Friday, December 12, 2008

On the Couch with Koel

Who cares who's on the couch with Koel? This time, it was Sadhguru :)

It was a refreshing little chit-chat. Essentially, she was dabbling with Sadhguru on a wide range of topics - not divulging into too much depth and changing topic after he had given a cursory reply. I think he was enjoying this as well - one could see this from his bright smile when she quipped she was having an "existential" discussion with him.

I especially enjoyed the rapid fire round. The questions were designed for "normal" personalities and I am sure his answers threw her off guard.

What are your dreams made of?
I don't dream!

What are your traits?
I have no traits!

What are your nightmares made of?
I have only nights, no mares!

How often do you lie?
As often as necessary!

What would you like to be born as next?
This is my last!

This is it?
This is it!

You can view the interview here:

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Minesweeper Dance!

Months back, I posted (a little proudly), my completion status of Minesweeper in expert mode. I was going to post a follow up of the improvement (I anyway may) until I came across the video below. Oh well!
Some folks commented it is fake, but the notes look genuine enough. Besides, a few other instances I have seen - anything is possible!






Friday, December 05, 2008

Chennai Rains - what it teaches us

Chennai recently was inundated with rains - literally. Today, I hear about additional rain forecast! Rains in Chennai, the recent one especially, taught me many things.

  1. You can never have too much rain! I could feel the parched earth quench itself with the spate from the heavens. Only humans were suffering.
  2. Our town planning is terrible. We suffer when there are no rains and we suffer when there are too much rains. We want the precise quantity that we can handle. Good luck with that!
  3. Even with our limited infrastructure, we could have planned a few things better. For example, we had an idea of the inflow. Sembarampakkam reservoir was slowly brimming. Instead of enabling an outflow in a systematic manner, we waited until it could no longer take it and we released an outflow that inundated several portions of the city. And to counteract (because Saidapet bridge was in spate), the road was closed. That is the heart of the city that connected to different regions. Our offices buses (a few of them) that left at around 5:30 pm reached their destinations by 11:30 pm!
  4. Traffic, understandably, was a mess! Add to it, our irresponsible driving, frayed tempers weren't uncommon! I remember an incident were, because the left side of the road was filled with rain water, several vehicles traveled in a queue on the right side. A smart bus driver overtook us all on the left side of the road, in full speed, to get ahead. In the process he washed multiple car windshields blinding us all for a few moments. In many places, driving was scary. All the pot holes in the road were covered with rain water - rain is a great equalizer :) - so it was prudent to stick to main roads instead of side roads.
  5. I was dizzy. Partially in joy for the rains, partially confused because of the chaos the city was going through, partially proud looking at traffic constables standing in raincoats in the rains regulating traffic, and partially moved listening to "Geeth Mala". So much happenning in parallel! 
  6. It was paradise! I know it looks cruel in a way where so many in the city were suffering because of rains, but it is joy from within I cannot deny. Many times, I picked up an umbrella and went around the office campus in the lashing rain. Like I said earlier, only us humans were suffering. But we are capable of suffering anything :)
You can never have too much rain!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Could You Survive Another Great Depression?

You should take this test as a sanity check. It is quite revealing!



You Are 54% Likely to Survive Another Great Depression






Even though you may not be expecting the worst, you're the type of person who prepares for the worst.

You live a relatively modest life. You don't overspend, and you aren't very materialistic.



You are also quite self sufficient and independent. You have many useful skills.

You can take care of yourself and those you love... which is crucial to surviving another Great Depression.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai

No, this post is not about spreading love and compassion to the world.

Time and again, the security mechanisms of our country have been exposed. Mumbai multiple times, other places multiple times. A newspaper today commented that since 9/11 USA was successful in preventing recurrence, while India has been a dismal failure.

Additionally, another report says that intelligence reports warned about this possibility multiple times.
These are indications that we don't care enough. The people who decided to visit India [from abroad] or Mumbai [from other cities] don't deserve this. Who ever planned these attacks have at least been successful in creating a shrink reflex of the word Mumbai. I am sure other cities will be on the watch now - well for a couple of weeks before the next incident. This pattern is what is proving to be very dangerous and painful.

Chillingly though, additional newspaper reports suggest that whoever planned these designed them in such a way that the executioners will perish in the process. The audacity of the events reflects that much. The intent is to create maximum toll and fear in the process. Unplannedly, one of them was captured and he admitted that they were able to reach Mumbai through sea [exactly what the intelligence reports warned about]. I do not know what else will surface from interrogation.

I did not watch any TV reports - the thought is very dismal. But "live, detailed" coverage seems very insensitive. As some readers in newspapers pointed out - are we telling the people inside the hotels exactly what is going on so they can make course correction? The Govt and police should have banned all live telecasts of these events. TRP rating must not be what should in our minds now.

And finally, our political system seems to be able to use anything for mileage. Narendra Modi, yesterday, expressed "disappointment" over the PM's actions. Instead of coming together and offering solidarity to the government, we are using the oppurtunity to take a dig.

Please spare a thought to all folks who are directly impacted by this, the NSG folks, policemen who are on site trying their best, and the townsfolk for Mumbai who do not have a clue where their city is going. At least, henceforth, our systems must gear up to thwart open security breaches like this.

The sad truth however, is that while the remaining buildings will be rescued eventually - because of the way the operation was designed the first place (die and do maximum damage)...
I don't think we can think of Mumbai the same way again till a long time into the future.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One line reviews...

பிதாமகன் - A lesson in film creation and music composition. Too violent though!
Inside Man - No clue what happened in the movie. Not sure what to do with it :)
16 Blocks - More than decent action movie. Couldn't watch the ending though. DVD was screwed up.
Hotel Rwanda - Directly related to the content in "Left to Tell". Must watch! Amazingly, it downplays the content and upholds the human side of the situation.
Transporter 2 - Stuff like this can only happen in the movies! Too much crap to take, but made beleivable, thanks to technology!
The Bourne Ultimatum - Ok forget it! See here, here and here instead.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Isha Vidhya - Skip a meal

This initiative was born during a Satsang with Sadhguru. Review the link here:

The essential idea is to skip a meal every Wednesday night and donate that money for Isha Vidhya. This doesn't apply if you are already eating only two meals!

When I first heard about this idea, I was thinking about a few things:

- A single meal costs say, anything between Rs 30 and Rs 50. If it is a dinner at a five star hotel, between Rs 500 and Rs 750 (just kidding!!). If this is the US, perhaps, somewhere between $5 to $15.
- If you add up the total volunteer strength and multiply it by this amount, it comes out to a staggering amount (to the tune of one school per month!)

My question was, why skip a meal for that? You can donate the cost for a meal anyway. I had the answer even as the question popped within. It is a symbolic gesture, but a very powerful one at that. In a way, skipping a meal every Wednesday and donating that money is like offering a part of yourself for this cause. It is a way to truly deeply care about what you are doing. Just donating the money takes the core feeling / concern out of the initiative. Yesterday, I was able to hear this first-hand from Sadhguru during the monthly Satsang. He mentioned a few other things:

- You should have this feeling towards a fellow human being. If you cannot have it, what is the point being one?
- He urged us to visit a few children in villages. Their faces, their looks - all that they yearn is for an opportunity. All the intelligence, the brains, the enthusiasm - only without the opportunity!
- He also mentioned, when we feel the hunger and know that this is going to change the fate of a child for the good, it is a great blessing
- Even if it is two rupees (some one, I think, joked that his meal expense for Wednesdays was Rs 2), he said would make a difference when done in a committed way.

I urge you to do the following:

- Think through the power of doing this consistenly, say over a period of six months. If we can setup six schools by this period through this initiative...
- Be part of this initiative. So many people doing this together consistently to build something much larger than themselves is an explosive phenomenon
- If you can enroll another (understanding) person into this, nothing like it!



If you are wondering what the above image is, it is a "Thank You" note from Ajitha - my Isha Vidhya child. She is studying UKG in the Santhegoundenpalayam school near Coimbatore

Friday, November 14, 2008

What Yoga Pose Are You?



You Are the Bow Pose




You are an open hearted person. You seek connections and make them easily.

You are naturally generous - especially with your love and your time.



You have a knack for thinking up interesting ideas. You are an inventor and a creator.

You approach everything in life with a relaxed attitude. You accept what you can't change.



Very intersting :)

IR and ARR

If you could not make out the title, you are probably at the wrong postHappy

Being born in Tamil Nadu, it is not possible to grow without the influence of TFM (no, I am not trying to talk in code. IR - iLaiyarAjA இளையராஜா, ARR - Rahman, ரஹ்மான், TFM - Tamil Film Music, தமிழ் திரை இசை). It applies to me as well, however, I was never an avid music listener for a long time. I started listening to music only during the early nineties. The credit goes to Rahman. When Roja came out, I think there could not have been anyone who missed to notice the new sounds that suddently engulfed the space that was saturated with IR's melodies and dappanguththus (டப்பாங்குத்து). "chinna chinna Asai" (சின்ன சின்ன ஆசை) was a rage. My personal favorite was also "thamizhA thamizhA" (தமிழா தமிழா). Incidentally, this movie also saw the introduction of new voices, which was then to be a usual occurence with Rahman. But it was Gentleman ("ஜென்டில்மான்") that really did it for me. My father once pointed out the arrangements in the second interlude of "chikku bukku rayile" ("சிக்கு புக்கு ரயிலே") (man, what a blast this song created that time!), and suddenly I became aware of an entire new world I was never paying attention to before. This particular piece that my father pointed out became etched in my mind so well, that I used to listen to this single piece so many times over and over. Even today, if that piece is played, I can probably point it out from my sleep. Thereafter, any new ARR film, I would have the cassette once it was out. I had the company of a couple of வெட்டி (jobless) friends who would group together and listen to these songs.

In the initial period when Rahman was really hot, I suddenly noticed that several people, who wouldn't have taken such a stand earlier, were distinctly anti-IR. It was almost as if they were taking revenge on him for ruling TFM for over 25 years. Unfortunately, having caught the Rahman fever, I joined the bandwagon as well. It was such a shame to treat someone who had given so much to the industry in such a fashion.

It was during these periods that dEvar magan (தேவர் மகன்) came out. "inji iduppazhaga" (இஞ்சி இடுப்பழகா) was playing everywhere, but I was oblivious to it. This song had a lilting first interlude flute piece. Once this song was playing on TV and it got to this place in the song. The flute piece cut through my heart. It was a strange experience and it had never happened before. It caught me by total surprise. I told myself "OK, I agree this flute piece is good - but that cannot make him as good as Rahman". The experience never faded though because it was the first time music was moving me beyond a sensory plane. This was also the time I had gotten introduced to Osho's work and I feel there was a connection between the two. Then, once during a car travel, maharajjanOdu (மஹராஜ்ஜனோடு) was playing. Again, it was the first time I was listening to that, it moved me to the verge of tears. I was baffled! I had not listened to it before and the song was totally new to me. My uncle was sitting in the car as well, and I asked him - "What is that song - and why is it affecting me so much?". He replied - "What did you expect - the music director is IR!". From then on there was no going back.

At this point, I started uncovering what IR had done during the previous periods and I made it a point to also follow his upcoming ventures. It was an inexhaustible gold mine! The energy and enthusiasm with which he had worked (and still works) was baffling. It was just an abundant love for music. TFM Page was my pet part time. You have never heard of this? Smile This was the place that provided much insights to me about otherwise casual looking songs. It attracted experienced people with deep knowledge who commented on popular songs and also dug out unheard gems and commented on them. Unfortunetly, TFM page had become two silos - of ARR and IR fans and flame posts vilifying one another was as common as insightful discussions. The admins must have had a handful (headful too!). Unfortunately again, slowly but surely, I had moved from the ARR bandwagon to the IR bandwagon. Again, a shame! It was forgetting who put me on the path to my current place. On TFM Page, I never flame-posted, but in my head, I would always root for IR. My friend group I told you about, suddenly became a debate center. We did not go overboard, but a lot of time was spent on steamy arguments on why IR was better or ARR was better. The argument never ended and the fun never ended as well! Essentially, IR fans couldn't accept (in some way), that a new commercial leader had arrived. Fortunately, they had a treasure-trove of statistics and possibilities to argue no end.

Now, it is sixteen years since - and both are still in the field! I guess it says something about the resilience of their music. In many ways, music has become intertwined with the way I have grown up from that point. My maturity, at least to an extent, had evolved, and I realized the stupidity for ignoring a section of work for bias of another! All this music is mine! Why not taste it? Eventually, and happily, the music field has evolved and a lot of talented music directors are around. I have especially developed a love for vidyAsAgar (வித்யாசாகர்) and karthikrAjA (கார்த்திக்ராஜா - unfortunately not many movies). Outside TFM, there were also John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Yanni.

Right now, there is no bias in my mind and I am able to appreciate a good creation, but it is inevitable that I would be attracted to music I love and relate to (I think it is true for all). In that respect, there is no replacement for IR. My entire being responds to his music, and it is beyond my conscious choice any longer. I think it is the way music is designed by the Creator - it was designed to be intertwined with our beings and heartbeats. Given that, I should say that it is the command IR had on these notes and how the mingle with one another. I wrote this poem for him, though I didn't write the context when it was originally posted. My being feels at home with his music - it is like I have known this space for lifetimes!

I feel, as maturity in music listening grows, one most move away looking for the person through which the creation was born (if it is to say "thank you" it is fine!). All creators have a common binding - music itself. In our petty differences, our clarity becomes skewed and reflects in our listening tastes as well. If whatever you had perceived about "your" creator is true, he will anyway live up to it. There is no need to substantiate this in your mind. Try the blind test - for a new composition without looking for the composer. You will immediately recognize the creator you love if he truly has his signature on it!

Music - it got me so far. I do not know where it is going to take me. One thing is clear - there is no life without music! (and it is not "my life" alone, Life as well!). This post has sort of been an unburdening.  I will move on, and so should you! Bounce

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Ultimate Color Test



The Ultimate Color Test





When you are at peace, you are:



Energized and innovative



When you are moved to act, you are:



Confident and optimistic



When you are inspired, you are:



Spiritual and humble



When your life is perfectly balanced, you are:



Philosophical and expressive



Your life's purpose is:



To find contentment


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

BSP

I had a chat with a friend who was back from Bhava Spandana yesterday. It was a long time since I had done my BSP, so it was interesting to talk to him. Since he was very fresh from his BSP, I could see him bubbling with joy within, though he tried his best to keep it within. It was in his nature to chatter a lot, and yesterday he went into hyperdrive .Bounce

For me, it was a good reminder to look at some one with a relatively calm exterior but an almost tangible madness within. Life slips away like sand within fingers without us even noticing. I think renewal needs to be done on a day to day basis. The fact that a day lost is life lost has not sunk deep enough yet. I shared my BSP write up with him, and we spoke again for a few minutes today. He wanted the experience to stay with him for a long time, which I think is possible only by pushing Sadhana up by a few notches (in terms of intensity).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Desensitizing Violence

Ten years ago, the word "rape" would cause me to twitch uncomfortably. Today, this news assaults the ear continuously that it seems like it is quite a normal event. Even under the current conditioning, a few events were shockers (the rape of a nun in Orissa, the rape of a young girl in broad daylight in Mumbai by a policeman and so on). A few days back, when driving through mount road in Chennai, gory photographs of dead Sri Lankan Tamils were visible. For some reason, these images passed through my eyes without causing a flutter. Looking back, I think it was the Rwandan genocide that really exhausted all the shock senses. Every possible atrocity that could be conceived on a human was completed during that period (a million corpses in three months). I was not aware of this event when it was actually occurring (1994), but I learnt about it later.

Now, I do not know how to contextualize all these events that occur on these lines. Shock doesn't help. Anger doesn't help. Helplessness doesn't help. And for more than one reason, the choice to ignore is no longer available.

My intention is not to make this a philosophical musing, but to see if there is personal relevance for us in the situation. There is one thing we can do. It is to use all these events to look deeper within ourselves. There is only one way we can help. It is to be that which we wish to create, and if possible, create such a climate in our nearby surroundings. I happened to hear Sadhguru say this recently (translated from Tamil) - "When you got angry, irritated or jealous, you did not consider that to be a big deal nor did you understand that was violence. But when it took a monstrous form on the road, you suddenly thought it was inappropriate". What we see in ubiquity today, once took root as a seemingly trivial human thought. These thoughts came together one day and then...

I am sure all of us nurture thoughts like these within us in varying degrees of intensity (my due apologies in the event you belong to the rarer kind). In the context of what is happenning nowadays, I think we need to take a very close look at this and decide what it is that we wish to create within and without.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

MTC Buses








Unless you have travelled in one, you cannot relate to the experience :)Happy

Anyway,this post is about the plight of the conductors. It is a truly thankless job. First, there is the problem of overcrowding and ensuring that all people have tickets. Then, there is the problem of people not tendering exact change, and finally the problem of maintaining ticket sales. This leads to a lot of frustration and it is quite rare to see a happy or peaceful conductor especially during peak hours Happy

This post is to touch upon the last aspect, because it is the most overlooked aspect from a commuter perspective - maintaining ticket sales! If you are aware, a trip on an MTC bus is divided into stages. A "stage" is where the ticket rate to the same destination drops because the distance is reduced. So it is the conductors responsiblity to clear off unticketed passengers before the stage changes. Frequently, especially during peak hours, the bus stops so the conductor can clear off any backlogs. It is a passenger nightmare. Happy There is nothing to blame the conductor here for, that is the process chalked out to him/her (very few hers!). Crowd apart, there is this sheet he has to fill out at each stage marking serial numbers of the ticket denominations he has to keep tally. It is truly a production support environment with continuous pressure!

Now, there is no need for all this complexity. I think it is time to enlist technology. The other day, I was travelling in a deluxe bus (this means that the ticket rate is 4 times the normal rate with no visibly additional facility!), I saw this conductor holiding a digital priting device. He just printed out a ticket for whatever destination we asked for, and for multiple tickets purchased by a single person, it was still a single ticket (imagine counting 20 individual sheets in a crowded atmosphere). Best of all, it is the keeping track. The conductors head is all clear of keeping track of stages as the tiny machine does that. Once before the stage, I saw him press an "Update" button that supposedly syncs some internal databases with the stage data.

This sort of technology change is long long overdue and must be brought in wherever feasible. It must be expedited at least at critical junction points where there is a lot of frustration involved in getting things done!
A side thought - if the government doesn't take care of these things, why else do we need one? Because, the bigger issues are still in the same state for years as well!

Examples:
  1. Train tickets (we have etickets now for long distance travels), but local train tickets are still a headache. A vending machine concept was piloted, but I am yet to come across a working machine! Happy
  2. Auto rickshaws - despite the mandate, no one uses meters. You must be here to see the haggling involved before a trip commences. Can't we employ technology to track this? What if we fine the passenger in a random audit for not using the meter (instead of the driver!?)]
  3. Traffic signals (this deserves a separate post!)



Ticket Sample:








Note: The images above are licensed with creative commons.
The copyright for these images belong to PlaneMad. Click on the images to view them on PlaneMad's website.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Siberian Husky






You Are a Siberian Husky






You love to stay active, especially if running is involved.

You are athletic and strong. Working out and playing sports just feels like fun to you.



You are cooperative and friendly. You get along with others, especially when you're on a team together.

You have strong instincts. It's sometimes hard to ignore what the voice in your head is saying.


Note: The image in this post is licensed with creative commons.
The copyright for this image belongs to IrisDragon. Click on the image or here to view the image on IrisDragon's website.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Swades

Some things that set this movie apart:

1) A herione who is actually intelligent
2) Rahman's music (awesome both in terms of songs and BGM). It beats me - if it is self-inspiration or if it is the directors knack of eliciting from a composer.
3) A screenplay that actually is sincere in what it is trying to depict

The movie talks about culture and tradition - which India is anyway rich in. But more than all that, despite all the hypocrisies, the politics, the over population, the slow descent into anarchy, the westernization attitude - India was the country where the entire population, the mountains, the rocks and the rivers all looked up to Infinity once. A deluge cannot take this away. The sacred thread that runs as an undercurrent in this land - the land that made that as it's only objective, that is India. India is a synonym for that search. Anyone who has felt it even once, has India within irrespective of where he/she was born. The movie does not depict that. But, as strange coincidence would have it, I was only able to relate to that aspect - very strongly! That makes this movie very beautiful for me.

WALL.E

Now we're talking!

With Pixar, I think the stand should be not to be a reviewer. We need to leave Pixar to take the lead and just follow in amazement. They have a way of taking absolutely outlandish themes and breathe life into it. Wall E is just magic! In general, and with Pixar in specific, the situation has come to the point where the line between actual videography and animation is blurred so much that they can blend seamlessly now. Some one said that, true CGI must be where people aren't able to distinguish between animation and live videography.

It is not just the quality of the animation. The theme and the story writing are stellar as well. First, I think it is an implicit premise that any robot based movie will have the lead robot be not just a machine, but "living human". Think movies like Short Circuit (it's sequel Short Circuit 2 as well), iRobot, Robots. I think it is unavoidable and impossible to make a robot based movie otherwise. So it is granted that Wall E is a human robot. And right where the movie picks off, Wall E generates amazement and respect. Think of a situation where there is no one to watch you, but you carry on with your work day in and day out? Wall E appreciates life and beauty and just has a cockroach for company. One scene which really depicts Wall E's disposition is when he finds an engagement ring. He throws the ring away and saves the box as a collectible! Anyway, there is no point going on writing the story down to it's end. You must watch the movie!

The other aspect - the movie happens someting during the 2800's. It is very interesting to see the movie's take on where the human civilization will be then - earth uninhabitable and full of garbage, a space ship where people are 24x7 interactive TV addicts with incapacity to do anything physical. It leaves a lot of open questions as far as screenplay is concerned, but hey, they are reconstructing 800 years later out of their imagination! We folks are definitely capable of such a situation!

One thing I am not able to pinpoint without specifics: Why do I have so much love and emotion for this movie? Wall E is silver screen magic!



Update: 23rd Nov 2008: This link has an excellent review of the movie (and the BD that houses it)!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

One line reviews...

Collateral -A rude awakening. An awakening nonetheless!
The Water Horse - Sadly falls apart. Attempts to be magnificent and touching, and succeeds in spots.
Groundhog Day - A lesson in acceptance. You can watch this again and again and again... (you should have watched the movie!)
தனம் - Steer clear! Only hope was iLaiyarAjA's music - that is a let down as well!
The Kingdom -  Ultraviolent and racist, albeit the excellent screenplay. No reason to see!
Transformers - No transformation :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Are you a skeptic?




You Are 54% Skeptic



You aren't exactly a skeptic, but you're no blind believer.

You doubt what you hear, especially when you hear it for the first time.



When it comes to doing your own research, you sometimes fall short.

Question your beliefs a little more. You might be surprised what you find out!

This is a good test biggrin

Saturday, August 02, 2008

51 Interesting things about Mauritius

Mauritius - Waves at Gris Gris

  1. It is a very small country. The entire country is only about 75 x 50 kms - probably twice the size of Chennai!
  2. There is no concept of area codes for the country. Country code 230 + a seven digit phone number including all land lines and mobiles!
  3. If you haven't already heard, the island is incredibly beautiful!
  4. Tourism and Sugarcane (sugar) production are primary revenue centers for the country
  5. Without tourism, the country will be finished (this was said by a Mauritian)!
  6. On an average 1.2 million tourists visit the country. The plan is to increase it to 2 million
  7. Sugar is exported mainly to Europe
  8. Mauritius has 52% people of Indian origin!
  9. Only here, you will see Indian looking people (100%) who do not know Hindi or any other Indian language (exceptions there of course)
  10. Mauritius - Tortoise chewing grass
  11. It is very easy to survive here with English. 90% of the people speak this language
  12. However, to truly interact with people, you need to know Creole. It is a mix of French and African
  13. Looking at you, as an Indian, no one can make out if you are Mauritian or not! But the fact that you do not speak Creole is a dead giveaway!
  14. There is a "special price" for tourists. Exploitation is unavoidable as you don't speak Creole!
  15. Mauritius imports most of its food - rice, lentils, vegetables and so on.
  16. As a result, food is incredibly and unbelievably expensive. The first few days, the temptation is to go on a fast!
  17. You easily get north Indian food. No south Indian!
  18. Deliciously, no were else will you see such a cultural mix. African, Indian (Mauritian), European people who all have forgotten their original roots and have made a conglomerate culture!
  19. 1 MUR = 1.6 INR approx. 1 USD = 25 MUR approx. 1 EUR = 40 MUR approx. As you can see, the currency is quite strong! Despite this, the prices are incredibly high because of its unique disposition of importing everything.
  20. Taxi is annoyingly expensive (did you hear expensive before? biggrin). On an average it costs a minimum of 1000 MUR to travel anywhere.
  21. Mauritius - duck in middle of ripples
  22. Mauritius is becoming strong in BPO work. Infosys has a development center here in Cyber Towers, Reduit. We weren't able to visit it despite moving very close by once.
  23. Dholl puri is an Indian food not available in India! Puri made with dhal inside one of the layers!
  24. The country is surrounded by water (duh! rolleyes). What is unique is that almost the entire coastal area is taken up by resorts because of tourism. It is flanked with resorts and helipads.
  25. Indian names are all Indian despite the fact that the language is forgotten. This is also true for street names (Mayavaram street, Satish, Dhiraj etc).
  26. It is quite common to find Indian temples. We were able to see Mariamman temples, Muruga temples and Shiva temples during our travels.
  27. There is a massive Shiva statue in the middle of the country. Almost the likes of what you see in Haridwar in the midst of Ganges.
  28. The people here are not lazy, but they have a supremely relaxed life. They work from 9AM to 4PM. No 24 hour shops! This culture is evident all through the country. Contrast this with New York which is of similar size, similarly expensive life style and is an island city.
  29. Capital is Port Louis. It also houses the country's harbor.
  30. There is only one airport for the country. SSR airport at Plaisance.
  31. Either because of tourism or because of a deep eco-consciousness, the waste water from daily use is not dumped into the sea! A news that made be really glad. You can see that from the sea water. Wherever you go, it is crystal clear! So sweet. It made me really sad to contrast this with India where we take the easy way out to send everything to the oceans. A lady from India mentioned that Goa has the same potential to be like Mauritius if not for the dirty ocean water! I haven't been to Goa.
  32. Mauritius - Harbor
  33. 90% of the wealth is owned by 1% of the population (surprise!). Primarly, the people who are owners of the resorts. Historically, as the country formed, people who were staying there became propreiters of the land - invariably Eurpoeans.
  34. There are movie theaters that screen Hindi movies.
  35. Sea apart, there is green, green, green every where! It is a pleasure just to travel on the roads. Invariably, you are surrounded by trees and have the sea in view!
  36. Some unique things that you can probably do only here - Undersea walking, Submarine rides, Subscooter rides and Quadbiking in the forest!
  37. Dodo is the national bird of Mauritius. It was extinct by the latter half of the 1800's. The bird had a lot of meat and could not fly. No prizes for guessing why it became extinct. But it is another sad story of human apathy.
  38. Deer farming is done in Mauritius. During season, the same deer is hunted for skin and meat.
  39. Deer meat, Octopus curry - some dishes you probably won't see elsewhere.
  40. With sugarcane aplenty, Rum is very popular.
  41. The country's population is only 1.2 mil. As I understand it is decreasing and is carefully controlled. This of course, excludes the tourist population, which effectively increases it by 1 mil or so.
  42. Owing to its size, land is very expensive. 500K MUR for 100 sq mts of land (900 sqft approx)
  43. Mauritius - Giant waves on rocks
  44. It is not uncommon to destroy a sugarcane farm to make for land. I hope the country doesn't fall into the trap of losing its beauty to make up for growth.
  45. There are about 2 security guards at the PM's house! The PM is a Hindu (Indian origin)
  46. PM's office is at Port Louis. Same with the parliament (assembly).
  47. As it is the capital, Port Louis will be bustling with activity. This is one place where you will see a different Mauritius - traffic jams, lot of people, big malls and so on. You get an idea of how the rest of the country is!
  48. For tourists, Visa to the country is free on arrival. No prior visa is required.
  49. It is a honey moon country! If you go as a couple, a visa is provided no questions asked, albeit for a limited time!
  50. Petrol is very expensive. 49.50 MUR per litre (79.2 INR per litre or USD 7.48 per gallon). Contrast this with the corresponding countries.
  51. Two wheelers are quite common and convenient. Helmets are compulsory for all passengers in a two wheeler. Police mostly use bikes only
  52. Drive left side of the road
  53. I understand Mauritius politics is riddled with the same nonsense India faces.
  54. No trains! Contrast this with New York! To me it looks like they have missed out on a great opportunity. May it is still not too late.
  55. Two primary cellular network providers - Emtel and Cellplus. Cellplus has been acquired by Orange now
Some pictures from our trip!


Note: The images in this post are licensed with creative commons.
The copyright for these images belong to deepakkt. Click on the respective images to view them on deepakkt's website.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dialogue Avec Mon Jardinier

I do not watch many French movies, so I am not clear about the average standard of their movies. But it has been a long time since I have watched a movie that portrayed the simple life of a less hurried man so beautifully. The screen play is just awesome. To me, it was sort of a revelation. I look for taut editing, untold visual cues and so on - but the flow of the screenplay also played a very important role in this movie. It is more like sipping a very hot cup of coffee for one hour. Slow, yet not lazy and deep, yet not rambling. The amount of effort that has gone in even on minor visual cues is very surprising. For example, as the old friends reminisce about one childhood event, the footage cuts back to a flashback to show that to the audience - even if that meant collecting an old camera from the old times just for that scene.

The other awesome aspect - there is no background music, if I recollect correctly. Just the last five minutes, to accentuate impact - that of Mozart!

Merci Jean Baker! smile



Je ne regardent pas beaucoup de films français, donc je ne suis pas clair quant à la moyenne de leurs films. Mais il a été un long temps puisque j'ai regardé un film qui dépeint la vie simple de moins de hâte un homme si joliment. L'écran de jeu est juste génial. Pour moi, c'était une sorte de révélation. Je suis tendu pour l'édition, d'innombrables repères visuels et ainsi de suite -, mais le flux du scénario a également joué un rôle très important dans ce film. Il est plus comme en sirotant une très chaude tasse de café pour une heure. Faible, mais pas paresseux et profonde, pas encore la randonnée. Le montant de l'effort qui a été en même mineur sur des indices visuels est très surprenant. Par exemple, comme le rappellent de vieux amis d'enfance sur un événement, la séquence réduit à un retour de flamme pour montrer que, pour le public - même si cela implique une collecte de vieux appareil photo de l'époque seulement pour cette scène.

L'autre aspect impressionnant - il n'ya pas de musique de fond, si je rappeler correctement. Il suffit de les cinq dernières minutes, pour accentuer l'impact - celui de Mozart!

Merci Jean Baker! smile



Note: I am not responsible for the French. Blame Google!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fireworks...




What Your These Fireworks Say About You



You are a rather reserved person in day to day life.

However, you do have a few topics that truly excite you.



When you become impassioned, it's a surprise to everyone around you.

But if they blink, they'll miss it, because you get back to being calm very quickly.

Probably not true. This test draws too many conclusions from a very thin thread.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Is Your Willpower Strong?




You Have a Fairly Strong Willpower



Temptation doesn't get the better of you all that often.

If you set your mind on a goal, you'll do your best to achieve it.



And while you don't have a perfect record with willpower, you do okay.

If you fall off the wagon with something, you're usually not off the wagon for long.

This test might give you a few "ah ha" questions! biggrin

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What your workspace says about you...




What Your Workspace Says About You



You are generally fairly organized, but you have occasional slip ups. You find keeping organized challenging.



You tend to work at your own pace. If this means things don't



You enjoy your job and don't feel guilty about how much time you spend working. You have a good balance between work and your personal life.



You are still trying to figure out your ideal career. You could quit your current job on any given day.



At work, you are an introvert. You don't like people coming around your work space.

A good test! And an accurate outcome smile

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Are you bold?




You Are Bold When it Counts



You don't make a big fuss about getting what you want... unless it's really important to you.

Then you're as bold as you want to be. You just go for it!



You're often up for a little excitement and adventure. Well, as long as the cost isn't too great.

You enjoy risk, but not for it's own sake. Let's just say you've learned a few lessons about risk in your life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Atul Kasbekar

Click here to visit his website

On 12th July 2008, Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend one of his workshops. It was not a "workshop", per se, but a glimpse into his world. If you do not know him, check out his website for a mini bio. However, almost 100% surely, you have seen one of his photographs. From the covers of Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan to ad photographs of Sachin (Adidas), Sharukh (Tag Heuer) - you will find his name - or you won't, but he created those photographs! He also conceived the Kingfisher calender. You surely have heard about it right? biggrin

He was full of himself, but unabashedly so. Once you settle down to this fact, it is very enjoyable to hear talk. Perhaps, the true highlight was when he ran through a massive slideshow of his work - mostly pretty models with scanty clothes, but made with the eye of a talented photographer who also appreciates beauty. He fielded questions from the audience on technical aspects - and he withheld no information on how these photographs were created. He was supremely knowledgeable in his field and the comfort with which he shared his knowledge showed how grounded he was within (if you want to contrast - to this date, Kamalhasan has not revealed how he implemented the short "Appu" from Aboorva Sagotharargal). He made the session really spicy by sharing interesting tidbits of his interactions with the people he worked with, and it was done with the comfort feel of a known audience group. You probably won't hear him say the same things in an interview! (did you know Sharukh charges 1.5 cr per day for ad modeling?)

To me, the session was an eye opener:

  1. I did not know there was a guy called Atul Kasebekar till then. But more so, the countless familiar photographs for which he was the creator. It opened up an entire world!
  2. The ideas for the photographs and his insights on how he achieved them!
  3. The amount of engineering that happens to a photograph after it was taken. What the camera sees and what you see may be totally different! Adobe Photoshop plays such an important role. This is not my preference (post photo engineering), but it is a necessity in some cases. For example, if you are a wild life photographer and if you capture an awesome snake in garbage, you most certainly want to remove the garbage after the fact and add a black background in place to just highlight the snake! Let us just say that much more happens in this world.
  4. If you become popular as a photographer, the amount of money you can make by doing this for a living! In any case, kudos to him for quitting his engineering degree in his first year.
  5. Camera equipement that cost an obscene amount of money!
One thing that settled down on me as a "point and shoot" photographer - even with the equipment I have - I was just scratching the surface of what was possible in photography! I really appreciate the fact that Atul volunteered to share his deep insights in an unbrideled way.

Update 9th Oct 2009: I noticed that a lot of visitors want to know the camera equipment Atul uses. He has answered that on his website FAQ. He uses Canon brand of cameras (they sponsor him most certainly). I presume he has the entire suite along with the lenses! I also presume he uses the EOS xxx models.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Are you a green driver?




You Are a Fairly Green Driver



You driving isn't the greenest, but it's greener than most people.

Whether you have a fuel efficient car or try not to speed, you try not to use a lot of gas.



You do your best to drive less. However, it's not always possible.

You may end up driving more than you'd like, but at least you're doing what you can!

All this when I am in Chennai. Think about the US!?! The sad thing is that, in terms of alternatives, we don't have much.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Snakes: A Concise Guide to Nature's Perfect Predators


This is a great book - and as it's title mentions quite concise too. What sets it apart are the stunning photographs that embellish the simple and factual statements about the lives of snakes. Some of them are so outlandish - it makes me wonder how they got a capture with such precision, both in terms of image clarity and the timing of the shot.

I read this book for a different reason - I wanted to see if I would be able to tell a venomous snake from a non-venomous snake if I saw one. That didn't happen, I presume that would require a more detailed study or some practical on field knowledge. In any case, of 2500 species of snake, I don't think anyone can possess a detailed know how of them.

Nevertheless, perfect predators or not, snakes are fascinating. And the little knowledge this book provided mystified their aura a little more!

Notes:

1) Click on the title link to see book details
2) The picture above is not from the book. See the blog post footer for details of this picture, used with permission.


Note: The image in this post is licensed with creative commons.

The copyright for this image belongs to Felix Francis. Click on the image or here to view the image on Felix Francis's website.

Monday, July 14, 2008

You Are a Summer Person




You Are a Summer Person



You are energetic, outgoing, and active.

You love to be out and about... hanging out with friends or getting things done.



Summer is the perfect time for you to be as hyper as you want to be.

In fact, during the rest of the year you feel half-asleep!

If not for the very last statement above... biggrin

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dasavatharam - தசாவதாரம்

Very few movies get so much pre-release hype if you discount Rajnikanth from the scene. So considering all the hype how good is this movie?

First, I feel that, to properly review the movie, you need to dissect it into two: Kamalhasan and the script (not necessarily just the screenplay, the entire movie itself). Reason being, every one knows the ordeal the actor went through for his ten roles and that magnificence can get easily mixed up with the story and can distort things.

As the actor, it is sufficient to say that no one else in the industry (IFI at least) can pull this off! The person who is capable of the feat has acted in this movie. The sore point is the make up - even acknowledging the effort. It bears a mask like layer and can be discerned. If you have ever tried to maintain a distance from your personality, putting on ten different "masks" should give you an idea. exclaim Kamal has even managed to change the gait of "his" personality. I do not have details if all ten "voices" are Kamal's. If they actually are, the achievement borders on the stupendous. If budget was available (I read that it already was 127 crores {~30MUSD}), CGI could have been used more powerfully to really obliterate any traces of the "original" Kamal! Having said that, I think "ten" was picked to break an existing record! There is no real need script wise to do ten. It just complicates everything and the effort that should have gone into the script is wasted on the make up.

And now the movie! It is almost a total letdown! Considering that the movie is 150 minutes, about 90 to 100 of them are spent on chasing a stupid vial! Come on, with a 100 cr + budget and a humongous effort going into the "acting" part, some one should have taken up in building a steel-fortress of a script. The dialogues are all "crazy mohan" style silly-cracks and really get tiring. Kamal / KSR have done this in enough movies and should have steered clear of all these cliches. Kamal is really capable of excellent screenplays (cases in point - Hey Ram and Anbe Sivam). He has also acted in one recent movie with ultra solid screenplay (Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu). I presume his effort got sucked into the mammoth task of forging his ten personalities. A management decision should have been to hire a professional screenwriter with Kamal overseeing the stuff (may be even Gautam Menon!). Some reviewer mentioned that the movie will not recover it's costs. If the budget is actually 127 cr, I doubt the same. Kamal has burnt his fingers (and others' as well) enough times without doing a cost analysis chasing fantasies (Hey Ram and Anbe Sivam were sad endings to almost everything done right, Aalavandhan was an atrocious act and this one - we will just have to see). It is probably time he does a sanity check before he runs out of sponsors for his ideas. That would be really sad because we have very few people with magnificent talent.

  1. Some people opine that this movie is used by Kamal to voice his athiestic views. On the contrary, I feel he poses enough cases for both view points. The movie tantalizingly exaggerates enough incidents to suggest both, while the climax dialogues tend to tilt it in favor of atheism. (No spoilers! wink). I would say, very well done!
  2. Only 4-5 characters are really needed!
  3. You will probably need to watch the movie twice. One for Kamal and one for the story! The sheer effort into his acting deserves this treatment!
  4. For all practical purposes, the story is made of ten different characters (hmm, or nine!), despite the fact that one actor has done it. You should watch it the same way!
  5. !!Spoiler!! Why should people on rebirth have the same appearance? AFAIK, every single movie in this concept follows the same style! And it is surprise that the athiestic Kamal is actually make this a factual screenplay setting! !!Spoiler!!
  6. Kamal's fetish for gore is un-understandable. One scene, you can may be discount as a historical re-creation. Even then you were not there at that time and people will understand if you are toning it down! Time and again, we see him doing this in all his movies with painstaking detail - for what!?!
  7. CGI is very ineffective - especially, in the climax, you can easily make out the graphics! Given the scale of this movie, I don't think budget is an excusable explanation! Hmm, if only Pixar was given the task biggrin
  8. As an experiment, if some Hollywood studio gives Kamal a no-strings-attached budget quota (and given that 100 mill is a very paltry movie investment these days at Hollywood), it will be really awesome to see what Kamal comes out with. Some contact who can manage this? As a side note, I would also love to see if Ilaiyaraja can get such a leeway. May be, Kamal will make IR the composer and give him a no-holds-barred orchestra budget (think how "Hey Ram" came out!). Sigh! sad
  9. Per my understanding, the inception of the movie and the climax are not connected. It is just a very trivial link. If I am mistaken, some one can correct me.
  10. Some one posted a review linking the ten avatars of Vishnu and the ten roles of Kamal. That was way too mind-bending, but I cannot rule out Kamal thinking that way. If it really is the case, there may be screenplay ideas we have not uncovered which Kamal has already thought out. He can't keep his mouth shut about them anyway, so we may hear about them soon! smile
  11. Asin! hmmm, Sigh!
  12. I want to write about the individual characters - at least a few of them, but you cannot do that without spoilers!
  13. Bio-weapons - nothing path breaking about the concept. The movie anyway degenerates to a silly chase sequence in the end. "Outbreak" has a much more focused screenplay around the same subject. It also provides a good case for a solid screenplay!
  14. Kamal's spoofs about "George Bush" are really well done! If GWB really thinks that way - gives me the shudders! (Examples, !!Spoiler!! "Can't we drop a nuclear bomb on the city? We can't? OK!" or "If it's complicated, don't explain it to me!" !!Spoiler!!)
Overall, people spend so much time over reviewing and probably re-watching the movie. Kamal has earned that for himself with the effort and dedication he has placed into it - and he richly deserves it. But one can't help but say that the the movie maker has taken too much complexity upon himself without the necessary effort (yes, it requires much more!) and budget (yes, it requires much more!). In the end, it will remain a movie that could have been so much more!

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Lizard!







You Are a Lizard







You are intuitive and sensitive.


You pay close attention to your subconscious and your dreams.





You embrace your fears and the darker side of life.


It's easy for you to be detached and objective when you need to be.





You are able to let go easily. You don't get attached to much.


And considering how often you change course, people shouldn't get too attached to you.


I don't know what to say about this! Too hard to validate or write off!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bangkok Journal

OK - a final post to wrap up Bangkok!

Link to "Interesting things about Bangkok"

A selection of photographs taken at Bangkok is below. Hover over the "notes" link to read the picture notes.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Garfield - The Movie

The hardest decision as far as this movie is concerned must have been the presentation format. Garfield is too quirky to be portrayed as a "real" cat with CGI helping out on the implementation. Personally, the decision should have been to either

1) Go 100% CGI (Ice Age, Finding Nemo kinds) or
2) Go 100% CGI for Garfield and his dudes.

The right choice was to use Bill Murray as the voice man for Garfield. The offbeat wise cracks tune very well to Bill's regular screen flicks and match Garfield well.

The first half of the movie goes very well, but the ending tames out becoming very cartoonish! Part of the reason for going 100% CGI.

But you can't complain much when a favorite cartoon character is on screen can you? The risk is that the series might die out after one or two tries because it didn't work out very well - whereas the problem might be that it was not presented perfectly. I don't think Garfield is outdated!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Read this article:

It is really painful to come across such articles. It is one kind when terror attacks happen. It is another kind when disasters / accidents happen. But when a life ebbs away due to sheer apathy - not sure what to say. The paper edition carried his smiling photograph as well and it was truly embarrassing to watch. Sadhguru used to ask us see other people as one's own kith and kin - and if I try to associate this person as my brother or my dad - it gives me the shudders.

This has been India's bane for a long long time now. I recall Bob Dylan's song ".. the answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind."

Isn't it about time that we evolve a policy where medical emergencies are just a call away, where public can help by just making that one call without fear of police or judicial entanglement? And isn't it about time that private hospitals take any medical emergency without redirecting it to a Govt hospital without fear of some police nonsense? And isn't it time that the absolutely nonsensical rule of registering a case prior to providing medical treatment goes away? And isn't it really time what we don't make an accident a movie picture where we drive away watching what is going on? I have only questions - without any answers. sad
 
Web Analytics