Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Changing Times

During my first trip to the US, I was fascinated by things that seemed so common there, and yet, completely new to India - vending machines, for example. Limos were another phenomenon that spellbound me. How in the world could someone drive something that long? And the police - those sexy uniforms, the flashing lights...

Things are changing here now...

On Saturday, I saw my first Merc Limo in Pune. I envy, and pity, the driver! I have problems squeezing my simple sedan in the traffic sometimes - how in the world does he manage his train?

Later in the evening, we were trying to cross this busy junction that was saturated with traffic after a politician's motorcade had just crossed by. Along comes this sexy police bike with lights flashing on its leg guards, tells me to follow him, stops traffic for us, and sees us through! Wow :) Now I know why those politicians love their motorcades!

We went for dinner to Green Park - and guess what, we had this electric buggy picking us up from the parking lot to transport us to the lobby!

And today, Mumbai gets its own icon - the Worli Sea Link. An amazing structure that I have blogged about before - an engineering marvel that will provide all Mumbaikars something to be really proud of. Can't wait to go and check it out for myself!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Amazing Coke Ad

Have you checked out the Coke Ad that's on air these days? The one about the girl and the guy in the library, sketching on their arms and having the coke flow from a bottle on one arm to the ice cube filled glass on the other? Coke claims it's about how coke brings people together.. but the fluid flowing from one to the other, he he, that's not really too innocent now, is it?

Either way, the execution of the ad itself is just totally amazing!

You can watch it here.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This is one of my oldest books, and I picked it up once again after having first read it almost 12 years back... the book really mesmerizes me with Pirsig's philosophical discourses interspersed with some amazingly beautiful descriptions of his 17 day motorcycle journey across the American heartland with his son and a couple of his close friends...

A little heavy, but so definitely worth a read!


A thought...

Friends come in the dozens, and most of them will share their happy moments with you. They'll love you and talk to you and share with you.

However, only the very true and best friends will stand by you in your worst moments. In your defeats. In your most unreasonable times.

When you are at your worst, look around for the person who stands by you.

Keep that relationship, no matter what it takes. It's the only one worth it.

Movie Review: Love... and Other Disasters

Jacks shares an apartment with her gay friend Peter, a screenwriter. Afraid to get into a serious relationship, Jacks prefers to spend her free time with her friends and sleep with her ex-boyfriend, James. It gets more complicated with the entrance of Paolo, a photographer, who loves Jacks, and who Jacks tries to get hooked up with Peter. As the film develops, they come to realize their mistakes and eventually reach their happy endings.

Watch if for the very pretty and very cute Brittany Murphy, one of my favourites.

Movie Review: Bride Wars

Bride Wars is about two best friends with a common dream - to get married at the Plaza in June. But their relationship is tested when circumstances force them to share the date and the venue, pitting them in an ugly no-holds-barred war against each other...

Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway should be reasons enough to watch the movie, but both definitely have looked much better earlier! I guess, as I say, people do look their worst when they are getting married :)

Movie Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins is a slightly long, most times boring, at times exciting special effects fare, tracing the birth of the X-Men. People find Hugh Jackman interesting, but I don't like his monkey look at all, and for me, that was a major turn off throughout. The special effects are OK - nothing too special about them. I did like the scene where he jumps off to cut the rotor blades of the chopper...

Watch it before the next weekend comes with it's bouquet of new movies!

Movie Review: 17 Again

17 Again is about a 40 something guy (Matthew Perry) who's not exactly having the perfect life - in office, he is passed up for promotion every time, at home, his wife is leaving him, his kids ignore him. One day, as he reflects on his past and how he could have pursued his basketball dreams, he meets his "spirit guide" who gives him a chance to be seventeen again.

Will he be a hero again? Will he pursue his basketball dreams? Or will he once again give it all up for his family? What is his true calling?

The movie has its very funny moments, and is a good watch. Thomas Lennon does a great job as the "peacocking father" of the 17 again Mike, played by the absolutely delicious looking Zac Efron. He's a treat for the girls... your girlfriend will love you for taking her to this one :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

E75 Update

I can say it again - this is an amazing phone; if you looking for a stylish, sexy, easy and effective business phone, look no further. And at barely 22K, it's a steal.

India Crash out of T20 WC

After a string of mediocre outings, India crashed out of the WC T20 last night at Lord's with a 3 run defeat to England. Disappointing as it is, one must admit that India didn't really deserve to win this one. The bowling, batting and fielding was shabby, and a few decisions b y Mahi didn;t make much sense - bringing in Jadeja ahead of Yuvi, himself and Yusuf, for example, when chasing a decent target. Overall, the only take away from the WC - we beat Pakistan in the practice match, keeping our all-wins credentials against them in WCs intact, Yes, right, it's not much of a take away :(

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mobile Blogging

My first attempt to blog on the go through my mobile :)

Cricket, Again!

Today was my second cricket session - and today was awesome! I scored 33 in 3 overs - including 2 towering sixes and a few boundaries. The sound of the ball getting whacked by the meat of the bat is just so, so sweet! I also rolled my arm around and bowled 5-6 fairly decent overs - medium pacers, got a few wickets too, including a couple of clean bowled. Best part was that the ball is now starting to stick in my hands... caught a few catches. And my running has definitely improved from last time.

Overall, an awesome session today. 32 overs in all for around 2.5 hours.

I have a very hurting shoulder right now, and I do hope it's just stiffness and not a tear, but it feels like heaven!

Sunday, June 07, 2009


Played cricket yesterday. A few of us from office have been playing for the last few Saturdays at the Ideal Colony ground in Kothrud, but my weekends in Goa meant I had not been able to join them.

We met around 615 am, and played from 630 till close to 900. First in pairs, each getting 3 overs, and then a 6 overs match. Positives for me - I hit 2 very beautiful shots down the ground for 4, a few other good middle-of-the-bat hits, bowled a couple of fairly decent overs, got a wicket, and helped in a run out. Things that need to get better - the ball still barely sticks in the hand, and running is still very poor.

After the match, we all met at Durga for its very special cold coffee!

At 34, with a job that keeps you hooked to the laptop 24*7, I had pretty much given up any hope of ever getting back to the sport I loved so much - it had been almost 2 decades since I played a real match, unless you count those stupid one bounce affairs where so much as hitting a ball directly to that silly wall 10 feet away can get you declared out :)

The rains will probably bring in some disruption, but I eagerly look forward to this continuing for ever...

Movie Review: Angels and Demos

Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is at it again - this time, saving the world from the cataclysmic scenario of anti-matter meeting matter, and saving the Vatican from the "Illuminati", a secret organization rumoured to be out for revenge for its persecution by the church for its refusal to toe the church's stand on issues of Goa versus science.

The Pope has been poisoned, and the bishops are in their Conclave to elect the next Pope. Can the symbologist and his attractive physicist partner (but his earlier partner in Da Vinci was a lot better!) win the race against time to find the "path of illumination", the four churches where the Illuminati secretly worshipped the four elements of nature - Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, and where the top 4 bishops will be killed in a very symbolic fashion, the terror culminating at the Church of the Angel, where the anti-matter will finally collapse in a blinding explosion of light, destroying the Vatican and most of Rome with it?

Does the Illuminati exist, or is there a even more sinister plot behind all this?

The movie is extremely fast paced, shot in the beautiful locales of Rome and the Vatican City, and is a treat to mystery buffs. Hear the dialogues carefully, don't question too much, and enjoy the plot.

Not for kids, though.

Movie Review: 99

Cyrus Broacha (was he really that fat, or was it good make up?) and Kunal Khemu work for a Mumbai don, and are in Delhi to recover money owed to the don by a compulsive gambler, Boman Irani. Soha Ali plays Kunal's love angle, a receptionist at the five star hotel they are put up in. Throw in a few other characters, and what you have is a nice cocktail of fun. I especially liked the goon from Delhi, although I am too tired right now to go searching for his name...

Don't have too many expectations, listen to the dialogues, and you will have a good time. We saw a Hindi movie after ages - given the producer-multiple conflict that was going on for the last few months. And even though there were just 10 people in the theatre, including 5 of us, the movie was a lot of fun...

Oh, and yes, I absolutely loved the opening credits - beautifully done!

Cats and Parrots

There seems to be an invasion of animals and birds in Nerul. Apart from the usual culprits like sparrows and crows, and the odd cuckoo, this time there was a huge contingent of parrots - see if you can spot some of them in the picture below (taken from a cell phone so please don't crib about the quality!)

There are also some VERY healthy cats around... none of them belong to us, yet all of them think they live with us! Guess the presence of a large labrador or a guy from Pune who can't resist wanting to pick them up and smother them with kisses, doesn't make much of a difference, going by how much they love to lounge lazily around the house.

Metrosexuals :)

Siddha and I had went to the Snip Salon and Spa the other day for 3 hours of heavenly pampering, with a pedicure, a manicure and a 45 min Asian Head Massge :) Never before has someone so lovingly cut my nails, brushed off the dead cells and rough edges, polished my teeth-ravaged nails, and then brutally assaulted my body with elbows in the guise of a massage... transporting me from a deep slumber to terror, and back to slumber... And while at times I did feel like a broiler chicken being cleaned for a tandoori kebab, I would gladly do it again, and again!

And all this for only 1900 :)

First Rains

Everyone should experience the rains in Goa, especially the first showers... when the thirsty earth soaks up the drops, the aroma of the earth spreads arounds, a beautiful smell you just can't get enough of... the plants, the trees and every thing else shakes off the dust and grime and look fresh and happy... the temperature drops, the cold wind blowing in bringing smiles and chills... the pittar patter of the drops on the tiled roof, the undulating rise and drop in intensity of sound in tandem with the force of the rain - a sound so beautiful with its pattern of irregularity...

No, don't even try and imagine experiencing this in the city...

First Impressions...

A few years back, a visit to Goa meant being taken in by the natural beauty and cleanliness. Today, ugly haphazard constructions and piles of garbage and plastic bags dotting the landscape meet the eye. Maybe the average Goan has got used to seeing this, day after day. For an outsider though, this is shocking and ugly compared to the beautiful memories we carry. And I have to admit, each time I go back now, it shocks and saddens me, and makes me very sad.

As the bus rolls into Goa and the first light of the sun hits the coconut trees, one starts noticing the piles of garbage and plastic dumped by the side of the road near the Damian De Goa showroom in Porvorim. More plastic all over Porvorim plateau. More ugly, stinking garbage at the Malim fishing jetty. Take the Verem-Nerul road, and it feels like one is passing through a garbage dump near See You bar and restaurant. Ugly concrete structures of Nerul tinto give way to the beautiful Nerul bridge, but the very next moment one passes through yet another garbage dump on both sides of the approach road on the Candolim side.

Some immediate measures we can probably take up in Goa to tackle this:
1)Ban plastic bags of all kinds
2)Ban dumping of construction debris along main roads and highways
3)Make village panchayats responsible/empowered for scientific disposal of garbage
4)Provide plastic collection centers in all cities/villages
5)Conduct urgent and immediate clean up drives along key roads, highways, and in key tourist places to collect and dispose of plastic and garbage that’s accumulated over the years
6)Involve villagers, hoteliers, and other stake holders in the programme to maintain cleanliness
7)Regulate construction to avoid ugly, haphazard concrete eye sores from coming up every where

In contrast, when we reach Pune, we are greeted by broad tree-lined avenues, very clean footpaths and roads, and in general, a beautiful city. I think the PMC and the administration here definitely deserve a round of applause!

Ford Ikon

I got a lot of time in this trip and in the last few weekends I have been to Goa to drive my sister's Ford Ikon - and I must say, it continues to be an amazing car. And it's just got better from the 1.3 CLXi I bought 9 years back... the engine growls like a tiger on the prowl, the pick up and manoueuvrebility is better than ever before, and the way it grips the road on tight curves easily beats the Fiesta. When I got my Fiesta, I thought the reason it didn't feel that stable on the turns was because of the power steering, when compared to the manual Ikon. So it's the suspension and the low COG which makes the Ikon such a beautiful driving experience! Of course, with its much higher power, the Fiesta still has a better pickup and acceleration, and of course, is much roomier, and is a lot of fun too... but then, this is a needless comparison :)

Navigator Upgrade

When I bought my MapMyIndia navagator a couple of months back, my first question had been - when will you update the maps? Even though there were extremely detailed maps of over 200 cities and towns in India, I could see that they were at least 2-3 years or more older... places like the University Flyover in Pune were not updated on the maps. They had assured me the maps were to be updated my May/June, and frankly, I did not believe them.

A few days earlier, I got a mail from them saying new maps were available, and all I needed to do was transfer 500 Rs into their ICICI account, and they would dispatch them to me.

I got the SD card the day I left for Goa, and I carried my navigator with me in the bus to check out the changes.

I was left stunned. The maps have been completely redone - this time, they are not vectorized graphics, but satellite based images with amazingly high quality - includes detailed layouts even of traffic islands. In most cases, one way streets are marked out. There's huge content - for example, a search for restaurants in Calangute threw up 99 entries! And everywhere I went in Goa, including when we went to Molem and Tambdi Surla, the navigator knew exactly where I was - and could even point out untarred pathways in many cases!

The applicaiton also has been updated - has much better search functions, is very usable, and is a pleasure to use. Having the navigator on while driving is not just useful when you don't know the road... but is a lot of fun even when you do!

And all this for a 500 Rs upgrade!

I seriously love these guys, and I wish I could do my bit to sell more of their kits!

Tire Burst

The journey to Goa wasn't that uneventful this time... a few km out of the city, our bus had a tire burst, the front one at that... the vehicle wobbled seriously for a few seconds, but our driver kept his cool, and his control of the vehicle and pulled over. Maybe it was overheating... the tire was pretty new actually, but just burst open in the middle of the side walls. For the record, it was an Apollo, not a Bridgestone :)

We spent 40 mins or so while the crew replaced the burst tire, and were finally on our way... for exactly 2 mins. A few meters down the road was the dinner stop! If only we knew earlier...

Sleeping in the Car...

We had a power cut the other night in Nerul... some kind of overload and tripping, for more than an hour. It was humid and unbearably hot, so Sanam and I found a solution. We went and slept in Shweta's car :) With the AC running, we had an amazing hour or so of sleep before the power came back on and we had to reluctantly return to our bedroom...

Nokia E75 and Nokia 5800 XpressMusic

We bought two very, very sexy phones yesterday, for myself and Madhavi. Mads went for the 5800 for its touch screen, something she was very keen on having. It's a nice phone, pretty sleek too, and has some sweet applications like a touch screen enabled piano and guitar... a good phone for the music inclined. Also, with it's orientation sensor and stuff, some exciting games too.

I bought the E75, one of the best offerings from Nokia in the business phones segment. With a better processor and lots of memory, the performance is super fast. It's sleek, will fit in any pocket, and it's chrome and silver cover elements make it extremely good looking. A full querty keyboard slides out from the side, while the standard alphanumeric keyboard on the front makes it a breeze for smsing. Setting up my office email, and gmail, was extremely smooth and took no more than a few seconds. Amazing.

Both cells support GPS and Wifi, which is really very cool too! And oh, needless to say, automatically switches from landscape to portrait mode, and has extremely effective cameras with flash (in the E75) :)

I hate having to say bye to my loyal and very efficient and effective 6300, but it had really taken a lot of rough use over the last 15 months, and was starting to fall apart... I do have to move on to the E75, but for those who are looking for a basic cellphone in the sub 10K range, the 6300 remains by far the best!

Back in Pune... and to the Blog :)

I am back in Pune after a week long vacation in Pune, and I have a few things to say... so watch out for some updates :)