Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Traveling - BAH !!! I hate it (or do I?)

Wait, that didn't come out right so let me explain. I mean, I actually like visiting new places, experiencing a new culture, meeting different people (ok, that is a little bit of a stretch) and indulging in the odd adventurous pursuit but I absolutely detest the means to reach this end. I hate the actual traveling in planes/trains/buses etc to get there. Why, you might ask. For one, I like my precious sleep and despite being reasonably good in coping with jet-lag, I still don't make enough money to travel in anything other than cattle-class and I am still to come across any airline which has made the penny-pinching 6 ft plus Economy class traveler comfortable on a journey longer than 5 hours. Not to mention the godawful food where I never seem to learn my lessons. Asian Veg meals has to be the absolutely worst choice one can make in flights be it BA, Emirates, Lufthansa or Qatar....but all this I can't control so what is the point of complaining.

One thing which is very much in my own hands is what I choose to watch in the in-flight entertainment and that is precisely the topic of my rant for this post. How many of you feel increasingly overwhelmed with the amount of choice available these days? Makes one wish we could go back to the days of Henry Ford and Model T, right !!! Anyway, given that one could choose between Movies, Music, TV Shows, Audio books and what not, I find myself increasingly spending a lot of time just surfing through all the choices without ever settling down to anything specific.

Music soothes my nerves for sometime but pretty soon I get bored. Music is also not an option where you can move seamlessly from Jazz to Pop and then Classical. One needs to get into the "zone" and I seem to suffer from serous attention deficit issues. Audio books are interesting for about 15 mts after which the drone of the voice-over puts me to sleep.

TV shows are a mixed bag - the really popular ones like How I Met, The Newsroom you've probably seen all the episodes multiple times but if you're like me, trying to check out a new series, the problem is that the choices are limited to late seasons and mid season episodes which really mean you cannot try something from a logical start point. That leaves me with just movies.

I try and avoid all those movies that I've already downloaded but not watched because I always tell myself I am going to find the time SOMEDAY to see them at home anyway. The big summer blockbusters always look poor on a small screen and the olden classics are mostly for insomniacs. I then look at the time available before the next meal and also plan my sleep accordingly so I end up having 3 hrs of time to kill. This usually lends itself to 1 full fledged movie and probably 1 shorter flick. The genres therefore become automatic picks - a drama and probably a rom-com/

Coming to the current trip, Bangalore to Frankfurt kick-started with Ridley Scott's The Counselor. The movie is ample proof that having A list stars and a top notch director still dos not guarantee that the movie will be time-pass. I can't remember the last movie which made me feel "What the H&^% just happened" as the end credits rolled out and I dashed off to Wikipedia to see if I had indeed "got the movie" :-( The only saving grace - Penelope Cruz and her accent....sigh....Btw, for the prudish amongst you lot, skip the first 10 mts of the movie... quite saucy n racy, eh ;-)

The second film I checked out was Enough Said. I love James Gandolfini and though I have reservations with Julia Louis Dreyfus (thanks to Veep), I took a chance and I wasn't disappointed. Nice, simple story very well enacted. Just the kind of fare you'd pick for a flight.

Having never missed a bus/train/flight in my life (a la Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met), I always plan my trips such that I have ample layovers in transit. With 4 hours to kill in Frankfurt before boarding my 2nd leg to New York, I set about exploring the shopping scene. My My. I've been through Munich and Hamburg before and I've experienced first hand German efficiency but nothing prepares you for the pure functional effectiveness of Frankfurt. The airport has no personality - it is business-like and does what it is supposed to do. Put people in planes with little fuss. Period. Needless to say, the shopping expedition was fruitless.

Boarding the 747-400 onwards to Newark, I quickly found my bearings in one of the middle seats of the centre 4 seater (I dont bother checking in 23 hrs in advance to get the right seat - cattle class is cattle class wherever you sit) and switched on the TV monitor.

My first pick for the afternoon was Rush. I had been meaning to watch Ron Howard's much acclaimed retelling of the 1976 F1 Season in big screen but never got around to doing it. Thank god I finally caught up with this one. SHEER MAGIC. Nothing I say here has probably not been said before but Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl (I loved the latter) are spell-binding in their respective roles and Hans Zimmer's pulsating rock score and Anthony Mantle's outstanding cinematography (you can literally feel the adrenalin) add that extra vigour/zing to proceedings.

The second pick for the journey was Krish 3 but I could not make it past 10 mts so ended up sleeping for 4 hrs continuously :-)

Coming up for the return legs: Prisoner, About Time, Malavita and/or Runner Runner (I know)

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