Monday, February 25, 2013

Colonial Pune circa 2013

Leading From The Front

We had the amazing opportunity to visit the Central Archives of the Tata group today (and have a look at a couple of the pictures we managed to click at the TMTC campus in Pune - simply breathtaking!), and the 90 mins we spent there were so inspiring! Made us feel so proud to be Indian!

This is truly an amazing business family, and there is so much to learn and get inspired by.

Did you know, for example, that JRD Tata started India's first commercial airline Tata Airlines, which later became Air India? OK, and did you know, that amazingly, the first flight of Tata Airlines, a Puss Moth, took off from Karachi in 1932, to Ahmedabad and onward to Mumbai, and was piloted solo by none other than JRD himself? As India's first pilot, his license number was 1!

Talk about leading from the front!

Almost 1 - 0

So the Aussie tail enders managed to put some sort of resistance in the final hour of play and force the players to take the field tomorrow, but with the victory assured (barring some very unlikely rain tomorrow), Mahi's team will be very pumped up. And why not! They have been under extreme pressure, with a bunch of tough series in the recent past, and a lot of questions were being raised, especially around Mahi's captaincy by ex-players who hate his popularity! It's time they eat some humble pie, shut up, and enjoy basking in his glory.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Will Life Get Better?

My earlier post about Lifebuoy got me started thinking about another related question... will life ever get "better" for our children?

Here's what I am thinking.

When we were kids, we didn't have enough money. We didn't have choices. We didn't have PS3s, we didn't go out to the malls for shopping, we didn't eat out more than once a month or two, we didn't drive around in fancy cars. Don't take me wrong - I am not saying we weren't happy, and I am not saying money buys happiness. But in terms of quality of life, over the last 2-3 decades, we did see a huge improvement. From a Premier Padmini to an Ikon to an Endeavour, I saw the love of my life, cars, get progressively more exciting. We got mobile phones, and the Nokia 3310s soon gave way to the iPhones and the Notes. We eat in fine dining restaurants now, very, very frequently. And every year, every decade, we had more choices, more abilities, more growth. For my daughter, shopping at Marks & Spencer or Guess doesn't sound special at all. An iPad or a Mac is just another device. A trip to Switzerland would not be a life-changing event; it would be just another holiday.

So what will be "growth" for today's kids?

By giving our kids a safe, comfortable and to some extent, a spoilt life today, are we setting them up for disappointment and disaster later in life?

200 For Dhoni

What a wonderful 3rd day's of play in the India Australia match! After Sachin missed his century, Virat got one, and then Dhoni took charge, playing with the tail enders to hit a chanceless double century, at almosy 87 strike rate, with over 20 4s and 5 6s. With over 100 partnership for the 9th wicket, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar also played the perfect foil. With over 120 in the lead now, India now have a real chance of applying the pressure tomorrow, getting the Aussies dusted and bowled for less than 250, and then going for the victory on the 5th day.


Amazing how certain things (and our biases) survive over time..

Take Lifebuoy for instance. When we were kids in Goa, in the 80s and 90s, Lifebuoy was the cheapest soap bar available, used by the maids of the house and the labourers who toiled in the fields. The red, hard bar was known to be good against germs, but very boring. So, when we cut ourselves, we used Lifebuoy to clean up against germs, but for bathing, it was Lux, and very rarely, as a special treat, Pears. (Just like a Cadbury was a very special treat, with the hard boiled 5 paise candy the norm)

A few days back I was scanning the super market shelves for a liquid handwash, and among the dozens of choices, I found Lifebuoy! It has been decades since I actually used Lifebuoy, and the first thing that came to my mind was ewwww, no way! That stupid hard, red bar! But then I had this urge to check it out, and I gingerly picked one up and brought it home.

And what a revelation it was! The pretty bottle takes just a gentle tap on the head to dispense this gloriously beautiful pinkish soapy liquid, which foams up with a delicious fragrance, and you just want to keep rubbing your hands together as you are engulfed in the amazing frothy experience. No, I am not exaggerating, it really is better than any handwash I have ever used.

It's my trusted soap now, used everytime I want to be sure my hands are germ free, especially when I handle my lenses.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Movie Review: Kai Po Che

Three young adults –a maths tuition teacher who dreams to make it big in the sports goods business, a cricket coach for the local sports club, and the nephew of a right wing politician – set out to carve an identity for themselves in Ahmedabad of the early 2000s. Their friendship is perfect, each having the other’s backs, until it is thrown in the cauldron of three life-changing events – the Gujarat earthquake, the Godhra train burning, and the bloody riots that followed.

KPC is the story of the human spirit, values and triumph against all odds. Amongst the tears and turmoil, among the tragedies and the deaths, KPC brings smiles and the hope that with time, everything will heal after all!

What works for KPC is the performance of its cast – with Rajkumar Yadav as the shy but focused maths teacher putting in a sterling performance, and showing that he is worth a lot more than Ragini’s lust, after all! His unsure moves with the love of his life, the sister of his best friend, his unwavering focus and practicality regarding their sports goods business, and his shyness and unwillingness to go wild with his friends is absolutely perfectly played out. Sushant Rajput is believable but unidimensional. Smriti as his sister and Yadav’s love interest is equal parts sweet and seductive, and really blossoms in the dandiya sequence.

The camera work, the screenplay, the technical treatment is brilliant, especially in the first half. The pace is scorching, dozens of stories interweaving seamlessly, and before you know it, it’s half time, and you are really looking forward to what’s coming up. But that’s when the movie starts faltering. The treatment of the earthquake, the Godhra incident and the riots is very pedestrian and the movie loses the finesse and subtlety of the first half. You start squirming in the seat, all the violence and death too much in your face. The end, while positive, doesn’t really bring the mood back to where it was after the first half.

Although unlikely to get the cult following of movies like DCH, ZNMD and RO, KPC is a one-time watch, and a very good one at that!

Movie Review: A Good Day To Die Hard

Nuclear WMDs in Chernobyl, armed commando gangs in Moscow, a rogue politician and a powerful businessman with dubious links. Mayhem on the roads, and attack choppers in the air. It’s all in a day’s work for McLane and his CIA spy son. The good men try hard to be funny, the bad boys try to be menacing. Except for an outrageous and unbelievable (after the stunts with the fighter jet in the earlier installment, DH fans know nothing is impossible for this gora Rajnikant) truck chase through the streets of Moscow, which is worth it, the movie degenerates into meandering gun battles and predictable encounters, and a comfortable recliner chair is recommended, especially in the second half.

It’s a good day to catch some sleep!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Exposure To Extremism: A Sad Comment On The Times We Live In

Hyderabad was rocked by serial blasts, leaving at least 15 killed and dozens injured.

While this is something we have all grown used to, sadly, what is even more shocking is how kids are now exposed to this stuff through TV and other mediums. How did I find out about the blasts? By my daughter's blog post!

When we were kids her age, all we worried about was home work! Here's what my daughter's written on her blog:

Boom Boom Boom! Today in Hyderabad, it was a everyday life of people and suddenly at 7:01 p.m., three continuous blasts took place in Dilsukhnagar, causing 50 injuries and 13 deaths. No one has not yet found that were the blasts cylinder blasts or bombs. The first blast triggered the people to run towards the other area where the second blast happened. It has not been declared that was it a bomb blast or just a bad incident. News 24 says that it was a bomb which was placed in a tiffin box on a bike. NIA seemed to have reached there and now, it is said that it was a timer bomb. They are now investigating the other areas to see if there are any other bombs in that area. As for now, the news channels are saying that everything is clear but there is a bit of suspicion at the Sai Baba Temple near Dilsukhnagar as it is also a very crowded area. Hoping for nothing else to happen, I am crossing my fingers. The bombs took place on a bus stand and near a theatre. Zee News declared that there were not one, not two, not three, not four, not five but 18 unblasted bombs!!! Unbelievable man! The whole area is being cordened. There are puddles of blood on roads. Oh God!! I am shocked!!! Praying to God to keep our country and our earth safe!

What is happening to this country, this world? Cant we put a stop to crimes forever? Who knows what the terrorists want? What do they get from killing innocent people? Dont terrorists realise their crimes? Dont they feel guilty?

Monday, February 18, 2013

How We Engage

We came up with this cute cartoon on our website to show "how we engage" differently from our competition.

Traditional gamification & reward solutions involve adding some scripting to your application code, so that the “behavioral actions to be influenced” are captured, shipped out, instrumented and assigned points in an external, hosted infrastructure, which then transmits back the points and badges in a UI widget on the main application website. This is an elegant, easy to set up method, and works for the simplest gamification examples, but this approach misses out on very critical customization and integration requirements for serious enterprise gamification scenarios.

At eMee, we believe that the real value of gamification is derived when you work with us as partners, enabling us to understand your specific business needs and imperatives, and helping us design a solution that is customized for your needs, and integrated seamlessly with your current investments in IT. And you will be surprised at how inexpensive this customization actually is, ensuring you get the highest ROI from your gamified applications!

Movie Review: Jayantabhai Ki Luv Story

JKLS manages to surprise and delight. Vivek Oberoi mixing his fav role of the underworld goonda, with impeccable comic timing, pulls off a very nice performance. Neha Sharma absolutely sizzles on screen, her portrayal of a demure and innocent IT fresher looking for a job in the big city is spot on. Watch out for her expressions, and you will fall in love with her! Between the two, their chemistry, humour, bonding, and down to earth portrayals, absolutely lifts the movie with a simple story and simple execution.

Very highly recommended for anyone looking for some feel good moments, bereft of tension and stress.

Mumbai Monorail

Check these amazing pictures (courtesy Indian Express) of the Mumbai Monorail - expected to start operations in August 2013.

Going Beyond SEO

As more and more eCommerce companies join the bandwagon, SEO will have diminishing returns, and portals will need to find unique ways in which to connect to individual customers. A SAPS-based Loyalty Program, focus on Engagement Analytics and Social Recommendations, and a conscious move away from discount-based attractions, will serve well!

Check my article at

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Movie Review: Murder 3

If you are willing to forget, or do not know, that Murder 3 is a remake of The Hidden Face, this is a pretty good movie if you have the patience to sit through the beginning!

Vikram (Randeep Hooda) is a hot-shot photographer from South Africa, who comes down to India to chase his dream, along with his girl friend, the very hot and sexy Roshni (Aditi Rao Hydari). However, a few months later, Roshni starts suspecting Vikram of having an affair, and disappears, leaving just a short video message for Vikram.

Vikram is devastated, but finds himself attracted to a bar girl Nisha (Sara Loren in a decent debut role), and before long, she's sharing his bed in his huge mansion far from the city's hustle and bustle.

When strange noises and ripples in the water in her tub start frightening her, Vikram laughs it off - but is he hiding something from her? Is the house hiding something sinister in its belly?

If you sit patiently through the first half, the second half will surprise and delight you.
I missed Emraan, but Randeep does a fair job in the type of role he is pretty comfortable with. Sara is decent, looks good, and manages to hold her own. Aditi is amazing - she looks beautiful and hot, and pulls off some very good scenes through the movie - packing humour in distress, something that draws you to her.
The direction and screenplay lacks punch, but Aditi and a very fresh story line makes his movie eminently watchable. Some of the camera work is stunning too - lights and locations really work to attract. The sound track is one-tracked, and none of the songs really stay with you.   Overall, a good watch - and with very watered down action, something you can risk watching at home on DVD, if you don't have the time to catch it in the theatres.

Movie Review: Hit And Run

A young man (Dax Shepard) with a dubious past risks his life, leaving the small town where he is living under a witness protection program, to escort his girl friend (a pretty and confident Kristen Bell) on a fast-paced road trip to LA for a job interview, chased by a bumbling crazy federal marshal and the gang he had testified against (led by the hot Bradley Cooper looking amazing in blond locks, red pants and yellow shades).

A light watch, with some nice humour, the movie will enthrall Bradley and Kristen fans, but doesn't have too much more going for it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Enviro Cars

Saw this very exciting sight at a customer's office campus in Bangalore - a beautiful row of electric Reva cars, plugged in and getting charged.

Wanna dig more... how is this working out for them?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Traffic Police Jugaad

Driving down to Mumbai last week, we came across an interesting sight - traffic police stopping motorists at the exit toll plaza to quickly check the timing stamped on their tickets from the entry plaza. The idea is simple - the distance between the plazas is known, the timing is calculated, and that gives the average speed - if it's more than the benchmark, you are in for a fine, and there is no argument you can give to escape the fine.

But here's the catch. The expressway food courts are in the middle of the plazas, so no matter how much you speed, if you took a pee and coffee break, you will beat the police at their game.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Development Politics

Last week, Na Mo gave this speech at SRCC in Delhi - and I had the chance to catch it on YT. A must listen for everyone, this is probably the most inspiring speech I have ever heard from a politician - a speech that will make you feel proud to be Indian, and a speech that created in me, a lot of hope for the future. Yes, Na Mo has made mistakes in the past, but if he, his party and this country and put that behind, put behind caste and religion based politics, and talk this language of development politics, this country definitely has something very exciting to look forward to.

Modi quickly gets onto the topic of good governance, after spending a couple of mins talking about how both the non-violent and violent freedom struggles for Indian independence was led by Gujratis.

P2G2 - Pro people good governance, is his moto, he says. He wants administration to visualize, innovate and implement, not just fire fight. He says, we can move forward with this same constitution, the same offices, the same files, the same bureacracy.

He doesn't believe in half full or half empty. It's always full, he says - half full with water, and half full with air.

Giving an example of how the government can add value to agricultural initiatives, he outlined his 5F policy for cotton farmers - Farm to Fibre to Fabric to Fashion to Foreign.

He gave an example of aspirations of tribals in Maharashtra's border villages, who came to him to ask for better roads, so that they could reduce the 20% wastage in bananas being exported to Finland. He said, as long as the youth of India had such aspirations, he was sure no one could stop us from progress.

From agriculture, he moved on to the service sector. He talked about Gujarat hosting the world's first Forensic Science university, with interest from many countries including Israel. He talked about setting up a university for training and readying members of India's security forces. Why not export teachers to the world, he asked, talking about the the institute for teaching.

Moving on to industry, he rued that we hadn't taken care of technical upgradation in our factories. The world thinks of us as a dumping ground for their goods, but it's time we dump our products all over the world. Branding is important, he reminded. In our childhood, we only bought Made in Japan goods, he said. Why not create the same image for Made in India?

He kept asking the students to go through case studies and learn how other countries have done it.. South Korea and its Olympics bid, for example.

11 days after his oath as CM, his Vibrant Gujarat summit had over 120 countries, and 50% of India's GDP represented under one roof. Zero Defect should be our motto, to be globally competitive, he said. Packaging should also be critically examined and improved, he said.

Our youth is not a new age voter, he said. Our youth is a new age power, he said.

We don't have any snake charmers any more, he said. We have lost that skill, he said, we have devolved. Now we make the world move to our mouse charmers, he said, the mouse of a computer, to rousing applause from the audience. And this change has come through our youth, not through any politician, he reminded.

To make this our century, to compete with China, we need three things, he said: Skill, Scale and Speed.

Government has no business to do business. Minimal goverment maximum governance, he exhorted, giving yet another wonderful example of how a young man set up his factory to manufacture metro rail coaches for Delhi Metro, in Gujarat, with little or no help from him.

Peppering his speech with beautiful examples like these, funny quotes, stats and facts, his speech appealed straight to the educated urban youth of this country. No talk of Hindutva, no temple, no divisive politics. The kind of speech one would want to hear from the PM!

Movie Review: Vishwaroop

Dancer. Raw agent. Jihadi. Who is he really? As authorities in New York hustle to break the back of the terrorists, can it avoid being the target of a dirty bomb?

Vishwaroop intimately deals with Jihad and the war on terror, focusing on the murky terror camps in dusty villages and damp caves in Afghanistan, and run down warehouses and prayer houses in the US, giving a unique look into the minds and workings of the highly motivated religious warriors. From using pigeons to SAM missiles, sleeper cells to human bombs, the terrorists will go to any lengths to strike back at Western civilization and interference.

Kamal Haasan plays multiple roles with elan, showing why he is such an acclaimed actor. His transformation from the feminine dancer-teacher to RAW agent is mesmerizing, the action stunning, such a far cry from the Hanumans in Rohit Shetty's films. The rest of the main cast, though, comes across as a little raw, and their acting doesn't inspire as much as does that of the supporting, nameless characters. Rahul Bose as the terror mastermind gives mixed feelings, not as chilling as it should, but an interesting character nevertheless.

The action scenes are brilliant, the chopper attacks on Jihadi bases in Afghanistan shot so well, the exploding vehicles and huts, the dismembered bodies, will wow you. The background score also adds tremendously to the movie, and the truly international, multi-language dialogues adds a lot of authenticity and ambience to the scenes.

The story moves back and forth, from New York to Afghanistan, from the execution of the dirty bomb in Manhattan to the seeds of the attack in the Afghan desert. The action is not fast paced, but will mesmerize you, and keep you glued - as long as you appreciate the finer points of movie making. The opening sequence with the pigeons and the extra long Radha-Krishna-Gopi song and dance routine at the beginning give the movie a slow, almost boring start, but are absolutely critical to the rest of the movie experience. So be patient! It will be worth it!

Another brilliant movie, an absolute must watch, irrespective of the controversies surrounding it here in India.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Lamxi Wollen Mills

We were at a client's office near the Laxmi Woolen Mills compound - check these stunning pics, from the heart of Mumbai!

Quote For The Day

Don't blame the traffic. You are the traffic.


Arzz kiya hai
Agar tum white sari aur red bindi pehenke saamne aaogi
Toh maa kasam
Ambulance lagogi :)

Movie Review: Special 26

Special 26 is based on real life events of the 80s, when some really smart crooks pulled off unbelievably risk-free and high ROI heists by posing as CBI or IT officials, and made off with black money and jewellery hoarded by politicians and businessmen. The biggest of these was probably the raid at the TBZ outlet in Opera House, Mumbai, where a team of "CBI officers" made off with a huge stash of gold and other jewellery.

Akshay Kumar plays the fake CBI officer and mastermind, ably assisted by Anupam Kher as his superior officer. As they plan and execute their raids, a real CBI officer, Manoj Bajpai, assisted by a SI from the Delhi police, played by Jimmy Shergill, gets hot onto their tail.

As the CBI trap closes in on the gang, just before their last, mega raid, the question is, will they be able to still pull it off, or will this be their end?

The movie is brilliantly shot and executed, the action is fast, the characters play their roles to absolute perfection, and the suspense and drama is top notch. The period look of the film is beautifully delivered - from the Marutis and Padminis on the road, to the radio and TV ads that play in the background, the atmosphere is subtle yet always there, reminding you of a bygone era.

Some of the scenes are just a brilliant piece of cinema - the action scene with Manoj Bajpai kicking off the autorickshaw, the interrogation scene with Anupam, and of course, the brilliantly shot and edited recruitment drive, which could have been such a drag, but ends up becoming such a beautiful part of the movie.

Yes, the romance angle is a little stretched, the songs out of place, although Kajal lookss demure and pretty, and makes the interludes not so unbearable after all.

After A Wednesday, here's another gem from Neeraj Pandey that will be remembered and appreciated for a long time to come.

A must see.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Kingdom Of Dreams

When you are in Delhi NCR, one place you absolutely have to visit is the Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon. The Culture Galli (see pics below) is an absolutely cultural explosion - so much wonderful beauty and variety of India crammed in that tiny space, you will be left gasping. Easily worth spending a couple of hours, it also allow you to partake in some amazing Indian cuisine and shopping.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Dreams

Stepping into Culture Gulli will take your breath away

Didn't really understand the significance of the Leaning Tower of Mumbai :)

A beautiful temple

Kerala houseboat

A Goan villa

The Goan restaurant


We had some amazing filter coffee here

The loo will leave you spellbound

One of the beautifully done bars

The entrance to Culture Gulli

Right next door is an amazing theatre where you can enjoy some unbelievable live musicals - we enjoyed a stunning display of musical kung fu, stretching 1.5 hours, a treat to the senses, colors, sounds and actions that just seem so unreal, so beautiful (remember Life of Pi?). At 1400/1900 per ticket, it does sound very expensive, but trust me, it is so worth it!

The inside of the theatre; we weren't allowed to shoot once the show started

Do check it out!


Had an amazing feast at Haldiram's the first night in Gurgaon - cheap, fulling, and absolutely sinfully delicious. Have a look...

The Spread

Veg Tandoori Platter, with some amazing Paneer-stuffed Potatos

Chole Bhatura

Executive Veg Meal