February 28, 2011

Interesting Blogs

I have been reading quite a few interesting blogs over the past few days, and it leaves me completely amazed. Some people have wonderful writing styles, and/or a sense of humor. I'm always in awe of people who could write pretty well, and think about varied topics to write about. I have never quite been able to get out of 'myself' mode - I do have my views on the world, but can be written in a line. I like cricket, I love movies, I hate XYZ, etc. I can't analyze things in details over a few paragraphs - life is very black and white for me. And thankfully my profession doesn't need me to think in anything other than digital options. 

Of perhaps all the blog I know, I find mine the least interesting (from a 3rd person's view). Coz it has nothing for anyone - I hardly write anything with anyone else in my mind. Most of the time, its me talking to myself. And its not even like me writing about my life and experiences - its almost always incomplete. I know about the context, and I end up writing about a sub-part of it. Most of the stuff is written so that I could read back after say 10 years, and realize how different I was earlier. So that I could understand how I felt at an earlier stage of my life, and how events unfolded. So, I write about my experiences when I started learning driving, or bought my first car, or got married. One can capture the moments in pictures, but one can't capture their feelings and thinkings that way. 

February 25, 2011

World Cup: First Impressions

World Cup has started, and most of the teams have played their first matches. This time the schedule is much better than most of the earlier times, and with more matches in the league stages, the possibility of shock-exit are much lower. With each team playing 6 matches in the first round, best 4 (out of 7) in each group move to the next round. If any team fails to clear the league, than it would be because of bad preparation and not because it had one bad day. 

By the first looks, South Africa, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka appear to be the teams to beat. Not England, and not India as well. India has a middle order which is prone to collapse, and fast bowlers prone to be taken to cleaners. However, the other four teams had matches against much lesser opponents than India and England (Bangladesh and Netherlands are certainly the better teams among the associates), and hence one can't draw a really clear comparison. But I still like the looks of those four teams - they have their plans clear, and strategy in place. If you want to beat the Aussies, beat them now - they would raise the bar in the next round. 

February 20, 2011


I believe in simplicity and perfection, and hence quickly get frustrated with some shabbily designed websites. One of my favorite website to read India related news is the TOI (and ET). I like their content - they are a proper masala paper and both of them cover most of the stuff I want to read about - Business and Markets, Sports, Bollywood and Politics. However, the most annoying thing about their site is the pop-ups which blocks the whole page for a good 6-8 seconds before you can read the news. And to make things worse, if you open multiple news item in different tabs (which I end up doing - opening all the news items which I want to read), they end up opening as many pop-ups. 

I guess someone at the company needs to make changes quickly. I know its all about making revenues and meeting the quarterly targets. However, they need to think big - they are the biggest newspaper in the country, and could well end up being the most visited web site here. And given our population and growth rate, I think that would be some opportunity. But that would be possible only if they get out of their cash-cow mentality, and go the google/Facebook way. Both of them have consciously avoided glaring pop-ups over their products, and allow only subtle advertisement. And mind you, these two are perhaps the most successful story in online advertisement and revenue generation. I would love to see a TOI (and ET) designed in the same perfect manner as a Facebook site (take a look at careers page in Facebook, its simply awesome. I was looking at it for completely different reasons, but realized I didn't fit in). Users would love to have a similar clutter free experience. 

I don't know how difficult it is to make such websites and designs. And if it is not, then why aren't others doing it? God knows, may be the same reasons why Sreesanth can't behave like Sachin. 

February 19, 2011

The Social Network: Movie

Today I finally saw the movie - The Social Network. And this totally does justice to the phenomenon of Social Network. The best part about the movie is that its timely, and not a decade late - like its case for most of them. 

(Spoiler Alert)

Its a chronicle of the making of Facebook, and while not sure how credible and accurate the events are, the movie surely makes for one gripping watch. Its a story about its founder, and his years at Harvard where he accidentally stumbles upon a few ideas leading to Facebook. Dumped by girls for his geeky and arrogant ways, he finds a way to get back at them. He hacks into the university network, and gets the pictures of all the girls. He creates a webpage where users could rank the hottest girls, comparing two girls at a time. This leads to the servers crashing, and makes gives birth to the idea of Social Network. 

Poster: The Social Network

From there, the movie takes some more time detailing the journey, and how he may have been inspired by few others along the way. It talks about some of the underlying ideologies of the company - no flashing ads, let users decide what to use it for. These are essentially the same principles which made Google what it is today. It also touches upon the dilemma for an entrepreneur about when to sell the venture - the timing is seldom right, and you are either too early or too late. 

My only wish is the movie were a little longer - it didn't touch upon the personal lives of any of the protagonists. So, we do not know anything about the background and family life of the people. It seems to be intentional - and the movie only focuses on the company and its growth. Its a good watch for anyone hooked on the Facebook, or any other network for that matter. 

Breakfast Skills

I have long wanted to learn making breakfast for myself. I have lived alone for most part of my last decade - six years in college and four years in work life. We had our canteen in the college days where I could just walk in, and get lovely Dosas and Idlis. Currently, my maid comes in the afternoon, and that too only on the weekdays. So, on the weekends, I am left all to myself to arrange for my food. 

I guess I need to learn a few light breakfast items - like making Poha, or Upma. There are readymade combinations available in the markets, but I somehow don't like the taste of them (and am sure they are not much on the healthy side as well). I wanted to give it a try today itself, but I do not have the necessary ingredients now. Need to make a list and order everything today. 

World Cup begins today, and I'm quite excited. I don't have to worry about entertainment sources for the next few weeks - as long as India survives in the competition. And given the structure of the tournament this time, its highly unlikely they will be knocked out in the first stage itself (with 4 teams from each group progressing to the next round). We play Bangladesh in the opener today, and I am hoping for a revenge. 

February 17, 2011


As I have written a couple of times earlier as well, I am learning a little about photography. And as they say, the best way to learn the tricks of the trade is to get your hands dirty. 

I have been reading about some of the technical stuff, and have been making a note of them. However, I guess I need to venture out with my camera more often, and start practicing a few techniques. The first thing I want to test is seeing the effect of 'Depth Of Field'. Am planning a few shots this weekend (mostly Sunday) to sample different pictures shot at different Apertures, and comparing the results. 

February 14, 2011

Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries)

There have been extreme reactions to the movie Dhobi Ghat. Some have liked it, like all Aamir Khan movies in recent times. However, there are a few who didn't like it. And there is nothing wrong in that. This is perhaps the boldest experiment yet from the production house - even more than Peepli Live. 'Peepli' had a rural charm, and an underlying topic to touch the hearts, Dhobi Ghat has none of them. 

The english title of the movie, Mumbai Diaries does more justice to name. Its a story about the city of Mumbai, and all those words thrown at you in the trailer of the movie. Its not a story about the protagonists, they are just used as a backdrop. Their own tale is incidental to the movie, and it could have been others in their place as well. We do not know much about any characters in the end, apart from the city. Anyone who has 'lived' in Mumbai, would relate to a lot of things - the relentless rains, the trains, the pace, the crowd, etc. Its a take on Mumbai from different eyes - the eyes of the four lead characters in the movie. 

If you are in love with Mumbai, may be this is a must watch for you. There have been many movies made professing their love for the city, and this may be the best amongst them. For all the Aamir Khan fans, this may be a let down as it isn't an Aamir Khan movie. In fact, he may be the most insignificant of the four characters in the movie. 

February 10, 2011

Inflation: An Evil?

We have always made inflation appear as an evil to society. All the pro-poor governments in India try to keep it under control and tame it. Te recent market movements got me thinking if Inflation was really that bad a thing in Indian context.

We are a country where at least 60 per cent of the populace still depend on agriculture for their living. And for time immemorial, food prices in India have stayed at ridiculously low levels. You can get virtually everything for less than a dollar. The road side Vada Pav sells for approximately 10 cents, whereas a similar thing in any developed nation would not cost less than 100 cents. One can get a whole day maid for less than 200 dollar a month, and I'm speaking only about Mumbai.

So, whereas the salaries for elite class and white collared workers are approaching the levels seen in developed world, the lower classes barely keep up with Inflation. So, rich are having a party with higher and higher income, and lower or stable expenses. Inflation is one of the way in which this anomaly can be removed. Let the prices of all food items double, an automatically we would have house maids and drivers asking for a raise.

In the short run there would be pain, but in the long run we as a nation may be better off with high inflation.

February 9, 2011

Apple's India Connection

As much as I like Apple's products, I really hate it as a company. While this may seem like a dichotomy, it isn't. Its similar to liking a forbidden fruit - its nice, but I can't touch it. 

Apple has the most racist of product introduction calendar - and most of the products are introduced in India (and many other poorer countries) after they have almost run their life cycles in US and Europe. And when there are newer versions to be introduced in those markets - it takes all the older versions off the shelf, and introduces the same in India. Much like iPhone 2 which came to India after 3G was introduced in US (and that too at a price higher than 3G). And now, the same story is being repeated with iPad. Months (if not weeks) away from the introduction of iPad 2 in US and Europe, they start shipping the old version to India. And market it as an event next to Big Bang Theory in importance for the nation. 

Its high time we do not lap up their products this way. That they should be forced to introduce the products at 'around' the same time with other markets, and not dump useless inventory at us. I just wish our government was active enough to control the foreign corporates, just like China does. 

February 7, 2011

Cricket World Cup 2011

I have been a cricket fan since my childhood days, like most other boys in India. And even though I follow a little bit of other sports as well (mostly Tennis and Football), Cricket is and would always remain the top priority. 

I don't know what it is about the game that has the whole nation hooked to it - may be it was the world cup victory in 1983. A nation tied down by bureaucracy, and the perennial underdogs came out as the World Champions. May be it was that one moment - mind you, it was at the venue of our previous Lords, that transformed the sports landscape of the nation. Hockey was relegated to background, and cricket became a national obsession. 

Another interesting thing about the game was it is an individualistic team game - you have teams, but most of the time its individual brilliance that wins you the match. You don't need passes like in Football or Hockey, and if you are good, you will play well. Add to it the plentitude of numbers - there are just too many statistics - runs, wickets, fours, sixes, 50s, 100s, etc. This game is a statistician delight, and can easily employ half of graduates from Indian School of Statistics every year (with so many IPL teams coming). 

Coming to the present, the World Cup is about to begin in a few days, and I'm really excited. Its been a long time since we had a all-nations tournament, and given the form of teams, this one promises to be really interesting. Of course I would be supporting India, but am mindful of the challenges as well. SA and England are dangerous as well, though they haven't really played in India recently (which is a different 'ball' game altogether. 

February 5, 2011

Atonement & King Arthur

This has been a movies week - and saw a couple of interesting ones. I had seen King Arthur earlier as well, but didn't remember much about it so gave it another run as well. 

Atonement is a classic, in every sense of the word. Usually the Oscar nominated movies are not really to my liking, but this is different. The story is set in 1930s and 1940s, and first part deals with an English household. I wouldn't detail the storyline here, but the cast is superb in their performance. Both James McAvoy and Keira Knightley are perfectly cast in their roles, and the young actress (who plays the little sister to Keira) is awesome. The basic premise of the story is how an act can change life of many people, and it may be impossible to rectify the mistake at a later point in time. 

King Arthur is very different in treatment, and even though it wasn't much of a success, I liked the movie. In fact, I tend to like most of the grand historical movies with battle sequences. They make for such a perfect viewing - with larger than life sets and dresses. This one is set in 5th century England, and deals with the folklore of King Arthur. Though the story is not historically accurate, with many a historians doubting even the existence of the King, its an honest treatment. Over the course of the movie, the Knights (Arthur and his friends) discover that they have been fighting a wrong battle, and their conception about ideologies of their empire is misplaced. 

Three Months

I am on a long leave, lets call it a sabbatical. It was not exactly pre-planned or my choice, but I got it nonetheless. And almost a month has passed as well. Now I have to decide what I can do over the remaining 8-9 weeks. 

Firstly, it gives me some time to catch up on some classy movies - I have long wanted to watch the IMDB Top 100 movies collection, and it might be time to give it a shot. If not all, then at least half way through the list. Over the past few weeks, have really saw a lot of stuff I had kept on my to-do list for long. 

Secondly, there are serials which I always post-poned for future viewing. There was OC which I had left mid way, and there are plenty of others as well - 24 and Lost among them. 

Thirdly, I am catching up a little on my picture management - learnt a few things about iPhoto today. Its really cool, specially the latest version - would upload a slideshow tomorrow featuring a few of my recent albums. 

Finally, I need to learn a few things about photography - and how to take good pictures under different conditions. I will spend some time on it tomorrow, and then try to go through the camera manual. I had bought a really cool camera last year (Nikon D90), and have been using it mostly in point-and-shoot mode. 

February 2, 2011

Television In India

I have completely stopped watching Television these days. During my childhood days, we used to watch Cricket and MTV/Channel V. Over time, I stopped watching music channels, and limited myself to Cricket only. However, after moving to HK, even the Cricket is gone from my life (as I have do not have the cricket channels here). So, in a nutshell, television is almost dead for me. 

The only use I have for it is as a large screen where I can connect my hard-disk and watch movies/serials. And guess its a decent enough use. 

Still waiting for Indian Channels to improve on the content and make some meaningful programs. I would really love to see something like FRIENDS or HIMYM in our Mumbai or Delhi settings. Guess we do have an audience for that. 

February 1, 2011

Books Vs Movies

Everyone has their own favorite between the two - the more carefree people usually prefer Movies, whereas the thinking and introspective sorts (most people writing blogs) prefer Books (usually). Its similar to a choice between technically sound and superior (like Rahul Dravid), or flamboyant (like Dada, Yuvraj). I had always been a 'book-person', but given my full time job, I don't find much time to read. However, I loved to buy books, so over the past few years have grown a large collection of 'new and unread' books - hoping to read them some time in future. However, with each passing year, the list keeps on getting longer. 

One of the reasons I didn't see Harry Potter and LOTR all these years was because I wanted to read the books first. And that never happened. (Another reason was the fact that these are grand movies, not worth watching on computer screens or laptops. And having missed the screenings in theaters, my only hope was a big screen TV - which I finally got now in form of an awesome LED TV). So I finally stopped fooling myself, and admitted that I may never get to read the books. That I should go ahead and watch the movies at least. They do not have the feeling of reading the books, but you can manage to see a lot of movies.