Monday, August 30, 2010

Asking a Man Out?


Why a Woman Should Ask a Man Out?

What’s wrong with a woman asking a Man out? This was question posed to me by a former female colleague who was complaining that a guy she had been eyeing for months had coldly vetoed her proposal for an evening date. She felt humiliated, she rued. And she was asking me (of all people) for an answer.

I really didn’t know what to say. Maybe, she shouldn’t have asked the man out. This isn't because I believe it's the divine role or godly duty of man to do the asking out but maybe, he just didn’t like her.

Or maybe quite simply, asking out a member of the opposite sex requires the kind of self-esteem that allows you to cope with even a dash of rejection. Put another way, most of us are cowards, not willing to muster the courage to ask a man (or a woman) out. So, when we eventually make the attempt and fail, we turn into inconsolable cry babies.

And of course, being the one that's chased is not without benefits. You get to feel like royalty, you call the shots, you decide the time, you decide where to go - you can play the mystery card until you decide when to stop and you're under no obligation - after all they asked you out didn't they?

But times are a changing (I sound so old when I say that - but it's true they are!) In fact I could count how many times a very handsome friend of mine has been 'chased' in the last two years alone. Maybe it's the self-confident, assertive women who do the asking out that are starting to nab all the decent guys first. Lucky them.

If you are a woman, you may wonder why asking a guy out is such a big deal? All you have to say is, 'd'ya fancy going to the pub tonite?' Just like you would to a pal. It's not like you're offering him sex, or asking him to marry you or anything serious like that. All you're suggesting is that you get to know each other a bit better - take it or leave it.

But then let's face it; there aren't all that many warm, funny, intelligent and damn fine-looking men out there. So if you do come across one of these rare specimens, you need to get in there - quick.

And you need to be obvious. Most men don't understand subtlety. If you opt for hanging around him, fluttering your eyelashes and acting coy, he won't interpret this as flirting, he'll just think you've are a nervous tic. Perhaps, clearing the way for some other, more obvious (and self-assured) lady to steam in there. She might not be as attractive or pretty as you, but at least he'll know where he stands. Besides, confidence is a huge turn-on - show me a guy who wouldn't be flattered by the attention, and I'll show you a goddamn liar.

And finally, let’s deal with the rejection. So what if he knocks you back? Maybe he wasn't simply attracted to you - but you know what they say, one man's meat is another man's poison. Believe it or not, there are guys out there who don't fancy Angelina Jolie or Aishwarya Rai. Not many, admittedly, but you get my point. So, if you are the kind who has been recently vetoed down – don’t take it personally, put it behind you - and move onto the next one. And when the time is ripe, ask him out! You never know, he just might say YES.

What do you reckon? Should men still do the asking out? Or should sisters start doing it for themselves? [This post has been selected for this week's Tangy Tuesday Picks at BlogAdda]

Monday, August 23, 2010

Websnacker’s Electronica Free Mp3 Mix Tape


What I have Been Listening this Week

I am not much of an electronic music fan but I will admit, there have always been some exceptions, especially the trip hop/trip rock, downtempo, lounge or the danceable electronica variety. The following electronic tracks have been on consistent replay on my car stereo for the last one week and one of the many reasons, why I thought they qualify as a great upload to share with you folks.

Pay attention to the Norwegian duo Roykspopp’s superb ‘What Else is There’, Teddybears’ 'Cobrastyle' and to the Paul Oakenfold/Unkle remix of Ian Brown’s 'Fear'. I heard this beautiful track by the ex-Stone Roses lead vocalist in Octane (aka Pulse), the under-rated road thriller starring Madeleine Stowe and Norman Reedus in 2003. 7 years later, I am still hooked to it and I am sure, you will too. Besides, there are 15 more free tracks for you to download and enjoy!

18 tracks in playlist, average track length: 4:09
Playlist length: 1 hour 14 minutes 54 seconds

1. 3oh!3 - Double Vision (3:13)
2. Chromeo - Fancy (3:25)
3. Daft Punk - Something About Us (3:51)
4. Dark Globe - Break My World (5:20)
5. Fan Death - Power Surge (4:24)
6. Ian Brown + Paul Oakenfold - Fear (Unkle Remix) (6:19)
7. Justice Vs Simian - We Are Your Friends - Never Be Alone Again (Exclusive Track) (4:15)
8. Lena - Satellite (Eurovision 2010 - Germany) (2:56)
9. Mylo - Drop The Pressure (4:15)
10. Naomi - Fade Out (3:55)
11. Noble Savages - I'm An Indian (3:15)
12. Playme - Hygiene (4:48)
13. Royksopp - What Else Is There (5:07)
14. Space Cowboys - Falling Down (3:00)
15. St - I'll Meet You There (3:36)
16. Teddy Bears - Cobrastyle (3:00)
17. Tim & Puma Mimi - Jo-Hatsu (Saalschutz Remix) (5:23)
18. Underground Lovers - Losin 'it (4:52)

Free Mp3 Download - 106.83 MB Single Zipped Folder – Multiupload Link - (links to Rapidshare, Deposit Files, Megaupload, Hotfile and More)

This is a limited time promotion. If you like these artists, please buy their music at www.itunes.com, www.amazon.com, www.emusic.com or at your nearest music retailer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fasting During Ramadan


What a Typical Day during Ramadan Entails!

Picture yourself experiencing the humid heat of scorching summer without any chilled coolers to cool you off. Envision missing your daily breakfast, lunch and your favorite cup of coffee at 11 post noon daily for 30 full days. Imagine having to miss that fat five- star Sunday brunch that your friend has invited you for or envisage having to give up that free trip to Thailand. Imagine all these together and not lying, being good, honest to yourself and others around you and much, much more! Well, these are just some (and many) of the things Muslims around the world (including me) will be sacrificing the few weeks to observe the piously sacred month of Ramadan.

The ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar year, Ramadan or Ramzan, is acknowledged as the month of fasting - a period that signifies a time to be still, a time to become aware spiritually and a time to submit to complete subservience to Allah through personal sacrifice. It is also the month in which the Holy Quran was sent down (from the heavens) to Man.

I have often been asked whether it is hard to desist from eating and drinking for a whole month, especially in summer. I’m surprised when I always find myself replying “no” - for through being raised as a Muslim, fasting inescapably becomes embedded in one, a part of one’s being. For those who’ve come into Islam, fasting is undoubtedly a trying experience at first, I’m sure. Though, as soon as you realize what the health and religious benefits are, together with the feeling of being united with Muslims worldwide experiencing exactly the same, it makes for a rather awe-inspiring feeling.

The most captivating part of fasting during the month of Ramadan is the self-denial from food, drink and any sexual activity (both mental and physical) – especially to those who’ve never experienced a fast before. Here I see it fitting to add that the abstaining applies only from the break of dawn until sunset. No food or drink is to pass the lips; nose etc. meaning that taking a sneak dip in the pool is also a taboo! Smoking is prohibited as well.

It gets a bit more intricate and demanding… other senses are also under commitment to fast. The eyes (from wandering to that which is considered to interfere with your spiritual upliftment); ears (from gossip etc); tongue (from lying, backbiting etc); and other limbs should also, with the complete objective of pleasing the Almighty, be restrained if the faster wants his/her fast to be accepted. And I can hear you ask why?

The above mentioned is fundamentally two of the three vital elements required for a fast to be worthy of full acceptance. The third element is preventing the heart and mind from dwelling on anything other than the remembrance and praise of Allah.

And with these three aspects of one’s being combined, it makes for a rather perfect recipe for divine cleanliness and leaves the door wide open to a path that can lead to a higher spiritual plane and an awareness of others’ suffering… for the hunger pangs will certainly make you think back to that homeless person, that sick child, that frail old woman and the countless destitutes and poor orphans who cant even get a proper meal a day.

Fasting has always, across the religious spectrum, been an accepted way of cleansing the body (and strengthening the spirit). And with the health-conscious mindset reigning supreme in this age, it is fast gaining momentum.

A fast can easily last up to approximately 12-14 hours – starting at about four in the morning and ending at around 6.30 in the evening. The fast usually starts as early as three thirty in the morning when you have to wake-up and eat well ( but not gorge) to help you fast for the day. After performing the morning prayers at around five, it’s almost impractical to squeeze in any more sleep. Chances are I won’t hear the alarm if I try to sleep again…yet, I do fall asleep at around 7 and I arrive late to work at ten.

As the day carries on, the air-conditioned confines of my office becomes my shelter. Energy levels slip steadily, a wave of drowsiness constantly distracts and the stomach is rumbling. Personally, I find that minus the next meal on my mind, it is quite astounding how empty the brain feels. What else to think about if I don’t have to decide where to go to eat during my lunch hour and my energy levels are too low to go shopping. You really have no option then but to become conscious of why you’re fasting – which then leads to the kind of divine consciousness you are supposed to dwell on anyway. It’s all really a sanctified chain reaction.

The fast ends at sunset, preferably broken with a sip of fruit juice or water, and dates – a natural and copiously rich source of sugar – and the evening prayer, in the hope that the fast will be accepted. Tradition comes under analysis again… those deep-fried mutton samosas, chicken cutlets and fish fingers can’t possibly be healthy when one is aiming to purify the body but actually most Muslims end up feasting everyday – both during the morning pre-fast and post break sessions. The final prayer of the day is performed at around 8.30 in the night followed by the special prayer for Ramadan, which takes a bit more time and requires one to go to mosque and perform it with your fellow Muslim neighborhood.

This is in a nutshell is a typical day in the life of a working, fasting Muslim man or woman during Ramadan. For the archetypal Muslim housewife or women with children, and the extended circle as is quite common in Muslim families, the burden is actually tenfold. Yet, you’ll be astonished at their strength and their unvarying juggle between the no-nonsense and divine. Okay, I got to go now. It’s almost three o’ clock again!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Review of 'The Dilbert Future - Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st Century'


Scott Adams created a cartoon phenomenon with Dilbert, the workplace warrior. Now he takes on the next century with his usual bad attitude.

I borrowed this book from a friend in January but until I had to take a boring cross country car trip, I never had the time to complete it. Perhaps life is too serious for some, but I have to confess I found this book released some 13 years ago in 1997 and billed as "hilarious" – is actually rather silly, witty and weird. It is, obviously, entertaining to a degree, but the author Scott Adams, creator of the hit comic strip - Dilbert takes a rather narcissistic, sardonic approach to the droll side of life which some may not find agreeable.

However, the book's "prequel", The Dilbert Principle, was rated a best-seller so it must be understood that there are ample readers out there who did get a chuckle or two out of the follow-up including me. In this book, Scott Adams tackles predictions for the future, turning Nostradamus upside-down in the process – with an outlandish tone that deals with a multitude of subjects like technology, gender relations, the workplace, society and so on.

Altogether 64 predictions are dotted throughout the book in little "boxes", interspersed with Dilbert cartoons, amusing anecdotes and plenty of "bumph"! Examples of some of these gems include "Most scientific and technical breakthroughs in the next century will be created by men and directed at finding replacements for women" and "In the future poverty will be eliminated, along with the people hoarding all the money".

Personally I prefer reading a book which enhances either my knowledge or insight, or at least entertains – Adams' work mostly seems to have no purpose other than "a bit of irrelevant nonsense" and a laugh. If that's what you enjoy, it is highly recommended but for some perhaps it might be only useful as a funny time-waster on the toilet-seat!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thinking of Childhood Heroes and Role Models


All of us need role models regardless of our age. They teach us how to aspire; how to dream; they show us that we can all push beyond boundaries that have been set by our conditioning - what I personally call disablers, mental lakshman rekhas never meant to be crossed. They are the explorers, the mavericks, the mentors who lead the way acros the horizon.

When I was a young (school going) boy - one of my many role models was a flamboyant, handsome Pilot – actually, my friend’s uncle with a larger than life, superstar lifestyle and an equally commanding persona. In those days, flying was an expensive luxury and as a jet-setting sucessful NRI Pilot, he was truly international. Though considerably elder to me by many years, we shared a deep connect and endless stories of far off lands, luxurious chic hotels, exotic foods, beautiful woman, high-tech gadgets and tons of money. He was the nearest example of a living James Bond in my life. And like Sean Connery, he showed unconfident, plain vanilla boys like me that ugly ducklings have potential too.

After I joined college, my friend relocated. Yet I continued to be in touch with his high-flying uncle though but we drifted after a couple of months. Many years later, I met him once again at a pricey restaurant in Bombay a few weeks before his rather sudden death. An alcohol lover, Jack Daniels was his waterloo. He held court in the centre of the room seated in a large patrician chair. There were food crumbs on his lap and his once rock-solid handshake was now weak and feeble. He was no more a pilot; yet he barked orders in an domineering voice and alarmed everyone. Suddenly my childhood superman had become a frail old man, bad tempered, crabby and egocentric. I spent almost an hour with him though, listening to his life downhill and how he messed it all. At least, he was honest.

On my way back from the restaurant, I kept thinking about him. He was still a wonderful man, I could still see that winning spark in him but was as flawed as the rest of us, and I had simply outgrown him.

After all, role models only serve a useful purpose for as long as you need them; they fire you in the right direction, showing you that anything is possible. They can kick start us into the realms of the impossible and can be used much like the goddess archetypes who have been lost to antiquity in the West but remain constant and awesome in other cultures. They may be outrageous, seditious and not necessarily nice, but role models and childhood heroes play a valuable part in all our lives. And that’s something which is truly inestimable.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

13 Great War Movies That You Probably Never Saw

Probably The Greatest War Movies of All Time
Its been quite some time since I wrote a post on Cinema and what better Cinema than exhilarating war movies. Instead of the usual Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Killing Fields or Saving Private Ryan types, what you'll find here is a refined list of select war movies outside the media and public radar that are truly great and one of the finest in all war filmdom. Believe the WebSnacker, they are all good as gold. Note: VeeHD.com links require user registeration (its free).

The Big Red One (Sam Fuller/1980) – Ranked one of the 500 greatest movies of all time, this is a tough, unsentimental World War II film from ace drama veteran Sam Fuller. Lee Marvin is excellent as the battle-weary commander of a squad of young soldiers, leading them through a variety of wartime situations – some funny, some frightening, some sad – all quite powerful and moving. With Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Robert Carradine and Bobby DiCiccio.

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The Battle of Algiers (Gilo Pontecorvo/1965) – An intelligent, restrained and straight forward account of the Algerian revolt, which nearly toppled the entire French government and resulted in an almost successful assassination plot against President DeGaulle. This fascinating pseudo-documentary presents the revolt from the point-of-view of those involved in the fighting – an angle rarely seen elsewhere. In French.

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The Boys in Company C (Sidney J Furie/1978) – 1978 was the year of Vietnam War films and this glossy but tough little, Golden Globe nominated movie directed by Sidney J. Furie (Ipcress File, Entity) went largely overlooked by the American public. The main appeal is a good, solid cast of then unknowns including Stan Shaw (so memorable in the Great Santini), R. Lee Ermey and Andrew Stevens. A group of young marines move from the torture of boot camp to the terror of war in a way that is funny, action-packed and at times, harrowing.

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Cross Of Iron (Sam Peckinpah/1977) – Peckinpah’s (Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs) idea of a WWII film was to focus on the German Army on the Russian front thereby blurring any ‘who are the good guys’ distinctions. His antagonists are an aristocratic monster of a captain (Maxmilian Schell) who wants the titular medal at whatever cost and the tough but compassionate sergeant (a very, effective James Coburn) who simply wants to his boys alive. Long and episodic, the highlights are the battle scenes, which are frequent, brutal and extremely disorienting – like real combat itself. Based on the book - Willing Flesh by Willi Heinrich With James Mason and David Warner.

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49th Parallel (Michael Powell/1941)- Not exactly a full blown war movie but undoubtedly the greatest WWII-era thriller, beating out all of Hitchcock’s and Fritz Lang’s best efforts at the game of suspense. Laurence Olivier, Leslie Howard and Raymond Massey are among the stars but the real attraction is a tense, convincing script (which deservedly received an Oscar) and superb direction. When a Nazi U-boat is sunk in Hudson Bay, Canada; 6 survivors try and make their way to freedom in the still—neutral United States. Photography by Frederick Young (Lawrence of Arabia) and the film's editor was a then little-known David Lean (A Passage to India).

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Go Tell The Spartans (Ted Post/1978) – Who would have thought the best picture about the Vietnam before Platoon would be a small-scale film from a journeyman director. Burt Lancaster heads a group of military advisers who realizes he’s involved in a no-win situation in this cult anti-war classic based on Daniel Ford's 1967 novel - Incident at Muc Wa. The constant refrain of “it’s their war” and the 1964 setting lend the film both poignancy and bitterness. Unlike typical Hollywood action war dramas, you know there is no happy ending, not then, not now. The final images of an American walking through a cemetery saying “I’m going home” are all too appropriate.

Hamburger Hill (John Irvin/1987) – A brilliant retelling of the Battle of Hamburger Hill chronicling the U.S. Army's assault on a heavily fortified but strategically insignificant hill during the Vietnam War. Starring Dylan McDermott (his debut), Courtney B Vance, Don Cheadle, Steven Weber and Michael Boatman, this intense movie beautifully captures the utter pointlessness of warfare. Directed by John Irvin (Dogs of War, Raw Deal) and written by James Carabatsos (Heartbreak Ridge).

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Kanal (Andrej Wajda/1956) – Polish resistance fighters flee the Nazis by struggling through the labyrinth of Warsaw’s sewers in this tense, hellish vision of futility. Winner of the special jury prize at the 1957 Cannes Film festival, Oscar winner Andrej Wajda’s masterpiece is one of those rare films that hit you in the gut, the heart and the brain. Kanał was the second film in Wajda's War trilogy, preceded by the superb A Generation and followed by Ashes and Diamonds. In Polish.

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Kelly’s Heroes (Brian Hutton/1970) – A ragtag group of soldiers headed by Clint Eastwood shangai some tanks and head behind enemy lines in search of a cache of German gold. Clint Eastwood squints and scowls in the lead at hammy co-stars Donald Sutherland (as a doped-up, laid back hippie in uniform), Telly Savalas and Don Rickles. A big-budget, wide screen version of WWII sitcoms like Hogan’s Heroes, this is popcorn action with slapdash charm directed by Brian G.Hutton, the same guy who gave us the 1968 hit - Where Eagles Dare also starring Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton. Harry Dean Stanton also co-stars. You can hear the "Tiger Tank" from the movie's soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.

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Pork Chop Hill (Lewis Milestone/1959) – Very similar to Hamburger Hill, a Korean anti-war picture based on the best selling book by SLA Marshall and directed by the Academy award winning Lewis Milestone (All Quiet on the Western Front, Ocean's 11, Of Mice and Men, Mutiny on the Bounty). A brutal film that almost entirely centers on an infantry assault on the eponymous hill depicting the bitter struggle for supremacy between the US Army and the Communist (Chinese and Korean) forces at the end of the Korean War. This film adds the element of psychology to the standard battle scenes – the US men are not only bombarded by Korean artillery but also by loudspeakers positioned on the hill. Gregory Peck (Omen) heads a tough, realistic cast that includes Rip Torn, George Peppard, Martin Landau and Robert Blake.

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Tora! Tora! Tora! (Richard Fleischer/Toshiro Masuda/Kinji fakasaku/1970) – This is a war action thriller starring Jason Robards, Joseph Cotton and Martin Balsam guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. Date: December, 1941, Place: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The U.S. naval base is about to be bombed and we know it. But the directors weave the story and action so expertly, continuously building tension that we’re captive to its spell of intrigue and bomb fire. A massive hit in Japan but a flop in the US. Oscar Winner for Best Special Effects with 4 more nominations. This is what Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor should have really been.

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The Train (John Frankenheimer/1964) – A visually stunning, thought-provoking and ultimately heartbreaking thriller based on the book - Le Front De L'Art by Rose Valland . With the Third Reich crumbling, Col. Von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) is ordered to gather the spoils of a French art museum and ship them by (you guessed it) a train to Germany. The Resistance finds out and begs railway inspector Labiche (Burt Lancaster) to intercept the train and get the paintings back. But will he risk the lives of his men for the sake of preserving art – is any masterpiece worth more than a human life? The action scenes are spectacular and the performances are strong. A great film.

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Zulu (Cy Endfield/1964) – Forget that Michael Caine made his first starring appearance in this thriller, forget that Stanley Baker gave an excellent portrayal as a Royal Engineers officer faced with a battle against titanic odds – this is a must see for its insights into contemporary South Africa. This brilliant account of the Battle of Roarke’s Drift, in which a few dozen poorly armed British soldiers defended a tiny mission against an army of 4000 determined Zulu warriors, has tension that builds slowly and inexorably during the first hour. Director Endfield sets up a situation in which there are no heroes or saints and even the noblest of action are ambiguous. A provocative historical thriller that inspired the equally good 1979 prequel - Zulu Dawn starring Peter O’Toole and Burt Lancaster.

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