Sunday, December 31, 2006

Celebrating the New Year?

Yet another Dec 31st, yet another slew of SMSes and mails wishing a happy new year...

Why do people always look forward to the new year? Why do we always look ahead, try and get rid of our present, and live for the future, promising (and many times deceiving) ourselves into feeling happy that the new year will bring in the success and happiness promised in those myriad messages?

What about those for whom a new year simply signifies the end of an era, the closure of a chapter of hope, and the dawn of a new day that will bring nothing but misery and the ultimate recognition that your hope is dead, that every new day from now on will only be one filled with loneliness, sadness, and failure?

When you wish them a Happy New Year, are you perhaps not rubbing it in?

Monday, December 25, 2006

My Favourite Books...

Love Story by Eric Segal - mushy, but very nicely written. My initial appreciation for Segal steadily grew into a love affair with Doctors and The Class. Segal's works remain in my list of favourites for the sheer depth in which he traces ordinary lives.

Rich Dad Poor Dad - the book that really opened my eyes to personal finance, and got me seriously thinking about taking control of my life and doing something about the below limit bank balances! A must read for all ye self-made young men and women and your DINK lives :)

One Minute Manager - definitely the book that inspires me most! The rest of the OMM series is great too, but nothing to beat the one that started it all!

FISH! - Comes a very close second in the list of books that inspire me and affect me most in my day to day job!

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman - the book that started it all. I was always an avid reader of fiction, but EI got me hooked to the category of books that are sometimes sadly grouped under the self-help category!

Life of Pi by Yann Martel - one of the most interesting pieces of fiction. Has three parts - part one sets the stage, part two gets interesting, but it's the part three - just the last 5% of the book - that really blows you away. Read the book - it's really worth "enduring" it if only for the thrill of the last few pages!

The Complete Works of Robert Ludlum - well, most of them anyway (except the Osterman Weekend, and the Road to Omaha). Most people would find it ridiculous that I have actually gone ahead and bought each and every book he's ever written - but something about his spy tales, many of them set in Europe, really turn me on!

The Animal Farm - not a big favourite, but definitely a book that left me thinking hard!

Paulo Coelho's Veronika Decides to Die - wierdly, one of the characters I identify with the most, and a character that has played a huge role in shaping my life!

Quote for the Day

There comes a time in a man's life when the dual tragedies of decreasing hair and increasing weight can be offset by the pleasure of driving his car. Siddhesh Bhobe, inspired.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Comeback Icon

Excerpts from another nice article in the Hindustan Times:

Do dead people ever come alive? Certainly not the ones who leave this world, but those whose obituaries are written when alive, do sometimes stage a comeback. Fortunately for Indian cricket, former captain Saurav Ganguly comes across as a classical case.

After a string of casual and poor performances the southpaw was dropped from the Indian Team amidst consternation and jubilation alike. Consternation for those who believed in the eternal worth of Dada and jubilation for those who thought that the Prince of Calcutta had lost his talisman to score runs.

What followed was a media binge to bury Ganguly for good. Obituaries were written with the choicest words. Experts, selectors et al, wanted his scalp. So, Wasim Akram advised Ganguly to retire- "This is a problem in our part of the world, sportsmen don't realise when is the right time to say goodbye to the game."

During his days in wilderness, Ganguly was being consistently advised by a cross-section of the Nation to retire from the game. It's distinctly surprising that people, who can't decide for themselves, make decisions about others. For a moment, people had Ganguly believe that he was no longer good enough.

Against all odds Dada persisted and made an acclaimed comeback into Team India. But people had an explanation for this as well- "He is back not because he is good, but because others are not performing well." Strange - the more people are proved wrong in their prejudices, the more prejudiced they become.

Now what? Ganguly performs well against all odds in South Africa. His stoic 83 in the warm-up match against a Rest of South Africa side was reflective of his determination to do well. This was a well played innings under tremendous pressure as wickets were falling en bloc around him.

In the ongoing first Test match against the Proteas, Ganguly was the top scorer for India with 51 not out in the first innings, holding the innings together. Ganguly fought in the middle for 180 minutes and returned unconquered. The high point of his innings was when he pulled Ntini for a six.It was a relief to see an Indian batsman offer resistance after what seemed to be an eternity. He followed the good work of first innings with a brisk 25 in the second innings.

Dada braved the tension in the middle with utmost composure, knowing well that each ball could be his very last.

For the moment, this Bengal Tiger has been rehabilitated from an endangered status. He is definitely not destined to extinction in the near future.

As adulation start to pour in from various quarters, the most successful captain of Team India has become the unambiguous 'Comeback Icon' in the country.

Day of Ironic Turnarounds for Indian Cricket

One was a discard coming back as the knight in shining armour, the other a hero who was sent packing and discarded forever. Saurav Ganguly and Jagmohan Dalmiya. Two of the most talked about people in Indian cricket in the last couple of years - once friends, till Dalmiya turned his back on his one-time-mentee, "leaked" the email that led to his expulsion from the team. Today, as Saurav Ganguly proved he was worth his weight in gold, Jalgmohan Dalmiya was expelled from the BCCI for life.

What a turnaround in the lives of two men, what an ironic coincidence!

It's Saurav Ganguly's Test already

From the Times of India, Dec 16: One is on a comeback trail; another has barely embarked on his Test career. One is currently restrained and highly determined; the other is vivacious, often given to overt theatrics on the field. Together, on a blessed Saturday, they gifted India one of the most beautiful days here on this tour to South Africa.

In the morning, Sourav Ganguly carried the lower order around his willow to lift India to a fighting first innings total of 249 on a dubious Wanderers pitch; in the afternoon, S Sreesanth bowled with amazing fire and zeal to stun South Africa to their lowest total since 1957: 84 all out. Ganguly scored a patient and unbeaten 51, the highest contribution from an Indian in the first Test; Sreesanth picked up 5/40, one of the best figures for a pacer raised in the dustbowls of the subcontinent. Together, they have set India on course for what looks like a potentially amazing victory.

The man of the Test so far, however, has been Ganguly. For the last few weeks, as India staggered from one defeat to another collapse, coach Greg Chappell has believed in just one line: we need one innings, one good knock to turn this around. He was right. It's just so ironical that it had to come from Ganguly's blade. The same player who had been left out as a finished product.

In a way, everything has changed since his arrival here last week. Within 72 hours, as India collapsed again, he dug deep into his experience and grit to score a defining half-century. His calming presence and fighting spirit helped Irfan Pathan and India score their first century on this tour; it also boosted them to victory. That confidence simply rubbed on to the team as virtually everybody batted with fire and determination. Apart from all the courage and attitude that Ganguly has exhibited so far, one has to appreciate his distinguished behaviour off the field too: he has been calm and dignity-personified, showing remarkable grace under, both, pressure and success. He could easily have bared his shirt again or sent damning signals towards the dressing room. He didn't.

He has been equally poised and assured in the middle too. He took blows on his body, didn't flinch under the bouncer-onslaught and played his shots with the old-world charm and panache. He leaned into his drives and cut with control and precision. Ganguly's 51 will be worth its weight in diamonds. When he came in to bat on Saturday morning, half the side was back in the dressing room. He was left with just the tail and India were certainly not out of danger. He didn't panic; instead he showed enough faith in his mates, allowing them to play their own game. Dhoni fell to a spectacular catch, a one-handed, diving effort by Pollock at mid-off, while Kumble, Zaheer and Sreesanth couldn't handle the wicket. India were down to nine wickets but Ganguly didn't lose heart. He encouraged VRV Singh to play his strokes.

It had all the signs of a leader, a changed man and player. Chappell will surely have no complaints. That crucial, turning-around innings has probably come.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dada lets his Bat do the Talking!

51* in 101, with 4 fours and 1 six
25 in 38, with 4 fours

On a day when 20 wickets fell, when India bowled out the SA side for 84 in 25 overs, these figures from Saurav Ganguly say it all. Dada is back, and back with bang!

And you could see the difference in the team today - the energy, the team spirit, the huddle - the hunger to win, as one.

Welcome back, Dada! India looks up to you to show the way!!!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Amazing Facts

I was reading my latest Ludlum when I came across a couple of "facts", which I would have normally read and forgotten as some of his fiction. Today, I decided to check it out instead, and was surprised to find he wasn't kidding at all!

The Lancet Liver Fluke: These flukes get themselves excreted by snails and is then eaten by ants, which likes the snail's excreta, and once inside the ant, it "programs" the ant to go and climb blades of grass and just stay there all day attached to the blade or leaf by it's mandibles, so that it then gets eaten by a sheep, inside which the fluke reproduces heavily, and when the sheep takes a dump, you get millions of them out in the world! Inside each host, the fluke goes through one of the phases of it's complex life cycle!
For more, check out this link

Kopi Luwak: Kopi (the Indonesian word for coffee) Luwak comes from the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi which form part of Indonesia. It's the most expensive coffee in the world, and sells for almost 300 USD per pound. It's not the exotic location that makes it so expensive - it's the way it is processed. On these Indonesian islands, there's a small marsupial called the paradoxurus, a tree-dwelling animal. They climb among the coffee trees eating only the ripest, reddest coffee cherries. The beans come through the digestion process fairly intact, still wrapped in layers of the cherries' mucilage. The enzymes in the animals' stomachs, though, add something unique to the coffee's flavor through fermentation.
For more, check out this interesting article.

A couple of years earlier, I had read one of his spy-cum-science fiction novels, the Covert One series. One of these had this fictional account of a "genetic computer", built using DNA, and much much more powerful than any of the US government's computers - and you can guess the rest of the story. Checked out DNA computers on Google, and this is what I found, reported by National Geographic almost 4 years back!

Israeli scientists have devised a computer that can perform 330 trillion operations per second, more than 100,000 times the speed of the fastest PC. The secret: It runs on DNA.
A year ago, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, unveiled a programmable molecular computing machine composed of enzymes and DNA molecules instead of silicon microchips. Now the team has gone one step further. In the new device, the single DNA molecule that provides the computer with the input data also provides all the necessary fuel.
For more, check out this link.

Truth is stranger than fiction? You bet!

Quote for the Day

Never let your morals get in the way of doing what's right. Issac Asimov.

Arm Yourself...

Part of the lyrics from Chris Cornell's You Know My Name - the title track of James Bond's Casino Royale...
Arm yourself because no-one else here will save you
The odds will betray you
And I will replace you
You can't deny the prize it may never fulfill you
It longs to kill you
Are you willing to die?
The coldest blood runs through my veins
Try to hide your hand
Forget how to feel
Forget how to feel
Life is gone with just a spin of the wheel
Spin of the wheel

My 100th Blog Entry!!!

:) This is my 100th Blog Entry

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

Another Robert Ludlum!

I am a big Robert Ludlum fan - I have in my library every book he's ever written - so when he died a few years back, you can understand how disappointed I was! But I was pleasantly surprised a few months back when I found a new Robert Ludlum novel - and bought it excitedly, before I realised it was not his book after all - it was based on a character by Robert Ludlum in his earlier book! Sigh...

So now imagine how excited I was today when I actually found another new one - and this time, the book is by Ludlum himself!

Great writers do not die - they live in their works, and some like Ludlum, probably write even after they are gone! Call me a non-believer, but that is something I find hard to digest.

Anyway, for now, I am going to curl up in bed with my Robert... and can you please stop thinking on those lines, perverts?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Viaduct

December seems to be the "Month of Infrastructure" on my blog - he he - so while I am at it, here is another awesome work of engineering that never fails to take my breath away... or is it a work of art? I will let you decide that for yourself!

Presenting to you, the Pune Viaduct!

Flying over the chasm, and into the tunnel across the Katraj ghat, this road will not only reduce congestion in south of the city, but will reduce travel time between Mumbai and Satara by atleast half an hour.

This picture was taken in late July... and the bridge looked so beautiful in the midst of the rolling mists and the rain! The work of man need not always be in disharmony with nature!

My First BRTS Ride!

I took my first BRTS ride today - from Sahakarnagar to Katraj, and then back. It was an awesome experience!

Very beautiful buses, polite crew, smart tickets (from a punch-on-the-spot machine - like a credit card verification machine), air-conditioned, music, tinted windows, split level flooring (the rear half is raised to make space for the engine and the AC - the front half is very low for easy entry), comfortable seats, high frequency (every 3-4 mins) and most importantly, extremely cheap - the 4 km ride cost just 5 rupees! And remember, for most part, these run on dedicated, high-speed lanes reserved from them - you get this childish pleasure in waving out to other poor, hapless souls stuck in the slow moving lanes :)

It will be so cool to have these running over the city - even if they do not get dedicated lanes all the way! And add the skybuses - and commuting in Pune will be a truly a different experience altogether!

Yes, we have our problems, but our system, our economy, our democratic institutions, our judiciary, our press - it works, and I must say, for a country of our diversity and our size, it works extremely well. How many of us are actually proud of what we have?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Quote for the Day

There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking. Alfred Korzybsky.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Reaching Out...

SRK's opening scene with Rani in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehena rates as one of my absolute favourites - I love the way he connects with her, listens to her, gives advice, the naughtiness, the openness, the way he advices but doesnt rub it in, the way he gives off that amazing warmth and energy, the hope.

That's how I would love to be - someone capable of feeling, understanding, and being able to pass through someone's life fleetingly, and yet leave an impression for life. A positive impression.

SRK has sometimes been criticized for being larger than life - but I would so love to be like the characters he plays - like the angel that brings so much happiness and cheer to everyone in KHNH.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The E-Square Flyover

Here's a collage of pictures of one of the most beautiful flyovers I have seen in India - the flyover at E-Square. This was thrown open to the public just a few days back, as soon as it was ready, without waiting for the customary opening ceremony.

A beautiful structure, this bridge is composed of segments designed and manufactured offsite, from where they are transported to the site, needled together using steel wires, and then literally glued into place! The entire structure is literally hung by the wires, thus requiring very thin support pillars, giving a very clean and open look to the bridge. Also, the lovely curves add to the overall beauty of the structure. Check the wine glass pillars, the broad U-shaped curve underneath, and the gentle slopes on the bridge.

While the E-Square flyover is a simple, one-way bridge, the one coming up at Agricultural University Chowk has 4 lanes, will be 2-way, and has a vertical as well as a horizontal curve (looking from the top, it's not a straight line, but looks like a gentle C). The flyover at University on the other hand, will be much more complex, dispersing it's traffic onto three different exits.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Twenty20 - The Future of Cricket?

India played it's first Twenty20 international yesterday against SA - and won. And the fan in me says it's probably the positive vibes in the team because of Dada's return to the team, even though he joins the team only for the Tests about a week later!

Anyway, so what's Twenty20?

For one, the innings are reduced to 20 overs (that's obvious, isn't it?). Each bowler, hence, gets max of 4 overs. No-balls are followed by a "free hit ball", where you cannot get out unless you are run-out, and so on. Players do not sit in the dressing room, they are on the field, a la soccer! Once a batsman is ruled out, the replacement needs to be on the field within a minute. The focus, thus is on continuous action - no more walking over to the boundary to fetch the ball, you got to run and get it! And what I thought was the coolest piece of the action - live chat with the captains on the field! We just got to "talk" to Sehwag and Smith for barely 2-3 mins during the match, but it added a whole new dimension to the experience!

Is this the future of cricket? I think so - I think it will definitely catch the fancy of cricket lovers all over the world. It's fast, it's continuous action, and it's short! Like a movie - 3 hours.

Purists were shocked when Kerry Packer (isn't that the name?) started one day cricket. How could he do it, they asked! Colored clothes? Under lights? White ball? He was vandalising the game. Pyjama cricket, they called it. But it caught on, and in fact, led to a fresh new approach to Test cricket itself, leading to a renewed interest in that format. Twenty20 will probably do the same, but to be frank, for now, I wasn't too thrilled - something was missing, something was incomplete. But (as I said in my earlier post) it was probably the change that bothered me.

So, is the verdict out? No, not yet :) Let's wait and watch!

Managing Change

Managing change is one of the most difficult jobs - whether as a manager, a parent or a friend.

Implementing change is simple - all it takes is rule, a management decree, a system, a law. However, the challenge lies in getting the change effected in spirit, in mindset. And that requires selling the change to your team, to your friends, to your children. Making them want to embrace the change.

Resistance to change is one of the most fundamental traits of humans. We resist change not because we do not like what's proposed, but because we hate letting go of what we have. We like consistency, we like the comfort of the familiar, we hate the unknown. We will oppose the BRTS, we will oppose reservation, we will oppose new roads, we will oppose new timesheets, we will oppose everything that's different.

But change is not always bad! After all, you may be giving up something you loved so much, but you have a whole new experience to look forward to, to live! And after all, isn't that what life's all about? Growing, changing, every single day?

I Greg to Differ

Here's the latest English Phrase to make it to the Oxford Dictionary Thesaurus - To Greg to Differ.

Meaning: To refuse to accept blame for your faults, and instead blame it on someone else :)

Professor: You have missed submitting your assignment sheet once again!
Student: I greg to differ! My sister cut it up for her craft project!

Russell Peters

Just saw this one hour performance by comedian Russell Peters on DVD. Thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. Russels is a US-born Indian with a quick wit and awesome ability to connect with audiences of every race and religion through mimickry and humour. His jokes are a condemnation of racism and inequality through a beautiful full frontal no-holds-barred exploitation of those themes in his program. Watch it when you get the chance!

For more on him, check out

Warning: You need to take his jokes in the right spirit and an open mind - stay away if you are the over-sensitive kind! Not recommended for children and purists!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Quote for the Day

She likes the same music, she goes to the same restaurants, she watches the same TV shows, she is just like me! I have been waiting for myself to come along, and now I have swept myself off my feet! Everybody Loves Raymond. :)