Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chak De India

Don't know why I was sitting on this movie for this long.

I loved that they took up hockey as the subject instead of the clichéd cricket subject again. Again, more than the focus of winning, the movie rightly brings about the focus on "passion" and "spirit" of playing for the nation. It is important that we do this for the rest of the languishing sports. Cricket is at its peak in India because of that pivotal moment in 1983. If we did that for the other sports? Also, those pre-match discussions they have in this movie would have been amusing if not for the fact they are utterly real! If we have to pinpoint just one disease that is spread thick over this nation - it is "lethargy"!

And the music - so beautiful. The theme conveys the zest nicely and the other one - "Maula mere" - I didn't understand the words but the pain and the emotion behind it are palpable. Its very hard to put it in words - but pains! 

I also noticed that this movie was the inspiration of another movie I watched thrice and loved. The tamil "vennila kabadi kuzhu". Again, that movie picked "kabaddi" as its subject and intertwined it with the sweat and culture of the tamil soil.

If these movies help revive these sports which have taken a back seat, bring more of them on. We have all the crowd and the money to bring them on their feet and then take wings! We need "passion". Seriously!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tony Jaa

When you come across "Faster than Bruce Lee..." as an ad for someone, it is hard to ignore. My connection with Bruce Lee is too strong! I wanted to check Tony Jaa out. So I watched both Ong Bak and Ong Bak 2!
He is exceptionally skilled. He does all of his stunts himself. And these are not ordinary stunts (they are incredible-incredible by any standards). The fact that the Thai movies repeat the stunt footage multiple times in different angles show that these were real without CGI.

Again, the tendency to compare with Bruce Lee is also strong. I don't want to take sides, but I can say Bruce Lee was waay fast! Sadly, we won't be seeing any more of him. Tony Jaa again is from more humble backgrounds and this humility is well reflected on his face. In fact, the movie was so extremely stereotyped - that to get him to fight, there is an american badass who bad mouths Thai culture. Another aspect I notice is that Bruce Lee was very graceful. Saying Tony Jaa is not graceful would be incorrect, but he comes across as "earthy" and "raw" in his strength.

I am happy to have discovered him. I love martial arts and people who perfect and develop this ought to prosper*. I hope he makes many more movies. I also hope that he gets a PR side to groom him in the story, screenplay area.

* - Martial arts is fighting for arts sake and using it as a part of spiritual growth. The adversary is only a context for the art. As opposed to having winning as a goal, developing oneself is the goal. I think this priority being set within is a necessary condition for an artist to transcend his/her limitations. Bruce lee got it, and it is very clear Tony Jaa gets it too! Unfortunately, when it is transported to movies, the movie has to resort to all sort of tricks to get the hero to "show off" the skills.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Way to tell the truth...

Was browsing through feedback for Firefox 4, which is still in beta. See the screenshot below. To have a better view, visit the link. You can see there is more negative feedback than positive feedback most of the time. Actually, the page just hooks up to the live data feed - there is no curating at all.
This is the way to tell the truth! Give an easy way for public to access live, unadulterated facts - may be presented clearly. This is the kind of truth telling that is missing today!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today you... Tomorrow me

Two great real life stories. Read it inspite of the cussing - they're very inspiring. I wrote two pretty depressing tales earlier - these   two are on the other side.
I guess it is upto us to remove this paranoia about helping total strangers. Cutting through all the divisions and media hype, we are all people who want to help and be helped at times of need.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The downward spiral...

Another one on a related note I got as a forward. This is a true
incident and is first hand information. The downward spiral
referred to earlier is in more stark display here. I guess I am scared
- not just for being the victim but for being part of the society that
watches all of this happen! I don't want to be the victim or
the mute spectator, but don't know where to start!

Hi Friends,
This is the incident that happened  to me last night(7th Dec 2010)
around 10:30 -11:00 pm.
I left my office at around 10:15 pm and was going alone in my car,
some 2 persons were following me without my knowledge. I reached near
Jain College at Thoraipakam Junction and heading towards toll plaza,
suddenly I heard a big sound like somebody scratched my car or dashed
my car.
I came down from the car to see that there was a big scratch, I was
about to enter into my car suddenly 2 people came and stabbed me on
the back of my head. I didn’t understand what’s going on.
One guy started hitting me badly on my face with his fist. The other
guy took a big professional knife(which I saw only bad guys using in
Movies) and wanted to stab me in my abdomen but I resisted him and
held his hand. I was scared that he might not stab me with that knife.
In this mean time another guy came and snatched my bracelet and my
Bluetooth from my shirt pocket. He was about to take my Mobile phone
from my trousers then I found a wooden stick with which I beat him
very badly that it broke.
In this mean time a person coming in a Santro car knowingly or
unknowingly about to dash the 2 guys with his car then those 3 people
left me and ran off on their bike with no number plate to my surprise.
I lost my Bracelet and Bluetooth, I got several scratches on my face,
hand and abdomen. My shirt was torn.
The one thing that amazed me is there were some 20 people near to me
all watching what’s going on and none of them came to help me or at
least didn’t asked me what happened. None of them were bothered.
My friends let me tell you something to avoid these kind of situations
that happened to me.
1)Don’t work in your office till late night, if it’s inevitable then
better book a cab and go safely.
2)If you are going in your private vehicle and especially car, don’t
stop it and most importantly don’t get down from the car in dark
3)If you find anything happening in front of you just try to help them
in  whatever way possible.
Today it happened to me, tomorrow it may happen to you, so be cautious.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

To care or not to care?

Got this as a forward and not sure how true this is. But very plausible. But what was striking was that the scheme exploits the people's natural instinct for concern. After the first few victims, word will naturally spread like it has now and will put a cap on this concern. It will then cause a downward spiral until people are fiercely "each one unto himself or herself". Can we truly blame them under the circumstances?
The worst disease that can inflict a society!
Sad, especially if you are inclined to 'help' people...
While driving on a rural end of the roadway on Thursday morning, I saw an  
infant car seat on the side of the road with a blanket draped over it.    
For whatever reason, I did not stop, even though I had all kinds of        
thoughts running through my head.  But when I got to my destination, I    
called the  Police and they were going to check it out. But, this is what  
the Police advised even before they went out there to check....            
"There are several things to be aware of ... gangs and thieves are now    
plotting different ways to get a person (mostly women)to stop their        
vehicle and get out of the car.                                            
"There is a gang initiation reported by the local Police  where  gangs are
placing a car seat by the road...with a fake baby in                      
it...waiting for a woman, of course, to stop and check on the abandoned    
"Note that the location of this car seat is usually beside a wooded or    
grassy (field) area and the person  -- woman  -- will be dragged into the  
woods, beaten and raped, and usually left for dead.  If it's a man,        
they're usually beaten and robbed and maybe left for dead, too.            
Do not stop for any  reason!!!                                            
Dial 9-9-9/Police  and report what you saw, but don't even slow down.                        
"if you  are driving at night and eggs are thrown at your windscreen, do  
not stop to check the car,  do not operate the wiper  and do not spray any
water because eggs mixed with water become milky and
block your vision up to 92.5%,  and  you are then forced to stop beside
the road and become a victim of these criminals.                                                                
This is a new technique used by gangs, so please inform your friends and  
These are desperate times and these are unsavoury individuals who will    
take desperate measures to get what they want."                            
please talk to your loved ones about this. This is a new tactic used.      
Please be safe.                                                             

Monday, November 29, 2010

Has Wikileaks gone too far?

I am not saying it has - but I am wondering.

For good or bad, whatever they have disclosed thus for hasn't been surprising to me. I sort of expected this from US albeit in a slightly toned down fashion. But this last disclosure is more like icing on the cake with no consequential relevance. Putin isn't going to be impressed, but in a closed setting people are normally more open in stating what they really feel. Unless there are stark lies in what has been disclosed, we should let it pass. To me, it is just another reinforcement of US arrogance.

The other question to consider is - has Wikileaks gone too far? How far is too far? Should everything be disclosed just because it is available and can be disclosed? Right now, for the most part, the receiving end has been the US. It may be just that tomorrow other nations might be - depending on who is blowing the whistle. What if nations get together and shutdown Wikileaks? Australia has already offered its support to the US.

Wikileaks is serving a need. It is taking an extreme standpoint, almost suggesting a stand off, but the truth is that all the deviousness and cruelty under the guise of "classification" wouldn't have come to light if not for those disclosures. Nothing much has changed as a result of these disclosures save shedding light on the true color of certain things going on under covers. The sad truth will be that if Wikileaks goes away, there is nothing to take its place.

But mainly - I think it is a great demonstration of what a great flattener the Internet is. Something like this would have never been possible two or three decades ago. I really wish people take this as a call to transparency - especially with Governments. With these disclosures rubbing off in the wrong way, that should be the last thing to expect!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Downfall - Hitler's outburst

Downfall is a German movie that depicts the final period of Hitler's regime, when his failure in WWII became inevitable. There is one awesome tense scene (the only one I have watched in the movie) that ironically became the funniest one. The context is different because this scene got picked for parodies.

I actually got introduced to this scene when one employee of a large MNC made a video mocking its policies. Eventually, the video became so popular that it was removed from YouTube [management intervention I suppose]. It appears to be back now. Don't be surprised if you don't see it though!

There are other parodies of it too. One where Hitler reacts to iPad not supporting Flash. And the most classic twist of all? It is one where Hitler comes to know about the Downfall parodies themselves!

Here is the entire suite of the parodies!

I find it really amusing that this very well enacted scene about a terror-maker is generating so much laughs! God's final joke!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The one with the 1000th post

I don't exactly recall when I started loving writing. I used to store a lot of what I used to write in a word document and share it with just a select set of folks. Once I discovered blogging, I realized that it naturally fit with what I was doing. This was Dec 2004 I think.

This post is the 1000th post in the ED "blog umbrella". One quote which fascinates me a lot is "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". Even when I read it, without realizing the stature of the person who mentioned it, I knew it was a divinely inspired quote. I never had 1000 posts as a goal but here now it is because it was "one post at a time". If anything, I probably should use it to remind me that patience yields returns.

Over this period, there were few posts for which I spent an inordinate amount of time because the post required it. There were some posts that happened because of a burst of inspiration. Some posts were an intersection of both. I have marked them as "passionate". Duh!

Though I did not target 1000 posts, I do not know what to do from here. Some one reminded me today that my posts are full of "opinions". I can't disagree. I also read some time back that opinion directly translates to self importance. In some way, I think blogging in itself is narcissistic in nature. See - another opinion! There are always exceptions - people who have something genuinely valuable to share. I don't think I fall into that category!

I can't stop writing yet, but I want to pause and think - "What is the point of all this anyway?". It is a good "opinion" checkpoint!

[Ironically, I remember talking to another blogger a long time ago and telling that person - "What a highly opinionated blog you have!". LOL]

Tweetposts - 16th Nov 2010, Tuesday

I find it amusing that there has been no major uproar against the new TSA policy – invasive scanners (which take naked pictures through x-ray) and/or “enhanced pat downs” (euphemism for groping!). Security is a concern alright – but at what cost? Before it gets implemented at rest of the world I hope the public uproar there in US would set a precedent. I am also (selfishly) happy that I am not at the US at this time. In any case, I would have preferred to drive under the circumstances! The larger question is, why is it difficult to come up with a sensible solution to the problem of security? Can we go to any length in the name of security?

Considering deleting my face book account. I don’t like their sense of entitlement towards users’ data. Only thing is FB is really useful in some aspects. I couldn’t have gotten in touch with some of my old friends if not for it. Also looking at some pictures of friends who wouldn’t email them “to you” otherwise! Things just “show up” automatically and its really nice! It’s a question of benefit vs untrustworthiness of the site. Want an example? You have X friends on face book. You know their email addresses – if not you can go to their profile and look that up [your friends are willingly sharing it with you]. But you cannot download their email addresses in bulk. FB’s reason is that you don’t own their data. But Yahoo and Microsoft are allowed access to your friends’ email addresses through your profile (in bulk after you authorize). More than policy, it just appears it is just equivocation for convenience!
Note: Seen "The Social Network"? It adds an interesting perspective to the personality of the owner in light of whats going on now. Other thing is the Google vs FB standoff! Interesting times :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Born Free

Many years ago, I was watching a documentary on Tarantulas. One expert (my term for someone who spent a lot of time with them) mentioned that they knew "familiar" hands. So when then crawled on those hands, they did not bite. A new hand will receive a painful, though non poisonous bite!

I was thinking that this is a rudimentary form of reptiles/insects responding to love [in this case, it is in the gross physical level]. As species evolve, I think they all respond to love. Dogs are a classic example.

Here it is a lion. It is an extraordinary true story! A couple adopt three lion cubs owing to circumstance and nurture them to their adulthood. They see that once their age is such that they cannot be had at home, send two to a zoo while the third one they continue to keep - because the lady is so strongly attached to Elsa. Eventually, how the nurture her and let her into the wild because she was "born free" forms the story. Later, an year later, they come in search of her, only to find Elsa come back in search of them with her three cubs!

This can be a good story - but I like to think that love moves everything on this planet! May be, if we humans responded from that place together, a lot of things happening on this planet will not happen!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The story of electronics

The lady doesn't fail to impress. It takes a lot of courage to keep pressing on relentlessly like this. I dare say, if she was fighting Indian politics and policymakers, she'd be dead by now!

I am one of the guilty ones when it comes to electronics. It's a direct callback to how I drool at new gizmos. I still use my (10y+ old) 4MP camera though! Should every single thing that is tempting be either bad for the environment or for another set of people at a different part of the globe? Anything we touch seems to be screwed up!

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the independent modules that make up electronic components - chargers, batteries, heck memory cards!! are all different - not just across company products, but across different versions of the same company's products. The attractive packaging blurs the obvious - and these "modules" are part of a larger glossily furnished product. For instance, how hard would it be to make a processor a removable component? So later, when a new [faster] one comes across, just detach and reattach! Its surprising not one company has done this. Coincidence?

Our collective will at fighting back against these practices is still very weak!

Tweetposts - 10th Nov 2010, Wednesday

Trust has become scarce material today. Actually, if we look at all the problems we have today facing us, we can tie this back to the list of "lies" - gross and subtle that are lurking underneath. The reason is that, without these lies, the problems will not be alive for long. The situation is such that, with anyone speaking on anything - instead of trusting them by default, we will need to distrust them by default. Only people who have worked long and hard to establish this trust have any sort of credibility like that. So, on a mass scale, how many people can we actually count on today?

I recently wrote about the difference in perspectives [read:inclusion] of people. Read this for example. I am paraphrasing (I may also be misquoting the numbers, figures etc - but the message is clear). The context is whether ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) should be opened up for oil drilling. Reading this, you can imagine what that would do to the ecosystem. Or will it?

Someone representing US congress: We absolutely should open up ANWR for drilling. Of 20 million acres, we will just be taking up 2000 acres. (Other supporting talk)

A professor (sorry, don't remember name): Opening up ANWR for oil drilling will not be a criminal act. It is the closest thing you can do to come near performing a criminal act.

My take: How can you even begin considering something like this when you have no knowledge (yes, not an iota of it) or care (yes, not an iota of it) of the complexities of disrupting an ecosystem like that? Insensitive people shouldn't be sitting on the Government. But the way democracies are setup [cut throat rise to top!], only that kind comes to power!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Time to Kill

Whenever a movie attempts to deal with some kind of disharmony or a divide – be it racial tension, violence, internal strife, it is beneficial only if it ends up blurring the disharmony or the divide it attempted to portray in the first place.

In that sense, this movie succeeds very well. All the cards are laid out in the first 30 minutes. So it is only a matter of watching the drama unfold to its conclusion. I agree, skin color is a very strong and instinctive discriminator, mainly because it is literally in-the-face! I think it is time we as a society move forward beyond this. Enough has happened with this aspect!

On a side note [actually not, it ties directly to the movie’s story] – I think child molesters have no place in the society. All nations probably should enact a no trial policy and execute them instantly [provided it is clear they perpetrated the act in the first place]. No, I am not advocating their torture, punishment nor do I want them to go through pain to make them realize what they did was wrong etc etc. We can finish them swiftly and painlessly. It is just a way of sending a message to the rest of us that something at that level has no place in society. I remember how the word “rape” caused me to twitch uncomfortably a decade ago. Now that term has a normal place in news. Child molestation is now starting to become common place [a recent painful incident comes to mind in my city]. In places like India, trials are painfully slow. The person committing the crime sits in jail, even worse buys himself out on bail, for five-ten years till the sentence is pronounced. In countries like India, parents place their children above everything. They put their lives aside for their children’s well being. In addition to watching their child go through that dehumanizing experience, there is this added pain of watching the perpetrator walking scot free. It is a democratic country alright. But draw a line somewhere for humanity’s sake! No excuses, no leniency, no second thoughts [if someone comes and shows the perpetrators aging parents’ photograph, ask them where these parents where in his mind when he was committing the crime] – end their existence swiftly. They can come back another cycle if one exists.

Monday, November 08, 2010

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?: That is the Question

It gives mixed feelings after reading - but one thing there is no doubt about; it is utterly fascinating! Mainly because it is the distilled essence of the life experience of a battered, bruised and eventually "very" successful real estate agent.

The book is brutal. There is no violence [in the literal sense], expletives etc, but Robert Ringer describes a world with no morals or compunction and cut throat competition using his own metaphors. Money is the only currency that has any relevance here and any means to that end is acceptable. It outlines the author's story where after getting mauled the initial few years, uses his astute analysis to come out on top.

The area where I have mixed feelings - eventually, you cannot help notice that after his success, he transforms himself from an "intimidatee" to an "intimidator"! All his efforts though seem directed to get only what "he" is due, so I guess it is fine. He also makes it very clear that our "wishes" are starkly different than "reality". Eventually, it strikes clearly that he did not contribute anything to the system as a way of improving the "process". He just uses the system to his advantage. In that sense, he aptly calls himself the "tortoise" that comes out on top all the time using the hare's unawareness. But that additional step would have transformed this book into a great one!

Another thing that amazed me: In America, laws are tight and it is a sue happy country. So when there are written agreements, everything is clear and all law points are covered, how are people still able to cheat out others on what they are due? It boggles my mind!

If this book is rewritten for India it will be a blockbuster hit! The core message of the book is on the title! It is a necessity today as we currently stand, but in a better world this book will become irrelevant.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

One line reviews...

Ravanan - I thought character development was lacking! That last scene ends very coldly - the only saving grace being the connection made between Ragini and Veera!

Notebook - Very sweet! May be they shouldn't have targeted this movie for PG-13 audience. They should have gone all the way (into "R") showing the intimacy of the characters more realistically. Just my thought.

Payback - Will they? My money? :). It wasn't THAT bad - just a pointless revenge story.

The Book of Eli - If you conclude this is a Christian propaganda movie, you got the wrong message. If you concluded that faith can create miraculous things, you got it right. If you concluded that Denzel can do nothing incorrectly, you got it right. If you concluded we as a human race are heading towards the direction pointed by this movie, you may be right - and that scares me!

Tweetposts - 3rd Nov 2010, Wednesday

Seeing a lot of painful things lately. Finding it a little difficult to handle! Don’t know if things are different or I am different – might help to reduce exposure to these things. But just that a lot of stuff “happens to come” to me!

Traffic sense here at Coimbatore is incredible [/s]. It’s a miracle that one trip happens without a collision! I am counting 5-6 hits on my car in this ~2 year period!

Cracker sounds have started! Three or four days of nightmare for dogs; but it’s nice to see happy children faces!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tweetposts - 29th Oct 2010, Friday

A strange incident at the grocery store yesterday:
In my company, food is free (upto a cap provided I use the food card). During checkout, I learnt that the card machine wasn’t working so I had to pay cash. I had to keep out a big bar of chocolate (reserve judgment please – I am slightly indulgent because of the free factor!). I don’t know if the disappointment in my face showed or whatever, the billing clerk added the chocolate to the grocery bag in the end. I pointed out that it wasn’t billed. He just nodded “it’s ok”.
I am not sure if it was a kind gesture, or if he thought I was upset or if it was because I was dripping wet from the rain!

I just remembered that the recent trek was when I saw a live scorpion! Useless trivia! It was fully grown, about the length of my index finger. I was slightly scared as I was trekking barefoot. Yes – it was to maintain an “elemental connection”. So I had to take out my trekking shoes, tie them together and carried it on my shoulder along with the trekking bag!

Raining here! I hope it continues to rain leading to Oct 31 EOD!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vote for Krishnan on "CNN Heroes"

Got this as a forward, but one of the thing worth passing around calling for action. This is not the first time I am writing about Krishnan on my blog, but I heard about this voting only today. More than recognition, which I am sure is not why Krishnan is doing what he is doing, it will help him with funds to continue on with his work with self sufficiency.

Dear All,

Click on the Vote for Krishnan, it will lead CNN Living site and vote for him and make him a hero of the year.  A young Indian deserves all that he deserves.

New Delhi:  If you had not heard of Narayanan Krishnan, as I had not, it is a collective failure. This is one of the most incredible stories of personal commitment.
Narayanan Krishnan, all of 29 years old now, does what he was professionally trained to do as a chef. Feed people. Only Krishnan does not do this in the swanky confines of a 5-star hotel. Every day, he wakes up at 4 am, cooks a simple hot meal and then, along with his team, loads it in a van and travels about 200 km feeding the homeless in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
Krishnan feeds, often with his hands, almost 400 destitute people every day. And for those who need it, he provides a free haircut too.

According to CNN, eight years ago, this award-winning chef with a five-star hotel chain was all set to go to Switzerland for a high-profile posting. On a visit to a Madurai temple, he came across a homeless, old man eating his own human waste. That stark sight changed Krishnan's life.

Much to the dismay of his parents, CNN says, Krishnan abandoned his career plans and decided to spend his life and his professional training in looking after those who could not care for themselves. He has provided more than 1.2 million hot meals through his nonprofit organisation Akshaya Trust, and now hopes to extend this to shelter for the homeless too.
Krishnan is the only Indian in a list of 10 heroes that CNN has picked worldwide to honour. One of them will be chosen CNN Hero of the Year, selected by the public through an online poll. If many Indians get together to vote for this inspiring man, he can win by a long mile.
If Krishnan wins he will get $100,000 in addition to the $25,000 that he gets for being shortlisted for the Top 10. Akshaya Trust needs all the monetary support it can get to build on Krishnan's dream. Let's help him get there.

Vote for Krishnan here. The poll continues through November 18 2010 at 6 a.m. ET.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tweetposts - 26th Oct 2010, Tuesday

Was listening to "keeravani" from pAdum paRavaigaL. And I was thinking - "I can do one whole lifetime of Sadhana [which means whatever it takes to develop that kind of skill and creativity] to compose a tune like that and not even come remotely close to it". He really is a mystic in the world of music!

Was listening to Radio City today while driving. The RJ was trying hard to be "cool". Was painfully obvious! Also, their mail address was rc911@gmail.com. They operate out of Chennai, Coimbatore and probably a few other cities. This email address reflects very poorly. Why not procure a domain with @radiocity.com (500 Rs per annum!) and have chennai@radiocity.com etc. Also assign one unique mail id to each RJ on the station?

"Mirchi Suchi" - I find her voice irritating. And it's not the tone. It's the forced accent. I think most RJ's get caught in the sounding cool trap! She is one of the more popular ones, so I shouldn't expect her to change anytime soon!

"My name is Khan" - the review is a mixed bag. Sharukh's performance is awesome! At certain points, the emotion the character is visible - not on the face, but at a subtler level. But the character is unable to express them. Another aspect is the realistic portrayal of situations. The psyche of the American public is demonstrated realistically and sensitive situations are handled as they are without chickening out or diluting the proportions. The only questions are - is the timing of this movie correct? Another is this fetish of Bollywood for drama. It is too much in this movie! But Sharukh takes the cake for his performance!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tweetposts - 25th Oct 2010, Monday

The Bullet Train - a high tension movie made in the times without CGI. Very impressive! Tension drips every moment even after things appear safe! I wish a movie is made like this now - where CGI is not used to kick the villain 30 feet in the air. BTW, at this time (early 80's!), trains in Japan were running at 220 kmph. And we are averaging 60 kmph twenty years later!

In cellular providers' world there is cut through competition now. Even at this time, people are looking for innovative ways to squeeze money out of the customer's pocket (an example is the ridiculous charge of 6 Rs / min for the call you make to change your dialer tune!). Still wondering why no one is making an attempt to innovate to serve! There is still an amazing opportunity to provide a superior web interface for managing customer accounts. Customer service still sucks (can speak only of Aircel here).

Seth Godin wrote a book called "All marketers are liars!". "All" is a hyperbole. But when you see examples like this - where a plan is called "unlimited" and then an asterisk saying "fair use policy: capped at 5000 minutes" you can imagine why he titled it that way. Another example!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tweetposts - 23rd Oct 2010, Saturday

Was at Kerala the last few days. Again, couldn't help noticing the greenery and clean water as we traveled. But also getting signals that development in Kerala is going the TN way. "God's own country", you can learn some consequences of stupid mistakes from your neighbors without repeating them.

Watched "Up". Beautifully made. I have written and observed - Pixar is outdoing itself every time! Some one said Pixar makes movies for adults that kids can also enjoy. Interesting twist in perspective, but it's true as well! Some deeper elements have also been portrayed - like out growing limiting but comforting beliefs.

Watched a very nice short Tamil movie on YouTube. I wonder how/why they are being made? Hobbyists, projects? Who? But you get a lot of talent / exposure this way. An example of crowd accelerated innovation.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tweetposts - 20th Oct 2010, Wednesday

Broke the iPod that was gifted to me :-(. Have to service it.

Attention to detail has become so difficult because we are continually trained to fritter away these precious moments of focus. Try a simple experiment to remember common things in your life. Like number of switches on your switchboard. Avatar rightly called us sleepwalkers.

MTR makes this really tasty rava idly mix. Can get it ready in five mins flat. I saw Na2CO3 (sodium bicarbonate) as one of its ingredients and checked out its health implications. All I see are health benefits. On a related note, its ready to eat products are pretty good as well. They don't have preservatives or artificial flavors and have a shelf life of 1 year because of the packaging licensed from DRDO. While expensive for day to day use, why not carry them on treks?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tweetposts - 18th Oct 2010, Monday

Was reviewing which pages were *most* viewed (all time thing). In descending order:
1. IRCTC ticket printing (I have a feeling people did not get what they wanted looking at this. Too technical, but Google drives them to this page anyway)
2. Sadhguru’s talk at TED India (should have left a lot of frustrated readers. The original video was later removed for whatever reasons)
3. Sathuragiri trip (this is like a blast. Ever since I posted this, I remotely expected so many people searching for this content on the internet. In terms of post longevity versus viewer count, this should be on top)
4. Atul Kasbekar (I didn’t expect when posting, but a lot of curious people about him!)
5. Kinseology (I thought it was an esoteric topic, but a lot of people on the internet!)
6. Toggle IE Script (techie post, but people looking for exactly this!)
7. Sivapuranam (people looking for lyrics – so I added that to the footer)
8. Linga Bhairavi (smiley, smiley, smiley)
9. Professional couriers (yeah, again, many people share my unhappiness)
10. Sadhguru Sannidhi

While driving today, was seeing a very old woman in the middle of the road (this was a high way). The van driver in front of me stopped the van, apologized to me and started driving only after he made sure she was safely on the side.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tweetposts - 15th Oct 2010, Friday

Saw a trailer of "Knock Out". It's a rehash of the Hollywood Phone booth. I doubt if it would be credited. But even from the trailer, it is easy to make out - it is Phone Booth taken and a glorious sprinkling of Indian masala added. I love trailers! Five minutes of investment to decide if you get to save three hours or not! Also saw a trailer of "raththa charithiram". Ram Gopal Varmas ultra violent movie. Even from the trailer it is easy to see you can expect a glorious dose of blood splatter and gruesome violence. But it has Surya as well :-(.

Was dusting a white canvas shoe. I saw a white spider - almost invisible backdropped against the shoe. I never see white spiders here. I can only assume that the spider camouflaged itself against the shoe. If that is the case, another spectacular case of the adaptability of life around us. Except one life form of course!

Totally in awe of the "planet earth" crew. I wrote briefly about them earlier - but the series deserves a separate post. Totally in awe of the infinitesimal variety of life in the planet. Did you know life thrives in corners of the planet not powered by the sun? There is a separate food chain going on. Awe - no wow!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tweetposts - 11th Oct 2010, Monday

I find reading online more difficult. Was reading a lot of stuff on paper recently and couldn't help noticing how easy it was on the eyes. I spend 9-10 hours a day with pixels - may be the contrast is helping. May be, the future of technology will be in making electronic displays imitate the "feel" of paper to the eyes. Amazon's kindle attempts that in B&W. Full color will be awesome!

A part of me wants Endhiran to break-even. Its not much to do with the quality of the movie or the "R" factor. Its more with encouraging risk taking. The scale of the movie is dare-devil - breaking even is like a reward for the risk. On the other extreme, people tend to start fleecing when it comes to cashing in on a high tide. Seriously, one guy mentioned he paid 6K for a black ticket! In the US, they spiked the prices from 10 USD to 28. 180% increase. Fortunately, TN has a cap of 120 INR.

Maam "J" is scheduling an opposition meeting at Madurai. I am guessing with the prep work on, there will be a massive crowd for this (50K?). The agenda is to "condemn" the ruling party. I am wondering, instead of this, if this time and effort is rallied towards some thing the ruling party filed to do it will generate a lot of respect and goodwill among people. 50K people in one place all burned up and fired up because there is an "enemy" is easy. What will they do with all that drama? Nothing! This is exactly why people lose respect with politicians. In case the roles reverse, "K" will do the same thing. There is no official position required to something constructive. Especially when you can generate huge strength of support from people. Inspiring them is the harder part.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Unabated growth

I am talking with reference to economics. Unabated growth is overrated – and dangerous in current situations. Globally, the accepted performance indicator is growth %. Nothing else even seems to matter. Why? Because, for publicly listed companies, this ties back to how much the shareholders get in the pocket.

Now, a 400 billion dollar company like Walmart is looking to grow. Though it is the largest, there are a lot of comparable sized companies also looking to grow. Extrapolate this to the entire spectrum of companies all over the globe looking to “grow”. If Exxon wants to grow, it has to mine more petroleum. It also has to encourage growth of its business which means more cars and more driving. About 100 years ago, this sort of question wouldn’t have existed. Within this century we’ve created an inflexion point where a finite planet cannot expand to cater to the goals of gazillion companies all trying to grow and impress shareholders.

It is time for a new performance parameter to be introduced. Along with growth %, a sustainability index must be introduced. What this must measure is that – if the company aimed to grow like this for the next 10 or 15 years, is it sustainable (not measured from a standalone perspective but from a collective perspective of all competitors put together along with allied industries that must match this company’s growth to keep pace)? Our population was 1.5 billion at the start of this century. Within this 100 years we have made it 500% fold and clearly everyone with some math skills will say this isn’t sustainable. Ditto for all the companies vying to break records in growth. This new equation where corporations try to establish a sustainable baseline point is vital.

It would be healthy if corporations decide this inflexion point consciously of their own will. If Governments are forced to do it, it will be ugly. If the planet decides to do it, the consequences are unpredictable, but inevitably devastating.

Note: A book has been screaming about this for nearly three decades. As long as money rolls in or the course of growth is not forcibly altered, this message will be last priority to economics.

A review summary - "Briefly, humanity has overshot the limits of what is physically and biologically sustainable. That overshoot WILL lead to the collapse of the planetary environment's ability to support not only our species but much of the rest of the biosphere if we do not act rapidly and effectively to reduce our footprint. These conclusions provide reasons for both optimism and alarm: optimism because humanity has demonstrated its capacity to act appropriately in one specific instance; and alarm because thirty years have been largely wasted since the consequences of our failing to act were detailed. There is still time but the need to act quickly and effectively is urgent. The authors demonstrate that the most critical areas needing immediate attention are: population; wasteful, inefficient growth; and pollution. They show how attention to all three simultaneously can result in returning the human footprint on the environment to manageable, sustainable size, while sharply reducing the disparity between human well-being and fostering a generous quality-of-life worldwide. Absent this, the prospects are grim indeed."

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Tweetposts - 5th Oct 2010, Tuesday

Well, on the verge of 6th Oct here - 23:48

What is a parasite? A parasite depends on its host for its survival. It sucks life nourishing nutrients from its host while damaging the host. Some parasites, eventually kill their host as well. Strangely one species (a mammal) comes dangerously close to being called a parasite - humans. Sad but true. I am counting on the host!

Joy and self-importance are inversely proportional. How much ever one hedges or rationalizes self-importance into a thousand different expressions, at its root it will always be what it is. A joyful person is leaves very little foot print! An ecstatic person leaves no foot print!

Two happy videos!

First one - the hero of India and it's backbone as well!

Second one - CNN coverage of PGH and ARR (a bit). I hope someone breaks the Guinness record set by PGH.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Firm

I saw this movie a few weeks ago. Its a legal thriller and was fascinating! The depth of the plot and the level of detail were amazing. It is based on a John Grisham novel with the same name. This was only John Grisham's second novel (after "A Time to Kill").

For some reason, the movie compelled me to read this book. And so I did. As with any movie made from a book - stick to the thumb rule. If you intend to read the book, watch the movie first. The movie almost always never matches up to the book's narration because of the author's leeway in explaining the detail and presenting subtler cues. The narration is very casual and off beat. It was my first JG novel and at the latter parts of the book, it just rips along!

I then watched the movie again and was able to appreciate the details better. The movie, for the most part, stays faithful to the novel. But the climax has been changed to show the hero in better light (it's Tom Cruise after all!) - but it was quite amazing Sydney Pollack pulled this off. A few other operational details have also been changed - understandably so - because the novel plot is pretty complex with a lot of details.

Legal thrillers have their own charm!

Note: I am interested to know which authors' novels have been made into movies the most. I think the contenders will be Michael Crichton, John Grisham and Stephen King. SK will be the winner I think.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tweetposts - 16th Sep 2010, Thursday

IR gets a national award for his BGM for Pazhassi Raja. It is mildly exciting. But I am amused thinking about the awards ceremony. They would announce his name; he will not be there to collect it. It probably will be his last national award if that’s the case!

I remember one scene in the movie vividly. KVPR visits the British folks for a meeting. Two folks move aside and talk to one another.

“He is here and alone. Why can’t we arrest him?”
“He is not alone!”
“What do you mean?”

The second man then takes him to the top of the tower and shows KVPR’s troops parked there. It’s just a footage that scans the troop, but the BGM would take it to a different plane – in a sense that generates awe and magnificence.

A big bow down to the emperor penguins of Antarctica! Perhaps, they endure the harshest climate any living being can imagine. For two cold winter months, when all other living beings flee from Antarctica, these (male) penguins incubate their eggs. The sun waves good bye completely for this period and the temperature drops down to -70 degrees centigrade. Cold hurricane winds blast them and they join together in a huddle to generate warmth. The outer penguins bear the brunt of this. So penguins take turn moving to the outer ring. A remarkable demonstration of the spirit of endurance and team work! Even within the amazing animal world, I have never seen anything like this! Aptly named – you are truly emperors!

On a related note, saw some heart breaking footage. A polar bear after two months of starvation makes a desperate attempt to attack a group of walruses. Walruses are one ton in weight and have extremely thick skin. They are a formidable adversary though technically, the polar bear is the predator. Eventually the polar bear fails to capture a prey. So it quietly lies down in the snow and resigns to its fate – starvation to death. Without pointing fingers, the documentary adds – “If the globe continues to warm and the snows melt faster, we can expect more of this.” If the polar bear becomes extinct, we should never forgive ourselves as a race.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lessons from my car

While it is true I am smitten with my car, today I learnt an important lesson.
In a span of two hours, it took two hits - one from a bus and another from a two wheeler. Both were the respective parties' faults, but I could have avoided both incidents if I weren't playing rule-police. Anyway, the car wasn't complaining. It still was doing its best job in what it knows best. No regrets, no feelings of being ill-treated and no righteous feelings.
Perhaps, if all humans learned this, we would put all past regrets and hurts behind and just focus on what is needed.
Again, perhaps, this is what the following quote tries to say: "No matter how you feel, dress up, show up and do your best!"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tweetposts - 26th Aug 2010, Thursday

Was visiting a doctor's place recently. They had a few photographs all over the clinic which changed the mood (*my* mood) of the visit totally. At the main waiting hall was the huge photograph of Ramana sitting on a hillock with his stick. Inside was the photograph of Ram Surat Kumar (so Radha says) and another portrait of Ramana. Inside the doctor's office was again another photograph of Ramana and Vallalar.

Finally, these verses from Bharathi were framed on the side of a wall.
" தேடிச் சோறுநிதந் தின்று
பல சின்னஞ் சிறுகதைகள் பேசி
மனம் வாடித் துன்பமிக உழன்று
பிறர் வாடப் பல செயல்கள் செய்து
நரை கூடிப் கிழப்பருவம் எய்தி
கொடுங் கூற்றுக் கிரையெனப்பின் மாயும்
பல வேடிக்கை மனிதரைப் போலே
நான் வீழ்வே னென்று நினைத்தாயோ? "

I am not sure if these divinely inspired verses can do with a human translation, but for the benefit of those who don't read Tamil:
"Hunting for scraps of food daily,
And gossiping on meaningless trivia,
Suffering within and spreading it around,
Finally falling old grey haired and 
Becoming fodder for maggots -
Did you really think I will fall like many of these funny men?"

Bharathi was a man who had a Utopian vision sadly lacking in practicality. He had the heart of a lion that growled with fierceness when those around tried to snuff the life force out of him (and with respect to the outside world - succeeded!). Here he is talking to the Divine challenging It to give him a situation where he would fall from his vision. And It tried - hard! and failed. I know he made It proud with his life!

There was one weak moment I was thinking about these verses and then broke down crying - not exactly sure why. But these verses hit so hard, that if they keep playing over and over it will inspire one to do great things! I don't belong to Bharathi's tribe, but I want to - badly!

Back to the doctor's office - the setup is obviously a reflection of the minds of the people who set it up, and it made me happy sitting in that place for a long time. Later, another door opened and I saw the photograph of Shirdi Sai Baba holding his hands up in blessing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tweetposts - 19th Aug 2010, Thursday

When the life path becomes a bedrock of stones and the journey becomes bouncy and tiresome, it is normal (not natural - we can split hairs on the distinction) to lose balance and take shortcuts. I think this test separates the conscious human from the sleepwalking human. With all respect and empathies to the people in duress (everybody goes through these moments), I think these opportunities must be used as an acid test. Actually, this thought keeps ringing after I watched maRupadiyum (Revathi's character).
Sadhguru Spot is beautiful :). It actually feels like an anachronism! He may be the first mystic-blogger in planet history! :)
The life story of Shri Raghavendra is so beautiful. He was an exalted Human being. Unfortunately, the movie was only made so-so! It details the life events but the contexts are not clarified properly. Also, the depth of understanding of the life-situations by the screen-team are also questionable. For example, there is a sea change in His abilities (Siddhis) after his initiation into Sannyas but it doesn't say how. Needless to say, it must be His Guru's work. But the Guru Himself isn't shown in such stature. Rajnikanth just keeps coming with folded hands in every screen and emotes without emotion (oxymoron ting!). But it's nice his 100th movie was this and that this movie flopped reflects on the audience taste and level. Despite the screenplay shortcomings, I am grateful for having known more about this soul. Also makes me want to visit Mantralayam.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tweetposts - 15th Aug 2010, Sunday

Dropped off my vehicle for service yesterday. Instead of returning back home by bus, thought of taking a walk. Was close to 5-6 kms. Felt really tired in the end. Body is in bad shape! One extenuating factor was that it was from 12:30pm to 2:00pm and it was really warm.

Saw an ad for Sony Vaio. Kareena Kapoor in scanty clothes in blowout size holding the laptop. Guess that rules out Vaio if I need to purchase a laptop in the future.

Mostly with corporations becoming so large, one easily replicates another's creation with their financial clout. Is it really easy to stay continuously innovative and a step ahead?
CIP1 - Parle came out with a drink called LMN. Coca Cola and Pepsi were quick to follow suit with their own drinks quickly.
CIP2 - Flip HD - now we have Vado HD, versions from Sony et al
I think it is possible to be original and innovative continuously. But you have to be on your toes all the time. Microsoft tried to beat Quicken with its clout but Quicken was always on top eventually causing Microsoft to withdraw the product (after years of fight!)
Apple also comes to mind. MS is struggling to keep pace with its tablet offerings while iPad sells millions of units in a matter of months. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friends (the TV serial!)

Finally finished watching all 10 seasons of Friends. I remember how this relationship started. Then later awed at the realization of the amount of work that must have gone in to creating one episode of goods-train like laughs!

Some things to really like:

1) In Hollywood land - to keep these six people together for 10 long years is nothing short of a miracle! A similar TV show called ER ran for 15 years - and except one artist every one else was written out of the show.

2) Chandler and Monica - it was pretty great that they allowed their relationship to develop without introducing any stupid "twists" like divorces or breaking the relationship half way. It is one of the high points of the show.

3) The non stop laughs - that is why the show flourished in the first place.

But sadly, the last 2-3 seasons, the jokes and the situations were really crass at times. The Joey-Rachel episode was the low point. I know the producers were feeling the waters and dropped it off after audience feedback. But did they have to draw out Ross-Rachel for 10 long years? It was so utterly needless. Anyway, glad it all ended well there!

My favorite characters were Ross and Monica. I also like Chandler's goofiness. Phoebe was developed way too erratically and is shown vacillating on values way to often. Rachel is too - hmmm, slutty? Ditto with Joey - they carried on with his sleeping-around tendency way too far. Eventually he is the only guy who hasn't settled down.

Ironically, if Rachel didn't have to travel to Paris and all folks were at NY still, the episodes could have technically continued. But it is a logical conclusion of 10 long years - nice!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What I am listening to now...

prejudice/bias warning ahead!

1Athi Muthal...iLaiyarAjAKeralaVarma

I had listened to this song a couple of times when the movie came out. But when I watched IR’s speech on how this song was composed, it gave an additional perspective and depth to the song. iTunes has an interesting statistic – number of times the song has been played. In no time this song became the most listened to song in my music collection because I was listening to this over and over again.

Pain, patriotism and fervor all commingle beautifully in this piece. Also, listening to both the Malayalam and Tamil versions gives some interesting tidbits. In one place, the lyrics go like this:

“யாவரிங்கே கொம்புத்தேன் கூடுகள் செய்தார்” (who made the bee hives on top of the mountains)

The repeat lyrics:

“யாவரிங்கே கொம்புத்தேன் கூடுகள் கொய்தார்” (who destroyed the bee hives on top of the mountains)
Only the last word has been changed, it rhymes and entirely changes the meaning on the sentence.

In Malayalam, the meaning of this phrase comes as “who stirred the hornet’s nest”.

Three interesting perspectives: Awe for the creation, pain for the destruction and call for battle!
1Rhim Jhim...iLaiyarAjAMahaadevHa! My lost treasure found after long long!

My heart balloons with joy on listening to this. Nothing more to say!

Note: Sadly, YSR copied this note to note in the movie Bala! He stripped down the orchestration and just kept the tune as it is. But MJ is looking incredibly pretty in the song!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010

Trek to Velliyangiri 2nd stream

On Saturday, 31st Jul 2010, we went on a trek to Velliyangiri hills, 2nd stream. While this is an oft-repeated trek, this was a first for me. It’s a two hour trek one way and crosses the Dhanikandi village. Somehow, all of my treks are accompanied by rain! (CIP1, CIP2). No complaints though! On Velliyangiri, except for the path open to public to trek to the 7th hill, I think most others are protected and public cannot trek through. And am I glad for that! The forests are pristine! The rain made it all the more beautiful. The recent trek I made helped. The trail was moderately easy – I think it’s about 6kms one way. The 2nd stream is close to 550m high above sea level.

Well, our party was quite large – close to 120 folks. Unlike my previous trek, I had no shoulder burden and was walking freely. A chatterbox lady was walking with me and apart from bird sounds, for half the way, I was also hearing blah blah. (I don’t remember anything else anyway). Our first stop comes @ Dhanikandi which is about 2 kms from the starting point. It’s a small village – I presume about 50 to 75 homes were there. It’s nestled deep inside – no buses or easy access to the outside world. The villagers will have to walk nearly 8-9 kms to get their bus.

After that, it is all walking over undulating gradient and thick forest green chiseled with rain and bird sounds. Looking at towering trees clustering and trying to hide away the sky from sight was awe inspiring. What a magnificent creation! At one point, when the group made a small pause, I was leaning against a tree and noticed a medium sized spider that camouflaged its legs invisibly with the bark color. That was scary and beautiful. Its body had red spots. The fauna in the forest was quite interesting. Later in the trek, I saw dragon flies with red and black spots and another dragon fly which actually looked like a cross between a butterfly and a dragon fly!

When we finally reached 2nd stream (man is that hidden deep inside the mountain!), we were greeted by a gushing stream sound first. It’s quite large! I did not have change of dress and the weather was quite cold! I didn’t bathe, but was watching all other frolic! It was here that the dragon flies where aplenty. One tried to sit on my shoulder insistently despite pushing it away. I tried a cute little dance jump across stones on the stream and promptly fell down, hurting my thumb badly. It still hurts! But seeing this gushing, clean, abundant water stream inside the mountain womb was refreshing. I hope it stays this way – if required at the cost of human absence!

After like an hour of this frolic, the group gathered and had bajji, hot chocolate, chips and laddu. The bajji and hot chocolate were made on site. All the vessels and ingredients were trekked up! The waste papers and cups were collected separately in a plastic bag to be trekked down!

The return trek was slightly tiring. My left foot was aching, but the path and the ambience was great! The chatterbox lady returned as well. We had started by about 11am and returned back to base by 5:30pm or so.

Note: Happily, no camera this time!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tweetposts - 29th July 2010, Thursday

We read inspiring things. We acknowledge them honestly. It is because it resonates with us deeply. But life is unrelenting. It lets us transform only if we implement it in the “here and now”. Otherwise, what we read and acknowledge fades off in due course. That is why it is said, taking one step is better than planning a million steps!

Was reading about why people in India take “aarathi”. The science behind it is fascinating. We’ve now forgotten the science and are doing it as a ritual. But even that is said to have some benefits. My point is that, despite all this it is beautiful. The thought that something so insightful is still alive, albeit in a faded form is exciting! With the right keys and people, we can easily revive it! The culture in this place is replete with things like this.

This is an age of information overload. There is no cure for it. An important exercise everyone needs to do is to make sure it doesn’t cause an attention deficit. And part of that is realizing it is impossible to keep up with it all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tweetposts - 26th July 2010, Monday

After Iraq, we now have new news about what is going on in Afghanistan. It is becoming more disillusioning because all that we seem to get is sensationalism. There is apparently no change in the actions. May be it is wiser to let this all go – cat closing its eyes. My first impression after the Iraq news was that it would cause a thunderbolt across the operations in US. I apparently need a lesson on world politics.

My car is the best place to be now – the music and the drive – two perfectly matched elements! Was listening to a song sung by Hariharan and my first thought was how it would have been rendered by iLaiyarAja. There are actually a few songs where we have both versions – most notable being the classic one from kAdhalukku mariyAthai. I always felt that IR’s rendition have a power packed emotional depth to them – but my bias towards him is very strong, so I like to view it as personal preference. There are also some songs where I have felt it would have been better if IR had sung them (ex, “adhikalai nilave” from uRuthimozhi). Over the last two weeks, my emotional affinity towards his compositions and him has been very strong. Becoming very mellow when I think about it!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tweetposts - 24th July 2010

I remember the story of a man who goes to a sage. He tells the sage that his home is too small for his family of three. The sage asks him if he had cows. The man says he does, and so the sage asks him to move the cows into his home. He man is exasperated but does it. A week later he is more miserable and goes back to the sage. The sage repeats the instructions, this time for the pigs he has. Another week later for the hens he has. Eventually, the man goes back to the sage and tells him he can no longer live in his house because it is hell! The sage asks him to move out all the animals and birds out. A week later the man joyously comes back and tells the sage he has so much space to live!
I remembered this story at the railway station yesterday - if India is that home, where do we move the excess people? We can do so much if we were one third our size in population. Any thing we do gets dissipated so rapidly because of this. I don't think it is still too late to start. If we start now, we can get there in 30 or 40 years. Just two parameters - birth and death rate. We should bring the birth rate below the death rate. The hurdle is in getting a billion sized nation on board willingly. And no one who can make a difference (big G) seems to be interested.

Also made me realize, the heart of the nation ticks because of railways! Roadways and airways simply don't scale for the population. Watching a train scream through a railway station or a signal crossing makes me realize how much our lives here are twined with the presence of the railway system!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Story of Cosmetics

No explanation needed!

Secret Santa

I’ve known about this game for quite some time, but have never been a participant. I guess I never had the situation so far and my response has been “Oh well!”

This time, I have two friends to rag at office – and I like the culture of this game! There is a boyish (girlish) excitement going on in the team about making friends do things. There is a general buzz going on in the team area and I think it helps with the team bonding with activities outside of work scope.

The other challenge is in finding fun, creative things for friends to do.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Making a difference!

I think talking about world situation without doing anything about it - in part or in whole is akin to "feel goodness". The talk in itself might look like a nice substitute!

I had mixed feelings about online petitions. I admired the gesture and making a statement, but in terms of making a difference, I didn't know what reach they could have had. Two incidents, both from avaaz.org made me realize that a group of people, who do not know each other, all over the globe can collectively voice and make a difference.

The first one is the petition to continue the suspension of international whaling. Ridiculously, I cannot imagine that nations continue to whale and want to continue to whale pushing the species close to extinction. Why can't we collectively agree on something that is good for the planet?

The other one is a reprieve for Sakineh, who is charged of adultery in Iran, and was supposed to be stoned to death. I personally think Governments should leave the personal lives of adults to themselves as long as they are not a threat to others in the society. In any case, the charge here on Sakineh appears to be dubious - especially given the fact she doesn't speak the language and has hence retracted her confession. Other - stoning by death is the crudest (cruelest) form of punishments. Again, the petition has worked and bowing to international pressure, she will not be stoned. She might still be hanged. 

There are multiple petitioning agencies, Greenpeace and avaaz for example. If we can create one unified international voice for common causes, it will be great!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The bane of apathy!

I went to Gandhipuram bus stand to purchase tickets to Rajapalayam. No online booking was available and so the onerous task of booking with a Government agent fell on my lap. As expected, they did not disappoint. I first went to the counter and found no one there. Two men were inside busy on some files. My first impression was that the counter was elsewhere in the bus station. So I spent five minutes going round the station looking for an alternate counter-like arrangement. None! So I came back here, and near the entrance door of this booth was a uniformed ticket inspector. He confirmed this was indeed the counter. So I went back to the counter.

No response. I am not sure if he heard me or not.


He turned back.

"Need to book a ticket."

"Where are you going?"



"Friday night."

Deep sigh from him. Implied that he is supposed to do the job he is paid to do.

"Wait for a while."

He continued to rummage through the file with his mate for about 10 minutes. It appeared to be some legitimate task they were supposed to finish. He then comes to me to the counter.

"Give me one rupee".
My lucky day - I had one rupee.

He gives me a reservation form to fill out. It asked for my address, phone number. I was wondering why they needed all these to give me a bus ticket. Even railways don't ask these information. Besides, I couldn't help wondering why he could not have handed me the form in the first place when he was busy with his files. I filled out the form after borrowing a pen from a lady nearby. He looked and pointed out some additional information on the reverse side that was missed out. My mistake! I went back to that kind lady, borrowed the pen again and handed the filled form to him.

He then was looking at the computer for close to 5 minutes. The uniformed guard came next to him and started chatting with him. I kept staring at my booking officer intently. I wanted to find out how far he would take this. He briefly looks at me and then goes back to the computer. In this time, two folks came and stood behind me and then dispersed. Not sure if they got fed up or if they were misguided here.

"Which seat?"
"Some seat in the middle and near the window."
Finally, the printer starts printing. He pulled out the ticket, signed and asked me to verify.
"114 Rs."
My really lucky day. I had exact change. Otherwise, there is no doubt he would have sent me to fetch exact change.

All this time, I kept reminding me that my job was the get the ticket and move away from my place. Another reminder in my head was that this was a test. Not becoming upset or angry with this attitude and apathy was also on my mind. But I couldn't help feeling sad. The truth is, there is no accountability for performance in places like these. I wonder what can be done!

I hope SETC/TNSTC bring online booking soon!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tweetposts - 10th July 2010

Was watching "Lion of the Desert" today. The movie broke my heart!

When reading about Calvin scolding his parent generation for handing over a broken earth to him and whether it was possible to disinherit (as in refuse to accept) it - this movie caused the same kind of emotion. Not in terms of the environment, but in terms of utter disrespect to a nation of people. Libyan's were massacred - don't have numbers - by Mussolini's fascist government in that period and it recounts Omar Mukthar's struggle against them. A man of such high dignity - we don't see them very often. When he was captured, as a final stroke of indignity, he was hung in public in front of his own people.

I am going to be on the receiving end when the next generation looks up and asks "what the hell"! Both in terms of environment and in terms of the general consciousness of the planet. Actually, the former is a offshoot of the latter!

I have always been wondering about the general helplessness of the world when it came to international issues (country A harassing B - we have China and Taiwan for example), and also issues within a country (what is going on in Sri Lanka or Africa). Would it help if an International Government was setup? Not UN, it is more a puppet for the top nations. IG in the sense - Government's of all world countries would report into it and its say would be final - it would use armed might if necessary. Of course, some prerequisites are vital as in

1) It must be trustworthy
2) It must not serve vested interests
3) It must only look at overall global well being
4) Must make short term difficult decisions for long term welfare
5) Must have sufficient power (monetary and military) to execute its decisions

Lot of logistical issues and a far cry - I know. But we have a lot of global problems to grapple with, and unless something of this kind happens, we will only be creating patchy solutions - or worse, let it resolve into anarchy.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Srivilliputhur, Sivakasi and Sathur

Since I decided to return from Sathuragiri in one day instead of two, I had an additional day to spare.

The plan was to visit Andal temple at Srivilliputhur, which is five kms away from Krishnan Kovil. However, buses frequently travel from Wathrap to Srivilliputhur (SVP). I got a bus from Wathrap that went directly to SVP. This was travelling to Kovilpatti, crossing SVP, Sivakasi, Sathur. SVP, Sivakasi, Sathur, Rajapalayam, Kovilpatti, Virudhunagar are all connected towns, normally within 20 kms from each other. So businesses, working folks, college folks live and behave as if all these are their towns and frequently commute on a daily basis. So bus networks within these towns abound. Add Madurai to the mix, since it is the district hub!

The bus was crowded since it was crossing three towns. Ticket was 6 Rs. Suddenly made me realize how expensive bus travel has become! Anyway, I got a seat but couldn’t look out because of the crowd. In one stop college students rushed into the bus. Apparently a bunch of them at least lived at SVP. I also presume the college was Kalasalingam college of engineering – the most popular college in the area. The bus travel was close to 30 minutes – but the trek down had really tired me. I asked the man next to me to wake me up once SVP arrived and dozed off. He did and I had to board down at SVP.

SVP before I visited it evoked the sense of a large and ancient town. This was the birth place of Andal and now home to one of the largest and ancient temples in Tamil Nadu (India perhaps!). But the town is very small. Just 2 kms in radius and is choking with its own infrastructure. It appeared that there were just two things that kept the town going:

The temple and pAlkOva (milk sweet) business. Otherwise, residents used it as a stay area and commuted to nearby towns. Of course, supporting businesses exist. I could clearly see that the town isn’t even attempting to slowly expand to outer empty regions. You can actually walk around the towns radius in 2-3 hours. Jammed streets, hence converted to one way and very high population density are the norm here. Obviously, people here have more than settled down to the fact. It’s a way of life. Actually, any necessity (appliance shops, scooter/bike shops) are all just barebones. The Whirlpool appliance shop had ten fridges, and that was the only one in town!

I was looking for a stay area after I had un boarded. Not now, but at that time, I was surprised when I was told there were no hotels in the town. Only lodges. I roamed with my back pack for 30 minutes to find one. I settled down in my room. My agenda for the evening was to visit Andal temple. I took another bath and changed to my veshti/kurta. It was about 6:30PM – I found out that Andal temple was about 2 kms away. I hence used my favorite mode of transport – foot!

The first time you do this is fascinating. Walking through narrow, thickly populated streets, both with people and shops is interesting. The shops sell anything from eatables, stationery, temple items or CDs and DVDs. After a while, as a precursor to entering a “temple zone”, an overhead thatchery appears which then lasts for as long as the path that leads to the temple. I looked up and noticed that it would still leak in the event of rains. Finally, after about 20-25 minutes of walk, in all its magnificent glory was the temple tower!

Just one sight at the temple is enough to make you forget the humdrum of the city. And the perception the temple gives is that it is half the size of the town itself. What magnificence! The very thought of the king to erect a sanctum of serenity of such size for the populace of his kingdom is a reflection of the values and culture of the time.

This is the temple where Andal sang “thiruppAvai”. I first visited the Andal shrine and lit a ghee lamp at the shrine. The thiruppavai is sculpted on the temple walls. For some reason, I didn’t want to leave that place, so I sat there for some time – I will also sheepishly add that I was half expecting a vision to appear about Andal’s life history. None did! I then visited the rest of the temple – which included the deity of chakkarathazhvar as well. The temple is maintained very well and just walking around gives a sense of awe. The amount of work that should have gone in chiseling the intricate carvings on either the stone pillars or the wooden adornments on top is wearing out to think! The priorities and dedication of that time were different I suppose! One disappointing aspect was that recent renovations to the temples also included huge slabs of credits stating who contributed to the renovations. It is funny to notice that the king who built the temple did not think to carve out his name as credit!

This temple is the only high point of the town. But the town can take pride in hosting the temple. Otherwise, only monotony is visible in people’s faces. Instead of the temple being the fulcrum of their day to day experiences, it appears to be the opposite. The temple seems to be taken for granted. With some work, this town can be made a major tourist hub and the surrounding areas can be expanded. The funds can then be used to take the temple to another level. I also think the disappointment stems more from my expectations. I was hoping to get into ancient times!

I retired back to my room and was very tired. The day’s trek had taken its toll. I had another pack of rice which I had taken for the trek and I just ate that for the night. I hadn’t had an opportunity to do my practices before in the day, so I completed them prior to dinner. I hit the sack and went into oblivion for 12 long hours!

Next day was practically unplanned. I woke up only by 10am. I finished my practices and my bath and was looking for a place to eat lunch. Then it dawned on me that the town had no hotels! It had “messes” and all of them were vegetarian-non-vegetarian combos. I wasn’t comfortable. I did walk for close to an hour trying to find a “veg only” mess. I saw a statue of the great leader Kamaraj in the process. It is a landmark in SVP. Finally, I resigned to the fact and decided to have fruit juice for lunch. Juice was cheap here. I found a shop and had this “fruit mixture” juice. I loved it and hence had another. As I was savoring this, I incidentally turned to the right and saw the “vegetarian mess” I was looking for. May be it was God’s plan for me to skip lunch that day!

I wanted to see how it would be to be with the people of this town in close quarters. So I decided to watch a movie. There are only two theaters here – Santhosh and Revathi. Santhosh was near where I stayed. “Goripalayam” was running there. I got a ticket for 20 Rs (that’s the highest priced ticket!). We really were in old times! I don’t think any theater in Chennai or Coimbatore will have tickets priced at that level! Hindu aptly named “Goripalayam” “gore” palayam! The theater had just ceiling fans on the sides. Wow – how long had it been since I went to a theater that was non-air-conditioned. The chairs were all wooden with no cushion and the afternoon heat was clearly felt inside. A board on the wall said “Do not smoke or spit in the theater”. Apparently, people ignored both! The movie period was uneventful. Only about 20 folks watched the movie and the hall was filled with cigarette smoke! It was disappointing! I am wondering what it would take for this town to wake up to the treasure they are hosting there!

It was time to leave SVP – so I packed my bags, checked out and headed to the bus stand. Next stop was Sivakasi – 20 kms from SVP. I didn’t want to board a bus that passed through Sivakasi but stopped there. It’s a common destination from SVP so I got one easily. I enjoyed the ride. It passes through two primary locations – “malli” and “layan”. I later found out that “layan” was the Tamil morph of “Reserve Line”! The evening breeze was cool and at dusk, the skies had turned bluish grey. At one point, the pattern of clouds, skies, the evening breeze and the electric lines on which the birds sat all formed a delightful sight! Finally, the bus strolled into Sivakasi bus stand.

Sivakasi, the land of firecrackers! I had my dinner there – yes there was a hotel! It is a much larger town and I could decipher at least two major cracker shops here – Standard and Kaleeshwari. Standard actually has a very large permanent showroom here. After dinner, I got on a bus to Sathur – which was where I had to board the train back to Coimbatore. In the bus, I got my SVP palkOva which I missed to buy there. It was delicious – I understood why it was so popular. It is also not advisable to give into the taste because I forgot to buy one for Radha. When I was going blah about it, she went blah about how selfish I was! Sathur is again about 20 kms from Sivakasi. But the outside was pretty much dark. When the bus finally reached Sathur at about 9:15pm on Sunday, 4th July, I couldn’t do much else. I was again happy to see a statue of Kamaraj outside the bus stand. He is very popular here!

The railway station was about 1.5kms from the bus stand, so I used my favorite transport method. The railway station is small, quiet and secluded. All three descriptions are unusual if we take other cities as reference. I took a seat waiting for the train. Two or three trains passed by before mine arrived at 11:15 pm. The train was on the dot! In the mean time, I was talking to a man and his teenage son who was joining engineering at Erode. Wishing him all the best, I finally boarded the train.

I think it is safe to call the trip “eventful”!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Isha Life - Mahamudra

We went to this restaurant yesterday. Actually, the restaurant is Mahamudra - Isha Life comprises of a fitness studio, a boutique and the restaurant.

First, the place is a premium outlet since it is a "for profit" unit. There are no pretensions about it. If you get that out of the way, you can see it for what it is. The restaurant has an antique feel about it because of the design. I think it can accommodate about 50 people at a time. Lotus garlands adorn the entrance along with traditional "uruLis" with flowers. Ancient music plays through modern speakers. The restaurant is designed spaciously and the servers are neatly uniformed in the traditional Indian kurta pyjamas with a green overcoat. The manager wears a fully formal business suit. The boutique can be accessed from inside the restaurant.

The kitchen is "partially open" which I think was a conscious design choice. A greenish welcome drink is served to all guests which is the appetizer. The menu is expansive - and expensive :). Another striking difference is that the food is not necessarily "pranic". Onions are used wherever required, but there are a lot of options that are fully pranic.

Many dishes are esoteric, but I think the menu will be second nature to the to-be regulars. Even the soups are non standard. What will also be different is the care taken in presenting even the small things - they are both aesthetic and meticulous. For instance, the presentment of the bill (until you get to this point, you enjoy everything about the food and the ambience!). The bill comes in a decorated wooden box instead of the standard leather folders in other premium restaurants.

Anyway, this is not a place you can go daily or even regularly, but you will surely enjoy the visit. Weekends - bookings are a must.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tweetposts - 25th June 2010

WTC is underway currently here. As credit to the organizers, the disruption in day-to-day activities is minimal. Honestly, we were expecting a near standstill, but that hasn't happened. I never even went to the side of the event and I don't have TV at my home. So blissfully distant from it all!

An interesting take on "classification": Military classifies a lot of information in the interest of national security. That should be the only goal. Any information that can potentially compromise the security of the country is classified. But why was the Wikileaks footage "classified" in the first place? It is misuse of the "classification" policy. Classification is used for hiding a hideous atrocity.
Over here (in Chennai - don't know if it can be generalized), it is stretched to the other extreme to ridiculous proportions. A guy used his mobile to picture the digital clock in the railway station. A nearby policeman forced him to delete the picture for "security reasons". C'mon!

I was watching a movie on DVD some days back. The first or second frame was a lesson on why only original DVDs must be purchased. I find the irony interesting. Why put that on the original DVD purchased by someone? The pirated DVD will have all this crud stripped out anyway! Want to see why people pirate movies? See here: Some one needs to drive some sense into all the "original DVD" makers.

Man has always lived unconsciously (in general). But why is the situation so dire now than all these years behind? I think one analogy explains this best: "If you are an ant, you can walk over anyone. But when you are an elephant, you must watch where you place your leg!" (by Sadhguru, quoted from memory). How did the ant become an elephant? Two factors - technology and population growth. We can't do anything about the former - it is only going forward to more advancement. Sadly, we aren't doing anything about the latter as well. The fact that nature's whip stroke is coming is plainly obvious. It makes me happy and scared at the same time. I saw this in a quote many years back on a hill board in Ooty. It said "before nature disappears, you will". Thom Hartmann saw this in a graphic vision during his meditation (described in "The Prophet's Way"). I only don't know if it is going to be one full strike or in installments. Right now, it appears to be in installments - do you see a connection with all these events in succession? The Tsunami, Haiti earthquake, Chile earthquake, multiple seismic shockwaves in Asia - this is not at all a joke!

BP spills coffee

The video that was funny AND painful.
If the BP CEO really said "it's a small spill compared to the size of the ocean", I'll be damned.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

To be eligible to praise

A long time back, on one of the web forums, an interesting discussion was going on. Unfortunately, with the anonymity the web provides, people say the meanest things which they would not in-person or via telephone. To one person’s remark, another person passed a nasty remark targeted at a celebrity. A third person responded thus:

“Dear X, first please see what credentials you have to praise Y. Then we can talk about your credentials to criticize Y, let alone in the nasty way you just did.” (paraphrased)

The first part of the statement seemed very profound. Ordinarily, we think praising another is ok. But many times, there are some people who tread spaces so high that even to praise them is utterly worthless because it lacks the level of appreciation or understanding required to praise them. The spaces they tread may be in the sphere of talent, compassion or consciousness.

To make any great person proud, I think the only legitimate step will be to follow his or her footsteps. Even praising them can be an exercise of avoiding action. Criticizing – forget about it!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This Is My Life, Rated

I guess no explanation is needed.
This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 6.9
Mind: 6.3
Body: 7.6
Spirit: 6.5
Friends/Family: 5.5
Love: 7.3
Finance: 8.2
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Interestingly,I did this many years ago as well - This was what I got. Not sure how to interpret the comparison :)

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 7.4
Mind: 7.3
Body: 9
Spirit: 7.5
Friends/Family: 4.1
Love: 4.3
Finance: 6.8
Take the Rate My Life Quiz
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