Saturday, August 29, 2009

Golden Baby

Check this amazingly rich gold cocoon...

Didn't meet the lucky guy in there, but he's surely got more than a silver spoon in his mouth!

Reismagos Beach

The beautiful rock-strewn Reismagos beach...

A very interesting feature of this beach is that the rocks seem to appear and disappear every once in a while! Something to do with erosion? Some other tidal impact? I don't know! But one thing is sure, a few months back, there weren't as many rocks!

Country Roads.. Take Me Home...

A collage of beautiful roads on the way from Pune to Goa... the 4 laned superbly maintained NH4 from Pune gives way to the tree-lined road to Ajra and Amboli, where the mist-laden ghats lead you down into Konkan. A short cut to Banda gets really narrow and exciting, cutting out 15-20 kms and the town of Sawantwadi, getting you to Goa half an hour before schedule!

Big Foot

Can you guess the shoe size of this shoe?

Tell you what - the feet are mine, and I am a size 7. That's big enough, normally! This giant is my nephew, Kunal, he's 6'4'' and his shoe size is an unbelievable 13!

Shiny Tenuja

I Guess We're Safe Here... long as Mom doesn't come to shoo us away!

Movie Review: Kaminey

Here in Goa, away from the shut multiplexes of Pune, I finally got the chance to catch Kaminey... the 11.15 pm show also meant we were part of a small group of twenty odd bleary eyed guys, and we thought, the chances of catching the lovely flu were minimal anyway...

The movie itself is a mixed bag. Shahid does another great job after Jab We Met, Priyanka is subdued and has a pretty small role as Sweetie, a Marathi mulgi, but comes across pretty hot and sexy in the few scenes she shares with Shahid and Amol Gupte as Mr Bhope (no, not Mr Bhobe) is pretty interesting too. The editing and cinematography is top class, and very Hollywood-ish, although the camera work does get to you sometimes. Dhan Te Nan sounds good on an audio CD, but is difficult to watch. The rest of the songs (I think there was at least one more) are very forgettable.

Watch it for the different treatment and the film-making, but it's not one of the absolute musts for me! OK to give a miss, if it keeps you safe from the flu!

One More To Go!

As you may have guessed from my long silence on the blog, I have been away in Goa... No matter how many times I come here, and for how long, it always hurts the day I need to go back. I love being back in Pune, after all, my entire life revolves around it, but it's really difficult leaving this home where I spent all my childhood, the fish, the people, the late mornings, the evenings on the beaches... and of course, the rain! The amazing rain of Goa!

But hey, I still have one more day to go here :) For the next twenty hours or so now, the attempt will be to slow down time, to live every second, to soak in the atmosphere to the maximum, then, the moment we leave from here, the need will be to gobble up the 500 kms as fast as possible...

Until, the door opens, and I greet my two cats in the warm comfort of my own home...

If ever there was a guy torn between two homes, it has to be me!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

BJP Losing It?

The BJP today summarily expelled one of its most senior leaders, Jaswant Singh, from the party, for his alleged "glorification of Jinnah", which "crossed the party's ideological Laxman Rekha"...

No show cause notice, not explanation asked, dismissal conveyed on the phone.

I am not a historian, nor do I have any authority to comment on how parties should be run, but is a book on a topic 60 years old so critical for the BJP in today's times? Is this what their Chintan Baithak will be debating today?

In a democracy, is this what freedom of speech means to the party that has governed this great country not too many years back?

Karan Thapar made a very strong point today - he's been given marching orders for allegedly saying something which is actually very much in line with the party's official stand! He asks, has the BJP president actually even read the book?

I am worried... The Congress is doing a great job governing us, but where is the opposition? The Left? The SP-BSP? Or the BJP? Are they even capable of being a responsible opposition?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chilli Bomb

Scientists of the DRDO and HEMRL, Pune have come out with the latest weapon against terror - a non-lethal chilli bomb made from the most pungent chillis in the world, the Bhut Jolakia chillies from Assam :)

It won't kill, but it will definitely make you run away from your hiding place! Would also be extremely effective in controlling riotous crowds...

Reliable and Fresh? Check the Expiry Date!

I went to one of the large retail chains promising "reliable fresh" stuff, and guess what, I found Tropicana juice packs dated Jan 09, with an expiry period of 6 months... the latest stock I could find was from. And remember, this is now August, and AFAIK, Tropicana juice sells like hot cakes... yes ok, cold cakes... whatever...

So next time you drop by one of these outlets, be very careful with the expiry dates!

Sleep Flu


For all ye papad lovers out there, here's a refreshing look at where they come from... this is view from my office building, the object of my affection being the tin roofs of the various sheds and huts in the mini-slum behind us :)

If you can't figure out, look for the lady walking on the roof with the mat in her hand, and those cute looking yellow somethings spread on the mats laid out, and the ones that didn't find a place, spread right on the roof...

Swine Joke

The US Embassy has issued an urgent cirdcular to all Gujratis - please do not apply for H1N1, it's a virus, not a visa!

He He He, sorry Gujjus, no offense meant, especially since this one was forwarded to me by a Gujju himself :)

Joke for the Day

Elephant to nude baby boy... I am amazed, how do you manage to eat with a trunk that small? :)

lol, lol

My Reading List

Been reading a lot of interesting books these days, with my outdoor extra-curricular activities severely limited because of the flu.

Undercover Economist is an exciting peek into how markets and economies work, and how it impacts what we buy and how much we pay for it. Along with Freakonomics, it makes for a very interesting read.

I have also been readong Ann's book on handwriting analysis, a skill I picked up many years back, and have used effetively during personal as well as professional interviews. For the disbelieving, you should know that graphology is a statistical science, just like medicine and psychology, and works on determining patterns and then applying it to your case. When I first heard about it, I was doubtful too, which is when I started learning it, and fell in love with it.

Have also finished reading Dad Rules, a must-read for all wannabe dads (and their spouses too!). I wrote to the author, Andrew Clover, and got a personal reply immediately :)


You are kind. I'm busy trying to do a new one now - all about how to be a good husband, and am worried that Dad Rules hasn't sold like it might've. Do please recommend it to your friends. Would you also consider doing a review on Amazon or Waterstones website? Have a wonderful summer. What are you up to?

Andrew x

So for the sake of my new found author friend, all ye dad's-to-be, please buy one copy. And if you aren't dad-to-be, then be one!

Another book I picked up from my collection of bought-but-not-read for reading finally is on Intuition. Started off well, but has too much of "divine" stuff in it. I would have preferred something that told me it was scientific, and helped me improve my ability to catch it and work with it... so it's kinda lost out.

I also recently finished reading this leather-bound reproduction of a 1850s account of a Britisher's first visit to Portuguese Goa. Fascinating, although depressing, given the amount of negativity and poverty and wretchedness described in the book.

Another superbly funny and well-written book is "all a man needs to know about work and sex". Just an awesomely funny and enlightening read!

And finally, to top the list, is Buzan's Mind Map series. A revolutionary way to think and improve memory, I am just too lazy to try it, but I will. A friend recently used it to understand a pretty revolutionary paper I wrote on thought leadership in solutions management, and she claims it all became pretty clear to her.

Thinking back, I am not sure that was a compliment to me, my thoughts or my writing... maybe it was for the book :(

Swine Flu Updates: None

For the last couple of weeks, all we read was about the flu. only had flu news on its front page. Yesterday, that changed, and flu was given space on the side bar. Today, I can't find the flu :)

Today, it's SRK.

Much better, even though it's not such a pleasant news item!

Detaining Obama?

Picture this. President Obama on a visit to India. Gets detained at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Why? Because he has a Muslim-sounding name. Rubbish. He's the President of the United States, everyone knows him!

Muhammad Ali on a visit to India. Gets detained at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Why? Because he has a Muslim-sounding name. Rubbish. Everyone knows him!

Salma Hayek on a visit to India. Gets detained at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Why? Because she has a Muslim-sounding name. On come on, that's got to be utterly rubbish! Everyone has the hots for her!

Shah Rukh Khan on a visit to the US. Gets detained at Newark Airport. Why? Because she has a Muslim-sounding name. Aah, that's perfect. American security forces are on high alert. Their intelligence is of the highest order.

I feel safe in America now!

Movie Reviews: Border

Well, swine flu isn't going to stop me from reviewing movies! But I cannot help that Kaminey is out of bounds for me (theatres are closed, and in public, I cannot admit to watching pirated DVDs, or even give any hints to that effect...), so here comes Border :)

Border was the first movie I watched in Dolby Surround sound :) at the Topiwala theatre in Goregain West. I was studying at IIT Bombay at that time, and movies were few and far between (others at that time included Pardes at some really sidey theatre in Ghatkopar, and The Peacemaker at the IITB convention hall cum theatre), so when we went for Border, it was such an amazing experience - as the bullets flew on screen, different speakers in different parts of the theatre came alive, when the fighter flew overhead, the sound did too!

Anyway, that's why Border is so memorable, and when I saw it listed on UTV on Independence Day, I thought, why not! I had missed a significant part of the movie already, and I was hoping I didn't miss much of the fight... and had to spend the next hour or so "being primed" on the human angle, the lives of the soldiers back home... boodhi, andhi maa, ek adhuri suhaag raat, cancer se mar rahi biwi, tuta hua chhat, and a few songs to boot. Yes, the movie could have easily been sniped and stripped of all this drama, and it would probably be a lot more fun.

Border is the story of the battle of Longewala on the night of Dec 4th during the Bangladesh war of '71. Most of you guys would not even have been born by then (neither was I, lol). A small contingent of the Indian army led by Major Kuldeep Singh was left defending the Indian border post of Longewala against the advancing tank regiment of the Pakistani army, with plans to "have breakfast in Jailsalmer, lunch at Jodhpur and dinner in Delhi". Air support wouldn't be available until morning, since the Hunters stationed at the nearby airbase were not capable of fighting in the dark. The company commander was given the option of abandoning the post and retreating to safety, bu the and his men bravely chose to fight. And won. A historic battle that perhaps epitomizes the "yeh dil maange more" attitude of the Indian armed forces, brought to the forth time and again in subsequent battles. An attitude that truly distinguishes the armed forces of this country from the rest of the world, an army where senior officers do not fight from air-conditioned bunkers, but go out there in front of their troops, leading by example.

The Indian contingent had 120 soldiers and one jeep mounted M40 gun. And they were joined by 5 aircraft in the morning. The Pakistanis had 2800 soldiers, 65 tanks, and over 100 other military vehicles and arms including anti-aircraft and artillery fire. At the end of the battle India had lost 2 soldiers and the jeep, Pakistan lost 200 and more than half their tanks and vehicles.

Here is a satellite grab that shows the desperate moves made by the Pakistani tanks to try and escape the assault by the Indian hunters on the morning on Dec 5. The circles mark the destroyed tanks. Apparently, the Americans just couldn't believe that their favourite Pattons had met such a desperate end at the hands of the outdated Hunters :)

For more on the battle itself, Wikipedia has a nice page at

Friday, August 14, 2009

Clap Clap to the Government

We rarely appreciate the working of our government, but I want to make sure we take a moment to do so today.

In a country like ours, I think the government has done a fantastic job in reassuring the citizens, and taking measures to control the spread of the swine flu virus.

After days of TV channels freaking people out, the government clamped down and asked them to toe the line. And suddenly, Times Now is now focussing on the heroes of Pune, the release of Kaminey, the North Korean ship "stranded" in Indian waters, Saina's loss in the QF, three Mumbai cops-turned-criminals, the BJP fight and so on... life quickly seems to be back to normal agian :)

Have you thought how difficult this task must be? We expect the government to take control. Have you thought of what it will mean in a country like ours?

And it's not just the flu, right? Terror - tomorrow is Independence Day, remember? And the newly setup NIA made some important arrests today. The army has gunned down 4 Huji militants in Jammu. Wonder how many terror attacks are thwarted by our armed forces - and we never know!

And then we have the recession. A failed monsoon. And we expect the government to take control and solve the problems.

On the occasion of Independence Day, let us take a moment to think about what we expect from our government, how much we contribute to the solutions AND the problems, and let us say a silent thanks to the countless men and women who work so hard behind the scenes so that we can go about having a safe and happy life as free citizens of this great country!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You Swine!

OK, enough has been written about the most unwanted flu on earth, but how can I not comment on it? :)

Just some random thoughts as they come...

I hate the turn it has taken, almost a doomsday scenario being painted by the press and news channels, and I hate it. I think the media should desist from creating panic, and instead be objective and true.

Yes, we have swine flu, and it's contageous, and we have 400 cases. But there have been lakhs of cases in the West! We are a country of a billion people. Yes twenty have died, and maybe a lot more will follow. But what about the history of the deaths? Why not reassure people that proper timely treatment can cure it? How about letting people know that those who died did so because of complications related to chronic heart or lung diseases?

Why not give constructive suggestions about cleaniless, and hygiene? Why not reasure people?

On the other hand, maybe panic is a good thing after all? Maybe people wouldn't take things so seriously!

Maybe it's good to shut down the cities after all!

I think we need to praise the government in the way it is trying to handle the flu> Screening passengers, trying to contain the disease, getting political parties together to try and cancel public religious celebrations... remember, we are a poor country with limited resources, and I think we are doing fantastic in terms of trying to contain this virus.

At the end of the day, like every other such calamity, I am sure man will survive, and come out wiser. I am sure the vaccines are coming out as I write...

Till then,

Wash your hands regularly, keep hand sanitizers with you at all times, and keep your hands away from your mouth and nose
Don't cough or sneeze unless you cover your mouth and nose (this is to protect OTHERS!)
Keep your mouth and nose away from others - especially if they are sneezing or coughing - DO NOT KISS!
If you see flu-like symptoms, consult your GP - don't rush to the swine flu testing center! Common cold and flu is common!
And overall, don't panic.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Movie Review: Love Aaj Kal

After a disastrous Luck last weekend, and not having found anything interesting in New York, I was beginning to wonder what had happened to all the movies Aaj Kal!

After the superbly made Jab We Met, Imtiaz Ali delivers another beautiful movie, a very contemporary love story that is refreshing, happy and true to life. If you are one of those millions of 18 to 35 something (see, I made sure I was included in that range!) Indian youth with a practical outlook towards love and life, you will see yourself in every minute of the movie, you will identify with every dialogue, you will understand exactly what is happening out there. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will want more and more - because it's rare that a movie actually includes you so totally in the experience.

Jai and Meera are like you and me. Young, with big dreams, and a very liberal view towards love and friendships. They meet over cups of black coffee, they go to discs, they have a good life with each other in London. They fall in love. But they also have their dreams, one wants to go to San Francisco and build bridges like the Golden Gate, the other loves to resurrect old frescos and wants to be in Delhi.

The movie starts with their breakup, an open conversation with each other where they decide to part ways, knowing that they'll stay in touch, but also knowing, long distance relationships won't work. That's Love Aaj Kal. Real and practical.

What they haven't counted on is what happens next. Can they really break up? Can they really find love again? More importantly, can they ever live happily ever after, without each other? They try, hard. But will they succedd, or will love get them back together?

Rishi Kapoor plays Jai's mentor, inspiring him with his own forties romance with saddi Harmeen Kaur. In my time, I had to give up love so I could work and be worthy of her, he tells Jai. Now, you are giving her up for your work?

The movie is fast paced, with a couple of not-so-unexpected twists and turns. But it's short, just above 2 hours, and it will leave you hungry for more - not because it's incomplete - no way - but because you just can't have enough of it.

Everything about the movie is fabulous. Let's start with Jai and Meera. The characterization is perfect. Saif excels in every movie, and his growth as an actor has been phenomenal from his Bekhudi days. Deepika proves that she act, and does a great job. Some of her scenes are just so real, so true and so damn touching, it will bring tears to your eyes. She's confident too - check out the Chor Bazaari song, and you will know what I mean. Here's an actor that's come into her own now. And she's beautiful and she's hot. Her dress designer can definitely take credit for ushering in a whole new era in fashion in India. Watch out for it. The rest of the cast, including Rishi, fit the bill just perfectly.

The locations and cinematography are also top class. San Francisco, London, Delhi, Calcutta. And the key props - the beautiful bridges. Some amazing camera work, you will want to take in every inch of the screen.

What I loved most was the scripts and the dialogues. They're crisp, contemporary, and again, very real. The songs are good, too, and will grow on you. Chor Bazaari has been wonderfully choreographed. Yeh Dooriyaan and Main Kya Hoon are also very well done, all 3 songs add so much to the script - they probably cut an hour from the story telling!

This one will bring you back to the theaters, again and again. Love Aaj Kal totally rocks!