Thursday, December 25, 2008

OkTataByeBye does a MMT with 'Gajodhar'

If anyone had any doubts of what a cult Aamir Khan's rendition of Surya's original outing in 'Ghajini' is turning out to be, the latest viral from OkTataByeBye.com is here to clear all of them!

This is absolutely hilarious stuff and brings back memories (after Ghajini this word has acquired a completely new meaning, isn't it?) of brilliant virals from MakeMyTrip.com and Airtel. And if you are not suffering from any kind of amnesia ('anterograde' or whatever!) you will remember that it was MMT only (another travel and tour related site) which started this trend of virals in India.

Incidentally the OTBB viral has been done by WebChutney.com who had done all the MMT and many other virals.

Watch ALL the WebChutney virals here: http://www.webchutney.com/virals/

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Meet the Super Sleuth: A R A

It's difficult to control my emotions. Afterall finally God has answered our collective prayers and sent us the saviour. The man who will take our intelligence (I am talking about sleuthing, you idiot!) to a whole new level and become the role model of all the CIAs,Mossads,MI6s and RAWs and the nightmare of the likes of CSIS (Chinese Secret Intelligence Service) and ISI!

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the super detective A R Antulay!

The sleuthing prowess of ARA (As the legends speak of the legendary detective) is not attributed to just his natural genius but also to his affluent political career. Being former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and cabinet minister in various Governments has given him a unique perspective.

And this unique perspective is what sets ARA apart from others. I can just admire his ability to think from terrorists' mind: "Superficially speaking they (terrorists) had no reason to kill Karkare". Now only a cynic will ask them the reasons for killing hundreds others but not the great ARA. He has his guns (pun intended) targetted in right direction.
Greatness of great minds lies in the fact that they don't accept the facts and that they don't 'ignore the facts'. So even though the whole world 'believes' that Karkare died by terrorists' bullets, our mastermind knows better and subtly (he is undercover as a cabinet minister after all!) hints about Karkare's work in Malegaon blasts probe. Only cynics call it a conspiracy theory. You see all the urdu press is talking about same. "It's in media!!!"

And those of you who doubt his secular credentials, shame on you. He has been in Congress all his life, the party that hosts stalwarts like Sajjan Kumar and Arjun Singh. How can he be communal and at his age, don't even say 'Vote Bank Politics'. He is above all this and anyways now that he should be heading towards his new post as IB/RAW chief (to give India much needed intelligence boost!) he doesn't need all this.

Or does He?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

This blog just got an award!

So, I finally decided to 'resiliently' move on. (I guess 'resilience' is the only word more ridiculed than 'dandy' in context of Shivraj Patil!)

On the morning of 27th November (the first morning of the nightmare) I commented on Kanupriya's blog "Thanks ... Not just for the award, but for bringing first and only thing to cheer on this morning!"



Thanks so much Kanupriya :) This is my first and only award for any blog (sniff! sniff!) And coming from my first 'blogger' friend makes it even more special!

Ok, now the rules of the award:
  • Put the logo on your blog. (Yeh bhi koi kahne waali baat hai yaar!)
  • Link the person who awarded it to you (same as above: Yeh bhi koi...)
  • Link the bloggers you are about to honor (hmm.. yeh to kahne waali baat hai :)
And I am very happy to announce my favorite blogs:

Mixed Expressions/Marketing Chit Chat by Kanupriya : (No you cynic, it's not mandatory to give it back to the person who gave you the award!) Kanupriya's both blogs are actually lot of fun. (Specially the second one!)

Overated Outcast: Absolutely cool and funky blog.. one of the funniest stuff on my blogroll and off it!

Manyuscripts: Stamp of professionalism all over it, yet very cool stuff. I love the 'Brants' specially.

Everyday Gyaan by Corinne Rodrigues: The most serene place in text!

Serendipity! Is It? by Priyanshu: He is my former collegemate and flatmate and knowing him personally, I find it amazing that his blog reflects his personality completely :)

Congratulations.. ladies and gentlemen. (You can thank me personally by buying me a Veg. burger. Ok..even bhelpuri would do!)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Be Votebank. Be Heard

From past 3-4 days, I have sensed anger. Everywhere. Anger which is coupled and matched with helplessness. A feeling of being betrayed and failed by the state.
But everyone is also afraid that all these anger may be diminished in next few months and we will start living in the wait of another attack.

But now is the time, when we must resolve to make our voice heard. Make ourselves counted. In AP, everyone loves Loksatta party but it doesn't win a single seat. Because we, the members of 'civil society' don't go out to vote. In this world's largest democracy, only votebanks are counted, heard and considered. And if we have to be counted and our lives and our views respected we will have to become vote banks.

We will have to go out and vote in coming assembly and then general elections.

And that's why we have started a new online campaign: Be Votebank. Be Heard

Download any of the logos/banners on this blog: http://shabdaarth.blogspot.com/2008/11/blog-post_30.html and put in your blog/site and spread the word. Not only this slogan spread the word about voting but also is a sarcasm on the votebank politics in this country.

You can download the images logos from these links as well:

Let's have more say in this country is governed and let's show these politicians that they can't have us taken for granted and that our lives matter!

Remember: Army and NSG killed those who came by boat. We will have to take care of those who come by Vote!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shaken and Stirred

(@Kanupriya I really wanted to write about your wonderful gesture but these dementors are sucking out all my happy memories and feelings.)

It seems like a bad 80s Bollywood movie. Villain's goons smuggle arms and ammunition in Mumbai from one of the shores or docks, in the darkness of night, using torches for signals. And then while he is shown on screen laughing out (villanously!) loud, his henchmen go on a carnage in the city. Killing honest cops, shooting people in crowded places and bombing the landmarks of the city.

Only, it is not.

Just when we thought that we have tired out terrorists with our indifference ('resilience' as media calls it!) to bomb blasts and killings everywhere around us, they shock us with their audacity to wage a war against us. More open and more direct and inflicting a damage that is much more than number of dead bodies. I really can't explain the fear that I felt when I saw the visuals on TV and read TOI headline ('It's war on Mumbai') yesterday morning. All those bomb blasts merely created a sense of disbelief and hopelessness with the Government. This was different.

I don't want to talk anything about politics and politicians (yes, not even Shivraj Patil!) and how the warnings were ignored and how media will forget this after a month. I am really very much tired and shaken to talk about all that now.

How I wish this was a bad movie. At least one could be sure that there is an end to it.

(My deepest tributes to the cops and soldiers who sacrificed their lives, empathy with the families of the victims of this terror strike and heartfelt thanks to all those brave policemen, soldiers and commandos who put their life in line of fire.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

SCOOP: ICICI and ABN-Amro shake hands?

Yesterday I had a most unusual call. (No, it wasn't from God, since my life is not a page of 'One Night @ Call Center') It started pretty casually.

"Sir, I am calling from ICICI. Do you want a credit card?"

"I already have three ICICI cards. I don't want another!"

"ABN-Amro card?"

"Whaaat?"

"Do you want an ABN-Amro card?"

"Wait a sec. You said you are calling from ICICI."

"Yes. ICICI+ABN-Amro."

I am confused and wary. "No. I don't want any card."

She was equally disinterested. "OK." Click. Call disconnected.

Now what was this? Are ICICI and ABN-Amro doing a Jet Airways-Kingfisher type alliance in their business?

Maybe good for us. Instead of having two bugging calls, we will get just one!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Quarter-Life Crisis just got worse!

I remember, it was a mail from Neha, when I first heard this term. I mentioned every single feeling that I was having and I thought 'Wow. It happens to others also. I am not the only jerk out there!'

But then knowing that many others are thinking the same doesn't make any difference to what I am feeling. Right!

In a previous post I told about the quagmire of marriages in which I am caught. It doesn't seem to end. My roomy is going to get engaged on 12th Dec. (No he is not the same flatmate who is going to get married on 6th Dec. He is Ravindra.) Crook, he didn't tell me till eleventh hour. Ankur says that I am idiot that I couldn't read the signs.

And just now I come to know that another close friend (am under 'Oath of Confidentiality' so won't mention her name!) is going to get married on same day!

It seems my worst nightmare is coming true. A perfectly lonely life with all friends either busy with their spouse or out of India and nobody to call to. Already I can hardly call anyone in this city and with she also getting married I am thinking I should switch to an STD only plan (to call home). Worse, sharing a flat with someone I don't know. This may sound childish to you but for me this uncertainty is unnerving.

Wikipedia article on 'Quarter Life Crisis' says "Nobody wants to admit to feeling like a 'loser'; this secrecy may intensify the problem." WTF, I admit. I AM feeling like a loser. There have been days when I kept on asking myself what I am doing with my life, what is my goal, what have I achieved till today (this was easiest to answer: Nothing!).

I had pinned so many hopes on my planned start-up LiveHead.in. I saw that as a goal but don't know what happened I lost faith in it midway and this start-up dream has been stop-down. Don't know if I will ever be able to revive this dream, who knows. (Perhaps that's the reason I want so badly for DYPC to succeed.)

Almost everyone I know is in US, either studying or onsite (some are in Europe also) and I would be lying if I say that I don't want to be there. But I am in this product company and these people had already told me that there would be no onsites, so I can't even hope of going abroad. My relatives ask me when I am going US to which I give them a lame answer 'hamari company nahin bhejti' to which they reply by giving ten examples of son/daughter of some neighbour/relative who was sent onsite twice/thrice/zillion times.

And whenever I go home, my father would say something about my job which would really piss me off. I know he is concerned about me but why the hell can't he appreciate once, what ever I have done. (I know I have done nothing but world doesn't know that yet!) This time it was a tip that I should do MBA. I know everyone does it these days and people say I should do MBA but I don't want to work on excel and powerpoint every single day of my life. I don't want to do MBA and I can't do MS now so what can I do? Nothing! My job doesn't suck and as a matter of fact these days I am doing what I had always wanted to do. But something is lacking somewhere.

It seems I am an emergency case!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Who will steal my heart?

You come to office and open your mailbox. The first unread mail has a subject: Who will win 's heart? John or Priyanka? Tell me what will your reaction be?

Now, it's not my fault that I share my first name with one of the biggest Bollywood stars these days.

Trust me, for a split nano-second I was like 'WTF! what IS this?'

And then I saw the sender's name.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Donate Your Old PC For A Good Cause


Would love to see you on the site. Post in your comments/feedback/questions/brickbats here or mail us at contact@donateyourpc.in

(We would we grateful if you spread the word about DYPC. Feel free to copy the image and put on your blog or link to this post!)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Circle Of Life.

On 6th Nov, my ex-TCS colleague Prasanna married Ravindra. 
On 6th Dec, my friend and flatmate Ravindra is going to marry Padma.
Padma is name of my recently-married colleague Raghavendra's wife!

(I don't know what happened to me, that I left writing almost completely. Hopefully this short post will break the block!)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Tale Of Two Movies (And A Journalistic Test!)

I was curious to hear Rajeev Masand's review of 'Singh is Kinng' on CNN-IBN. Not because I adore Rajeev but because that movie was co-produced by Studio 18 and distributed by Indian Film Company, both Network 18 companies and sister concerns of CNN-IBN. 

In other words it was a test of Network 18's editorial integrity that whether they keep commerce above journalism or vice-versa. I am happy that they passed the test and whatever else the channel might have done to promote the movie (which is routine stuff nowdays) they didn't use Rajeev Masand to cheat the viewers.

This weekend Times group was taking the test. 'Hari Puttar - A comedy of terrors' produced by Mirchi Movies, a Times Group Company was released and I was eager to read Nikhat Kazmi's review. 

Now I must admit that I have not watched the movie so I can't condemn/corroborate Ms Kazmi's opinion of the movie. As a matter of fact by looking at the trailer itself I had anticipated that this is a blatant copy of 'Home Alone' and had decided to miss this movie (and the promos also!). 

However the TOI rating of 'Hari Puttar' is astounding 3.5 stars! And that keeps it in the league of 'Mumbai Meri Jaan'!!! Can you believe that?

(To put things in proper context this film ('Hari Puttar') has got 0/5 from Rajeev Masand (CNN-IBN), 1/5 from Taran Adarsh (IndiaFM.com) and 1/5 from Khalid Mohammad (Hindustan Times). NDTV's Anupama Chopra doesn't give ratings but she says for this movie "Steer clear and Rent Home Alone instead.")

Surely Ms. Kazmi has a different taste from her counterparts. And she has every right to stand apart from others undoubtedly. However I wanted to mention another 'news article' titled "Hari Puttar casts a spell' that appeared in Hyderabad Times on friday. It was about an 'exclusive premier' of the film. (I am not saying what T.N. Ninan had said!)

Ummm... ahh... well what is your verdict about Times Group's performance in aforementioned test? 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Crime. Your Crime.

This must be the only sane thing that the state convenor of Karnataka Bajrang Dal, Mahendra Kumar must have done in his entire life. He had held a press conference and claimed that his gang (Bajrang Dal) was responsible for responsible for attacks on churches in several districts of Karnataka.

This confession and his subsequent arrest put an end to all those speculations and conspiracy theories which claimed that center was trying to falsely implicate this Hindu extremist group in order to strike a balance between its tough stance against the Muslim extremists SIMI. Raghav actually asked a vaild question, why is Bajrang Dal always suspected whenever there is an attack on churches. Well now we have the answer! Not only these thugs do attack the churches but also have the guts to boast about that.

But now a bigger debate is brewing up. Should Bajrang Dal be banned?

Why not? After all Bajrang Dal is involved in communal violence and they have a history of attacks on churches in Orissa, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and Karnataka. This is apart from their outings on Valentine's Day when they go out ransacking gift shops and restaurants claiming to be saviours of Indian culture. And ofcourse attacks on cinema halls when they feel Indian culture is at stake.

But what complicates the matter is the issue of Minority Appeasement. Is this just a balancing act to protect muslim vote bank? A sinister move to neutralize the ban on SIMI and excesses against Muslims by banning a powerful Hindu organization? This may sound a conspiracy theory but has its roots in the statements made by senior leaders like Laloo Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav when they had first raised the demand of ban on Bajrang Dal during court case for continuation of ban on SIMI. It was a shameful display of vote bank politics that was enough to tarnish entire Government.

So should the Bajrang Dal be banned? I would say yes and here's why.

I don't think any self respecting Hindu will try to justify their acts. They may be protesting against conversions of tribal hindus by christians but attacking churches and killing people is not the way to protest. Moreover who says that they can't go ahead and try to convert christians to hindus if they want to! I think the best way to stop conversions is to eradicate the reasons (like poverty, untouchability and other social ills) due to which tribals are lured by the missionaries to cross over to Christianity. With the kind of resources available to them Bajrang Dal could have done this.

I don't want them to be made the martyrs but a stern action against them would give clear message to all these politically aligned outfits who tend to consider themselves above law just because their political masters may be in power. (I remember a few years ago some members of Samajwadi Party had stoned a tourist bus in Agra. I don't know if any action was taken against them.) Bajrang Dal have a history of crime and they must pay for it.

A stern message must go out to everyone that India is a secular country and neither would minorities be pampered nor would majority Hindus be treated above law. Whoever messes with law must be dealt with severely irrespective of what flag he carries: green or saffron.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Breaking News: Indian Home Minister is a Eunuch

Move over Shabnam Mausi and Suraiya Nayak the eunuchs who were content just being mayor or MLA. Indian home minister Shivraj Patil has done eunuchs proud by reaching to topmost echelons of Indian politics.

But eunuchs have all reasons to be upset with him since he has not revealed the fact publically till date. It is very difficult to find about sexuality of people in India and that too of a senior minister, it were his actions which gave away the secret.

However many experts on this matter do not agree to this report as they say whatever may be the personality traits of eunuchs they are assertive and not undecisive as the minister. They are deeply pained by their community members and take any act of violence against them very seriously, whereas Mr. Patil doesn't do anything except lipservice by condemning the blasts that take place regularly. If he was even a little bit concerned about lives of his countrymen there would not be serial blasts all over the country.

Few other experts say that Mr. Patil could be physically and mentally handicapped person since there is no hint of any action in whatever he does. (These experts went on to add that the fact that a mentally disabled person has reached such a top post shows that India is a disabled-friendly country.)

Whatever be the sexuality of Shivraj Patil he has won many 'nationalist' friends who call themselves fondly as 'Indian Mujahideen'. Their messages expressing love and respect for Mr. Patil can't be published here due to space constraint.

And not everyone is concerned with his sexuality as reporters in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi tell us that when they asked people about their opinion on this, they got same reply: "Shivraj Patil, fuck off!"



Eunuch Speak

This is what Shivraj Patil spoke about Delhi blasts:
1) "Whether it is Rajasthan or Gujarat, we always have intelligence information about such attacks, but we never know where and at what time the attacks may take place. We always try to stop such things."
What he meant: India is a big country and anyone can attack anywhere. I CAN'T DO ANYTHING!

2)
"Let us not play politics over this issue. I am not aware of what Advani has said. He is a responsible person. We are all responsible people and should behave responsibly."
What he meant: OK, he was a better home minister. So what I will speak some gobbledygook!

3) "We should not jump to conclusions. Stringent punishment would be given to whoever is responsible for this."
What he meant: We should not jump to silly conclusions like anybody will ever be caught!




(This post was written on the night of Delhi blasts. My deepest condolences with bereaved families.)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

'Do No Evil', Be A Hypocrite!

"The New York Times reports that Microsoft's new Internet browser includes a search box in the upper-right corner that is typically set up to send users to Microsoft's MSN search service. Google contends that this puts Microsoft in a position to unfairly grab Web traffic and advertising dollars from its competitors."

This was what Google was shouting from rooftops when IE7 was launched. And they conveniently made the world forget that Apple's Safari and Mozilla Firefox always had Google as their default search engine. But it seems that someone is celebrating 'Make Microsoft Look God Day' and to commemorate this, they launched a browser!

Unlike IE, FF or Safari you don't have a separate browser in-built search box in Chrome. To search for anything you simply need to type search term in address bar and press enter. This may sound very cool but you can do this in any of above mentioned browsers too! For IE by default this is MSN/Live Search and for FF it is Google. (Try it now, in another tab. Not this one!). And obviously you can reset the defaults.

By removing the search box from Chrome, Google has ensured that nobody is going to bother with changing the search engine. Currently I have many search engines in my search box (see image below) and
I use them as and when needed. So when I want to search a YouTube video I choose YouTube Video Search. Or IMDB when I want to find some movie. Or Yahoo India search when I want a portal like view for information.

But now all that is over. Chrome still gives you option of changing default search (Go to Options->Default search) but it has been made so complicated that nobody will bother to. I am not going to set IMDB/Youtube as default even if I want to search for movie/video. I WILL have to do it on Google!
I have written custom search plugins for browsers which let me add my company's Bug Database and People Search applications, so I can search these intranet applications without opening these applications. These do not work on Chrome!


How convenient isn't it! The instant media blitzkrieg that Google will get is sure to translate in millions of downloads.

I can see Wallstreet smiling already!


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bihar Flood Relief: How can you help?

Important: This post is being updated regularly. If you have any useful information please send it to me and I will put it up here.

If you want to help Bihar Flood Victims, here is some useful information.

I mailed Flood Help Desk by Hindustan Times Patna and this is the transcript of their reply:

Donations to CM Relief Fund:
1) You can do online transfer to the account of Chief Minister Relief Fund
SBI, Secretariat Branch, Patna
ACCOUNT NO- 10839124928

3) Demand Draft & Cheque can be made in the name of Chief Minister Relief Fund (Payable at Patna.)

Send it to:
Chief Minister Relief Fund,
c/o Chief Minister Secreteriat,
4 Deshratna Marg,
Patna.

Donating essentials like Polythene sheets , Tents, clothes etc.

For Patna people:
* You can call to Apada Prabandan Vibhag Control Room. Phone Numbers: 0612-2217305, 2215027, 6452572
* You can give your things to Red Cross society, which is engaged in helping the flood victims.
* You can contact the Deputy Collector Mr. Parvez Alam on (9431185767).

For Delhi and NCR people: Contact Bihar Bhawan (011-23010147) to find out more information on essentials collection drive going on there.

You can also donate to:
Other Links: Bihar Flood Relief - 2008

Specific Requests from Ground Zero

1. Medicines required urgently
Dr. Kalpana Shashri(09430830986) is working actively for relief of women in flood affected areas. She urgently needs these medicines:

1. Gention Violet Powder form - for fungus infection for women
2. Micostetin Veginal Tablet - for uterus infection
3. Metronidezone and Furozolidone - for diarrhea and dysentri(check spelling!)
4. Vitamin A

and Large amounts of plastic sheets (thick ones).

This material is urgently needed. For address to send material etc. please contact Dr. Kalpana Shashtri.

2. Volunteer doctors needed

Sreedevi a volunteer with AID India, Mumbai requests volunteer doctors for working in Bihar with other AID volunteers. Please contact her at 022-67120122 or 09967712384.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

When I am too lazy to write!

Ankur's status message: Stop judging me
My status message: I am choosy. I love 'Pink' Floyd!

Ankur pings me: No, you are old. You love Pink Floyd.
I ping Ankur: Stop judging me!

Ankur says: :)
I say: :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Movie Review: Bachna Ae Haseeno

(Originally written and first published on PassionForCinema.com. Please see the original article here)

Now this is a quintessential Yashraj Film. Because even though most of the story may unfold in Switzerland (Yash Chopra discovered it for Indian cinema), Italy and Australia, the film is not complete without a bhangra in saada Punjab. There are three beautiful women and there is plenty of talk about love. OK, if all that doesn’t convince you then there is plenty of DDLJ too! Now if THAT doesn’t make a film a ‘Yashraj Film’, then what on earth will?

Let’s get one fact very clear in the beginning itself. This is not the greatest YRF movie, but it may be sufficient to get them their first hit of this year. The premise of this story is remarkably interesting: commitment-shy guy meets three different girls in different stages of life, dumps two of them, gets dumped by the third and then sets the things right for the first two. (Yeah, someone was watching ‘Devil Wears Prada’ too!)

It really could have been cracker of a movie. The story has brains (In the age of ‘Singh is Kinng’ this factor sure comes as a relief!), director Siddharth Anand has got a trademark wit and style,screenplay (Devika Bhagat) almost consistently maintains a standard, dialogues (Anvita Dutt Guptan) retain their humor till the very end and acting too is certainly good.

The problem is “out of sight out of mind”. The film doesn’t stay with you when you walk out of the hall. There are no moments that you will recount with friends and laugh. There are good moments when you feel good for the characters but only for that pearticular moment. No, you are not planning to watch it again!

But that’s not bad as it is two and a half hours of entertaining cinema. If you can’t afford to go on a world tour, watch hindi films. Last week ‘Singh is Kinng’ gave us a free trip to Egypt and Australia, this one throws in Switzerland and Italy too. Sunil Patel’s cinematography is surely top notch! Vishal-Shekhar’s music is good but they have done better job with the background score. After a very long time I have liked the music of a Yashraj Film. (The last time I liked the music was ‘Chak De! India’).
Ok, now you want to know who is the best among the girls? Tough one. I already rank Minnisha Lamba as good and versatilt actress and she shows why. Be it the bubbly romantic Mahi waiting for her Raj or Mrs. Ahluwalia, she lights up the screen. Bipasha Basu has already said that she feels like ‘Big B’ being the ’seniormost actor’ in the crew, so how can Big B go wrong! But for me, the most ‘improved performance’ is that of Deepika Padukone. She gives a super confident performance and mind this is just her second film!
And second film this is for Ranbir Kapoor as well. This guys shows why he is touted as one of the best newcomers. His character spans across ages and his acting does justice to all of them.

But there is one surprise element. This guy playing Mr. Ahluwalia has delivered a knock out (pun intended!) performance. Believe me, he totally eclipses Ranbir when he is on screen, he looks and acts so good. I am not telling you his name, I don’t want to reveal the biggest secret of this film.
So, how is it? As I said, it’s not great, but it has got its heart and it is entertaining. So an average rating of 2.5 stars. This is your best bet in cinemas this weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

News Television Awards 2008


I am an avid watcher of happennings in news media and so when the season's first awards for news television were given I was watching them closely. Here is my 'analysis' of this year's News Television Awards given by IndianTelevision.com.

(Complete list of winners here)

A look at award categories makes you wonder why we have got so many variants of 'Best Channel' awards. There are three kind of best channels if you please:
> Most Popular (Hindi/English) News Channel
> Numero Uno (Hindi/English/Business) News Channel
> Best News Channel (Critics' Choice) - (Hindi/English/Business)

Can someone please explain to me what is meant by Critics' Choice awards for news television? Is News TV a cinematic experience that is appreciated differently by different people hence difference between jury's and critics' choice?

And why are 'Most Popular' channels being awarded? Are they not making enough advertising revenue by flashing their TAM Ratings. (If you didn't know, this award was actually based on TAM ratings!) And that is making even more confused. Times Now keeps on showing off higher TAM rating than NDTV 24x7 and CNN-IBN then why was NDTV 24x7 and not Times Now given the 'Most Popular English News Channel' award? (Was it because Times channel was to be conferred with Best News Channel (Critics' Choice) English award?). 'Aaj Tak' was most popular hindi news channel.




Whatever is meant by 'Numero Uno' channel, CNN-IBN and NDTV India won in english and hindi categories respectively. Modesty is one factor that you should not associate with CNN-IBN. A day after their victory, the news headline on their site was: 'Deja vĂș: IBNLive.com, CNN-IBN win NT awards again '. Ohh such arrogance! NDTV India was sober as always in their celebration.

But what was most surprising was that three channels shared Numero Uno business channel: NDTV Profit, CNBC TV18 (which also won critics' choice award for best business channel) and CNBC Awaz!

Overall NDTV channels won 25 of the 47 awards and Network 18 channels won 21 (why was news scroller on CNN-IBN claiming that Network 18 has won maximum awards?). UTVi, News X and Voice Of India were chosen as the channels to watch out for in the coming year.
Shekhar Suman managed to get Star News on the tally being best anchor for an entertainment show. Zee News anchor Romana Issar got 'The Indiantelevision.Com Editor's Special Award for Excellence as an Anchor'.

Talking about Hindi channels, NDTV India eclipsed every other channel in programming as well as anchors. It won 13 awards far ahead of Aaj Tak (4), IBN 7(3), Star News (1) and Zee News (1).

Among English channels CNN-IBN(11) lead the pack followed by NDTV 24x7 (8) and Times Now(1) . NDTV Profit (4) won the contest against CNBC-TV18(3) and CNBC Awaz (3) in the business channel arena.

While it was heartening to see the only hindi 'news' channel win really big, I felt the english awards being a tool for appeasing everyone! Let's hope that winners prove themselves worthy of awards and runners up give them a run for their money in coming year, because a good media is good for everyone.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The moment. Found and Lost!

Some moments turn themselves into such sweet, romantic (without anyone to romance, in my case!) and peaceful

Looking at rosiehardy's photostream on Flickr and listening to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole ('Somewhere over the rainbow') I felt strangely at peace! Maybe it's romance in Rosie and Aaron's photos (they are a 'Flickr couple' and their story is oooh so romantic!) or the soothing voice of Israel or a beautiful wet saturday morning when I got a well deserved and highly cherished personal time... whatever.

This feeling is very similar to the one when I sat on Ooty platform reading Mark Tully's 'India in Slow Motion'.

And then Ami switches on the TV and that moment is lost.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's up and running!

Yeah...seems submitting that bx- error helped!

Ladies and Gentlemen! Presenting a new look 'Journey of a Thousand Miles' v2.0 (beta). There are still some rough edges which I have to iron out, but hope you like the new look. Please send me your comments and suggestions.



Image: Snapshot of my first ever blog post dated 2nd March 2005, dedicated to God himself!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

How Blogger maimed my blog

You see the new look of this blog, a much stripped down version of its former glorious self (ok, atleast I thought so!). Denuded of all its widgets, links and images it makes me shed copious tears everytime I see it.

This is because someone (or some many) at Blogger care a damn for users. This is what happened:
I wanted to change the looks of my blog from quite sometime and though I knew it is not going to be as easy as in Wordpress, I still searched for a good template and decided to upload it. I downloaded the existing template and uploaded the XML file of the new template. I was shown the list of widgets that would be deleted. When I press 'Confirm and Save' I get an error telling me that something wrong has happened and my action can not be completed at this moment. An error code is shown (in unusually large font!) bX-xdmtya and other blog specific details and I am told to report it to Blogger support or the Blogger Support Google Group.

Have you ever reported an error to Google? There doesn't seem to be a straightforward path for doing that. On this 'Blogger Help Group' people post their problems and if you are lucky then you can find some solution to your problem otherwise your problem becomes a part of the heap, which it seems mine has become. After more frantic searching I found a link for reporting the bx error codes. Here is the link https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?key=pDGYK68-cO4sA0J2wa9fYBQ

I don't know what to do about my lost widgets. Will try to figure out something very soon!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Life. By Chance!

The camera had been under water for what seemed to be an enternity and I knew perfectly well, that life would never be same for this (Sony Cybershot) DSC H7. I have always loved my cameras and I had understood that my most precious (and loved) possession had been damaged, possibly beyond repair, even as I watched Chandu trying to wipe it dry.

But in my heart, there was not as much sorrow for the camera, as a sense of resignation to fate. I was surprised by the feeling. I should have known.

I was happy to be alive!

Prashant and I had visited the river Tungbhadra in the morning and like everything else in Hampi, the river too seemed to be calm and serene. Huge rocks and boulders are strewn all over the place in and around the river's course.

So that evening when all of us visited the river, I had already made up my mind to cross the river at a point where the stones seemed to be very near the surface.

I had made a huge calculation error.

Yes, the river seemed to be somewhat shallow and rocks were very near the surface but that didn't mean that one could walk across. But flowing water makes the rocks smooth and algae makes them terribly slippery. I was near the edge of the rock and had folded my jeans up, when I first saw that. Before that I had told Manish confidently that 'coming back' was what I was going to do, after crossing to other side. But seeing the algae I was in doubt about validity of my claim.

Seems it was too late to suffer from dilemma. I was too near the edge and turning back was no option. I slipped as I tried moving backwards. Next moment I was in the water and hit my heal against a rock. The first thought that came to my mind was that I had got wet completely and tried to get up by holding the rocks. But it was not possible to hold on to the rocks due to algae, and I slipped in deeper waters, loosing all contact with rocks.

In the next fraction of second, I was neck deep in water and the camera was on my body and I worried about it. I tried to swim towards a rock and fling the camera bag to someone, but water current was stronger than I could manage. And as water pushed me I tried to stay put in water so as to avoid moving any further but suddenly the river bed got even deeper and before I knew I was completely inside the water. It was no more sane, worrying about the camera!

This was the instant, when I felt that I would die. Before that I had felt that I would move towards the bank or would get on to some rock. But as I went deeper, the light green colour of water seemed ghostly and very very scary! I struggled hard and somehow was buoyed up.

I was breathing hard and had almost choked and was finding it difficult to stay up. The fear was creeping up again. At this point of time I heard someone shouting to move towards right. I tried moving towards them but flow was still pushing me ahead but thankfully the water was lot shallower and I was only too glad to find ground. Seems I was having a good day. I was flown around a big rock to this shallower area. Had I been flown straight, I would have been in deep mess, literally!

There was a girl (Keerti from Wipro, Bangalore) and a guy (Sachin from Accenture, Bangalore) here who gave me hand and comforted me as I walked towards the bank. (Sachin, Keerti thanks so much!)

Talking to Chandu, I suddenly realized that my glasses have been washed away. And after some time I remembered about my phone as well, which had stopped working! My right heel was in terrible condition and I could hardly keep the foot on ground and it still hasn't healed completely. And I don't even know how the thumb of left foot got that clot below the nail!

But as I said earlier, I wasn't too sorry about any of these. For the first time in my life I was HAPPY to be alive!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

'De Taali' Movie Review : No claps!

I had seen and applauded his debut work 'Shool' (produced by RGV) and even liked 'Love Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega', thI  guess ough it was clear that comedy was not director E(shwar) Niwas's forte. And after insipid ventures like 'Dum' and 'Bardaasht' I went in for 'De Taali' with modest expectations.

Niwas collaborates with script writer Abbas Tyrewala after 'LKLKBK', and to be frank Tyrewala doesn't seem to be in great form here. If he is going to continue in the same form with his upcoming film 'Jane Tu Ya Jane Na', it is not a very good news.

The first impression was very good. The opening credits appear on a chalk scribbled background, which not only introduce the protagonists but also give us a little background about their lives and their relationships.

And here the problem begins. Director thinks that this 'little background' and 'introduction' is sufficient and doesn't care to establish the characters. So when the film opens with a song, it feels a little plastic, specially when you see the chemistry of the friends in this song.

Similarly for the next few reels you don't understand the rhyme and reason of things. I genuinely don't know whom to blame for this mess: screenplay or editing!

The writing leaves a lot to be desired. The twists are not shocking, the gags are very few and hardly any are funny. Surprisingly every one who is dumped by Anjali/Kaarthika (Rimi Sen) becomes an alcoholic and we are treated with a useless track of 'Alcholics Support Group'. Not funny at all! However the one moment that I genuinely laughed and gave a 'taali' was when Paglu (Ritesh) shows CD of 'RGV Ki Aag' as the highest degree torture. Rare spars of brilliance from the writer of 'Main Hoon Na', 'Munnabhai MBBS' and 'Omkara'!

Cinematography is great and with great locations of Bangkok the style quotient is up to the mark! Vishal-Shekhar's music was the one reason that I went to watch the film and is the highest point of the film undoubtedly.

That leaves us with actors. I really cringed in my seat seeing Pawan Malhotra in that lame (pun intended) guest appearance! Lead actors are fine. Ritesh Deshmukh has developed his own style of comedy and is likeable. Ayesha Takia looks chubby and chirpy, but for God's sake, someone put her on a crash diet! Aftab is also ok but it is Rimi Sen who packs the maximum punch. She is the surprise package of the lot. And oh yes, there is a long forgotten Mukul Dev as well!

All in all, 'De Taali' doesn't amuse at all. It has its heart in right place but has so much incoherence that end result is disappointing. My rating is 2/5 and a recommendation that wait for DVD release, which you can then rent to watch this movie, if you have to. Better still, wait for TV Premier!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer Sounds

After nearly an year long hiatus I thought of writing about my favorite albums and songs this summer and there are quite a few things to talk about!

Two albums are tied for the Top Position in my list: 'Aamir' and 'Jane Tu Ya Jane Na'.

'Aamir' was the debut film for its producers (UTV Spotboy Films), director (Raj Kumar Gupta), hero (Rajiv Khandelwal) and its music director (Amit Trivedi) and one must applaud Trivedi for his fantastic debut. The album spans every genre in today's popular music and every song is a treat. Even 'theme music' makes a comeback after long time and is pretty good. Lyrics are good however a few grammatical mistakes like 'raat ka bhor' sound awkward!

Album features 'Dilruba' from 'Kailasa' and 'Bandya' from 'Khuda Ke Liye' and I need not say that these tracks enhance the value of this album even more!

If the first album was from a debutante, the other belongs to a maestro! 'JTYJN' as it is called in SMS lingo, is such a different offering from A R Rahman, that it doesn't even seem to be a Rahman creation. You need not listen to the songs repeatedly to be hooked to them, it happens in very first hearing itself! Featuring 10 unheard voices the songs sound mint fresh and range across emotions. Director Abbas Tyrewala has penned the songs and though his writing is a bit cliched, I didn't mind really.

Disappointments:
Love Story 2050 - What was Anu Malik thinking when he was doing music for this film. Ofcourse songs should look good onscreen, but that doesn't mean that they should sound bad otherwise! Only a couple of songs are appealing for their melody, rest seem to have been composed to just provide Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra ample chances to dance.

Mission Istanbul - No, don't blame me of being biased against Anu Malik. It's not my fault that his second big album features here. It's just because these two were big budget films and one expected to have good music for them. Forget tunes, Malik has nothing innvative even in arrangement. It's no coincidence that 'Apun Ke Sath' reminds you of 'Ganpat' ('Shootout at Lokhandwala'). Again only one of the tracks ('Jo Gumshuda') is worth listening.

So So:
Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic - Shankar Mahadevan is a good singer, and this album shows you when too much of a good thing can be a little...not so good! Mahadevan is the single male voice in this album and that's not very good news. The music seems to lack novelty and is partly in 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom' mode (ohh just remembering that album gives me shivers. May be I should start calling it 'You Know What'). 'Lazy Lamhe' may rise in charts due to sultry, sexy avatar of Amisha Patel. Prasoon Joshi's lyrics are perhaps best among everything I talked here about. But the album is at best an average offering.


This is what I think about bollywood music, would love to know what you think.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hyderabad Startup is looking for summer recruits!

A Hyderabad based startup LiveHead is in the process of developing a community driven Quiz Portal.

They are looking for people who love quizzing and have a passion for finding, asking and answering good quiz questions. No academic criteria but all they should be able to do is to create/find great quiz questions. A desire to go out of the routine mode and innovate with quiz formats will be not only an added advantage but also will make the person eligible for an offer from LiveHead to be a part of our team!

And ofcourse people get paid for their efforts. As mentioned impressive candidates have a chance to earn an offer from LiveHead for longer stints and much more!

Interested readers can contact livehead for more details at: contact@livehead.in.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Poll results from the Newsroom.

One of the things I love watching on news channels is election coverage. Be it the exit polls before counting or the marathon coverage on the counting day (which earlier used to be days, before electronic voting machines became norm)

In mid-late 90s when channels like Zee News and Star News (when NDTV used to produce content for them!) were threatening Doordarshan as prime and more dependable source of independent news and Aaj Tak was just a half hour news show, TV Today used to produce the election specials for DD. Since there was no separate DD channel for news, the election special was shown on DD National channel only and since we didn't have cable connection (we were 'santusht' without cable, you see!) we had no option but to watch this only for nearly 3 days or as long as counting went on.

I used to watch this, not because I was very much engrossed in politics, ofcourse I liked keeping up with that too, but because I liked watching the sets, the graphics, the interface of analysis and results being shown, the anchors talking live with the correspondents and the overall energy of the show which kept the show interesting despite too many talks and discussions. Sometimes there was a piece in newspaper which talked about election coverage by channels and secretly I felt good when DD was praised for its accurate exit polls or good interface for wins/leads tally.

Later when I could watch other channels as well, a favorite activity was comparing these things on all of those!

On 25th May, it was counting day in Karnataka and all the news channels were in election mode. And I got busy with my favorite activity!

NDTV 24x7's coverage was lively with Prannoy Roy, Barkha Dutt and Srinivasan Jain handling the affairs. Their graphics were perhaps the best but just why they didn't show other parties' figures in their seats tally?

On CNN-IBN Yogendra Yadav wore his usual Kurta Payjama and academic attitude and was generally likeable as always but Rajdeep Sardesai was shouting (as always!) so much that I had to switch channels! The channel tried to spice up its coverage but frankly I was not interested in watching mostly because their tally and leads/wins scroller was so small that I could hardly see anything.

On Times Now Arnab Goswami and his team (sorry I know no one else there!) seemed to be conducting a solemn ceremony even when they were accompanied by politicians who seemed to get in that solemn mood as well! Their interface was very neat, big and clear but they were slow with their updates.

On Aaj Tak Deepak Chaurasia, Ajay Kumar and Prabhu Chawla sat on a set with an animated background which made me think for a moment that it was a F1 show. NDTV India wore a deserted look with Vinod Dua and A.... talking to Abhishek Singhvi and a JDS leader on a very regular set. Star News had horribly opulent graphics and animated set resembled an amphitheater, add to this 'Azeem-o-shaan' tune in the background!

And last but not the least, telugu channels namely ETV2, NTV and TV5 seemed to be miles ahead in their seat updates (at one stage when NDTV, Aaj Tak and Now were on 161/224, these channels had figures of 191/224) but their figures were very unstable and changed every two seconds, so after a moment of awe I decided to ignore them.

But the disappointment of the day was DD News with its ghastly sets and terrible colors. What a heartbreak!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The ugly face of Indians

I have a reputation for not abusing, yet if right now I feel like hurling choicest of expletives at Indians, no one in general, you may understand the mental state I am in after reading this shocking tale of insensitivity of Indians, and no I am not talking about Shivraj Patil and his hunchmen.

"Passengers sqeeze life out of child" (wrong spelling of 'Squeeze' is not a typo by me, its by paper, that too for a front page news) screams the headline on New Indian Express (Hyderabad, 16th May). A seven year child, Aishwarya, traveling with her sisters and parents in general compartment of Egmore-Guwahati Express died due to suffocation and scorching heat in the compartment.


Her parents tried saving the children from "constant pushing and shoving from insensitive fellow passengers" but Aishwarya started vomiting and ran up high temperatures. The 108 Emergency Helpline Ambulance that was called by her father lacked first-aid facilities and child could not be saved.

Do you know the sensation of being choked? Being crushed from all sides and struggling for a little air to breathe? I know, because I experienced it once when I was a child and went to a religious fair with my mother and aunty. Just imagine that 7 year old child struggling to have a little fresh air and dieing every moment till that moment which ended her sufferings for ever. Just imagine the grief of a family which lost a child during a few hours journey!

Add to that the insensitivity of people around you. Constantly shoving and pushing around. We all love children of our co passengers until we have to share our seat with them!

What kind of people we Indians have become? We have been known for ugly behavior, spitting and urinating in public, but I am really anguished by this new face of insensitive Indian. Given a chance of being safe from any punishment (which a mob gives us amply) we will display our worst behavior. Do you know these days every time I visit rediff.com, I spend more time marking messages as abuse rather than reading articles. Worst kind of abusive, libelous and irrelevant messages are written on Rediff's message boards by us. Why? Why this desire of sadistic pleasure?

What is happening to India? What is happening to Indians?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Travel WITH Time

I decided to write about things as they happened on this trip to Bangalore. And I combined Twitter, blogger and good ol' diary to do as best as I could!

Apr 30, 2008 10.47 PM

I have done the mistake of the season by not traveling in a non-A/C bus. Its terribly hot. 2 hours after getting in this bus we are still in city, such is speed of traffic.

Just reached MGBS. I am terribly hungry and thirsty.


Apr 30, 2008 10.54 PM

Back after having some rice. Was it tamarind rice or pulihora? Don’t know just gobbled. Got down after the beautiful girl on 1st seat. Followed her and reached food stall. Forgot to wear specs when got down. Worried about looking like hell. While coming back forgot where the bus was. Found by applying brute force method. Back to the melting pot called ‘Super Luxury Bus’ of APSRTC. Hey now I know why they call India a melting pot of civilizations!


Apr 30, 2008 10.59 PM

I have a neighbor. A man. Damn.


Apr 30, 2008 11.12 PM (On Twitter)

sitting and sweating in a bus going to Bangalore.


May 1,2008 10.45 AM

Bus is running terribly late. We should have been in Bangalore by 9.30 max! It will take another one and a half hour to reach. This is the first time APSRTC is running late.


May 1,2008 11.59 AM

Still no sight of Bangalore. It’s hot and dry. The road is good but what catches my eye is there are no plantations on dividers or on roadsides. It would have been so good if this same distance was covered under the shades of trees. I remember the bus journey from Allahabad to Lucknow where on many parts of road, tress formed an arch, covering it beautifully.


May 1,2008 12.16 PM

Passing in front of Yelahanka Air Base. Last when I had come to Bangalore with Ami and had passed from here, he saw the choppers and planes parked in the sun and commented that these have been left to ‘rot’ in the sun. How I laughed at that one. Imagine choppers rotting in the sun like potatoes!


May 1, 2008 8.40 PM

On the bus to Madurai. Once again no dinner, fed on just chips and a banana, I am not very sure how long will I sustain.

Gilchrist is out and Deccan Chargers doesn’t seem to be in very good shape.

Another journey in non-A/C bus and it’s hot till it moves. Thankfully it has started.


May 1, 2008 9.16 PM

Just seen Infy’s Bangalore campus. Impressive.


May 3, 2008 11.15 PM

This was the most unlikely place on this trip, the one never on our itinerary. We have spent about 3 hours here trying to kill time as best as we could. From sitting in an ice cream parlor for one hour ordering for stuff we could hardly eat (because we ordered enough in the restaurant so that we could sit longer) to asking people for way to railway station we tried everything. Finally we are on the bus to Bangalore, but its going to be another long hot journey.


May 4, 2008 5.49 PM (On Twitter)

Waiting to reach Majestic bus stand in Bangalore


May 4, 2008 5.50 PM (On Twitter)

YESSS! REACHED


May 4, 2008 5.55 PM (On Twitter)

Waiting for 6.30 bus to Hyderabad


May 4, 2008 6.11 PM (On Twitter)

Seated. Window seat. Thank God


May 5, 2008 8.05 AM (On Twitter)

Back in Hyderabad. Going home

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Food Crisis. Surprised? No.

Vir Sanghvi is a jury member that selects contestants who appear on the new Shahrukh Khan quiz show 'Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain?' which is Indian version of globally hit show 'Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?'. (Counterpoint, Hindustan Times,27th April)

He has seen the tapes of peoples' auditions for the show and read their forms and on the basis of this he gives his version of 'Mood of the Nation Poll' albeit softened to be called 'Mood of the Middle India'. The middle class is cheerful, doesn't complain about anything and is hopeful about the future. TV and Mobile are integral parts of life and everyone wears good clothes and looks prosperous. But what about food?

You may laugh at this question. What about food, we have more pressing issues to think about than worry about something as lowly as food. You have money and you can buy food. But in this country where agriculture minister is more interested in running the richest sports body in the country (BCCI) and finance minister is bothered about rise and fall of sensex more than rise of fiscal deficit, food is still one of the biggest expenses for many Indians who don't own TV and mobile.

For many years now, agriculture growth has languished at less than 2% but continuous double digit growth figures in other sectors of economy have ensured that we shine as 'one of the fastest growing economies'. Not that this fact was not known, but for Indian media the agriculture crisis meant farmer suicides in Vidarbha only. No body talked about reducing productivity of Indian fields, more farmers moving to growing cash crops (sugar, cotton, jute etc.) rather than food grains and incoherent Government policies which would motivate farmers to sell to open market rather than Government and hence cause a supply demand imbalance.

And the usual cockiness that comes with money! We can afford to go to costliest hotels and restaurants and food was something we took for granted. We thought that we have reached stage where food security was something as natural as ... well food itself!

Western countries had their special contribution in aggravating problem. Surge in use of BioFuel ensured more cultivation and use of sugar crops like sugarcane and beet and maize and corn for producing fuel, lead to shortage of these for human consumption!

The need of the hour is to estimate our needs and necessities honestly and realistically. Think of whole country and just not focus on 'resurgent' middle class. Remember what happened to 'India Shining' campaign?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

'Paanchvi Pass' Facebook Application fails.

Now that IPL has generated massive interest across the country and is getting headline coverage across news channels, the general entertainment channels are leaving no stones unturned to ensure that their programs get viewer shares too.

Star Plus is launching new reality game show based on super successful 'Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?' hosted by Shahrukh Khan, 'Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hai?'. Star has launched a Facebook application called 'Paanchvi Pass' which promises to give you loads of prizes if you answer all the questions correcly.All very good. I played the quiz and at most times ignored the fact that questions were no where related to syllabus of fifth class. However the problem is that some questions have wrong answers!

For example, the game tells you that first novel of James Bond series is 'Diamonds are Forever'.Actually it is 'Casino Royale'. Kolar is famous for its gold mines not Copper, the right answer would have been 'Khetri'.

These are only two of the bloopers I noticed. There can be many. I wanted to,but could not find any link for feedback. Even finding contest rules is a challenge!

It is a good idea and may be I wouldn't have written this post, had there been no talk of any prize or anything. For those who like quizzing it would have been a good timepass but when there is booty involved, you must have your house in order else you are cheating your users.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In the Nilgiris: Ooty, Coonoor, Wellington and everywhere between them!


At Coimbatore airportMy tourist spirits sank as I saw perhaps the first (and hence the oldest!) ATR Turbo Prop of Air Deccan whose age was in complete contrast to the spanking new Hyderabad International Airport from where it was getting ready to fly to Coimbatore. However some good photo ops in the plane and greenery of Coimbatore city cheered me up as we landed at surprisingly small and comfortingly cozy Coimbatore airport.
My plan was to take the Nilgiri Passenger to Ooty from Mettupalayam, a small town at the foothills of Nilgiris and a hub for public and goods transport to the hill towns. This train, popularly known as Toy Train covers a distance of 46 km in 5 hours uphill and in 3.5 hours on return journey. So I took a bus to Mettupalayam in the night itself, stayed there in a lodge (you can find plenty of accomodation there at very economic prices) so that I could take the train in the morning.

Mettupalayam Railway StationBuses ply from Coimbatore to Mettupalayam every half an hour from Mettupalayam bus stand which is very near to Coimbatore's main bus stand,Gandhipuram. Mettupalayam is a small town which is at the foothills of Nilgiris at the doorstep of Coonoor and Ooty. It can be reached from Chennai via Coimbatore by Nilgiri Express which reaches here at 6.30 am. Just in time for you to get the toy train to Ooty which departs at 7.10 am.

Under normal circumstances, I would have got the tickets but since this was a long weekend, there were no tickets available. Normally, the Mettupalayam railway station booking office opens at 5.30 am(!) and you should be there early to book your tickets, but if you are travelling in peak tourist seasons, keep in mind that you need to get your tickets reserved (yes, reserved for a passenger train!) atleast a day in advance.

I thought quickly (which means that after getting a non-commital answer from station master about ticket availability and a very early breakfast of idli-vada in station canteen, I sat for about half an hour!) and decided to take a bus to Ooty and then board the return train towards Mettupalayam. For the entire 1 hour journey till Coonoor I hanged precariously near the gate so that I could get a better view of the mountains and valleys. If you have been to an IMAX theater (where entire view in front of your eyes covered with screen) you would understand how it feels when all you can see is lush green forest covered slope of a hill, unmarred by any tree or telephone wires!

Coonoor is a beautiful town with major tourist attractions and perhaps the largest Coonoor Townmarket among its neighboring villages and towns like Wellington, Arwankad, Kattaji etc. Nilgiri district is famous for tea. You must have heard of Nilgiri tea, which is prominent alongside Darjeeling tea and Assam tea. Coonoor is the headquarter of United Planters Association of South India and has one of the seven tea auction houses in India! The slopes of Nilgiri around Coonoor and neighboring towns are covered with tea gardens which often surround their owner tea factories.

Coonoor is just 19 km from Ooty but due to very bad (and at places dangerously narrow!) road the journey takes about 1.5 hrs. However once I reaced Ooty, all the potholes in the road were forgiven! Sitting undisturbed and unhurried on Udhagamandalam (Ooty) railway station, with Mark Tully's 'The Heart Of India' in hand I thanked God for being so kind to me as to give me such a beautiful experience!

A view from trainAfter waiting about 2 hrs,the journey in Nilgiri Passenger seemed a bit of an anticlimax. 10 people were crammed in a space sufficient for 6 and I had much better views of the scenery from the bus (actually, I was hardly able to shoot anything!). However this journey turned out to be surprisingly memorable when one of my co-passengers turned out to be a guy I had met during SSB Bhopal, 9 years ago. He recognized me when TC called out my name (I was the only one to be called, everyone else had got their tickets checked!) and I surprised even myself with instantaneously recognizing him!

I got down at Wellington, a typical military town; crisp, clean and smart. For those who don't know, Wellington houses Army Staff College. My brother was undergoing a course there and I was visiting him. His home happened to be in a location that will make a good hotel proud! Panoramic view of entire Wellington surrounded by hills on all sides covered by endearing silence.

The TeaAround 5 km from Coonoor lies 'Lamb's Rock' on the way to 'Dolphin's nose' which is another 5 km. The road to both these extremely popular view points is extremely bad and narrow but provides amazing views. On one side you will see clouds floating in the valley and on the other you can savor the greenery of the tea gardens. On a clear day, which is VERY rare due to mist and clouds hanging around, you can see as far as Mettupalayam. At Dolphin's nose we tasted different types of tea and my pick is 'Chocolate Tea' which actually tastes like hot chocolate and has a special method for preparation. An absolute recommendation. And the famous 'Orange Pekoe' which sells for as much as 600 rs/kg!
Brooklands Tea Factory
I love the smell of tea and though I am not an avid tea conneissour, I love its rich aroma. So while our tea factory guide at Brooklands Tea Factory was showing and explaining various steps involved in the process of making packaged tea from leaves, I was trying to assimilate that wonderful smell for my memories!

Kotagiri is 20 km from Coonoor and believe it or not, I went there just because the road is good and I had a two-wheeler! Facing the gust of wind, you can feel the chill in the air if you pass under shadow of tree even for a few meters. I know I was driving a little too fast and on this road where you can turn about 270 degree without seeing the straight road, this was not wise but no doubt exciting!

There are many more places to visit in Coonoor and Ooty. But if you are a nature lover you will find beauty at every step of the Nilgiris.

Here are the photos:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bollywood Trivia: Om Shanti Om

(Courtesy: Picture This, NDTV 24x7)
The climax of Om Shanti Om was lifted from old classic 'Madhumati'. In this movie's climax when Madhumati's look-alike gets delayed, Madhumati's ghost herself appears to seek revenge.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Handle With Care: India-China Relations!

CNN-IBN has a knack of surprising its viewers. They talked to Saurav Ganguly about his reaction to Baichung Bhutia's decision of not carrying Olympic Torch as a way of showing support to Tibetan movement. I wondered aloud, how the heck does Ganguly come into picture here! Bhutia hails from Sikkim and he said he is a Buddhist and wants to show his support to Tibetan movement. Ganguly is not a Buddhist, he doesn't belong to Sikkim or anyother state that has issues with China (unless you consider Left's Chinese infatuation!) and what's more he was not going to carry the torch!

However I think, had someone asked foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee his opinion about Bhutia's decision, he might have said 'Baichung Bhutia is a respected player of India and we would continue to offer him all hospitality but he should not do anything that will adversely affect Indo-China relations'.

He might have added that newspapers which publish stories about Chinese intrusions in Indian territory or Chinese building bunkers and road along India-China border and LAC (Line of Actual Control) are respected media houses but they are adversely affecting India-China relations.

I don't know if he called up Indian envoy to China Nirupama Rao to tell her that even if Chinese external affairs ministry keeps on calling her at 2 am she should happily go else it may 'adversely affect Indo-China relations'.

But I think he would not be losing sleep over German Chancellor Anjela Merkel's decision to not attend Beijing Olympics opening ceremony or French President Nicholas Sacozy's threat of France boycotting the games since that may not 'adversely affect Indo-China relations'. Also Pranab da should be terribly happy with his colleague Shivraj Patil's ministry which has downplayed Chinese threats to India and protrayed China as a superpower with a great impact on this region politically, economically and militarliy. This would have enforced India-China relations to a great deal!

I hope I won't be told now to stop writing something that 'adversely affects Indo-China relations'!

(If you are wondering what is this about read here)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Reliance Fresh doesn't believe in Customer Care.

3 bananas, 2 oranges, 1 mango and 1 bunch of grapes. No, I am not going to give a maths question where given the price of each of them, you have to tell my total expense. The sophesticated machines at Reliance Fresh outlets can do that easily and much more!

That is how my fruits and vegetables shopping list generally reads.

Reliance Fresh was blessing in disguise of a store when it opened. The quality of fruits and vegetables was amazing! So fresh, so photo-like! I was happily surprised. It made shopping for groceries and fruits and vegetables not only convenient but also a fun activity.

But it didn't last that long. The store started filling up with general items and fruits and vegetables started taking the backseat. Mostly I buy tomatoes and they were no longer fresh or photo-like but rotten or raw! Carrots were in pathetic shape as well. But I didn't complain, though muttered silently.

Things had deteriorated. You didn't get the freebees if you didn't demand!

Lately they started a scheme where you get sprouts or cut vegetables at 50% off (so that they rot in your kitchen not at their store!). One day I found stuff that was past its Best-Before date. I complained and it was removed from the shelf, but that was not the last time it happened. After that also I found sprouts and vegetables past their usable date.

But the worse was yet to come. My friend found fungus on cut sugarcane which was not even past the Best Before date. He went to return that and complained to the customer care person.The stuff was returned but he was bluntly told that if had problems better he should not purchase from the store. His threats of complaining were blunted with 'do whatever you want to'.


But he could not complain. Because there is no where you can lodge a complaint.

Can you believe Reliance Fresh doesn't have a website of it's own? Or for that matter Ranger Farms? or Reliance Retail? They don't have a customer care email id where you can send in your feedback. You search on internet and you get just a marketing page about Reliance Retail or some unofficial pages about Reliance Fresh.

This is unacceptable and unbelievable that there is almost no emphasis on customer care. I hope Bharti-Walmart and Aditya Birla Group's more will change this scenario and if Reliance does not care for us then may be we too should care a damn for them.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trip to BhimaShankar and Tryambak.

(Read it on rediff.com: Visiting the Holy and High Abode of Shiva!)

How I wish that title could be 'A Trek in BhimaShankar and Tryambak'! But illplanning cost us heavily and what I had hoped for a challenging trek trip turned out to be just a little more than travel trip. But nevertheless this was a memorable trip simply because I got opportunity to two of the holiest places in India. Can't feel luckier than that!

Hyderabad-Pune was uneventful, if you discount Narayan's tryst with APSRTC, and we reached Sivaji Nagar in Pune at the promised time. (You will have to give this to APSRTC, they are the most punctual luxury bus operators I have travelled with.) After a brief stopever in a 'lodge',that made us wonder if it was a 'Decent Hotel' (remember 'Jab We Met'?), we took a bus to BhimaShankar from Sivaji Nagar bus stand. This was a big mistake.

If you are planning to trek in BhimaShankar, do NOT take direct bus from Sivaji Nagar to BhimaShankar. It will take you all the way to top of the hills and leave you at almost doorstep of temple! Take the train from Sivaji Nagar railway station to Karjaat. That is where the trekking actually starts.

BhimaShankar is 125 km from Pune and the bus takes 4 hours. Yes 4 hours! The road is extremely bad in most part and the rattle of MRTC bus gave me a headache! You can also get cab to BhimaShankar if you want, though expense will be on a higher side.

BhimaShankar is one of the 12 Jyotirlings and hence I was surprised (or shocked!) by absolute lack of security in the temple. The metal detector was off, the security guys were selling laddoos and I was allowed to go in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple with my bag which was not even touched for checking. However once I was in all my scepticism vanished and I felt blessed that Lord facilitated me to have His darshan! I just thanked God for his great mercy and came out.

And though MTDC has no presence what so ever, the nature gives you an eyeful! View of Sahyadri Hills and the valley is spectacular. The heights are dangerous and enticing simultaneously. The rocks are covered with thick green and you can feel the expanse even in the air. It's a tremendous feeling being there.

You must spend atleast a couple of days here to be able to trek and explore the entire area properly. I was very disappointed that I could not roam around the place at all and tried to lessen that disappointment by taking some photographs!

Next destination was Nasik, where we had to spend the night before moving to Tryambak. After a hopping bus journey (BhimaShankar-Manchar-NarayanGaon-Nasik) described as 'hitch-hiking' by MSR and which saw great enthusiasm from Narayan we reached Nasik. The hotel seemed to be in an old building and musty smell of our room reminded Narayan of his 'ancestral home'!

Tryambak is just 30 km from Nasik and again we had made a mistake in choosing our destination. Instead of staying at Nasik we could have to Tryambak directly since there are lot many hotels and lodges there. If you are planning for trekking in Tryamabak, make sure you start really early. And it's best to stay here only for the night.

MSR and Uday had their sins washed in the 'Paap Nashini Teertham' before we went to temple. (Narayan and I washed the sins of our feet only!) You can't carry even mobile and cameras inside the temple complex and have to keep them in 'lockers' provided by local shopkeepers. There is a very interesting tradition here. Before you enter the main temple which houses the Lord, you pass through a small temple which houses 'Nandi' the faithful bull on which he rides. People whisper their wishes in the ear of Nandi and it is assumed that he will convey them to Lord himself. You see this 'sifarish' culture is embedded deep in our roots ;)

In the main temple, again I thanked Lord for his mercy on me and seeked blessings. However unlike BhimaShankar there was no time to think anything since the security whisks people away almost the instant they appear before sanctum sanctorum!

It was 11 and we still had atlest 4 hours before we needed to start for Shirdi to reach there in time for bus back to Hyderabad. I was hell bent on trekking to BrahmaGiri and though there were faint murmurs of 'not being sufficient time' and 'not being appropriate time' we started the journey. There were various versions of truth: how much time you need for entire journey? The answers ranged from 4 to 2 hours and I set the corresponding targets for our group from 3 to 1.5 hours! (And we did it in 3 hours!)

The trek to Brahmagiri is not too difficult. There are stone steps which can be a little difficult at times and at some places they are pretty steep but hot sun can be your only challenge if you start late. The view along the journey is exhillirating. The feeling of reaching and then going on top of the rock formations which look intimidating from a distance is simply wonderful. We had darshan in BrahmaGiri and ShivJata temples both on the same range about 100 meters apart.

Uday found a special liking for the Nimbu Pani being sold all along the path and he found ready partners in MSR and Narayan and these three brought a lot of cheer to some people that day!

Back to Tryambak town, we took a taxi to Shirdi which got us there in about two hours. Little more liquid diet for the trio (and mercifully some solids as well!) and we were in the APSRTC Garuda ready to start back to Hyderabad!

The photos of the trip: