Monday, June 30, 2008

Interesting things about Bangkok

  1. The Bangkok airport is called Swarnabhumi – a very Indian name
  2. Bangkok infrastructure (roads, buildings and technology in general) is awesome. The cars are all cutting edge – many you don’t see in other developing nations. In general, their usage of cars can be compared to that of the US. If Bangkok was extrapolated to the size of the US, it would be a humongous consumer of gasoline!
  3. Bangkok is cramped for space!
  4. Traffic discipline in Bangkok is exemplary! Even in highly congested situations, rules are always followed – even a honk is not heard! A co-commuter (my dad’s colleague) was commenting about this. India can take a leaf out of Bangkok’s book. Traffic jams are not avoided here – but it is proof that there is another way to drive!
  5. Massages! Every odd street in Bangkok will have 2-3 massage centers. It is so common here! Foot massages, “Thai” massages, Aroma therapy and other unique kinds. Often, you can find people who make a pitch for a "different" kind of massage!
  6. A colleague of dad remarked that I should have come to Bangkok without my dad!
  7. It is quite easy to find (expensive) Indian food in Bangkok.
  8. You can get by with English in Bangkok. Occasionally, you can get by with Hindi too. But to really enjoy the place, you must know the Thai language.
  9. Car number plates are written in Thai.
  10. “Pranti Plaza” – is a six storeyed building – a big one at that. It exclusively sells computer products. Another massive shopping mall is MBK (or MKB ?!?) center.
  11. Bhat (Baht) is Thai currency. 1 Bhat is approximately 1.3 INR and 1 USD is approximately 32 Bhat. Exchange counters abound and it is very trivial to change USD to Bhat.
  12. Cost of living in Bangkok is high. I also heard that the rise in prices is quite recent. To give you an idea, a 2000 sqft apartment costs 32000 Bhat per month. I presume the tourist attraction caused the spike.
  13. Bangkok is extremely well connected by public transport. Three rail systems link the city – one underground and two air train systems. These are also connected across junctions.
  14. Our Chennai auto equivalent is called a “tuk tuk”. It looks more like the auto but has a lot of leg room. One thing that is the same is the haggling before you can agree on a price. On one trip, we were able to negotiate the price from 200b to 100b!
  15. Taxis are more standardized and can be easily found. The price is also reasonable – about 8b/km.
  16. The king of Thailand is highly respected. His birthday is a celebration all across the city.
  17. 24 hour supermarkets are very common.
  18. Internet Browsing centers are very common.
  19. Road side food shops are very common.
  20. High rise buildings are very common.
  21. Parking space is very limited.
  22. Population of the city is moderate.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Michael Clayton

George Clooney is cool!
His body language, mannerisms, accent - all remain the same across movies (and even before that during the ER times). Some how, his charisma pulls it through.

Oh, the movie - you can definitely watch it once! biggrin
It's a riveting capture of a money-minded world and the turmoils of a lawyer (two lawyers actually) serving the corporation (yes, imagine that!).

The screenplay was written by the same person who wrote the screenplay for "The Bourne Ultimatum" (Tony Gilroy). BTW, I guess it's enough said about Bourne now!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Big House / Low Attention Span!




What the House Test Says About You



You have a high opinion of yourself. You think that you are quite important in the scheme of things... definitely more important than most people.



You can't stand community oriented people and annoying "buy local" campaigns. You prefer to live the best life possible, and that doesn't really involve many other people.



You are a social, friendly, and giving person. You like to bring people together and make them feel happy.



You look attractive, but mostly because your rely on your natural good looks to get by.



You are moved by romance and love. You are optimistic about people, and you love hearing about happy endings.



Not sure about any of this. This test is an abstraction, and some things don't really strike home! biggrin







Your Attention Span is Medium



Your attention span is just about average.

You may think that you have a short attention span...

But being distracted is something most people struggle with.



The most important thing is that you're aware that your mind wanders.

If you find yourself daydreaming, you can usually snap out of it.

It may be tough to concentrate at times, but you can do it... if you want to!



More or less - spot on! biggrin


Friday, June 20, 2008

Superman Returns

The Surprise: For such a massive budget (270 MUSD), the film makers chose to underplay the screen script. Kids probably would be a little disappointed. For a movie making such a large come back, it was a surprise. It almost back fired! But it was a very courageous decision not to go out all-cylinders firing! It is almost like, after a trilogy is made, the film makers learn not to get caught up in the rush and make the movie more subdued. Here, the film makers saw through the process up front and went about this route right away.

Best Twist: When the man gets killed by the piano. That said so much without saying anything!

Painful Spot: When Superman gets beaten up by three thugs after he is poisoned with Kryptonite - he shouts, "But I am Superman!". It touched a raw spot and was very painful to watch. Almost subconsciously rooting for the hero! cry

Adrenaline Rush: There is only one! Where Superman saves the crashing airplane. If not the movie, you must watch this one at least!

Touching moment: For me at least! After Superman is poisoned with Kryptonite, and later rescued - he flies up, up and away, high above the clouds, spreads himself flat on his back to open up himself to the Sun. The Sun is what vitalizes Superman. It is almost a testimony that, even Superman, much powerful as he is, is not beyond the elements - but is only a small part of the Cosmos.

And yes, two other things of note:
  1. The score by John Williams! His theme is used very effectively across the movie by John Ottman
  2. And yes - the next Superman is out by 2009! biggrin. I wonder how they can avoid the scare they faced with this edition!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Credit Card Advice

Check this link by Seth Godin.

This is sane financial advice. But I wonder why, people either use credit cards to the hilt or abstain from it completely.

What kills people with credit card debt are the finance charges and, whenever it happens, late charges. But if we can use the 'grace period' and pay off the entire balance before the due date - credit cards degenerate to a 'cash substitute' and a convenience mechanism.

I feel using cards this way is ok. But it is true that cards make you spend more! biggrin

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spices and Condiments

I purchased a pack of Lays potato chips recently. The flavor was “Indian Magic Masala”

The ingredients used were – Potatoes, Edible Oil, Salt and Spices & Condiments

Also it had “Nature, Nature Identical and Artificial Flavors”

Finally, it had “No added MSG”

1. Firstly, saying “Spices & Condiments” is like saying “Dollars and Cents” on accounting information. To list something at this level is as good as not listing it at all. Why not list what spices and condiments?

2. “Nature, Nature Identical and Artificial Flavors” – the spectrum of ingredients this covers is as good as saying “We have added what it takes to make the chips taste good. Don’t ask what!”. Why not list what they are?

3. “No added MSG” is saying, “We haven’t explicitly added MSG. But any ingredients {from the ‘spices and condiments’ to the ‘nature, nature identical and artificial flavors’} may or may not contain MSG. We either don’t know or we don’t care. Or worse, we know and that is precisely why we state it this way”. If there is no MSG anywhere in the chips, why not say “No MSG”?

4. In all the simple lines in a pack of chips, so much marketing brains are at work. And the work goes in making the statements, technically correct, but prone to misinterpretation.

The same Frito Lay company sells chips in the US. And I have seen the disclosure levels to be different. If the difference is the absence of laws here in India, then may be we need to make laws stricter. People need to be informed about things that are detrimental to their health.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sounds of Isha in aid of Project Green Hands

If you were not aware of this, there was a fund raising concert by "Sounds of Isha" in aid of "Project Green Hands" yesterday at 6PM(8th Jun 2008, Sunday).

The atmosphere was electric! I am guessing there were about 2000 people present, but I may be off. All the tracks there were played were very popular tracks of SOI. "Neem and Turmeric", "S3", "veLLiyangiri" and others. Several were foot tapping numbers, and nearly 10-15% of the audience were out of their chairs dancing.

At this point, there are no details on how much funds were raised out of this event. But looking at the popularity of the event here at Chennai, it might be a good idea to move this concert across cities along with "wave of bliss".

Notes:
  1. It rained before the concert. No kidding! It was a hot and sultry day. It rained heavily exactly 15 minutes before the concert started and stopped after the program began. No more rains after that. The compeer pointed this out amid loud applause. Coincidence or not, it was very symbolic and joyously surprising!
  2. The sound system was providing intermittent disturbances, but it didn't appear to bother anyone in the audience
  3. I had the opportunity to meet several friends I had not met for quite some time. There were people who had come from out of station for this concert.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Beach Test / Are you too negative?




What the Beach Test Says About You



You like people, but you're careful about who you get close to. Friendship is important to you... so important that you aren't just friends with anyone.



You fall in love with ease and confidence. Even if you've had bad experiences in the past, each new love is a reason to start completely over.



You are a passionate person. You are free wheeling, fun loving, and ruled by your emotions.



Your sense of humor is very physical. Your facial expressions or spot on imitations of people are hilarious.


With humor, usually, it happens that only I think what I said was funny! biggrin







You Are a Little Negative...



You can be negative from time to time, but you rarely go overboard.

You have a realistic view of the world, and most people appreciate your honest insights.



Like everyone else, you have your darker moods.

But when you're feeling super negative, you keep your feelings to yourself.




Saturday, June 07, 2008

World Environment Day

Observed on Jun 5.

Is one day in 365 days enough for "earth" and "environment"? Our relationship with them is totally wrecked that 365 x 50 is not sufficient. We still are talking about one day in the year to save paper, switch of monitors at end of work and stopping tobacco pollution.

Our day to day existence is enough to rip an entire ecosystem to shreds! We still aren't talking about overhauling our ways of living. Observing one day is easier!

See this link for an example.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Bourne Identity

It is the book this time biggrin. Or the movie... Or both!

I've always noticed that if there is a movie that is based on a book watch the movie first. That way you will get to enjoy both. The movie almost never matches the book. For the writer has limitless luxury to explore everything to his / her heart's content. There is also the added perspective to get inside thoughts of the characters. Finally, the author can build a really complex plot and take time to unravel the fabric, knot by knot. Movies are driven by constraints - time, budget and the biggie, compromises! In that sense, it is not fair to compare a book with the movie. But the comparison happens subconsciously even without volition. In that sense, the movie is no match for the book!

Ludlum is a master story-teller! This is my first book of his. And is executive producer of the movie, it is actually interesting to compare the two!

  1. The book is ultra-violent. There is no way a movie could match the book and appeal to all audiences.
  2. In either setting, Jason Bourne is a killer, but with a conscience. A paradox in motion, with the added twist of a lost memory! You can see the trend across the Bourne trilogy. In Identity, he kills people who try to kill him (not sure of the count). Ditto with Supremacy (2 kills I think). None in Ultimatum! Here, he actually walks away from killing his would-be assassin, which eventually transforms the latter.
  3. The movie actually compromises the core plot. Eventually, as the trilogy is built, it is inevitable that the movie has veered far away from the plot. The fourth installment, I guess would be a figment of imagination from the screenwriters totally out of sync with the original plot.
  4. Every character in the book is ultra-intelligent. As each tries to outplay the other with mind games, a sense of awe descends over Ludlum's ability to weave the complexity out of thin air.
  5. And sigh! Marie. As always happens in movies with unflinching consistency, the heroine is the doll for the hero (more or less across movies, but in general so). And in the book - oh my God! As a financial whiz-girl, the is actually the king pin (queen pin?) for several of Jason Bourne's insights and answers several of Jason Bourne's already-intelligent theories with precision! And yes, as a tribute, she turns about to be right in more than one occasion - the occasions themselves being critical to the story plot!
  6. The novel came out in early eighties and the movie came out in 2002. 25+ years is an era in technology! There were no cellphones then. So the movie screenplay had be really overhauled to account for all this. For instance, the account number embedded in Bourne's body in the movie beginning is a piece of paper in the book biggrin. And in the movie, it is an IR device that beams the account number on the wall! Then again, you also get to see Bourne's expertise with cellphones in the Bourne Supremacy.
It will be interesting to see where the movie makers take the story. I think everyone will want to be done with the fourth movie (except Universal studios! Think about it, it is a money minting machine now!).

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Isha Yoga program at L&T, Chennai

As you must already know, "wave of bliss" is going on in Chennai now! We had this program at Porur, Chennai at the L&T (Larsen and Toubro) office.

First off is the amazing campus L&T has smile. Unfortunately, the program timings did not allow much scope for roaming around! It was sprawling with a lot of greenery. Both space and green are rare sights in Chennai now!

There were about 32 participants and it was an English class. For me, I seem to have really caught the "sharing" bug! Ever since I had to share the first time, every single session after that involved a sharing experience!

I had also the opportunity to meet a volunteer (an L&T employee as well) who had finished his program earlier and also did his "BSP" thereafter. For him, the program along with BSP represented a 360 degree turn around - from the outer world to the inner world. As he described his experience - which condensed to a few words would be, "I don't know what hit me!", I got the image of an ad that keeps coming on TV. The ad in itself is not so impressive, but contextualized to his experience, it is a perfect depiction! Of course, what "hit him" is the ground breaking awareness of the existence of a deeper dimension in life.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Prophet of future

"The best prophet of the future is the past" - my today's fortune from Orkut!

I think this is not at all true! It is the present! The past is all history and statistics. Only the present is a possibility. The past might provide tendencies and insights to ingrained habits, mistakes from an older time. From there, you might settle down in the same groove or you might move on to other possibilities. This means, at this moment, the choice is in our hands.

This moment is the only redemption! This means, we are already redeemed!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Gemstone Test




Your Gemstone Says...



You are a well centered, balanced, and grounded person.

You make good decisions and regret little in your life.

You consider yourself a fortunate person, and you find it easy to be happy.

You avoid negativity, and you can deflect any negative energy well.

The Gemstone Test

Really? BTW, these tests are more interesting - where the test attempts to infer personality traits through abstracts rather than straight forward questioning! I've noticed that some tests are spot on, while some are way off!
 
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