Monday, June 30, 2008

Is the Apple still Adam's?

That's how the Apple India homepage looks. They could rewrite it as: "The phone you've been waiting for a year. Keep waiting. Or smuggle one from North America or Europe and have it unlocked." The homepage on the global site reads: "iPhone 3G. Twice as fast. Half the price. Coming July 11."

While I am (and other Indians are) eagerly waiting for the iPhone, and love it already even before we know when would it be officially launched in India, there is an entire community of iPhone haters out there. A majority of these haters are feminists, and someone might just sue Apple for being misogynistic.

A very important feature of the iphone, the multi-touch screen, allows sliding to scroll, pinching/unpinching to zoom, and whisking/dragging to flick/flip, apart from all other operations working by touch. But many women with long fingernails find it difficult to use the virtual QWERTY keyboard to type text. iPhone loves skin and does not work with fingernails and hence it becomes technically infeasible for people with long fingernails to provide bare skin for contact with a small key on the screen.

iPhone does not come with a stylus; it is not designed to have one, it responds to electrical charge emitted by fingertips. However, few companies like Ten One Design claim to have come up with aftermarket iPhone styli even though it disturbs the very essence of the smart phone. In the past, Apple has said that it is more natural to use the pointing device you are born with: the finger.

There is another set of companies that manufacture phone fingers to keep your touch screens smudge-free. These phone fingers are made out of very thin latex, and have obvious sexual uses, and can go as another component in the misogynous claims against the manufacturers of iPhone, even though they do not produce or encourage the use of any such protective sheaths.

Long-nailed ladies have been complaining of this on several forums on the web, including one on Apple's own site, but there are few who are compromising enough to have their fingernails trimmed or use the side of their fingers, whereas there are some who do not have any problems even when they have French manicures.

I've already registered for an iPhone. Let me see when do I get my hands fingernails onto it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Gossipmongers are not the only ones blogging. The subjects of gossipers' gossips are also publishing their own gossip online. Writing a blog is in vogue among the nation's who's who these days.

Aamir Khan started blogging a year ago and started with throwing light on some of film making processes, apart from his views on some other things, including his caretaker's pet's royal nomenclature. A much lesser known blog was started by the non-smoker Anurag Kashyap almost a year before Aamir, expressing his passion for cinema, especially his own cinema taking eight years. Amitabh Bachchan joined some two months ago, and has been à la angry-young-man hitting back anyone who says and has said anything against him or his family, including defending L'Oreal's work on his daughter-in-law's Cannes dressing. Ok, ashes was impressed with his writing some time back and had expressed that on his own blog, but now yeh to too much ho gaya yaar.

Next came the aag-baboola Ram Gopal Verma who started up giving dimwitted, (I am sure he believes otherwise) reactions to reactions on anything even remotely related to his movies, and even persuaded the newest and the prettiest member of the Bachchan clan to do the same for him. Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was already popular on the web owing to dating site, about which the minister had innocently quipped, "Dating maane to?", has now started real politician-style with his blogposts both in Hindi and English, and for the uninitiated, even with an audio podcast.

Shahrukh Khan wrote his first blogpost on his Knight Riders website. I am glad his was strictly business and not about his dog or someone else's dog for that matter. Karan Johar was late in the bandwagon since he couldn't come up with something and had to think for days of what to write in his first post. Thankfully he is not as prolific as the big B; hearing his voice repeatedly in the mind while reading his posts would have made many a young men desert their women.

Mandira Bedi has announced she'll start soon. Let's hope its not about cricket. We've transparently seen too much of it. There are a few more inconspicuous TV actors who've got bored of the Saas-Bahu saga and have found real-life soaps more interesting.

But what brings these celebrities to the keyboard? "Getting close to fans" is the standard reason quoted. Eliminating the middlemen who manipulate the truth is another. Venting out frustration on failures is one of my guesses. Making a fashion statement, fanmail being blocked by secretaries/wives/girlfriends can be other reasons. Joblessness can be an important trigger too, like it is for yours truly.

As with many other things, celebrity-bragging has been prevalent in the First World countries much before than it arrived in India. Bruce Willis, Donald Trump, Jackie Chan, Paris Hilton, Anna Kournikova, Victoria Beckham are a few well-knowns publishing out directly to fans. Here is a list of such celebrities and their blogs, but beware before you look out and click at the eighth item on the list, it is tempting but would lead to disappointment.

But using mute, poor animals against colleagues they call brethren? Ranting out loud? Chronicling one's daily schedule? Discussing sexual preferences? Reality sells you'd opine, but we already have an overdose of it all around us. Yeah, something on the lines of Truman Show would still be welcome, unless Truman Burbank is a tall old man with a white French beard sitting on an Italian commode with a Macbook precariously balanced on his knees typing a blog with single finger.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Vantage Point

Director Pete Travis
Cast Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker
Released 13th Feb, 08 (Salamanca, Spain)
20th Feb, 08 (USA)
2nd Mar, 08 (India)
My Rating3.5/5

An assassination attempt made on the US President who is holding an anti-terrorism summit in Spain. Secret Service Agents Thomas Barnes and Kent Taylor look for some clues on Howard Lewis's handycam as there is a blast at the podium, leading to further pandemonium. The film loops over and over from different participant's perspectives wherein the plot convolutes as the storyline rewinds and restarts at the same point in time eight times over; the secret service agent and terrorists anticipating each other's moves and outdoing each other. Ultimately the mystery unfolds and you feel good about all pieces falling into place.

The best part is the car chase scene in the end, amidst the already chaotic city, that kept me on the edge of my seat. Fast and jittery camera work during the entire length of the chase keep adrenaline pumping in as you watch the Chevrolet Astra chasing the Police car. It is absolutely amazing and cool!

The locales are spectacular, in the ancient Spanish city of Salamanca, although the golden sandstone buildings occupy only a few frames in the beginning of few perspectives.

Dennis Quaid has done complete justice to his job. He portrays the strong and convincing look of a person handling such an important position, and his sharp, aquiline eyes are on the vigil every instant. Forest Whitaker also played his part of the innocent, courteous, helpful tourist well, who had to go through so much. Israeli Ayelet Zurer looks good as the mastermind's sidekick.

On the flip side are an ending that could have been better, a few goofs and some improbable uses of technology, and no explanation on the terrorists' real motives.

Overall, a fast-paced action thriller that keeps you engaged from beginning till the end, rapid-fire editing and cinematography topped up with a few good actors and an interesting narrative make Vantage Point a must watch.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Road to BIAL

I had a chance to visit the new International Airport at Bangalore thrice in the first two weeks of its operation. I found the airport is a huge improvement on the old HAL...quite spacious, good facilities, clean, sleek construction, free wifi internet inside the terminal, better directions and information for passengers, larger parking and drop-off areas, sheltered walkways.

Perhaps everyone would agree to BIAL being better than HAL on the above parameters (apart from a select few who heard somebody say BIAL is not large enough to handle the aiport traffic and they decide that the airport is not up to the mark). Most of the Bangaloreans, however, are worried about the airport being outside the city.

I don't find that as a negative. The airport is outside the city but the traffic is definitely reduced on the old airport road. Many junctions on the roads connecting the new airport have been made signal-free, and that has lessened the average man's day-to-day travel time. It used to take me 40-55 minutes to travel 13 kms to work everyday, and now it takes 25-40 minutes even at the peak hour. Also, you travel to the airport four to six, maybe ten, twenty times a year, but you travel to work around 250 times a year--the time you spend everyday on Bangalore roads has been reduced to quite an extent.

The highway leading to the airport, once you reach Hebbal flyover, is eight-laned. You have proper lights on roads and reflectors on lane markings, barriers on sides. The good road surface coupled with the great Bangalore climate makes it quite a drive. I was surprised to see people overtaking me when I was cruising at 120 kmph, above which my modest Alto wouldn't accelerate me to. The airport is at an exact distance of 30 kms from my home at Mattikere, and I took a little less than 25 minutes to travel that distance, averaging 72 kmph. Not bad. The HAL is 21 km from my place, and I could never reach there in less than 35 minutes, and that too at 3 in the morning. There are humps at the few (four if I remember correctly) signals on the highway though, which are due to the villages on the way. Eliminate the signals by means of underpasses and flyovers and I bet you could average out 100 with a faster car.

The high-tech Vayu Vajra buses are real nice and comfortable, and you simply cannot dismiss it as a common man's mode of transport.

The best option that was supposed to be available, but I could not find when I travelled from Delhi and landed at BIAL on its third day, was the rent-a-car service. I had my own car the other two times, but driving an Innova, Corolla, or Endeavour on those roads can be real exciting!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Another late-night post

Everything was so calm and tranquil. There was almost no wind; the sky was overcast but there was a certain coolness in the air, quite cooler than indoors. Things looked so different and beautiful in the night. After an average day at work and a not-so-good evening just before leaving, I had come home, had dinner, and after my parents had retired to sleep, had gone down to the park in the apartment. It was well past midnight, and the park was completely deserted, which is otherwise full of children playing around on seesaws and slides and monkeytraps, older children playing basketball and badminton, and people on their evening walks. After strolling along for some while in the park, I had sat down by the side of the swimming pool. I just hung out there, quietly, connecting...

The water and I.

A striking contrast at the moment, I still somehow liked it being there. Wanted to draw some inspiration. I don't know how long did I stay there--it was one of those times when I did not want to think anything but could not help thinking. One of those times when I was doing exactly what I was trying very hard not to. The evening's incidents revisited in my head. I was trying to analyse the (f)utility of everything...debating with myself, admonishing myself, getting angry at myself, and so on and so forth. I wished I could get drunk. And on my side lay the waterbody, so calm, still, serene, and unagitated, as if complementing me.

The tranquility and the turbulence.

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