06 December 2008

Our guides in China - Oct 2008

4 cities, 4 different guides...all deserve a small write up before I actually write anything else on my trip to China.
At the Shanghai airport we were greeted by our very, very cute and stylish guide, Chi. Someone liked her dress, someone her hairstyle and someone else her bag...she personified the saying that Shanghai is the Paris of the Orient.
In the Chinese language it seems that for every alphabet there are 4 or 5 tones. And when she spoke she emphasized on the different tones with fulltoosh facial expressions and hand gestures… sometimes it seemed we were attending some theatre!
She taught us the Chinese numbers using the hand .And the way she taught us, I don’t think I will ever forget. I wish I had recorded it… her hands gestures were soooo illustrative. E.g. 6 is the thumb and index finger pointing like a gun. So Chi says – "six...like a gangster shoot" and her index finger goes to her forehead and she tilts her head as if she is dead...toooo cute.
She spoke non stop giving us an insight into many aspects of Shanghai, whether it was the property prices or generally what the building was or notes on the famous Shanghai husbands. That she loved Shanghai was evident in the way she spoke of the city.
She really wanted us to love the city too and so was willing to take us around late into the night...whether it was to Shin Ten Tee (don’t know if that’s the correct spelling, but that’s the pronunciation as taught by Chi and her hand gestures indicating which word is in high tone and which in neutral tone etc) or a walk along the Bund or the duplicates market.
Often she would discuss her personal life. Guess that came from the loneliness of no siblings as a result of the one child policy in China, and the fact that she lost her mother when she was very young. As she said, ‘I have no one to share my happiness or sorrows with’ one really felt sad.
One of the other things that I liked about her was the fact that unlike the rest of the guides, who used their American names, she had given up her American name and asked us to use her Chinese name, which she simplified for us - Proud to be Chinese.

From Shanghai we went to Guilin. Kathy was the stark opposite of Chi - short with what as kids we called a boy cut, in jeans and keds, she looked like a little boy- absolutely devoid of style. But what she lacked in style she more than made up for in her excellent skills as a guide. Her time management skills were awesome.
In the morning on our way to the cruise, at one place the road had suddenly been made one way by the traffic police. She tried to get the traffic guy to let us through but he wouldn’t agree. Then she’s asking the driver to speed up as we may get late and when he wouldn’t listen to her, you should have seen her. She started stamping her feet and like the Maglev train she took off in high speed Chinese scolding him...toooooo cute. She was really hassled for the next 15 minutes as she was worried that we may miss the cruise, which I would interpret as sincerity towards her job. It wasn’t her fault if we missed the cruise and these things happen on holidays, but only after she was sure that all was OK did she turn to us and start telling us more about Guilin.
In Guilin apart from the Li river cruise, there were 3 other activities that we could do after the cruise from 3 PM onwards – visit to the Pearl Factory, Chinese Foot Massage and a show in the evening. There were various combinations with Uma taking the cake as she wanted to do all three. And Kathy actually managed to organize that. She left one group someplace, and then took the next group someplace else and then returned to the 1st...Absolutely Amazing.

I guess all good things must come to an end... the next guide in Xian, Mary was one helluva a jerk and weirdo. She was supposed to be an MA in English but her pronunciation was tooooooooooooooooooo funny. The way she put the emphasis and stress on words was sure to give everyone a headache especially the way she said Tang and Dynasty.
She came across as one of those extra chaloo ones...whereas Chi and Kathy were flexible and were open to show/do things outside the itinerary, when we asked this one anything she would feign ignorance or pretend that she couldn’t understand the language.
Her communication regarding our onward journey and luggage arrangements were not correct which irritated many of us, so we decided that we wouldn’t tip her. But imagine her guts...she asked Sumitra for the tip!!!

And finally in Beijing we were to get a male guide Mark. But all our hopes of a good looking hunk were dashed.
Soon we were calling him – ‘on your MARK, get set go’, because he would get off the bus and not even wait for all the tour members to get off and start charging...don’t know what hurry he was in. Since he was at the receiving end of all our irritation because of the luggage confusion caused by Mary, I guess he just wanted the trip to end and pack us off. In fact he left us at the airport 4 hrs in advance. Crazy fellow and as Vidya aptly put it – ‘If I see him again, I’ll smack him’

26 September 2008

Calvin Time Again!

I'm off on a loooooooong holiday to India...heading home for a simpler life...
Hope I dont meet a Hobbes on the way to dampen my spirits

25 September 2008

Jungfrau and Interlaken, Switzerland – Aug 2008

The next day of our trip started with a visit to the spectacular Mt. Jungfrau (at 3,454m above sea level) or should I say a visit to heaven…
Jungfrau - Top Of Europe
We drove till the town of Lauterbrunnen from where we were to take the cogwheel train to the peak. The Cog wheel train
Jungfrau was once very difficult to access, but now the Jungfraubahn cog railway runs inside the mountain, up to the Jungfraujoch railway station – this is the highest altitude railway station in Europe.
A village...The train journey from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfrau was just toooooo beautiful. It has some of the most awesome views of snow-covered mountains that you can imagine. Every glimpse of the mountain range had us gasping…and clicking away with our cameras…only about a 100 snaps from yours truly!!!
Eigerwand - We are higher than the cloudsThe train runs close behind the Eiger's north face. The train stops twice on the way for 5 mins to allow the people to go out and enjoy the view from the viewpoints. The first stop was at Eigerwand at 9400 ft. The windows here are halfway up the face of Eiger and have been placed in holes used to remove excavated rock from the tunnel during construction. This window was used for one of the scenes of the Clint Eastwood movie - The Eiger Sanction.
View at Eismeer -Sea of IceAt the second stop there is a window looking out on the Eismeer…described as the Sea of Ice…and it is like that…
Once at the top, we made our way to the Sphinx. Why it is called that…I don’t know coz it doesn’t look like a sphinx from any angle…but it does have some of the most spectacular views of the Aletsch Glacier. There is a vantage point and that’s where we spent a lot of time just soaking in the beauty of the place – chaste, pure and untouched.
I just felt this need to get one shot from each angle…no matter how many snaps I clicked…it just didn’t seem enough.

As we looked down, we saw these people walking across…its called ice/glacier walking. Ice Walking on the Aletsch Glacier For one minute I too wanted to be there, but we weren’t equipped with the right shoes etc…and damn the TV. I’m no TV freak but invariably when I do watch TV once in several months I end up watching some adventure/accident on some mountains and I still remember the dialogue from one such episode…"Hell is not hot, it’s cold". And all I could think was what if one of them falls into one of the crevices!!!
Having said that, I still think I want to revisit Jungfrau and try some ice walking!!!
From there we went to visit the Ice Palacethis is 30m under the surface of the glacier and is totally ice and has marvelous life-size ice sculptures. The walk down the tunnel was super slippery and we had to struggle to be on our feet. The sculptures were of course were brilliant – igloos, seals, eagles, kissing seals, bears and what not. There was one, which was a gloved hand that was nicely lighted with blue light…it just stood out.
The Ice Gateway links the Ice Palace with the glacier plateau. It was eternal…like walking in heaven. There was this lady who had got her poodle with her to the plateau and he looked so cute…
Out for a walk on the Jungfrau Plateau
After spending some time there we started on our way back…to earth and Interlaken to be precise. Interlaken is in the heart of the Swiss alps, situated between the Lakes of Thun and Brienz and at the foot the famous trio of peaks, the Eiger, the Mönch and the Jungfrau. Its just one of those scenic towns that one can walk around for hours in…just enjoying the scenery…

15 September 2008

Titlis Glacier Park Snaps

I was tooooo busy on the rides to click any snaps...just received these from someone...had to post them!

12 September 2008

Mt Titlis and Luzern - Switzerland – Aug 2008

As we reached our hotel in Engelberg, Switzerland we were told…in a very posh tone…it’s a Swiss chalet! View from balconyIt was a very cute place, the rooms had balconies with a wonderful view of the Alps - pic on right is the view from my balcony... but nothing out of the ordinary or exclusive. I was wondering if I was missing something so looked up the definition - A wooden dwelling with a sloping roof and widely overhanging eaves, common in Switzerland and other Alpine regions…Am I still missing something here? Isn't that what all houses in snow covered mountains are like?
Anyways, it was a very nice, cosy and comfortable hotel with beautiful views...

The morning plans were a visit to the picture perfect glacier – Mt Titlis. At 10,000 feet, it offers a snow and ice experience on the one of the highest viewpoints in Switzerland.
We decide to walk from the hotel to the Titlis Rotair Station. We had an option to take the coach, but Switzerland is a walker’s paradise…and a photographer’s dream…
My friends always cribbed that I do not take enough snaps on my holidays…but this time even I just freaked out…click, click and click… 500+ snaps for the entire trip (Heidelberg, Switzerland and Paris)

The journey from Engelberg to Mt Titlis is broken into 3 parts…A lake captured with a reflection of the mountain range
The first bit Engelberg to Trübsee is a 20 minutes cable car ride in Gondolas for 6 people each. There is just one word for the view – breathtaking. The famous cowbells ringing in the pastures below accompanied all this.
The next bit is a 5 mins zip up from Trübsee to the Stand from where you get on the final lag…the famous and first revolving cable car of the worldRotair. A unique experience that should not be missed …the majestic panorama of Mt. Titlis region as you stand in the cable car, the floor of which rotates once around its own axis.
As I reached the summit, I thought do such places really exist? It was AWESOME.
Do such places really exist
We then took the Ice Flyer - labelled as a Thriller experience. It was one of those open chair lifts and the view of the glacier crevasses is spectacular.. This chair took us to the Titlis Glacier Park… fun-packed rides on balancers, scooters and sledges on the snow runs are amazing. Luckily the ascent was easy and effortless with the Magic Carpet moving walkways, so we could try several of the rides. I first tried the individual scooter and a balancer… just zipped down the slope, with specks of the snow flying onto my face, I just wanted the moment to last forever…We then joined 4 of the sledges and zipped down…ohhh it was fun. I think that I enjoyed the rides the most and this was my favourite part of the holiday.
From there we went to do a touristy thing….getting dressed in traditional Swiss attire for a photo shoot…the dresses, hats, accessories really were excellent…

From there we went to Luzerne …more of a shopping trip… but there was a bit of sightseeing too.
First to the Lion Monument - Lion MonumentThe Swiss have a long tradition of supplying mercenaries to foreign governments since they have always been politically neutral.
The Swiss Guards' honor was put to the test in 1792, when--after trying to escape the French Revolution--King Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, and their children were hauled back to the Tuileries Palace in Paris. A mob of working-class Parisians stormed the palace in search of aristocratic blood. More than 700 Swiss officers and soldiers died while defending the palace, without knowing that their royal employers--like Elvis--had left the building.
So the Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen was hired to sculpt a monument to the fallen Swiss Guards. The sculpture was carved in a sandstone cliff above the city center. It was beautiful…the pain on the lion’s face has been sculpted so well.
Next attraction – the famous 14th century wooden Chapel Bridge over the Reuss River. Whether it was the flowers on the side or the paintings on the inside of the bridge, it was beautiful…

A tiring, but wonderful day …I thought as we headed towards our CHALET!

08 September 2008

Black Forest, Drubba Cuckoo Clocks and Rhine Falls, Germany - August 2008

A Picnic Lunch in the Black Forest... so called because the pines and firs are so dense that at any time the ground looks black. In winters there is heavy snowfall and the tree tops are white capped. That is where the Black forest pastery/cake gets it’s name from too!!!
Because winters are very harsh, woodcarving developed as an alternative profession for the farmers when they were locked up inside their houses.
Post Lunch we went to the Drubba Cuckoo Clock Factory. The shop itself is in the form of a cuckoo clock and at every hour the window at the top opens and a cuckoo bird comes out and cuckoos. This is followed by music and the figures just below the window dancing…very, very cute.

We had a demo at the factory and as the person described some of the clocks we just couldn’t help smiling at the ingenuity of some of the designs.

This one above has the most intricate woodcarving and among the most expensive ones.

In this one the concept is a man at work and his wife standing behind him with a rolling pin to make sure he is working. When the clock strikes an hour, she hits him with the rolling pin :-)
There was a selection of Romantic Cuckoo Clocks. In one at the hour, the man and woman sitting on the bench come closer and kiss…

In another one there is a ladder and the man climbs up the ladder and kisses his ladylove who is standing at the window!!
And so many more…can’t describe them all here…but each was better than the other and it was do difficult to decide which one was THE best.

After some impulsive shopping, we went to the Rhine Falls. These are actually on the border with Switzerland. The first view as we descended the steps was awesome. There was also a boat that took you to this rock in the middle of the falls. Climbing up was easy, but once at the top if you look down it is SCARY!!! Very steep and I was so scared while coming down!


And the best was this bit…vada pavs, idlis here too!!!

04 September 2008

Heidelberg, Germany - Aug 2008

Guess standing in queue from 9:30 AM to 2:PM for the Schengan Visa was worth it...since I did have the most wonderful time on my recent holiday.
With a brief stop at Dover to see the famous White Cliffs, we took the ferry to cross the channel over to Calais, France.

On the ferry, we had this one seagull that kept following us…and I was reminded of the Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I tried throwing small pieces of Pooran Poli at it and you should have seen it flying backwards to catch it. Then an Italian guy started feeding the gull from his hand! My friends tried that and each time the gull would swoop close, grab the food and be gone! Amazing sight. I was too scared but finally I gathered some courage... I took a biggish piece of the Pooran Poli and held it out…everyone was like…he’s not going to be able to eat that! But he took it from my hand and then went to the side of the ferry and dropped it there and started eating it bit by bit...whoever said that gulls are stupid is stupid!

After an overnight stay at Ludwigsburg, we started early next morning towards Heidelberg on the river Neckar. We had a walking tour of the old part of the town – Altstadt (Old Town in German). It was beautiful with its cobbles, church bells and gorgeous architecture.
The first stop was the Old Bridge. At the gate of the bridge is a bronze sculpture of the Bridge Monkey holding a mirror in his left hand and with a sly smile on his face. The plaque next to the statue reads:
"Why are you looking at me? Haven't you seen the monkey in Heidelberg? Look around and you will probably see, more monkeys like me."
Crazy German humour? Not really …it means that Heidelberg is a city with visitors from all over the world, of different cultures, religions and nationalities. So don't stare – coz for somebody out there you're an exotic monkey, too! The touristy-thing to do is to stick your head inside the monkey's mask and take a picture, which of course we did!

The bridge itself originally was wooden. But now it’s made of red sandstone as the former wooden constructions were frequently destroyed because of high waters. It has 9 elegant arches and as you walk across the bridge there are sculptures on the left side representing the four icons of the most important rivers in this area: "Rhein", "Neckar", "Mosel" and "Donau", as well as the builder-owner Carl Theodor. On the south end of the bridge was a huge doorway, built in the 15th century.

From the bridge itself you get the first glimpse of the Heidelberg castle. It has a museum inside it, many parts of which were closed for restoration so we decided to give a miss going up to see it.

The next stop was the beautiful statue of the Madonna at the Grain Market ("Kornmarkt") square. Restaurants and cafes surround the square. In the middle of the square is a beautiful statue of the Madonna. It demonstrates three typical characteristics of this period: Mary is shown as the Queen of Heaven, as a virgin and as a victor.
Heidelberg is most visited for its University. Heidelberg University is ranked No 1 in Germany and has students from all over the world.

Other stops included the The Heilig Geist Church and The Hotel Ritter – one of the oldest hotels in the world. The brownish building in the pic below is the Hotel Ritter.

Heidelberg has a certain romanticism about it and was patronized by many poets.
One of the most well-known "odes" to Heidelberg is the song "I've lost my heart in Heidelberg". Its English translation is as follows –

"I lost my heart in Heidelberg on a balmy summer night.
In love head over heels, oh were she all mine
And like a rose, her laughing mouth my light as by the gates she said: good-bye.
That last sweet kiss, it did confirm once more,
I'd lost my heart in Heidelberg forever, my heart still beats on Neckar's shore.

Whatever happended to you, since you and I did part.
Oh Heidelberg of legend, you German paradise?
I went away and left you, Left wine & happy days.
I long to be, I long to be, back in your arms always"

21 August 2008

Red Bull Air Race - London 2008

Red Bull Air Race - the name said it all…high energy and excitement…and I was not disappointed! It was awesome!
Red Bull Air Race is an international series of air races held in different cities. The pilots have to navigate a challenging obstacle course made up of a series of huge inflatable cones called ‘air gates’ in the fastest possible time.
Pilots must not only be fast but deftly accurate as hitting these air gates, missing an air gate or flying through at an incorrect angle incurs various time penalties. Quite death defying!
Pilots fly individually against the clock. There are 2 types of penalties – the 3 sec and the 10 sec one, which basically means that either 3 secs or 10 secs will get added to their clocked time.
Apart from that if they do what qualifies as dangerous flying – flying too low or crossing the crowd line they get disqualified.
If the plane hits an air gate, it is designed to break apart. Course personnel nicknamed "Air Gators" replace the damaged parts of the air gate. They were quite impressive. They took barely a few minutes to bring up a fallen air gate.
The races are held mainly over water near cities, but also at airfields or natural wonders.
And this year in London, River Thames against the backdrop of the 02 arena was the base for the race. Seating was arranged on both sides of the riverside. The air gates were floating on the river.
The day started with some other side activities before the qualifying races. There was the skydiving where a few guys jumped from the helicopter leaving behind them a trail of orange. That was good but what followed just took my breath away. The Helicopter Spinning or back flipping was mind blowing. A helicopter is a much heavier aircraft than the usual aircrafts used to do acrobatics and when it spun around in the air it left us all gasping with admiration. It's one thing to see a fixed wing aircraft do manoeuvres like that but it's totally different to see it being done in a helicopter. Then there was the Helicopter rescue sequence, which was also quite good.
And finally the excitement of the actual races as the pilots zoomed about. It wasn’t long before we had our favourites and mine was Péter Besenyei, the Hungarian.
All in all I had a great time!

20 August 2008

Independence Day Celebrations @ London Office

The dress code was Ethnic. However, only 5 of us went in ethnic clothes. Of these 2 were British women – bless them!!! Dawn wasn’t in Indian clothes but she was very sporting and innovative – she wore the colours of the Indian Flag. What hurt me was the lack of enthusiasm among my Indian colleagues. These days I think they only want free food and free beer!

14 August 2008

The blues is like looking down on planet earth when you're stuck in outer space
~ Sulman Rushdie

13 August 2008

Wicked, the musical

I love musicals and everything about them - the songs, the costumes and the dancing. And after watching Wicked, I love them even more. Wicked was absolutely adorable.

It is the untold story of the unlikely friendship between the future witches of Oz - Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. It’s like a prequel to the 'Wizard of Oz’.

It starts with a tin dragon made at the top front of the stage roaring, followed by some colourful paper bunting ...since we had top seats ...only 6th from the stage ...lots of it fell on us…initial shock then glee!

In the opening scene the citizens of Oz celebrate the death of the Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda looks absolutely ravishing in a silvery white gown with tiara, wand and the works, as she descends in her bubble to confirm the circumstances of the Witch's melting with a wonderful rendition of 'No One Mourns the Wicked'.
In this song itself, someone asks her about her friendship with Elphaba and the scene moves into a flashback – how Elphaba’s mom has an affair with a man who offers her a drink from a green bottle. And a hilarious scene as she pops a Green Baby!!!

Elphaba has a very unhappy childhood, as she faces ridicule and discrimination because of her skin colour. Her father also seems to blame her for fact that her younger sister Nessarose is born a cripple.
One feels really bad for Elphaba as father gifts Ness a pair of beautiful silver shoes, while reminding her that she is being sent to Shiz university only so that she can take care of her wheelchair born sister.

As Glinda and other students sing 'Dear Old Shiz', they come across and shy away from Elphaba and one ends up sympathising with her. At this point I wondered, was the wicked witch really wicked at all and if the Good Witch was really good?

Madame Morrible, the sinister headmistress insists on taking care of Ness herself as she says it was a special request from their father, the governor. Despite Elphaba’s resistance she accidentally makes her roommates with the spoiled and popular Glinda.
In her anger Elphaba accidentally reveals an innate magical talent, which impresses Madame Morrible. She decides to tutor Elphaba personally and also tells Elphaba that this would be helpful to the Wizard. Here for the first time we see a happy Elphaba and her soaring rendition of 'The Wizard and I' deserves a standing ovation.

Glinda seems to be jealous at this point as she too wants be tutored by Morrible who just seems to ignore her. So Glinda immediate takes a dislike to Elphaba. Elphaba also dislikes Glinda, and seem to be quite unhappy that they have to share a room. At this point they sing 'What is This Feeling?’ which was quite humorous especially as they try to describe each other. Glinda calls Elphaba "unusually and exceedingly peculiar" while Elphaba just sums her new friend up as "a…eh…blonde!!!"

Certain circumstances and we see a friendship blossoming between the two. Glinda then decides to help her friend get a makeover to make her popular and the way she teaches her to ‘ TOSS TOSS’ her hair is toooo blondish and funny.

Elphaba seems to fall in love in Fiyero...but thinks it would be impossible for someone like Fiyero to love someone like her – and one can't stop the tears welling up in one’s eye as she sings 'I'm Not That Girl'.

Other songs that I loved were The Wizard’s 'Sentimental Man' and Elphaba’s ‘Defying Gravity’ – where she enchants a broomstick to fly and flies off, promising to fight the Wizard with all her power.

In Wizard of Oz there are some assumptions - what is the story of the Tin Man and why he doesn’t have a heart, why the lion is a scary poor, what’s the story behind the Scarecrow. 'Wicked' provides answers to these.

Wicked was pure fantasy entertainment…loveable to the core.

11 August 2008

Wordle again!

While last time I came up with the list of words myself, this time I decided use the
other option of providing the blog address and let WORDLE create something based on that.

08 August 2008

Google!

The Google logos always impress me...but this is one of the best I have seen!

04 August 2008

A lot of 8's

That's an appointment with my GP-

01 August 2008

For years there has been a theory that millions of monkeys typing at random on millions of typewriters would reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare.
The Internet has proven this theory to be untrue.
~ Anonymous

31 July 2008

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Its now become on of my favourite books...thanks Param for recommending this book and even sending me a soft copy. I now intend to buy this book for my collection…

It’s the most beautiful book I have read in a long, long time and touched me deeply…I could relate to the book as I often say...I don’t want to grow up.

The style of the book is wonderful...like a fable, very simple and at first glance looks like a storybook for children. Its less than 100 pages but it has so much depth in it. It is so philosophical but at the same time requires the innocence and faith of a child.

And the book has pictures!!! Interspersed with the text are more than forty childlike watercolour pen-and-ink pictures.

The book seems to be author's yearning for a freer and more sincere and introspective world.

It seems a bit autobiographical…the author begins with an anecdote from his childhood where he makes a drawing, which no adult is able to understand. In fact he is told by sensible (!!) adults to put down his paints and coloured pencils and concentrate on "matters of consequence" – thereby ending "what might have been a magnificent career as a painter."

The book then skips to several years later when the author has himself become a sensible adult(as he says) and as he describes his interactions with other adults I was thinking…so damn true…

One day he meets the Little Prince in the middle of the desert. The Little Prince lived happily alone on his small planet until the wind planted for him a new seed, from which sprang the loveliest flower he had ever seen. He lavished his love and attention upon the flower, which in turn tormented him with her vanity and her pride (so much like the control that adults typically want to exercise over people they love), ultimately driving him to abandon his home and venture forth into the galaxy in search of the secret of what is really important in life. He visits several planets and their owners till he reaches Earth where he finally learns this secret from a fox - the secret of unconditional love, which makes all things unique, and how the pain of saying goodbye is worth it if it changes how we look at the world.
This book is a MUST READ….
I finish with a beautiful quote from this book
"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

Calvin Gyan - one of my favourites


Like Calvin says - The key is PERSISTENCE!

30 July 2008

Wordle...

Playing with words...



Try it at http://www.wordle.net

Les Miserables, the musical

Based on the Victor Hugos novel, it has a very moving storyline... a love story set in the plot of the French Revolution with just the right combination of humour, pathos, love and loyalty.
The main storyline revolves around the conflict between two men - Jean Valjean, at heart, a good man, but a small crime and he is labelled a criminal for life, and Javert, a police officer who has unbending principles of justice and is hell bent on capturing his convict no 24601.

Their lives and those befriended and loved by Jean Valjean become inextricably entwined - the wretched Fantine, whose illegitimate daughter, Cosette, is cared for by the thieving, lying Thenardiers whose own daughter, Eponine, is destined to fall in love with idealistic student, Marius, who, in turn, is captivated by Cosette.

All this has been fantastically moulded together with breathtaking songs and a very imaginative and clever revolving stage... the barricade filling the stage, finally turning a full 360 degrees to reveal the terrible and shocking aftermath of the confrontation was amazing.
At this point, when the fighting has just stopped and all the men lie dead on the barricades there is a long silence – very effective and literally sends chills up your spine.
The Thenardiers were marvellously humorous and at the same time were genuinely dislikeable ...they played their roles so well.

This is the ONLY musical I have seen in which there is no simple dialogue...everything has to be sung!!!

The play begins with a work song – 'Look down' followed by 'On Parole', both of which highlight the plight of the people called the les Miserables in France at that time.
The actor playing Jean Valjean had the most amazing voice...so apt for the role. His delivery was excellent leaving one totally impressed. His rendition of 'Come to me' at the time of Fantine's death and 'Bring Him Home' were really beautiful...

Generally the singing was breathtaking …whether it was the patriotic fervour of 'Do You Hear the People Sing?' Or Fantine’s 'I Dreamed A Dream' or the Little Cosette’s 'Castle on a Cloud' or the humorous 'Master of the House' by Thenardier and Madame Thenardier...

17 July 2008

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.
~ Arnold Lobel

11 July 2008

Robin Hood Events

For team building Logica organized an archery day out for the AON onsite team members...
A first look at the website for Robin Hood Events and I was totally excited and fully charged up for the day out.
It sounded like great fun...we don't shoot real animals or people - more the pity, because we could all think of a few candidates we would like to shoot!!!
Started in a coach from London at 7:30 AM, chocolates to munch on the way, general banter and chatting and before we realized we were in Canterbury by 9:30 AM.
This is a ’after a simple but yummy breakfast just before the event’ snap...

3 women – so we were divided into 3 teams...The Clueless led by Pam Lewis, The Little Johns led by Dawn Eyles and The Punters led by yours truly...

Equipped with our bows, quiver with 5 arrows each, protected with our finger tabs and arm bracers we started with 3 quick practice rounds on a normal target...one of the shots in the 1st session was a bulls eye...wish I had been able to shoot like that the whole day!!!

Competitive rounds of shooting different animals from huge bears to tiny owls followed this.

And not all targets were stationary…we had birds hanging with string and it being a windy day they were moving!!!
That’s our moving target

And then there was a speed round…15 secs to shoot the 5 arrows that we had. While in the other rounds we were shooting randomly (each one was identified by a unique combination of the cock and hen feathers on our arrows) and in the end checking the targets…for this round we were shooting as a team.
This is my team in the speed round

The negative marking round not to be missed – a wolf and a coyote in the middle of several sheep. If you hit a sheep...lose points.
This is a picture with the hits on the wolf and coyote…at the back you can see the hits on the white sheep…

A hit or a kill – many animals had an area marked out…you hit in that…it is a kill. Anywhere else it is just a hit.
That’s a kill!

Volleys- pictures of people we would like to shoot had been provided to the organisers in advance. These were pinned to some of the animals and you had a volley if you managed to shoot them.
And this is a volley…its also Murali who managed to get into all the snaps irrespective of whether he managed to hit the target or not!!!

Finally a knockout round to decide the Archer of the day…that’s all of us competing for the title that was eventually a close contest between Luke and Simon.

The final scores
  • Clueless - 202
  • Little Johns - 184
  • The Punters - 183
  • 09 July 2008

    ...Eventually all the pieces will fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and just know that everything happens for a reason...

    27 June 2008

    The Lion King

    Finally...after several attempts managed to get tickets to see The Lion King last weekend. The couple of times I tried earlier, it was always sold out. Which is not in the least bit surprising...considering the show is brilliant...it has a magical escapism about it...

    The show begins with a procession of animals that make their way down the aisle to powerfully rhythmic African-style singing. It's a wonderful spectacle with a giant elephant, baby elephant, giraffes, zebras, antelopes and many more animals brought to life by some stunning costumes, masks, puppetry and special effects.
    I found myself smiling with glee just like the kids sitting next to me...

    It was all so imaginative...especially they way they tried to depict a herd of antelopes and flocks of birds. For antelopes several actors had a headgear in the form of the antelope plus they had wooden antelopes in their hands and so each person depicted 3 antelopes...when 3 such actors galloped across the stage the effect was magnificent...
    The life-size giraffes - stilted cast members - were quite convincing too. Infact the puppetry around all the animals was amazing...The hyenas actually came across as meanies...

    The stage was quite simple ...but came alive with the special affects ...the sun, trees, plants made on curtains which fell down at appropriate times...
    The way the mountain was done was brilliant too...steps that would roll and come up on the stage when needed and the floor would open and it would rotate and go under the stage when not needed...quite good technically.
    At one point when Rafiki gives Simba the courage to go back to the pride lands, in the backdrop of "He Lives in You" Mufasa's face appears behind a waterfall...abso stunning...

    Simba's high energy "I Just can’t wait to be King" and Mufasa's "They Live In You" were both brilliant. 'Circle Of Life' was good too though "Hakuna Matata" & "Can you feel the love tonight" I felt could have been better...

    The farting warthog Pumbaa and the rubbery meerkat Timon are puppetry at its best...also the bird Zazu character was also brilliant...they way the actor moved the bird's body and the mimicry was hilarious...

    The masks were incredible...more so because they were capable of movement...so as the actors would stretch, the masks would move and it would look just like the head of a lion when a real lion stretches...

    Like it says on the posters..."This is a dazzling show with the heart of a lion."

    24 June 2008

    Sometimes...

    Sometime you gotta runaway
    So you can see who will run after you,
    Sometimes you gotta talk quieter
    Just to see who's listening,
    Sometimes you gotta step up in a fight
    Just to see who's by your side,
    Sometimes you gotta make a wrong decision
    To see who's there to fix it,
    Sometimes you gotta let go off the one you love
    Just to see if they love you enough to come back.

    23 June 2008

    Marriage???

    For someone contemplating marriage...this can change the entire perspective...

    20 June 2008

    Lies

    What do you do if you find out that someone you really trust, more than anyone else ever before, has lied to you about something? Should you confront them? Ignore the lie? Or ignore them?
    Did they realise that you would be devastated when you found out? And if they did and still lied...does it mean they don’t care?
    It could be a small lie...but small lies only turn into big ones. How will I know what to believe and what not to? Am I supposed to be forgiving?
    It just seems ridiculous to me to lie, especially when I know that eventually the truth will come out.

    Money Making Scheme

    If I had a 1£ / Rs 100 for every time a married person asked me (first thing, before asking anything else) how come I am STILL not married (emphasis on still) ...I'd be a rich woman!!!

    19 June 2008

    Loo of the year!!!

    It’s not like what it seems…I am NOT obsessed with toilets!!!
    I know…the earlier post on the revolutionary toilet seat and now this picture makes one wonder but...a 'Loo of the year' award could not be left ignored :-))

    18 June 2008

    Feelings Poem...

    Have you ever read a poem that made you laugh…and then if you gave it some thought you realised that had your situation been different, its one that could really make you cry?

    There must be a wound!
    No one can be this hurt
    and not bleed.

    How could she injure me so?
    No marks
    No bruise

    Worse!
    People say 'My, you're looking well'
    …..God help me!
    She's mummified me -
    ALIVE!

    ~ Spike Milligan

    17 June 2008

    In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
    ~ Albert Camus

    My new coffee mug!



    Beautiful...is'nt it??