Thursday, January 29, 2009

193 to go

"Expectation is the mother of disappointment". So goes my line of thinking. Here's why.

For years I was one of the countless who were led to believe that a movie is as great as its trailer. But with age came the realisation that movie trailers have all the pivotal scenes & the best dialogues. All that’s left is the climax, which isn’t too difficult to guess these days.

Nicholas Cage's Snake Eyes fits the bill rather clearly. The movie had nothing to offer and was such a big disappointment. Deep Blue Sea ranks a close second. Oceans 13 which I watched recently was surprisingly quite a flop in this respect as well.

Which is where the 200 movies that I recently got my hands on come in. I must have heard of a grand total of 10 of them. Which means 195 movies with absolutely no scope for disappointment.

City of God is one of the 195. And boy was it one heck of a movie. Really fascinating movie that was made all the more special by the fact that its based on a true story. Wow there is so much of this world that we dont know or can barely begin to fathom. Another Aussie movie - Gone is part of this movie brigade. The movie has 3 unknown lead characters and an insignificant support cast along with the Australian outback. And yet it had me gripped.

So here's my oath for the year 2009. No more trailers. As an extension - no judging a music album on the songs that have been released on radio/VH1. Only then will I give myself the freedom to not get disappointed. And in times like these we really could do with this freedom.

Not quite the Indian Idol

So there we were, having breakfast at office when a person joined the group of people sitting at our table and proceeded to take out his cellphone and play some crazy Punjabi song (as far as I could make out) at full volume. Our company culture is such that a group of people laughing loudly during meal time find themselves at the receiving end of disapproving glances (We would know since we are almost always the culprits). So one can imagine the looks of horror etched on peoples faces when they realised what was happening. Not only that, the hero decided to start singing along loudly as well. Cue instantaneous silence and dropped jaws all across. Hearing a guy sing "Come be my boyfriend" in office first thing in the morning is not a pleasant experience by any measure. Never before have we gulped down our sandwiches at that speed. Absolutely amazing.

We spotted him later on for lunch as well. As my friend said, "He is drinking his banana shake like he is sipping beer". Nuff said !

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Camel Lunch

A couple of weeks back I my 1st Camel Lunch of 2009. 'A what?' you might ask. Simply put, a Camel Lunch is a lunch in which you end up eating so much that you actually are stuffed for the next 24 hours. It is possible.......

In todays overly-weight conscious world, enjoying a good meal is becoming a rarity. How often have you seen a person just give in to the temptation of really good meal? For me I usually have 2 Camel Lunch's a year - for Christmas & Easter. On those 2 days, it takes a lot of effort for me to climb the steps to my bedroom cause I am so stuffed. The best part of a Camel Lunch - the simply divine post lunch sleep which can extend to 4+ hours.

This time my Camel Lunch happened cause I had gone for a lunch buffet to a restaurant in Banglore. To say that I loved the food would be a gross understatement. I was so full after eating that I said to myself - no desserts. 5 minutes later I decided to go check the dessert section. Big mistake - pastries, jelly, 3 flavours of ice cream, a chocolate fountain to soak brownies/cake pieces, gulab jamuns and something else were just too tempting. My mouth waters at the very thought of them today. Sufficient to say I went for more than a couple of rounds of dessert.

And I could barely touch food for the next 1 1/2 days. It is good to break down our self imposed walls once in a while. Oh yeah, one last thing - burp !

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Faster, higher, stronger ! errrrr not exactly....

There's something about sports that brings out the best in (well, most) of us. No longer can man battle man with bare fists & weapons, trying to break both will & bone until one finally emerges victorious like in the old days(Scenes from Russel Crowe's Gladiator spring to mind). So we have over the decades decided to engage in more civilised combat on the sporting field. Great rivalries have played out on tennis courts over the last few decades, the most recent being Rafael Nadal & Roger Federer. Storybook stuff. Australia & England battling over the Ashes. You get the drift.

The challenges that inspire the best out of our sporting champions is what captures our attention. When Australia batting first made the highest one day score people were like 'wow, South Africa is going to be embarrassed tonight'. And then SA go ahead and rewrite the history books by surpassing the total in a brilliant effort. Scripting the impossible is what makes sports so fascinating.

So what in the world are we doing going bowling? We end up spending time & money by running and hurling a ball down a polished floor to try and knock down stationary pins. Well you might argue that cricket is the same, we are after all trying to knock down 3 stumps and/or the bails. But there is the small matter of a batsman who is ready to smash the ball and your ego straight out the park, standing between you and the stumps. So what’s the challenge in bowling ? We dont have different weather conditions to play in. We dont have different surfaces to play on. We dont have an opponent to negate our moves, whoever your opponent is doesnt make a difference to your next attempt. So why am I spotted in bowling alleys? Oh, I just enjoy sitting back and watching my friends try their hand at it while they go through myriad emotions. Trust me thats much more enjoyable.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Yes, President !

As George Double Yah Bush's terms winds down, BBC decided to remind all of us how the President has tickled our funny bone over the years. The contents below are from the BBC link (

"They misunderestimated me."Bentonville, Arkansas, 6 November, 2000
''I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe - I believe what I believe is right." Rome, 22 July, 2001
"There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on... shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again."Nashville, Tennessee, 17 September, 2002
"There's no question that the minute I got elected, the storm clouds on the horizon were getting nearly directly overhead."Washington DC, 11 May, 2001
"I want to thank my friend, Senator Bill Frist, for joining us today. He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me."Nashville, Tennessee, 27 May, 2004

"For a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times."Tokyo, 18 February, 2002
"The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorise himself."Grand Rapids, Michigan, 29 January, 2003
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." Washington DC, 5 August, 2004
"I think war is a dangerous place."Washington DC, 7 May, 2003
"The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the - the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice."Washington DC, 27 October, 2003
"Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat."Washington DC, 17 September, 2004
"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."CBS News, Washington DC, 6 September, 2006

"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"Florence, South Carolina, 11 January, 2000
"Reading is the basics for all learning."Reston, Virginia, 28 March, 2000
"As governor of Texas, I have set high standards for our public schools, and I have met those standards."CNN, 30 August, 2000
"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.''Townsend, Tennessee, 21 February, 2001

"I understand small business growth. I was one."New York Daily News, 19 February, 2000
"It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."Reuters, 5 May, 2000
"I do remain confident in Linda. She'll make a fine Labour Secretary. From what I've read in the press accounts, she's perfectly qualified."Austin, Texas, 8 January, 2001
"First, let me make it very clear, poor people aren't necessarily killers. Just because you happen to be not rich doesn't mean you're willing to kill."Washington DC, 19 May, 2003

"I don't think we need to be subliminable about the differences between our views on prescription drugs."Orlando, Florida, 12 September, 2000
"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."Poplar Bluff, Missouri, 6 September, 2004

"Will the highways on the internet become more few?"Concord, New Hampshire, 29 January, 2000
"It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber."Washington DC, 10 April, 2002
"Information is moving. You know, nightly news is one way, of course, but it's also moving through the blogosphere and through the Internets."Washington DC, 2 May, 2007

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."Saginaw, Michigan, 29 September, 2000
"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."LaCrosse, Wisconsin, 18 October, 2000
"Those who enter the country illegally violate the law."Tucson, Arizona, 28 November, 2005
"That's George Washington, the first president, of course. The interesting thing about him is that I read three - three or four books about him last year. Isn't that interesting?"Speaking to reporter Kai Diekmann, Washington DC, 5 May, 2006

"I have a different vision of leadership. A leadership is someone who brings people together."Bartlett, Tennessee, 18 August, 2000
"I'm the decider, and I decide what is best."Washington DC, 18 April, 2006
"And truth of the matter is, a lot of reports in Washington are never read by anybody. To show you how important this one is, I read it, and [Tony Blair] read it."On the publication of the Baker-Hamilton Report, Washington DC, 7 December, 2006
"All I can tell you is when the governor calls, I answer his phone."San Diego, California, 25 October, 2007
"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."Washington DC, 12 May, 2008

Thursday, January 08, 2009

New Age Thoughts For A Day

For years I've read about how ones destiny is in their own hands & how you script your future and all that mumbo jumbo. Turns out it isnt quite true these days. People catching a train from Mumbai's most crowded station/dining in 2 of Mumbai's top flight hotels had their futures rewritten thanks to a handful of madmen from Pakistan. Thousands of people watched the once esteemed Wall Street collapse in a jiffy & wipe out their money in the process. Madoff and his Ponzi scheme have risen from obscurity to hog the headlines of papers across the world. What makes this different is that a number of charities had invested their money in Madoff & now they have to shut down. Manufacturing across the world is taking a massive hit (GM isn’t the beginning & end of America's economy). Layoffs & halting of production have unfortunately become the norm rather than the exception. All of which has had a trickle down effect on the Indian economy.
But what has really got us in India shaken is the whole Satyam fiasco that’s unfolded in the last 24 hours. A 7000 crore fraud that’s grown out of hand in the last few years and auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) didnt know anything about it? To quote Dutch from SHIELD 'You have got to be shitting me!' The life & dreams of 53,000 Satyam employees seems to amount to nothing now does it. I guess its time we started from scratch. Tell school kids 'Boys & girls, when you finish your education you may not have a job because a lot of other people screwed up'. Maybe its time kids start reading the truth.

I think I'll start with these -
"Success is 99% perspiration & 1% inspiration & not having a CEO who will fcuk your company"
"A success a day & an honest auditor keeps bankruptcy away"

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Corporate culture through the eyes of Scott Adams

For all those HR people who advocate working to prove that you can rise to a challenge
You know the type - the ones who talk about modern challenges & how everyone has to work harder now that its recession time. About how we should continue to strive forward to accept new challenges & cross new boundaries. While working for the same pay......

Too much customer friendliness

We all agree that the customer is king. But what happens when you take it to extremes ?


Many of us have often encountered people in a much better position than ourselves, earning in many multiples of our salary while at the same time knowing absolutely nothing at all. Its not all bad though, conversations on how he managed to reach that position & stay there without the people above him realising he's an idiot are extremely enjoyable & much more fun than discussing the weather.
IT life
My favourite! This truly does capture the life of a guy in India's IT industry. We slog for days (includes weekends & overtime for which we do not get paid) & at the end of it the guys onsite/clients say 'Oh thats not required' ......

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Speed vs Dionysia

Its January and Im missing the last leg of the glorious TAPMI life. For those not in the know, placements (which is what everyone does an MBA for, irrespective of how much the authorities try to convince you otherwise) in TAPMI happen in mid-December. What follows is probably the best 3 months ever - as the workload drops to a fraction of its original sky high levels & people just stop giving a shit about assignments & presentations. Which is also why Speed (our annual inter sectional & extremely hotly contested sports event) & Dionysia (our annual inter sectional theatre event) come up in Jan - Feb. Ive been part of both during my time in TAPMI and its difficult to decide which of the two was more fun.

One fond memory that I will always carry of Speed was when we were in PGP I. Our seniors was playing against each other in the finals & one team was 2 - 0 out of 5 sets. We had some yoga class to attend and throughout the yoga session we could hear wild cheering over the sound of beating drums (trust me Im not making this up) It was like being in the middle of a rock concert & not being able to see the band on stage. An hour later we were done & rushed to the court to find the team had staged an incredibly comeback, winning the next 3 sets to eventually win 3-2. Watching them play with so much heart gave us all goosebumps & was truly worthy of a movie.

Our matches used to happen early morning before class and in the evenings (sunlight permitting) I recall playing in the football match in the first year and the whole team suddenly realising that we had less than 15 minutes before class started. We all rushed back to the hostel & passed the girls walking to college telling us that we would never be able to make it in time. Needless to say all 11 of us were in class before the girls thanks to the miracles of soapless baths,crumpled clothes,bikes & deodrants. The fact that we could barely climb the stairs to reach class was another matter .....

Dionysia has provided a truckload of memories as well. As the (co) director, I remember hiding behind the desk on stage with the script in hand to prompt the team in case anyone forgot their lines. I swear I went crazy as the team kept jumping 2 pages forward, then 1 page back then 3 pages ahead. Of course the climax was quite unforgettable with our leading lady who was supposed to die from a bullet shot, kept waiting for the bullet and eventually dropped dead only for the bullet sound to echo through the hall after she fell. Fortunately our hero's extremely dramatic fall from a bullet a minute later got the audience back to the serious stuff. We used a scene from an episode of SHIELD (I knew watching all those episodes would eventually come handy) where a guy sitting on a chair gets shot & the impact of the bullet causes him to violently fall back with the chair giving additonal effect. Perfect timing & a very loud chairfall caused the audience to think our actor had actually hurt himself. Brilliant.

We really scratched our heads in the second year to find a play/movie to adapt (as mentioned elsewhere on the blog). Fortunately this time we had a much bigger stage to work on which gave us a lot of creative freedom. Replicating the train scene was proving to be a quite a headache until I hit upon the idea of switching off all the lights except a spotlight & having our actors in the middle with a lot of other guys walking up & down in the background with the sound of a trains engine. Being shorthanded with regards to the support team, I was worried about pulling off the play but a grand total of 2 of us managed to synchronise it perfectly. When we came to the scene I could hear the audience raise its voice in puzzlement but in a couple of seconds they burst out into appreciative applause. We may have ended up being the second best team on that night but that applause for that one scene was worth all the effort we had put in.

So where am I with regards to my decision on which was better ? To be honest they are like chalk and cheese. Yin & yang. Beavis & Butthead. Ive realised I might as well sit back & relish the memories. A tie is what I declare !

Ready, aim , hurl that shoe !

For years the humble shoe has been just that - a shoe. You polish your formal pair(s) and head to work. You keep your sneakers a light shade of brown to show that the shoe has been run in. A total of 3 pairs does it for most guys I guess. Unlike women who need a pair for each shade of dress / different colour combination that they have but thats another story in itself. And the shoe would've been destined to stay at that level of unimportance for the years to come had it not been for the actions of one Munthadar al-Zeidi, an Iraqi journalist.

After his courageous shoe flinging incident he has become something of a celebrity across the world. Suddenly everyones inbox was filled with
1. a video of the incident which unfortunately missed beloved Bush
2. a game which allows you to throw shoes at Bush popping up behind a podium

I even read somewhere that a (Egyptian?) dad has offered the hand of his daughter in marriage to Mr Munthadar al-Zeidi because of his bravery. Here with the downturn in the economy & the uncertainty thats prevailing across the Indian IT sector, guys from the IT industry are just not getting marriage proposals. However his bravery has come at a price, his brother has been quoted as saying that he is missing a tooth & has cigarette burn marks on his ear (according to the Associated Press). Ouch. But I guess in the years to come, this clip will be replayed again and again and people will look back with a smile and say, now there was a guy with balls. Honestly not many have the guts to stand up to the American president. Tony Blair is one name that springs to mind with an alarming speed. The French stood up to them some years back & Americans wanted to ban french fries ..... Munthadar al-Zeidi, may you come out of this safe, my prayers are with you. Even if your actions were an extreme case of exercising your right to freedom of speech & you were wrong in hurling that shoe with great force (at the expense of precision), you have ended up making the world think. And for this I thank you.