Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in London

I decided to stay back in London and not take a vacation in the holiday season but later. So i worked on Friday and my Christmas break began late Friday afternoon. Actually not, on Friday Santa came to office and everyone brought their kids along. They were few people reporting and more kids running around. Too much fun it was.

Had lunch on Friday afternoon with a friend from work and retired home lazily. On Saturday, i went far out to zone 6 to meet family i have never met and their family i have never met. A lot of new faces.
Christmas day itself since everything was shut down i didn't plan on doing much. But heard bricklane was opened so headed there for dinner with a friend from work. And met a couple of friends on boxing day. Oh and did i mention no shopping ? Well i was too scared to face the boxing day crowds and went on the next day but it was still too crowded for peace of mind.

And so my Christmas break melted before my eyes. And new years eve is fast approaching. No plans yet. Any ideas anyone ?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chocolate and Unicorn

Two weekends ago a couple of friends and I decided to go to the chocolate festival on Southbank. Southbank is a lovely place. It is probably my best hangout. It has the waters, the view of the other side and lots of festivity be it Summer or Winter. So we turned up there and got sucked into the Christmas market and its crowds. After a while we realised we were supposed to be elsewhere. So we went looking for the chocolate festival and then we ran into the Theatre of Animation. It's absolutely awesome if you are a child and if you are not, well you can still have a lot of fun.


They had puppets that stand next to you with strings to pull at your level (and when I say your I mean a 6 year old). They had peepshows where you can watch animation that you run, like you being a monster scaring an entire city or you simply turning a knob to make your horse cycle around the countryside. They had a scared dog that would shiver everytime you clap. They had a doll that would laugh everytime you walk past it. They had a unicorn that you could puppet around and move its limbs, tail and head, only thing is it looked more like a donkey with a horn rather than a horse.


Here is my favourite. There was projector with 3 or 4 shots of a running horse and a horseman. The projector was placed on a rotating disc. So the projector kept showing the few static shots of the running horse with its horseman fast enough and rotating on its axis. So it looks like your horse and the horseman were running around the room in circles. Very well executed.

Then we did eventually go to the chocolate festival but it was quite boring compared to animation. There was nothing animated about chocolate. You go around stalls and taste chocolate but can't really make out any difference and wonder why you have to pay a premium when its not better than Dairy Milk or Lindt. So just get a Belgium Dark Chocolate Crepe and go :)

And then we walked across the Waterloo Bridge for a beautiful view of Thames with St Pauls and the moon looker over it; it was also lunar eclipse in other parts of the world.
I have a picture but mind you it is from my mobile phone.




Sunday, November 27, 2011

Museums

The Natural History Museum was amazing.



They had birds, new old extinct endangered eggs claws beaks. They had dinos, bones, skulls, moving models, fun stuff. And plants and insects and animals all models. It's not a zoo. But it was fun ! They had earth and earthquakes ! Museums are awesome !
And given the number of museums in London, I guess I can spend all of December going to one every weekend. Even on Christmas which I would be mostly spending alone. Or not, with some nice paintings. Ah! miss boston and isabella gardner and moa.

Mortal Immortal !




A nice 3D movie with Greek warriors, Greek Gods, Titans, a "much needed" hero, a bad bad villain challenging gods, virgin Oracles, devoted monks, a magical weapon, anything and everything that should be there in a Greek mythical movie.
But that's exactly what it is, too many things in one movie. There is no building up of the story or any character at all because there is no time to tell things slowly. The virgin Oracle predicts one but one vision which does not come true. The villain captures the virgin oracles and no one knows how even when people are ready to kill themselves to keep the women safe. There are nearly three wars in the movie one being just a few seconds. I have no idea what power the magical weapon Hercules' Bow gave our dear hero. No idea why the villain wanted to release the Titans. No idea why the Titans who were captive till that day had to be killed by Zeus suddenly even though he killed Thor himself and Athena died already. And many more questions to which I have no answers.

Yet, Greek heroes, Greek Gods, magical weapons in 3D makes for a lovely movie ! :)
A lazy weekend afternoon's perfect answer.

Mayor's Show

After talking about it a lot I thought I did have to put up a post about it even though there isn't anything to talk about.
It was short. the wait was long.
It was crowded the fireworks not so much.
But I did take a few bad pics.

One goes here

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gen Next



The book has any amazing feel to it. Just like every other of his books, it grabs you with an awe factor. Though there is no one long winding conspiracy theory or one underlying story line, there are many small stories in parallel that add up together. But even if they didn't it would be alright.
It takes you to a futuristic world and it stays futuristic until you read the author's note or the bibliography.
The shocking thing is how much of it is true. The bibliography is the freak part. If so much is true then it won't be long before every part of our body is patented and we walk around with 'stolen property'.
I can't speak more about the plot without the spoilers. But there is a smart ape, an abusive orang and a talking calculating bird!!!
Now read it NEXT.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Fireworks Again!

It's amazing how many fireworks displays London has.
I was really excited about the Thames Festival since it ended in a fireworks display.
It was good.

Then I went all the way to Neasden just to watch fireworks on Diwali and it was well worth it.

This Saturday was Guy Fawkes Day. Basically a guy called Guy Fawkes wanted to blow up the Parliament House. He did not succeed. Every year the city celebrates the occasion by bursting firecrackers. Each council organises its own fireworks display simultaneously I guess. So the entire city lights up, even the suburbs, even households. It's like their Diwali or 4th of July. May be not that big because all households do not do it.

I went a couple of miles away to watch it.
Spectacle is the word. Beats the Neasden any day.

But, I wait for next Saturday, Lord Mayor's Show. They have fireworks again. This time it's just one place and on Thames again, after the Mayor's procession.

Fireworks, fireworks, fireworks!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Diwali in London

Slept late the previous night and woke up early on the day. I just knew i wanted to do something. Just didn't know what. After the day of work and spending forever on tubes and special service bus I reached a temple ground. Chat and crowds, Indian crowds. And then the spectacle. Fireworks. For half hour. In mythology they say gods pour down petals from the sky. Seemed like it was happening. Beautiful. A diwali i didn't expect.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Two Months in London

Image courtesy: www.oldlondonmaps.com

I haven't really blogged since I have been to London. I chose not to blog till I find a house for myself and then I did not have internet connectivity for a while. By the time I was fully connected it was too late to catch up. But you need to fill your back log once in a while.

I hear is a painful process anywhere in this world. More so if you want to live alone. The first three weeks were basically about hoping from one hostel to another, so house hunting and hostel hunting at the same time. Finally one fine Monday I saw this beautiful flat I wanted and on the Sunday I moved in. A beautiful place all for myself over looking a canal, close to office.

What followed was a period of training with work hours that make you wonder what to do at the end of the day's work. But given the many people in for training were actually based abroad there were things to do and people to hang out with all the time. One thing about London, you can never run out of things to do. But if you are lazy then there isn't much to be done.

A month passed by in training and then I moved on to my desk, where I start working for real. two weeks passed by and I am still in a settling in period. Everyone on training left today. And my best friend from my school days did too. The cold is approaching even though today is wonderfully sunny. I can only imagine how life would pan out soon enough.

Two months in London and I feel settled only a bit. Another month would bring me another experience. Yet another and yet another. With this I start my new blog label, London Logs.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Second Chance - New Life

New Life was registered as a non-profit organisation in the year 1993 as it was felt by the philanthropist professionals drawn from fields of Agriculture, Rural Development, Information Technology, and Medicine. The mission of New Life is to help raise the socio-economic status of women and children belonging to the weaker sections of society and thus enabling them to become productive members of society


Activity: Counseling of families of the prison inmates, home for poor children, rehabilitation of child labour, supporting primary education, microfinance to poorwomen, microinsurance, vocational training for the youth, social security to terminally ill & consultancy.
Support: Education, Health, Livelihood, Rights & Social Issues, Financial & support services.
Note: http://samhita.org/ngos/new-life/small_ngo_projects/list


| This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit http://www.blogadda.com/bsr/  and support the NGO's. |

The Long Break

So one fine that that India won the World Cup in cricket, yes, in cricket, I know it's hard to believe now when you look at them playing in England. Where was I ? Yes, so basically I got my degree diploma actually. And I flew back to Hyderabad. My joining was about 4.5 months later and I wondered what I would do for such a long time and tried a lot of avenues to find an internship.

But I must say it turned out quite fine to just laze around at home and then laze some more watching movies from morning noon to night. But I did other things as well.

I read a lot of books.
I watched a few movies.
I took a couple of trips.
I wrote for an NGO called Samhita.
I worked on a project with a professor in IIMCal.
I received free books to review from BlogAdda.
I took up BSR with the help of BlogAdda and Samhita.

All in all fun and eventful enough for a vacation.
And now I head out to start working for the first time in my life. Excitement!
London! Here I come!
Also, I shall begin a new label for London. What should I call it ? 

Sunday, August 07, 2011

My Rant on Chanakya's Chant

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com Participate now to get free books!


Chanakya's Chant by Ashwin Sanghi
Westland Publishers (2010) | Rs 195

The idea of the story is brilliant. To try and integrate Chanakya's teachings in today's world of politics. Times have changed but rarely do people change. And through out the book you see distinct traits of people that continue through generations. I do not know if the chant actually refers to the Shakti mantra but here is the trailer and the mantra




Adi Shakti Namo Namah! Sarva Shakti Namo Namah!
Prathama Bhagavati Namo Namah!
Kundalini Mata Shakti! Mata Shakti Namo Namah!



The story line alternating between today and 2300 years ago follows similar patterns and similar devious ideas that are used to manipulate people with their greed without giving away a clear comparison thus making it an incredible read. It's about slowly controlling kingdoms by taking over or forming a truce which is more likely in today's world.

The plot however is not that thick and if I had one advice for Ashwin Sanghi it would be to pay attention to detail. The story is indeed about small actions and small results leading up to a bigger picture. But the small deeds also need to be taken care of quite neatly. Many a times I also wondered if no one else was smart enough to outbeat Gangasar. And these great men seemed to foresee the future. Rarely did they need any back up plan because they could exactly see what the enemy would do and the enemy did just that. It's like playing chess when you make a move and your opposition makes the same move you expect them to.

It was a smart idea to use one liners from many famous personalities, but it's too smart. Chanakya gives so many one liners (and many one might have heard before) that it doesn't feel like he is actually thinking. He is only trying to be a wise quip. Also not many one liners have a context which could possibly not fit into the story. And by context I mean not just the story but the era and cultural background.

In this book there are two characters, Chanakya and Pandit Gangasagar Misra. And I thought that Chanakya not just wanted to unite Bharat but also wanted to find and groom an able leader Chandragupta. However, this book lacks any other character because everyone else gets crushed under one big mass of stupidity. I even found Chandragupta and Chandini Gupta to be stupid the way they keep asking questions and questions and questions, and never trying for once to understand their mentors thoughts and complete the thought. At the end of the book, I was left wondering how these two could actually rule India if they could not pick up even some of the smart thinking of Chanakya. Also I wondered if no one can strike back but a few did and they too were smart people. Thankfully, yes there can be other smart people in today's world. And at times, the author did glorify the street smartness of Ikram and Chandini.

Another trait of the book that stood out to me was the language used. It seemed to me that some of the characters were very uncomfortable with swearing and yet they did. Basically, they swore out of place and out of cultural context. Not that I have anything against swearing characters, just those who did not want to swear yet did. It basically translates back to the point that it needs detail. But the research is enormous and can be clearly seen through out the book. At times one would wonder what a mighty task that author had taken upon himself.

The cover page is absolutely fantastic. I haven't seen such a smart cover page in a while and I wanted to credit the artist but couldn't find his name. The bringing together of ancient coins with current coins speaking clearly the idea of the book, bringing together of two eras with the help of one idea.

To sum it up, I bow to Sanghi for taking on a herculean task and a very noble one in deed. He has produced it into a page turner adventure book that would aide in bringing in youth of this country closer to home. It helps people relate to our country with its glorious past and brings forward the hope that one man may rise to build a leader for the nation. A dream one wishes would come true!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Not Just A Dot

"The ‘decimal’ is simply a dot wihin a number. Its position within a number determines what the number means to us. Just a shift to the right or left changes its meaning exponentially. This is our hope at Decimal. We envision small meaningful interventions, that will change the value of life exponentially, for those touched by us."




Activity: 1. Public health improvement (preventive and primary), in both urban and rural areas.
2. Creating a safe working and living environment for marginalized populations.
3. Environmental sustainability.
4. Communicable and tropical disease prevention.
5. Women empowerment and employment generation.
6. Childcare.


At Decimal they believe in helping those in need with simple but sustainable solutions. Each solution has an objective of social welfare and a robust business plan backing it. Each project, along with benefiting the target population, is sustainable.


Decimal Foundation works on projects from multiple fields, be it Health, child care, women empowerment and employment generation or the environment. What remains constant in all these projects is the spirit of Decimal.


 Each project is linked with finance and marketing teams, in order to bring in self sustainability which is key in all their projects.
Support: 
  • Public health improvement (preventive and primary).
  • Livelihood for marginalized populations.
  • Environmental sustainability.
  • Communicable and tropical disease prevention.
  • Women empowerment and employment generation.
  • Childcare.
Note: Maid in India (MII) is aimed at organizing domestic helps into a formal labor force. With MII, all maids receive a set of benefits; including healthcare, insurance, training and standard jobs, utilizing the existing infrastructure. MII plans to create a single channel that will assist households with hiring and providing standardized services. This mutually beneficial system will help alleviate the poor standard of living and lack of recognition for the domestic helps, and provide households with the ease of finding and replacing house helps and fulfilling their social responsibility towards them.


"This project is different from others as we donate attempt to recreate the wheel. We simply create an easy channel to obtain what is rightfully theirs. What we also do differently is creating a revenue flow to make our project financially self-sustaining, enabling us to generate enough resources to expand and reach out to a larger population."


MII has two ongoing pilots to test different models, thus creating jobs for the unemployed, providing healthcare, training and a new social order.


Cost per Unit/Beneficiary: Rs. 1000.



| This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit and support the NGO's. |

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Photograph and the Shoe

She says she has a photographic memory. But that is not to imply that her memory is very good. It is good indeed but not as good as a photographic memory. Nevertheless, she uses the word because she feels it fits her aptly. She remembers incidents like a movie made of a thousand photographs. But then she also imagines with photographs in her head. So, the claim of a photographic memory is wrong. She is just influenced into looking at the world through a lens!

So one not so fine night an idea popped in her head and evidence of it was that she had an imagine in her imagination. So to her it was time she wrote about it. She opened her blog and clicked on "new post". Before she typed anything, she went to look for a picture. She found none. She found many. Yet she found none. She did not find the perfect picture of a delicate foot in a light shimmering pink home-sewn ballet shoe posed in the air just about to touch the cold stone floor with the base of her big toe.

So she went on without a photograph to describe that posed foot.

She lifted her foot off the cold stone floor. It was almost a relief for her muscle that she did not notice. The cold had permeated through the sole of the cloth shoe, and the cloth of her sock to her bare foot. But in the air it released just for a fraction of a second before the muscle was taut again. Taut with nervousness and anxiety. She knew that in some countries they had a name for this "problem" and could be treated with drugs. In her country though, if a loved squeezed your arm it worked like magic, but you could deal with it yourself if you took a deep breathe. That's what she did. She took a deep breathe in and exhaled it out, releasing the muscle for the second time in the short fraction of a sec. She let a moment pass when she remembered all the steps she took before in toughness and pain, not to scare her but to calm her and give her the will and intent. She let the fraction of a second pass as well. She looked down at her foot. The pink color was so subtle it could look like her own skin except for the shimmer it had. Specially stitched for her own little foot. The little lace bow made her smile. And that's how she smiled in the last fraction of a second before she put her foot lightly on the cold stone floor. All it took was one second!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Do YouSee ?




Activity: UCDS funds and hand holds NGO's in specific projects. Its projects include:
a) Free health services -Chennai.Partner- SSHT.
b) Project for rag-pickers-Indore -partner IGS.
c) Sponsoring IT education for destitute girl children- Bhubhaneshwar-partner PUSS.

UCDS likes to morph its approach along the learning curve. Currently they are interested in taking up projects which adopt Integrated development models for providing services to urban poor. They firmly believe that integrated approach has the potential to sustain the out comes of the development projects in the long term.



Support: Primary, literacy for adults, vocational and technical education, hospitals and health care centers, medical research, primary health care, environmental education, pollution control, training & capacity buildings, livelihood promotion.


Note: UCDS promotes a unique funding model for Social development financing. They call this Post-paid donations. UC provides its donors an opportunity to evaluate results of social development projects before they want to make a donation. In this way, potential donors are donating for results and not in anticipation of them!! To put it in simple words UC knocks away the guess work in the process of donation by giving the donor a choice to assess the results and figure out if it is worth donating for this cause.


This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. |
| I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit and support the NGO's. |

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stay! Stay with me!



Is he going to die?
I know I am not supposed to move him!
You came back? Would like something to eat? Shut up Olive!
Mrs Letham had the bluest eyes!
The greatest artist of the 19th century!


A thriller like I have never seen before. Get inside the head of a guy going through the guilt and trauma of killing his parents, turning him suicidal till everyone who could help him are too late. A movie that makes you think more than Shutter Island or Inception. A movie that makes you think and question reality!



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lame Brand Wars!



They say no one fought like Coca Cola and Pespi.

A long time ago when Pepsi came out with this commercial:


And then Sprite came out with this commercial:



Then I was a teenager and it seemed silly but funny and anyway the brand positioning was silly and funny and had teenagers it seemed fine and in good spirit.


And a few years later, these two commercials came up:



Honestly!
It sounds so stupid for grown up people to be hitting it out at each other like this.
It makes Dhoni look like a snobbish teenager and makes UB Group look like its run by a bunch of sour losers including the big man himself !

Or may be I just grew up!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lend A Hand - Mentor Together !



Join and help someone in the right direction.


Activity: According to the Confederation of Indian Industry, about 69 percent of unemployed Indians are educated but lack skills. Thus, the formal education program alone is not imparting employability skills. These problems are only compounded for the large segment of the youth who come from underserved communities, because they do not have the socio-economic partnerships to mitigate these circumstances.
Mentortogether runs structured mentoring programs, with curriculum for soft and hard skill development, which also utilise the knowledge and experiences of carefully selected volunteer mentors, and provides a channel of empowerment to underserved youth.

Mentoring Program:
  • Targets improved written English and basic computer skills via online mentoring platforms.
  • Targets greater interpersonal and social skills via face-to-face mentoring.
  • Aims to broaden mentee knowledge with respect to academic and career opportunites by matching mentors to mentees based on shared academic and career interests.
  • Aims to achieve the goals of Education for Sustainable Development by encouraging mentees to think about the relationship between their families, their local community and their country, and also their role as a future empowered citizens.
  • Aims to engender knowledge and experience sharing in the mentor pool, and institutionalise a mentoring culture amongst volunteers.

Mentortogether ran a pilot program from November 2009 to April 2010 in Bangalore with 20 high-school students of a private school for the urban poor. They are currently running our first full-length year-long mentoring program with 21 girls of a Government Home in Mysore.

Support: Primary, Secondary, Higher Education, Remedial and Special Education, Computer Literacy

Note: Primary, Secondary, higher education, remedial and special education, computer literacy


| This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. |
| I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit and support the NGO's. |

Thursday, July 21, 2011

9kms turn 24




The last year I practically went underground for my birthday in spite of being around people. I removed it from Facebook LinkedIn Orkut Extranet and any other site. So only my family and a few (read 5 or 6) friends who remembered it from the good old days of no birthday reminders wished me.
This year however, I was out of station with no internet or even a mobile phone. 

I travelled by train with my family all night and woke up on my birthday in Tirupati. And we walked up the 9kms of the hill up to an extremely crowded temple and out. Ate lots of laddus, tired and beat I feel asleep. Another day later I came back home to god knows how many facebook wishes it made me remember a birthday in IIT days when I was so enthu to read wishes on my orkut account.

It was nice to know so many ppl wished. I thank all of you. I also thank all those who sent me emails and fb msges :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bhumi - for under 30 vols


Activity: Bhumi is one of India's largest independent youth volunteer non-profit organisation. The volunteers work amongst orphaned and underprivileged children in Chennai, Thiruvallur, Bengaluru and Chandigarh with the aim of providing children with quality education and enable them to become responsible and productive citizens of the future. The efforts of the volunteer force consisting of over 300 students and young professionals under the age of 30 benefit over 2,500 children every year.


Details: Kanini Computer literacy programme involving teaching of basic and advanced concepts based on the children's aptitude levels.


Support: Education, Children, Environmental Conservation, Mentorship


Note: Bhumi is an under-30 youth volunteer organisation, and to be able to reach out to more children, they need volunteers (like you) who can spend 2 hours every weekend to teach at an orphanage near your residence. Check it out.


|This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. | | I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit and support. |

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blog This!

Blog This! : Communicate - Google Chrome Help

This chrome extension is making life too easy!
Now you can count on increased blogging speed :)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Gifted!

Primetime Television Trips!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books! It's actually pretty fun. BlogAdda sends you a free signed copy along with a nice little note!


Published by Random House India in 2011
Pages: 294 | Price: Rs199

I completed reading the book within 24 hours of receiving it. This is mostly because I am jobless and do nothing all day but surf the net and watch TV. But the idea of this statement is to imply that though it is not a book that you cannot put down (it’s not exactly a suspense thriller now, is it?), it definitely is a book that you don’t feel like putting down.
Her writing style is easy and flowing and twisting and turning (not the plot but the words). The comic essence of this book can nearly be defined as brilliant. The sarcasm and play of words showcase the author's grip on the English language and her sense of humor. May be one just accumulates this sense of humor over years of exposure to the goof-ups described in this book and also the interaction with the various characters. Sometimes evident and at other times subtle, the comic relief stays as an undertone throughout the book, even when the situation is a serious one.

Plot
I like the way the book begins and I love the way it ends. I did love the twist in the tale of Jassi. Though not unexpected, it definitely adds a touch of class. But overall, the plot is rather sketchy. There actually isn't a strong one at all. But then, the book is less about a story with a plot line, a beginning and a climax, and more about the life one leads in the industry. It's like a television serial that goes on and on about the life of its central character and the last chapter might as well be the first chapter of another book, the difference being that this book never touches 'boring'. At times, the story seems ridiculous but not unreal. Oh and did I mention funny?
The introduction of the characters was fun. It's almost like a Bollywood rom-com. "Zoom into a handsome SRK playing basketball. Freeze. Voice Over: Yeh hai Rahul, college ka sabse popular student." type of intros. So the book begins with our Rahul (though not the protagonist), and about how he makes the most beautiful PPTs (at this point I think, is there no industry that doesn't use PPTs?). I almost laughed out. But then, unlike the Bollywood rom-coms, the book flows into the story smooth and slow and you would not have realized the transition.

The Characters
The character portrayal of Harish was amazing. It is the most hilarious and easily imaginable character, the short, plump sweaty 'yes man' of Rahul (the MD).
Rahul, too was portrayed as a smart handsome man who doesn't really know what he is doing but charming enough to get whatever done.
The character of Tania seemed too hazy and difficult to picture, most importantly because the book seemed to indicate that she is probably the only smart and hardworking individual in the firm while the rest of them are either stupid people or smart people who don't care about work. She seemed too out of place, maybe she was meant to, I don't know.
Aditya on the other had come off well as a witty guy who doesn't work but knows how to give you the impression that he does.
Bose came off exactly as described, the creative genius who learnt how to fake a brooding soul searching angst well, except he didn't seem attractive (but then the protagonist is not attracted to him so it works fine).
Rajneesh was beautiful done with his "I am the nation" attitude.
Vrushali Salve: OMG! Really? Do people talk like that and get to host talk shows? This is probably the craziest character in the book, almost the antagonist and worse than Charlie Angel (no, not Charlie's Angels, this one is a character in this book)! I must appreciate the author for being able to pull of such a character and make her speak such bad English. If she really does come across a lot of people like that, I pity her.
The rest were just passing characters and the author didn't lay too much stress on the others, except for maybe the romance of Biplab and Neha!

Honestly, it really is a not a book to be analyzed. If you want to, you’ll just end up looking up YouTube videos of Persian cats saying “Mi-a-ow” and Googling up the different kinds of black, like ebony-black and grungy black .It simply is a book to be read. Isn’t that what books are supposed to be?

To conclude, I would say it’s an absolutely enjoyable book. It is a perfect read if you are a big shot consultant bad mouthing your client inside your head while you put on your picture perfect plaster smile and are taking a flight long enough to read a 300 page novel. Why? Because it will remind you that it's not just your job that's shitty. Also because it will make you smile, chuckle and may be even laugh out loud, making you forget all your worries.

PS: From the title of the blogpost [Trip (v): to make fun of, to laugh at something]

Friday, July 08, 2011

Add Color to Lives !

Yet another Friday and yet another NGO I bring to you!


Activity: Colorss is working with disadvantaged children focusing on education and to integrate marginalized population into mainstream through various programs like martial-creative arts, vocational training and psychological and social guidance.

Support: Children, Disabled, Youth, Urban Poor, Rural Poor.

Projects:

Project Enhance uses sport and the arts as tools to promote physical well-being while improving mental health.

Project Urja - igniting the fire within is our first vocational training program started in Baroda, Gujarat. The project aims at the empowerment of women.

Project 'Colors of Life' looks to provide an answer to one of our nation's most troubling problems, dropping out of school.

Note: Check out their Blog, Youtube Channel and Facebook page.

| This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. |

| I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit http://www.blogadda.com/bsr/ and support the NGO's. |

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Like vs +1


Plusone ? What was Google thinking ? Whoever says "I plusone it"? It only reminds me of a plus one for a party. That makes me an extra. Bad wording!

But that's beside the point! This post is just another meek attempt to try and compare Facebook and GooglePlus.


Facebook was just like any other social networking website when it came. (Sure, it had the Harvard tag but I didn't know it then and neither did I know Harvard much then). I moved from Orkut to Facebook much like everyone else because it developed over the years to become better everyday. To begin with it did not have the features it has today. Simple things like the horizontal tab with thumbnails of tagged pictures on one's profile. Today, it is clean and understandable and gives us a good amount of control on our information.

Google is an innovative firm with amazing products and we all love Google. We waited in anticipation and expressed frustration when an invite got delayed. Basically, everyone just want to try GooglePlus because it was Google product. But whatever happened to Orkut ? Why would Google need GooglePlus when it already has a social networking website. Oh yes, Orkut died because it couldn't evolve as fast as Facebook that kept up with the pace of generations. So Google conveniently kicked Orkut out and launched a new website called GooglePlus with whatever Orkut couldn't have, Facebook's interface!


What does + have over fb?
CIRCLES: Well FB has it's groups but circles are more convenient to keep the feeds in different tabs. Though I have yet figured out how to juggle with the different tabs of feed. Aaaand you can share separately to each circle you want to ! Freedom !
Hangout: Is slow given my internet speed. Otherwise a good idea.
Sparks: Why do we need Sparks when we have Google Reader ?
Posts: which is like a wall but not a wall. But why do I need it when I already have Buzz? Oh wait, why am I repeating myself?
FRIENDS IN CIRCLES: This is the single most important thing that is PLUS for PLUS. You do not know in what circles you are of your friends. Dying to know? Well don't, because they don't know about your circles either. Also, if someone adds you to their circle, you need not feel obliged to add them to yours! This is complete control of information !!!


What does fb have over +?
Playdom! You can throw sheep, have your own mafia, dress yourself up and bitch slap other non sisters, build your little city, play poker, all this with real friends in virtual locations!!! And you can make stupid quizzes and throw them around!
I think this beats + totally and I don't see the larger global audience shifting to + anytime soon.


Basically, I like Facebook better than GooglePlus as of now. But I still hope that one day all my friends shift to a Google Social Network (dunno if it will be Plus) simply because I would like to consolidate my virtual life. I use every Google product that works in India (without monetary transactions) so it would make my life a lot easier if I used a Google Social Network !

Friday, July 01, 2011

A Car has 4 Wheels !


It is interesting what three women can do!

Activity: Three women with a passion for learning, understanding and working for economic, social and human devetlopment decided to enter the exciting world of entrepreneurship with their initiative of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) consultancy firm and research cell called 'The 4th wheel'. The name signifies the business sector in addition to the other three integral wheels. the state, civil society and non-governmental organizations, and international development organizations required and capable of driving the "car" of development.

Check out their blog and the photo stream

Support: Research, Advocacy and Consulting in Corporate Social Responsibility.

Note:

1) Help spread awareness about CSR

2) Highlight the socially responsible projects by Corporates

3) Share best case practices

4) Sensitive the youth towards social issues

| This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. |

| I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit http://www.blogadda.com/bsr/ and support the NGO's. |

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Crash!



Crash is an incredibly beautiful movie on racism told in simple characters and simple incidents that connect them together sometimes as the culprit, other times as the victim.

What begins as stereotyping looks like ruthless racism turns out to be just another human quality. It works to show how racism works for and against people and how some take advantage of it and the other just fall victims.

I thought I must write down one or two scenes from the movie as the most touching ones, but I really can't stick to one or two. Every single scene is shot with a purpose, with intent and with beauty. But I will jot down one which might touch your heart and turn you to watch the movie.

A Hispanic man gives his 5 year old daughter an 'invisible impenetrable cloak' to comfort her after the sound of a bullet shot scares. Much later in the film when a racially victimized Persian shoots at this Hispanic man just to find someone to blame, the little girl races to protect her father as he gave away his cloak to her. The Persian fires and yet, the little girl miraculously lives. I scene is shot so beautifully, I am almost grateful that I got to watch this movie!


(How she lives you would know a couple of scenes later if you watch carefully)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Clap 5 Times !

Happy Birthday Slisha Crazy ! It's been good 5 years !!!

CELEBRATE: To celebrate I have a new theme, with a new background and a new header.


The header image is the set of the play that I directed. I believe it was photographed by a cast member is also the head of the photography club!

SHARE: I also added the "share" button and now you can share on whatever social networking sites you use. A comment had once suggested I do that but I never got around.

COMMENT: I have also put in a word verification for the comments. I did not want to but then I do not want to unlock iPhone 4 or visit a spooky language I doesn't know.

Thank you for all the support!

Joy of Reading: Pratham Books

It's Friday, friday! And time for the weekly dose of BSR. Today I bring to you a wonderful organization whos main aim is to ensure that all kids can read and actually read. It's absolutely delightful to just browse through their books.

Activity: Pratham Books was set up in 2004, as part of the Read India movement, a nation- wide campaign to promote reading among children. Pratham Books is a not-for-profit organization that publishes quality books for children in multiple Indian languages. The mission is to see "a book in every child's hand" and democratize the joy of reading.

In the last 6 years they have published over 200 titles in upto 11 languages and have spread the joy of reading to over 12 million children!

Details: Read about our why they use Creative Commons here.

Support: reading, literacy, education, kidlit, children's literature, publishing

Note: They have put a lot of our content under the Creative Commons framework and have begun to see success with this. Which means that they make their stories and illustrations available under an open license model and the larger community can then repurpose our content to create something completely new and thus contribute to the cause of a book in every child's hand. Their books have been adapted by our community into a range of new creations from audio and Braille books for the print-impaired, to iPad and iPhone applications - all to reach every child in India.


They hope that many more people can come forward and help translate/remix/re-purpose/distribute our Creative Commons licensed content. So go ahead and see what you can do.


| This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. |

| I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit http://www.blogadda.com/bsr/ and support the NGO's. |

Assamese Women


I recently read yet another book of short stories about (not all by) Assamese women. It was titled "Woman: a collection of Assamese short stories". I am sorry that I can't even provide you with a reasonable link. The only one I could find was this. But it is not very helpful.

It had about 20 odd short stories. All about the sorry state of women and their fate. Not many about the happiness or courage or survival. Of course there are some who stood against the whole world and succeeded and some who was trampled on by the evilness of fate. It had some good writing and some bad writing. May be translations have their way of killing the spirit of the story. I wouldn't know. I can't read Assamese. It wasn't very different from the Iranian collection. It's all the same. The plight of women in this world. I found a sample online. It was one of the stories in this collection. I thought it was OK. Better than Amrita Pritam's work.

I think I m done with all these short stories on women and from authors I know not. I should pick up a novel by a writer I have read and liked before. And I should do it soon before I lose faith in the art of writing that I very much love and enjoy.

If I ever write a collection of short stories, I would prefer to write about the beauty, the riches, legends and little lives. I would like to write about the wonderful world that we may have or I will write about a short story which has a moral in it. I would not want to write about a story that is sad or a story that asks for pity or a story that requires you to feel like crying and call myself successful if you cry. I would rather want to make you smile. Smile for now, once.

image courtesy: www.indianart.in

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ding Dong! Bell Bajao !

Activity: Bell Bajao is a high profile national campaign using innovative media outreach throughout India. With the support of the Ministry of Women and Child Development and campaign ambassador and popular film star Boman Irani, the campaign was launched in August 2008. Bell Bajao! was created pro bono by Ogilvy & Mather.


In all its 360 degree media campaigns, Breakthrough uses innovative tools to engage youth and create a culture of human rights. Here are a few ways that Breakthrough spreads the Bell Bajao! message throughout the country:

Television, Radio and Press: Thirty two million people have seen and heard the message of Bell Bajao! through television, radio and press. Television advertisements depict men and boys who hear domestic violence and take a minute out their everyday lives to intervene and stop the violence.

Video Vans: Mobile vans have been on the road for 150 days, traveling 80,000 kilometers across six districts in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra and have exposed 2.7 million people to this burning issue. Innovative and interactive, the van built audience-participation through games, street theater, audio visual tools and quizzes.

Interactive, dedicated website: Breakthrough's ground-breaking blog on www.bellbajao.org provides a platform previously nonexistent in India to dialogue about domestic violence. To date, witnesses, victims and advocates have all had an open space for personal testimony and reflection.

Leadership Training: Our Rights Advocates program embodies on-the-ground youth and community leadership training to reaffirm the message of Bell Bajao! and help Indian youth recognize and fight domestic violence in their own communities. The trainings develop the capacity and life skills of the trainers on a variety of complex like human rights, gender based violence and reproductive health. In 2008, the program trained over 100,000 people and aims to double its reach in 2009.

Support: Human rights; violence against women

Note: Breakthrough is always looking out for delightful opportunities to partner with organizations, both media and grassroots, on cross sectional interest areas of human rights, women's issues, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, gender issues, issues of race/minority etc. for public advocacy, media campaigns, trainings, community level work and pop culture/art events.


As a non-profit, they also engage donors/funders from various sections of society, whether UN bodies, corporate agencies or key individuals, in our causes, campaigns and community work. The contributions never fail to positively impact their campaigns and deliver measurable changes.

Check out award winning ads:



| This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. |

| I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit http://www.blogadda.com/bsr/ and support the NGO's. |

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mayrig's Paradis



I usually do not like watching old color films that have this old-ish feeling and people dress funny, even though it might be a great movie. And not very fond of non English films that look like that when I haven't heard of the name of the movie. So I usually avoid MGM as a channel.

Yet, one day I found myself randomly browsing past the channel when I paused for a second. A handsome man grayed at the temples was deep in thought. He remembered a small incident in his childhood when he was invited to a tea party at his friend Alexander's house. Alexander was not his friend, and was very rich, while this little boy was not very well to do. He did not know though why he was invited. When the day arrived when he should be taken to the palace of a house, his family struggles hard to make him presentable. His mother waits outside the house while he goes in and gets humiliated before coming back to her. Never did he let her know that he was humiliated.

The scene was played out so beautifully that I went on to see the rest of the movie without missing a scene after. It's a French film by the name of 588 rue Paradis. Since the wiki page does not have any detail I shall give a brief of the plot.

Plot:
This little boy was Armenian and his family migrated to Marseille, France to escape the genocide. His mother or Mayrig struggled very hard as a seamstress to bring him. He grew up to be a famous playwright but not before he moved to Paris and changed his name from Azad Zacharian to Pierre Zacharia to sound more French. He married a French publisher and lived a rich lavish life with his daughter and son whose second name was Zacharia. The movie is about bringing to him to terms with the fact that he is indeed an Armenian. He remembers little events from his childhood, meets his father who suffers an attack due to the distance between his son and the family making Azad feel accountable. He then dedicates himself to providing his mother with a wonderful life. He changes his name back. His children begin to identify themselves as being Armenian and his French wife leaves him. He then dedicates more of himself to Armenian culture and fulfilling Mayrig's dream of restoring the family to the their prior glory Turkey before they fled Turkey. Hence, he buys her a place of a house on the same street and bigger than that of Alexander's. The address of the house is 588 Rue Paradis.

The character Mayrig and her husband acted so beautifully, I think that made all the difference. Sadly though, I felt that his French wife was shown in bad light unfairly. She reacted how almost any wife would have reacted when her husband paid more attention to his mother. It did not seem that she had much of a problem with the Armenian culture. or may be it was just bad direction/acting of the character. Nevertheless, a beautiful beautiful movie.

Apparently, this movie is a sequel to Mayrig which talks about the migration and the struggle. Also, both the films are semi-autobiographical in nature, Azad Zacharian being Ashod Malakian which was later changed to Henri Verneuil to sound French.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Protsahan: Encouragement


The Protsahan India Foundation has a unique idea bringing out colors and using story telling to bring about a change and help underprivileged children.

Activity: "Encouraging Creative Arts & Functional Literacy as a Medium of Expression to help the underprivileged create opportunities for a better future"


A few young Indians have got together and built this initiative of social change in Delhi. They use youtube, colors, art of stories to bring tremendous change in the lives of marginalized. Check out their work on the Facebook page or read about it on their blog. Even better, visit the site.

Support: girl child education, women empowerment

Note: Funds, Volunteers, Furniture in the school


| This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. |

| I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit http://www.blogadda.com/bsr/ and support the NGO's.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Weekend Hyd Out


Last week was World Environment Day and India played global host.
Read all about it here, here and here.

The weekend before that was when a good friend of mine, Qurious Quester came over to Hyderabad to meet me, Dee another friend from IIT days and see the city!

I picked her up from the airport and headed to my house and spent a while chilling out in air conditioned environment (yes, Hyd is hot). Then we headed out to Lumbini Park where we met Dee and went up to the statue in Hussain Sagar, spent some lazy time and returned home.
On Saturday we saw Charminar, shopped for bangles, walked along Laad Bazar to Chowmahalla Palace.


The palace was vast and beautiful. We admired it for a while, then settled down under a tree for a picnic lunch. After lunch we realized we actually did not complete our tour. It was much bigger than we imagined. We caught sight of a few vintage vehicles as well. By now we were tired. Though the sun was not beating down on us it was still dehydrating. So what best up a CCD from where we could see Charminar. We spent a good couple of hours there before we decided to leave old city.



We directly went to Prasadz and the first stop was the 4D show. After that we went to Scary House. Now there is a little background to remember. Qurious Quester and I had been to a scare house in Pittsburgh when I visited her last September. That day we got really scared. Like shit scared! And she was almost in tears (see, I didn't say she cried)! So today when the three of us walked in, the two of us were already scared with anticipation. But it was dark, almost pitch black! Sort of no reason to get scared. Once I realized we were being followed and suddenly it occurred to me that it's been a while but the darkness stopped us from figuring out. But we screamed nevertheless, for fun! We came out screaming and laughing and out of breathe. When we recovered, our throats hurt with all the screaming and our stomachs with the laughter. Then we went into Mirror Maze. Sadly we were too smart and figured it out too quickly, finding our way out!

We went over to Dee's house to watch two chick flicks back to back while I put mehendi (designs from the web) for all of us. We then crashed off peacefully. Next morning we woke up and it was dun to cook by ourselves from coffee to breakfast to lunch. And then push off to the airport.

After a send off to Qurious Quester, Dee and I headed over to Abids for the Sunday Book Bazaar. We spent a lot of time in the hot sun and the only thing I finally got was The Witch of Portobello. Mom is reading it. Will give a review after I am done.

Finally, a great weekend in Hyderabad!

post feels like it's out of wiki.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Capt Jack Sparrow on the Big Screen



This is a post long due!

I watched the Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides nearly 10 days ago.
And some how everytime I wanted to write this post I had something to do or my laptop gave up on me.

So I'll make it brief.

I liked the movie. I love Jack Sparrow. I do not remember the earlier pictures. This one did not have any grossness (really black beard looked human). I loved the mermaids that kill you :P

It was my first Imax 3D experience and that is why I liked the movie. It really seemed like the mermaids were jumping all over :)


So that's it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shiva, The Mahadev


I cannot express ever how much I truly adore the Hindu God Shiva. For his almighty power, his emotions, his great dance, his attitude towards his woman, his simplicity and simple ways of living and everything else that he represents. He seemed different to me, from the rest of the gods. He is raw and close to the nature.

I also strongly believe that many of our Hindu gods were actually men who were glorified to Godliness after great deeds for the common good. I also believe that the "asuras" and other lowly non-Aryans weren't evil and just that they were not Aryans and were very different from them. And somehow more or less all these interpretations are not my own and I believe there are many like that. Amish Tripathi is too. And so is his wonderful book a reflection of that.

No wonder I loved the book The Immortals of Meluha. To beautiful writing and to a great idea, I bow to the author. It does not seem like a debut. He struggled very hard to raise publicity, innovating using a youtube video.

And the way he describes Shiva! The warrior who would come, who would not be from the Saptha-Sindhu, whose throat will turn blue when the Somras touches it, he who is Neelakantha would be the destroyer of evil!

The book so well receives the mythical stories and ties them with human nature. Suryavanshi was a socialist communist state and the Chrandravanshi kingdom was a democratic capitalistic state and Nagas, just people who have been subjugated because they had deformities. Oh there are many more interpretations and I can go on forever. 


So talented is the author, I hope he goes on well to not be gobbled up with the attention and continue to write for the sake of Shiva, the story and the art of writing, to produce his second and third books in the Shiva Trilogy.


Innocence!!!


Fusun, I like the name!
I love it. And I hate it. May be that's why Orhan wins a prize!! For the love-hate relationship he inspires.

I can't believe I actually read it. Really! It's long, boring and is pages filled with bad writing. Writing so bad that it amazes me that this man could win an Nobel. But then, the concepts are beautifully presented. His passion, love and obsession (in that very order) comes out so well. Probably the translation was pathetic.

And apparently they are actually going to build a museum. Waste of resources, I would say.

It really is difficult to read the book. Unless you are a hard core enthusiast for the knowledge of the days of Turkey in the backdrop of a pathetic tale of obsession you wouldn't want to read it. Actually their society is so much like India. In fact, it being written for the western audience was sort of painful for me that the author tries to explain each hypocritical piece of custom. To me it felt it was so obvious that it needs no explanation. 

The story is from Kemal's perspective. Kemal is a wealthy businessman in Turkey, about to be engaged to this wonderful woman Sibel who truly loves him beyond doubt and for years together. Such love that only a woman can bestow upon a man, Sibel did on Kemal. And Kemal finds a young pretty thing and has an affair with her. The young pretty thing is Fusun. The thing is that she is not a thing. She is a strongly independent woman who knows and appreciates her beauty and wants to be somebody in this world rather than just a poor parents' daughter.

Fusun falls in love with Kemal. Kemal is living a dream with two wonderful women in his life. Then Fusun walks out when she realizes Kemal wouldn't leave Sibel. Kemal suffers. Sibel bears. Kemal suffers. Sibel bears. Kemal suffers. Sibel pains. Kemal suffers. Sibel leaves. Kemal suffers. Kemal suffers. Fusun is a happily married woman. Kemal suffers. Kemal tries to get Fusun. Kemal suffers. Kemal tries to get Fusun. Kemal suffers. Fusun divorcers her husband and agrees to marrying Kemal. Kemal is almost out of misery. Kemal is happy. Kemal hurts Fusun (let me emphasize "again"). Fusun dies. Kemal suffers. Kemal wants to build a museum. Kemal suffers. Kemal wants Orhan to write his story. Kemal suffers. Sibel is happily married with children. Kemal dies. A museum is built. A book is written. The book says Kemal lived a happy life.

It was little like Devdas. Actually more like DevD. Rich and arrogant Kemal, you can't like him. What kept me going through the book is the simple need to know that Kemal suffered deeply! And to make sure that he suffered till the end. It beats me how he betrays Fusun's trust once again at the end of the book. The last line of the book indicating his happiness is what brought the book a beautiful ending. But I would say Kemal suffered. Rightfully so for hurting a wonderful woman like Sibel and for ensuring that Fusun never had a moment of happiness by stalking her and destroying even a speck of happiness in her life. But then, she always knew what she was getting into.

Kemal suffered, rightfully so. Sibel had a happy life, rightfully so. Fusun, poor Fusun, I guess rightfully so.