Monday, August 31, 2015

Book Review - The Cobra

After a long hiatus I took another book of my favorite author - Frederick Forsyth. I guess this will be the last time that I indulge into Forsyth's books. His style has become predictable and I am starting to confuse some of his novels. I feel that it is time to venture into others' books. But now, back to the novel at hand.
The Cobra starts with the usual "world at risk" kind of problem. The unusual part of it is that unlike the usual espionage novels, the threat is not from bombs, nuclear weapons or missiles. The threat that is handled in The Cobra is Cocaine. That way, this novel has a different premise. Liked it.
The middle portion of the book is where I felt a lot of Déjà vu. Many pieces of information repeated like the explanation of a small amount of Pure converting many tons of Cocaine, like the pressure of failed smuggling on the dealers, and the like. One part of the sequence that I liked is the reintroduction of a character from Avenger.
The end of the novel has a great twist to the tale. After my displeasure with most of his recent books' endings, this was a welcome relief. The ending reminded me of that of The Devil’s Alternative’s . I was felt the minor intellectual warmth that made me like this author more than most. But then, this is too low a dose to intoxicate me further. It is ironic that I am going to end my addiction to the author based on his novel about psychoactive drug!

A quick list of the books that I have read, to create a bit of nostalgia:
The Devil's alternative
Avenger
The Negotiator
The Afghan
The Kill List
The Cobra

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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Step on a Crack - Book Review


It sounds like a sin that I had not heard of James Patterson before. A colleague gave me an audio CD of his book “Step on a Crack”. I am not much into audio books, but wanted to try listening to a story while working. A book is meant to be a book, but the audio book comes closer for those stretched for time. I missed some of the portions of the book since I was deep into work. Anyways, that’s much better than not reading itself. Know what? I look forward to work more than before with the added carrots of audio books. 
On to the book itself, it was great. I felt the suspense so much that I picked up the hard copy book from the library and completed this morning – early morning.

A group of terrorists hold a bunch of celebrities as hostage in a cathedral. The protagonist is a negotiator who is called to talk to the terrorists. That’s a one line story line that the authors have narrated beautifully in the novel.  There are certain aspects though that I would have preferred to have been handled differently. The character of Eugena Humphrey was well developed and nothing happened after that. The author also tried to depict how the celebrity hostages changed during the heist, but that did not come out well.

Step on a crack is the first book in the Bennett series. I am looking forward to reading some of other Bennett books as well. 

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

A week of the near misses


A snowy weekend yielded to a chilly Monday. Without the snow and the fast winds, I was actually looking forward to a great start to the week. On the first turning from my house, a car appeared from nowhere and I applied the break. The brake kicked my foot back reminding me that the snow over the weekend had converted to ice with a bit of sun coming out. This is Wisconsin; snow and ice are part of the life here. But I slowed down a lot after that. When the next turn came, I was moving at snail’s pace. So what happened next was an even bigger shock. While turning, the steering wheel did not respond, the brake did not oblige and a fence bordered by a brick wall beckoned. The car came to a stop with a thud. As a true blood desi I had forgotten that I could have gotten hurt and feared a heavy car repair bill.

The first step outside the car reminded the reason for the car's disobedience. I carefully maneuvered the ice coated road to the front of the car with a thumping heart. Nothing! Probably a scratch that was more on my mind than on the body of the car. The steering failure was not too bad. If the steering wheel had responded partially, I would have hit the brick wall. Its complete failure made me hit a flexible fence which saved the car. Phew! Another story of the arrow taking the turban instead of the head.

Few days later, while walking out of the office building with the confidence that my car will shield me from the weather, I put my hand in my coat pocket. No car key! Frantic search in the very many pockets of the coat, shirt, pant and bag yielded nothing. With a heavy heart I left the car in office and took a ride with a friend back home. Well, I have back up keys to the car, and this is one of the safest places in the country to leave a car unattended. So why worry?

The next day a friend dropped me at office and I casually took the backup key and tried inserting it in the car. Forget opening the door, the key did not even go inside the hole. Is it the freezing temperature, is it the glove in my hand, or is it fate? There was confidence in the fact that there was one more spare key at home, but I started researching about the cost of making a new key. A website proudly announced that an uncut key with remote facility costs $250 at the dealer and only $140 with them. I really wished that the 2nd spare key would work. One more visit home and back, and I was standing again in front of the car with another key in hand. This time the car relented to the key’s request and opened. The engine showed frustration at being in the subzero weather for the whole night, but worked. A quick check around the car showed that it was doing fine. The trunk though had something interesting. The original key!

Flash back. After parking the car the previous day, I had opened the trunk to keep the snow remover back in its place. With the heavy winter gloves I did not feel my hands dropping the car key and the cold weather made me run to the office door without realizing that I did not close the car. With auto lock and a safe place, no one really remembers locking the car. But from now on, I will. It might have been a close miss, but is something worth learning from.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Secret in Their Eyes - Movie Review


A movie review after a long time. This one is worth it. 

The story is not that complicated and is excellently narrated. The intertwining of two different periods has been handled with élan. The ending, for once, is something that I will call fair.

The storyline is fresh. A retired judge/investigator writes a novel to avoid feeling unimportant. The novel is a recount of a real case that the protagonist had investigated - a brutal rape and murder. The past is shown to us as the novel is being written, and as the author tries to find direction for his novel. An investigator who is committed to finding the truth, the kin of the victim who wants a fair result, a senior officer who falls for the investigator, a drunk colleague who keeps finding trouble, are the primary characters. Some of the other characters also lend color to the script, which flows like a tender stream tending towards a waterfall - elegant and powerful.

The movie has suspense, mild love, vengeance, villainies and a bit of time travel for the audience. Well worth the watch and the dollars that my friend spent online to buy it.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An evening in Montreal

Walked around the city a bit - from Notre Dame Basilica to the downtown Marriott Residence Inn. 
Enjoyed http://www.therewaslight.ca/

  • Monument-National in Montreal is not something like the Washington Monument. It is a theater!  Wasted a considerable amount of time tracing it in the map and walking to it. 
  • The light show at the Notre Dame Basilica explains the history of the basilica in a movie kinda fashion. It is boring at times, but is worth the experience.
Next time, will remember to change the photo mode in the phone to auto. Not sure when I had changed it to Text mode to capture documents, all the pictures that I took in Montreal are low on color.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Traveler IQ

Traveler IQ is an interesting game which seems to be improving my geographical knowledge.
The Traveler IQ challenge ranks your geographic knowledge against 9,074,219 other travelers.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vantage Point of Parenting



As I held my daughter in my hand for the first time, I could not stop thinking about my dad. How would he have felt when I was born? What would he have thought I would do in life? How much would I have disappointed him? I should not force my daughter to become something that I want. Well, my parents did not force me into anything. May be, when I was born, they had the realization that I am having now. Sometimes you have to wear the shoes to be in the shoes of the other person. The son becomes a father, and realizes that the father was a son.  

As 8000 miles separates me from my parents, the thought of them missing my daughter does not bother as much as the feeling of me missing them. I can pray that my daughter turns out better than the son that I am, but I can work on being as good a father that my father is.