Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tea River

Bangkok, Thailand

This time around, we haven't had the time or energy to cast out on to the Chao Phraya river by which we once lived. This is of course, the monsoon season, and a particularly good time to visit the river since runoff from the hills upstream turns the river the colour of a cup of Yorkshire tea with a dollop of milk in it. Many a time have we sipped cups of Yorkshire's finest from our balcony perched right atop the river, while watching a mirror image in the river below. The first picture above shows the river in its monsoon garb, while the second below shows the balcony from we which enjoyed the stunning panoramic views.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

There's no such thing as refusing a free lunch

Emirates Lounge, Dubai International Airport

Off on a short trip to, you guessed it, Thailand. Just arrived here from London, awaiting my connection to Bangkok at the frequent flyer lounge. The flight was tolerable. Emirates has a great entertainment system, with about a hundred movies and a large number of TV programmes available on demand for 'free' at every seat. The problem is, I've flown Emiratres so frequently that I've watched a large proportion of the programmes that I do care to watch. Seeing me scroll repeatedly through the choices, an Indian lady seated next to me eagerly pointed out where I could find the latest Bollywood movies. However, I absolutely detest most Bollywood fare. I politely thanked her and settled for a repeat viewing of a Scrubs episode.

The frequent flyer lounge is a pretty good place. They do great warm and cold food - plenty of pasta, cheese, halloumi sandwiches, fruits and vegetables, etc. etc. I'm always intrigued by how everyone absolutely gorges themselves when offered 'free' food, whether on the flight or at the lounge. No one seems to refuse the tiniest cracker. Plates in the lounge seem heaped well beyond the point of zero marginal utility for the average person. Sauce drips down mouths as belts are loosened. God forbid one should miss out on yet another slice of cheesecake. I often try to sleep through red-eye flights, taking care to carefully affix the 'Do not disturb' sticker to my seat. Yet, almost every single time, the hostess will wake me to offer me food. Jaws drop when I weakly smile and say I am passing on the grub. The hostess stiffens and proceeds flight deckwards, doubtless to report to the captain that passenger Shankar is behaving rather suspiciously.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Amazon offered some great deals a few months back, and I snapped up three Woody Allen movies for £10 - Mighty Aphrodite, Crimes and Misdemeanours, and Husbands and Wives. The first I had not seen before, and the last two I first saw such a long time back that I remembered little. It must be the best £10 I ever spent. These movies are really just collections of conversations woven around themes concerning marital relationships, guilt and middle-age crises. But they are absolutely riveting.

As a jazz fan, Woody's films are especially dear to me, as the soundtracks invariably contain some exquisite pieces married perfectly to on-screen happenings (for example, 'You made me love you' by the Harry James Orchestra in 'Hannah and Her Sisters' comes in just as Michael Caine is shown ducking out on to a Manhattan street to make a rendezvous with his lover. For reasons hard to describe, the tune matches the scene brilliantly).

The inconsistency of genius is the hardest bit for a fan to take. Woody has also obviously made some real clangers - Cassandra's Dream to name one. You wonder how someone who could rise to the dizzying heights of 'Manhattan' could wallow in the dank depths of 'Curse of the Jade Scorpion'! Thankfully, 'Match Point' seemed to indicate some sort of return to form (although some critics hated it, and it was somewhat surprisingly plot-oriented for a Woody film). Here's to the hope of a born-again Woody!