Friday, August 14, 2009

Yet Another Tag

CP's latest tag

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn on page 18 and find line 4.
This is not premature optimization; it is avoiding gratuitous pessimization.

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can & catch air?
Legends, A collection of Asha Bhosle CD's.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
CNBC Talking Heads, what else

4. Without looking, guess what time it is?
12:15 am

5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?
12:27 am

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
Like CP, a fan; also some birds chirping.

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
When I came home from the office, opening my garage door.

8. Before you started this Q&As, what did you look at?
Some songs on YouTube.

9. What are you wearing?
Jeans and a striped shirt, stripes just wider than pin-stripes.

10. When did you last laugh?
At work today.

11. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
A map of the world, a map of USA, several post-it notes (I really am not that geeky.)

12. Seen anything weird lately?
My passport photos, How come these and driving license photos always look weird.

13. What do you think of this quiz?
Becoming a tad repetitive.

14. What is the last film you saw?
Julie and Julia, recommended, hope to write a review soon.

15. If you became a multimillionaire overnight, what would you buy?
Depends upon from which direction,
Thousandaire -> Multimillionaire --- Services of a Tax Accountant.
Billionaire -> Multimillionaire --- Services of a Psychiatrist.

16. Tell me something about you that I dunno!
Like CP, I too hate to drive.

17. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
Eliminate Corporate Taxes; Poverty will eventually be eliminated.

18. Do you like to Dance?
Yes, but all dancing efforts end in Amitabh's Mawali style.

19. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
We did name her Roma

20. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?
Name of our son, Jai

21. Would you ever consider living abroad?

22. What do you want GOD to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
Since I do not believe in GOD; I hope "Fooled you didn't I ?" (instead of "Just exactly who do you want your neighbor to be in HELL ?")

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ava's Alphabet Tag

Answering Ava's Alphabet Tag, (Finally)

A – Available/Single? - Legally Married, but available for **** (My wife will be filling in the ****)
B – Best friend? - Several
C – Cake or Pie? - "Those who don't have bread can eat cake" (Marie Antoinette, circa way before I was born).
D – Drink of choice? - Wine, Cognac, Champagne, some Liqueurs
E – Essential item you use every day? – Wine Bottle Opener, a glass
F – Favorite colour? - Blue
G – Gummy Bears or Worms? - Neither.
H – Hometown – Summit (New Jersey, USA) & Mumbai (Maharashtra, India)
I – Indulgence? – My kids
J – January or February? - Neither, really cold & snows a lot
K – Kids & their names? - Roma & Jai
L – Life is incomplete without? - Taxes
M – Marriage date? - Present on my Marriage License.
N – Name? Your real name!! - Tumhara Naam Kya Hai Basanti ?
O – Oranges or Apples? - Both. Racked my brians to come up with a cool response, but no dice. "Woh Do The, Aur Phir Bhi Waapas Aye, Khali Haath".
P – Phobias/Fears? - "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" (FDR, March 4, 1933)
Q – Quote for today? - IBM @ 119.87, MSFT @ 23.79, US 30 YR @ 95-13+, Oil @ 73.00, Gold @ 950.80
R – Reason to smile? - Refer to D & E
S – Season? - Spring & Fall; unless you meant season food while cooking --- Yes with pepper & salt.
T – Tag 3 People? – Usually all tags stop with me, this is no exception.
U – Unknown fact about me? - This is real, I have never been drunk in my life.
V – Vegetable you don’t like? - Catsear, Chrysanthemum leaves, Dandelion, Epazote, Fat Hen, Garden Rocket, Good King Henry, Komatsuna, Kuka, Lagos bologi, Lizard's Tail, Melokhia, Sierra Leone bologi, Winter purslane.
You mean to say you have not tried Lagos bologi Paneer with Good King Henry parathas ? (
W – Worst habit? – I am "Bug-Free"; you pay for the features, all "bugs" are free.
X – X-rays? - Yes, A couple of hairline fractures
Y – Your favorite food? - French
Z – Zodiac sign? - Aries

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Women's Stormy Coming of Age Tale

Growing up with a grandmother who lets you in on her female anatomy maintenance secrets, at most is eyebrow raising material. Add to that a home in an exclusive suburb with a view of year-round snow capped mountains, in a country that is probably the worlds largest producer of caviar, saffron, pistachios and almonds. Throw in a possible fact, the world's earliest wine was discovered here; and Readers would be justified in asking "What is so Stormy about growing up here ?". Reasonable geography experts would have guessed by now, the country in question is Iran (Persepolis is an ancient Iranian city). And when the years are mid 1970's to the early 1990's, "stormy" should almost be self-explanatory.

Nominated for the 2007 Best Animated Film Oscar, Persepolis is based on an Iranian women's autobiographical book by the same name. The film is a stirring account of Marjane Satrapi's experiences from childhood to adulthood; spanning the Shah era, the Islamic revolution, the war with Iraq, and living in an Islamic Iran. Since Marjane eventually emigrated to and settled in France, the film is originally shot in French. Eminent performers lent their voice to the original; Chiara Mastroianni as Marjane, Catherine Deneuve as her mother, Danielle Darrieux as her Grandmother, and Simon Akbarian as her father. Filmed primarily as a flashback in black & white, while color is used to signify the present.

The 9 old Marjane leads a typical child's carefree life, worships Bruce Lee and considers herself a prophet. She likes and supports the Shah; but soon realizes that a revolution against him is in progress. Some history lessons from her father awaken her to the reality of the Shah's repressive and unjust rule, and she soon joins the opposition. She is exposed to unsettling episodes such as a shooting death of a young anti-Shah demonstrating neighbor. Political prisoners also enter her realization; a friend's father is released from jail, and she also hears about her jailed communist uncle Anoosh.

A year later the Shah abdicates his throne and leaves Iran, signaling victory for the revolutionaries. Her uncle Anoosh is released from prison, and times seem to be improving. Hopes of democracy and freedom abound, and young Marji spends a lot of time getting close to and learning a lot from uncle Anoosh. However, the first dark clouds arise on the horizon; in the form of election victors --- Islamic fundamentalists. They soon begin chipping away at the new found freedoms, such as introducing compulsory hijab for women; and re-arresting and executing uncle Anoosh for his communist beliefs.

War with Iraq exposes the young girl Marji to its horrors, and also brings more hardships and more intolerant measures from the ruling Islamists. Young Marji having learnt about resisting repression from her uncle Anoosh, now starts exhibiting a more non-conformist personality. She indulges in now banned black-market western music and clothes, and also speaks out vehemently against the pro-Islamic rule hypocrisies and outright lies being taught by her teachers. This naturally gets her into trouble; and fearing for her safety, her parents decide to send her to a boarding school in Vienna.

At the tender age of 14, a lonely teenager Marjane begins experiencing life in a foreign land. She is comforted by the freedoms and the large amounts of material goods available in the West. Her rebellious nature leads to clashes with the nuns in the convent residence, but that is simply resolved by moving to another paying guest accommodation. Several student friends enter her life, and over time she experiences puberty, male homosexuality, boyfriends, sexual initiation and heartbreaks. A defining moment is her realization of pride and love for home country, and she vigorously defends Iran to a bunch of dismissive Western students. This love for country soon makes her homesick and depressed, and one day she decides to return to Iran.

I have intentionally disclosed a little more of the plot than normal, but there is still more left about her struggle after returning to Iran. Intentionally, since the story in its most basic terms is probably the best presentation of Marjane's coming of age experiences. Making this as an animated movie enhances its impact, the viewer is always drawn to the innovative presentation. Animated movies have a reputation of being crafted for children, but this one will convince the viewer of their suitability for more adult-oriented themes. The directors (Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud) have effectively used animation as a means of presenting such a complex tale, and are helped by the fact that the book itself was in a graphical illustrated format.

Although the movie contains several dark moments, it is sprinkled with humor which elevates it into the near perfect and great category. You cannot but admire and laugh with Marjane when she confronts some of the neanderthal Islamic revolutionaries. She keeps this spunk even when dealing with Catholic nuns in a Western convent, and also with flippant Western students. Just to be impartial I believe she would have dealt with almost any fundamentalist in the same manner, and yes that implies Hindu chauvinists as well (Unsheathe those NU's).

A standout in the movie is the Grandmother, yes the aforementioned female anatomy secrets dispenser. Another strong outspoken character, she advises Marjane to get a divorce rather than endure a failed relationship. Her flashes of humor keep us entertained throughout the movie.

How to vigorously protest against repression and religious excess, and yet express love for and pride in ones country; is the enduring lesson of this movie. Marjane Satrapi upon winning a prize for this movie in Cannes reportedly said "Although this film is universal, I wish to dedicate the prize to all Iranians.". Iranians did not deserve the megalomaniac Shah, and do not deserve the current crop of Islamic Fundamentalists; here is hoping that someone like Marjane Satrapi is in their future.

1) Wikipedia

1) The Books Persepolis I & II by Marjane Satrapi, also in illustrated graphic format.