Saturday, June 30, 2007

When you gotta go..

.. you gotta go. And technology helps you in this very urgent cause even. :-) Here is a new startup web2.0 company which is trying to help you find a place to "pee", when you need to go soooo bad! Mizpee is pee location finder which is designed to be browsed via a mobile device. You need to just enter in your location and viola, you have info on the best loo at your possible disposal. :-))

How much more can one use technology?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pressure gets to all...

There was a time when I used to watch a lot of WWF now WWE. Once I got to the age when I figured that the whole thing was staged, I got so dejected that I almost stopped watching it. These days I spend a 5-10 minute period every now and then between channel browsing watching WWE. And anyone who is a partial or regular viewer of WWE would know Chris Benoit.

On June 24, he murdered his wife and 7 year old kid and later hanged himself. He had in previous interviews attributed a lot of him maverick behavior to the pressures and rigors of life of a professional athlete. A sad end to a good entertainer and even worse that he took his family down(up) with him. All the money, all the pressure, all the fame... wonder if its ever worth it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

How long before...

Wimbledon is on and like the French open is happening during back-from-office-in-India friendly times and hence am able to see a lot of it on television. And everyday, along with all the tennis I also get to see the wonderful ground covers that Wimbledon have. They bring it on and off so fast and are so effective in preventing the grass from getting any greener. In case my sarcasm is lost on anyone, all this rain at Wimbledon really sucks!

We have 4 Grand Slams in a year. Ideally speaking, we should be having one per quarter. But nope, we gotta have it as haphazard as possible. We start in Jan with Australian, wait till May/June for the French and withing 2-3 weeks have Wimbledon and wait for the end of the year for the US Open. Now, the obvious culprits are French and Wimbledon. Since Wimbledon is blessed with such lousy weather at this time for the year, what why can't they move the tourney to be a couple of months delayed or early? Cmon organizers, you see this happen every year, when are you gonna learn that tennis cannot be played in the rain and we hence needs a reschedule!!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy printing!

Digital cameras are very pervasive these days and you can find many a person clicking away merrily during functions and get-togethers. One major flip side to digital camera usage is the abundant amount of photos that get clicked and the massive organizing that is needed after any clicking spree. With regular cameras, once the reel is finished, we get it developed and the story of that reel ends there. But with digital cameras, we tend to trust our hard-disks to store everything and when the space crunch hits we then need to
organize(delete) in a hurry.

If you belong to category of people who face the above problem, here is a solution that could help. Picsquare is an Indian startup which does online printing jobs. It can help you print on T-shirts, cups, calendars or take regular digital photo prints. All from the cozy confines of your computer and at 'cheaper than street' prices. Get your photos ass off your hard-disk and onto the photo paper. :-) Give it a shot!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

How times change...

India has followed the caste system since ages and probably was started with some noble intent. This has unfortunately been construed into a license for discrimination by many so called upper castes on the lower castes. Who or when this was conceived is always open to argument, but one thing that was consistent in my memory is the dual face of politicians when it comes to treating the so called lower castes. I am going to drop the "so called" from now on, for the record, I don't consider anybody to be upper or lower caste. Now to continue... most of the politicians have one and only agenda, get to power. To achieve this, they need every vote they can conjure up and hence keep the lower castes in this constant state of misery. This ensures that every election these folks suffer from memory loss of the previous time the same politician was in power and always vote on sentiments.

Nonetheless, the general talk in the "middle class" used to deem being of a lower caste to be demeaning or somehow less becoming. When I was trying to get admission after my 10 or 12th, the SC/ST quota was in play and most of the SC/STs I knew were not proud of it. They were well to do and yet were using the quota system. They would tell me that they know what is happening is not right, but then, it probably helps the needy somewhere. From the state of affairs that existed then, today we have the Gujjars fighting to be called tribals! They are a pretty big community and media reports suggest that they are relatively well to do. Why would they want to be called a tribal or crassly put "a dalit"? Doesn't this indicate something wrong with the Government policies? Doesn't this indicate that the quota system is being so badly misused that folks don't care a damn of what the society would look upon them as (which is usually a big deal in India), all just to get reservation in education or government offices?

Whether the Gujjars have the right reasons or not to place this demand, with respect to SC/ST status, the times sure have changed....

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mr ya Mrs

A "well contested" presidential elections in India, hasn't it been a while since we have seen one? The office of the President has become a test lab for the political parties of India. The main reason that K.R. Narayanan was the President was to gather the SC/ST vote bank. Next came Mr. Abdul Kalam, through whom the BJP tried to reduce the animosity that the Muslim community in India felt towards them. Now its the turn of Mrs. Pratibha Patil. Here the emphasis is on trying to woo the female vote bank. C'mon UPA, she was in political oblivion from 1996-2004, you pulled her out of nowhere and made her the Governor of Rajasthan and since she listened to your every move, she gets the next big promotion to Presidency? Any chance of thinking of the country's good before your own?

Since the ruling party usually proposes the winning candidate, there is a high probability that Mrs. Pratibha Patil would be the next President of India. If she wouldn't be the perfect rubber stamp President, then I don't know who would be! If looks could tell all the story, she would be succeeding the most popular President India has had, to become the most meekest President India has had. She is being so well protected by the Congress party that anybody but her would do the talking for her. The biggest question the educated people of India would be asking is, "What is wrong with Mr. Kalam?, why can't he continue as the President?". An answer to which, I am sure, the politicians of UPA or NDA would not have. The left over parties, aptly called UNPA i.e. !(UPA+NDA) :-), tried to woo Kalam into the race. Kalam said the most politically naive thing and the people opposing him had a field day. He said he would contest if he is sure of winning. Duh! This is politics, you are not supported by the 2 biggest party coalitions, you stand next to no chance of winning. You had a good run and unfortunately the political masters of India care more for their next elections, than continuing with the best President India has had. Now, the UPA leaders say that this is proof that Kalam is not really apolitical and he has shown his love for the chair. I ask, what is wrong with having the love of the chair? especially when he has done such a commendable job? Does that one statement make him a political guy? By accusing him of showing his political side, are you agreeing that being political obviously means being bad? I anything, I would say the statement shows his patriotism, as he wants the office of the President to not be corrupted by politics and in that regard his credentials beat the other competitors by a long margin. BJP on the other hand seizes this obvious admiration that people have for Kalam and ask the Congress as to why they oppose Kalam so much. Hey BJP, if you love Kalam so much, why field your own candidate? Why not support Kalam? And Mr. Shekhawat, poor guy must have been waiting for this day so bad. The only rubber stamp post more perfect than that of the President is that of the Vice-President! He must have been dreaming of getting the promotion to being "THE" rubber stamp instead of the Assistant rubber stamp.

All in all, another political drama unfolding to culminate in another political fiasco. It would not be too bad to see a lady take up the post though, giving the women of India a boost. But, in Indian politics, there is no other post that is as hypocritically admired and yet disregarded like the Presidential post. If anything, this win by Mrs. Pratibha Patil would put the women trying to earn a break in the male dominated work-socio setup into reverse gear, as this is exactly the attitude that they are trying to fight in their everyday life!

Let the games continue....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

KMPL getting redefined?

While talks of the 1L car catches more attention, the big sedan segment seems to be getting a drift of India mindset. We are a tough market to succeed in, because value for money is more important than sheer quality or looks or efficiency alone. Here is an Ad I saw in the paper yesterday and it really took me by surprise. It surprised me so much that I chose to exercise my already challenged paintshop pro skills. :-)

Is this number for real or a misprint? Does the Hyundai Verna actually give 31kms to a litre of petrol? I have also heard such lofty numbers about Ford Fiesta. Can someone who owns either of these cars confirm this info?

Enough already!

So Atlantis has not got back from space. We are worried, as worried as we need to be. Sunita Williams along with some more folks are in trouble and considering the recent US space history, everybody has reason to worry. There are all these articles of second Indian lady in space walking the same path as the first(Kalpana Chawla). But lets make one thing very clear... Sunita Williams is NOT an Indian. She can be called as of being of Indian origin, but I am sure there are more foreigners doing more good for India than Sunita Williams ever has or will. I have nothing against Sunita Williams, but she is far less important to India than what she is made out to be. I mean, Times Of India actually have this on the very first page followed by a lengthy article later on.

Does the average Indian really have to know that she is craving for pista ice cream and chocolate! Like everything these days, news is also bubblegum-style, masticate the same news over and over, blow it up as hard as possible and then out it goes to stick on someone's memory sole!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

For the bookies..

... not the betting but reading kinds i.e.

Indiranagar becomes an even better place to stay with Sapna book house planning to set shop very soon.

I prefer to work in and around Indiranagar rather than live there though. Get all the perks the place has to offer but avoid all the traffic this "once cute" place is engulfed with. Its a different topic I won't come close to affording a place there. :-)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Its never enough

... and it never will be. Wait wait wait... before your fertile minds start reading between lines in the very first line, I am talking about the shopping experience in Bengaluru over a weekend. :-). It just keeps getting crowded and crowded and more crowded. The spending middle class in Bengaluru is so strong that any semblance of a mall anywhere will be attacked on like hungry piranhas. There was a time when I would hear of a new mall coming up here or there and think, "Man, are these guys gonna go out of business, or what!". Precisely the "or what" is happening in busy Bengaluru where anyone can sell, anything will sell and all will buy!

Heres calling all the already rich mall builders, please build some more... Bengaluru needs them and god knows you need the money. ;-)

p.s: To all builders, As you take my cry call seriously, please don't forget that most of us reach malls on vehicles and they need parking. So, please plan a LOT of parking space too. :-)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Movie Review: Cheeni Kum

Another multiplex film, Cheeni Kum hit screens a couple of weeks back. It has Amitabh and Tabu in lead with smallish roles for Paresh Rawal and Zohra Sehgal. The story is exactly what the promos show, of a 64 year old man swooning a 34 year old woman. To Amitabhs credit, he carries off the typical boyfriend role to the 'T'. The chemistry that the lead pair shares is amazing, and that is total credit to the two actors who have understood their characters so well, that they were able to pull off the chemistry that the writer/director may have wished for. Zohra Sehgal is ok in her role while there is this child actress who  has also done a nice job. She is supposed to be suffering from Blood Cancer and hence is given the leeway of expressing on  issues more mature than what is appropriate for her age. Can't give her too much credit though as she is expected to only have one expression, that of being stoic, and she does that well. Wonder if she has got more than that one expression though. Paresh enters in the movie quite late and does an ok job too. The one-twos that he and Amitabh share are quite funny and gives the idea of a typical "retired man". Of course, it is important that Paresh is typical, else the atypicalness of Amitabh wouldn't have been as contrasting. All in all, a decent fair.

One thing that did irk me was Amitabhs character's 30 year old guy kinda portrayal. I am not referring to him trying to woo Tabu. This is the crux of the movie and and hence is expected. But his apparent immature response to the sickness and eventual death of "Sexy", the little girl was overdone. The role of "Sexy" was just to give some respite from the otherwise monotonous storyline. But in a couple of instances, he overreacts and overacts. But again, this is more than something that is obvious, and most cinegoers could care less. For keeping things fun, to the point and in fact quite simple, I rate it at 6.5 on 10.

Couldn't see Oceans 13 this week either, hopefully next week...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Movie Review: Shootout At Lokhandwala

Had been a while since I watched a Bollywood movie in a theater. This weekend I decided to break the spell with Shootout At Lokhandwala. There were other options like Oceans 13 or Cheeni Kum, but decided to see this as I wanted to know how the director managed to handle the casting coup of sorts with so many big names in a single movie.

The movie on the whole was a disappointment! There are very few things that one can appreciate in the movie and I will make an honest effort to remember as many of them. Sanjay and Vivek looked good doing macho roles. Sanjay has matured so much as an actor, that I would now not mind going to see a movie just based on him being in it. Ok.. I went a bit far there. He was good in the movie, and that is enough. :-) Vivek doing a Company like role and giving a Company like performance, he has been applauded so much for his performance that he has lost all the extra '"i's" and "e's" in his name is back to Vivek Oberoi. Good for him. There were a few scenes that were intense and well shot. Thats it, I am done with the good stuff, now to the bad. Abhishek bachchan is totally wasted in the movie, in fact he has absolutely nothing to do with the plot or the storyline and is done with role in a 5 minute burst. The director/producer just doing an item number equivalent with respect to a role. Amitabh's is another totally wasted character. He is seen ridiculing the police force all along but when it matters, like any other slimy lawyer, lets his own views take a backseat. Quite irritatingly and pompously portrayed. The songs are absolute damp squibs! No relation to the story and always in the same dance bar. Diya mirza has a role which didn't need a star, she just hangs around for no reason. Aarti Chaabria is just for bosom show and since no one expects her to act, she doesn't disappoint anyone. Neha Dhupia.... ok, she got a mention in this review, more than good enough for her. Last but not the least, Tushar Kapoor! His was the worst performance in the movie. Since Balaji Telefims (owned by father/sister) is producing the movie, Tushar seems to have got into the cast. He has absolutely no dialogue delivery power. In the middle of gangsters and encounter cops, he seems like this "I want milk" character. Unfortunately there are far too many scenes of his peppered throughout the movie to kill any excitement or continuity that did conjour. I think I can go on and on...

All in all, a very big disappointment, since I did go in with a lot of hopes. But for people who like to see the usual gangster-encounter kinda movies, there is enough in the movie to keep you from yawning. I give it a merciful 5.5 on 10!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

True Successor!

Lionel Messi is a phenom in his own right. He is young, talented and extremely quick! On top of all this , he has the added burden of being called the next maradona by maradona himself. We know what a statement similar to this by Don Bradman did to Sachin Tendulkar. ;-) Anywayz, Lionel has been doing pretty well for himself at Barcelona and with Ronaldinho sharing midfield with him, this was a dream combo for many a football fan.

Last weekend saw Barca take on Espanyol in a must win situation, to enable them to get to the top of La Liga. Apart from just football skills, Messi decided to call upon *all* the skills that Maradona possessed during this very important match! It was blatant, it was cheating and luckily justice was served as Barca didn't win the match!

Truly disappointing from such a talented player... Football is all about winning, but no sport should be void of sportsmanship. Defenders tugging at shirts or hand holding strikers back, strikers falling like nine pins at the very sight of a defender, these are regulars in football these days. And the more such leniency is allowed, the more degraded the most popular sport in the world would become. In my opinion, you can play the game right and still come on top. Maradona the great is unfortunately remembered just as much for his "hand of god" as he is for his dribbling skills. Now, Lionel Messi will also be remembered (at least by me) for his rendition of "hand of god" instead of his stupendous football talent.

IE acting up!

Off late, readers who access this blog using IE would notice that there are sometimes some funny characters or extra paragraphing in blog entries. Firefox users would not see this. I was initially unsure of the source of the problem, but now know that its because of ScribeFire.

I use ScribeFire (formerly called performancing) to post blog entries. It comes as a convenient firefox extension and is hence very handy for online and offline post creation and updates. But looks like IE has an issue with ScribeFire. :-( Anyway, I am looking at alternative blogging tools, until then, IE users, please bear with the mis-formatting. Else, even better option, switch to firefox. :-)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Congrats - We have finally made it...

Ever wondered why no UFO sightings happen in India? Its always got to be the US or maybe Russia. Who am I kidding, its always the US. ;-). In my opinion, this is because the aliens always want to meet the leaders of the world and US is today the undisputed leader of the world and has been so for a couple of decades.

But our time in the alien limelight has finally arrived. If this is not the strongest ever indication of India hitting the economic and political big leagues, then I don't know what is! :-). Can someone please tell Condoleezza Rice to reconsider. :-))

Friday, June 08, 2007

Hot Air?

The 5th of June was World Environment Day. I could see the appreciable difference in awareness among people and also more focus on the issue at hand by the media. The media of course is just following the world scene, where there is a general urgency and seriousness to tackle the problem of global warming. The term "global warming" actually encompasses many different parts for the general public(me). It means you keeping your vehicle well serviced so that it spews less smoke, it also means using less electricity, it also means using paper instead of plastic etc etc. Now I know not many of this makes sense in the true meaning of global warming, but this what I understand it to be and probably what most people would think of it too. In effect I have just been doing enough to be a good citizen in the global resource pool called Earth. But apparently global warming is all about CO2 (Carbon dioxide).

I saw the documentary "An Inconvenient truth" a couple of months ago. It was a very passionate, dramatic and a bit of self propaganda presentation by Al Gore. It was quite a scary eye opener for me to see how our modernization was killing earth. On the back of this documentary and the constant media attention meant that I, who anyway was a good global citizen became more conscious and more vocal about the destruction of earth(people near and dear to me can vouch for that). I then happened to read a blog which gave a different spin to the whole problem of global warming. I of course was a skeptic to this new spin, in fact I responded to it massive intolerance at the possibility of there being another explanation to global warming. Global warming seems to be the first issue in a looong time that has global acceptance and affirmative actions being discussed. How can all the world leaders be wrong? How can all the media that I am exposed to be wrong? Then I read a bit on the net and then some more and finally saw this. Those who want this documentary and have net access to me, I can send it across, else you can watch it online. Just as much an eye opener as the Al Gore one, this gives more credible data (at least looks credible) on why humans are too small a player in the universal or earthly scheme of things. It tells:

1. Sun makes earth a lot hotter than CO2 can ever do.
2. The clouds help the Sun in this process
3. The amount of CO2 humans generate is less than 1% of the total CO2 emissions in the world.
4. The temperatures on earth have been going hot and cold for lot longer than humans and their industrialization.

It then goes a step further are disproves many of the claims made in "An Inconvenient Truth". The number of scientists who have come forth in this documentary when compared to "0" (if I remember right) in the Al Gore one gives more credence to this one. Am I converted, hmm... not quite. But I can see a lot of sense in what is being told here and I am now more open minded to consider the alternatives.

1. The climatologists will get a lot more grant money if the fear of global warming keeps lurking.
2. The developing or under developed economies will in all probability stop their economic growth if they were to follow the strict guidelines laid down by the developed countries to prevent global warming. For e.g. India has all the coal it needs to keep burning, but his constant CO2 threat is going to make these reserves next to useless.
3. Gives one more topic to the developed countries to align itself with the developing economies so that the developing economies ensure the already globalized companies in the west keep the margins high enough to ensure the quality of life in these developed countries.

If this sounds like a fresh convert speaking, let me assure you, the last two points above have been in my mind a long time, and this new explanation on global warming gives me a reasonable connection to the reasons. I completely agree with green peace activists and the environmentalists telling us to treat the planet better and be more environment friendly. But I now question the politically and economically backed motive in driving reforms down the throat of the "finally catching up" developing economies of the world!

Business End of things...

This years French open is coming to a close and the mens semi final line up is:

Federer vs Davydenko
Nadal vs Djokovic

The dream final is of course Federer vs Nadal, but if not for this outcome, I would think there would be more interest in a Nadal vs Davydenko match than a Federer vs Djokovic match. This is because, Nadal gives every player a fighting chance to beat him, even though he wins at the end of it. But Federer just demolishes the opponent. That is why its important that Federer loses more often, makes viewing the game more interesting. :-)

If Nadal and Federer play the final the way they played their semis, Federer is in for another drubbing. he he he...