Saturday, July 30

Film: Horrible Bosses Click for more info

After the two amazing films I watched recently, it may seem a little odd to tone down the class in the same week. Horrible Bosses is exactly that; cheap gags and a throwaway plot bringing us a couple of hours of good quality timepass.

But it was funny and enjoyable so it did its job well enough I suppose. To be honest I can't quite remember much of the film now, but if you're looking for something light then you can't do worse than this.

Friday, July 29

New Music

Bol OST - Bol

Of course we have Hona Tha Pyar and Kaho Aaj Bol Do from Atif Aslam & Hadiqa Kiani, and why these two don't just keep making music together I don't know. Dil Janiya by Hadiqa Kiani is good fun apart from the rap. And the filler on the OST gave me a chance to fill in my Atif gap with Chhod Gaye.

Bindrakhia Boliyan - DJ Harvey ft Nirmal Sidhu

This track is mainly interesting because of the medley-vibe it has. As a tribute it's not too bad.

Fitteh Moo - PBN

More girl on guy action as PBN does the battle of the sexes thing. I'm struggling to understand all of it, but the bits I pick up are hilarious.

Hale Dil - Murder 2

Of course.

Khaabon Ke Parinday - Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Airy and... well, pretty I guess. A perfect fit for the film it was taken from.

Senorita - Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Every time I hear this song I think of the film. And every time I think of the film I remember how amazing it was. I love how it's the vocals of the actors in the song itself.

I'm Into You - Jennifer Lopez feat. Lil Wayne

Far superior to her last track in my opinion, although even then I don't have much hope for her album.

Rolling In The Deep - Adele

It's the lazy Sunday mornings listening to Capital Breakfast that reminds me of all the decent English music I tend to miss out on. Like this.

Wednesday, July 27

Film: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Click for more info

There's no such thing as a perfect film. But sometimes you watch a movie that is so right, so flawless that you can't imagine how it could be any better. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is such a film.

It really was brilliant on a multitude of levels. The plot was engaging, the script hilarious (I lauged out loud many, many times) and flowing, the acting and characters believable and the music perfectly apt and original. And although it delivered on all these fronts it still manages to be pure Bollywood. So yes, this isn't one of those "different" films; we still have the item numbers and dancing and melodrama and fun. The balance is struck so precisely it's amazing.

For certain one of the best Bollywood films for a decade - it's for certain in my top five ever. I might even consider it for film of the year, and I still smile each time I think of it. It's seriously that good; so much so that a mere recommendation seems an injustice.

Sunday, July 24

Film: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Click for more info

And (once again) it all ends here. After ten years and eight flicks, the film adaptation of Harry Potter comes to an end.

And what an end it is. Part two of the seventh chapter was so good that I've even forgotten all the duff episodes of the past - if it was all for this then it can all be forgiven. Yes, the acting is just as shoddy as it's always been (and to be honest we wouldn't have it any other way) but everything else seems to have been so lovingly crafted that I couldn't help but enjoy the two hours or so it ran for.

Considering my disappointment with the final book, I'm actually quite surprised at exactly how much I dug this film. The story was certainly the same, with the two parts managing to cover most of what happens, and yes I suppose was slightly underwhelmed by the finale too. But the level of poignancy and emotion evoked hit levels of fan-service, and it was this value that the film added which made it so special.

But I'm gushing now, so I'll stop. It's not often that a finale justifies the rest of its series but TDH:P2 does so and then some. Hugely recommended for fans.

Saturday, July 23

Book: The Iliad, Homer Click for more info

The Iliad has become the first book that I've had to bail on part way through. I didn't even get that far, which I guess makes sense seeing as if I had I probably would have stuck to it. But whatever the detail, I am a little sad that it's come to this.

It's my own fault really. I wasn't really well informed on what The Iliad and its background was - caught up in the fervour of the Hollywood rendition as well as my own personal interest in Greek mythology made me throw caution to the wind and just buy (that's right, buy) a copy. Not only that, but I bought The Odyssey too (which seems destined to remain in pristine condition), both of which were translated by George Chapman.

There are many reasons I've struggled so badly with this book. The first is that it's a poem. As someone who is more literal than poetic, I really don't like poetry. I think it's forced, obtuse and one of the most inefficient ways to communicate anything.

The other reason is that since it was originally written in Greek, I had to pick a translation and as such there are many versions of the same. I may have, perhaps, picked the least friendly of these and the poetry format aside I simply couldn't understand the language used by Chapman. It was almost like a foreign language to me. After two books (or chapters) I had no idea of what was going on - I could have been reading a book in French and I'd probably understand more. What's really frustrating is how during my brief hunt for review before buying the two books many said how easy it was to read. But hey, perhaps I'm just not smart enough.

So yes, as I get older and realise how little time I have to spend on this stuff, I've had little option but to ditch The Iliad as well as The (unread) Odyssey. But that's not to say my interest in Homer has waned; no, if anything I now know to go for perhaps a modern prose translation of the two classics. Watch this space I guess, but in the meantime unless you're some sort of Literature degree student, I would steer well clear of Chapman's The Iliad.

Thursday, July 21

Book: A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking Click for more info

I first read this book way back in 2002 - I was travelling alone back from Pakistan and picked it up at Karachi airport. I don't usually buy books, but since I was fresh out of university I was still a maths and physics head; Hawking was as much a role model and hero for me as any Hollywood (or Bollywood) actor was for my peers. A decade later and I'm slightly less geeky, so after a friend asked to borrow my copy I took it as an opportunity to re-read it and see if I took to the book as much as I did before.

As it says on the tin, A Brief History of Time is a small book. That's not to say it doesn't cover its subject matter in appropriate depth - any more detail would require much more of a technical background from the readership it was aimed at - and it's a credit to Hawking that he manages to convey some pretty difficult ideas to his audience. Or does he? Perhaps it's because I'm older and more cynical, or perhaps I've just lost my ability to think, but some of it didn't make complete sense.

Of course the book hasn't changed; only I have, and I don't remember having these difficulties during my first read - perhaps I just had more time and inclination to think about them? Still, you don't need to comprehend the book too much to enjoy it - I still enjoyed reading about the scope of the universe and time and the like even after taking what Hawking says for granted (something easily done if you're not a physicist).

The book is quite contemporary for one written such a long time ago - it was first published in 1988 which makes it an astonishing 23 years old (and quite amusingly older than the friend I'm planning on giving it to). But as well as covering the well established concepts like Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, it does also eventually touch on more exotic stuff like String Theory. Whether this was added to my "later" edition I'm not sure, and it's possible that later editions still have more up to date discussion.

But still, for the layman (which, alas, after reading this book I have finally accepted that I am), A Brief History of Time is a great introduction to a field of science that can sometimes be as scary as it is fascinating, so provided you already hold an interest in the topic I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book.

Monday, July 18

Video of the Day Click for more info

Ah Dawson. How you changed the lives of everyone who watched you:

And yes, I do blame my five years of total Dawson viewing for ruining any chance of having a relationship... Although perhaps not in the way he suggests above. It turns out using Dawson as a role model doesn't do anything for your chances of grabbing a Potter either.

Nicked from Zany's blog.

Sunday, July 17

Shak's Choice: Melody Hossaini Click for more info

Now that it's all over and we know who's won, we're left with the real competition: yes, that's right, who made it as Shak's Choice for this season. And although I didn't realise it at the start of the show this year has actually been quite the prettiest for a while, and as such I've actually had to struggle a bit - I've even had to confer with my peers tonight over text message it's been that difficult.

So for the first time ever I'll have to include some notable mentions. In no particular order we have Felicity, Susan (who was my pick to win), Helen and Zoe. You all should be proud of getting this far, but unfortunately: you're fired.

But ultimately this years pick was the obvious choice; I even said so myself at the start of the season. That's right, this year's Shak's Apprentice Choice is the delightful Melody Hossaini:

But let's get one thing straight here. Unlike most other Apprentice fans I didn't actually immediately think Melody the prettiest in the house. In fact I would say that, lookswise, she kind of grew on me over time. But what I did like about her straight away was the way she presented herself - dainty and vulnerable and yet with some real power and intelligence, and while she was annoying everyone else with her style of talking I was loving it. And yes, the whole posh thing helped loads too. But it's not all about how attractive a candidate is; no, Melody did well in the process too. In fact I think she's been the most successful and impressive Choice yet.

So there you have it: the real winner of this year's Apprentice. I'm quite confident that this will come to some consolation to her as she continues on her path to world domination.

New Music

This Ain't a Love Song - Bon Jovi

I have no idea why this wasn't already on my play list, but a random listen in Mauritius made me realise that was the case. It's crazy that it's not on the greatest hits.

Teri Dewani - Kailash Kher

Quite possibly the song that defines Kailash Kher, this is accessible sufi at its best.

Louder - DJ Fresh ft. Sian Evans

Yes, I've loved this since hearing it on that advert... although I must admit the full version isn't as great.

Thursday, July 14

The Standard Chartered Great City Race 2011 Click for more info

There isn't much to report for this year's 5k race. I haven't run (at all) since this exact same event last year, so I was a little concerned at how it would go. Unlike other times when I had stopped running for a while, when I did still feel fit and knew I'd be able to get around, today I really had no real understanding of my fitness level before the start.

The race itself had technical issues. Firstly, it was the reverse course which in although in theory shouldn't make a difference was a little disconcerting as I apparently lost the distance cues I had built up over the past three races I had taken part in. Secondly, as I entered the race quite late in the queue I got caught up in a lot of traffic during the start - I would say it cost me at least 20-30 seconds. And finally apart from my lack of recent race experience I wasn't feeling too great and my sinuses were clogged up. Yes, aw.

My official time is 26:40 which surprisingly is bang on what I hit last year, perhaps proving that I don't need to do any exercise any more. Maybe. That said it was quite a difficult race and I did feel some muscle pain - which is quite pathetic considering the distance - and I expect to feel sore tomorrow, something that hasn't happened since I ran the marathon. On the other hand my respiration seemed to be okay, so I think I can still claim to be relatively fit.

Nevertheless I certainly miss being able to do this kind of stuff backwards in my sleep, and will take this as a clear indication that things are moving on.

Monday, July 11

Indexed Click for more info

Although I found this insightful at first, today's Indexed has got me struggling a little now:

The thing is I don't know if I'm an extrovert or introvert. I tend to do relatively okay in crowds and with new people, yet I am almost certainly anti-social (I constantly tell my friends how I plan to dump them after I marry) and prefer to stay indoors than out.

Apparently ambivert is used to describe those who express both, but I suspect that implies balance rather than mutuality. Although who said they were mutually exclusive anyway?

What might be easier to figure out is how lonely I am. Everyone say "aww".

Wednesday, July 6

Indexed Click for more info

Finally! The reason I can't stand having lie ins:

Monday, July 4

Madagascar, Day Eleven: Hellos and Goodbyes

It's a testament to how much of a great time we had here a week ago how glad we were to be able to spend a bonus day in Mauritius. Of course anything would have been better than Madagascar, particularly the last couple of days, but we were more than happy to be back anyway.

That said there really isn't much to report today aside from the extreme welcome and love of our Mauritian hosts. We even managed to catch that meal at Nando's that we missed out on during out main stay. The rest of the day was filled with family fun as we sipped on coconut water and did some local shopping.

So spending a day here was surreal but in a good way; as if we were being given it for free. I was caught smiling to myself more than once, each time as I considered the events of the past few days. Having to spend a day here definitely made up for the 48 hours before we arrived.

Saying goodbye was equally surreal, yet the repetition and familiarity reassured me that I would be meeting these guys again, be that in Mauritius or elsewhere. I can't wait.

Sunday, July 3

Madagascar, Day Ten: Now I Know How Jack and Kate Felt

I'm not even supposed to be writing a post today.

On the bright side, everything in terms of accommodation, transfers and food has been arranged. But other than waiting for mealtimes there is nothing else for us to do except hang around in the hotel waiting to be taken to the airport. We did venture out for a bit (looking for socks of all things) but otherwise we are totally in limbo. At least we have wifi.

The afternoon was spent in the airport, where we discovered that our flight was to leave at 6. That didn't leave much time for use to catch our connection from Mauritius, but it was still possible.

Of course such thoughts turned out to be wholly optimistic as we were delayed once again by one hour. At this point we were desperate to leave Tana - anywhere would have done and plans to fly to South Africa, France, Kenya and even Reunion Island were all tabled.

Despite knowing we would miss our flight to London tonight, we were all pretty ecstatic once we eventually took off. A night in Mauritius now seemed like a reward for all we had been through and we didn't even mind having to spend yet another day on our journey home; anything to get off Madagascar.

Saturday, July 2

Madagascar, Day Nine: This Wasn't The Plan

Deciding to make the most of our last day in Tana, Madagascar, and indeed our holiday, we decided to grab an early start to pack, grab breakfast and shop. That last one was a bit of a bust as we realised the local markets were for the locals.

Our flight back to Mauritius was in the early afternoon so we headed to the airport for late morning. On the way we realised that one of our bags had gone missing. We have no idea how such a thing could have happened in a moving car but my fully flowing paranoia was vindicated anyway. Even though I still had my bag, I was especially shaken seeing how I had stupidly left my passport in there. A close one then.

The terrible events of the day didn't end there as we found out that our 1:50pm flight to Mauritius had been delayed to 6:30pm. That wouldn't have been a big deal - I've spent longer in airports - except that we had a flight home to catch from Mauritius at 6:40pm. Even the later flight at 10pm seemed tight.

It was 8pm with us still at the departure gate that we finally accepted that we would have to spend another night in Mauritius. Although a major hassle (we would only be able to return to the UK on Monday morning) I was a little excited to once again see all the people I had met a week or so ago, but that excitement soon wore off as our flight got more and more delayed. At the point I had been in the airport for nine hours straight.

It was a short while later that the news we were all dreading arrived. The flight had been cancelled, we were to grab our bags and then wait for a bus to take us back to Tana where a hotel and food would be waiting for us.

Now if this was last year, when I had no office job to return to, this would have all been taken in relatively good spirits and may have even been a little bit of fun. But the fact was that we were to spend another night in Tana - a place we had gladly said goodbye to already. Add to that how I was looking forward to spending another night in Mauritius and the logistics of our connecting flight and the whole thing was a little distressing. Destiny wanted us to spend another night in Madagascar.

We've been told that the flight tomorrow is at 5:30pm, which will mean we miss all the Sunday flights out of Mauritius too. Even the renewed promise of a night in Mauritius doesn't console me of the fact I'll be arriving home on Tuesday.

I'm beginning to really hate Madagascar.

Friday, July 1

Madagascar, Day Eight: Backtracking

It's Friday, and so again today was mostly about joining in with Jummah prayers. Since I had already done the groundwork earlier in the week this was less of a hassle than we were expecting it to be a month ago.

Since we didn't know the local timetable we erred on the side of caution and got there early, taking the opportunity to talk to some of the locals. The mosque (again, map here) soon became full though, and the congregation became pretty serene and engaged once the khutba (sermon) started. After the proceedings and prayer we spoke to some more local Muslims including the imam (who didn't really speak much English).

The rest of the day was pretty routine - lunch at La Petite and then the catching of our flight back to Tana. A local friend my travel companions made during our previous time here took us for dinner and then to our hotel in the town, where we were going to sleep for the last time before starting our journey home.

The cross continent backtrack had begun.