C'est La Vie!

Life...or something like that

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Med Terrorists

'Big pharmaceuticals are right up there with the arms dealers. ' says a character from the film, The Constant Gardener.

It's a brilliant film, highlighting the not-so-savory business practices of the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry.

Experimental drugs are being tested illegally on the poor natives of Africa and some drugs,inspite of obviously needing more research and redesigning, are being used on HIV +ve natives - singled out during 'free' health checkups - just to save 'precious' time and money.

One needs to check the cost of lives in third world countries - a dime a dozen for the pharma bigges,it would seem.

And it was shocking to read of the increase of clinical trials in India - it seems that a clinical boom is on the horizon and it is projected that 'nearly $2 billion worth of clinical trials will end up in india by 2010'.

For a lay person,it would genuinely seem celebratory but I wonder if it's just the human guinea pigs that is of interest to the pharma giants.

The Constant Gardener has opened my eyes to this form of bio-terrorism of sorts, all under the guise of 'research' and 'free medical aid' and shallow goodwill.

How governments,researchers,powerplayers,aid workers - all are manipulated or else 'taken care of' - like Tessa Quayle, the human rights activist who was brutally murdered because she fought for the rights of the African natives and threatened to expose the such trials in Africa.

Her husband Justin Quayle ,a diplomat stationed in Africa, loved her and supported her but never really understood her work.
He preferred to spend time in his garden,creating a safe world around himself, was rudely jolted into reality,was forced out of his complacency after the murder of his wife and had to face the lies and corruption and poltics to ensure that his wife did not die for nothing.

His search unearths a few very unpleasant hometruths and he manages to expose the huge conspiracy at the cost of his own life..

It was a very moving and disturbing film and I can almost see the script being played out again under the Indian sun this time round.

A TOI article calls India a 'prime location' because it has 'the world's largest patient pool'.
In my opinon that just translates to availability of patients who are illiterate,needy,poor and ignorant of their rights.

There alreay are many cases where trials have failed with serious consequences,even deaths of patients and no doubt, our lax regulatory policies and unscrupulous drug companies waiting to exploit the loopholes, make the risk of allowing clinical trials in India exponential.

Here's hoping that the judgement of the powers that be is not clouded by the multiple $$$ signs or else like Africa, we'll end up with a beautiful landscape tainted with human blood.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Templar Legacy

Another book on the lines of The Da Vinci Code -riddles,clues,cryptexes..get the drift - this is work of fiction about the hunt for 'The Great Devise' and the Templar treasure, is still entertaining.

I liked it because the start was set in Copenhagen,one of my favorite cities, and because I like medieval history..

'The brethren,the masters of the Temple,
who were well filled and ample
with gold and silver and with wealth.
Where are they now? How have they fared?
Who had such power that none dared
take ought fromt hem,no man so bold:
forever buying,they never sold.'

A medieval French verse aptly describes the overly solvent Templars and their sudden disappearance.

This book also states the possibility that the Shroud of Turin,which holds enormous religious symbolic importance to Christians around the world, was that of the 22nd and last Master of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, Jacques de Molay(1314).
What irony!

It's a pity I did not make time to see it(purely as a medieval artifact!) when I was in Torino a few years ago..

Friday, February 23, 2007

Cops or Criminals?

"Frank Costello: When I was growing up, they would say you could become cops or criminals.
But what I'm saying is this. When you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference? "

I agree totally.

The Departed - *****

"Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Million $$$ Baby

I don't remember any other movie hitting home quite like this one...with the exception of The Unforgiven,another of Clint Eastwood's masterpeices..

"Boxing is an unnatural act. Cos everything in it is backwards. You wanna move to the left, you don't step left, you push on the right toe. To move right, you use your left toe. Instead of running from the pain - like a sane person would do, you step into it. "

Friday, November 17, 2006

Burnt Toast

Teri Hatcher's memoirs left me with just a very strong sense of taste (and smell!) of burning toast - and no pearls of wisdom.

Agreed that she is trying to be a good mother and tries really hard to do the right thing and not repeat the mistakes her parents made while she was growing up,which would make all mothers identify with her but there is just no zing in the book..

It meanders a lot- the point of which I guess is to reflect Ms Hatcher's thought processes -but,with not much to hold you attention anyway, it just causes one to lose focus entirely.

And strangely,there is a constant strain of how OLD she feels at 40..I mean,isn't 40 the new 30?!
So much for looking forward to life beginning at 40! ;o)

Although there a few funny bits, it's nothing that'll change your view of life .

Entirely missable.

Monday, September 25, 2006


The last few weeks have been interesting - the trip to Arizona in particular..

The weather has changed and now Fall is certainly here - there was sudden drop of temperature from 80F to 47F,almost overnight!

The trees have begun to shed their leaves..

Now the temp seems to be stabilizing around 60F and it is chilly outside.

What I have been reading so far :

The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie (just started)
Left to Tell - Immaculee Ilibagiza (must read!)
Perfect Soldiers - Terry McDermott (must read!)

Loads of Chick Lit - you know how that is!!

And being a diehard fan of the Bourne trilogy - re-reading (for the umpteenth time!) Bourne Identity ,the other 2 books will follow!

I also watched a bunch of nice movies -
In her Shoes (I had read the book-Chick Lit),which is quite enjoyable

Syriana - Must watch!!

Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy- Damon as Bourne is just too good!

Murder on the Orient Express - Watchable, Albert Finney's Poirot seems buffoonish,David Suchet is the best Poirot!

The Sleeping Murder - The first Miss Marple movie I have seen - lacks the punch of Poirot

Yet to be seen : Evil Under the Sun and the Dumb Witness (both with David Suchet as Poirot)

Friday, August 18, 2006


A story that is truly disturbing,which I wished again and again would be a work of fiction.

In October 2001, the body of the world-renowned Mexican human rights lawyer Digna Ochoa was found shot in the leg and head, covered in starch and arranged beside a written death threat other "sons-of-bitch" human rights lawyers.

There was no doubt that she was murdered.

She had been harassed,threatened,kidnapped twice and raped because she took on the Mexican govenment and the military on behalf of the poor subsistence farmers and the authorities turned a blind eye each time.

In July 2003,the Mexican ruled her violent death to be a 'probable suicide' and slammed the case shut.

Linda Diebel,a three-time recipient of the Amnesty International Media Award,through extensive research and interviews makes mincemeat of the suicide theory and reveals a cover-up so blatant that is shocking - Digna Ochoa was betrayed at every step, by her jealous colleagues,local authorities,those in power who promised her protection.

What Mexico is like behind the colorful tourist posters is chilling.

Diebel's book is a tribute to a courageous woman who continued to fight for the most persecuted people in Mexico,when most would have lost the nerve and fled, someone who rose from poverty and went on to win both a MacArthur "Genius" Award and Amnesty's Enduring Spirit Award and as per Diebel's expose,someone who ended up being a victim twice - first of murder,then of character assasination.

Betrayed : The Assasination of Digna Ochoa- a must read for all!