Category Archives: Places

Cinema Paradiso

I think I was really foolish not to check this place out until now. The place is called “Cinema Paradiso” located near the popular shopping mall called Hyderabad Central. Aptly named, the place is a very respectable DVD rental shop. The selection is not bad at all and covers not only the popular Hollywood and Indian movies but also quite a good selection of international movies. There is quite a good selection from the Criterion Collection series as well. While European cinema, both classics and contemporary, are well covered, Asian movies are not that well represented. But well, one cannot have everything unless we bring in something as massive as Netflix.

I am now a member of “Cinema Paradiso” and I am salivating just simply by looking at their collection of Satyajit Ray’s works. Plus they have some Fellinis, Bressons, Truffauts, Bergmans, Bunuels, Kiarostamis, Tarkovskies etc. that I wanted to watch.

It is disheartening to always find that Asian movies are so under-represented everywhere. Great Asian movies exist but not enough people are promoting them except for a few passionate people such as those people at the Subway Cinema. This is one feeling that I got after going to the shop but I have always had this feeling after I read some “100 Greatest Movies of All Time” lists that appear everywhere on the web, some of which are from respectable institutions such as the Sight & Sound magazine.

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Some Photos

As mentioned in my earlier post, we were visiting Kerala over the last weekend and visited Munnar and the Backwaters at Alleppey. Here are some photos.

The Backwaters:

Munnar:

All the above photos were taken by my wife.

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Filed under India, Places, Travel

Kerala and more Indian Movies

This is my fifth month in India and I have been travelling a bit in these few months, both for business and pleasure. Besides Hyderabad which is where I am staying, I’ve seen Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Agra, Jaipur and just a few days ago, Cochin, Allappuzha (Alleppey) and Munnar in Kerala. Of all these places, I like Kerala the most. Its quiet charm and its Backwaters is a most apt counter to the growth frenzy that is happening in most cities in India. I was supposed to go to Darjeeling but on the advice by the tour agent that it is raining a lot there, we decided to go to Kerala instead. The backwaters is really an experience that is worth every rupee that I have spent and more. India in my mind has now changed and there is still so much to India to experience and explore.

On the movies side, since I cannot take it anymore to wait for the DVD release, I went and watch Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna in the cinema knowing well that it is without subtitles. The great thing about Bollywood movies is that you do not really need to know Hindi to understand the movie due mainly to the explicit acting and storyline but also to the frequent use of English. So it was no trouble at all to watch the movie and I enjoyed it very much. It is a much more matured work compared to Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and definitely more so compared to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the director Karan Johar’s previous two movies.

But my greatest recent find after “Lagaan” is a movie called “Matrubhoomi” (A Nation Without Women). My introduction (in a serious way) to Indian movies is through Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy (besides those old Tamil movies that my grandmother loved and which I used to sit near her to watch on Saturday afternoons). Now with the growing popularity of the Bollywood movies, Indian movies seem to have been stereotyped by them. Whenever we talk about Indian movies internationally, the association to Bollywood movies, and therefore long running time and dance and music numbers, is rather automatic. Although my knowledge of Indian movies is like a drop of water in the ocean, I feel that this association is not doing some really good Indian movies that do not fit into the Bollywood model justice. Gone are the Satyajit Ray’s time. Blech! You cannot even find his movies in the store. I was looking high and low for some of his movies and I managed to find some in the old city but those are bad VCD copies with no subtitles.

I remember mentioning about “Chokher Bali” in my earlier post. I do find it a good movie and a rather decent adaptation of Tagore’s original novel. I found and have watched recently another work by the same director called “Raincoat”. It, like in “Choker Bali”, does not fit into the Bollywood model but is a superb, superb movie to watch. A simple story but extremely well made. This same goes to the movie I mentioned above, “Matrubhoomi”. It is a very profound movie and again not in the usual Bollywood model. I wonder how many of these great movies from India that I have missed! The thought that I have been missing these movies is killing me!!

I hope I will have enough time to dig deeper into all these and find more gems. Any help will be greatly appreciated :)

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Lord Ganesha

It is incredible to see the worship of Lord Ganesha everywhere (I just returned from Mumbai and it is all the same, in fact, it was more so happening in Mumbai with many road processions) and this festival will culminate with the immersion of the Lord Ganesha statue on the 6th of September. By right, this festival is for 10 days which should end on Tuesday, 5th September but Tuesdays and Saturdays are considered “bad” days for the Hindus, so the immersion will happen on the next day.

In the spirit of the Ganesha Festival, my tribute to Lord Ganesha on my blog with this picture.

May Lord Ganesha Be With You

The Symbolism of Lord Ganesha

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Paris London

Some photos from the trip:

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Tu A Lang and Hot Hot Days

Without fail, every year during the Chinese New Year, the weather is extremely hot. I was back in Ipoh for the Chinese New Year celebrations for a week and had eaten so much, I can hardly walk now. Besides the superb home cooked food by all the aunties and my mom, we had gotten away from Ipoh itself to savour delicious super duper food in Tanjung Tualang (famous for it’s absolutely tasty fresh water prawns), Taiping (super duper mee soup) and Penang (super duper for everything).

“Tanjung Tualang, Perak is a town well known for its fresh water prawns and its seafood offerings. Order sweet and sour crab, teochew steamed cat fish, oyster omelettes, some fried rice and the most irresistible steamed fresh water prawns this side of town! The best of course, is the steamed fresh water prawns that are locally bred in the Tanjung Tualang area. The prawn is steamed and egg white added to the sauce to give it a creamy taste. The flesh tastes very sweet and the prawn has ‘kou’ (Cantonese) at the head of the prawn. ‘Kou’ is that yellowish and greenish stuff on the head of the prawn. Taste a little bitter but good.” source .

The price is very reasonable as well. For 10 of us, it only cost us merely RM290 (about USD77), for a plate of extra large steamed fresh water prawns, a plate of medium sized prawns fried in soysauce, a generous plate of soft shell crab and a few other dishes. Perhaps the good deal was due to the fact that my brother-in-law’s girlfriend’s uncle owned that place.

Most people know Ipoh for it’s white coffee, it’s “Sar Hor Fun” noodle, it’s Beansprout Chicken but I would also like to strongly recommend the fresh prawn dishes in Tanjung Tualang. It is only about 45 minutes away from Ipoh City. Map.


Some of the dishes that have arrived. Steamed big prawns, soft shell crabs and frog legs (we call them “field chicken” in Chinese).

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Selesa Haruki

A few months ago, my wife’s friends decided to go on a gathering trip to Melaka. I have posted the “adventure” on this blog before. On the last day of the trip, someone very smartly suggested that each couple pays a deposit of RM100 for the next trip to Fraser’s Hill. The logic is that with the deposit money paid, everyone will make it a point to come to these gatherings, and thus renewing the ties of friendship once in a while.

We did not make it to the Fraser’s Hill but setttled with the Selesa Hillhomes instead. It’s quite a nice place to spend a weekend but there isn’t really anything much there except that you get to have time to spend together with each other and secondly, you can take short afternoon trips to either Genting Highland or the Colmar Tropicale. Other than that, you just cook, sit around, chat, play cards, play with the kids, read, etc.

The whole trip is one big noisy adventure, with 7 couples and 4 kids ranging from 2 years old to 5 years old. It was havoc and with the cooking and all, and kids either running or jumping around, or worse, crying and fighting over coloured paper, there is little time to really sit back and enjoy the scenery and the weather. But all said, it is really worth-it and once in a while, spending time like this with friends and their kids is quite fun.

I had by myself some free time and walked around the place, and a nice afternoon reading Murakami while overlooking the mountain top, the feeling is almost like Mahler’s composing house at the Austrian village Steinbach am Attersee minus the lake. Still, the feeling is such and with such a view, I am myself feeling quite moved and inspired to write something or compose a tune or two. I should have bought that Moleskine notebook, I thought to myself.

I have also thought briefly on my last post and while reading Murakami, one passage, from the “1963/1982 Girl from Ipanema”, struck me:

“Someday..I’ll meet myself in a strange place in a far-off world… In that place, I am myself and myself is me. Subject is object and object is subject. All gaps gone. A perfect union. There must be a strange place like this somewhere in the world.”

I often feel and believe that there are two me, each one at times the polar opposite of the other and at times are the best of friends. It sometimes felt like a tug-of-war, like a game of negotiation and compromise. If they do not fight, I am all well but if they do fight, I will be left a very confused person, without any sense of direction and begins to question the essence of my existence. And thus beginning to feel more and more confused about life until my North Pole and my South Pole reconciles.

During the trip as well, the question of whether human beings are innately evil or good comes to my mind again. I have had investigated this to a large extent many years ago and although my heart would love to agree with Mencius, some parts of me wanted to agree with Hsun Tzu, or in this case, to a certain extent, also Hobbes (North Pole – South Pole thing again). This thought came to my mind again while observing the kids. I cannot but see that these kids are all innately selfish!

According to Hsun Tzu, “… the nature of man is evil; his goodness is acquired training”. He followed by saying this, “… Man is born with inherent desire for profit and sensual pleasure. But, despite these beginnings of evilness, Man at the same time possesses intelligence, and this intelligence makes it possible for him to become good.”

hmmm….

Haruki Murakami was at the MIT just last month and you can read about his visit there as well as download some video of him from this blog.

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