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May 042011

For sorrow there is no remedy provided by nature; it is often occasioned by accidents irreparable, and dwells upon objects that have lost or changed their existence; it requires what it cannot hope, that the laws of the universe should be repealed; that the dead should return, or the past should be recalled….Sorrow is properly that state of the mind in which our desires are fixed upon the past, without looking forward to the future, an incessant wish that something were otherwise than it has been, a tormenting and harassing want of some enjoyment or possession which we have lost and which no endeavours can possibly regain.
Samuel Johnson in The Rambler, No-47 August 28, 1750

Samuel Johnson was an extraordinary literary personality of the 18th century, one of the first confirmed celebrity eccentrics.

Those who have read Macaulay’s essay on Johnson or better still perused what is considered the greatest biography of all time, James Boswell’s splendid work on his friend Johnson cannot fail to be impressed by the man.

For Johnson, despite all his warts of which there were many, was a towering figure in the world of letters.

Johnson’s Lives of the Poets and the many essays in the Rambler still have the power to delight and by the way he’s also credited with compiling the first authoritative dictionary in modern times.

May 042011

Given our fondness for eating, we never miss an opportunity to stuff food into our mouth.

In the course of our restless gustatory wanderings, we came upon this food item.

Most Indians know the name of this food item though they’d be hard-pressed to identify it by looking at the below picture. ;)

Let’s see how many of you schmucks can get it right. Most likely, no one will.

We’ll provide the answer on Friday.

May 042011

(For SI Blog reader Kreacher)

A riveting and ultimately moving tale of two young boys in Kabul set against the depressing backdrop of political violence and the frayed social fabric of Afghanistan, Kite Runner is a film of stunning beauty.

And of horrific cruelty in its stark depiction of life in the war-torn land.

Kite Runner (2007) is likely the best film we’ve seen this year.

We can’t think of any other movie that has given us so much joy lately.

German-Swiss filmmaker Marc Forster (also the director of the 2008 James Bond thriller Quantum of Solace) has directed this film based on the eponymous novel by Khaled Hosseini, deftly weaving the tragic story of the kite runner with the relentless violence and chaos in Afghanistan over a 22-year period.

Adding to the allure of this Dari/English film is the haunting score by Alberto Iglesias that seems so apposite to the images flashing on the screen.

Dysfunctional Nation
The story of Afghanistan is one of prolonged nay endless trauma for its proud people. Continue reading »