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Thursday, October 29, 2009

This Is It

For me there is one word to describe this movie...JOY!

If you haven't seen it yet, please do.
Your heart (and your feet) will be so grateful.
Make sure you stay until the very very very VERY end.

If you have seen it, tell me what you thought. 
What was your favorite part?
How did it make you feel?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Review - The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

People tend to love or not care for this book. I'm sitting on the fence this time around. (Sorry Keke, I know it was your bookclub pick. I still think you are glorious!)

This is a story of an Indian man born into poverty.  (I know, I sounds like a million other books out there already.) The story is told  through letters he writes to a Chinese premier who is scheduled to visit India.  Balram, the main character, who escaped his life, family and responsibilities and graduated to somewhat better conditions, takes a job as a driver to a wealthier Indian businessman.  He wants to tell his story to the Chinese premier in an effort to give him a more realistic view of the "two sides" of India that he lives in.  Balram also confesses to some awful things he's done in order to create a better future for himself.  (I won't get into it to avoid any spoilers.)

The main character is egotistical and annoying. It's difficult to care for him.  The author, Aravind Adiga tries to insert sarcasm and humour throughout the book but it's not done well.  I thought the story had it's interesting moments and I wanted to see what happened to all the characters in the book. I just didn't care much for the way it unfolded over seven days and nights of letter writing. The idea of this story being told through letters, especially with the vivid and lengthy descriptions was a tad unbelievable to me.

Great story telling idea - poorly executed.

Sadly, though I will say I enjoyed watching the ego of Balram/Munna inflate over time, I don't think this book stood a chance only because I recently devoured Gregory David Roberts' Shantaram.

So I'll end this brief review with a recommendation that you pick up Shantaram and give it a try.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rain Songs

It's been raining in Toronto. 

Not the kind of rain that beats down so hard
that it creates its own soundtrack to your day. 
Not the kind that makes you giggle and feel
like you've made a great escape once you're back indoors. 
Not the kind that is the topic of conversation.
 It's been a constant, dull, chilly type of rain.

I love the rain.  I admit that I also love to hate the rain. 
I love the sound of the rain - always.  It's calming even when it's forceful. 

The rain is humbling.  We run from it and we want to stay out of it.  It's just water and we can't live without it.

One of the things I love about the rain is on my iPod - it's the playlist I call Rain Songs.  Here it is:
  • Adele - Right as Rain - Adele makes light of an imperfect life with this upbeat song.  What I love more than anything is her voice and cheekiness.
  • Eurythmics - Here Comes the Rain Again - This is the kind of rain song that makes you wanna crawl under the covers, wrap yourself in heartbreak and never come out. 
  • Jamie Cullum - London Skies - I can't help but pick up my step when I listen to this song.  I think I read or heard somewhere that it's Cullum's love letter to London and it's pesky weather.  I loved listening to this song earlier this month when I was on a train pulling into London - in the rain.
  • Jamie Cullum - Singin' in the Rain - I love this version of this song.  The way Jamie sings it so gently fills me up with hope and promise and makes me feel like I can achieve anything.
  • Prince - Purple Rain - Prince can break your heart sinigng any lyric or melody any time.  Genius. 
  • Maroon 5 - Sunday Morning - Love the lazy pulse of this song espeically the lyrics:     
"Sunday morning rain is falling
Steal some covers share some skin (I like that)
Clouds are shrouding us in moments unforgettable
You twist to fit the mold that I am in."        
  • New Edition - Can You Stand the Rain - I love the way this song starts out with a rush of rain and birds chirping and ends with gentle rolling thunder. I also love Rick's solo (especially when he hits that high note and sings "And I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE you.") More than that it is a song about unconditional love - I hope you have someone in your life who loves you that way. I'm so blessed to have friends and family who love me just as I am.
Thank goodness for the rain.  Do you have any Rain Songs that you can share with me?  Don't forget to tell me why.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Heart Stuttgart

I recently took a trip to England to visit Aneez and Vanessa and to attend my cousin Faizal's wedding.  Since I was so close - I also took a quick detour to Stuttgart to visit my amazing friend Suzie. 

This was my first time in Germany.  When people ask me what I think about Germany I am tentative in my reply.  I was only there for three days.  I really only spent time in a small part of one city there and so I know I didn't get to fully explore and experience Germans and their culture.  I have to admit that I thought there was a warmth and human touch missing there but I don't think it's fair to judge so quickly - so instead I want to tell you 10 reasons why I HEART STUTTGART.  These pictures and experiences are from a two hour walk I took through the city centre.

1. Clocks, clocks and more clocks!
Everywhere you look in the city centre of Stuttgart, which is it's major shopping hub, you will see beautiful clocks. You also have the pleasure of hearing beautiful old church bells ringing each hour from almost anywhere in the city.  (Anywhere that I went at least.)  Have you ever tried to find a clock at your local mall?  I have, with no success. In North America, the mindset is to have us lose track of time and keep shopping.
This clock not only showed the time of day it also told us the phases of the moon! So cool!

2. Water fountains
There are plenty of gorgeous, creative, eceletic water fountains all over Stuttgart.  Here are a few that I found in the city centre.  Shopping outdoors is heightened by the constant sounds of water falling.  It's such a calming experience.

3. Kid friendly

The city centre is filled with happy well behaved kids.  You can't really walk more than a block or so without seeing some sort of kid friendly contraption. 

Suzie and I enjoy the kid friendly offerings of Stuttgart.

4. Pedestrian zones
Stuttgart is filled with these pedestrian zone signs. The pedestrian zones are filled with large, clean, open spaces many of which sit beneath a canopy of tall, leafy trees.  There are tons of benches of all shapes, colours, configurations and sizes as well. One of the things I loved most about Stuttgart were the green public spaces available to everyone. 

Suzie and I have known each other since seventh grade but we became great friends in grade nine.  We also lived together in our first and fourth years of undergrad at McMaster University in Hamilton.  Suzie is beautiful - inside and out. She's ridiculously smart, compassionate, honest, loyal and FUN!  The only problem I have with Suzie is that she lives so far away!

6. Weber's
If you are ever in Stuttgart, try to visit Weber's.  It's a terrific restaurant that boasts a menu inspired by fusing different cuisines.   The meals are simple enough that you are able to see and taste all the ingredients that have gone into them.  I had an amazing Italian and Thai inspired orichetti pasta dish.  I can still remember what it tastes like...

7. Kost Bar hot chocolate.
The first day I arrived in Stuttgart, Suzie and I stopped off for what she claims is a German tradition which is to have coffee and cake in the afternoon.  I thought she was making it up so that we could have an excuse to have cake but apparently I was wrong.  I'm not a lover of the bean so I had a hot chocolate instead and it was absolutely DELICIOUS! 

8. Achtung!
Okay so you see this word a lot in Stuttgart.  I just like the way it sounds!  Achtung!

9. Outdoor cafes.
There are probably 20 outdoor cafes in the city centre of Stuttgart - maybe more.  At all times of the day, you will see people gathered - I guess for this whole cake and coffee phenomenon that Suzie speaks of.  Many of the cafes also provide blankets or fleece to keep you warm.  The cafes add so much colour and spirit to the city.  They were a great way for me to people watch.

10. Fanta Orange
A most refreshing beverage!  Check out the 6 pack of 1.5L Orange Fanta bottles!  I actually giggled when I saw this!


Our first family picture in years!  Lovely!