Thursday, April 23, 2015


A touch of Frost-British crime/nice
Absolutely fabulous-comedy/BBC/worth buying and seeing repeatedly!
Ambassadors : comedy. Sort of black comedy. I like this. But only 3 episodes on Canada net flex as of April 2015
An idiot abroad-one episode only set in India. I saw a bit of India but not my cup of tea. So I am not going to see all the episodes.
Anger management-comedy. Saw a few episodes and lost interest
American dad-cartoon comedy.nice
Arrested development-nice-comedy
Black mirror:This is a BBC show; I saw one episode and it was so bloody uncomfortable for me to finish it . I hated it (it's brutal, depressing, dark, etc) and it ruined my mood for a long while. I am addicted to the 'feel good', happy ending comedies and I simply don't have what it takes to see this type of stuff! This is NOT a show for enjoyment! It is so Dystopian(at least the first episode I saw) that it stretches and adds more to the word Dystopian! 
Blackish-comedy. One of the few almost all black shows I have seen. I sort of like it but not enough to take care to see all the episodes.
Blue bloods-crime-saw a few episodes but family is too goody goody and not my cuppa
Bob's burgers-comedy/cartoon show/nice. I enjoy this and seen all episodes
Body of proof_crime-dint hold my interest
Bones/crime/comedic...lost interest now. Am I getting old and not enjoying crime? Or is the main character's flatish emoting grating on me?
Bored to death-comedy/quirky and pleasant. I really like this show! Offbeat and quirky and gentle
Brooklyn nine-nine comedy. Took a while to like it but now I do.  At first, I found Perralta annoying, Amy too sugary, Gina irritating, but I got used to them and now I like the show. I find that I am leaning toward comedy and away from crime in my old (if late 40s is old age)
Bosch: Crime. good. I liked this and saw the entire first season
Boss:crime/but dint hold my interest. saw a few episodes
Boston Legal-comedy/lawyers & courts/ intelligent and enjoyable. I can see this again and again!
Boston Public..drama. I saw this in India years and years ago. I liked it a lot then but could not believe that schools in America were like this! In India then, I was terrified at the thought of even teaching in an American school!
Burn notice-crime-saw only a few and lost interest
Castle-crime/comedy. Lost interest lately
Casual ?comedy I loved this show. It's like a show with depth about people, who, superficially, seem superficial(but each one seems to be running away from their problems by having superficial relationships???)This is not on netflix but on Hulu I think
Columbo-crime-I liked it then; not sure if I will like it now! Now I may find Colombo's mannerisms annoying and maybe I may find the show a bit slow.
Community-comedy. Saw a few episodes//dint hold my attention
Corner gas-comedy-Canadian-nice
Coupling-comedy/BBC/enjoyable! I love this show!
Criminal minds-crime(Saw a few episodes and disliked it and stopped; I hated the acting especially the geeky guy. I found the plots sick. Zero entertainment values for me.)  Frankly, I have not seen such perverted people in real life and am wondering if they are making everything sicker to 'push the envelope', so to speak.
CSI-Las Vegas//liked it before. Now I am not interested. I had a huge crush on two characters i.e. Nick and Warrick!
CSI-Miami ...I have gradually lost  interest in all the CSI, law and order, and other crime serials which have little or no humor.
Curb your enthusiasm-comedy/funny but cringy too
Desperate housewives-good in bits-I did not see this fully; it's supposed to be a comedy but I dint find as much comedy as I think a comedy should have . So is it crime but again it doesn't have as much crime as a crime serial should have
Dreamland: I love this Australian comedy(called Utopia) about office of a building company. Some of the characters and the things they do remind me of some of my office colleagues!
Doc Martin: (USA Netflex 2015 Nov but show is of 2004). Though it's not crime or humour which are the types of shows I usually like, I did enjoy this show a lot. It's a bit like a character created by A,J.Cronin but in a less serious vein.
Empire: This is one of the very few all black shows I have seen(Blackish is the other one I think). I really like what I saw (first season, first episode) and plan to see it fully. Hope I dont lose interest!
Entourage-comedy//okay. The only guy who made me sit up was Ari. I love watching Ari but as a female, I cannot imagine tolerating someone like him in real life for a single minute!
Eye Candy-?crime. saw one episode. It's too sick for me
Fawlty towers--ALL TIME FAVORITE. can see this show again and again for years! worth buying
Fraiser-comedy/I would not miss this show
Friends-comedy. I enjoyed this . Maybe I would have liked it more if I was 10 years younger when it first came out
George Lopez: It's average but I really enjoyed it.
Girls-comedy.based in New York. Quirky, different, worth seeing.
Gotham-crime-saw a few episodes and lost interest(two excellent actors i.e.)
Happily divorced-comedy-relaxing to watch.
Harry's law-I loved this show.
Hawaii 5-O-crime. saw a few episodes but it does not hold my attention
Homeland-crime-I would not miss this-fast paced/excellent acting/ great characters/realistic plot/highly intelligent
House of cards-crime-dont miss this highly intelligent show
House of lies-comedy/sick ethics but entertaining. I would not miss this
How I met your mother-comedy, one actor is worth watching(Barney)
In plain sight-crime-okay
Insecure...This is a must watch show(not on netflix...HBO?) It's a show with mostly black actors, set in LA and the main protoganist is an amazing gutsy lady.
It's wonderland-Canadian show/comedy/not easy to find reruns on internet
It's always sunny in Philadelphia-comedy. this too is not like mainstream comedy, I like the characters, but some episodes are cringe-worthy.
Justified-crime-excellent, though violent. would not miss this show
Just shoot me-comedy/nice I loved the wit and humor in this. I would not miss this.
Keeping up appearences-BBC comedy/okay. I have friends who love this and see this again and again but not my cup of tea.
Law and order-criminal intent
Law and order-LA
Law and order-New York
Law and order-Special victims unit. I watched this before. Now I cant stand this. It's so damn depressing, it is not entertainment. It's torture. I am not criticising the show. The acting's good, etc. I watch TV to be happy and this makes me miserable...even if there's justice at the end in some episodes.
Lillyhammer-comedy set in Norway(I saw only one or two episodes. not so funny. Why don't I enjoy European shows or movies? Am I too low-brow in my taste or I simply don't get their humor or what?)
Live another day-crime-fastpaced/I would not miss this show(sequel to 24, another unmissable show)
Lunch monkeys..BBC . comedy. I love the characters. Not much of a plot but a nice way to pass the time.
Major crimes-crime-female protoganist
Malcolm in the middle-I loved this show-comedy about a family. I hope it airs on Canadian netflex as I will be returning soon. I would not miss this.
Master of none:Saw an episode in USA(netflex Nov 2015) and enjoyed the comedy, though I am not really fond of Aziz Ansari
Midsomer murders-crime/BBC.Nice. I really liked the police characters.
Mike and Molly-comedy-annoying to me. saw one or two episodes
Miss Fisher's murder mysteries: saw 2 episodes. I loved the main character , her manners and clothes, hair and makeup and it was interesting to see Melbourne, Australia of the 1920s!
Modern family-comedy-nice
Monk-crime/comedy. Once upon a time, I was hooked to this show, but now I wonder if I have the patience to put up with Monk.
Mr.D-comedy/nice/Canadian show. I really enjoy this show!
Murdoch mysteries-crime-Canadian show. I will watch this if I cant find a single other thing to see
My name is Earl-comedy/I loved two people in this show(Joy and Randy). Very enjoyable.
NCIS-crime/comedic/now I am losing interest. Is the show no longer interesting or is my taste changing?
NCIS-Los Angles-crime/comedic
New tricks-BBC crime.nice.lost interest now
Pam-am-okay. saw a few episodes
Parks and recreations-comedy//My sister loves this but I find it okay.
Perception-crime-saw one or two episodes. did not hold me
Person of interest-crime (watched a few seasons and lost interest)
Primeval -science fiction/great show/saw all episodes/different from all I have seen/I would not miss this...because of the dinosaurs
Psych-comedy/crime-enjoyed this show(shot in Vancouver)
Raising Hope- comedy//nice and the characters are all gentle.
Reckless-crime-saw all the episodes available(south USA?)
Rectify-crime/really slow/lost interest but interesting in a way
Reno -911-comedy/ I LOVE this show though some say it's stupid. It's relaxing and enjoyable. I would not miss this.
Republic of Doyle-Crime/comedy/Canadian. I love this show and seen it fully. should buy this series for my Indian friends(it is pro-women and I like the people, relationships, scenery, etc) I would not miss this.
Royal pains-? comedy. saw a few episodes//it dint hold me plus I don't have cable which puts this show.
Rules of engagement: comedy/witty & enjoyable! I would not miss this.
Seinfield-comedy/I liked this show a lot; I would not miss this
Siberia-fake reality show/the director should give 12 hours of my life back. It's terrible!
Silicon Valley-saw one episode. did not hold my interest
Spin city-comedy/excellent dialogues:Excellent. Worth buying the DVDs...if they ever release it.
Stalker:saw one only.
Still game:British- Scotish comedy show on canadian netflex (Sept2015) nice (not fantastic)
Storage wars-reality show-one episode only//waste of my time to see this show.
Suits:comedy/crime/drama: Fast-paced and enjoyable
Suburgatory-comedy-saw many episodes but I cant really relate to it
That 70s show-comedy/enjoyable
The blacklist :crime. Saw a few episodes only
The Americans:One episode only
The big bang theory-comedy-saw many seasons
The Borgias-excellent/but saw only one season/BBC
The brink-comedy set in Pakistan (like a spoof on homeland, 24 and such shows)I loved this show/unfortunatly it has only one season and was not renewed.Indians and Pakistanis should enjoy this but it may also hurt if one is a thin-skinned, delusional patriotic Indian or Pakistani!
The closer-crime/comedic...LOVED this intelligent show and the protagonist and would not miss this show
The firm-crime-did not see all episodes
The good wife-crime/court/great plot/prowomen/I loved Eli, Kalinda and Cary! There's a lot one can learn from this show, especially those who have not had the opportunity to interact with a lot of people in real life and ergo, lack skills to judge people, interact with a range of people, be assertive and so on.
The job-comedy/EXCELLENT/I see it when I want to relax and laugh/excellent acting, cast, dialogues. When my mood is low, I see any episode of this and feel better immediately! I would not miss this.
The following:It's sick and I hated it's violence and stopped watching
The honorable woman-crime-BBC/Israel/Palestine..I would not miss this show/slow but great
The listener-crime-Canadian show-saw many episodes but not catchy enough for me
The mentalist-interesting protaganist, annoying lady police officer
The playboy club-I loved this but it shut down
The practice-great show
The red road- I think this is the first show I have seen with a lot of Native Indians (or acting as Native Indians)in it and the story is around their life. It is set in New Jersey and is of the Lenape tribe.  
The Rockford files: I loved this show, especially the gentle detective.
The same sky: German serial. sort of crime show set in east Germany. You should see this show to see how life is in east germany
The shield-crime/I stopped when a cop seemed to be  bad/unethical. I cant tolerate bad cops even in shows!
The wire-crime/I would not miss this/the best TV show I have seen/but emotionally draining. I don't have what it takes to see it again(and I spent 300$ buying the entire series!)
The windsors...BBC comedy. It's okay.
This hour has 22 minutes/comedy/Canadian
Thirty Rock-comedy. I really enjoy this show but my sister gets a lot more out of this show than I do...she  knows the people and events it's referring to and it's funnier for her.
Top of the lake-Australian show-okay(not funny and I did not like many characters in it)
True detective-crime-slow pace but unusual and I would not miss it
Twentyfour_I would not miss this show/my heart was pounding while watching this! My husband and I became so hooked to this, we would watch it for 5 hours at a time! Watching this was like a drug addiction !
Twin peaks-weird but interesting show-crime
Two and a half men comedy. I have seen and enjoyed this and seen many episodes a second time. (But my sister is pissed off about me enjoying this. because I am appreciating a womanizer . I know what she means...but still cant help laughing!) 
Two broke girls-comedy/nice
Ugly Betty-did not see it fully
Under the dome-science fiction and crime/saw one season/one guy put me off with his eastern stalker attitude to a girl
Vexed: A BBC TV show about two detectives and it's a crime comedy. I enjoyed it ! One of my all time favorites, especially the second episode of second season, which I watched, in it's entirity at least 4 times!
Web therapy-comedy-saw one episode and lost interest
Welcome to Sweden-comedy-gentle and slow-paced but saw one entire season
White collar-crime-unmissable & fast paced. Saw the entire series

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Different book for different moods AKA Comfort books

One reason I don't get rid of books I finished is because I re-read them. Some people read a book from start to finish and then start another.  I read many books at the same time... I read one book  at work while having my lunch, one on the ride to work, another at the dining table.

I read  new books and the ones I have already read several times!
It is the ones I have read before that I need for my varying moods. I wish I could describe my moods and thoughts better but trying to define my moods is like trying to pin down an eel. Yet, I have tried to write what books I feel like reading at certain times, places, moods.

Traveling through the green Pennsylvania in summer, I always feel a craving to read some books by James Hadley Chase(I will add the names of the specific books later). I cannot explain why. For some reason, the long quiet roads with hardly any people, remind me of scenes from some of his books.

Traveling through California,  especially the road to Yosemite, with dry hills covered by yellow grass,  makes me want to read my one and only set of westerns i.e. Sudden series by Oliver Strange and Fredrick.H.Christian.

When I am extremely upset by yet another financial disaster created by my close relative, I read the Adrian Mole diaries (the ones where he's an adult). Those novels are the only things which lighten my dark mood!  I feel so good to know there's someone, who's more stupid than my relative! Even if that someone is a fictional one!

Reading the Archy McNally series by Lawrence Sanders lightens my mood and relieves me when I am feeling frustrated. While Archy's shenanigans are quite mood elevating, it is the Binky Watrous's naiveté  which really makes me feel better...Once again, I feel better knowing there are people as foolish or more foolish than the ones I know and love/related to!

To feel  the adrenalin rush, I need to read certain  books by authors such as Jassy Mackenzie, Deon Myer, Malla Nunn, Tom Rob Smith, Linwood Barclay, Harlan Coben (except Coben's Mickey Boliter series which I dint like), Michael Connelly,etc(this list of adrenalin-books is quite big)

Books with bleak stories, bleak moods, bleak characters seem to be the precise recipe for some days. On other days, when I am feeling merry, I would not touch these books!  I don't know what I mean when I say bleak; let me tell the books and you can decide . For this mood, I read books such as  Child 44 and The secret speech by Tom Rob Smith. I may read some of the Wallender series by Henning Mankell.

In spring and summer, I have a craving to read the books I read in my childhood, even if it's pretty childish to read them now. These could be children's adventures, classics such as To kill a mocking bird, some books by Charles Dickens, the abridged version of The lost horizon by James Hilton.

For a certain other type of mood, I enjoy the Rostinokov series by Stuart M Kaminsky. I really wish I could describe the mood but I suppose some moods can only be felt and not retold or described!

Though I get this intense craving to read these books, once I do start reading, I don't finish. I read in bits and pieces until I lose interest completely. It is only sometimes that I read a book from start to finish. I would like to figure out why I get this intense  craving which disappears after just a few pages of reading.

Switching from books to TV shows, I have similar cravings. After I see a show which I enjoyed but also found to be quite disturbing either because of the violence or the extreme lack of ethics, I NEED to see a show to reduce my sense of disturbance. So, after seeing an episode of a show like 'The house of cards' or 'house of lies', I need to see an episode of a show like Denis Leary's  'The job'. I have seen 'The job" many times but still find it amazingly good and an amazing mood elevator for me!

After I learnt what 'comfort food' means,  I decided to make a list of my own comfort books and comfort TV shows. These are shows I see over and over again, as I feel good when I watch them.
My comfort TV shows are:
The job: This is my current favorite. It is simply so perfect!
The Rockford files
Republic of Doyle
Reno 911..I love this show and laugh a lot. My sister is disturbed that I love this show!
Bob's burgers
Bored to death
Brooklyn 99
Happily divorced This was one show which is so damn pleasant! It may rate as 'average' on many parameters but it is one hell of a comfort show
It's always sunny in Phil...
Just shoot me
Raising Hope

Glad to escape from music

One of the plus points of moving out of India was that I could finally escape from the sounds of blaring into my unhappy ears from the streets and shops of Bangalore. The music would stream into my home, even if I shut the doors and windows. The  music put on loud speakers at   religious functions in parks and even on the roads would pour into my ears, annoying me intensely! The music was varied and I disliked all of it!

I dislike Carnatic classical music and I was forced to hear it at various places. I thought I had finally escaped from Carnatic classical when I moved to Canada but it has pursued me! My husband loves Carnatic and  recently, he's taken to listening to it late at night. I am unable to sleep though I changed rooms.  I can escape this onslaught only if I sleep in the basement, which I don't want to do...yet.

Another music I dislike is the wedding music at south India weddings i.e. the Nadaswaram. This is the loudest wind instrument I have ever heard in my life and the most annoying of all things to listen. Frankly, I think someone should check these musicians for hearing loss. Even the accompanying Thavil drum( like the  Tabala but I dont know the name of this drum in Kannada) is extremely loud and annoying to me.

The songs one  was forced to hear on various festival days on the streets of Bangalore was another major annoyance. I suffered for so many reasons. I like silence yet, I had to listen to these songs pouring out of loud speakers in the streets. Another annoying thing was that we had to listen to the same old songs for years and years! The songs were the same songs I have heard over 40 years and it's as if creativity is dead and no one could write new songs. For example, it was the song Gaja-mukha-ne ganapathi-ae, ne-na-ge van-dan-ne... on Ganesh Chaturti day.  Year after year after year, this song flowed into my unwilling ears. Decades ago, the songs were put on the radios, television channels and the street loudspeakers only the day of the festival. Now, they are played on the loudspeakers for weeks before and after the festival, giving headaches to people like me!

I once lived in  Gandhi bazar and with my luck, the house behind mine ran a music school. Students would practice the sa-re-ga-ma-pa-da-ni-sa at all times of day and night, which was a bit annoying. Truth be told, for some reason, these students did not annoy me much. But the veena(stringed instrument) & tabala (drums) practices were extremely annoying for me. It's not just the Carnatic vocal but Carnatic instrumental too which I find annoying.

Because I don't have 'good' taste in music, I enjoyed or tolerated the film music, the pop music and folk music in India. I did not like the Bhavageetegalu or the Sugama Sangeetha on the radio.

The daily prayers from the Mosques of Bangalore, a few times per day, over the loud speakers is another annoyance I am glad to have escaped from. If the mosque was very far and I heard it only faintly, it was okay or even nice but not if I had it  loud in my ears on old & scratchy loudspeakers!

Here in Canada, I am free from unwanted music except in malls, shops and restaurants. I like or can tolerate "western" music. Western music to Indians of my generation is every type of music coming from the west!

In the Indian and Pakistani restaurants of Toronto, the clients have to listen to Indian film music or film songs in instrumental music. Most of the restaurants play only music form the 60s and 70s and maybe 80s. I don't know if no good music ever came after the 80s decade or the owner of the restaurants is stuck in that era of music ! The Sri Lankan restaurants seem to play Indian Tamil film songs. My question, is why cant we eat Indian food at the Indian restaurant but listen to western music ? Why Indian food and Indian music? Why Tamil songs and Sri Lankan food? Why not rap or hip hop or country music with Indian food?

If I had my way, I would have barely audible music in the malls and eating spots of Toronto. 

Why did I write this piece? Because, I want to shout from the roof tops that I DONT LIKE CARNATIC CLASSICAL MUSIC. In India, I was always criticized for expressing this. Now I have the freedom to say what I want!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Remembering monsoons in Bangalore of the 70s

It's been raining for the past many hours and still raining, the morning of April 20th 2015, in Toronto. Sipping tea in bed and looking out the window, I am remembering the monsoons during my childhood in Bangalore.

It would be pouring with rain as we returned home from school. I had neither an umbrella or a raincoat and would be running home with my school bag, getting wetter by the second and completely drenched in five minutes. There was no point waiting under the 'sajja' of someone's house until the rain stopped.   Even if  I waited under trees until the rains stopped, the trees would shake down  water when the winds blew. Also, the rain would pour for ages and I didn't want to wait.

At home, as a rainy day treat,  my grandmother would have  hot vadas ready  in addition to the usual coffee.

We would feel cold the moment we entered my home . It's a mystery why I didn't feel cold when getting soaked on the way.  Another puzzle...  How come I shivered with cold in Bangalore during the rains when it was about  18 degrees Celsius  but I don't feel that cold now in Toronto where it's is less than 10 degree Celsius?
We would get hailstorms in Bangalore but rarely and that was a miracle for us kids. We would run out to collect them and eat them. The sound of pelting hailstones on the asbestos roof was tremendous and  I loved it !

I now wish I/someone had had the idea  and the wherewithal to have recorded (audio and video) these things..the rains, the hailstorms, the trees swaying in the winds, the people protecting themselves by wearing plastic bags over their heads. At the time, every time, events seem so ordinary and not worth recording for posterity.  I always believe things last forever and invariably, things change and what happened in the past, never happen again. At least, not in the exact same way.

Bangalore has changed so much that when it rains today, it's different from my childhood. Or maybe, my memory is tricking me to thinking of the past as more romantic than it really was.

I also remember that there would be rain nearly every year at Deepavali . The winds more than the rain would put out the deepas lit and placed outside the house. I did not like the Deepavali rain much as it interfered with our bursting of crackers.

Nearly every time it rained, the electricity would go  off in Bangalore. It was a damn good excuse to postpone doing homework! I hated doing homework and though it would be fun to do it by candle light or  the hurricane lantern, it was more  fun to sit watching the shadows dancing on the walls and scaring my sister.

What was not fun was the bathroom and some other walls in my house giving us electric shocks after the rains. To this day, I always give a quick tap  before gripping any object. My dad refused to get the wiring fixed and always argued that we are 'imagining the electric shock'. All of us were furious but my dad did not budge. I think the leaking electricity was the worst thing about the rains in Bangalore for me. My dad did get a terrible, uneducated  electrical 'repairman to fix but the walls continued to shock us after each rain. (My dad, to this day, hires the worst people and every job he undertakes is a disaster. As the saying goes, 'cheap costs double' and that is always happening with my dad and his projects).In Toronto, where I live now, I experience 'static' in the 6-9 months of cold weather and this static which reminds me of electric shocks, bothers me! Because it feels like electric shock,  I continue to give a light tap to door handles before I grip them!

What else do I remember ? We had to run upstairs  to the roof and get the clothes hung out for drying when the rain started...if we remembered in time. As it would be cloudy and hardly any sun, it took days and days for clothes to dry in Bangalore during the monsoons. Even today, most people don't have driers and so drying clothes is still a bit of a pain during monsoons.

One scary problem during the rains in new extensions of Bangalore and in villages was that of snakes coming into the houses after the rains! Some were cobras too and after my first snake-in-the-house experience I was terrified to move around the house when it was dark. Remember, there was no electricity when it rained and it was really dark in the evenings  without candles( candles were expensive and burn up too fast) or kerosene lamps or deepas (the ones we lit in front of the Gods with groundnut oil).

I dreaded the winds during the rains as the winds invariably brought down the aging  leaves of the coconut trees on the electrical wires and this cut off  the electricity for the entire street!  I am sure everyone in my road was angry with my family! Yet, my dad refused to chop the fronds of the coconut trees because he said, it would reduce the coconut yield.

As a child, I didn't think much of the red soil washed away in the gutters by the pouring rain. I now realize how valuable the top soil washed away with each rain is for plants and trees. It saddens me to see  the earth in Indian cities  being ruined  by ignorance and greed and callousness of people. They chop trees in cities for buildings and nothing is done to save the earth from being washed away.

Unlike the  children in movies, I never stepped into a puddle on the road for fun! I didn't want my shoes or socks getting wet, especially the white canvas shoes!  The white polish we had was not good enough to  make my canvas shoes white after a soak in the muddy  puddle and the teachers were pretty punitive about non-white white canvas shoes!

I did love sitting by the window and looking out at the rain.  It was even better, if I had a new Enid Blyton!

I asked my husband (his childhood was in Gandhi Bazar of Bangalore) about his childhood rain experiences. He said he would stand in the narrow doorways of shops with people shoving each other, in order to get the slim degree of protection from the rain! He recalls the poor street dogs hiding under the granite slabs on the gutters, acting as a bridge between the pavement and the gate to the houses. He also recalls the well water coming almost to the top after heavy rains in his grandmother's house.
I remember the farmers hurriedly removing the motor pumps from the wells in fields when the water level rose about the pump-set level. The rains in the villages are a different and beautiful experience altogether. I loved it though I did hate going to my village.

I  remember the jam-packed  BTS buses with dripping people, clinging to the bus-doors. I  also remember  the curses of pedestrians, whose clothes were splashed by the muddy rain waters when a bus drove by.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Since a few years, I have started reading crime fiction set in different countries. This is an exciting way of getting to know, without even visiting, a country or a place, it's people and culture. I prefer the unvarnished truth these books give me...  while what a tourist actually visiting the place gets is beauty, nice people and pleasant experiences... but not the underbelly

I am listing here books set in North Korea written by someone under the pseudonym of James Church. He is apparently, I am quoting from Wikipedia here..."A former western intelligence officer with decades of experience in Asia. For the obvious reasons, he will not reveal who he actually is.
The books are:
A corpse in Koryo 2006
Hidden moon 2007
Bamboo and blood 2008
The man with the Baltic stare 2010
A drop of Chinese blood 2012
The gentleman from Japan 2016

 I am waiting for these after booking them at  the Toronto Public library. These books must be really good as every one of the books is in circulation  and I am on a waitlist!. The reviews were good and comparing the protagonist to one of my favorite fictional characters i.e Arkady Renko  the Moscow based police officer created by Martin Cruz Smith.

I have searched for crime fiction from North Korea but there seem to be almost no other books. I can imagine the million obstacles to anyone doing anything creative and truthful  in this unfortunate country. These books must be worth their weight in gold simply because of the secrecy of this country and zero access to any sort of information about life in this closed country. I am looking forward to reading these books and telling you guys if I enjoyed them.

The orphan master's son by Adam Johnson 2012, set in North Korea is partly a crime fiction story which has received  rave reviews.
I am currently reading a set of short stories smuggled out of North Korea i.e. The confession by Bondi (not real name of author) which is not crime fiction should be crime fiction, considering the crimes of the government against it's own people and it should not be called 'fiction' as these stories seem sadly true.

A corpse in Koryo: I finished reading this. It was okay. I got to learn the utter poverty in this country where even the government officials don't have simple things in the office and little by way of food to eat. So you can imagine the lives of others! I am trying to read the other books but they are not holding my attention and I may stop reading. It was good in bits and pieces.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


There are a variety of communication patterns in families.  I have observed over the years that good communication within the family  plays a significant role in  happy relationships, healthy  emotional development, development of thought, language, creativity and thinking.

Yet, I have come across some truly  terrible communication patterns in families that I know intimately. These families  are of course, families of my cultural background i.e. Indian. I am writing this as I have been thinking about this and feel bothered by the painful communication styles I am seeing. I watch with helpless anger and despair the pain,rage and damage the communication is causing people. I have tried to talk to the people about it. However, they don't listen as they believe there's nothing wrong with them.

Families with functional communication only:  When it comes to communication, people are different. Some talk a lot and some talk little. Some talk only when necessary and some talk to chat, gossip, while away the time, catch up on news, etc. I have seen about a half dozen persons who have only functional communication. By functional communication, I mean that they talk only to ask you to do something, or ask for information or berate you for doing something wrong. If these three reasons for talking did not exist, they don't talk at all! They are also annoyed by other people chatting as they think it's a waste of time!
I have observed that in India, there are several parents who talk to their children for functional reasons only. They do not engage  in chatting with the child, singing to the child, telling stories, making jokes, praising the child, etc. Every word out of their mouth is a command or a reprimand or a question. I feel terribly sorry for the kids who grow up with such parents. I have observed this in my own family and my family is 'educated', urban-dwelling, middle-class and with access to all the information on the internet and other media. The only words addressed to the kids (be they babies, children or teens) is :"get ready for school. Did you finish your homework? Did you finish your breakfast? Dont play for too long. Enough TV . Stop texting. Study for your exam. Go change your dress"
Even  10% of the talk between parents and children does not include chatting, praise, joking, casual talk 'without a purpose', discussions around the dining table.
The same functional talk is there between husbands and wives, especially those who have been married for over 3-4 years. (Those married for over 20 years hardly talk!) There is no expression of love and affection. Talking is strictly for information. There is either functional communication or angry rants. There is little talk otherwise. The lucky couples who get along well, discuss, gossip, joke, chat idly about anything and everything,. The many  couples, stuck in loveless relationships,  hardly ever communicate without a reason.
To this day, people who talk less are 'respected' in India and  labelled as 'reserved' which is a positive label in India!
Top-down communication:  In many families, there is what I shall call a top-down communication. The 'head' of the family, talks like he's educating the rest and the rest have to listen, without questioning or challenging what he has to say. I have seen bossy husbands talk to their scared wives and many 'strict' and egoistic parents talk this way to their children. I have seen a doctor who talks about his work at the dining table. I love listening to him as he's very interesting. Yet, he is always 'educating' or teaching you and he has little patience to listen to what others have to say. So it becomes a one way communication and others at the table get neither the chance to voice their thoughts or question his.
The people at the lower end of the hierarchy, don't get a chance to communicate.

to be continued

Last walk at Sunnybrook park by the stables

Last walk because I can't take the mosquitoes.  I found this tree unusual... I dont know what these red berries are but th...