As you can see our Japan trip was bookended by stays in Tokyo. This was intentional. Since we were checking in and out of hotels on an almost daily basis, we didn’t have the luxury of shopping until the end of the trip. Japan offers so many interesting things to see and buy that we felt it deserved a day on its own and so we had to schedule a day in Tokyo at the end of the trip. This way, we didn’t walk around lugging it for the entire week. Of course, it is a different story altogether that I stole that day entirely for myself by spending it stationery, manga and electronic shops. More on that in a bit.
Day #1 – Asakusa, Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya
Day #2 – Day trip to Mt. Fuji and Hakone
Day #7 – Ginza, Akhihabara
And thus climaxes a brilliant little children’s book by Dr.Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham. As a child growing up in India, I had never heard of Dr.Seuss. The first time I ever heard of the author was when Jim Carrey played the Grinch in the 2000 adaptation of “How the Grinch stole Christmas“.
We recently got a copy of “The Cat in the Hat” as a birthday gift for my toddler and I read my first Dr.Seuss book. This was an interesting read but ultimately too long to be read to a 3 year old who just adores it. Upon much coaxing by the boy, I got him a copy of Green Eggs and Ham and thus has begun my love story with Dr.Seuss. This is a remarkable book in very many ways. In addition to being totally addictive not just to a toddler, but also the adults in the house, the book conveys a very timely message to the kid to give all kinds of things to eat, a shot before giving up on it. At a time when we are trying to introduce new kinds of food with different flavors and textures to the boy, the book serves as a wonderful encouragement tool.
By the way, did I mention that Green Eggs and Ham still sells a *LOT* even after 50 years, so much so it is almost never discounted?. And that it has all of 50 words in the entire book?. Brilliant. Just brilliant…
I do so like green eggs and ham!
Thank you! Thank you! Sam-I-am!
A random song on my iPhone today happened to be Nina Simone’s wonderful “Sinnerman”. That got me thinking about the heist genre. Why, you may ask?. For those who are unaware, the song elevates the climax of one of the better heist movie’s out there- The Thomas Crown Affair. No, not the original version starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, but the remake starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. I have seen the original and the remake and personally I prefer the remake. The chemistry between the lead characters and the “cool” factor is much better in the remake than the original. Plus, the climax in the remake rocks big time. I mean big, big time. For those who have seen the movie and would like to hear the song and see the climax once more, here it is.
Along the same lines, the heist/grand theft genre offers some very enjoyable movies. Here are some recommendations:
3. Confidence – It is an average movie elevated by a cool climax.
4. The Heist– A David Mamet movie and true to his style features interesting conversations and a fun watch.
6. Catch me if you can– Spielberg weaves a fun tale with Hanks and DiCaprio.
I could think of other movies that have a theft element but they would fall better under crime thrillers. We will handle that on a different day.
As a lifelong fruit lover, I have always wanted access to fresh fruits at a good price. My childhood is filled with memories of trips to Coimbatore Pazhamudir Nilayam in VOC Park. After moving to the US, it has been difficult locating meaningful fruit shops that offer fresh, local and affordable fruits on a year long basis. Not anymore.
I used to frequent the markets in PA, but they were far and few. They were also much more seasonal due to the harsh winters.
Living in sunny California (relatively speaking) means access to the weekend farmers markets all over the Bay Area. Cupertino on Fridays, Sunnyvale on Saturdays, Fremont or Mountain View on Sundays- the options are endless and the produce is fantastic. Plums, peaches and nectarines in Fall, oranges, strawberries, apples, cherries and tangerines in Spring, grapes, mangoes and melons in summer- it is just paradise. And the quality of the often times organic and local produce is spectacular. And when one gets to cut the vegetables, the difference is just palpable. The carrots are so tasty. The tomatoes from Mtn View are just outstanding. And don’t get me started on the awesome strawberries and oranges this season.
The joy of buying the fruits is elevated by the experience that is the weekend trip to Farmer’s Markets. The little guy is excited about the trains that constantly whizz past the markets. The sampling of fruits makes it a great experience for mom, dad and child. And mom, who has until recently preferred her veggies over fruits has started consuming lot more fruit thanks to the market’s enchanting tableau.
If you are anywhere around in the Bay Area or in other warmer parts of the country, I strongly urge you to look up your local farmers markets. Its a win-win all the way.
A well written and well composed song makes for not just wonderful listening but also a trip down memory lane when you first listened to the song. The song in question has the ability to make you want more from it- as if it has the ability to last a lifetime. Thanks to Ilayaraja and A.R.Rahman, I was brought up on a steady stream of such wonderful songs. Over time, preferences and choices mature leaning towards meaningful lyrics to complement a tune that connects.
One of such albums that has lasted in memory is Mouna Ragam. The Manirathnam masterpeice features brilliant lyrics by Vaali and tunes of gold by Isaignani Ilayaraja. The songs are available here for your listening pleasure. The pick of course is Mandram Vandha. Rarely has a piece conveyed so much in as little as 4 min 27 sec. SPB does wonders with Raaja’s tune and Valli’s words of such depth. The rest of the album overflows with music greatness that is at once simple and everlasting.
Last year, I was pleasantly surprised to hear and enjoy the music of Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya. ARR’s output has become more eclectic in recent times and lasting melodies are not quite as many as it used to be. There is a lot more experimentation as ARR, the genius is trying to expand his horizons. But VV as its popularly refered to hearkens back to simple tunes that get elevated by some wonderful lyrics. The album is available for your listening pleasure here. Each song conveys a lot but nothing more so than Mannipaaya. All of us at some point or the other have had an argument or two that last much longer than it should with their better half. This song captures that mood with a tune that soars with every passing second.
It is also interesting to think of these sound tracks and movies in juxtaposition with their times. Mouna Ragam established Manirathnam as an auteur of the great potential, one that he would go on to live upto. Gautham Menon has been a tremendously succesful director- but one whose output has been patchy. VV (which I have not seen due to personal reasons) has been well respected and well appreciated by one and all. From a music standpoint, Ilayaraja was in an upswing when Mouna Ragam came out and it cemented his greatness. VV was ARR’s first album post his Oscar win and much was expected and all of it was delivered and more. VV stands out as one of the recent albums that actually lasts over time. A rare occurance indeed. Finally, Vaali’s words give the platform for Raaja’s music and SPB’s voice to soar much as Thamarai’s words give a solid footing for ARR’s tunes in VV.
I wouldnt go so far to compare the two movies as each viewer chooses to view them objectively but under the context of when and how the movie was experienced. For young college going kids of today, VV might mean a lot more than a more mature offering in Mouna Ragam. At the same time, folks of a generation past will definitely reminisce on what Mouna Ragam meant to them, then. I will leave people to their nostalgic thoughts then and just savor the wonderful songs for now…
I recently came across a scary and thought provoking article on NYTimes on the harmful effects of sugar. The full material of the article is indirectly available on YouTube where Dr.Robert H. Lustig presents his case to a live audience. I recommend everyone to take a look at the article and better still the full presentation. If it stokes you, there is more here, here and here. Having done that, I have a fundamental question for the reader- is it possible for us to eliminate most if not all of our consumption of high fructose corn syrup and processed sugar?.
We love our coffee, tea, soda, chocolates, cookies, sweets and everything else we eat. Remember, there is sugar everywhere. It is not just in sweet things. There is sugar in everything we eat. Given all this, can we really stop or reduce our sugar consumption dramatically?. There are so many unknown illnesses that we worry about. We know of this one thing, sugar that can cause a lot of problems- yet we hesitate to meaningfully act on the information. Is this right?
Just to be clear, natural sugars are not the problem. So eating fruits is OK. Milk contains natural sugar too. But the benifits of milk are worth the daily sugar intake hit. Its just the added and processed sugar that is a matter of concern. This includes all the aforementioned and then all your white flour concoctions, all the enriched stuff. Think about it. Maybe its time to start making changes in our lifestyle.
The Kochi Tuskers Kerala (whoever named it needs to be put to death before he gets a chance to do another such naming disaster) have had a very interesting road to their IPL existence. It all started with Tharoor getting mixed up with all the wrong people. The false start was further complicated by infighting, franchising issues and what not. The now joke-of-the-league name was preceded by something worse, the IndiCommandos. Mercifully that was put to death before it was worn by players on the field.
After all the bad publicity (and I didn’t even mention Sreesanth yet), the Tuskers started off their inaugural season with two losses to Bangalore and Pune. The negative buzz around the team was at an all time high. The Tuskers entered their third game with the Mumbai Indians with a bad record and a lot of I-told-you-so’s. And then Brendon McCullum decided to take things in his own hands. In what can only be deemed as franchise saving knocks against two top teams in Indians and SuperKings, the New Zealander pummeled the opposition bowling and gave the Tuskers two huge wins. Ably supported by Ravindra Jadeja and some good bowling, McCullum has given the Tuskers a lot of credibility that was lacking until date. As the party crashers of the season, the Tuskers now have an dark horse tag that they should cherish. No one is expecting them to win it all and that alone should be incentive enough for them to do well. Throw in the lack of pressure and giant-killer tag and the Tuskers have all that they need to make it a memorable debut season.
Now about Sreesanth…
My 3 year old started talking a year ago and the vocabulary and questions have been increasing at a steady pace since then. It is a lot of fun seeing him learn and observe so many new things. The questions have started getting a little trickier now. We are often times challenged to work around very common questions on the topic of life and death, of violence and all things good and bad, of jealousy, anger and such. How do we tell them the answers to questions without alluding to all that?. How do we talk about herbivores and carnivores without making the animal in question sound evil?.
I’d love to hear from parents with experience handling such stuff.
RED, the Hollywood movie, not the horrific Ajith movie from a few years ago, is a fun watch. I picked it up for its comic book origins(Red) but the movie(Red) shines on its own. The cast of Hollywood oldies- Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Bruce Willis are a treat to watch. An action movie by design, its very much a relaxed masala movie at heart. And when it happens, the action scenes are done very humorously.
The story is fairly simple- a bunch of retired old ex-CIA guys are being hunted by the agency. On the run, the group tries to piece together who and why. The plot if brought to a close admirably.
If you want a fun Friday evening movie, Red is strongly recommended.
And just for haha’s…