Sunday, November 28, 2010

Origin of Pimple, Anyone?

There are quite a number of Pimples in Pune... Pimple Saudagar, Pimple Nilakh, Pimple Gurav... anyone knows the origin of these names? Pimple is a surname, does it have anything to do with some kinda landlords by that name? Pimple is also the Marathi name for a peepal tree - any connection with that?

Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

Because they have nothing else to do! No job, no email, no twitter, no Facebook. No chores. No bills to pay. No cars to wash. No clothes to put into the dryer. No answering phone calls. Not even a need to answer the door bell.

So what else you expect them to do?

Trip to Nighoj and Wadgaon Daryabai-Velhabai

After a brief lull last weekend, we were off on another trip today, this time to Nighoj and Wadgaon Daryabai-Velhabai, a 250 km round trip from Pune. We decided to leave late in the morning, and by the time we exited the city traffic and hit Nagar Rd, it was well past 230. We were 8 of us, including Sanam.

After another 45 min at Shirur for a late lunch, we took a left off the highway, passed through Ralegaon Siddhi - the model village - and the small town of Parner, and reached the Swayambu rock cave temples of Wadgaon Daryabai and Velhabai at around 430. As you climb down the stairs into the temple complex, you are met by dozens of fearless and scary monkeys, so make sure you aren't carrying anything that might look like fair game to them!

The cave temples are interesting, but what was disappointing was that the promised laterite stalactites were no more than tiny cm long droplets, the kind I have in my society's leaking underground garage! They're probably broken off and taken away as souvenirs the moment they grow any longer!


By the time we left from Wadgaon, the sun was starting to go down, and we knew we were rushing against time. We returned to Parner, some 20 kms from Wadgaon, and then took an immediate right to Nighoj, ignoring the route my MapMyIndia navigator showed - a further 10 km or so back towards Shirur, before turning right towards Nighoj. We saved 15-20 km with the shortcut, but the road quickly got pretty bad - a couple of times simply disappearing into a wide running stream with a very gravelly bed! No problems for Samara, but in a sedan, I would definitely have second thoughts doing this trip!

We reached the beautiful rock cut formations (deep crevasses and potholes) in the river bed at Nighoj around 615 pm, in the dying moments of twilight. It was too late for photography, and we regretted not having made it just a wee bit earlier! Finally, it was Samara to the rescue again, her Xenon lights flooding the scene sufficiently bright to have a good look. Photos are still less than interesting, so here's a stock photo of the place, so you have an idea what I'm talking about.




By 645, we started for Pune. The road from Nighoj to Shirur, around 25 km, is really bad, although we hardly felt it in the Endy. The bright Xenons are also terribly effective, illuminating as far as you would ever need to see, ensuring there are absolutely no rude surprises.

A quick stop for dinner for some amazing chicken masala and egg omlette, and then while I was immersed in my own trip, trying to focus on the last 75 km to Pune, the gang went beserk in the cabin, screaming in unison with Samara's speakers belting some of the most popular numbers.

Sanam enjoyed thoroughly - and also got a big lesson, which I hope she will remember for ever. A bunch of young men and women can have a great time, and get high on friendship and life, and you don't need drinks, drugs or cigarettes to do that!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Movie Review: Break Ke Baad

Deepika rocks, movie sucks. Well, a little more to it actually. Imran disappoints once again, and I am starting to believe it's just the way he looks maybe... he just cannot bring out the passion in a relationship, he's like a brother to one and all! And Deepika, while she looks smoking hot in whatever she wears, is starting to get type cast into these larger than life roles. Story sucks too. Meanders all along, especially break ke baad! A very ordinary sound track - you'll not remember it for long.

Overall unavoidable for Deepika, but avoidable for everything else.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pune Traffic Police

The Pune Traffic Police has its own Facebook page now and enthusiastic "fans" are posting pictures of traffic violations as well as suggestions for improvements. Pretty encouraging... the Internet can really empower citizens and make governments so much more accountable!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thumping Majority for Nitish

Results are in, and the Nitish govt has won an incredible 207 of the 243 seats in the assembly. Lalu suffered his biggest defeat, with Rabri losing both her seats, and the RJD only managing to win 24 seats.

As I commented earlier, I am really hoping 2010 is a real turn around for India...

Poll Positive: Development Wins Over Caste

The Bihar election results are coming in, and initial trends show a very heartwarming trend... Nitish Kumar's JD(U)-BJP combine is leading comfortably in 157 of the 243 seats for which trends are available, with a clear majority in sight. Voting clearly against the 15 years of corruption, casteism, and jungle raj of the Lalu-Rabri clan, the Bihar mandate is clearly for the development and law and order, promised and delivered, by Nitish Kumar. Bihar boasted one of the highest growth rates last year, excellent roads have come up all over the state, education (especially girls) has taken a major boost, and with over 50,000 goons behind bar under a no-compromise policy of the state government, greatly improved law and order situation has meant that the economy is booming.

A similar situation seems to be blooming in UP too, where Mayawati might not be as clean and clear and Nitish, but economic conditions backed by a much-improved law and order situation is winning clearly over caste and religion based politics.

Chinese Domination

Out of a total 360 or so gold medals in the contention so far, Chinese athletes have won a total of 165 golds and another 160 or so silver and bronze. What is it about Chinese way of life that makes them such strong sportsmen? Funding from the state (definitely helps!), inherent physical characteristics (definitely not), or years and years of focussed and dedicated practice right from early childhood (seems most likely!)? Can the Chinese factories mass produce athletes like they mass produce goods?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Movie Review: Guzarish

You really thought I would spend 2 hours watching Ash and Hrithik crying over a tragedy, when life itself is such a mega tragedy? :)

Haven't seen it myself, but I hear it's a good movie, as long as you can ignore Ash's constipated faces and believe she's a good actress after all.

Aah yes, one thing you can definitely look forward to, I hear, are the beautiful Goan locales!

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

More of the same, Harry Potter fails to make me happy, and almost put me to sleep. However, a quick exit poll revealed that most kids who saw it with me liked it.

Net net, if you haven't seen the earlier HPs, then go for it. If you are a kid, maybe you should see it.

On the other hand, maybe you should really read the book instead!

Finally, 1-0

After two surprisingly even-sided contests resulting in tame draws, the Indian juggernaut finally steamrolled the Kiwis into submission in the third test with a comprehensive innings and two hundred run victory, taking the 3 test series 1-0.

Meanwhile, India notched up its 7th gold, with Somdev winning a historical first gold medal in the men's tennis, adding to his men's doubles gold with Sanam Singh yesterday. Unfortunately, the ladies in tennis and badminton disappointed, so did most of the shooters, and the Indian hockey team too crashed out in the semis after losing to a spirited Malaysia :( Good show so far, but a lot of misses means what could have been an excellent games will end up being could-have-been-much-better.

Criminal Minds

Amazing series... loved it so much, I got the Season 1 and 2 DVDs... love their team, love their work... most of all, I love the character, Jason Gideon. So much control, so much self-belief, such an amazing leader, and such an awesome person. Truly worth idolizing.

Sad he's missing in the later seasons :(

Monday, November 22, 2010

Zzyzx

Can you believe they actually have names like these in the US? This one is from Las Vegas...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thunder, Lightning and Rain

10:24 pm, 19th Nov - are you kidding me?

Change?

Kalmadi, Chavan, BSY, Raja and even the honourable PM now... while corruption has been a way of life for India's politicians and public alike, the sudden spurt in "open action" by the judiciary, investigation agencies and auditors/regulators bodes well for the country. Is this true change, or just a phase?

Time will tell. But personally, I'd like to look at this as a real turning point.

(Adult) Joke

Why did Pamella agree to join Big Boss?

Because she thought the invitation was for Big Boobs

LOL

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Samara Gets Wet

video


video

Dad & Daughter

Samara Makes Donuts on the Beach

video

Dapoli Trip - Memories

Chandan Bhai's farmhouse is a beautiful sanctuary, with no TV, no cellular coverage and not even the newspaper. Total and complete isolation from the hustle and bustle of every day life, the perfect way to recharge and rewind.




 
 
 At night, the firework display was a fitting tribute to the tandoori chicken :) 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Have you ever slept under the stars? Try it, it's a beautiful experience! Here at 630 am, everyone is snuggling into their wet-with-the-dew blankets, while I woke up early to the sound of the birds chirping! 
 
 
 
 
 
The mango orchard is huge, stretching away as far as the eye can see... and with the sea on one side, the views from the watch tower are simply breathtaking!
 
 
 
 
 
A majestic Buddha greets you at Chandan Bhai's nature resort coming up near the orchard. Dying to check in there as soon as it is ready!
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
The gang had a great time with Samara, and I am sure Samara loved it too!
 
 
 
 
 
 
And finally, here's the big gang (although a few members missed the bus!) posing for a photo with the Buddha on a tour of the resort.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Life is Tough - But Beautiful!





Samara Wild at the Mango Orchards

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Samara at Dapoli

Some photos of Samara having fun at Dapoli - videos follow!

Wild in the Mango Orchards

Rock Climbing

On 3 Tires

Sun Bathing on the Beach


River Rafting

A Nice Bath

Not an UFO, it's just the Aftermath!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pune-Dapoli-Pune

Just back from a fantastic 3 day family reunion in Dapoli... lots of pictures and videos to process, so keep watching for updates, but for now, here are some initial photos from the drive itself.

First, the drive through Mulshi and Tamhini.. a deep gorge on one side, towering cliffs on the other, mark the beginning of the ghat. A good pit stop.




Although it was late morning, around 10 am, the mist was still hanging around...



...and a final cut through the rock, and you are in the land of sea and sand



The way back through Varandha is a lot more exciting. The towering Sahyadris make you wonder - am I really supposed to climb all the way up there?




And if you had any thoughts of tunneling through, those are quickly dispelled!



A wonderful valley greets you on the other side of the climb



And hills quickly give way to dark blue and green waters of the dam...



...the shimmering sun is absolutely mesmerizing in the waters.




Finally, as we entered Pune, this is what we were greeted with! Cloud burst in November?


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Customer Satisfaction

My cats are extremely picky about the fish I get them - needs to be of one of 2-3 favourite types, need to be cleaned, need to be warmed, need to be the right size. They drink milk only when they are in the mood. Rice, bread, chapati, most biscuits, any leftovers - not OK with them!

Yet, they eat every combination and product that Whiskas manufactures. Every single time. Without complaints.

Now, THAT'S customer satisfaction!

Narkasur

Diwali in Goa is predominantly about the slaying of Narkasur by Krishna, unlike the interpretations and celebrations in rest of India. The days before Diwali see youngsters enthusiastically building these effigies, which are the center of attraction on Diwali eve, with Goans all over the state getting out at night in their cars, jeeps, bikes and on foot, to soak in the revelries, before they are consigned to the flames early in the morning.

Competitions all over the state nowadays feature more and more "sophisticated" Narkasurs, growling, heaving, shaking their hands and heads in terrifying gestures, duelling with the tiny Krishnas, until, finally, good prevails over evil.



As we do every year, we had our own Narkasurs too. A smaller baby Narkasur that could be carried in hand, and a larger one that we installed on our borrowed Tata Ace pickup and went around town, singing songs and doing naarebaazi. Here's the baby that Mummy (my aunt) made for us:



Sorry, bad light means I do not have better or any more pictures - but if you search my blog with the right keywords, you can see some of our creations from the past :)

While roaming around town, we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of the Panaji Church competition venue, with hundreds of spectators eagerly waiting for the competing Narkasur's to arrive - and were welcomed with loud cheers and wild clapping. Lol...

By 1.00, we had consigned our Narkasur's to flames - and it was just in time! A huge downpour rain for the next 45 min ensured that very few of the other demons got their due!

Anti-Corruption Action, or A Smokescreen?

The Congress today sacked Ashok Chavan, less than 2 years after he took up the top job and led the party to a comprehensive victory in Maharashtra, for his involvement in the Adarsh Society scam, and replaced him with the Indo-US Nuclear Deal veteran and MoS in the PMO, Prithviraj Chavan. Chavan, at 64, enjoys a clean and efficient image, and has the strong backing of both the PM and Sonia Gandhi. With a University of Berkeley degree and experience in the US aerospace industry, he matches the impressive educational qualifications of the ex-CM, an MBA.

The Congress also fired CWG head honcho Suresh Kalmadi, ignoring his pleas to let him continue until the Asian Games.

Is this the beginning of a serious clean up exercise, or just a smokescreen before it's all life as usual? We can only wait and watch.

Obamaspeak

After supporting an "emerged" India's bid for permanent seat at the UNSC and upsetting Germany, Japan and Brazil (and of course, Pakistan!), Obama has raised China's hackles by a not-so-veiled attack at its human rights record saying, "Today, we sometimes hear that democracy stands in the way of economic progress. This is not a new argument. Particularly in times of change and economic uncertainty, some will say that it is easier to take a shortcut to development by trading away the rights of human beings for the power of the state. But that is not what I saw on my trip to India, and that is not what I see in Indonesia. Your achievements demonstrate that democracy and development reinforce one another."

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Movie Review: Due Date

This time it's not a marriage, but the delivery of his first baby in LA that Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) needs to reach for in time. He is about to fly home from Atlanta when his "encounters" with Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) begin. Starting with his luggage and wallet getting misplaced, he is arrested for possession of drugs, and then put on the "no-fly" list. Desperate to get home Peter is forced to accept Ethan's offer to hitch a ride with him cross-country. The next 5 days will be the most agonizing, yet most exciting of his life!

Absolutely entertaining in the Hangover sort of way, Due Date is highly recommended for those who dig gross humour... Be warned though, if you thought the baby in Hangover had too much testosterone, you've seen nothing yet!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Goa: Mobile and Water

For the second time, on a trip to Goa, I have managed to drop my Nokia in a bucket of water, ensuring I am disconnected from most of the rest of the world for the entire trip, and then have it all come back to life the moment I land back in Pune :)

This time it was my E75. And it's all OK now, except for the camera which seems to have shorted out.

Movie Review: Golmaal 3

Touted as the only Bollywood movie franchise to have been made in a three part series, the third in the series actually comes off better than the not-that-great sequel to the hugely successful Golmaal. With many references to countless classic Hindi movies and dialogues, and packed with some brilliant moments - dialogues and acts - Golmaal 3 is a good option for some over-the-top mindless fun and entertainment with friends and family.

Arshad Warsi is in great form, and it is really good to see Johnny Lever in his element again. Kareena looks absolutely ravishing, probably her best so far, and puts in a very good, natural performance. Mithun and Ratna Pathak Shah are also surprisingly good, unlike many other performances from actors of yesteryears in recent films. Ajay, Shreyas, Kunal Khemu and a bunch of other actors also pull in their punch!

Overall, a fun movie, but make sure you are not in the first row - the splash of colors can overwhelm you :)

India Avoid The Collapse

After being 15/5 and dangerously close to a embarassing collapse and defeat at the end of the 4th day, India showed why they are number 1 - a fighting 90+ score by Laxman, and a maiden century by Bhajji steering India out of trouble, enabling the undefeated streak to continue. At the time of writing this, India were confortably placed at 255/8, with an overall lead of 283 in the post lunch session on the 5th day.

Gone are the days when the team collapsed like a pack of cards, this team has a very strong spine!

Rajnikant at Big Boss

RAJNIKANT enters BIGG BOSS 4...

Next day ...

RAJNIKANT chahte hai ki BIGG BOSS confession room me aayein!!!

Back From Goa

Just back from Goa after a nice Diwali break - lots of fish, lots of late nights and sleepy afternoons. Rains too! Narkasur was fun, but the tourist season has begun in earnest and that meant lot of traffic all over. Baga is overful, and we added to the crowds in the evenings. Titos is finishing renovation (my cousin Yogesh is doing the RCC and steel for the elevated dance stages) and due to open soon, but Mambos is all set! Zanzibar and the rest of the shacks are doing roaring business. Life guards continue to show off in the red 4x4 while saving countless lives.

Lot of pampering in the spa, but paid for it with the cell falling in the water... thankfully, except for the camera, there seems to be not much lasting damage.

Bad stomach ruined part of the holiday, and got no sleep while getting tossed around in the last berth on the way back... so the end wasn't that fun! (Is it ever?)

Cats were happy to have me back. Are you? :)