Lavanya Opines

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1 down for 2019…17 more to go

jahywI haven’t read any books in the past two years. What a wasted time!! I have no reason and no excuse for the same.But then it is never too late to start again. 🙂

So the first book I read is Heads You Win by Jeffery Archer. And what a start I must. I am a fan of Jerry Archer and I had read the starting the pages of Alexander’s story in the short stories Tell Tale by Jeffery Archer. And after that, I didn’t finish any book. What a perfect start to this year, with story from Jeffery Archer.

By now, a lot of people have read this book and have already provided their esteemed reviews. Let see how I much I can differentiate from them. The book narrates the story of Alexander Karpenko who must to escape from Russia if he has to survive along with this mother. But he has to make a decision whether to go to Great Britain or America. America is the land of dreams in which every man has the opportunity to make life rich based on his abilities. Great Britain is the land of sophistication and intellect that accepts anyone with abilities to achieve success. Britain is sweet and America is tangy. The book has a parallel narrative about how Alexander achieves success and love in both countries. It would not be hard to miss this sweet differentiation. It would be also hard not to think about what is happening in Britain while one is reading about what is happening in America. The story at both places unfolds on a rather similar fashion, similar type of ups and downs while trying to make a mark in their chosen professions – Alexander in Britain wants to be Politician & Alexander in America wants to be Businessman. With just one exception, like in Kane & Abel and Sons of Fortune, one gets her love without any stops and one has to go through bumps.

Jeffery Archer ‘men’ are ‘True Blue Gentlemen’ and Jeffery Archer ‘women’ are ‘Strong and Independent’. A true blue gentleman never tries to subdue his ‘strong and independent’ woman and encourages & supports her to make his mark. The woman in turn is the anchor in his life and provides the much-needed support and clarity at opportune moments. Alexander and his better half in America and Alexander and his better half in Britain are just like that. No exception in that and no one would miss that either.

As cover indicates, whether Alexander reaches America or Britain based on a toss of a coin, his destiny eventually lies in Russia only, from where his fate initially began. Curiously enough, the one who doesn’t own private jet and has political experience is an easy target for elimination. Strangely, Alexander from Britain and Alexander from America are alive when there is a cross-over, much like in the current sci-fi shows where two characters from different time space meet. Only difference in this book, Alexander from Britain never meets Alexander from America but the wife does. Likewise, Ivan Donovan (I have misspelt the name, I will correct later) meets Alexander in America but not in Britain, and his narrative was only drawn in Britain. Yet he also thinks in the Russian embassy in Britain that there are two characters. These are the points I didn’t really understand. What was the logic behind this? Kane & Abel and Sons of Fortune had two separate characters existing in same time zone. But not in this book. It is the same character, whose personality develops with the land he chooses to go. So, a cross-over only indicates a non-existent sci-fi. Or is there something I am missing.

Contrary to popular commentary, Vladimir Putin being Alexander’s nemesis was not a ‘shock’ for me but rather a confirmation. After all, Vladimir was the reason for troubles in Alexander’s life in Russia.

Writing, narration, emotions, flow, – all are best. Usual Jeffery Archer. But I felt emptiness towards the end, when one Alexander dies and other Alexander starts in his campaign when actually he was only in Russia to attend funeral of his ‘savior’ uncle. I felt as if the story is not over and yet there are no more pages to read. I didn’t feel so when I read Kane & Abel and Sons of Fortune, since it felt the protagonists have life their life to full and it was time to bid them farewell. So is there a sequel to coming up? But then why kill one character? Was the one who survived is match or hustler to Vladimir? I was left with these thoughts..and so I am also leaving you with them. Happy Reading. Overall, Jeffery Archer is a pleasure to read. Always and Ever.



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Online Watching is not good for content and user-experience

I have been binge watching on online platform this year only because I am addicted to idiot box. Many from the movie and TV industry say that online platforms give them more ‘creative freedom’ and ‘wider reach’. Then, there are pros and cons of online platforms. The links at the bottom of this blog list them out. I am not going to repeat them here. But, I have come to a conclusion that watching idiot box is way better than binge watching on online platforms.

online jpg

My two major concerns relate to ‘content’ and ‘user-experience’. Online platforms let you to select and watch content continuously (whenever we want, wherever we want, and whichever device we want – be it a smart phone or a laptop). And that is precisely what takes away both the user-experience of watching the content and the appreciation for the content itself. At this point, statistics will be presented in front of me that how viewers like the content because of lack of censorship, etc. But tell me, how many of them would like to remember such content after two months of watching the content? How many of them would like to watch such content again after two months purely because of the content itself, of the connect felt with the content, of the user-experience be it joy, thrill, shock, anything? Has anyone even done a survey to find that out?

I started this year by binge watching ‘White Collar’, ‘Person of Interest’, and now ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’, which is a web-series. I had loved ‘White Collar’ & ‘Person of Interest’ when I was watching them on the idiot box. The respective seasons were aired in India as daily shows. The charm of ‘Neal Caffrey’ bowled me so much that I was almost heartbroken when I got to know he was both ‘gay’ and ‘taken’. The caring nature & leadership qualities of ‘Peter Burke’ are what I would like to imbibe in myself and see in my partner. I was able to relate to the conflict of human emotions – between ‘to naturally con and acquire’ and ‘to uphold the trust of Peter’ in Neal and between ‘to trust the master con artist’ and ‘to believe the cop-instincts’ in Peter. I was able to understand the ‘dilemma’ the ‘machine’ was going through while trying to understand ‘very conflicting nature of humans’ and ‘learning & predicting vs human kind & emotions’ and to save human kind at same time in the ‘Person of Interest’. The very nature of ‘Samaritan’ shows how much artificial intelligence and machine learning can wreak havoc on humanity. The ‘thinking’ of few elite persons that ‘selection of fittest’ based on parameters what they see fit as opposed to ‘natural selection’ will save the mankind itself is terrifying and spine chilling. Same concept has been explored in various other shows like ‘Purge’, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, etc. Isn’t this what each one of us thinking when we see news of ‘hate crimes’, ‘fanaticism’, ‘human brutality’, ‘lack of respect for humankind and mankind’?

I couldn’t watch these series completely as I missed a lot of them due to my late working hours. So I decided to watch online. And then I lost complete interest in both the shows. Why? I lost the thrill of waiting for the next show after 24 hours. I lost the charm of discussing these themes, including Neal, with my friends. It was matter of few episodes watching back-to-back that I started thinking ‘every episode’ is bloody same with some minor changes – like one changes values in equations but variables/parameters remain same. This realization completely shattered me. The shows I liked are now boring. I don’t want to watch them again even for ‘Neal Caffrey’. The shows that I was felt connected with while watching on the idiot box were just ‘Plain Jane’ while watching on smart phone or laptop.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ is a wonderful show when I was watching the promos on the idiot box. It looked awesome, felt amazing. I wanted to watch the show to see how an independent rich married woman, who would have been groomed to behave and live life ‘properly’ in the 50’s, would turn around when life takes surprise turn. Incidentally, that is the theme of the show itself. And, poof! Four episodes and I start thinking what’s going on? I can barely hold my attention to watch full episode. I end up skimming through the episode just to know what will happen at end of the 45 minutes in the 50 minutes episode. I am not feeling any connect with the content and naturally having poor user-experience.

Contrary to this, I have completely watched even the boring of movies on the idiot box with the frequent interruptions of advertisements and promotions. I have memories of watching boring movies in cinema and later threatening friends if they dare select any movie to watch next together. I have memories of being together with certain show s and movies. I would still to watch them just for connect I felt with them and for the memories I have. There is certain anticipation that is thrilling to wait for certain shows or movies to come on the idiot box. There is certain love that is created while watching these shows.

Alas, this will not be provided by the online platforms. No matter what!!

Links to the pros and cons:


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Amor por Viajar – My Travel Story 2

Kasa Kai Mumbai…!! The land of dreams, the land of opportunities. I visited Mumbai during the Monsoon season – August. The monsoons were retreating so the rains were unpredictable. The hide and seek between sun and clouds was a bit fun and a bit confusing. Somethings are better experienced only as words cannot express them. It was a conscious decision on my part to visit Mumbai and Vapi (Gujarat) during the Monsoon season but was a very terrible idea as per my parents. When did parents agree with you anyway..?? !!

So the not so good parts first. Mumbai has no space being surrounded by hills and ocean. And so there is only one way to move in Mumbai and naturally from 8 AM to 10 PM one is caught in a minimum of 2 hours traffic jam every day. No space also means once cannot expand the city horizontally but only vertically. Therefore, all you can see are tall buildings and skyscrapers. One of the reasons, Mumbai has the moniker as “New York of India”. But these skyscrapers are without balconies!!. I love balconies. They are my space where I go to listen to myself or just to watch others; and for growing my lovely plants. New construction of buildings with balconies is going on. But until then I didn’t like current buildings. Construction of metro and other roads & repair works was also going on at that time and so was also one of the reasons for huge traffic jams. I couldn’t get the time to spend on all the beaches of the Mumbai but Juhu beach was really dirty. People really need to improve themselves and care about our oceans and environment.

And now for the good parts…!!! The famous necklace road and the sea link were really awesome both during day and night. It is really like they show in movies. But the experience in real is different. Winds and rains make you a bit afraid while on the sea link. The winds were so strong that it felt it the cab would just blow away. Colaba Causeway is just like Sarojini Nagar but very smaller in size. Nevertheless, Colaba Causeway holds the same amount of quirkiness for each and every one. The intricate artifacts and street styles were just a treat for the eyes. I think one should always try out local cuisine to really enjoy a city you are visiting. I didn’t get the time to enjoy the local cuisines but I really savored the Rava Cake, freshly baked. It was really yummy.

People are very friendly and non-interfering. Policemen were helpful. Metered taxis are amazing way of public transport. Even during night one doesn’t feel unsafe. Despite all this, I didn’t want to stay in Mumbai. It’s not that I love Delhi. May be I didn’t give time to the city to grow on me. They say once you like Mumbai, you can never want to come back from Mumbai.

I really want to experience the Mumbai which grows on you. I want to experience the feeling which says you are on your journey to realize your dreams. Something is different in Mumbai. But what?? I left Mumbai with all these questions.

They say travelling is more important than destination. They also say travel is experiencing life. They also say travelling makes you a storyteller. Mumbai is not my definitely my destination. But it falls somewhere on my journey called ‘my life’ and is part my next story. I hope to experience Mumbai again.