Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hardy Boys :)

In my childhood, they only used to chase robbers and murderers in my favourite books :)

Types of Disasters

Look closely... at the bottom right pic (thanks for the correction, Smita!). Snapped this from my nephew's fifth standard class project book! :)

Goa Baywatch

They not only look sexy, they do a fab job too! Along with the EMRI 108 service, Goa is in safe hands...


OK, not really, but pretty close

So Where Have I Been?

Back to Pune
Running a Travel Agency
Yes, really

Movie Review: All The Best

All the best, if you go for it!

OK, it's not that bad a deal if there's nothing else to do. And Mugdha Godse is pure eye candy. Indulge...

Movie Review: White Out

Murder mystery in Antarctica, some great snowy visuals, some boring snowy action, overall an OK movie, nothing to write about.

Oh, and yes, I missed 75% of the movie since I was on call center duty... :)

India 2 Australia 1

Dhoni plays another smashing captain's unbeaten innings to guide India to a comfortable 6 wicket victory in Kotla. Nagpur was a 100 run walk-over, helped by another amazing unbeaten century, after a very unfortunate, 3 run loss in the first game.

Keep it up, boys, you rock!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What is it about the 90s?

Aamir Khan, Udit Narayan, Khambe Jaisi Khadi Hai, Phool aur Kaante... names, movies, songs that bring a strange melancholiness, a strange feeling that borders on ecstasy, sadness, pain, and pleasure at the same time. I haven't been able to pin point it yet, but listening to those songs and watching those movies transports me into the 90s with an eerie sense of deja vu, an eerie sense of being transported back into time, not sure I am happy, not sure I am missing something, not sure what it is...

It's just something I want to do again and again.

Maybe it was the innocence of those days, a life without Internet, without cellphones, where a walk at Miramar in the evening, and rides around 18th June Road were all that were needed to make it a great day. Where relationships were uncomplicated, where tensions were few, where money wasn't a criteria, where proving oneself wasn't necessary.

Maybe it was just about being in Goa.

Maybe it was about being a kid.

Maybe moving back to Goa will bring those days back?

Movie Review: District 9

Twenty years ago, an alien ship "drops anchor" on the skies over Johannesburg, South Africa, its "prawns" population "settled" in a refugee camp called District 9. As the prawns go about their lives, humans learn to live with the million plus aliens in an uneasy status quo.

Cut to present day. This uneasy calm is ruptured. As riots erupt with humans demanding the aliens be shifted out away from the city, there also seems to be some other sinister agenda behind the government's tolerance of the prawns. Their unique weapons are biogenetically engineered such that in the hands of the humans, they simply do not work. Can the secrets be unlocked creating a multi-billion dollar opportunity? Is that when the private army, Multi-National United, is looking to do when they are contracted to forcibly evict the population with Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) in charge?

During the eviction operation, Wikus is exposed to a strange alien chemical that starts turning him into a prawn himself, and must rely on the help of his only two new prawn friends. Will he be able to help them retrieve the "fuel" necessary to fire up their mother ship to return to their own world? Will they be able to help him be human again?

The movie is sci-fi, but the emotions are terribly real. As you see the aliens helpless and exploited, covering in fear, you can't help but pity them and hope they win against us humans. You feel the desperation of the young kid, desperately searching for his father. You feel their helplessness and wish you would help.

Shot in a unique documentary mode at times, Sharlto Copley with his South African accent does a great job. This has all the makings of a good franchise, the possibilities are endless, and I look forward to a lot more from the prawns!

A must-see, as long as you can take the gore.

Joy Of Giving

Times of India is celebrating the Joy Of Giving Week... have you experienced it yet? How about giving away some of your old shirts to that old fellow at the traffic signal? Or how about purchasing some nutri bars and handing them over to those kids who come begging for food? Or, if you are feeling good, how about that online donation to EMRI or UNESCO or Help Age? It just takes a min, you know?

Do not pity yourself and give away 50 paise at the traffic signal. You know as well as anyone what that is worth today. Give something substantial. Not something you want to get rid of, something that is of worth to you, that's where the real joy comes from.

And oh, yes, don't start with "it's insignificant". For you, it might be small. But for that kid at the signal, that nutri bar of 10 rupees means a good meal for a day, and that's big when you are living a day to day existence. For that guy, your shirt will mean decency and respectly clothing for a month.

Go ahead, open your purse strings a little, and enjoy the joy of giving.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel for Peace?

Obama gets nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 11 days into office, and then wins the award for "calling for nuclear disarmament". WOW.

I hereby call for total world peace and complete disarmament and a world based on love and harmony. Come on, I TALKED ABOUT it, where's my Nobel?

Sorry, but this is pretty sad... I mean, there are dozens of other deserving candidates out there, working hard to try and make a real difference. And here we have America's new president, 11 days into office, seemingly having NO positive effect on Iran, on North Korea, on Israel-Palentine, on Agfhanistan, on Iran, bungling his way through his first year in office with nothing to show for results, winning the award, nominations for which were closed 11 days into his office!

At this rate, I think even Narendra Modi deserved it more! Or, the Indian government for having tolerated 9/11 and refusing to get drawn into a war that the world could have never faulted it for.

Interestingly, do you know, Gandhi never even got nominated? Or that Hitler was nominated?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Just the Flu

So I went to see the doctor yesterday, since it had been like 48 hours since my first brush with fever - and turns out I just have the flu, the normal seasonal flu. Doctor advised that I just sit through one bout of fever so that the body gets a chance to fight whatever it is that has infected me. Today morning, I am much better.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


After escaping my most common illnesses - cold and fever - ever since the swine flu pandemic broke up in India, I finally seem to have joined the bandwagon. I have been having mild fever since the last 36 hours, which started with some body aches, then got significantly better, and close to normal in the day time, and now seems to be picking up slightly.

No cough or cold, no chest pain, no discomfort in breathing.

Yet, the worry is driving me crazy :)

Morale of the story: it's easy to calm others and run polls on a blog, but when it strikes you, you spend hours searching for "swine flu without cold"!

No doomsday predictions please - comment only if you going to tell me this is "just a common fever" :)

Book Review: The Satyam Saga

The Satyam Saga is a compilation of articles by various writers from Business Standard, providing an in-depth analysis and low down on the biggest scandal to hit the global industry since Enron and Madoff.

Written as a very simple, easy-to-understand narrative, the book provides fascinating insights into the persona of Ramalinga Raju, his public image as a philantropist (he was responsible for EMRI, the medical emergency response service that has saved thousands of lives in half a dozen states in India - for free) and a visionary leader at Satyam, a company he created and nurtured as one of India's top 5 IT giants, in stark contrast to the crook he eventually turned out to be.

It also gives a good understanding of how our regulatory bodies and executive boards work, what can be done better, and how the Govt of India played a stellar role in ensuring Satyam did not go down, protecting its customers, employees and share holders from meeting a similar fate as Enron, Worldcom and Parmalat.

Another interesting article is on EMRI, Raju's pet project which he personally funded and helped grow into one of India's showpiece public-private enterprises through his persuasive powers and contacts. A few months later, Satyam and Cisco announced a joint venture to take emergency medical response software to the world. Was EMRI just a pilot aimed at creating and capturing new markets? Hard to tell, but with Raju, everything's possible! (After the Satyam fiasco, GVK has taken over EMRI)

For those who liked this book, I would also highly recommend "The Smartest Guys in the Room", by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, based on the Enron saga. While Satyam was largely about fudging accounts and showing non-existent bank deposits, the scale, the variety and the reach of the Enron scandal was simply mind-boggling. That's a book you will not be able to put down.

Movie Review: Wake Up Sid

Sidharth Mehra is rich, and works very hard at partying and spending his dad's money. He's not spoilt, he's a good guy really. But life's troubles are far away... after all, his exams have got over, and it's time to enjoy!

Aisha is his complete opposite. Alone in the big city, she's come from Kolkata to try and strike it out on her own as a writer.

Sidharth and Aisha are not meant for each other. You are still a baccha, she keeps telling him. But they quickly become great friends... they set up Aisha's house together, work together at Mumbai Beat, and when Sid is thrown out of his house, he moves in with her.

And every day, slowly but surely, Sid wakes up to life. And to Aisha.

There's no big bang. No overnight awakening, no song to transform Sid from the kid to the man. The movie is slow and subtle, and beautiful. Small incidences, small realisations, as every day life proves to be more challenging that deciding which disc to party at tonight!

In what can be truly called Ranbir's coming of age movie, Ayaan Mukherjee brings out the best in Ranbir, as an actor and a teenage heartthrob. Check out his showdown with his dad, and a few of his scenes with his mother. Konkona as Aisha delivers yet another powerful performance, in a role she's excelled at countless times. Anupam Kher wows you with his brief but very memorable scenes. There are a couple of very fresh and interesting faces and characters.

The movie is also a beautiful essay on Mumbai and its charm and beauty, and I could so totally relate to Ranbir reminiscing about its rains and the sea.

Side Note: For some inexplicable reason, the script writers chose to use the word Bombay, giving MNS a chance to make an issue out of it, and forcing Karan Johar to issue an unconditional apology and clarification at the beginning of the film.

The soundtrack has a couple of good songs, but what I loved was the seamless integration of some beautiful English tracks in the background score.

Definitely worth a watch this weekend!

Book Review: Shopportunity

Shoppourtunity by Kate Newlin promises to teach you how to be a retail revolutionary, how to get the lowdowns on markdown, and reginite the "thrill of the hunt" when you shop.

I love these kind of books because of the profusion of real life examples that give a peek into how the world works. Another exciting book of the genre is The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford.

Unfortunately, where Shoppurtunity fails to excite is in its drab treatment of the subject. Yes, there are examples, but the book takes a preaching style to help you "learn how to love and look forward to your shopping" through steps and rules of Anticipation, Pursuit and Prominence, making each shopping experience like that of buying your wedding dress.

This book was supposedly on the Reading List of HBR 2006, but I would give it a pass.