Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Its kinda weird in Bangalore

I have been in Bangalore for just over a year and the last weekend was pretty weird. I had gone out with the office guys for lunch on Friday afternoon and that's when we heard that three bombs had gone off in the city. By the time we finished, the count was up till nine blasts. However, there was no sign of panic on the streets. You could sense a bit of uncertainty and the phone lines got jammed but things were still pretty cool.
Most of the office folks decided to go home by around 4 o'clock but I hung on till 7, waiting for things to subside a bit. The streets were pretty empty on the way home. I went over to a friend's place and was expecting cops to be checking everyone but there was no activity at all. I got up pretty late on Saturday and headed to office around lunch. While crossing the main shopping area (Brigade/MG Road/Commercial Street), I found it pretty full. I guess people were taking advantage of all the sales happening around. I was out there because of compulsion but what about these guys???
On Sunday, I went out for a bit and man were the roads empty. It started pouring too and I was happy. It meant that power cuts may be staved off a bit and that I had an excuse to sit at home. Anyway, we decided to go out for a movie to Inox at Garuda Mall. I guess I applied the same logic as others that - Nah the blasts can't happen again in such a short time. We must have reached Garuda at around 8.30 p.m. and the place was pretty empty. The theatre too was half empty and I guess only people who had done advance booking showed up. I felt a little foolish but hey I am happy to say that you can watch Made of Honor safely. It was quite entertaining and feel good types. Very predictable though. Overall rating on the Mathew Rate-O-Meter is 2.5 out of 5 stars.
As of today, life seems to be back at normal. What I can't get is that it rained and I avoided it. There were sales which I didn't check out. The bombs went off and luckily me and the people I know were not affected. The weekend went off in a blink, just like any other. Did I miss something? Was there something between the lines? Weird huh....

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Batman - The Dark Knight

I saw The Dark Knight over the weekend. All the reviews that say it is a 'must watch' are absolutely true.

The story is pretty fast-paced and gripping. Heath Ledger as Joker is truly amazing. Unlike Jack Nicholson's Joker who was like a caricature, this guy truly sends chills down your spine. There is also a lot of balance between all the main characters, each having a significant part to play. Joker has a lot of tricks up his sleeve which keeps you guessing. It also means that Batman has to come with a lot of stunts to counter them. Good stuff too. I guess the only thing missing is a bit of romance.
I don't want to say much more except that the Overall rating on the Mathew Rate-O-Meter 4 out of 5 stars. So just go for it asap and have a great time.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Get Ready to Run (the) Kaveri Trail and Bangalore Ultra Marathon

This post is primarily to give you a heads-up on the marathons that are coming up in Bangalore over the next couple of months.

Btw, I surfed this really cool site called 42k195.com. It is powered by Google Maps. It gives you details of all the marathons being held in a particular place during a particular period. Course, if you have OCD, you can find all the marathons being held across the world.

Kaveri Trail Marathon – Like the name suggests, it is a run on the banks of the River Kaveri. This year, it is being held on Oct 19th. The location should be near Mysore. Ok Sarge, I confess… there seems to be no more info on the run on the net. However, there is a foundation called Asha that primarily works to support the education of underprivileged children in India. Asha provides training in collaboration with Runners for Life so that they can do fundraising. Asha Bangalore is organizing its second marathon-training program for the coming races, Kaveri Trail and the Ultra. The session is being held on Saturday, July 28 at 4 PM at 19th Floor, 'Target', Public Utility Bldg, MG Road, Bangalore.

Bangalore Ultra Marathon – Imagine running 78 kms. I can’t imagine it, unless it is spread over couple of weeks. Anyway, there are three categories in this race – 78 kms, 52 kms and 26 kms. The Kaveri Trail Marathon can be used as a training race for the Ultra. Bangalore Ultra will be held on 16 November, 2008; registrations open on August 15th.

Personally, I plan to start training for the Kaveri Marathon in the latter half of August. That should give me two months time. In the meantime, I guess it’s the usual cardio and leg muscles strengthening at the gym. Will keep posting as I receive any updates.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Movie Review – Jumper and Untraceable

Last weekend, I took the DVDs of Jumper and Untraceable. Both were recommended by the owner of the DVD store and I trust him to a certain point. I am happy to tell you that yes both can be watched and enjoyed.

I asked for a good action movie and I got Jumper. The main characters, other than Samuel L Jackson are not your typical action heroes - Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson. Diane Lane is in it too but has a very small role. The story is basically about Jumpers and Paladins. Jumpers (read good guys) can teleport around the world in a flash and Paladins aka bad dudes are out to kill ‘em. This is not a new thing, but has been happening from time immemorial. The plot starts moving fast from the beginning and keeps the pace throughout. The highlights are decent twists in the plot, good action scenes and some shots of world-famous monuments like Big Ben, The Sphinx etc. The ending is apt but kinda abrupt, setting the stage for a sequel. I don’t think I will be going for that though. The movie will keep you hooked but if someone pauses it to use the loo, you won’t be yelling for them to haul ass back ASAP.
Overall rating on the Mathew Rate-O-Meter 2.75 out of 5 stars.

Untraceable was the other movie I picked up and surprise surprise, it too has Diane Lane in it. What are the odds on that?? Here she is one of the main characters though. The other actors are Billy Burke and Colin Hanks (don’t scratch your head, click on the hyperlink to figure out who these gentlemen are, please). The plot is set around a serial killer who captures victims, sets up elaborate devices to kill them and broadcasts the whole show on the net via video and chat. The devices are set in such a way that more people log on to the site to watch the faster the person dies. At first, the victims seem to be picked up without motivation but later it gets more personal. The plot moves from one killing to another without time for anybody to even get a clue on why this is happening. Very gripping and not too gory with a final twist in the plot, it is a good watch that will keep you guessing.
Overall rating on the Mathew Rate-O-Meter 3.25 out of 5 stars.

Friday, July 4, 2008

5 Ways To Keep You Going Back To Your Gym

If you are expecting miracle cures for your laziness, stop right here. As you can see from the title, this is not about what you need to do in the gym but how to get yourself there. I discovered a few things that worked for me and I have been going to the gym from Oct 2006. I know so many people who have enrolled in a gym since that period and fallen by the wayside. Try these tips and I'm pretty sure it will help.

Join a well-known gym - The most important thing about the gym is the professionalism and attitude of the trainers. If they are sloppy and tend to hang around in a group, ignoring the customers, leave immediately. The first three months are the most painful so you need to be sure that once you are there you are getting enough care and attention. When I joined Talwalkars in Bombay, I noticed the difference from my earlier gym on the first day. They took me through the fitness tests, showed me how each machine worked and were rarely distracted. When I moved to Chennai and was on the lookout for a gym, I walked into FitnessOne and noticed the same attitude among the trainers. I signed up immediately and never regretted it.

Make friends - Be friendly to as many of your fellow sufferers as possible. This creates a kind of clubby atmosphere and you will always be warmly welcomed when you enter the gym. Also, chances are that your wife/parents/friends will get really tired of your gym stories. I mean who wants to know that you bench-pressed 10 kgs more today or did 25 sit-ups more. That's when your gym buddies will come in handy, with admiring expressions and inspirational stories (where they would be the central character). Do not ask your friends to join you as they will stop going and will drag you down too.

Be a big-time narcissist - Who knows every inch of your body best? You, that's who (unless you are really really lucky). Now any bit of workout will improve your body. Strangely the people around you will never admit that there is an improvement (trust me they are wrong). This is kind of ego-bruising so take your clothes off and spend a lot of time in front of the mirror admiring your parts which are looking more toned or less flabby. DO NOT TRY THIS IN PUBLIC.

Celebrity Spotting - This kinda links to the first point. If you are in a good gym, rest assured you will spot some celebrity or page 3 persona. This makes you happy and keeps you going (no logic to it). You can also casually mention it during a conversation and then sit back and watch the fun.

Go regularly - This is like the old joke about Moses. He comes down from Mt Sinai and says "Folks the good news is there are only 10 commandments. The bad news is Adultery is still in the list." This point is the one that makes the others work. Go as regularly as you can. Take an Ipod with your fav music, accessorise yourself with cool stuff, hang out at the juice bar - whatever it takes to make a pleasant experience but JUST GO. The results will make you wanna go more and believe me it's worth it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Review of A Prisoner of Birth By Jeffrey Archer

I am a big fan of Jeffrey Archer. Of all his books, Kane and Abel was mind blowing. I still remember being inspired by the intelligence and street-smarts of the two characters. I wanted to be that when I grew up - a corporate hot-shot. Even his short story collection has been pretty amazing.

His new book - A Prisoner of Birth was especially enticing to read as my friend told me that it has elements of another favourite book of mine - The Count of Monte Cristo. Imagine the remix - Jeff taking off on the Count.

The book starts off very well with a crime and a subsequent trial scene that is fast paced and keeps you guessing. The characters are many but well established and their true nature comes up clearly against this background. You sympathise with the hero (Danny Cartwright) and his wife and clearly begin to dislike the villains.

It is after this that the turn of events become a bit unreal. The plot slows down and doesn't pick up too much. There are some events which conveniently happen and are not quite believable. It is here that The Count of Monte Cristo scores over A Prisoner of Birth by keeping the events simple but fast-paced. Also, The Count (Edmond Dantes) is a swash-buckling yet suave figure, completely transformed from what he was earlier. Danny Cartwright seems to have retained elements of his old self that keep him from becoming an avenging angel. Of course, the former has stuff like hidden treasures and duels with swords. That is the stuff that really sells right!!

On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being highest), I would rate it at 3.5. Overall, an entertaining read and worth the money. It is fun to delve into the characters and trying to figure how each of the villains is going to get his due. So grab your copy and settle down to a cozy read. Have fun.