Sanskari Bond is still Bond!



Screw the libtards of India. It’s just one kiss that was cut short. Just one lousy kiss. I just cannot see why the libtards made such a huge ruckus about it. The film’s producers shouldn’t have applied for a U/A certificate in the first place.

Bond is Bond. An aborted kiss and a couple of deleted profanities have no effect on the impact left on you by the twenty fourth Bond movie.


One lousy kiss!

Spectre is the one of the best Bond movies ever made, no question. Three years ago, I wrote the same words about Skyfall, but Bond just keeps getting better with age.

When Daniel Craig first appeared as 007 in Casino Royale, I was one of millions of Bond-fans who howled in disbelief. Four Bond movies later, Craig practically owns the role, and one is actually sorry that Craig says he will not play Bond again.

Well, like Craig, Sean Connery also said “never again” after Diamonds are Forever, but he did make a comeback didn’t he?

Spectre has everything that a Bond-nut like me expects from a Bond movie – and then some.


The traditional gun barrel sequence is restored to its rightful place, the opening sequence is heart-pounding and without doubt the best I have seen, the opening credits are as sexy as ever, the pace is thrilling, the cinematography breath-taking, the locales exotic, the suspense nail-biting, the climax thunderous, and the denoument comes with a spine-chilling twist.

The digital sound is crystal clear, the entire theater shakes as the villain’s den is blown to pieces in the time-honored Bond tradition. The CGI is slick and seamless. Nowadays it’s hard to tell where reality ends and CGI begins.

What’s a Bond movie without hyper-muscular henchmen, car chases at terrifying speeds, high-tech gadgets, ear-blasting pyrotechnics, and skimpily clad Bond girls?

The car chases are indeed terrifying, even if half the gadgets in Bond’s Jag do not work, to his disgust. The high-tech gadgets have been toned down, but effective nonetheless, as they were in Skyfall.

The skimpily clad Bond girls of the old days are passe, alas. Now, we are told, they are Bond women. They are no longer Bond’s arm-candy. They are, we are informed, women of substance, or some such nonsense. What rot. Bond girls are not supposed to have PhD’s. They are supposed to have dangerous necklines. There. I said it.

Her truncated kissing scene with Bond notwithstanding, Monica Belluci’s blink-and-miss appearance was a considerable disappointment. As a long-standing and very ardent admirer of the exquisitely endowed Ms Bellucci, one was keen to see more of her – literally.

Lea Seydoux as Dr Madeline Swann is the afore-mentioned, non-skimpily clad PhD woman of substance, and she is well, passable. But then, I’m comparing her to my all-time Bond-girl favorites – Ursula Andress, Halle Berry and Olga Kurylenko. I suppose one can give Seydoux benefit of the doubt.

Naomie Harris is back as Eve Moneypenny, to my delight. Oh, that sexy British accent! She should have been given more screen time. Ben Wishaw has grown quite well into the role of Q. Looks like Wishaw will take over from where Desmond Llewelyn left.  But what is missing from Q is the dry wit that John Cleese brought to the character.

Ralph Fiennes does impress in his second appearance as M. He doesn’t quite measure up to Judi Dench, but he’s getting there. Pro-wrestler Dave Bautista as Mr Hinx, looks like a scary hybrid of two old-time Bond henchmen, Jaws and Oddjob.  Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, does a good job but is not as chilling as Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Raoul Silva in Skyfall.

With Spectre, I think Bond has come full circle and Ian Fleming’s legacy comes to a graceful end. Bond confronts his life-long nemesis for the last time, lays his ghosts to rest, demolishes everything that needs to be demolished, and drives off with his lady-love at the wheel of another Bond icon, BMT 216A, the Aston Martin DB5 that made its first appearance in Goldfinger back in 1964.

db5Hopefully, this means a re-boot of the Bond character.

Craig’s Bond while brilliant, is a bit too dark. Gone are the wry one-liners of Moore, the suave ruthlessness of Connery, the smooth and deadly charm of Brosnan.

John Cleese feels that current Bond movies are made for Asian audiences, that do not appreciate typical British humor and instead prefer brute action. Sadly, I have to agree.

Bond is quintessentially British. The character is so much more than a blunt weapon. One does hope that future Bond films bring back the British flavor to 007.

Or as Bond would have said, “Keep the British end up, Sir”.

We’ve been shaken enough, Mr Bond. Let’s stir things up a bit, shall we?

Bottom line: Screw the libtards, as I said. Go watch Spectre on the big screen and enjoy yourself thoroughly. And thanks to the CFBC, you can take your kids along.

Cheers … Srini.

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Dhanavantari … and his leech.

Dhanvanatari, at Art of Living ashram in Bangalore. Note the leech in his lower right hand.

Dhanvanatari, at Art of Living ashram in Bangalore. Note the leech in his lower right hand.

Today is Dhanvantari Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Dhanavantari, patron-god of Ayurveda and the healing sciences.

Bhagvat Purana tell us that Dhanvantari emerged during Samudra Manthan, the churning of the ocean.

Dhanvantari’s anniversary falls on the thirteenth day of the dark half of Ashvina, two days before Deepavali. Hence, it is called Dhantrayodashi. This day also honors the goddess of wealth, and is also called Dhanteras.

Ayurveda is the world’s first organised system of medicine. Acharya Charaka’s Samhita is the first written compendium of Ayurveda and dates back to 800 BCE.  Acharya Susruta, the world’s first surgeon, compiled his Samhita during 600 BCE. But the actual practice of Ayurveda goes back much further.

Dhanvantari is accepted as an incarnation of Vishnu and is usually portrayed with four arms. In his upper arms, he holds Vishnu’s Shanku-chakra (Conch and Discus). In his lower left hand, he holds a kamandal (copper pot) containing amrita and more important, in his lower right hand, he holds a leech.

That’s right. A leech.

Known as ‘jalouka’ in Ayurveda, leeches have been used in India since Vedic times. Susruta describes twelve species of leeches, of which six were used by him for various ailments.

Over time, leech therapy spread across the world. Leeches are still used in modern medicine. What is significant is that leeches are still used for the same ailments that Susruta used them for, two thousand years ago.

Leeches are used in reconstructive surgery, varicose veins, psoriasis, thrombophlebitis, arthritis and gangrene. Leech saliva has several proteins with medicinal properties, notably anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, vasodilation and anticlotting.

There are just a few temples in India specifically devoted to Dhanvantari, most of which are in Kerala. However, in almost any major Vishnu temple, like the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam for example, you will find a Dhanvantari shrine.

And he will invariably have a leech in his lower right hand.

Many ‘modern’ discoveries that the West lays claim to, originate from India. Leech therapy is a typical example.

Om Dhanavantaraye namaha!

Cheers … Srini.

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Tipu’s summer palace – strictly avoidable.

tipu-1-2When one visits a site of historic importance, one looks for authenticity. What’s the point in visiting a heritage building that looks like a parking lot?

For that is what Tipu Sultan’s summer palace in Bangalore has become. A parking lot – with a couple of nice-looking toilets attached.

Built during the late 18th century, by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, this modest palace does have interesting features, like the carved wooden pillars and the wooden plinth that support the structure. Wooden staircases lead to the upper floor, but are to be taken with caution. There is a sort of museum in one of the private rooms on the ground floor, with a few unimpressive artifacts from Tipu’s time. Most visitors hardly glance in.tipu-1-4

Go around to the back of the palace, and you will find rusty ladders, poles and other building material lying around. The indifferent paint job on the walls make this heritage palace look like an urban slum.

The chap at the ticket counter and the security guards are polite enough, but there are several surly employees in the place, and they are rude to visitors – especially non-local visitors who do not understand Kannada. Why does a small site like this have so many employees hanging around the place? Seems to me that many of them aren’t even employees. Just localites who wander in for time-pass. Certainly none of them had an ID card on his person.

And why are there so many private vehicles parked inside? A foul-mouthed person deliberately parked his motorcycle in front of me, as I was clicking pictures, and refused to move it.

There is a lawn of sorts, with notices saying “Entry restricted to lawn area” – whatever that means. Nevertheless, you see employees strolling all across the lawn, while yelling at visitors to stay off it.

No wonder there are few visitors to Tipu’s summer palace. If I want to see a parking lot in an urban slum and get abused by random strangers, I just need to step out of my home.

I won’t bother to give you directions to this depressing and avoidable “historic” site. It’s in Bangalore, that’s all I can tell you. Look it up on google, if you really want to inflict pain on yourself. Better that you just give the place a glance as you drive past.

I’m sure Tipu Sultan would have done the same.

No cheers … Srini.

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Somnathpur – visit once and only once.


“The construction of this temple was caused by Somanatha”, the notice-board put up by the Archeological Survey of India informs us at the entrance. That mild syntax glitch aside, the ASI has done a fair job at the Channakeshava temple at Somnathpur.

Built around 1268 AD, during the reign of the Hoysala king, Narasimha II, the Kesava somnathpur-1temple presents the connoisseur with the best of Hoysala architecture in a compact, one-day package. To the purist, Somnathpur is perhaps a more complete representation of Hoysala art, than its much bigger and more famous cousins at Halebidu and Beluru, a hundred miles to the west.

Not many people know that the Halebidu-Beluru temples are generally incomplete. They don’t have the vimana (or gopuram) on top. Somanthpur does, and while its vimana doesn’t tower over you, unlike the gopurams of Tamil Nadu, it is imposing all the same.

Walk around slowly, pause at an exquisite sculpture, admire the lathe-turned stone pillars, turn your eyes upward to the sixteen intricately carved ceilings, and as Whitman would put it, simply ‘stand and stare’. Each of the ceilings depicts a banana flower in different stages of growth.somnathpur-1-5

somnath-1-21Somnathpur is one of the few temples in India where you can walk right into the sanctum sanctorum with your digcam and snap away at the idols. somnathpur-1-8Try and locate the names of the sculptors, carved at the base of each statue. Ruvari Mallithamma, a famous temple sculptor of the time, sculpted most of the statues.

Somnathapur, until recently, was a good place for a quiet Sunday visit, especially if you like ancient temples. That said, the placid beauty of this historic Hoysala temple is rapidly being ruined by greed and neglect.

You will find patches of poorly done repair work all over the temple, junk and debris randomly dumped inside the courtyard, and the jarring sight of a solar panel placed right on top of the gopuram. Couldn’t they find a more discreet place to put it?

Once, you could park your vehicle under the shade of a nearby tree and stroll across Somnathpur at leisure. Now, there’s an unwashed thug breathing stale booze on you, demanding a hefty parking fee. There’s no parking lot though. You still have to look for parking space on your own. If you’re lucky, you might be given a receipt for the absurd parking fee extorted from you.

The local villagers were a benign, friendly lot, once upon a time. Now, you will find yourself being harassed by hawkers and beggars of all kinds. Even the ASI clerk who issues the entry ticket to you is a surly fellow who rudely informs you that camera tripods are not allowed, and will not tell you why.

Good luck with the stray dogs that infest the place. And try not to look at the urban slum that surrounds the immediate vicinity of the temple.

Best time to visit: Any time, but it does get hot during April-May.

Bottom-line: Visit Somnathpur only if you appreciate medieval Indian temple architecture and are capable of ignoring all the trouble and general filth you will be subjected to. And visit it just once. The residents of Somnathpur will ensure that you wouldn’t want to visit again.

Cheers … Srini.

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Namma Bengaluru – the Red Garden.

kgtower-1-4If you visit Lalbagh on a winter evening, and you come across a tall, well-built, ruggedly handsome man laden with photographic gear, assiduously clicking pictures, that ruggedly handsome man would be Yours Truly.

Although it has deteriorated over the years, due to encroachment, poor management and unrelenting abuse by the visiting public, Lalbagh remains my go-to place for photography, birds, fresh air and a good walk.

lalbagh-1-26So named because of its red roses that bloom through the year, Lalbagh Botanical Garden was first established about 250 years ago by Hyder Ali and completed by his son Tipu Sultan in 1760. After Tipu’s death in 1799, the British took over the garden. Lalbagh’s centerpiece, the Glass House was built by the British, on the lines of the Crystal Palace in London. The original Crystal Palace burnt down in 1936, but the Glass House at Lalbagh remains.

In a literal sense, Labagh is redolent with history. Tipu Sultan and the British imported hundreds of rare flowers and trees from all over the world. If you’re an aspiring botanist or a lover of flora as I am, Lalbagh is the one place you must be in.

And, if you’re a birder as I am, Lalbagh will not disappoint you. Once, there were about a hundred species of birds, but those days are gone. It’s still worth your visit.

Spot-billed pelican at the lake.

Spot-billed pelican at the lake.

What’s good about Lalbagh: Fresh air and greenery. Rare species of trees and flowers, Several species of birds, especially in and around the lake.

The lake.

The lake.

What’s bad about Lalbagh: Too many hawkers, feral dogs, loafers, pesky photographers (the ones who charge money, not Yours Truly!), illegal fishing and worst of all, lovey-dovey couples in various stages of foreplay and vulgar displays of public affection.

I’ve had my share of youthful tomfoolery with various girlfriends in my younger days – but what is vulgar is vulgar.

That said, Lalbagh definitely merits your visit, at least once.lalbaghhorse-1-2

Make it a point to see:

The Glass House, the lake, the Kempegowda Tower and the 3 billion year old rock on which it is built, the bonsai garden, the floral clock, the fossilised tree trunk and the 200-year old silk cotton tree.

Make it a point to avoid: The pesky photographers at the Glass House, the feral dogs all over the place (don’t you dare feed them!), and the hawkers.

Disregard: Above-mentioned lovey-dovey couples in various stages of foreplay. Or if you are so inclined and if you are built like Schwarzenegger, glare at them pointedly.

Fossilised tree trunk. 20 million years old.

Fossilised tree trunk. 20 million years old.

How to get there: Easy. Every bus route towards south Bangalore will pass through Lalbagh. There are three separate gates of entry to Lalbagh, and there will be a bus to reach any one of them. Check out BMTC’s helpful website.

You can take an autorickshaw to the place. But avoid taking an autorickshaw at the gate when you leave. They will rip you off, the traffic constables notwithstanding. Walk a few yards away from the gate, and hail a passing autorickshaw. That’s a better option.

There is car parking inside Lalbagh, but best avoided, especially during weekends. Public transport is better. You will save yourself a lot of time and the enormous hassle of looking for parking space. That time can be better spent inside Lalbagh.

Purple moorhen.

Purple moorhen.

Lalbagh is open on all days, including Sundays, from 6.00 am to 7.00 pm.

There is a nominal entry fee. However, entry is free from 6.00 to 9.00 am, and 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm, for walkers only.

If you have a camera, fork out an additional Rs.50/- (Grrr!).

Bottom-line: A must-see place if you’re visiting Bangalore. And a must-save place if you’re a Bangalorean.

Cheers … Srini.

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