Sunday, September 30, 2012

India Toys With The Pakis

The Indian team toyed with the Pakis, first with the ball and then with the bat, to hand them yet another crushing defeat in the T20 WC, keeping India's unbeaten record against their once-feared adversaries intact.

After a bad start wherein Pathan and Zaheer gave away 26 runs in the first 2 overs, the Indians came back with a vengeance running through the Paki lineup, dismissing them for 128 within the alloted 20. Yuvi picked up two excellent caught behinds, and then effected a super run out from point with a direct throw to be the pick of the bowlers.

While Gambhir left without scoring, young Virat once again showed why he is the new Wall of India, scoring an impressive 78 in 61 in the company of Sehwag and then Yuvi, not once giving Pakistan a semblance of a chance.

After the huge loss against Australia a couple of days ago, India were, for once, not the favourites to win this tie... but rose up like the Phoenix.

The group is now wide open, and while India would want to carry the momentum into their game against South Africa, Pakistan also have a fair bit of work to do when they meet Australia. Australia are through, and South Africa still have a chance.


When I reach home after work, I usually have two cats waiting for me. Katrina, who stays with us, is a spoilt brat, and needs to be cajoled and convinced to come back home, and Chocobar (who happens to be Katrina's daughter), who stays in the society parking, and eagerly comes to receive me, hopeful of getting something to eat. While Katrina is overfed and consequently, very picky with her food, Chocobar simply gulps down anything I give her, and since she misses my car many-a-times due to my irregular timings, she probably gets a mouthful just once in 2-3 days.

She is prettier than Katrina, and probably just as smart, if not smarter.

Sometimes I wonder, does she get jealous of Katrina? Does she aspire to take her place, being able to refuse good food, being able to push off others from the cushy sofa, or have first choice of where to sleep on the bed?

Maybe yes. Mostly no.

See, I don't think cats really have aspirations. They live on a day to day basis, enjoying whatever comes their way.

But with humans. it's so different. Humans think. Humans aspire. Humans get jealous. And many times, just like Chocobar, they have to beg for food, they have to depend on others to survive. While they watch wanton waste and lavish lifestyles from others who may not deserve it any more than they do!

Especially when the question is one of opportunity, or lack thereof. When, as a bright kid, you still have to let go of an opportunity to learn and grow, because you need to work to make ends meet for your family and yourself.

Sometimes, when I hear people (including myself) talk about wanting to buy the next big SUV, wanting to be CEO, wanting that luxury pad on the beach... I think of others who work to make ends meet. People we don't care to throw a second look at. Don't they aspire? How do they cope up knowing they can never get what they aspire? Unless they take the path of crime and dishonesty.

Sometimes I think, it's better to be a cat.

Kaas Plateau

Last weekend, on the way back to Pune from Goa, we decided to take a short detour to the Kaas Plateau, famous for its wild flowers.

Just 25 kms or so from Satara, the Kaas Pathaar (as they call it in Marathi) is an ecosystem quite like no other I have seen! A short steep ghat with breathtaking views takes you to a thin sliver of land perched high among the clouds between two huge reservoirs, the road snaking gently as it climbs towards the huge plateau. Spotlessly clean, with not a scrap of paper or plastic, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in Europe. Especially when, at 230 on a bright sunny afternoon, you feel the chilled air blowing against your face.

The authorities now prevent you from parking at the plateau, which is a great thing! There is ample parking a couple of KMs before, and you can enjoy a exhilarating ride in an ST bus the rest of the way. You can of course choose to tell the authorities that you are driving further to Bamnoli, and then pass Kaas by car, and maybe you will find some place to park and come back on foot.

When we reached, we were probably past prime season, but the views, the fresh breeze, the cleanliness and the overall experience was just too good to miss!

Royal Goan Cat

Movie Review: OMG Oh My God

OMG is a movie the world needed today. When cities burn and hundreds are killed because of a stupid porn director's fallacy, you know something is going terribly wrong. Umesh Shukla's OMG is a wonderful adaptation of the movie ‘The Man Who Sued God’ and the Bhavesh Mandalia play ‘Kanji Virudh Kanji’, and has the potential to change lives - asking some very relevant questions about religion as we practice it today, and showing a simple path for the future. It uses comedy to entertain, and without once really questioning the existence of god, redefines god, faith and religion in such a beautiful way, it is difficult not to come away touched and inspired.

Kanji Mehta (Paresh Rawal) is business man, a hardcore athiest, with a shop wherein he dupes unsuspecting god-fearing men of their riches by selling them, ironically, god. However, when his shop is destroyed in a earthquake (unleashed by god (?) against him to punish him for his unfaith), and the insurance company refuses to pay for the "act of god", he does the unthinkable. He sues god in a court of law, demanding compensation.

As the war between the unfaithful Kanji and the legions of swamis and maulvis unfolds in court, and on the streets, Kanji meets the sauve, sexy, dashing chopper-riding smartly dressed Krishna Vasudev Yadav. Or, as we know him, Lord Krishna.

Will Kanji win the case in court? Will he be a Lord Krishna disciple? Will be become a believer?

Why do we pour lakhs of liters of oil and milk down the drain, when thousands die hungry ever day? Why does the bus carrying the faithful to Amarnath plunge down the abyss? Why does the Gamesh idol on the dash not protect those countless who die in car accidents every day? Why do we build temples and charge for VIP Darshan when god resides in every atom of the universe?

OMG raises many questions which the faithful might have termed irreverent and even blasphemous. But director Umesh Shukla walks the tightrope beautifully, using comedy as the balancing bar, and an amazing control over the script, the execution and the story, never once giving the faithful any reason to complain, while beautifully exposing the business empires and the shams in the name of god. 

Paresh Rawal puts in an amazing performance, using his subtlelity, his dialogues, his silences, and his timing, driving the message in a hard hitting manner that touches while it entertains! The film uses an amazing combination of reality and fantasy, giving god a very human, modern day avataar, to clearly differentiate between god and religion, faith and business, truth and sham. Using Kanji as the messenger, the movie makes its point: “People are not god-loving, they are god-fearing.”

Akshay Kumar’s cool dude avatar of Krishna is fun to watch, a breath of fresh air after many of his nonsensical performances, the harbinger of happiness and faith, while never once getting preachy or godly.
Govind Namdeo and Mithun Chakraborty (and Poonam Jhawer) as the various swamis portray their characters admirably, invoking immediate recall and relation to all the dramas one sees on TV these days. Govind Namdeo pulls off yet another stunner, while Mithun proves, yet again, why he is revered as such a good actor! Om Puri is wasted as the lawyer, but pulls off the cameo with elan.

Prabhu Deva and Sonakshi Sinha rock in their item number, 'Go Govinda', and fits in pretty well in the movie.

So stop salivating over that stale Barfi, and go watch OMG - it will not only entertain you, but will probably touch you in a way few other things have in your life. And in that, maybe, you will find god.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Just realised this is my post No 2001 on this blog :)

Records don't mean much, I guess... but hey, I am celebrating it! After all, when I started my blog way back on 15 Aug, six years back, I don't think I gave myself a realistic chance of having so much to say! Yes, I have had my share of loyal readers, and more than I needed share of barbs and rude comments (which I can gleefully delete!), I have been encouraged, and sometimes rudely shaken, but most of all, the blog has made me look around more, notice more, appreciate more, question more, and definitely, experience more.

Do you guys know I write a diary, every day, since, guess what? 1987! Yes, that's every day for over 25 years now. Actually, I started a few years earlier to 1987, but never completed those diaries, and for one stupid reason or the other, threw them away, incomplete.

Anywayz, just back from OMG, and trust me, that's one movie the world really needs right now. Go watch it with your family, friends, colleagues, relatives and neighbours. The world will be such a more beautiful place!


Restaurant Review: Out Of The Blue

After a long time, I finally made it to Out Of The Blue, the nice lounge-by-night-restaurant-by-day at ESquare (in place of the older Not Just Jazz By The Bay).

Excellent service, great food, and a very welcoming and comforting ambience makes OOTB a great option for semi formal dining. We had the most delicious and true to its name Charcoal Grilled Mushrooms (another amazing dish in the league is the Smoked Chicken Soup at Esca), and a pretty interesting Prawns and Mushroom Sizzler, washed down with Virgin Jalzeera Mohito.

Yes, they did forget to add the Fries to the Sizzler, but made up for it handsomely, immediately.

Overall, a little on the pricey side, but highly recommended!

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Retribution (3D)

In the latest installment of the RE franchise, Alice has to escape from the virtual environments and biological clutches of the deadly Umbrella Corporation and the undead, only to set up the stage for the next movie - the last stand of the humans against evil.

The movie begins on a promising note, with a great "reverse" opening sequence, some excellent made-for-3D effects, and what looks like a good plot. But as the movie stretches on, the repetition gets to you, the one-dimensional action and Milla's catsuit start becoming suffocating, and the 3D glasses on your nose invite you into a dreamy nap...

Avoidable, unless you haven't had enough of Milla already.

Tiny Tots

Living History

Last week in Goa, we had the opportunity to visit an ancient "fortress" - a huge house with watch towers, an attached temple, a cow shed, and dozens of huge rooms. It used to belong to government sympathizers in Portuguese Goa over 100 years ago, and is still inhabited, although in dire need of maintenance and repairs (given that only an elderly couple lives there, though, it was pretty amazingly well kept!).

What I found absolutely fascinating was that the house still has an active Muslim shrine right inside it, where the village's faithful still offer prayers. What a beautiful example of social and communal harmony - what an example to set for the world!

Here are some pics. In honor of the request from the house owners, I have refrained from publishing some of the stunning artifacts or the address of this amazing place.

Inside the main courtyard of the house

Looking towards the top floor from one of the watch towers

Amazing inlaid windows give a cathedral effect to the living room

The main courtyard of the house, seen from the watch tower

Two steep, narrow and curving flights of stairs take you to the top of the watch tower - very scary climb indeed!

The Swayambu deity in the temple attached to the house

Another majestic ruin bang opposite the main house - notice the gallery along the facade!

The main entrance

View of the right side watch tower and flank

Cricket Fundas

Ever wondered what short leg, gully and forward short leg meant? Here's a nice graphic that should make it clear :)

Click on the picture or save it locally and view the larger image to find out!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Inspired Barfi!

Anurag Basu denies plagiarism with Barfi - inspite of borrowing first the complete story and then entire scenes shot by shot from dozens of international films, blaming the need to put in a 20 second anti-smoking disclaimer for not acknowledging the movies he "got inspired" from... and with Barfi getting selected as the Indian entry to the Oscars, what does this do to the reputation of the Indian film industry? Were there really no better films this year that deserved this honour? Kahani? GoW? Hell, even Jism 2 :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

eMee: Serious Enterprise Gamification

"I am continually surprised to learn the things I thought were true are no longer so. For example, I’ve always thought that US digital technology was superior. The next batch of players would be Asia, then Europe and the UK. While there is some great work coming out of India, I wouldn’t look there for innovation.

My jaw dropped when I saw that the first ever comprehensive enterprise management platform using gamification was developed by Persistent Systems, an Indian company", says John Sumser in the HRExaminer.

"The key is in understanding and mapping of the core enterprise. If all you offer is simple leader boards and badges, gamification is a dead end. This is partly because the same people who always make it to the top of the charts stay there. Everyone else gets frustrated because the game seems rigged and there are only a few boring ways to compete.

Great multi player games have many options for exploration and give each player the freedom to develop her own mission or journey. eMee has found a way to bring those concepts to work. The design (when mapped competently) encourages personal responsibility and evolution in a competitive framework. The game platform shows trench level employees that their jobs and careers are ‘growable’.

eMee is proving its value in a dynamic environment focused on the continuing pursuit of excellence in all aspects of the enterprise" he concludes.

Read full article on

Monday, September 24, 2012

Poster Boy Or Master?

"He will come back to us within 3-4 months". That's the voice of a master assuring the press that the poster boy of his team, who has just left, disgruntled, disillusioned and upset, will be back soon.

The twist?

The man making the statement is Kejriwal, and the "poster boy" here is Annji himself.

Role reversal? Or was this how it was always? A simple, true crusader played by a cunning and egoistic team who used him and then discarded him, and is now confident that he has no other option but to come back to their fold?

India had one big chance at ridding itself of corruption, and sadly, a handful of people have managed to hand the initiative back to the politicians!

India's Spin Doctors Treat England

India registered a thumping 90 run victory over defending champions England in the last league match of T20 WC in Sri Lanka, with Harbhajan (playing international after more than a year) and Piyush combining to deadly effect, bowling out England for 80 after the batsmen led by Rohit Sharma (another team member under question) had set a pretty steep 171 for victory. Earlier Virat showed his class for a well struck 40, partnering with Gambhir (45) after India lost Pathan cheaply.

India rested Zaheer, Sehwag and Ashwin for this inconsequential match (both India and England having already made it to the Super 8s).

While India would have got some much needed relief and momentum after a scratchy opening encounter against Afghanistan, England have some serious work ahead of them on the subcontinent's turning pitches, especially with a tough Test tour to India coming up in a few weeks.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Double Trouble

Pretty Goan Ladies

Trip To Chapoli, Palolem, Patnem, Galjibag, and Agonda

Yesterday was our post-Chaturthi trip day - all of us cousins, with Samara, my cousin's A-Star, my enthusiastic uncle, and a bunch of kids in tow.

First stop, a quick detour off NH17 to the picturesque Chapoli Dam. The perfect place for some wild stream bathing and some cow-watching.

After a refreshing bath, we were hungry, and off we went to Palolem, for a freakingly amazing feast of seafood at the Palolem Beach Resort. Tandoori Prawns, Masala Squid, some amazing Rawa Fried Surmai, Chicken Cafreal, Pomfret Recheado... washed down with chilled Pepsi.

We wanted to take a boat down to Butterfly Island and explore the shoreline, but it was still a little hot and sunny, and decided to explore in the cool environs of our cars instead. So, next stop, the not-so-happening Patnem.

Too many cows spoil the beach, so we beat a hasty retreat and ended up in the very beautiful and secluded Galjibag, beside the Lalit's Golf Course. The kids had a gala time in the cold water, while the elders watched jealously.

It was 4:00 by now, and we were all tired from the beach-hopping, so we washed up (careful not to get any sand into the squeaky clean cars), caught up some nice hot tea at a local tapari, and then went on to our last hop of the day - Agonda.

At 6:00, the beach-weary party decided to call it a day and head back home - after all, the night was yet to begin, and we needed to be ready for it!