Thursday, October 29, 2015

Trick or Treat

{Originally written for The Hindu thREAD}

Around this time, for the last few years, there has been a sharp increase of people on my Facebook feed posting photos of themselves celebrating Halloween, dressed up as vampires, ghosts, T.Rajendar and other miscellaneous frightening characters. Now Halloween, for those who aren’t in the know, is a holiday that was once celebrated exclusively in the United States, and has now spread across the world, including India. Halloween involves putting on elaborate costumes of spooky characters in a bid to ward off ghosts and evil spirits, although I am yet to understand exactly how that works. If a ghost were to see you dressed as one, wouldn’t it just put it’s ghostly arm around you, as opposed to run away? That aside, it’s a fun holiday, in my opinion at the least - The premise is simple, and since everyone loves dressing up, there’s no real surprise as to why it’s so popular. 

What disappoints me when I see these photos though (apart from the fact that nobody invited me for any of these parties), is that people choose to be vampires, assorted ghosts and banshees as their “scary” alter egos. This is a joke, because ever since the Twilight series released and after multiple appearances in the Backstreet Boys’ music videos, vampires have long ceased to anything remotely close to scary or evil. Ghosts and banshees, on the other hand, have zero personality, and most people end up looking like either moving bedsheets or Shahnaz Hussain. 

It bothers me at a certain level that people from in and around India, choose these kinds of costumes when the country has such a rich history of demons. We are the land of Rakshasas and Rakshasis, Asuras and Asuris! Honestly, it’s downright disrespectful you’ve decided that you’re going to be a zombie for Halloween. From what I know, all zombies do is eat brains. The demons from our scriptures on the other hand are far more accomplished. You could be Hiranyakashipu, for example, the demon king who was so obsessed with himself that he was ready to kill his own son for not worshipping him. Why not be Ravana, the brutal ten headed king who conquered the three worlds, and sparked an epic war? You could be Hiranyaksha, the Asura who continuously beat and abused Mother Earth to the point where Vishnu had to take an avatar to fight a thousand year long battle with him. You could also be Kumbhakarna, the demon who plundered and then ate his enemies, like they were free mini samosas at an office meeting. These four demons made the Devas tremble and cower in fear, for they were the best and greatest of their times, rather, the worst. They also have something else in common - they were the result of an irreversible curse. 

If you have gone to a Vishnu temple, you would have definitely noticed the twin statues which flank the sanctum sanctorum. They look like Vishnu, with the conch, chakra, and mace but they also have fangs. They are Jaya, and Vijaya - the door keepers of Vishnu. They are also Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, they are Ravana and Kumbhakarna, and they are Sishupala and Dhantavakra. 

How did this happen? The story goes that the sons of Brahma, called the Sanat Kumaras, who had great cosmic powers and bore the appearance of children, took a trip to Vaikunta, the heavenly city of Vishnu. They passed through six of the city’s gates with no trouble, only to be held in the last gate by Jaya and Vijaya, who were notably amused by these innocent looking infants seeking an audience with the Preserver of The Universe. Our Lord is sleeping, they had told the Sanat Kumaras. He will not be disturbed by little children. The Sanat Kumaras in turn, replied that Vishnu would always be there for his devotees, but were turned away by Jaya and Vijaya. Three times the Sanat Kumaras approached the door, and they were denied all three times on the same ground. Our Lord is sleeping, and He will not be disturbed by little children. The Sanat Kumaras had understandably lost all their patience by now,  and reacted the same way most of us do when we get unsolicited phone calls from loan agencies - they cursed. They cursed Jaya and Vijaya to lose their divine status as Vishnu’s door keepers and instead, be born on Earth and live a mortal life. 

Vishnu soon woke up, only to realise that the damage had already been done. He apologised profusely to the Sanat Kumaras, and felt great remorse for his two well meaning, and loyal doorkeepers, who were just doing their job. He could not lift the curse off of them, but he could modify it. He told them so, and gave them two choices - they could take seven births as an ardent devotee of Vishnu, or take three as terrible demons who will die a brutal death in His hands. Jaya and Vijaya, couldn’t bear the thought of being away from their Lord and master for seven births, and chose to take the short, but unpleasant route. 

Thus were born Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, Ravana and Kumbhakarna, and Shishupala and  Dhantavakra. They were all  frightful looking: Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu were massive Asuras whose very sight shook the ground, Ravana had ten heads and Kumbhakarna was the size of a small village. Shishupala and Dhantavakra, both large, bulky and revolting, weren’t demons though. They were evil, but they were human, and their deaths were tame in comparison to their predecessors. It was said that Jaya’s and Vijaya’s powers gradually reduced with each birth they took, although I don’t whether it was because of the beating they got in their previous birth, or because they were in a great hurry to get back to their original jobs. When Jaya and Vijaya got back to Vaikunta though, they retained a souvenir from their time on the mortal realm - fangs. They have serene smiles on their faces, similar to that of their boss, Vishnu, but the fangs confirm their position in the temple. We don’t bless, they say. We guard. 

At the end of all this, an important question remains - who is the scariest of them all? The demons who who raided, plundered, took the Earth to the brink of extinction? Is it the doorkeepers themselves, for choosing these evil, cursed lives? Or is it the Sanat Kumaras, underneath whose infant faces lie curses which are capable of creating demons? I can’t tell for sure, but I’ll tell you who isn’t scary - some guy from Transylvania who can change into a bat. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015


{An edited version of this appeared in The Hindu Metroplus, here}

There’s a scene in the second episode of Quantico where the recruits at the FBI Training Academy are made to solve a crime scene, a crime scene which was dummy to begin with, and it is Priyanka Chopra’s character, Alex Parrish, who isn’t just the first among her peers, but the first in the history of the Academy to solve it. If someone were to have narrated this scene to me, I’d have rolled my eyes and made a mental note to never watch this show, but when I saw it unfold on the screen, I bought it. In fact, I bought all of it, and I am here to finally come out and say that Quantico is well worth your time. 

I had watched the first eight minutes of the show when it leaked online, and yes, I found it entertaining but I still had many apprehensions - with the hype around the show, it seemed like it would be one that was poised to become the television event that I would love to hate. I’d already had half a column written in my head which had the words “wasted potential”, and “Priyanka Chopra should have stayed in Bollywood”, but now, 4 episodes into the show, I’ll eat my words. Quantico is tremendously entertaining, and Priyanka Chopra is not merely good, but entirely believable as Alex Parrish, the intelligent, bold, and tough FBI Agent who is wrongly accused of being a terrorist. 

The screenplay of Quantico is fast and furious - it shifts back and forth from the past, where Alex Parrish is training in the Academy and the present, where she is accused of being the prime suspect in the bombing of New York’s Grand Central Station, and transition is seamless. Alex gets to know that it is one of her classmates from the Academy, who is responsible for the bombing and is framing her for the it, and must find out who it is before it’s too late. Could it be Shelby Wyatt (Johanna Brady), the pageant queen who nurses a secret vengeance? Or is it Simon Asher (Tate Ellington), the Jewish guy with a murky past?

Every character has a back story that deserves it’s own television show (the Nimah Amin story, in particular), and the writing is such that it’s impossible to judge any of them as “good” or “bad” upon first glance. There are also lots of little surprises about the characters which keep popping up during the course of the show, surprises which really pull you into watching, and ensure that you’ll be waiting for the next episode. 

Finally, I feel like I have to talk about Priyanka Chopra’s accent in the show, despite the fact that there’s an entire library of material on the topic. It is not American, yes, but so what? The show has an explanation for it, even - After a traumatising incident which happens in the family (her father is shot dead), Alex is sent to India for ten years to finish her schooling, out of which her mother only knows where she had been for nine. And just like that, her accent becomes a part of the story.  Truth be told, I’ve heard far worse accents from family and friends who have spent brief time in the US - drawls that suddenly appear like colourful underwear in a hastily packed suitcase, so Priyanka’s is really not bad. 

There is still some room for improvement in the show - some of the dialogues are really cheesy, and the show does get over the top from time to time, but it’s an action soap opera, so that’s expected. What was unexpected for me, though, was how much I enjoyed watching Priyanka Chopra play Alex Parrish. I suppose it’s time now we stop focussing on her accent, and instead start writing about how she’s well on her way to becoming a legitimate star on American Television. 

{Quantico is presently running on Star World} 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Epic Television

I’m not one to call anything a phenomenon very lightly, least of all something that airs on screen, but the Mahabharata is a legitimate television phenomenon. I have been watching the story unfold on television for as long as I can remember watching television. The version that left the maximum impact on me is BR Chopra’s. Yes, the sets were gaudy, the effects comical, and the acting got a little too dramatic at times, but the writing and the way the episodes were paced ensured that the series was ahead of its time. There was no compromise with regard to story in the Mahabharata of the nineties, for no relationship or character from the original epic was left behind. One would think that taking on all the subplots would make the series translate unfavourably for television, but the writers managed to juggle them all on screen with consummate ease. BR Chopra’s Mahabharata revolutionised Indian television of the nineties. I have heard stories of empty streets during the telecast, and about folks with television sets “hosting” people and children from their neighbourhood to watch the show together.
The second version I remember was animated — it was called Pandavas. It aired on a channel called Splash, one of the few exclusive to children in the nineties, and by god, it was awful. It was 3D animation; the technology was new at that time and the execution, terrible. Yet, I didn’t miss a single episode.
Two new versions of the Mahabharata have been on air over the last couple of years — one produced by Sun Networks, and the other, by Star. I prefer Star’s version — it has better special effects and modern casting (the hairy paunched Pandavas have been traded in for ones that have flat, muscular abs). Both productions, however, have people hooked on to their television sets again, and that just proves that the draw of a good story, no matter how many times it has been retold, is undeniable.
You can read my column for The Hindu Metroplus Melange, on why Indian TV needs to be more epic, here.  

What's the big deal?

Originally written for thREAD, here

Over the last few days, I’ve been catching up with the news online, because for some strange reason, the good man who delivers my newspapers in the morning has replaced them with advertisement catalogues that carry scraps of news in between. Save big money! these ads say in big bold capital letters. Buy all the things! It’s on Sale!

As much as I love sales, I have always had the most terrible luck with them. I remember that one of the very first sales that I looked forward to, was by the international department store, Marks and Spencer’s. I am big fan of their clothes, and naturally, I was quite excited by their sale, which promised goods at (up to) 70% off. When I went there, the items with the big savings ended up being their cosy sweaters, wooly scarves, and well lined winter jackets - clothes that don’t really make the most sense in a city like Chennai, unless you’re on a mission to generate your body weight in sweat. The things on sale that I did like were predictably, “part of our new collection, ma’am”, and hence were full priced. Since I had braved the heat, the crowds and the commute, I ended up purchasing something from the new collection. When you go to a sale, and buy something that wasn’t on discount, there is this heavy feeling of failure that accompanies you from the billing counter to all the way back home, and trust me, I know failure - I was a CA student. 

You’d think that I’d have learned my lesson, but it took me a while. I visited sale after sale, but the clothes or shoes or accessories that I had my eyes on before the sale started would have sold out, and even if I spotted something in the store that I liked which was also on sale, it would almost never be in my size. I took it upon myself to find this “amazing deal on sale”, but I had no luck. I would set out to sales with great determination, as if I was Hercules out to slay terrifying mythical beasts! And that’s what this “amazing deal on sale” has been for me - mythical.

I’ve given up on sales in store now though, thanks to a particularly traumatic incident that had happened about a year and a half ago. I had had my eyes on a beautiful, but slightly expensive pair of shoes at Zara. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, and I knew I had to have it. My shopping companion though, wisely told me to wait for the sale, because Zara is known for doling out generous discounts. I tried explaining my luck with sales to her, but to no avail, and I eventually fell victim to my greatest nemeses - logic and common sense.  I left a part of my heart with those shoes that evening, and when I returned during the sale, barely two weeks later, they were gone. My heart still has a stiletto shaped hole, and I haven’t visited a sale since. 

When online retailers started rolling out their special sales and billion days however, I must admit I was tempted, and why not? There would be no claustrophobic crowds, no piles of clothes everywhere, and no endless queues for billing - it would be the perfect kind of sale, not to mention the possibility of my finally slaying the beast and scoring the deal. 

Spoiler alert - my terrible luck with sales in stores continued to haunt me online as well. Everything that I had set my eyes on sold out before I could so much as add it to my cart, and the other things I liked, weren't on sale. I remember one cruel incident when an iPod that I had been lusting after showed up under the “items on sale” list, only for me to discover that the discount on it was Rs. 1. Another time, I thought I had snagged the last piece in stock, and rushed to check out my shopping cart, only for a grim 404 page to present itself. 

This year though, I would like to think that I am much wiser. I have done my groundwork well in advance and even mentally prepared myself for the event at hand. I’m happy to report that I have indeed made a lot of savings - by staying away from shopping websites altogether. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lost & Found

I'm really excited to announce that I am now a contributor with THread, the cool new internet space launched by The Hindu. I'll be doing stories of general interest written in a laid-back, blog like style. This is the first piece that's come out, I do hope you enjoy reading it! An edited version can be read, here.  

A week ago, I misplaced my iPhone at home. This is something that happens to me almost every other day. I’d have brought it out of my room to get coffee, and somewhere between catching up with the news and chasing behind my dog, I place my phone in the most random of places, and spend a frantic five minutes searching for it before I leave for work. Last week was different because even after a good fifteen minutes of what I thought was thorough searching, I couldn’t find it. I rang the phone a couple of times before I realised that it was on silent mode, I used the Find My Phone app on my computer, which showed the phone to be at home - information that was  reassuring, and frustrating at the same time. I played the tracking sound from the app, and two tries later, my phone had shut itself off because my tracking efforts had drained the already low battery out fully. I even checked the garbage can, but to no avail. My phone was lost without me even leaving the house. I finally gave up on searching for it one and a half hours later and was on my way out to work when my grandmother-in-law, who saw me pass by so obviously late, asked me what happened. I narrated the curious incident of my missing phone, and she told me to pray to Karthaveeryarjuna and recite his sloka. “You’ll definitely find it” she said confidently. I nodded and left.

Now Karthaveeryarjuna, despite having his own set of slokas, or chants, wasn’t a “god” per se. While I don’t know he became the guardian of all things lost, I do know that he was a very powerful king - so powerful that Vishnu had to make a trip down to Earth and take an avatar to destroy him. Karthaveeryarjuna was a king who was born of great penance. His father, Karthaveerya of the Haiheya dynasty had a thousand wives but no children (Just to clarify, Karthaveerya is the father, and Karthaveeryarjuna is the son. Consider it an ancient way of using initials). So the king, who was now tired (hehe) and clearly frustrated, decided to do penance for Lord Vishnu and left for the mountains, with his one of his many wives, Padmini, in tow. He meditated for 10,000 years, but Lord Vishnu didn’t so much as blink at him. Padmini, who was with him the entire time (life expectancy rates those days were off the charts), became worried for his health and went to Anasuya, a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, and asked her for a solution. Anasuya told her to fast on two special Ekadesis. And so Padmini fasted, staying away from water and food and chanting the glories of Lord Vishnu. By the end of her fast, Lord Vishnu appeared in front of her, and told her He was thoroughly pleased with her sincere devotion, and asked her to tell Him what she so desired. Predictably, she asked Him to grant her husband what he wanted. Karthaveerya wanted, and received a son “who will never be conquered by the demigods, human beings, snakes, demons, or hobgoblins”, but can only be destroyed by Lord Vishnu himself. 

Thus was born Karthaveeryarjuna, the king with a thousand arms. So powerful was he, that he ruled for 85,000 years from his kingdom’s capital, Mahishmati (If the name Mahishmati sounds familiar, it’s because that was the same capital which was used in the film Bahubali) with perfect health, strength and prosperity. Karthaveeryarjuna isn’t a very popular character in Indian mythology, at least not as popular he should be because there isn’t much we know about those 85,000 years he ruled other than two very specific incidents. The first was when he humbled Ravana for attacking him - the demon king was put in a cage by Karthaveeryarjuna and paraded around the streets of Mahishmati like a common monkey. The only important detail you need to know from this story, apart from the fact that Ravana was punished for just daring to fight with him, is that Ravana, was actually minding his own business and was provoked by Karthaveeryarjuna. The second incident, is the story of his death. He was killed by Parashurama, the bloodthirsty sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu, who didn’t just kill Karthaveeryarjuna, but also took the trouble of going around the world twenty one times over to rid the world of the Kshatriya race altogether. 

There is another popular belief that Kartahveeryarjuna was, in fact, the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu’s Sudharshana Chakra, the powerful discus weapon that He has used to behead very many Rakshasas. Legend has it that one day, the Sudharshana Chakra got annoyed that the sage Narada, while singing praises of Lord Vishnu, had completely ignored him, and sourly claimed that Vishnu wouldn’t have been able to defeat those that He had without him. Lord Vishnu, ever the one for a challenge, told the Chakra to go down to earth as a thousand armed king (an arm for each spoke), and that they could pit their strength against each other, there. The Chakra, born as Kartaveeryarjuna, eventually lost to Parashurama (Vishnu), and thus, finally learned the point of its 85,000 year old lesson. 

24 hours had passed since my phone had switched itself off, and soon enough, it even disappeared from the location map from Apple’s Find My Phone app. When I was at work the next day, distraught and distracted by the void that my phone had left in my routine, I thought again and again about Karthaveeryarjuna. Here is a king who had a thousand hands, a king so powerful that the most dangerous and mighty demon of them all was reduced to a showpiece, a king who ruled the world for 85,000 years! Why would he bother with something like my phone? But then again, we are talking about a king with a thousand hands, a king so powerful that the most dangerous and mighty demon of them all was reduced to a showpiece, a king who ruled the world for 85,000 years! Perhaps he might lend one, out of those thousand hands for my cause. I had searched an entire day and failed - surely I didn’t have much to lose now? I threw all caution and doubt to the wind, looked up the sloka and said it. Oh King with a Thousand Arms, I beseeched. Help me find this damned iPhone.

My mother in law called me two hours later telling me that the phone had been found. It had been  in the fridge. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Robots and Reruns

I missed posting the previous week's column on the new tech thriller Mr.Robot here, so I'm posting that, as well as this week's, which is focused on reruns. 

While the idea of hacking has been something that has always fascinated me, its portrayal in film and television has been mostly stereotypical — the “hacker” is either a really skinny, or grossly overweight guy, who wears a pair of chunky glasses, brings in words like “bypass”, “security protocol”, “router” and “access” to the conversation, and is the one to crack a few jokes every time the rest of the group gets serious. All we know about the hacker is that he’s the guy who can solve any problem in minutes by furiously typing on a keyboard.Mr. Robot is a series that revolves around hacking and one that takes its technology very seriously. Unlike most film or television portrayals, where it’s only the hacker’s keyboard that’s seen, here we’re shown his computer screen. There are no special visual effects to make the hacking seem cool. What makes the hacking exciting, are the characters and their stories. The show follows the perspective of Elliot (Rami Malek), a computer programmer with antisocial disorder. We are audience to everything that goes on in his head (there is one episode where we can even see his drug-induced dreams).

You can read more of my thoughts on Mr. Robot, here

Watching television shows is my way of relaxing, and I have a long list of TV shows to catch up on right now, and yet, on the days when I truly just want to kick back and let some steam out, I almost never reach for a new episode of a show I’m watching, or even a new show. I take my trusty hard disk out and watch reruns of either FriendsGossip Girl or Sex And The City.When I watch a rerun, I know exactly where the episode is heading. I know that Phoebe does find her soulmate, and that Chandler and Monica do end up having kids. I know that Blair will finally be with Chuck, and I don’t have to waste time thinking about who Gossip Girl really is. Most importantly, I know that Mr. Big comes back. I suppose reruns are like the visual equivalent of comfort food — they don’t require too much effort to watch, and yes, they are predictable, but deliciously so, and it is this predictability which keeps me coming back.I had watched each of these shows at a different point in time, and they each represent a different kind of nostalgia for me. Friends, I watched during high school. Gossip Girl was through my CA articleship and study holidays. Sex And The City, I binge-watched as I stepped into my twenties, although it was well done and dusted by then. The relationships that I had formed in my head with the show’s characters, as well as the way I had associated myself with them when I’d watched the show initially, was a reflection of my identity, and what was going on with me at that time. 

You can read more on why I love watching reruns, here.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Casting For Change

The 67th edition of the Emmy Awards, which recognises and honours excellence in primetime television, wrapped up last Sunday. I watched it , primarily to see if any of the shows I’d written about in this column would win an award – Wolf HallBrooklyn Nine-NineBetter Call Saul and Empire, were all nominated, but unfortunately, none of them won.
The Emmys this year had its moments, but the most important of them was Viola Davis receiving the award for best lead actress in the drama series, How To Get Away With Murder. Davis is the first African-American woman to win this award, and she quoted Harriet Tubman, one of the most important African-American humanitarians who worked tirelessly for abolitionism during the American Civil War, in her emotional acceptance speech. “In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can’t seem to get there no-how. I can’t seem to get over that line.” Davis went on to say that the only thing separating women of colour was opportunity, and that you couldn’t win Emmy awards for roles that were “simply not there”.
Davis’ rousing speech comes at a time when Priyanka Chopra is poised to make a leap from Bollywood into American television, as the lead in Quantico, a new series that premieres this weekend.
 Read more about my thoughts on Quantico, and how it could affect the way Indians are cast in mainstream American television, here.

Monday, September 21, 2015

'Tis The Season For Telly

I have a giant backlog of shows to be watched, one that increases every day, given the number of “must watch” shows that are on television right now. This September, a slew of television shows will resume, bringing upon us new seasons, and more episodes to catch up with.However, there are also a number of new, exciting shows that are coming out, which is why I plan to stop trying to catch up with existing ones, and instead, get a head start on the following shows, which could all easily become the next great thing on television.
My pick for the best and brightest are The Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris, The Grinder, Limitless, Narcos and Scream Queens. Read more about these shows, and why I'm excited about them, here. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Singing A Different Tune

The sixth and final season of Glee is presently running on television. If you were a one-time fan of the show, now is the time to get back, because this season is short, fast-paced, and full of the irreverent humour that the show was famous for. I have watched the show right from its inception in 2009, stuck to watching it despite the inevitable collapse that happened when the show’s lead actor, Cory Monteith, passed away due to a drug overdose, and cried secret tears during the finale. Glee covers the trials and tribulations of a bunch of misfits in high school, who discover themselves through song and dance. Given the premise, there is plenty of music on the show and the cast breaks into song every five minutes to express their feelings. Although Glee rarely does original music, their covers of pop songs were, on most days, better than the original. In fact, I endured the travesties that were the fourth and fifth seasons of Glee, only for the music. Despite Glee’s shortcomings, I was convinced for a very long time that it was the most successful example of a series that mixed drama (high school drama, but drama nonetheless), with music, into one cogent, entertaining show. My opinion changed when I started watching Empire.Empire delves deep into the hip-hop industry, its workings, and the culture, which forms its roots. I’ve never been a fan of hip-hop or rap, but Empire changed that for me because it gives context to the genre, and that makes the music much more enjoyable.

You can read the rest of my column in this week's The Hindu Melange on Glee and Empire here

Monday, September 7, 2015

Bringing Out The Big Guns

It was during the study holidays leading up to my Chartered Accountancy final exam that I discovered the show Criminal Minds. It started out innocuously — all I wanted was to find a way to procrastinate studying Auditing Standards, which, as people who’ve studied Auditing Standards would know, is completely understandable. Within a week though, I was addicted to the point where I would use the show’s timing to motivate myself into finishing that day’s quota of studying. Criminal Minds follows the Behavioural Analysis Unit, a sub-section of the FBI, which is called in by the local police departments whenever there are violent, serial crimes which are committed by an unknown perpetrator, who is referred to as the “unsub”. The team of analysts then gets together to crack the case by going into the mind of the killer, predicting his next move, and consequently, preventing it. 
Criminal Minds is about criminal psychology, and about getting into the unsub’s head to find out what drives him, and hence, there isn’t as much action in the show as one would expect in a conventional cop show — the guns come out only towards the end. When you’re new to the series, Criminal Minds comes across as a really entertaining, impressive and intelligent show. Every episode deals with a new crime, and the writing is such that it will take you to the edge of your seat within the first ten minutes, and keep you there until it ends.
Read my column in this week's Hindu Melange on Criminal Minds & Brooklyn 99, here. 
Please note: The views expressed in this blog are the author's own. However, she is not responsible for the comments that have been left on the page and the same need not necessarily reflect her viewpoint on the same and are entirely the commenters' own. Ok, now read the rest of the blog already.