Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Arrests not mandatory now! – What, come again?

Criminals rejoice! This is the Government of India’s new-year gift to the world of outlaws! No longer are arrests mandatory for crimes that that have a maximum penalty of 7 years or less. Now this is stupendous! In the wake of 26/11 I was under the impression that laws would be tightened! Link

Haha. Double Haha! Quoting Harry from the movie “Dumb and Dumber”: “Just when I think you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this…and totally redeem yourself!” 

This was after Llyod exchanges their van, modified to look like a sheep-dog, with a juvenile scooter. Well the GoI has done something just as brilliant and redeemed themselves! 

With this solar-system changing law in place, police chases just became obsolete. (Movies will now be a whole lot more boring!) Now the criminals don’t need to run after committing a crime! They can flag an auto, say tata-bye-bye police uncle, take care, and go and relax at home. Crime is after all a stressful profession. 

I can visualize the following crime scene now … 

Pappu-pager, strolling out of a local bank after robbing it of a couple of lakhs. 2 police jeeps from World War II skid to a stop right next to him. A young dashing, pot bellied inspector, jumps out. 

Inspector Dayaram: “Police ne building to charo taraf se gher liya hai, Aapne aap ko kanoon ke hawale kar do. Apne hathiyaar phenk do!" 

Pappu-pager: “Hathiyaar?” (Throws down his pager) 

Inspector Dayaram (voice trembling): “Ruko, nahi to main goli chala dunga” 

Pappu-pager: “Haan haan ok, ruk jata hoon, tension maat lo. Kya hai? Kaiko khali pili ka hungama karta hai?” 

Inspector Dayaram: “Main tumko Dafa 393 (Robbery) ke tahet geraaftaar karta hoon” 

Pappu-pager (Picking up his pager): “Abbe bina internet ke PC, woh din gaye, chaal mere liye auto bula!” 

Havildaar Bhonduram whispering to Inspector Dayaram: “Saar, abhi abhi naya kanoon aya hai. Bole to ekdum latest. Geraftaar nahi kar sakte. ‘Notice of Appearance’ issue kijiye saarji” 

Inspector Dayaram: “Haan kya? Pappu – yeh lo tumhara ‘Notice of Appearance’. Thank you.” 

Pappu-pager: “Ok, ok, agli baar galti maat karma. Chal, chal auto bula” 

Inspector Dayaram: “Haan saar” Shouts to a nearby auto driver: “Aae auto, Chembur chalega kya?” 

Next Post: Top 5 reasons why this law was put in place! 

PS: Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Remake-of-a-remake copyright!

Breaking News! The release of Ghajini has been stayed by the Madras High Court. (I thought the name of the city was changed to Chennai – But that’s the Indian Judiciary for you.)

The entire release planning of this movie has been so carefully choreographed (I chose this word over orchestrated) by Aamir Khan that this major gaffe seems totally out of place. Aamir Khan has suddenly captured TV airtime through Samsung and Tata Sky plus ads. He is currently on top of everyone’s mind! Literally! Even Asin has crawled out of the woodwork and started appearing on Tanishq ads. All this is part of a greater plan.

This forces me to think that this is yet another ploy to whip up some controversy prior to the launch of the movie on 25th December. It is entirely possible that this matter is resolved and the movie launched in time. 

“KBC Pictures” (Kaun banega champu Pictures?) is the name of the production house which has filed a suit against the Aamir Khan “Ghajini” and claims to have the “original remake copyright”. The movie they are producing is called “Kahani Ghajini ki” (Not Kahani Ghajini Ghajini ki – That would have been a giveaway!). NDTV also claims that they have an Amitabh Bachchan look-alike in the lead role. (KBC Pictures – Amitabh Bachchan look-alike – co-incidence?) Is this a stink bomb? All part of the carefully choreographed release planning? It certainly seems so. If it is a prank, it is a poor one! 

What is laughable is that the Indian Judiciary is a part of this entire fiasco of original copyrights of a remake, of a remake of the original Christopher Nolan movie – Memento! Don’t they have, like a backlog of some 400 million cases? That’s irony for you! 

Frankly, I have had so much “Ghajini” thrust in my face in the last one month – I feel like I have seen the movie already! Aamir Khan has just stopped short of dragging me by the nostrils to the nearest, overpriced multiplex. This is all leaving a bad after-taste. 

PS: There is also a sms doing the rounds claiming to reveal the ending! Will there be more?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Are we done yet?

New and improved terrorism is unleashed on India

Pranab Mukherjee and the honorable Dr. Manmohan have put their stern looks on. And looked equally uncomfortable doing so. But thankfully I found no mention of the Jurassic, almost laughable, ‘100 day’ plan to combat terrorism that the PM had talked about earlier this month. Maybe the PM needs a 1 day plan now. Then came the statement from Pranab Mukherjee blaming elements within Pakistan for the attacks. The western media has called this a knee-jerk reaction to the terror attacks. And they always know ‘better’. Bull turd. Popular media and Blogosphere have also taken the oft-trodden path of Pakistan bashing.

I for one, do not deny that there are Pakistan connections. But blaming the state of Pakistan, like in the past, takes away the prerogative from us. How about this time we look inwards?

Let me make this point clear first. 

The difference between the terror elements and the state of Pakistan: Unlike the impression that the media will give you, these are 2 distinct entities. And now it is apparent that there is not much of a link between the 2 either. The politicians and the media has called negotiating with Pakistan, is like negotiating with a gun to your head. Now why should this be so? I find this imaginary ‘gun’ to be as potent as an imaginary gun. 

It is time that we stop Pakistan bashing. We cannot depend on the frail state of Pakistan to reign in the terror elements that they had created. These terror outfits now have enough funding, following and know-how to operate on their own, independent of the state machinery. They have become an industry now. The state of Pakistan does not have the political will or the incentive to wipe this industry out. 

Given this condition, what can India do now? 

While the commandos and the police have a done a stellar job in containing this situation, the intelligence and coast guard and failed miserably to pre-empt this. Intelligence at 2 levels failed. 

#1: Gathering any and every information about the next target of the terrorists and their plans. Make no mistake, the information is available. The information can be gathered and was in all probability gathered. But it did not filter up through the heavy layers of bureaucracy. 

#2: Post the terror attacks, intelligence failed to support the operations on the ground with information about the attackers, the kind of weapons and the ammunition they have, there was no surveillance equipment, no infra-red scanners, no ground support for the brave commandos. 

This is the area that needs to be rectified. No longer will the ageing, pot-bellied bureaucrats and administrators who have slept through the internet revolution, be able to discharge this duty. We need a corporate set up, with younger dedicated, tech-savvy people who are paid market rates coupled with access to the latest technology, to address the intelligence issue. We need better intel.

I will be much happier if this is the direction that the country leadership chooses rather than choosing to close all avenues for co-operation with the state of Pakistan

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New killers on the prowl!

In one of my earlier posts, I had talked about the Nokia 5800, being a possible iPhone killer. 

The Nokia 5800 was launched recently, though it is not a stunner and comes with the oh-so-common Nokia chunky design; it has a good feature set, which is better than what the iPhone packs in. In the looks department, it’s more like the beauty (iPhone) and beast! 

The only way this phone can be an iPhone killer is if it is priced judiciously. Early reports say that it should be priced around $391 (~ Rs. 20,000). But then again the speculative prices rarely become reality. Going by what the N95 was priced at, I am guessing prices would be close to the un-judicious Rs. 30,000 mark. 

Check out the pictures of the Nokia 5800 on these links



Another possible iPhone killer on the horizon is the HTC Touch HD. Now this phone is both stunning and feature-rich. The price is what remains to be seen. But till then drool over the pictures on this link. 


Those planning to buy mobile phones will do well to hold on till Christmas. All of these new models are slated to be released around that time. Watch this space! Over and out!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Karzzzz - The nose job!

Major spoiler warning! 

Picture this. The Jurassic era - Dinosaurs lumbering around in a manicured clearing with towering Alpine mountains in the background. Nice sunny day with only a couple of T-Rex attacks predicted. Of the many dinosaur species – The Lambeosaurs evolve a bizarre nasal headgear to make mating calls. This tends to happen if you don’t have mobile networks. 

Cut to the 20th century. Himesh Reshammiya (HR) is born in a movie called ‘Karzzzz’. And because of a government experiment gone haywire, he is grafted with genes from the Lambeosaurs, thus giving him a nuclear-powered nasal cavity. 

The movie starts with a Botox-injected Urmila planning to kill her husband, Dino-saur Moreo. Things go well (Not so well for Dino-saur Moreo though!) and Dino-saur Moreo is promptly dispatched to his maker. His sprawling estate passes onto Urmila and Sir Juda (More about him later). 

Cut to 25 years later. The great HR nose-dives his way to the top of the Rockdom. Indian women are swooning in large numbers at his concert in Cape Town. Apparently dinosaur mating calls have that effect. But all the nasal screeching has an unwelcome side-effect on HR. The potent sonic-waves re-boot his brain with Dino-saur Moreo’s memory. He starts to recall how the Botox overdose … err Urmila, poisoned Dino-saur’s life. 

HR has also, in the meantime, secured the liposucked Shweta Kumar’s affections. He then travels with her to Kenya to attend to his calling. No not that! His black-and-white flashbacks to Dino-saur Moreo’s extinction event. 

The scheming HR and his dino-sized sinus cavity woos the older Urmila with a series of nasal shrieks. (Read: Songs!) Urmila is no match for such powerful mating calls and black-and-white flashbacks. She falls prey, thinking HR to be a re-incarnated stalker. However, HR has worse in store for her. He reveals her evil plans to the world at a concert. 

Sir Juda, who had his arm eaten off by dinosaurs in the past, had gotten himself a Casio synthesizer for a prosthetic limb. He could now make sounds which only his evil henchmen could interpret. So armed with a synthesizer and a couple of ill-fated, half-baked evil plans he takes on the great HR. 

In this historic fight between a genetically modified HR and evil, HR attempts to subdue the Botox-powered Urmila by offering himself up for target practice. Gleefully, Urmila takes full advantage. But while HR is being converted into a human-dinosaur-hybrid-sieve plate, the 25-year-old Botox causes Urmila to freeze and lose control of her aircraft. She plunges to her death. 

Sir Juda armed with a good arm and a Casio synthesizer does not last long. No match. Although HR has sunlight filtering through him, he lives to sing another day.

Thus ends the worst nose-job in Bollywood’s history. Unlike that of Shilpa Shetty, this nose-job will have no positive impact on HR’s career.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


The enormous strides made by the Telecom Industry in India in the last 20 years are phenomenal to say the least. We need to applaud the industry on having become truly global and competitive today. Here is a “Before” and “After” comparison of what it was in 1988 and today


  • You would get an irritating “Beep-Beep” or the engaged tone when you tried calling a number. 
  • You would need to shout at the top of your voice, making a conversation difficult. 
  • You would get disconnected once in a while.
  • You could build your biceps lifting those heavy ebonite handsets. Your fingers could drill holes in trains, like Mithunda, from all the heavy dialing.
  • Customer support was some guy taking 5 hour lunch breaks in a local telephone exchange. The security guard would inform you that “Saab abhi lunch pe hain”. [Sir is on his lunch now!]
  • You would need to wait 30 minutes to see someone in the local telephone exchange for your complaints.


  • Now you get a prompt message on your mobile screen saying “Network Busy” 
  • Now your voice breaks making conversations really spicy. “Hello, how are you?” goes like “Hell … ow … ae … ou”. Films like “One Missed Call” showcases the virtues of such calls. 
  • Now almost all your calls get dropped, but thanks to speed dialing your problems have a workaround. 
  • You now have a wireless handset that keeps your ears hot and sweaty and helps your brain produce lots of abnormal nerve cells, thus improving your IQ. 
  • Customer support now is a guy armed with a headset and a computer system that takes 5 hour lunch breaks. They now politely inform you that their “System is down”. 
  • Now you get to hear “All our executives are busy attending to calls” followed by music-that-can-trigger-epileptic-seizures during your 30 minute wait.

This kind of progress is unprecedented and unanticipated. We have come many a mile since the bribe-happy-friendly-neighborhood linesman. We have truly entered an era of tele-topia.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Singur Matrimonials!

Just caught this very interesting matrimonial advertisement on a news site. 

Singur Girl

Marry Well Settled Singur Girl Register Free! Search, Chat & Marry

Haha. What next? Marry Well Settled SEZ-Proposed-in-2020-but-farmers-agitating-already Girl? [Sorry if that sounds sexist!]

Suddenly places of discontent and protests are becoming attractive destinations for “Alliance-Seekers”. Now what could be the reason for that? I racked my brains for what could be the top five reasons!

  • The to-be-bride was featured in numerous news videos, effectively making her a small screen star
  • The Alliance-Seeker has ambitions in Politics
  • The Alliance-Seeker is a die hard fan of Mamata ‘Bandh’-opadhyay, Arundhati Roy and the likes
  • Marketing managers at the matrimonial site have taken market segmentation a little too seriously
  • The Alliance-Seeker would either get a hefty compensation or an assured job


Monday, September 15, 2008

Déjà vu Déjà vu

My last post on the subject of terror attacks and how the 'stakeholders' have addressed it is still fresh in my mind. I cannot bring myself to do a rerun of the same thing. In fact you will find the post a few scrolls down.

I am sincerely eager to see if the GoI does something this time around, or will they slide into the ‘election-stupor’ mode. Not that they have been in much of an active mode the last few years. What amazes me is the fact that the perpetrators can do it with such ease. They are not only striking at will, but the way they are able to cover their tracks is brilliant.

This cartoon is no longer funny. Credits: .pOINT_bLANK - Vikram Nandwani

PS: Word of advice, keep your wireless networks secure. 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

iPhone 3G - The Bad!

The much awaited iPhone finally arrives in India.

Haha. But the prices dashed it all. Prices in the US, for an 8GB iPhone are around $199. Add to that 3G subscription charges of $10 per month for a 2 year period. It comes to $439. Add to that subscription to MobileMe for $99 a year (This is optional). The total comes to $637. And given the fact that iPhone 2Gs are available in the market for around 20,000 Rupees, I was expecting the iPhone to be priced at around the 25,000 Rupees mark.

But the handset prices in India are Rs. 31000 and Rs. 36100 for 8GB and the 16GB models. And that is not the most surprising part. Airtel and Vodafone have formed a cartel to dupe users collectively. Both their prices are exactly the same. I wonder if that qualifies for some legal action under trade restrictive practices.

For the price, iPhone 3G in India just does not make sense. At a price tag like this its drawbacks become that much more glaring.

  • The iPhone 3G has a plastic back – Unlike the sleek brushed aluminium back on the 2G – I am guessing it would be prone to smudges and scratches
  • The back is rounded so you can’t keep it on a table and use it – It keeps rocking
  • No multimedia messaging – You have to purchase 3G services and send emails instead
  • No video recording
  • 2 MP camera without a flash
  • No landscape keyboard
  • No voice dialing

So is there an alternative? Yes. For all those Nokia lovers out there, Nokia is coming out with a full touchscreen model. If the price is right, it would be the best iPhone killer on the market. And it should be out by the year end. Look out for it.

Here is some more info on the Nokia 5800. Check it out. I think it would be worth the wait.

Link: http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=X7swGAs6Ad8

Link: http://www.phonesreview.co.uk/2008/04/21/new-nokia-5800-tube-xpressmedia-hands-on-video-review-specifications/

Link: http://technokia.com/nokia-tube-5800-specifications/11/04/2008/

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Our very own Mt.Rushmore?

I clicked this very interesting cliff at Matheran. You can distinctly make out the jawline, nose, eyebrows, eyes, lips, mustache etc. Any suggestions on who this can be?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bread will come from Infrastructure!

In one of my earlier posts (Inflating Inflation in India) I had said that the inflation rate in India was more than what it should be. And this was primarily because infrastructure was woefully inadequate in the country. A low-inflation high-growth scenario is only possible if there is an underlying infrastructure to support real economic growth.

I am happy that Laloo Prasad Yadav also thinks the same. Amusing, though he may sound, his grasp of economics is firm. “Roti – Infrastructure se ayega” (Bread will come from Infrastructure – I am not sure how the translation sounds!). Nevertheless his point is valid and well accepted. And I am glad that he is in the Parliament! I would like to see him as a Prime Minister someday. Maybe he could turn this country around like he did with the Railways!

This is the link to the video on YouTube. It’s a must watch. The part where Laloo brings out the infrastructure issue, is about 4:45 minutes into the video. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Deja Vu!

It’s barely been a few hours since the rubble has settled on the bomb blasts in the country. The ‘impact crater’ extends far beyond the blast radius. People are still fearful of leaving their homes in all cities across the country. Life is limping back to normalcy. TV news channels have gone into a feeding frenzy mode for snippets of information.

Amidst all this, I found certain very pertinent viewpoints of stakeholders. (Not the common man – He isn’t a stakeholder – He is a victim) This is what they ‘said’:

Spokesperson of Opposition Party: “We have been telling the government time and again that the lack of security is a major issue. But it fell on deaf ears. We have suggested setting up a central agency to tackle this problem since the co-ordination between state governments is not adequate to control this menace. But the government has failed to act!”

Spokesperson of Ruling Party: “I find Mr. Opposition Spokesperson’s political mud-slinging at this delicate juncture to be inappropriate. We need an all-party task force to discuss how we can pre-empt terrorism. The aim should be to pre-empt terror strikes and not setting up agencies and laws. This requires considerable deliberation. We are open to options but we need co-operation from all parties.”

Spokesperson of Law Enforcement: “We have had considerable success in the past while cracking such cases. We have convictions in all of the cases that have happened in the recent past. We have been successful in dealing with this.”

Leader of Democracy: “I commend the people of this state for the resilience they have shown. These terrorist acts are aimed at destroying our social fabric, undermining communal harmony and demoralising our people.”

Haha. What they really meant to say is (Not that this was not all that apparent!)


Spokesperson of Opposition Party: “Boy, thanks for giving us this. Major blunder! We are going to make this our election agenda in the upcoming state and Lok Sabha elections. You thought you outsmarted us with the nuclear deal, now take this! Bye bye ruling party!”

Spokesperson of Ruling Party: “Ooops, when did they sneak this one in? Useless law enforcement and intelligence agencies! Let’s try and put this one on the opposition party! And with just one year left in my term I will let them take the first step towards a central agency. Oh no, I am not stepping into that ‘central agency’ trap. We will see who has the last laugh!”

Spokesperson of Law Enforcement: “Let’s focus on our past and try and wriggle out of this one. We have a steady supply of small fish, scapegoats and purse-snatchers to appropriate blame to. Then we can again focus on our ‘successes’. Anything else might be risky for my lifestyle habits! Oh, I need to look-up the meaning of ‘pre-empt’ someday.”

Leader of Democracy: “Yeah you guys are tough to put up with this. Compensation still works out to be cheaper for me. A central agency is mighty costly. Oh and remember that terrorist acts are aimed at destroying our social fabric, blah blah …”

We have to fight this out ourselves! 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fart 'em up!

Michael I-want-to-be-Tarantino Davis has directed this horrendous video called 'Shoot ‘em up'. For obvious reasons I choose not to put this in the ‘movies’ category. A mish-mash of “Tarantino-like-violence”, “Scharzenegger-trademarked-one-liners” and “Mithunda-special-outlandish-stunts” is what this is.

Haha. The movie starts with Clive Owen being at the wrong place at the wrong time. (What else is new?) And attempts to save a pregnant woman from an army of blind toughies complete with fake ponytails and shiny, black leatherite jackets. Blind because they couldn’t hit the ground from the roof of a barn, if they wanted to. Which is why they needed an army to kill a pregnant woman in the first place. Clive Owen then fights the baddies (What else is new?) and dispatches them to their maker with the ease of an ATM machine counting bills. And delivering a baby while doing all of this! That’s where he becomes better than an ATM machine. (So this is new!). And then he tops all of this with a cheesy one-liner. You are officially doomed.

The movie has more such new concepts and more such one-liners. (More than you can stand!) It also has a gun-fight … hold your breath … while falling from an airplane. Plain old creative-load-shedding is what I would call it. There is also a scene where Clive Owen is involved in a head on collision between his car and a van full of blind thugs. He flies through the windscreens and lands in the van and kills the thugs like the ATM Machine … you get it.

There is also Monica Bellucci in this movie with an accent that’s heavier than the ATM Machine. (Am I overdoing this ATM Machine thingy?) Other things of note in this video are that Clive Owen chomps on carrots much like Bugs Bunny did. Adding a much needed comic relief. He even uses a carrot to give a thug a cerebral hemorrhage. And if that did not kill him, the one-liner that came next must have. “Have a Carrot” it seems!

I also found Clive Owen to bear a striking resemblance to another beacon of acting talent from Bollywood. Krishen Kumar. Here are the pictures for you to compare! Overall the video is as boring as a ... constitution. (Were you thinking ATM Machine?) Avoid at all costs. 

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Photo-post: Flower Power!

Trying out a whole new type of a post here. I clicked some of these flowers during my stay at Narayangaon. Most of these flowers were about a cm in size, to give you a sense of proportion. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Inflating Inflation in India

Another run-away-red-hot topic for my blog! (Wonder why my blog readership is still limited to me and my family). Inflation is something that I have been planning to write about for a long time. But I was worried about the increasing prices. 

The official explanation for the run-away inflation in India is that of the increasing crude oil prices. And in response, the RBI and the Finance minister are furiously working the interest rates to reduce money supply. Thus reducing demand (so they say) to match supply. But to no effect!

Haha. Well, I don’t think that is not responsible for the situation, but there is an underlying disease that is causing these symptoms. Tinkering with the interest rates and duties will not help. It helps only in text books with a lot of other variables remaining constant. In real life it is not a money supply problem. Common sense says, people are not consuming greater and greater amounts just because they have money to burn. The reason behind inflation is not increased demand but reduced supply of food and other basic necessities. And the reason behind the reduced supply is an infrastructure which is crumbling faster than a damp chocolate cookie. Nudging repo rates and levies will not help.

And as the Congress government goes into election stupor do not expect any more of those infrastructure investments either. Part of the reason why it is going to be difficult to catch up to China in terms of development is because the Congress governments over half a century of their soporific rule have denied India the vary basic infrastructure that is needed to support real economic growth. Mumbai will never become Shanghai as early as 2020. Sorry it ain’t happening. 

To avoid going the Zimbabwe-way, India needs to invest more in roads (Thus reducing precious fuel wasted in traffic jams), alternate sources of energy, domestic sources of gas and petroleum, nuclear and hydro-electricity. That won’t happen because there is a conflict of interest here. Sunset politicians will never remove infrastructure woes, because that is their election plank. They much rather hunt Chinkaras and make merry in their opulent farmhouses. 

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happening Happens to a Hapless me!

‘The Happening’ happened to happen to me this weekend. My weekend became that much less happening as a result of that. M Night Shyamalam – I guess something’s happened to him. His first few movies received rave reviews and all the praise for being different. But since then he has been constantly moving away from mainstream cinema. So much so, that now he is appealing to vegetative matter with his new movie ‘The Happening’.

Now comes the mandatory ‘Rescue Warning’! If you are about to watch the movie, read on and spend the money you save on Pan Parag!

Haha, the story starts with a constipated Mark Wahlberg (Entirely unbelievable as a teacher) who teaches his kindergarten class about the correct steps to a successful experiment. Wish Shyam-babu knew about experimentation! He wouldn’t have done this to us. 

Well the story is about something that happens (It ought to, it’s called ‘The Happening’) in the north eastern states in US. Something is causing people to stop ‘dead’ in their tracks, take a few steps back, and then kill themselves. (Actually this was a clever trick to save special effects money.) 

‘The Happening’ happens on. People are chucking themselves off buildings, shooting themselves, throwing themselves onto oncoming tractors and trains. Apparently they are not a happy lot. Mark Wahlberg and Zoey Deschanel decide to escape (Duh!). Their kitchen squabbles however continue in the face of suicide-mania. They are to suicide-mania, like Rambo is to wars. Been there done that. 

The story meanders like a drunk on a Saturday night. It is later learnt that trees can release toxins in the air that can cause people to stab themselves with knitting needles. (‘Wow’ moment. Pause to admire). You get to see lots of people standing still and trees swaying in the wind. No tomato ketchup has been harmed in the making of this movie. (Too clever by half – Shyam-babu has saved a bundle on special effects. But he isn’t getting this one past us!)

Well someone had to clobber the meandering drunk of a story! And that happens as well. The movie ends, 80 minutes late, (Movie is about 90 minutes) when all of these ‘happenings’ stop without reason. And we have a logical conclusion to the kitchen squabble thrown in.

This is a typical you-kill-my-family-I-kill-your-family revenge saga, with apples and oranges in the lead role. This is my good deed for the day, saved the dwindling readers of my blog some money!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Economics and Whispers collide!

A lot happens by word of mouth in India. Real estate prices being one of them. A market that is totally controlled by touts and brokers. “Sir rates to double ho gaya!”. And they have taken prices not only beyond the ordinary Indian but beyond the ordinary American or European as well. I did a quick search on Magicbricks on residential properties in Mumbai which are more than a mere Rs. 5 crores in price. I got all of 79 pages of property listings. And this was substantially more than what I got for a search between Rs. 60 lacs and Rs. 1 crore. 

The fact that there is a substantial market at levels like these, and is being sustained, makes you question the most important choices you have made in your lifetime. (You mostly question your qualifications!) 

Haha, I happened to watch a program on Discovery Travel and Living. This was a program on high flying agents in Hollywood. They were the people who were looking for houses for Bill Gates, Madonna, Tom Cruise and the like. Now I was amazed to find some of the bargains on offer. (1 Million USD is roughly equal to 4 crores of Indian rupees) For as low as $ 5 – 6 Million you can get a 5 bedroom house with a Olympic size swimming pool and tennis court in Hollywood! And the agent will happily throw in John Travolta as your neighbor, all a part of the deal. You can even have barbeques with him. Cool. I did some slow mental maths. 25 crores, in Mumbai, maybe this guy could get a 2 bedroom apartment overlooking a dilapidated garden in Malabar Hills, with running water for 4 hours per day. The costliest houses in Hollywood were in the range of $15-20 Million USD. (Rs 60 Crores) The per-square-feet rates in Hollywood were slightly more than what they are in nondescript Chembur. Hollywood was getting close. Not yet Bollywood though. 

So our brokers have happily taken the wormhole to the next galaxy in prices. And all of this was done through an efficient network of brokers on mobile phones. “Sir rates to double ho gaya!”. We know the whisper-system works. Demand-supply is balderdash?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Murder of a Franchise!

No point for guessing this one, but this is a post on the adventures of Indiana-wrinkly-Jones (And I am not referring to his clothes only). Being a big fan of Indiana Jones trilogy of films, I was anticipating something which took you back to the glory days of the lost ark or the temple of doom.

* Spoiler warning: Read on if you don’t plan to watch the movie! 

Haha. It was not to be. Somehow the earlier movies could create a sense of suspense, thrill and an awe for the supernatural. It was believable. This however was not. This is because the themes in the movie have all been explored in various other movies and serials over the last 20 years. And somehow these disparate themes did not converge as Mr. Spielberg may have expected. 

Theme #1: Aliens. A theme that has been flogged to death and beyond by X-Files. 

Theme #2: The search for El-Dorado. This theme has expired and is decomposing. 

Now why would anyone want to connect these 2 themes? And when you add other elements like fights in the Amazon and Russian military agents, it simply cripples the movie. There is no saving this disaster. Harrison Ford is unfortunately too old for make-up to be of any help. Seeing a geriatric Harrison Ford huffing and puffing through action sequences is likely to be revolting to most people. Maybe grandpa will appreciate. The other members of the cast are equally wrinkled. What you get for your money is a wrinkle-fest. Imagine an old-age home on fire - that’s how most scenes in the movie are like. 

This movie could have been so much more. A single fresh theme was all that was needed. People would have even tolerated a well-past-its-prime cast had the story line been more taut and believable. Indiana Jones is still a trilogy for me. 

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A tale of Oil, Hypocrisy and Activism

With global oil prices reaching all time highs, fuelled by increasing demand from developing economies, a hike in the price of oil was inevitable. The official line was that the oil companies need to be back in the black. After all, a loss making oil PSU could destabilize the country’s economy.

Haha, All of a sudden the government is concerned about loss-making oil companies, when for a greater part of their existence they made losses out of the most lucrative business in the world. Let’s leave the oil PSU’s inefficiency and Jurassic technology out of the discussion. Let’s examine the Tax Structure of Oil. The taxes imposed on Oil are
  1. Customs duty on Crude oil imports ~ 5%
  2. Excise duty
  3. VAT ~25% (Which was supposed to have replaced the existing taxes!)
  4. State sales tax

All of these taxes contribute heavily to the government’s coffer. And some of it makes its way back to the oil companies in the form of oil bonds and subsidies. Rest goes towards black-cat commandoes and armor-plated Ambassadors. So with the ever increasing crude prices the government stands to collect a bigger and bigger chunk of tax revenues. Of the Rs 5 increase in prices of petrol, Rs 1.5 goes to the government of India. Makes you think about what we are paying for.

In connection to this price hike, a ‘pro-people’ party chose to call a ‘bandh’ in West Bengal in protest against their own administered price-hike. (They are part of the ruling Alliance!). And of course these ‘bandhs’ are for the common people to suffer. So when a minister in the West Bengal government, got stranded on a Train, he promptly arranged for his own transport to Kolkata. Car, police escort - the usual.

However, irate passengers on the train stopped the minister from doing what he does best – fleeing the scene. The argument being that the government who called this ‘bandh’ should get to know how helpless it feels. Though I wonder if they are really alien to day-long sessions of inactivity.

However, the impromptu political activism is definitely something to cheer about! It was poetry in protest!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Air India – Achieving Customer Nausea!

Customer Nausea is, as you might have guessed, at the other end of the spectrum from Customer Delight! Striving hard to achieve this major milestone is Air India. They have turned convention on it’s rear-end.

I was in Mumbai this weekend, to receive a relative of mine, flying in from Kolkata on an Air India flight.

Gosh, the flight was over 45 minutes late!

Funny, we think a 45-minute-late flight is not only pardonable but also a sign of improving things when it comes to the public sector airlines! Happy as I was, I started discussing the enormous changes that the Aviation Ministry was bringing in to modernize our airports. A rather boring conversation for my wife though.

Haha. Air India had another trick up its sleeve. It wouldn’t have given up so easily when it comes to inconveniencing its passengers. It just could not. We know it takes about 20 minutes for people to leave the airport once the flight has landed. But when that stretched to 30 minutes I attributed it to all the construction that was happening at the terminal.

The 30 minutes stretched to 1 hour. The official response was that the luggage was “Arriving in another 10-15 minutes”. We all know the 48-hour clock PSUs refer to when talking time. So we felt that by 30 minutes we should be happily on our way. Conversation had changed to how taxes are paying for lazy government officials. And my wife was participating.

After the end of an hour and 30 minutes, luggage still hadn’t arrived from the plane to the conveyor. Official response was still “Arriving in another 10-15 minutes”. The luggage did arrive but not before it took all of 2 hours. The flight from Kolkata to Mumbai was 2 hours 30 minutes, and the luggage took 2 hours to reach the conveyor from the plane. This must be a record of sorts in Customer Nausea!

I now want Laloo as the Minister for Civil Aviation.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Our National Anthem?

This weekend, my wife and I headed over to the latest 'blockbuster' release Jannat. We were watching it at Gold Adlabs in Kalyaninagar, Pune. The movie was packaged trash. There was promise but it under-delivered.

However that is not what I am writing about. Just before the movie started, Gold Adlabs asks everyone in the auditorium to stand up for the national anthem. We did too. What played was our national anthem only as far as the lyrics were concerned. The tune was changed from a rousing, pride-instilling one to one that was right out of a Jagjit Singh gazal. I have all the respect for the great AR Rehman but tinkering with the tune of the national anthem is not justified.

We have a code of honor for the Flag. No disrespect is allowed in any form. Specially if it is used as a garment. Rightly so. I think there should be a similar code of honor for the national anthem. The code should disallow any modification to the original tune. This is akin to having a Jana Gana Mana remix. I strongly object.

Why stop at the national anthem? It should extend to the national song, game, animal, bird, and monument too. On my part, I have sent an email to Adlabs on this issue. Let's see if there is any response from them.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The lighter side of IPL!

The news channels and the movie channels (SET MAX is classified under movies on Tata Sky) have all focussed on the serious aspect of IPL till now. Be it the controversies or the game itself, focus has been on the ponderous aspects mostly.

Lets look at the funnier side of IPL as well! There has been plenty of action!

1. Sreesanth crying like a baby on camera. What a ham-actor!! Kids by the age of 10 don't cry on being slapped. It was not just unbelievable it was downright funny!

2. Charu Sharma being sacked! Now I like this amicable guy when it comes to comments on cricket, but not as someone who decides a team composition. We would like to see more such corporate lay-offs!

3. Royal Challengers being called the best Test team in the tournament!

4. Vijay Mallya saying he has better knowledge of players and their strengths than Rahul Dravid. Which is sadly true! - But funny nonetheless!

5. I got this quote on Cricinfo. Nitish here has a quite a sense of humor. His comment comes in just after Ganguly dismisses Dravid in the Kolkata-Bangalore match on May 8th.
"I doubt if Dravid will beat Ganguly in anything," writes Nitish from Hyderabad. "Maybe Scrabble.". Awesome Nitish!

For details go over to this and look at the commentary on the 10th over.

Click here for the page.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Great “Mobile Store” Fraud!

Be careful, some slick marketing of fraud offers from “The Mobile Store” can get you to buy from “The Mobile Store”. They are offering an assured gift of a 3D2N package in India or abroad at some of the better travel destinations.

Haha. You should know better! I fell into the same fly-trap. Nothing but a meager offer laced with digestive juices … umm “Terms and Conditions”. Conditions which will ensure that you never avail of the so-called free gift worth Rs. 5000.

Condition #1: You get to choose 3 destinations from amongst a list. Send in your preferred check in dates which are not on holidays or during the peak season. This is where your ‘choice’ ends.

Condition #2: You have to travel to the destination they allocate which is usually your third preference. Could be Timbuktu as well.

Condition #3: You have to travel on the date they say you have to. It ‘could’ be one of your preferred check-in dates. Not guaranteed.

Condition #4: You have to stay at the hotel they choose for you. I randomly looked up some of the so called properties they ask you to stay at. And to my pleasant surprise I found them to be little more shanties in the guise of a hotel. One ‘hotel’ did not even have a phone.

Condition #5: They will confirm your booking only 10 days before your check-in date. Leaving you all of 10 days to buy flight or train tickets, ask for leave and pack.

Condition #6: For international holidays, they will confirm your hotel stay only if you send them a copy of your air tickets within 7 days of submitting your application. This means you have to buy air tickets before your stay in that place is even confirmed.

Condition #7: Lastly you have to pay Rs. 600 to have them take you through all this trouble.

This is the mother of all bogus offers, if ever there was one. My recommendation is to stay clear of “The Mobile Store” when buying mobiles. A cash discount is always preferred over offers like this.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tashan - Sasura what an experience!

The slick promos and the Dhoom-2-stlye posters did do a lot to generate interest in the movie. I was excited about seeing the new-and-improved-99%-fat-free Kareena Kapoor. Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan would have been a great combination too. They would have brought back the glory days of 'Main Khiladi tu Anadi'. I was full of anticipation.

Haha! But Alas! Film-makers in India have long taken the audience to be a cross between an earthworm and a snail in terms of intelligence. But Tashan took it to a different level altogether. Quicksand. You get the point.

I was hoping that I would see returns on the too-damn-expensive movie tickets when Kareena 'shows' up. However even that turned out to be a dud. She looked more like a Chinese famine victim (a male one at that too!) than a heroine. Sheesh! What a let down. I would really not be able to comment on rest of the movie since I could not understand what Anil Kapoor was saying. He was using a potent combination of Hindi and English, something that would have re-wired your temporal lobe. There was nothing in the movie that was not predictable, or in filmy parlance, 'hatke'. All-in-all a very unwatchable movie!

Yash Raj Films must be flush with cash to have produced this. There was just one positive for YRF here. Their marketing is now far better than their production!

16 People = Rs 140

The gruesome accident on the Mumbai-Pune express-way in the early hours of Sunday that claimed 16 lives, has highlighted several glitches in the system. This accident struck a special chord with me because I drive down to Mumbai from Pune as often as 2 times a month.

The official story is that a tempo traveler filled to the brim (and some more) with 19 people was traveling at 130 kmph along the highway when the driver fell asleep at the wheel. Blame has thus been attributed to the overworked driver. Simple, case-closed.

Haha! Balderdash! Firstly, a tempo traveler cannot travel at 130 kmph with 19 people stuffed in it. The indicator being stuck at 130 does not prove for once it was traveling at 130 kmph. I find the authorities at fault on 2 counts.

Count#1: The Tempo traveler stuffed with 19 people should not have been allowed onto the highway for safety concerns. It should have been turned back at the toll booth. Over loaded vehicles risk not only themselves but others on the route as well. The authorities chose to collect the Rs 140 as toll over the safety concerns of 19 people.

Count #2: The trailer with no reflectors (and maybe even a defunct tail lamp) should not have been allowed onto the e-way either. Another example where the authorities chose to grab Rs 750 without heed for 16 human lives.

I have seen numerous examples of trucks and heavy vehicles plying down the e-way without any functional tail lamps or reflectors. In the dark, you cannot see them unless you have a good pair of headlights on your car. To make matters worse these trucks will often venture into the innermost lane for the fun of it.

There can be no excuse for lack of policing. Putting up cameras along a piddly 98 km stretch is nothing. Hiring someone to monitor the cameras will take another piddly nothing. Fines from trucks which venture into the lanes not meant for them, or traveling without tail lamps and reflectors will surely pay for the expenses.

Let the games begin!

Olympics? No Not this post.

Humor (dark or otherwise!) is missing in our lives. Why can't there be a whole newspaper be dedicated to humor? Instead of having so many news channels dedicated to the same boring "breaking news", why can't one channel be deliberately funny? (Some of them are funny by the way!). Why can't there be a computer game that makes you laugh? Why do reviews have to be politically correct? Why?

Lets get dirty!