The *BEST* game series I have ever played – Prince of Persia

Word count: 330 | Estimated time to read entry: 7 min

Prince of Persia: A comparison


It was 4 years ago that I got serious about gaming. And the first game I ever picked up was “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time“. I spent hours everyday completing the various levels and I would look forward to returning to my room from office and progressing with the game. It was a world in itself in which I was totally immersed in – a feeling that I was longing for till then.

Looking back in retrospect, now that I have completed all the games in the series (not to mention, the movie as well), I think some of the most pleasant moments of my life have been while playing these games. I thank Jordan Mechner, creator of the game , Ubisoft the publisher and all other design artists, musicians and others involved in this effort for creating a truly absorbing and unforgettable virtual experience.

Above is a quick review of the games released so far, click on the image for a full readable view.  If you are a POP fan like myself, I would appreciate your comments and feedback.

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Who wants to be a multi-millionaire when one can be The Dude??

Word Count: 650  | Estimated time to read entry: 6 min

The Dude

I recently came across this Joel and Ethan Coen movie called ‘The Big Lebowski’. For those who haven’t had the good fortune to see it yet, the movie is about an unemployed guy called Jeff Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) who insists he be called ‘The Dude’. His only priced possession, a carpet, gets urinated upon by money recovery agents, due to a case of mistaken identity after which The Dude sets out to find the real person whom the harm was intended, seeking compensation. The actual person, also a Lebowski (and hence the confusion), is a super-achiever with multiple decorations, riches, a sizzling hot wife and all that any ambitious fellow in the world craves for. The movie then goes on about how The Dude is asked to undertake some assignments by various family members of the other Lebowski, how he gets duped by all and how his two close friends superbly “assist” him in all his endeavors.

 

On first watch, I dismissed this movie as mindless, stupid and idiotic. But now that I take a relook at all of The Dude’s pursuits, I find it almost Messianic. Here is why:

 

  1. The Dude is unemployed. He lives on dole and moves about without a cent in his (torn) pockets. The metaphorical meaning of which is that he is not greedy and doesn’t seek more than what is necessary. True to the teachings of the Buddha, he follows the middle path of neither too much nor too less, but just enough. And since he doesn’t carry any money on him, he doesn’t tempt others into sin.
  2. The Dude never bears any ill-will against anyone. The only philosophy in his life is ‘The Dude Abides’, meaning he accepts things as they come, isn’t bothered by people who duped him or wronged him and moves on without any feelings of remorse or revenge. He is a living embodiment of Christ’s saying, “Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Blessed are ye, if men revile you, persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake for great is thy reward in heaven”.

 

Well, you don’t have to be religious to appreciate The Dude because he illustrates a life of no responsibilities, no accomplishments, no ambitions and therefore, no worries, no consequences, no disappointments. Without any of the things that is “supposed” to make one happy – a job, a house, a great car, a wife, children, social security, medical insurance, a social circle (no, not even Facebook!), riches and fame, The Dude drives home the fact that you actually don’t need any of this to be “happy” – if that is what you care for.

 

So if your goal is to be Happy and not Rich or Famous or Someone important, you must perhaps watch this film. The philosophy of The Dude is one of no philosophy; his aim is that of no aim; his ambition is to have no ambition and his goal is to have no goals whatsoever. In short, The Dude tells one that you don’t have to be ‘Successful’ to be ‘Happy’ because Successful is what everyone else tells you; Happy is what only you can tell yourself.

 

And The Dude is perhaps a litmus test who separates the Happiness seekers from the Success seekers – if you find the movie and this blog entry stupid, idiotic and mindless (like I first did, until I ‘woke up’) and The Dude a wastrel, a useless no-gooder then you are clearly a Success seeker. All the best mate, see you on top of Forbes!

 

But if Happiness is what you seek, I suggest you take a relook at your priorities, the things you are chasing and the things that are chasing you. If you really look at it, you don’t need much to be happy. Not much at all. All you need to do is say, “The Dude abides”! 😀

 

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Blogger’s after-thought: If you are fascinated/obsessed by The Dude, you might want to know more about the philosophy called Dudeism on Wiki, after which you might want to get yourself officially ordained into Dudeism by the Church of the Latter-day Dude, buy some gear online at the Dudeism Store and check out other great Dudes of History. And for the Dude’s Anthem, check out ‘Looking out my back door‘ by Creedence Clearwater Revival at Grooveshark and the lyrics of this song on lyricsfreak.com.

What would childhood be?

Word count: 300 | Estimated time to read entry: 4 min


My reading habit has been steady if not prodigious in the past few months. Having tried Isaac Asimov, S. Maugham, Charles Dickens,  Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, Ruskin Bond and O.Henry, I wanted to try something new, something light and something that I could pick up anytime of the day for a quick read. I explored various options on Amazon when I suddenly realized that I was ignoring something closer home that had entertained me for endless hours during childhood – Tinkle!

 

A quick Google search revealed that Tinkle now had online presence. Within minutes I completed the subscription formalities and after a few weeks the first of the issues arrived!

Tinkle

 

I was as overjoyed to see the copy as I was in Class 1, perhaps more. 🙂 The magazine had not changed much but the coloring was cleaner and the page layouts better. All the familiar characters were doing what they did best – Tantri the Mantri had failed once again in dethroning the king; Suppandi drove yet another master nuts with his idiocy and Shikari Shambhu was an accidental hero once again. Even the other sections on ‘Tinkle Tells you why’, and ‘It happened to me’ were all intact.

 

The memories and incidents associated with Tinkle also rushed to mind – the frequent visit to the book stall after endless tantrums to pick up the latest issue, the dilemma of having to choose just 1 from the hundreds of richly illustrated Amar Chitra Katha on the shelves, the relentless efforts at convincing dad that ‘if he bought me the whole set, he’d never have to buy me anything ever again’ 😉 and all the hours spent in reading the comics subsequently.

 

I wonder what childhood would’ve been without Tinkle. I am now waiting for the next issue to visit my childhood again! 😉


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Trivia Quiz: Unreal Heroes, Unforgettable Appeal

 

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If you have enjoyed reading any or all of the fictional characters mentioned in my previous entry titledUnreal Heroes, Unforgettable Appeal‘, you might want to try your hand at this Trivia Quiz that I compiled. Answer them without Googling or opening the book itself. They are not obscure facts but they are certainly not lame sitters. 

Post your answers as comments below. I don’t expect you to get all of them right, especially the ! marked ones     😛   😛

 Trivia Quiz:

  1. What is George’s surname in ‘The Famous Five’ series?
  2. Rastapopoulous is a recurring villainous character in Tintin. What is his (non villainous) profession?
  3. In Tinkle, what is the name of the peacock that appears in ‘Kalia the crow’ stories?
  4. What is Jughead’s younger sister’s nickname?
  5.  What is the name of the motorboat owned by Hardy Boys?
  6.  Hercule Poirot frequently employs the services of an expensive but effective person who gets the information he seeks by pretending to collect census and usage data. Name him.  !       😛
  7. What is the Roman currency often mentioned in Asterix series? !
  8. The Maharaja of which fictional Indian city hosts Tintin in one of his adventures? !     😮
  9. Poirot has a little-known brother who very much resembles him but for one significant feature. What is it?
  10. Nancy Drew title: “The Clue of the Dancing _____________”. Fill the blank. 

So how many did you get??     😀

 

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Unreal Heroes, Unforgettable Appeal

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Word Count: 1297 | Estimated time to read entry: 12 min

 

A few days ago, I was on my regular visit to one of my favorite book shops in town. As I was going around, I stumbled upon the comic books section and I noticed many of the familiar books and characters that were a delight during childhood, a welcome relief from textbooks and a source of constant amusement. I thumbed through some of them and the richly illustrated pages cast the same spell on me as they did during childhood.

 

Below is a list of some of my favorite fictional characters. I first decided to do a top-10 entry on this but then stopped short owing to a declaration in one of my own previous entries 😉 And again, I met these characters during different phases of my life, each having a distinct charm and appeal. Hence I thought it would be inappropriate to rank them; so I decided to just list them in no particular order.

 

The Famous Five: Some of my most pleasant hours in fictiondom have been spent reading the Adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timothy. With a mad scientist for a father/uncle, a great cook for a mother/aunt and a private island for a holiday destination, The Famous Five have solved innumerable criminal cases that have eternally eluded the police. Their secret lied in an uncanny ability to discover secret tunnels and passages that would take them all over the island and place them back in their own attic or sometimes in the scientist’s lab. For strength they would gulp down copious amounts of pickled onions, ham sandwiches, orangeade, ginger beer and a few other mouth watering delicacies. Once begun, their feast would last for at least 4 pages and recur every 50 pages.  😀  The crime wasn’t gory and solving of the mystery didn’t involve extreme logic, thereby appealing to young readers. Enid Blyton’s ‘The Famous Five’ was an interesting mix of adventure and fun.

 

Tintin: My most favorite comic book character and one of the finest series I have read ever. A reporter by profession, Tintin always stumbled into most of the crimes that he would successfully solve in the following 60 odd pages characterized by fantastic illustrations and amazing sequences. Once on a trail, ransacked apartments, speeding taxis, meteorites, gun shots, derailed trains and even poison darts from tribal villains wouldn’t deter him. And in his pursuit, he has visited the moon, Arabia, South American forests, Red Sea, Peru and many other interesting locations. He would have been highly unsuccessful in his stints had it not been for the invaluable assistance of a dog that loves to rummage trash bins, a former Captain of a ship who is short tempered and alcoholic, a pair of ingenious detective twins from the police department…from Scotland Yard, to be precise  😀  and how can I not include, an almost deaf scientist who can predict everything by the swing of his pendulum! Herge’s Tintin is a hero I can’t forget and nor can the world, as he is the only fictional character to appear on several countries’ postal stamps and currency coins, till date!

 

Suppandi: Yes, the eternal moron from Tinkle did have me in splits and my admiration for him rose to such a great extent that I still respect most morons around me! 😛 His stupidity knew no end and he has disgraced unlimited masters who were generous enough to hire him. He had a different master in every series thereby proving that he did get fired but hired again as well. Even in these days of recession when the best of minds are trying hard for a job, Suppandi is getting hired across sectors – hotels, laundries, movie theaters, you name it! I won’t be surprised if he sits besides me in my office next 😀 Perhaps stupidity is recession proof  😛  Therefore, Uncle Pai’s Suppandi is certainly our hero and inspiration during such tough times.

 

Jughead Jones: The best chum of the eternal flirt, Archie, Jughead had a love for different kind of junk unlike Archie  😛 😛 😛 – junk food! At a time when Pizza was not available in India, I would salivate just by looking at all the goodies Jughead would be gulping down. His mere presence would get Archie out of many difficulties with a blonde babe or a rich babe and often times both. Bob Montana’s Jughead is perhaps the only character that makes food look far more appealing than bikini-clad girls on the same page! 😛 

 

Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys: Well, I am talking of both in the same breath as one of my good friends pointed out that the creator/s of both was in fact the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Frank and Joe Hardy were the typical American teens professing a love of convertibles, basketball and of course, girls. On the other hand, Nancy Drew was a beauty with brains assisted in her investigations by two not-so-brilliant chums. Of the two series, I liked Nancy Drew better – it had lesser violence and bloodshed. Carolyn Keene/Franklin W Dixon’s characters did compel me to spend hours on end on some of the best suspense sequences I have read during childhood.

 

Hercule Poirot: Eh bien! Words fail me in my attempt to describe the finest character in literary detective fiction ever created, in my opinion. With an egg-shaped head under a hat, standing a little over five feet, Poirot had a love for truth, polished moustache, neatness in attire, French utterances, ‘order and method’, well-rounded women and food! His emphasis on the psychology of the crime over mere physical clues would enable him to think through the case in really clever ways. And for this very reason, I rate him far higher than the more famous Sherlock Holmes who stresses on fingerprints and cigarette ash. Poirot’s cases were simple yet gripping, his personality was intellectual yet flamboyant and the style of narration was fluid yet dramatic. Agatha Christie’s Poirot has had the biggest influence on my thinking among all fictional characters. And to the reader who adores Poirot, it should come as no surprise that he is the only fictional character ever to receive a front page ‘Obituary’ on NY Times after Agatha Christie announced his last case and his imminent death in the same. And it certainly is well deserved, n’est ce pas?  😉

 

Asterix and Obelix: This comic duo have together given sleepless nights to the almighty Julius Caesar and the not-so-almighty wild boars in their vicinity 😀  Asterix is the man with the cunning and Obelix is the one with superhuman strength owing to a ‘tragedy’ in his childhood. Their life is simple and restricted to their village which is also home for an out-of-tune singer, a fishmonger with more stale fish than fresh, a blacksmith who can temper iron with mere hands, an old druid with a few interesting recipes up his sleeve and the village chief who commands the entire village minus his own wife 😀 Most of the stories start with a problem that would then necessitate thumping a few thousand armed-yet-defenseless Roman legionaries in the pretext of guarding the village, a journey or two and eventually a triumphant return to the village in time for a great starlit banquet. The illustrations are lovely but even more appealing are the apt names of the many small characters, the amazing puns and the wonderfully contextual usage of Latin, if you care to know what it means. It is perhaps the only comic where footnotes are meant to be funny and not just explanatory. And for this, one can never outgrow Goscinny and Uderzo’s Asterix and Obelix.

 

Reading these characters is the fondest recollection of my childhood. And it is perhaps the only childhood trait I don’t want to “grow-up” from.  🙂

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#UPDATE:  Take the trivia quiz to test your knowledge on the fictional characters mentioned above. Click here.   🙂 

 
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A box full of memories

Word count: 470 | Estimated time to read blog: 3 min

My parents have recently relocated to Mysore to spend their retired lives in peace. I travel during chance weekends to join them and I must admit I am tempted to retire right away. Mysore is symbolic of all that is slow, nostalgic and relaxing.

Moving in and out of cities has its own charms and headaches. All my things had come packed in carton boxes and my parents were quite exhausted by the time they had unpacked their own. So my things were left neatly boxed and would remain so unless I made up my mind to shelve the books, hang the clothes, assemble the furniture and going-away-for-good.jpgthrow away the cartons.

I took up this chore with reluctance one lazy evening. Well, you might have noted that I have prefixed ‘lazy’ for afternoons and mornings earlier. But then, laziness doesn’t announce or time its arrival, does it? And the ashy grey Mysore evening with the sweet smell of light rain didn’t improve my resolve either. But yes, the shooting up of my mom’s eyebrows certainly did and that’s when I finally got down to opening those dusty boxes.

The boxes were a mishmash of all things – socks, photographs, CDs, documents, books and a lot many other odds and ends had gone in to make it the fine salad I was now seeing. And considering the road from Manipal to Mysore, the salad state wasn’t a big surprise. I took out one item after another and organized them in separate heaps to enable easier arrangement.

It was then that I really started enjoying this activity. Things I had long forgotten suddenly seemed to reappear, bringing back with them associated memories. Photographs taken during early childhood; the tie I wore in primary school; the autograph books full of snippets and advice from schoolmates; the big blue toy bus I used to play with as a kid; group snap of the Literary and Debating club front desk while in 2nd year MIT; the snaps of TAPMI hostel rooms and the life we had together; the college magazine extolling my work and contributions….and a thousand other objects gradually came into view as I eagerly explored and unearthed the contents of the cartons, the memories leaping to my mind like tadpoles in a muddy pool, after the first rain.

What began as a detestable chore suddenly turned into a delightful activity. It was like a quick flip through the pages of my life so far with harmless pangs of nostalgia sweetening the effect.

I think it is memories, both the pleasant and the not–so-pleasant, that make our lives richer, fresher and poetic. And I am sure I already know what I am going to do after I retire. 🙂


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This world is too much with us

 

Word count: 530 | Estimated time to read: 5 min


It was a slothful afternoon and I woke up after a snooze, ready to have a steaming hot bath all the while reminiscing on the sumptuous meal I had devoured in the afternoon – Chapattis, Aloo masala, Chawal and Egg curry. Lakshmee, the cook who serves me my meals, had done a fine job.

I bubbled and sploshed in the bathroom for some time and was back in my room, refreshed. The whole evening lay before me. I switched on the radio and there was the weekly Top 30 program. The TV screen displayed one of the myriad award functions. I booted my PC and the modem flashed on indicating that I was now only a few blinks away from connecting to the virtual world. I was ready to spend the evening shifting my attention between the radio, TV and the internet when ……Bling! The power went off.

After nearly 2 days of confinement, I decide to come out of my room. The 6 PM sun, mild and romantic, was shining down. I picked up the book I am currently reading, ‘Vagrants in the Valley’ by Ruskin Bond and went to the terrace right outside my room.suntree.jpg

Perched comfortably on a chair, I began thumbing through the volume desultorily. My attention was soon occupied by the simplicity of my immediate environment and I kept the book aside. A cool, light breeze was now blowing, flipping the pages of the book every now and then like a phantom reader with a miraculous reading speed. The clothes on the line were dangling to the unseen tune of the breeze. The sky was a kaleidoscope of the most exuberant and ephemeral colors.

A spray of light drizzle fell from the sky and people from the houses below scurried out to gather their clothes and take them away to safety. But this was a false alarm and the drizzle thinned out and stopped. The breeze continued to run across the terrace like a tireless dance tutor, spinning and swaying everything it touched.

The light bulb above my head suddenly flashed on informing me that the power was back. I grimaced at its uninformed arrival and switched it off in haste because it looked quite incongruent to my mood satiated by the breeze and the drizzle. I felt peaceful, lost in the solitude. For once I was glad that the power had gone off in so untimely a fashion. I had a great time in the company of the breeze and the drizzle and whiling away my time in absolute idleness.

I had spent all morning reading poetry, updating my own poetry blog and photography portfolio. I couldn’t have expected a better evening.

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#1: The title, “This world is too much with us” is taken from William Wordsworth’s poem with the same name. You will find it here

#2: If you liked the above blog entry and the original poem by Wordsworth, you might want to read another beautiful poem by Wordsworth on Idleness, here

#3: Ruskin Bond is a phenomenal writer whose themes are simply beautiful. You will find more information on him and his works here.


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