Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday

Best day of the Winter Olympics so far!

It's nice, you know, in sports, when your country is actually good at something!

View: Canada-Russia highlights (Canada only).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Virtue and Moir prove Golden for Canada

If Canadians coast-to-coast are going to work this morning with a smile on their faces, you may want to thank the couple of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

After a day when our Olympic Committee admitted we would not win the most medals in these Games, when the US men's hockey team beat our men's hockey team in what is OUR game, on OUR ice, when our other medal contenders like speed skaters started to drop like flies to 5th or 6th places, these two not only faced the pressure bravely, they thrived on it.

I will admit to you, I didn't even know there a sport called "Ice Dancing" - let alone that it's an Olympic sport. Like anything on ice, I figured this was a Russian thing. I never watched one ice dancing competition ever.

These Games though, I have been watching everything. So two nights ago, there was the epic Great Britain-Canada curling match, and then there was ice dancing.

I watched a couple of the dances, tuned off, and then got back to it when the Canadians were on. After the first stage, called the "Compulsory Dance", they were ranked 2nd. The Russians had the lead.

And then something happened.

The second round was the Original Dance, they were smoking hot. The Russians were third, the Americans did a Bollywood thing and were second, but Virtue and Moir melted the ice with their flaming flamenco routine. And they jumped to first and suddenly, all of Canada, in need of a lift after a weekend of bad news, started to look to them for hope.

And did they deliver!

It was late night on the East Coast, just after midnight, but every television in Canada was tuned to Vancouver. The Americans, who train with us, ranked second, sizzled. Their routine was pretty good, and suddenly we realized gold would not come so easily. The Americans went to the top of the rankings.

Virtue and Moir were yet to skate, however.

And when they touched the ice the spectators gave them a rousing welcome. And, unlike other competitors, these two drank in the crowd and it gave them strength. And then they began. Their gold medal performance could only be described as a dream, so sublime, romantic, so uplifting, so serene, so perfect were they.

And when they finished, they knew, we knew... and the judges agreed - their score left others trailing in their wake. And what Canadian did not have a goose bump when the national anthem was rendered for them!

For the fifth time these Games, Canada was on top of the world. If these Games needed an Olympic moment, theirs was it.

Pictures: Toronto Sun

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How to stretch a Hindi TV serial

So yesterday I was studying downstairs while my mom was watching some Indian serial.

How to stretch a Hindi TV serial into 600 Episodes:

  • Introduce some new long lost relative who suddenly becomes the most important person in the family.

  • A misunderstanding occurs between the mother-in-law and the elder wife, causing the wife's husband to tell her to leave the house.

  • The husband is some business magnate. Apparently there is no shortage of business magnates in India.

  • A new character in the shape of another business magnate is introduced. This one is a she. And she wants to make a deal (business or otherwise) with the husband over "lunch".

  • The separated wife now gets a job at ... the new lady business magnate's office.

  • This long lost relative suddenly becomes the good guy and wants to reunite the husband and wife. Or... does he?

    And the saga continues ...
  • Monday, February 15, 2010

    What a GOLDen moment to be Canadian!

    What a proud moment to be Canadian. Even though we have had numerous gold medals before, this is the first gold on home soil.
    [BBC | Toronto Star | TSN]

    These are probably the first winter Olympics that I am following this closely. Not only is it at home, but the Canadian team is a strong one, and there is a lot of hope and anguish riding on their young shoulders.

    Now I am inspired and off to ski!

    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    My Name Is Khan - 4.5/5

    I penned this after having just returned from watching My Name Is Khan. There are some movies that are epics. And then, there are some movies that are events. My Name Is Khan manages to be both.

    It's a heart warming story of a Muslim man with autism coping with racial tensions post-9/11 in the USA. It's the story of the Muslim community in USA that suddenly found itself in unwanted focus. It's a story that has a bit of the stories of every one of us.

    We watched a matinee show, at 3 pm. Even on reaching the theatre half an hour ahead, it was packed. Families come out to see a Shah Rukh Khan movie, and the marketing and promotion for this movie has been top class. For all the woes of filmmakers about piracy, it's clear that if you make a good movie, people will throng to the big screen.

    My Name Is Khan is probably one of the few (possibly the first) Bollywood movie I can recommend to non-Bollywood people. Without getting away from Bollywood trappings (songs, exotic locale) it manages to tell a story sans distractions. Yes, it loses the half point because the second half is a bit long, but you don't care because at that point, you have started to root for the protagonist of the movie. It's one of those films that manages to get you involved in the lives of its characters. You start to care for Rizwan and Mandira.

    As for the Islamic aspect of the story, it serves a backdrop to the movie; the underlying context - and it has been portrayed very well. Often, directors, in an effort to avoid cliches, resort to cliches. Here, there is no such filmy-ness. There is one scene set in a mosque that stands out as the best scene in the movie.

    After a long time, Shah Rukh Khan has given a performance that should fetch him numerous awards. He has proven he is one of the best actors in the industry and ditto for all others in the movie - though Shah Rukh Khan stands head and shoulders above everyone else.

    After all, his name is Khan.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Man proposes, but ...

    Mezba (to wife): "Honey, Bahamas is a bit expensive in February, let's do it end of April. Plus, you are not getting that much in holidays either. So let's pick something closeby, we can go for the long weekend, and somewhere cheaper."

    Mezba (after doing research): "Hmm, Washington DC is not bad now. Their expensive time is in March, so February is when I can get the off season rates. Nice! And look, the temperature there is usually around 5 degrees C. Which is far better than the -20 C we will have in Toronto. Great! So, I have these other friends we can drive down with, share the car rental costs, and use our hotel points to get free nights. And this is even great, historically Washington DC hardly gets any significant snow this time of the year!"


    I just cancelled my hotel bookings and other reservations. So now I have nowhere to go. Oh, if only it would get warm enough to do this:
    How Do You Judge A Camel Beauty Contest

    Tuesday, February 09, 2010


    Montreal is one of those cities that have character. When you visit the city, you just know. With its hilly streets and many bridges, it reminded me a bit of San Francisco. It's the second largest city in Canada and over 57% of the people speak French. Like many great cities, Montreal is surrounded by rivers.

    Montreal in the distance by the river side

    One of Montreal's great attractions is their Olympic Stadium, which is situated right next to the Biodome. The Biodome houses plants and animals from around the world.

    kissing birds
    Couple of parrots inside the Biodome

    The Biodome as seen from the top of Olympic Stadium

    The first time I saw the Olympic Stadium, it reminded me of Star Trek Enterprise! Also, some people say it reminds them of a scorpion. Very active imaginations!
    Olympic Stadium

    If you see these pictures you might get the feeling that it was very hot in Montreal. It's true - these are pictures from last summer when I also visited Montreal, coincidentally when they were having a heat wave.

    Another attraction quite close the Biodome is the Insectarium.

    The twig-like insect is easy to spot!

    These leaf-like insects are a bit harder!

    While Montreal's signature attraction is the stadium and the immediate neighbourhood, there are plenty of other areas, particularly Old Port and Rue St. Catherine, and an active nightlife, that gets top marks from tourists.

    The nightlife in Montreal is quite lively.
    You can take the time out to visit Montreal Oratoire St Joseph, which is a church built on top of a mountain.

    One favourite place of Montrealers is to climb Mont Royal (a mountain from which the city gets her name) and watch the sunset over the city, which is what we did.

    Mont Royal
    Mont Royal
    Mont Royal

    If you are wondering why I am doing a travel post, it's getting quite close to another bit of travelling. Unfortunately I am keeping one eye out on the storm in the USA that is now burying Washington. Hopefully, it clears up enough for our own adventure!

    Sunday, February 07, 2010

    "Where in the World" Photo Contest - Round 3

    So, I am one of 'Liya's "Where In The World" Photo Contest Bloggers. Here's the Round 3 picture, and you have to guess which city it's from. This is the final round.

    It's really easy!

    The answer to my Round 2 is now published.

    You can check the answers to other pictures at Liya's blog (original pics here).

    Thursday, February 04, 2010

    New Biman

    At first, it was only Biman Bangladesh Airlines that used to fly from the Middle East to Bangladesh. Sure, other airlines did so as well, but Biman was far cheaper. And with sentiments about it being our national airline, we always used to fly Biman to Bangladesh. Of course, later, common sense prevailed and we started to choose other airlines.

    And then later, MORE common sense, as we realized whatever airlines we flew to Bangladesh, service would be terrible on that route. For some reason, most of the passengers boarding on the final leg to Dhaka would be from the labour class who would forget all norms of decency once on board the flight. You could go on Emirates or Etihad from Toronto to Dhaka via Dubai and London. All the way to London and to Dubai the flight would be A-class with service and punctuality. As soon as you board the final Dubai to Dhaka route it would be a reality show with how long you can last.

    As for Biman, which means airplane in Bangla, we used to call it Beiman, which meant something derogatory. Biman was plagued with problems of inefficiency, cleanliness, punctuality, corruption, profitability etc. You could not get a seat on flights (apparently they were all sold) but planes used to fly empty (somehow) and the airplane operated at a loss (go figure!).

    Now it looks like Biman is getting a new look and some new planes [link].

    I am aware that sometimes re-branding with a new logo and aesthetics can cause a change of attitude and fortunes but the new logo has to come with a new direction from management and greater accountability and service oriented focus from the corporation. Here's hoping Biman is getting more than just a face lift.

    From just a design perspective, I like the new look. It's very modern and the stork is more graceful than the old logo, which looks like a 1980 dot matrix printout. I like the green, which is representative of the flag and also symbolizes cleanliness and being environmental friendly (truth is subjective). Some say it's a bit close to PIA but this one flows better. I would have preferred a bit more red to retain some link with the past but perhaps that was the intention of the designer, to break away from the past. Sometimes, that's a good thing.

    Monday, February 01, 2010

    Lunch Conversation Snippet

    Was eating lunch downtown today at a small halal takeaway place when two gentlemen sat down at the table next to us. They were obviously university students, and from their beard and looks I could guess they were Muslims.

    I overheard the following snipped of conversation.

    "So," said the first guy, "Basically, my summer job is going to be minimum wage plus commission."

    "Oh," the second guy replied, "with your qualifications, why don't you look for work as a teller at a bank or something? Oh wait, interest, right?"

    "Yep." The first guy answered. "Can't work at a place that earns from interest. It's not right for us."

    I wonder if everyone thought like him who would study to be an accountant, or a CFO, or an economist? Who would work in the banks? Who would lead the economic development of their nation?

    On second thought, sometimes thinking too much is bad.