Shades Of Words


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Tuning Acoustic Guitar

Guitar1. Without the aid of a piano or tuner:

  • Start with the E or the 6th string and tune it as low as gives agood tune.
  • For tuning the 5th String, place a finger directly behind the 5th fret of the 6th string and tune the open 5th string in unison.
  • For tuning the 4th String, place a finger directly behind the 5th fret of the 5th string and tune the open 4th string in unison.
  • For tuning the 3rd String, place a finger directly behind the 5th fret of the 4th string and tune the open 3rd string in unison.
  • For tuning the 2nd String, place a finger directly behind the 4th fret of the 3rd string and tune the open 2nd string in unison.
  • For tuning the 1st String, place a finger directly behind the 5th fret of the 2nd string and tune the open 1st string in unison.

2. Using software’s from Internet:

You can download Guitar tuner software’s from internet and use them to tune your guitar. Usually these software’s produce the sound of a tuned string and you can hear it and tune your guitar to match that sound.I found the following software’s useful:
Gieson Interactive Online Guitar Tuner
GCH Guitar Academy Guitar Tuner

3. For those who are okay with investing money

You can buy electronic Guitar tuner’s from market. I know of KORG brand guitar tuner’s. I am yet to explore this option so can’t say how much it helps. But these tuners make life really simple as the sound of your guitar shows a certain reading on these instruments and you have tune your guitar to produce a certain reading. And you’re done. Simpler than depending on your ears.

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The Quiet American – By Graham Greene

Quietamerican-full;init_‘Brighton Rock ‘ was my first exposure to Graham Greene and it was not pleasant. I found it quite morbid. I chanced upon ‘The Quiet American’ while staying at a friend’s place and picked it up because it was a slim book and I could get through it in a few days.

‘The Quiet American’ is the story of two men in love with  one women, set against the background of the Franco-Vietminh war.

Fowler a British Journalist, hardened by war and believes the only way to be sane is not to take sides – just watch and report. He  does not aspire ambition or fame, his only fear is being left alone.

The other man is Alden Pyle, a fresh-faced American , young and idealistic , filled with bookish ideas of bringing about a new revolution. He does not see the reality of war and is absorbed with his own agenda. Everything about him is matter-of-fact, and his distance from reality  is chilling. His innocence is a danger to himself and others.

The story starts with the discovery of Pyle’s body, dumped in the river, leading to Fowler’s interrogation. We go back to the time they first met and their growing friendship, more situational than voluntary. Fowler does not have any real affection for Pyle and resents him both for stealing his mistress and being involved in underhand terrorist activities.

The dark humor employed at times in the book is reminiscent of ‘Catch 22’. One of the most moving section of the book is when Pyle & Fowler as stranded on a checkpost in the middle of the night with two teenage soldiers of the Vietnam National Army anticipating the Vietminh attack. Like many other books written on wartime, this scene reinforces the wastefulness of war.

Greene creates an engaging and exotic picture of Vietnam. As you read along, you realize the futility of the war, how it’s about basic personal agendas and how civilians are caught in the crossfire. And how getting involved is about getting your hands red.

Verdict: Highly recommended. Buy it.


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The Kite Runner – A novel by Khaled Hosseini

TheKiteRunner-full;init_Often in our lives we commit mistakes that leave us in overwhelming guilt. In absence of a suiting redemption, we end up living our lives under the burden of this guilt. Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel ‘The Kite Runner’ is about how this guilt and later a desperate attempt at redemption drives the life of Amir.
With Afghanistan in turmoil as the background, it is a story of friendship and betrayal. Hassan, a lower class Afghan, is Amir’s father’s servant and best friend of Amir. Amir is the son of a wealthy upper class Aghan. They share many relationships: Master-Servant, Friends and later as discovered half brothers. Hosseini touches on many angles in his book with the main theme of guilt and redemption.
The story builds on an event in which Amir leaves behind Hassan in time of need and loses his friendship forever. What he earns in return is the burden of guilt. There are some unnecessary parts of the story like Amir’s love life and wedding which could have been done away with.

However, the reason why this book should be read is because it gives a glimpse into the culture, social conditions and language (to some extent) of Afghanistan before it was taken over by Taliban. It’s quite refreshing to read about this aspect of Afghanistan.

The book has been also adapted into a movie with the same name and was released in 2007.

Highly recommended. A must read.


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The Flying Sorcerers

Assorted tales of comic fiction – edited by Peter Haining

pic_shsttfspb-full;init_I am not a major science fiction fan but always appreciate an entertaining or thought provoking storyline and I got plenty of those as I read the ‘The Flying Sorcerers’. A motley collection of humorous fantasy tales, it covers a mix of science fiction and the supernatural.

What makes the book really special is :

A) It has the earlier works of some of the best names in the business – Terry Prachet, Arthur Clarker, PG Wodehouse ( I was surprised too!!) , CS Lewis to list a few

B) Every story begins with a little background on story telling in that genre and its interesting to learn more about authors and literature in that category

C) And lastly but most importantly is the collection of stories itself. Loosely classified under ‘Comic tales of fantasy’ each story is written with a sense of irony or humor – no story takes itself too seriously. Therein lies the entertainment.

The book has a collection of around 30 stories , some of the more remarkable ones being ‘Turntables of the night’ , ‘A Slice of Life’, ‘Danse Macabre’, ‘The Right Side’ ,’ The Shrink and the Mink’, ‘The Man in Abestos’ and ‘From Gustible’s Planet’

Verdict: Buy it if you enjoy fantasy fiction


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Taare Zameen Par

TaareZameenParPoster-full;init_If I was to describe Taare Zameen Par in one line I’d say – A movie that takes you back to your childhood days and makes you question society’s insistence on being the best.

Aamir Khan’s directorial debut Taare, is the story of a dyslexic boy struggling for his identity. Ishaan Awasthi (Darsheel Safary) is a misfit in a world enamored by grades, ranks and trophies. Labeled a loser by his teachers, friends and classmates; he finds no sympathy and understanding at home. Taare highlights not only the child’s struggle but also the subtle ways in which parents burden a child with their expectations; sometimes killing their inherent talents.

Taare evokes a strong sense of nostalgia and takes you back to your childhood days – vibrant colors, paper planes, pranks, homework and weird teachers in school. Aamir shows tremendous potential as a director in his debut movie. He beautifully captures the world from Ishaan’s eyes. Although in the scene where Ishaan is attempting the maths quiz is highly reminiscent of Calvin’s (Calving and Hobbes) spaceman spiff stunts.

Music of the movie is average with a few good songs – Title song, Maa and Mera Jahaan.

All the actors have performed realistically. The teachers, with their weird peculiarities, make the viewer laugh. Darsheel gives a brilliant performance and is almost as perfect as Aamir’s.

Overall a great movie and must watch. It might just make some parents realize that they are not merely raising a child but shaping someone’s personality.


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Agatha’s Poirot

51wzEIIzbVL._SL500_AA240_It is always interesting to observe how a character from a book comes to life on the silver screen. One of my all time favorite detectives ‘Hercule Poirot’ is a complex character with his own peculiar habits. A man most brilliant but also multi-dimensional. I am more than impressed than ‘David Suchet’ interpretation of Poirot. He brings Poirot to life.

David’s Poroit is just what Agatha Christie would have imagined – the short bald Belgian, with accented English, impeccable tastes and droll humour. Earnest and perceptive, he forms an endearing persona. Traits that come out remarkably well and that were just hidden in various layers in the books are Poirot’s obsessive compulsive disorder related to symmetry and hygiene. I was surprised to see perhaps a little dandyish representation of Poirot’s personality. But I guess its more about how the English would see a immaculately dressed, gallant foreign man – a little effeminate perhaps.

My sister had shared a bunch of episodes and that’s how I got introduced to this ITV series. Now I am catching up through my DVD rental series. Each episode is 1-2 hour long and is based on a novel by Agatha Chrisite. Quite faithful to the books, episodes start by setting up a location for the crime and introducing various characters. Narratives vary from episode to episode but one thing remains the same – the closing, the grand finale  – when Poriot gathers everyone involved with the case and unravels the mystery. The most fun part is solving the case as you go along. Kapil & I keep guessing till the end who could the murderer be. Sometimes we are right  and sometimes we are close.

The other two recurring character’s are Hugh Fraser as Captain Hastings and Philip Jackman as Inspector Japp. Again brilliant casting, thought I had imagined neither to be as dense as potrayed.

Verdict: Makes for entertaining evenings in front of the TV. A must watch if you are a fan of the detective character


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The Blind Assasin – Margaret Atwood

510CJNJ597L-full;init_I always have very high expectations from award-winning books and I am usually not disappointed. The Blind Assassin was an exception.

The novel traces the story of Iris & Laura Chase, two sisters, born into a rich but fading household in a small industrial town in Canada. The narrative is mostly from the point of view of Iris Chase, the elder sister, as she unravels her life history as a message to her enstranged granddaughter. It begins with the death of Laura Chase from where we go back into the memories of Iris, which take us through their childhood to the day Laura died.

In process, we learn of deep dark family secrets and dysfunctionalities. We learn of crudeness and evilness of human nature. An interesting aspect to the book is the novel within the novel approach – where a parallel thread of story is woven – moving the narrative forward.

I think it is definitely a challenge to write in this way, to have so many threads, and not make any chronological mistakes.The narrative is almost like a mystery – the author throws up clues as you read along- and you have to collect them and fit them together as you move towards the end of the book

What I really liked about the book was the language and the narrative. What I disliked was that it was a tad too long. Also, The Blind Assassin is a great book for someone who has not read these family dramas earlier. Unfortunately for me, I read this book when I have had my share of novels about self discovery and repentance and revelations.

Also, I was constantly irritated with the weakness of Iris’s character. Her failure to take life in her own hands – submission to her father, her husband,  her sister-in-law and then to her daughter. Its very hard to like a book where you cant respect the main character.

Verdict: Borrow but don’t buy