Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Miss Marple with an Attitude

After a long, long (long, long and so on...) time, Detectives series is back, with another lady detective (after Uma Rao) introduced to me by BBC’s Radio 4.

All who know her compare her with Miss Marple. She is exactly like Miss Marple, if Miss Marple had lived in late 1990’s, was 20 years younger, wanting to be 40-50 years younger, and a widow (so she says), though raring to get out of it. Presenting…

Agatha Raisin

Her Name: Mrs. Agatha Raisin

Her Watson: Maj. James Lacey (her neighbour, and later fiancé), Roy Silver (her old employee at her PR agency), Mrs. Freedman, Phil Marshall and Patrick Sullivan (employees at her detective agency)

Her Moriarty: - (fate/luck, or perhaps herself?)


At the (young) age of 53, Agatha Raisin sells her PR agency and moves from London to to the “peaceful” village of Carsley in Cotswolds. Years of PR work for the rich and famous have given her all things she needs to succeed in a small community like Carsley: a sharp tongue, convenient morals, habit of poking nose in everybody’s affairs and most importantly, a quick wit and sharp mind. She will need those to survive the jungle called Carsley Ladies’ Society and solve the myriad murders that take place around her.

Because, unlike most mainline detectives, Agatha has not chosen a career as a detective (at least, not until late into the series). Her adventures starts when she tries to befriend the “natives” by participating in the Village Baking Competition. The attempt turns sour when the judge apparently dies after eating her quiche (which was bought from a famous London bakery), and her secret comes out to her shame. Now she has to clear her name regain her dignity, by finding out the real criminal.

That sets the tone for most of the series. This murder is followed by, among others, the murder of the handsome village curate (with whom Agatha has dinner on the same night), a beautician from nearby town (with whom Agatha had  appointment same day), and on a holiday, a tourist with whose group Agatha was visiting some places. In between solving these murders, she competes with other members of Carsley Ladies’ society for affection of various bachelors in village (including her new neighbour James Lacey), and tries to win a gardening competition by hiring  professional landscapers (and messes it up when Roy puts wrong labels on wrong plants).

It is easy to see that Agatha is not exactly the most friendliest of persons. Her core circle mainly includes Mrs. Bloxby, the village vicar’s wife, who indulges Agatha’s antiques and provides her a shoulder to cry on; Roy Silver, who is a co-worker from her PR Agent era, but continues as a friend (perhaps the only one from that time period). Bill Wong is the village police officer, who is never sure whether to arrest Agatha for her meddling (he is mostly pretty sure she is not The Murderer) as a police officer, or to help her as a friend.

James Lacey needs a separate paragraph of his own. He comes in Agatha’s life as a neighbour (and the prize she fights hard for) and lives on as a foil and target for her wit, her mostly unwilling partner in crime-fighting, a stolid companion and a possible life partner.

All in all, the series is full of sharp wit, even sharper dialogs, mostly harmless criminals, who somehow end up threatening Agatha’s vanity more than her life, and extremely enjoyable narratives. And if you don’t like to read, then BBC has conveniently dramatised it on Radio 4. Go for it…


- The Great Eagle Has Spoken


P.S. The rest in “Detectives” series

Saturday, April 18, 2009


It is an open secret that the ancient India was a technologically advanced country, and that most of the “modern” inventions first took place in India.

That belief was further strengthened recently, when the archeologists at The Aerie Insitute found some old “writings” buried near Delhi. Believed to be from Mahabharat period, the stone slabs, when translated, revealed a veritable treasure of information.

The writings on the stone slab are in the form of short messages, attributed to multiple famous personalities. After extensive research, we have come to believe that this was the ancient form of the process we today know as micro-blogging, maintained by antaryami sages (the oldest form of internet) from across the subcontinent.

The evidence so far (most of the messages are by royalty or powerful hrishis) suggests that the rich and famous would have some kind of assistant with them who would convey their thoughts to the main “nodes” in the communication network.

But more about this extraordinary discovery later. First, let us show you a sample of the entries by Arjun, the most famous of Pandav brothers. (The entries are translated and converted for familiarity. For those who don’t recognize it, it’s a LIFO stack, first entry is the latest one, the last one is the first)

@Vidur Yes, we are in Varanavat for the festival. Had fun, going to sleep now. This place smells...


@Yudhishthir Congrats bro! Remember, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. And heavy lies the head that drinks too much sura.


The entries about the famous Weapons Competition held at the Hastinapur throw a fascinating light on this Little Champion’s thoughts.

Ouch, that gotta hurt. RT @Bhim hehe, Karna the warrior is actually Karna the charioteer. He is supposed to handle horses, not bows and arrows.


Who's that guy challenging me? Is he completely out of his mind.


Yes. Knew I was going to win this thing. Thanks @Yudhisthir @Bhim @Nakul @Sahadev @Bhishma @Vidur @Drona @Krupa for your wishes.


At the weapons competition. This thing is going to be fun.


The meeting of the cousins with Dronacharya and the subsequent events come to life in this stone.

@Ashwatthama I am your father's favourite student, not you. Them's the shakes.


Can't believe what that guy did. Can't believe grandpa Bhishma knows him. Can't believe he is going to teach us.


And there goes our entire play time at the bottom of the well. Who's going to bring that ball up now?


Not to mention, the young Arjun gives us a rare glimpse into the childhood of Kaurav and Pandav princes.

Didn't know you had so much imagination. RT @Bhim Found myself bound at the bottom of river. Fought some nagas. Partied with them.


@Bhim Where are you? Picnics are not just for eating and sleeping. For that matter, neither is the whole life...


100 cousins? And we have just one uncle. :O


In Hastinapur. This city is HUGE. Can't believe I am a Prince. And have got a BIG family.

The messages on stone pellets stop at this point, though given what happened afterwards, it is understandable.

We will continue to bring you the news of this extraordinary find. There’s a lot more where this came from. So stay tuned. Till the next time…


- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

Previously from Aerie Institute: Career advice, movie reviews for people in fast-lane, advice about Love, PSAs about Non Issue Syndrome and Non-veg

Friday, April 03, 2009

Chitrakatha: Story of My March

From the comments I can see that some of you have been wondering where I had been missing for the last month (As for others, shame on you for not wondering). There have even been rumours making rounds that I have hung my keyboard and retired from blogging (as if!).

So, in order to show that I am not going anywhere soon, I have decided to tell you the story of my well-earned (well, earned to be sure) leave. And I got pictures to prove it…

Rewind back to 1st March, and I was all ready for a flight to India, after more than 2.5 years. My place was all cleaned up (and I got photos to show my parents how I keep my house clean)

room The bags were all packed:

bags And I was waiting for my cab.

And then… this happened:

snow That’s supposed to be the parking lot of my office. And how did I end up in the office on a Sunday, you ask? Well, as you can see, the reason was the weather. My Sunday afternoon flight was cancelled, so was the alternate flight I got on Monday. The dedicated worker that I am, I spent the Monday in office (that’s my story and I am sticking to it). Finally, I left my house 48 hours after I was supposed to.

As for the flight, almost empty plane means we can spread around a bit. So, I was not worried that my seat monitor spent the entire 15 hour flight doing this:linuxFor the people who curse Windows’ slow booting, just look at that symbol top left.

Finally, I was home, from sub-zero (Celsius, always Celsius) temperature to 27 degrees at 1000 feet in Mumbai. The stay at home was very relaxing: meeting everybody after a long time, relaxing at home doing nothing, meeting friends etc.

Let me tell you, trying to live through the air pressure changes in aircraft is very hard when you are suffering from cold. After 20 days at home, it was back to US, reaching one afternoon at 4 and starting office the next morning. How was I feeling? Well, this was the weather when I was leaving for the office after a long stay at home:



- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. My contract with airlines is still valid: all bags (and their contents) came out fine in either direction.