Sunday, November 30, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire - Review

Yesterday i went to see a movie that is making a lot of waves here. Slumdog Millionaire. It was playing
at Laemmle Monica4 (Santa Monica), a chain of theatres showing non-mainstream movies. This is kind of a treasure trove for people wanting to see meaningful, non-popcorn movies.Like this one.

The theatre was houseful. And for a movie based in India, the only Indian in that moviehall seemed to be me.It was a nice experience seeing the movie here. It reminded me of the time i saw 'Crash' in Mangalore Adlabs.The audience reacted as a single being to many scenes. Collective sad sighs, collective shocks etc. At the end of the movie, the moviehall resounded with the claps from all patrons.

Synopsis: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is the story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show’s questions. Intrigued by Jamal’s story, the jaded Police Inspector begins to wonder what a young man with no apparent desire for riches is really doing on this game show? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out.

The movie is based on the novel by Vikas Swarup, Q&A. It won the People's Choice award at Toronto Film Festival. This is a synthesis of Bollywood-style story and Hollywood-Style treatment, with only the good ingredients from each side. Music is by A.R.Rahman with a energetic song sequence 'Jai Ho' at the end along with the titles. The beginning of the song drew knowing smiles from the western viewers. The screenplay by Simon Beaufoy (Full Monty) is brilliant in gripping you till the end. Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) helms the direction. The cinematography is colorful and fast-paced. The actors (especially the kids who portray the childhood) are superb.

One of the best films of the year, it is expected to release in India by end of January.
Trailer of Slumdog Millionaire:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

I have done my part to revive things. I have put some funds into the American Economy.I lined up at 4 am in the morning at Best Buy and bought things worth 500 $.
I got two small cameras for my parents and Nithya's. (Kodak C 813 and Fujifilm J12).
one 320 GB External Hard drive,8 GB card for camera, a tripod and a flash drive.

We had gone to check the status yesterday night, and we had seen people staying in tents outside Bestbuy. But things could have been worse.

Coming back from the Bestbuy everyone was hungry. I influenced their decision and we ended up at Dennys. The sweet smell of pancakes in the morning..heavenly!

We roomies went to JC Penney/Sears too but i did not buy any clothes. Buying clothes is a big chore for me. Without Nithya it is difficult for me to buy any clothes.

I had rented a car from Enterprise on Wednesday to drive around in the weekend. I am enjoying the driving, and i am pretty confident now.

I had got a GPS with the car which stopped working on the second day.Going to distant palces without GPS is difficult. So i bought myself a GPS. Then i came to know, there is a problem with the car, where power is given to GPS.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I saw Bolt on Saturday night. It was a nice film. Funny, Feel-good, Touching, a disney film in all ways.

The story is about a eager-to-please dog Bolt, who is the star of an action TV series.His 'person' Penny loves him, but he thinks that all that he sees on the set are real, and he is actually a superdog. The producers of the show are keeping him in this fake world (a la Trueman Show) because it brings out true emotions in him. One day when the producers go for a cliffhanger ending (instead of the regular happy ending) with his co-star being kidnapped in front of his eyes. Pandamonium and hilarity ensues when Bolt bolts on a cross-country trip to save Penny, meeting some colorful characters on the way.

There is a lot of comic relief in the shape of Rhino (actually a hamster). The Bolts unlikely animal companion, Mittens the kitten is endearing and (sadly slim like a somalian kid.) The forgetful pigeons...I laughed out loud each time they came onscreen. They are like the penguins of Madagascar.

This brings me to another point: Why hollywood movies are so partial to Dogs? Where is the cat-saves-the-day movie? I understand they are hard to be made to do something (after all, they are independant creatures unlike dogs); but animation should make it possible.

Cats were always made out to be either the villains pets (numerous Bond movies) or villains ( Cats n Dogs - a anti-cat movie) or laughingstock (Tom & Jerry).I really hope they make some movie with a hero cat.

The 3D animation was top-notch, with the first action sequence on the freeway which was super than any other real action movie i have seen in a long time. John Travolta's voice is great and has all the correct feelings.The humour is character-based and while kid-friendly (i gather from the kids who were seeing the film) is as funny to adults too.
Go see it.

Passed driving test!

i passed my driving test..!!

Today morning i was really tense. I dont remember when i felt so tense before. May be it was when i had surgery. Mahesh who drives well had flunked twice. I chatted with Nithya and Madhura in the morning who wished me luck. I needed that.

Antonio picked me up at 9 and we went around the dmv testing route and also in town and freeway once. I made one or two mistakes during this trip, that too very basic ones. I could still feel the tension.

We got to the DMV, got the appointment, waited. I drank some water. Then the test started.
It was an old lady. She was friendly. I did the preliminary things like showing signals, defroster, wiper, emergency signal, brake lights, parking brake, headlight etc.

Then we started and she asked me to pull over to the curb. I pulled over, but was not close enough. She asked me to pull closer. I went too close "Not that close" she said, and i think i smelt fear. It was an incline. I felt that i had flunked the test.

Then we went on the driving around test. Did lane changes, turns, stops etc. I got some confidence. I could see her writing somethings. "Ticking is ok but writing is not good- it may be bad feedback" i thought in my mind.

We came back to the DMV, parked the car. She gave me some feedback on the braking (have to be smoother) and said atlast "You have definitely passed" I was very happy. She gave me the paperwork and we parted with "good day"s.

I was so happy i tried to give my instructor Antonio a treat, but he could not understand what i was trying to say (language has been a barrier all the time for us) Then i bought him a pack of M&Ms. I hope he likes it.

I was expecting that they will take a photo today, so i had gone with trimmed beard (bulgan) but alas they are going to use my photo of that first day- the one with the mexican/handlebar moustache. I hope people dont ask me "Hablas espaƱol?"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cats of USA !!

It looks so real, but its a toy.
purrfect pet

This one was at Charles Park in Torrance,CA. Found near a board which said "abandonment of animals is a misdeamanour and is punishable"
Charles Park Cat

This one was at a winery in napa walley. I think it is thinking of the meaning of life after having some glasses of sauvignon blanc.It looks similar to the last one.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Camera Shop

I saw a camera shop called Silvios Camera here.Will be visiting on Saturday again. I think i should know how each camera feels in my hands.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Things i like in America-1

One of the things i like very much about america is its solid address system. Every address has a standard form and it is very easy to find any place using the address.

Essentially all streets are named and have visible boards denoting it, and all buildings on a street are numbered in sequence.

It is so easy, I wonder how i used to find places back in India!! It was all dependant on which places you know.

"Hey do u know where is Suchitra theatre"
"How to go"
"Hmm do you know PVS?"
"Do you know Saibeen"
"Do you know Urwastore"
(Deerkha nishwasam)

I dont know i feel like this cos i travel in bus, may be our friends can shed some light on it.

I've got a designated driver! :))))

I have got what i have been searching for since i discovered alcohol and driving dont mix well. A designated driver. in the family.

Nithya passed her driving license test in Mangalore yesterday :) Now when i am am coming back drunk from kadals There is someone to drive me for america, now that she knows driving in india, it wont be a big deal to re-learn driving here..

Searching for a DSLR

I am on the journey to find a good, affordable DSLR. This is like finding a wife. In that one i had God's help, i hope here also i get some. I am damn confused.

Once upon a time i was sure, i wanted a Canon DSLR. Only question was which one, which can be easily answered by looking at my bank balance.

Then confusion entered my life in the shape of my collegue, Nil. He is a good photographer. He also uses Canon S5 IS, my current camera. He was hell-bent on buying a Pentax camera. "If you can get the same quality at low price, why go for Canon?" This is his question. Monday, he went ahead and put the order for a Pentax K20D.Today, he showed me this comparison on a supposedly fair site:

Now, if i had to go from Canon to Nikon (not the one in the pic) there might not have been much thought -cos i have heard a lot about Nikon. But Pentax??

1) Havent heard much about this brand.
2) Searching about Pentax seems like learning a new language.
3) Many of my favorite photographers use Canon/Nikon.

In canon i had set my mind on 450D, but Feby has influenced me towards 40D. The logic was, why go for a camera with 3fps when you can go 6.5 fps.
But the 40D is almost 250-300$ more than 450D. And it comes with a kit lens i am not too impressed with.

The kit lens is Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens.

Then i looked at Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens. This has an awesome focus range (11x) and can avoid lens changes in travel.
But it seems to have some at 18mm there is barrel distortion. (straight things look a little curved)
And the bokeh is also not nice.

All the good zoom lenses in Canon for general purpose seem to be very pricey. (Photography is not a cheap hobby)

I wanted atleast one good genral purpose lens and one good portrait lens. (Next in my wishlist is a good macro lens..may be a 100mm to take butterflies)
So the search for lens continues..

With 450 D, i could take these lenses:
450 D and 18-55 639.00
EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS 225.15
Actual price 864.15
Rebated Price 825.00

Choices with 40 D
40 D-Body 859
with 28-135 lens 1059

EF-S 18–200mm f/3.5–5.6 IS 575 (which is looking uninteresting now)

Portrait Lens Choices (i have limited myself to < 500$ lenses)
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens 355
Canon EF 100mm f/2.0 USM 395
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM Lens 384
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens 320

Still searching for a General purpose lens...

One thing i have discovered is that Camera purchase doesnt have to be on Thanksgiving.
But Canon gives some discount during fall-winter (Nov-Jan) time. It may be prudent to take benefit from that.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Road to Perdition

Saturday i saw this brilliant movie. It is like a wine which slowly grips you.Moving in an unhurried pace, its grip on your mind is strong.

The story is about a hitman/assassin (Tom Hanks) who is forced to flee with his son, when the son (Daniel Craig) of the boss of the crime syndicate (Paul Newman) he works for, turns against his family. Close on his heels is a weird assassin(Jude Law) who takes photos of his victims and sells to press.The tension, suspense, drama all are very much alive. All the actors did well. Daniel Craig in his before-bond days looks like he could use some food.

About the photography: The film has a distinct 'cold look'. Some frames look like paintings. The last shootout scene, where the gleen from soaked surfaces, moonlight and even the gunfire combine to make a majestic picture, director has turned the sound mute to let you revel in its beauty.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

M&J Wine Mystery

M&J Series-Duty Calls

Story: J





Saturday, November 15, 2008

When Harry Met overrated film

Whew. I saw d film.

It was a tiring journey. I did not have subtitles at first. So i downloaded subtitles and ripped the movie to a divx file. Then i saw with the subtitles.Was all that worth it? Sadly no.

I kept on going to other things in between scenes. I could not concentrate on the movie, it did not have that power to keep me fixed. The story of two people, in between relationships and each other.

May be it is a girls movie. I knew HumTum was inspired from this one, i could see some of the scenes which came out of this. They trying to fix each other with their friends, and the friends getting hitched to each other, for eg. But i feel HumTum was a guys version of this movie, so i liked it.

Thinking back, i think i had a problem with all those 80's rom-coms. Sleepless in Seattle, You've got Mail.. Hmmm there is a pattern emerging here- Meg Ryan.

Only good part i liked was the ending, with the dialogue " I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."

I want to see HumTum again.

Friday, November 14, 2008

M&J SFO Trip -Part 1




Thursday, November 13, 2008

I am Klueless!! Klueless 4 Hints & Clues

After 3 days of sneaking into Klueless page in office, i am klueless now..There were some hard steps along the way, and some of them i still dont know the connect. I solved the levels once more, to gather the content for my next post, and i learned some more things. Its a feeling of achievement. Time to bring out the champagne!

As promised, here are the hints and clues to answers of all the levels.

0. Find the clickable object.

1. Just Repeat what is given in the page.

2. No textbox. Nothing clickable. It is evident you have to change the URL to goto the next level. Look at the version in the image. Look at title of page. Something wrong? correct it. As the clue in the source says, change the url to go from past to present.

3. Just pickup the mistakes and see it forming a word. You will find the answer to be a walk in the park. Or rather not a park.

4. Translate the title. What does it mean? The source says 'None before.' So it/he
should be the first. Look at the numbers. What is the similarity of these numbers?
So first + similarity+ translation.

5. Link to the power.Hey, some logos are missing, and one remaining has moved. Lets
click it. The url is cbc.asp. Check that in google. How is that and the logo connected.? Find that one in the page opened on clicking the logo. You will see power again.

6. What is in a name? Title says cartoon. URL Says quack. the image name is dd..all pointing to the guy in the picture. We are stuck in the "middle" ...Find it..

7. o,t,t,f,f,_,_,e,n,_,_ The most simple series in the world. Image file name says
1432, so arrange the missing ones in that order.

8. Lucas Number. He helps Santa pull his sleigh. If you look up the reindeers who pull Santas sleigh, you will find something which looks like the image. which is the most famous of these? Alchemy stole is an anagram.

9. Title and URL both point to gibberish, and page contains a lot of the same. Search in google.

10. The position of celebrities have a connection. All are hollywood couples also. Who is missing. The answer is a pet name for them together.

11. The mecca surrounded by .. search those famous names in google and and you will know which mecca (or what's mecca) is this. Now it seems this mecca was in different place before..what was that place?

12. Do you know what that ink blo-like figure in the back? If you dont, search in google for complex geomatrical figures. Now you will see that the person who gave it the name has a name similar to Nelson Mandela + the name of the chicken soup.

13. The writing will be familiar to folks who have seen a legendary trilogy of fantasy films, ring any bells? You may have seen shah rukh khan written as srk, you need to do the opposite here.And as there are no text boxes or links to next level, you need to change the URL. If you search the decoded text in google you will get a wikipedia page with the name you need to give for the page name. Remember, you have to change the part before the .asp

14. Search the hint in the page source in google. Soon you will find that precious is actually an abbreviation.Like Regards= Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, and Diamond. Now, the rings on the image have 7 stones. Find what its abbreviated name is..Now is the time to get a help from your girlfriend.

15. This presents you with 3 doors - They are 15a,15b,15c - doors to the next level.
15a.Many Elderly people ... what is this? And Page title asks you to wake up and look up. There is a planet in the sky.. The page source gives this hint: Who is missing? I think you need to take another look at that sentence.

Dead end. Come back to level 15 and choose other door.

15c. Hmm..Look at the pictures. Everyone is singing, but the lamb is muted..And there is a dragon of a specific color in the middle. Things point to a movie. And it had a central character. Something more about the character will be found in the sentence given.

Dead end is a dead end. Come back to level 15 and choose other door.

15b. Hmm..havent you seen a similar page? Go there and do something different this time.

1a. It asks for a username and password. Think of in which page's source you saw the words username and password. The answers for those pages are, infact the required info.

Welcome to the Upper Echelon!

16. A message in victorian english. And the page source says: If ONE can do it then why all? Where do u do this most often? Yes, in SMS. Translate message to SMS Lingo.
The page title has yoU. that must be important.Or it should be deleted wherever we find it? And image file name is 2134. It almost tells us to arrange the letters in a sequence right?

17. This is a weird card, and cards can be viewed upside down also, you know. Look at the page title and do it.

18. Try to answer the first two questions. Put together they point to a dictionary you might be using all the time. Now enter the numbers and get the key. Without Finland you may bark up the wrong tree.

19 Add the page title and image file name to know what this is about. Now say the names of things you can see in images. You can see a branch of mathematics, a pair of BRANDED tvs, and a PAIR of something and fish whose name is blurred (that is the most direct hint i see now)

20. Search the text given in google. Find the meaning of characters given (check image name for language). And title says Sum It up.

21. "it's not the means but the end, which matters"- says the page source. Another page to change the URL to go forward. Also, it is the end that matters...the end of the file name is? and to what it should be changed? AT Six PoinT would give you the answer.It has both the before and after.

Now when you change the URL you see a sentence, an instruction.Do what it says (MS Word can do it in a sec) and then use that result, plus the before you got from AT Six Point (Essentially doing first step in reverse)

22. Page title. Image file name. all point to something.If you want still more clues, look at the page source.It is simply staring you in the face. These things have a name.

23. I did not solve the crypt. They want the first sponsor. A clue is there in the page title, and the URL.

24. In the year that Le Napolean was launched, something/someone was laid to rest. Mary did it. Search Le Napolean in wikipedia, get the year, search for the year in wikipedia. There are some direct clues to what you have to look for, in the URL and the hint in page source. Once you have found it, just look through the wiki entry.
You will feel clues falling into place.

25. The page title says Notepad. The image fiename is use. And hint says 'clue is
elsewhere. What can be opened from this page in Notepad. Open it and search for clue. Got the clue? Mind the commas. Now using the calculator diagram encode the numbers. Got some numbers again? Just one more decoding. It is not difficult.

26. Do you remember this bridge from your engineering class? It is called konigsberg
problem or ? There is something common between the four pictures. For a hint you can look at the page title.

27. Where have you seen this kind of a paper? Where the numbers combined would point to something? Look at the image file name also. You can use a google service to find the answer. The same one you use so that you dont get .

28. Have you seen this frame somewhere? The words? That somewhere is A. Answer the
questions on the front,which will give you a number. Answer the question in the page source, which will give you a name.Now find th on A.

29. Have you seen these pictures somewhere? If you know the answer a ding dong will
sound in your mind. Otherwise open the word and play until you find something similar. When you have found the code, decode the pictures to legible language.
The hint in the page source will sound another ding dong now. With that code, encode the legible language again. See some hand signals and symbols? Now look at the page title, it says "Calculate". Go on, calculate. Result is the key to next level.

30. The image shows a page from IIM IRIS site. Page title says alternate.Hint in the
page source says get the original 1 2..Find the differences between this image and the actual site. I am not sure what to do now. I looked at klueless blog which says, the difference of differences gives a series. Go on, try the serieses. I will give you one more clue. It has to do with Davinci Code.

31. Page Title-Perplexed. URL-muddled. Image file name-confused. Any other synonym we have seen a lot?

We have conquered the Klueless 4!!

There are some more hints and clues in these blogs:

Random Walk of Life
Scribblings of a Different Kind

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Almost Klueless

I reached 30th level of Klueless! I just need to complete this one stage!
After that i will post all the clues & hints.

Klueless 4

This is one addictive game. Created by IIM Indore, this is a online puzzle challenge.
Each page will have a question. The challenge is to get to the next level (next page) in whichever fashion. May be putting the correct answer in the text box, or clicking something.Each level is devilishly smart.

Currently I am at Level 18, which has got me bugged.I will be posting the answers when i am done.

Check out the game here

Some sites for hints and more clues:
Random Walk of Life
Klueless 4? Not anymore :)
Scribblings - of a different kind

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sauvignon Blanc

The interest for wines was deposited in me by my good friend, Joise. Now i am writing this drinking a wine.a Sauvignon Blanc.

Back in India, i used to think nothing of wines. But after coming to US, i have become more interested in wines. For one thing, Napa valley, the birthplace of many wines, is in California. Joise and i had a Sauvignon blanc wine the day i arrived in SFO.

I have begun to research into wines a lot. For eg.
Sauvignon blanc is a green-skinned grape variety which originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The grape gets its name from the French word sauvage ("wild") and blanc ("white") due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in South West France.

Sauvignon blanc is described as crisp, elegant, and fresh. I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Life of Pi

I completed this book last week.The verdict i can give is, 'it is not that boring', considering it got Booker prize last year. During the 2 weeks i spent in reading this book, i never felt like giving up on it. Yeah, there are some books which are so boring, you give up on them. One example is "Fools Die" by Mario Puzo. I picked it up after getting blown away by his other book, "Godfather". After about 25 pages of "Fools Die", my interest died.

Coming to Life of Pi, it is the story of an Indian boy, named Piscine Patel, after a famous swimming pool.He changes his name to Pi (yes, 3.14) to escape the boys in his school who wanted to change it to Pissing. Pi patel grows to love all religions and Gods. His father owned a zoo in Pondichery. All is well until Emergency is declared and life becomes tough.They decide to immigrate to Canada, taking with them the animals which they have sold to zoos in Canada.Their ship sinks in the Pacific, and Pi is the lone survivor..wait. He and the Bengal Tiger in their zoo, Richard Parker are the survivors.


They end up on the same lifeboat.How he survives Richard Parker? how long to reach land? These are the questions answered in the story.

The first part details Pi's childhood and time till the ship journey, and it is quite a lot of fun. After the ship sinks, some boredom does creep in. There are some chapters dedicated to the discussion of different type of fishes, and what he sees around him (clue:pretty much nothing).

Now i am reading the bestseller, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. It's movie is releasing this month end. It is a love story between a vampire and a human girl (she is the protagonist).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


October 31st was Halloween. I and Nilotpal had planned to goto Halloween Carnival and take photos. But in the end he backed out. Well, it is a truth that Canon S5 fails miserably After sunset. Still, I wanted to have a glimpse of the culture here so I went ahead.

The carnival was crowded. You had to pay 5$ to get in. Once in, all games are free. But games were all for kids, so I just clicked away.

err..scarecrow and chaplin and...?

The only way to click photos in low-light in S5 is to take Sports mode. It is a high ISO mode. The photos tend to be really grainy, but blur is avoided. You can get some good results through noise reduction in software. I got some candids of people in costumes. The kids in various fairy costumes were looking really cute, but really difficult to capture on camera.

posing for photos


Towards the end I gathered some courage to ask people to pose for my photos. I think Americans are really casual, and during the Halloween they are out to show off. I got some good photos there.

Lady with the fangs.And friends.

lady with the fangs -n friends

When I asked people to pose for this photo, the girl with the braces was standing away, I asked her to come into the frame. Looking back I wonder if I did wrong – were the other two a couple?

And then there was this guy in Joker costume, he looked really like Joker.

Last but not the least, this is yours truly with some Halloween folks ( Angry witch, Frankenstein and Fairy God mother they called themselves)
angry witch, frankenstein, fairy godmother