Sunday, November 18, 2007


Now all of my geeky readers, please do not get salivating. RoR doesn’t mean Ruby on Rails here. AOE enthusiasts also hold on, this is no Rise of Rome either. This is a term I coined on the lines of FoF (Fund of Funds), an investment fund that uses the strategy of holding over other funds rather than investing directly in shares, bonds or other securities, and stands for Review of Reviews.

The motivation behind writing an RoR comes from three most prolific bloggers on my Google Reader coming up with their versions of reviews of a common object—what else could it be other than the most talked about movie these days—Saawariya. And interestingly enough, they published their reviews of the 9th Nov-released-flick on the same date, the 15th of Nov, when the Recent blogposts I read widget on my blog looked too replete with Saawariya and I had to increase the number of items it displays by 50%.

I generally prefer reviews of non-professional critics rather than the likes of Taran Adarsh and Nikhat Kazmi; you can relate to views of people you know than to those of people who are paid to review, even if you know them only by regularly reading their frequent blogposts. The professionals are always biased anyways.

The review I liked the most was Washington based Great Bong’s, a disgruntled movie fanatic on the prowl for mind bending experiences, who, in his usual wit and humor, and sentences as long as half a page, puts Saawariya as the worst of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali lot: “a big plastic bag of hot air where dreamy sets, hued lighting and forgettable music is used to divert attention from the fact that there is absolutely nothing in this venture”. He mocks SLB on his belief about his direction and his interviews and his “merger of raga-based melodies with a Brodway style play”, calls Ranbir a “little tinker-bell of a man”, innocent and poor, and describes Sonal as demure and virginal and giving us more than a few glimpses of her back, “devoid of abundant and luxuriant fur”, unlike her dad Anil Kapoor’s. Salman Khan looks confused—he took off his top, but Ranbir went one step ahead and took off his bottom. Great Bong doesn’t even spare Rani: “Rani Mukherjee’s golden-hearted ‘lady of commerce’ performance completes a hat-trick of prostitute acts (which film historians refer to as her ‘blue period’)”.

A Bangalorean blogger, LongBlackVeil, deeply interested in deeply interesting things, especially nonsense, did not regret watching the movie. She finds the aesthetics stunning, likes the black-blue-green ambience, and loves the music. Although she likes Ranbir’s hairless chest and Neetu Singh smile, she doesn’t like his and Sonam’s characters, and the lack of chemistry between the two. She does like Rani’s role, but expresses afsos over SLB’s weak screenplay, mediocre dialogue and absolutely minimal character development. But she likes the movie as a whole anyways and thinks “it’s just a victim of those horrible old beasts: Great Expectations, and What Could Have Been”.

Cuckoo from Bombay terms the movie as an outright flop. She did not see any trailers, didn’t read about it anywhere, and did not even let anybody talk about it in front of her. She wanted a surprise and she admits the movie “indeed surprised her by nose diving in the theatres”. I can see her state of shock—unlike her other posts, this one was quite laconic, filled with a lot of oversized, black ant-like emoticons.

Anadi, a regular reader and commenter on my blog from Tampa, Florida presents his review on a comment on my RoR. He finds the movie can be watched once despite the criticism, because of its freshness. He believes SLB tried to stretch a half-hour movie to over two hours with filler material that just does not fill up. Like LongBlackVeil, he also senses a lack of chemistry between the debuts, who are otherwise impressive. He says Bhansali's fairytale viewpoint cannot be considered an excuse to a lack of script and pathetic dialogues.

Nova, Bangalore-based crazy, eccentric, conceited, independent, emotionally detached and a near fanatic for things she believes in, is the only blogger I read who is all praises for Saawariya. She feels the movie was two hours of pure bliss, a visual delight and music to ears sore of cacophony people sell in the name of music. She believes the new kid has met all tremendous expectations he had set. Now, Ms Nova, he would definitely have met all expectations and made it a visual delight with his towel sequences. She finds Sonam to be ordinary, just like you would expect a debutante to be. So she also met expectations! All tremendous ones! But alas, the poor thing did not get a chance to have a sequence in a towel, let alone drop one. Anyways, Nova warns her readers not to watch it for mindless jokes and dumb action but to watch it if you want to watch a poetry in motion on celluloid! She goes on to quote a phew! comments from people on before ending.

So, will I go and watch the movie? Don’t know. If I get company I might. Am not too keen; might watch the grandeur on my beloved laptop. I shall, however, continue adding RoRs to this post as other feeds on my reader show up Saawariya. But one way SLB disappointed me was by naming it ‘Saawariya’, which is not a word. The correct word is ‘Saanwariya’ (साँवरिया)— one of Lord Krishna’s names, derived from ‘Saanwla’—and I thought SLB was quite meticulous and sort of perfectionist. Maybe kyunkii he is quite superstitious too and some numerologist advised him otherwise, who could anyways not spare him from the wrath of critics and reviewers, and of course ashes’ also for spelling it incorrectly in Hindi too!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Weekend Sunrise

No assignments to be submitted in the morning, no exams to be attempted, and no deadlines to be met. But it reminded me of the good old hostel days when we used to stay awake through the major part of the night idling away, watching a movie, or simply chatting, or playing NFS or even watch someone else play. I really enjoyed the night-out yesterday reading, writing, watching, playing, crunching numbers, and getting nostalgic doing the various other things I generally enjoy on my computer.

During my joie de vivre, little did I realize the most gratifying part lay at the end of the night. It was just before the break of dawn when I crept up to the terrace, afraid I might wake up Mom, in which case I’d have got chided for being up all night.

The morning tranquil was so soothing, so fresh, and so cool. There were a few stray birds chirping here and there. The entire east side of the sky was a hue of yellowish-orange, getting redder by the minute. And then there was this flock of birds frolicking in the far south, circling about in a huge wave. A couple of joggers caught my eye on the pavement beneath.

And then I saw it. The scarlet disc came out proudly out of the distant horizon, making the sky blush and turn into a crimson red.

I can’t remember when was the last time did I see the sun rise. Must have been ages. In fact I felt I had never felt the same ever before. It was such an exhilarating experience I could see my vision blurred of moistness. The expressions are inexplicable in words.

I never knew the sun rises so fast. One moment (06:22:03 AM) I saw a segment of it, and then suddenly (06:24:18 AM) it was the whole disc, and another moment (06:27:14 AM) it was bright enough to form a glare on my lens.

When I came down, Mom was already awake and was extremely surprised to see me coming from outside rather than from my room. Papa was up too, and I had another exalting experience: I prepared the morning tea for everyone, unlike another long time that my parents have been doing it for me everyday.

PS: The pictures above are actually might want to click on them and enjoy the full-sized photographs.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Ms Brown was not in a position to haggle. She was recently divorced and living with her sister, so when a small technology start-up offered her a job in 1999, she welcomed it with open arms. The post paid $450 a week, plus a pile of what were then worthless stock options. She was the 41st employee of the organization, which, like many other startups, was incorporated in a garage by two students.

Today, nine years later, the company has 15,916 employees, sports a revenue of $10.6 billion (2006), has a stock market worth of $207 billion, and is the most popular name on the internet—Google. Ms Brown is one of the 1000 employees who have accrued fortunes of at least $5 million apiece from the web-giant.

Oh, did I tell you about Ms Brown's job profile? She was hired as a masseuse. After five years of kneading engineers’ backs, she retired, cashing in most of her stock options, which were worth millions of dollars. Phoebe, are you listening?

Google shares recently hit an all-time high of $747.24, up nearly 900% from their debut. “I saved enough stock for a rainy day, and lately it’s been pouring,” Ms Brown said. “Every time I give some away, it just keeps filling up again,” she told The New York Times of the fortune that she reaped from her former employer in the course of just five years. She now owns a large house of her own and spends time travelling the world overseeing the charitable foundation that she founded with her windfall.

She is also looking for a publisher for her memoir—"Giigle: How I Got Lucky Massaging Google". And as you would expect, these days, at least once a week, she splashes out on her own private masseuse.

PS: The Google search engine was originally nicknamed "BackRub" (because the system checked backlinks to estimate a site's importance). I wonder whether that was Ms Brown's suggestion.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Sun Also Sets

People have been complaining of long, boring posts. I have been trying, but could not write small posts. Napolean Bonaparte once said, "Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours". So I thought I'd not write this time, but let pictures speak.

Here are a few captures of the Bangalore sky at sunset with different modes on my new camera.

PS: Any references to Anadi's post and to Hemingway's masterpiece are purely coincidental. :)

PPS: Napolean's quote literally translates to: "A good sketch is better than a long speech", which later evolved into "A picture is worth a thousand words".

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Book Cover Tag

I have been tagged. The tagger is Cuckoo in her post here and in a comment to a previous post of mine.

Well, as most of you, I am not well-versed with tagging. Googling did not help much on this ‘tag’. Wikipedia gives me several uses of ‘Tag’, and the nearest is a game in which one child chases the others; the one who is caught becomes the next chaser. So, tagging is a children’s game. But another use Wikipedia gives is to engage in sexual intercourse, which is not exactly child stuff. So, I force myself to believe that tagging is no child’s play, and therefore accept this tag. And anyways, it is not everyday a sweet lady asks you to play with her. [Pun absolutely unintentional!]

From what I learnt from Cuckoo’s blog and the numerous tags she’s been doing, the blog version of ‘Tagging’ involves assigning a task to a few fellow bloggers, who, according to the ‘Tag Etiquette’, would do that task and pass it on to a few more in the blogger fraternity, thereby forming a tree of playful bloggers writing on a common topic. Then probably the best blogger gets a cotton candy or a lollipop. However, if you would seriously like to browse through tag etiquettes, Cuckoo has a ready reference here.

So, the tag given to me is: Go to the advanced book search on Amazon, type your first name into the Title field, and post the most interesting/amusing cover that shows up. This is a sort of egosurfing, the wikipedia link of which I had sent to Cuckoo on my first comment on her blog, and she was quite amused.

Anyways, coming down to business, I did the above exercise with “Ashutosh”, and was disappointed to find only one book: Sir Ashutosh Mookherjea, a character study, by one Mr. Bipin Chandra Pal. Now, Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was an Indian educator and Vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta from 1906 to 1924. He was also responsible for the foundation of the Bengal Technical Institute in 1906 and the Calcutta University College of Science in 1914.

That was all I could read about Sir Ashutosh when I started yawning and decided to move on to run an Amazon book search on “ashes”, a self-proclaimed anglicized version of the shortened form of my name, which returned 4,567 results—a prime number.

The first book cover that interests me is Ashes to Ashes (Blood Ties, Book 3) by Jennifer Armintrout. This is what the description of the book says:

Being a vampire is a life or death situation. When I was first turned, I had only my survival to worry about. Now I'm locked in a battle for the existence of the entire human race and the cards are definitely stacked against me.

The Voluntary Vampire Extinction Movement headquarters are destroyed, and their pet horror, the Oracle, is on the loose. She'll stop at nothing to turn the world into a vampire's paradise, even if it means helping the Soul Eater become a god and harnessing his power for her own evil ends.

An ancient vampire, a blood sucking near deity and oh, yeah, my presently human former sire thrown into the mix. I say bring it on. May the best monster win.

Sounds interesting. However, I’ll have to read the Books One (The Turning) and Two (Possession) before picking up Ashes to Ashes. Book Two sounds all the more interesting:
With the Soul Eater and my possessed sire on the loose, I have a lot to fear. Including being killed. Again.

Another interesting book I saw on the same page of the search results was Robert F. Bruner’s Deals from Hell: M&A Lessons that Rise Above the Ashes, which, according to the Wall Street Journal on 26th May, 2005: “engages in the kind of candid thinking that has long been missing from the high stack of books”.

According to the author, six key elements embedded in disasters are 'complexity, tight coupling, management choices, cognitive biases, business not as usual, and failure of the operational team.' In unison, these are lethal, he cautions. He uncovers the real reasons for mishaps by taking a closer look at twelve specific instances of M&A failure in his three-part book. Bruner dins in before parting: “The growth that matters is growth in economic value. The rest is smoke.”

A few other interesting titles on subsequent pages were “Quit Kissing my Ashes”, “Dropping Ashes on the Buddha”, “Amber and Ashes”, “Ashes to Gold”, “Rising from the Ashes”, “Hearts from the Ashes”, “Ashes of Victory”, “Ashes of Roses”—the list is so long I believe there is a book title on whatever can be converted to ashes, or whatever can be risen from ashes.

An interesting game, and an interesting tag, I must admit. However, I shall not be able to follow the ‘tag etiquettes’ and pass on the baton. But obviously, if anyone wants to pick it up themselves from here, please. Now Cuckoo, where is my lollipop?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Project Dark Chamber

Thank you Saurabh, who got me the camera I longed for so long, or, actually, was planning for so long to get one, and maybe longed to save a few thousand rupees on the deal.

Thank you Diya, who purchased my camera thrice, from three different websites, but all three times the order was cancelled by the different companies for different reasons:

  1. the billing address not being the same as the shipping address,
  2. their policy not allowing them to deliver at an office address, and
  3. the item running out of stock, even after the order was placed and accepted.
Poor Deepak Garg had to keep haunting online shopping stores for me during his entire stay at NY.

Thank you Andy, who purchased a camera for me online but they wouldn’t deliver it to the hotel Saurabh was staying in. Anadi had to brave against the bank call center personnel who couldn’t spell and pronounce Anadi Misra because despite sitting in North India, they were supposed to be attending a call from the US and hence were expected to fancy an American accent.

Finally I’ve got one; anything could have gone wrong anywhere considering my luck with digital cameras. I half expected half of my savings on the camera would be used to bribe the customs officials. I was skeptical till I actually got the camera in my hands almost five weeks ago, thankfully without further glitches. The credit for the camera goes to Saurabh's luck (and of course, to him as well), and this belated post can be credited to none other than my favorite activity—procrastination.

The one Saurabh Jain smuggled for me is a Sony DSC-T100. As with every other decision of mine, this one too was quite difficult and took a long time. I researched on the host of models available in the market, visited the various camera websites, shortlisted a few (eight) cameras based on my preferences and budget, and tabulated their series of features in another favorite—an MS Excel spreadsheet. After confusing myself and contagiously spreading it to Andy, Bharvi, Dheeru, Diya, Kaler, Sandy, Saurabh, and almost everyone I saw as a camera owner, I finally decided on the T100 from outside my spreadsheet and over my budget.

It was probably not the best choice, but you'd be asking for too much if you expect the qualities of Mallika Sherawat and Gulzar in one person. While I craved for a high zoom, I had also wanted to show off my sleek camera slide out of my pocket. T100 had the highest optical zoom in the ultra slim category. It is a good camera for indoor, point and shoot photography at family functions et cetera, and has a few extra flashy features, and an impressive UI with some sound effects. Well, technically it meets expectations, but let me save the details for another post.

However, as I write this post and visit the Sony website, as it happens with all gizmos and technologies, I discover that DSC-T100 has been refurbished and a new DSC-T200 has been launched, with a wider touch-screen at the same price, and some extra features I did not bother to look into. Thank God I did not have another option to choose from while deciding.

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