....and all that jazZ

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Children of Heaven

Children of Heaven is a wonderful Iranian movie. The story revolves around Ali who is in 3rd grade and his sister Zahra who is in first grade. Ali loses Zahra's sneakers by accident and pleads with her not to tell their father who is poor and will beat both of them when he hears of it. Instead they begin to time-share the shoes that Ali wears. It is quite an effort and its their little secret. Until one day Ali gets a chance to run a long distance race. The 3rd prize is what he is aiming for. It is a pair or sneakers.

I have no words to describe how adorable the two kids are. The innocence they radiate and the maturity with which they potray their characters. These kids use their eyes and face to say so much. Everything that words cannot say. The desire on Zahras face as she scans every other girl's shoes in school or when Ali's eyes well up with tears and he says "please don't tell mummy, I promise ill find you your shoes." my heart would go out to them.

The plot is so wonderfully innocent and simple. A far cry from the snazzy movies that one ends up watching these days. A child's world is so big and so beautiful. There is room for angels and pixies and all the wonderful things that an adult is incapable of even dreaming.

It is indeed our grown up worlds, with all our petty worries and politics, that is too small for giving sharing and living in peace. It may be that I am partial to children's movies and movies about children. So what? I may be a 26 year old child myself who loves chocolates and icecreams and surprises and Harry Potter. But I take that over being a prim and proper adult any day. The world is more colourful through the eyes of a child. And Heaven is a world created by children.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Worth a check-out


Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera

There are good books and then there are brilliant books. When I finished "Of Human Bondage" - Maugham last May, I thought nothing could better it. Milan Kundera redefined brilliance for me. I read the book twice in the span of two months. Pay particular attention to the chapter titled "Words Misunderstood". Each of the four protagonist represent one of the two states "Lightness" and "Weight". Tomas and Theresa are exceptionally etched out characters. And then there is Sabina. Franz is probably the weakest link, but he had to be. There was no room for him really. The book is not so much about a story but about a philosophy. The characters are either examples of the rule or exceptions to it.


American Edit - Dean Gray

For those of you who loved Greed Day's late 2004 Album American Idiot, you will love this one too. American Edit is a mashed up version of the former. MAshed up == Mixed with other songs to make very interesting songs. No, its not a remix. Particularly nice on this album are the songs "Boulevard of broken songs" and "Novocaine Raphsody" . These tracks are great on the original as "Boulevard of broken dreams and "Give me novocaine" but mixed with Oasis and Queen and Aerosmith they sound even better. Just trust me on this one and go check it out.


The Bicycle Thief

I saw this a while ago, but if you havent seen it I would very very strongly recommend it. This 1948 Italian movie is about man looking for a job in post war depression times in Italy. he pawns the very bedsheets to reclaim his bicycle from teh pawn shop without which he will not have a job. The first the of his job his cycle gets stolen. Ricci and his young little boy take off in search of the cycle which is so vital for their existence. Let me not tell you more. This one is an absolute masterpiece in terms of the story, the narration, the performances and above all it reaches out and tugs at your heartstrings.


Mango Pie

I tried this at Sujata Auntie's house and fell in love with it. Its an amazingly simple recipe. And spectacularly delicious. Here is the recipe if you want to try it out for yourself. I plan to one of these days. Yeah, for the cook club :)

1 Pie crust
1/2 can - mango pulp.
3 tsp - sour cream.
1/2 cup - sugar.
1 packet - unflavoured gelatine.

Dissolve gelatine in hot water and allow to cool. Mix the rest of the ingredients and slowly stir in the gelatine water. Pour into the pie crust. Decorate by sticking pieces of mango (or strawberry if you want to make it colourful)along the crust edges like a flower. Allow it to chill overnight andd set completely in the fridge.
Serve with cool whip.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Cook Club

The last week of 2005 was a lazy week at work. We had just one day off. Just 5 of us at work. With work motivation being on the low, a couple of people came up with this idea of one person making cookies or something and bringing in one day. So we nominated people for each day of the week. It turned out to be a wonderful idea. I knew my colleagues would bake from scratch and having never quite baked after disastrous attempts at cakes scones and brownies when I was still in high school, I decided to take it as a challenge. So I baked banana chocolate chip loaf cake. Turns out it is one of the easiest things to make. It took me 10 minutes to get the batter ready and it took 35 minutes in my prehistoric oven. People brought in all wonderful types of cookies and strawberry tart. Our Italian colleague delighted us with his fabulous tiramisu, which was the highlight of this exercise. We would gather in one persons office at tea time and indulge in pastries and pass time for a bit. All in the spirit of the holidays. With the advent of the new year we have decided to make it a weekly tradition. One day of a week, one person brings in something to break the monotony of work. And its not restricted to desserts. It could also be some munchie bites or whatever one fancies.

CP has also used a random generator function in matlab to decide who will cook next week. He sent it out in an email with a plot showing the normal distribution of the function. So if you thought geeks can't cook, i would suggest you rethink. :)

Food for experiment :)


1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt

Cream together margarine( or butter) and sugars. Beat in eggs and banana. Add flour, salt and soda. Stir in chips and nuts. Bake in greased loaf pan for 50 minutes in 350-degree oven.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Welcome 2006

Another year. Another year to make and break resolutions. This time I am going to post it here for all and sundry to see and hold me to my word.

Certify to be a step aerobics instructor

Now if you are done laughing, I would like to say that its very rude to laugh at someone's dreams. Not just rude but foolish. For those who are wondering how the hell I am going to do this, I have just three words "Wait and Watch". As for me I shall "Watch my Weight" and prove all you cynics out there wrong.

Step aerobics has always been my favourite form of workout. I started when I first came to Oregon State. I was terrible at it. Zero coordination and stamina levels going in the negatives. But one thing that absolutely struck a chord with me about this form of exercise was the music. The instructor was very fond of dancing and she would always play techno. It was bizarre but super addictive.

Since then I have graduated into being able to pick up moves at a fair pace and even jazz it up a bit with some dance like hand movements without missing a beat. Step aerobics has so much room for improvisation that there is no monotony involved in it, unlike running on the tread mill, which seriously must qualify as the most boring form of workout ever. You run for 35 minutes and go nowhere. You can pick the intensity you like and stick to it. The beats are easy to catch and depending on the music you pick you can very easily choreograph cha-cha-mambo, salsa, garba and your favourite bollywood moves into it.

One misconception people have is you have the "Hot-Bod" to teach. Why? None of my favourite instructors have been super skinny. The one who has been has been terrible. Stamina and fitness level have nothing really to do with a 36-26-36 figure. Yes, everyone wants to look good. Everyone wants to be in shape. But one must not confuse beauty and fitness. It is essential to be fit to live a healthy and happy life. Its not essential to be beautiful by the standards set by Vogue magazine.

So this is a good time to make a resolution, to be fit. To house your soaring spirits in a healthy body ruled by a healthy mind. Here is to a fit and fighting 2006. Cheers !