Monday, 21 September 2015

The Odessa File: Review

Recently I read in the news about Frederick Forsyth having been an actual spy for the British. It made me a little curious and so I read this book.

The story based in 1963, revolves around Peter Miller a freelance reporter, who is on the hunt for Eduard Roschmann, one of the Nazis involved in the holocaust. At its essence this is a story about how some men who committed the most heinous crimes against humanity, managed to escape punishment. 

To put it simply, the ODESSA is a secret organization that gives protection to the surviving Nazis of the Second World War. Peter finds the diary of one of the survivors of a concentration camp. And for the first time he becomes aware of the sheer scale of atrocities inflicted on the Jews. This along with a certain very personal revelation sets him on the path of finding the Nazi SS captain Eduard Rochmann mentioned in the diary.

In one of the chapters, Peter approaches the owner of a magazine with a proposal to cover a story on Roschmann. And the editor puts it very bluntly to him that this was a story that no one in Germany would ever want to read. Because the Jewish tragedy was still a source of great shame and embarrassment for ordinary German citizens that survived the war.

This story has all the typical elements of a spy novel. International conflict, grand schemes of destruction, undercover agents, and a very nice pace. But the best thing about this book is that the historical and political references do not impede the story flow.

Overall this was quite an interesting read and I would definitely recommend it if you are in the mood for a spy thriller.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Dead Poets Society: Movie Review

This is a very touching movie. Certain scenes, dialogues are truly unforgettable. 

The story revolves around a group of students of a high class preparatory American school. And how they find a new way to look at life, from their interaction with the new eccentric English teacher.

At its essence this movie is about questioning the norms of society. Questioning how we seem to have become a race of narrow minded, stiff prudes. And the story tries to convey the foolishness of being so unnecessarily hard on ourselves, when our lives are so fleeting.

The students Neil Perry, Todd Anderson, Knox Overstreet and Charlie Dalton are very real characters. Somehow you can see in them that spirit of what being young feels like. And this is true for a viewer of all ages.

Then of course, there is Robin Williams as Mr. John Keating, the English teacher. All I can say is that you cannot watch this movie, without being enchanted by his eccentric character. There is a scene at the very start, where Mr.Keating tells the students to seize the day. Carpe Diem. From this scene onwards, you get truly hooked to the movie. 

Also the whole mood of students rebelling is captured really well. 

To touch briefly on the movie title, Dead Poets society is a club that Mr.Keating had created during his time in the school. And the young students decide to start it again. The introductory passage of the club meetings is quite moving. As is a lot of poetry in the film.

Something else you enjoy seeing is the little changes that happen in the students.

It’s sweet to see how Knox Overstreet tries to woo Chris(A girl. Contrary to what the name may suggest). How Todd Anderson finds a little courage inside him. How Neil Perry tries to pursue his acting ambitions. And how Charlie goes a little crazy.

Neil’s death is one of the cruelest twists of this movie.  Possibly what the film makers wanted to show, was how this world is filled with people who are unable to handle their dreams being crushed. And that it takes real courage to live the life that Mr.Keating speaks of.

Towards the end we see how the administration fixes the blame of Neil’s death on Mr.Keating. They have perhaps tried to show how anyone who challenges the system suffers. 

However the film’s end brings us some hope. Most of the students in class defy the principal and stand on their desks to bid farewell to Mr.Keating. Now these students were forced into signing a letter that got Mr.Keatings removed. 

But in spite of all that they stood on their desks that day. 

That’s how I feel changes in society begin. Not through a march of violent protestors. But through a person who holds onto a thought in his/her head, even when the rest of the world tells them otherwise.

And this thought remains in their minds and hearts, waiting for an opportune moment to spring out.

For those who haven’t seen this movie as yet, a treat awaits. And for those who have, watch it again when you start feeling life getting too serious. 

Lastly as Mr.Keating said, “Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Improbable Man(part 3)

Read second part here. And click here for the first.

Keshav checked his watch. He had been in the metal booth for some fifteen minutes. Keshav thought that because of the hyper time loop chamber, he must have been away for only a few seconds. He adjusted his watch to fifteen minutes back and nervously held the door controls of room 2691.

Tentatively he entered the room.

Keshav saw a man lying vertically in a glass chamber, filled with a bluish liquid substance. And there were various panels and meters monitoring the man’s biological parameters. Keshav could see that T.I.M was moving, as he gained more of his consciousness.

T.I.M was fitted with a respiratory mask, to provide him with oxygen. Keshav considered disconnecting the oxygen cylinders. But then Keshav realized that T.I.M would probably knowingly/unknowingly kill him if he made a direct lethal attack.

What other options do I have? Thought Keshav.

A lullaby to keep him sleeping? Well it’s worth a try.

As Keshav was just about to start singing, T.I.M opened his eyes. He looked at Keshav and smiled.

T.I.M tapped on the glass tube, very rapidly in a particular rhythm and it shattered into microscopic pieces.

Wow, he was able to find and play the resonant frequency of the glass to make it break. That’s impossible.

But no. It’s not. It’s just highly improbable.  

T.I.M casually walked out of the shattered tube. He didn’t seem very concerned by the fact that he was entirely naked.

He seemed to be in his forties. And he had a lean body with very dark skin. T.I.M looked like a typical villager, except for his forehead which was just slightly larger than normal. He had short hair and a broad jaw with a sparse beard.

He approached Keshav, who was still standing by the door and warmly shook his hand.

“Hello Sahebji, kaise ho aap?” T.I.M asked.

“B..bbas thik hu.”replied a nervous Keshav.

T.I.M laughed. “Chalo badhiya hai.” he said.

There is nothing else to do now, but to keep him busy till the bomb explodes.

“Nahi sahib woh bomb nahi phutega.” T.I.M said. And suddenly his words and demeanor had lost all warmth.

In broken English he continued “I not know what these people tell you. But I not bad man. I no kill any good person.”

A confused Keshav said “What? But the bizarre deaths and tragedies?”

T.I.M said “They all places where your people do experiments. My gift not making bad happen. But preventing bigger bad happening. If those all places not destroyed, more people would died. More people killed.

Pata nahi kaise, but I always know where these people have experiments. Somehow I reach there. Into future I look and see how they going to destroy others. So before they do that I destroy them.

Just have to think and I can destroy.”

T.I.M smiled sadly.

Keshav was having an inner conflict.

Who should I trust? A beautiful female scientist or a naked hairy man?

“Aur sahib, I let your people make me sleep, because I see in future that they bring me here. And I see also how later they going to use this place to make bad weapons. I not let that happen sahib.

I will think and everything but me get destroyed.”

Keshav pleaded “Don’t do it. This is a place of science. We want to bring hope to the future of our race. There are so many breakthroughs we can make. A cure for sickness. More efficient renewable energy sources. Saving our endangered species. We can do GREAT work!!”

T.I.M eyed Keshav calmly.

“Sahib you not bad. But your leaders not want what you think. They want power. Anyway they will try to get power.”

“But how can you be so sure that what you see is true? It is only one version of many possible realities that could take place.” Argued Keshav.

“When I young sahib, I no interfere.

And when I no interfere, result always being what I already seen in head. I only see truth.

In ten minute sahib I destroy this place. Please before that go. And make other people leave. Go sahib go.”

Keshav stood still as his heart beat rose steadily.

Is he telling the truth? Or is this just his warped belief? We all have our crazy beliefs..I don’t know..I DON’T KNOW!!

But then Keshav thought over everything that had happened so far. And realized that he did know.

What I do next could change everything..

Then Keshav decided what he had to do.

And did it.

EPILOGUE (15 years later):

The five rabbits stared at each other. Then looked away. And then stared again. Suddenly they transformed into miniature T-rex dinosaurs and playfully attacked each other.

The breeding experiment of the rabbit-T rex had succeeded. Though a Jurassic Park would still take another decade. But as Keshav Satpute, the director of C.R.I.P, gazed at the tiny T-Rex’s playing with each other, his heart felt light.

C.R.I.P had not managed to save the world as yet. But the world was slightly better off with a few of their discoveries and technologies.

And it all happened because of that one decision Keshav made fifteen years back.

That moment, when Keshav stood before T.I.M, thinking over everything that had happened, something struck him.

In his two years at C.R.I.P and five years of studying in the most classified scientific institutes, never before had he seen a successfully operating hyper time loop chamber.

He concluded that either the one in C.R.I.P was the first successful attempt, or the booth had been a mind processing chamber. The ones that sent low frequency signals to the brain making the person believe everything told to them. And do exactly as told.

But it could not be a hyper time loop chamber. Because if it was, then the magnetic circuitry of Keshav’s watch should have been completely destroyed.

So it must have been a mind processing chamber. Which explained why Keshav did not notice his watch continuing normal functioning. And also why he started carrying out a suicidal mission, for which a scientist like him had no training.

For a person put through a processing chamber, to ever break the command given was extremely unlikely. Impossible, Keshav would have thought.

But with T.I.M around, the probabilities worked more in Keshav’s favor to regain control of his brain.

After realizing the truth, Keshav managed to convince T.I.M to give him an hour to evacuate the innocent scientists and important scientific discoveries.

To evacuate such a highly secure facility should have been a really difficult task. But again The Improbable Man’s presence made it easy.

Sometimes Keshav felt guilty about the scientists that he left behind. He wondered for many years whether T.I.M had been right about them.

After the destruction of the facility, T.I.M readily agreed to be kept in custody of the U.N.
It took six years but all of T.I.M’s accusations proved to be true. For those years Keshav who had also been kept in custody, was released and given a prominent place in C.R.I.P.

After the trial, T.I.M vanished from his prison cell.

In the later years, there were no more strange accidents or tragedies reported, around which someone of his description was ever seen.

Keshav thought that perhaps this was his last mission and having completed it, he had gone on somewhere else.

Someplace that was possibly beyond the understanding of Keshav and all his advanced science.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Improbable Man(part 2)

Read first part here.

The light was red.

After a few seconds of shock, Keshav’s hand automatically reached for the black switch. As he pressed it, Keshav felt a phone booth sized metal panel, encase him from the ceiling. At Keshav’s eye level, a small white speck of light started to glow.

And then it spoke. “Initiating room 2691 code red protocol.”

A small screen formed in front of Keshav, on which he could see a young woman. The woman looked like a scientist. Though Keshav felt that she was more beautiful than most female scientists. Which proved that even in such a critical situation, Keshav had not lost his appreciation for beauty.

In a tense voice she spoke. “This booth is a hyper time loop chamber. A minute outside is equivalent to a five hours in here. Even so we must hurry.

If you are seeing this, it means that the worst has happened. The prisoner of room 2691 is awakening. Your signal will detonate explosives set up to destroy the facility, within the next five minutes. That’s the only way to save our world.”

Her voice betrayed slight discomposure. Only slight.

“In your facility, a creature of immensely dangerous powers is going to be released. He can cause a destructive influence on the unfolding of events. His presence creates fluctuations at a quantum level, on the fabric of time and space. And somehow he can manipulate the scale of probabilities, to bring about the worst outcome possible.

We found out about him, while tracking the occurrence of impossible seeming tragedies all over the world. Sudden malfunctioning, of radioactive cores in power plants, unnatural heat waves in cooling circuits of buildings, sudden and huge build up of power in  factory inverters. The chances of any of these accidents happening were very low. And yet they had.

A picture emerged of a man, always being present at all those places.

We called him T.I.M. The Improbable Man.

A trap was laid for him in various places, that were nearest to the location, of the previous strange accident. And we were able to capture T.I.M.

We tried to kill him, but couldn’t. Anyone who tried to inflict a lethal wound on T.I.M, would suffer sudden deaths caused by some bizarre disease.

T.I.M could do this because, no matter how healthy a life form may be, in the scale of probability no death was ever impossible.

But T.I.M was still vulnerable to non fatal attacks. A combination of sleep inducing drugs, helped us to put him in a coma. And then we built room 2691, for maintaining a dosage of drugs in T.I.M’s body.

The chances of him ever waking up, seemed slim. Almost impossible. Which in this case, made it a certainty.

We are not completely sure whether T.I.M can prevent the bomb from exploding. You have to find ways, to keep him distracted and prevent him from leaving the building, till the bomb explodes.”

She paused and continued sadly “It all depends on you now.”

Keshav felt dizzy. It dawned on him that he might never be around to know, whether the rabbit –T-Rex specimen would breed with a female rabbit.

The metal booth slid back into the ceiling. And Keshav wished for nothing more, than to slide away from room 2691 with it.

To be concluded in the next part..

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Improbable Man(part 1)

The rabbit looked to its left. And then to its right. Then it casually transformed, into a miniature version of a T- Rex dinosaur. The young scientist, Keshav Satpute gazed at the miniature T-Rex/Rabbit, kept in a glass encased room. The room being part of a small but highly sophisticated facility, which in Keshav’s opinion, had badly chosen grey as the predominant color tone.

 The rabbit –T-Rex mutation was the result of an impossible phenomenon. This rodent had by the fluke of evolution, imprinted in a portion of its DNA, the entire genetic structure of a T-Rex. So as and when in the mood, the rabbit could transform into a T-Rex.

It is an impossible rabbit. Thought Keshav.

Which is why it belonged in C.R.I.P. The Centre for Research on Impossible Phenomenon. When you worked here, there wasn’t much that could surprise you. Except how less you got paid. Apparently world governments couldn’t pay a lot for a facility, that technically did not exist.

But even though you didn’t have the money, you were entertained by other things the job offered. Like a size 10 shoe, which was actually a portal to the planet Mars. A violin that when played could cause water to freeze. A piece of glass that could cause severe indigestion when looked at. And well, a lot of other things.

The purpose of C.R.I.P, was to understand all these phenomenon, and use them to develop technologies for the betterment of mankind.

Still many scientists, remained strangely fascinated with the rabbit-T Rex mutation. The raging debate being, what would happen, if the mutated rabbit was given a female rabbit to mate with, while in the form of a rabbit and while in the form of a T-Rex. In the first situation, what would the resulting baby be? In the second one, would the T-Rex still feel attracted to a female rabbit? Or would he just eat it? And if a baby dinosaur was conceived, could it be eventually possible to create a Jurassic Park?

The world governments also felt intrigued. And next month a female rabbit was to be shipped into the facility. Soon the scientists would know. And Keshav had to admit, that even he felt very curious about it. Though not as curious as he felt about the last specimen of C.R.I.P, left for him to observe tonight.

Well if it could really be called observing. Because all he had to do, was to make sure that the small LED light indicator, outside room 2691 was green. If it was red, Keshav was to press the black switch next to the door. This sent an emergency lockdown signal throughout the facility. Keshav had heard rumors that if this black switch was ever pressed, there would be serious implications for the very survival of the planet.

What could possibly be so potent? How could it be trapped in room 2691? Keshav didn’t know. But he hoped someday, to be important enough to have the secret entrusted to him.

For now, Keshav thought about how getting to room 2691, was always a headache. It was located in a 2 storey structure, isolated from every other building of C.R.I.P.

After being transported by a military vehicle and going through the security formalities, Keshav entered the building.

He walked past the guards, stationed in the corridor and reached the door of room 2691. Keshav opened a metal sliding panel that encased the indicator and the black switch. He looked at the indicator. And almost died.

The light was red.

To be continued…

Monday, 13 April 2015

Doctor Who Review

Today I'd like to write about Doctor Who. A fifty year old science fiction show that still feels refreshingly young and new.

Fifty years is a long time, so there is a lot of back story. But all you need to know, is that this show is about an alien Time Lord from the Planet Galifrey, who steals a time machine to travel through space and time. He gives himself the alias 'Doctor' and travels with various people he meets on his strange adventures. The time machine T.A.R.D.I.S( Time and relative dimensions in space)  often takes him to unexpected destinations with great consequences for all involved. 

However at its essence Doctor Who is about, a man's moral dilemma of making choices that can have a huge impact, an underlying belief that the universe can be saved without any violence or bloodshed using a certain amount of intelligence and having a conscience, and about the human obsession with the Past, Present and Future.

Of course being a science fiction show this series has lots of interesting aliens, gadgets, technology, spaceships, planets etc etc. But all of it is woven really well into the story of a man traveling in his blue box throughout time and space.

There is more, there is lots more. And you can find a lot about the Doctor Who universe online. But besides all that I have a few other observations. The show broadly covers a lot of past history of the Earth, but I haven’t seen much of a reference to the British colonization of Asia, Africa. And it would be nice to see some India themed episode of past or future reference.

 Also the Doctor is understandably lonely, being the last Time Lord traveling alone for 1500 years as a number of companions keep changing along the way(I will not delve into Time Lord life expectancy and the reincarnation trait. However you may wiki it). He is living a life of unimaginable magnitude yet without someone present to share it with, its not much fun for him. Its one of the most human and endearing traits of the Doctor.

Lastly the idea of time travel in itself is so fantastic. Each episode is an interesting ride exploring all that could possibly has/have/would/will exist in a beautifully complex infinite Universe.

Try it. You just might like it. And then unfortunately, you will wait with ever increasingly maddening impatience for the next season to launch.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Where's the Magic?

Rain drops fall from the sky,
The little tadpole doesn’t wonder why.

Leaves turn yellow every autumn,
It doesn’t bother the fish at the ocean’s bottom.

But birds can sense a storm coming their way,
Bats use high pitched sound to find its prey.

In their natural instincts, the animals put their trust,
They don’t second doubt it, or they would bite the dust.

Man can ponder and worry a lot more,
A lot of times it stops him from opening a door.

Natural instinct is buried under so called logic,
But without it there simply cannot be any magic.
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