Saturday, July 14, 2007


Click to enlargeThat picture shows what I wore today. My sister painted that T-shirt for me, and I wore it to watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix today. For the ignoramuses out there, let me tell you that figure on the T-shirt is the emblem of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the school where Harry Potter studies.

I had barely heard the name of Harry Potter when the first movie (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) was released. Since my sister had seen the movie and I was jealous of her, I went to see the movie. And when I saw the movie I was hooked.

I borrowed all four books from my cousin Ananda (who can also be seen here) and finished them in a jiffy. I later read books 5 and 6 as they came out and became a hardcore Harry Potter fan. It's the same with my sister. Now we often use Harry Potter jargon at home. We also watched all the movies as they came out, although I can't say I liked all of them. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the latest movie in the series which released yesterday in India, and I rushed to watch it today with my sister.

And I have a mixed opinion.
Click to enlarge
On one hand, this was the largest book (and probably the best, in my opinion) in the series, and it was impossible to squeeze it all into the movie. Also, thanks to J. K. Rowling's writing prowess, a true Potter fan can never find a movie satisfactory. So the director definitely did a commendable job of including what he did. On the other hand, several key points were omitted which created gaping holes in the plot. I feel only films 1 and 2 can be called "movie versions of the books". The rest are like supplements of the books... like the practical lessons taught with the theory classes. The latest movie is no exception. It's more like "Important events from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" rather than "
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix".

The special effects were good: there were beautiful scenes of night flight over a glittering London. I liked the thestrals. I liked Dolores Umbridge, Tonks, Kreacher, Bellatrix Lestrange, Mrs. Figg and the rest of the new cast. Loony... er, Luna Lovegood is a little too pretty, but I'm not complaining about that. However, Grawp was a bit disappointing... he never really looked real but like a CGI character similar to Shrek. Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall both had very strong roles to play in the book, but in the movie, Prof. McGonagall's character is almost cut out, and Prof. Dumbledore's role has been greatly reduced. On second thoughts, that may not have been such a bad thing after all, as I hate to see Michael Gambon as Dumbledore: he lacks the quiet dignity of Richard Harris. He is too loud, too fast, too angry and tensed. I loved the fact that Hogwarts was shown as never before (except in the first movie). This time a lot of detail of the terrain was shown.

Some things look good in a book, other things are needed in a movie. The book was mostly a large collection of small events that led up to the short climax. The movie obviously has tried to stretch that small climax a bit and I don't blame the director for that. However I do blame the director for what happened to Sirius at the end. If you see the movie you'll understand what I'm talking about.

To conclude I'll say if you have read the book and remember the details, you should see the movie. It feels nice to match your imagination with the images on screen. If you haven't read the book, go read it. Even if you don't see the movie afterwards, the fifth book in the seven-book series is definitely worth a read.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Queer Conversation

Have you ever been so astounded by another person's comment that you have been unable to talk for some time? It happened once with me when I met that rickshaw puller, and it happened again last week.

As software engineers we are sometimes required to talk/chat with our clients and explain things to them, or get clarifications. This was the first time I was chatting to a French person on the client side, so my enthusiasm got the better of me. I thought I would open the conversation in French, a language in which I know only a few words. The chat proceeded somewhat like this:

I: Bonjour!

He: Hi.

He: Bonjour? You speak French? Where are you? France?

I: No no! I'm in India. I know only that much French. :-)

He: Ok...

*** Confidential chat that will cost me my job if published***

He: I'm sure it's clear to you now.

I: Merci! :-)

He: Only two words in French? :-)

I: Oui.

He: 3

I: Au revoir.

He: 4

He: Bhalo.

He: Pore kotha bolbo.

These last two lines, delivered in pure Bengali (meaning "Good. We'll talk later.") stunned me so much that I was unable to type anything more. My first thought was that the guy was a Bengali working under an alias and had been enjoying himself all this while. However, I was soon told that he knows only that much Bengali which was taught to him by one of my colleagues here. Nevertheless, it was a nice surprise and provided a welcome relief from my boring routine work.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

Today is Independence Day. Not here in India, but on the other side of the world in the United States. But I'm enjoying it.

I'm celebrating Independence Day by working in office till 10:30 in the night. Eating sandwiches from the cafeteria and listening to the same old songs repeatedly at my workstation is a nice way of spending this special day. I am writing this blog post too. And oh yes, I almost forgot... I am also working!

As Nehru said, "At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom." Although I'll be going home an hour and a half before midnight, we can still apply that quotation to my plight... even now when much of the world is getting ready to sleep (especially in the semi-submerged Kolkata), I'm (hopefully) still awake and alive here in my office helping the Americans celebrate their Independence Day.

Correction. I'm helping our Indian onsite team in the US to celebrate the American Independence Day. They won't come to office, so I have to work from here at night. I'll probably help them again by coming to office on our Independence Day, for who ever heard about working at night at onsite unless it's an emergency?

Really, the life at onsite is the only life worth living if you are in the IT industry. And that is the only life where you get to celebrate your Independence Days. We, at offshore, are not eligible for that.

We are not eligible for that because we are still slaves.