Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post card from Lagos

Posted by Varun | Sunday, December 26, 2010 | Category: , , , | 34 comments

As promised, here I am with a picture post card (Click on the thumbnails to see the full size image and don't forget to click on hyperlinks in the post) from Lagos. Before you dive into the pictures, here's a lil tidbit about the city!

"It’s the largest city in Africa, with wall-to-wall people, bumper-to-bumper cars. The city takes its name from the Portuguese for lagoon, and has been a Yoruba port, a British political centre and until 1991, Nigeria’s capital. It remains the economic and cultural powerhouse of the country, and has a superb live music scene and West Africa’s most inimitable street life. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but if you’re up for an urban adventure then you might find Lagos truly compelling. A true megacity and the face of modern Africa as much as any picture postcard national park – jump right in." - Lonely Planet

Will start off with a sign board and then move on to my apartment and office. People do keep the city clean. Main roads look spic-and-span but sometimes the footpaths and side roads are as smelly as Phoebe Buffay's cat!

Drawing Room

Balcony next to Drawing Room
Kia Rio, My Roomie Kamal and our Driver Hakim
Stairs from Drawing room to Bedrooms

My Room :)

Work Place. Golden Plaza, Lagos
MTN's Y'ello (Yellow) Christmas Tree

Enough of apartment and Office! Let me move on to bird's eye view of Lagos! (Pictures have been shot from the 9th floor of Golden Plaza!)

 MTN parking lot
Flyover, A housing colony and an old market

Boat Club. Water seen is the back waters of Atlantic Ocean!
Wasn't that just amazing!? I know I am praising my own pictures but is there anything wrong in calling an amazing picture amazing!? :-D

Okay now let me zoom in a little and show you the traffic,some buildings and anything  that caught my eye while driving to work. Haven't really managed to capture the true essence of Lagos and the bumper to bumper traffic yet but since it is something that is seen almost every day, I'll capture if for you very soon! 

I had read somewhere that if you drive in Lagos you can drive anywhere in the world. I think everyone would say the same about the city they live in but after seeing how people drive here, I should say, if you have driven in Bangalore, you can drive blind folded in Lagos.

Awolowo Road. Oh yes! There are Autos

Lagos Taxi. Haven't traveled in one yet

100 cc Motorbikes are everywhere

City Buses (Called Lag Bus) lined up

Back waters you saw in one of the pictures above takes us to lots of lovely little lagoons and islands! One such beach cum lagoon is Ibeshe. We had a team outing there and it was awesome to say the least. I will round off my post with some memories from that trip.

With my Manager and someone who's taller than me

I came here to work. I am not kidding!

Ibeshe Resort

Playing soccer/football

Love the last two pictures!

Hope you had a great Christmas weekend and hope you enjoyed the picture post card from Lagos! Stay tuned for more! :-)

PS:- For the entire album, please click here

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Y’ello from Nigeria!

Posted by Varun | Sunday, December 19, 2010 | Category: , , , , , | 20 comments

It has been a long time since I updated my blog about anything and it might come as a surprise to you that I am updating it from Nigeria. I came here last Sunday and will be here for another 11 weeks. The journey so far has been pleasing and I am hoping it will continue to be the same for next few weeks and months.

Thanks to my organization, I’m living in Lagos (Pronounced as Lay-gos by people out here) and in one of the posh localities of the city.

What strikes me the most in this city/country is the stark contrast between rich and poor! Person here will either own a Toyota Land Cruiser or an Audi or a BMW or will own nothing. Middle class seems to be non-existent.

I will write more about the city as and when I visit it. The only places I have visited so far are my office, a grocery store and a night club facing back waters of the Atlantic Ocean. There is no real threat to life but then we have been advised not to venture out alone.It will be some time before I start visiting places out here.

To give you an example of the life I am leading here, I share an air conditioned 2750 sq ft apartment with my team mate. It has 3 huge rooms, an awesome drawing room and a decent dining hall. And kitchen is any cook’s dream kitchen. Spacious and with all amenities! Wait! I am not done yet! We also have a chauffeur driven black Kia Rio car and a maid/cook :-). Royal treatment Eh!!?

 I don’t remember when, but I was once asked by a British guy as to why we all Indians look alike!? I had no answers back then and since he was a friend, I had told him he must have gone mad! But now I know why he asked me that question. From the day I have landed here, every person looks the same to me. I was actually worried if I will be able to distinguish between the pop singer on TV and my driver. Even though I managed it by second day I call every singer on TV as Hakim now. That is btw my driver’s name.  

Every person out here is friendly and tries to help. If you are out walking about a mile, you’ll end up wishing/greeting at least 10 unknown people along the way. They know that we are scared to even walk alone and try to make our lives as comfortable as possible. Had people not scared me so much, I would have preferred to walk to office every single day. Wondering what changed the lazy guys’ preference? It is traffic jam that has changed it all!! Jams here are the worst jams I have ever seen. Beats Bangalore traffic jams hollow. It took us 1 hour to drive a mile few days back. Weather is quite hot and humid but then that doesn’t really stop us from walking and being Indians, we are used to such heat and humidity.

Coming to food, we get all sorts of veggies and meat. You name it, we get it. It is probably a south Indians’ dream city as we get coconuts :-). Nice fresh ones for cooking! If a Malyali ever decides to migrate from Dubai, this is the city he/she should come to!

The only thing that I am not really happy about is the Internet speed. Feels as though I have gone back 10 years in time. To simply give you an idea about the speeds here, I tried to download a movie last night. The estimated time remaining was 11 weeks and 8 hours. I canceled the download because I might as well reach Bangalore by then and download it in 1 hour. I am not really complaining about the place though. I know every place comes with its set of pros and cons and I am happy as long as I am able to connect to the world!
Pictures and more details in my next post and now that I have time, I’ll post regularly!

Cya later Alligator ( Picked it up from my nephew Archith :-D)

PS: Flight to Nigeria was great. Emirates gets thumbs up from me! and here's the meaning of Y'ello for you!
Y’ello - A super hybrid form of both yo and hello, making a super greeting. Used extensively in Nigeria!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cricket Mania

Posted by Varun | Tuesday, October 5, 2010 | Category: , , , , | 19 comments

I feel depressed whenever I watch the Indian cricket team lose. The depression increases many folds when they lose from a winning position. I know it is something not in my control. I know it is a sport and the team cannot win all the time. I know Sachin is not God. I know Dhoni is an over-rated star. I know Dravid and Laxman cannot win us test matches all the time. So what is it that causes the depression.

I think it is simply the love for the game and the country. Honestly speaking, inspite of all the match fixing, spot fixing scandals/allegations, inspite of overdose of cricket, I still love the game a lot. I might no longer follow every ball, I might no longer look at the score card every five seconds but I still follow the game whenever and wherever possible.

I hate it when people speak badly about team India. I hate it when smart-asses say idiotic things about the game. I hate it when self proclaimed experts of the game comment unnecessary things. I sometimes speak idiotic things too but deep down inside I am always hoping that the team wins. I simply cannot take Indian cricket team's failure.

Like every kid in India, I grew up watching cricket and hoping that I would play for India some day. I always dreamt about holding a bat and hitting the winning runs for the country. I could spin the ball like Kumble and bat like Sachin. Don't get surprised! Every one in India can do that. It is only a few lucky ones who play for the country though.

Lunch Break

Had started to write this post when Indians were 8 wickets down. Had gone out for lunch dejected and disappointed. Mann hi mann mein I was hoping for a miracle. Wanted to end this post in a jubiliant mood no matter what.

Miracle it was! Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman has taken India home yet again! I have to take one of my words back. Laxman can win us tests against Australia any given day. Australians don't seem to have the key to the treasure chest where Laxman safe guards his wicket.

What an amazing match and what an amazing player. I have been busy reading the articles written my Australian media ever since the win and it is truly a special feeling to read such awesome words.

Here are some snippets for you;

"Edges flew wide and short balls were bunted high and safe early in the partnership but eventually Laxman’s undeniable class kicked in"

"VVS Laxman steers India to very special Test match win"

"VVS Laxman has returned to thwart Australia yet again"

I don't want to discuss anything about the match since it will be the topic of the discussion in all news papers and all conference rooms for the next two days.

I am happy, I am jubilant, I am ecstatic and I am smiling. The frown I had when I started writing this post has vanished. I am as happy as the two people in the picture below;

And BTW, it will be interesting to see who takes the front page of the news paper tomorrow. Abhinav Bindra with his CWG gold medal or VVS. Your guess is as good as mine ;)

Monday, September 13, 2010

The (big) Bang!!

Posted by Varun | Monday, September 13, 2010 | Category: , , | 13 comments

I have this habit of reading Google talk messages of all my friends at least one time every day and I am pretty sure that this habit of mine is not unique.

People generally update their status with inspirational quotes, new phone numbers, blog updates, song they are listening to, current location, personalized messages, hilarious jokes, movie reviews etc but I had a surprise in store when I read the status messages of my friends today.

Here's what I saw!!

- Dabang!!

- Item ye aam hui... darling tere liye

- Hum tum me itne ched karenge ki confuse ho jaoge... Ki sans kaha se le aur ..... !!

- Munni badnaam hui...darling tere liye...:-P

- Da Bang.....

- Lafander se humein yaad aaya ....

What does it tell you!? It tells me that all these friends of mine have watched the movie 'Dabangg' over the weekend and loved it. No one would spoil their personal space otherwise. So what is it you think has made this movie bigger than 3-idiots (Dabangg got a better opening than 3-idiots).

Following is my take on it;

In an era where filmmakers have become thinkers and trying to out-think the audience by making films that no one really understands (Couldn't really understand the love story in Kites for example), this movie comes as a welcome surprise. You don't need brains to watch / understand this film. It is an out and out Bollywood entertainer. It is something Bollywood is known for.

Right from Deewar where the angry young hero manhandles around 20 people inside a garage to Dabangg where the hero single handedly kicks the hell out of a gang of dacoits, hindi cinema heroes are known to be super heroes by birth. Someone who can dodge a bullet or bomb and kill the bad guy with one quick blow.

We should thank Dabangg and Salman Khan for bringing this brand of hero back into Bollywood. Aamir tried it with Ghajini but it was any day a remake of tamil movie. This one is ek-dum original :)

Frankly speaking, I was tired of watching these crying, mentally retarded, metro sexual, realistic heroes on screen. I see those kinds of guys all the time on page 3 anyway.

Coming to the storyline of the movie, why do you want a story anyway when you so many other
things to cheer and whistle about (Oh yeah! I whistled to my hearts content watching the first day first show in Bangalore) . For instance, you have these amazing dialogues, brilliant songs, action sequences that even Rajnikant fans would be proud of, pretty actress and last but not least, Munni :)

Salman Khan has managed to strike a chord with everyone who has watched this movie so far and I am sure he'll continue to do so for the next few weeks/months to come. This movie is going to be one of the biggest hits of his career and one that will feed Salman's brothers and their kids for generations to come.

All said and done, if you ask me if I am waiting for Dabangg-2, my answer would be, "Kamaal karte ho yaar, ye bhi koyi pooch ne wali baat hai!!?" :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Schumi is back!

Posted by Varun | Thursday, January 28, 2010 | Category: , , , , , , | 18 comments

Before my comment section is taken over by spammers an

d before that poor thing surrenders into submission, I have decided to stage a comeback and kick them out!

You read it right! I am back! Tonnes and tonnes o

f work in office took me away from blogging and I somehow never made an attempt to come back after that.

My comeback news may not be as exciting as Michael Schumacher's comeback to Formula-1 but I am sure it will be more exciting than India's test series in Bangladesh :)

My parents and few friends who've seen me drive an Alto at 140 kmph, a Santro at 150 kmph, a Swift at 160 kmph and a Vauxhall Zafira at 190 kmph fondly call me Schumi and that explains the title of the post. I've been called a BMTC/KSTRC bus driver as well but I'll stick to the best name of the lot.

I get maximum number of comments when I let my thoughts flow arbitrarily and that is what I have decided to do for my comeback post. Here it goes;


Cricket: It was good to see that none of the IPL teams hired services of Pakistani players. I simply loved reading the comments of Pakistani players after the auction was over. India Vs Bangladesh was a waste of time, money and players. It cost us Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh. Hope the replacements find their feet soon.

Tennis: Haven't followed Australian open very keenly this time around but I'll be rooting for anyone who'll be playing against Serena in the finals. Good to see Andy Murray in the finals. He'll be a tough nut to crack.

Formula 1: Can't wait till March. It will be one awesome, adrenaline pumping and exciting season.

Play-station 3: I am not sure if this qualifies as a sport but I love playing it whenever I find some free time. This is by the way the latest addition to my gadget showcase and another culprit that's kept me out of blogging :). I am currently playing Uncharted 2: Among thieves, FIFA 10 and Gran Tourismo 5 prologue.

Current Affairs: Shashi Taroor's tweets are more popular than any statement made in any parliament these days. But Abdul Kasab with his tandoori chicken demands and cheap comments and without any twitter account beats even Shashi Taroor to the headlines of all news papers. Not sure why they've not hanged him yet. If both of them fail to make it to the headlines, then it is definitely an Indian thrashed in Australia who gets the footage. Padma awards were a total mess this year with Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Sant Singh Chatwal making it to that list.

Movies: Haven't watched any new movie lately (My definition of lately is one week) but have plans to watch Ishqiya, Rann and Road to Sangam this weekend. Can't wait for My name is Khan.

Television: I am hooked on to 'Ye Pyar Na Hoga Kam' on Colors, musical reality show Music ka Maha Mukabla on Star Plus and Dance India Dance on Zee. I do watch Balika Vadhu too but don't mind missing it once in a while.

Travelogue: Had been to a lot of places nearby and far in last two months. Every place beautiful than the other. Goa, Mumbai, Mudigere, Chikmagaluru, Devaladakere, Horanadu, Shringeri, Kalasa, Shivmogga, Jog Falls, Linganamakki Dam to name a few. Now that I have started writing again, I'll probably write a post on my trips in detail very soon.

I’ll end the post with a section that I had promised I'll write with every new post.

Did you know? : A Haitian girl was found alive 15 days after quake. Miracle? What do you think?

PS: Apologies for not writing regularly.