Sunday, April 25, 2010

Russian Goa

Had heard a lot of the Russian mafia taking over North Goa. If ever there was proof needed, here's the clincher...

By the way, this isn't a one-off! Every sign board at Ashwem, near Morjim in North Goa was in Russian. The hotel menu, the instructions, the books and magazines in the hotel library - all Russian!

Кстати, это не \' t A одноразовые! Каждый знак Совета на ashwem, вблизи morjim на севере Гоа был на русском языке. Гостиница меню, в инструкциях, книги и журналы в гостинице библиотека-все русские!

Mobile Mania

The call was too important to miss, the helmet was too important to remove :)

Sunrise in Goa

Vietnamese And French Soups

Super tasty, clear soup with noodles, serves two. A great option, especially the veg version. Available at Polka Dots.

Super sexy French sea food soup, for once, you can recognize what you are eating! Available at Papa Jolly's. Qualifies you for the next episode of Man vs Wild.


Had been to Nigdi yesterday for some work, was pretty impressed by the neat roads and tree cover there. The old Pune Mumbai highway is really shaping up very well. With much lower taxes and pollution/population, this twin city to Pune has a bright future.

BMW second-hand

Advice for BMW aspirants - check with the dealer for showroom second hands, or company-owned cars. You will get some fantastic deals. Right now, I have the option of a 40 lakh worth 325i for 29 lakhs negotiable. And the car hasn't even been registered ever.

Ford Figo

Watch it - the Figo will eat up the market. A fantastic hatchback option, starting at 3.5 for petrol and 4.5 for diesel. The diesel version runs the same fantastic low-noise and zero-maintenance engine of the Fiesta, and is a super ooption. I am not a big fan of their "indian colors" concept for the interiors, but then you can always opt for the black.

And yes, in-built bluetooth is a definite x factor for the hatchback segment.

Nissan Teana and XTrail

Checked out the Nissan stable yesterday evening. Will get some test drives later, but frankly, I think Nissan are pricing themselves out of the market.

The Teana looks good, has plush interiors, an executive look, something you'd be happy to be driven around in the back seat - but 35 lakhs? I am not sure I would trade the blue and white logo for a Nissan!

And the X-Trail makes even less sense. A 5-seater car-cum-SUV, 2 litre engine, starting at 27 lakhs and going all the way up to 32 lakh. Really?

Movie Review: The Bounty Hunter

Gerard Butler is a bounty hunter, an ex-cop now busy chasing down criminals jumping bail. His latest assignment: get his ex-wife Jeniifer Aniston back to jail for a petty traffic accident involving the NYPD. In the process, will they rediscover the magic of their marriage?

The film is another of those countless such movies being churned out of the Hollywood stable, but worth a watch for Gerard, who's sexy as ever, and his witty dialogues. Nothing extra-ordinary, but definitely worth a watch as long as you don't get too critical of the plot.

Interestingly, the mega screen at ESquare was housefull for the midnight show Saturday night!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Movie Review: Phoonk 2

RGV needs to stop making movies.

That said, Phoonk 2 is not THAT bad, as long as you have some company to maaro stupid dialogues in the first half, and patience to wait till the second half. The movie does get a little to you towards the end.

Terrible editing and terrible screenplay, however, really wastes the movie.

Avoid it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

BMW 320d Test Drive

I got my BMW 320d test drive today, on insistence of the dealer's customer service representative. While the torque and handling was impressive, the ride quality is poor - you can feel the hardness of the suspension and the run-flat tires, ensuring you are troubled by every ripple and every pimple on the road :( At low speeds, the automatic transmission engages at lower gears than needed, building a yearning to go back to manual and adjust the gear to a more comfortable level, making city driving a not-so-exciting experience.

It's a pleasure to see heads turning to check you out, but I prefer seeing the sedans scurrying for cover at the sight of the massive Endy :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ford Endeavour

And finally, I got my hands on the Endy!

It was late evening, the light was fading, and after a disappointing outing in the Passat, I wasn’t even sure I was up for another test ride. But the 4x4 Thunder was around, and I decided to go for it. As I climbed in and took the wheel, I had psyched myself for the experience of driving the huge truck. Oh boy, was I in for a surprise! The moment I pressed the gas pedal, the Endy took off like a tiger unleashed, effortlessly grabbing the opportunity to jump the starting line. I had to stop and try it again – because I couldn’t believe I had actually managed to squeal its tires! The Endy is sheer power, yet a beauty to drive. It took the 40 degree Taliegaon slope with a load of 4 adults and 2 kids as effortlessly as cruising on an expressway. And as we left the tarmac and hit the dirt road, it almost squeals in delight. Rocks, gravel, shrubs and ditches pass under its massive wheels, it’s suspension letting you glide over the terrain while the power steering seems to tell you, don’t worry about guiding me, I can take anything that comes in my way! We took a couple of tight circles at the top of the hills, a merry go round for the kids, while the Endy kicked off a massive dust storm in its wake.

The interiors put all the luxury sedans to shame – an in-dash 6 CD changer, an in-built DVD player with two screens, one in-dash and one on the roof, in-built navigation system, reverse parking camera, individual AC vents for all three rows, plush seats. Sheer luxury.

As we reluctantly got back in the city, we also noticed another reason why it’s a wonderful option for city driving. As you cruise along sitting on what feels like the first floor deck, the sedans and the hatchbacks meekly surrender to the roar of the Endy, immediately moving out of the way. It took a lot of restrain from me to stop me from wanting to gently nudge a few of the not-so-cooperative cars off to the side :)

I have fallen in love, and small wonder, it’s a Ford baby all over again!

Volkswagen Passat

Given that the Passat is touted as a peer to the Skoda Laura, I must say it was very disappointing. The interiors are markedly poorer, and the looks are nothing to write home about. While both cars share the same engine, the same Tiptronik gears, and can hardly be distinguished for the driving experience, the Laura does have a wow factor in its strong, sturdy look. The Passat is just another very ordinary looking car. You might as well go for the Jetta, a good few lakhs cheaper, and equally good in all other respects.

Interestingly, too, the car I drove had automatic gears, but Volkswagen is phasing out the automatic options, and for both the Jetta and the Passat, you will only have the manual option. Strange move, when everyone else is going AT!

Overall, a clear thumbs down.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Skoda Laura

Awesome drive, safe and secure cabin, decent interiors, great looks, the AT version with the manual overdrive at the gentle touch of the hand is great... but makes it almost impossible to squeal tires or throw the car into a skidding turn... for someone who's driven a Ford for a decade, this is pretty much a dampener :(

Also, magazine reviews talk of poor AC, poor suspension and terrible after sales service. For a car this expensive, that's a major negative too.

On the lighter side, here's a wonderful review I found of the Laura on one of the online review sites:
Car Very Good. I buying Car 2yrs Back then driving all time. Slow speed very good. Full Speed Very good. All the time i like the car. Full speed raining no problem. Light like tube light i full see in night. Light automatically on in night. I bug fridge in the car for Rs.20000 now i drink cool moor in car itself. My wife no driving this car because i like the car very much and my wife spoils while driving. i say u buying this car very good.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ford Endeavour

Found this awesome piece in a review of the Ford Endeavour:

The Endeavour carried everything from my sons bycycle to his toy basket and all of us had the luxury of carrying our own suitcases and everything you could think of and yet the Endy kind off looked back and said ’is that it or do you want to try and fit the santro in the back space’.


Checked out the BMW 320d the other day. The base version comes in at 29L, while the fully loaded version comes at a premium of 8L. Interestingly, the dealer also had a 6 months old, used car, coming in at around 32L, in the fully loaded version. Main differences - a sky roof, a TV display, and some other cosmetic stuff. Unfortunately, the car hadn't really been prepped for customers, even though it was on display - the doors had boot marks, the arm rest had scratches on the veneer, and the car was a little dusty. The auto climate control didn't seem to work - until I set the AC on manual, when it immediately made a difference. And with the 6 CD changer requiring you to get into the boot, unlike my poor car which offers it in-dash, and the "TV reception" limited to Doordarshan, the entertainment module wasn't too hot either.

Overall, the 320 was a disappointment I must say. Felt like the 30L were more for the logo than anything really wow.

On to the Audi now.

PS: let me be fair here, there were some minb-blowing models too, but coming in at 80-100L, even looking at them felt like sacrilege :)

Thought For The Day

We don't need to worry about things changing over time... because, before anything else does, we change ourselves!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Impressive Flyovers...

Impressive structures coming up all over Mumbai - this is the Airport Expressway, just outside the Hyatt. Check the flanks jutting out from the central spans.

Persistent Lists on the NSE & BSE!

It was a very proud moment for all of us at Persistent yesterday, with our company making a stunning listing on the stock exchange yesterday morning! Starting with around 380 against the IPO price of 310, the stock rose to 440 or so within a minute of opening trading, backed by huge demand. By the middle of the day, it had stabilized around 420, and ended the day at 408, an impressive gain of almost 30%.

I was at the function, and it was a very unique experience. The NSE building itself is beautiful, a huge foyer welcomes you, the glass and marble spick and span, the grandeur of the building so completely representing the bold, new India. The function was meeticulously planned, all speakers on the dias given no more than 3 minutes, and at the end of a countdown from 10, at the stroke of 9.00 am, amidst loud cheering and clapping, Anand rang the bell to signal start of trading, and the listing of the company on the bourses. Within microseconds, the screen was flashing the Nifty and the PSL stock ticker and trading was on in full flow - just another day at work in one of the most sophisticated stock exchanges in the world. Awesome moment.

Some pictures from the function below - excuse me for the poor quality of the pics, the lighting wasn't good enough for my cell, and maybe my hands were shivering a little with all the excitement :)

The impressive foyer of the NSE building at the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai.

Here I am, proudly standing beside our banner in the foyer of the NSE building.

The listing ceremony is kicked off. It is interesting to note how many women hold key positions in the Indian financial system!

Anand addresses the small, exclusive gathering moments before the listing. Speakers had no more than 3 minutes, keeping the hard stop of 900 am in mind.

Anand and Dada ring the bell to signal the listing and start of trading. The rest of us were simply thrilled to be rich :)

Moments after the stock went online, it had hit 440.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Blog, Facebook, Twitter... And Orkut? And LinkedIn?

OK, I am officially sick of maintaining my status in a dozen locations :)

So here's what I have decided...

Blogger is what I love.. and I will continue blogging as much and as often as I can. Twitter is offically non-sustainable, until I become a celebrity and tweet like iamsrk does. So Twitter is gone... unless I feel like wasting time on it once in a while from my cell, when I have nothing better to do. Orkut is off too, I just hate the cluttered new avataar it's given itself. Facebook was on for a reason - a lost friend. I am sick of all the updates I get there. But I will visit it once in a while.. just for the heck of it. And LinkedIn - once a while, again, just to check out my new clients and customers!

Bad Week...

My best friend, my most trusted colleague, my dearest sis left this week to pursue further studies at ISB Hyderabad...

And my dearest Lisa is also leaving me this week - we finally took the tough decision to give her away to a new owner, since it was impossible for me to drive her in Pune, and she'd just rust away in Goa.

Just hate it... wish I could stop it

Beautifying Pune

Have you noticed the latest additions to our beeautiful cityscape? Rows of beautiful social workers staring at you from those huge posters at every traffic signal, every chowk, every possible place to hang them?

What a way to cheer up your day!

Movie Review: The Men Who Stare At Goats

An elite US Army unit, trained to control enemies through their minds and win the future wars through love and non-physical violence - these are the "men who stare at goats" and kill them by power of their minds!

Watch it only if you are a die-hard George Clooney fan!

Movie Review: 88 Minutes

Dr Gramm (Al Pacino in another fascinating performance) has to keeep his wits and find the guy who's threatening to kill him in the next 88 minutes. Is it the serial killer scheduled for execution after having been convicted based on Dr Gramm's testimony trying to prove he was innocent, or is it a copy cat killer? As the bodies mind, the movie picks up pace... but, and maybe it was the late night, it does stretch a bit towards the end!

Movie Review: Hum Tum Aur Ghost

A good family story, Hum Tum and Ghost relies on some very sweet performances by Arshad, Boman, Sandhya Mridul and Diya Mirza, in an otherwise predictable and oft-repeated theme. The soundtrack isn't remarkable, but has a couple of good tracks that might grow on you. The climax scene is well done too - but if I was a VW marketing manager, I wouldn't be too pleased :)

Not a must-watch, but not bad at all.