster’s a wet nurse (Matron Cofelia in her world), whose role is to birth an entire new generation for the Adiposian First Family.

The Doctor eventually turns his peek away to across the room, where he finds a door, and through the glass panel (Murray Gold’s music reaching crescendo), DONNA.

What follows next is best watched here:

They eventually realize that Ms Foster can now see them, and run. You then get your usual Doctor Who runaround along with a little tussle with Ms Foster who’s jamming every effort through her sonic pen (and you thought there were only sonic screwdrivers. Pfft.). Typically, Donna topples over and ends up dangling for dear life on a cable. The Doctor manages to sonic Foster’s sonic pen out of her hands and into his, gets into the building, goes downstairs, and plucks dangling Donna off the cable. While they’re still running, they run headlong into Ms Foster. The Doctor now gets all Doctor-y and warns Foster that it is galactically illegal to seed a Level 5 planet (Earth, silly), but of course Foster ignores that and wants to shoot the Doctor and Donna off. To which our good Doctor simply buzzes the sonic screwdriver and the sonic pen head to head, which sets off a rather loud sonic shrill, temporarily incapacitating Foster and her minions, allowing our protagonists to make their escape.

Ms Foster now decides to expedite the birthing plan. The Doctor guesses she’ll do something like this, and goes back to the closet he hid in earlier that day, for that’s where he found a large alien machine wired up to the centre of the building. Ms Foster flicks her switch on and soon we find half of London (well, at least ‘One million in the Greater London Area’) twitching and lurching till FLABs start popping out of them, creating the panic that Doctor Who’s London is now familiar with.

The Doctor needs to swtich the machine off before it can do further harm to the human race (in a crisis, the FLABs convert all human mass into Adipose, you see), but realizes he can’t do it as he would need one more of the pendants. At which, Donna triumphantly produces the pendant she had taken from Adipose, and the Doctor does his Doctor-Woctor thing and shuts the machine off.

There’s still 10,000 Adipose FLABs roaming the streets and the Nursery Ship now arrives to take them home. However, now that the Adiposian First Family has their kids, they get rid of Ms Foster as she is a risky witness to their having broken inter-galactic law. They drop Ms Foster off mid-beam-up, and she plops flailing to the ground.

Excuse of an adventure done, now it’s time to figure what happens to Donna. The Doctor throws Ms Foster’s sonic pen into the bin, and then there’s Donna lumping all her luggage on to the Doctor, but now the Doctor has had enough of disappearing companions and is trying to talk Donna out of travelling with him. He’s worried about how close he got to Rose and then how close Martha got to him and how he really just ‘wants a mate’. Typically, Donna thinks he said he ‘wants to mate’ and gets all affronted till the Doctor clarifies, and then they’re both good and ready to go.

Now for the remaining big one for the episode: Donna remembers she has to return the car keys to her mother. She pops the keys into a bin on the street, phones her mum to pick it up, and asks a lady standing by to point the bin to her mum when she arrives. The lady turns around, and it’s Rose.

Rose, looking a bit morose, and then turning around walking away, and then fading away.

The end. (There’s some stuff about Donna walking into the TARDIS and then flying past her Gramps, but we’ll leave that.)

What I liked:

  • The mime when the Doctor and Donna finally met (and if you didn’t watch it then, go back up and watch it now.)
  • The ‘bees disappearing’: Donna rambles on to the Doctor about how she went chasing after every ET-like incident to try track him down including UFOs, signs, crop circles, and even thought that the ‘bees disappearing’ was connected. The Doctor didn’t understand what the last one was, and neither did I. A little googling showed that there are reports of bee population being decimated ‘but no one knows why’ ( . Oh, and apparently, Night Shyamalan’s next, The Happening, is about the bees disappearing.

(The same website that spoke of the bees disappearing also had conspiracy theories about Adipose, which explains how Donna got looking into Adipose)

  • Overall, taking the idea of an unhealthy populace looking to reduce weight, and turn it into a macabre alien story. I also liked how Roger Davy looked thin enough not to need any more pills, yet there he was, looking to get thinner. And Stacy, she was nowhere near glam-girl thin, and yet, vain enough to think ‘she can do better now’. Vanity, thy name is SFF fodder.
  • That I had to read up and remind myself what ‘parthenogenesis’ was.
  • That I came up with FLAB.

What I think

  • There’s a sonic pen loose on Earth and I wonder if that becomes significant. Me already thinks Rose must have picked up the signal on Parallel Earth and came through, looking for the Doctor. She could perhaps stay only for so long, hence the fading away, back to Parallel Earth
  • I think the bees will have a larger say across the series. Although, given RTD’s recent trick with Astrid, it may just be a red herring.
  • I wonder if Donna was the one who picked up the Master’s ring last season. One of the trailers seemed to indicate familiar red nails… Although, there was a very un-Donna like cackle...


  • Those FLABs! Really! They looked so unreal, even the music seemed to take on a Tom & Jerry tone!
Overall Rating:
God, I hope the rest of the season is not as trite as this.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

BIAL - the cost of some really silly governance

Much has been said in the papers about this topic (and I really like this blog post, which really sums it up very, very well). I just thought I would list down the points I really find funny, and reflective of the situation that is India:

1. This was supposed to improve Bangalore's infrastructure, and be an answer to the fact that HAL could not handle the traffic. Apparently BIAL decided to work on an estimate of 10 million passengers by 2010 (that too, as an outside estimate).
Er... the catch is, it's only 2008, and it's already 10 million passengers and growing. Meaning BIAL is effectively already undercapacitized. So no goodbyes yet to circling over the airport.

2. Roads - We can all say that the new airport can handle more passengers at a time, but to be able to handle passengers, you need passengers to arrive there first. You also need them to arrive with some time in hand so that the flow is smooth, and you could milk them for additional expenditure on duty frees, cafes, etc.
The thing is, the highest target audience is likely to come from South Bangalore - the city's economic hub. BIAL is diagonally opposite them, and as most newspapers have now reported, reaching BIAL can take you anywhere between 2 - 3 hours. So you can fly out of Bangalore to any national destination in less than 3 hours, but it could take you 3 hours to reach the airport!
(PS: I've driven from Cambridge Layout to Yelahanka, which is before the international airport - that did take over an hour)

3. UDF - BIAL wants to charge a UDF to all domestic and international passengers.
Now, I'm all for the captialist motive and paying for benefits you get, but in this case, what benefits or service would I be paying for? For having spent additional time and money to get to the airport, and then get delayed anyway?
Frankly it sounds like someone did a simple financial math: Balance income needed to break even / No. of estimated users over the next few year s.

4. Magic box hoo-haa - All the rush about improving connectivity has suddenly had the Bangalore authorities trying to minimise traffic load on the main road from the city - Palace Road / Mekhri Circle area. And thus was born the mother of all quick fixes - the Magic Box. Enough has been written about how it took ten times longer than what it was supposed to, but I'm pleasantly surprised that we managed to have an underpass in less than 2 months!
However, I've had the privilege of passing over the Magic Box recently. Thing is, I hardly saw anyone using the underpass! One may argue that at least the 'overpass' area is now signal free, but since you effectively have to do a U turn anyway, there's going to be a near slowdown. Coupled with the fact that there will be many drivers who will cut lanes...

5. Airport Strike - Apparently AAI employees are striking (rather, 'not cooperating'), to demand that the existing Bangalore and Hyderabad airports remain functional - apparently, in public interest.
Really! How kind. Of course, you're not worried that your laziness to do quality work may put your job in danger in the capitalist BIAL economy.

6. Know your leader - It's the government's prime responsibility to act in public interest. So if connectivity is not improved, you would think the government would at least find an interim solution. But, they've also signed a agreement for exclusivity, which means that contractually, the government cannot continue with the old airports. Defying the agreement means loss of face.
So, the general public pays the price for what's essentially just a lack of bloody common sense among the leaders they voted for. (Although, am willing to bet that most air travellers hardly vote, and perhaps therein lies another moral.)

... am done now (and it's 3 am. Good night!)