My Indian Odyssey by Vincent Ebrahim

This is another Audible book that I listened to recently after my recent holiday to India. It covers places that I went to like MumbaiDelhi and the Taj Mahal at Agra as well as places that I didn’t go to like Darjeeling and Kolkata. He too went in search of his heritage because his grandfather was Indian.There are many parts to this series as India is such a vast place peopled by so many races, religions and languages.

In the first part he goes to Mumbai and stays in the same hotel as I did – The Taj Mahal Hotel. Here he gets the tour which I wasn’t able to but I didn’t hear anything that I didn’t directly observe while I was there. It gives a little background on the reasons for its construction and some facts and figures about its cost.

Next he goes to the laundry which was on our tour but was cancelled due to Covid 19. It was nice to know about it so I don’t feel like I missed out so much. After that he learns about Parsi food culture by visiting various shops and cafes. I didn’t pick this up from the book Parsis and Zoroastrians but maybe if I had more time then I would have. Afterwards he learns about the Tiffin culture of India. This is fascinating how everyone in Mumbai gets fresh homecooked food for lunch no matter where they are. Its cheap, hygienic and a very sensible idea. Maybe if we borrowed this plan we could all eat healthier in the future. If illiterates in India can manage, we certainly should be able to figure out a next level Graze who deliver snacks by post. We do have packed lunches like the Japanese have Bento boxes so its totally possible.

In each place he goes to he meets the staff or has a guide to get inside knowledge on what its really like to live life in the diverse sprawl that is Mumbai. He also needs a translator because he couldn’t get this information without being able to speak to the locals who don’t always speak or understand English.

I’m looking forward to listening to all of the other parts during my isolation I hope you do too if you decide to download and listen to it as well.

Dovlatov on Netflix

This is a film set in 1970s Russia based on a real life author struggling to get published. It’s in Russian with English subtitles. I love the authenticity this provides and how it correlates with other films I have seen of this era. From what I can remember of when I was previously very interested in Russian films; the 1960’s and 1970’s was a good time for Russian film making as lots of good films that are available on YouTube were made. Since I don’t speak or write Russian here is a list compiled by someone who does

I added this in as a bonus because I like to listen to foreign songs as they tend to be more realistic and you can figure out the gist even though I have no clue what they are saying. Russian songs on YouTube.

As I’m struggling to occupy myself right now due to the enforced isolation; I thought I needed the challenge of watching a Russian program from another era. As you know I love history and languages so why not?

As I sit and write these various articles at different times and moods it reminds me of War and Peace as that’s very clear to me it was written and rewritten several times. It doesn’t flow well in many places to my mind and it appears very disjointed like his own mind and life no doubt. Perhaps that is the beauty that I’m missing. The imperfections as that’s what makes us all real at the end of the day.

It also would be nice if WordPress told you who was reading your blog other than 1 person in Greece reads this etc. Is that the same person all the time? If it’s who I think it is thankyou for the inspiration and recommendations and if it isn’t thankyou anyway for checking out my blog on a regular basis. Thankyou to all the other people who participate in my blog too.

Next in Fashion

This is a series that I watched on Netflix when I wanted something light and entertaining to chill out too. I love fashion and drawing so it was very interesting to see what they would come up with and what I would personally wear. Its like Dragon’s Den but for women as it doesn’t have the tension or the cattiness present in Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

The format of the show is that contestants pair up at the beginning of the series to create bespoke outfits based on the theme of the week. They have as much fabric as they desire in whatever material, colour, pattern you can think of as they also have the use of a 3D printer. All the accessories and trims in terms of ribbon, cord etc is also provided. They just need to use the artists materials provided to design and make there costumes. At the end of the week a runway show happens with the models wearing their clothes and the one that least fits the brief leaves the competition. Its not a reality show as you don’t get rewards, there are no mini challenges and once you leave you can’t re-enter.

I find this a refreshing change in amongst all of the Covid 19 updates that the government publishes a couple of times a day.

Machines like Me by Ian McEwan

This is an Audible book that I listened to recently while I was on holiday. Listening to an enjoyable story that is engaging makes long road journeys pass so much more quickly!

It’s alternative history based on the fact that Alan Turing wasn’t turned insane by taking oestrogen tablets to cure his homosexual urges. With this in mind we end up with a very different 1980’s. We have advanced sufficiently with AI to build completely life like humans that tests what it is to be human after all. They are an exercise in humanity as it teaches us whether we can accept machines into our lives as equals.

I loved the philosophical debates that Adam engages in with his housemates Charlie and Miranda. I also loved the technical, mathematical and physics details along with the anthropological studies. Adam raises a lot of interesting questions and provokes strong emotions which you wouldn’t expect a machine to be capable of. He is not really a machine though; but a conscious being capable of existing all by himself as along as he has the same comforts were used to like shelter, sleep and fuel.

This is essentially an exploration of the contradictions of being human. This is what every child has to learn and what autistics struggle with greatly. The same things that Adam can’t comprehend are also what we have difficulties with. There is however no real solution to these issues as life is such a messy business.

Best wishes

Angela

The Current War

This is a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch (yes him of the completely unpronounceable and unspellable name).

In this movie it seeks to understand the reasons behind the battle that took place between Edison’s Direct Current and Tesla’s/Westinghouse’s Alternative Current. Or as I explained to my husband, how the band AC/DC came to be;)

Ben plays Edison who we all know won the battle of who could light up America first. It was the first of the alternating technology battles (Betamax/VHS etc) that proved its not the best that wins but the one that is promoted the most and therefore more popular.

Social skills win over talent as people are much more willing to invest in a person who is like them selling them a dream rather than an engineer who can actually produce that idea. This is why Tesla loses out but it’s far more complex than that.

Of course in between the 2 remaining guys Westinghouse and Edison; they start to play dirty. They use underhand tactics to undermine the others reputation and products. Speed and efficiency are good but money is king in business. The Serbian immigrant is taken advantage of because all he has is his mind when he has sold his patents. As he is unable to communicate his ideas in a way that others understand they belittle him.

Watching a movie like this on a plane doesn’t do it justice. I couldn’t read the historical facts which are presented at the beginning and the end of the movie to separate the facts from the dramatization.

I definitely need to watch this again as the sound quality through the headphones was quite poor and in a movie that isn’t action based, you need to be able to hear the dialogue. I’m sorry I can’t give a very articulate review but I was only able to get the gist of the film.

Best wishes

Angela

What does Greek have against punctuation?

This is a clip that a friend of mine posted online with Greek and English plus an auto translation below.

What confuses me the most when trying to figure out the Greek language is where do you take a breath? There are no commas, semi colons or full stops. There isn’t even any speech marks, exclamation marks or question marks!

The Greeks also have a love of sentences that start with And. I think this maybe because they are trying to artificially add in punctuation in newspaper articles. It’s very confusing trying to figure out which words belong in which sentence since they run on forever!

Spanish I think may have the opposite problem of using exclamation marks at the beginning as well as the end. Kind of like the Spanish themselves being very enthusiastic.

I haven’t learnt sufficient about other languages like Russian yet, to be able to comment properly; but from what I’ve seen far they don’t seem to have the same issues.

Do you have any issues like this in languages you have learnt?

Best wishes

Angela

The Gift on Netflix (18)

This is the third program of this name but the one I’m referring to is the 2019 Turkish TV series Atiye not the 2000 or 2015 psychological thriller films.

This is an interesting looking series of 8 programs about an Ottoman era archeological dig in Anatolia based on a Turkish book and author that has been filmed for Netflix.

It’s Turkish originally of course but it’s available in English dubbed or you can have English subtitles. I personally find it jarring that when I was streaming it, the American voices are slightly out of sync with the actions. The actors and actresses are vibrant in their movements but since Turkish and English are such different languages it’s never going to look or sound exactly right. I tried turning the sound off and relying on the subtitles but then you lose so much of the program as your reading and not paying attention to what’s going on. If you however download it and put the subtitles on you can concentrate on what’s happening much easier.

It’s very modern and female forward which I’m surprised about but this is maybe Turkey trying to show to the world that it can live in the 21st century at least in a show that is about abstract art. If I didn’t know that they were speaking Turkish I would have figured it was perhaps another Middle Eastern nation like Israel who have participated in Eurovision each year since the 1980’s.

Best wishes

Angela

The Rise of Empires – Ottoman on Netflix

This is part of the new breed of historical programs on Netflix that are part dramatisation and part recitation of historical facts from learned professors in the area. I have watched some about Russian history too namely the Czars. I will write about this also in due course.

This series has 6 episodes covering the legendary siege of Constantinople in 1453. This was conducted by Mehmet the second against Roman Emperor Constantine the 11th. It is narrated by Charles Dance the man who voiced Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones.

I think this is a fascinating period of history starting with the astonishing takeover where 23 armies including his fathers had failed before him. Each episode covers a different bit of the siege from the initial plans, the artillery attack, naval attack to sneakier tactics and finally the success.

This follows on from previous posts I have written about the Ottoman Empire and when I eventually visit Istanbul there will be some more as the city is bound to yield many interesting things to write about.

The Byzantine Empire was much earlier and I have already written about that too in a couple of posts. Byzantines.

Best wishes

Angela

The Wonders of the Universe by Brian Cox

This is a 4 part series on BBC 4 where he uses information gained from previous series of his like The Planets, The Wonders of Life or Forces of Nature, to explore in ever increasing detail how and when our world came to be formed.

The first part Destiny talks about how entropy was discovered by accident using the 2nd law of thermodynamics. This is a given for those that like trains, maths or physics which is usually the same people but it explains how time travels in one direction only and therefore we can see the difference between the past and the future. Cause and effect means you can define your place in time by looking at the state of decay of your surroundings. The Arrow of Time indicates the passage of time which we are all subject to even the stars although their timescale is much, much greater than our own.

Part 2 is about Stardust. Here he analyses the fact that everything in the universe is made of the same 92 elements. We can discover that we are in fact the same as stars by looking at the reactions of those chemical compounds. It turns out that to create all of the elements necessary for life stars have to die. The bigger the star, the more elements are created due to the energy given off from the heat that is created from its destruction.

The 3rd part deals with gravity and is entitled Falling (No Alicia Keys here;)) Falling as it turns out is an essential way to explain how gravity works using Einstein’s theory of relativity as our guide. Newton’s laws of physics can only take us so far and in fact they are not sufficient to explain things like the odd elliptical orbit of Mercury. When talking about gravity you have to mention black holes from which nothing not even light can escape.

Part 4 is on Messengers. This is about the different forms light can take from straight forward white sunlight to a rainbow to infra red and even radio waves. Heat itself is just another form of light only on a different wavelength. Here he talks about the age of the universe and how while it was relatively easy to break the sound barrier it was much more difficult to break the speed of light. For much of history even didn’t even know that light had a speed until it was discovered that the speed of the orbit of Io one of Jupiter’s moon seemed to differ depending on what time of year it was. The orbit in fact never changed just our position in relation to it. As we got further away light took longer to reach us therefore we thought it was changing rather than ourselves. The speed of light is now what is termed a light year and this is used to measure how far away distant stellar objects are.

To compare methods I also watched a program on the Discovery Science channel done by Stephen Hawking about whether “God did create the universe or not.”

It is his belief that a divine creator could not possibly have had time to create anything because of the quantum laws of physics. This is how the universe could be created out of nothing utilising Einstein’s theory of relativity – E = MC2. As time didn’t exist before matter/energy and space was created by the Big Bang; nobody else did either.

Best wishes

Angela

The Code on Netflix

Here in a 3 part series, mathematics is examined to find out the underlying rules of the universe. Famed mathematician Marcus du Sautoy looks into the Golden ratio, Pi and other notable numbers to find out how they define and rule our lives without us even realising. This is pure mathematics for those geeks out there that have a need to understand the workings of the universe. There is no theory here.

Episode 1 is all about those iconic numbers that we learn about at school to help us work out angles, and all those other things required in mathematics.

Episode 2 looks at how nature utilises this knowledge to build honeycomb structures like the Giants Causeway in Ireland or a bee’s nest.

Episode 3 looks at how chaos theory turns things that look completely random like the life cycle of a lemming into something that can be understood in a logical way. It also covers probability theory by trying to predict who is going to win in a rock, paper, scissors contest.

Although this may sound dull especially in comparison to someone like Brian Cox we need different kinds of people for different jobs.

Best wishes

Angela