Monday, January 31, 2005

Cinema scope

Saw Swades on Saturday. Word of mouth is decent for it still, plus now, it is tax free. So, quite a few people in the theatre even for the 11.30 am. Me, I was there, coz the matinee shows are much cheaper. I find the rates otherwise exhorbitant, and would rather pick my nose than pay through it.

Anyway, about the movie. I have to say, I agree with the critics. That it is didactic, quite teachery. No, not quite a documentary, but I think that is only because, you never can take Shahrukh seriously so quickly, considering his body of frivolity (the mannerisms, stylizing, hamming). Sure, he shines in this movie, but is that isn't enough to lift us from the ennui, that sets in halfway through the movie.

Gowariker gets the message across well, but no point in hamming it again and again. Also, the scenes drag on needlessly. There are a few deft touches and attention to detail, that reiterate the fact that this is indeed the director of Lagaan here - Shahrukh pouring over fed-exed documents mentioned in the passing quite a while back in the movie, same for his wrestling. Song picturization (esp Pal pal hai bhari) are also prety good. 1/2 hr/ 45 min less and we would have had a classic

Black is this Friday's black - Black and Black Friday. Both ought to be must watch. When do I squeeze in Lost in Translation?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ghettoisation of world

Rohan Pinto episode has kicked up a storm. Just googling, is going to tell you everything you wanted to hate about the man. Funny isn't it, that with all this furore on the blogspace, the real world, goes on as if nothing has happened. Just goes to show how fragmented our lives have become.

I think our lives are getting increasingly compartmentalized - it's a cornucopia of choices, be it in the field of work or leisure. Not only are the pursuits extremely varied, but they are so exclusive, so as to demand complete and utter devotion, at the expense of everything else.

Take blogging. It's demands so much of your daily space. Not that people do it without free will. I for one enjoy the thrill. However, I think, there were many other things, that bloggers would have been doing (certainly more productive in the real world) which they can't owing to their current activity. I certainly, would have been trawling tech forums more.

Take gaming - This field has exploded so much that you are either a complete ignoramus or you are one gaming freak - spending night and day, playing with millions of other gamers or waiting outside stores for the latest release of your fav game.
Take programming - Now, we have sects, people who swear by Linux, Perl, C, PHP, and swear at the rest (check out slashdot) and guys who use Java, VB and think that open source is just a baseless craze.

Take sports - It may either be the sports we play or follow. Here we have golf, F1, football, basketball, skateboarding, tennis which elicit major fan following. One has to be really clued in, as to what is happening where or you are out of the circle.

Take science - The most sought after areas of research - e.g. biotech, nanotech, stem cells research are getting so niched out that cross-pollination of ideas is a rarity.

There seems to be alarming rise in people are turning their part time hobbies, into full time occuptation. Fitness for one has become such an obsession, that people just live to be fit. With all the tools, services and information about anything available within easy reach, even other more unconventional pursuits are becoming mainstream.

It is like, we are turning into zealots - people with radical beliefs, who are too busy with their own to care or are completely hostile to others' ideas. Right now, there are still many areas of overlap and this division is not that perceptible. But soon, it will so happen , that one's culture will be defined more and more by what you do or pursue and less and less by one's upbringing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Rohan Pinto pe gussa kyun aata hai?

There was some brouhaha about some brazen copy cats prowling the blog world. Now, given the amount of activity happening around in blogsphere, something like this was bound to happen. Still, what eludes me, is how can one pass off other's writings as one's own, without any slightest attempt to guise it. It think it is plain laziness.

This episode does seem to highlight the power of the blog, but it seems that there is a coterie of bloggers. Every blogger in this group seems to know and acknowledge other members and their work. They are great achievers, in there own right and fine bloggers. But how does this clique come into existence, in the first place? Or is it my imagination running riot.

Anyway, new releases to catch up - Kisna, Black Friday, Lost in Translation

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dual Language Policy - Boon or Bane

I mentioned some time back, that I wanted to write about dual language policy we have in India (grossly marginalizing regional languages in favour of English). Finally, I have some semblance of an article. But since, it's going to stretch, I am publishing it in parts. Here is Part I


India is now the largest English speaking country in the world. I read about how we are a race of two-language speaking people. Now, that’s one thing that would make most Indians proud. Yes its commendable indeed, that we converse and transact in so many languages at one go. However, for now, I am going to put aside some obvious pros and put forward some issues with this dual-language system

The problem had begun ever since we let English on our soil. That was the first step before letting them into our minds gradually, breaking it into our psyche that everything English is superior and that if we want to survive globally, we cannot do without it. Certainly, around that point of time (19-20th century) most of the new inventions, discoveries, breakthroughs that would revolutionize the way we live - came from the West. That the Industrial Revolution. But I doubt if the Industrial revolution would have been possible without the spoils from the East.

With so many radical changes and discoveries happening around, we grudingly, grant the English language the honour of being the first to record many things, which completely revolutionalized our daily lives. The English lexicon was getting richer rapidly. The British empire was at its ascent, just about that time, so the hold of English as the medium of progress and advancement was deeply etched amongst its "subjects". Higher education, financial transactions and administration began to be propagated, perpetrated and accepted in English. India was missing a pan-Indian language (Hindi was and still is a mainly north Indian language) and English filled the gap.

The earlier generation grew up speaking one language and learning another in school/college as an additional language. However, the emphasis on English wasn't so great. It was ok, to have a barely working knowledge of English and still get recruited in government, companies or any medium/large establishment, for that matter. But increasingly this generation, our parents, have seen the changes in our milieu and decided that the kids cannot do without English. Thus, English schools have become a medium of choice. As teachers might fall short with their tasks and with Indian propensity for overworking the kid with his/her studies, parents started bringing him English books, subscribing to English newspapers, and horror of horrors, talking to him in English. "Beta, come here. Beta, eat, no!!. Lentils curry, so nice, you know". And can you blame them. English is everywhere. All blue/white jobs mandatorily require good English written and oral skills. Hardly anything in the corporate world is transacted in Hindi or regional languages. The media has been thus far so English centric, that we had them selling us TVs, , soft drinks, washing machines, refrigerators in English for ages. It's just recently that media pundits have realized the power of Hindi and the rural dialects/imagery, that they have started using (and how) Hindi as means of broadcast. Yet ad-spends continue to be disproportionately English media centric. English font continues to dominate all brands (I don't see any of the names of any big brands written in Devanagari on any of the products). Movie names and credits are in English ONLY(some exceptions like the very innovative Ab Tak Chappan). This basically a full frontal sustained assualt of English in our daily lives that should have us worried.
(to be continued)

Incredible hulk is born

Sometime back, I wrote about the world's smallest baby (Indian). Guess what, to make up for it, now we have the worldest largest baby (Brazilian).

God has decided to abandon all middle path and start dealing in extremes. Natural calamities and human anomalies. All the cast of Gulliver Travels is on the way soon.
The stage is set too.

Bear with me

Already the stock market has started bleeding me. Oh! Thy NIFTY vagaries! Seriously, in a volatile markets, it's best to turn a blind eye to all the money advisors and fiscal analysts' predictions about recommendations, support, resistance levels, short sell etc. etc. The fact is - its just too difficult to predict. Cement stocks were supposed to do well. Why is Guj Ambuja acting like this? It's an achambaa. Why are pharma stocks languishing so badly? Well, there no cash in the market, so hold ur horses and bulls. It's the time to invest (Ta tana nana) and not trade. Since, I can't trade on my recent buys (and burn a small hole in my wallet), I am going to hold on to these stocks (not bad financials anyway of these) like pile-on friends who have nowhere to go and whom I can't sell

But it certainly it's fun to play with money. Not anymore But I am going to be sane and take a break for sometime starting tomorrow.
(Gotcha! Markets are closed on account of Eid, so don't have a choice)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Taking stock

There is a major lull on the work front. I could explain in detail, but I don't want to be like the air hostess who got fired for her blog (Thank God, they didn't fire her mid-way through her job, or it would be like "Ellen, just received message from base, you have been fired. I will open the emergency door. Jump off"). Anyway, she was fired for some offending pictures. Besides, the lull in the work is hardly to do with us, more with the client.

So, with all the time in hand, have started dabbling in the stock market. Have had an account since last April, but never got around to trading. Well, I have finally jumped in the fray. Am trying to make sense of EPS, P/E, EBIDTA, BNSTG and much else of the financial jargon. Right now, trading in simple normal order mode. Anyway, its not a good time to do trading now. The volumes are down and so are the stock prices and analysts signal a long (lasting 6 months) bullish trend.

Hmm, I am going to play small and see what happens. Business channels are becoming more of the evening watch, more so, owing to the eye candy on CNBC TV18. Where do they get all these gorgeous women. Is it coz, women don't go much for engineering studies, so loads of them in the commerce stream? Certainly, loads more women working in financial sector than in software. Anyway, Shereen Bhan, Menaka Doshi and Anuradha Sengupta (there's one more than I miss- she is on evening's market wrap up, these days) make quite a formidable combination of beauty and brains. Menaka and Anuradha are both not conventionally beautiful, but I like their poise and personality. Shereen, on the other hand, is sensex shattering beautiful. It would be hard to concentrate on any other statistics or figures.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The blog is a scream

Don't tell me I owe you one. Ha ha ha!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The finish post

Was able to complete the 1/2 marathon in 2 hrs 22 min 32 seconds. More than the exhilaration of completing the run, it was more a feeling of quiet satisfaction. You can't really exult and pump your fists in the air after running for 2 1/2 hours non stop. Never thought, I would be able to make it without leg muscles sending critical SOS signals or having to sit and stretch for a while. But it was a consistent and a smooth race and very very pleased with the outcome. Possibly, could have run faster, but it was my first race, and you can't really tell if your body can take the pace. Also, the route was quite treacherous, esp along the Babulnath to Mahalaxmi stretch. Its quite hilly, and joy-ridey, and many casualties (people hyperventilating, dehydration, muscle cramps, passing out) occured around this section. In fact, during the return stretch hardly anyone was running. Everyone was literally dragging this feet along.

Still, the support of the people was awesome. So many people had come down to cheer the runners, it was truly amazing. It certainly takes your mind off the incredible agony you are going through. Mumbaiites were shouting "Go Mumbai Go", "Cmon India", "Run, dont give up", and so on. Also, the facilities along the entire track - medical aid, water, electrol etc were quite adequate. Some things can be surely improved, but given the participation and enthusiasm levels, things are bound to go a bit awry.

The last 3 kms of our race saw us join the 7 km runners (rather strollers) on their return march, which halted my progress considerably. I had to weave in and out of the crowd, to keep my momentum going. Was afraid that pain may set in if I slow down or stop. Still, the 7 km dream run was the one that saw the largest participation (18000) and was the most colourful. A number of them were supporting and advertising the charities of their choice - shouting slogans and adding to the atmosphere and melee. Can't complain about too much of a good thing, can you?

A number of celebrities were also there. Anil Ambani, running 2 kms ahead of me around the half way mark. Saw Jaya Bachchan, a bored Abhishek Bachchan, Azharuddin around the flag post. Didn't get a chance to see the others.

So, all in all a great event. Apart from the blisters, I have a great memories to carry home with me. The dabba walla running in fits and starts (with every cheer from the crowd, he would pick up speed), the blind man running at a fair speed with his guide, a really old frail man, ahead of me even around 15 kms mark (was he cheating?), a group of guys carrying an Indian flag, on an endless pole, kids serving water at an unofficial water post) along the Babulnath stretch, a tree man running for environmental awareness.

Truly, a great race are we.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

How cool are you?

Why is your peace of mind a function not so much of you than so many other people. Ever notice, how even a stranger could make you leave you fuming and restless for days. You know he/she doesn't have any place in your scheme of things. You also know Steven Covey's circle of influence funda - that you should not let people/things who are not important to you, affect you. How well, can we implement this in real life? Hardly.

I guess to achieve some sort of composure, in such situations, you need to be slightly megalomaniacal. That should give you the ability to brush away such minor assaults on your cool. Why are all these smart MBA's (generally or more than ordinary folks) not affected by setbacks? Yes, there is that self-belief. But there is also the arrogance that this setback/person is not worth my fretting time. They would rather move on to something/someone much bigger/better.

On a slightly unrelated note, here are some great articles about happiness. I didn't know that you need just three things to keep you happy. I can't help but agree.
Sandipen Deb's article is less enlightening, but a great read nonetheless. I wish I had what it takes to write like this...

There are days when sorrow is like a physical ache. Under your skin, it is a soiled washcloth the surgeon left inside before sewing you up.
In your bloodstream, it’s a murky grey fluid, an effluent without an outlet. Inside your ribcage, it is the deadweight of despair. Even neon seems dim, music grates...

(and Mr Deb is an IIT engineer, not even a trained writer)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

What's happening to the world.

There's the tsunami that has disfigured the face of our planet, there are forest fires in Australia (remember the ones that raged for months in California last year), Storms in UK, it snowed in Dubai a few weeks ago, and now mud-slides in California.

God made earth, God made man, Man wrecks havoc. God destroys both.

File your tax returns before the world ends.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Back on track

Yesterday, was back to my training after a long gap (thanks to the injury). Thankfully, it was not so diffuclt to run 20 laps. I only wish, I had known how much exactly is that in km. Shouldnt be less than 7-8 km

Yesterday had a proper look at the map of the marathon track. It starts from CST, and then goes south towards the Oberoi Towers, a U turn and runs till the Nehru Planetorium and back. Quite a long route. Hope it not going to be too hot and humid this Sunday or I am gonna have to run with a paramedic team at close call

Today, hope to run atleast 40 laps. Hope no telecons or urgent work comes in the way.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A tragic loss

Was quite a sad day yesterday. One of mom's closest friends, finally succumbed to breast cancer.

She fought the disease for two long years, had about 30 painful chemos, but still the cancer took her away. Last few months saw her hospitalized, with progressive loss of motor abilities as the cancer spread to the rest of the body. It was painful to watch for all the closed ones for her to wither away like that, coz she used to be the brightest and the most cheerful person around.

Her illness has proved to be a clarion call for everyone around. Mom, aunts and friends are more aware and have had/are planning to have their check-ups done. Women at that age (40-50 yrs) are particularly prone to various ailments due to hormonal changes, and a regular check-up is the least one can do to identify and control any type of cancer before its too late.

Cancer is hardly the incurable disease that it was, provided, it is detected at an early stage. And for detection, we just need some more awareness (I still see a serious lack of this and a frightful inclination of those affected to hide the illness) and willingness to carry out tests frequently. I am saying this for purely selfish reasons, because this episode has made me realise how important women in our family are, in our lives and that nothing, absolutely nothing can take their place.

P.S. A new research shows the benefits of olive oil in fighting breast cancer.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Road rage

This morning, as I was waiting for the bus, heard a bus (one of those on-contract bus for an IT company) honking away. This patch of road, where the road from Kandivli Station joins the highway, is quite chaotic. There are people waiting half way on the road for their buses, and other vehicles are trying to get off and on the highway.

Anyway, so everyone was looking at why this bus was making so much noise. Well, there was a Zen double parked in front of it, which was making it difficult for the bus to move along. The traffic behind the bus also was slowing down considerably coz there was only one lane left on the highway for any movement. The driver continued to honk, but the guy in the Zen, being his arrogant self, refused to pay heed. I think, after about a minute of blaring, the bus driver had had enough. He made a right turn to drive along the side of the Zen. But not without a parting shot. He drove close enough to give the Zen a nice long scratch along its side. As the bus went past the Zen, the car and driver in it trembled quite a bit.

I think everyone who was watching this, had a smile on their face. The poor driver got out to investigate the damage. He was trying to be smart and the bus driver made him.

The first day of the rest of my life is a waste.

Had to take off today. The knee is giving throbbing pain. Still the leave wasn't intentional. Missed the company bus in the morning and then thought it would be better to take it as a sign and see the doctor right away. Doctor says, it's just painful coz the swelling is right on the knee. No urgent need to have it amputated. The leg will be fine, with some antibiotic course correction.

Meanwhile, here's a wonderful day wasted. How I continue to treat this life as a luxury! Sigh! Clothes to be hanged dried. Peas to be separated from their pods (yes, mom is back and orders have been delivered), but I would rather take my own sweet time.

Was checking out some movies that I could catch up (in theatre). Nothing at decent times or locations. Still, Raincoat or Incredibles is a choice for late late nights. What will it be?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Man at work

Has been an extremely busy day. It was almost down the drain, thanks for some last minute rallying around, I have something to show for my efforts.

It comes home again and again as to how difficult it is to get a hang of new tools (presently Powerdesigner). There is no super-intellectual brain needed to work with them, but logic does'nt always work. You have to treat these tools (PD, Cognos, Datastage) as human. They have their quirks. Sometimes they work like a gem, but there a number of occasions, when you can't figure them out at all. They need cajoling and coaxing and head scratching and patience. Loads of it. Still, they will crash for no sane reason. Throw a tantrum and refuse to co-operate. But once you get past the initial annoyances, it's a smooth ride.

Should I replace human with woman?

Monday, January 03, 2005


This story gave me the goose-pimples. Was watching Vir Sanghvi talk show yesterday on Star World. In conversation with Tarun Tejpal. Tejpal is the founder of Tehelka and comes with a great print media experience (last stint was Outlook, another fav).

Tehelka has literally pushed the boundaries of investigative journalism and is a prominent flag-bearer of public accountability. It has exposed so many scams perpetrated on such a massive scale, that it is scary to imagine that all these underhand dealings would go unnoticed, were it not for the courage of a handful of individuals that is Tehelka. Be it the cricket betting scandal, arms deal scam (which like a tsunami, took so many politicians and army top brass in its wake), Zaheera case..., Tehelka has blown the whistle and how!

Tejpal came across as extremely down to earth, forceful and committed journalist. There was no bravado or arrogance, just the resolve of one who wants to make a positive difference. He spoke of times, when Tehelka was literally hounded, site torn down and their reporters jailed. Their lives were in danger, esp during the arms scam. But Tehelka never gave in.

Tehelka is accused of yellow journalism by some, but Tejpal convinces you completely with his argument. There's is a means to an end. The intention is completely honest and wholly in public interest. In fact, India would be a lesser democracy without Tehelka.

When Tejpal didn't have any money left after the demise of the website (even before, it was hardly commercially viable), he decided not to give up, for that would set a bad precedent for any future voice of dissent. He decided to start a newspaper. And to fund it, there was a call for donations and those donating 1 lakh were to be the founder subscribers. You will be surprised by the list here.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Guru's peace of mind stolen

Looks like an angry Rabindranath Tagore. May be that was his reaction after hearing his Nobel got stolen from Shantiniketan.

This was one of the sculptures at Karmarkar Shilpalay. Is worth a visit.