Archive for the ‘refreshment’ Category

I’m not really fond of TV series. Apart from a few exceptions like F.R.I.E.N.D.S or The Big Bang Theory, I’ve never been able to sit through more than a couple of episodes of any. When a friend of mine offered to lend me a couple of seasons of the 2010 BBC series “Sherlock“, I was reluctant to take it up. Little did I know then, that this Sherlock Holmes would be fond of location trackers and would be addicted to texting from his ( or anyone else’s ) mobile phone. That’s right. The BBC series Sherlock ( 2010 and 2011 ) portrays the super sleuth in our modern-day world of laptops, smartphones and Google Maps. And I must say, whoever had this idea, it has worked, and brilliantly.  When I sat down to watch the first episode, I had to resolved to quit it at the first uttering of, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Instead, my first viewing session lasted a little over three hours, two episodes back to back.

The series, created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat is loosely based on Sir Conan Doyle‘s work. The episodes have been created by liberally altering and adapting using the shorter stories in the Sherlock Holmes series. Benedict Cumberbatch, whom you probably have never heard of) plays a young, restless and superb Sherlock Holmes. This Sherlock solves mysteries making liberal use of smartphones, location trackers, graffiti artists as well his famous “Science of deduction.” He even has a live blog that you can actually visit: http://www.thescienceofdeduction.co.uk/ Martin Freeman, whom you just might remember from Love Actually (the porn actor), plays the legendary Dr. Watson. Just like Sherlock, Dr. Watson is also nothing like you might imagine. He’s a young veteran of the Afghanistan War, misses the war according to Sherlock’s brother Mycroft, and is far more active than Sir Doyle described in his books. The archenemy Moriarty is there, played by Andrew Scot. Interestingly, he is not portrayed as a professor living a dual life like in Conan Doyle’s originals. Here he is a criminal. He is unpredictable, cold and menacing; a ruthless anarchist who is determined to destroy Sherlock Holmes no matter what the cost or the consequences. Irene Adler is there too, played by a very beautiful and sexy Lara Pulver. Good news for perverts and warning note for responsible parents : There’s a nude scene of her in the series. In all honesty though, she doesn’t show much.

The best thing about this series is the refreshing new approach to the Holmes legend. The characterization of Holmes and Watson might seem a little along the lines of the Guy Richie movies, but there the similarity ends. The changes made in the original stories to suit the modern backdrop have been reasonable and aesthetically done. If you like it, and most of us will, you will have one complaint though : the scarcity of content. So far, there has been only two seasons with three one and half hour episodes in each. BBC has just confirmed that there will be a third season, so let’s look forward to it.

Moriarty

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“What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me. Once, when she specifically lumped me with those musical types, I asked her what the order was, and she replied, smiling, ‘Alphabetical.’ At the time I smiled too. But now I sit and wonder whether she was listing me by my first name — in which case I would trail Mozart — or by my last name, in which case I would edge in there between Bach and the Beatles. Either way I don’t come first, which for some stupid reason bothers hell out of me..”

It has been more than 10 years, probably more than 12, since I read those lines for the first time. I can still quote it word for word, any given day, no matter how bad the day has been. Love Story. By Erich Segal. Before I read the book, someone told me that an entire dorm in some Ivy League place had phoned Erich Segal one night, in tears, to ask why Jenny had to die. After I was finished with the book, I didn’t blame them. I wanted to do the same.

Oliver Barett IV, handsome harvard jock and campus hero, born into immense wealth and stature. His family, through generations, having donated a lot of buildings to Harvard and his father having expected nothing but the best from him all along and taking it for granted when he had succeeded in meeting those expectations consistently.

Jennifer Cavilleri, a smart, feisty and lively Radcliffe student majoring in Music. An American of Italian descent, brought up by and living with her devout catholic father Phil. Jennifer is the firecracker who lives everyday like there’s no tomorrow, the beauty with brains who never fails to come up with a devastating one liner.

The two of them meet at the Radcliffe Library one afternoon and sparks fly. Before you know it, they have been to a couple of Hockey games, fallen in love, Oliver has fought with his father and walked out of his money, the two of them have gotten married and the happy couple has shifted to New York. And again, before you can catch your breath, Jenny is dead and the story has ended. Don’t bother shouting “Spoiler! Spoiler!” The beauty of Love Story, ironically, is not in the story, but in the way the story has been told. The book does not have one single bland sentence, one that it could have managed without. Every one has an impact on you. They would make you chuckle in one instant, hold your breath in the next, and bring tears to your eyes in yet another one. The conversation between the couple is awesome, the supporting characters perfect, the main characters out of this world.

Oliver with his pride and insecurities and his grim struggle to get out of his father’s shadow, the loving, caring, doting Phil, the formidable Oliver Barrett III and his struggle to hold on to his dear son on one hand and to satisfy his ego and his pride on the other, and above all, the bewitching, beautiful, witty, smart, blunt, naughty Jenny with all her beauty  and wit and charm and her smashing one-liners.

Sample this, ”  ‘Jenny, we’re legally married!’
‘Yeah, now I can be a bitch.’ ”

It might seem pointless to write about Love Story, as it is a book that most of us have already read. However, the purpose of this article is not to be a review. Me reviewing Erich Segal would be blasphemy anyway. This is more of a tribute. I have been a fan of Segal for a long time now. In my opinion, Love Story is not even his best work or his best novel. That honor would go to The Class or Acts of Faith, two other of his creations I’ll never forget. Love Story, however, is different. While it’s probably not his best story, it has to be the best writte. You have to read it to feel it.

Most of you, I’m sure, have read it already. If you’re literate and you have not, believe me, you should.

Where in India would you find a beautiful coastline, peace, cleanliness and less traffic in a single city ? No idea? Ok! I will give you some more hints. This city  serves the best continental food and has the best restro bars in India. Still no clue ??  This heavenly place is none other than Pondicherry or widely known as Puducherry. Located in the eastern coast of India, this place is a 4 hour drive from Chennai. The best way to reach is by Volvo from Koyembedu bus stand, ticket priced around 150 bucks.

Next on the agenda, find a place to stay near the ashram area and you are all ready to peace out. Wake up early and don’t miss the amazing English or Spanish breakfast served in Daily Breads or Hot Breads.  The heat quite bearable at this hour making it the perfect time to roam around the ashram area. It looks bright and beautiful with a lovely view of the early morning ashram activities along the coastline.

Then you should thoroughly explore the ashram area and the French part of town where you will get a good view of  beautiful french architecture and the interesting boutique shops. You will feel like you have been tele-ported to the narrow pebbled old streets of Paris. You walk along the streets and you will find very cozy and unique eat outs serving confectioneries and snacks. The restro pubs are just mind blowing!! The best eat outs spots as per my find is Le Space, Pizzeria, Ajantha and Le Duplex. The Le Space has a very unique architecture and the place plays the most amazing world music and jazz. This place has every time surprised me with something or the other. Sometimes the furniture or the waiter (the varieties include hot Australian babe, stoned Nepali or bare chested south Indian) , the common factor being all of them are too cool like the Mojito served there. The menu board is interesting and the place has got the best lighting and ambiance imaginable. Ajantha bar has got an amazing view as it is located on the fourth floor of the Ajantha Inn situated right next to the coastline. The lighthouse on the right  gives it a perfect touch so that you can enjoy Fish N Chips and Rum with the sea breeze brushing over your face. Now its time to visit the place which made me gain 3 kilos in 7 days. Its none other than Pizzeria. This place is managed by a Goanese who makes world’s best pizza in a clay oven. The moment you walk inside you will fall in love with the place. Follow the spiral staircase to reach the terrace where you can sit under the starry night and enjoy the handmade delicious juicy mouthwatering pizza with beer. If you’ve a heavy pocket then try out Promenade and Rendezvous too.

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Do not miss the park located at the center of the French part of the town. Sit there when you want to beat the afternoon heat and relax under a tree or read a book. Its very clean and peaceful and if you are lucky you can catch  sight of French chicks or someone practicing juggling act or some other interesting activity. This is where you can sit after having lunch in Le Vietnam or Richie Rich. This place called Richie Rich is a must for all ice cream lovers as they have got the largest variety of delicious and cheap ice creams. The best according to my opinion is Death by Chocolate and it lives upto the name. These are pretty much the places you have to visit. However if you are a fan of  Rishi Aurobindo or Shri Shri Shree Ma,  or if you are a spiritual person then you have a lot of places to visit and lot of activities to take part in.  So all the good holy spirited people check out these websites  http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/  and  http://www.sriaurobindosociety.org.in/activity/auroserv.htm.

A warning for all  shopaholics. Your wallet will take a bad hit once you visit the shops like Casablanca, Titanic or The Auro shop. But whatever your economic situation is, please do visit these places atleast once as it will help you to get the idea of what items to buy to build a perfect dream home or what will complete your dream wardrobe.

So grab your backpack and fill it  with summer clothes and visit this paradise. My suggestions?  Lose some weight before going there,  carry a GPS device and good shades, learn to drive a scooty before leaving and carry a good camera. And its a request, if you know of any other interesting places around (am sure there must be loads) please do share it with us. I will add it to my ‘to do’ list while planning my next trip.

Portrait of Satyajit Ray created by me in 1997...

Portrait of Satyajit Ray created by me in 1997 and edited in 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This movie made me cry at 4:30 am and that too in front of my college buddies but to my amazement I was not even ashamed to do so. The movie was none other than “Apur Sansar“( ‘The world of Apu’ in English ) , a masterpiece created by the genius director Satyajit Ray.  This movie is based on a novel written by famous bengali author Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay. I will not talk much about the movie as that’s not my intention and secondly that’s going to destroy the emotions of the movie.

It was not the first movie by Satyajit Ray which I have seen , I have been his fan since I was 10. He is the creator of the famous character Feluda. There is not a single bengali household which is not obsessed by Feluda. ray’s books and movies are evergreen and enjoyed by people of every age.  There have been numerous translations of his books and few of them are also globally acclaimed.If you are a bengali then I would request you to read the complete Feluda and Shanku series. Please do .

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He is the best director that bengal has ever seen and his direction is way ahead of his time and he worked with such creativity that even modern day technology fails to portray emotions and feelings that precisely.  The characters were  well defined  and the actors were  handpicked and were crafted to perfection. The must watch movies are The Apu Trilogy, Debi, Pratidwandi, Agantuk, Satranj Ke Khiladi, Goopy Bagha series, Sonar Kella, Aranyer Din Ratri, Jalsaghar,Nayak.  Ray’s first film, Pather Panchali (1955), won eleven international prizes, including Best Human Documentary at the Cannes film festival. This film, Aparajito (1956) and Apur Sansar (1959) form The Apu Trilogy. Ray did the scripting, casting, scoring, and editing, and designed his own credit titles and publicity material. He won a special lifetime achievement award at the 1992 Acadamy Awards. Legends like  filmmaker Akira Kurosawa and Ray were acquainted. Kurosawa said of Ray’s work, “To have not seen the films of Ray is to have lived in the world without ever having seen the moon and the sun”.

Bengali movies started way back before Satyajit started making movies. Legends like Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak made great impression in movie industries worlwide. Modern bengali directors like Rituporno ghosh and Srijit Mukherji also made wonderful movies. But till date I consider Ray to be the greatest director, creative mind and visionary of Bengal

Someplace Else (Kolkata) Stage.jpg

Image via Wikipedia

If I think about bars and pubs the first thing that comes into mind  apart from drinking is either good food, nice music with good ambiance, cheap booze and cheap food or hot chicks around. That’s how I classify the bars and pubs. I would like to site some examples and discuss about them in short.

To be honest the pub culture in Kolkata is not up to the mark if we compare it to cities like Bangalore, Delhi or Mumbai. The sad part is if you speak about this topic to any orthodox Kolkata lover they will talk about the 70’s when Kolkata was the pioneer in pub culture. Trinca’s being the most famous pub at that time along with Blue Fox, Moulin Rouge or  Oasis. However the scene these days are not that good. The city now which is the pioneer in this culture is Bangalore or Delhi. I have visited a lot of pubs in Bangalore and few in Delhi. If you visit Bangalore do not miss Legends of rock (personal favourite), Mojos, Hard Rock Cafe, Purple Haze, Peco’s or Styx or @Live (try out their Mojito) in Connaught place , New Delhi. However, nothing beats the feeling of drinking in your own house or in your friends house with an ‘used to’ and homely environment around you.

Now let us give you brief idea about the classification of the bars in Kolkata along with examples.

  • Bars and pubs with good food : These are pubs which serve not average but really good food. If you are going for Continental food do not miss out on Mocambo in park street. They have a wide variety of delicious continental dishes like sizzlers, chicken melanese, devilled crab and many more. I do not want to mention any more dishes or my appetite will increase and I will have to starve till its morning.   Other restaurants include Peter Cat, famous for Chello Kababs. You can try out One Step Up, Moulin Rouge, they also serve good quality continental. If you are trying for oriental dishes don’t miss out Tung Fong in Park Street or Beijing in Topsia. For spicy tandoori with beer try out Tandoor Park in Dhakuria. If you want something over the top then go for Sigree, Ivory or try out the bars in the top notch hotels. But I would not suggest these if your pocket is not heavy.

  • Bars and pubs with good music and ambiance : Well Kolkata lacks in this category a lot. The only few almost affordable places are ‘Someplace Else’ in The Park hotel, ‘Gossip’ near Ajoynagar, ‘Opium’ in sector 5 saltlake and ‘Princeton club’ in Prince Anwar Shah road. I would have also included ‘House of Kommons’ in saltlake sector5 but the pop/rap/punk loud music created nothing but headaches. If you want to enjoy live music try out Princeton club or  Someplace Else (some people prefer calling it Sampi). Sampi have an excellent 7 day band line up.The line up includes bands like Krosswindz, Insomnia, Crystal Glass, Orient Express and  my favorite  Hip Pocket who covers amazing classic rock bands like Pink Floyd,The doors, Santana, CCR, Jimi Hendrix and many more  and they are just perfect. If you want to listen to Amyt Dutta‘s “Pink Noise” then go to Princeton. Other places like Gossip is famous for the cozy dim light ambiance. Opium is great for the music (Pink Floyd, The doors, pearl jam, scorpions etc) and the underground garage theme, plus they have a good variety of affordable drinks and food. Am really digging in to find more pubs in this category. So guys if you know of any other places please let me know.

  • Bars with cheap booze and cheap food : The first thing that comes into my head is “Shaws”. Now this  is one place that needs a description. This place has rules like you cannot enter the bar if the darwan (a government employee security guard) guesses your age to be under 22. I must say he is not a good guesser as he did not allow a friend of mine who looks pretty old and aged 28. The bar does not allow any girls so its like a sausage festival inside.  The last rule is you HAVE to drink if you are inside or else they will throw you out. The food served are all snacks of tremendous variety. They serve everything ranging from chilly chicken, keema curry to cheese, salad, chips and  guava slices worth 2 rupees.  Everything over there is pre-paid. The foods are carried out by people like vendors in a bus or train. If you call them they will show you what they have and you can pay and get them. The drinks menu is displayed in an electronic board just like stock prices in share markets. The booze is pretty reasonable. You get a large peg of Royal Stag for 45 bucks. However, don’t be surprised if you find out that you are the youngest in a crowd of 150 people drinking around you. Now if you want to find cheaper booze you have to head towards Topsia and visit Chinatown. Its a den of Chinese restaurants and you can choose to order full bottle of  Royal Stag for 500 bucks. The food is all Chinese and we are regulars at a place called “China Gardens”. There is another very old and famous place in Park Street where you get pretty cheap booze and a good variety of  low price continental food called “Oly Pub”. Its famous for its Beef Steak and Chicken A-la-Kiev. Am pretty sure there are more of these in Kolkata which I have yet to find.

  • Bars and pubs where you will find drunk chicks: There is a simple definition for these kind of of places. More the sugar more the sweetness. So guys you will have to really pour your cash from pockets and drink  in places like Someplace Else, Roxy, Venom, The Underground and Tantra and you might be fortunate enough to get lucky.

Wishing you “all the best” for your pub ventures. Now its my time to enjoy a good drink. Cheers!!

Listening to: Do the Evolution (Pearl Jam).

Mood: Violent, nostalgic.

It was 2005 , we were covering Roadhouse Blues by The Doors in my college band. Well I nailed that song that day, actually that was the only song  I nailed during my brief singing career. I was high on two joints and Old Monk Rum. Perfect dope for singing like Jim Morrison. I was so high that I started screaming Fuck you ! Fuck you ! on the microphone while the entire institute management was sitting in the first two rows. However my vision was only limited to the friendly crowd who were standing and cheering right at front.

It was too alluring when thoughts arrived like flashes of Eddie Vedder, AXL Rose, Phil Alselmo,Kurt Cobain, Farhan Akhtar in the movie ‘Rock On’ and many other rockstars doing a perfect Stage Dive . Well I still remember there were so many moments when I walked to the edge of the stage and stared at the crowd and then backed off. Don’t know why at that very moment I couldn’t do it . Maybe I was remembering the scene from the movie School of Rock where Jack Black did a stage dive and landed up on the floor ‘face down’ after the crowd refused to catch him. Ouch !!

I dream a lot about it. Me jumping on a pool of crowd. I think doing a stage jump is like going for those rides which looks dangerous. If you gather enough courage to do it once then it gets into you and you repeat it whenever you get an opportunity. The reason why you get scared is you are never sure if the crowd loves you “that” much. If they are ready to risk their muscles to lift a 75kg throwing itself into them. If they don’t realize enough the “rockstar” inside you then they will surely mock and laugh at you and call you a “wannabe”. You get scared if some damages happen to you as well. There should be a huge positive energy flowing inside you, before you dare to do something like that.

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Well the master of stage jump is Eddie. He does it the wild style. Well, being a member of a band like Pearl Jam makes it easier for him I guess. If you haven’t seen him doing it , see “this (Caution: Do not try this at home . It is performed by a rockstar who is ready to die and is definitely going through high adrenaline rush) . You got the picture ? There are bands like Greenday where front man Billie Joe Armstrong did a stage jump in Lollapalooza and hurt himself badly. There is AXL rose throwing himself dangerously from a high stage.Then you have lunatics like slipknot front man Sid Wilson doing a balcony jump from 15ft above or Kurt Cobain leaping on the crowd while playing the guitar. Its mindfucking “. You know what else is mindfucking ? Lady Gaga doing a stage dive and crowd surfing in Lollapalooza. Her outfit which she wore and jumped on the crowd do not cover anything, well basically she jumped into the crowd  naked. I am actually surprised she made it out alive / unraped. Check this” out in YouTube if you do not believe me.  Maybe this shows how beautiful and lady like Lady Gaga is.

Since time immemorial rockstars are doing stage dives and its a part of the entertainment, some do it for their own experience and some to win crowds. All  you have to do is  “trust your crowd and take the leap of faith .