Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Guide to the Aircraft of Tintin Volume 1

Hergé the creator of Tintin was a fastidious cartoonist and he attempted in great detail to make his drawings accurate in the sense that all the vehicles and equipment that were depicted  in the Tintin comics were inspired by actual objects and things that existed in real life. 

Being a minor aviation enthusiast myself, I have undertaken a sort of fun project to identify all the real life aircraft that make their appearance in the Tintin comics, some of them were easy to identify but some of them required a lot of googling to find out what the name of the plane was. What is shown here is just a few of the planes from a selected few of Tintin's escapades and I shall be updating this slowly if time permits. 

Real planes on top, Tintin planes on the bottom in case it isn't clear. Clicking on the names of the planes leads you to their Wikipedia pages. Titles of the Tintin adventures in which these planes are found in red.

The Black Island:

There is some variation in the landing gear.  This plane was produced only in 1945 whereas The Black Island was published in 1938, however Herge constantly upgraded his drawings in later editions so this probably was from a later edition.

The Tiger Moth was one of the most popular planes of  the 30s and 40s and entered both civil and military service .

The Hawker Siddeley Trident was one of the first 3-engined jet planes

Tintin in Tibet

The DC -3 was the mainstay of Air India's flight operations in the 40s and 50s  and also regularly featured in many of Tintin's adventures.
Herge was also quite fond of depicting real life airline companies. He almost got into trouble with Air India for showing a crashed Air India plane in "Tintin in Tibet".
Flight 714


The first jet-liner built by Boeing.

Flight 714 also featured a fictional aircraft called the Carreidas 160 which was based on early designs of the real life Concorde.

The Seven Crystal Balls

One of the largest war-time seaplanes

The Broken Ear

Took me a bloody long time to figure out this one!

The Red Sea Sharks

My favourite WW2 era war plane. It served as a low- to medium-altitude daytime tactical bomber, high-altitude night bomber, pathfinder, day or night fighter, fighter-bomber, intruder, maritime strike aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft while at the same time doing your laundry for you!

Bonus: The "tank" that you see in the picture above was the Daimler Armoured Car which again really existed.

King Ottokar's Sceptre

Messrs. Thompson and Thomson go for a quick swim

Arguably the most popular German warbird of WW2 (well if you were living in London during WW2 it wouldn't have been quite popular I imagine.)

If there any errors in the names of the planes please inform me so that I can make the necessary corrections. To be continued.. 

PS: Dedicated to my wife Kukui who's a big Tintin fan herself and to Hergé! 
Note: All pictures are the copyright of their respective owners. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fear of Flying

No, this is not a review of Erica Jong's book Fear of Flying which I used to surreptitiously read under the cover of thick blankets . I shall leave it up to interested readers  to find out what her version was about. What I can tell you though is that it didn't have much to do with aviation. 

I have always had  more than a passing interest in the field of aviation ever since I was a young kid just like a million other kids did so it doesn't mean I'm a special snowflake but lets just say that my interest in planes was more than just pointing at helicopters and Vayudoot planes flying above Aizawl and shouting to the pilot to "get me something!" (He never did, that scumbag pilot!) . I can identify many planes just by their shape and cockpit window type or whether their nose is pointy or curved.

My father who is from Bombay used to occasionally send me postcards of Air-India planes when he was away on higher studies and these postcards were my first introduction into the wonderful world of flying. My favourite sections of travel book for kids used to be the ones on planes and I used to painstakingly trace out each plane in my drawing book and invent weird sounding airline names for the planes that I had conjured up on paper. Maybe I am a special snowflake after all! 

I recall my first plane journey was from Silchar to Calcutta in the late 80s but all I remember is that there was this huge cow right outside the airport building door with a huge pile of cow dung next to it. I haven't been to Silchar airport since then but something tells me that things might not be that different. Apologies to my readership base from Silchar.

The best plane ride I've ever had was a few months ago when I flew in from Guwahati to Aizawl on an ATR72 Jet Airways flight, although there were a few nervy moments when I was certain that the pilot was gonna slam us straight into the nice little green mountain just beyond Lengpui Airport at Aizawl. Didn't happen and when I stepped back on Mizoram soil after a gap of 2 years I almost kissed the tarmac like one of the Popes used to do whenever he landed in Rome but I didn't ; anyway there was a lot of kissing later which I shall thoroughly cover in a new post.

I don't really have a fear of flying, I in fact quite enjoy the whole procedure of flying which I shall now here suddenly present in bullet format:
  • ogling stewardesses
  • getting in on the plane
  • ogling stewardesses while they do their "in case of any emergency" skit
  • holding on the the seat tightly when the plane takes off and saying a prayer
  • look at clouds
  • pee
  • look at clouds
  • glance at watch (Holy shit I can't believe its been only 12 minutes although it feels like we took off ages ago)
  • get off plane with only hand baggage and sneer at passengers who have to wait at the carousel
To conclude here's a nice picture of an Air India Boeing 777 plane which has been given the name "Mizoram" . (source:flickr) These planes only fly the international routes so fat chance of getting to ride this one in person.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Alone at the Movies

I .
So the other day (It was a Friday) I got super bored at work and I looked up a list of movies which were showing in town and I was quite delighted to see that the new sci-fi thriller Looper starring Bruce " He was actually dead the whole time" Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was showing at a theatre near me. So I shut down my 'puter and walked to Gopalan theatre and then bought myself  a huge bowl of caramel popcorn and a large coke and sat down to enjoy the movie. Alone! Watching A Movie Alone!

There was this couple next to me (who spent most of the first half cuddling) and the guy was intrigued enough or impolite enough or saddened enough by my plight  to ask me if I was actually watching the movie alone without anyone accompanying me! I answered in the affirmative and mumbled something about my friends ditching me because they hated me. 

Thing is I don't mind watching movies alone. Even at home I'd rather watch a movie alone or at the most with another person so that I can fully concentrate on watching the movie.Watching a movie with another person also puts some pressure on me of hoping that they'd enjoy the movie as much as I do or  laugh at the parts I find funny in Dumb and Dumber!  I want to watch my movie with minimum distraction!

People consider going to the theatre to watch a movie as a social thing but what usually happens is you actually sit in silence for about 2 hours and watch the movie so I don't see any particularly huge social benefit in watching movies with friends . 

If you go watch a movie alone you are also the master of your own destiny etc don't have to wait for friends who may or may not turn up on time; The other day a couple of my friends actually landed up at the wrong movie theatre while we waited for them at the one we were supposed to go to. Idiots! I'm looking at you Bena and Makima!  I hate missing the beginning of movies and I also love watching the title sequence shown at the start of the movies . The titles at the beginning of the Leonardo di Caprio movie "Catch Me If You Can" are one of the best I've seen in this regard. (Linky)

Or maybe I'm just a loner.

II .
I still love Dumb and Dumber but of late I've become rather snobbish in my movie watching habits and Hollywood blockbusters such as The Transformers series or GI Joe or The Avengers don't particularly get me excited and due to this I hardly watch movies in theatres since most of the English movies which hit the theatres in India are the blockbusters. 

I prefer my movies to be dialogue/plot driven and even though I am able to enjoy the occasional Michael Bay special effects product placement blockbuster I'd much rather sit down to  an engrossing  Hitchcock/ Fincher/ Scorcese/Coen Brothers/Lynch movie which makes me think about the movie long after it is over.

Looper is a time travel movie directed by Rian Johnson who also directed the excellent modern noir movie Brick and I would definitely recommend both movies to the discerning movie aficionado . Looper is a movie which  follows a story line  similar to the "if you could go back in time would you be able to kill yourself but then wouldn't that be impossible because your younger self would be dead and if you were dead how would you be able to go back in time to kill yourself?" conundrum.

Go watch.

'1979' and 'Thirty Three' are two of my favourite Smashing Pumpkins songs. I was born in 1979 and I turned 33 yesterday. Apt. Both songs are from their cleverly titled album "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness".

Thursday, October 11, 2012

From the Sports Desk: The Trials and Tribulations of Hockey in India

Recently there was a story about the Mizoram Womens' Hockey team getting trounced 20-0  in a hockey tournament and everyone was up in arms about how it was a shameful thing and that we should be doing something to fix this problem. The same "lets do something about it" philosophy is also applied to the game of hockey on a national basis but nothing ever works out.  The Indian team does something decent like beating Pakistan and our star Indian players come crying and say "boo hoo hoo, dat cricketer gets paid millions of dollars and we get paid only in dal and chappati and we play wearing plastic slippers and hockey is supposed to be our national game, sob!" 

Fact of the matter is to get the government to do something about it there must also be a public response to what they are doing. Sports like hockey, cricket or football are stadium oriented games; multitudes of people need to appreciate and admire what you are doing!  

Now this is where hockey falls short of cricket - hockey is rather boring to the general public (I'm sorry but it is true).  It is boring to play and boring to watch ; I've watched a few live games of club level hockey and it was mildly interesting. I also got a chance to play hockey on a regular basis during my school days and I found to be a game lacking in artistic merit. I'm a self professed sports fan but unless its an Olympic or World Cup final or an India Pakistan hockey game there are not many games of hockey which will have me frothing at the mouth. There might be a few dribbles and well taken shots but nothing that will put it on par with Tendulkaresque cricketing shots or Thierry Henry-esque football goals. 

Here again is a perfect example of the failure of hockey to match up with other top top sports disciplines - Big Names!  I used to actually follow a decent amount of hockey in my school days and I remember some of the names of great Indian hockey players like Dhanraj Pillai, Pargat Singh and that other Sikh guy who could play hockey. Cricket and Football have produced household names who are superstars in their own right. However this is more of a vicious cycle kind of thing - the more popular the game the more popular will be the stars that play it. Hockey unfortunately will always remain a tier 2 sport because there is nothing swashbuckling or highly artistic about it that will bring in the fans.

A couple of years ago ESPN and the Indian Hockey Federation collaborated to start a new tournament called the Premier Hockey League in India where top hockey teams player a short league tournament against each other. It was a resounding flop despite the best efforts of the organizers. They did try their best - new rules, cheerleaders, live telecast on ESPN, basketball style time period of four quarters of play.. etc but sadly it didn't work out and the tournament was scrapped after one year.This year again the IHF and Nimbus Sports collaborated to start a new club based hockey tournament based on the IPL cricket league; I think it was a reasonable success but it remains to be seen if the next edition will see the light of day.

Fact of the matter is Hockey is a niche sport and this is the case not only in India but in other top hockey playing nations of the world such as Germany, Argentina, Holland etc. I'm pretty sure none of the members of the general public in these countries would be able to name any of their top hockey players.

Is there a solution? Ice Hockey is insanely popular in the US/Canada. Why is it popular? I think it has the image of being a testosterone fueled game which is also fast paced and littered with occasional fighting. Can these be applied to field hockey? Unlikely.

Bottomline is yes the government, the players, the organizers and the corporates are trying what seems to be their best to make hockey more popular but unless something drastically changes hockey will always play second fiddle to cricket or even third fiddle to football in India.

Addendum: Was saddened to read about the passing away of Mr.G Kasturi who was the editor of The Hindu newspaper. He is relevant to this topic because he also owned the Sportstar magazine which was and still is the sports bible for sports aficionados in  India. It was on the pages of The Sportstar magazine that I used to read about the exploits of our Indian hockey team in foreign countries.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Great NE-Indian Migration of 2012AD

This narrative is to inform the current generation of events that happened some time in the past , however I am writing this also for the benefit of people in the distant future so that the information is passed on over hundreds of generations. Planet Earth continues to merrily spin along, apparently oblivious of the changes that man and nature have wrought upon it over thousands and thousands of years. 

We have been able to decipher some of our ancient history and it appears that Earth used to be divided into "countries" where millions of people lived and worked.  Data retrieved by technicians from computer hard drives excavated from underneath the remains of ancient cities tells us that Earth was devastated by a global epidemic known as AIDS in the year 2512AD and almost all of human life on this planet was wiped out. Of course this is now all part of common knowledge and is taught in history classes and we also know that about 2 million human beings survived the epidemic as well as the ensuing wars that were fought to gain control of the Earth. Cities were wiped out and about 90% of information prior to the year 2600AD was destroyed. The ensuing ice ages ensured that most of the cities were buried underneath ice and were lost for thousands and thousands of years while mankind tried to regroup and build a new civilization. We now occasionally are able to retrieve information from excavations being carried out at the locations of cities that were discovered 200 metres below the earth's surface.

50,000 years after that cataclysmic event the human population on earth has now risen to approximately 30 million people and we now live on a planet which is no longer divided into countries and all the people  live in 14 gigantic dome covered cities connected by tubes. The land outside is inhospitable and the dome covered cities also guard against future epidemics. 

However this account is not about that event and I shall write about that in a later post. The reason why I was compelled to write this post was because of an intriguing piece of information that emerged from one of the excavations that happened a couple of months ago. An ancient city was uncovered in a country which many thousands of years ago   was called India . From computer records that were retrieved by technicians it appears that this city used to be known as Bangalore where people from all over the country of India lived together at one point.

Now this is all rather boring for the non history buffs but one piece of information extracted from the data tells us that in the year 2012  a tribe of people known as Neindians were driven out from this city of Bangalore and fled to a land farther north of the country. Apparently it was one of the biggest migrations recorded for that period and caused a lot of of upheaval among this tribe of Neindians. The reasons for this mass migration was due to persecution from people belonging to the ancient religion of Islam. Not much is known about Islam and it is one of the ancient religions that died out along with the rest of the Earth religions of that time. It appears that this tribe of Neindian people came back to the city of Bangalore a few months later but not much is known as to what happened them after they came back.

 Anyway even at this point this might not be of much interest to the general reader but I shall get to the good part very soon. As we all know human DNA from that period was preserved digitally and was part of the data that was recovered from computers and due to recent DNA mapping programmes  we have had to attend DNA comparison sessions to see if DNA from us matches up with people from our ancient past. I had my  DNA mapping session two weeks ago with DNA found from the people who used to live in Bangalore and to my surprise my DNA matches with a person who was given the name of Amos Lalremtluanga who belonged to this Neindian tribe. Interesting to know that they were given names in that time , now we are just given alpha numeric characters to identity ourselves. Amos was one of the people who didn't migrate to the North but no data can be found as to why he chose to stay in Bangalore. The data found is not clear as to whether he died in the epidemic or was one of the lucky ones to escape.

Amos was online a lot and he managed to store a lot of his internet and digital activity on the internet and computers and he used to maintain an online journal from which I was able to learn a few things about my ancient ancestor. One of these online journals is this very internet journal I am posting this from which is quite exciting and thrilling because I am using the exact same medium which my ancient ancestor used to convey his feelings to his fellow humans.

The funniest thing that could happen now is if I posted this using the TimeSpace computer to post it on his blog from 50,000 years into the future. What a nice (or shocking) surprise Amos is going to get!!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Now That's What I Call Vaipa Mix Volume 1

One of the most popular pop/rock music compilation cassettes/cds that came out in Mizoram during the late 90s was the Now That's What I Call Music! series of assorted hit songs . I owned one of them which was the Now That's What I Call Music! Vol 3 and my memory not  being what it is anymore the only songs I remember from that cassette are Wet Wet Wet's (hehe) If I never see you again and Shampoo's Trouble

If you dropped in on any self respecting Mizo teenage music lover's house you were sure to see one of these cassettes lying around. Speaking about cassettes/CDs ,the Mp3 format has taken out some of the fun of owning music. Back in the day one had to purchase the whole cassette if you wanted to listen to a song by your favourite band and even if you didn't know the other songs you slowly got to love the other non-hit songs too because yuo more or less ended up listening to the whole Side A or Side B; you couldn't even hit the NEXT button to skip a song on tape. (Some high end music systems had the ability to automatically stop forwarding when the next song comes up)

The first cassette that I owned was Metallica's Black album back in 1992 and my mother didn't approve of the mean looking snake on the cover and almost didn't buy it for me but I told her that the songs in the album were about how the evil snake that made Eve eat the apple was punished severely by God. (No I didn't actually say that, I probably instead threw a tantrum and swore to never eat veggies again). 

Another fun thing to do with cassettes was exchanging cassettes with friends - we would borrow and lend each other cassettes and give em back after a week. Some friends who were lucky enough to be the first to get their hands on a cassette which was quite hard to find became quite popular in school! I still remember when Hmingthansiama bought the latest Aerosmith "Get a Grip" album and he brought it to school and we actually made a diary where we made a note of who would get to listen to the cassette next.

Not much fun in exchanging MP3s is it? Hah! 

The pitfalls to owning cassettes was that you would have to often stick broken tapes with cello tape or rewind them using pens (quite a popular post on Facebook a year ago..) and friends borrowing them and never returning them again! I'm still looking for my Magnsasound Slow Rock Volume 3 Cassette. 

Aerosmith - Get a Grip
Now That's What I Call Music

Note: I only wrote this post because I didn't want to let a good blog title go to waste. Sorry.My previous blog entry was titled Vaipa Mix :P

Friday, February 11, 2011

Vaipa Mix

Vaipa Mix

Back in those days when we joyfully ran down Tlangnuam road after school got over we used to invariably pass by this old Bihari (?) guy who  sold an assortment of "chanas" and "muris" by the roadside.  He would mix them all together with some ingredients we never knew the names of and we called  this concoction "Vaipa Mix". It was quite spicy and also quite delicious and often led to upset stomachs but we were kids and  at that age what did one care about upset tummies! Some naughtier guys used to grab stuff from his cart and not pay him but he never dared utter a single word in fear of harsher treatment. Wonder what became of him..

The Facebook 

The other day I did a quick mental survey and found out that 90% of the people I know who are roughly in their 30s and below have a Facebook account. Facebook is everywhere and I'm pretty sure that the word 'facebook' pops up almost invariably in any sort of casual conversation. Even my cousin who as far as I know doesn't even know how to open internet explorer asked me the other day if "facebook was a good thing". Well even my dad once asked me which one I thought was better - "Google or Bookface?". Did Mark Zuckerburg ever envisage that FB (as it is now referred to by my friends) would grow into the behemoth that it now has become? Let me add him and find out! He originally called it "The Facebook". People who've watched that movie about FB will know.


Music is awesome. Especially sad songs. I find myself listening to sad songs a lot even though I'm not necessarily sad. Maybe it's because they seem to come straight from the heart of the songwriter. It's also sometimes easier to identify with sad songs. I mean if Thom Yorke wrote  a song about how exciting it is to be in a band we wouldn't really identify with it but he wrote about heartache and loss we are right there with him on the same page.  It also slightly saddens me or maybe I should be glad that there are so many awesome songs and bands out there waiting to be discovered by me but even if I live my life thrice over I'll never get to listen to them all. Musicatto was one of the first reasonably well stocked music stores in Aizawl. It was in that building near Canteen Kual. I used to go there after school with Osbourne and Albert to just look at what they were selling. I bought my first Faith No More cassette from here. I still have the cassette.. the store however is long gone.Osbourne too has now left us to play that great gig in the sky. No idea what Albert's upto nowadays.

Never judge a book by its movie

The other day I was telling a friend how much I missed curling up at night with an exciting book and reading it from the beginning to end at one go. While the internet has been mostly useful I also blame the internet for taking away my "bookworm time". Yea pathetic excuse I know. I have three books lying unfinished. One of them is Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the time of Cholera. This guy doesn't do 'easy reading'. I think I'll have to make do with watching the movie based on the novel. Reminds me of a joke - Guy takes his dog watch a movie. Friend was surprised and asked him if the dog liked going to the movies. Guy says.."Well he thought it was okay but he liked the book better". I still love the look and feel of an old dog-eared musty smelling book. I bought an old second hand edition of Great Expectations just because I liked the way it was bound and the way it smelt. Book lovers of the world unite!