Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Flowers of Konkan - Photo Blog

Trip to Konkan

Last weekend we took Sanyas from the big, bad world of Internet and SMSes and took off to the hills of Konkan - to Dapoli, where my cousin Chandan and his wife Pratima own a beautiful farm house.

Lazy city bums though we are, we woke bright and early and left home in the wee hours of the day - at 840 am - and hit the road with Reona.

We took it easy, stopping every now and then to take in the breathtaking views of Mulshi Lake and Tamhini Ghat.

We hit NH 17 at Mangaon around 1045, and then took off into the Konkan hinterland at Lonera Phata, passing some beautiful landscapes past Ambet and Mandangad, before reaching Dapoli at 130, to a sumptious lunch of prawns masala and fried fish.

Sanam, of course, took the opportunity to catch up on her sleep! As you can see, she is a seasoned traveller!

Here you can see some beautiful mushrooms, almost a foot high, that I found near Ambet.

Then it was time for a siesta, in the company of many of our feline co-inhabitants of the farm house.

In the evening, we went off to Chandan-Pratima's new nature resort project, perched in the hills of Dapoli - we stood there in the wind, watching the rain clouds hit our feet, the turbulent but strangely peaceful Arabian sea crashing it's waves on the coast far below.

Then we went off to his mango orchards, and climbed up the watch tower, taking in even more of the breathtaking views and fresh air, while Sanam continued with her homework!

The next day we woke to rolling mists and hot tea, and after a quick wash, went back to the hotel for some serious work. Siddha and Chandan Bhai discussed the architectural and engineering issues, while my expert eyes and ears took in every detail, providing the much-needed feedback at the right time! :)

At 11, we had seen enough and more importantly, our stomachs were growling their discontent, so back to the farm house for some hot tea with masala omlette.

And then, finally, it was time to leave. Siddha left for Goa, while the rest of us hit NH17 for Mangaon, and then the meandering curves of Tamhini and Mulshi for Pune.

It was an unbelieveably romantic drive back - the mists, the light rain, hundreds of beautiful waterfalls lining the road, crashing down from the majestic peaks, and small groups of happy holiday makers, enjoying their day off from the hustle and bustle of the city.

At 550, our holiday had ended, and we were back - and while we had had an awesome time in Konkan, it did feel good to be home!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Chak De India, Again!

Just back from watching Chak De a second time.. and this time, I enjoyed the movie even more than earlier! And, I wore my "I Support India" t-shirt to the movie today :)

The girls have done a remarkable job, and come across as very natural. Their characters and roles are extremely well developed, and the relationship dynamics come across beautifully. The camera work and screenplay is super, and brings out every emotion, every tension. SRK does a great job in his role, blending in with the crowd so well, you forget that there is a super star and a super entertainer right there in the middle of 16 amateur girls.

The film has some beautiful moments, and you come back happy and proud to be an Indian. An awesome movie...

And will the movie really make a difference to hockey in India? I do not know - what I do know is, it's 12.21 am, and Sanam is playing hockey with a cricket bat in the living room!

Chak De, India!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Back from the Wilderness..

Just came back to the city, and to Internet, and to cell phones and SMSes, and to malls, and multiplexes, from an awesome two day break in the wildernesses of Konkan...

More later, but this blog celebrates my return to the big bad world :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Quote For the Day

You probably wouldn't worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do. Olin Miller.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

India's Hope - SRK

Here's an interesting article by Shoba De in today's Times of India - being a hard core SRK fan, couldn't resist putting it in here for posterity!

India's Hope - SRK

Tracking the trajectory of a superstar is always a fascinating sport. In Shah Rukh Khan’s case, timing, it would seem, is everything. Or nearly. The man gets it right most of the time, beating the law of averages and leading people to believe he is indeed Allah’s chosen one. A man with an important agenda (to save Islam and restore its tarnished glory). SRK is not just an actor but an influential agent for change.

Over the past few years, his determination to extend the boundaries, explore new territories and work towards a plan, has become apparent in nearly every undertaking of his. Though he strenuously denies having political ambitions, his recent pronouncements and actions suggest to the contrary. It is as if he has taken a studied approach to the strategy, pondered hard and long and is now testing the waters... getting his toes wet before taking the plunge. Unlike Amitabh Bachchan, who dived straight into the deep end with disastrous consequences, SRK, ever the cool customer, is keeping ’em guessing.

But a closer examination of his moves indicates he is ready for a spectacular debut. He has always claimed without a trace of embarrassment, “i am the best.” It is this non-apologetic, in-your-face braggadocio that has served him well as an actor. Chances are, it will see him through the next phase of the dual career that beckons.... Netagiri will suit him. It may well turn out to be his most significant role ever.

Shah Rukh Khan is the Neo-Mussalman India has been waiting for. He wears his religion unabashedly on his sleeve and has referred to himself as ‘an ambassador for Allah’ in a recent interview. It is significant that he has switched from being a Raj, Rahul or Jai in his films and now prefers to be known as Kabir Khan (Chak De! India).

Film industry gossip insists he has influenced his friend Karan Johar to name his next blockbuster , My Name is Khan, which is reportedly a New York-based film on terrorism and racial stereotyping, post 9/11. He has said in countless recent interviews that he is determined to challenge the international stereotype of every Muslim being a fundamentalist, terrorist or a hate-filled jehadi.

His most recent hit (Chak De...), pretty much encapsulates his personal sentiments, which may be why he has delivered such a convincing performance as a Muslim coach, battling old demons of prejudice, hatred and suspicion. The pained expression in his eyes says it all in the last scene when he firmly shuts the door on his tainted past after regaining his reputation and self-respect. It is impossible to ignore the subtext and merely applaud the actor’s histrionics.

Over the past few years, SRK-watchers have monitored his every ‘aadab’ and ‘salaam alaikum’ at high profile events and commented that he no longer greets fans or anybody else, with the more traditional ‘namastey’. He also makes it a point to acknowledge ‘Khudaa’s’ grace and blessings, each time he is complimented, besides vociferously articulating his feelings about the misrepresentation of Islam. These sentiments are heartfelt and undoubtedly sincere. They all add up to a whole when seen in a larger, political context.

If SRK does contest an election in, say, Uttar Pradesh, he’ll win hands down. That’s a given. But will he, unlike some of his other film industry colleagues, succeed as a neta? Be the leader India’s young are desperately in search of? Chances are, he will. SRK has what it takes to be a 21st century politician, in the international mould. He is young, wealthy, successful and sharp. Like Obama. Above all, he has a dream. He is a man on a very special mission.

As a modern Muslim, he has risen beyond the suffocating confines of religious narrow mindedness (his wife Gauri, is Hindu). SRK is India’s Big Brown Hope. He should go for it. And... his time starts now!

Fingerprints, Anyone?

Got a sexy new laptop finally, after refusing to part with my old one for almost 4 years - yes, because I had so much stuff installed on it, that I didn't want to go through the pain of setting up a new one...

It's a HP Compaq Centrino Duo with 1 GB RAM, 1.66 GHz, Bluetooth, DVD Drive, but you know what the coolest part is? Fingerprint recognition! Now all I need to do is power it on, swipe my finger, and lo and behold - I am ON! :)

Also, interestingly, it comes with an Identity Manager that allows me to set up various password etc for different applications and web sites with single sign on - that means, once my finger has been recognised, I am signed automatically into every other application too!

Way too cool!

The Big Picture

Osho once said, when I show you the moon, don't catch my finger!

See the big picture - don't debate the example! How many times are we guilty of doing that?

Warmth and Luxury

How many times have we been to a place that was extremely rich and luxurious, but didn't exude any warmth? Any place that was warm and welcoming, but needed to look much better than an old attic?

Here's one place that's beautiful, and yet, completely welcoming and inviting - you will love to sit at the breakfast table and have "chanya bhaaji and paav with cha", stretch out on the welcoming sofa cum couch and watch your favourite programmes on Tata Sky, or just stand in the balcony and take in the cool breeze... yes, you do have to figure out the beautifully camouflaged doors to figure out where the bathroom is, and hold yourself from wanting to play with the shiny black and white pebbles making up the shoreline in the corner of the living room, but hey, that's a small price to pay :)

This is Sweta and Siddha's new self-designed abode in (where else?) Panaji, Goa!

The warm and inviting living room.. the huge sofa cum couch is such a bonus for the couch potato, not that Siddha is one, with all his bubbling energy. Check the awesome wall paper on the far wall in perfect harmony with the curtains and the upholstery.

View from the balcony into the spacious and well-lighted kitchen and dining space. The beautiful breeze blowing in through the french windows makes cooking such a "with the nature" experience, and cuts down on the cost of a fresh air fan :)

The bed room is spacious, with plenty of space for all the curios and "oh, remember it was the first gift you gave me" thingys. Earth colors ensure a very warm and cosy ambience all day long.

The Master, my brother in law, Siddha Sardesai, at work in the loo :)

And finally, my sister, Sweta, setting the table for a sumptious meal!

ps: I was not paid anything for this beautiful review :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Movie Review: Chak De

Chak De is one of those beautiful movies that comes once in a blue moon, and becomes an instant all-time favourite.

SRK plays Kabir Khan, a disgraced Indian hockey team captain, who takes it upon himself to groom the Indian women's hockey team into World Champs. Reportedly based on the true story of Mir Negi, the movie traces the maturing of a motley group of girls, brought together from the far corners of the country, and given up for losers even before their first practice session, under relentless efforts of Kabir Khan.

The girls, most of them non-stars, bring an amazing freshness to the movie - newcomer Sagarika Ghatge (as Preeti Sabharwal) is hot, leggy and sexy, Shilpa Shukla (as Bindia Naik) puts in an amazing performance as the stubborn, spoilt and sidelined senior in the team, and others like Vidya Malvade (as Vidya Sharma), Anaitha Nair (as Aliya Bose), Tanya Abrol (as Balbir Kaur) and Chitrashi Rawat (as Komal Chautala) bring their own strong contributions to a movie where the King Khan, frankly, is almost non-relevant!

Their interactions, their squabbles, politics, one-upmanship, thrills, their joy, their struggles, and yes, the beautiful moment when they turn up in Indian sarees for the pre-final reception - you can easily watch the movie a couple of times, and enjoy every moment of it...

From the point of view of a purely academic case study though, I was a little disappointed by the script. Kabir is a passive leader, and while he is relentless and persistent in his efforts, I am not sure he handles the team well. Punishing players for the slightest errors, keeping seniors literally out of the coaching camp, not utilizing their experience, not talking to his team... you know, doesn't really inspire you as a team leader!

But leave the academics aside, and go enjoy Chak De - and be proud to be Indian!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's All About Cost and Benefits...

Why do we make the decisions that we make? What is life all about? What are we thinking when we say yes to something and no to something else?

It's all about cost and benefits. "Huh, what are you saying?" you remark indignantly. "I don't think of gains and losses all the time!".

Well, here's my theory - all our decisions are based on the one basic principle in economics - minimizing the opportunity cost. I have talked about this in my articles on Indian economy, but here's a fresh perspective from a personal point of view.

Before you react to that, I want to propose something Advait would say - try on a new shirt for a few mins. If you still don't like it, you can always walk away. But for now, hear me out.

Now, think of your first love. If you are married, think of the time you made the decision to accept the proposal. If you liked a girl in school, think of when you "fell in love" with her, and decided to say no to that other girl you knew liked you too. Think of the time you gave up a party, to be with your family, or vice versa. Think of the time you decided to do computers, and not medical school. Think of the time you decided to skip the exercise and sleep instead.

What were you doing? Were you considering the consequences of what you were doing in isolation, or were you really also, and maybe only, evaluating what you lost instead?

All the time, we make decisions - and in most of the decisions, the goal is to minimize the cost of opportunities we lost because of the choices we made. Out of all the proposals that came, out of all the girls (or guys) in the class, out of all the things I could do instead, out of all the careers that were open, the key is not just to make a decision about what we want, but many times, it's all about minimizing the cost of what we will lose. That is why, many times, even when the choice is clear, we refuse to make decisions - because the opportunity cost is too high! Many times, we make a decision which looks stupid, simply because, there is nothing to lose!

Next time you ask yourself why someone did what he or she did, try and find out the opportunity cost, and you will probably get your answer!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thought for the Day

Read this in the Times of India, as part of their "DO" campaign for India, as part of the 60th year of independence celebrations....

"You are not stuck in a traffic jam. You are the traffic jam".

Such a simple way to put such a big truth :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Movie Review: The Simpsons Movie


I had never seen Simpsons before, but I totally loved the movie - every second, every subtle detail, and the not so subtle jokes! Right from the opening credits, till the absolute very end.

No wonder it's been one of the longest running shows on US television...

Check it out, will make for a great break!

Yet Another Gem from Advait...

"Probably, Almost Certainly, That is How it Will Always Be!"

Do not try to change the world. That is not the way to address your problems. Change causes persistence. The bad news is, probably, almost certainly, that is how it will always be!

Do not go in search of the truth. There is no truth. There is only what happened. The rest are your stories. Ask, "how can I use it"? You have a choice of interpretations for everything that happened. Take ownership for that choice, and the choice is yours.

That is growth.

The good news is, probably, almost certainly, that is how it will always be!

It Shouldn't Be!

There are no problems out there! What is out there is what happened. What is so! Or as I said in some earlier post, what is, is! What makes it a problem is that we say "IT SHOULDN'T BE!"...

Instead of fretting and worrying about the so called problems, to achieve your goals, avoid the stories in your life. Here's is a dummy's guide to problem solving:

1) Accept what happened - what happened is what the camera caught! Be authentic, acknowledge what happened.

2) Take ownership. You are the creator of your stories, just like you are the creator of your visions and dreams. It's all in the head, in you.

3) Get in touch with your interpretations, your stories.

4) Alter your interpretations - use stories that empower you, make you feel good! Can you always be sure? No, you can never be sure. But you have a choice to make, and as long as you own up to your choices, you will be fine.

5) Take action - not reaction!

Another Gem from Advait...

Here's another one: "Change causes Persistence".

Think about it - how many things have you tried to change in your life? Not being able to work out, not being able to stop drinking, not being able to devote time to family, not being able to curb pollution.. the more you try, the more it resists, and becomes a permanent fixture of your life...

So, what are you saying, Siddhesh? You mean we stop trying to change things? Just give up?

Noooo.. that's not what I am saying! That's your interpretation, your story! Well, more on that "story" some other time!

Advait's Gem for the Day

"Communication is the function of Intention"

Isn't that such a beautiful truth? What we communicate, how we communicate, really is a result of our intention!

Understanding Self at the Japaloupe Farms

This weekend was different. No movie, no shopping, no car cleaning, no work...

Instead, I spent two days at an awesome workshop on "Understanding Self", conducted by Pragati Leadership Institute (http://www.pragatileadership.com/), at the Japaloupe Farms, a few meters from the Talegaon toll booth on the old Pune-Mumbai highway.

I have been heavily influenced by many events in my life, mamy of them negatively, but no single event will probably have such a profound and long-lasting impression as this workshop.

I will be writing about the workshop itself, and many of the gems of wisdom I got from my "guru", Advait Dikshit, but in this post, I just want to celebrate the connection I made with nature at the Japaloupe Farm...

Mummy with 14 day old kiddo :)

Quack Quack Quack...

Horse (why do you always need labels?)

See, I knew you would want a label! Just a beautiful structure, yaar...

Now THIS is the real Japaloupe Farm..

Great Dane with Great Man

Waiting to go into battle on my stallion...

No, No, if you observe clearly, you will realise I was NOT the prisoner! This was a cool team-building exercise...

Yawn, I am bored of these stupid humans...

Naomi... isn't she a beauty?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Aap ka Suroor :)

Excerpts from a website on Aap ka Suroor:

"Himesh Reshammiya’s acting is a revelation. Just like his most exquisite works of music are but an assemblage of simple notes, his acting is also a composition of very elemental histrionic elements. First there is the constipated, eyes slitted intense look. Then there is the Angelina Jolie -Narasimha Rao pout which we are to believe make women go weak in the knees. And of course the passionate eye closing “passing-stool” expression. For variety, he also bites the air and sometimes preloads “expressions” on his face even before the dialogue that is supposed to trigger that expression has been spoken."

Lol.. Lol...

Cup of Tea..

Aaah, what would I not give up today for a cup of tea!

Movie Review: Naqaab

Another of those "conspiracy" movies, a la Wild Things, Naqaab falters in it's weak story, listless screen play, and unimpressive performances. The millionaire (Bobby Deol)and his beautiful paying guest Sofia (Urvashi Sharma - why would he keep a paying guest, for god's sake?) decide to get married - till Akshaye Khanna's entry into her life. Sofia falls in love with him, and walks out from her marriage...

Then the twist in the tale.. And then another, and another, and... you get the point.

Avoid it if you can... not really worth the time and money!