Thursday, January 31, 2019

2455 : Movie : Tamil : Orange Mittai

I saw a strange but utterly lovable rumination on urban loneliness. Its a movie called Orange Mittai (Orange Sweet) in Tamil.

The movie features a powerhouse of an actor called Vijay Sethupati. If you have not seen a movie from yet, you must. He is probably the next Tamil superstar, more along the league of Kamal Hassan or Rajnikanth.

The movie is fascinating. The interplay and the despondency (within the ultra real interaction scenes) is something to die down.

The writing of this movie is Grade A+++++++. Nothing would come closer.

The one scene which shall remain with me for life is - the lead protagonist (Vijay) dancing impromptu in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, while the Rickshaw blares the music.

Go for it. This one is for keeps.

The dance from within the movie

Overall ranking below.

A Twelve Year Night
Orange Mittai

2454 : Movie : A 12 year night

I wrote about this earlier, but did not rank it.

On my all time list this would go straight to the top.

A Twelve Year Night

2453 : Obsessed with...

Vilayat Khan playing Bilaskhani Todi and Sanjh Saravalli.
Mesmerized by the layers in that music.
Take a bow Khan sahib.

2452 : The monk who is dying

As I read this article about Thich Nhat Hanh, I was gripped with a surge of both sadness as well as compassion.
Artcile here

What can I do but pray for a man who is probably just as respected in my eyes as the Dalai Lama is. This monk not only taught us how to live, but now he is also giving us a masterclass in how to die.

A silent prayer (he does not need it :-), but its my desire all the same) for him. I wish him a fruitful death, one in which he does crosses the Bardos well.

Lots of respect, dear Monk. I seek your blessings on this world.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

2451 : “Normal” and the flawed me : Aalorukkam

Watched a Malayalam film, Aalorukkum. The movie has a weak technical execution (just as an example - it makes you root for “no one” that’s weak), but the idea itself made me think. So what I mean is, I will not recommend this as a must watch, as a master class in movie making...but....worth a pause to think.

The movie focuses on two introspective elements - the solitude (and loneliness) of old age, and secondly, the challenge of being a transgender.

Both these elements made me really look within. More on the first aspect (loneliness) later.

The key issue is there is still very little acceptance for transgender individuals in the mainstream. Extrapolate this and I believe there is very little acceptance for anything out of the “normal” in the mainstream.

Like, for one, I do believe, that I am very accepting and even welcoming of off “normal” behaviours (as long as they are individual focussed, and dont bother others) I am welcoming....BUT....(a capital “but”)...what would my reaction be if my son or daughter becomes a transgender (or out of “normal” curve)? Especially if she/he/they are “out of the closet” too?

The honest answer is - I would struggle too. Let me explain. I would struggle not because I would not accept them, but I would struggle because I would be overwhelmed and almost vicariously feel the burden and shame they are going to experience in their lifetimes. And my ego (as in my attachment to them, considering them “mine”, “my” children) would implicitly make me experience just the same level of discomfort as they are everyday experiencing. It would potentially be a life of torment for them, and hence by induction, possibly for me too.

And as a parent (and a buddhist) both - I dont want anyone (including my children) to have been assailed so much - for something essentially that is an “individual” choice, not a “social drain”.

And not to forget, the human desire to either “fit” or “outperform” the normal curve. In everything we do, including fashion, music, living overall...almost all of us innately tend to clump towards the “normal”.

My thought (and self admission) left me slightly aghast. As in my thought, that I would also struggle with “transgender” children. It hurt my “liberal” image that I carry around me of myself....I realised that within the veneer of a forward looking human being, I am probably just as flawed and equally vulnerable (and falliable) in my desire for the “normal”.

Something to meditate upon, and hopefully give up on (I mean the desire for normal, is something like the ego....the ideal is the get it off the way).

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2450 : Movie : Marathi movie Bioscope

I loved the marathi alternative movie Bioscope, especially the first story which focussed on the music doyen. Totally totally in love with the movie and the first part.

Art and content 10/10
Technicals 9/10
Star notes : I know one of the stars in the movie personally, how about that :-)

On my all time fav list (1 being the highest), this goes straight at #1 out of two :-), ha ha :-)

#1 : Bioscope
#2: Solo 

2449 : Movie : Solo starring Dulquer Salmaan

4 varied stories. Each gripping in their own unique way. I like the new positive way of telling stories. And I know the world loves him, but he is truly quite something - this Dulquer Salmaan :-).

Go for it.

Art and content 8/10
Technicals 8/10
Star value (Dulquer) 10/10

On a all time list of my favorite movies (1 being the highest, and then descending), this goes to #1, since it is the only 1.

#1 : Solo 

2448 : Movie Series "Have you ever seen beyond the plane?"

I decided that I shall post about the movies or content that I truly like, ignoring random and idiotic content which is probably bulk of what I come across.

The series is cryptically going to be called "Have you ever seen beyond the plane?"

Sunday, January 13, 2019

2447 : Music : Vilayat Khan playing Bilashkhani Todi

For the record, and I will say this a million times, I am totally tone deaf, (cant say one raga from another or one composition from the other) but I love - totally love classic music. Now thats a living (oxy) moron :-)

Have been listening to Vilayat Khan's Bilashkhani Todi on repeat for the past few weeks (effect of reading the book) and discovering his two ragas which I had not heard. One is Bilashkhani Todi and the other is Sanjh Saravali

and here is Sanjh Saravali

Heartfelt thank you Ustadji :-) and lots of gratitude.

2446 : Reading list 2019 : #3: Immortality by Milan Kundera

I dont need to say this again. Milan Kundera is the gold standard for me. Immortality is one of his most special books to me, because this is his first book I read, way back in 1993.

This read is my third read of the book, and it always leaves me richer and more introspective.

I love the book and always will. A 10/10 forever.

At 400 pages brings my 2019 total to 854 pages.

2445 : Reading list 2019 : #2: Annapurna Devi, An Unheard melody by Swapan Kumar Bondyopadhyay

If Vilayat Khan's book gives goose pimples, this will make you realize that life has only one truth and the way to get to it, is via our inner sanctum. This book is a bit like Somerset Maugham's The Razor Edge - it will make your question your own foundations, but just that the Razor' Edge is meant for teenagers and this book is for those in their 50s :-).

I mean this book is a serious look at how difficult the path to the truth is, and how true genius is often mishandled in this world.

On a scale of 10 I would give this 20 for content and probably 8 for style. A definite must read. Go for it.

At 190 pages brings my 2019 total to 454 pages.

2444 : Reading list 2019 (happy new year) : #1 : The Sixth String of Vilayat Khan by Namita Devidayal

Glad I started 2019 with this book. Totally in awe of Khan Sahib and his music. The book will give you goose pimples and yearn for an era which I for one will forever miss.

A 10/10 in terms of content and writing both.

At 264 pages, is a good start to 2019 :-)

Friday, January 11, 2019

2443 : Reading list 2018: Final summary :-)

35 books, most of them fabulously rewarding and 10816 pages.
This is going to be hard to beat in the coming years.
I doubt I can read as much as 3 books per month and almost 29 pages a day.

Most of all, I have enjoyed my journey. Thanks to the authors, heartfelt.

2442 : Reading list 2018 : #35 : Elizabeth Costello by JM Coetzee

One more of my all time favorite authors. And one more of my all time fav books. This was my second re-read of it.

Go for it, the book will change the way you view ethics. Fascinating prose.

Overall rating 10/10. A perfect book to make you think and enjoy art too.

At 242 pages, brings my 2018 total to 10816 pages.

2441 : Reading list 2018 : #34 : Terribly tiny tales by various

Easily one of the best books I have ever read. Intense and fascinating to see crowdsourced talent on tiny tales (less than 10 lines) which are so fab and still very impactful.

On my favorite list of books to read again and again.

Its an easy read, I would count it less than 25 pages for this. Brings my 2018 total to 10574 pages.

And on a rating scale this is a 11/10 :-).

Worth the book. Very intense.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

2440 : Reading list 2018 : #33 : The book of laughter and forgetting by Milan Kundera

From the master himself. From easily one of my most favorite authors and artist, this is a classic. The book of Laughter and Forgetting will teach you many tricks (and philosophies) about life, just as all of Milan's books do.

A straight 10/10.

At 320 pages brings my 2018 total to 10554 pages.

2439 : Reading list 2018 : #32 : Salvation of a saint by Keigo Higashino

Typical Keigo book. Intricate plots. Fantastic execution. A complete tabloid read. Dont look for language prose, but focus on plot. Its a complete lock in.

Liked it. Given my bias for prose over plot, this goes rates around 8/10

At 336 pages, brings my 2018 total to 10234 pages.

2438 : Reading list 2018 : #31 : Kafka on the shore by Haruki Murakami

I liked this book, just like most other Murakami books - it is weird magical and some philosophy blended into the book in the most unexpected of places.

I would rate is 8/10.

At 480 pages, brings my 2018 pages to 9898 pages.

2437 : Reading list 2018 : #30 : A horse walks into a bar by David Grossman

A strange weird and trippy book about a comedian past his prime doing a standup show. Its weird, its introspective and very intense.

Its heavily melancholic (between the lines) and has it shares of great laughs too.

Great writing, inspired story telling....probably 9/10 but a definite read.

Go for it. At 208 pages brings my 2018 total pages to 9418.

2436 : Reading list 2018 : #29 (not an error :-)) : When genius failed/story of LTCM by Roger Lowenstein

#29 instead of #30 since it looks like I posted about Sara Baume (The Line Made by Walking) twice. So adjusting the number.

A classic read on hedge funds in 1990s and how a single fund LTCM (Long term capital management) almost brought the world finance to halt.

This is my third read of the book, and I feel there is always something more to learn. On a scale of 10 this is a 10. A definite read.

At 290 pages brings my 2018 total to 9210 pages.

2435 : Reading list 2018 : #29 : Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Another slick book about the bad street of finance, startups and deception. For me this was immensely personal, because in some sense having followed Theranos closely since their early days, was kind of perplexed by how was it possible - what they were doing. But then I was the same cynical sceptism about autonomous cars, but they seem to coming of my sceptism aside, it was fascinating to see a story unravel itself and then fall to ground with its own emptiness.

An absolute page turner. I would rate it 9/10. At 350 pages brings my 2018 total to 8920 pages.

2434 : Reading list 2018 : #28 : Black Edge by Sheelah Kolhatkar

A fantastic business read, especially if you work in finance and more so if you work within the hedge fund business. A must read primer on Steven Cohen and SAC capital.

Go for it, I would rate it 8/10. At 370 pages makes my 2018 reading total to 8570 pages.

2433 : Reading list 2018 : #27 : Die, my love by Ariana Harwicz

A little strange, but delightfully brutal read. How else do you describe a book where the perspective is constantly shifting and the protagonist hates being a mother and a wife.

Its honest, its brutal, its what you might often "think or wish", but never "say".

It has distinct traces of mental breakdown, and yet its brilliant beyond normal. It hits you very hard.

A definite read. Small yet very disturbing at 128 pages.

Brings my total for 2018 to 8200.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

2432 : Reading list 2018 : #26 : Death by Julian Barnes

A small pithy but incredibly insightful read. This was my second read of the book. Definitely worth many reads.

Fantastic to read about an atheist trying to make sense of life and of course, fail :-). I share the failure too.

At 100 pages brings my 2018 total to 8072 pages.

2431 : Reading list 2018 : #25 : A line made by Walking, Sara Baume

Once in many years you stumble across something that just elevates the very essence of living, or having lived. Sara Baume's second book shows you just how small we all are, when faced with incredible art...and by incredible art I mean her book.

Its worth a re-read every year till you die. One of my best books ever. I loved this for book for its incredible introspection, great prose, and some of the finest language around.

Read it and be enthralled. Completely.

On a scale of 10, this is 12 :-)

At 320 pages, brings my 2018 reading total to 7972 pages.

Monday, January 07, 2019

2430 : Reading list 2018 : #24 : Way to go....Upamanyu Chatterjee

This is my fourth book by the author. Though a little inane in his earlier works, "The Last Burden" and even this one are refined.

They still make you laugh with the absurdist ideas presented there. The prose is very refined, very sophisticated, almost poetic. Whats its strength is also its weakness. The long sentences with their imprisoned metaphors, make it a difficult or a slow read sometimes.

There is no plot, save a normal human tale. What you will possibly like is that it is a regular everyday story.

Go for it, for its sophistication and its ability to demonstrate that good writing comes in all shapes and sizes.

At 359 pages takes my 2018 total to 7652 pages.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

2429 : Reading list 2018 : #23 : Principles by Ray Dalio

Its easy to dismiss this book as a wish wash, but in real terms, this book is a great leadership/management handbook. Lots of great ideas (nothing extraordinary though) all surmised and stitched together within a single model framework.

Also I like the first part of the book, which is primarily his biography.

A fantastic read. Overall 10/10. Almost a perfect read. Go for it.

Image from

At 592 pages, brings my 2018 reading total to 7293 pages.

2428 : Reading list 2018 #22 In search of Wisdom - Matthieu Ricard, Christopher Andre, Alexandre Jollien

I usually read 3-5 Buddhist books in a year. For 2018, my list was dominated by Matthieu Ricard. In search of Wisdom is definitely a fantastic "buddhism in a compressed book primer", lucidly written and very implementable in every life.

I loved the book. Highly recommended. 9/10 on an overall scale.

At 366 pages, it brings my total reading list to 6701 pages for 2018.

2427 : Reading list 2018 #21 : 21 lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

A magnificient book, which encompasses in a compressed way sense around the modern world. Very little insight shattering words here, but still a great read. It does a great job of taking 21 different themes and tying them together in a great story.

Noah Harari is also a great writer. Definitely a great read. Highly recommended. Overall a 9/10.

Brings my total 2018 reading to 6365 pages (365 for this book).

Saturday, January 05, 2019

2426 : Movie : A Twelve year night

Over years, I have been trying to become a Buddhist. Of course :-), it does not show at all. I am like the elephant who took inspiration from a jaguar and said, it would be nice to have that feline grace :-), just that the baggage of flesh holds you back.

Back to the point. I have been trying. One of the things that I genuinely come to realize with my limited meditations, is the sheer amount of luck that I have. Its not in rationed proportions. I have way more than I should ideally have. Even being me (as in my birth) is a sheer event of luck.....(more on that later). Not complaining, but rather feeling humbled.

Every single waking day, I realize more than a few times a day, how much good fortune have I appropriated.

In that sense I have slowly felt genuine gratitude for even things that otherwise I would have considered a good comfortable bed as an example.

As I watched, "A Twelve Year Night" something in me irreparably phase shifted. The movie is about 3 individuals in Uruguay, who get arrested for their dissent, and then are put in solitary confinement for an indefinite period. Over time that "indefinite" period turns to 12 whole years. The meditative movie shows us a sliver of what it might be to be bereft of food, bed, toilets, sunlight, stars and of course other humans.

The three folks in the movie (supposedly based on a true account), survive, and one of them eventually becomes president of Uruguay in 2010 (and most importantly, does not extract revenge on his perpetrators). Now that sounds like a Buddhist tale.

Something in this movie moved me immensely. The background score is intensely personal, though it was never meant to be. (I mean a movie for the masses, does not usually cater for personal empathy in music).

More than a recommendation to watch, I would suggest a simple meditation of "What might be"......


2425 : Reading list 2018 :#20 : Malice by Keigo Higashino

This book is very unlike the other Japanese fiction I tend to read, I mean even in the crime genre. This one is a little meditative and had threads of making you want to root for one and then the other. I thoroughly liked this book.

Highly recommended read, especially if you like slowly unfolding crime scenes.

A definite read. Overall 9/10, just for the genre. At 288 pages, gets my total 2018 reading total to 5997.