Hidden Figures (2016)

Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) makes a first movie and gets beaten up in NASA mission by our protagonist, thats a first. I could see him twitching with pain when Katherine Johnson, erases the black board (no pun intended it is black board not white board) and rewrites the formulas for John Glen‘s pod re-entry, unfortunately Penny was not there to console him.

The review

Hidden Figures is a wonderful uplifting story of three African American ladies during segregation, making it to the top in NASA space mission.  The bubbly, Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) who wants to be an aeronautical engineer in the white mans world, men watch her struggle through a observatory window when her heel gets stuck on the launch pad. The senior, Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) who is managing a colored computers – literal meaning is a black women employed for computing. The genius of the trio is Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) who is calculating rocket’s trajectory and re-entry crossing odds with Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons famously known as Sheldon Cooper). The movie is fairly star studded, Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) is head of the launch mission who at first is very skeptical of the Katherine’s math abilities, he is a fantastic scientist with great leadership skills, but his human side is revealed when he discovers that Katherine took half hour breaks on a critical mission days just to learn that she had to walk half a mile (rain or shine) to relieve herself in the colored bathrooms. Takes a sledge hammer and shatters the  signs of color of the facility and declares “There are no colors here at NASA, we are all one color”. In the other building Dorothy updates her staff with coding (FORTRAN) so that they don’t become obsolete on the installation of IBM supercomputers in the building, in the interim gains the much anticipated respect from her supervisor Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst). Mary breaks the barrier to be the first women to go to a College for White only through a court order. The icing on the cake is when management decides to take off Katherine from the mission control since all the calculations can be done by IBM computers, John Glenn personally orders to get Katherine to verify the calculations done by the computer. She oversees safe re-entry of John Glen in the Mission Control room filled with White people (I mean all men dressed in white shirts), with Katherine in a bright colored dress. She later goes on to supervise the Apollo 11 launch, mission to moon.

The movie is a pleasant watch, very well directed by Theodore Melfi, a must watch for all children.

Passengers (2016)

Hmm, where do I begin with this movie, its an arms race to build a colony on Mars and beyond, first we had Gravity(2013) where you saw what it was like getting drifted in Space, then came Interstellar(2014) and Martian(2015) where they landed and grew a plant there. Here in passengers they have taken it to the next level, passengers settling on another planet. Every next movie uses part imagination and part scientific evidence to push the envelope backed by NASA. George Lucas is like you all so 18th century.

The review

The first 30 mins the movie is played by Chris Pratt (Jurassic World 2015) is awakened on a spaceship prematurely since his hibernating pod has malfunctioned, with no one available to talk; sounds scary but we have seen worst on Cast Away(2013). He scans through all the profiles of 1500 passengers and picks to wake up JLaw ( her name in the movie is Aurora, why did you not leave her sleeping, don’t you watch Disney Movies man). Don’t worry, ‘If I was you, I would be waking her up too‘. Now the next 30 mins or more they are busy trying to find out why only they are up and rest are hibernating peacefully for 90 years. Whatever happened to ‘Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein Band Hon, Aur Chavi Ko Jaye‘, maybe I am old schooled they had a whole ship by themselves with all the amenities, food and wine at disposal. Lo and behold after an hour into the movie they find romance between them. It took less time to bring two Pandas together in NYC Zoo. Since Chris discovered sex; by the way JLaw claims this was her first on screen, he thought of waking up Julia Roberts too, but then the director yelled at him, it would cost them another 2o million.

All is well and Chris has planned to propose JLaw at the bar where our only humanized robot Arthur as witness, he takes off to get the ring and Jlaw is chatting with Arthur, disaster strikes, Arthur spills the beans as how Chris contemplated waking her up with guilt and finally went for it and now all looks so good with them together. JLaw is furious and breaks up with Chris for forcefully waking her up.

As fate has it, Chris waking up abruptly was beginning of more problems to arise on the ship and now Chris has to get out into the space and fix it. Love is lost, what more can he loose, he gets out and fixes it but drifts into space. JLaw could have let him go, Brad Pitt was sleeping in one of the pods, looks like she was smitten by Chris and risks her life to bring him back.  You think she will fail in the mission, hello so predictable, then they live happily ever after. No really they do and leave a legacy behind for the hibernators to see a rain-forest created in the space ship after 90 years.

I like JLaw, her movies are best but if I have to watch her I would watch Hunger Games again.

 

Where is Bar Mitzvah

I know the title is not very inviting for the readers, but soon you will see the irony.

This is back in the days I had landed fresh off the boat from India to Manhattan, the rush to be cool and blend with local culture was a pressure. One Monday morning my colleague next to me ushered, “I have brought a cake, it’s on the coffee table, help yourself”. Being a typical Indian I did not rush immediately wanted to seem that I am not greedy of cakes, but could see my other colleagues returning back with a slice of cake, enjoying and thanking my Jewish neighbor. Yes he was Jewish man and was trying to understand his religion from past few months.

After some time I got up to check for the cake, sure enough it was a huge tray of cake, though only one eighth of the pie was left, next to it my neighbor had posted a note Bar Mitzvah. Took a tiny piece of cake and headed to my desk. While I munched on it, it sure was delicious, out of regular, needless to say an expensive cake. Now to exchange some pleasantries, I told him it was delicious and fine cake. He beamed. I should have left it there, my american accent kicked in and asked him, “Hey, where is this Bar Mitzvah, is it in Manhattan?”
He was like, “What do you mean”, a frown broke on his temple.
“I mean, I like this cake, might buy some and take it to my friends”.
My point was there are Liquor bars, there are coffee bars, so there cake bars.
He burst into laughter, needless to say others joined the commotion. Then he explained to me Bar Mitzvah is not a place but a ceremony they had performed on their boy previous day. I sheepishly concluded later that we did something similar in our culture called Upanayana.

Girls: They got voting rights!

We were travelling in a public city bus in Bengaluru. My son then eleven years old, suddenly noticed that there were few seats in the front and yet I asked him to stand behind in the middle of the bus.

He went, “Can we sit there?”

I said, “No, they are reserved for women, see that LADIES ONLY“.

He was appalled, “They always get special treatment”. I hear the middle-schoolers frustration where girls rule the world. With a smile I said,”Stop watching Disney Channel”, and asked him to sit in one of those seats and I would stand beside him. He did not want to sit anyways for the joy of looking through the streets of Bengaluru, where the driver maneuvered through the busy traffic.

After a while the bus came to a dead halt in the middle of the road, he asked, “Why’s the bus not moving”, I looked around and told him that there is a strike ahead, people are blocking the road. Police guided the bus to pass thru the crowd, where a bunch of girls were protesting with placards.  He asked “what’s happening?”

Girls are protesting for something…

Actually girls were fighting for the case where Bengaluru was shocked by the heinous incident of a elementary school girl raped by her teacher. I just did not want the kid to know this terrible incident.

Then came a statement out of his mouth that has stuck in my head to this date.
“What more do they want, they got voting rights!”
He was studying about American History – womens civil rights  at that time in his school.

Here we are in a huge election season, electing our first female president of free world with a vitriolic campaign from both sides. My children are actively involved in the process. The eleven year old is now a teenager following the debate process; analyzing it. Yes, DJTs latest locker room rant is out in the open. My younger one, elementary grade son comes home from school and asks “Pops! who are you voting for?” I joked “Donald J Trump”
“Eeew, if he wins I am moving to Canada!”
Personally I don’t consider DJT as a man (This is my locker room rant, don’t quote me on this, baliki main tho yeh kahoon ki woh purush hii nahi hain, mahapurush haiAAA), if I say it out loud girls will hate me, hmm! what would Caitlyn Jenner think.

Hillary R Clinton should be winning with a landslide victory after DJTs comments. Let’s looks at the stats. She garners around 38% of women votes (source: CNN/ORC), discounting 10% of them as  unmarried, remaining 28% of their spouses are supposed to vote for HRC, 0% of men oppose to their wives (source: WhatsApp).

Sure most of us condemn the objectification of women especially by our presidential candidate DJT. But our focus should be on the women in the society who are doing marvelous things, most recently there are women like Elizabeth Warren; who single-handedly brought down the CEO of Wells Fargo, FLOTUS; who is out to raise women across the world from illiteracy. Talking of objectification, KimK is the epitome of women objectification, like my son said, Girls have right to vote her out of social media.

(It has been extremely difficult for me to put this post articulately, also I am biased, so in the end may the best woman win the Election 2016)


Note I have not hyperlinked KimK, those who don’t know her should be proud of themselves, those who know why check her out. Hint Cailtyn Jenner was her father 🙂

Money Monster (2016)

Prologue(Click here to jump to review)

Wifey wanted to watch the Civil War with kids on Mothers day weekend. I politely declined  going to theater and waste my hard earned money. Then comes the emotional blackmail ‘you never want to spend time with your family’. I said if we have to go to movies then I would prefer to watch Mother’s Day – starring Jennifer Aniston (wink wink). Surprisingly she agreed too, the plan was we would drop kids in the Civil War hall and we go to Mother’s Day. The usual kids weekend activities began  and next thing we know it was bed time. Movies just vanished in thin air. Then came the following weekend, while I was taking care of Madhav’s activities and she doing Sarang’s, she just called and asked me to get four tickets to Civil War on my way back to 6.30pm show.

As usual I said again “I am not interested to watch Civil War.

“No, we are going with Josh (Sarang’s classmate), just get four tickets”.

Wow! she had just deleted me from the consideration. I was cool with it.

While I booked four tickets, couldn’t help but notice that there was Money Monster airing around the same time. Decided to go alone – felt lonesome, stepped out of line and dialed good friend who lived close by. Him and I been long time Wall Street guys, wasn’t a hard sell to convince him to join for the movie; especially starring – George Clooney and Julia Roberts put the last nail in the coffin. Believe me, guys who are not into guys, dig Clooney, and Julia is Americas sweetheart. Enough of the prologue, lets cut to the Chase (Manhattan)…

The review

There are scores of movies made on Wall Street and this is no different, but this starts with a comedy, where Clooney is Jim Cramer of Mad Money. I jump out of my chair cheering for Clooney for mocking Cramer (the bastard of Wall Street – no regrets on calling that), while the humor continued on the screen, I am wondering is this the movie where Clooney is Austin Powers of  Michael Douglas’s Wall Street with Julia as his sidekick, his voice in the ear. That comedy ends soon when on air Clooney is taken hostage by an unknown delivery guy(Jack O’Connell). Julia helps Clooney get thru the crisis while staying in his ear all the time. Finally the camera moves out of the studios and lands with the protagonist on the Main Streets of Manhattan for all those moviegoers to guess the streets while the camera pans thru. The usual 99 percenters are rooting for Jack to blow the heads of Clooney, disregarding their personal safety where Clooney is strapped with Bomb vest. Talk about saving money by Jodie Foster for creating the entire movie in a recording studio,  the camera is back into the Financial Building where the real villain; CEO of public traded firm IBIS; akin to Bernie Madoff  is made to face the camera and tell the truth as to why his stock crashed 800 million in half hour, where millions had lost their nest eggs. You guessed it, the hostage taker is one of them. The villain starts off with the usual line ‘This is one of those glitches in the computer that triggered the flash selling’. Clooney’s sidekick has done some research by now and demands a real answer, turns out this wall street genius who was delivering 18% returns to his clients over decades had made one wrong bet in South Africa that had wiped out his entire portfolio.

 The movie is fast paced and don’t miss the comedy in the beginning, because thats all you get. Clooney and Julia are good but it’s Jack O’Connell who steals the show. The movie is not a block buster.

Disclaimer:Although I have worked for two decades on wall street, you might wonder am I the The Wolf of Wall Street, I am not, I am just that bitch who creates the glitch; a computer guy from the back alleys of Mumbai.


Chase Manhattan: while Clooney walks on the streets you can’t help but notice the iconic Federal Building(Gold Reserve) on one side and Chase Manhattan on the other.

Shrikant: The grinch who stole Sarang’s Christmas

This blog is from the archives, was unable to post it earlier due to legal obligations 

Rohini had committed to buying  a Black Ops 2 for Sarang, I learnt it  later that she was shopping for one – she had come to my advise as to  where to shop for it. I showed my disapproval of the same, as I had  always been against buying gun toys for our children. Till date they  had never had a toy gun ever. This was somewhere two weeks before  Christmas and Rohini hoped she could buy one for a good deal and have it shipped by Christmas.

Now I stepped in to discuss this with Sarang. Up until now I had never shopped for kids Christmas it has always been Rohini’s arena. Moment he heard that I was planning not to get him BlackOps2, he retorted vehemently, “Papa, you can’ t do that, Mommy has already promised me, now she can’t take back her word.”
“But you know, how I feel about you playing those violent games”.
“But Papa!, you can turn off the blood and bleeps off the game, all  the kids have one since two years now”.
“Well, I let you play at their houses that is big enough, besides you  are not really into that game, why buy it”.
“Well you never bought me one, how could I get better like those kids,  I am getting one this time, you cannot stop me. I have also been a very  good boy this year and you know that”.

That was true, he was a very good and responsible kid this year and I  had expressed that feeling over and over this past few months , I  never do that – why that’s a separate blog all together.

“If you have to buy it and if your Mommy has promised you, you get it,  but I don’t approve it.”
My disapproval never flies by him, it always hits him.
“That’s fine, I am still getting it”. Well I will take back my previous statement.
Looks like he was determined to have it, I was surprised why he was so  persistent, he usually never is and never likes to own/have anything  without my approval, I always persuade him my way, but it looked like  I was loosing this battle. May be he was growing up, more determined  to his choices rather depend on his parents anymore.

I made one more last effort.
“How much does it cost?”
“60 bucks”.
“60 bucks??” , I screamed.
“That’s how much a game always costs”.
I had bought him a PS3 from past 3 years but had never bought a game. Just played on trial games.
“OK, here’s the thing, would you like to listen to me”.
“What now, I am not backing off”.
“You can get it, but can you wait to buy it after Christmas, it  usually goes on sale, you can have the 60 bucks right now, and buy it  after christmas  when it goes on sale for 40 and put 20 in your piggy  bank”.
“What I will not have a gift for Christmas!”.
“I will buy something for you, for this Christmas”. I really had  thought I will buy a gift for him this year as I had felt he really  deserved one not by Santa Claus standard but my standard. Note he was always a good kid by Santa Claus standard that’s why Rohini got him one every year.

“Fine!, soon after Christmas we are going shopping and getting one,  whatever price it is”, with a sigh.
“Deal”, I said. Strike ONE.

By this time the Sandy Elementary news broke out and I was not in the mood of discussing with Sarang and associating this with violent games played by the kids, but did not want to buy him a game for sure.

“Papa, can we go to mall and get the game NOW”. Christmas had passed.
“Why would you want to buy now, you know we are going on a vacation  to Poconos and you will never get to play until we come back after new year, why not just buy then”.
“What?, fine but I am buying then, this is going on for too long.”
This was Strike TWO.

20150215_12140120150101_113751

Up on the snow mountains we had welcomed a brand new year 2013. During the vacation, I reminded him how much he loved Skiing as we  skied everyday. I slowly began to talk about the Sandy incident, he  had also learnt a lot from his teachers at school by this time.
“Why would you want to buy BlackOps2 now, when you know that it is all over the news that these violent games are leading to this aggressive behavior”.
“But Papa, there was some crazy guy who took up the guns and did a  terrible thing, not all kids who play guns game end being violent.”
“No not really, but it only aids,”, I said.
“But the people who go into military also use guns, so do cops, it is  like practicing to be one.”
“I know, I will buy the game in future, it is also rated “Mature”, may be when you become 12 or 13, just lets not buy it now when the sentiments are flying so high in the media”.
“No, I am still buying it, all my friends have it and you know it”.
“I know, but they already had it from past year or two, just buying it  now is not a good idea after this news has come out, hold it back for  some more time, you can keep playing at your friends place.”
“No Papa, NO, I am still buying it when we go back home.”

I thought now I had lost it. I was really surprised that he was so  persistent on getting it. This had never happened earlier except to  one time. He was five years old I had taken him to grocery shopping  one evening, a regular grocery shopping father and son, then go back  home. As we were walking to the checkout he noticed a small mattel car on the shelf.
He went, “Papa, I want it”.
You just don’t buy it because he wants, “No put it back”.
“Papa please, I want this car”.
“No we just don’t buy something when we find something in the store”.
“But papa, please I want THIS car, please…”.
“You have lot of cars at home”, I had got 20 car set for him.
“But papa, I want this car”, It was purple in color, I found nothing  appealing about it.
I said, “No put it back”.
“Papa please I am getting it”, he walked towards the checkout.
“Put it back,” I demanded. Tears started rolling, he pleaded.
“This one time papa, I will never ask for anything again”.
“You can’t come in the store and cry and demand for things, I not  buying it period.” it was costing less than 5 dollars.
He started rolling on the floor and cried for it as I put it up on  the shelf. Rolling on the floor was new to me. It baffled me, he had never done that before, but there is always a first time. I picked up the toy and asked him to get up and we walked to checkout. He wiped his tears as he carried the toy car to the parking lot.  Moment I buckled him in the car seat, I yanked the car from his hand  and told him that I will be returning this back to the store and he is not getting it. He cried all the way to home begging please and how badly he had needed it. I had listened to none of that.  We came home and he narrated to his mom about the incident and she told that it was alright to have him that car. I said, I am not buying  that, he had rolled on the floor in the store.  He begged again he would do anything to have that car. I said to him then I would place this car up on the shelf for a week and he not watch TV and be a good a listener for a week then he would get it back. He  accepted the deal. A week passed long story short he had earned the toy. Later I learned that it was a purple car from CARS movie and it  was fairly a rare find as per his friend who had it in his class. Did I feel bad, YES I did.

Now coming back to this day, I was sensing the same for BlackOps2,  else he would not do it. But I was determined to sway him away from  it, for Sandy news – at least for now, I had seen Fiscal Cliff gaining  steam in the media.

Vacation was coming to an end, it was very joyful for him, I still had in the mind that I am not supposed to buy him when we got back home. He on the contrary was making plans to play with his friends when he got home.

One more deal, as we drove back home.
“Sarang, how about I buy you  a snowboard, instead of BlackOps2”.
Snowboard was his favorite even though I had insisted him to practice  more of skies before he moved on to snowboard.
“Nice try Papa, I am sticking with BlackOps2”.
Rohini chimed in, “Sarang, think about the deal he is offering,  BlackOps2 costs 60 and snowboard costs at least 300”.
He thought for a minute…
“Papa, can I pick any snowboard I want in the shop?”
My eyes lit up, ” Sure you can”.
‘”Nah! I still want BlackOps2, I can keep doing skiing for now”.
Some more persuading went from his mommy, then he thought for few more minutes and asked, “Can I put some more demands with the snowboard?”

I put my poker face and said to him sternly, “Dude, you won’t get
this deal again and again,  I will give you till end of the day, you come up with your demands, we sign a contract, then it is  deal, else get going with your BlackOps2”.
“I want snowboard and some more what do I need to do”.
“When we get home you write up a contract between you and I and we will stick with that”.
“What does that mean?”
“That means you write what you want for giving up BlackOps2, I will look at the contract make some amendments to suit my conditions, we both agree then we sign at the bottom, that will be the contract, if you fail to stand by that then you get nothing and if I fail then I will have to provide you both the BlackOps2 and your snowboard”.

It looked like a deal to him, there was no further discussion until we reached home. He went straight writing his needs in the contract and later I made my amendments to the contract. Attached is what we agreed and signed upon.

SarangFirstContract

For now it looks like I have pushed it to July 2014. we are just barely welcoming 2013 – who has seen July 2014, I will deal with it then. Strike THREE, you are out!

As of date its Sep 2015, hope Sarang does not read this blog

Sarang and Madhav Skiing Video

No Bears in Yellowstone National Park

Tourists complains park authorities to train bears – News

Ironically we were there during the same time this person posted the note of not seeing the bear in Yellowstone National Park. I just hope it is just a cute note to tickle the funny bone, not a serious complaint against the Park authorities. That’s the beauty of nature, does not matter how expensive your trip maybe, you could see wild animals or not. I personally was evry disappointed that we could not see a single Moose in the park, although we spotted one in Jackson Hole, on our drive to Yellowstone. Fortunately we saw tons of Bisons our way, so much so that a couple wandered in our Parking lot of Grand Canyan. Bye the way, we did not see any bears either 😦20150812_135714 20150812_140159

What did the mother buffalo say to her child who was going to school, “Bison”

Fortunately we have The Old Faithful geyser that goes off every hour and quarter approximately, maybe the bears could learn something from this 🙂