Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pune from the Sky...

An awesome aeriel shot of Pune I found on the Internet: The Mula-Mutha flowing from under the Bund Garden Bridge.

More Changing Times...

The new flyover at E-Square was opened to traffic a couple of days back, as soon as it was completed, without the customary "opening ceremony".

Isn't it cool? Can you imagine such a possibility in the "old" India - A bridge opened for use even before a minister inaugurates it with the customary "janata" speech? There were times when even public toilets were inaugurated by ministers (how they "performed" the opening ceremony is out of scope of this blog :))

I love the way the flyover looks - extremely sexy, beautiful curves, very very petite and very cute! I hope they name her something sweet... will upload a pic or her one of these days.

(Another) Quote for the Day

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are. Bertolt Brecht.

Quote for the Day

The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him. Henry Stimson.

The Prince of Calcutta is back!

My predictions came true! :) The Prince of Calcutta is back, and I hope, along with it, the fortunes of the Indian team!

Hip Hip Hurray!!!!
Hip Hip Hurray!!!!
Hip Hip Hurray!!!!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Art of Forgiving

Got this lovely piece from another blog...

To FORGIVE. It's difficult,
especially when the other person doesn't deserve
your forgiveness or doesn't even seek it. It's
difficult when the other person is clearly in the

Forgiveness doesn't mean that the other person's
behavior is okay. He's still
responsible for his misbehavior.

Forgiveness is about letting yourself off the
emotional hook. It's about releasing your negative
emotions, attitudes, and behaviors. It's about
letting go of the past so you can go forward to the

Everyone in your life,
everyone on and off the job
is going to disappoint you. If you know how to
respond to those situations, you'll be way ahead of
most people.

Why do we Blog?

A few days ago, I asked one of my friends who is a rare visitor to my blog, why she usually does not leave any comments on the blog itself, rather than telling me in person - and her answer was, why do you need the world to know what I had to comment? Which led me to think - why do we blog anyway?

So here's why I blog:
1) I love talking and giving my opinion on every damn thing in the world - whether it is movies, the state of the country, religion, or the BRTS!
2) Writing it down makes me think a lot more, analyze a lot more, get a lot more out of my system than I can do otherwise
3) It feels awesome to find random people taking up the thread, discussing with you on topics you could have never opened up in any conversation with that person otherwise

I have visited some absolutely random blogs of people I know nothing about - but an article about someone's cooking here, a small travelogue there, a discussion on the college picnic - something just connects, and you feel part of that life, thousands of miles away!

And yes, it has made me much more aware - I am now always on the lookout for things to talk about, and I enjoy and appreciate things so much more!

The SkyBus

Here's a picture of the demo SkyBus at the Konkan Railway test site in Goa.

Notice how little space it actually occupies on the ground - a twin track can easily be laid over the middle of every main road in Pune without wasting any of the available carriage width! Elevated stations springing up from the side of the road makes it extremely safe for travellers to get in and out without getting run over by other road traffic (another of the major inconveniences of the BRTS!). And the parallel tracks above ground with the SkyBus suspended underneath make accidents almost a zero-possibility! (Yeah, yeah, I thought about Puneites throwing garbage onto the heads of poor, unsuspecting road-inhabitants below, but these will be air-conditioned coaches...)

Except for the exhorbitant cost of laying the tracks, the solution to India's traffic woes seems almost too good to be true.

And finally - we have seen lots of buses all over the world. Can you imagine how sexy it will be for the city if you have hundreds of these SkyBuses zipping over the Pune landscape? :)

Movie Review: Dhoom 2

Aishwarya Rai's hamming and the irritating "funny guy" drill
Abhishek Bacchan's "adayein" and cool dude drill
Mindless, senseless songs inserted every 10 mins
A story line that doesn't exist, and action that seriously questions your basic intelligence
A hideously presented Rimi Sen
Uday Chopra taking his mummy act too far
Hrithik Roshan performing his gravity-defying "stunts" - shooting out of gutters after jumping into them, and activating his "magnetic hands" - looks like he forgot to keep his Krish mask at home!

OK, I have a long list of things I hated in the movie.

So what did I like? Hmm, awwww, mmmmm, scratch scratch, awwww, come on... hmmm...

You get the point! Stay away from the movie, and stay away from the Times of India movie reviews! I officially take back my earlier posting on Dhoom 2!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Chappel Saga...

Found this on Indiatimes blogs.. I like this guy!

We need to look for the (W)right coach again !

I have been really amused at some comments made by the Indian team Coach after the 3rd ODI between India and South Africa in Capetown on Sunday. I was really disappointed with the Coach, the Captain and the team and these comments only worked like the finest Desi Ghee in fire ! I read about this comments on the CricInfo website and are being put straight from there. Please let me know, if I am alone feeling it or majority of you guys feel the same too !

He says "I am not sure whether there is a solution other than working hard."
If our Coach (remember, he is paid handsomely to be a Coach) is unaware of a solution, where do we go to find one?

He says "We have to try and turn things around. It has got to come from the players. They've got to dig deep and find a way to do it."
If our players are supposed to dig deep and find a solution to their own problems then why spend money for a Coach?

He says ""We are struggling and we need to try something different"
Weren't we doing different and experimenting all this time? Are't we struggling because all this time we tried to do something different and not stick to thebasics?

He says ""Indian batting teams with more better credentials have struggled under these conditions before"
No Indian team had lost by more than 80 runs before ! Doesn't his laptop have the statistics? Is the current Indian team to SA is the worst team ever to have toured SA?

He Says "The ball bouncing between waist and chest is not something that happens regularly in India"
That's why we have a FOREIGN coach ! Any indian cricket follower would have been able to tell him that before the tour started ! Can we please come up with new excuses or stop touring countries like SA and Australia till we can cope up with the bounce?

He says about the Captain "There's a lot of responsibility on him. He's a key player and he's expected to do well. But he needs support"
Didn't you realize this when Ganguly was the captain? Didn't he need your support? But what did you do with him? or is it something you learnt today?

He says about the MPs of Indian Parliament ""They are entitled to make any comment they like. That's what they are paid to do in parliament."
Well at least somebody knows what they are paid for and are doing their job well !

Pune's BRTS

Had my first glimpse of the Pune BRTS (Bus Rapid Transport System) corridor on Satara Road today. The BRTS consists of a dedicated 2-way corridor for high speed buses in the middle of the road. Very cute, very stylish bus stops adorn the corridor. The buses will not be the red boxes we have known in the past - the first set of stylish, low-floored, AC Volvo buses have been delivered to PMT recently, and will adorn the BRTS routes.

Will it work? I hope so! I would love to keep my car away for some time and let someone else drive me. Do we have any option? Well, we could have a Metro and a Light Rail System, but public transport is a must now, in Pune, and in other Indian cities.

Will the public treat the buses with respect? Why not? Will the rest of the traffic respect the BRTS corridor rules? Should be possible - the corridor seems pretty well demarcated, and should be workable in most situations! But if you ask me, I think a Skybus would have been a much better idea (though a hundred times more expensive!).

Go have a look - and if nothing else, appreciate the government's move and the vision that has gone into dreaming of the BRTS, and the speed at which the work is being done!

Yes, India is definitely dreaming big! No stopping now...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

My First Post from Google Docs

This post came out of my first attempt at using Google Docs.

My experiences:

  1. Pretty fast (I was on standard broadband connection)
  2. Checking spellings is an explicit step - the incorrect spellings are marked out, and you get a drop down list of suggestions (Ajax-enabled of course!)
  3. You can compare and go back to various versions of the document - but it was a little buggy. Expect it to be fine soon.
  4. Collaborate is a cool feature - you can actually share and do online editing with other people. Couldn't test it out - but seems a great idea!
  5. Allows you to download the document in various formats including Word, PDF and HTML - very neat!
  6. Did not see support for templates and other stuff which one is so used to with Word
  7. You can post directly to your blog

So how does it compare with Office? Well, the new Office 12 is way, way ahead of the earlier Office as we knew it. For example, with the kind of customization possible, Word is now not just an editor, but a complete application development framework! Would I use Google Docs? I would if I was stuck in a cyber cafe without Office installed. But for the serious stuff, come on - are you serious?

ps: The doc did get posted, but not after giving me some anxious moments - and as you can see, I posted it in the wrong blog :)

A Typical Good Weekend...

Here's what a good weekend means to me...

Catching a movie on Saturday
Catching up on pending work on Saturday evening
Some reading at night
A couple of hours washing and polishing my cars on Sunday
Shopping at Shoppers and Crossword on Sunday evening
A bit of gardening
Putting papers and Sanam's toys away

... and lots and lots of sleeping!

Don Banega Karodpati?

SRK fans, rejoice! The King Khan is tipped to be the new host of KBC. Can't wait to see how he turns it around with his energy and charisma...

And yes, did you know SRK is also tipped to be the bad man in Dhoom 3?

Jack Welch - Handwriting Analysis

Just finished reading Jack Welch's Straight from the Gut - and saw some of his hand written notes. I love doing hand writing analysis, and although it's most effective and exciting when you analyze someone you know nothing about, here's a quick analysis of someone I have grown to admire and look up to as I read through his book...

1) Very aggressive-minded, but can be a great friend
2) Takes very little risks - does not do anything impulsively (remember, he took more than half a decade to appoint his successor!)
3) Very strong ego, very individualistic, a bit of a show-off when it comes to himself (can understand why!)
4) Very closed friend circle
5) Very optimistic
6) Very analytical, thinks a lot before doing anything (relates to 2)
7) Doesn't set very high goals for himself (OK, history proves otherwise - but remember, this is not about what he did, this is about what he plans/thinks of doing)
8) Does not like personal space too much - kinda needs to be surrounded by people all the time (probably explains all those thousands of meetings he loved to have)
9) Very extroverted - loved to talk about himself, his life, his problems, to everyone possible
10) Was not very good at art and crafts with his hands, not very dextrous
11) Did not like thinking too much about the future, loved to be linked to the past

For more on the book itself, read the earlier post on my other blog.

Dhoom 2 - Setting the Bar Higher

After Don 2, Dhoom 2 has apparently raised the stakes even higher - better stunts, more technology, and more excitement. As the Times put it, take a backseat Mr Bond, Bollywood's Dhoom is bigger, better and goes beyond.

Hang on for the official review from K3G, coming up soon to the Internet near you :)

Added later, an official recall of this posting: Dhoom 2 sucks, the ToI review sucks, and yes, Mr Bond sucks too!

Dada on a Comeback Trail?

Sourav led Bengal to a win in the Ranji match against Punjab yesterday... his classy knock of 43 in the second innings holding Bengal together on the bouncy, pacy wicket of Mohali, before the team went ahead and demolised Punjab for 133 to win the tie. As the Times put it, Sourav can take all the credit for the win because it was his captaincy that motivated the team to perform at levels they probably never imagined possible...

I have nothing against Dravid, and he can continue giving his batting performances - but please give us a captain that can hold the team together, encourage and groom the youngsters, and drive everyone to perform aggressively as one team. Chappel's experiments have only resulted in ensuring that today no one in the Indian team (except Dravid, maybe!) has any clarity on their role, their position, their future - it's every man to himself, and hello - teams are not built that way!

With a new team of selectors, with Zaheer and Kumble being brought back to add some spine to the Indian team's dismal performance in SA, and with rising calls for Chappel to be removed, can we finally hope to have Dada back? Can we have the glorious days of Indian Cricket back please?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Home Tips

1) Try Pest Control - we got a fellow to come and put these miniscule blobs of some herbal stuff all over the house. A couple of days later, there were no more cockroaches in the house. Trust me, I have never imagined it would be so clean and painless, and I never ever thought it would actually work!

2) Install an Inverter - aah, the pleasure of having electricity when everyone else is struggling with the candles - totally worth it!

3) Install a Security Camera and Motion Sensors - don't know if it works, but it sure feels good :)

Customer Service

India is waking up to customer service.

Take today for instance. First I get a call from Esselworld, as a follow up to the feedback I had given during my last visit there. The person asked for details of the issue I had, said sorry for the inconvenience, and promised to look into the matter. May not make a difference to me right now, but then he did not really have to call me back either! Yesterday I got a call from Ford India (though I could not answer it at that time), and today my mailbox contained a greeting card from Ford wishing me a happy first anniversary with Reona. At 7:15 pm on a Saturday, my bank was open. I logged a request, and 10 mins later, the request had been processed, and I had an ack on my cellphone, along with the request number for future reference.

Yes, things can still get better. One of the things we really need to do better in India is "be present" and "welcome" the customer. One of the biggest mistakes you can do is to not acknowledge the customer as soon as he comes in. No matter how busy you are, you need to look up, smile, and engage him - even if you just tell him you will be with him presently. And once you are talking to him, you really need to be present and in the moment. Trying to do two things at one time is a dead giveaway of your lack of interest in the customer. Even if you are talking to your customer on the phone, be present and in the moment, and the customer will feel the difference.

Most of the big malls in India, including my favourite Shoppers Stop, fails in both the key tests. The worst is definitely the Nokia Service Center in Pune. Planet Ford comes pretty close to being bad! The best service I have got is at my local grocery store and the laundry!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Quote for the Day

Thomas Friedman in New York Times....

"When we were young kids growing up in America, we were told to eat our vegetables at dinner and not leave them. Mothers said, think of the starving children in India and finish the dinner.' And now I tell my children: 'Finish your homework. Think of the children in India who would make you starve, if you don't.'"

Monday, November 20, 2006

Movie Review: Casino Royale

The best thing about the movie was the salad I ate.

Fast cars, beautiful girls, breathtaking action, cool gadgets. If that's what you want, go watch Don. For an endless, senseless game of poker, watch Casino Royale.

The movie starts off well with a nice action sequence with the bad guy running off like a monkey in the house of flying daggers, with Bond in hot pursuit. Then suddenly, it stops being a Bond movie - the girl, Eva Green, was much better off in Dreamers, the Aston Martin is only used for a crash scene, Bond actually falls in love, and there are no gadgets except a stupid defibrillator to get him back from the dead! How about a house in Venice going down into the water for some spine chilling action? Add a couple of songs and some running around bushes, and this could have actually been a James Deol movie!

Come on, we actually paid 100 bucks to watch this?

ps: OK, on second thoughts, it not such a bad movie - except that I really had huge expectations from it. And yes, the title song is fabulous!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


What do you get when you take two shopping-obsessed girls, two guys with multiple credit cards, one kid with a penchant for pestering, and a HyperCity and InOrbit next to each other?


Guess the value of this lot (assuming there is no expensive jewellery in here!)... SMS your reply to 8888 and you could win exciting prizes!

Tulsi Lagn

Last time I was in Goa for a day, I got the chance to attend our Tulsi Lagn... the wedding of the princess Tulsi with Krishna. This is a fallout of the slaying of Narkasura during Diwali, when Krishna decided to marry the princess he saved from Narkasure. To ensure she got respect from everyone, he also made sure (how?) that every house would have a Tulsi tree in the courtyard.. I have not tied all the loose ends, but this is as accurate as I could get in the excitement of the marriage!

Every Goan Hindu house celebrates Tulsi Lagn, also called Vhodli (bigger) Diwali! Here you see my uncle performing the marriage rites... the Krishna is represented by a small idol placed on top of the Tulas, barely seen in the pic.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Honda City VTEC versus the Ford Fiesta 1.6 SXi

I spent the last 3 weeks driving a Honda City VTEC (the car in the picture is the lower version, the ZX), through expressways, city roads and village tracks, with and without passengers, with or without good music, in the night and in the day, through lonely streets and crowded places. And with over 10 months in my Ford Fiesta 1.6 SXi in similar conditions, here's my verdict...

Steering & Road Handling: The City has slightly lighter steering, even while the thin grip makes it a little more difficult to handle. The Fiesta though has absolutely perfect road grip and is absolutely stable on high speed curves. I did manage to extract a few squeals and drifts with the City, but the car skids and loses grip if the road is slightly rough and unstable, and I almost managed to crash the car once while trying a S curve on a loose-gravelled road at around 100 kmph. Braking with the City is suspect too, and the car seems to lock brakes and skid on, while even without ABS, the Fiesta is always ready to stop at the drop of a dime. All in all, if you want to take those high speed thrill rides, the Fiesta is the car for you. Don't even try it with the City, which is best left to the city!

Acceleration and Power: Again, the Fiesta wins hands down. The City is almost sluggish, and trying those high speeds manouevers in and out of multi lane traffic and those quick bursts of speed on the highway to edge in front of slow moving trucks are best avoided with the City. Bear in mind that the VTEC is the high power version of the City - my experience with the lower end versions have been worse!

Drive Quality and Suspension: This is one point where the City scores better. Both cars are better suited to take the rough roads at higher speeds, and drive quality deteriorates sharply if you try to take the rough at slow speeds. The City though is much more comfortable on bad roads.

External Looks: This one is completely personal, and I love the rounded, muscular look of the Fiesta compared to the flattened, straight lines look of the City, which looks more like a vehicle from one of those futuristic movies.

Interiors: The SXi has a very good 6-speaker audio system with 6 CD in dash changer, whereas the City's sound system has 4 speakers, and much less audio quality. The City though comes with support for MP3, which is a big minus for the Fiesta. The Fiesta's leather seats and trimmings are also much more refined, and it also has more reading lights in front as well as in the back, while the City has only the single central light panel. Many of the City's controls are found in non-intuitive locations, like the reverse foglight which is situated near the handbrake! The City seems to provide little more interior space and is very comfortable to get in and out of. The double glove compartment of the City is nice!

Fuel Efficiency: This is a big let down for the City, and a car which was expected to give well over 15 kmpl, barely seems to manage 11-12 kmpl, unlike the Fiesta (which turns out an impressive 13-14 kmpl). Maybe it's the VTEC engine that sucks up fuel, but compared to the much more powerful Fiesta, this is definitely a big negative.

Value for Money: This is the biggest killer for the VTEC. At almost 1.25 lakh more than the Fiesta, with it's low fuel efficiency and bad ride quality, and not-too-impressive interiors, the VTEC is definitely not value for money!

Overall: No doubt about it.. whether it is swanky interiors, the external look or the fuel efficiency, the Fiesta more than matches up to it's much more expensive rival. And of course, if you drive with your heart, and if you love those squealing tires and drifts, if you love to see your competition fade in the rear view mirror, buckle up in the new Josh, and Go Fida!

Disclaimer: This is not necessarily an unbiased view, coming as it is from a die-hard Ford loyalist, so City-lovers, if you are reading this, please understand! :)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Some Pics from Goa

Beautiful Sunset at Campal

And This One at Miramar

Mr Chameleon

The Saptakoteshwar temple at Opa - this goes under water in the rains

Pandava Caves (huts really) - rock cut, now a heritage structure (read neglected)

When Gollywood descended on Nerul...

Couple of never-seen-before exclusive pics of Adv Govind Bhobe being interviewed at his hidden hideout in Nerul by the crew of the Goa Dordarshan :)

Lives of Nine Cats

We have a total of 9 cats at Nerul right now... two moms, and two litters of three and four.

Here's the elder batch of 3 cuties...

... and this is the newer one :)

Here you have the deadly trio planning an attack on their mom...

...before they decide the family dog is a more exciting challenge!

Sigh.. end of one day. What do we do tomorrow?

Quote for the Day

Only dead fish swim along with the stream

Quote for the Day

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?"
Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night."


Yes, we had a hailstorm in Pune today! Small crystals of ice fell down with the heavy rain and wind - unfortunately, too small to hold, too clear to capture on camera, you have to take my word for it :)

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Day in Mumbai - Changing Times

Yesterday I was in Mumbai with Madhavi, Shweta, Siddha and Sanam.. while Madhavi was recruiting for Persistent at the Tunga Paradise, the four of us had a fantastic day out in the land of dreams and dream merchants!

We started out with a visit to the Bandra-Worli Sea Link - if you ever needed proof of how big India is thinking, this is it. A massive segmental-cum-suspension bridge, taking off into the sea at Bandra, and curving around Bandra-Mahim to enter downtown Mumbai at Worli. And unlike most road projects which leave huge ugly scars on the land, the approach roads and flyovers simply add to the amazing splendour of this bridge.

Check out the link for some cool details.

From the bridge, to Mannat, the den of the don, the castle of the king, Shah Rukh Khan's palatial white bungalow at Land's End, near Bandstand, Bandra. Huge gates and fences keep the prying eyes away, but we couldn't help just parking opposite the gate, the car stereo blasting out the theme song from Don, hoping against hope to catch a glimpse of this person who has given so much entertaining moments, happiness, cheer and hope to millions and millions of Indians all over the world.. the showman of them all, SRK! I do not care how big an actor he is, I know I would love to be someone who could make a stadium full of fans scream and jump in glee just to get a glimpse of me!

Next stop, Atria Mall in Worli. Right beside the Worli flyover, Atria welcomes you with a huge glass facade, dozens of large glass sections held in place, almost magically, by the spider hooks. Huge rays in the floor created by toughened transluscent glass tiles radiating out welcome you into it's fold. The mall itself is very upscale, with leading international brands jostling for the attention of Mumbai's well-heeled, who gingerly step out onto the patio from their air-conditioned limousines. But worry not, no matter who you are, like the rest of this beautiful city, Atria will welcome you with open arms! And as you can come to expect, they have a pretty nice website at
ps: Atria is situated right opposite Poonam Chambers which saw one of the biggest bomb blasts during the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts

We checked out some of the cool stuff available there - the beautiful chess set in China clay for 1.5 lakhs was just a little too expensive for me to pick up. We visited "Illusions of Art", where beautiful portraits rendered on the inside of concave surfaces team up with light to give you a surreal experience - the eyes of the painting follow you as you walk around. Almost scary!

Then to fun and games in the games area. The creme de la creme is the Orama 4D theatre - crystal clear 3D movies (you got to wear the special 3D specs), the moving seats in tandem with the movie, and, hold your breath - water jets and sprays, gusts of air, smells, water bubbles - the experience is COMPLETE. I have never clapped so much in appreciation before!

By this time, it was time for a good lunch, and then we picked up Madhavi, before going to InOrbit at Malad for more shopping. The previous evening, actually, we had been to HyperCity (, a HUGE (how about if I say it's the size of a couple of football fields?) mall catering to almost each and every item you might ever need - the only ones we could pin point after a LOT of thinking that were not available, were medicines and jewellery. From fruits, to fish and meat, from electrical appliances to TVs, Refrigerators, from hammers to fire extinguishers, from soaps and deos to books, from laptops to VCDs and XBoxes, name it, and chances are, you will find it at HyperCity.

At InOrbit (, we shopped at LifeStyle, and then at Shoppers Stop. We had just walked into Shoppers, and realised they have a new section for the Home, called The HomeStop. We went up the short elevator, and then just stood in shock and awe at the scale of the "extension". Almost as big as HyperCity, stuff stacked up as far away as your eyes can see, if you ever needed an example of the power of the booming Indian middle class, this was it. Hundreds of people gleefully walking the aisles, excited and enthusiastic at the choices they now have. We spotted one of India's movie/TV stars in our midst, but out there, we were all one with one common goal - shopping to our heart's content.

Finally, tired and exhausted after a long day, we left for Pune by 12, and thanks to another of modern India's engineering marvels, were home and in bed, 160 kms away, in less than 2 hours.