Picture of the Week #52

Houses on Inle lake in Burma.  Their transport is a sampan.  A tour of Inle lake can be arranged for US$10 for the entire day.

Picture of the Week #51

Cute Burmese children [Picture taken at Bagan].  Many Burmese men, women and children apply some kind of wood paste on their face, neck and arms.  It helps keep the skin cool in the hot Burmese summers and it also has medicinal properties.

Picture of the Week #50

The life-line of Burma - Ayeyarwady (formerly, Irrawaddy) river - that flows from north to south of Burma.  It is the country's largest and most important commercial waterway.

5 Things I Hate About India

Make no mistake about it, India is my mother land and I love it.  Having said that, there are some things that I absolutely hate (like "development"), and others that I find merely annoying (like stray dogs).  Here's a list of 5 things that I "hate" about India - I hope you find it amusing.

1) Stray dogs
There are too many damn stray dogs in India!  In the day time, they are shy and lazy, but one still has to be careful so as not to inadvertently step on a sleeping dog while avoiding the throngs of people.  At night, one better watch out since packs of dogs spill out on the empty streets and often have turf wars with rivals, and they surely don't hesitate to intimidate innocent bystanders - like me!

2) Pot Holes
Pot holes, pot holes and more pot holes - they are everywhere!  There's a popular saying - are there pot holes in the road or is there road in between the pot holes?  It's a shame that the roads of India's economic capital city, Mumbai, are littered with pot holes.. and people talk about Mumbai becoming the next Shanghai - until the quality of the roads improve, they can keep dreaming.  This can only happen when the corrupt-to-the-bone politicians stop giving road construction contracts to companies who do a poor job.

3) Garbage, Traffic and Pollution
It is sad but true, that cities are overflowing with garbage, traffic and pollution.  Bus depots, train stations, markets, residential areas, commercial areas... garbage is overflowing everywhere.  How far is the dump-it-over-the-fence attitude for garbage going to take us?  Not very.  Temples, especially the famous ones, are some of the dirtiest places where the devotees don't hesitate to simply dump their plastic and other garbage in the surroundings. In big cities, mere 15 kilometers seems like a huge distance because of traffic clogged roads.  On Indian roads, those who can afford it can breath A/C air (sitting in their cars), and those who don't breath pollution - there is no fresh air any more.

4) Development
I think "development" is a bad word in India.  It is nothing but encroachment, and rampant and unplanned development.  It's more like destruction - environmental destruction.  Hills are carved, blasted and flattened to make way for new roads and housing, lakes are filled in by greedy land sharks to construct more buildings, trees are cut down for road widening etc.  Why does development necessarily compete against nature in India?  The way India is "developing" is totally unsustainable and I think the payback for going against nature will be severe...

5) Crowds
Over-population has led to over-crowding in India putting a serious strain on resources and infrastructure.  It has also led to a general loss of respect for life.  On average, more than 10 people die everyday while commuting on Mumbai's over-crowded local trains - ironically known as the "lifeline" of Mumbai.  It's terrible that over-crowded buses in Pune don't even bother to stop at designated stops to pick up passengers; they just slow down a bit further from the stop so people who want to get off can jump off!

Coming up next: 5 Things I Love About India

Movie Movies Movies - Part 3

I have watched several movies in the last six months and thought I would post reviews on the ones that I enjoyed watching.  I don't post reviews on movies that I did not like.


Bound (1996)
Gripping... suspenseful... tense... edge-of-your-seat thriller are some words that come to mind when reviewing this movie.  It's about how a female ex-con tries to steal two million dollars from the mafia with the help of her new lesbian lover who is also married to one of the gangsters.  The only problem is - the mafia are not-so-easy to steal money from.  Also, in order to pull off their scheme, they need to trust each other completely - can they?

Harrison's Flowers (2000)
War is a terrible and useless thing and this movie drives home the point.  The battle of Vukovar shown at the end is far too realistic and gruesome to watch.  Watch this movie to get an understanding of the Yugoslav War of the 1990s.  The movie is really a tribute to all the journalists who lost their lives while covering this dangerous war.  The only negative thing I can say about the movie is the love story that is unnecessarily woven into the plot, which is, needless to say too unrealistic.

Inception (2010)
I didn't understand a single word of this movie, but I still loved it!

Mountains of the Moon (1990)
What is the source of the longer river in the world, Nile, in Africa?  Based on a true story, the movie follows the adventures of Richard Burton and his friend John Speke who set out to discover the source of the river.  Richard and John are brought together in the wild and get driven apart in civilization.  The African wild is wonderfully captured and one really gets the feeling of being in Africa.  This is a must watch for anyone who likes adventure movies - don't expect an Indiana Jones though - this is more historical and intellectual.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)
A favourite on cable TV, I only got a chance to watch it recently.  It's about how a bunch of random criminals are brought together for a bank heist job and begin to suspect each other when the heist goes horribly wrong.  It's quite an interesting watch; there's more dialogue than action in this movie.

Shot Through The Heart (1998)
This is a tale of two friends - a Serbian Christian and a Bosnian Muslim - and how their friendship gets affected during the Yugoslav War of 1990s.  It's a must watch for those who wish to learn more about this war that tore the former Yugoslavia into several different countries drawn apart by different religions.

Shutter Island (2010)
The plot is quite unique and giving up anything about it would be doing injustice to anyone who hasn't yet seen this movie.  Leonardo DiCaprio's acting is top notch and anyone who enjoys watching a psychological thriller will enjoy watching this one.

True Romance (1993)
I would describe this movie in Hindi as hatke.  A lonely man with a mediocre job is setup with a prostitute, and they fall in love with each other.  The man tries to rescue the damsel from her pimp who happens to be a mafia gangster, and inadvertently kills him and mistakenly picks up an identical briefcase containing millions of dollars worth of drugs.  Thus begins a thrilling game of cat and mouse where the mafia are hot on his trail as he tries to sell the drugs in a get-rich-quick scheme.

Up (2009)
Most people get so caught up in the rat-race and the materialistic way of life that by the time they realize what they've missed, it's often too late to do anything about it.  So what have they missed?  Living their dreams.  We live in concrete jungles that's full of people - yet we're lonely.  We have all the materials things that money can buy - yet we are unhappy.  This is a tale of a man who lived the "American dream".  He had it all - a loving wife, money and a nice house with a white picket fence.  Yet, at the tale end of his life he feels he has missed living his childhood dream of exploring the world and sets out to explore and discover...


City of Gold (2010)
This is one of the best Hindi films I have seen in a long time.  In spite of it being a low-budget film (which implies unknown actors), the acting is top-notch and the plot is very realistic and interesting.  At no point does the film fall apart.  I would classify this as a semi-documentary/art-film.  It's on the life of Mumbai's textile mill workers who lose not just their employment and livelihood when their mills get shutdown (and land sold to real estate developers), but also their hopes...


Aatmavishwas (1989)
I don't normally like family dramas, but this one was a definite exception.  The acting is superb, and the storyline is engaging and entertaining to watch.  It's about how a stay-at-home mother is taken for granted by everyone in her family and how she gets her self-respect back through supposed "black magic".  Quite an interesting watch.

Related Posts: Movies Movies Movies Part 1 | Part 2

Picture of the Week #49

The famous night-market of Luang Prabang, Laos.  There are many beautiful handicrafts for sale here, but one must negotiate/bargain to get a good price.