Sunday, October 31, 2010

Perfect Sunday

Waking up at 9. Relaxed tea, plenty of newspapers.

Extensive clean up at home, trimming plants in the garden. Encounter with a bee, the human winning the battle in the end with the help of his sophisticated equipment. Ten enormous Shoppers Stop bags worth of discards.

Afternoon tea with a close friend in the comfort of a clean and fresh smelling home.

Property hunting in the evening. Tea and pav bhaji at Shiv Sagar. A little shopping, some home decor.

A light soup for dinner.

Laundry. Criminal Minds Season One DVD at night.

A perfect Sunday!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

(Just Like) Trikaya

So after a fairly promising first visit a few weeks back, we finally got the chance today to go to Trikaya again - and while the rest of the food we ordered was decent, we were shocked to be served the artificial, made-from-fish "Just Like Crab" nuggets in our crab meat soup! Completely unacceptable in a restaurant this posh, the recovery was worse than the mistake. No apology. Instead, the chief waiter tried to explain that JLC was actually crab. When I showed him the ingredients, he sheepishly took it away, then got "real crab meat soup", this time in a very different preparation than the first dish!

And at 200 for a bowl of steam rice, and 100 for a plate of masala papad, it almost seems as if Trikaya is out to fleece its unsuspecting customers on the weekends, since it doesn't seem to have much of a clientele on weekdays anyway.

Very sad, really - because with the lovely decor and ambience, Trikaya could have rocked the city.

Quote For The Day

Dogs have owners, cats have staff.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Movie Review: Hiss

When a good Holywood director makes half the movie, and then an Indian B grade producer puts his mark on it, you get Hiss. It's like the rest of India - two different worlds trying to coexist together, but not doing such a great job.

A gora wants to capture a naagin for her naagmani, to attain immortality. He captures the naag, then waits for the naagin to come. The naagin takes a human form (Mallika Sherawat, who looks good, doesn't have a single dialogue in the movie, and has gone on record saying she did the nude scenes which were very obviously done by a body double) and goes on a rampage, sometimes provoked, sometimes not.

I do not know what happens in the end, because I left the theatre immediately after half time.

Instead of the movie, go to your local snake park.

Monday, October 25, 2010

English

Professor Ernest Brennecke of Columbia is credited with inventing a sentence that can be made to have eight different meanings by placing ONE WORD in all possible positions in the sentence: "I hit him in the eye yesterday."

ONLY I hit him in the eye yesterday. (No one else did.)
I ONLY hit him in the eye yesterday. (Did not slap him.)
I hit ONLY him in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit others.)
I hit him ONLY in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit outside the eye.)
I hit him in ONLY the eye yesterday. (Not other organs.)
I hit him in the ONLY eye yesterday. (He doesn't have another eye..)
I hit him in the eye ONLY yesterday. (Not today.)
I hit him in the eye yesterday ONLY. (Did not wait for today.)

Setting Up For A Photo Shoot

video

Off-Roading at Bhuleshwar

video



Tough Life

Lonely

Movie Review: Dus Tola

Dus Tola is the story of a young gold smith, how he is cheated in love by his neighbours, and how he ultimately turns the tables on them at the end. With Manoj Bajpai and Aarti Chabria in the lead along with a bunch of other motley characters, shot in Wai and Panchgani mimicking a typical Indian rural small town, the production quality rivalling Doordarshan of the yesteryears, Dus Tola should be on your plate only if you are stranded on an island with a DVD player, and only one DVD.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Generation Gap

Boy's dad joined Facebook. Boy's status, 'WTF'. Boy's dad asks, 'what is WTF?' Kid replies, 'Welcome To Facebook'

Movie Review: Piranha 3D

First, the disclaimer - I saw this on 2D DVD, so I cannot comment on the 3D effects - although, I dare say, this would be a must watch for the horror buffs.

While the small community on Lake Victoria braces for the hordes of bikini babes and adrenalin-junkie hunks descending on their lake for the spring break, underwater siesmic activity unleashes a hungry pack of Piranhas towards the unsuspecting revellers. The perfect recipe for bums, boobs and blood. Not for the squeamish, avoid if you cannot take flesh-eating monster fishes stripping humans to the skeletons and bodies falling apart in a gush of blood and gore.

Aah, nude babes in 3D - that might be a fair reward for sitting through the horror.

Movie Review: Unthinkable

With the anti-terror squad racing against time to find the three nuclear bombs ticking off the seconds before detonation in three days time, desperate measures are called for. Enter H (Samuel Jackson), the interrogator. His third degree torture gets results, but is it acceptable in a humane society? As the deadline approaches with no victory in sight, law enforcement needs to look the other way when the interrogator brings up his last weapon - the unthinkable.

Shot mostly in the interrogation chamber, the movie rouses a keen interest at the beginning, and does hold your attention hostage, but at the end, you might come out feeling a little cheated...

Avoidable.

Trip to Bhuleshwar Temple

It had been a long time since I got out of the city, and the weekend provided the perfect opportunity for a quick (offroad) trip with some friends to Bhuleshwar, a beautiful old temple about 50 km from Pune, about 10 km off the Pune Solapur highway, just before Yavat.




We left late in the morning, the effect of a late Friday night movie. We stopped for a quick lunch at the Madhuban Hotel in Uruli, where the hotel's blackboard assured us we were on the right track.


Here we are, well fed and raring to go! The small hotel had a limited menu, but more than made up for it with a very big heart. We thoroughly enjoyed the rotis and chana masala, hakka noodles and adrak ki chai.


We took many stops along the way for photos. The endlessly rolling fields of flowers are just irresistible!

After a short but steep climb into the hills, we reached Bhuleshwar. The temple is breathtakingly beautiful, although in need of some maintenance. For the believers, the priest will also take your offerings to the Shivling, and if you are lucky, you will find that your prasad has been eaten - and your mannat has been granted.






This seems to be a lady avataar of Ganapati - very rare indeed!


Does this not remind you of something? :)



Hot chillis for the cool dudes - I love the vibrant color in this picture!


Can you catch the Ganapati in this picture? Look again - the first figure from the top left!

After the temple, it was time for some soft offroading - a little water, a little hill, and some beautiful pictures.









Now, this is a very special one! I loved this composition, they look so tiny and cute. Liliputians with Gulliver!


Ahem, this is what happens when you let Samara loose in the wild!




This dragonfly was intent on having babies with Samara! And he tried not once, but dubara!

Bhuleshwar is a nice option for a short half day trip out of Pune. There aren't too many hotels around, but if you are not too picky, you will survive. The final few hundred meters to the temple are steep and the road is very bad, so be careful. After visiting the temple, be sure to wander around the vast table top - it's a truly refreshing experience.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Movie Review: Aakrosh

Based on the raging issue of caste-based honour killings in UP and Bihar, Aakrosh is a very commendable deviation from the comedy stable of Priyadarshan. A dark movie, Aakrosh will shake you with its no-holds barred look at the shameful darker shades of modern India's heartlands. Ajay Devgan as an ex-army guy on deputation pairs up with the oh-so-quiet-and-in-control CBI officer Akshay Khanna to investigate the disappearance of three Delhi students on holiday in a small Bihar town. Very soon, it is obvious that this will be no simple Sherlock Holmes episode. Things go from bad to worse, when the police, the politicians, the local administration, the goondas, and eventually the local townsfolk, turn against the officers from Delhi, threatening their lives on more than one occasion, terrorizing every potential witness, and ruining any chance of getting justice.

Will the law eventually catch up? Will it be enough? Will Ajay's firebrand methods work, or will the methodical and systematic investigative methods of the CBI officer bear fruits in the end?

A rivetting drama, excellent performances by the cast including Ajay, Akshay and Paresh Rawal, some of Bollywood's best action scenes, and a nice item song by Sameera Reddy along with another unique number by Bipasha/Ajay, the movie is a super package.

Do watch it, if you are OK with life being not all Archies and Coffee Day. Here's a peek at another India, that's as real as you and me.

Young India Beat Australia

A rookie Indian team minus seven of its big stars crushed the Aussies in the second one dayer at Vizag, chasing just under 300 comfortably with 5 wickets to spare, after a late innings charge by Cameron White allowed the Aussies to post a respectable score. India now lead 1-0 (the first was washed off), and after a 2-0 drubbing in the tests, the Aussies will look to win the last one dayer in Goa to end on a slightly happy note. Virat hit a superb third century, and was ably supported by Yuvi and Raina, who made sure there were no hiccups along the way.

Everytime I feel proud of my country, it gives me yet another reason!

Quote For The Day

Overheard: I am not attracted by a girl's mind, I am attracted by what she doesn't mind :)

Rajnikant Joke

What is Rajnikant's fart called? Rajnigandha

LOL LOL

Movie Review: The Switch

When Casey decides to have a baby at a "getting pregnant party", her best friend "accidently" ends up switching the donor's "seed" with his own, drunk and unable to remember a thing. Seven years later, Casey reunites with her friend in the city, along with her six-year old son. The switch becomes painfully clear when the son turns out to be a carbon copy of the "friend". Meanwhile, Casey wants to carry on with her life, convincing herself to fall in love with the "donor", now happily divorced, single and ready to mingle, while the son forges a strong bond with his "uncle", his mom's best friend.

Some funny moments, a few touching scenes (the scene with the boy in bed, discussing his frames collection was my best followed by the family photo at the birthday party at the rock climb) - a fairly good late night movie, watch it without your kids (unless you want to explain to them what the seed was!).

Movie Review: Knock Out

A Phone Booth rip-off, the movie feels pretty raw and the plot very amateurish in its detailing. Irrfan Khan can do much better, Sanjay Dutt can get a little less filmy with his dialogues (goli niklegi, dimmag ki khidki khulegi!), Kangana was much better in Mumbai, and everyone else can be a little more twenty first century rather than early 90s in their sophistication.

If you haven't seen Phone Booth, you might actually enjoy the "unique" story!

Overall, you can knock it off your Craig List.

Monday, October 18, 2010

150 Mercs

You have probably already heard about this story: 150 Mercs were handed over to their owners in Aurangabad today, at one time. A very special deal brought about by social networking and some tough bargaining, it also gives a very good idea of the purchasing power of India's burgeoning middle and higher classes, even in the hundreds of small towns dotting the country!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Aah, What A Busy Sunday!

Wierd Fruits

Saw two wierd fruits at our local fruit vendor today. First, a giant guava (see it in comparison to Sanam's hands!)...




And this, a yet-to-find-its-name cross between a tomato and a mango:



I am yet to find the courage to eat either of them!

When Goans Get Together...

...they always have a great time! Met a whole bunch of (distant? - is there such a thing with Goans?) Goan relatives over dinner on Friday, at the Aqua Lounge, and had an awesome time over some delicious platters of tandoori crabs, prawns and chicken.

Truly enjoyed ourselves.

The only unfortunate part - Samara got her first major bruises when the valet parking attendant brushed her left rear bumber against the wall while backing out :( Thankfully, the damage is cosmetic, and a quick, touch up should help!

Rain 1 Cricket 0

And the spate of unseasonal rains also had another casualty - Australia's chance to go after a depleted Indian team in the first ODI at Kochi, with the match being abandoned without the players even getting out of their hotel rooms.

Two more to go now. With 7 of the key Indian players out of the team for rest and recuperation, Australia still have their best chance at salvaging some of their terribly bruised pride.

Thunderstorm, Again

After the thunderstorms and cloud bursts a few days back, Puneties had just started looking forward to the winter, but it's not to be - since evening, menacing clouds had started building up, and before Ram could light Ravana's pyres (today being Dusshera), the skies have opened up, accompanied by incessant thunder and lightning...

Just crazy!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Joke

Girl to boyfriend on reaching home: Bas haan 2 minute, me chaha ghevun yete.
Two mins later, girl comes out from the kitchen empty-handed...
Girl: Aali me chaha ghevun.

Lol lol...

Peace Prevails

Back in late September, I had written this post on the taxing times ahead for the security forces with the Mumbai visarjan, CWG and the Ayodhya verdict coming up in quick succession, providing our misguided friends from across the borders (and many from within!) the perfect platform for a grand attack aimed at destabilization and chaos. Frankly, even the die-hard optimist in me was apprehensive of trouble, and the hope was that it would be contained locally, and damage limited.

I do not think anyone truly believed it would all pass by so peacefully, with not a single incident reported from any where - in either of the three events.

A truly remarkable feat by our security forces, something that deserves a huge round of applause and gratitude.

The Audits Begin

The games have ended, and the world's athletes and media have admitted, sometimes grudgingly, that this was a spectacular example of the great Indian wedding... chaos in the run-up, but it all comes together beautifully in the end. The CWG was a turning point for India's social psyche, coming closely on the heels of the Ayodhya verdict - two events that clearly heralded the emergence of new Indian thinking - intolerance of politics of division in the name of religion, and a belief in  ourselves and our ability to conquer new frontiers.

This is also a golden opportunity for the country to undergo another long overdue makeover and grow an intense aversion and intolerance to corruption. The PM has already ordered an all-encompassing investigation into the money laundering and kickbacks, led by  the CAG with all agencies from the CBI to the ED working together in tandem. Here's hoping that all muck will be cleared in a transparent and just fashion under our legal frameworks, and that the Indian common man will also deliver his own punishment to the guilty at the next hustings.

Cyber War Games

While the sporting world competed and celebrated their victories on the field, another war was being fought - in cyber world. During the 12 days of the event, the games' cyber networks faced at least a 1000 potential attacks, most of them of the "denial of service" category, originating mostly in China, some in Pakistan. Overall, more than 5000 incidents were detected and thwarted. None of these, however, succeeded in penetrating even the first of the three layers of cyber security that had been installed by the Cyber Crisis Management Group which consisted of cyber experts from the intelligence agencies, Delhi Police, and the Indian government's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Conquering New Frontiers

The Tata Group has given $50m to the prestigious Harvard Business School to fund an academic and residential building on its campus, to be named Tata Hall...

Kalmadi

All said and done, I think Kalmadi deserves a standing round of applause - he pulled off the impossible. Yes, the accounts should be audited and some wrongs need to be righted - but at the end of the day, it's the results that matter, and for that, Kalmadi and his team gets a 10 on 10.

Family Friends

Kalmadi said, all the athletes came as friends and left as family.. ahem... anything to do with the latex clogging the drains in the games village? :)

Kangaroo Rampage

Here is one bit of CWG damage Kalmadi can safely be exonerated from...


Enraged by the humiliating loss of the Aussie team at the hands of the Indians, Australian athletes went berserk, destroying electrical fittings and furniture in their tower in the Games Village, according to highly placed sources in the Delhi Police. They shouted slogans against Sachin, and flung a washing machine down from the eighth floor of their tower.

The washing machine survived.

Beijing or Delhi?

I keep hearing about Mumbai needing to be like Shanghai, and Delhi needing to better Beijing.

No, I don't want to live in Beijing or Shanghai. I don't want my shanty towns razed by bulldozers overnight to show the world how clean the city around our stadiums are. I don't want our armored tanks to come and crush me and my friends when we want to protest against our government. I don't want to have to worry about whether the government is reading my blog.

I want to go to bed each night knowing I am free.

I want to be Indian. I do not want to be Chinese. Please don't wish that for me!

Movie Review: The American

An excruciatingly slow movie, The American makes all the soaps belted out by the Ekta Kapoor stable look like they are running on steroids. The visual treatment is interesting, the locales are great, and George Clooney will make you swoon (except that, unfortunately, he just smiles twice and if you blink you'll miss it) - but by the time anything starts happening, it's time for the credits to roll.

Watch it only if it's a hot day, you have nowhere to go, and wanna take a nice afternoon siesta in the cool comforts of the theatre.

And yes, do let me know if you figure out why he does what he does.

CWG Closing Ceremony

India bid goodbye to the CWG in a closing ceremony matched in glamour only by the opening night.. as the night reverbrated with the sounds of some of Bollywood's most popular numbers, hundreds of  performers showcased India's cultural diversity (and martial arts!), Armed forces bands displayed clinical perfection and the night exploded with the most amazing fireworks display the world has seen... and unlike in Beijing, no special effects were used to make for good TV - the government simply put up a helicopter in the sky to capture unbelievably beautiful pictures.

And inspite of all the doomsdayers who desperately waited for a big failure so they could say, I told you so, India put on a smashing show, on and off the field. The village was the best ever, the venues didn't have any more tiles falling, and all Times Of India could report gleefully were 3 harmless snakes that crawled out from under their hiding place! India rocked the games winning 38 gold, 101 medals in all, and came 2nd overall in the standings.

And lest we forget - let's remember the tireless work of our security forces who provided unmatched safety and security to all the lakhs of citizens, sportsmen and participants, ensuring terror remained firmly across the border.

Proud to be Indian!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Samara - 10000 Kms

CWG - India Finish Second

The games are over, and India has turned in a very impressive performance - 38 gold, 101 medals in all (exceeding the "outrageous" target they sent for themselves) including some very rare medals in athletics and gymnastics, in addition to sterling performance in wrestling, archery, shooting, boxing, badminton (Saina just got a gold) and tennis. The hockey team also did very well reaching the final, beating Pakistan and England in the last two games, but unfortunately were routed by Australia in the finals.

India finished second overall behind CWG powerhouses Australia and ahead of England (although England had a lot more medals overall).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Did You Know - Rajnikanth Fact

The film Anaconda was shot in Rajnikant's underwear

India 2 Australia 0

44.6: Hauritz to Tendulkar, 2 runs, 80.5 kph, Tendulkar roars! A rare gesture of so much emotion from the little big man. Rahul just smiles. The win was brought up by a paddle-sweep. Tendulkar ran hard and turned for the second run. He completed the winning run, turned around, lifted his arms aloft. And roared. He then has a chat with Ponting and both smile. It's a pretty lengthy chat actually. Ponting smiles and puts his hand around Tendulkar's back. The rest of the players shake hands with each other. Rahul and Ponting too have word with each other. Rahul says: "All the best for Ashes, mate!". Rahul gets across, high-fives Sachin and hugs him. And as they walk away, they have a look at each other and smile. The dressing room erupts. In the stands, Anil Kumble high-fives with the selector Narendra Hirwani. India have defeated Australia 2-0.

(From http://www.cricinfo.com/)

After Murali Vijay's heroics in the first innings (not to mention yet another 200 from Tendulkar), this time it was debutante Cheteshwar Pujara, who top scored in the second innings with a magnificent 72. And of course, the bowlers who simply ripped through the Aussie line-up for the fourth time :)

Dhoni's comment at the post match conference: As a captain I keep losing tosses which means the bowlers have to come in and bowl on flat tracks.

Sachin wins both Man of Match and Man of Series. As if there was any doubt on that.

VVS or not, India are unstoppable! And to think that there are still folks who believe we don't deserve the No 1 spot!

Nail-biting Finish Again?

57 to win, 7 wickets to go, are we headed for another nail-biting finish? Will India manage to deny Ricky Ponting yet again or will India manage a rare crumble in a crunch situation?

And someone said test cricket was dead.

Imagine

You are 10, you love cricket, you idolize Tendulkar, you have his photos in your class books, your room is plastered with his posters. For you, he is god.

10 years later, you are in the Indian team. You share the dressing room with your god. You share the field with him. You score runs while he appreciates you. He hugs you. He asks you to lead the team off the field.

Wow, what a high. Why do you need anything else when you have this?

80-20

The 80-20 rule applies every where. That is why, in a city like Mumbai, you will find a lot of litter on the streets - 20% of the population is a large number in Mumbai, compared to your favourite American city, and when they litter, the result shows. 20% of corrupt officers or politicians are more than enough to give a bad name to the whole creed. That is why, as your company grows, you find more non-performers on your team.

So, stop fretting about those 20%. You have no choice.

Getting Off Facebook

Been thinking of getting off Facebook for quite some time now... after having gone off Orkut and Twitter. I will tell you why. First, Facebook has too many people, everyone sending you friendship requests, which are difficult to avoid, unless you are ruthless abour hurting people. Secondly, more disturbingly, most of the updates people post nowadays are completely irrelevant to the world, or, obviously fishing for compliments. Worse, the world quickly responds with compliments and "likes". And so on to the next update. Are you sharing your life, your feelings, or are you creating an online persona aimed to please? And then there is the deluge of "must see" videos, or endless Farmville updates.

So, while I wil retain my profile for some more time, just like my Orkut and Twitter profiles are still around, Facebook too is getting the boot.

India at UNSC

Meanwhile, India has been voted onto the UNSC as a non-permanent member with a thumping majority, garnering 187 of the 190 votes (1 abstained, 1 was invalid). India will be on the SC for the next 2 years.

CWG Updates

The Indian juggernaut rolls on... after a long overdue gold in athletics (discus throw) yesterday, the Indian 4x400 women's relay team did us proud with another gold. Also, Indian men's hockey team put up another brilliant performance, coming from 1-3 to level scores, and then beat England in the hockey semi finals, assuring us our first medal in CWG hockey. With 32 gold, and a total of 89, India is well placed to finish the games at overall 2nd (or maybe 3rd if England catch up), and over a 100 medals, as the contingent leader promised at the beginning of the games.

Meanwhile, in Bangalore,Tendulkar completed another brilliant 200, and after a mini collapse towards the end of the innings, India finished with a lead of 17. By the end of the day, Australia had lost 7 wickets, with a lead of less than 200. Tomorrow will be an exciting final day - if India can bowl out the Aussies quickly, we are set for a very nail-biting finish.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Master Blaster At It Again!

The Master is at it again, doing what he loves most - tormenting the Aussie bowlers, as he reaches yet another double ton. This year has been his best, with over 1200 runs at an average of 100+ at this point!

Meanwhile, on the 4th day, India are just 20 behind the Aussie first innings score, with 5 wickets left. Already 1-0 up in the 2 match series, and the wicket starting to turn, Aussies will have a tough time tomorrow if India can put up a lead of around 150 today.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

CWG Hockey - India vs Pakistan

Exciting hockey match in progress - in the first 20 mins, India has already hammered 4 goals into our hapless dear neighbours...

Meanwhile, the gold tally is up to 28 today, and India maintains its second position in the medals table.

Connaught Place

The CWG cycling events provide some beautiful coverage of the newly done up Connaught Place area... well laid out roads, beautiful greenery all around, looming skyscrappers in the back ground. I wanna go check it out myself!

Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Out of IPL

In a major shake-up, The BCCI has decided to terminate the franchisee agreements with Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab for non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the franchisee agreements, effectively booting them out of the IPL. Kochi has been spared for now, and given time to resolve all their disputes.

Movie Review: Anjaana Anjaani

Depressing New York. The stock market crash has left him with nothing, but the last resort - suicide. She's lost her love and doesn't want to live. Both end up at the same bridge. Both fail in their bid to die. They try a second time, then a third. And yet again. Maybe it's not yet time, they realise. Let's try again 20 days later, the midnight of 31st. And till then, let's do all those things we didn't get time to do yet.

Swimming in the middle of the Atlantic. Ice skating. Losing his virginity. You get the drift...

The movie has its moments in the first half, making you laugh. Some great visuals too. The second half is avoidable.

Ranbir disappoints with a lacklustre performance, his expressionless face reminding you of Abhishek's countless unmemorable performances. Priyanka, on the other hand, is great -she looks hot, and puts in a very believable and endearing performance, completely overshadowing him.

The music is 50-50, a few good numbers, the rest is noise.

Avoidable, unless you are a Priyanka fan.

Movie Review: Crook

Two points that work wonderfully for Crook: Emraan and Neha.

Emraan's acting has always been overshadowed by his kissing sprees, but this is one actor who continues to deliver in every movie, and keeps getting better. Emraan delivers another beautiful performance in Crook as a naughty but very lovable starry-eyed Indian who finds himself in the middle of the spurt in racist attacks in Australia. After Crook, I'm his fan.

A beautiful smile, seductive eyes, and a very-sexy-but-very-much-girl-next-door makes Neha an instant favourite, but it's not just her looks that will draw you to her. For a first timer, Neha packs a punch in her performance, her eyes and facial expressions speak volumes, whether it's her reaction to Emraan's naughty overtures, or the horror against racism. Watch out for this girl, she can give Kat and Deepika a run for their money, although she might never really catch up with them.

Add some very beautiful numbers, and you have a combination worth going for, the violence and stretched drama in the second half a reasonable price to pay.

India - A New Age

As the CWG enters its second half, Indian sports too is entering a new age. While maintaining its dominance in sports like wrestling, archery and (unlikely for a poor country) shooting, Indian athletes are also providing reason for cheer in hitherto weak disciplines like swimming and gymnastics. Credit goes to all the individual sports federations and governing bodies who are working hard to grow our capabilities in these areas. In a country crazy for cricket, another heartening fact is that these successes are coming from those countless small towns and villages dotting the country, not just from the swanky metros. Undoubtedly, the road to Olympic glory passes through our heartland.

Most youngsters today might not get what the big hullaboo is all about, but anyone who grew up in the 80s and early 90s will understand. As a kid, the only shot to sporting glory was when India had its rare cricket victory - when we were not losing to Pakistan, whether it was due to the Sharjah effect, or Miandad's last ball six. That was before a young captain named Saurav Ganguly decided enough was enough. Before Vish redefined the equation Chess = Karpov + Kasparov. Before an excited Paes partnered with Bhupathi, before names like Sania and Saina brought cheers to the Indian fan.

Just as I write this, a 16 year old Ranchi girl hits three consecutive bulls eyes to win an Archery gold against her more sophisticated English opponent, while another small towner wins his wrestling encounter in a record 5 seconds.

Indian IT has so far enabled businesses and governments around the world, but now is creating opportunities within too. The Aadhar (UID) project is creating opportunities for the millions of India's rural poor. DRDO is working on our own OS (Operating System) to prevent hack attacks, while pushing dozens of indigineous satellites into space to keep a watch on our not-so-friendly neighbours, and providing the eyes and ears for our defensive missile batteries.

And while all this is happening, tax rates are going down!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Don't Do That

So I was kinda scolding my kid today, and Catrina comes from where she was peacefully sitting, gets up on her hind legs, gently taps me with her paw, meows a tiny bit, and walks off.

Wierd! Almost like she told me to take it easy! Very wierd! :)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

CWG

5 golds already, 3 more came from wrestling. Joshna Chinappa was a disappointment for squash fans, but now we even have an entry in an individual swimming event final. Indian men's hockey team won against Malaysia, but it could have been better. Doesn't look like a medal is assured here. Tennis continues to promise, and so does swimming. And boxing.

Thunderstorm

Pune was lashed by another very severe thunderstorm yesterday, the likes of which I have never seen in this city before - and rarely experienced in Goa. The topology of the city means that a heavy downpour quickly leads to rivers of muddy water gushing down the hills, channeled through the roads hemmed in by the deep dividers.


Took me two hours to get from office to home, with an hour or so at Mainland China waiting for the rains to subside. Unfortunately, I didn't have my Endy, and knee deep waters threatened to stall cars everywhere. We also got stuck in a pretty large developing grid lock, but were lucky to squeeze through it before everything came to a standstill.

India 1 Australia 0

Laxman played another brilliant unbeaten knock of 73 to help India take a 1-0 lead in Mohali, after a disastrous top order collapse in the second Indian innings, chasing 216. Laxman, battling injury and playing with runners in both innings, shared an 81-run partnership for the ninth wicket ensuring India recovered from 124 for 8. Sachin Tendulkar was the second highest Indian scorer with 38 while young Ishant Sharma contributed an invaluable 31 in the Test which went down the wire. Yesterday, the bowlers did a fantastic job pegging back the Australians in the second innings, after the Indian batsmen had conceded a slight lead.

Meanwhile, in the Delhi CWG, after Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang kicked off our gold medal hunt with the first gold, Anisa Syyed and Rahi Sarnobat followed with the second in 25m standard pistol pairs event.

Some good victories in badminton and tennis also, Saina/Sania should get us glory too.

Go India Go!

Monday, October 04, 2010

India Opens Its Tally

1 silver and 1 bronze already... go India go!

CWG Gets A Thumbs Up

The international media has finally stopped trying to pick on stray dogs and snakes, and admitted the inevitable: India has arrived. The 3.5 hour ceremony began on the dot, and was executed with brilliant smoothness and perfection, without a hitch, and everyone has taken notice.

And in my opinion, after all the brickbats, Kalmadi should get an ovation too. Yes, he bungled, but come on, some lose ceiling tiles, collapse of a foot bridge due to faulty equipment, and some dirty toilets long before the D Day - that's a very small list of failures in a 75000 crore endeavour!

Did you see the English contingent in their smart white and red Nehru collar kurtas and jackets? Wasn't that so cool?

The Aerostat was the star of the show, but do you know it is capable of a lot more? For example, it was supposed to also take along 25 drummers along with it when it rose into the sky, but it lost some of it's buoyancy and hence only the puppets went up. It's lights and camera were also not functioning for various other reasons... maybe it'll be on for the closing show.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

New India

Somewhere in rural Maharashtra, far away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, a new India quietly emerges...

CWG Opening Ceremony - A Riot Of Colors


Couldn't help putting up this absolutely beautiful collage of colors from today's CWG opening ceremony!

Breathtaking CWG Opening Ceremony - Live Commentary

Amazing opening ceremony in progress at the CWG - adrenalin pumping beats escalating to a crescendo, the jugalbandi led by child prodigy Keshav on the tabla, giant mehndi-laden hands magically appearing onto satin white sheets to the tune of Hariharan's Swagatam.. giant puppets gently swaying to the beats...

Keep watching! This is just the beginning.

The more formal part of the ceremony has now begun... Australia, the host of the last games, now coming on the field, leading the various contingents from the commonwealth countries. Some never heard names too - Guernsey, for example. UK is responsible for defending it, but it's not part of the UK!

I for India skipped. Guess the hosts come last.

Very smart and pretty Delhites carrying the placards... more of India's finest on display :)

Have you heard of a game called Lawn Bowl? Apparently, the CWG is the only event where they are played on such an international scale. When we were kids in Goa, we played "gaddyani" - the rules seem to be similar, the gadde were much smaller though :)

Another new country for me - Nauru. Pakistan gets a huge applause. Now St Vincent and the Grenadines. No, not two, they are one country :) Here comes Tonga, still very much a kingdom. Interestingly, Tonga never got formally colonized. Now Turk and Caicos Islands. Total population - 36000! Vanuatu now coming on the field.

And now the 60000 spectators (almost twice the population of Turk and Caicos Islands... lol... ) rise up with a roar - it's India! Abhinav Bindra, India's Olympic Gold Medallist carrying the proud flag. The girls look splendid in their red and maroon sarees, the guys princely in their sherwanis. Hundreds of tricolors fluttering proudly. India is aiming for the second overall spot in the medals tally, with a target of 100 medals. A standing ovation from everyone in the stadium.

The heat (literally) making President Pratibha Patil take out her kerchief to dab her forehead :)

Back into another commercial break (while I have my dinner...)

Sursh Kalmadi now takes the mike - to cheers and boos :) Long list of names in his opening statement - Sheila Dixit gets huge applause - that lady is very popular! Kalmadi talking about India's rise as a super power - again met by large applause. Interestingly, he also gives credit to Vajpayee for supporting the bid during the BJP government. And I have to hand this to him - sensing the mood of the people, he's thankfully kept it very short.

Fennel speaking now, I am focussing on finishing off my chicken.

Manmohan Singh now welcomes the participants - to loud applause. And I have finished my dinner.

The Queen's Baton arrives - carried by Vijendra Singh, our star boxer, who hands it to Mary Kom, his female compatriot. The baton is a technological wonder - recording audio-visuals as it moves, receiving messages and SMSes, keeping a log of all its travels over almost 2 lakh km. Baton is now being passed from one sportsman to another, till it is handed to Prince Charles...

The prince now reads the Queen's message... and the games have been declared open, with "I declare the games open"! There was some confusion and controversy about who should open the games - with the Queen not attending, some wanted India's President to do the honours. Finally, it was decided that Prince Charles would do it on the Queen's behalf.

Hopefully, the last of the speeches now... by our very own President Patil. And not to be left out, she says "let the games begin"! And this time, there're fireworks too :)

Another commercial break - need some action now. We have had enough of the formal ceremony. Siddhesh says, let the entertainment begin!

Military band plays while flags of all the participating nations are brought into the stadium in a colorful parade. A very elaborate, formal act of raising the commonwealth flag now, complete with marching soldiers and playing of the bugle. Now the oath ceremony, led by Abhinav Bindra...

We are back to the entertainment - the Tree of Knowledge segment, starting with Buddhish chants, and then blossoming into a wonderful arts and culture show showcasing the best of India. A wonderful Bodhi tree created in the center, the trunk rising from the ground through shimmering curtains, the huge Aerostat blimp in the center rendering the colorful foliage. A treat for the senses. Absolutely vibrant colors.

I believe for the first time, the ceremony is also being shot and transmitted in true HD across the world.

Meanwhile, the 12-day CWG event would spur India's economic growth by around $4,940 million in the next four years and create close to 24.7 lakh jobs, says the Games Organising Committee in a report.

On to Yoga now, another spectacular segment culminating with a huge rendering of the Buddha emerging from the center.

A journey through India... it just gets better and better! A huge train pulls in... made of gigantic bangles.... leading a glorious parade. Cycle shops, coolies, a tribute to India's common man. Chaiyya chaiyya on the train. AB posters. Politicians with their loud speakers. And how can auto-rickshaws be far behind? And the dabbawallahs of Mumbai. Masala chai! Along with folk dances and folk songs. A rich kaleidoscope of the common man's life in India.

Doordarshan starting to irritate the hell out of me now - incessant breaks robbing us of some excellent stuff :( Right in the middle of the program, too.

Wonderful tribute to Gandhiji now, as the Dandi March is "painted" by fingers in sand on a lighted panel, projected on the Aerostat for all to see.

As the folk dances culminate in another crescendo of sound and lights, fireworks light up the sky, and the field...

And now, performing the theme song of the CWG 2010, A.R.Rehman! And now, we have Jai Ho! The stadium absolutely erupting in frenzy...!

And that's it ladies and gentlemen, the doomsdayers and the naysayers, the pessimists and the no-men, India has proved, once again, what we are capable of. It has truly been a big, fat Indian wedding, and Kalmadi or not, India has arrived!!!

Proud to be Indian!

Stunt Robot

We got locked out yesterday (though we have four sets of keys), and I had to climb from the neighbour's gallery onto the parapet, hanging two storeys above ground, and then jumping over the plants into our own. For a brief moment, feet on the slim parapet, body stretched around the separating wall, I almost lost balance... then my grew the suction caps on my feet and palms, and lo and behold, I was across.. yenna rascala, mind it!

Movie Review: Robot

Mind it, this is the Yanna Rascala movie of the year!

Dr Vasi is at the cusp of his ten year old dream. He has created the ultimate robot - with unparalleled intelligence, strength and survivability, and the looks and behaviour of a human. A humanoid, Chitti, who looks and talks like him. However, when the regulators (led by the unscrupulous scientist (Danny)) deny him permission to operationalize it as the Indian Army's ultimate fighting machine, he teaches the machine to feel.


That's when trouble begins! Chitti falls in love with Vasi's girl friend, Sana (Aishwarya) and ends up learning to disobey his master, fuelled by his ever-growing yearning for Sana's kisses. Things rapidly go out of control, and when Chitti is modified by the addition of a "destruction chip", all hell breaks loose.

Will Vasi be able to curb the robot menace rapidly threatening to consume Chennai, or will machine win over man?

The movie has an interesting plot, that keeps you rooted to your seat as the crescendo builds up to an explosive end. The SFX are top class, rich in detailing and quality, and fantastic in their ideation. The mad car chase, and the climax scene at the end with the hundreds of Chitti clones working in tandem to take on the might of the security forces are just amazingly designed and executed. The visuals are also top-notch, the locales used for some of the songs, real or SFX, are also mind blowing. (Interestingly, in a couple of scenes though - the SFX is so pedestrian, it's almost like the stuff one saw in Vikram and Vetaal on DD in the 80s!)

Of course, being an indestructible robot, Rajni gets to add tremendously to his incredible exploits :) Shooting through this finger, growing wheels and running sideways on trains, turning magnetic to zap out weapons from his attackers, and having intimate conversations with mosquitoes are just some of his special skills. Not to mention romancing a woman less than half his age. The Rajni mania just got bigger!

Ash disappoints again, I have never understood those constipated looks on her face. But if you can ignore that, she's not too bad. And that's not too difficult to do, since the Robot gives you plenty of interesting stuff to look at. Danny is under-utilized.

The biggest disappointment for me though, was the sound track. Very forgettable, except for a couple of numbers - most of the song and dance sequences are shot lavishly in exotic locales with extravagant colors and rich visualizations, but Rehman creates more noise than melody. The movie is fantastic in the first half, but needed some serious editing in the second.

Overall, a must-see movie for its SFX and visualizations, a wonderful treat for your senses. Mind it, don't miss it!

CWG - Giving An Identity

Do you know what's the coolest thing about the CWG? The fact that it gives sportsmen from many smaller countries like The Isle Of Man, a member of the British Isles with a population of 80,000 and area less than the size of Mumbai,  a chance to represent their own flag. In other events, the "Manx" become "British".

Which brings me to another question. What is the difference between UK and Great Britain? Yes, UK = GB + Northern Ireland. What about GB? GB = England, Scotland and Wales. Unlike the US, the UK is thus a "federation" of independent countries, NOT states! Thought about it?

Playstation 3

Got a sexy new Playstation 3 yesterday. I'm not much of a gamer, but I'm looking at games as part of my job (I am not kidding!) and thought it was only fair that I get some "domain experience".

For the uninitiated, the PS3 is actually a pretty sexy graphics computer with 250 GB disk (while the disk always needs to be inserted in the PS3 to play the game, having it on the hard disk allows you to play it better and helps you save the game state), USB ports, AV and HD outputs, and a BluRay cum DVD player (yes, so you can ditch your DVD player, and simply use the PS3 as your entertainment hub). The PS3 also connects to the Internet through your Ethernet or wireless router, thus allowing you to browse and surf on your TV.  In addition, you get the Game Pad device, with a bunch of buttons and sticks on it for interacting with the game, and which works in wireless mode in addition to connecting to the main console through USB when needed for charging. Interestingly, the game pad can also provide some great feedback like jerks and vibrations, when, for example, you drive your cars over rough terrain! I also got the very cool Sensor Camera and Motion Controller combo, which lets you interact with the game through hand movements - imagine micmicking tennis shots and getting your avataar in the game play the same.

We were out till late night last night, so it was almost 3.00 am by the time I got it hooked up. Must say, the setup was a breeze.

I also got a bunch of games (each game comes in a BluRay disk, costs anything between 1500 to 3500) in addition to the free God of War I got along with the PS3 - and have already started feeling withdrawal pangs
the moment I switch it off.

The entire package, along with the games, and an extra game pad, with extended warranty by Croma, cost me 33K.

Sunday Breakfast

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Beyond the Verdict

Day Two, and India stayed peaceful and calm, the maturity shown by the people, the politicians and the religious leaders truly heart warming and reassuring. While politics will certainly be played in the days to come, one thing is sure. India has buried the ghosts of its past, and the new, resurgent India is ready to move on.

Movie Review: Khichdi

Based on a popular TV soap, Khichdi brings you intimately close to the Parekh family - Babuji, his wife Jayshree bhabhi, their son Praful, daughter-in-law Hansa, and Hansa's brother Himanshu. When Hansa and Himanshu's father passes away, Babuji and Jayshree vow to help Himanshu live his dream - to have an immortal love story. And they need to start with finding him a bride. That problem is solved when pretty Parminder, younger sister of Parminder, from the neighbouring family of Parminders (yes, they are all called Parminder - easier to remember names, that way, says Praful!) falls in love with Himanshu... but the fun is just beginning!

The plot oscillates between ridiculous and a little beyond the crazy, and the jokes and screenplay remind you of your college skits cooked up over countless cups of dark coffee in those mosquito-infested hostel rooms, but one thing is certain - Khichdi works.

A little editing and a little tempering might have made Khichdi a lot more tasteful, but then as they say - perfect is not always the best!

Have a little Khichdi this weekend, it's totally worth the time.

CWG Updates

4 days, 100 men, and a brand new foot bridge ready to go. That's just one bright story in the CWG saga, which has taken a complete U turn in the last few days.

With less than two days to go, the CWG village is shining and sexy, the food on offer is mind blowing, the shopping is unlimited, the 5000 odd athletes and officials already in the village can't stop gawking, and every can look forward to the best games ever.

The security forces have taken over most of the venues with more than one lakh personnel on duty in the streets of Delhi, and helicopters, UAVs and fighter aircraft are on stand by and ready for any eventuality. Even langurs have been brought in to tackle the monkey menace in the games village.

The opening ceremony will be a 3-hour extravaganza showing the best of India's varied arts and culture, so make sure you make no plans on Sunday!

India will look to bag a record haul of medals, with tennis, badminton, wrestling, boxing, shooting and hockey being our best bets. Athletics and swimming is probably our weakest link, but who knows!

As they say, India is down right now, but it's simply because we are tasked with pushing the rest of the world up!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Pak Needs Support

Here's an interesting sound bite from the always-in-the-news-for-the-wrong-reasons Shahid Afridi. India has never supported Pakistan cricket, says the guy who eats cricket balls for lunch. Interesting observation, I must say! After all, as their loving neighbours, this is definitely our duty. After all the love and support we have got, whether it is thanking us for the floods or repaying us in Mumbai, isn't it time to pay back?