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Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain

Just finished watching this wonderful, wonderful French film.
Amelie Poulain is a girl who grew up alone. Her control freak parents were too concerned about her health to send her to school, so they home schooled her. With no one around to play with, she grew up introverted, devising fantasies with the little things around her.
She grows up, gets a job as a waitress and leaves home, but still remains the same. A chance incident imbibes a sense of helping those around her, and in the process she manages to fall in love with a guy. But being her, she’s too afraid to escape her life of fantasy and face the real life, fearing rejection.

I believe we all have an Amelie inside ourselves, devising her own little fantasies. But we’re too conditioned to conform, and bury her deep within. Let her out sometimes…let her breathe the fresh air.

Books I’ve read recently

Gives a very good understanding of the China most of us don’t know anything about.
Quite apocalyptic in its view of China, but the failures its predicted don’t seem anywhere close as yet. Still, knowing the closed nature of China, one may never know until it actually happens, like the oft quoted quote from Leon Trotsky in the book – “Revolution is impossible until it becomes inevitable”.

A dark comedy recounting the events around General Zia’s 1989 plane crash. Gives a good glimpse on the role of the army in Pakistan’s society. Very funny at times.

Autobiographical story of a ‘white trash’ girl who gets trapped in a weird Island tradition. Dreaming of becoming an artist as a child, she instead gets married to a guy from an Island and ends up becoming a part of an Island prophecy which repeats once every few generations. Didn’t really like it much…seemed interesting initially but it never really picked up pace.

Great. Totally different kind of writing. Where Forsyth writes without much emotion, Le Carre’s writing is full of compassion. George Smiley, interestingly described as having “the cunning of satan and the conscience of a virgin” is completely different from any other spy fiction protagonist I have come across.

65 Questions You’ve Probably Never Been Asked

(From Susie’s blog)

1. First thing you wash in the shower?
Hands…to check if the water is warm enough

2. What color is your favorite hoodie?
I don’t have one

3. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again?

4. Do you plan outfits?
Usually plan them while in the shower

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now?
Normal…nothing special

6. Whats the closest thing to you that’s red?
My phone

7. Tell me about the last dream you remember having?
Got stuck between Voldermort and the Twilight vampires. Was relieved to wake up alive!

8. Did you meet anybody new today?
Interviewed a guy for a post in my company who’s resume read like “I want to apply for Update Target Designation at Update Target Organisation” (He used a template and forgot to update these fields!!!”

9. What are you craving right now?

10. Do you floss?

11. What comes to mind when I say cabbage?
Just had cabbage parathas for dinner!

12. Are you emotional?
I’m usually at stable equilibrium…even if disturbed get normal quickly

13. Have you ever counted to 1,000?
Maybe in school while writing “I won’t do this again” kinda notes when punished…but don’t remember reaching 1000.

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?
Usually lick but bite when its melting too quickly in case of a cone

15. Do you like your hair?
They certainly don’t like me

16. Do you like yourself?
I love myself!

17. Would you go out to eat with George Bush?
Definitely. He’s a very funny guy 😀

18. What are you listening to right now?
Eyes on fire – Blue Foundation

19. Were your parents strict?
Strict when I was a kid…reduced as I grew older

20. Would you go sky diving?

21. Do you like cottage cheese?
I love it

22. Have you ever met a celebrity?
Yes, many.

23. Do you rent movies often?
Nope. Download or watch at a cinema.

24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you’re in?

25. How many countries have you visited?

26. Have you made a prank phone call?

27. Ever been on a train?
Many, many times. Done 48 hour journeys several times.

28. Brown or white eggs?
Doesn’t matter as long as they’re done well

29. Do you have a cell-phone?

30. Do you use Chapstick?
Use occasionally during winter

31. Do you own a gun?

32. Can you use chopsticks?
Never tried

33. Who are you going to be with tonight?
My family

34. Are you too forgiving?
If you think you’re too forgiving, you aren’t really forgiving.

35. Ever been in love?

36. What is your best friend doing tomorrow?
Working through the day…probably meeting me in the evening

37. Ever have cream puffs?
Had a few times. Didn’t like much.

38. Last time you cried?
Last week…

39. What was the last question you asked?
Dont remember…

40. Favorite time of the year?
September-November…love the festival period

41. Do you have any tattoos?

42. Are you sarcastic?

43. Have you ever seen The Butterfly Effect?
Only first few minutes

44. Ever walked into a wall?
Yeah…I do that when I’m in deep thought and lose sense of my surroundings

45. Favorite color?
Everything has a right color…I don’t like when its out of sync

46. Have you ever slapped someone?
Yes, long ago

47. Is your hair curly?

48. What was the last CD you bought?
I download music 😀 Last album was the RocknRolla OST…great music!

49. Do looks matter?
Yes, not the look a person is born with…but how he/she chooses to look

50. Could you ever forgive a cheater?
Yes, if they are genuinely sorry

51. Is your phone bill sky high?
Bit high these days due to the data plan

52. Do you like your life right now?

53. Do you sleep with the TV on?
Very rarely

54. Can you handle the truth?
Yes, as long as its factual and not subjective

55. Do you have good vision?
Yes…6/6 when I last got a test

56. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people?

57. How often do you talk on the phone?

58. The last person you held hands with?
Shantanu…but it was more like a hi 5!

59. What are you wearing?
A tee and shorts

60.What is your favorite animal?
A lolcat 😀

61. Where was your Facebook picture taken?

62. Can you hula hoop?
Never tried

63. Do you have a job?
Yes…one full time and a lot of freelance consulting

64. What was the most recent thing you bought?
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre, a Python programming book, and several magazines

65. Have you ever crawled through a window?

The hardest interview puzzle question ever

A hundred prisoners are each locked in a room with three pirates, one of whom will walk the plank in the morning. Each prisoner has 10 bottles of wine, one of which has been poisoned; and each pirate has 12 coins, one of which is counterfeit and weighs either more or less than a genuine coin. In the room is a single switch, which the prisoner may either leave as it is, or flip. Before being led into the rooms, the prisoners are all made to wear either a red hat or a blue hat; they can see all the other prisoners’ hats, but not their own. Meanwhile, a six-digit prime number of monkeys multiply until their digits reverse, then all have to get across a river using a canoe that can hold at most two monkeys at a time. But half the monkeys always lie and the other half always tell the truth. Given that the Nth prisoner knows that one of the monkeys doesn’t know that a pirate doesn’t know the product of two numbers between 1 and 100 without knowing that the N+1th prisoner has flipped the switch in his room or not after having determined which bottle of wine was poisoned and what color his hat is, what is the solution to this puzzle?

Ramayana Series

The Ramayana series is an epic retold by Ashok Banker, one of the few Indian authors I have come to admire. Fellow Indians of my generation had their first proper glimpse of Ramayana in the TV series telecasted by Doordarshan in the early 80s/90s, and I like them, thought I knew all that had to be known about it.

When I first heard about the rave reviews on Banker’s retelling, I tended to ignore it as hype, as I had already seen and read a lot about Ramayana, with it being such an integral part of Hindu Indian culture, and wondered why should I read something I already know so much about.

But one night, I just picked up the first part (Prince of Ayodhya), and started reading. Within an hour, I was gripped. I found it wasn’t the typical Ramayana retelling one gets to read, which tends to be overwhelmingly colored in a religious tone. I found it to be more in the fantasy genre, and having read LOTR only a few months back, I found it way more exciting compared to LOTR, with a much larger scope and a much bigger and more interesting collection of magical creatures and powers.

A couple of months, and five more volumes (Siege of Mithila, Demons of Chitrakut, Armies of Hanuman, Bridge of Rama, King of Ayodhya) later, I found myself with a much richer knowledge of Ramayana. The author did use his artistic liberties occasionally, but it didn’t alter the fabric of the story in any way, only made it a much more enjoyable read.

I heartily recommend this epic series to anyone and everyone. And I recommend my fellow Indians who already know so much about Ramayana, to cast apart their apprehensions, and just take this as a highly enjoyable read.