Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What's Up?

1) India beat Australia by a huge 300+ margin in the second to take a 1-0 lead in the 4 test series, the third test starts tomorrow

2) ISRO's Chandrayaan-1 moon mission was successfully launched a week back, propelling India into the exclusive club of space faring nations... a few days later, Chandrayaan-1 is expected to be put into the lumar orbit, and then send across a moon lander with an Indian flag to the moon!

3) The world economy continues to nosedive, the Sensex crashing down to below-8K levels from it's peak of 25K just a few months back. FII selling pressures have also pulled the Rupee below the 50 mark against the dollar. Oil has crashed to less than half it's peak of around 120 a few weeks back!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Movie Review: Body of Lies

Great action, some never before used camera positions, excellent cinematography, a rivetting story, and a great cast make Body Of Lies a must-see action flick.

Di Caprio is a CIA operative on the ground in the Middle East, Russel Crowe his handler in Washington. The mission - go after Al Qaeda's Al-Saleem. In the CIA's battle against the terrorists, the movie brings out the human angle... the importance of HUMINT when the best and most expensive technology meets its match.

Totally worth it!


Just curious... has anyone here watched the ICL?

Compared to the thrill and excitement behind the IPL, the ICL does feel like a damp squib. Is this only because the BCCI didn't back the ICL? Or something else?

CYG Signs Off

The Commonwealth Youth Games finally signed off with an impressive closing ceremony last night... Pune proved beyond doubt that when push comes to shove, even our politicians and civic bodies can all come together to make it happen!

The best part - India won a cool 33 golds and an even larger number of silver and bronze medals to top the tally!

Way to go!

Dada's Ton

Dada completed yet another fighting century, in the second test of the Australia tour to India... just hope he rethinks his decision to quit after the tour... this team and this country will really miss him!

Movie Review: Hello

Based on Chetan Bhagat's book, One Night At The Call Center, Hello is about a bunch of 20-something call center employees and their "call" with god, and how it makes them open their eyes to a whole new way of looking at life. The first half has some good moments, but the story line has nothing exciting to offer, and the second half really disappoints. The comments about the goras smack of racism, and the "solution" they find for saving their jobs probably crosses the line from extreme stupidity into crime! The cast is weak, the songs do not fit in - although, I must admit, one of the songs has pretty innovative cinematography - inspired from Crouching Tiger...

Overall, not a bad one to miss! Didn't like Chetan's writings much anyway...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Better Roads :)

Check this road - less than a week back, this was just a two laned throughfare, undistinguished by those millions of kilometers of ashphalt criss crossing every town in this country.

A week later, the road had a fresh smooth topping, reflective pads on the divider, clearly marked lanes, a beautiful foot path on either side, shrubs and trees lining it, decorative lamps, and excellent signages...

And this one, near Symbiosis, sports a beautiful red lane - I am still to figure out what it symbolizes - I am assuming it is for the BRTS lane. Also notice the pedestrian crossing/signal with the super large signages announcing the same. It also has a (non-functioning) press-to-stop signal!

I think it's time we stood up and gave a standing ovation to the dedicated and hard working engineers and workers of the PMC! Clap Clap!

CYG - A Rousing Start!

The 3rd Commonwealth Youth Games got off to a rousing start yesterday, in the face of tremendous pessimism about whether the PMC and the organizers would be able to get all the infrastructure ready in time, and some last minutes hiccups including a huge downpour minutes into the opening ceremony. However, true to the spirit of the games, these problems were quickly dispensed with, and Pune treated the world to a beautiful spectacle showcasing the spirit, the warmth, the culture, the diversity and the harmony of our lovely country.

After a scintillating display of motor cycling, helicopter and para-trooping skills, Hema Malini opened the games with a lovely rendering of Ganesh vandana. Sunidhi Chauhan, Shankar Mahadevan and Shreya Ghoshal entertained with music, while Urmila and Saif dazzled with their dance. A pulsating laser and lights display accompanied a beautiful fusion of various drums and beats of India. A huge procession of the Janta Raja, lezin, mallkhamb and other displays of skill and talent, and a colorful flag march of all the 71 participating countries added to the dazzle of the evening, accompanied by a huge firework display in the skies over Pune.

An interesting aspect of the games was that the torch was replaced by a baton containing water. In keeping with the green theme of the games, water from all participating countries, and over 200 towns and cities in India was collected in a giant kalash and added to the Fountain of Youth at the games venue... symbolic of the need for water preservation.

Competitions continue for the next 8 days... and Pune eagerly looks forward to it!

A Magnetic Lunch

Two days back, Sanam gobbled up a pretty big magnetic ball... and inspite of all our efforts to coax it out, it spent a couple of days in her stomach! Here's the X-ray showing it nice and clear... and the next pic, the same ball after it exited and was duly retrieved by her dad :)

Another addition to her long list of achievements - from washing her face with the residue water left from Lisa's bath, to eating Prince's left-over chapatis, getting lost at Central Mall, and of course, getting her hand stuck on our Jaguar tap with super-glue!

Coffee Art!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Icecream Updates

Movie Review: 1920

1920 is yet another of those horror movies "inspired" by Exorcist. Not too bad. A couple of scenes are good, although most of the "happenings" have been used so frequently now, that they have lost their appeal. Adah Sharma is beautiful, and adds that extra something to an otherwise boring cast. And yes, after a good start, the movie loses it in the middle with a very long and boring flashback. It picks up again towards the end though, with exorcism in full flow ;)

Should you watch it? Maybe - but don't bother to get a DVD. It'd be fun only in the theatres, and with someone who's likely to get scared to death while you yawn...

Dada Retires

Dada, the man who never stopped fighting, has finally called it a day. This country will miss him. An icon of leadership, fighting spirit and determination, Dada has inspired millions around the globe. I'm looking forward to him signing out with a bang in the Australia series... and I really hope he continues to inspire and lead the country in the years to come...

Sunday, October 05, 2008


I am currently reading an interesting mix of books I bought the other day...

Robert Ludlum's latest Bourne novel, the Bourne Sanction, written by Eric Van Lustbader... isn't it interesting, after your death, someone else writes using your characters, and kinda uses your name and reputation to drive it? Anyway, the plots and the narrative is pretty much similar, and I enjoy reading it, so it's fair, I guess

The Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari. Interesting book, nice, clean narrative. He starts with a background of the epic, how it was narrated by Vyasa to Ganapati on the promise that he wouldn't take breaks or pauses, unless Ganapati himself needed time to absorb and understand what he was dictating, and how he used some complicated stanzas to slow down Ganapati when he needed time to compose upcoming stanzas :) He also talks about how other reciters and learned men used Mahabharata to propogate their own teachings, knowing that they would survive only when amalgamated with something as big as the epic...

What they don't teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack. I have always loved this book, it's anecdote based style and easy language making it a beautiful experience, compared to some of those dull, long winded management books. I had last read this book almost a decade ago, and thought it was worth a relook. I am looking forward to seeing how different my perspectives are now, after all this time in the industry.

And finally, a book Cognitive Psychology. Psychology has always fascinated me, the science of how our mind works and why we do what we do. And from all the branches of psychology, I think cognitive psychology is the most exciting. I know I cannot imagine to fathom all of it, but this is one book I am definitely very excited to explore!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

New Sensitivities

After drugs in the late eighties and AIDS in the nineties and early 2000s, we now have a bunch of new sensitivities - and thanks to cable and satellite TV, it's more pronounced than ever before...

1) Ill-effects of smoking... I remember when we were young, it was common to find people smoking in buses, restaurants and theatres... doesn't happen any more! And with the smoknig ban in effect, it will only get better!

2) Green - from IT companies, to auto makers, to public transport, being green is in fashion like never before. And it's not just about planting trees - we are now sensitive about carbon emission, plastic, and all kinds of pollutions and conservation

3) Security - body frisking, the beeps of metal detectors, boot searches... not just in air ports, we have now come to expect it in malls and theatres too! Frankly, I would now be a little hesitant going to places which don't have it!

4) Traffic discipline - specifically in Pune, I think the Pune Mirror has done a great job of sensitivizing people to this problem... with their sustained campaign against poor traffic discipline, I can see a visible change in the attitude of people, especially at traffic signals.. zebra crossings are now respected, and lane discipline too, seems to be improving!

No Smoking!

2nd October marked a historic step for India towards a more healthy nation - the Health Ministry put in effect a complete ban on smoking - from bus stops and train stations, to restaurants, pubs and discos, from office complexes to government buildings, smoking is now banned in public places!

Yes, it will take time, and there will be violations, and a stretched police force will not find the time and resources to enforce this completely... but as citizens, we now have a right to complain and do our bit to enforce it...

CYG - 8 Days Away

It's 8 days away now... and the city is looking real sexy already! The University Circle is really shaping up well, with the traffic circles being adorned with decorative plants and lawn, and some pretty interesting sculptures. Most of the major roads are also looking super cool - the concreting is almost finished, pretty footpaths and signages adding the ooomph factor. Baner Road and Pashan Road are almost ready, and today, the new Balewadi flyover is also open to the traffic. I also saw a bank of cameras mounted on top of the main road from the airport, opposite Le Meridien, catching all the traffic passing below...

The PMC has done a great job, I must say... even a fortnight back, newspapers and critics were screaming at the top of their lungs on how all deadlines have been missed... today, there's only shock and awe. Goes to show, where there's a will and a serious government in place, anything's possible!

Quote for the Day

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, covered in scars, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming yahoo!, what a ride." Bear Grylls.


Movie Review: Flashbacks of a Fool

Daniel Craig shows a lot of butt. And remembers his youth. That's all there is to it. Really.

If you still wanna hear it... Daniel plays a Hollywood actor, now past his prime, doing crazy things and showing his butt. One day, his mom calls him to tell him his best friend Boots has died.

We now switch to a beautiful English coast, a small cluster of houses by an angry and beautiful sea. Two boys, pleasuring themselves in a tunnel of horrow. Daniel's affair with his married neighbour. His brush with Ruth, a pretty girl, and their first kiss. However, that relationship is nipped when he turns up late for his date with love bites from his neighbour on his neck. Then a disaster when his neighbour's young daughter dies in an accident while she's making out with him. And Daniel leaves home for the US, to get away from it all.

Back to the present. He's late for the funeral. His sister takes him to meet Ruth (now Boot's widow). She also shares some news, including his lover neighbour's subsequent life and gruesome death. Daniel leaves a note and a cheque for Ruth, and returns to America.

And that's it.

I am not sure whether I liked it or not. It was strange. Even at half time, I wasn't sure what the theme of the movie was. It's slow. There's a lot of butt and boobs. A couple of pretty women. Some awesome locales. Some interesting dialogues. It's slow, though. At times, you just want it to move at least at thrice it's pace. But overall, not too bad, really. Especially the ending.

Movie Review: Tortured

"Tortured" is the story of an FBI agent who inserts himself into a dreaded gang and over six months, tries to win the confidence and trust of the gang leader by being one of them, performing tasks that include the torture and interrogation of the gang's accountant. As the mind games go on, it slowly becomes obvious that he's just a pawn in the game, and someone else is calling the shots.

A pretty mediocre movie, best avoided.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Movie Review: Kidnap

After a fantastic debut in Jaane Tu, Imran Khan delivers a knock out punch. Kidnap will leave you stunned, shocked, sometimes terrified, sometimes bending over with laughter. Unfortunately, for the wrong reasons and at the wrong times!

Sanju baba plays a 57.1 billion dollar net worth businessman, with a daughter who's just turned 18 and spends her life in white bikinis swimming alone in the sea. And one day, yes, you guessed it - she gets kidnapped. By someone who doesn't want money, and instead, wants to take revenge by playing games with Sanju baba. The devil is in the details though, and in such a movie, it's everything! And the movie falls completely flat there. The screen play is terrible, the dialogues are very amateurish, and the "tasks" given play out so childishly, it makes you wonder if they employed a story writer at all! The songs are forgotten the moment they get over, and have really been squeezed in, completely messing with the flow of the main plot.

My list of the worst moments in the movie:
1) Sanjay Dutt roaring through Panaji's streets, then onto a ferry, and finally on a train track while going to Panvel station to catch a train!
2) Sanjay Dutt looking at his skimpily clad daughter and going, tum kitni badi ho gayee ho!
3) The introduction of Minissha, her mother and her grandmother
4) The introduction of Imran Khan and the tea cup scene
5) The jail break scene
6) The "I want to have a bath" scene
7) The "confession" scene in front of the lighted cross
8) All the songs
9) The rest of the movie

Imran is a real disappointment. After Jaane Tu, I had predicted this guy had it in him to be the next King Khan, but today I really have to eat my words. He's stony faced, shows neither pain nor anger, and you almost laugh at his attempts to be the cool bad guy. There's not a single scene in which you would want to look at him and like him or hate him - he's just invisible. Sanjay Dutt is getting old, and looks so. The saving grace - a super sexy Minissha Lamba, with her super short skirts, sports bras and white bikinis, she takes all your attention when she's on screen. But frankly, she wasn't good enough reason to purchase those Rs 180 tickets!