Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The media gets it back .. !!

Last night, the media got a taste of some of its own medicine !!.. The setting was the debate between Arun Jaitley and Kapil Sibal on CNN-IBN on the proposed anti-terror law tabled in Parliament. The debate was conducted by our man Rajdeep (who seems to be getting louder with every passing day !!). Before that, I had heard Arun Jaitley speaking on two seperate occassions (one of which was a couple of minutes on that same debate) and confirming that the BJP would support the new bill even though they felt that the bill was incomplete in some aspects (most notably, the clause that confession before the police would not be admissible as evidence). That clause apart, he had clearly mentioned that this party would go ahead and support the bill. But it seems our man Rajdeep is either hard of hearing or was conducting a debate without even listening to what the speakers were saying. So a couple of minutes later, he asks Arun something on the lines of : 'So because of this clause, you are not going to support this bill ??'. I mean, did he not hear him firmly saying that they will support the bill ?. To which Arun replied: 'Sorry to dissapoint you Rajdeep, I have already stated a couple of minutes back that the BJP is going to support this bill even in its incomplete format'. Now I am no great fan of Arun or any of the politicians, but I would have loved to see him add a few more lines of admonishment.

Sometimes, the media needs to be taken to task....


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Media bashing, anyone ???

A friend of mine has put it very well in his Google Talk tagline : 'The media is busy indulging in politician bashing, but who will indulge in media bashing ??'. And today, in the DNA, people have spoken up against the media for their coverage of the 60 hours last week. Finally, people are waking to the quality of the coverage. For the Indian media, it was the first time that they were covering a semi-battle in almost their own backyard, so to speak. And they did manage to make a horibble mess out of it !!!!

Firstly, I would like to point out the fine distinction between 'news' and 'information'. As per me, news is something that people want to hear, while information is something that helps people in making decisions. Therefore, all information becomes news, but all news is not necessarily information. And in times of crises, what we expect from the media is information. But, throughout those 60 hours, what we got was an endless torrent of 'news' with hardly a fraction of it being really informative. In fact, some of it was counter-informative. First at the Nariman House on Friday and then at the Taj on Saturday, the media informed us that the operation was over (based on a few commandoes coming out of the buildings with a V-sign), only to be later told by the NSG that the operation was far from being complete. And in all those 60 hours, not even once did I see or hear any channel asking people not to come near the battleground. As if there was some filmy shooting going on !!!.

Then there are the usual sought-after sound bytes from relatives of the dead/injured. And on this, the relatively better-off NDTV took the cake (and that too because I did not bother seeing the others , especially the Hindi channels). On Friday evening, it 'interviewed' one of the relatives of the dead/hostages. After answering a couple of questions, the relative suddenly went quite and was on the verge of breaking down. At this, the news anchor nonchalantly said: "I'm sorry, we seemed to have disturbed you". How disgusting ??? I absolutely do not see any point in having the grieving relatives and family appear on national television, only to be asked: "aap ko kaisa lag raha hai ??" How I wish that one of the relatives actually bars the media from entering his/her house, just the same way that Major Unnikrishan's father barred the Kerala CM. And most of the media journalists covering the event need urgent lessons in voice modulation. For example, on Sunday (a full day after the saga was over), a Star News reporter went to the police HQ to interview the cops who had slain the terrorists who killed Karkare, Salaskar et al. While the cops were answering in a quiet and restrained manner, our good reporter friend was screaming at the top of his voice. almost as if he was seeing another encounter in front of his eyes.

And then post the attacks, there is the favourite media occupation of making mountains of molehills. I mean, does it really matter who accompanies the CM to the Taj ??? Is Mr. Ram Gopal Varma persona non-grata ??? Then, why the big deal about the whole thing ??. The media needs to grow up and hopefully after this incident, even they will introspect and be better off for it.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

A nightmare that lasts three days !!

Quite appropriately, Mumbai awoke to a dark and overcast Saturday morning. It was an apt reflection of the general mood in the city, and elsewhere, since for the third consecutive morning, we switched on our televisions to find that the nightmare that began on Wednesday evening was showing little signs of ending. Finally, at around 8.30am came the news that the last of the terrorists had been downed and thus, the encounter part of the operation was over. The final act of cleanup of each and every room in the Taj is still going on, as I write this. And, quite appropriately again, the sun has broken through the clouds to give us a sunny morning !!!!

Unfortunately, I cannot get myself to share the jubiliation that I saw yesterday at the Nariman House. The celebrations out there were as if we had won a decisive battle. We might have won this battle but we are nowhere near winning the war. Before I come to that, I want to comment on a couple of things about this whole episode:

a. I found it quite odd that the whole nightmare was reffered to as 'Mumbai's tragedy !!'. Mumbai and the Taj were just symbols. I bet that any Indian waking up today anywhere in the country feels equally unsafe. Make no mistake, this was much more than an attack on Mumbai. It was an attack on India itself. Today it was the Taj, tommorow it might be any other place in any other city. And therefore, I cringed when I saw senseless comments on 'where Raj Thackeray was at this time when his Mumbai was attacked'. Apart from showing the immaturity of the people making the comments (and these were not just some idiots writing on Rediff, even NDTV and a fellow-IIMBian have raised this question), it also reflects their complete lack of understanding the whole issue and its gravity. I would have hoped that atleast this time, we would refrained from these comments. But it seems that sometimes, people are ahead of the curve as compared to our politicians.

b. In many ways, this episode is quite different from any terrorist attack before. It is being called India's 9/11, but it bears not much resemblence to the twin towers tragedy. For the first time, terrorists have siezed (not bombed) iconic places in an urban megapolis for almost three days. While earlier, they used to plant bombs at key places with an express desire to cause as much loss of human life as possible, this time they have attempted something more daring and audacious. Almost as if to say to us : 'this is what we can do, can anyone stop us ??'. And sadly, as of now, we have no answers to that one.

So now, as the operations wind down at the Taj, Mumbai (and India) tries to come back to normalcy (whatever state that might be) and the heroes of the operation are given they send off they so richly deserve, the focus now shifts to New Delhi. And the governments (both central and states) will now have to fight a different battle, which is as significant as the one which is just concluding on the ground. The world will be watching them now.

~ Amit

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A must read for History buffs !!!

If you have a passion for history as I do, then reading cannot but be a natural hobby. A love for history and reading go hand in hand. This is because much of the love for history is realized by reading (and of course watching movies and documentaries to an extent). History, as a hobby, is obviously not something that can you can practise like, say, music or cricket. So therefore, the more of the great historical works you read, the more your love for history is intensified. The book that I am currently reading is definitely one of those works.

William Shirer's 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich' gives a detailed account of the German Third Riech under Adolf Hitler. At a colossal 1040 pages, this book (in PDF format) is certainly a magnum opus in terms of size. It essentially follows the life of the German dictator, right from his birth and early life, then his rise in German politics and the formation of the Nazi party which further leads to his becoming the Chancellor in 1933. Then it talks about the change from Chancellor to Fuehrer (a word that I quite liked ;-) and of how he prepares his nation for a confrontation with Britian and France. Then in 1939 of course, WW II breaks out. And the book chronicles this great war in great detail, right upto the fall of the Third Reich in 1945 that signalled its end. The author uses a virtual mountain of captured German and Allied documents and his personal experiences (he lived in Germany at the time) to breathtakingly reconstruct not just the events leading to the war but the actual war as well. The great detail in which the events are laid down makes the reader feel like a fly on the wall of every meeting related to the war whether it be in Berlin, London, Paris or Moscow. One can almost visualize Hitler arousing German passions in one of his long speeches in his immitable oratorial style. Or one can imagine personally listening to Winston Churchill addressing the House of Commons during the war. Also, the books has been beautifully arranged as well so that the reader does not have to flip back and forth between the pages. He can read the entire book in sequence much like a crime thriller. And this book is much better than any crime thriller !!. I have come to about 700 pages now, and each time I feel like finishing off the remainder of the book at one go. However, other duties come in the way ;-).

So for all history buffs, this is something not to be missed. Go ahead and grab a copy !!!!...


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Double standards, anyone ????

As a society in general, we like to instantly voice our dissaproval, anger et al at any perceived wrongdoing. Take racism for example. Everyone remembers what happened during the Indian team's tour to Australia last winter. The Indian media made it sound as if the whole country (not just Harbhajan Singh) was wronged against and therefore, it was made an issue of national pride (never mind that nobody till date knows whether Bhajji said 'monkey' or something else back at Symonds). But anyways this post is not about cricket or that stormy incident. The point I am trying to make is that while we made such a hue and cry about that incident (in which we were the apparent 'victims'), we have so shockingly overlooked a scene in a recent movie that shows racism and its stark reality.

I am talking about Madhur Bhandarkar's latest 'Fashion'. Everyone who has seen it will recollect the scene in which the movie's protagonist finally hits rock bottom in her fall from grace. And when does she realize this ? When she finds herself in bed with......... ??? Yes, a black man. Now the director could have chosen any stranger (Indian, white etc) in this case. But he simply played on the racisim that we, as a society, practise as well. So he chose a brawny but black man (and for good contrast, the sheets on the bed were white if I remember !!). As if trying to say that there is nothing more demeaning and disgusting in life than sleeping with a black man. And, answer me honestly, how many of you in the audience cringed when you saw that person besides Ms. Meghna Mathur ????.

Now, not for a moment that I am posing as a 'holier-than-thou' person. I admit that I myself was made aware of this when I read about the scene a couple of days back. So I am not at all distancing myself from the rest of the audience or society. But having read that piece, it has stayed with me since, And the more I thought about it, the more surprising it appeared to me that no one ever thought of that scene as objectionable. Neither our self-proclaimed guardians of morality, the media, and nor even the censors who otherwise were happily chopping away shots of cigarrette-smoking, drug use etc. Now substitute Fashion with a Hollywood movie, Priyanka Chopra with a top Hollywood actress (white, of course) and the man with an Indian-American actor. I am sure the media here would have bought the house down with their protests. But when our media does the same thing, no one even notices.

Quite strange, isnt it ??


Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Li'l champs shift a gear !!!!

The fight of the Li'l champs is on in full swing and it has been a treat to watch !!!! Well, for the unintiated, I am referring to 'Idea Sa Re Ga Ma Little Champs', the Marathi singing competition show telecast on Zee Marathi at 9.30 pm on Mondays and Tuesdays. The current season of this hugely popular (across all sections of Marathi households) show features young prodigies treating the audience to a feast of popular and classical Marathi songs. And as the show approaches its climax (with only 7 Li'l champs left), it seems to show no signs of viewer fatigue or waning popularity. An indication of its popularity can be seen from the fact that in Vile Parle, there is actually a board put at a busy street intersection exhorting the public to send as many SMS'es (the new-age way of judging talent ;-) as possible in favour of the local favourite. And Ms. Mughda Vaishampayan from Alibaug, one of the youngest contestants and certainly the cutest ;-), has already won over everyone's hearts. And all of this does not take away from their singing prowess. Some of the numbers rendered by them can put some so-called 'proffesional' singers to shame. And having got such a wonderful platform so early in life, they can only scale greater heights. One only hopes that inspite of the instant fame that this show has so deservedly bought to them, their feet remainly firmly planted on the ground.

Till them, we, as viewers, can just sit back, relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of these young little crooners performing to the best of their ability !!! May the Best Li'l Champ win !!!!


Friday, October 24, 2008

It just gets worse by the day..

Just to mention that the numbers in my previous post seem so insignificant now... It seems now that there is no end in sight to this fall.. would be really interesting to see the mood on Dalal street during the 'muhurat' trading during Diwali the coming week.. hopefully we will atleast see some buying then !!!


Monday, September 29, 2008

Confidence shaken !!!!

As the markets were on their downward slide over the past few weeks (the minor upsurges in between proved to be nothing more than false starts), I continued to hope, in fact I believed, that terra firma would be found sooner than later and once it had, the markets would bounce back, slowly but surely. In order to profit during the recovery, I kept on investing at every little milestone that the Nifty broke on its way down.

But today, after another horrible day on D-street, the confidence seems no longer there. A 135 point fall today, close on the heels of an equally bad day on Friday, has sent shivers down the spines of ordinary investors. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, figures of 3400 and 3200 are being tossed about as next 'support' levels (mind you, 3800 was supposed to offer good support, but the market broke that effortlessly today). But now, I doubt if anyone knows what is going to happen next. As I write this on Monday 2100 hrs IST, the US markets are not looking good either. So expect another dissapointing day tommorow !!!

I, for one, can't wait to open the good ol Fixed Deposit offered by my friendly neighbourhood bank !!!!

NO Cheers

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Change is inevitable !!!

A poignant article in the Mint Lounge yesterday (read here) on how the telegram is slowly becoming a thing of the past. The part in the article that particularly moved me was the one where the clerk at the telegraphic office, on realizing that he has sent only 37 telegrams during the day, says "We will send more today. We are open 24 hours for your service you know. Maybe some more people will come.....".

A reminder of the fact that change, however bitter and however evaded, finally catches up with everyone !!!

So, before the good ol 'taar' (that has delivered many a good and bad news to its recipients) breathes its last, I offer my tribute in acknowledgment of its great services.


Monday, September 01, 2008

An Oasis of peace in the concrete jungle !!!

One of the big questions that confronts me every weekend is the issue of how and where to spend quality time outdoors. Till some time, the only apparent place to go was your neighbourhood mall with its usual consituents: a Shoppers Stop or a Pantaloons, the four-six screen multiplex and a food court with its hotch-potch of cuisines. But then, if you want to go a mall on a weekend, you must brace yourself for traffic snarls, non-avaliability of auto's to take you back and of course, dealing with the vast multitude of mankind there. This hardly is the way to spend quality time. The other option is to go to a nearby park which can allow you the freedom and privacy needed. But in Mumbai, most of the open parks were again, either too crowded and dirty or hardly had the kind of amenities that you would want in order to spend a couple of meaningful hours there. But, over the past couple of Sundays, I have been pleasantly surprised to see a couple of good and well-maintained parks, so essential to the well-being of a megapolis and its few million inhabitants.

The previous Sunday, I had been to the privately-maintained garden near Mithibai College at Vile Parle. With a nominal entry fee of Rs 5, one can enjoy good and clean surroundings, a jogging track for the fitness freaks (though on a sunday evening, doing one round of the park without bumping into anyone would qualify as an achievement !!). Add to that ample playing area for children, a seperate section only for senior citizens and sufficient benches for people to relax and chat, and you have a park that has something on offer for everyone. But if that experience was good, then the park that I visited yesterday was even better. This was the Mindspace Garden behind Inorbit Mall at Malad (West). The first thing that impresses you about that park is its size. It is bigger than most parks in Mumbai that I have seen. Then its close proximity to the sea assures a cool breeze at most times as well as a good sunset view. It is also well-maintained and you would be hard-pressed to find garbage around (thankfully, eatables are neither allowed nor sold inside !!). It also has more than ample benches and enclosures for people to sit and relax. And this is not a privately-maintained garden. I gathered that this maintained by the BMC itself and they too, charge only a nominal entry fee of Rs 5. It offers you just about the perfect spot to spent a couple of good hours with your spouse/family/friends. And not to mention, a refreshing alternative to the scores of malls and multiplexes that seem to be every other family's idea of a weekend evening.

Infact, the BMC would do a great service to the citizens of Mumbai if they could have parks like these come up in every suburb. That would really work wonders for the city's health.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Yeh soundtrack kisise kam nahi.. !!!!

On a lazy Sunday morning, as is usually the norm, I switched on the PC and searched for songs to play. While doing so, I remembered Sunday mornings at IIM Bangalore, wherein from 12pm onwards, one of the radio stations played 4 hrs of Hindi film music based on a common theme (with a female RJ that some of my floor mates almost fell for !!!). Anyways, taking a cue from that, I decided to play my own theme-based playlist. And the theme I chose was songs from the same movie. Now this is a quite difficult choice. In my estimation, there would be only a handful of movies which have more than three songs that are remembered. And to find a movie in which ALL (or atleast five) numbers are popular is a thankless job. But finally, I managed to find one and now I find myself listening to one of the all-time great soundtracks in Hindi movies. Each song of the movie is not only remembered more than 30 years old, and particular song has also made it as the title of a recent Bollywood movie. Yes, I am talking about the 1977 classic Hum Kisise Kam Nahi.

(As an aside, while on the subject of all-time great movie soundtracks, I hope to shortly name FIVE such soundtracks whose ALL-ROUND qualities set them above the rest. Apart from the above-mentioned, I know Kabhie Kabhie will find a place in my list. I invite readers to help me out with possible candidates).

Coming back to Hum Kisise Kam Nahi, while I confess to not having seeing the movie itself, the richness of the soundtrack is mind-boggling. Composed by that genius RD Burman at the height of his powers and assisted by the vocal chords of Asha, Kishore and Rafi, the soundtrack has the requisite variety to offer and more: a qawwali, fast-paced tracks, the mandatory tear-jerker etc. Just for the record, let me put down the jewels in the crown, in no particular order:

a. Kya Hua Tera Vaada
b. Chaand Mera Dil Chandni Ho Tum
c. Hum Ko To Yaari Teri Yaari
d. Tum Kya Jano Mohabbat Kya Hai
e. Aa Dil Kya, Mehfil Ye Tere
f. Yeh Ladka Hai Allah Kaisa Hai Dewaana
g. Bachna Ae Haseeno Lo Main Aa Gaya
h. Mil Gaya.. Humko Saathi Mil Gaya
i. Hum Kisise Kam Nahi (qawwali)

Now, frankly, need I say anything more ?? Anyone with even an average knowledge of Hindi film music would remember ALL of the above nine songs (can I call them the navratna ?? ;)). And as I said before, they offer more than the required variety. Some of my personal favourites are’ Kya Hua Tera Vaada’ (beautifully written by Majrooh : sample ‘nasha daulat ka aisa bhi kya, ke tujhe kuch bhi yaad nahi’, and equally well rendered by Rafi saab), ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’ (and it has been my favourite even before Ranbir Kapoor and his three deviyaan made it known to the new millinenium generation), and ‘Yeh Ladka Hai Allah’ (another peppy duet from the Asha-Rafi-RD team), not to mention that ‘Chaand Mera Dil’ would rank amongst the finest in soft romantic numbers.

Listening to the above soundtrack has definitely made my Sunday morning. And anyone who doesn’t have the CD with him/her , waste no more time. Go to the nearest Music World/Planet M and grab the CD !!!!

Happy Listening !!!


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Some food for thought !!!...

Though the reference for this post is to cricket, the takeaway from this is more than cricket, which is why I have put it in this blog..
This refers to an article by former England captain Micheal Atherton (who is turning out to be one of the better cricket writers around) in the Times regarding Micheal Vaughan's resignation (read the article here). One line in the article made very good sense, and I could instantly identify with it. It goes:

"If you take the job seriously, as Vaughan has unquestionably done, then there comes a time when you simply don't want to do it any more"

I simply loved the line, and how very true !!!!... And it applies to any job, not just cricket captaincy. Anyone who takes his or her job seriously will always find a time where you want to quit it all. So all readers who are feeling frustrated with their job, maybe they are taking it too seriously !!! Think about it..


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Strange ways of Indian politics !!!

So the d-day in Indian politics has finally dawned !!!! By the time the sun sets over Delhi today, we would possibly come to know whether the present government has survived or not. And by all accounts, as the cricketing cliche goes, it is going to come down to the final over, maybe the final ball. While all the drama that has happened over the past week has kept everyone enthralled (much like the IPL), it is still a sad commentary on Indian politics (not that it had a good reputation anyways) and on Indian public life in general.

While I have no great sympathy for the Congress and their handling of the N-deal, it is still disappointing to see a government being pushed to the brink over a particular issue. And it also sets a dangerous precedent. This era of coalition politics means that the main party in power (the Congress in this case) has to constantly watch its back and keep its allies happy. Tommorow, any one coalition partner can withdraw support over a particular issue (it can even be a major regional party pulling out over some petty regional issue). One such instance and the government is reduced to a minority and has to fight for survival. The present situation might not be that serious in that the elections are anyways scheduled next year. So a negative outcome for the Congress today might, at best, only advance the elections by a few months. But imagine any government in its first or second year of power risking its survival on pushing through some deal or reform process. Hard to imagine, right ?

This brings me to my central question: Why does support for a particular deal/bill/reform process have to be synonmyous with support to the government ? After all, when the UPA combine came to power in 2004, the N-deal was not even on the horizon. Hence, the CMP (common minimum programme) that formed the basis of the UPA coaliation did not contain anything pertaining to the N-deal. Given this, why cannot any member of the ruling coalition (the Left in this case) say "Sorry, we will not support you on this particular issue, but support to your government will continue". In my view, they can disagree on a particular issue which is not part of their common minimum programme and, at the same time, remain a part of the government. Put in another way, why does every bill or act tabled in Parliament need to be a vote on the government's survival. Had the Left not withdrawn support, then we might have seen just a bill being tabled for approval by Parliament rather than a trust vote. And irrespective of the result, the government would have continued. Going ahead, we cannot afford to have a trust vote, followed by mid-term elections, each time an important bill is to be tabled in Parliament.

Quite a few things about Indian politics defy logic for me !!!


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Jaane Tu....Ya Jaane Na !!!

Yesterday, I finally got to see the movie !! Over the past couple of weeks, several friends had recommended the movie. To add to that, the box office collections were simply going through the roof, with officially declaring it as a blockbuster. With a background, expectations were heightened as I entered the movie hall (my first visit to the PVR here in Goregoan). By the time I left the show, the feelings were mixed.

Clearly, for me, the movie was not upto the mark. Sure, it was something that all teenagers could identify with and hence, were bound to love. (Maybe I saw the movie 10 years too late :-). So anyone who viewed it as a peek into the lives of college-going teenagers would have liked it. But anyone who went to see good cinema (though I am getting subjective here, good cinema for me merely means a decent story line alongwith good entertainment) would, I guess, have been disappointed. No doubt the movie has a plot, but I thought it was too thin to be stretched over 2.5 hrs. Finally, it was all about two best friends who first deny they are in love but then finally come around to accept the fact !!! Not enough, I say, for a full-length movie (and neither was the plot new). The first half was terribly slow and I expected the movie to pick up steam in the second half. However, that did not quite happen. And very frankly, I would like to commend the director for even attempting another climax at the airport !!!! I could not bear to watch that.

Not all is bad though. The young star-cast most definitely worked. I thought Imran Khan had an impressive acting debut, even though his baby-face might restrict his choice of roles. But still, he looks good to go places in Bollywood. Genelia D'Souza, after a couple of false starts, finally has come into the limelight and the movie hopefully would give her fledgling career a big boost. The others in the group also did their object fairly well. And of course, champs like Naseer, Paresh and Ratna Pathak Shah did an excellent job. Another big plus was A.R.Rehman's peppy music score.

So as I said, quite mixed feelings from my end !!!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hard times ahead !!!

So finally, double-digit inflation is here to stay. And while it was expected to some extent because of the fuel price hike, but no-one expected it to touch 11%, as was announced on Friday. Certainly not the markets, which had factored a 10% figure. And when lightning struck, the indices took a big beating and ended well below the crucial 15000/4400 levels. And this time, not many analysts are taking a call on the next 'support' levels. What that means is that how long and deep the market falls is anyone's guess. Now with Ms. Behenji withdrawing support to the UPA, the stage might be set for another tumble at the markets this week.

But for the common man who is more concerned about how much one kg of onions cost rather than how much the Reliance share fell, things are becoming increasingly difficult. With the fuel price already hiked (and once oil crosses $150 by July, as is widely expected, one can expect further pressure on the government), most essential commodities are likely to go up sooner or later. And rest assured, you can expect public transport to be dearer as well. This will lead to decreased consumer spending and hence falling demand for a variety of goods, thereby hurting many a company's bottomlines and, in turn, their investors, many of whom are the same consumers that are not spending !!! So it ends up at a double whammy, the common man/retail investor has not only to deal with higher spending on what is essential for him, but on the other hand he also is witness to falling returns from his various investments !!

And the sad part is, no-one is sure how long will this last. Till then, one can only wait and watch...


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Clinging on for dear life !!

A sad story in today's DNA (read here) about a woman who fell off a running suburban train in Mumbai and died subsequently. While many people would think it is possibly the freakiest way to lose your life, in Mumbai it is reality of everyday life and commuting. It is estimated that nearly 8-10 people slip off running trains every day and some of them never rise again. Just that Swati's case got highlighted (as was the case of Naseeruddin Shah's son a few months, though thankfully he was saved). And having travelled in Mumbai local trains for quite a few years now (and in the so-called 'peak flow direction' from the suburbs to the city every morning) I can testify as to how risky it is. I remember one day about a year back when I was in almost the same condition as Swati. With only my fingers and the front part of the feet touching the train and the remaining part about a foot outside the door with no-one behind for support, I was in an awkward ")" position. And boy, did I cling on to dear life !! From the time I 'boarded' the train at Goregoan till Andheri (where a few people got off from the opposite door and I was able to get more of a foothold), I was actually praying for my life. One push or shove from the people inside and I would not be typing this today. It was definitely one of the most terrifiying experiences that I ever had. From that day, I swore never to board any train unless there was somebody behind me for support, and definitely no hanging business. But to think that there are people who take these risks on a regular basis really shudders me. I can only pray to God to guard their lives !!!!


Friday, May 30, 2008

The Sea Link is finally coming !!!

Looks Impressive enough !!!!!!!!!

But is it going to be worth the wait, effort and money ?????

Wait until January 2009 to find out !!!!

Till then, you can get the background of the project and track its project at:


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A long hiatus !!

It has been 51 days since my last post on this blog !!!. For the couple of ppl who have inquired as to why this is so, and I am so glad that someone asked, it is just a combination of many things: lack of time (as usual - given that I have spent a large part of the past couple of months shuttling between Mumbai and Delhi), lack of opportunity (have been away from my laptop for a major part of the time) and most pertinently, lack of things to write about !!!! With nothing much happening in life or around me, am not too sure what to write about.

So would like to ask my fellow bloggers, how do you guys decide what to write about ?? Is it just instinctive, you write whatever you feel like (even if it is a 2-line post) or does every post involve some kind of ground work ?.. Would love to know :-).. BTW my cricket blog ( is barely alive, with the latest post coming today (27th May). As far as this blog is concerned, till the time I find something good to write about (or if someone suggests something good), take care and have fun !!!


Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Cola War hots up... but advertising standards go down !!!

With the weather turning on the heat, the cola wars are too gathering some steam. And as is typical of the advertising in that industry, the latest commercials churned out are mostly lousy and in-your-face.

So starting the slide was the latest Pepsi commercial featuring SRK, Ranbir and Deepika. Watch the video here. Released in December (a month after Sawaariya and OSO thrust the Ranbir-Deepika pair into the limelight). This ad is probably the latest example of the generally mediocre commercials that Pepsi dishes out (Remember the largely forgettable SRK and John commercial anyone ?). They have certainly slid a long way from the first Pepsi ad in the late 1980s (remember Juhi and Remo ? or even Mahima, Aamir and Ash ? Compared to those standards, the 'Youngistan' ad certainly does not register.

Not to miss a chance, Sprite seems to have taken full advantage via its latest commercial (watch it here). A delightful spoof on the Pepsi ad, it drives home the point that for a large section of the viewers, simply having hot stars but little else does not work, be it a 3 hr movie or a 50 second commercial.

Amidst all this, the two other big brands have identified their brand identity and have accordingly maintained a consistent theme through the commercials. Coke's latest ad (with Hrithik as the sole star) has a sweet little jingle running through it and conveys the feeling of celebration quite well, something which Coke has been associated with it (recall the Diwali ads with Hrithik and Aishwariya). On the other hand, ThumsUp continues its projection as the young man's drink and accordingly has Akshay Kumar as its ambassador (though Akki not really the young Khiladi :).

Hopefully the next offering from Pepsi would be something to look forward to !!!


Friday, March 14, 2008

Our life-time companion !!!!!

No, I am not talking about your respective better halves (and not-so-better halves for all the ladies reading it). It is the humble cellphone. And just like invaluable things, we miss them when they are not around. So it happened to me today when, for possibly the first time in almost 4 years since I have started using one, I left home without my faithful companion. And since I was not in office today but on the road, I almost fell lost and cut off from the world. Isn't it incredible to think what a difference the mobile phone has made to our lives ?. Any time we are not with it, its as if we have nothing to do to while away our time. No more sending of SMS's, no more playing games while in a bus or train and no more random phone calls to friends. On the brighter side though, it helped that I could not get any phone call from office and hence could pass my holiday in peace. And of course, I did not need to respond to 'Ms ABC from XYZ Bank informing me about the Rs 265,000 pre-approved loan'. A day without the cell phone makes you feel like a fish out of water, does it ? Would love to hear from you.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Jodha Akbar: Much ado about what ????

Finally on Thursday, I got a chance to see Jodha Akbar. And given all the controversy (inevitably) surrounding the movie, the fact that there was a proven director at the helm, not to mention my keen interest in historical and period movies, I went with somewhat high expectations. And that was possibly the reason that I had to return a dissapointed movie buff. Frankly put, and I still remain a Gowarikar fan, the movie is not a patch on the rivetting Lagaan and neither it is in the same league as a Swades, which atleast forced us to introspect about our country. Incidentally, true Gowarikar fans might remember the first movie that he directed, a murder mystery called Pehla Nasha (starring Dipak Tijori, Raveena Tandon and Pooja Bhatt). I would even venture out to say that Jodha Akbaar would probably rank somewhere alongwith Pehla Nasha in Gowarikar's oeuvre.

Now, you might ask, am I so dissapointed ? The reasons are quite a few. Fine, granted the visuals are stunning, sets are lavish and bring to life the Mughal and Rajput era of the 16th century, Hrithik looks the part as the Emperor, Aishwariya looks charming and does a fair job of acting and AR Rehman is pretty much in form with his music (Khwaja Mere Khwaja and Azeem-O-Shah-Shahenshah pull up the otherwise average score). However, glittering sets and handsome leading pairs cannot keep the viewers engrossed, certainly not for a period of 3.5 hours (I lost track of the no. of times I looked at my watch, especially during the first half). To sustain viewer interest, a movie requires that essential backbone: a story and a screenplay to accompany it. And I thought that the movie faltered in those crucial departments. Firstly, it is not a historical in the sense we understand it, which means it is neither a biography of a historical figure nor does it narrate any historical event. It is not much than a love story set in a historical context, not very different from the Titanic. And its not even that historians celebrate the love between the Rajput princess and the Mughal Emperor. In fact, they are not even certain that the eldest daughter of the king of Amer, Raja Barmal, was even called Jodhaa. We have never heard Jodha Akbar mentioned in the same breath as Mumtaj-ShahJehan or NoorJehan-Jahangir. Given this, one wonders whether there really was any historical substance to the Jodha-Akbar love story. At the end, the narrator (Amitabh's baritone now part of every other movie) says that the Jodha-Akbar love story is largely forgotten in history. To which, one might ask, why should it be remembered ? Now, having taken upon the task of potraying a love story made largely out of scattered historical information, Ashutosh needed to fill the movie with a lot of tender moments between Hrithik and Ash. But apart from a few (the sword fight between the two is excellent), the chemistry is not much on display. And some cinematic liberties seem far-fetched, most notably the anomaly that although Jodha is supposed to be Akbar's third wife, neither of his first two wives are even mentioned in the movie (Can someone fill in me here ?).

All in all, I am in no way suggesting that Jodha Akbar is even an average movie. It is, by all standards, a good effort and definitely worth watching once (in the theater of course !!!, the sets and visuals deserve nothing less than that). But given the Gowariker name, I think he should have done better.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Cold Wave's here, the Metro is coming !!!

Just a couple of days after the mercury slid to a single-digit figure (as in my last post), it has reached a new low. The weather bureau has actually raised a cold wave flag in the city. This after the minimum temperature recorded in the city was 8.5 deg, a good 7 deg below normal. With such weather expected to continue over the next few days, the lowest ever mark (of 7.4 C) is well and truly under threat.
So, in Mumbai, two things are officially dipping: the BSE sensex and the minimum temperatures !!!!

But one event that might have warmed the hearts of many Mumbaikars is the construction work starting on the Mumbai Metro Rail project (Read Here). While it may take atleast till 2010 for the first train to run on the 1st corridor (Andheri-Ghatkopar), the work starting atleast is a start. However, there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. We have seen enough high profile projects starting, only to get embroiled in court cases, litigations, builder-government disputes etc with working grinding to a complete halt. For the sake of my city, I sincerely hope and pray that work continues unninterrupted on this prestigous project.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Blow Cold, Blow Hot !!!!!!

Yesterday, the almost unthinkable happened in Mumbai. The signs were ominous and for once, people had been warned. Still, not many (me included), thought it would come down to that. As I left office today, saw the DNA headline: ‘Its 9.4 degrees in Aamchi Mumbai’. So after a long time, the mercury has finally dipped into single digits. It is still well clear above the lowest mark: a truly bone-chilling 7.4 deg set in January 1962. Outdoors, the repercussions of this ‘abnormal’ climatic behaviour are hard to miss. As I leave for office at 7.30 am, I have never seen so many people clad in sweaters, mufflers, monkey caps etc. If you are a woolens retailer, it is like finding El Dorado. And for once in the Mumbai local trains, people are actually avoiding those prized standing spaces at the doors. Climatic changes are happening at a rate far faster than any seen before and the effects are there for all to see: not just in Mumbai. Delhi had come close to seeing its first snowfall, China is in the grip of severe snowfall and many other places are seeing unprecedented winters. We are moving towards a climate of extremes. I would not be surprised if, exactly three months from now (May 7th), the newspaper headline were to read: ‘Hottest May Day in 40 years !!!’. We seem to be getting what we deserve.

But amidst all this chill, the self-proclaimed ‘powers-that-be’ have found innovative ways of beating the cold and seeing some action. So the old ‘Marathi v/s North Indian’ saga has been reopened again. That there has always been an undercurrent of tension is undeniable. It just needed a spark to ignite the flame. In this whole controversy, I have just two points to make:

  1. The role of the media: The day after this whole thing flared up, I happened to watch a few channels on TV. And if you were sitting somewhere in Delhi or Kanpur, one look at the visuals being shown and you would have thought that there is rioting all across Mumbai. No wonder few of my office colleagues whose familes are up North received immediate calls inquiring about their well-being. The justification apparently was that these were staged attacks especially for the camera. So now does the media take orders from some small-time mischief-mongers on what to broadcast ? Or was it solely for the extra eyeballs that such visuals (shown repeatedly over) catch ? When will we a bit more responsible in bringing news, especially on such sensitive topics ?
  2. Stopping migration: While it is true that Mumbai is for everyone, the parties that are now acting as aggrieved and victimized should do well to realize the cause of the migration that is at the heart of this controversy. Almost non-existing infrastructure, large-scale corruption and breakdown of law and justice are largely responsible for the sorry state that some of India’s states find themselves in. Instead of shouting hoarse on how Mumbai is no-one’s private property, the leaders there need only look at their backyard and try and improve the state of affairs there.

Finally, in all this, I was reminded of a wonderful line about this great city:

“ The great beauty of Mumbai is that it welcomes anyone with open arms”……..

And the great tragedy of Mumbai is………………………..





“it welcomes everyone with open arms !!!!!”



Thursday, January 31, 2008

Civic Sense: Whats that ???

While coming back from a trip last week to Goa, I saw a most heartening, and at the same time, a depressing sight. I was coming back from Goa to Mumbai by train (AC chair car in the Shatabdi Exp). On the other side of the aisle were seated two young women, foriegn tourists (mostly European) who were probably coming back from a holiday in Goa. One of them took a plate of Idli-Chutney and after finishing it, kept the paper plate on the train floor. A sudden gust of wind caused the plate to turn upside down, with the result that the left-over chutney spread over the floor. Now the spilled chutney was quite far from her seat and hence could not have any discomfort to her or other passengers. But to my amazement, the lady took a couple of paper napkins and began cleaning the chutney on the train floor (and we all know how dirty our trains are anyways, although it was an AC compartment). It took her a good couple of minutes to clean the mess caused, following which she dutifully took the plate and went in search of the nearest waste bin and promptly put the plate in its rightful place.

The fact that someone would actually clean the plate on the floor was something that amazed me. What depressed me was the realization that not many of my own countrymen would have bothered to do it. We would have just shrugged it off saying 'the railways will clean the mess'. Which is why our trains are so pathetic in their appearance today. Getting to a bigger question that bugged me, and always does: Why dont most people in India have even basic civic sense ? The sense to keep their surroundings clean. What could be the possible reason ?? Initially I used think poverty was it, but then you find well-to-do people happily throwing their litter in our public parks and gardens. Similarly, civic sense does not automatically come from good education, though there might be a strong co-relation there. Then what causes us to not have even an iota of civil sense ??

Would love to know the answer.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Another Year, Another Marathon !!!!!

It was that time of the year again. If its the third Sunday of January in Mumbai, then it must be the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon. It is the day when the city changes itself. It literally comes to a halt (what with no traffic plying on Marine Drive, Peddar Road and outside CST) and it celebrates the spirit of human endurance which overcomes all physical and mental odds to reach that coveted finishing line. Having debuted in the 2007 edition (and managed to do decently for a first-timer), I was looking forward to the 2008 edition last Sunday (20th Jan). And with some amount of training in the gym (although the maximum I managed to run at a stretch was a paltry 2 km), I secretly hoped to improve on my last year's time.

Getting to Azad Maidan was also not without its fun. Took the train from Goregoan at the unearthly time of 5.12 am and immediately saw groups of people in the train going to the same destination as me, all with their running nos. proudly displayed on their shirts. At Jogeshwari, a big contingent (about 15 in all) of Gujratis strode in, all men and women in their 40s, and full on enthusiasm. They were participating in the half-marathon (same as me), and if they did manage to complete it, then hats off to them !!!! And, of course, like others from that part of the world, they could not resist opening a bag and helping themselves to fruits on the way !!!

I reached Azad Maidan in time for the race start at 6.45 am. About 8000 runners took part in the half marathon, which was the earliest race to start (and thank god for that, since it meant that we were more than halfway through by the time the heat begin to play its part). The race started at CST amidst great roars, cheer-leaders and blaring music, all fit for a great occassion such as this. For the first 2 kms or so (till Air India bldg via Churchgate) most people were either on a light jog or were just ambling along (the contenders, of course, had gone way ahead). After taking the U-turn at Oberoi, the field began to split up. The ones more serious started to run at a brisk pace while the ones more intent on just finishing the race, or atleast have a good morning's workout, continued their gentle trot. Marine Drive, as usual, was a splendid sight. With no traffic on the road, a nip in the air (it was slightly cooler than last year) coupled with a gentle mist, it was the perfect setting for a morning walk or jog. By the time I neared Chowpatty (about 6 kms in 50 min), the leaders passed me on their way back (must have completed about 15km !!). The leaders were well appluaded by the hundreds of people lining up the course,

I continued on through Babulnath temple, Kemps Corner flyover and touched the 10km mark on the Haji Ali stretch in about 1 hrs 20 min. At that time, the roads were partly cleared for the arrival of the full marathoners (who had covered the same distance as me in about 45 minutes less, a fantastic achievement !). But I was pretty well satisfied with my effort so far, given that last year those guys crossed me just after the 8km mark. Nevertheless, the body was beginning to grumble. The run-walk-run-walk routine also did not help. Turning near the Mela Restaurent at Worli (to start the return journey) was a great high, since it meant now that I was running towards the finish line rather than away from it. By that time, the sun had appeared over the Mumbai sky-scrapers in the East and the heat was beginning to show. Thankfully though, good arrangements had been made to provide water and energy drinks throughout the course. To add to that, good samaritans from the neighbouring buildings (esp along Peddar Rd) also provided water and biscuits to the participants. By the end of 2 hours, I had done about 14.5 kms and was in good shape, except for the legs. Evidently, the preperation in the gym was paying off. In fact, I kept on running in bursts even between the 19th and 20th km (unlike last year, where I only walked after the 8 km mark). And it was that energy and adrenaline that kept me going all the way to the finish line, which I crossed in 3 hrs 6 minutes, a significant improvement over the 3 hrs 45 min last year. And there have been no big injuries afterwards, apart from a bad right heel which has sinced healed. It was one of the most satisfiying days of my life !!!

Mumbai Marathon 2009, here I come !!!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nano Aaya Re !!!!

So the people's car has finally arrived !!!! Unveiled last week by Ratan Tata last week at the Delhi Auto Expo (with a cleverly used dash of sentiment : "a promise is a promise"), the Tata Nano seems to have got everyone talking and admiring. And by all accounts (since I am no auto expert), Tata Motors seem to have got a winner on its hands. It sure does look good. It initially reminded me of the Daweoo Matiz (one of my earlier favourites). Compactly built, but it still supposedly has about 20% more inner space than the Maruti 800. And the mileage of 20kmpl sure is a cracker, since this will mean that it will not be too much of a burden on its owner even with petrol. What is still open to debate though, is the safety aspect. With such a compact body and no front bumper, the occupants have to be extra cautious. And what might also go against it is the perception that it is suitable only for short intra-city distances. But all said it done, one can already see the queue forming. And the people lining up might not be your usual suspects. The day after the launch, a friend told me about his conversation with a auto rickshaw driver, in which the latter cursed the high maintainence cost of his Bajaj Auto model and was fascinated by the Nano (mostly by its price tag, I imagine). And yesterday, there was an article stating the Taximen Association in Mumbai is actually going to hold talks with the Tatas with a view to modifiying the Nano to be a taxi (CNG version etc). Maybe the Tata's have stumbled on a different kind of market, and couple of years down the line, we might see black-and-yellow Nano's all over Mumbai's streets. And oh, not to forget the thousands of college kids, not-so-affluent bread-winners who might take to the Nano just because of the sheer satisfaction of owning a car (note I am not talking status symbols since I dont think the Nano can be the benchmark for one).

Amidst all this, does anyone spare a thought for the roads and infrastructure still, as I had done a few months back ?? Only time will tell.