July 2006

“I’m a PBS mind in an MTV world” – anonymous internet user


Last week was movie week. I watched two bad ones, one pretty good one, and one awesome film – “An Incovenient Truth“. One of the indie-theaters in Palo Alto was having a promotion for a free screening of this documentary. Having learnt of this scoop and not being able to resist a deal, I set off on a weeknight to watch it with some friends. This was just after having played Ultimate Frisbee for two straight hours, but I digress…

The subject matter of the film – global warming – is one very close to my heart, having read about it as a kid. So none of the topics/data were new to me, but the film did affect me on many levels. As we grow up, we tend to lose the idealism of our childhood, and I must confess to having adopted a more wasteful lifestyle (especially in the States). This was a very good reminder for me. No one is going to accuse me of political activism so its unlikely I’ll join any of the organizations active in this area; I’m sure San Fransisco has one on every block.

What I can do is to try and change my habits to be a more ecologically responsible person. It amazes me how people refuse to see the obvious. Yes, global warming is a theory (as is every scientific “fact”, which is a theory unless proven otherwise). But all the data that we have supports it, all of the freakish weather we have experienced on a global scale indicates it and ultimately, temparatures are rising. You may have your reservation about this theory, but there can only be good consequences of living a sustainable lifestyle. So we must do as much as we can, irrespective of our beliefs or lack thereof in this theory.
About the documentary, sprinkled between the charts and raw data are moments of humor and emotion. Al Gore is a pleasant surprise. As with any documentary, not every fact is cited and backed up, etc., but I’ve seen nothing to indicate anything there is not factual. Anyways, I highly recommend seeing this movie. Even if you don’t agree with the premise, it’s a matter of being informed. Listen to the “other side” as much as you listen to “your side”, and you can form educated opinions. Do not view it through politically jaundiced eyes, and you will be the happier for it.

Saw a couple of crappy movies over the last week – You, Me and Dupree and Monster House. To be fair, Monster House wasn’t that bad; it just seemed like an adult movie disguised as a kids movie. The stretches of imagination that the “plot” requires you to make are well, a stretch. A lot of cool animation (I’ve to give them that…), action and smart-alec-comments do not a movie make. The less said about Owen Wilson in a non frat-pack movie, the better…

Hence the question: why are there so many crap movies around these days?
And my answer: the older we get the more crap we have seen and the less tolerant we are of new crap. Things which I thought were pretty good a few years back now look like crap. Maybe the absolute level of crap today is the same as is was in the past.

Finally got my hands on a DVD of The Corporation from the local public library (My Tax Dollars At Work). I had heard about this movie a zillion times and wanted to check it out. This is a documentary that takes an in-depth psychological examination of the corporate organizational model through various case studies.

Usually whenever I’m watching movies/documentaries of this genre, I go in with a skeptical attitude against any potential “propaganda”. This turned out to be a fairly well balanced and dispassionate look at corporations. As it turns out, legally, a corporation is a “person” and this type of “person” typically acts like a dangerously destructive psychopath without conscience. Furthermore, we see the profound threat this psychopath has for our world and our future, but also how the people with courage, intelligence and determination can do to stop it. They also look at other ways in which corporations have permeated and affected our daily life, viz. marketing, media manipulation, branding, environmental and ecological impact.

I highly recommed watching this if you care about this world we live in, and if you want to simultaneously be amazed, angered, saddened, frustrated and hopeful.

P.S Continuing in this vein of movie-watching, the next film I need to see is An Inconvenient Truth.

Recently, I treated myself to a shiny, new road bike – the TREK 1000. I know many who would describe a bike in more choice and unflattering terms, but I’ve always liked cycling. My body (legs) aren’t suited/tuned for longer street/trail running – I can do short runs (upto 2-3 miles) but anything longer than that and my leg muscles start tightening up, which isn’t fun if you’re running. The aerobic machines (treadmill etc.) in the gym are fine but I find myself bored when using them. So I figure cycling is a good exercise, and I’ve some background from India and UCDavis (in one of the premier bike towns in the States; pity I didn’t make full use of that when I was there).

I started off with some local runs in Sunnyvale (streets and Baylands Park). Today I felt a little more confident and took off for the Portola Valley Loop (colloquially referred to as The Loop by the local yokels) in Palo Alto. This is a 17 mile loop, which I unintentionally shortened by taking a turn that turned out to be a short cut. On the positive side, I really enjoyed myself and the trail is ideal for beginner/intermediate types – rolling hills, no steep climbs, paved roads with marked bike lanes, downhill stretches. I plan to make this a regular run – next time I just need to remember to take the long cut…

P.S. I still need to adjust the bike to suit my body and my riding style – my arms start to ache a bit at the end of the run; looks like this will be a trial and error process. Stay tuned for biking updates.

Last weekend, me and my buddy decided to attempt the Half Dome hike. He is moving to San Diego soon and we thought that this would be our last chance to do this. While we had planned for this since winter, we could never haul or lazy asses to prepare for this gruelling hike (18 miles round trip with about 5500 ft elevation gain one way; you lose an estimated 2500-3000 calories, which is more than the recommended daily intake).

As it turned out it wasn’t so bad – we started late, and had to turn back 1 mile from the dome as ran out of time and water. My legs had pretty much given up but I’m sure I could have dragged myself up to the top – stamina wasn’t the issue. This was the first time I used hiking poles and camelback for water. I had always been skeptical of these, but this hike has made me a convert!

Thae above snap is when we were at Curry Village – half dead, exhausted and just waiting to attack the buffet. When you’re in that stage, any food (even buffet food) tastes yummy.

Hopefully I get a chance this summer to go all the way to the top. Its hikes like these that really reaffirm my love in hiking/camping – the sweet pain at the end of the day/next morning alone is worth it 😉

A few weeks back I had learnt that the best Pakistani/North Indian restaurant in the Bay Area – Shalimar – had opened a branch in Sunnyvale. I had been dreaming of this ever since I moved to the South Bay and couldn’t wait to check it out.

First some background on this eatery – this is the place to go if you have a hankering for authentic Pakistani-style food but don’t mind wading through some spices and heaps of oil. They have a few branches all over the Bay, and in each the service is non-existent. Yet the foodies keep coming back and the critics love it… Sample one of the reviews:

My visit’s highlight: when I asked if there were any available side veggies, I was offered a sliced raw onion. I don’t think we need to worry about these guys selling out to the masses…

In short a foodie and meat lover’s paradise – right up my alley! Finally, I got a chance to check out the place today. I was a little apprehensive since one of my work colleagues had had an upset stomach after visiting this particular branch. Hoping that I have a stronger stomach and that my visits to the city branch would have fortified it further, I decided to brave it. And I wasn’t disappointed – the food is of the same quality as their other places. The only disadvantage that I can see is that they don’t allow BYOB (as of yet), while they do in the city. Oh well…

FYI, the competitors to Shalimar are Pakwaan, Naan-N-Curry, Mehraan. All offer excellent fare, but there are subtle differences in their menu and recipes, which makes it worth a periodic visit to each.

Next Page »