Archive for August, 2005

A weekend on the town

After a very long time, it was an idyllic weekend. A friend dropped in on Saturday evening and the three of us (that's Tosha, him and me) chatted up late into the night. Sunday was equally relaxed and after lunch at a relative's place, Tosha and I decided to go shopping. For household necessities, that is.
This, over the last 10 months or so (since we got married), has become one of our favourite activities. Walking up and down the aisles and looking for things we need but buying everything we don't is perhaps the way we let our hair down. Yesterday, being in Byculla, we decided to go over to Crossroads (Haji Ali) and eventually ended up spending a good three hours there.
What I did notice, though, is this place has lost its charm and the crowds have dwindled a great deal. Of course the invasion of malls in the suburbs would have had a hand in this.
Even their grocery store was poorly stocked. Nothing of note, here, to be honest. Who cares.

Hardselling Photos!
Incidents at malls are nothing new. Also, given the current media invasion in the city, I was not surprised to find a girl approach me and try to sell me a copy (an I suspect an annual subscription as well) of 'Top Gear'. This British mag has been brought to India thanks to the BBC's tie-up with the Times Group.
She was dressed well in a blue T-shirt and black trousers and before I knew it, she had thrust a copy of the magazine and the free mousepad in my hands.
"Just Rs 50 if you buy it here. Outside, it's for Rs 60," she said starting the sales pitch.
"Let me take a look", I said. I was genuinely interested in the mag and wanted to buy one. For one, it's new and two, I am addicted to mags…
As I started thumbing through the mag, she insisted I look at the number of photos there are. Why? Where's the info?
"There are so many colour photos in here," she insisted again.
One page I definitely check in any magazine is the 'Colophon' where the staff is listed. Why? There may be someone I know working on this. There were a couple of people I knew and some more I knew of.
"There are so many colour photos in here," she said again. It was almost becoming the background score for the day!
Ignoring, I decided to carry on and take a closer look.
"There are so many colour photos in here," and this time, it was said considerably louder.
I did the only thing I could. Handed tha magazine back and walked away.
But it was not going to be easy. Barely ten steps and another guy with another set but this time, the sales pitch was different.
"There's a column by Jeremy Clarkson in this," he informed.
Now we're talking…

That was Rs 50 well spent. But I won't do it again. The mag needs to move to become a car mag and not a 'lifestyle car' mag. My opinion.

How Journos Use Blogs

Wall Street Journal tech reporter Nick Wingfield tells Bulldog Reporter how journalists use blogs in their jobs.
Interesting and well-researched article that I think, is quite apt.

Read full story here.
So, now you know!

A Weekend On The Town

After a very long time, it was an idyllic weekend. A friend dropped in on Saturday evening and the three of us (that’s Tosha, him and me) chatted up late into the night. Sunday was equally relaxed and after lunch at a relative’s place, Tosha and I decided to go shopping. For household necessities, that is.
This, over the last 10 months or so (since we got married), has become one of our favourite activities. Walking up and down the aisles and looking for things we need but buying everything we don’t is perhaps the way we let our hair down. Yesterday, being in Byculla, we decided to go over to Crossroads (Haji Ali) and eventually ended up spending a good three hours there.
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How Journos use blogs

Wall Street Journal tech reporter Nick Wingfield tells Bulldog Reporter how journalists use blogs in their jobs.
Interesting and well-researched article that I think, is quite apt.

Read full story here.
So, now you know!

Maybe not, and it's probably just my perverted mind at work. But is this picture something it should not be?
This was what I received as a mailer. It was from Toon Disney announcing their Hindi service starting Sept 1. Whatever.
To me, it looks like Minnie is trying to suck the face off Mickey. Making quite a mickey out of him, eh?
This has been an unproductive day!!

Why I love Google

I love Google because it's the best search engine available. I also love Google because it's the only company in a position to upstage Microsoft. Not that I hate MS, but it's always good to have some competition. And no, Google's not paying me to write this.
But just consider how the company started and has evolved. Today, they are also providing 'Google Talk' a chat interface that allows you to talk with the person at the other end. Very light and fast to load and use, it has all the trademarks that a Google software does.
There's also this interesting piece I read in the NY Times about how Google is now one of the hated companies in Silicon Valley. I say there's no better indicator of success than hate!
Agreed that Google is trying to juggle too many things at the same time, but they have a lot of catching up to do. And I will also concede that they do sound arrogant now (Not that I have ever spoken to 'them').
Anyhoo, you must try the Google Talk engine (you must have a GMail account) and here's the article I mention: "Relax Bill, It's Google's Turn As The Villain".

No, this is not a sermon against the cops, rather just a simple question. Often I have seen (and has also been highlighted in the media) that cops tend to take liberties in terms of following rules and laws they are supposed to ensure are upheld.
Just this morning, for example, I spotted an Inspector of Police driving a green Hyundai Santro (MH 02 J 9603) at Nerul without wearing a seat belt. On pointing that out to him (by a signal), he conveniently turned the other way. Similarly, there are lots of cops (off-duty) riding around town (known thanks to the 'police' sticker on the bikes) and not wearing helmets. Does this mean I can also do this? No, stupid, the laws are meant for your benefit too. Ok, so I won't.
But in principle, if they can take such liberties in their profession (they get paid so I won't call this a public service) can I do the same?
Can an accountant do that? Can a journalist (like me) do that? Can a doctor do that? How? Not following a rule or so that they must. Unfortunately not for we are answerable to the client/reader/patient and in some cases even the public at large. But aren't the cops?
Hmmm… I think they think they are answerable to no one. I'd call such behaviour callous. No?

The plight of cricket and cricketers in his home country of Pakistan notwithstanding, he has chosen to comment on the status of player selection and treatment in India.
Now, we agree there are faults here, but the point he makes sounds like it's a case of sour grapes. He says the media blows them out of proportion before they prove themselves fully. Yes Mr Sohail but that's because our media is not state controlled and they have a mind of their own.
He also points out that corporates scramble to promote them and sign them up for endorsements and pamper them. Ahem. Something you missed during your playing days? Moreover, there are corporates and money to be spent.
Also Mr Sohail, who was the biggest advertiser in Pakistan when India visited? Videocon and Hero Honda—Indian companies.
We can't help it, really… We are like this wonly! Freedom of speech (even if badly used at times) exists as does some money (esp for cricket!)…

At Work On Sundays

Look, Im not cribbing. But I'm not exactly thrilled about being in office on a Sunday either. To be honest, part of it is also my fault… I do tend to get a touch lax at the beginning of the month and then put myself in these spots. I'm not even gonna try to resolve to work harder next month and "not let this happen again". It's useless.
One good thing though about coming to work on Sunday is that roads are empty as is the office! Not too many idiots like me, I guess! But hey, I'm not complaining. It's nice and quiet and I can get a lot of work done (finally!).
One thing I do miss, though, is the Sunday afternoon siesta. Ahhh.. what I wouldn't give to be able to take a nap today… May be I just will… 😉

Competition is supposed to bring out the from you. But apparently, newspapers seem to be above all this.
Today's (Aug 19) edition of DNA has a story on page 5 about the recovery of Ngakuimi, the survivor from the August 13 Gateway of India murder.
Titled "Fernandes, Manipur Minister visit Ngakuimi", the story goes on to talk about why Fernandes visited the hospital: "To show my solidarity with the people of Manipur" (he is the NDA's in-charge for Manipur); what her friends and relatives have to say: "Don't discharge her so soon" and how the hospital will bear all the cost of her treatment. Not bad, eh?

The kicker is in the box with the story that is titled "In High Places". It elaborates on other high profile people at Bombay hospital.

Here's the box:
Governor SM Krishna visited Kannada actor Rajkumar
Former CM and Andhra Pradesh Governor Sushilkumar Shinde had a private consultation with Dr BK Goyal
Actress Shilpa Shetty underwent a personal check-up

Wow. That's reportage. Guys, you missed out on who scratched their bums and when… And all this after slamming the TOI and their standards and blaming them of turning the whole paper into a page 3 tabloid.

Hypocrisy. It's in their DNA.

Here's a report from Dancewithshadows.com on how the media royally goofed up on reporting about the murder.
This is a Mid-Day report on the mental state of the attacker.

Pic: Raleng recuperating in the hospital. Courtesy & (c) Mumbai Mirror

Inversely proportional?

Just a thought that occured to me on my way to work this morning: Are distance to office and punctuality inversely proportional? When I used to travel 37 km one way, I would reach about 25 min before the designated time. Since I have moved to 18 km, I am late almost everyday.
Anyone else experience this? Or have I just beome lazy??

Of weekends and long weekends


For most employers, a long weekend is productivity lost. But for most employees, it is productivity increased! Trust me. I am an employee!
So it was the 15th of August and flags were hoisted and respect was paid to the freedom fighters (I hope) and one hard boondi laddoo was had by unfortunate school students. What did I do? I spent ten hard earned rupees and bought a flag to be put in the car and slept through the morning.

What else? Like all Indians born since 1947, I have had my share of 6 am flag hoistings when no one can even say the National Anthem right. I also have my reservations against the anthem considering it was a song in honour of the Queen and all that, but generally, I don't believe in making a song and dance about the independence. Don't get me wrong, I truly respect all those who have fought for it and I value it greatly.
Unfortunately, I am living in an era when things are easy for me. Yes, I am accepting it dad, things are easty for us. I never had to walk miles to reach school… I had water when I turned the tap… I believed milk was created in a factory like vegetables… well, not really, but you get the point!
So coming back to my floofy weekend… I slept, ate, attended a puja at home and then ate some more. Came back to Mumbai, wished my Mama (uncle) on his birthday, ate some more and went home to a rather heavy stomach. (In all this, I also watched the agonisingly close 3rd Test between England and Australia, hoping all the time that England won… on India's Independence Day… hmmm).
Let me assure you, though, that I was not the only one 'indifferent' to the fact that it was August 15th. Not so august for me…
In the true 21st century sense of things, I caought 'Swades' on TV, drove back to Mumbai on the new Expressway (my freedom), violated a few traffic rules, saw the tricolour lying around on the ground being trampled… freedom. Bloody joke they have made out of the day.
I have also realised that organisations and offices where the government has minimal or no control never 'celebrate' I-Day. It's a holiday. That's it. This year, though, it was a long weekend. Monday for I-Day is ideal. You have Saturday, Sunday and then Monday. And now, I don't even have to eat those darned laddoos. Yay!
Jai Hind.

Lip-smacking!

Food is one of my greatet weaknesses… Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, whatever… but the greatest is what's made at home.
Despite this, though, I do wander about looking for good food all over. In Mumbai, one of my favourite haunts is the Independence Cafe on Hill Road in Bandra. There was also a time when a pitcher of beer here cost Rs 99 and I have seen some friends guzzle it only because it cost that much! Such deals are no longer available but the food remains great.
One suggestion: The chicken stroganoff. Word of caution: Don't poke the chicken too hard. Hot cheese will be caused to squirt!
Another fabulous place is the Cafe Ideal in one of the bylanes of Fort (behind Great Eastern Watch Co to be precise) and the Dhanshak here is just out of the world. Top it up with a round of caramel custard and mmm…
For more caramel custard, you could also try Rajasthan on SV Road, Khar. Quite yummy. Also on Fridays, a must-have is the Dabba Gosht. Divine.
If Kheema is your choice, rush to Cafe Excelsior next to the theatre at Fort. Awesome. The list could go on… but I think I want to stop. I just had cauliflower and chapati with dal. Tonight shall be tough on the stomach!
Yenjoy!

The City This Week

I have been meaning to write about my experiences of the floods in Mumbai for a while but after I heard and read what some have had to go through and what others are still going through, I figured my plight wasn't really a plight at all. So let's forget about that.
Some of my colleagues and friends have some interesting stories, though… ones they would ideally like to forget. My guess is that won't be easy. Given the fact that they have seen dead bodies float past, people die in a car in front of them and tourists being heckled and led towards danger, it'll take a lot for them to get over this.
One observation I do have about this weeklong nightmare (that still continues for some) is that there were no reports of abuse… no women were raped, no shops looted, no burglaries… yes some government officials were roughed up but they deserved it!
I hope the 'facts' I mention are true and if not, please let me know. It does make me proud to know that the city really came together and helped. But I think it's time we moved past the 'Spirit of Mumbai' jingoism. Enough. The worst is past (so we are told) and it's time to start rebuilding. Pronto.
How about we start with asking Delhi for some of our own money back? Rs 500 crore out of the Rs 58,000 crore in taxes paid by Mumbai last year? When the estimated losses are at Rs 15,000 crore, I say cough up at least that and then some more for repairs and then some more for improving the infrsatructure. Let the Delhiites pay for their Metro and infrastructure from their own pockets. For once.
I have nothing against Delhi or its improvements (!) but think that Mumbai deserves to get a third of its tax share back to improve the infrstructure and systems.
Oh, and Mr Deshmukh, how about a trip around the state? Flood threats (in addition to existing floods) are high in many parts. Ms Prabha Rau (at 70-plus years of age) has already had one. Or is the varsha season better sitting in 'Varsha'?

The reason there's no photo with this post, is the photos are just too graphic and disturbing.Call me weak, but I don't want to see them for a while again.

Bollywood a flop?

Zafar Anjum from Singapore seems to think so in this article. But why is Bollywood a flop? Moreover, he argues that China is a hit… on what grounds? Because Hollywood is investing $150 m in China and nothing in Bollywood… overtly, anyways.
Here are my two bits on the issue:

  • Bollywood doesn't really need Hollywood's approval to become a global force… it already is.
  • But isn't is a force within its diaspora? Largely, yes but I would attribute it to the fact that we make our own movies and have our own song-and-dance style. Western audiences cannot understand this.
  • Despite all the 'globalisation', Indian cinema has maintained its roots and still continues with the same song-and-dance routine and two-and-a-half hour long movies. In some cases, it's even more!
  • China makes 90-minute movies, much like the ones Hollywood churns out. Moreover, their sole identity is their martial arts (correct me if I am wrong here).
  • Piracy is an issue in both countries, but more so in China. In India, theatres are still running to full houses and proof is the number of multiplexes mushrooming at every corner.
  • $150m? Bollywood probably does that in 3 months. Remember, we are comparing with China and not LA.

My final point remains that Bollywood does not require Hollywood's approval. The Chinese have been in the US longer than Indians and hence have become a part of the US culture making it easier for them to tap this potential. In a few years, it will be India's turn and I think, we may even be in a stronger position to benefit more than China will.

Here's something more to make my point:
Amazon.de selling Bollywood Music
Main Hoon Na (or Ich bin immer da) (Amazon.de)
Bollywood Music (Amazon.de)
All Bollywood Products (Amazon.de)
All Bollywood Products (Amazon.co.jp)
All Bollywood Products (Amazon.co.fr)

And I've purposely not included the US, UK, Australia or Canada.

Vocab Wiz?

Read the sentence below carefully. . .

"I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting; nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality counterbalancing indecipherability, transcendentalizes intercommunications incomprehensibleness."

In the sentence above, the Nth word is N letters long.
E. g. 3rd word is 3 letters long, 8th word is 8 letters long and so on.

Just some relief from all the flooding…

Also published here.