Monday, July 20, 2015

Swacch Bharat - PMC Gets Into The Act

Came across this cute attempt by the PMC to contribute to the Swacch Bharat mission - a modified truck trying to sweep the busy Karve Road in rush hour.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Movie Review: Inside Out (3D)

Has to be one of the best animated movies ever - in terms of idea, content and presentation. A rather good example of gamification, presenting very complex ideas in a lucid, fun and engaging way. I don't want to discuss the story here, because I won't do justice to it.

All I can say is, whether you are a kid or an adult, go watch Inside Out! And rediscover so much about yourself, you will feel like a whole new person!

Amravati - A Dream Or Reality?

Movie Review: Bajrangi Bhaijaan

If you are a Salman Khan fan, you don't even need a review. But be advised - BB isn't a typical Sallu movie. There is no taking off the shirt.

But yes, Sallu does perform some amazingly complicated dance moves in Selfie Lele Re :) He does bash up some baddies. And he does put in a smashing performance, perhaps the best of his career.

However, the innocent Harshaali Malhotra absolutely steals your heart with a stupendous performance as the lost 6 year old girl from Pakistan who Bajrangi tries hard to reunite with her parents across the border. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays another wonderful role, and almost runs away with all the credit. Kareena is wasted in her cameo, but when you have the beautiful Kashmiri valleys and guzzling streams as a backdrop for so long, who needs any more eye candy?

A wonderful message of love and harmony across borders, cultures and religions, BB is a wonderful option this Eid. If you can get tickets, that is!

Movie Review: Baahubali

300 meets Exodus, and then some.

Produced with a reported budget of around 250 crores for the two parts, Baahubali (part 1) is a magnum opus, a benchmark movie that easily rivals anything produced in Hollywood, and leaving its Bollywood counterparts far behind in visualization, set design, special effects and grandeur. Prabhas, Tammanah Bhatia and Rana Daggubati star in this period drama that features an awe-inspiring waterfall beyond which lies a fantasy land of butterflies and icicles, shaken by wars featuring thousands of men, roaring horses, and the war machines. Oh, the war machines. Absolutely stunning! The war strategies, the make ups, the action, the drama - nothing I write here will make up for the vistas that keep splashing on the screen, relentlessly.

No wonder, it's on course to easily be the biggest blockbuster ever in Indian history. By far.

This is one movie you cannot miss, and yes - please DO NOT SEE IT AT HOME. Go watch the grandeur in the best theatre in town!

Mango Season in Mumbai

If You Thought You Were Overweight...

At The Taj, Mumbai

Mumbai Vistas

Pics from a wonderful day out in South Mumbai last week...


Just an hour from Pune, on the road to Nashik, the landscape changes drastically, and you will be forgiven for thinking you are in Southern Spain - groves of what might just pass off as olive plantations (I am told they are pomegranate though) interspersed with craggy rocky land and sparse bushes.
The road isn't too great, right now, but with aggressive work in progress to 4 lane the highway, things should be a breeze a few months from now.
Until then, the Mumbai-Nashik expressway is a great option - combined with the Pune-Mumbai expressway, it's a great option - much safer and quicker. And very beautiful too - especially around Igatpuri, a beautiful little town along the way.

The Cat's Miaow

Reproduced from The Economist (

Tama, stationmaster of Kishi station and vice-president of the Wakayama Electric Railway, died on June 22nd, aged 16.

AS SOON as she was born, Tama-chan (“Little Treasure”) knew she was divine. Most cats presume it; she was sure of it. Her immediate situation—whelped by a stray in the workers’ waiting room at Kishi station, on a rural railway line in western Japan—did not augur brightly. But as soon as her eyes opened, she saw what she was. Rolling languorously on her back, she admired her white underside; delicately twisting her neck to wash, she noted the black and brown bars on her back. She was a tortoiseshell, or a calico cat to Americans. They had been four in the litter; only she carried the propitious marks.

Tortoiseshells had long been prized in Japan. In another age she would probably have been a temple cat, leading a contemplative life among maple and ginkgo trees, killing mice and, in exchange, earning the regard of monks and pilgrims. Tales were legion of poor priests or shopkeepers who had shared their few scraps with the likes of her and had, in return, found riches. Or she might have been a ship’s cat, since tortoiseshells had the power to keep away the ghosts of the drowned, whose invisible bodies filled the sea and whose flailing, imploring hands were the white crests of the waves. But Tama, being modern, preferred trains.

In 21st-century Japan the mystic power of her breed was still invoked everywhere. Children wore tortoiseshell charms as amulets to keep them well. Nervous students cramming for exams put pictures of cats much like her on their bedroom walls. Most ubiquitous of all, the Maneki-neko, or beckoning cat (almost always a tortoiseshell), waved outside shops, restaurants and gambling parlours to draw customers in. These plastic cats stared rudely at one and all, where she appraised people with a green-eyed and sleepy gaze; their paws sawed up and down, where she made a virtue of curled immobility. In betting places they held up big gold coins to show they could bring good fortune. With a combination of punctuality, divinity and good manners, she achieved the same.

She was trained young by her mother, Miiko, outside the grocer’s shop by Kishi station. They would laze there in the sun to bewitch passers-by into suddenly needing a bag of rice or a bottle of mirin, and in exchange the grocer, Toshiko Koyama, gave them food. The bargain seemed a good one; the grocer prospered. Tama, too, grew sleeker as she improved her powers.

From there, it was only natural that she should save Kishi station. The little halt sat on a line, nine miles long and with 12 somnolent stops, between Wakayama City and Kishigawa. By 2006 it was losing 500m yen ($4m) a year. It should have been closed, but the customers said no; so it was sold to the Wakayama Electric Railway, which laid off the last man at Kishi to try to save some money. Mr Koyama became informal station-keeper, and the next year Tama was appointed stationmaster.
A train with whiskers
She kept strict hours: 9am to 5pm on weekdays, with only Sundays off. In exchange she was given a stationmaster’s cap in her own size, always worn at a jaunty starlet angle; a stationmaster’s badge; as much tinned tuna as she could nibble at; and eventually her own office, with basket and litter-tray, in an old ticket booth. The work was not demanding; if it had been, she would have disdained to take the job. But by snoozing most of the day on the ticket barrier, or rubbing against the legs of passengers as they arrived, she increased traffic on the branch line by 10% in her first year. People would travel just to be greeted by her smooth and lucky purr.

As the years passed more and more people came to the station, and rode on the train, because of her. Tourists flocked from all over Japan. The president of the WER thought she had probably injected more than a billion yen into the local economy. In 2009 a special bewhiskered cat-train, the Tama-densha, began to run on the line, covered with cartoons of her and with her image all over the seats. The next year the station was rebuilt in the shape of her head, with dormer windows for her eyes, and a café opened up with her portrait iced on cupcakes. A shop offered Tama bags, notebooks, key-fobs and figurines.

She took all this with equanimity. According to the Japanese principle of promotion by seniority, she rose effortlessly to super-stationmaster and honorary division chief. She was made an operating officer of the WER in recognition of her contribution to profits, the first female to be so honoured, and then became company vice-president. Each step was accompanied by gatherings of her devotees, presentations of certificates and extra stripes on her cap. Coolly tolerant, she allowed herself to be dressed in a velvet cloak with lace and white plumes, and to be hoisted in the air by jubilant WER executives.

At her funeral, attended by thousands at the station, the president of the railway company announced that she would be honoured as a goddess and buried in a Shinto shrine. Honour where honour was due. Meanwhile, her deputy Nitama (“Tama the Second”) assumed her duties at the station; and the Tama-densha ambled on down the line, joined now by the Toy Train and the Strawberry Train, as her worshippers in suits continued to follow the moneymaking path pointed out by the beckoning cat of Kishi, Tama the Divine.

Parking Spot Lights At Infiniti Mall

Saw an interesting innovation at Infiniti Mall last weekend in Mumbai - above every parking slot, activated by sensors, are these red and green lights that tell you quickly where the open parking slots are, as you scan around for a vacant spot. Wonderful idea!

The camera couldn't capture the color of the lights clearly, but I am sure you can see what I mean!

Nashik Collector's Office

We met Nashik Collector, Deependra Kushwah, IAS, last week at his office - an amazing old building with inlaid tiles, and endless corridors. Absolutely beautiful old world charm.

 Mr Kushwah, himself, is a dynamic, honest, young officer - it was such an inspiration watching him at work, as he kept an unscrupulous businessman at bay! The country is in safe hands...!

Saheba At Nashik

We were at Nashik the other day; visited Saheba for lunch - used to be a total tapari; and still serves some of the best non veg in the city...

Golden Leaf

Camels In The Desert

Lovely pic of camels in the desert - but look closely. The black camels you are are really the shadows!

Got it?

Movie Review: Insidious Chapter 3

A prequel to the other two previous installments, IC3 is one of the better horror movies in recent times, and will give you the real chills. No matter how brave you are, I am pretty sure you will end up screaming. Watch it with lights out, and a light breeze swaying the shadows on your window pane - this is one to be relished with your loved ones!

Expressway Tales

A couple weeks back... we were in Nariman Pt for a meeting. We left by 445, took a 30 min break for an early dinner, and were home in Aundh by 815 - can you believe that? All thanks to the amazing Eastern Freeway and the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, which has brought the sister cities together like never dreamt possible!

We had another amazing experience on the way. A self proclaimed VIP was arguing with toll booth staff and refusing to pay toll. The attendant refused to give in to the pressure to open the gate, and after a couple of minutes, with the VIP unrelenting, he simply closed the lane, asked other cars to switch lanes and left the VIP fuming, the toll barrier blocking his path, while everyone went along their business. Absolutely commendable!

Pune Monsoons

A few days back...

Abhimanshree Society is an absolute delight with the tree canopies and newly laid out concrete roads with well maintained footpaths

No rainy day outing is complete without the bhutta!

Raindrops on the windscreen


Can't agree more! Lived 18 months in Mumbai during my IIT days - and fell in love with the city. No matter what its limitations and shortcomings, this is one beautiful city with beautiful people!

Quote For The Day

Outside the restroom at the Inox Insignia Lounge...

True, isn't it?

Movie Review: Jurassic World

The dinos are high definition, and there are a couple of decent surprises, but if you have seen the original, there is really nothing in JW that you haven't seen before.

Totally avoidable. Unless of course, you wanna see our very own Irrfan Khan try to be the hero.

Movie Review: San Andreas

We know it's always existed - the big San Andreas fault that straddles California. But what we are not ready for is the scale of devastation.

A rescue heli pilot (Dwayne Johnson) and his estranged wife set out to rescue their daughter (eye candy Alexandra Daddario), battling earth shattering convulsions in the ground, raging fires, and tsunami waves determined to gobble up SFO.

The SFX are extremely high quality, and combined with the deadly soundtrack, which literally shakes you physically along with most of the theatre, makes this a thoroughly enjoyable disaster movie although the story and the ending are foregone conclusions.

Movie Review: Camp X-Ray

Stationed at Guantanamo Bay on her first assignment, rookie soldier Amy Cole (Kristen Stewart, as different from Bella Swan as you can imagine) bonds with one of the detainees, a smart and intellectual, English-speaking Amir Ali (Peayman Mooadi). Their conversations, as she rolls a book cart through the cell block, tentative at first, warmer as time passes by, are fascinating.

Shot almost entirely in the confines of the prison, Camp X-Ray is definitely one of Kristen's best performances, and quite a human drama, if you like that kinda stuff.