Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Memories are a strange phenomenon - they make us laugh when we remember times we cried in the past, and they make us cry when we think of times we laughed together!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Reality Shows

TV is full of reality shows of all kinds today - the talent hunts, the wildest videos and car chases, the guiness records and the believe it or nots.. but what I love most are the makeover shows.

There's one where the "Overhaulers" steal your old car, and give it back to you shining and customized new! Usually, a family member is roped in to be the insider. And while working on the car, they play a few naughty pranks with you, leading you to be all frustrated and angry - till the surprise at the end. Another show involves the "monsters" taking over your pad and converting it into a one-of-a-kind place, complete with the craziest interiors and furniture, and the latest and best in accessories. The "while you were away" show does a similar make over to your old home. I think these shows are fantastic - they do not cheat the audience into sending millions of dollars worth of messages, they do not risk lives, and most importantly, they actually bring a lot of love and cheer into people's lives - I would love to be on one of these shows, and see someone's face light up at my creation - I think the hugs on the show are some of the most genuine expressions of love you can ever see any where!

The DCH Test

Here's a test a use often to figure out how well my friends know me - it's called the DCH test. The test is simple - you have to tell me which of the 3 characters in DCH resemble the real me most!!! Aakash (Aamir), Sid (Akshaye), or Sameer (Saif)...

Wanna take the test? :)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Joke of the Day

Written behind an autorickshaw: "Main bada hoke truck banoonga"

Lol Lol, cannot stop laughing!

Prisoners of our Times...

What would we do if...

Our broadband connection was off for a day? Our cell phone had no range? Our cable was off? Our car had no petrol? The mall was off limits? The multiplex was closed? and Orkut was down? Google was not working?

I think life would grind to a halt. Completely.

Strangely, none of these existed when we were 15. And life never even took a pause!

Konkan Railway's RO-RO

A news article in the Times today reminded me of a fantastic sight you often see on the Konkan Railway track between Mumbai and Mangalore, passing through the lovely coastal villages of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerela... the RO-RO (Roll on Roll Off) trains, loaded with countless trucks - an exciting initiative that makes a lot of economic sense, as well as reducing polution and saving millions of litres of diesel. Trucks travelling south can simply hitch a ride on the train :) Isn't the idea just so cool?

Ton Ton Ton Ton

That's right - India posted a new world record yesterday in the second test against Bangladesh by posting centuries by the first 4 batsmen - Dinesh Karthick, Wasim Jaffer, Sachin and Dravid - before declaring at 600 something for 3. Previously, there have been 3 centuries by the top 3, 7 times.

Movie Review: Shootout at Lokhandwaala

Based on "true rumours", Shootout is based on the 6 hour firefight between the officers of Mumbai's ATS and Maya Dolas and his gangsters in the early nineties in Mumbai's posh Lokhandwaala complex. As an impressionable 11 year old kid, I vividly remember reading about the shootout.. although the details are blurry.

The movie is a treat for action and thrill lovers. Fast paced, great background scores, and some exciting action sequences - it will grip you from the first scene right to the end, and leave you wanting more.

Sanjay Dutt is fantastic as the quiet but mean ACP "Shamsher" Khan, who led the ATS. Sunil Shetty and Arbaaz Khan are very likeable, and do a great job being his seconds in command. Vivek does a good job being Maya, while Tusshar tries hard to be a good Buwa. Amitabh plays a great cameo role as the lawyer defending the ATS after the shootout, and his argument to the court is powerful and simple: "If you have a family at home, and a man with a gun outside, who would you want it to be? Maya, Buwa, or ACP Shamsher Khan?" And the surprise package, Abhishek in a special appearance as the police officer shot down by gangsters in broad daylight - looks sexy, and will surely be a treat for his female fans.

The script is fantastic - sets the stage for the shoot out beautifully, tracing the history of the gang, and the rise of the ATS, till the final clash. It is also non judgemental and leaves the decision of who was right and who was wrong to the audience - at times, you want the gangsters to be destroyed, at other times, you hate the high handedness of the police officers.

Would love to catch it a second time...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Movie Review: Provoked

Provoked is the true story of an Indian woman in the UK, beaten and abused by her husband for ten years, before one night, having had enough, she sets him on fire. She is arrested for murder, and goes to jail - until her retrial and early release a few years later.

The story, though bland, has a strong emotional chord to it, and a good actress in the lead role could have done wonders - Aishwarya is OK, she does decently well in a couple of scenes, but most of the time I found her wanting. Nandita is wasted - hardly has any role to play.

The movie itself - well, life's serious enough, I fail to see why you should watch the movie!

CNBC Shoot

A CNBC crew came over to Persistent today, to talk to me regarding software development challenges, and how we are handling them through use of Microsoft's VSTS tools, for a series of episodes on the software industry in India.

It went off very smoothly actually - I didn't know I was a natural in front of the camera! :) We shot in the sexy corridor outside the Aryabhatta Board Room - after the sound bites, they also took some random shots of me walking and talking to some colleagues, and then finished off with a good set of shots of the building itself.

The entire event took around an hour - I am a pro, remember? Did not need too many retakes! :)

The episode will be telecast on the 9th and 10th of June, in the evening. We should hopefully get 2-3 min of fame! Will keep you posted!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Is Different Wrong?

Why is it that anything different from what we are used to is usually considered wrong? Is it about resistance to change, or is it that we have convinced ourselves that what we do is always right? Is this a mechanism for self-defence?

Does this not stop us from exploring other "truths"? Does it not stop us from getting better?

Would the world be what it is now if "foolish" people had not challenged what was "right"?

When the Arab visited a Marriage Hall in Pune...

Obviously, there was a lot of excitement, with people falling over each other to have a look at this strangely dressed guest speaking in excellent vernacular languages :) But didn't anyone tell the Arab that this kind of closed attire was a BAD idea in Pune's hot climate when NOT in an AC room or a car?

Movie Review: Hannibal Rising

Based on the book by the same name, Hannibal Rising tries (not too hard) and fails (easily!) at recreating the magic of the book based on the early life of Hannibal, and his "rise" as a cannibalistic psycho killer. The screenplay is patchy, the characters are boring, and the movie itself very dull and insipid. Maybe it was something to do with the fact that I was running a fever and watching it on a laptop, but then hey, I have seen other movies in that state too!

Miss it, and you will not miss much.

Yes, read the book, though!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Quote of the Day

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. Unknown.

First Rains...

It was a hot sultry day, gusts of dry air driving people indoors... suddenly the skies greyed out, and clouds pregnant with rain descended on the city.

Looking out from the rear balcony over the river, with the Parvati temple in the distant background getting increasingly hazy with the strengthening rain - it was a beautiful sight, and I stood there for a long time, soaking in the lovely phenomenon we call rain! Very soon, dozens of happy, shrieking children started pouring out - from the slums on to the roads, and from the high rises into the balconies and terraces. Everyone was happy - on one terrace, a solitary girl broke into a jig, blissfully unaware of anything else. On another terrace, the children broke out into an impromptu game of football - sloshing in the water. A parrot screamed somewhere in delight - while the crows enjoyed their bath on the tree tops gently swaying to the tunes below our feet. An old lady pulled out her arm chair into the cramped space of her home's little balcony and sat down with her daughter-in-law, looking out in wonder at the rain.

Suddenly, everything looked just so beautiful!

Isn't it strange how the rains have such a spell-binding effect on everyone? Sigh, I miss the monsoons in Goa :(

Sunday, May 13, 2007

English in the 16th Century!

Have you ever wondered how languages evolve? New slangs and new words become a part of our lives? I came across this fantastic book that's a compilation of writings from people in the fifteen and sixteenth century in America - starting with Columbus himself, and his description of his trip to America in his own words.

Sample this for English from a text in 1579:

In recompense of those things which they had received of us, as shirts, linen cloth, etc., they bestowed upon our general and divers of our company divers things , as feathers, cauls of network, the quivers of their arrows made of fawn-skins, and the very skins of beasts that their women wore upon their bodies. Having thus had their fill of this time's visiting and beholding of us, they departed with joy to their houses, which houses are digged round within the earth and have from the uppermost brims of the circle clefts of wood set up and joined close together at the top like our spire on the teeple of a church, which, being covered with earth, suffer no water to enter and are very warm. The door in the most part of them performs the office also of a chimney to let out the smoke; it is made in bigness and fashion like to an ordinary scuttle in a ship, and standing slopewise.

And check this piece for spellings:

We ourselves, during the time we were there, used to sucke it after their manner, as also since our return, and have found many rare and woonderfull experiments of the vertues thereof: of which the relation would require a volume by it selfe: the use of it by so many of late, men and women of great calling, as els, and some learned Physicians also, is of sufficient witnesse.

Doesn't it strike you as very interesting as to how the spellings are a lot more apt than their current versions? Here's another one:

When her father, with the utmost of his policie and power, sought to surprise mee, having but eighteene with mee, the darke night could not affright her from comming through the irksome woods, and with watered eies gave me intelligence, with her best advice to escape his furie; which had hee knowne, hee had surely slaine her.

The book is "The Mammoth Book of How it Happened - America", and is a must-have for history buffs. Starting with Columbus's arrival, it traces the history of America from the late fifteenth century right up to 9/11, in the words of the men who were there and saw it all!

Quote of the Day

Why is it that our memory is good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not good enough to recollect how often we have told it to the same person? Francois de La Rochefoucauld.

Riding Pillion with Shantaram

Didier Levy was the worst pillion passenger I had ever known. He held on to me so tightly, and with such rigid tensity, that it was difficult to steer the bike. He howled as we approached cars, and shrieked when we sped up to pass them. On critical, sweeping turns he wriggled in terror, trying to straighten the bike from its necessary lean into the curve. Every time I stopped the bike at a traffic signal, he put both feet down to the ground to stretch his legs and moan about the cramps in his hips. Every time I accelerated away, he dragged his feet on the road and fidgeted for several seconds until he found the footrests. And when taxis or other cars ventured too close to us, he kicked out at them or waved his fists in frantic outrage. By the time we reached our destination, I calculated that the danger faced during a thirty minute ride in fast traffic with Didier was roughly equivalent to a month under fire in Afghanistan.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Two elections.

One held in a poor, crime-ridden state of India - UP. Multi-party system. Illiterate people. Yet, it's heralded by one and all as free and fair. The Election Commission and the police get their act together, and the state returns a resounding victory. The government of Mulayam Singh is voted out, and Mayawati comes to power with a resounding majority. The transfer of government is smooth. And life is back to normal.

The other is in France. Three main contestants, a second round of elections, and one winner. The next day, France erupts in riots.

Do we Indians ever really appreciate the power and depth, and trueness of our democracy?

Movie Review: Swades

Did not get time (or company :)) to catch a movie this weekend in the theatres - so here's a review of a movie I caught on TV instead - Swades!

Mohan is a NASA engineer, suddenly feeling nostalgic about his des! He comes down to India, in search of his nanny, and falls in love. The question is - does he fall in love with his nanny, with India, it's problems or his childhood sweetheart Gitli? Well, he fights for the village school, lectures the folk on caste and corruption, and the system, and then builds a 6*6 foot tank from a trickle of water to generate hydel power for the village! Silly? You bet it is! And then he goes back to pardes, waits for his favourite satellite to be blasted into space, and then finally figures swades is the place for him to be! And catches the next Air India flight straight back to his watan...

But it's a good movie. The caravan song is fantastic - especially if you soak in the relationship between SRK and the hitch hiker, and watch the colors of India seduce the NRI. Watch SRK break into his "unchoreographed" jig, then dancing in tandem with his partner. Feel the passion in his thoughts when he catches the boat ride... and get carried away by "Yeh Jo Des Hai Mera...."

I did.. and it inspired my previous post too :)

Travelling Travails...

I have a love-hate relationship with travelling...

I hate thinking of it, I hate waiting for it. I love travelling, I love planning for it. Confused? :)

Well, the deal is that I have a great life, and I love the routine. Travelling disrupts my routine, and that's why I hate thinking about it. The waiting is the worst part - it's like you are neither here nor there!

But I love planning. I am a good planner. From my hotels to my flights, to the dates - fitting everything in the best way possible, extracting the max out of each trip - that's something I think I am very good at! Getting the best connections, including the best weekend itenaries, finding the right hotels - and fitting in maximum leisure time without bloating your trip is a skill I am proud of :) Packing also requires planning, especially when you are as finicky and particular about things the way I am. Clothes, food items, office stuff, tickets and money, medicines - you cannot afford to forget when you are going on a long trip. I have everything sorted out - more than a dozen trips later, all my packing is now a planned affair - an Excel sheet that not only lists every single item (including extra specs and French translation guide for Europe trips), but also suggests the best way to carry these - so that you have sufficient backups of all important documents, in the right place, so that a lost piece of luggage does not mean having to make a distress trip to the consulate!

Once packed and planned, the waiting is the worst part. You disrupt not just your life, but that of all your loved and near and dear ones, who cannot go about their own lives and routines as long as are still here waiting for your trip to start! All those farewells turn me off, and make me edgy, and all I want then is for my bus to come so I can switch to my "on travel" mode!

The moment I say that last good bye and get on the bus or taxi, I am a transformed person. Focussed on the travel, on the journey ahead, and the meetings coming up! My posture changes, which is basically because of the heavy suit I am wearing and the laptop I am carrying! :)

I used to be very scared of all the immigration and stuff - and always worried about losing passports and tickets. At times, it made me stop and open my bags in the middle of the airport hall, checking everything a second and third time! I have grown over it now with a simple tweak to my packing style - as long as my tickets and passport are safe, I am happy - and these things now sit in my cargo pockets. Nothing else matters, and I travel much happier.

I have grown immune to those long flights now, though being in business class makes it much easier! I tend to go on a partial shut down - my thoughts are blunted, I get into a sleepy-all-the-time mode. A typical leg of 8 hours gets broken down into: 1 hour settling dowwn after takeoff, 1 hour of food (usually in 2 batches of 30 mins), 1-3 hours of movie watching, an hour on the laptop, and the rest in a head-lolling slumber. Used to take a lot of photos earlier, but now they all look the same.

The best part of the trip though, is the return flight - seeing the aircraft that will take you home... getting into it, and seeing the first Times Of India after 2 weeks, eating cold samosas for snacks, and the palak paneer with roti, and then, as the plane crosses the Arabian sea and the Indian coast, the first sight of land - your heart sings... Yeh jo desh hai mera, swades hai mera... and then, touchdown in Mumbai! The walk to immigration, the cell phone beeping with welcome back messages, and the step out into the warm, humid, smoky Mumbai air - and you know, you are home!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wrong Things, Right Reasons

A nice thought from Shantaram...

Sometimes it's necessary to do the wrong things for the right reasons. What is important is that we are sure that the reasons are right, and that we admit the wrong. We should not lie to ourselves and convince ourselves that what we are doing is right.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Busy Day on the Beach...

It's all in a day's work!

All work and no play make the Jills (and the Jack) dull!

Jeepers Creepers...

Touch me Not, I will STING you!

Oh OK, you saw me! But, can you spot my kid?

Summer of 2007 in Goa!

So what does a 2 day holiday in Goa in the summer mean to me?

Lots of Fish!

Lots of Cashews!

And Jackfruits...

And of course, Mangoes!

And a dip in the sea!

Floaters in My Eye

Parental Discretion Advised. Contains graphical descriptions which may not be for the weak hearted :)

Nice Saturday evening in Goa - I had just woken from a deep slumber induced by deep fried prawns and mangoes, and we were all dressing up for a night in town. I splashed my face with cold water, and noticed this spidery insect hanging from the hair on my forehead. I swiped it away, but it persisted - so I washed my face again, thinking it was on my eyelids. Then, to my horror, I realised, it was right there - and worse, was moving in perfect tandem with my eye! Damn - the thing was INSIDE my eyeball!

One of my relatives died a few years back due to bleeding in the eye. And when you see a dark maroonish black thingy that looks suspiciously like a droplet of blood in your eyeball, trust me, it scares the hell out of you! It scared me to death!

We rushed to the doctor - things got a little better on the way, when I realised that whatever it was, had stopped growing. Even if it was bleeding, it wasn't going to flood my eyes and kill me, yet!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the doctor heard my description and immediately confirmed that it was a "floater". While it can lead to complications like retina tear, which itself can lead to blindness, or could be due to high pressure in the eye, which also can lead to blindness and death, my floater turned out to be a harmless one, with a life span of around 3 weeks. And apparently all it will cause me is some irritation in my vision - after all, having a dead mosquitoe with a spidery tail moving around in your line of sight for 3 whole weeks is definitely not my idea of entertainment!

For more on this exciting phenomena, check out!