Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Fortress in the Sun

Back from Goa after a 4 day break, the hang over still there, the most dominant image of the trip has to be that of the commandos - camouflage uniforms, black bandanas, machine guns slung over the shoulders, some taking position behind sand bag bunkers, others strolling on the beaches, eyes ever watchful. Dozens of them, securing the beaches, the cities, the air ports. Heavy police presence, yet completely unobtrusive. Foreign and Indian tourists enjoying the sun, the sea, and the food - protected and secured by our armed forces. Coming back from Goa last night, I saw this posse of commandos stopping a truck for inspection on the highway, somewhere in Malvan taluka in Maharashtra. Everytime you see the commando, you get a sense of security, not a sense of fear. Interesting...

For the first couple of days, it did feel as if the beaches were empty, the usual festive spirit dampened, recession and terror taking its toll. But by the time we left, the tourists had started streaming in, more and more flights landing with foreigners, and scores of Indians driving in with their bikes, cars and jeeps. Terror has lost, yet again.

Movie Review: Ghajini

It was billed as the showdown of the year - the two big Khans facing off, Rab Ne versus Ghajini, the new eight pack Khan versus the older six pack Khan, Anushka versus Asin, so on and so forth. Unfortunately, Ghajini is a complete let down, a B grade South Indian action flick with dollops of gore and violence, with absolutely no comparison against the superbly crafted Rab Ne. And while the King Khan dishes out one superb performance after another, the wannabe King resorts to his barber and his gym instructor, and lots of screams and growls to try instill fear in his audiences as the Indian Hannibal cum Super Man cum Hulk. All he succeeds in is assaulting your senses with mindless violence.

I agree I am a SRK fan, but I loved Aamir in QSQT, I loved him in Jo Jeeta, and in Dil Chahata Hai, and in Lagaan, and in countless other movies where Aamir was a great actor, with chocolate boy looks, and a lot of sense on his shoulders. Somewhere along the way, he lost it in the pursuit of being number one, wanting to be called the King. Obsessed with insulting the King on his blog, Aamir seems to have lost focus from what he was good at... acting.

Back to the movie. Inspired by a Tamil movie of the same name, which itself was inspired by a truly beautifully executed Memento, Ghajini is the story of a young business tycoon who falls in love with a wannabe model, but never reveals his true identity to her, because he loves being loved by her as the middle class simple fellow she thinks he is. It's not moot how she never figures out that he is in fact one of the richest men in the country, who moves around with a sleek fleet of black Band Mercs, accompanied by a platoon of assistants and security guards. When she is killed by a gang of child smugglers, the smart Van Heusen dressed businessman suddenly develops eight pack abs, gets a football haircut, learns to growl and snarl, and having lost his memory (he can't remember anything beyond 15 mins), learns to live with a set of photos and notes, and tatoos, constantly reminding him of his mission - take revenge on Ghajini.

The story has too many flaws. While Memento, with its back and forth narration, beautifully pieced the puzzle for you, Ghajini does none of that. It neither brings out the complexity of his life, except for one short sequence of him trying to find out his own house, nor does it bring out the anguish of a man unable to remember even his own name. There are too many unanswered questions, too many loopholes. The screenplay leaves a lot to be desired, although the camera work and technical brilliance of South Indian film industry will catch your attention, especially in a couple of unhummable songs.

For the actors themselves, well, there's really nothing positive to say! Aamir has a good body, one must admit, but coming as it is after every other actor and actress did it, it does leave a "oh, you too" feeling lingering around. He's a good actor, but frankly, an innovative haircut and some loud growling and screaming isn't a big ask. I would have liked to see more anguish, more mental agony, more basic instincts, more questions for the mind. Asin was billed as the next big thing to hit Bollywood after Deepika - she is a huge disappointment, her over acting and extremely ordinary looks coupled with a disastrous wardrobe, make her very uninteresting and boring. Jiah Khan was great in Nishabd as the Indian Lolita, and she has a couple of interesting moments, but overall, she doesn't make the cut. Ghajini himself is also extremely loud and amateurish, again reminiscent of the B grade action movies of the 80s and early 90s.

If you are a die hard Aamir fan with an avowed will-not-miss-a-single-movie existence, and you are comfortable with scenes of heads being smashed with iron crow bars and blood dripping out from taps inserted in stomachs, go ahead and spend the pretty long 3.15 hours on Ghajini. Frankly, a better idea would be to watch Rab Ne for the 3rd or 4th time.

Oh and yes, do keep your kids away from the movie... trust me on that!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bangaluru Rocks!

OK, make that, the new Bengaluru Airport rocks! I was in Bangalore today for a NASSCOM Innovation Awards roadshow - in fact, I am blogging from the airport while waiting for boarding to start - and flew in this morning. It's spanky new, clean and spacious, extremely well laid out, has a very upmarket Western feel to it. Very nice. The expressway into the city is also awesome, and you pass these sexy shiny green Meru taxis and red Volvos on the way. Almost so-not-India! Or rather, oh-wow-so-new-India :) Shopping is good, food is awesome too. And what's best - you have free Internet - all you need, is to send a SMS, and key in the password you receive, which gives you free connection for an hour. Need more? Just send one more SMS, that's all!

Another interesting thing was that Jet Airways actually did my online checkin for the return journey too - what's surprising? Well, I am coming back on Kingfisher!

Anyway, chalo, my boarding call is beckoning me... catch you later!

Movie Review: Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

I need to see this movie a few times before I can really review it objectively - happens to me with SRK movies :) But here's my first attempt...

First the story. Surendar Sahni is middle class small town Indian thirty something male personified, his life defined by his work at Punjab Power, in a 4 by 4 cubicle, surrounded by dusty files and a never ringing phone. Fate gets him married to a bubbly, effervescent Taani, who loses her lover and her love in a tragic bus accident on the day of her marriage. While Suri falls in love with Taani at first sight, he knows Taani can never love him. With the help of his saloon-owner friend, Suri changes into a metrosexual Raj, complete with gelled hair, tight jeans and biceps, and spends some very happy moments with Taani learning dancing together for the dance competition. Will Taani finally figure out that the Raj she loves to be with, is also her boring Suri? Will Suri change? Will Tanni ever love him?

SRK is King, and once again, he proves why. And to all his detractors who said he couldn't act, inspite of movies like KANK and Chak De, RNBDJ has some absolutely stunning moments - every move Suri makes, the scene where he realises she won't run away with Raj, the conversation he has with his Suri mannequin are abolute gems. He's looking great too, especially in the medley song sequence.

Anushka makes a great debut - she's sexy, she's sweet, she looks hot in tracks and demure and innocent in her kurtas. She has a beautiful smile, and while she looks a little common at times, her confidence, her attitude and her poise make up for any shortcomings. Overall, a stunner :)

The screenplay and cinematography are excellent, the sets beautiful. I loved the opening sequence which really sets the atmosphere of the small town life Surendar lives. The medley is fun, and Hole Hole and Dance pe Chance really grow on you as you keep listening to them.

The story could have been a little more innovative - it does get a little boring at times, especially in the 2nd hour. And I think a more exciting way to end it would have been to let Suri change a bit into the new Raj - incorporating his "forced" habits... making Taani like him more and more, until one day - the day she sees her Rab in Suri at the Golden Temple - she realises that they are the same! Would have also been a more serious challenge to the King, to play that slowly evolving character...

Anyway, either way, it's a MUST SEE :)

By the way, what was really interesting to see was the variety of the audience for the movie - old and young, kids, rich and high society, middle calss families... King Ka Jadoo doesn't spare anyone! :)

Movie Review: Transporter 3

Saw this quite a long time back, but somehow never got around to reviewing it. After Death Race, Statham pulls off another action caper, this one about a "transporter" who needs to deliver a cargo - a wierd at first but gradually grows on you Natalya Rudakova. There is catch though -his armed and exposive wrist band ensures that he cannot get more than a few feet away from his car!

Watch it for some very innovative and different action - especially the hand to hand fights, and some good car action, again, treated very differently from the usual!

Definitely a watch for action lovers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Whitepaper on Security Spending?

As more and more channels come out with shocking revelations about how the government has consistently turned a blind eye to security of our country, it is time to make the public more aware of what is happening. How much money is spent on bullet jackets and helmets for our forces? How many posts are vacant? How much is the money spent on security of our politicians? Can we have these figures made public?

Can we set up a citizen-led task force to oversee and monitor what the governments do from here on to boost our security and make sure the money goes where it is supposed to be, and not in funding some politicians estates?

Let's Do Something!

Let's do something - let's not stand by frustrated waiting for the politicians to do something. What can we do? We have so many connects today - email, SMS, Facebook, Orkut - let's use this mechanism to stir our passions and our emotions, and then channelize this energy into action.

Let's get more sensitive to the whole issue of terrorism. Let's be more vigilant. Let's fight corruption. Let's be more inclusive in our thinking.

Let's contribute to police funds. Let's dedicate some of our efforts to improve their lives, and their ability to do their work.

I am trying to goad my bosses into kicking off something. I am trying to rouse my friends. I am trying to find some avenues... let me know if you have any ideas... let's make it work!

Government Takes The First Step...

The Home Minister has resigned... the first in the LONG list of things the government needs to do. While it was expected, I think it's a good start!

Can't wait to see Vilasrao go next. As well as some of the top honchos in the bureaucracy... it's time for a major clean up!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Light a Candle

It may be a simple show of symbolism – but maybe it will make a difference. By taking these few seconds from your busy lives to pay your homage to our brave heroes, maybe you will see a small glow of patriotism and pride in your own hearts.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tributesshow.cms

Today, pledge to be a proud Indian! We can make a difference!

Movie Review: Max Payne

Max Pain would have been more appropriate - a dull, grey movie set in the dark and dirty alleys of New York, some extremely ordinary action, a very predictable and boring story, a surprisingly ordinary cast, and an extra-ordinarily wasted Bond girl Olga Kyrilenko, this movie is something you should definitely miss!

OK, that's enough, this movie has already got more attention than it deserves...

We are Indians, Mr Politician!

Dear Mr Politician, I hope these last 3 days have made one thing clear to you - we are not Marathis or Biharis. We are Indians. When Mumbai needed help, a barely out-of-his-teens Major Unnikrishnan from Bangalore, of the Bihar Regiment of the NSG, took a bullet in his head. A Gajendra Dixit from Dehradoon fought along with hundreds of his colleagues under command of a Dutt, and lost his life. The bullets from the terrorists did not ask where he came from. Neither did the thousands of Mumbaikars who came out in the streets to cheer it's heroes and hug and touch them in sheer reverance.

India stands as one today - please stop trying to divide us with your petty politics!

Hey Beautiful Taj - You Will Rise Again!



The beautiful Taj building... this picture taken in May during a visit to Mumbai for the IPL semi-final. A beautiful monument, an icon of the city. Anyone who's lived in Mumbai would have felt his heart bleed at seeing the Taj in flames, raped and abused for almost 60 hours.

But the Taj will rise - just like it has done so many times in the past. Because we won't give up. Not yet, not ever.

Shraddhanjali to Our Heroes

Three days of terror are finally over. The day broke with heavy winds and dark clouds, dull and dreary - it was as if the heavens had also been shocked by the utter senselessness of it all.

Today, let us salute our heroes - those brave men of the Mumbai police, the ATS, the Army and Navy commandos, the NSG, the RAF, the Home Guards, who gave up their lives and tireless fought those bastards. The fire fighters who braved grenades and bullets in their line of duty. And how can one forget the wonderful, wonderful staff members of the Taj and the Oberoi-Trident hotels who never once flinched and showed the rest of the world what Indian hospitality was all about!

Hemant Karkare, a master strategist and Chief of the Maharashtra ATS, Vijay Salaskar, encounter specialist and scourge of criminals and the Mumbai underworld, Ashok Kamte, loved by the very crowds he was a master at controlling, Gajendra Singh, the Delhi commando who lost his life fighting at Nariman House, Major Unnikrishnan of the NSG, who took a bullet in his head, and the dozen plus other policemen who lost their lives in this terrible battle - India will forever be indebted to you. Your sacrifice will not go waste. You will inspire an entire generation of Indians to close ranks and be one.

And you give us countless reasons to be terribly proud to be Indians! I wonder how many police forces in the world will have it's chief reaching the site of a terrorist attack, and getting into the scene of the battle - protected only by an ill-fitting helmet and a jacket that could barely afford any semblence of protection, instead of sitting behind a wooden desk in a plush AC office and directing his men into battle.

Thank you, my heroes! May your souls rest in peace!

Sandeep Unnikrishnan

Hemant Karkare

Ashok Kamte

Vijay Salaskar

Aye Mere Vatan Ke Logon... Zara Aankh Mein Bhar Lo Paani... Jo Shaheed Hue Hain Unki... Zara Yaad Karo Qurbaani

Monday, November 24, 2008

Movie Review: Dostana

Dostana (would have been better named Gaystana!) is about two guys who pretend to be gay to make sure they can co-habitate with the sexy niece of the Sindhi auntie, fall in love with the niece, try to woo her, and finally get her married to a single father of a five year old to live their part in their dostana!

The first half is hilarious. The second half loses its way pretty quickly, though. John scratches his bum in his yellow and gray undies to keep his female fans happy. Priyanka looks better with each movie, and is a treat in every frame. The darling of the movie, though, is Abhishek who would probably give Ash sleepless nights with his antics... just in case...

Anywayz, a good movie for a one-time watch - but hey, keep those kids at home!

Movie Review: Death Race

It's 2012. The American economy has collapsed. Crime is rampant, the jails are over-flowing, and now run by private corporations. And like in the Roman ages, prisoners are now roped in for entertainment. As TRPs increase and pay-per-view becomes huge business, Death Race is born... The rules are simple: there are none. There are only manipulations. It's like a video game. As the heavily armoured cars race and fight against each other on the prison island complex, panels on the road light up allowing you to "activate" defence mechanisms, weapons and death traps on the road. If you win, you live to see another day. If you lose, you probably lose your life too!

When the audience's favourite driver, the masked Frankenstein meets his match and loses his life, the jail warden needs to ensure TRPs and gets another ex-champion in his place - after implicating him in the murder of his wife. The "deal" is simple - win one more race, and you win your freedom.

The plans, though, are very different...

Statham is perfect for the part - his lean mean physique and emotionless face cool in the midst of the mayhem. Natalie Martinez as his sexy navigator will have your pulse racing if the race doesn't get to you first! She's hot and worth every inch of the screen she occupies!

The action is gory, no-nonsense and fast paced, the soundtrack perfect... and even though it's a little heavy, the movie stays very true to the concept. Be a little patient at the beginning, and trust me, this is one movie you'll definitely want to catch again...

Quantum Again

Watched Quantum of Solace again today... for the second time. And interestingly, I liked it even more this time. Just like Casino Royale, for some reason, the second time felt even more exciting :)

Maybe it's because once I already know the main plot, I can spend more time looking at the finer details and appreciating those small things you miss otherwise?

And of yeah, it did feel like a Bond movie this time :) And another thing I noticed - he's got action on foot, by car, in the water and in the air!

India Make it 4-0

No matter what England does, India seems to be one step ahead. It's 4-0 now - will we make it 7-0? Let's wait and watch!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunrise over Mahabalipuram...

Interesting to see the sun come out of the sea, for a change :)

A New Crocodile Hunter is Born...


India Crush England, Again!

Yuvraj Singh hit a back to back century, and then demolished the English line up with a 4 wicket hall to hand India a 2-0 lead in the 7 match series in yet another one-sided encounter today :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back to Pune!

We came back to Pune last night, finally! Must say, we are GLAD to be back...

Chennai was a disappointment, and didn't really come across as a metro. It's as if the winds of economic growth and change somehow bypassed this city... forget Beemers and Mercs on the road, even Skodas and Fiestas were hard to come by. The Amby still rules the road. But more than the lack of swanky malls and cars, the garbage got to me. Chennai must be one of the filthiest cities I have seen recently... it's as if cleaning the city of it's garbage was never defined as a KRA for the city corportation!

Sanam and I spent all of Friday in the room, watching TV and playing monopoly. We just didn't feel like getting out. We did try talk a walk in the area in the late evening, but were really turned out by the lack of footpaths and the filth and dirt on the roads, and came right back!

Saturday was much better... look out for some following posts on Dakshin Chitra, the Crocodile Park (where I wore a live python around my neck and kissed a baby croc) and the cool rock sculptures of Mahabalipuram.

We stayed at the GRT Temple Bay Resort, splurging a cool 12.5K on one night. Again, I must say, I was terribly disappointed. Can you believe the resort making its patrons buy a 20 rupee coupon to play in some stupid games? Can you believe a five star resort without running hot water, leave alone a tub? Even the decor in the room was minimalistic - more like a budget hotel than a five star resort!

The food was good, thankfully - the live band was nice too!

We had some excitement on the way back last night when our flight was asked to circle over the city for 15-20 mins, since a previous flight had struck a dog on the runway...

And yes, Pune city just seemed like the best place on Earth!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chandrayaan's MIP on the Moon!

At around 830 this evening, Chandrayaan's Moon Impact Probe successfully detached from the Chandrayaan mother satellite and crash landed on the designated spot on the moon's surface, near it's pole, taking with it India's flag to the lunar surface - and with it, India's name in the history books!

This is indeed a moment all of us should be VERY proud of!

India Crush England

Following up on the super successes of the Australian series, India crushed England by a massive 158-run margin after Yuvraj Singh's 138 not out in 78 balls helped India post an imposing 387 for five in the first of the 7-match one day series.

Sehwag and Gambhir opened steadily, staying at over 6 an over, and though India lost a couple of wickets soon after their departure, Yuvraj and Dhoni ensured the Indian juggernaut only picked up its devastative roll. And before critics could slam the pitch for giving nothing to bowlers, Zaheer and Munaf, and then RP struck hard to reduce the English to 5-76... after that, it was only a matter of when, and by how much they would lose!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chennai, Revisited

Sanam and I went to the Snake Park and Children Park in the morning... one had snakes on display, the other had lovers... got wet in the rain (yes, Chennai has rainy season this time of the year)... and then after lunch (which, like dinner, was fantastic) went to a meeting with the Chief IT Manager at BPCL... Sanam making wierd noises after 45 mins of my "anecdotes"... and then we spent the rest of the time bottled up in the room enjoying more of the fantastic culinary delights available...

I gave Chennai 1/10 (1 for the food)... Sanam was a little more gentle with 7/10 (2 for the snake park, 1 for children's park and 4 for the room...)

Frankly, I am very disappointed with the city. It seems colorless, dingy, lifeless.. there are very few cars on the roads, footpaths are broken, there's a lot of weeds, crumbling paint... it's almost like the city was taken over by the lifeless back alleys and gullis of a typical Mumbai suburb...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chandrayaan Update

ISRO scientists today successfully completed the final complex maneuvre inserting Chandrayaan-1 in its final orbit around the moon, at a distance of 100 km from the lunar surface. India achieved this lunar insertion successfully in its very first attempt, something even the US and Russia failed to do. It is also interesting to know that over 50% of other moon missions have failed.

Yenna Rascala in Chennai

Reached Chennai at 9.00 pm after a very uneventful flight from Pune, on a 4-day part-official, part-personal visit. While Madhavi will be at Cogni for 2 days, I will be visiting BPCL for some meetings regarding a new proposal we are chasing with them, and then on Saturday, we are off to Mahabalipuram for the weekend.

While I have been here more than a decade back, I remember nothing of this city... so here are my "first impressions" during the drive from the airport to our hotel:

1) Ambassadors still rule the roads here... and you thought the Ambi was dead?
2) Lungis too, are very much in fashion - though pants have won a lot of market share!
3) Roadside eateries serving piping hot sambhar are everywhere
4) The Chennai police are pretty sexy - including very upmarket patrol cars. 108 is alive and kicking here
5) Bus stops are essentially very tall poles with advertising hoardings on the top. Very little by way of protection from the elements, I must say!
6) Power seems to be in abundance here, if one goes by the number of electrified advertising hoardings lining all the main roads

And of course,

7) You can talk to your taxi wallah in English! Hindi..? Naah!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dada in a NutShell

January 1992: Makes ODI debut against Australia, scores just 3 before being dropped.

June 1996: Scores century against England at the Lord's in his Test debut and follows it up with another century in the very next Test at Trent Bridge.

August 1997: Scores his first ODI century in Colombo against Sri Lanka in his 32nd match.

September 1997: Leading scorer and wicket-taker in the Sahara Cup as India thrash Pakistan 4-1. He scored 222 runs at 55.5 and 15 wickets at 10.66. Wins four Man-of-the-Match awards in five matches and Man of the Series.

November-December 1997: Top scorer and Man of the Series in the three-Test home series against Sri Lanka with 392 runs at an average of 98.

May, 1999: Scores 183 in Taunton against Sri Lanka in the World Cup, then highest ODI score by an Indian.

September 1999: Captains India for the first time in the Coca-Cola Singapore Challenge tournament, against West Indies after Tendulkar pulled out due to sore back.

February 2000: Joins Lancashire.

February 2000: Named captain for the five-ODI home series against South Africa after Tendulkar relinquished post.

March 2001: Led India to 2-1 win against Australia at home in the historic Test series.

November 2001: Ganguly and five other Indian players are warned for excessive appealing during the Port Elizabeth Test by match-referee Mike Denness. Handed a suspended ban for one Test match and two one-day international matches.

July 2002: Takes off shirt at the Lord's balcony after win in the NatWest Series final.

April 2004: Becomes the first Indian captain to win a Test series in Pakistan. Also with 15 Test wins, he becomes India's most successful captain.

October 2004: India lose home series against Australia, first time after 35 years.

March 2005: Draws home series against Pakistan.

April 2005: Banned for six matches for a slow-over rate during ODI series in Pakistan. India lose series 2-4 to Pakistan.

September 2005: Reveals in Zimbabwe that the then coach Greg Chappell had asked him to step down from captaincy.

November 2005: End of five-year reign as Test captain as Rahul Dravid takes over the reins against Sri Lanka.

January 2006: Picked for the Test series in Pakistan.

December 2006: Picked for Test series against South Africa, returns as leading run-getter.

January 2007: Scores 98 in his ODI comeback in Nagpur against West Indies.

July-August 2007: Scores 249 runs at 49.80 in India's series win in England.

November-December 2007: Top scorer (534) and man of the series in the three-Test series against Pakistan with. Scores first Test century at his home ground at Eden Gardens. Slams his first double-century in Bangalore.

December 2007-January 2008: A mixed Test series in Australia (235 runs at 29.37, two half-centuries). Axed from ODI squad.

October 2008: Announces retirement after the Test series against Australia.

November 10, 2008: Plays his last match against Australia at Nagpur

From: utvi.com

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace

I'll keep this short - QoS has some great action, a good car chase, an interesting dog-fight sequence, Olga makes for a good sultry Bond babe, and overall, the movie is zippy and keeps you engaged throughout...

But, it doesn't feel like a Bond movie. He doesn't call himself Bond, James Bond, the theme music is missing, the gadgets are missing... so while it's a good action movie, it seems more like something from the Bourne series!

Overall, definitely a good watch!

Plagiarism :)

One of the photos I had taken of my friends during our Goa trip last year found itself being used on an article on Goa and Goans, in the Navhind Times, a few days back :)

Now I can feel a little less guilty about using other people's pics on my blogs - even though I never fail to give credit :)

Chandrayaan Enters Lunar Orbit

Last Saturday was another historic moment for India when Chandrayaan-1 was successful inserted into the lunar orbit after a complex series of maneuvres, a step that has led to more than 30% of earlier moon missions to fail... CY is now just about 500 kms from the moon, orbitting it under it's gravitational pull. Over the next few days, it will be gradually brought closer to the moon, until it's just around 100 km away. Then, a capsule will detach itself from the main spacecraft and descend to the lunar surface, carrying along with it an Indian flag - to be firmly planted on the moon :)

India Thrash The Aussies

India beat Australia very comfortably in the 4th test to win the Border-Gavaskar trophy with a 2-0 series win in Nagpur today, to hand Saurav Ganguly an unbeatable farewell gift :)

Among a lot of other things, this series will be remembered for awesome reverse swing bowling by Zaheer and Man-of-the-Series Ishant Sharma, some awesome display of batting by Gautam Gambhi, Sehwag, Tendulkar, VVS and Dada - one or the other firing when it mattered the most, some awesome captaincy by Dhoni, and some shockingly inexplicable tactics by Ponting when he preferred to get through some quick overs by his part-time bowlers to make up for a low over rate and avoid getting a one test ban, when he should have gone all out to get India bowled out on the 4th day of the final test.

But the most beautiful moment of the series was undoubtedly when Dhoni handed over the captaincy of the team to Dada for the final moments of the test, when Australia were nine down, letting Dada lead the team to the series victory. Such a beautiful gift for a man who gave his everything to the team for over a decade.

And Dada didn't disappoint his fans, coming up with a century earlier on, and then a fighting 85 in his last test. And though his last innings ended up being a first ball duck, in the grand tradition of Bradman, he certainly couldn't have asked for a better way to go out... and of course, he did get time, one last time, to take off his shirt in the galleries for his fans!

It may not be the end of the Aussies, and India may still have some way to go before they can be crowned the number one test team in the world, but one thing is certain... the invincibles have lost their crown! A new India can certainly aspire to lay claim to that throne!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

History in the Making?

As Barack Hussein Obama anxiously awaits the results of the US Presidential Election, expected in less tha 24 hours from now, celebrations have already begun in his camp predicting an easy victory...

I wonder - will America vote for him for his policies, or will it vote for him because of his color?

Will it vote for him because he is good, or will it vote for him because McCain is no better?

Are these the two best people in America for this position, a position in which the future of the world is essentially in their hands?

Will Sarah Palin, with all her inexperience and expensive make-up make it to the White House as the Vice President?

Is the American model of Presidential democracy better than our Parliamentary model?

Is a campaign worth more than a billion dollars over 2 years "right"?

What do you think?

Battle of the Titans

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Narkasur 2008

Our Eemays Resammiya Narkasur and the rest of the gang, just before we left for a night in town, on Diwali eve...



And at 2.00 am in the morning, after a grand parade through town, he meets his fate... but I am sure there will be a Karzzzz to chukaofy next year :)

Chandrayaan - 1

Found this beautiful picture on the Twenty22 blog, an awesome blog I love for it's coverage of India... just couldn't stop my self from putting this up.

Makes me feel so proud to be Indian!

Movie Review: Golmaal Returns

Golmaal Returns, and I am still trying to figure out if I liked it more or less than the earlier one...

There are some good laughs, and one hell of a choreographed number that does deserve special mention - if not for the music or the lyrics, then definitely for the sheer effort and imagination that has gone into it's making! Shreyas does a decent job replacing Sharman from the earlier cast, Arshad displays his ever-awesome comic timing but is terribly under-used and Ajay looks listless. Tushar is a mixed bag as the dumb guy - his intonations are funny at times and does add to the movie, but for the most part, border on the pretty irritating! In the ladies department, Kareena looks totally lifeless and is way out of her league as the Ekta-serial-watcher. Amrita Arora and the good looking Anjana Sukhaani are hardly ever on screen, and would have good reason to be upset at being sidelines. Celina looks good at times, and has done a decent job.

Overall, a good way to break off the shenanigans at the end of a very tiring day in office... as long as you do not expect too much, and do not pay through your nose for a front row seat!

Madhosh's Going To Goa!

After a decade in Pune, my dear Madhosh is finally going back to her beloved Goa :) With the maddening traffic and the chaos here, and of course, the pollution, taking her out wasn't fun in Pune any more... besides being extremely dangerous, and I thought this was as good a time as any to send her back... atleast we can enjoy her company whenever we visit Goa!

Movie Review: Fashion

Strong, yet not too intense, Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion, unlike most of his previous movies, doesn't shock and scare you. It does touch you, it might make you cry a little at times, but you leave with a smile and lighter heart.

Priyanka plays the role of a small town (Chandigarh?) girl, Meghana Mathur, in Mumbai to pursue her dreams of being a super-model. Her spark, some good connections, and some luck, instantly propels her right to the top of Mumbai's glamour world of high fashion. However, power corrupts her - her attitude slowly but surely becomes her arrogance, old friends and contacts are forgotten, then cut out, and the spark in her eyes is slowly replaced by the lost glaze of a cocaine user. And then, just when it looks like it's too late... she gives herself a second chance.

The movie is all about Priyanka. She's looking her best ever, and she's acted very well - although, I guess the real strength is in the way her character has been developed - her transition from a sweet small town girl to the diva of fashion. Mugdha Godse from aamchi Pune has a great debut as the cattish but good-at-heart Janet Sequiera, coming across as extremely confident and comfortable with the camera. Kangana does a beautiful cameo as the showstopper who's replaced by Priyanka as the face of their fashion brand Panache, her drug-abused life slowly catching up with her. She's perfected this role in multiple films including Gangster and Woh Lamhe, but I do hope the girl can do other stuff just as well! The guys - well, they really don't have much of a role, but Sameer Soni looks handsome and will win some hearts!

The movie does lose steam in the last half an hour, and could have edited by 15-20 mins. The music is good, with a couple of very high-energy numbers that will stay in your memory for a long time...

I cannot comment on the authenticity of the life in the fashion industry of course, my only claim to membership being that I just learnt to get my hair colored, but it does reinforce all the stereotypes I've had in my mind... does the fashion industry really have so many gays, and if so, why?

My recommendation - do watch it once!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What's Up?

1) India beat Australia by a huge 300+ margin in the second to take a 1-0 lead in the 4 test series, the third test starts tomorrow

2) ISRO's Chandrayaan-1 moon mission was successfully launched a week back, propelling India into the exclusive club of space faring nations... a few days later, Chandrayaan-1 is expected to be put into the lumar orbit, and then send across a moon lander with an Indian flag to the moon!

3) The world economy continues to nosedive, the Sensex crashing down to below-8K levels from it's peak of 25K just a few months back. FII selling pressures have also pulled the Rupee below the 50 mark against the dollar. Oil has crashed to less than half it's peak of around 120 a few weeks back!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Movie Review: Body of Lies

Great action, some never before used camera positions, excellent cinematography, a rivetting story, and a great cast make Body Of Lies a must-see action flick.

Di Caprio is a CIA operative on the ground in the Middle East, Russel Crowe his handler in Washington. The mission - go after Al Qaeda's Al-Saleem. In the CIA's battle against the terrorists, the movie brings out the human angle... the importance of HUMINT when the best and most expensive technology meets its match.

Totally worth it!

ICL?

Just curious... has anyone here watched the ICL?

Compared to the thrill and excitement behind the IPL, the ICL does feel like a damp squib. Is this only because the BCCI didn't back the ICL? Or something else?

CYG Signs Off

The Commonwealth Youth Games finally signed off with an impressive closing ceremony last night... Pune proved beyond doubt that when push comes to shove, even our politicians and civic bodies can all come together to make it happen!

The best part - India won a cool 33 golds and an even larger number of silver and bronze medals to top the tally!

Way to go!

Dada's Ton

Dada completed yet another fighting century, in the second test of the Australia tour to India... just hope he rethinks his decision to quit after the tour... this team and this country will really miss him!

Movie Review: Hello

Based on Chetan Bhagat's book, One Night At The Call Center, Hello is about a bunch of 20-something call center employees and their "call" with god, and how it makes them open their eyes to a whole new way of looking at life. The first half has some good moments, but the story line has nothing exciting to offer, and the second half really disappoints. The comments about the goras smack of racism, and the "solution" they find for saving their jobs probably crosses the line from extreme stupidity into crime! The cast is weak, the songs do not fit in - although, I must admit, one of the songs has pretty innovative cinematography - inspired from Crouching Tiger...

Overall, not a bad one to miss! Didn't like Chetan's writings much anyway...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Better Roads :)



Check this road - less than a week back, this was just a two laned throughfare, undistinguished by those millions of kilometers of ashphalt criss crossing every town in this country.









A week later, the road had a fresh smooth topping, reflective pads on the divider, clearly marked lanes, a beautiful foot path on either side, shrubs and trees lining it, decorative lamps, and excellent signages...








And this one, near Symbiosis, sports a beautiful red lane - I am still to figure out what it symbolizes - I am assuming it is for the BRTS lane. Also notice the pedestrian crossing/signal with the super large signages announcing the same. It also has a (non-functioning) press-to-stop signal!

I think it's time we stood up and gave a standing ovation to the dedicated and hard working engineers and workers of the PMC! Clap Clap!

CYG - A Rousing Start!

The 3rd Commonwealth Youth Games got off to a rousing start yesterday, in the face of tremendous pessimism about whether the PMC and the organizers would be able to get all the infrastructure ready in time, and some last minutes hiccups including a huge downpour minutes into the opening ceremony. However, true to the spirit of the games, these problems were quickly dispensed with, and Pune treated the world to a beautiful spectacle showcasing the spirit, the warmth, the culture, the diversity and the harmony of our lovely country.

After a scintillating display of motor cycling, helicopter and para-trooping skills, Hema Malini opened the games with a lovely rendering of Ganesh vandana. Sunidhi Chauhan, Shankar Mahadevan and Shreya Ghoshal entertained with music, while Urmila and Saif dazzled with their dance. A pulsating laser and lights display accompanied a beautiful fusion of various drums and beats of India. A huge procession of the Janta Raja, lezin, mallkhamb and other displays of skill and talent, and a colorful flag march of all the 71 participating countries added to the dazzle of the evening, accompanied by a huge firework display in the skies over Pune.

An interesting aspect of the games was that the torch was replaced by a baton containing water. In keeping with the green theme of the games, water from all participating countries, and over 200 towns and cities in India was collected in a giant kalash and added to the Fountain of Youth at the games venue... symbolic of the need for water preservation.

Competitions continue for the next 8 days... and Pune eagerly looks forward to it!

A Magnetic Lunch



Two days back, Sanam gobbled up a pretty big magnetic ball... and inspite of all our efforts to coax it out, it spent a couple of days in her stomach! Here's the X-ray showing it nice and clear... and the next pic, the same ball after it exited and was duly retrieved by her dad :)



Another addition to her long list of achievements - from washing her face with the residue water left from Lisa's bath, to eating Prince's left-over chapatis, getting lost at Central Mall, and of course, getting her hand stuck on our Jaguar tap with super-glue!

Coffee Art!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Icecream Updates


Movie Review: 1920

1920 is yet another of those horror movies "inspired" by Exorcist. Not too bad. A couple of scenes are good, although most of the "happenings" have been used so frequently now, that they have lost their appeal. Adah Sharma is beautiful, and adds that extra something to an otherwise boring cast. And yes, after a good start, the movie loses it in the middle with a very long and boring flashback. It picks up again towards the end though, with exorcism in full flow ;)

Should you watch it? Maybe - but don't bother to get a DVD. It'd be fun only in the theatres, and with someone who's likely to get scared to death while you yawn...

Dada Retires

Dada, the man who never stopped fighting, has finally called it a day. This country will miss him. An icon of leadership, fighting spirit and determination, Dada has inspired millions around the globe. I'm looking forward to him signing out with a bang in the Australia series... and I really hope he continues to inspire and lead the country in the years to come...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Reading...

I am currently reading an interesting mix of books I bought the other day...

Robert Ludlum's latest Bourne novel, the Bourne Sanction, written by Eric Van Lustbader... isn't it interesting, after your death, someone else writes using your characters, and kinda uses your name and reputation to drive it? Anyway, the plots and the narrative is pretty much similar, and I enjoy reading it, so it's fair, I guess

The Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari. Interesting book, nice, clean narrative. He starts with a background of the epic, how it was narrated by Vyasa to Ganapati on the promise that he wouldn't take breaks or pauses, unless Ganapati himself needed time to absorb and understand what he was dictating, and how he used some complicated stanzas to slow down Ganapati when he needed time to compose upcoming stanzas :) He also talks about how other reciters and learned men used Mahabharata to propogate their own teachings, knowing that they would survive only when amalgamated with something as big as the epic...

What they don't teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack. I have always loved this book, it's anecdote based style and easy language making it a beautiful experience, compared to some of those dull, long winded management books. I had last read this book almost a decade ago, and thought it was worth a relook. I am looking forward to seeing how different my perspectives are now, after all this time in the industry.

And finally, a book Cognitive Psychology. Psychology has always fascinated me, the science of how our mind works and why we do what we do. And from all the branches of psychology, I think cognitive psychology is the most exciting. I know I cannot imagine to fathom all of it, but this is one book I am definitely very excited to explore!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

New Sensitivities

After drugs in the late eighties and AIDS in the nineties and early 2000s, we now have a bunch of new sensitivities - and thanks to cable and satellite TV, it's more pronounced than ever before...

1) Ill-effects of smoking... I remember when we were young, it was common to find people smoking in buses, restaurants and theatres... doesn't happen any more! And with the smoknig ban in effect, it will only get better!

2) Green - from IT companies, to auto makers, to public transport, being green is in fashion like never before. And it's not just about planting trees - we are now sensitive about carbon emission, plastic, and all kinds of pollutions and conservation

3) Security - body frisking, the beeps of metal detectors, boot searches... not just in air ports, we have now come to expect it in malls and theatres too! Frankly, I would now be a little hesitant going to places which don't have it!

4) Traffic discipline - specifically in Pune, I think the Pune Mirror has done a great job of sensitivizing people to this problem... with their sustained campaign against poor traffic discipline, I can see a visible change in the attitude of people, especially at traffic signals.. zebra crossings are now respected, and lane discipline too, seems to be improving!

No Smoking!

2nd October marked a historic step for India towards a more healthy nation - the Health Ministry put in effect a complete ban on smoking - from bus stops and train stations, to restaurants, pubs and discos, from office complexes to government buildings, smoking is now banned in public places!

Yes, it will take time, and there will be violations, and a stretched police force will not find the time and resources to enforce this completely... but as citizens, we now have a right to complain and do our bit to enforce it...

CYG - 8 Days Away

It's 8 days away now... and the city is looking real sexy already! The University Circle is really shaping up well, with the traffic circles being adorned with decorative plants and lawn, and some pretty interesting sculptures. Most of the major roads are also looking super cool - the concreting is almost finished, pretty footpaths and signages adding the ooomph factor. Baner Road and Pashan Road are almost ready, and today, the new Balewadi flyover is also open to the traffic. I also saw a bank of cameras mounted on top of the main road from the airport, opposite Le Meridien, catching all the traffic passing below...

The PMC has done a great job, I must say... even a fortnight back, newspapers and critics were screaming at the top of their lungs on how all deadlines have been missed... today, there's only shock and awe. Goes to show, where there's a will and a serious government in place, anything's possible!

Quote for the Day

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, covered in scars, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming yahoo!, what a ride." Bear Grylls.

http://beargrylls.blogspot.com

Movie Review: Flashbacks of a Fool

Daniel Craig shows a lot of butt. And remembers his youth. That's all there is to it. Really.

If you still wanna hear it... Daniel plays a Hollywood actor, now past his prime, doing crazy things and showing his butt. One day, his mom calls him to tell him his best friend Boots has died.

We now switch to a beautiful English coast, a small cluster of houses by an angry and beautiful sea. Two boys, pleasuring themselves in a tunnel of horrow. Daniel's affair with his married neighbour. His brush with Ruth, a pretty girl, and their first kiss. However, that relationship is nipped when he turns up late for his date with love bites from his neighbour on his neck. Then a disaster when his neighbour's young daughter dies in an accident while she's making out with him. And Daniel leaves home for the US, to get away from it all.

Back to the present. He's late for the funeral. His sister takes him to meet Ruth (now Boot's widow). She also shares some news, including his lover neighbour's subsequent life and gruesome death. Daniel leaves a note and a cheque for Ruth, and returns to America.

And that's it.

I am not sure whether I liked it or not. It was strange. Even at half time, I wasn't sure what the theme of the movie was. It's slow. There's a lot of butt and boobs. A couple of pretty women. Some awesome locales. Some interesting dialogues. It's slow, though. At times, you just want it to move at least at thrice it's pace. But overall, not too bad, really. Especially the ending.

Movie Review: Tortured

"Tortured" is the story of an FBI agent who inserts himself into a dreaded gang and over six months, tries to win the confidence and trust of the gang leader by being one of them, performing tasks that include the torture and interrogation of the gang's accountant. As the mind games go on, it slowly becomes obvious that he's just a pawn in the game, and someone else is calling the shots.

A pretty mediocre movie, best avoided.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Movie Review: Kidnap

After a fantastic debut in Jaane Tu, Imran Khan delivers a knock out punch. Kidnap will leave you stunned, shocked, sometimes terrified, sometimes bending over with laughter. Unfortunately, for the wrong reasons and at the wrong times!

Sanju baba plays a 57.1 billion dollar net worth businessman, with a daughter who's just turned 18 and spends her life in white bikinis swimming alone in the sea. And one day, yes, you guessed it - she gets kidnapped. By someone who doesn't want money, and instead, wants to take revenge by playing games with Sanju baba. The devil is in the details though, and in such a movie, it's everything! And the movie falls completely flat there. The screen play is terrible, the dialogues are very amateurish, and the "tasks" given play out so childishly, it makes you wonder if they employed a story writer at all! The songs are forgotten the moment they get over, and have really been squeezed in, completely messing with the flow of the main plot.

My list of the worst moments in the movie:
1) Sanjay Dutt roaring through Panaji's streets, then onto a ferry, and finally on a train track while going to Panvel station to catch a train!
2) Sanjay Dutt looking at his skimpily clad daughter and going, tum kitni badi ho gayee ho!
3) The introduction of Minissha, her mother and her grandmother
4) The introduction of Imran Khan and the tea cup scene
5) The jail break scene
6) The "I want to have a bath" scene
7) The "confession" scene in front of the lighted cross
8) All the songs
9) The rest of the movie

Imran is a real disappointment. After Jaane Tu, I had predicted this guy had it in him to be the next King Khan, but today I really have to eat my words. He's stony faced, shows neither pain nor anger, and you almost laugh at his attempts to be the cool bad guy. There's not a single scene in which you would want to look at him and like him or hate him - he's just invisible. Sanjay Dutt is getting old, and looks so. The saving grace - a super sexy Minissha Lamba, with her super short skirts, sports bras and white bikinis, she takes all your attention when she's on screen. But frankly, she wasn't good enough reason to purchase those Rs 180 tickets!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Movie Review: Phoonk

This is a delayed review - but what the heck, I am sure not too many missed it anyway! :)

RGV tries an Exorcist with Phoonk, and only ends up giving us a blow, double meaning intended! There are a couple of moments, but most of it is loud hamming, and some very predictable stuff, reminiscent of the Ramsay's Zee Horror Show. Wonder how much more of this fare will continue getting dished out from the RGV stable...

The Carnage on Wall Street Continues

After Washington Mutual sold off it's banking operations to JP Morgan Chase, and filed for bankruptcy, and with Wachovia also in trouble and looking for buyers, we now have JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America at the top followed by Wells Fargo, our sexy customer, in third spot :)

I just hope the traditional and conservative approach of Wells Fargo takes it through this crisis - I have a lot of my target revenue at stake here!

Kitty Update

5 out of 6 eyes have opened up, Mango has one more to go! :)

CYG is coming to Pune!

As Pune gears up for the Commonwealth Youth Games, Shivajinagar, Aundh and Baner is getting a major facelift. The road widening and concreting work is in its final sprint, beautiful signages adorn the sides, footpaths springing up along with saplings and plants in traffic islands, the dividers getting a fresh coat of paint... and the new stadiums in Balewadi standing proud and happy, waiting for the big day, now less than a month away!

Wish you all the best, Pune! Let's rock!

Paintball

A couple of days back, we had our team quarterly party, and this time, we had decided to do something different: Paintball. A fascinating extreme sport in which you don army fatigues, protective face masks, an air-powered rifle with paintball bullets, and then form teams that take on each other across an obstacle course with the objective of defending your flag while you go for the opposition's.


We all started tentatively, trying to get a hang of the gun and it's firing power and range, getting shot and figuring out how painful it can be, clueless about how to strategize. But as we got into the "league", teams with names like Pink Stockings, Huggies, Bathroom Rockers and Layoff Brothers, finally got their acts together. As bullets whizzed about, we figured out how to defend the flag, how to use the obstacles to our advantage, how to attack in a V formation, instructions ringing out load and clear from the base, urging the troops forward.



And as the battle-bruised veterans finally called it a day after three hours of bloody fighting, one thing was certain - we would all be raring to come back and fight another day!

Highly recommended as a team building event, or simply for fun. However, this is not something for kids... and yes, be prepared for some sweat and grime, and some red and blue bruises if you are shot! I am still carrying mine!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Post No 35 :)

This post makes Sept 08 the month with the most posts so far :) Well, yes, I do cheat a little bit with these status posts... but heck, that's the cool thing about being the master of your own blog... anyone with a problem can go fish :)

Chak De, Once More

Saw Chak De, yet again... and thoroughly enjoyed it, yet again! Amazing movie, with an amazing cast, a beautiful script, and some fantastic moments. SRK shows why he is the King - the movie would have probably been a whimper without the passion and energy he brings to the field.

My favourite scenes, in no specific order:
1) His first meeting with the team, when he says, And I am the coach of Indian Women's Hockey Team!
2) The "only one goonda in a team" dialogue
3) The girls and boys teams saluting each other scene
4) The girls' flight to Australia and their first moments there
5) The party, and the girls' entry in those beautiful sarees
6) The scene where he watches the "gora" unfurling the Indian flag
7) The scene at Intermission, just after the fight at MacD when he wears his shades and says, tomorrow, 5.00 am, at the ground!

I remembered last year, when India won the T20 World Cup, and all of us, including Siddha and Shweta went out celebrating over town, the Chak De song blaring full volume from Lisa's speakers... just so awesome!

I can probably go on and on... but one thing's sure, next time I watch it, I will want to blog about it, yet again!

Movie Review: Welcome to Sajjanpur

After being disgusted and shocked out of our wits with a very dark Captivity, we really needed a light, fun movie - and Shyam Benegal's Welcome to Sajjanpur is exactly that. Light hearted, fun and a great way to spend a weekend.

Sajjanpur is a typical village in the new rural India - innocence laced with a dab of modernity, superstitions and illiteracy jostling with PCOs and mobiles, that one motorbike or jeep wading through the herds of cattle and the tring tring of bicycles.

Mahadev (a good-once-again Shreyas Talpade) is one of the few literates in the village. His profession: letter writing, under the shade of a tree beside the post office. From helping the snake charmer find his lost father, to bringing lovers together, Mahadev has a special way with his words and letters - until he meets and falls in love with his primary school sweetheart from two decades back, Kamala (the beautiful Amrita Rao in yet another understated but very commendable role), now married and waiting for her husband who's been working in Mumbai for the last 4 Diwalis. His emotions and feelings start interfering with his profession, his dreams overriding his reason, until one day he finds his true calling.

The strength of the movie is in its simplicity. The humour is good natured and easy, the characters lovable. The village seems an oasis of peace and bountiful existence (especially when compared to the dark cellars of Captivity :)) and will definitely evoke fond memories of that native village you hail from! The characters are interesting, and Ila Arun deserves special mention, along with the amazing Putrurao :) The music too, is simple but beautiful... you won't remember it a few days later, but definitely adds character to the movie!

The only negative for me, were two unnecessary scenes of violence and death... those 2 mins prevent me from recommending this movie strongly as family entertainment! Other than that, I would strongly recommend that you do not miss this one!

Movie Review: Captivity

Captivity is a pretty old movie, almost an year old, but just hit Indian theatres this week... with the sexy Elisha Cuthbert in the lead role, this is one of those blood and gore genre of horror movies that will disgust you with scenes of a masked man making a gooey drink of eyeballs and ears and pouring it through a funnel into the mouth of his thrashing victim, and then using a ear bud to wipe off the mess and use it as lipstick! Or how about a dog being blown into shreds dripping on the victims face, or using a wrench to pull off teeth... you get the picture.

Avoid it, unless you are really looking for it. Definitely not for the weak hearted.

Hat-Trick

Hat-trick of movies today :)

Started the day with the blood and gore horror movie Captivity, which really gave us a pretty dark mood. So followed it up with the perfect foil - the light-hearted and fun creation by Shyam Benegal, Welcome to Sajjanpur. And what better way to end a good day than with Chak De?

Actually, we also wanted to catch Hari Puttar, but getting out of the comforts of home later in the evening wasn't as appealing as popping in a DVD and curling up with the cat!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Morning at E7

Mother cat went for a morning walk today... and the entire machinery got into action. Kittens were shifted out from the bed, fresh new towels (Sanam suddenly realised her favourite pink towel had been called for duty) were laid out, old towels taken for washing... all while the kittens did their best to out do each other in screaming their lungs off...

Fifteen mins later, the chaos had subsided and the maternity ward was calm again.. and then mom came back...




It's just been 3 days, and the kittens are already learning to walk around a bit on their feeble legs and tiny tiny toes... and to push each other out of the way, and climb on top of each other... I wonder why 3 jostle for 1 when there are 8? :)

By the way, current "indications" are that Chocobar is a gonna grow up big and strong, while Mango and Casatta will be pretty and sweet :)

I Wish...

...Raj would target corruption instead of Bihari workers
...people would maintain traffic discipline
...Shilpa could be voted out of hosting Big Boss
...kittens and cats could be toilet trained more easily
...there was a 360 km/h bullet train between Pune and Goa
...I could have "masoorche tonak with sungta ani uno" for breakfast today

Movie Review: The Peacemaker

This review is around a decade late :)

I first saw The Peacemaker in 1996-97 at IIT Bombay's theatre with my friend Merlyn, and then a couple more times, and then again today on HBO. An excellent action movie based on the theft and use of nuclear weapons by terrorists, it's interesting how it's still very much relevant today! George Clooney looks his sexiest best as the decorated US army officer, with a smart and sexy Nicole Kidman for company.

Check out for the dialogue between Clooney and the driver of the van, the interception of the truck on the bridge, and one of the best car chase scenes in Hollywood (the sequence in Ronin comes very close too)... and yes, the scene of the train accident, and the way the mushroom engulfs the farmer and his wife, and the seamless transition into the cold blue of the swimming pool. Very sexy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Unsung Heroes

Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of the Delhi Police gave up his life today in the line of duty, taking four bullets in his stomach, arm, thigh and shoulder, in an intense encounter that ended with two terrorists killed and one arrested in a crowded locality of Delhi.

The first reaction of the media to the encounter was that it's fake. Until news of the death came in. If the Inspector hadn't died, we would have the media and the public screaming at how the Delhi Police faked an encounter to show success after the blasts. Are we really being fair to those heroes who give up their lives to keep us safe? We had a very safe Ganesh Chaturthi - do the police get credit for that? A hero dies, giving up his life for our safety? How many will remember his name tomorrow? What about those bomb disposal squad members who put their lives in grave danger every time they defuse those bombs?



For the last week, I have heard time and again, how the government needs to do more to stop terror. How the police is helpless, how our intelligence needs to be strengthened. Really? And how do we do that? Scan every nook and corner every minute? Someone suggested we should make sure no one enters through the border? Really? So what's a border? How do we "seal" it? How many thousands of kilometers? It's easy to criticize and make motherhood statements, but are we thinking straight? I am sick of hearing the news anchors screaming - why don't we declare an all out war against the terrorists? When will the government wake up? Damn it, shut up, and stop this drama!

Does it mean we can do nothing, that we will always have to live in fear? No. We can do more. But it will be a long and bloody battle. We need to accept that. We need to be strong, but patient. Governments need to go after the funding for these organizations. We need to strengthen security drills, get more CCTVs, more budget for the police and intelligence agencies. But probably, most of all, we need to be sensitive. We need to make sure our fight against terror doesn't become a fight between two religions or communities! We cannot afford to alienate our people!

Movie Review: You Don't Mess With The Zohan

This typical Adam Sandler movie will have you in spilts with it's outrageous acts and adult humour, but you need to have the taste for that stuff :)

Zohan is an Israeli counter-terror officer, who takes on the Palentinians with his Rajnikant-like skills, until one day he decides enough is enough and comes to the US to chase his real passion - hair styling, with his very own brand of "service"! There are some outrageous dialogues, and some even more outrageous acts. Warning: do not try this at home!

As a bonus, you can feast your eyes on the very beautiful and sexy Emmanuelle Chriqui, a seductive combination of Salma Hayek and Amrita Rao :)

Go enjoy the movie, but keep your kids home!

Balls of Fur


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cuties

Here they are.. the three most beautiful kittens in the world :) Miyou transferred them from the tent on the terrace to the "pull out" diwan under Sanam's bunk bed in the morning today, with a little help from me to remind her that she had forgotten one behind! When I picked the third one, man, the way she screamed - that chhotti si jaan packs so much punch :) As I cupped her in my palm and held her against my stomach, she suddenly quietened - searching for dudu :)


It's now time to find names for them... can you help me decide? Some options I have now:

Mango, Chocobar and Casatta - based on their color
Shah, Rukh and Khan - well, no explanations required here!
Amar, Akbar and Anthony - tch, I don't like these names actually
Microsoft, Wells Fargo and Bridgestone - my favourite customers
or simply
Pinky, Sweetie and Munni :)

Oh, I don't know their sex yet.. so... keep that in mind!

Babies :)

Miyou gave birth today to an "as yet unknown and unseen" number of babies :) She's right now inside a tent of wooden planks, a tree trunk, some pots, and some towels, that I build for her against the corner of our terrace, where she had settled down with her litter.

Dying to see the tiny tots, can hear their feeble meows :)

Preggy Miyou

The countdown begins...

Wall Street Carnage...

A man on Wall Street asked on CNN, why are you the only man smiling here today? Answer: I am just happy to be alive!

After Lehman Brothers, will it be AIG next?

Where will this end?

September 1752

Did you know that nothing happened between 3 and 13 September 1752?

In September 1752 the Julian calendar was replaced with the Gregorian calendar in Great Britain and its American colonies. The Julian calendar was 11 days behind the Gregorian calendar, so 14 September got to follow 2 September on the day of the change. The result was that between 3 and 13 September, absolutely nothing happened!

The US Economy by Mark Faber!

Dr. Marc Faber concluded his monthly bulletin (June 2008) with the following:

The federal government is sending each of us a $600 rebate. If we spend that money at Wal-Mart, the money goes to China. If we spend it on gasoline it goes to the Arabs. If we buy a computer it will go to India. If we purchase fruit and vegetables it will go to Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. If we purchase a good car it will go to Germany. If we purchase useless crap it will go to Taiwan and none of it will help the American economy. The only way to keep that money here at home is to spend it on prostitutes and beer, since these are the only products still produced in US. I've been doing my part.

Worth It

When someone terribly injured and barely conscious finds the energy to get a smile on her face on seeing you, and struggles to say, thanks for coming, it was such a pleasant surprise, and makes a real attempt to touch you... you know it's been worth all the taunts, the snide remarks... you know you have made a real difference to someone!

Help Bihar

In some sense this might be encouraging hoaxes and spam mail, but I thought the cost and irritation it will cost you was worth the possible upside for the flood victims in Bihar.

You just have to answer 4 simple questions at http://www.helpbihar.in, and the sponsors will pay to the NGO http://www.planindia.org/ on your behalf.

And by the way, the answers are:
Patna
Kosi
25 Lakh
Drought

All it takes is a few seconds, and it’s possible nothing will come out of out it, but who knows – it might be worth it!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wall Street Massacre

Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy, Bank of America buys a struggling Merill Lynch, and AIG asks for a emergency loan. Could it get any worse for the world's financial markets?

Interestingly, on the same day, crude crashed to a long-time low of less than 100 USD/barrel. The dollar has also risen to more than 46 per rupee, when just a few months back, we were worrying about it going up to around 36!

Makes no sense to me frankly!

Chicken Olivali

First, take 4-5 medium sized chicken pieces, and marinate in a large amount of dahi and chicken masala for around 15-20 min. Chop 2 onions and 3 tomatoes. Take a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, heat it, then brown the onions, add the tomatoes and some ginger-garlic paste and stir for some time. For the extra something that gives my dish it's name, add 7-8 olives with red pepper fillings, and then whip it in the mixer for a few seconds to give a grainy paste. Add back to the kadhai, add salt to taste, and let it simmer for 15-20 mins.

Serve hot and say thanks to me! :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cats Have Eight

Cats have 8 dudus... Sanam just showed me the fourth pair, hidden under the front legs... sigh...

Wear a Helmet, Please!

A personal request from me to all of my readers... please, please drive/ride safely, and for god's sake please wear a helmet, even if it's for a very short distance. I know it's cumbersome and irritating, but it's definitely worth the cost! Trust me!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Want a BMW?

Just buy an apartment in Noida! Yes, saw this ad in the Times of India today... You get a free BMW with every apartment you book!

Movie Review: A Wednesday

There have been many movies on terrorism and bomb blasts, and A Wednesday continues with the theme...

Mumbai's police commissioner Prakash Rathod, played by Anupam Kher, receives a call on his mobile - deliver India's 4 most-wanted terrorists to me, or else... The "controller" - Naseeruddin Shah, a 50-something "common man", operating his hi-tech operation from the terrace of a building under construction.

The police machinery kicks off, desperately playing catch up but the controller is always one step ahead... the terrorists are delivered as demanded, and then the movie takes a very interesting twist!

The action is fast paced, aided by a great sound track, and power packed performances by Anupam and his "officers". Naseeruddin is at his best too, his "bhashan" at the end earning claps from the audience.

A small budget movie, but should do well! A good option this weekend!

Movie Review: Righteous Kill

"Righteous Kill" tackles the question of whether encounter killings are justified when the law is helpless in bringing criminals to justice. A powerful cast consisting of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, though, disappoints - the movie is not recommended. It's slow, the actors look too old to be policemen, and the plot lacks originality, except for a feeble attempt at a twist at the end...

Skip it and you won't regret it.

Back to Back

Did back to back movies today, for the first time in my life...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Vistas From Reismagos, Goa





Let Me Sleep Yaar!

Wild Mushrooms

Saw these awesome, huge mushrooms in my garden...

Click on the first pic below to see the beautiful colorations! The second pic is even more interesting. If you click on it to blow it up, you will notice a small plant actually growing through the mushroom's body! As the mushroom expanded, it just left the plant in it's place, easily encircling it and then closing around it!



The Ritz Classic

If you are ever in Goa, don't miss the Ritz Classic off 18th June Road for some absolutely awesome seafood. The night after Chaturthi, we gorged on a huge plate of crab dry fry, a must-try when you are there. Another fantastic option that you can't miss is squid rava fry. We also had finger licking squid masala, kingfish rava fry, chicken tandoori and a complimentary dish with grilled crab and shark.

Before:



After:



The bill for all that, and soft drinks, for 7 persons: Rs 850!

ps: Britto's in Baga is another great option, try the crab-encrusted prawns!

Interesting Signboard

Guess what this means?



Clue: you'll find this as you enter Amrutyog's Pune-Goa sleeper bus...

EMRI 108 Launched in Goa



After Gujarat, Uttarakhand and AP, Goa became the 4th state in the country to launch the super-sophisticated integrated emergency response service, with a single emergency number 108, accessible from any land line or mobile service, for police, fire as well as medical emergencies.



Equipped with GPS/GIS systems, and backed by a control center that will take your call and immediately dispatch the closest ambulance to the spot, these ambulances can attend to everything including hypertension, poisoning, drowning and accidents, providing critical care in those initial moments.

Check http://www.emri.in for more details on EMRI and it's work in India.

India, The New-Clear Power!

Finally, the suspense is over! After hectic diplomatic parleys and intense negotiations, India has got the critical NSG waiver in Vienna, signalling it's emergence and acceptance as a world power, dehyphenated from Pakistan forever. Remember, we are the only country in the world for whom, and for whom only, this powerful international body has bent it's rules, the very rules that were framed to stop us after our 1974 nuclear blasts. The US worked overtime on our behalf, signalling a deepening strategic relationship between the world's most powerful democracies...

What does this mean for India? It means access to high tech dual-use technology that will have major implications for our growth in pharma, IT and space research. It will mean access to uranium to fuel our nuclear reactors, and to the latest technology in nuclear plants, enabling our unsatiable quest for power. And interestingly, it means our own internal nuclear fuel supplies can be diverted for making weapons.

So what next? Bush will have to try and push the Indo-US deal in the house, and he has very little time for it. But France and Russia will probably be looking at signing their own deals very soon! After all, there are billions of dollars to be had...

Movie Review: Rock On

After Dil Chahata Hai and Don, here's another stunner from Farhan Akhtar, this time as producer, actor and singer!

Rock On is the story of 4 friends and their rock band, Magic, which wins a Channel V talent hunt, before misunderstandings and ego clashes ruins it all for them. A decade later, life brings them back together, giving them another chance at recreating the magic in music. Will they bury their misunderstandings and pull it off? Can they still pull it off, after all these years?

The cast, including Farhan, Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli and Luke Kenny are fantastic, especially Farhan who's really sexy in both his avataars. Prachi Desai makes a decent debut on the big screen, but could have done with subtler make up and a better hair style! The surprise package is Shahana Goswami, as Debbie (Arjun's girlfriend and later, wife). Koel Purie is a bonus :)

The sets are typical Farhaan, contemporary and stylish. The rock shows are extremely well shot, but the real magic is in the music. Rock never sounded so good! The album is a definite must-have. Socha Hai and Tum Ho Toh are two of my absolute favourites, and will get your head swinging to the rhythm as you sing along. Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein is a beautiful rendition of soulful music with a rock base. Awesome! And yes, the songs definitely grow on you...

Overall, a must see 2-3 times :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

On Independence Day...

I know most of us tend to be pretty pessimistic about our country, and we tend to have attacks of patriotism only when India wins a T20 match or Abhinav gets a gold medal. And while we do have our problems with infrastructure, poverty and corruption, and every other evil that befalls a 1.1 Billion Third World country like ours, we need to take some time to thank this country and its people for what is awesome – in spite of all the diversity, and the hundreds of languages and dozens of relations, we are still very much united – compared to what’s happening in Eastern Europe, for example. We still have very clean and clear change of governments, our ex-Prime Ministers and Presidents are not killed and hung on lampposts. The day our government wins a trust vote, every TV channel runs excellent, bare-all debates between government and the opposition on one platform. The judiciary and press is still very free and not under government influence. We still have the rights to do dharnas and morchas without the government calling in tanks to quell the mob. Most of us have got very high quality education almost for free all our childhood and adult life.

Let us take this opportunity to ask ourselves, how can we do our little bit for our country? It’s not just that we pay some income tax (which, most of us do, very grudgingly!)

Let us save power and water. Let us do our bits to not litter the streets and our surroundings, let us help in segregating garbage and recycling. Let us plant one tree. Let us not encourage corruption by passing along that fifty rupee note to the hawaldar. Let us respect the traffic lights, and let pedestrians cross safely. Let us encourage our kids to be better social citizens too!

At this age, and in the IT industry, we have the power to do and influence a lot more. Let’s do our bit.

Happy Independence Day!

Aye Dil Hai Mushkil

Rafi - Aye dil hai mushkil, jeena yahan
jara hat ke jara bach ke, yeh hai bombay meri jaan
aa ha ha ho ho ho, hee ha haha
humh humm....
Aye dil hai mushkil, jeena yahan
jara hat ke jara bach ke, yeh hai bombay meri jaan

Kahin building, kahin tramein, kahin motor, kahin mill
milta hai yahan sab kuchh, ek milta nahi dil
Kahin building, kahin tramein, kahin motor, kahin mill
milta hai yahan sab kuchh, ek milta nahi dil
insaan ka nahi, kahin namo nishan
jara hat ke jara bach ke, yeh hai bombay meri jaan
ae dil hai mushkil - -

kahin satta kahin patta, kahin chori kahin race
kahin daaka khain faaqa, kahin thokar kahin thes
kahin satta kahin patta, kahin chori kahin race
kahin daaka khain faaqa, kahin thokar kahin thes
bekaaro ke hain, kai kaam yahan
jara hat ke jara bach ke, yeh hai bombay meri jaan
ae dil hai mushkil - - -

Beghar ko aawara, yahan kahate hans hans
khud kaate gale sab ke, kahein is ko bizness
Beghar ko aawara, yahan kahate hans hans
khud kaate gale sab ke, kahein is ko bizness
ek cheez ke hain, kai naam yahan
jara hat ke jara bach ke, yeh hai bombay meri jaan
ae dil hai mushkil - - -

Geeta Dutt - Bura duniya ko hai kahata, aisa bhola to na ban
jo hai karta woh hai bharta, hai yahan ka yeh chalan
Bura duniya ko hai kahata, aisa bhola to na ban
jo hai karta woh hai bharta, hai yahan ka yeh chalan
dadagiri nahi, chalne ki yahan
yeh hai bombay yeh hai bombai, yeh hai bombai meri jaan

Rafi - Aye dil hai mushkil, jeena yahan
jara hat ke jara bach ke, yeh hai bombay meri jaan

Geeta Dutt - Aye dil hai aasan, jeena yahan
suno mister suno bandhu, yeh hai bombay meri jaan

Rafi - Aye dil hai mushkil, jeena yahan
jara hat ke jara bach ke, yeh hai bombay meri jaan

Closure

Isn't that what we all look for? Driven by an inherent need to move on, because time waits for no one and life goes on.

My diary (yes, I have a daily account of everything in my life.. all the way back from 1987) and now my blogs, allow me just that. Closure.

Miyou Gets Visitors



Neighbours kid, and her two cousins from Chicago. Wow, exclaimed the little girl, I have never touched a cat before. Check her sponged feet, pointed out the elder one. Will it bite, the 3 year old boy wanted to know, before he realised we had 10 different phones and mobiles in the house. Is that a live phone? he asked, pointing to the instrument lying on the bed.

Movie Review: Mumbai Meri Jaan

This is not a review, this is a tribute to a beautiful movie, undoubtedly the best I have seen and connected with, a work of art that's going to remain with me forever.

Mumbai Meri Jaan is about the people of this beautiful city, whose name has become synonymous with the undying human spirit. Set against the backdrop of the 7/11 train blasts in Mumbai, the movie will connect with every Indian with it's amazing depth and treatment of issues that concern us today - acceptance of corruption, fear of terrorism, religious discord, aspirations of a comfortable life in the US, consumerism, the rapidly deteriorating morality in search of TRPs, and in the midst of all that, the wish to live life happily, borrowing heavily on every little bit that gives us that happiness and security. It's about emotions - joy, fear, suspicion, jealousy, deprivation, achievement, aspirations. It's about everyday lives, it's about the big events and small that touch us, and change us forever. It's about our fight to come to terms with what life throws at us, and our attempt to hit back. Most importantly, it's about achieving closure and moving on.

The train blasts of 7/ll is the core event around which the movie revolves, and is shot brilliantly and will shock you with it's graphic scenes. This is not for the faint-hearted, and definitely not for kids. After the initial blast, when bodies are hurled out of the tain, smashing into track-side signal poles, the scene calms down... a victim gingerly tries to get back on his hands and knees... I still get a shudder when I think about what happens next...

Kay Kay plays Suresh, an unemployed 30-something trying to push his computer hardware supplier business, with an ever-so-deepening suspicion and hatred of Muslims. After the blasts, he is fully convinced that the bunch of Muslims that always frequented their adda (a Muslim-run hotel) are terrorists, following them, trying to nail them down. His prejudices refuse to let him accept that there might be a different angle to it after all. When one of them he's following picks up his girlfriend in a burkha, his friend says, let's go now, he's just meeting his girlfriend. Suresh retorts, how do you know it's a girl? They are trained to walk like this!

Irrfan is a living-by-the-day South Indian roadside tea vendor, whose aspirations and adventures including taking his wife and kid to the mall, and "testing" 10000 rupees-per-bottle perfumes, until one day he is kicked out from the mall, with his crying wife and kid in tow. The fear psychosis in the city provides him the ultimate weapon to hit back - hoax calls. The transformation in him is stunning. He now has the power to hit back at the malls which threw him out. All it takes is one rupee and a phone call. His chest is out, the glint in his eyes says it all. I am the King, and the sky is the limit.

Soha Ali is a prep school bred reporter, who works for one of the countless news channels for whom human tragedy is just a way to get more TRPs. However, when her own fiance is killed in the blasts, she turns from reporter to the reported! Rupali Bani Rudali, screams the program headlines. SMS Y RBR if you agree, and N RBR if you don't! And don't forget to send us your name! Check out the scene where they walk over her reflection in the marble flooring - such a stunningly delivered message. A fitting portrayal of todays Aaj Tak and India TV, I wonder though if it will make any difference to those who take pride in stripping bare a dead 14 year old today in the name of news reporting!

Madhavan plays a rich white-collar professional, with idealism and patriotism running in his blood. He hates plastic, and takes the train. He doesn't want to settle in the US, he prefers paying income tax in India, and doing his bit here. The blast changes it all. He survives luckily, but his friend loses a hand and probably his chance in life. The scene where Madhavan talks to his visiting-from-America guests is so real and replayed in Indian homes millions of times. Remember, by now, Madhavan is preparing himself to move from India, encouraged by pictures of safe and secure havens courtesy Google Earth. And he's looking for reaffirmation and reassurance. When his friend talks about missing those simple pleasures they had in India, Madhavan retorts that things are no longer the same, with bombs and terrorists and everything. Well, 2 small airplanes changed the world, says his American guest. Are you happy, Madhavan asks. Yes, I am good, comes the reply.

And finally Paresh Rawal. A symbol of the countless millions of urban Indians, in search of a life different from their rural beginnings, idealism and morals compromised and then having come to terms with it, a live-and-let-live philosophy that makes you a part of the system which you do not want to fight any more. And even in this despairing situation, he finds reasons to smile.

But time heals, and life brings about moments that change perspectives. Kay Kay overcomes his prejudices, Madhavan his fears and doubts, Irrfan too gets closure, Soha Ali finally refuses to become a story, and Paresh - well, it's too late for him in life to change, but he does have hope to redeem himself back in his village.

And the city moves on.

The cast is absolutely wonderful. Soha Ali Khan proves yet again what a fine actress she is, something her mother will be very proud of. This is one girl who stands way above her peers. The scene in the morgue is simply outstanding. Madhavan's portrayal of the white-collared patriotic Indian upper middle class 30-something whose life is changed by that one event will connect 100% with most of us. I think Kay Kay was a wee bit wasted in a role that did not allow him much, but Irrfan is outstanding as the South Indian roadside tea vendor. The best though, comes from Paresh Rawal as the about-to-retire Mumbai policeman, and he typifies the spirit of the city and it's inhabitant's tryst with destiny to the hilt!

When the closing credits started rolling on the screen to the background score of Aye Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahan, the theatre erupted in spontaneous applause, and this was not because India scored that winning goal in the dying moments of Chak De - it was simply because we probably had no other way to stop those tears of emotions, get closure, and get back to life.

Nishikant Kamat, hats off to you, you have given us an absolutely invaluable treasure! And in me, you have a fan for life!