Tuesday, July 29, 2008

11.00 pm...

Dad on his laptop checking mails, mom on her laptop checking mails, kiddo on her desktop creating some e-Art and Miyou in her tub, hands tightly crossed over her eyes, stomach taking in the breeze from the fan, peacefully digesting those 3 Pomfret heads...

Monday, July 28, 2008


Did you know.. mules are the product of a male donkey and a female horse, and mules cannot give birth to other mules!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Let's Do Our Bit..

Pune is reeling under water and power scarcity. Here's how you can do your very significant bit - today and always!

1) Shut off the tap while shaving. Using a tumbler or cup with water works just perfectly for cleaning your razor!
2) Have a bucket bath instead of a shower - showers easily use up 3-4 times the water in a bucket, and sometimes a lot more! That's around 100 buckets per person per month!
3) Use part-flush when possible. Some cisterns have a half-flush options, others usually allow you to pull up the lever manually to stop the flush.
4) Cut down on taking your car for those long drives.
5) Shut off the engine when waiting more than 30 seconds at the signal.
6) Top up the petrol tank when you refuel - a lot of fuel is wasted when you open the tank for refuelling.
7) Do not park in the sun.
8) Drive a decent, steady pace.
9) Do not use the air-conditioning and then take a heavy blanket. Try keep windows open and use a fan, with a light blanket. ACs guzzle energy.
10) Do not keep warm stuff straight into the refrigerator.
11) Keep frozen stuff out to get it to room temperature. Do not take it out a few mins before dinner and then defrost it in the microwave.
12) Do not use the washing machine for part load.
13) Ask the bai not to keep water running while washing utensils. Take a bucket of water, do all the scrubbing, and then do a quick rinse with clean water.
14) Use CFLs.
15) Switch off lights, fans and the TV when not needed.
16) Put off electronic appliances, do not keep them on sleep or hibernate mode.

Together, bit by bit, we can make a difference!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lalu's Gems

Lol, you had to see this - Lalu's speech in parliament today - total, complete entertainment.. at one point, I guess someone asks him some clarification and Lalu goes, in English... I can translate this in English also, but I do not want to waste time, so I will explain you later... lol.. man, this guy is heights...


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dr Singh's Speech

I just had to save this last section of Dr Singh's final speech here for posterity... in the last one week, I have become one of his biggest fans!

The Management and governance of the world’s largest, most diverse and most vibrant democracy is the greatest challenge any person can be entrusted with, in this world. It has been my good fortune that I was entrusted with this challenge over four years ago. I thank with all sincerity the Chairperson of the UPA, the leaders of the Constituent Parties of the UPA and every member of my Party for the faith and trust they reposed in me. I once again recall with gratitude the guidance and support I have received from Shri Jyoti Basu and Sardar Harkishen Singh Surjeet.

I have often said that I am a politician by accident. I have held many diverse responsibilities. I have been a teacher, I have been an official of the Government of India, I have been a member of this greatest of Parliaments, but I have never forgotten my life as a young boy in a distant village. Every day that I have been Prime Minister of India I have tried to remember that the first ten years of my life were spent in a village with no drinking water supply, no electricity, no hospital, no roads and nothing that we today associate with modern living. I had to walk miles to school, I had to study in the dim light of a kerosene oil lamp. This nation gave me the opportunity to ensure that such would not be the life of our children in the foreseeable future.

Sir, my conscience is clear that on every day that I have occupied this high office, I have tried to fulfill the dream of that young boy from that distant village. The greatness of democracy is that we are all birds of passage! We are here today, gone tomorrow! But in the brief time that the people of India entrust us with this responsibility, it is our duty to be honest and sincere in the discharge of these responsibilities. As it is said in our sacred texts, we are responsible for our actions and we must act without coveting the rewards of such action. Whatever I have done in this high office I have done so with a clear conscience and the best interests of my country and our people at heart. I have no other claims to make.


OK, we keep hearing about bad service - so I think it's critical that I mention specific cases of good service!

A couple of months back, we bought 5 tickets on KyaZoonga.com for the IPL semi-final, for 2000 each. A couple of days after we had purchased the tickets on my HDFC Netsafe Card, the IPL authorities cut down rates from 2000 to 500! KyaZoonga.com immediately sent mail that the money would be refunded back to the credit card. But hey, I didn't use a real credit card - I had just used a one-time-use-only online card. I was pretty sure that I would not get my money back - that was OK too, after all, we hadn't expected discounts, and we had fairly and squarely purchased tickets at the original price. And we thoroughly enjoyed the match!

You might think this wasn't such a big deal - but remember, there were potentially thousands of customers asking for that refund, and my case was not standard procedure! Imagine my pleasant surprise when I actually got a call from one of the head honchos of KZ, assuring me of all help in resolving the matter. A few days later, I had the full refund amount on a cheque delivered to me at home!

Thanks KZ, you have a fan :)

Singh is King!

The debate is over, the votes cast, and Singh is King! The UPA got a stunning victory, with 275 for and only 256 against. As I predicted in my earlier post, there were 10 abstentions. Interesting, there was some pretty substantial cross-voting from the BJP, with as many as 7 voting with the government.

I am not an avid follower of national politics, but this last week had me rivetted to the TV... never before has the country seen such a strongly contested debate, spilling over from parliament into every household, courtesy of our dozens of news channels. Irrespective of the lack of morality shown by many over issues like the Aarushi case, one should feel very proud seeing the complete freedom of press enjoyed in India - can such free and open discussions be expected any where else except in the West?

I am still trying to figure out if anyone but the Congress and the UPA allies gained anything out of this nonsense thrust upon the country by the Left! Let's take a quick round up. The Left has shown itself to be completely devoid of any consideration for the country's good, holding the country to ransom for one Mr Karat's ego, and then showing how empty their talks of principles are by aligning with the NDA, who they claimed as their sworn enemies. What about the BJP? What face does it have left? Advani has been completely over shadowed by Mayavati's master strokes, and leaders like Rudy made such a fool of themselves coming up with ridiculous points for arguments, ridiculous predictions, and even more ridiculous accusations against the government. Where were all those other smart leaders - Yashwant Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Vajpayee? The final straw was perhaps the stunt in parliament preventing the PM from making his closing speech, ridiculing the parliament and making a spectacle of their own MPs, later referred to by Amar Singh as political prostitutes. And Mayavati? She actually calls a press conference accusing the NDA of siding with the UPA to make sure the "daughter of a dalit" doesn't become the PM! Jayanti Natarajan perhaps summed it well last night when she said Mayavati was being used by powerful men for their own games and machinations, and would be immediately dumped!

On the other hand, Amar Singh and Mulayam, Lalu, and other UPA leaders closed ranks and rose up like a Phoenix from the ashes of the Left pull out. Sonia showed this government was not a puppet of the Gandhi family, ensuring it was about Manmohan and not Sonia and Rahul. And Dr Singh, well, you are king! Someone who was accused of being a technocrat, not even voted by the people, has shown what an astute politician he is! Many other Congress and UPA leaders also showed their mettle - Kapil Sibal, Praful Patel, Jayanti Natarajan, Digivjay Singh, Pranab Mukherjee - have all proved their worth in countless debates on TV! And the shining star - Somnath Chatterjee. He truly brought respect to the Speaker's chair, conducting the proceedings in the most amazing manner. One only needed to watch the proceedings in parliament for a few minutes to admire and applaud this most respectable politician!

What happens now? The UPA has a clear mandate to move forward, freed from the shackles of the Left, and bolstered by the SP, while the unholy troika of Karat, Advani and Mayavati ensure that whatever opposition existed is broken up into pieces, unsure and confused of what their stand should be! I hope the UPA can now push ahead with all the financial reforms that were being held back by the Left, go ahead and sign the nuclear deal, and of course, make sure the divisive forces in the country and routed in the coming elections, putting India firmly on the path to take it's rightful place at the helm of the world.

The Debate

The final 24 hours of the great Indian nuclear debate... as the government approaches showdown time, the UPA seems confident of making the numbers. One channel predicted 267 against the government, 269 for, and 3 undecided.

Me thinks the government will win with a margin of around 10. Where will that come from? From abstentions. Young, smart MPs from the opposition probably know to put nation over party!

Either way, the PM has earned the respect of this country. His name will go down as one of the strongest PMs we have had, who stood his ground when it mattered the most!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Once a Sportsman...

Saurav will now be seen in a new role - turning up for a Calcutta football club in a first division league match, to be followed by the I-League. Interestingly, today's paper also carried a pic of Bhutia after scoring a goal for an all-stars team being congratulated by Michael Schumaker - his team mate on the field!

Guess once a sportsman, always a sportsman - and football seems to be a firm favourite!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Movie Review: You, Me and Hum

Saw a bit of the Kajol-Ajay home production You, Me and Hum the other night. Nothing much to write about, except that I do not like movies designed to make you cry and feel negative about life itself... life's bad enough and I do not need movies like these to make me feel worse!

Aah well, I switched it off once she started losing her memory enough to forget she's already had a baby a few days back...

11 East Street Cafe

I had heard a lot about the new place in town - 11 East Street Cafe, a theme restaurant built to look like a London street, complete with a real, red double decker and shop fronts. I finally got a chance to visit it today, but I must say, it was a pretty big disappointment.

The idea's great, the double decker bus is fantastic. But the rest left a lot to be desired. Bringing the kitchen and service areas out into the "street" is a bad idea - on one hand you can see the shopfronts of London, and right beside it, sweaty Indian cooks toiling over overused mixers and grinders. The roof is a big disappointment too, and having plastic white tarpaulins instead of the blue sky is a definite no-no.

The place was very crowded, and you keep getting jostled by guests as well as waiters. The biggest turn-off for me: smoking.

The service is bad too - twice we were served dishes ordered by someone else, plates were not cleared away quick enough.

The food is OK, but definitely nothing about the crowd, the ambience or the food will make me go back there...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Movie Review: Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

JTYJN is the story of two platonic best friends, Jai and Aditi, who call each other Meow and Rats, and don't know they are in love, until they decide to find the "perfect" life partners for each other.

Directed by the very young Abas Tyrewalla, JTYJN is a very refreshing and heart-warming movie, just perfect for today's generations. It's fun, it's clean, and it shows how today's teenagers do not need to smoke, drink or lose control to have fun.

The strength of the movie is undoubtedly in it's characters, and the beautiful expression of feelings. The cast is just perfect, and I cannot think of another movie where I have been touched by so many characters so deeply. Whether it is Aditi's grief behind the death of her pet cat and the happiness when she sees her new kitten, the feelings of possessiveness and jealousy in their eyes when they see their best friend falling in love with someone else, the ecstasy at being reunited, the exchange between Aditi's kid brother and her about how she was always his only friend, every scene touches you deep down in the heart, makes you identify so much with it, that dialogues are sometimes redundant. Fantastic stuff!

The music is catchy and very fun. The title track Tu Bole Main Boluun is picturized as a beautiful video collage of their relationship set against the lilting strains of the seventies Chicago musicals, the DCH-reminiscent Nazrein Milaana Nazrein Churaana superbly showcases the development of Jai's relationship with his new girlfriend and Aditi's exploration of her true feelings for him. Kahin To Hogi Woh will make you sing with joy and sadness at the same time, and is one song you can put on repeat loop and hear over and over again, and never get enough of. Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindagi is perfect for those times when you feel down and out. Pappu Can't Dance isn't nearly as much in my list of favourites, but it's a fun number and will make you smile. Interestingly, the songs add tremendously to the story, not just "fitting in" somehow - the movie couldn't have been as effective without the songs.

The characters, as I said earlier, are the absolute strength of the movie. I can't say enough about the freshness and the joy exuded by Genelia D'Souza. She's stunningly beautiful, has an awesome wardrobe that brings out the best in her in every shot. Her strength is in her expressions though - and her slightly "different" accent and delivery just adds the icing on the cake. I am totally fida on her. Imran Khan is a stunner. I am definitely not gay, but I just loved the guy. He's sincere, he's handsome, he's cute, and he's good! There are a few scenes where he comes across as slightly raw newcomer, but he is definitely on top of the expectations in most of the movie's difficult scenes. His expressions, dialogue delivery and look is just perfect. What any dad would love his son to be! Watch out for this guy - he will rule Bollywood in the years to come, post SRK :)

The supporting cast is fantastic too! From Aditi and Jai's friend circle (loved one of them - guess who), to the sweet cameo played by Naseeruddin as Jai's father. From Aditi's brother - I loved that character too! - to the crazy pots played by the Khan brothers Sohail and Arbaaz. Jai's girlfriend - stunningly sexy and sweet at the same time, to Aditi's fiance - handsome, strong and very hunky, attractive yet hateable as you get to know him better. Right down to the kitten and the mouse! Nothing could have been cast better.

One of the very best movies I have seen... a must-have for my DVD collection.


For 50 days, the media went beserk dissecting 14 year old dead Arushi's "lewd" SMSes, names of her friends and her private life on national TV, how she was seen in a "compromising position" with her servant by her dad, and killed for that "objectionable behaviour", how her dad should be punished, asking viewers for how they think he should be punished for this heinous crime. The UP Police gave interviews. Ekta Kapoor quickly included a new twist in her serial, and housewives lapped up the fare in amazement and enthusiasm, waiting to see what "really happened" in Arushi's dirty life!

Then, he is set free for lack of any evidence, and three of his workers are caught for the crime.

Now, the media will haunt him about how much time he needs to get over his grief, how he spent time in jail missing his daughter and family, how he will move on from here. The police will pass on the buck to some junior officers and make them scapegoats. And the housewives will simply move on to the next soap.

Do we really need to stoop so low for TRPs? Don't dead people have any rights? Don't we have any morality, any sense of what's right and wrong? A dad loses his only daughter - and instead of being his strength and support, we put him in jail, accuse him of murder, then strip his daughter on national TV?

I hope the police, the media, and the audiences take a lesson from this disgusting drama that played out in every Indian home over the last 50 days... for the sake of that poor girl's soul.

Movie Review: Hancock

Hancock (Wills Smith) is a super hero with unimaginable strength, a good heart, but low IQ. He loves to save people and prevent crime, but ends up causing huge collateral damage. People hate him. Which gets him more upset. The cycle continues.

In steps a image consultant, who convinces him to give himself up to the law, so that people actually miss him when crime goes up. He also teaches Hancock to be more careful, more sensitive, and the result is there for all to see - the people love his comeback and he is their hero!

The first half is hilarious, with some very funny moments. Wills is perfect in the role of the super hero with a completely screwed up vision of how he can use his strengths! The second half gets boring though, and can be missed.

Overall, a good hour of entertainment till the interval. After that, it's not worth it.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Innovative Ideas...

To save water - skip a bath
To save petrol - take long drives on highways, cars burn up less fuel there than in the city
To improve public transport - drive your own car

The Makeover Continues...

Another weekend, another shopping trip... and here's the result...

A simple brown carpet provides the perfect background to the black sofa and coffee table... the colors blending beautifully with the overall earth scheme, the curves contrasting well with the straight lines of the bookcase and the tables...

We just loved these artifacts - they complement each other extremely well, and the yellow on brown flowers add brightness and life to the arrangement.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Movie Review: Checkmate (Marathi)

Checkmate is another nice Marathi movie I enjoyed on the weekend, in a completely different genre from Valu.

The story is based on the three guys, each one having lost a huge amount of money in a chit-fund kinda setup, decide they have to get back the money by hook or by crook. And they get together to set up the game.

Three guys, and one girl, two police officers, a don and his brother, a bank manager. Plots and counter-plots. Strategies and counter-strategies. And some interesting twists and turns. And a good climax. Keeps you guessing and wondering till the very end.

There's even a nice "item song" at the end along with the closing credits... overall, paisa wasool.

Movie Review: Valu (Marathi)

Marathi cinema is coming of age, and there have been some amazing movies in the recent past, including Saatchya Aat Gharaat, Anahat and Bindaasth. Valu (wild bull) adds to that list of must-see movies.

Set in a small village in rural Maharashtra, the story revolves around the community scared of the wild bull (called Durkya, probably because his snorts) and their efforts to capture him with the help of the forest officer (lovingly called Farrest) :)

The story is simple and the movie builds on the simplicity of the characters and their innocense. The excitement about the "daacumentry" coming to the village (the forest officer's brother and his wish to make a documentary on the whole incident sends the village into overdrive!), the planning and execution of the capture, the Sarpanch and his wife, the "other" politician in the village, the "jaanve" (Brahmin) and his ambulatory problems, and really, the bull itself and how it "earns" its reputation, is just so beautifully done!

A couple of hours of pure entertainment and enjoyment, this is an absolute must-see movie!

Unfortunately, you will not really enjoy the movie unless you can understand and follow the dialogues - and no amount of transalation and subtitles can ever make up. This movie has done more to rekindle my interest in this language and this beautiful state than all the stunts by our politicians can ever hope to!

Movie Review: Love Story 2050

What were they thinking when they put in those crores in this movie? I would assume the least they could have done was find a good story writer, a script writer, a director, a music director, an actor, a fight director, a make up artist, I mean.. something at least?

This is one pathetic movie, and the worst part - the movie lasts well over 3 hours 15 mins. That's a LOT of Torture for one weekend!

Harman, the guy whose debut is the reason crores were wasted to make (hopefully) millions of Indians waste hours of their precious time, which could have been invested in building India 2050... oh, forget it... Harman is a HUGE disappointment. He has a plastic face that cannot emote, he makes a hash of emotional scenes, he talks too much in the movie (dialogue writer, word of advice for you: you don't need to keep blabbering to be cute, and you definitely do not have to have guys repeating their age a dozen times in a movie!), and his style statement consists of figure hugging tshirts that show his boobs and all kinds of arm and wrist bandages as accessories, even when he is obviously not hurt!

Priyanka looks terrific - in exactly 7 mins 23 seconds of the movie. In the rest, she looks terrible. Let's not talk more about her hairdo and her clothes. Something's terribly wrong and I do not want to relive those memories, I like her yaar!

Then we have Boman Irani as the mad scientist reborn from "Back to the Future", and I must say, he has done a terrific job copying him, down to the unkempt white hair. Two irritating kids that ask for hugs, Archana Puran Singh in another irritating cameo, some gays, some androids, and of course, some talking robots called Cutie and Boo (it's 2050 remember? We even have flying cars and towering pink skyscrapers, and rock concerts in the sky...) and a masked and hooded Horni.. oops, Hoshi the terrible.

Let's get to the story - Harman is the rich kid whose mom died giving him all the love and pyaar in 10 years, a dad who is too busy for his son, leaving the son with all the money and friends and cars and stuff, but no one to ask him when he will be home, why he is late, whether he had breakfast.. sob sob, such a sad poor 23 year old in search for a hug! He meets Priyanka, who is studying in Australia, and is scheduled to return to wherever she came from (in a metro/subway train!). They meet a couple of times, and for excitement, they steal Mr Winky Dinks... or was that Winky Dicks?.. from a shop. What is that? Come on yaar - that's such an innovative name used by a 23 year old girl for a damn toy thingy you wear as a glove! Appreciate these things, coz there's nothing else to go for! Anyways, they fall in love, they talk nonsense while getting wet in the rain, then they go their different ways, until the dear butterfly brings them back together (of course, he doesn't need luck for that, he has love!), and then, just before she lives up to her promise of "a kiss with her icecream-cold lips", she is killed in an accident.

Worry not, Harman boy gets into his uncle's half-finished time machine - oh, by the way, his lady love has already finished the last of the mathematical equations and set the machine for departure, by then... and goes into the future where he knows his lady love will be reborn and waiting for him. And yes, to make sure you know why she has the same face, scientist uncle makes it clear that if you are reborn without your armaan being poore, you retain your face in the next janam! Does Harman succeed? Of course he does, you silly! He has got his lady love's diary from the past life to help her remember, and then, our 23 year old doesn't need luck, he has love! Of course, there's the minor matter of fighting the hooded Hoshi and his androids and the Harman look-alike, and all that, but for our 23 year old lover boy, or course that's easy - he doesn't need luck, he has love.

Fantastic story, fantastic dialogues - you agree, right?

You know what, I am peace now - I have suffered enough, and this blog has given vent to my feelings. Now I am a 33 year old who doesn't need love, I have luck! Oops, was it the other way around?

This is definitely one movie I can wait until 2050 to check out...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Rainbow from the Indigo...

Orange City

I am in Nagpur today, on an official trip... took an Indigo flight from Pune at 430, reaching Nagpur in a beautiful, brand new plane by 530. From the airport, we went straight to the office, an effortless 15 min drive. Spent 3 hours in meetings, and then checked into the Pride, a stone's throw from the airport, before joining the gang over drinks and starters for the next 3 hours.

First impressions of Nagpur - clean, broad, well-maintained. Very well spread out - lots of open space. It's like a city which decided it needed those 6 lane, footpath-lined roads long before the traffic started backing up, as in Pune, for example. Lots of trees and greenery all around.

Of course, looks may be deceptive, and after all, we have barely moved into the heart of the city...

I am not sure I will get much time tomorrow either - we have meetings starting at 9, and our return flight is scheduled for 1120. Maybe next time...