Friday, April 26, 2013

Koormavatara Kannada Film Review

Lord Vishnu takes the form of tortoise(kurma) in his second avatar according to Hindu puranas. Girish Kasavalli's film Koormavatara which is based on a story written by one of the finest writers in Kannada, Kum Veerabhardappa, takes this pretext in its plot. 
Dr Shikaripura Krishnamurthy as Mahatma Gandhi in Koormavatara Kannada Film
Dr Shikaripura Krishnamurthy as Mahatma Gandhi in Koormavatara
Rao, a government employee cares less for his family but more for his work resembles Mahatma Gandhi in appearance. On being asked to play the role of Gandhi in a TV serial, though he initially refuses finally he yields to familial pressure. But Rao, an emotionally withdrawn person, finds it difficult to act. Also, he does not know much about the Mahatma. Gradually Rao improves his acting skills as well as his knowledge about father of the nation. In the process, he also imbibes Gandhi's ideals. How does this change his life and lives around him forms the crux of the movie.

For most past, feature film draws parallel between life of Mahatma Gandhi and that of protagonist. It also represents different perceptions prevalent about the man. But Rao's transformation to a man of emotions does not look convincing. I also found lack of clarity in some sequences. For instance, there is a sequence where Rao helps a guy in renewing his license to operate a shop which sells tobacco products (which is located near a school) when officials did not renew it even after accepting bribe. But here, there is a rule which says one should not be allowed to sell tobacco products within one hundred meters from the school premises. Gandhi's ideals do not come into play here, which is surprising. Next example is of share trading compared with gambling.

In the end, abrupt climax leaves the viewer in bitter taste. Definitely, not one of Kasaravalli's best.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bangalore - One Day Trip

Being a proud Bangalorean, I am often being asked about the tourist spots in the city. I faced the same question when I wanted to take my relatives for tour of our city. I jotted down and made a decent list of places to see in namma Bengaluru. If you hire a multi purpose vehicle like Chevrolet Tavera or any other vehicle for that matter for a day tour of Bangaluru, they charge you as follows - There will be fixed charge for the first 8 hours which assumes that you don't travel beyond 80 kms. For every additional hour, you will be charged 100 Rupees. Also, for every km beyond the fixed 80 kms, you will be charged according to the vehicle you hire. I had to keep all these constraints in mind to make the trip optimal and economical by utilizing the available time following a shortest path algorithm. Anybody remembering Dijkstra's algorithm?

I hired Chevrolet Tavera starting from Vijayanagar at around 9 30 am. First place we visited was Basavanagudi. I believe Dodda Ganapathi Temple and Bull temple are must visits for a newcomer in Bengaluru. 
Bull Temple, Basavanagudi
Bull Temple, Basavanagudi
Basavanagudi : Lord Ganesha sculpted in a huge rock is a treat to the eyes. It would be great if you visit the temple when the idol is decorated with butter. Next, horns made of rock invites you to the famous temple of Bengaluru - the Bull temple. The biggest temple to Nandi, the bull houses huge sculpture of Nandi.
Basava Statue, Basavanagudi
Basava Statue, Basavanagudi
Lal Bagh : Our next stop was Lal Bagh. Glass house, floral clock, aquarium, bonsai garden, Lal bagh lake are the prime attractions here.
Lal Bagh, Bangalore Entrance
Lal Bagh, Bangalore Entrance
Namma Metro : Trip to modern Bangalore is incomplete without a joy ride in Namma Metro. We boarded to Namma Metro at M G Road station, went till Indira Nagar and came back to M G Road again. Ya, it is a kind of toy train till it completes all the stretches are complete.
Glass House, Lal Bagh, Bangalore
Glass House, Lal Bagh, Bangalore
Shiva Temple, Old Airport Road : Shiva temple behind the Total Mall in old airport road though not visible from the road, once you enter premises 65 feet Shiva statue sure to delight you.
Shiva Statue, old Airport Road, Bangalore
Shiva Statue, old Airport Road, Bangalore
Vidhana Soudha, High Court (drive through) : I instructed the driver to drive through Vidhana Soudha and High Court to reach K G Road.

Adigas Majestic : Adigas Majestic was my choice for the lunch that day.

ISKCON : After lunch, we headed towards ISKCON. In ISKCON, cameras are not allowed. Situated on top of Hare Krishna hill, from ISKCON, you can have a panoramic view of West Bangalore. New landmark of Bangalore, World Trade Center can be seen from here.

After visiting ISKCON, when we reached Vijayanagar back it was 5 30 in the evening.
Bonsai Garden, Lal Bagh, Bangalore
Bonsai Garden, Lal Bagh, Bangalore
Statue of Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, Lal Bagh, Bangalore
Statue of Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, Lal Bagh, Bangalore
Floral Clock, Lal Bagh, Bangalore
Floral Clock, Lal Bagh, Bangalore
Following is the map of places visited.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hunt for Alexander's treasures in Indian subcontinent

If winning numerous battles to form one of the largest empires in the world was a big challenge then, bigger challenge was to manage the huge wealth acquired during the process. One of the most celebrated emperors of the world, Alexander the Great faced the same problem during his conquest of Indian subcontinent. K N Ganeshaiah's novel Chitadanta begins with this dilemma of the emperor. If Karisiriyana, Ganeshaiah's earlier novel focused on the history of south India, canvas here is bigger. It spans from the present Afghanistan to modern day Patna. The story even revolves around several kingdoms - Mauryas, Nandas, Kingdoms of Kalinga, Burma and Sri Lanka. 
Chitadanta Kannada Historical Novel
Chitadanta Cover Page
Decoding the treasure map by making use of Buddhist, Mauryan and Greek symbols and riddles makes this book a fascinating read. In the process, the author busts few historical myths. You would definitely find the answers to the following questions in the book - Who are Ajivikas and Theravadis? What is the significance of Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic at Kandy in Sri Lanka? Why did Buddhism almost vanish from the country of its origin, India? Though Buddha was against idol worship, how did his idol become the most recognizable symbol of Buddhism all over the world? Who are the people of Kalash community living in the present day Pakistan? Why did Chanakya make Amatya Rakshasa, a Nanda loyalist who was dead against the Mauryan empire, the minister of Chandragupta Maurya? What is the significance of the solar eclipse which occurred during Emperor Ashoka's reign? Why did the famed king Ashoka build a hell(naraka) in his kingdom? What was the reason behind Alexander building the city of Alexandria Bucephalous? What more, you have real life characters like Osama Bin Laden and Dalai Lama. I think these teasers are enough for the history enthusiast to venture into the amazing world of Chitadanta. 

Buy Chitadanta Here

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Japanese way of doing things

More than anything it is the way doing things which astonishes a visitor in a foreign land. I too had my share of surprises.

Distance measured in time : I did not find anywhere how much is the distance between various places in the city. Instead, everyone was indicating the time it would take to reach any place. Forget people, there was not a sign board in roads where distance was written. Quite clearly, it indicates what Japanese respect most - time. On a professional front, it translates to every minute in a day being accounted for some task or the other.

Cleanliness : Every street and corner was neat and clean. Though this is a general observation in many developed countries, I was informed by my friend that Japan is much cleaner than US and most other developed countries. Though I could only find a cigarette butt thrown in a sky walk which was an exception. I was trying to compare the situation in India. In India, people who litter in public are more but in Japan more people keep their city clean. What I also observed that people who had flu or cold would wear masks when they are in public places. What way to take care of health of fellow citizens.

Metro is underground and accessible from every corner of the city : Tokyo metro is completely underground and there is a different world operating beneath earth - with people commuting and super markets, restaurants and what not. Tokyo metro is accessible every corner of the city and more often than not all tourist spots are at walking distances from metro stations. Some times, this takes away the thrill of exploring new places. Also, metro is the most economic way of transport in this expensive city of Japan.

Love for their mother tongue and culture : Though you can live in Tokyo without knowing Japanese as everywhere you find English along with Japanese - in announcements and in sign boards. But not everyone speaks English and even if they speak, it lasts few sentences and all the executive meetings involving foreign delegates involve translators. Even the power point presentations would be in English as well as in Japanese. In a way, they are preserving their language in a global economy and also make sure people who know Japanese find employment wherever information is conveyed in Japanese. Being a modern industrialized nation, Japan has not forgotten its roots - historical monuments are well preserved and ancient traditions are still revered and followed. Apart from that, Japanese people are very friendly and gentle to foreigners.

Influenced by American culture : Though I said Japanese culture is alive and thriving, you can also find youth in their fancy American attire, hairstyles and makeup. So, you find both extremes in Japan. Consumerism is at its peak in Japan too and you would be amazed how you would become an impulsive buyer when you are in Japan just as I felt.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tokyo Disneyland aka Wonderland

I reached Disneyland by JR train from Tokyo central station. Exploring Tokyo Disneyland can be a wonderful experience if you have a full day to spare. Single day ticket (called 1-Day passport) costs ¥6,200. Once you purchase the ticket, you will be provided with a brochure containing the attractions and a map to explore those. After the security check visitor is allowed inside Disneyland. Statue of Walt Disney holding Mickey mouse welcomes you. Disneyland is divided following marked areas which consists of various attractions
  • World Bazaar
  • Adventureland
  • Citter Country
  • Westernland
  • Fantasyland
  • Toontown
  • Tomorrowland
Only deterrent here is the time. You need to plan your time to explore the attractions you choose best. One must make use of Disney Fastpass. Go to the Fastpass ticketing machine near a major attraction entrance and get your fastpass ticket for the particular attraction after scanning the 1-Day passport. You can visit the attraction within the time indicated in the fastpass ticket. But remember you have only few fastpass tickets to use and not all attractions have a fastpass ticketing machines. Here are some of the photos of Disneyland.
Parade in front of Cindrella Castle, Tokyo Disneyland
Parade in front of Cindrella Castle, Tokyo Disneyland
Entrance to Tokyo Disneyland
Entrance to Tokyo Disneyland
Crystal Palace, Tokyo Disneyland
Crystal Palace, Tokyo Disneyland
Splash Mountain, Tokyo Disneyland
Splash Mountain, Tokyo Disneyland
Mickey's PhilharMagic, Tokyo Disneyland
Mickey's PhilharMagic

Pooh's Honey Hunt
Pooh's Honey Hunt
Cindrella Castle's alleys
Cindrella Castle's alleys
Night parade in Tokyo Disneyland
Night parade in Tokyo Disneyland
Disney store, Tokyo Disneyland
Disney store, Tokyo Disneyland

Thursday, April 11, 2013

India's Dan Brown and Mysteries of Vijayanagara Empire

Are you curious about the mysteries of wealthy and prosperous Vijayanagara Empire? Well, then you ought to read this novel. Karisiriyana is a work of fiction in Kannada. But not all the details in this book are fictitious. Vijayanagara Empire is regarded as one of the most powerful and wealthy kingdoms in Indian history. But then it is not clear where all the wealth in the form of precious stones, jewels which were said to be sold on the streets of Hampi, the illustrious capital city of Vijayanagara kingdom disappeared after the fall of the mighty empire. This book makes an effort to unravel the mystery.

How did Tirupati temple became the richest temple in the world? (Though this have to be corrected now as Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram set to overtake after it's riches were discovered in 2011. But the novel was written in 2009). Author K N Ganeshaiah crafts the story around various hidden clues to find out the lost treasure of forgotten empire.
Karisiriyana Kannada novel cover page
Karisiriyana Cover Page
One exciting aspect of Ganeshaiah's novel is that he gives you references from historical texts as footnotes. Also, included are the relevant photographs from historical places. So, the reader is kept guessing as he fails to make distinction between fact and fiction, and that is what gives the reader a wonderful reading experience. In the process, one learns easy way to learn about Indian history rather than getting bogged down by boring historical text books.

The novel begins with references to two historical letters. Folklorist Nanjamma is found dead in her home at Nangli, which is on the way to Chittoor from Mulabagilu in National Highway number 4. ASI(Archaeological Survey of India) plans to build a garden in Hampi comprising of flora from Vijayanagara era. When they are digging the area for the soil testing, botanist Dr.Vasudev discovers diamonds there. Pooja is researching on secret financial tie-up between Vijayanagara kings and Tirupati temple. When she is in Tirumala hills as part of her research, CBI arrests her. In remote corner of Kashmir, Indian army takes Bhavana into custody who was studying life and ways of an exotic community. NRI Lakshmikanth Patel gets elected to the committee which monitors the preservation of World Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO after fierce lobbying. Though you may think the above details are not related to each other, you eventually find how all these get interlinked in the novel. You will be amazed to find answers to the following questions too from Indian history - Where all the treasure disappeared after the fall of Vijayanagar Empire? Is there any cosmic geometric connection in planning the city of Hampi? How did Vijayanagar Kingdom become so prosperous? Why were silver/gold coins were called as varahas in Kannada/Telugu during that time? If Telugu is not the mother tongue of Sri Krishnadevaraya then what is it?

It would not be a surprise in the coming days, if K N Ganeshaiah earns the title - India's Dan Brown because of his research oriented historical novels. I am already reading his another historical novel - Chitadanta which has references from the times of Alexander, Emperor Ashoka and Theravada Buddhism.

Buy Karisiriyana Here:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bharat Stores and FDI in retail

More than two decades into liberalization era, we are yet to fully fathom the subtle impacts it has made in our lives and those around us. Ironically, the changes have become so obvious that we fail to recognize them let alone get into the details. Latest addition to these developments is FDI in retail.

Bharat Stores tries to project the plight of small retail vendors in the present scenario. If change of our tastes and our growing fascination with mall culture have indirectly affected the traditional consumer vendor relationship, introduction of food coupons have forced us to walk up to the mall even if takes time to pick items ourselves and stand in long queues for billing. Scenes like these readily connects to you but it does not go beyond that. May be we have accepted that as a progressive change. That is why you feel somewhere the film misses the core point how lopsided development affects people in different social strata.
H.G. Dattatreya in Bharat Stores
Picture Courtesy :
But there are bright points too like portrayal of how traditional business marketing falls short of massive media campaigns of multinational conglomerates. I feel that one could have also included how consumers would be exploited later by these biggies once all the small vendors are removed and consumers are forced to buy what is dictated. One also feels that not being able to adapt to change is what lead to traditional vendors like protagonist Govinda Shetty's fall. Also, I also felt director could have included how the western model of development cannot be directly applied to India; it needs customization. Presenting a sorry picture of the situation would go down as one of those emotional dramas which is true here too. Overall, the film looks more like a one-sided documentary on cons of FDI in retail. But there are scary aspects of FDI presented here like how the retail giants are getting the fields leased out for them and dictating what crops to grow and how they should be grown too. I came to know similar stories about farmers leasing out their farms around Bangalore.

Passing thought : Overheard from the audience saying ironically that we were watching the film which is against mall culture in a mall. Also, fans were upset with the national award winning film releasing only in multiplexes. No comments about that!

Monday, April 08, 2013

How I met Steve Waugh?

April last year, I was returning from Tokyo and I had a connecting flight from Singapore. We were busy taking photographs at Changi Airport, when my friend spotted cricketing legend Steve Waugh. Thrilled, we wasted no time in reaching him. Without knowing what to speak, I asked him 'Where are you heading?' I felt apparently that did not go well with him as he questioned me back - where was I going, bit arrogantly in a typical Aussie attitude. I replied back that I was travelling to Bangalore. But how could I miss a chance of taking a picture with cricketing world's all time hero. So, without bothering about his response to my first question, I asked him whether he would allow me to take a photograph with him. He obliged saying 'Make it quick man, I have a flight a catch'. My friend took two shots of me with smiling Steve Waugh and I was on cloud nine. After he took the photograph, my friend laughed and said this will be for your Facebook profile. It was indeed true and no doubt it received maximum likes and comments so far in my album! This photo is like a treasure and I have it on showcase at my home.

Though Steve Waugh did not reveal where he was heading that day, it was IPL season last year and he was spotted in IPL matches couple of days later. I am pretty sure, he was travelling to India that day.
Raveesh Kumar with Steve Waugh, Australian Cricket Team Caption
Me with Steve Waugh(former captain of Australian Cricket Team)

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Around Tokyo : Tokyo Imperial Palace

Tokyo Imperial Palace is one of the prime tourist attractions in the capital city of Japan. But the public entry is restricted to East Garden. The guide who lead us to the garden carried a flag, so that we can spot her in case we lost our way. I thought that was impressive. Here are some shots of the place.
Pond in East Garden, Tokyo Imperial Palace
Pond in East Garden, Tokyo Imperial Palace
Variety of flora in East Garden, Tokyo Imperial Palace
Variety of flora in East Garden

Japan style roof amidst greenery
Japan style roof amidst greenery

Nature blended with modernity, East Garden, Tokyo
Nature blended with modernity
Sculpture of Fish at the entrance of East Garden
Sculpture of Fish at the entrance of East Garden
Garden lamp in East Garden, Tokyo
Garden lamp in East Garden


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