Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns is a movie on politics and rural mafia. I do not know if it has any links to its prequel as I have not watched it. The movie is slick, well paced and has several twists. Irfan Khan and Jimmy Shergill have as always given good performances and are well supported by Raj Babbar, Mahie Gill and Soha Ali Khan. Soha looks a little old in the movie though. Tigmanshu Dhulia, the director of the brilliant movie Paan Singh Tomar does not disappoint.
Good: Fast pace, twists
Not so: A big star could have made it a bigger movie
Overall: Definitely worth watching
Along with my visit to Cincinnati downtown, I also visited Entertrainment Junction (that is actually the name not a spelling error). The place claims to be the world’s largest indoor train display. Whether that is true or not, it does have quite a few models on display organized based on eras starting from olden western trains to the modern railways.
Here are a few pictures:
Inside the museum
Western railway - olden style
Bridge over a river
Modern railway with a control tower
Full set of photos here
I was in Cincinnati on a business trip and managed to get a few photos despite the awful weather. A few snaps of the Ohio river below were taken from Newport, KY.
Not sure what kind of a port of entry this is
Bridge over River
A view of the Ohio River from Newport, KY
A horse with green hoofs
Ahmed Samawi Mosque
Snow giving proof of the awful weather
As the byline of the book states, Bishwanath Ghosh travels around India visiting the railway stations that one passes through usually but never gets off. He starts from Mughal Serai in the north, covering Jhansi, Itarsi, Guntakal, Arakkonam, Jolarpettai and terminating his journey at Shoranur. While some stations such as Jhansi are towns in their own right, the rest are just railway towns; the life there
seems to revolve around the railway station. Ghosh has a chapter for each town he visits (only Arakkonam and Jolarpettai share a chapter) and the size of a chapter is vaguely proportional to the size of the town itself.
Ghosh’s narrative is light and transports one to the lanes of the place where he is at. While reading a few chapters, I felt an urge to be physically present at that place! Overall, the book serves as a good alternative travelogue to people who have traveled in India and are curious to know about the railway junctions they pass through in their journeys. The only thing that I found missing was the details of the Chai that is sold in these stations!
Cover image copyright of Tranquebar Press
Benson Bobrick’s The Caliph’s Splendor takes us on a journey from the times of the Rashidun (rightly guided) Caliphs (representatives) to the end times of the Abbasid and Umayyad dynasties. It is a fairly unbiased view covering their rise and fall. The book focuses a great deal on the cities of the time: Baghdad, Cordoba, Sicily and others; specifically, the architecture of the buildings, the Hamams (public baths) and overall city planning. There is an entire chapter devoted to Baghdad alone.
Bobrick also touches upon the situation of the society: literacy, culture, religion, occupations and pastimes. He presents a more balanced view of some of the notable Caliphs such as Harun Rashid, stating that he welcomed people of all faiths and encouraged learning and trade. In Baghdad and Andalusia (now in Spain), their seemed to have existed universities where a great deal of development on science, mathematics, physics, chemistry and medicine seems to have taken place. One can imagine them to be like the developed countries of today.
As is the case with most kingdoms and dynasties, the initial Caliphs were pious and the later ones were lavish, and extravagant. Their wealth seems to have been disproportionate and possibly one of the causes of their downfall along with their in-fighting.
The book is not too detailed and tries to weave events into a story. It is a good read on the subject but readers looking for a more detailed account should read “A Short History of Saracens” by Syed Ameer Ali (freely available in the public domain).
After a gap of 3 years, I visited Munnar with family again. The trip started with a visit to “The Niagara of India”, Athirapilly falls.
View of Athirapilly falls from the road
Then we proceeded to picturesque Munnar.
View from Mattupetty Dam in Munnar
Tea plantations abound in Munnar
After over a day in Munnar, we visited a few historical places in Kochi and took the boat ride.
St.Francis’ Church in Kochi
View of a 5 Star hotel from the Kochi ferry
A fishing boat
A ship of the Indian Navy
Sunset in Kochi
The weather in Munnar was pleasant but Kochi was hot, nevertheless, the trip was relaxing and rejuvenating.
The full set of photos is available here
40 Sufi Comics by the Vakil brothers was well liked for the simple messages that it carried. Continuing with the good work is “The Wise Fool of Baghdad”, the second book in the series. This book unlike the first one, has a central character, Bahlool Dana - the wise fool. Bahlool feigns madness to escape punishment from the authorities and the powerful, whose corrupt practices he criticizes. He provides guidance to one and all on issues related to humanity.
The central theme in the book is to be humble and considerate to the poor. In many stories, one is reminded of Birbal and Naseeruddin Hodja, like whom Bahlool uses his intellect to get justice for the poor.
While 40 Sufi Comics had great content, The Wise Fool of Baghdad has exceptional artwork and presentation. The book has illustrations in full colour and artwork in all the pages. The relevant verses from the Quran and Hadith (the Prophet’s (saw) life & sayings) are depicted with excellent calligraphy.
As with 40 Sufi Comics, the book will appeal to both adults and children. With the great artwork, it is difficult to put it down and I ended up reading the whole book in a single go!