Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Italian Job

'Donating Computer from Italy' read the subject of the email which was tagged DYPC in my GMail.

DYPC is what we call fondly. is a website that I cofounded and now manage. This site is a place where people who want to donate their old computers or periherals can register their donation offer details and non-profit organizations like NGOs, schools etc who need PCs but can't afford to buy new machines, can request for these donated computers.
We occasionally get donation offers from people in India and a few times even foreign nationals have offered to donate PC (which we had to politely reject!) but most of them were from USA, so 'Italy' was the only surprise part in the subject.

However as I read that email, my initial euphoria evaporated. Read this:
"I recently got a new computer, since the previous (a desktop) no longer worked under any operating system. I checked it in depth and have come to the conclusion that the only unusable components are its motherboard and its graphics card. Of course these add to a monitor and a keyboard, as well as some cables, to spare.
Knowing that India is rapidly becoming a hotbed of innovations in IT, I was struck by the idea to donate it to some needy people in said country, who may very well make a great use of it."

Even if you don't try to read between the lines, you can easily understand that our Italian friend was trying to 'donate' a computer whose motherboard/graphics card were not working. I don't know whether monitor and keyboard were part of the defective lot too! To top it all he tried to dump this piece of hardware shit in the name of helping needy people while trying to flatter us.

It didn't end there. "I would feel guilty if I tried to sell those parts, although I can find no one who is interested in buying them". Wow! So he did try to sell off the junk but could not find anyone and hence the philanthropic streak.

We often read that thousands of tons of electronic waste is sent to developing countries like India from Europe and North America. So I am quite sure that even though I refused his donation offer now, this computer will reach some part of our country on a ship someday for recycling.

(Check out if you want to donate your old computer or would like to volunteer)

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

MasterChef India: Same bland taste of Reality Shows!

A housewife from Varanasi proudly proclaims, with suitable sombre music in background, "I was born in a small village. I have no background (wonder what that means!) and I have reached this position. It is a big achievement for me." Well if her achievement was appearing on the TV, my achievement was not losing sanity after watching umpteen claims of 'big achievement' of being on national TV by virtue of participating in a reality show.

Well you can surely call it a case of sour grapes since I have never been even on local TV, forget national, by participating in a reality TV show or without it, which I haven't. (may be because neither have I talent enough to win bouquets nor courage enough to face brickbats)

The point is that MasterChef India (it's not a COPY of MasterChef Australia, it's a licensed Indian version. If you want to know what is a copy, then watch Knock Out, which is a COPY of Phone Booth) is just like any other reality show. There is so much talk of making itihaas and showing junoon and being a soldier in jung ka maidaan that Chhatteesgarh Police can hire the writers of MasterChef India to motivate its embattled jawaans.

Fremantle India was perhaps not sure that the concept would work if the judges were noted chefs and food critics only or maybe this is another must have ingredient of Indian reality shows, a film star, whose role has been played by Akshaye Kumar in this case. His presence is justified by repeatedly telling us that he once worked in a Bangkok restaurant. Come to think of it, Vir Sanghvi may have won Cointreau Award for Best Food Literature Book but is he even one tenth as dishy as Akshaye?

(Wait a second, having a film star as host also means you can spend some airtime with all those "I love you Askshaye" shouts and "aaj meri zindagi kee sabse badi tamanna poori ho gayee" sobs.)

Other two judges are noted (must be among chef community and five star hotel crowd) chefs Ajay Chopra and Kunal Kapoor. I guess the people working on dressing up these gentlemen decided to spice up (pun intended) their looks because I believe Kunal doesn't really wear a blue suit, yes this blue and Ajay doesn't sport that spiky hair coupled with that shiny grey blazer on his way to work every day. And the writers decided that Akshay is not going to be the only one to be delivering the dialogues so Kunal mouthed inanities like 'Har kitchen ka ek hi badmaash hota hai aur is kitchen ka badmaash main hoon.' Now take that SRK.

Comparing with its Australian cousin, everything in MasterChef India is over the top. The background score is loud. Judges, specially the chefs, seem to be trying too hard to look and sound menacing. And as I mentioned earlier the sermons of Lord Akshay are too boring.

Well it's early days for MasterChef India and there are still lot of eggs (and hearts!) to be broken. Let's just hope Star (both the channel and Akshaye) keep the show watchable.