Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Courier (2020 Film)

I just saw this movie on Amazon Prime. Directed by Dominic Cooke. Main actors are Benedict Cumberbatch and Merab Ninedze. 

This is a true story made into a movie. Story involved around the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

A British intelligence M16 officer and an American Intelligence CIA officer had contact with a Colonel in the GRU (Russian Foreign Military Intelligence Agency). He agrees to share the top-secret documents in exchange for helping him to defect to USA with his family. 

The M16 and CIA wanted someone to be a courier who will secretly bring the documents passed on by this GRU Colonel from Moscow to London. Since the Soviets suspect anyone and everyone, these M16 and CIA officers decided to recruit an innocent salesman to be the courier. The salesman initially refuses and then agrees. 

He successfully brings back to London many secret documents given by this GRU Colonel during the Cuban Missile Crisis. However, the Soviet Union has a spy inside the CIA. They come to know that top secret information is being passed on to M16 and CIA. 

The GRU Colonel was supposed to go to London on a trade mission. He was ordered not to go in the last minute. M16 and CIA suspected that the cover of this innocent salesman had been blown. They asked the salesman to drop out of this mission and go home and resume his regular salesman work. 

M16 officer wanted to abandon the GRU Colonel saying it all happens in this business. But the salesman had sympathy for the GRU Colonel and he did not want to abandon him. He was supported by the CIA officer. 

Finally, they (CIA officer and the salesman) decided to go to Moscow and kidnap the GRU Colonel and his family to West Berlin. 

Did they succeed in this mission? Very interesting real life true story. Worth watching. (Please don't read Wikipedia about this movie.  It gives the ending of this story.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2021


Jeopardy is an Emmy award winning quiz game show in USA. This show started in 1984 and, after 37 years, it is still one of the most popular shows in US Television history. 

I may be wrong. But in my personal opinion, if you want to be a contestant and win here, one has to have Ph.D. in every subject in the world. 

The host of the show, Alex Trebek, was even more popular than the show itself. He hosted this show from 1984 until his death last year. He is a Canadian. In 1998 Alex became a naturalized US citizen, 

As Katie Couric, American television journalist, said ’His omnipresence is very reassuring”. Alex Trebek is someone that people have really liked having in their living room every day for almost 35 years. 

Alex was such a popular personality, that after his death the producers of Jeopardy are finding it difficult to find a suitable replacement. So far, they have tried 16 people and still unable to select a replacement. 

Included among the 16 are: 

Anderson Cooper, CNN news 

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN 

George Stephanopoulos, Senior advisor to President Clinton and now with ABC news 

Aaron Rodgers, American football player and a graduate from University of California, Berkeley 

Here is an episode of the Jeopardy hosted by Alex Trebek. Please watch.


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Outstanding Athlete

Thank God the Olympics are over. We can rest for another 3 years. There was only one athlete that stood out for me. She is a female. She is not well built like female athletes from many countries. She is a tiny person (48 kg).

Her name is Sifan Hassan. She is an Ethiopian born Dutch middle and long distance runner.

Sifan won a bronze medal for 1500 meters, a gold medal for 5000 meters and another gold medal for 10000 meters. 

During one of the qualifying rounds (3 races) for 1500 meters, Sifan collided with another runner and fell down but still managed to win the bronze in the finals. She has to run twice (semi final and final) for her 5000 meter gold medal. 

After this, will any one think of running in the 10000 meter race. Sifan decided to participate. She won the gold in 10000 meters not just because of her stamina and endurance but also with her sheer determination.


After finishing the race, she fell down. Was crying for water for full 30 seconds. Finally, a medic came with a water bottle.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Etiquette for Olympiad

This blog post was originally published in July 2012 under the title "Etiquette for XXX Olympiad". But this blog post written during London Olympics will be good for Olympics in any city in the world.

Puleeeze. I am not a pervert. In Roman numeral XXX means 30 (not triple X-rated). The 30th Summer Olympics, which is officially known as Games of the XXX Olympiad, is beginning tomorrow in London, England. 

Britain’s tourism agency has issued guidelines on the etiquette of dealing with thousands of foreign visitors who will come to attend the games. The advice that is being given by the tourism agency is for those who are likely to work with tourists arriving from foreign countries. This includes people such as hotel staff, taxi drivers, etc. 

Here are some of the guidelines: (My own interpretation is given in brackets) 

For Brazilians – Don’t ask personal questions (Sir, Did you bring your mistress with you?) 

For people from the Middle East – Never be bossy with them. They are not used to being told what they can’t do. (Sir, please don’t strap that bomb on your chest while you are in my taxi. I am just making a request, Sir.) 

For the Polish – They don’t like be stereotyped as drunks. (Would you like a tall glass of Vodka with your breakfast, Sir?) 

For the French – They are very picky in restaurants. (No Sir, we don’t have escargot here and no croissants as well. However we do have FRENCH fries and FRENCH bread.) 

For the Argentineans – They don’t like jokes about their clothing or weight. (Sir, please use the stairs when you are going up to your hotel room. Our elevators have a weight limit. Also, please remember that only wearing underwear and black business socks is not appropriate attire at our swimming pools.)

For Indians - They are in general, an impatient lot, and like to be quickly attended to. The more affluent they are, the more demanding and brusque they tend to be. They also don't like being touched by strangers and may be suspicious about the quality of British food. (I don’t vant to stand in queue. I vant my dal and rice immediately. Don’t touch me. My mommy will be mad. I have to call her and explain to her vhy you touched me. I don’t like Yorkshire pudding. I hate subghetti also. All I vant is 2 idlis and 3 buckets of sambar.) 

China and Hong Kong – Winking or pointing with an index finger is rude. They don’t like to talk about failure, poverty, or death. They are unimpressed by the landmarks that are only a few hundred years old. (Thank you Sir, for building HUGE and impressive Olympic buildings in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics. I hear that they are unused and failing miserably. Welcome to London. We (pointing to my chest) won’t make the same mistake as you. (pointing with index finger) wink, wink) 

Mexicans – Don’t discuss poverty, immigration or earthquakes. They prefer to talk about history and art. (Sir, I would like to hear about the history of East Los Angeles. Sir, do you personally know Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio?) 

Canadians – They will be annoyed about being mistaken for an American. (Sir, I will never mistake you for an American. So far you have spoken 4 sentences and all of them ended with “eh”. My name is John Doe, eh. You are also here for the Olympics, eh. I like pizza, eh. Buckingham Palace is beautiful, eh.)

Americans – They are so informal to the point of being very direct. They won’t hesitate about complaining. (Now that we are in London, I want some real American food. Where can I get a burrito or some pizza? Why is everyone a foreigner in London? How come the bartenders never look at you and acknowledge your presence? London hotels charge $300 a night but why is there an additional charge for WiFi? I am going to enjoy this vacation…even if it’s going to kill me.)