Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Eyes of darkness by Dean koontz - book review

This book has been on pipeline for almost 4 months now. Ever since Covid was tagged as “made in Wuhan” this book has been on the news for the fact that, there is a similar premise that is being mentioned on the book. When I read the reviews, they were mostly mixed and nothing majorly was being referenced to Covid and the theme of the book. I had made up my mind that this book was going to be another Robin cook kind of a thriller written by a different author. The initial chapter itself, threw me off the rails. It felt like a Stephen King horror story with paranormal and ghost related setup. To be honest I have never read books with horror or paranormal theme. Watching them as movies itself is scary and reading them would be allowing those thoughts to take visuals via my imagination and that would make it even scarier. But for this book, I was unprepared as well for such a setting. Eerie sounds, banging windows, falling things, messages suddenly appearing on boards, music systems blasting on their own – you name it, everything is included. It was copy book ghost scene setup that makes up good amount of the first half of the book, making me wonder, if I had picked the wrong book of similar name. Story wise, it is about a lady who had lost her son on a school trip accident. But her mind refuses to believe it and she sees her kid everywhere. In her nightmares she visualizes her kid calling for help and wakes up wondering if it is his ghost who is trying to seek her help. She also happens to be the owner for a stage production on a major casino where her ex husband also works as a dealer. She happens to meet a lawyer, the hero of the book, and falls for him immediately. To put her doubts to rest, she requests for an exhume of her son’s body, for it was buried without even being shown to her as the body was badly damaged in the accident. The story takes a totally different shape from then on, with assassins trying to kill both the lady and her lawyer friend, car chases, shoot outs. The genre moves from horror to full blown spy thriller. Finally, almost near the end of the book, there is a reference to the virus made on Wuhan lab. Apparently to catch up with China on bio-warfare US govt clandestinely does something which triggers the whole game of cat and mouse. Like proper Tamil masala movies, the dead kid is found to be alive, surviving through one whole year of lab tests being done on him, which actually had given him superpowers of mind control. They all escape in a hastily cooked up ending, similar to disaster movies, where everything goes down except for the lead people.

Gils verdict – This is the first book I’ve read of Dean koontz. Not sure what kind of genre this author specializes in. The Wuhan virus is a bad analogy or reference point for tag this novel. In fact you cannot place it on any genre as the theme keeps changing. But quite racy and well paced.

SPB – Sachin of Music

As the dust settles on the grave of the great man of music, looking at the outpouring of grief on social media about the famed singer, makes one wonder on the kind of life lead by him. To me he is a statistician’s nightmare, similar to Sachin. 40K songs across so many languages!! It is an impossible record to beat for any singer of this generation or upcoming generations. The survival instinct and capability to stretch his career well over 5 decades, maintaining his longevity is another impossible feat to match or even come close. With so many singers shooting up from every channel’s talent hunt and with so many music directors shooting up, picking voices from any and everywhere, there are plenty of fish in the ocean. Quite possibly there could’ve been an equally big crowd when SPB was making his splash as well. But how he managed to out do everyone of his competitor and picked every opportunity that came his way or other is probably a lesson to learn in survival and adaptation for present and future generation of singers. There was a time when any other singer or any other voice being even thought of was out of question for the music card on movie titles by default had “SPB, P.Suseela, S.Janaki”. Malaysia Vasudevan, Mano still managed to make a name for themselves alongside the phenomenon that was happening and growing by the name SPB. His versatility, his adaptability, his attitude, his multiskilled personality and above all god’s gift of a voice and music knowledge that he had inborn without proper training, made this genius a lovable personality by everyone. His tv shows would’ve paved a great way in him becoming the persona he was identified with I guess. He will wind up his shows with positive messages, positive feedback, lovely wishes and words of encouragements for all the participants of the show. He will also wax eloquent about the musicians who gave him those songs. I’ve never seen him being critical of anyone on TV but have heard of incidents when he came out as a tough disciplinarian during his live music shows. With such a volume of songs it is quite natural that no one will have any song in their playlist which doesn’t have the name SPB in the singers column. His songs about the moon and their blockbuster nature probably earned him the analogy of “Paadum nila”. Lot of my favorite songs are sung by him and I’ven’t even realized the impact of him on my playlist till the time I actually verified the songs post his demise. There are certain things that we take for granted and assume will be immortal. Rather, if I’ve to put in a different way, people will not realize that there is expiry for certain things or beings, for they are already immortal. It is difficult to think of a scenario when there wouldn’t be oxygen, for we always expect it to be there. SPB has been that way for any music lovers and his death is something of a confused scenario where in people find it difficult to comprehend, how a voice that is always there on their ears can not be there physically. Probably we are not ready to accept immortality as yet, going by what is witnessed post the demise of this great man. Whatever the case may be, SPB will always be a name synonymous with songs and music. Like wine his voice matured into sweetness with age and more than his initial year songs, his mid and later year renderings will continue to survive the test of time.

Dark – web series

Time travel has always been a favorite topic of mine to ponder. Have often wondered how it would be to revisit situations in the past and interestingly very rarely have I thought of travelling to future. My mind and head are always deeply buried in the sands of time to look behind, the path that has been travelled and about the turns not taken, rather than imagining a route forming up front at that very instant. When reviews were proclaiming this web series as the best sci-fi series ever, I was bit skeptical as I wasn’t sure if it would be easier to follow. Many of the times, in the name of making it as close to being factually and scientifically correct as possible, the makers kill the story element and end up creating a documentary with weird music. Dark starts off on the right note with some one waking up from a nightmare. That guy happens to be the hero and through him the story moves backwards, forwards, side wards, across dimensions and worlds. The starting premise reminds of Aboorva Ragam a bit where in his father happens to be the younger brother of his girl-friend. Having fallen into a worm hole, literally represented as a cave with doors, the kids goes back 32 years and grows up to be the dad of the hero, only to commit suicide upon realizing the fact. What happens when others of that town realize that through the cave they can do time travel and each deciding to make a trip searching for other is explained over 3 seasons. Beyond a stage it gets so confusing that time travel takes a back seat and everyone gets to have multiple versions of themselves on screen. The entire town on Winden, where the story happens, seems to have made up their mind that time travel will solve all their problems and take it to it as frequent as share auto ride from nearest MRTS to bus stop. To add to the confusion, there is a travel across world scenario is also thrown in for a good mix and when they reveal the family chart after each season, it looks more like a circuit board than family tree. For all the hype from season one, it goes to a dull dud in season two only to be salvaged a bit by the conclusion on season three. I believe it is very heavy on metaphors and symbolism and may not be directly a story in many places. The way they have untangled all the knots may not be very convincing for every character from the series. But the underlying current that, life always finds a way to bring us back to the same situation, irrespective of how hard or how far back we go to the starting line and start afresh is an undeniable outcome of the series. As a concept it was very novel to start and by the time the series closes, it is abused and overkilled to the extent possible. Could’ve been trimmed down majorly to retain the essence of mystery and surprise.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Dashing and Daring

PK Dash. 

As a name it may not send shivers down the spine. But the situations and issues it lead to really did made some people, not just shiver but literally got themselves hurt laughing.

The day of onboarding:

PKD: “Hey team..i’ven’t received my credentials”

Recruiter: ”Did you submit all your forms?”

PKD:”Yes I did. If you want I can resend them”

Rec:”That would be great. Let me check in parallel on the status of your cred creation”

Recruiter to IT (over call) 

Rec:”Can you check why PK Dash doesn’t have his credentials yet”

IT: “PK what?”

Rec: “Dash”

IT: “We can’t have special characters in name field”

Rec: “Pls raise it with concerned team and resolve this system issue. The employee should get his mail id by today EOD”

IT: “Connect me with the employee. Will talk with him”


IT: “ Hi, we are IT. is it PKD?”


IT: “Can you let me know your full name with right spelling”

PKD:” It is P as in PK, K as in alphabet after J and Dash”

IT: “what is on the dash”

PKD: “nothing”

IT: “Should I leave it blank?”

PKD: “No it should be dash”

IT: “!! OK. How many dashes”

PKD: “!!! Only one of course”

IT: ”We don’t have provision to include special characters as part of the name. And it will create confusion over mail id as well”

PKD: “What confusion. It is straight forward”

IT : “PK-@company.com is not a valid mail id. Server will not accept”

PKD: “huh..in my previous company my mail id was P_K_dash @company.com. Can something similar be tried?”

IT: “that is one weird mail id. Not sure how they managed. Did you use outlook or lotus notes”

PKD: “Both”

IT: “Strange. Let me try again”

IT to supervisor

IT: “This is very strange. How to create a name with dash?”

Supe: “ You sure got the details correct? "

IT: “ I spoke to him directly”

Supe: “May be some numerology case”

IT: “Still how do you get – in the name. I want to use so many alternate words to fill the dash which are generally marked as dash dash to avoid getting caught for profanity”

Supe : True. What the ----. Search on help sites”

After few days PKD escalated again stating he hasn’t got his creds yet. When the recruitment team mailed his details to IT then only they realized the situation. 

The situation continued post the mail id creation as well, for not a single person got his id right when he told it to them.

What the dash!!

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Chai with Chitra

Have always been fond of watching interviews regarding movie people and touring talkies channel has been a wonderful medium for those who have such hobby. Chitra Lakshmanan apparently is a walking talking google on movie people. The way he approaches each interview, the amount of pause he gives after each question only interjecting at portions where if he is looped in on that response is a lesson for anyone conducting interviews. The confidence with which he handles his host, despite the familiarity or personality of the person, the kind of personal questions he asks, some of which are way too personal, as compared to coffee talk shows like that of Karan johar’s does raise eyebrows. But the intent being absolutely clear on the seriousness behind the question unlike the wimpish attitude on the other shows, is quite evident. In all probability the guest is almost always sure that the host knows the answer anyway and are relaxed in being open about something which at times are outright private otherwise. In fact the whole show goes as if Chitra Lakshmanan wants to confirm if his information on the person on other side is correct and at times it looks as if a kid is reciting his homework to his mom, who is having the text book open on hand. He never intervenes or contradicts anyone and whatever duration the episode runs, 90-95% of it is runtime is dedicated to the guest. Very rarely he gets monosyllable or simple answers. People seem to like to open up to him. He probably has a prior impression made on them or his reputation supersedes or may be people really feel at ease with him, either way the show is quite open and revealing about the guests in their own terms. One of the guests actually made this comment about the host that when ARR was about to be employed by Chitra he had asked about his family, his parents, siblings spouse et al. The director was very curious and asked him point blank why he is being so nosy about ARR’s background, which apparently was his second or first movie. Chitra had replied saying that for an industry that invests very heavily on people, more than the instruments and tools, it is the people who are the product and how they make a brand of themselves determines their level of success. Invariably another common trend on almost all of the interviews is that 75% of the interviews that I’ve seen so far, people have been so humble and respectful. The very few who came out different where known for their arrogance and personality which only gets proven again. And another common thread being the opinion about Rajini and Kamal. Almost every single one of them depicted Rajini as a timid and scared person with his own limitations had made it big, while Kamal was a sacred topic, with every single one of them gushing about his technical prowess. Even those whose movies made with kamal were duds, didn’t openly pan him, but mentioned that in a polished manner, admiring his knowledge. There were no comparison on a skill level or popularity level. Even at a familiarity level, many had interesting incidents to narrate about kamal and very rarely they mentioned about Rajini. May be because Chitra chose the guests who were from kamal camp basically or may be it was the actual point, some how in all of his interviews, Rajini comes out as a very distant second in terms of stardom or popularity amongst the guests. Makes one wonder, how in the world he became superstar with so many of his own folks having no confidence over him all this while and even now!! In one interview a guest said, Rajini was so worried about his movie after watching a kamal movie he didn’t want to release it on same day, but the movie turned out to be a bigger hit. The fact being that a movie of Rajini was a blockbuster was getting projected the other way was quite funny. Weird are the ways of this tinsel town and its inhabitants. Despite all the guests and interviews, one common thread that was very evident from all of them is that they were equally clueless about why some of their movies ran well and others tanked. That is one magic which will forever remain elusive I guess.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The new normal

As people are slowly learning to live with Covid, with initial levels of carefulness leading into the usual carelessness, there are scenes that emerge akin to those at disaster struck areas, post the dust settling down. Only difference here being, the locked down public, have decided to roll the dice of fate on their own out of boredom and are gambling with their lives, literally and figuratively. But it has always been a “Sophie’s choice” of life over livelihood. There were voices of GDP getting wiped out, economy in shambles, industrial sectors under irrevocable damage etc during the peak news coverage of pandemic. Now that the death and infection due to the disease, has become a mere statistic, relegated to a single slide of metrics, with mystery death of an up and coming actor taking up primetime coverage, the actual impact to the society, both financially and emotionally is slowly getting unraveled. Lucky for the present government, they don’t have an election to face at least for next couple of years. These are the time that topple the incumbents. People across all strata of society, barring the super-rich, who anyway get richer and richer, have been impacted and suddenly the oxygen of luxury has been sucked out of their system. I saw one debate where in they were discussing the impact of this pandemic in family, between husband and wife. One person was saying that while he could survive on his savings for another month max, he is planning to move to his village and do some other work to sustain his livelihood, if the situation doesn’t change. But the point he mentioned about his servant was what that was hard hitting. Apparently, his servant had asked him for a loan to manage his family. On regular times, neither would’ve been the need for that request nor would’ve been denied. But given the situation where every paise counts, this guy was genuinely sad that he couldn’t meet his servants demand for money, for he had mouths to feed of his own. It is the situation of those on unorganized sectors, who never had any policy cover or retirement cover or any form of guidelines for their salary or livelihood are the worst hit and looks like the worst is yet to come. With companies, slowly and slyly, starting to send more and more people home, under the nose of the very government which proclaimed to protect the job of every salaried person, the spiraling impact is there to be felt for at least another couple of years. If at all the pandemic has tightened anything, it is not just the lungs of the infected, but the purses of everyone. Never has been a divide so obvious in my lifetime at least, till now, where in the haves and have nots have been so severely segregated. This pandemic has pushed all the salary class layers one level down. At the same time, it has also made people realize that, one cannot always survive or depend on being a single skill alone. My dad was a case in study of his own. He knew, typing, shorthand, secretarial work, PF ESI court related work, he can prepare legal suites in the exact language, he can represent his firm at court cases, he was good at verifying legal documents for registration, offset printing, sales and all of this with his PUC education. His lament and probably the single regret that I actually knew about was unable to learn Tally as we didn’t had a computer at our home. And he was quite handy with hardware stuff at home, be it painting our things or fixing some minor plumbing work. I could see the same about most of my school mates parents, where in they were multi skilled in real sense and especially those skills that are required for survival. I am more than sure that generation of folks would’ve seen worse and would’ve struggled lot more yet would’ve been more confident of coming out of it successfully. My generation and possibly the immediate next have been so much pampered and spoiled that even the first sign of trouble scares the wits out of most of us and pushes us into depression. For what it is worth, I can’t fit a light bulb to save my life!!! I’ven’t seen my dad go to any school, online/offline, to learn these skills. I am shameful in admitting that I’ve never realized that he was so much skilled till now and never bothered to understand how he learnt them as well. If I try to make a connect with the Sapiens book, the time of 60’s and 70’s, with their great depression period, famine, natural disasters, all of them would’ve only resulted in making a real men and strong women out of those who tided over them. Agreed, there would’ve been equal or more of those who might’ve failed. But to learn the lesson we need not look beyond our own family. If our parents can put everything in and roll up their sleeves to ensure we had a good future, it should only inspire us to move forward in same direction. As much as people call out for upskilling and reskilling for newer and newer tech, there would be definitely a multi fold need for the so called common skills, for repair work, handy man jobs and many other micro and smaller industries that have been wiped out in this age of point and shoot from app. In every era, life had always been testy. Those who shifted their concentration towards learning newer things, always had an extra ace up their sleeve. The choice is ours.

Monday, August 24, 2020

A murder is announced by Agatha christie – book review

What more can I say about this lady, whose every book makes me go WOW in amazement. So many different and more importantly original plot ideas, so many clues and event sequences conjured in that wickedly intelligent brain, so many villains with their devious ways of making a kill and every one of them equally or even better than the other. In this novel, as literally as the title goes, a murder is not just announced, but is advertised on a newspaper. Even though the premise and setup sounds ridiculously illogical, the master that she is, makes it as close to believable as possible. It is one of the slowest paced novel of her that I’ve read till now and really stretches your patience till Miss Marple makes an entry as late as 70 pages into the 250 pager. There are a curious bunch of villagers who gather at the house where the murder is supposed to happen, assuming it to be some public show. Dot on time as marked, the mystery guy does make an appearance and power goes out. Shots are heard alongside shouts for help and when the power comes back, the mystery guy is the one who is lying dead with the host of the house being injured. Who killed him and why forms the knot that gets unraveled at its own sweet pace. The killer goes on a mini rampage, making couple of more kills and is finally caught in the act. There are clues thrown all over the book and the list of evidences, in fact, makes an appearance almost as a preclude to the climax. Still, one can bet his top dollar that, no one would’ve guessed the ending and the motive. What keeps me glued to her books is not just the story or the way she goes about it, but her thought process. I always want to write a book based on mystery and thrills, which are my  favorite genre as well. Every book that I read, I am more curious on their thought process and the trigger behind the plot. More than the how, would be curious to know the what, that set the wheels of imagination in motion. Off late, with a spate of movies on OTT being made in this genre, gore and child abuse are often the theme being used in the name of twists. Making serial killers out of school children and under aged ones is a sickening plot of a psycho mind. Such shock value stories wouldn’t stand the test of time and have nothing original about them. That is where Agatha christie remains and will forever remain the queen of murder mysteries. Almost all her murder stories are set in a closed area, with a bunch of people fixated in that area. Even if they use brute force, one of them are bound to be the killer. How the investigation unravels motive and means that spread far and wide is real credit to her imagination and guile, for the simple reason that these were written on an era that predates google and computer. Up next – Elephants can Remember.

Eyes of darkness by Dean koontz - book review

This book has been on pipeline for almost 4 months now. Ever since Covid was tagged as “made in Wuhan” this book has been on the news for th...