Monday, December 22, 2008

Apologies, Awards, Cricket and Christmas

Posted by Varun | Monday, December 22, 2008 | Category: , , , | 25 comments

I am sorry for not updating my Digital Diary for so long.

I hate to give my work as excuse because I firmly believe if we make an effort to take some time out of work we can surely do anything and everything we think of doing. I promise that I’ll make it a point to post regularly from now on. This is the first time that people have been demanding my next post. It is cheerfully encouraging to see people waiting to read my next post. I will try my best and keep up with your pace.

Now that I am through with apologies I’ll move on to next topic in the title.

The awards have been flowing in even though I have not been a regular here. Thanks a lot for all the encouragement and support. These awards are as big as Oscars for me.

Proximity Award (Awarded by Smita):

Thanks will be an understatement. This award comes with a small write up as well. Here it goes;

This award is given to a blog that invests and believes in PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even
more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.
What more can I say about this award!? Here comes the tough part now.

I pass this award to;
Kreativ Blogger (Awarded by Archana and Vivek):

If there is anything creative in my blog that should be my template :). Thanks a lot for the award. This award will now act as an inspiration for me to write something creative. Blogging is not just about writing. It is about creating something new every time. So this award goes to everyone on my blog roll and to everyone who is making an effort to write a blog.

Now for some Cricketing action;


If you are a cricket fan you would know that the last 10 days have been a golden period for test cricket. If the Indian run chase made me think about writing a post, the South African run chase made me sit up and write. What an awesome run chase it was!? Is it because the well oiled engine called Australia is running out of steam? Or is it the never-say-die attitude of South Africa that helped them pull off such a tremendous win. Only time will tell. But nevertheless it will be match to remember for decades to follow. Same is the case with the Indian run chase. It is one of those matches that will be telecast on TV time and again as a classic match. I am so glad to have witnessed it live. I would like to congratulate and thank the Indian and South African teams for taking test cricket to a new level.

Another accomplishment that any Indian cricket fan would have taken notice of is Rahul Dravid’s century. I was more relieved than Dravid himself. It was disheartening to see him in such a pathetic state. With this innings, he has not just managed to silence the critics; he has made sure he has zipped up their mouths for another season. I just could not understand what was there for him to prove. If there is anything l
eft for anyone to prove in the current Indian Cricket team it has to Harbhajan Singh. Anil Kumble’s shoes are turning out to be to too big for him to fill. Dhoni will not be able to shield him for too long. The so called critics want a scapegoat and I am sure the turbanator is slowly turning(doosra'ing') out to be the right candidate.

That was the cricket update. Moving on to Christmas celebrations;

If I could trade one of the thousands of festivals we have with a festival from a different religion it would be Christmas any day. It has a certain aura around it. Christmas brings with it lots of fond memories. This was one of the festivals we celebrated in school with great enthusiasm. We used to decorate our class rooms, decorate Christmas trees, play lots of games, exchange small gifts, cut cakes and the best part about this whole celebration was the holidays that followed. Now when I am working in an IT organization, all I get is a day off. The office is decorated alright but no one seems to be enthusiastic about the whole thing. This has not left me disappointed though. I have my own plans for Christmas. I will be watching the first-day first-show of Ghajini with my family and will probably be lunching out after that. And since there is a sale going on in every nook and corner of Bangalore I might do some shopping as well. So, What are your plans? How are you planning to celebrate this festive week?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Orkut - Social Nuisance Site

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, December 9, 2008 | Category: , , | 46 comments

Orkut, the most happening social networking site in India has lately managed to irritate me by adding new features to its repertoire (Apps, Photo Updates). But it is its latest feature that has managed to irritate me the most. First thing I notice this morning is I can chat on Orkut!. What the hell!? What annoyed me even more was it had automatically selected few friend groups and added them to my Google talk list without my permission. 

It has destroyed the whole purpose of keeping instant messaging personal. If they wanted people in Orkut to chat with each other they should have created new software or a widget that would have enabled them to do so. They shouldn't have brought in Google talk to do their job. 

Don't be surprised if you type www.google.com in your browser tomorrow and find an unwanted person pinging you (all in the name of social networking) instead of finding what you were looking for.

I have so far found few ways to get around this nuisance;

1.  Go offline in Orkut - But this solves only half the problem. You will not be able to remove people that Orkut obliged adding. Moreover, you will not be able to chat with people you really wanted to chat with. You will be offline :( 

2.  Sign in to Orkut -> Go to settings -> Chat Tab -> Uncheck all the check boxes and save changes. This will remove all the people Orkut had added without your permission. 

3. Do not sign-in into orkut :)

Once you complete the first two steps, you can go back to your usual chatting. 

Looking at the flip side of the coin, this new feature of Orkut has few advantages as well.

1. It is now very easy to find an Orkut friend’s Gmail ID and add him or her to your Google talk List. 

2. Chat and Scrap without having to switch between browser windows.

I have nothing against Google or Orkut but it is just that I got irrirated looking at its latest feature. Now that I have blogged about it. I feel so good :)

Since my rants were focused so much on Google, I would like to leave you with an interesting piece of news that I read in the Times of India today. It is about 'Kosmix'. It is a search engine which is set to challenge the search-engine-giant, 'Google'. Venky and Anand, two Indians who missed two chances to buy Google way back in 1998 have now raked in funds to start their own search engine. You read me right! Google was on sale 10 years back for a cool $1 billion :) 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Jab We Met

Posted by Varun | Monday, December 8, 2008 | Category: , | 21 comments

Before you get into any sort of confusion or conclusion, this is neither a movie review nor a discussion about the size-zero girl Kareena Kapoor. I will be talking about my first ever blogger get together(Not exactly the first meet because the first blogger I ever met was Preeti during her book launch) with Oxy who is probably four or five sizes more than our very own size-zero girl :)


It was an email reply to a comment on my blog post 'India Bleeding' that made this meeting possible. Here goes the conversation;

Oxy: "Exactly, I too did not feel like writing anything on it but my reasons were not same as yours that they all had written it greatly. I disagree. I came across many blog posts, which were absolutely trash."

Varun: "I hope you didn't classify my post in the trash list :)"

Oxy
: "o no no no no.. not at all.... else I wudn't have commented at all buddy..... chill... moreover u had clearly written many have already written on it.."

Even though I was just kidding, Oxy felt that I might have got offended by his comments and disclosed him to me by adding me to his Google-Talk list. I recognized him by his profile snap (Cowboy hat made it easy). We cleared all confusions we had and chatted for some time. While we were chatting on Thursday, he told me that he had an extra ticket for the movie (First-Day First-Show) 'Dil Kabaddi' and asked me if I could join him. I could not say NO for the following three reasons;

1. It was a movie invitation :)
2. It was going to be my first ever Blogger-Get-Together.
3. It was a First-day First-show.

I was so excited about the meet and movie that I reached PVR Cinemas fifteen minutes before time (The guards did not allow me to get inside the mall :)). Luckily for me, I had to withdraw some money from the ATM and that helped me kill time. By the time I withdrew money and came back to the mall, they had opened the gates. I parked my bike, came to the rendezvous point and waited. Oxy made it just in time for the movie and we rushed in after the initial Hi-Hellos. We got time to chat only during the interval as the movie was pretty interesting and we did not want to miss Irfan Khan's antics.

Both of us liked the movie and reached a common consensus that the movie deserved three and a half stars (***.5). The conversation during interval led to disclosure of few secrets about fellow bloggers and I also got to know more about a person I always knew only as Oxy. I had always read about blogger meets but it was fun to be part of one. The movie was entertaining and so was the meet. Thanks for the invitation Oxy. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you.

The movie and the meet kick started my weekend a little earlier than usual. How I wish every single day started with a movie :)

I received few lovely awards over the weekend. I would like to thank Vimmuuu for awarding me a trophy and a beautiful 'Butterfly Award'. I have proudly displayed it on the right panel of my blog and I hereby pass it to Ashwini, Archana,Arch-Fully, IHM, Valerine and Vivek. I have tried not to repeat awarding the bloggers who already have these awards.

Here are the awards;


Monday, December 1, 2008

India Bleeding

Posted by Varun | Monday, December 1, 2008 | Category: , , | 36 comments

I wanted to write a post on the Mumbai Terror Attacks but I was in a complete state of shock and could not express what I felt. Moreover I have nothing left to write because great writers and great bloggers have already written everything about it.

It is now the time of post-mortem of the entire episode when facts and secrets are dug out from the dead bodies of the terrorists. It is also the time when every secret agency claims that it had warned India about the attacks. Every citizen of India has lots of questions in his or her mind but I don't see any person who has the answers to all of them. So it is time to find our own answers. Why do we always wait? I think that is how we are taught in schools. We always ask questions and wait for the teacher to respond. It is that time of our lives when we have to change and act.

I came across a lovely poem (written by famous lyricist Prasoon Joshi) that more or less sums up what I wanted to convey;


Nahin aaney doonga zindagi ko aasani se patri par

Nahin utarney doonga usey keechad main,tedhey medhey raston pe

Nahin sookhney doonga deewaron par laga khoon
Halka Nahin padney doonga uska rang

Is baar Nahin banney doonga usey itna laachaar ki paan ki peek aur khoon ka fark hi khatm ho jaye

Is baar ghawon ko dekhna hai gaur se thoda lambe wakt tak

Kuch faisley aur uskey baad hausley kahin toh shuruat karni hi hogi

Is baar yahi tay kiya hai!

My heartfelt condolences go to all the martyrs who played a big part in digging us out of the hole that we had dug for ourselves (The blasts just made it easy).

I would not like to put the entire blame on the politicians here because they became our leaders only because we voted (or not voted) for them. Please use your power, your vote judiciously and choose a worthy leader instead of moaning later.

I reached a milestone last week. The “five thousand hits” milestone. I wanted to celebrate it in style but this whole episode made me sad and I could no longer celebrate it. But since life has to move on, here I am, proudly displaying the number of hits on the left side of the screen. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my readers from the bottom of my heart for making it possible. With each comment and each post I have improved and I would have been just another unknown blogger (Google finds me now:)) in this big wide blog world without you all. Thanks again!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ghajini Ne Bana Di Jodi

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, November 25, 2008 | Category: , , , | 25 comments

Here we go again! Here are my first impressions on the music of Ghajini and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. Two most anticipated movies of the year. I am carrying on from where I left.




Cast: Aamir Khan, Asin, Jiah Khan
Music: AR Rahman
Director: AR Muragadoss

Guzarish
Singer: Javed Ali
Guest Vocals: Sonu Nigam
First Impression: Wow! Sonu Nigam should have done more than just humming in this song. The track would have sounded amazing in his voice. This song is my new ring tone.

Aye Bachchoo
Singer: Suzanne
First Impression: Foot tapping. The track has all the ingredients to set any dance floor on fire.

Kaise Mujhe
Singer: Benny Dayal & Shreya Ghoshal
First Impression: Too slow to my liking. I changed the track even before it ended. The singers have obviously done a great job but the track did not impress me much.

Behka
Singer: Karthik
First Impression: Sounds like 'Main Aisa Kyun Hoon' from Lakshya but very good nevertheless. Apparently Aamir Khan has changed his costume six times in this song.

Lattoo Lattoo
Singer: Shreya Ghoshal
First Impression: Shreya Ghoshal has made this track her own. She has done an awesome job to say the least

I watched memento(Ghajini is apparently loosely based on this Hollywood movie) last week and see no place for these songs in that kind of action movie. It will be interesting to see where the director fits these songs into. I give the album four stars (****).


Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Vinay Pathak
Music: Salim Sulaiman
Director: Aditya Chopra

Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai ( Two solo tracks)
Singer: Roop Kumar Rathod and Shreya Ghoshal
First Impression: Slow but beautifully sung by both the singers.

Haule Haule
Singer: Sukhwinder Singh
First Impression: Probably the best track of the album. Haule Haule Ho Jayega Pyar is very true for the album as well. Keep listening to fall in love with this album. I do not have the patience but in case anyone of you do, please go ahead.

Dance Pe Chance
Singer: Sunidhi Chauhan, Labh Jajua
First Impression: I have started liking this track after I saw the visuals. There are absolutely no second thoughts on the quality of the singer. She is one of the best we have today.

Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte
Singer: Sonu Nigam
First Impression: Innovative! The lyrics are at its innovative best. It's like this song 'Mere Jeevan Sathi' from the movie Ek Duje Ke Liye. The only difference is this song has mukhdas (in a different tune) of famous old songs as well. Sonu Nigam has done justice to the song.

I give the album three and a half stars (***.5). I have given the album an extra star only because it has SRK on its cover. :)

Conclusion: Given an option, I would listen to songs from Ghajini any day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sons of India

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, November 18, 2008 | Category: , | 33 comments

Why do we mourn for a day or two when our favourite cricketer fails to score a century or fails to take wickets? Why do we feel bad when a movie of our favourite star flops? One of the reasons being that we see these people as part of our own family. We feel the pain that they are going through. We feel the pain as though it is our own. But why don't we feel the same when a soldier breathes his last protecting our country. 

I was watching a kannada serial directed by Prakash Belawadi yesterday which touched upon this topic quite beautifully. The female protagonist in the serial is a war widow whose husband has died in Kashmir trying to protect our country. She brings this topic up and asks a simple question to her parents. "Why aren't the soldiers treated as part of everyone's family just like a cricketer or a movie star is treated? Are they any lesser to these people in importance?”

There have been instances of huge Puja being performed when the one and only Big B fell ill or just before Indian team left for West Indies for World Cup but I haven't seen or heard of any Puja being performed for the well being of the Indian soldiers. They are always taken for granted. 

Do you think the soldiers need to fight in a Colosseum in front of a large audience or fight in front of a camera to gain this place in people's heart or keep a count of the number of kills that they have made so that it can be put up in the list of never ending world records? 

I am not here to answer any of the questions that I have raised or the lady in the serial rose. I shamelessly confess that I don't have the answers. I just feel that it is high time that the martyrs of war get more than just the two minute mourning we give them. May their souls rest in peace. And in case any of you know the answer, please let me know. 

According to me, they are the true sons of India.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rendezvous with Meetings, Movies, Memories, Masti and Magic

Posted by Varun | Thursday, November 13, 2008 | Category: , , , , , | 18 comments

One of the most anticipated trips came to an end sooner than I had anticipated. I am talking about my trip to Mumbai. It had a touch of everything in it. Right from lunching at 'Not just jazz by the bay' to shopping for leather jacket at 'Dharavi'. If you are not quite familiar with Mumbai, 'Not just jazz by the bay' is a high-end restaurant located just outside the Brabourne stadium in one of the posh areas of Mumbai and 'Dharavi' is one of the biggest slums in the world.

Going with the title of the post, I'll ramble upon every word that I have used in it;

Meetings: This was the first item in my agenda. Meeting cousins (My sisters, Brother-In-Law, Niece) meeting friends, meeting old colleagues, meeting old managers. It was a wonderful feeling to meet everyone after five months. Some people were surprised to know and looked at me as though I am an Idiot when I told them that I had come to Mumbai to meet people and not on any official work. But most of them were elated to meet me which was something very nice to see. 

Movies: I watched Fashion and Quantum of Solace. Fashion is a good movie but very slow. I had booked tickets for this movie from Bangalore itself. Talk about planning :). I give it two and a half stars. I would have given it one more had it not dragged on for three hours.  Quantum of Solace is a good movie but did somebody tell you that it is a bond movie? Bond should stick to his tuxedos, vodka martinis, expensive cars, gadgets and leave the action to Jason Bourne or Rambo. The action nevertheless is spectacular. It gets three stars. Now that revenge is off Bond's head, we can expect the true bond to be back in his next movie. The extra star is for this optimistic expectation. 

Memories: It is such a wonderful feeling to go back to the place where one once lived and worked. It brought back all my fond memories. It brought along with it memories of people who played a part in my life directly or indirectly, memories of late night movies, memories of late night parties, late night bike rides and many other things. The feeling is very hard to describe and it is something that one has to go through to understand it accurately.

Masti: Food Court at the In-Orbit Mall, Mantra Lounge (Hiranandani), Turner Road Chaat, Main Land China, Naturals, Utsav (Powai), Out of the Blue (Bandra) are some of the restaurants / ice cream parlours I visited. Shopping for export surplus clothes, shopping for leather jackets, Kailash Kher Concert (IIT Powai), Local Train travel, Double-Decker bus travel, time spent with my adorable niece, lovely friends and relatives, and not allowing a dear friend to study for CAT are some things that I enjoyed doing the most. The masti doesn't stop here. I fought with an auto rickshaw-driver and a taxi-driver over the extra fare they were charging :).

Magic: I am speaking about the magical feeling of nostalgia that grips one when he visits a place that once was so dear to him. I was lucky to be back in Mumbai. Not many people are lucky in this matter. Something truly magical about the trip was that the time kept vanishing in thin air every time I wanted more of it.

It was a wonderful, and a truly memorable trip that made me sick (I caught cold) but rejuvenated my senses. And if one asks me if I would like to visit Mumbai again, my answer would be a big YES. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy Deepavali

Posted by Varun | Friday, October 24, 2008 | Category: , | 22 comments

To me, Deepavali was always synonymous with firecrackers. It is hard to believe that I have not touched even a single firecracker in the last two or three years. It is not that I am against bursting crackers. It is just that I am no longer interested in lighting them. I still love to watch fireworks though. I was one of the lucky few who got to watch the New Year fireworks in London. It was one awesome spectacle.

I believe a lot has to do with company as well. I cannot light a flower-pot all alone and clap for myself! During my school days, all my cousins would come to my place in Mandya and we used to enjoy Deepavali for all three days. The crackers would never suffice. This prompted my dad to go to Sivakasi, a town famous all over India for its fireworks factories, to get a carton full of crackers which, believe it or not, lasted for more than 10 Deepavalis :). If you need tips on how to preserve firecrackers, please contact my mom. She did that! I have never ever dared to complain after that :). I need to thank my parents for providing me with what I wanted and, more importantly, when I wanted. 

Three things then started happening parallelly with each passing Deepavali;

- The contents of the box started depleting.
- My cousins and I were growing older and wiser :) 
- I gradually lost interest.

I have had my small accidents lighting small crackers but then "What is a Deepavali without a burnt finger!?” I am now looking for a spark that can ignite the interest back in me. One such little spark is in US of A, my sixteen month old nephew who has just learnt to say “BA-BA-BU-BU”. If he wants to light a firecracker someday I'll be the first person to get him what he wants and I will be more than happy to light it along with him. 

Now, when I look back at each year and remember each person with whom I have shared my joy, I feel overwhelmed. I want to go back - go back and light that 100-wala all over again.

Here's wishing all the readers of my blog a very happy, safe and a prosperous Deepavali. If you love lighting crackers go ahead and light them. Just make sure you read and follow all the safety instructions written behind those cracker boxes. May the glow of prosperity, happiness and joy brighten your days in the year ahead!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

First Impression

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, October 21, 2008 | Category: , , , | 21 comments

I finished my work quite early today and have been listening to new movie songs that I loaded on to my Zune this morning. I have been listening to songs from the movies Fashion,Golmaal Returns and Yuvvraaj


This is not really a review. It is just the first impression that that these songs have had on me. I am going to give them my stars anyway :)

Yuvvraaj - A.R.Rahman and Gulzar have teamed up alright but that Jaane Tu Ya Janane Na spark is missing. Tu Meri Dost hai which has already hit the TV screens is undoubtedly the best track of the album. Salman Khan has managed to strangle Beethoven in one of the tracks but there are other tracks that sound good. The album surprisingly has 8 original tracks and just one remix. The first impressions are not mind blowing but I am hoping that it might start sounding good to ears once I get to watch Katrina in the videos :). Until then, they will all be any other ARR melodious numbers to me. I give it three stars out of five (***). 

Golmaal Returns -  The chor Pritam has managed to compose (or steal) three peppy tracks for this album. Vacancy, Tha Kar Ke and Tu Sala. The rest are just remix versions. The music entertains by illustrating the hilarious feel of the flick. It is not as good as RACE or Jannat but it fits the bill. The Viva girl Anushka Manchanda has one solo track Tu Saala Kam Se Gaya to her name too. Golmaals Returns also gets three stars out of five (***). Three stars for the three lively tracks in the album. 

Fashion - Surprise! Surprise! I loved almost every track in this album. Salim Sulaiman has undoubtedly made a fashion statement with his tracks. The instrumental track Theme of Fashion simply rocks! The santoor used in this track cannot go unnoticed as it is very soothing to ears. The other tracks Jalwa, Mar Jaavan, Kuch Khaas and Aashiyana are quite good. The find of fashion is Shruti Pathak who has sung Mar Jaavan. Her husky, melancholic voice suits the track perfectly. Another Viva girl, Neha Bhasin has made her mark in Kuch Khaas. I give Fashion four stars out of five (****). 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's a new day, it’s a new template

Posted by Varun | Thursday, October 16, 2008 | Category: , , | 33 comments

I loved my old template, I really did but I think I loved it a little too much. I got bored! So here's presenting to you, the all new, the trendy, the cool, Varun's Digital Diary :)

In case you have still not noticed, I have changed my blog template :). The dictionary meaning of change is 'Become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one's or its former characteristics or essence'. That is exactly what I have tried.

Changing templates is one BIG task. Believe it or not, it took me an entire week to zero-in on this particular template and modify it according to my needs. The search for template was no less than a treasure hunt. Even though I had the best tool in business (Google) for my hunt, the filtering process took a long time.

Here is a little erudition that I would like to share about template changing;

- Create a new blog to test your templates. Never ever make changes to the existing one. You can always delete the new one once you succeed in changing the template of your old blog.
- Make sure you have enough space for all your widgets.
- Make sure the new template supports all your widgets.
- If you are particular about the number of columns as I was, the search becomes a lot easier. I searched for a three column template.
- Make sure the colour of the template you select is soothing to eyes.
- Learn basics of HTML. It really helps.

Few links that helped me a lot in my search are listed below;

- Link 1
- Link 2

I have had to compromise on the width of writing space but then compromises are a part and parcel of everyone's life.

I have shuffled my widgets around and have managed to add a new picture. The movie, 'A Wednesday' inspired me to light this candle. It is a candle lit for all those poor souls who lost their lives in bomb blasts.

There are few awards that I have proudly displayed under the candle. It was awarded to me by Smita. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her. It means a lot to me. Thank you. :)

Coming to the most important thing now, Please don't forget to comment on my new template.

Friday, October 10, 2008

34 Bubblegums and Candies Book Launch - Bangalore

Posted by Varun | Friday, October 10, 2008 | Category: , , | 25 comments


The collage sums up Preeti's 34 Bubblegums and Candies Bangalore Book Launch. It was an amazing experience. I had always seen Book launches on television or had always read about it in the newspapers but to be a part of such a book launch was indeed amazing.

The launch started with a crossword employee introducing the author and the guest of honour. Mr. R.K. Mishra of Lead India fame was the guest of honour. I had always read about him but it was wonderful to hear him speak.

The book '34 Bubblegums and Candies' is based on true life incidents. The title might sound a little peculiar but here is what the author has to say about it.

"Because, there are incidents that make you ponder and make you want to think and may be re-think. Like chewing a bubble gum. Then there are others, spiked with doses of humour that make you laugh and leave you a feel-good sensation. Just like eating a candy." (Excerpt from http://34bubblegumsandcandies.com/)
The book contains lots of such bubblegums that will make you think again and again, and candies that will make you go into a guffaw.

I have yet to read the book but have already heard 4 beautifully woven stories from the surefooted author. It was amazing to see the confidence in her. Even though it is her first book ,there was no touch of nervousness. She was talking and interacting with people as though it was her tenth book launch :).

While the book reading session was going on, the real bubblegums and candies were distributed. I ate the candy as soon as I got it and I am chewing the bubblegum as I am typing this post. If you look at the collage closely, you will be able to notice the empty candy wrapper and the bubblegum placed on the cover of the book.

Some of the stories that were read out were, Please hug me, Sly Stallone does not open up easily, Radiators and Drains and What women want. The title of each story is as interesting as the title of the book. Mr. Mishra made even Satish to read a story. I am not sure if the Pune crowd were so lucky.

After the book reading session ended, it was autograph time :). I simply loved what Preeti wrote for me on my book. You can view that in my collage. I was overwhelmed with joy when Preeti's kids, Atul and Purvi gave me my personalized bookmark.The bookmark says 'Thank you for buying my mom's book' and 'Dear Varun, This bookmark was made specially for you. It was made by Atul and Purvi. Hope you like it.' I didn't just like it. I LOVED IT.

The question and answer session gave us a slight peek into the future. The grapevine has it that Preeti has started working on her second book. Shhh...

Here's congratulating Preeti on a successful launch of 34 Bubblegums and Candies and wishing her luck for all her forthcoming ventures.

PS:
Cost of the book: Rs 100
Available at a book store near you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A trip to God's own Country

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, October 7, 2008 | Category: , , , | 12 comments

Mahatma Gandhi's birthday and Ramzan (Eid) gave us (me and my parents) an opportunity to visit Kerala's Wayanad District last week. The district headquarters, 'Kalpetta' is around 280 km from Bangalore. The route we followed was Bangalore - Mysore - Nanjangud - Gundlupet - Bandipur National Forest - Sultan Bathery - Kalpetta. There are few other routes as well but this one is the best of the lot. The condition of roads in this route are better than the other routes.

The best part of the trip was the drive and I am glad that I got to do the major chunk (Around 750 km) of it. We drove through the straight four lane highways, dense forests and through the curves and bends of the Western Ghats. If one loves driving or is a car enthusiast one must drive on these roads. I managed to test the upper limits of the Santro's to its limits. Not sure which screw or nut of the Santro has gone loose now :D

Day 1 -


We left our house at 7:30 am. It took us around fifteen minutes to dodge the Bangalore traffic and hit the highway. But once we hit it there was no stopping the Schumacher in me. This was when I was able to clock 140 km. It was a flat out drive till Srirangapatnam, our first pit stop. We had planned to visit the Nimishamba temple there. The temple is on the banks of river Cauvery and Goddess Nimishamba is known to grant one's wishes instantly. Don't miss visiting this temple if you are planning a trip to Bangalore or Mysore. The next stopover was Mysore for breakfast. We had yummy Dosa and chutney at the very famous 'Mylari Hotel'. On our way to Kalpetta, we cross Bandipur National Forest. We were very lucky to spot a parade of elephants enjoying themselves in a water hole. Here is a picture of the same.

Pic: Elephants enjoying a dip.

We reached our destination at around lunch time. We had booked Hotel Haritagiri two days prior to our departure. The hotel was recommended by most of the Kerala tourism websites and one of my cousins. It boasts of an Ayurveda village too. The service in the hotel is excellent. Very few people understand English/Hindi but we managed to get what we wanted. I even got a full body massage done :).

I am now going to post the pictures of the place we visited with a brief description rather than trying to explain everything in words. I will let the pictures speak for themselves :)

Pookot or Pookod Lake - Is a pristine fresh water lake enclosed by hills and has a walkway which goes around it. One can go paddle boating here but it was closed by the time we entered.

Distance from Kalpetta: 14 km
Entry Fee: Rs. 10
Paddle Boat: Rs 30 for 20 min
.















Pic: Pristine and placid lake









Pic : My mom and I on the walkway


Day 2 -

Banasura Sagar Dam - It is India's largest and Asia's second largest Earth Dam. There's a speed boat (a fast motor boat) that takes one around the dam. The trek from the entrance to the dam is quite long and tiring. One can hire a jeep to cover this distance.

Distance from Kalpetta: 24 km
Entry fee: Rs. 10
Jeep: Rs 50 for a round trip. (Max 10 ppl)
Speed Boat: 250 for a 20 min trip (Max 5 ppl)
View from the boat: Priceless :)















Pic: The Dam and its
Gates














Pic: Ye Hassen Vadiyan, Ye khula Aasman

Kuruva Island- 950 acres of evergreen forest on the tributaries of east following river Kabini. The island is uninhabited. Rare species of birds, orchids and herbs can be found here. The road leading to this island is in quite a bad shape.

Distance from Kalpetta : 40 km
No Entry fees
Boat: Rs. 20 per head (Required to cross the river. One can swim across too.)















Pic: Mom and Dad














Pic: Land across the river is Kuruva Island

Day 3 -

Soochippara Falls -
The road leading to this waterfall is amazing. Tea estates adorn both sides of the road. The trek to the waterfall is exhilarating as well as exhausting. One can get down the mountains quite easily but the slope is quite steep and the climb back up is very tiring. I did not want my parents to get down with me. My mom agreed to it but my dad didn't. He was extremely pleased when we finally got to the waterfall.

Distance from Kalpetta: 23 km
No Entry Fees
Jeep: Rs. 100 for a round trip (From the entrance to the stairs.)















Pic: Picturesque Tea Estate















Pic : Soochippara Water Fall

Pic: Thrilled Dad

There are lots of other places we skipped either due to the distance or lack of interest . I'll list them out here so that it can help the people reading this post.

- Edakkal Caves: Neolithic Caves
- Chembra Peak - 1200 metre mountain climb
- Lakkidi - A chain of Trees
- Muthanga Wild Life Sanctuary - 45 km from Kalpetta
- Pakshipathalam - 17 km Trek
- Neelimala View Point - Supposed to be good
- Sentinel Rock Waterfalls - Not very good
- Tholpetty wild life Sanctuary - 70 km from Kapetta

Wayanad is not a hill station. The weather here is more or less same as every place. It becomes cool at nights. One or two pairs of jeans, t-shirts and a comfortable pair of shoes should do the trick. Food used to be a problem in Kerala when I had visited it four years back but it is no longer a problem. We now get all kinds of food sans coconut oil too.

Like every good things come to an end, so did our trip. The trip to God's own Country was exciting, rejuvenating and truly a trip to remember. The pristine glittering waters, the drive, the picturesque tea estates, the time spent with my parents are some of the things that will be etched in my mind forever.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's raining tags

Posted by Varun | Saturday, September 20, 2008 | Category: , , | 26 comments

I was out on a short afternoon stroll in the blogosphere when out of nowhere a tag hit me. The assailant’s name is Aparna. She is a pioneer with a wicked smile - Muhahahahhahaha. She has started a tag and has started to pass it to any person who dares to even come close to her blog. There’s one good thing about this tag though. It’s the rules. We can set our own rules and play along with it. The tag was quite simple as there were not many questions to answer.

What do you do when!?

- You see a man (or woman) making a pass (trying to woo / flirt / impress) on a woman (or man) you like?

The girl would slap me if I try and object it. Girls love all the attention they can garner and I dare not take that away from them.

- Someone you like, is not attracted to you?

I’ll try doing an Item song. ‘Zara Zara Touch Me Touch Me Touch Me’ :)

- You are attracted to someone, but both of you are in two different cities?

I’ll take my chances as long as the city she is living is reachable by a local call :)

- You are reading a book, and your best friend wants to borrow it and can’t wait for you to finish reading, ‘coz he/she has been looking for it for all their life?

If that is the level of his or her desperation, I will definitely have to hand that book over. A friend in desperate need is a friend indeed :)

- You help plan his / her career, and then, they go on to achieve it, leaving you behind, alone…

Aree oye!! Sun to… Apne girl friend ko bhi saath leja…

Rules:

-You cannot tag me back on this one!
-You can create your own rules, as long as the above rule applies!
-Rules added as a late thought in the comments section does not hold!
-Tag Aparna whenever you get a chance!
Anybody reading this post and in dire need of something to write is tagged.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Beauties of Nature

Posted by Varun | Thursday, September 18, 2008 | Category: , | 15 comments

I have this habit of reading British newspapers online since the day I've come back from United Kingdom in February. Yesterday was no different. If you are a gossip lover stop reading Mumbai Mirror, Mid-Day and start reading British news papers. Among all these unwanted gossip news, there was one rare article that stood out. It was about an 'Upside Down Rainbow'.

Here is the article that followed;

Astronomer Dr Jacqueline Mitton captured the freak rainbow near her home in Cambridge. Normal rainbows are made when light penetrates raindrops and re-emerges out the other side in the same direction. But, the inverted types, known as circumzenithal arcs, are caused when sunlight bounces off ice crystals high in the atmosphere, sending the light rays back up.

"The conditions have to be just right: you need the right sort of ice crystals and the sky has to be clear," said Mitton. "We're not sure how big an area it was visible over, but it was certainly very impressive," she added. A spokesman for the Met Office confirmed the inverted rainbows are occasionally spotted in British skies. "It is convex to the sun and is formed by refraction in suitably-oriented ice crystals and may show vivid rainbow colouring, as in this case," he said.

There was also this e-mail forward I got from one of my friends last evening. The forward talked about a rare rainbow called the 'Fire Rainbow', also called circumhorizontal arc being caught on film last week. But a little googling and a little research told me that it was caught on film alright but it was on June 3, 2006 in Northern Idaho and not last week as claimed by the e-mail. Given below is the picture of that beautiful natural phenomenon.


Clouds have to be cirrus, at least twenty thousand feet in the air, with just the right amount of ice crystals and the sun has to hit the clouds at precisely 58 degrees from the observer.

Well, we all know about the strange ways of nature. The fire rainbow looks like a canvas coloured by God himself and the upside down rainbow looks as though the nature is smiling with happiness.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Love is in the air

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | Category: , | 14 comments

Vimal has tagged me with his ‘love is everywhere’ tag. I would have never written about love unless someone provoked me to it. Now that I have got the provocation required, get ready to find some answers :)

RULE #1: People who have been tagged must write their answers on their blogs and replace any question that they dislike with a new question formulated by them.
RULE #2: Tag 6 people to do this quiz and they cannot refuse. These people must state who they were tagged by and cannot tag the person whom they were tagged by. Continue this game by sending it to other people.


1. If your lover betrayed you, what will your reaction be?

I would never pick a lover whom I don't trust. And in case she breaks my trust and betrays me, what more can I do. It’s her loss. I will probably weep for a day or two and find another one the third day :)

2. If you can have a dream to come true, what would it be?

I’ll list two dreams;
Travel around the world in a private jet owned and flown by me.
Drive a Formula 1 Car.

3. Whose butt would you like to kick?

How many kicks am I allowed to take?

4. What would you do with a billion dollars?

How do you think I would realise my dream? I would also invest some money.

5. Will you fall in love with your best friend?

Probably! You never know ;)

6. Which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?

You need to give something to get something. Love someone and you will be loved.

7. How long do you intend to wait for someone you really love?

Not much. Who has time these days!?

8. If the person you secretly like is already attached, what would you do?

I will secretly try to break it. If I succeed, there was never an attachment, if I don’t, I will move on :)

9. If you like to act with someone, who will it be? Your gf/bf or an actress/actor?

I will probably start a reality show for this. ‘Act with Varun’ show and will act with the first runner up. There are no worthy winners in reality shows.

10. What takes you down the fastest?

A person’s attitude towards life.

11. How would you see yourself in ten years time?

I just remembered that I had invested some money in my answer to question four. I will still be rich!
On a serious note, I live in the present. I have no idea. But I would definitely like to see myself as a successful individual in whatever I will be doing 10 years down the line.

12. What’s your fear?

Failure!

13. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?

He is a movie lover, a good singer and a person who has no work.

14. Would you rather be single and rich or married but poor?

I am not married so I would prefer single and rich for now. I will probably revisit this question in 2 or 3 years time.

15. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

I look at my cell phone for time and if it is time for me to get out of my bed, I Pray!
Kara agre vasate Lakshmi, Kara madhye Saraswati, Kara moole sthithe Gowri, Prabhate kara darshanam!

16. Would you give all in a relationship?

I will definitely have to give something but I would never give all in a relationship! No way! Why should I?

17. If you fall in love with two people simultaneously, who would you pick?

I will allow them to decide. Splitsvilla! Where love is war :)

18. Would you forgive and forget no matter how horrible a thing that special someone has done?

I do not have that special someone in my life but I normally forgive and forget. No point in holding grudges.

19. What are your three most important expectations in love (Original Question: Will you marry me?)

Trust
Mutual-Admiration and
Humour (The quality of being funny)
There are many more but these are first three things that came to my mind
Answer to the Original Question: In your dreams!!

20. List 6 people to tag:

I am tagging 7 people. In alphabetical order;

Abhishek Gunjan
Akshat
Aparajita
Chandan
Smita
Swetha
Vikram

People, please read Rule No.2 carefully. You cannot refuse! I will be waiting for your answers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Last Lear - Review before Preview

Posted by Varun | Wednesday, September 10, 2008 | Category: , | 18 comments

I was one of the few privileged people who sat alongside the Big B himself and watched “The Last Lear” when it was showcased in London Film Festival “LAST YEAR”. I even shook hands with the legend. It was ‘a dream come true’ for me. I stayed in Bombay for more that two years but never managed to catch a glimpse of him but my seven month stay in London bore fruits.

'The Last Lear' is undoubtedly Amitabh Bachchan's best movie ever. He will sweep away all the awards this year unless the 'Khan'dan can do something about it.

It's the story of a seasoned thespian Harish Mishra (Harry) who lives with his live-in girlfriend (Shefali Shah). The movie starts with Harry in Coma. The film shoot has taken its toll on the old man. The co-star is truly worried but the director of the movie does not want to meet the ailing actor and is busy preparing for the movie premiere.

The story takes shape in flashback but keeps meandering around past and present.

A young impatient film maker played by Arjun Rampal (Siddharth) tries to woo Harry out of his retirement from stage into films. The interaction between the film-maker and the stage actor produces some of the pleasing and best scenes of the movie.

Harry meets Shabnam (Preity Zinta) on the sets of the movie. Shabnam is a lovable character though her husband in the movie thinks otherwise. He does not like the name and fame that his wife gets out of her movies and is very jealous of her.

Harry initially thinks that there is lot of deception in movies and performing on the stage was grander than performing / acting in movies. Impressed by Siddharth's moviemaking ability and professionalism he slowly adjusts himself to the movie sets. The bond that Harry's young live-in girl friend and Harry share is portrayed beautifully as well.

There are few questions that might remain unanswered. Why this title? What happens to Harry in the end? Will he come back from his coma? How did that accident occur? Why Siddarth does not visit the ailing Harry? I would have loved to disclose everything here but I do not want to spoil your movie going experience.

The silver mane gives Big B yet another look. He looks good though. Arjun Rampal has proved he can act and I have no comments to make on the other actors. Rituparno Ghosh has made sure that he gets the best out of all his actors. Big B has brought the characters of Shakespearean plays back into life with his impeccable dialogue delivery. I cannot praise the dialogues enough because those were written by the master himself :)

I give this movie four and a half stars. I have not given it a five because there is always room for improvement :)

I have tried hard not to disclose the story. Make sure you don't miss watching it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

News that caught my eye

Posted by Varun | Thursday, September 4, 2008 | Category: , , | 12 comments

Following are the news that managed to catch my eye and attention last month (1st August - 31st August); some surprising, some disappointing, some stimulating and some stifling.

Disclaimer: The news items listed are not in any particular order and are not meant to offend anyone.

Beijing Olympics - After centuries, India managed to win an
individual gold and two individual bronze medals. Is it something to cheer about?? No. It is not! Countries much smaller than India, (size of an Indian state) managed to win more gold medals. Please don't tell me about the lack of Infrastructure and all that stuff. I know all the reasons. I am just not impressed.

Bihar Floods - It is so unfortunate to see such a poor state suffer from floods. The images and videos sometimes shown on TV are gory. The news channels either completely ignore that there is a national calamity or show the same news over and over 24 X 7. Can the politicians for once stop fighting among themselves and start helping the needy and poor?

Barrack Obama and McCain- Who are these guys? They are on all news channels and newspapers.

iPhone - Apple launched the much hyped iPhone 3G in India last month. I am waiting for apple to relaunch the same phone at fifty percent discount :)

Indian Cricket team wins a one-day series in Sri Lanka - After leading the Indian team to a series win, Dhoni is suddenly all pumped up. It was sheer luck that got India through and not the young blood that he always keeps talking about. He has forgotten that he's growing old everyday.

Tata Nano - Can somebody please allow Ratan Tata to start working on his Nano? More the delay, costlier the car! From where do you think the company would recover its loss!?

Nuke Deal - Has Unites States of America mislead the innocent India or has the Indian Government mislead its citizens?

Google Chrome - Internet's new heartthrob. It is the Google's latest open source beta version browser. Like all software products it has its pros (Faster than any other browser) and cons (No Ad Blocker and Download Manager). But I am sure Google would have already started its work on all the shortcomings. Microsoft and Apple, get ready for some competition :)

MTV Splitsvilla - I wanted the other guy to win only because he was my namesake. Looking forward to Roadies 6.0

Social Networking halves Degree of Separation - Have you ever heard of Six Degrees of Separation? It refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is an average of six "steps" away from each person on Earth.
The social networking sites like facebook and cellular operators claim that they have now halved it. You are just three "steps" away from each person on earth. “Scary!”?

I got some work - I finally got some work in the new organization. It feels really good to get back on track.

Happy Birthday Sis - Last but not least 31st August was my sister Chaitra’s Birthday. I wish her all luck and happiness in life. Belated wishes dear Chaiti :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Down Memory Lane

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, September 2, 2008 | Category: , , | 22 comments

After contemplating for about thirty minutes, I finally decided to stick to this title. It was a three hour journey from Bangalore to Mysore that took me down the memory lane. I was going to Mysore to attend the engagement of my classmate, also my colleague and friend.

On our way to Mysore we pass through a small city (district headquarters) named Mandya. This is a place where I have spent the maximum part of my life (19 years to be exact) and due to obvious reasons it is a place that is very close to my heart.
The city does not have a bypass road which is annoying for the long distance travellers but it didn't quite annoy me. I was enjoying the ride through the city. I could recognize every building, every tree, my school, our house, shopping streets, movie theatres, and petrol pumps. It was as though every building that I saw was smiling at me and welcoming me back. It was disheartening to see few old buildings demolished but then if the infrastructure of a city has to improve the old has to give way to the new. Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson knew this a long time ago “The old order changeth, giving way to the new.”

It was this five min ride through the city that suddenly took me back by twenty years. For the next hour of my journey, I stopped the music I was listening to, closed my eyes and tried to remember every single bit I could remember about that city. It was just like any flash back that one sees in a movie. All the scenes were flashing right in front of eyes. I so badly wanted to get into those scenes again but all I could manage was to open my eyes and stare at the sunlight that was peeping through the window pane.

I was expecting to meet a lot of (at least ten) old friends during the engagement but only three turned up. Nevertheless, it fun meeting old friends. The conversation started with a 'how are you' but somehow ended up in the usual/formal questions like “Which language do you code in?” and “Who are all your clients?” I am sure all software engineers would second me on this one. We could not really help it. We did not have an odd man/woman out who could divert us away from software! The lunch was delicious and so was the vanilla ice cream. We wished the couple, took photographs and bid good bye to my friend and her parents.

On the way back to Bangalore, I passed through Mandya again but this time it was not the buildings but the twinkling stars and glittering lights that smiled and waved good bye.

The friend whose engagement I went to attend was extremely happy that I could make it. I was happy too that I could share her happiness but even happier that this engagement gave me an opportunity to take the beautiful trip down the memory lane.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mauja Hi Mauja at 90 kmph

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | Category: , | 19 comments

The distance between my office and home is just four km. This has given me an opportunity to commute using a two wheeler. In a city like Bangalore, I am really very lucky to find an office that is so close to my home. Like most of the two-wheeler riders these days, I too have my hands-free plugged into my ears all the time. They might use it to receive calls but I use it to block the terrible honking sound and to listen to music. I tried listening to the FM radio for few days but Bangalore FM radio stations are pathetic. The final option that was left with me was to resort to a play list of my own.
I have a play list of few hand picked songs that not only entertains me but each song changes the manner I ride my bike.

1. Aditi Hans De Tu Zara - A smile is what you need to have on your face when you are riding in Bangalore without which the ride becomes mundane. This song makes sure that I at least start my ride with a smile.

2. Pappu Can't Dance Saala - This song manages to keep the smile going that Aditi started. I just change the lyrics a little to 'Pappu can't drive Saala' and start laughing at any person who's passing me or attempts to pass me.

3. Bachna Ae Haseeno - This song gives me the feeling that I am announcing myself to the world. 'Lo Main Aagaya'. It is a feeling that can sure bring smile on anybody's face. More that the smile it brings out, it manages to bring out the guy who wants to impress the haseenas with his style of riding. Don't ever try it on Bangalore roads because you never know when a haseena might bump you off the road.

4. Mauja Hi Mauja - The title of the post would have now given you a fair idea of what I do while listening to this song. This is one adrenaline pumping song. By the time this song gets its opportunity I hit a ring road which is wide and usually free of traffic. This is a stretch of about 300, 400 metres where I get to live my dream of becoming a Valentino Rossi or a Michael Schumacher everyday. The more I manoeuvre my vehicle the faster I go. This is what I call the 'Controlled Rash Driving' :)

5. Tashan Mein - With lunch box in one hand and laptop bag on my shoulders, I feel no less than a Saif Ali Khan or Akshay Kumar walking into the office. What if I don't have size zero Kareena by my side, I have an equally smooth and sleek dell laptop on my desk :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Between Breaks

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, August 5, 2008 | Category: , | 10 comments



Break - 1

I have been allocated a new project called 'Meteor' and have been put into two day training. The training is going on really well but I have decided to enjoy my breaks too by writing something whenever I get one.

The new cubicle allotted to me is really good. It's very close to the entry and exit door, the rest room, the cafeteria and most importantly the fire exit :). The people around here recognize me unlike the old cubicle where I sat all alone. It’s a good feeling when somebody smiles at you early in the morning and wishes you good morning. Gives you a good start.

Break - 2

The training that I am attending is a financial training. It's a training about financial and accounting aspects of a telecom billing world. People in my organization have waited for almost 2 years to get this kind of training but lucky me, I am attending it the 2nd day I got into my project. I always wanted to get a degree in commerce but feared that it would take me no where and followed the crowd who were jumping into the world of Engineering. I have no regrets about the decision as it has done a world of good to me and has given me a lot of good friends along its way. Finance is a domain one can learn any time one wants irrespective of his or her educational background and since the term ‘finance’ is so closely associated with money it always amazed me. The words 'assets', 'liabilities', 'expense' etc never fail to astonish me. Break - 2 was a lunch break. The menu for lunch was two chapatis (6 inch radius) with chatni and a sabji. It was a welcome change that I enjoyed thoroughly. Resorted to chapatis instead of a meal because I did not feel like having anything heavy during training. Sleep factor you know!! I fall asleep in almost all my trainings unless I find an interesting trainer or some activity that can keep me awake.

Break - 3

The activity or exercise that we did was certainly refreshing. Never drowsed off and most importantly, I managed to complete it with only two minor mistakes. I am feeling like an expert already. Bring on the account books!! :).

Final - Break

The day finally comes to an end. I was playing with Alice in our very own wonderland for most of the last session. Tomorrow promises to be an interesting day. I’m looking forward to it. Hope you enjoyed reading this piece during your break :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

The way back home

Posted by Varun | Monday, August 4, 2008 | Category: , | 9 comments

It was just a 45 min drive from the new Bangalore International Airport but it gave me enough time to introspect on various things ranging from importance of relationships to a country's Infrastructure. I had been to the airport to drop my cousin sister and her family (husband and 2 beautiful kids) who had come to India from USA after a gap of four long years. One might ask why they had come anyway. If you've gone through my earlier posts, I had mentioned something similar. Even though we talk on phone everyday, see the other on a web-cam or write emails regularly the feeling that you have one meeting someone in person is simply out of this world. Something which is very hard to describe in words.

She was here in Bangalore for only 15 days but managed to visit all her relatives in their own backyards. It was great to see the love, the affection and the warmth she had for all her cousins and relatives. One reason could have been the gap after which she came to India. But broadly speaking, don’t we tend to forget people as days, months and years progress? So what had made her to come to India? Had she forgotten how we looked? Did she come here to remind us that she existed? Did she come as if to apologize that she didn't come earlier? These were the stupid questions that flashed momentarily in my mind but I knew immediately that the answer was a big NO. She was here because she respects relations; she visited everyone at their own homes because she knows the importance of spending quality time with each individual.

Without boasting any further about my cousin, I just want to stress upon the fact that relationship is one thing that bonds every one of us every where. So please start respecting them and give them the importance they deserve. It could be any relation under the sun. Even your dog shares a relation with you. 'Deserve', why do you think I used this word? I am a firm believer in giving back what I get. I respect people who respect me, I adore people who adore me and ignore people who ignore me. It could probably be one reason that I can still count my friends using my fingers but then I don't really care. I am happy with what I have.

Let me speak about the Bangalore's infrastructure now. I know I have picked two topics that are no way related to each other but then I’m just going with my brain and my eyes. Just writing what I felt and what I saw.

The new Bangalore International Airport is truly an engineering wonder. It takes you to a new world altogether. It’s like one of the episodes of Alice in wonderland. Makes you wonder whether it's really Bangalore. Placed a little distance off the Bangalore - Hyderabad highway, the structure has come up beautifully. Cars coming in from 6 lanes, Colorful taxis queued up for the passengers to arrive, hep coffee shops, subway sandwiches and not to mention the amber sodium vapor lamps that light up the entire airport.

The only complaint people have about Bangalore whilst flooding it is the infrastructure it lacks and the never-ending-always-growing traffic. I am glad that it has come up with a new international standard airport which gives us sure signs that it is definitely headed the right way with respect to infrastructure but am not sure what it's doing with respect to traffic because given an opportunity, I would have killed few drivers and two wheeler riders on my way to office today. I’ll probably vent out my frustrations in posts to follow. Until then, ride safe and do keep in mind that you are not the only one riding on the road.

Monday, July 28, 2008

India shaken but not stirred

Posted by Varun | Monday, July 28, 2008 | Category: , , | 6 comments

The title of the post appears like a James Bond's drink but no, it's got nothing to do with the Vodka Martini. I am talking about the bomb blasts that rocked India last weekend. The serial bomb blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad have definitely shaken India to the core. Life is always unpredictable but these guys have made it worse. If accidents weren't enough, one now has to make sure he or she is not driving or walking around a place that can be bombed any second. Life has become a mine sweeper game. One wrong step and kaboom. Major difference between a game and life is you can always restart a game but not everyone's lucky when it comes to life.

Media has definitely played its part in hyping the issue but I believe it has become a boon in this case. The government rose to the occasion and tightened up all the screws and prevented blasts of high intensity in Surat. Coming to government, why are only the states ruled by BJP targeted!!? Does one see any reason for it? I go with co-incidence till I find something concrete to blame someone.

The blasts might have created fear in people's minds and hearts but for how long ? The last blast in Bangalore took place in the afternoon and the life was back to normal by evening. There was definitely a little fear somewhere in some corner of the mind but then you cannot sit idle waiting for some maniac to blast something. The people who plant bombs are losers. What are they trying to achieve? If they think they can imbibe fear into people's minds by blasting few bombs, their thought process needs an overhaul. They think they've won a war by killing few people but the truth is they've won nothing. Nobody fears a person they've never seen. You'll not be able to even convince a kid to get to bed by telling him 'soja beta warna bomb uncle aajayenge'. In matter of weeks, the whole bombing episode is going to become a laughing stock in shows like laughter challenge.

I take this opportunity to condemn the attacks and pray for the people who've succumbed to such hideous acts of crime.

The statements above looks like a statement cut from a politician’s speech but trust me; I don't have a spokesperson to make such bold and beautiful statements

A few crude bombs can never stir a country of the stature like India. The life in Bangalore returned to normalcy the day after and the news channels told us that the life was normal in Ahmedabad by Sunday evening. We even worked full time here on Friday which goes to show the effect t hat the bombs had on us.

It’s quite evident that India's shaken but it’s all the more evident that it’s not stirred. Yenna Rascala... Mind it... :D

Thursday, July 17, 2008

An interesting reflection: Slow Down Culture

Posted by Varun | Thursday, July 17, 2008 | Category: | 4 comments

This is one of the email forwards I received yesterday. I wanted to share it with you all the moment I read it. I am not sure who authored it but would like to thank him from the bottom of my heart for writing such a lovely piece.



Read on...

It’s been 18 years since I joined Volvo, a Swedish company. Working for them has proven to be an interesting experience. Any project here takes 2 years to be finalized, even if the idea is simple and brilliant. It's a rule.

Globalize processes have caused in us (all over the world) a general sense of searching for immediate results. Therefore, we have come to posses a need to see immediate results. This contrasts greatly with the slow movements of the Swedish. They, on the other hand, debate, debate, debate, hold x quantity of meetings and work with a slowdown scheme. At the end, this always yields better results.

Said in another words:
1. Sweden is about the size of San Pablo, a state in Brazil.
2. Sweden has 2 million inhabitants.
3. Stockholm, has 500,000 people.
4. Volvo, Escania, Ericsson, Electrolux, Nokia are some of its renowned companies. Volvo supplies the NASA.

The first time I was in Sweden, one of my colleagues picked me up at the hotel every morning. It was September, bit cold and snowy. We would arrive early at the company and he would park far away from the entrance (2000 employees drive their car to work). The first day, I didn't say anything, either the second or third. One morning I asked, "Do you have a fixed parking space? I've noticed we park far from the entrance even when there are no other cars in the lot." To which he replied, "Since we're here early we'll have time to walk, and whoever gets in late will be late and need a place closer to the door. Don't you think? Imagine my face.

Nowadays, there's a movement in Europe name Slow Food. This movement establishes that people should eat and drink slowly, with enough time to taste their food, spend time with the family, friends, without rushing. Slow Food is against its counterpart: the spirit of Fast Food and what it stands for as a lifestyle. Slow Food is the basis for a bigger movement called Slow Europe, as mentioned by Business Week.

Basically, the movement questions the sense of "hurry" and "craziness" generated by globalization, fueled by the desire of "having in quantity" (life status) versus "having with quality", "life quality" or the "quality of being". French people, even though they work 35 hours per week, are more productive than Americans or British. Germans have established 28.8 hour workweeks and have seen their productivity been driven up by 20%. This slow attitude has brought forth the US's attention, pupils of the fast and the "do it now!”

This no-rush attitude doesn't represent doing less or having a lower productivity. It means working and doing things with greater quality, productivity, perfection, with attention to detail and less stress. It means reestablishing family values, friends, free and leisure time. Taking the "now", present and concrete, versus the "global", undefined and anonymous. It means taking humans' essential values, the simplicity of living.

It stands for a less coercive work environment, more happy, lighter and more productive where humans enjoy doing what they know best how to do. It's time to stop and think on how companies need to develop serious quality with no-rush that will increase productivity and the quality of products and services, without losing the essence of spirit.

In the movie, Scent of a Woman, there's a scene where Al Pacino asks a girl to dance and she replies, "I can't, my boyfriend will be here any minute now". To which Al responds, "A life is lived in an instant". Then they dance to a tango.

Many of us live our lives running behind time, but we only reach it when we die of a heart attack or in a car accident rushing to be on time. Others are so anxious of living the future that they forget to live the present, which is the only time that truly exists. We all have equal time throughout the world. No one has more or less. The difference lies in how each one of us does with our time. We need to live each moment. As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans".

Congratulations for reading till the end of this message. There are many who will have stopped in the middle so as not to waste time in this globalize world.