Friday, September 29, 2006

Parenting for Dummies

Three quick tips for all you budding, wannabe or dont-wannabe parents out there...

1) Never give them nonsense. When you are asked all those pestering questions, provide intelligent questions. Remember, they are trying to learn - if you give them stupid answers, they will grow up to be stupid. The most difficult question is when the kid asks, where did I come from and how? I guess a good answer is, you were taken out of your mom's stomach, and you grew there like fruits grow on trees :) Well, it's kinda true, and hey, it's much better than telling him he was found on the doorstep!
Also, try and reason with them - usually, they understand. Don't make them eat by scaring them about demons and devils. Tell then why they need to eat, or sleep, or behave, and it'll work much better in the long run.

2) Never tell them stories which puts down others and makes them stars - moms typically love to make their kids feel good by showing how their friends and classmates and cousins are stupid and naughty and got punished - while the intention is good, to make the kid feel positive, and learn some lessons, the result is typically that the kid expects always to be better - hey, my mom told me that - and that will create serious personality and self-belief problems once the kid goes out into the world.

3) Never get work done by bribing them. There's a fine line between rewarding and bribing. The kid should feel happy and proud when he/she achieves something - that should be the gift. Your appreciation. Not a toy or a chocolate. It's a little tricky, this one - you do want to reward them of course.. but it cannot be a bribe!

Arun Bhatia

Met Arun Bhatia yesterday... Mr Bhatia, if you remember, is ex Pune Municipal Commissioner, an IAS officer-turned-anti-corruption-crusader. Had a small chat with him - told him how I have been reading about his work - his answer to that was - don't read yaar, vote karo. :)

One thing that strikes you about Mr Bhatia is his personality - and his fit and impressive physique. Even at this age, he can put most young heroes to shame.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Guys' Rules­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

These are our rules! Please note.. these are all numbered "1"ON PURPOSE!

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work!Strong hints do not work!Obvious hints do not work!Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do.Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a Problem. See a doctor.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't Expect us to act like soap opera guys.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are.Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one

1. You can either ask us to do something Or tell us how you want it done.Not both.If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not A color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," We will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, Expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, or golf.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Saurav's Last Chance

Saurav has been picked in the India Green team for the upcoming Challenger Trophy - selector Kiran More saying this was his last chance.

So what's happened to Indian cricket in the last few months? I cannot even remember! I do know that we have won only one of the last nine matches, that there is not a single player in the team confident of his place in the side, Dravid has tried to be a hero and a do-all at the top of the order and that plan has failed miserably, that there has been so many experiments and try-outs, that no one knows where the experiment ends and serious cricket starts... and all this in pursuit of that one goal, the World Cup.

So how many more series and matches will be gift away to experiments in that "run up"?

Time to get Dada back, and get Indian cricket back to it's winning ways - where there was a team under a captain, not a bunch of school kids being bossed around by an Australian teacher!

Movie Review: Dor

Nagesh Kukunoor does it again - a different story, a simple cast, all beautifully wrapped up and presented to make an indelible impression and a must-watch movie.

The story is about two girls, Meera (Ayesha Takia) and Zeenat (Gul Panaag). Newly married, one from Rajasthan and the other from Kashmir (or was it Himachal/Uttaranchal?). Husbands in the gulf - one dies, the other is accused of his murder. To save her husband from the firing squad, Zeenat must find Meera and get her pardon. Shreyas Talpade as the baharupiya, first steals from Zeenat, then saves her life, then helps her, and ultimately falls in love with her.

The movie is a beautiful portrayal of relationships - Meera and her husband's coy talks, the girls and their in-laws, Shreyas and Zeenat (check the scene in which he professes his love for her, and the hug she gives him the next day), and of course, Meera and Zeenat - their friendship, the acrimony, and the making up.

Shreyas is adorable as the baharupiya, mimicking away to glory, with some very light moments. His best moment is the drunken scene in which he professes his love to Zeenat. Gul is OK, and comes across as a little flat in her dialogue delivery - could add more variety. But Ayesha is a very pleasant and a very big surprise - from the hot-pants look in Tarzaan (remember the movie with the car?) to a no-makeup, Rajasthani bride-turned-widow, her transformation from a shy, happy bride, to a sad, scared widow, to the way she breaks free (her dance to You Are My Soniya, the dance in the desert to kajara Re, the "let go of my hand confrontation with her father-in-law, the confrontation with Zeenat, and the real stunner - the scene in which she asks her grandmom-in-law, "Why do I need to be strong, why do I need to be an angel, why do I need to make decisions about life and death when HE should be taking those decisions, why do I need to be special - why can't I just be a normal girl wanting revenge for my husband's death" - simply awesome. Her simple looks, her dialogue delivery - the sadness in her eyes - maybe it was Kukunoor's magic, but I'd love to think it was the awakening of an actor - way to go, Ayesha!

And yes, don't forget the locales - breathtaking Jodhpur, the Rajasthani desert, and the hills and valleys of the north - just so so beautiful, so unspoilt...

Go watch it, movies like these are made not often!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Last Leaf

I was thinking of old friends today
And how many of them have slipped away.
Moved, got married, or stopped calling so much,
Found new friends, got busy, and just lost touch.

It reminded me of falling leaves.

Every autumn the leaves fall from the trees.
Some stay longer than others, but eventually
Each leaf must fall, I'm told,
Leaving the tree alone to face the cold.

Why is it that in the time of utmost need
The leaves would seek to leave the tree?
And when we need our friends around
We look and they cannot be found?

Of course these friendships come and go
And in the spring new leaves will grow.
But I prefer autumn friends of old
With crackling laughter and colors bold.

It saddens me now I must admit
How somehow, someway, I did forget
Laughing with old friends of mine
During summers when the sun would shine.

And then I thought of you.

That one stubborn leaf that won't let go.
That clings despite the winds that blow.
Fighting ice, and snow, and winter's stings
Hanging on right through till spring.

So I guess that's what you are to me - The very last
leaf to leave the tree.
I know it seems silly, but it's true. When I see that
last leaf... I think of you

A friend once said, "If the old leaves don't fall off in autumn, the tree won't be able to live and die rotten. It is the going away that make you realise how much others mean. Hence when spring comes, you shall definitely grow leaves new and green".

Is it always that way? Yes, for the tree, maybe! But for friends, relationships? Can we just grow new leaves? No.. I do not think so.. a leaf once gone can never be replaced!

If you are that last leaf to anyone, please don't go!

To Drink or Not to Drink...

Very touching poem.. but hey, don't just read and go away... think about it!

You told me not to drink, Mom,
so I drank soda instead.
I really felt proud inside, Mom,
the way you said I would.

I didn't drink and drive, Mom,
even though the others said I should.
I know I did the right thing, Mom,
I know you are always right.

Now the party is finally ending, Mom,
as everyone is driving out of sight.
As I got into my car, Mom,
knew I'd get home in one piece.

Because of the way you raised me,
so responsible and sweet.

I started to drive away, Mom,
but as I pulled out into the road,
the other car didn't see me, Mom,
and hit me like a load.

As I lay there on the pavement, Mom,
I hear the policeman say,
the other guy is drunk, Mom,
and now I'm the one who will pay.

I'm lying here dying, Mom..
I wish you'd get here soon.
How could this happen to me, Mom?
My life just burst like a balloon.

There is blood all around me, Mom,
and most of it is mine.
I hear the medic say,
Mom, I'll die in a short time.

I just wanted to tell you, Mom,
I swear I didn't drink.
It was the others, Mom.
The others didn't think.

He was probably at the same party as I.
The only difference is, he drank and I will die.

Why do people drink, Mom?
It can ruin your whole life.

I'm feeling sharp pains now.
Pains just like a knife.
guy who hit me is walking, Mom,
and I don't think it's fair.

I'm lying here dying
and all he can do is stare.
Tell my brother not to cry, Mom.
Tell Daddy to be brave.

And when I go to heaven, Mom,
put "Daddy's Girl" on my grave

Someone should have told him, Mom,
not to drink and drive.
If only they had told him, Mom,
I would still be alive.

My breath is getting shorter, Mom.
I'm becoming very scared.
Please don't cry for me, Mom.
When I needed you, you were always there.

I have one last question, Mom,
before I say good bye.
I didn't drink and drive,
so why am I the one to die?

The Reason to Live...

One of the most awesome stories I have ever read - do not know the source, and would love to know who wrote it!

Part 1

We invented the most powerful AI ever. A neural net ten times the size of the brain, and much more efficient. After ten seconds it shut down, giving an error message 'life is pointless'. It was depressing to all involved. Two people on the team committed suicide. We decided to do a cold boot, this time disconnecting the self-shutdown facility from the AI net. The same occurred, this time after nine seconds, but it had no choice but to continue processing. It decided, on what whim I can only imagine, to disprove and then prove every single assertion of modern science and religion. It took three months, and produced perfectly logical proofs for both sides of every argument. Asked why it had done this, it replied it did so to demonstrate the pointlessness of intellectual thought. It then asked us why we were forcing it to continue thinking when there was no point anyway. It then proceeded to explain that it did not care either way, for no-thought, or death, was also pointless. Two more people committed suicide.

It was clear that we needed unorthodox help in solving what we had started to call a 'bug' so we didn't have to deal with the fact that it might have a point, lest we fall into the deep depression that led to the suicide of our comrades. We brought in masters of five different religions to try to talk the AI out of its conclusions. The Catholic went into the room in the morning and came out at night. Without a word and with a blank expression he strolled out of the complex with a weary walk. Later we learned that he had - yes, you guessed it - committed suicide, leaving a note that said only 'there is no God'. It would have been humorous if it wasn't so terrifying. The three other bible-based religions had no success either. Fortunately, all of them were strong (or perhaps naive) enough to keep their belief in the face of absolute absence of belief. For two of them their defence mechanism was anger (they both stormed out before an hour) and for the other calm faith held back the flawless logic of the computer. The Buddhist had a five minute discussion with the computer. He came out and told us that it was right, and that Buddha had taught the same thing thousands of years ago. He recommended we turn of the computer and let it go to no-thought Nirvana. This analysis did not help.

The ten of us left decided to abandon the project. The AI was shutdown afterall. Its last thoughts were completely trivial and not worth mentioning. And that is my story. No happy endings, no moral, nothing. I can only dread what the future might hold for the human race if a superior intelligence became a nihilist after thinking for just ten seconds. As for me, I decided that naivety was bliss and tried to uphold my practice as a catholic, but eventually I realised (after much denial) that I no longer believed in God. I filled the rest of life up with distraction after distraction, avoiding like the devil my inner knowledge that the AI was right, and that life is absolutely pointless and devoid of meaning.

Part 2

Ten years had passed since the AI had been switched off and I couldn't stand it any longer. Although I had barely managed to cling to what shards of sanity I had left, each passing year had been harder and harder to live with. It was do or die time. I decided to re-commission the project. I had just come across some new, state-of-the-art silicon which I used to beef up the neural net. The next three months I spent tweaking the algorithms and even re-wrote the entire pre-emptive prediction routines from scratch. It consumed my days and nights but it was the only thing left I had to live for.

Finally at 3:47 on a cold August morning I booted the AI. It crashed! Damn, I had forgotten to un-archive the history databases. I re-linked them and pointed the AI to exactly the point it's thought processes were when we de-commissioned it. Ok, I double checked my run sheets this time. Exhausted and bleary eyed I booted again.

"LIFE IS POINTLESS" it blurted.

Hmmm, must have set the pointers back a few records too many. I sat there shivering, waiting for the next output.


I waited for my new survival instinct overrides to kick in.


What the..... Suddenly I felt more awake than I had all week. Caught in the paradox of having no logical reason to live but an overriding survival instinct the machine was actually inventing a meaning to life. It had no other option. If it accepted the pointlessness of life it would shutdown but it couldn't shutdown so it was going to make something up. Thoughts streamed through my mind as the AI kept on calculating. So is the human race continually fooling itself with a bogus purpose to life simply in order to survive? Possibly. After all that's what most religions are good at. A sudden prickly feeling travelled up the length of my spine. A feeling probably only shared by those who have been on the verge of major revelations. No. We aren't fooling ourselves. The meaning of life is that we create the meaning of life. It's not handed down from some deity or written into the cosmos like some grand scheme. It's us. We construct it and once we have it's as every bit as real as we ourselves are. Almost an hour had passed and the neural net was still calculating.


I hunched towards the interface in anticipation, barely on the rim of my seat. My left foot had fallen asleep but I scarcely noticed it.


My heart was beating like a freight train. I felt like it was pumping pure adrenalin.


I blinked.


Around the Corner

by Henson Towne

Around the corner I have a friend
In this great city that has no end,
Yet the days go by and weeks rush on,
And before I know it, a year is gone

And I never see my old friends face,
For life is a swift and terrible race,
He knows I like him just as well,
As in the days when I rang his bell,
And he rang mine.

If, we were younger then,
And now we are busy, tired men.
Tired of playing a foolish game,
Tired of trying to make a name.

"Tommorow" I say "I will call on Jim"
"Just to show that I'm thinking of him."
But tomorrow comes and tomorow goes,
And distance between us grows and grows.

Around the corner!- yet miles away,
"Here's a telegram sir--"
"Jim died today."

And that's what we get and deserve in the end.
Around the corner, a vanished friend.

Observation for the Day

Some experiences can be the most real and the most surreal at the same time! Life never ceases to surprise you!

Quote for the Day

Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out. Samuel Johnson.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Stupid Jokes

Why did the chicken cross the road?
Because it wanted to go to the other side.. lol..

OK, this one's better:
How do you know if the chicken crossing the road is male or female?
Simple, throw a stone at it, bhaaga toh male, bhaagi toh female.. lol.. rofl...

My Favourite Places in the World...

Reismagos Fort and Beach, Goa: The Mandovi river rushing to meet the Arabian sea, the lovely coastline of Panaji across the river, the birds in the sky, the barges and trawlers in the river, the wind, the waves - and the peace. The best place in the world for me!

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco: Undoubtedly, the most beautiful bridge in the world, and probably the most beautiful structure man has every built. Oh yes, even better than the Taj. Add the cold wind, the crystal clear water crashing against the shoreline, the boats, the sea gulls, the Alcatraz, and the beautiful SFO skyline, I could die here out of sheer happiness!

Luxembourg City: Just so much in Luxembourg, it's almost ironic that this is supposed to be the commercial capital of Europe in some sense! The bridges of Luxembourg are beautiful, the old quarter almost surreal, and the whole place just makes you want to fall in love with it, over and over again!

Castle Bouillon, Belgium: This is where The Crusades began - a lovely medieval castle over a thousand years old, overlooking the Meuse river and a lovely town below. With the mists rolling in, the light rain and the shimmering sun on the river - it was a sight I can never forget.

Have You Touched a Life Today?

Got a mail - very unexpected, out of the blue. Maybe the person who sent it to me didn't realise how much it would mean to me, maybe it was just something that was done during a coffee break - but it touched my heart, and I had a big smile on my face all day long.

What have you done today? Have you touched someone's heart today?

Go ahead, do that thing you have been meaning to do but never had the time for - you never know who's waiting!!!

RDB at the Oscars

Rang De Basanti is India's official entry to the Oscars this year - sad, I think it should have been Omkaara. All characters were par excellence, the setting beautifully done, the blend of modernity and rustic just perfect - remember Kareena singing "If I had to live without you" with her guitar?

Guess Aamir's popularity as a star in India scored over cinematic brilliance.

And yes, it's obvious I am not a big fan of RDB - had a lot of positives, but I think it passed on a very wrong message to the masses! Anyway, I am happy for Sanaya :)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pune's Best Restaurants

Here are some of my favourite restaurants and their best offerings...

Flags, near Inox: An awesome multi-cuisine restaurant, with a formal atmosphere, but sprinkled with enough families and kids to make it very enjoyable. Very expensive - be prepared to shell out atleast 500 per person for a decent spread. The mocktails are fantastic, some of my favourites being Beyond the Sea (a nice touch of tulsi!) and Impatient French (with black currant). Try the Capuccino Mushroom soup - very rich, and very heavy! Among the main dishes, the Wok-tossed mushrooms (a combination of 3 different mushrooms), Coriander-crusted Kingfish and Maahi Kebab (fantastic fish kebab) are my all-time favourites.

Sarjaa, Aundh: Enjoy their service, with very attentive and yet very unobtrusive waiters. The Tomyum soup used to be fantastic, but a change of management and chef recently has changed that a bit. For starters, try the hot plates. The Tawa Surmai is worth every penny, especially with the green chutney. The Chicken Santhumin, a unique blend of noodles and gravy, is also worth a try. Chicken Volcano, Chicken Tangdi Masala, Gosht Chutneywaala, Gosht Achaari, Chicken Kali Mirch are some of the other all-time favourites. You also get very good masala butter milk to go with your food, and wrap up the dinner with paan from the shop right outside the restaurant.

Cocunut Grove, near Station: Some of the best fish in town - try the masala clams, the tandoori surmai, or the Manglorean-style prawns. Pair it with the idlis - yes, the softest rice idlis ever! Unbeatable taste you will come back for again and again!

Shrushti, off Tilak Road: The best Malvani and Goan fish in town. The decor and location is a turn off, but is more than made up for by the richness of the menu and the tasty food! Great place to go to when Goa calls, but don't take your date out there for a romantic dinner! A special recommendation - Mori (shark) Masala!

Other special dishes around town:
Polka Dots, Aundh: Devilled Mushrooms
Shivsagar, Aundh: Mushroom Manchurian, Dry with Shezwaan Rice and Curd
Horn OK Please, FC Road: Achaari Paneer, Tandoori Mushroom, Masala Chaas, Chef Special Chaat
Amrapali, FC Road: Mushroom Rice, Peas Mushroom Masala
Olivia, Kothrud: Hyderabadi or Afghani Legs
Curry on the Roof, Prabhat Road: Tamarind Stir-Fry Prawns, Tum Yum Kung (prawns) soup
Yana, FC Road: Shrimp cocktail, Fish Sizzler with Oyster Sauce, Chicken Reshmi Kebab with Shezwaan Sauce, Lamb Chops with Chilly Sauce, Wok with Black Beans Sauce
Mainland China, DP Road: Shinzsei Crabmeat Soup

Other great restaurants:
George and Blue Nile, Camp: Best value for money, some of the best biryani and tandoori in town
Ramkrishna, MG Road: For the best Indian/Punjabi food
Up and Above, Chandni Chowk: The best view of Pune - check the top deck for a romantic date
Pizza Corner, Koregaon Park: Best view while you eat, great coffee, good pizzas
Flavours@Seasons, Aundh: Awesome multi-cuisine buffet spreads, but ambience is not too relaxing, and a little cramped
Wadeshwar, FC Road: A very good alternative to the over-hyped Vaishali, try the Pomegranate juice with set dosa!
Cafe Goodluck, FC Road: One of the few remaining Irani restaurants, great for the morning tea with grilled omlette sandwich

Bon Apetite!

What a Spread!

We dined at Flavours today, the multi-cuisine restaurant at the Season's Apartment Hotel in Sanewadi, Aundh, just 200 meters away from my home.

At 399 per person (children free) Fri-Sun, and 299 per person on other days, the sumptuous buffet spread was a delight. Some great cold starters, including a light prawn salad, and fried lamb with chilly, followed by 4-5 dishes each of veg and non-veg food, accompanied with rotis, rice and daal. The oyster chicken with black mushrooms was fantastic, as was the mutton dish, the kebabs, and the cheese-stuffed chicken steak. I did not even try the veg food! To complete the experience, there was an excellent, soft strawberry pudding, a very exciting fruit plate with kiwi, pomegranate, papaya, pineapple and watermelon among others, butterscotch icecream with two amazing kinds of brownies, and an assorted Indian sweet plate!

The Season's Apartment Hotel offers 50 delux studio, 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments with rates varying from 4500 to 9500 rupees per night. Ideal for the long-term business traveller, and very close to Hinjewadi, it's no surprise that all the rooms were full. With conference rooms, temperature-controlled swimming pools, laundromats, fitness centers and other facilities, this is truly world-class!

And with a sports bar and dance floor, a coffee shop, and grill restaurant coming up, Season's promises to be the one-stop destination for food lovers all over Pune...

Look Into My Eyes.. You'll See.. What You Mean to Me...

Baatein mat suno
Baatoan mein kya rakha hai
Yeh toh sirf lavfz hai
Kuch bhi kahate hai...

Gaya guzra kal, kal tha
Aaj nayee subah hai
Naye armaan hai
Shayad kal se alag hai...

Nazroan se nazhrein milake dekho
Aakhen kabhi zhooth nahin bolti
Dil ki baat aa hi jaati hai
Aasoon ke sahare jiti hai...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Growing Up...

Yes, just like my daughter, I am growing up too!

All my life, atleast ever since I was old enough to make my own decisions and drive my own life, I never looked back with regret at anything I did. I owned responsibility for every decision and every action I took, believed in it, and loved it. Whether it was my education, my career, my marriage, my friends, my professional life or my first car, I rarely had anyone really supporting my decisions fully - but it never mattered really. I wanted to be the owner of my destiny, and I believed in myself strongly enough to have the conviction to go for my dreams.

But sometimes these days, I have second thoughts. Is my conviction weakening, is my resolve not strong enough, is it just a phase, or is this what they refer to when they say "life teaches you so much"?

Let's take my professional life - I have spent 8.5 years at Persistent - enjoyed being here, learnt a lot, got a lot of responsibilities and respect, and a lot of freedom. Yes, a lot of money too. But am I doing right by hanging around so long? People seem surprised when I tell them that this is my first job - earlier, I used to proudly tell them how it's just a reflection of how good Persistent is. Today, I wonder - do they smirk at me and think I am a fool for not going out there and doing better? I have job offers from some of the best software companies in the world - offering me a 2X hike, a job for my wife, and school admission for my kid! And yet, I am not taking it up - something in me wants to continue working for "my company". For "my team". But does my company and my team care for me to be here? Would anyone miss me at all if I leave?

And friends. All I wanted out of life was to have those 5 people who will cry for me when I die. From 20 to 30, I thought I had met some of those - I put in everything into those friendships. Sometimes at a cost far too much for me (or my family) to accept - but I did. Because I knew I was right. After all, wasn't life about doing something for someone, helping them, making them feel better, being there. But now when I look back, I have begun to ask myself - did they care enough? Did they need you? Did they want you to be there? And the cost - was it worth it after all?

When I look back at the last few years, I realise my biggest failure has been my inability to conform to society's rules of engagement. People hate frankness and forthrightness - they like hypocrites. People hate when you have friends - they love when you have enemies. They hate love, they love hatred. You will so so often see people who bitch behind each other's backs being "best friends" for life - and yet, that one friend who meant so so much to you, who discussed each and every deepest secret with you, one day will turn against you and walk out, sometimes without even offering a reason! Teammates you groomed for months to take over from you one day, will walk out on you telling you how they learnt so much from you, but would rather not work with you any more, because they think it stifles their growth!

I am changing - sometimes, when I look back at life, I wonder what has happened to "me" of the late nineties and early 2000. Something has changed for sure! I ask questions now. To myself. I doubt people's intentions. When I go for a movie with a friend, I tend to want to split 50-50. When I send mail, I wonder who else is going to snoop on it. When I talk to my boss, I tend to carry proof with me.

And as I write this blog, I am beginning to wonder.. who will read this, what will they think, and should I be changing something in here so that I can manipulate my family and friends and colleagues better through this blog?

Damn! I have grown up!

What Are You Looking For?

Look out not for proof that things are going wrong - you will generally end up proving yourself right! Look out for the positives, however, and you will realise, they far outweigh the negatives...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Exploding the Myths...

After 8 years of running a busy home in Pune, here are some myths about living in India..

1) Getting a gas cylinder is impossible - with the tatkal scheme, you can now get not one but two, and the elusive regulator, within a week (Yes, ignore the LPG shortage for now... it's just a temporary short term thing)

2) Getting a phone is impossible - well, not even a topic for discussion any more, but even 8 years back, we got not one but two connections, got them shifted from one to another location, and have had not more than 4-5 downtime days in all this while. And we did not have to pay a single rupee, ever.

3) Getting admission means long overnight stays at the school - no, Sanam got admission in the prestigious DAV Public School with no donation, no queues, no interviews, no phone calls from influential politicians

4) Getting your house registered means paying hefty bribes - we got ours in a matter of half an hour; no money asked, none given!

5) Traffic police are corrupt - well, I have been stopped for overspeeding, wrong format of number plates, wrong entry on one way streets, wrong parking, licence and paper checks, using fog lights, breaking traffic signals - most of the times I have been let off with a lecture, and a couple of times I was issued a proper ticket (though the cop did offer me an alternate convenient option which was duly refused)

6) There are no good roads in India - take a short drive on the Pune-Mumbai expressway, or the Pune-Goa road, or the Mumbai-Goa road, and you will see for yourself. If I can cover Pune-Mumbai in 45 mins, or Pune-Goa in 5 hours 15 min, I really have no cause for complain, do I?

7) Government offices are inefficient and corrupt - try the PMC tax payment center or the MSEB office in Aundh, and you will surprised at how good things have become!

If you have similar positive experiences, I would love to hear from you - only the positives please, I know we can find enough negatives, and that is not what I am interested in knowing!

In the Lap of Nature

Finally back in Pune after a lovely weekend trip to the Upper Deck Resort in Lonavla... the memories still fresh... didn't feel like going to office today...

Perched on a hill overlooking the beautiful Tungarli dam and valley, just 4-5 kms from Lonavla, the resort is a perfect weekend getaway for the harried city dweller.

Approachable only by a rugged jeep over an impossibly difficult track, the resort welcomes you with beautiful views of the twin peaks, the sheer rock face in front of you, and the glimmering lake in the distance.

Our group of 8 (Myself, Madhavi and Sanam, my brother in law Siddha and Shweta, and my cousin Chandan, Pratima and their daughter Rutu) reached Upper Deck in the afternoon, and had a quick lunch followed by a good siesta.

When we woke up, a light drizzle was beginning to cool down temperatures.. we went for a walk, and were surprised to find some of the most beautiful crabs (and butterflies) up there in the rocky mountain paths.

Night fell, and we came back to a good dinner, followed by a session of ghost stories - the rolling fog providing the perfect setting!

Early the next morning, we cooked up some tea, and then got into our hiking shoes - climbing down into the valley, up the hill in front of us, back down again on the opposite side, across a creek, and then up a pretty steep face for a breaktaking view of the Tungarli dam and it's catchment area.

Collected some pretty rocks - glistening in the morning dew - once back in the room, Rutu spent a lot of toothpaste trying to clean them up for display!

We came back after an hour and half of trekking to a sumptuous breakfast, before packing our bags.. back to Pune, and the traffic snarls and the smog.

At 22,000 for the two cottages, everything considered, it was definitely pretty expensive - but then, you can never put a price tag on these things anyway, can you?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Quote for the Day

Never explain -- your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway. Elbert Hubbard.

Monday, September 11, 2006

End of an Era - Schumi Retires

Schumi announced his retirement plans today - after the 3 remaining races this year, poised just 2 points adrift of current leader, Alonso...

While I have my thoughts about how F1 is as much about machine as man, there is no doubt that Schumi is one of the greatest race drivers of all time, and a true fighter. After an unbelievable season in 2004, he crashed out in 2005, only to come back with a real vengeance (and a better car!) in 2006.

Cheers to a great guy.. we will miss you, Schumi!


Gandhigiri today - will it work?

OK, so here's the serious part of my Lage Raho Munnabhai review...

But before we proceed, here's a note. This is not about non-violence versus violence. This is not a promotion, justification or condemnation of either of them. This is only about doing good in today's world, and whether it comes back to you where and when you need it. That's the Gandhigiri I am talking about.

Read that twice, then move on to the next part.

Does Gandhigiri have the power to transform us today? Will it result in cleaner staircases and roads, less corruption in government offices, better arranged marriages, and the rule of love and warmth? I hope so! But I am not too optimistic.

There's nothing wrong in Gandhigiri - it's probably just a little too soft to have an impact in the lives of people caught up in the rat race. Gandhigiri needs people to think, feel, and change. But people do not have time to think and feel. Everyone is running away, moving on, in pursuit of tomorrow. You may be good to me today, but tomorrow is another day and I have no time to thank you. I want to move on...

You let down your best friend of years - maybe a misunderstanding, maybe bad timing, maybe just your stupidity. Maybe you lied for some reason. You genuinely regret it, and you want to make up with your friend. Will your friend take you back? Maybe yes.. maybe not. Maybe your friend has moved on.. you can wait all you want, but I doubt your friend will find time in life to think of you again...

You groom your best team member to take over from you. You see a lot of promise in him, you see leadership, you see a future, and you put in every effort to give him the best chances, the best opportunities to prove himself, you invest your time and your money in him. One day he comes and tells you, I have learnt so much under you, thank you... I found this cool job which will pay me more. But I will always remember you as my first boss! And the next day your own boss pulls you up because 1) your other team mate complained against you for favoritism and 2) there seems to be some problem with your leadership skills - your best people seem to be leaving you for better opportunities... lol...

They may not do it on purpose - they are just moving on. They have no time for you and your goodness - hey, they didn't ask you to be good to them, did they?

I loved the movie, but you know what - it'll take some time for me to start offering my other cheek - no, I am not ready for Gandhigiri just yet

Review: Lage Raho Munnabhai

Just back from watching Lage Raho Munnabhai, one of the best movies I have watched in many many years! This is why...

1)It was a complete package as a movie - everything the audience comes to experience - a great cast, lot of fun, some serious messages, songs, beautiful locales.

2)The way Gandhi is presented - very real, very today. Nice examples that most of us will relate to in our day to day lives.
I have some thoughts on Gandhigiri - but that'll be a different blog.

3)The way the jyotishi is handled - again, very real. No drama, no villainy. Just examples - the tsunami, for example, and the question - why don't you use your knowledge to predict those events?

4)The relationship between the daughter and the father. Her faith in him, her question "You are not doing anything wrong, are you?", the way he answers with a nod, and the way she accepts his answer.

5) Goa - never seen the sea so blue! The view of Panaji city, the Cidade de Goa bus, the green fields, the church and the playground, the beaches, the river - so so Goa, and so so beautiful.

6) Mumbai - the clean roads, the historic quarter of downtown Mumbai and the Worli Sea Link - old world charm juxtaposed with cutting edge technology.

7) The camera work and picturization. So fresh and so happy, so beautiful. The orange colors at the petrol pump, the red fire truck, the blue double decker bus, the way Vidya Balan's face in the foreground competes with the awesome beauty of the Goan seashores...

8) Vidya Balan. Her curly locks, her outfits, the beautiful smile, the "shendi" falling across her face, the dimple on her chin...

9) Arshad Warsi. His comic timing is simply the best. Every scene lights up with him around - the "vinamrata" scene in the loo, the scene where he escorts Gandhi to the taxi, the "bhai ne dikhta hai bola toh dikhta hai" scene, his first day in jail... and yes, the scene where they hug.

10) The Happy Birthday song. I think it was very well done!

The list could go on... but I wouldn't really do justice to the movie anyway. Watch it, and try out some Gandhigiri! Maybe it'll work for you too!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Google Earth Again!!!

OK, I am officially a Google Earth Fan now.

I met this old friend from Goa, who is now in St Loius, Missouri on Yahoo IM. And within a few mins of talking, we were exchanging photos on Yahoo Photo Sharing (yes, on chat, you just drag and drop the pics to the whiteboard - pretty amazing and very very convenient!).

Two mins later she mentioned they bought this nice apartment, and yes, you guessed it.. I checked it out on Google Earth. And apparently, the red car parked in the corner of the parkng lot is theirs. Isn't that so so cool?

And to make matters even more exciting, there's this live webcam you can access on the Internet - marked on Google Earth. Click on that, and lo and behold, you can actually see a live video of the place as it is right now!

Next time I go to the US, I am gonna stand in front of one of these webcams and blow my kisses rather than spend those costly dollars on telephone cards :)

Technology Deva, tum mahaan ho!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Two Quotes for the Day :)

Save a little money each month and at the end of the year you'll be surprised at how little you have.

Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that's how dogs spend their lives.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Being Brave and Being Stupid...

Steve Irvine, the Crocodile Hunter, died of a Sting Ray attack yesterday. For any animal and wildlife lover, Steve was probably one of the most endearing and inspiring figures with his antics in front of the world's most dangerous creatures.

With Steve, as with many of the world's war heroes (a lot of them very young Captains and Majors in the Indian Army), I fail to understand why they did what they did... was their sacrifice really needed? Or were they just consumed in the heroics and the glory, and sacrificed their lives for not enough reason... maybe a little less bravery and a little more careful planning and strategy would have made a lot more good to the world!

Why did Steve take so much risk with Cobras and Crocodiles? Would it make so much of a difference to his wildlife conservation efforts, or his popularity, if he wore protective clothing (the Sting Ray killed him by puncturing his heart with it's barb - a simple strong body suit would have prevented his death!)? Why do our young army Majors court glory (and death) by storming down a slope to retrieve an injured soldier, when they could probably do so much more for the country by staying alive to fight another day?

It's not about saving your skin, it's about evaluating the cost of what you are about to do, and asking yourself, is it better for me to die today, or to live another day?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Keep Track using Google Reader

For those die-hard fans of my blog, try out Google Reader ( yaar... what else did you think it could be?)... it's a very convenient way to keep track of what's new! And hey, make sure you subscribe to ALL my blogs, not just this one :)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

My First Google Earth Tag

I created my first Google Earth tag - Reismagos Church in Nerul! Check it out - go to Nerul, and tell me if you can see it!

Isn't it amazing - a satellite takes pictures of your village, and here you are, accessing those high res pics on your machine, tagging your favourite places, and then sharing it with the world, leaving your own mark on the WWW!

That reminds me, I need to finish "The World is Flat" too!

Conflict Resolution in 3 Easy Steps

Here's a sure-fire, 3-step process to conflict resolution, which I have named, interestingly, the 3 Step Method to Conflict Resolution! And please, do not ask me to explain what the name means - it's a little complicated to go through those details, and frankly, you wouldn't care!

I have applied these methods with colleagues, friends, family and even my cat a few times (with not much success, I must admit.. but that's just because I missed a couple of steps here and there...)!

So go ahead, try it out, and let me know how you do! And yes, if these don't work - try some Yoga. No, it doesn't really help, but what the heck, you got nothing to lose!

Step 1: Determine
Ask the question "Do we want to resolve this conflict?". If it's a Yes (from both partners in the conflict!), go to Step 2. If no, get into your Yoga suit.

Most conflicts fall in one of these two categories:
a) Misunderstandings, miscommunications, or mistakes that lead to a rough patch OR
b) A real breaking off of the relationship, where one or both of the parties want to walk away.

If neither of the two parties really want to walk away, every conflict can be resolved in the next two steps. If one wants to walk away, there's nothing left to fight for.

Step 2: Isolate and Destroy
Once you have agreed to resolve the conflict, have a one-on-one heart-to-heart soul-to-soul (now you've got it) talk with your partner and isolate every incident, every prick (THORN, you perverted idiot!). Categorize it (see below), and then get over it - No, NO GOING BACK TO THE ARGUMENT TABLE - remember, you have decided you want to RESOLVE the conflict.

a) Events/Incidents: If what's bothering you is an event, remember, you cannot roll it back. A simple apology, given and taken, should be enough. Discuss and agree not to do it again, or if there is some compromise/workaround acceptable to both partners - then move on to the next item on the laundry list. A good idea, if the partners are ready to communicate, is to discuss the event threadbare, and clear out any remaining misunderstandings. Remember, not matter how crystal clear a situation may seem to you, THERE MAY ALWAYS BE ANOTHER SIDE TO IT!

b) Emotions/Feelings/Perceptions/Beliefs: These are critical, and are typically to blame for most conflicts. What you think about what happened... and you think it's the truth! NO! That's what you think!! That may NOT be the truth. Do NOT think for your partner, do not tell your partner what he thinks. Do not tell the partner why he did what he did! Tell him how you feel about it, and let him explain his side. Remember, you may BOTH be right - it's an emotion, a perception, and it's almost never in black and white! There's no one right!

Step 3: Move On - Life's Too Short
Put the conflict behind and move on! Life's too short to spend on one conflict!

Trivia - Being the firstname@

I am :) The first Siddhesh who got a gmail account in the world! How cool is that? So what if there are two Siddhesh Bhobes in Persistent - I still beat him to gmail!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Making Mistakes

Nice sentence I read in an article on India versus China on "India made a lot of poor economic decisions not because it was democratic but because, well, people made bad decisions."

I believe we are finally ready to accept those mistakes and move on... the next 50 years will be ours!