Posts by "Peter"

The Rise of The Man Cave

I’ve recently moved in to a new 2 bedroom apartment except I tell everyone that it’s a one bedroom apartment. Why? Because the second bedroom is, or will be, my man cave. Decked out with everything the modern man needs to survive, the only reason I’ll ever have to leave my new cave is to go to work. I have my new 6 core computer (if you even know what that means then you can come visit my man cave) hooked up to the 32″ HD TV, 7.1 surround sound, a couch (built for comfort and not for style), games console, cable TV with all the sports and movie channels, a mini-fridge stocked with beer and most importantly, Dominos pizza on speed dial.

And it turns out I’m not alone, in America, men are desperate to reclaim a small part of their ‘castle’ and rescue it from good taste, cushions and femininity. Oh, and before anyone thinks it’s all about being a social recluse where a man can retreat to when life gets him down, a man cave is built for fun and enjoyment where mates can come over, watch the game, knock back a few beers and unwind while the missus watches Antiques Roadshow in the neat, clean and beautifully decorated living room downstairs.

BBC News - 'Man cave' boom in America explained

BBC News – ‘Man cave’ boom in America explained Wilser, co-author of “The Man Cave Book”, talks to the BBC about the forces behind these hideaways, why men are so protective of them, and why the variety of such…

National Art Exhibition in Chennai

Chennai held the Indian National Art Exhibition this year where established and upcoming artists from all over India submit their artwork for the chance to be exhibited to the public and also the opportunity to win Rs 100,000 (about £1,450). India isn’t spoken of in the same circles as Rome, Florence, London, Paris and New York when it comes to art but it does have a pretty active art community and the Government really tries to encourage it by offering heavily subsidized courses, subsidized amenities and organizing fairs and exhibitions for the artists.

I’m sure there are a great many undiscovered artists and sculptors in India sitting behind a desk and speaking to you on the phone right now, calling themselves “Chrissy” or something because a lot of middle class families push their children to do engineering degrees so they can get a good job at the end, rather than perusing their passion. Infact even in my company I know there are people with a good talent for drawing but instead they are helping from people around the world because it probably pays better.

Anyway, being the patron of the arts that I am, I took it upon myself to go and investigate the upcoming and established art talent that India has to offer. Since I apparently appreciate art in a different way to arty people though, I actually preferred what the Stella Maris fine arts students did compared to this exhibition.

In Soviet Russia, England Comes To You

When you’re kicking back after a hard day of arresting wayward businessmen who won’t kowtow to your corruption demands, feeding dog food to your army of conscripts (and then arresting the man who exposed it on spurious allegations), meeting despotic rulers of other countries, raiding foreign business offices, assassinating dissidents who dare to question the regime and rounding off the day by permanently silencing prying reporters; what better than to spend the evening in a quiet English pub, sipping on real English beer, in your English town, near to your English home, enjoying the civilities of England, all located on the outskirts of Moscow.

BBC News - Rich Russians' love affair with Britain

BBC News – Rich Russians’ love affair with Britain the countryside outside Moscow, an army of cement mixers is droning, churning and, quite bizarrely, helping to turn Russian fields into an English town.

Why Does The Sky Turn Purple?

The other day I posted a rather smashing photo of a Chennai sunset which lit up the sky in purples, pinks, oranges and reds. I referred a question to my fellow blogger, Tom, about why the sky had all these amazing colours. Many thanks Tom for taking the time to answer it!

Blogstronomy: Why is the Sky Purple?

Blogstronomy: Why is the Sky Purple? posed by Peter, in this blog post. Of course, the more usual question is “why is the sky blue?”, but Peter, an ex-pat schoolmate of mine living in India, snapped the…

Absolutely Fabulous, Darling

Me? At a fashion show? Has the world gone stark raving mad? I’m a computers and football man upon whom fashion gave up a long ago as a lost cause. I would wear sweat pants to work if my boss would let me, so what business, you may wonder, do I have being at a swanky fashion show at Chennai’s most expensive 5 star hotel?

Well. It went a little something like this…

Girlfriend: Hey, you wanna come to a fashion show next weekend?
Me: *Makes a screwed up face*
GF: What?! You’ll like it, lots of pretty ladies on the catwalk for you to look at.

Ha, I didn’t get to the ripe old age of 28 without learning at least something about girls, no matter what my mum thinks. For any young male readers, you are about to be schooled…

Me: But you’re the prettiest girl I know, why would I want to look at any other girl?

And that, kids, is how it’s done 😉

GF: Aww, that’s so sweet, but you should come, there will be free food.

Now, at this point I should mention that if you want people, or anyone, to come to your event in India, you have to lay on free food. The most successful stall at a recent “food security” expo wasn’t the one that had the traditional folk dance, it wasn’t the cute puppet show and nor was it the one where they sang a humourous song about fruit complete with banana actions, it was the one which gave away free food.

Me: Meh, you’re speaking to the wrong person, food is nothing but fuel for the body
GF: Hmph! Well there will be a free bar there too.

So I rocked up to the hotel all suited and booted at 7pm, the show was due to start at 8pm but I wanted to make sure I got a good seat at the bar by the catwalk.

Now, I should probably reiterate here that this hotel is proper swanky like and it isn’t for regular folk, it’s for the people who can swan up in top of the range BMW’s, Mercedes, Jags, Porsches, Audi’s and Bentley’s. Obviously it was impossible for me to show up without a set of wheels and since my peers had chosen some of the finest names in European automotive manufacturing, I too needed something to prove that I was their equal.

After some thought on the matter I decided to opt for an Italian thoroughbred, a name synonymous with prestige and known throughout the world: The Piaggio 2 Stroke 50cc Apé City, colloquially referred to as the tuk-tuk. Yeah, I know I had envious eyes on me as I stepped out this finely crafted beast and deftly slipped my driver a 100 rupee note, “Keep the change” I said, nonchalantly, and the driver roared off saying something about “vela kaka’s”.

italian thoroughbred automobile

I certainly turned a few heads when I turned up in this Italian designed beauty

Unfortunately for me, the organizers of the event had realized long ago that if you offer a free bar it’s best to open it after the event so as to keep people’s minds focused on the show at hand. And so it was that I walked in to an alien world of high class sophistication and took my seat next to the catwalk.

The fashion show was to launch the 2012 saree collection of a fashion designer here in Chennai. I’m not totally familiar with the intricacies of saree design, but apparently I saw corporate wear, casual wear, concept wear and bridal wear although not necessarily in that order. I think that as with all things fashionable that walk down the catwalk, it’s very hard to see how the clothes would translate in to real life for the real person. For example the casual wear sarees revealed more flesh than the average Geordie lass on a night out on the ‘toon and the corporate sarees would have everyone asking what the special occasion is.

The intermission between each set had performances by a urban dance act calling themselves Fictitious Group, they were actually finalists on the Indian version of the Got Talent franchise. They danced to a mashup of music and movie sound clips and it worked pretty well, although it was totally out of place for the fashion show, see for yourself in the video below…

And if you want to see pretty girls in sarees (don’t forget that some of these are branded as corporate and casual wear) checkout the slideshow below. I don’t know why it right aligns the portrait photos though and the image quality is appalling, but we’ll just have to live with it for now.

The Name Is Pizza

One of my ongoing sources of torment, and virtually the only thing the sales team in my office can tease me about now that England have confirmed themselves as the number one cricketing nation in the world, is the English pronunciation of various Tamil names and phrases.

The trouble stems from the fact that English, being a sensible language, has just 26 characters in its alphabet and has approximately 42 phonemes (the way things are pronounced). Tamil, by contrast, being the 2,500 year old language that it is, has 247 characters in the alphabet and a mind boggling number of phonemes – for example they have 17 ways just to pronounce the letter ‘L’, 8 ways to pronounce the letter ‘N’ and exactly zero ways to pronounce the letter ‘W’.

All this presents a bit of a problem, particularly when trying to transliterate from a Tamil word or phrase to the English equivalent because there just aren’t enough characters or phonemes to get the pronunciation accurate. One constant source of amusement for everyone who knows me is that my office is in an area of Chennai called Valluvar Kottam. Now being the person I am and refusing to take in to account that it’s just the best spelling match you can get with such a rudimentary language like English, I read this word (as all other English speaking people would) as: val-loo-vaar cot-tam. Which isn’t even close to being right. Infact it couldn’t be more wrong. You go up to anyone in Chennai and ask how to get to val-loo-vaar cot-tam and they will look at you like you’ve just stepped off a spaceship from Mars.

My pronunciation disability can have some bizarre outcomes as with what happened this evening. I got back to my apartment after a hard day at work and the watchman (all apartments have watchmen, but that’s a story for another day) motioned for me to come and speak to him. He wanted the maintenance money which every apartment needs to pay each month, it’s 900 rupees (about 14 pounds) so I fished around in my wallet and handed him a wad of notes and the watchman pulled out a tatty old notebook and a stub of a pencil. The conversation went a little something like this…

Watchman: வாட் இஸ் யுவர் நேம? (Transliterates to: Un peru enna? and translates to: What is your name?)
Me: Peter
Watchman: Picture?
Me: நோ, Peter (Transliteration: illa, Peter. Translation: No, Peter).
Watchman: Pitza?
Me: நோ, Pee-ter (Transliteration: illa, Peter. Translation: No, Peeter).
Watchman: *confused* …Petcha?
Me: Grr, no! It’s P-E-T-E-R, Peter.
Watchman: …Pitza?
Me: *sigh*. Yes, fine, pizza.

And that is why, if you were to look in the watchman’s tatty old notebook, under August 2011 Maintenance you would find an entry that says Mr. Pitza paid 900 rupees for maintenance.

Note: If you just see silly square boxes in the conversation above, it means you have an old computer that doesn’t support the Tamil fonts.

There Are 3D Artists And Then There’s Fredo

Forget stupid 3D TV’s and 3D films, these 3D pencil drawings pretty much jump out at you and sure beat anything Sony or LG can come up with not to mention they beat the pants off even my best stick man sketches. The guy is only 20 years old but it looks like he’s got himself a nice online income already by selling his prints on Deviant Art.

Artist's amazing 3D images | The Sun |News

Artist’s amazing 3D images | The Sun |News YOUNG artist is making a huge impression on the art world with his 3D drawings. The incredible pictures by Chilean etcher Fredo were drawn using only pencil and paper and seem…

Astrology Will Solve All Your Problems

Many people, both in India and around the world, have a very big interest in astrology and some go as far as dictating their lives based on the arbitrary and entirely predictable movement of the stars and planets. While in the west many people will read their horoscope out of passing curiosity, in India I think they go a step further where marriages are often arranged based on the outcome of the horoscopes, so if the bride and groom to be don’t have a favourable horoscope then the whole shebang is canceled, and some special events are arranged on days when the horoscope is favourable – the most recent example I have is a friend who was due to be married on the 16th of April but then they discovered that it wasn’t the best day according to the astrologist so they postponed it by a month.

Anyway, the funny spam text of the day comes from a professional astrologist who says…

Unstable Relations? Financial Loss or Obstacles in Your Career? To seek the solution to all of your problems contact our expert astrologer. Simply call 5XXX5 at just Rs 10 / min [about 15 pence], enter your full name and date of birth and you will be given a personalized horoscope to guide you through your difficulties.

So if an automated personal horoscope doesn’t sort you out, I don’t know what will! Alternatively, Madame TeaKay will provide you with a free personal horoscope if you ask nicely!

No Photoshop, Just Pollution

This was the sunset over Chennai on Sunday evening, taken from my balcony. There was no post-production work done on this photo, it was just snapped with a simple compact digital camera. According to scientists, the reds, oranges and purples are caused by light being scattered by particles in the upper atmosphere, the more particles the more it gets scattered and the ‘blue’ lightwave is lost, leaving the reds and oranges. If there is a lot of pollution like aerosols and all the other crap that us humans produce we’re rewarded with some pretty spectacular sunsets. I’m willing to hear a more accurate and scientific answer though, (Tom, I’m looking at you here!).

Stupidity Or Talented

Some sections of society here in India seem to have a rather cavalier attitude towards life, bordering on a reckless disregard for their own lives. More often than not it tends to be young men from the poorer communities, but I’ve also seen young men on motorbikes weaving dangerously through traffic, skipping stop signs, playing chicken with buses and trucks – the list goes on.

Whether it’s misplaced bravery or a complete lack of imagination of the consequences of their actions I don’t know. I guess parallels could be drawn with some adrenaline sports like bungie jumping or skydiving, but at least there is an element of safety with these sports although maybe there is no excuse for the absurdity of tombstoning which involves throwing oneself off a very high cliff in to water which could be deep or could have rocks below the surface, let’s just jump on in and find out, eh?!

Anyway, in the same vein of the asininity of tombstoning, a video has recently surfaced in India which shows a bunch of young lads performing death defying stunts on a commuter train in Mumbai in what has been referred to as free style train surfing. Rather alarmingly, while the media here along with the vast majority of people who watch it condemn the stupidity of youths, there is a minority that actually praise and comment how talented and skillful you must be to perform such stunts…

this guy deserve AWARD!!! we all every stunt is risky but riding on wall with urs legs with matching urs walk speed with train speed was simply OUTSTANDING THANKS for sharing video link god bless you stuntboy 🙂 james bond sucks urs d**k!!!

These guys are very daring, pick them up, give trainning, give them job in police or defence. We must utilize such talent and use them for our country

I’ve never seen anyone doing anything as insane as the train surfing stunt below, but I have seen school kids who stand on the station platform and run alongside the train and jump on at the last minute, or who do a similar thing with the buses and hang precariously on to the sides just feet from certain death if they fall. And to think my mother used to get worried when I climbed trees when I was a kid!

In actual fact, one American blog has a whole different angle on the video: India is the new king of viral videos.

The Hindu Gods

Took this snap in T-Nagar (an area within Chennai, just like Clapham is an area within London) on Friday evening. T-Nagar is actually quite commercial and there are several 4 and 5 star business hotels close by, but like so much of Chennai the residents who have lived here for generations, when T-Nagar was a small village outside the city, fiercely retain their tradition and culture. In this case the entire street was closed off and decked out with lights, light sculptures, a huge stage and devotional music blasting out the PA speakers. My poor friend has her apartment right in the middle of all of this!