Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why is media silent about its own corruption?

I remember there were voices of dissent and disapproval from other news channels when Aaj Tak first introduced ads in its news scroll. Very soon everyone else followed. This was not the first instance when a market leader in media started what was a debatable trend.

In 2003 Times Of India group started the trend of selling editorial space for 'paid' news through its marketing division named Medianet. There was a lot of hue and cry when the news first broke out. TOI was ridiculed and criticized for bringing the profession to disrepute.

But after the dust settled, media bosses understood the business sense and nobody wanted to be left behind in this race. (Couple of examples : DNA, Deccan Herald) So recently when The Hindu pointed that Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan got reams of press coverage whose expenses were not declared in the election expenses that he submitted to Election Commission, there was hardly a murmur from either politicians or in the media. The media houses accused in this report feigned ignorance and their rivals didn't even try to claim moral high ground because of obvious reasons. Outlook's December 21 issue had a more in-depth coverage of this malaise and shocking revelations of how serious and deeply rooted this paid news phenomenon has become, specially in the times of elections.

But what is truly shocking is the complete silence in the media about this issue. No discussions or debates on a practice what has threatened the reputation of entire profession. No attempt to censure the culprits or make any rules to stop this practice. Why? Imagine if medical profession accepted that the practice of organ theft or judges thought accepting bribes to give a favorable verdict was OK.

No words can describe the impact if news media started being stooges of corrupt politicians whose only qualification was being able to pay for favorable coverage. If our only source of getting credible information for choosing our elected representatives was proven to be corrupt, what do we rely on?

As they say, who watches the watchmen?

Friday, December 11, 2009

I demand my own state (comprises 2 localities in Hyderabad)

I am writing this post just to inform you guys that I am going to sit on a hunger strike after lunch today and won't eat anything till my demands are not met (or atleast till dinner time).

And before you start dubbing me (rightfully) publicity hungry (or some such adjective) let me tell you that my demands are perfectly valid. I am demanding for a new state on the same basis as all other new states are being demanded.

I want a new state for the areas of Kondapur and Madhapur in Hyderabad. (See map if you are not aware of the geography.) We call it 'Makonchal' . You will appreciate that this name follows the naming convention of North Indian states like Purvanchal, Mithilanchal, Uttaranchal. (MAdhapur+ KOndapur+Anchal see how ingenious!)

Below are the reasons why my demands must be met:

1) Since there are so many North Indians in this area, culture and language of this area is different from rest of Hyderabad and even from rest of AP/Telangana/Rayalseema/North Coastal AP/South Coastal AP/other 432517 divisions of AP. And how dare you suggest that we can live in harmony with rest of people who don't share these extremely critical properties of Humanity! If Garos and Khasis living in Meghalaya can demand for separate states why can't we. (Umm I guess number of Northies in Hyderabad would roughly be same as total population of Meghalaya..)

2) These areas are mostly occupied by upper and upper middle class people, so state gets more revenue from these areas which is 'diverted' to other areas of city and not utilized in 'development' of these areas. (Ignore the fact that most of the people here don't vote during elections!) No, I won't accept that analogy that Mumbai supports rest of Maharashtra. Call us selfish but our money is JUST our money. (You see the money from these areas is going in pockets of netas of other areas. What is this? Our money should go in the pockets of netas of our own area na!)

Now you see my point? Aren't my demands perfectly valid?

Umm, did I mention that I am ready to bear the responsibility of being the CM as well!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Pictures worth thousand words and more!

Who ever said a picture is worth a thousand words was a lazy writer who went on a nice journey and shot hundreds of pics. He/She came back and then sat down to write the memoirs but was unable to do so and hence decided to just share the pics.

So without much ado, here is the reason and result of my 10 day trip: Kolkata-New Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling-Maney Bhanjayang-Dhotrey-Tunglu-Tumling -Kali Pokhari-Sandakphu-Gurdum-Rimbik-Darjeeling-Kolkata!

Journey on the Toy Train: Train leaves from New Jalpaiguri and reaches Darjeeling in about 7 hours! But trust me you won't mind.


The Trek:


Simple! Wasn't it :)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Promote DYPC, Win Google Wave Invites!

Still waiting for that elusive (and exclusive!) invite for Google Wave. Here is your chance to win it and trust me it doesn’t get any easier! All you need to do is help DYPC in spreading the word about this concept of PC donation and the site itself.

Google Wave

All set? Become a fan of DYPC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@dypc) AND do atleast any one set of the following (the more you can do the better !):

1) On facebook: Invite others, put DYPC URL in your status, become a fan of DYPC on facebook.

DYPC Website :
DYPC Facebook URL :

2) Blogs: Put a DYPC badge on your blog or blog about DYPC (psst. here is a cheat code, you can just cross post this one)

DYPC Blog :
DYPC Badges :

Put in simpler words to be eligible you have to become DYPC fan on FB and then either do the activities related to Facebook or Blogs. Just don’t forget to mail us (contact(at)donateyourpc(dot)in) about what all you did!
There are 15 invites to be won, make sure you are one of the winners!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sign(Board) Language

All of us have seen roadside stalls selling 'Chinness' or 'Chinis' or 'Chinees' food or wine shops selling 'Child Bear'. They are not the only ones. Here is an assorted collection of others who brought a smile.

Where: Sector 62, Noida.
God knows what aafat (trouble in Hindi) befalls on the people who eat these parathas!

Where: Sector 62, Noida
He missed the word 'Chowk' but it is amply clear that he too dreams to make it big someday. Hopefully not like Akshay Kumar in that horrible movie!

Where: Aminabad, Lucknow
Now, this is taking honesty to extreme levels.

Where: Tribal Museum, Araku, Vizag
Wow, this is a crash course in euphemism writing I believe!

Where: Hogenakkal, Karnataka
A movie crazy parking owner?

Where: More store, Kondapur, Hyderabad
Just imagine if the X-Ray machine at some airport gets some snag and they put a sign like this one: "Due to technical problems, We can't scan you. Please Bare!" OMG!!!

Where: Mahabalipuram, Tamilnadu
They know that their stuff is not too good, so don't go overboard in praising ;)

Where: Juice shop, Kondapur, Hyderabad
"Pain Apple"?

This one truly brought a smile, not the sarcastic one, but one of real happiness. To see that some one in Railways was actually so compassionate and understanding that instead of using 'Physically challenged' or 'disabled' they used 'Differently Abled', which even Delhi Metro doesn't do.

Where: Kachiguda Railway Station, Kachiguda, Hyderabad.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Coming Soon: Rahul Mahajan Ka Swayamvar

Whether or not UPA Govt. is taking austeroty measures to superlative degree remains a matter of debate but wise men and women at NDTV Imagine have certainly taken gender equality to highest possible degree for sure.

So here it goes. After Rakhi Ka Swayamvar which presented us about a dozen men who could have been nominated for Red and White Bravery Awards, only if they were not nominated for Yellow and Black Stupidity Award, NDTV Imagine decided to fire up our imagination with about a dozen dumb belles.

Afterall why should only men be allowed to make a fool of themselves. Even women should be given opportunity to be called publicity hungry jerks who want to build a 'Dil Ka Rishta' (quoting Rakhi 'the original' Sawant) with a former drug-addict. Ok, he may have kicked that habit, but what about kicking his wife?

I don't want to stick my neck out to predict how good or bad the show will fare out in its second season as compared to the first, but Rahul Mahajan is perhaps a male version of Rakhi Sawant. Not that Mahajan dances in mini-skirts as item girl and definitely not that Rakhi beat her boyfriend in presence of cameras unlike Mahajan who beat his wife in their absence.

So women of India. Here is your chance to show how hungry you are for cheap publicity. Hope you leave nothing to Imagine!

"Wanted" a "Pokiri" review?

Telugu "Pokiri" starring Mahesh Babu was the first Telugu movie I watched in a cinema. And I wrote a review much to amusement of everyone. Yesterday I reading Rajeev Masand' review of "Wanted", I felt that just by changing actors' names in my "Pokiri" review, it can be passed as "Wanted" review! Read it here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Trying to Sell Nothing to Everyone!

One of the most satisfying aspects of working in Oracle, is working for Oracle Volunteers. The challange is that the 3000 people who are going to get your mail, should not direct it to trash! Oracle Volunteers doesn't spam so there is thin chance that you will get 2nd chance to say what you wanted.

This one was for Eye Donation Awareness camp, organized by Sakshum. People liked it but I feel I could not implement the idea I really had! Anyways Sakshum took printouts of this one and used it as flyers as well.
Ora Revels is undoubtedly the biggest event organized by Oracle Volunteers Hyderabad. It is designed as a platform for employees to interact with representatives and kids of many of the NGOs being supported by Oracle Volunteers. So on the day of event, there are lots of stalls for food, games etc. apart from the stalls put up by NGOs to sell stuff and show their work.

This one was for Magic Show in Ora Revels 2008. The sole reason I like this mailer is the 'Graffiti' image, which was generated by using the jMaki Flickr 'Word' widget in Netbeans IDE. A little shadow effect by Photoshop and it was ready to go!

Hmm... not a great tagline but I like the image of the cup. For souvenir sale in Ora Revels 2008.

Ahh... this one was never sent! Bhima Rao was our company's security incharge. Raghu declined to send this one and with very heavy heart I had to remove the defintely catchy heading with a boring 'Security guidelines for Today' :(

This one is one of the favorites. Sent on the morning of the Ora Revels 2007, it grabbed sufficient eyeballs.

Repeating the calendar was a gamble, but I was so hopelessly behind schedule for designing mail for announcing Ora Revels week 2008, that something had to be done. I got this calendar from my former roomy, shot it in office and guess what that 'Ora Revels week!' was written in Photoshop!

Ora Revels changed name and became Ora Fora. With a new logo and theme! I did only this one mailer for the D-day. Took the screenshot of that day's TOI and changed the headlines and masthead. Funniest response was from Naresh, who called me to tell that he can't read the text in paragraphs! (Raghu teased me over use of Blue and Red, calling it sponsored by Times Now!)

Adopt a Child Educationally is another scheme being run by Oracle Volunteers since past 1 year and has entered its 2nd year now. This mailer was somewhat inspired by Toyota's Amir Khan ads.

Repeating any campaign is difficult. I thought very hard for some idea for this year's ACE campaign. This one struck me when I driving to home from office. Once again, I felt that I could not implement it as well I would have wanted, the final version was much better that first cut, thanks to Raghu's motivation!

Though this one was for Premalayam's Vote Campaign, it was sent to Oracle Volunteers as well and was appreciated for its different take on elections!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Maya Ka Swayamvar

(This blog does not intend to hurt the sentiments of anyone. Any reference to any person living or dead is not meant to demean them and should not be taken seriously.)

On yet another un-eventful day when she transferred 26278 IAS, IPS, IFS, ICS, PCS, TCS, MNS, XXS officers and ordered installation of 626838 more statues of hers and 2 of Kanshi Ram she decided that finally she needs a man to protect her from 24x7 conspiracies of SP, Congress, BJP, RJD, BJD, INLD, UPA, NDA, IRA and 245262 other political parties across the world.

Supremely PR concious that she is, she took a cue from Rakhi Ka Swayamvar which left little to (NDTV) Imagine about her seriousness in getting knotty.

BSP decided to celebrate this momentous day as 'Shaadi Karo Diwas' (Get Married Day). Opposition parties, visibly jealous of her matrimonial affairs, decided to celebrate it as 'Sarkaar ko Talaaq Do Diwas' (Divorce this Government Day). The association of marriage counselors applauded opposition as they anticipated an increase in their clientale. The association of wedding planners publically thanked Mayawati as they believed people will get inspired by their supreme leader and get married in expensive wedding ceremonies. But their joy was shortlived as Mayawati asked them to cut the crap and send a cheque of Rs. 400 million.

BSP MLAs and MPs were given mandate to recieve cash 'gifts' from their constituencies. The opposition claimed that Government is collecting money forcibly but Satish Chandra Mishra explained to an excited media that party members were just acting as facilitators for public which wanted to give a shagun in their beloved CM's marriage but didn't know how to do so. He also announced that all the cash gifts would be exempted from income tax but this proposal was shot down by income tax department. Responding to this Mayawati said that this is yet another instance that Congress was conspiring to kill her, insult the dalits and prohibiting development of U.P.

As for the venue of Swayamvar, Ambedkar Park was chosen unanimously and since it does not have residential facilities yet, PWD was instructed to raze the nearby hostel and construct a 5-star hotel in place of it. Responding to a PIL filed in Supreme Court to what opposition and media criticised as wasteful expenditure of public money, Government said that the revenue generated by advertising would be utilized in further expanding of Ambedkar Park and installing more statues of Mayawati which would in turn give boost to tourism. The Supreme Court was convinced by noted artist and sculptors from France who said Mayawati's statues are fast gaining popularity and would soon overtake Monalisa as most clicked work of art.

On the scheduled day however there was not even a single suitor at the venue much to chagrin of the channel, advertisers and Mayawati and much to amusement of opposition and national and international media। Mayawati claimed that this is yet another instance that Congress was conspiring to kill her, insult the dalits and prohibiting development of U.P. The Government appointed a CBI enquiry which is yet to give its report but insiders tell us that it was the fine print of the contract of the Swayamvar which said every participant who is rejected by Mayawati would be charged with non-bailable offences under SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act and their houses would be torched.

(Read this post in Hindi: माया का स्वयंवर)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The 'Indian' Film Industry!

Indians sure have a great sense of humor and who else to lead us better in laughter challenge than our film industry or rather 'film awards
industry'. Sample this: IIFA 2009 for best editing has gone to a movie which is Three and a half hours long and was much mocked and criticized for its length (Ballu Saluja for Jodha Akbar).

Sure this beats even Bachchan bahu winning Star of the Decade award. (To ensure there is no real life 'Abhimaan' in the family her hubby dearest was nominated in 4 categories and managed to 'win' one of them for 'Dostana'.)

Everybody knows that Indian film awards are just 'events' tailored for TV channels to be shown, when they are not showing sobbing bahus wearing few kilos each of jewellery, vermillion and khaandaan ki parampara or sobbing young girls wearing, well a bit fewer kilos of jewellery, vermillion and khaandaan ki parampara. So there are awards 'invented' to please every corporate by associating its name to some award and to please every actor (and their dads) by giving them that aforementioned award. (Greenply 'chalta jaaye, chalta jaaye' award goes to Amitabh Bachchan or 'Centerfresh zubaan par lagaam lagaaye' award for Tushar Kapoor in 'Golmal')

But when you go to foreign lands and declare among your song and dance routines that you are honoring the best in Indian cinema, should you not be bit more inclusive?

I have said this earlier and I say it again, why is Hindi film industry made synonymous with Indian film industry when quite a good number of films are actually remakes of south Indian superhits. And even if there were no remakes, should we not celebrate the variety and diversity of Indian cinema by bringing together all these different language films on one stage? (Afterthought: Why is it that UTV World Movies channel shows movies from around the world but not Indian regional language films? Yeah I know, watching a French or Iranian film sounds more sophesticated that watching a Teugu or Marathi movie. So Maya Sarabhai-ish)

Why is it that every year when there is this much loved and equally loathed ritual of selecting Oscar nomination, 'Indian' media (read Hindi and English news channels and papers) start throwing names of Hindi movies, how much ever crap they may be (case in point: 'Eklavya')? I agree that Hindi is the national language and have highest viewership among all other Indian languages and that's why Hindi stars are adored across the country and Indian diaspora as well. But just because Dainik Bhaskar has highest number of readers, is it the best in print media?

What about regional cinema? Why does no popular media outlet ever tries to find the best in Assamese, Bengali, Marathi or south Indian movies and present them as a contender for nomination? I understand that the glamor of Mumbai is so blinding (ever noticed how most of our journos, specially the PYTs, appear as bumbling star-struck fans when talking to the actors) that our media is not able to see beyond Mumbai. Why did no channel come forward to gather public support for 'Shwaas' in 2005, even when the makers were short of money for promoting the movie?

My point is that just because we are besotted with Hindi cinema, we are overlooking quality in other quarters. Did you know that in 1991, Satyajit Ray's 'Agantuk' (remade as 'Raincoat') was the national award winner, 'Lamhe' was the Filmfare awardee yet India sent RK Films' Rishi Kapoor starrer 'Henna'!!

We take pride that India has world's highest number of languages and dialects spoken, then why can't we flaunt these languages on celluloid? Maybe event managers don't approve of the plan!

Monday, June 22, 2009

How to make a Rainwater Harvesting System?

Ever since I took up this project of construction of rainwater harvesting system as part of Global Volunteer Days 2009, I had been thinking of putting down my experiences so that others like me can learn and are not as confused as I was! In this post I have detailed construction of the RWHS that we built, note that this is not the only design. You can make more sophisticated systems with more investment.

Well, even an ordinary pit can be called a RWHS, since it stores the rainwater and lets it seep in the ground and increase the moisture level of the surrounding earth. However a major concern with rainwater harvesting is the quality of water that goes underground since if groundwater gets contaminated it can't be purified.

1) What is the source of water you will collect? Rooftop water being directed to the pit through PVC pipes is most common option.

Second option, bit more difficult but cheaper, is to do the landscaping in such a manner that water falling on the ground flows to the pit.

Rooftop water is much more cleaner and the design is less intrusive since pipes can go underground and cause no hindrance to occupants of the building.

In this article I will talk about using PVC pipes for collecting water.

2) What should be the dimension of the pit? We had dug a 6x6x6 pit since it was a small school. This size would be sufficient for a standalone 3BHK house or a multi-story with 3BHK flats. For bigger buildings, you will need to talk to a contractor.

3) Dug the pit, what next? OK, now we need to fill this pit with stones and sand which will act as purifier layers. In our simple design we will have following layers:

a) 40 mm metal: This is the first layer (from bottom) and is half the height of the pit. So in our case it was 3 ft. See in the picture below.

Below: 40 mm metal being dumped.

b) 20 mm metal: Second layer, half the height of first layer. (In our case 1.5 ft.) These are the pebbles used in road construction. See in the picture below.

Below: 20 mm metal being dumped

Don't worry if you don't know about these stones. You will need to find a stone supplier and he will supply these stones.

3) Sand: Third and topmost layer which is about half feet high.

You will notice that we have not filled complete pit, 1 ft is still remaining. Yes we have left this space purposely, so that during the rains, water coming from the pipe doesn't spill over and is collected in this empty space before seeping down.

The pipe coming from roof top has to be directed to this pit, half ft under ground, which means it will be just half ft above the sand layer. In the above pic, see that pipe is below ground level.

The 1 ft of the pit walls which are exposed can be plastered. This will increase the longevity of the walls by guarding against soil collapsing during the rains.

Special case: If there is a handpump or borewell in the vicinity

By making small change to the design, you can not only make your RWHS more effective but also recharge the handpump if it has dried up, due to water table getting depleted.

We had a handpump in the school which we wanted to recharge, so we dug the pit with the handpump in the center of the pit. A handpump has 2 concentric pipes. The internal pipe about 2 inches in diameter is called riser pipe which actually draws in the water from ground. The outer pipe is just plastic casing about 4 inches in diameter which is called bore hole casing. It is used to protect the internal pipe. Both pipes go fairly deep in ground.

After we removed the soil around the handpump, we had six ft of bore casing exposed. In the below photo the white pipe that we see is the casing. (The steel pipes and rods have been put to support the pump.)

We drilled small holes in the bottom 1.5 ft of the casing. This is done so that water being collected in the pit can enter the bore casing and go deeper easily.

The holes have to be arranged in straight vertical lines on all four sides of the pipe, each about 3 inch apart. (see the photo to understand)

A thin wire mesh was tied around the pipe in this area to cover the holes and avoid any mud/soil/tiny pebbles getting in. (see the below photos)

Remaining process of filling the pit remains same.

You will have to cover the pit with an iron grill so that people using this pump do not step on the sand.

Budget: Stones and sand are purchased according to 'load'. For our project we had purchased 2 loads of 40 mm metal, 1 load each of 20 mm metal and sand. 'Load' is the capacity of the truck which dumps these materials.

40 mm metal costs Rs. 1100-1500 per load.
20 mm metal costs Rs. 2500-3000 per load.
sand costs Rs. 1100-1400 per load.

Problem is that even though we don't need that much sand or 20 mm metal, we can't order in fraction (like half load).

PVC pipes are available in a range of prices depending on the thickness, diameter and brand. Thicker the pipe, sturdier and pricier it is. We bought 80 ft (4x20 ft) 4 inch diameter pipes of an ordinary brand, which cost us Rs. 1500. You will have to buy joints (elbows or Ts) according to structure of your building. Add to this shipping charges. All these things cost us nearly Rs. 1900.

Apart from these you will need a bag of cement for plastering which will cost about Rs 400. You will need a plumber for doing pipe fittings, a mason for plastering the pit or redoing any concrete that you break. If you don't dig the pit yourself you will have to hire at least 2 labors also.

There you go! I have mentioned almost everything that you need to know about construction of a good Rainwater Harvesting System. All you need now is a motivated team (I had the greatest team one can have!) and a good plan to go ahead.

(I have tried to be as much discreet about things as possible. If you have any questions or think something can be better explained, let me know through comments.)

Monday, June 08, 2009

HOME : Limited Edition!

One thought that stays with me during entire duration of Yann Athus-Bertrand's "HOME" is that if I would have been able to capture even a single snap among innumerable frames in its 93 minute duration, I would consider my life not a near-total waste!

HOME is a spectacular movie, and I think that is understatement of the decade. More beautiful than I ever saw anything on NatGeo or Discovery, this movie shot almost entirely in slow motion and more often than not from very high altitudes gives an amazing view of our home, the earth!

It's about how we have changed the planet in last 40 years. Not going stats-heavy like 'An Inconvenient Truth' but still giving the details about how things are changing and how we may be affected. Often accompanied by very sarcastic (and impressive) quotes and stark comparisons between lifestyles.

One of my most favorite sequences is about Dubai. The camera already perched high, starts from the bottom of a sky scraper and continues to move towards the pinnacle while background score (once again terrific throughout!) reaches a crescendo! Awe inspiring and frightening at the same time.

Watch Home, on YouTube till 14th June. Even if you don't care about planet, may be you will once you realize it is SO beautiful.

Monday, May 18, 2009

When the going got tough: Katraj-Sinhagarh trek

"Come back", came the shout along with the torch light. No, the light came first because that was when we had thought that someone is following us.

"Why?", shouted back Nandu.

"That path goes to the valley."

Shucks. This was second wrong path that we had taken this night and for the first and only time a trace of fear swept my mind, are we going to fall in front of finish line? Not that falling was an option. Metaphorically as well as grammatically! While the latter would have been obviously more damaging physically, the former would not have been any better since we had to reach Sinhgarh before sunrise and the impending scorching heat.

Earlier we had tried to take a path around a hill, because one of the guys was '90% sure' that it was the right way, only to come back and climb that hill.

We had started from Katraj at about 9.30 and were supposed to walk all night and reach Sinhgarh crossing 13 hills on the way. It was 3 or 3.30, in the morning (or night, how ever you take it.) We had been "walking" for 5 hours now and still there was a debate whether we had 3 hills remaining or 'there is a small 4th one'. The red signal on a tower at Sinhgarh was closer now but it still demanded all the mental and physical strength to reach there.

Earlier we had started with a lot of enthusiasm, easily divided among 'Hyderabad group' and 'Pune group'. Each group having a lot of easy camaraderie among itself. My primary concern at Swargate was food. Are we not going to eat anything 'proper'? Just 3 chocolates and Parle-G-for-genius didn't seem to me such a genius idea after all. Two bottles of water each also seemed somehow insufficient but I understood we can't carry water tankers with us!

The climb had started with a bang, rather a burst from our 'trek leads'. After this unpleasant start, the group was divided meticulously into smaller groups with sweeps and leads and these groups and sweeps and leads got dissolved and lost equally meticulously within first half an hour. There were many teams trekking on that route that night and each had torches and it took us a long time to understand that every torch that we see in that vast expanse might not be one from our group. Actually torches were used for most of the time only for marking presence and signalling to other 'torch bearers', since it was a moon-lit night there was sufficient light for walking.

The first major challenge came at the descent of second hill. It was a near 70 or 80 degree steep incline and lots of tiny pebbles didn't make things any easier. First thing that I did was to keep my camera in the backpack and then did a combination of slow climbing down holding stones and sliding where ever standing was dangerous. To be honest my legs were shivering by the time I got down. We were told that first couple of hills are steep and after crossing this one we thought that we had put the worst behind, but descending kept on being difficult for a major part of the journey. Rathi gave such descents a not-so-pleasing nickname: 'Suicide Point'. The climbing always seemed easy but even before climbing, imagining the descent gave goosebumps!

During the entire journey the glittering Pune city kept us company. Even at 1 the lights didn't seem to dim and someone wondered aloud 'don't these people sleep'? Another element that accompanied us for a major part of the trek was wind. Heavy wind. Quite cold at times and though I was getting quite irritated due to constant howling in ears, it was due to this wind only that we didn't feel the heat or the sweat.

In the last leg of the journey, most of the group was left far behind and there was no trace of even the 'leads'! There were no visible trails and so we decided to do the easier thing: take a crow-flight route to Sinhgarh. Just cross all the hills on the way. This was easier said than done because the first hill to stare us was a nearly 70 degree incline ( We climbed this one in 9 minutes flat!) and by now the moon had moved so we had to climb in near darkness. I decided to hold my torch in mouth (thank heavens, it was a slim Eveready) and use both my hands for climbing faster so that I had enough momentum to move forward. I am still surprised that none of the shrubs scratched my face because almost entire way-up it seemed I was bumping into one!

By the time we reached top of last hill, it was 4.30 and sky had started acquiring whitish shades. Sinhgarh was almost at an arm's length (read 6 km). A small walk (towards a sound that sounded like waterfall) and we reached the Sinhgarh road. After a brief photo session on the vacant road, we walked again for about 3 km to Sinhgarh fort.

I had survived the toughest trek of my life, ready to face tougher ones!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Election Results: From Millionaires to Slumdogs!

Prakash Karat (CPIM)

'Karat'-and-stick policy didn't work. Hammered in Kerala and sick-led in West Bengal demands are now rising that Karat be 'left' out.

Mayawati (BSP)

Unfortunately you can't have elections as many times as you want, that's the difference between installing-demolishing-reinstalling statues. The only party in the country to contest ALL 543 seats could not even beat Congress in UP!

Lalu Prasad Yadav (RJD) and Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP).

Formed a grand '4th Alliance' with SP (in UP). Lalu played safe and contested from two seats and managed to win one of them. Paswan was not so lucky and lost from Hajipur, a seat from where he had won by a record margin some years ago.

Forget being kingmakers, Paswan is not even an MP, his party LJP stands at nill. And I don't see Lalu being invited to B-schools anymore.

J. Jayalalitha (AIADMK)

Her price for support: suspend DMK Government in Tamilnadu. With DMK's tally a double of AIADMK, her only exploits were flowers from Modi, a day earlier!

Vaiko (MDMK)

It's thumbs DOWN actually to the best spokesman LTTE never had in Sri Lanka. Lost miserably and now planning for the job there but unfortunately his would-be-employers have already shut the shop!

(My questions about post-results scenario: here.)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Eye Pee Elle Bandwagon!

(Well the reason of that 'Oh-so-clever' title is that I wanted to write something before procrastination gripped me again!)


Indian Premier League vs Indian Political League that is! This is a season of plenty for news channels with both elections and IPL demanding their fare share of airtime. Star News has tried to achieve a not-so-subtle balance by doing a show which they have named - not so
 imaginatively - 'Deepak vs Siddharth'. So Deepak Chaurasia uses a cricket lingo to get you the political news of the day while Siddharth uses , obviously  cricket lingo to give the report of IPL matches! Pretty interesting format I would say.

Run of the underdog

I have put an Adidas poster on my desk featuring Michael Ballack and it reads "If your team
 wins, wear your Team shirt. If your team loses, wear your Team shirt." I haven't switched loyalty after poor performance of Deccan Chargers last year. So this time it was almost heart breaking to see our team neglected, almost outcast, ruled out without even being given a chance, before their first match with Knight Riders. Most of the news channels had not cared to update the Chargers logo in their programming, most of the ads had DC at the fringes and there are hardly any sponsors for this team! 

I was pissed off most by NDTV, which had become a mouthpiece of Knight Riders and before our first match their entire coverage was revolving around KR and SRK with hardly even a mention of DC. Now with KR in deep mess, NDTV must have learnt that it is not good to keep all your eggs in one basket!

Cheer-less leaders

The cheerleaders selected by Knight Riders in NDTV Imagine show 'Knights and Angels' could not perform in South Africa because authorities there forced organizers to use local talent. But the girls were atleast given a free ride to SA by SRK and they got to watch few KR matches too. Ofcourse KR performance would not have brought any cheer to anyone!

Silly moment of Shylockness

I am a very understanding person. Really. I know having a commerical, er strategic break after 10 overs makes a case of 'attempt to murder' the game but they had to do something to recover the increased costs this year. But a break after 6 overs? Definitely it would have put even Shylock to shame!

And I bet the total number of times commentators have spotted 'Citi moment of Success' during a game must be more than the total moments of success put together by entire Citi group during last year and half. Unlike that dreaded 'DLF Maximum' I have still not been able to understand why and how a moment gets its name linked to the Citigroup. BTW, does DLF really think, renaming a sixer will fool people in buying more of their flats?

Adding the ads

IPL has found special liking from infrastructure sector it seems! If the IPL's title sponsor is DLF, last year's both finalists have cement companies as their title sponsors. Chennai Superkings is obviously owned by India Cements, Rajasthan Royals has got UltraTech Cement as theirs!

Shilpa Shetty's team has HDFC Standard Life, Puma and TCS (!!!) apart from 5 others. They don't mention Real (the new Miditech owned GEC) surprisingly.  
MSD is doing most commercials these days, so it comes as no surprise that his team CSK has maximum number of sponsors: 15 and that includes 'Official Face-Care partner Nivea'.

KKR has 11 sponsors including brands like Nokia, Sprite, TAG Heuer, Star Plus and Reebok.
King's XI Punjab have heavy weight Emirates as Title Sponsor along with nine more, including Gulf Oil. 
Delhi Daredevils have a very impressive sponsor list which includes GMR, Hero Honda, Coca Cola, Kingfisher Airlines and Adidas among others. They have got a rich media presence too with Fever 104 FM and some Network 18 channels and sites. 
Mumbai Indians has 12 with RIL, MasterCard, Idea, Pepsi and Adidas being the noteworthy names. 
Deccan Chargers being the poor church mouse have to be content with Puma, Pepsi, Kingfisher, McDowell's, Big 92.7 FM and Odyssey (chain of book stores). 
I found no mention of sponsors on RCB site. Maybe it is below Vijay Mallya's dignity to accept that others are sponsoring his team ;)

The least score

What is the minimum amount you have used a credit card for? I bet you can't beat my score. 12. Yes. 10+2=12. No zeroes missing. Just good old 12!
I purchased the DC anthem on their site and it cost me Rs. 12 which had to be paid by card. And to be honest, it is not even worth that money!