Sunday, January 31, 2010

Idle thoughts

Idling around with nothing much to do at an alien place (ok, it is not really alien to me) and being alone leads to some slow mind-munching.

Thinking of Idli (idlee, idly, iddili, so many ways for a proper noun) with chutney and molagaai podi/chutney podi. That is my favorite, anyday, over anything. I can have idli for breakfast, lunch and dinner (with caveats though :-)). Doing some random cooking (thanks to MTR for saving me the nitty gritties with its ready to eat/mix and eat collection). I can get idli (what idli, everything Indian that you can think of) at restaurants here, but the chutneys are yuck (maybe the coconut's taste) but nothing comes close to the home made idlis by señora.

Skype rocks, and its video conference, whew!. The voice quality exceeds that of the landline and not to mention, it is free. Helps to stay grounded and connected.

Watching TV at random, with reruns of Seinfeld, Friends, Home Improvement, House M.D., some movies, news and weather channels, and not to mention ads and more ads than the mainline serials. Love [Home Improvement]. Reminds a lot of my home improvement and the wisecracks, hilarious.

Thinking of watching a sundown, tomorrow, on the Pacific, weather permitting.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama - I am mighty impressed

I was watching Obama give his "State of the Union" address to the Congress in the US today. Wow, he talked glib, loud and lots of right words. Lots of jingoism, implicit and in-the-face digs at the Republicans, jobs, tax breaks, college education sops, taxing the Wall Street cash cows, health insurance and reforms, tightening the belt by freezing Govt spending, deficit and debt, national security, immigration, gays, national values etc.

He talked really well, cracked jokes at times, smiled a lot, acknowledged mistakes, challenged detractors and threatened to use his veto powers. Boy, he was persuasive in his vocal theatrics in spite of the long talk!!!

If only Obama and his folks walk the talk, but that is another thing. :-)

Meanwhile thinking why we do not have anything like that in India. All the Republic Day/Independence Day speeches by our politicians are so drab and monotonous with no crackle or energy. The Governor's address to the Chief Minister of his state should not contain any negative comment about the Government even if it was mired in controversy. So much so for democracy.

Demographic targeting

One of the things that I noticed about the uninor outdoor ads is their positioning at youth rather than an all-inclusive demography. The ads are targeted at college goers and those in their first jobs and at an urban audience. Most of the faces that grace the print/outdoor ads look serious, but show confidence or contentment. Probably only two models actually smile/laugh in the ads. Interestingly, not much of jingoism which the others like Tata DoCoMo or Reliance seem to be drumming up. I have not seen any of the TV ads though. Not sure how uninor fares with a rural audience. More females than the males in the ads.

In India with ARPU being low, it is always a tough fight to get a loyal mindshare. With mobile number portability coming in, it will become even more messy. Seems like they have got a decent start in their first month of operations and I hope these folks succeed as I have been associated indirectly with both the companies that form uninor. (Unitech was assisted in setting up all the operations and billing infrastructure and software by my earlier company and Telenor is a customer of my current company (though not here, but in Europe)). Their web-site could be a tad better.

And I like their logo in blue!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Long due, but nevertheless

Hooray! that Ilaiyaraaja has been awarded, at last, with a Padma Bhushan by the Government of India on this Republic day. I hope that the tribe of musical geniuses increase and so does Ilaiyaraaja's contribution to Indian film music.

My sincere thanks to him, who, by being a large part of what I hear in film music, is a part of my life and for the memories that I associate to his wonderful music.

And congrats to all those who richly deserved an appreciation for the work done by them in their respective spheres.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Morning C&H + Dilbert

All copyrights for the comic strip acknowledged.

All copyrights for the comic strip acknowledged.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Unworded - Sunrise today

And quiet breaks the dawn

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Achingly haunting

My N73's shuffle mode mis-behaved (!) today repeating the same sequence from whatever song I jumped to. One song that came up in that sequence was "Aap ki nazrón né samjha" from the 1962 Hindi movie Anpadh with music by Madan Mohan.

Three or four years back, while driving, I was fiddling with the car radio in the AM channel mode when I first heard this song. It was made poignant by the weak AM signal on the radio (and what an effect it was! the song lines fading off and then coming back giving the impression of hearing the song as being sung far away, which is wafting over a breeze [I seem to be getting better at defining a simile]). I had heard the remix version of the song sung by Gunjan Singh (who was the lead singer in Bally Sagoo's (pioneer of Indian fusion remix songs) recording company). Gunjan was very impressive in spite of the hip-hop beats in the remix. She also sang the hauntingly beautiful "Noorie" song (again a fusion remix), the background song for the wedding scenes in "Bend it like Beckham". What a voice she has!

And then, I heard the original rendition by Lata Mangeshkar. Literally zombied by her rendering and the music, which tugs and scythes through the heart every time I hear it. What a modulation Lata brings in, that pulls you along!

Stirringly beautiful ghazal, achingly haunting voice and music!!! What shall I say about those composers and singers of yore who have given us such gems? Words fail me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My imagination runs riot

[Long post alert]

I have always been intrigued and to an extent foxed by headlines which say something like this.

Manmohan Singh [MS] discusses with Nicolas Sarkozy [NS] on climate change
TN CM Karunanidhi [MK] meets Simon Beresford-Wylie [SW], CEO of Nokia Siemens Networks

What do the biggies discuss in those meetings? Obviously MS won't discuss technicalities of ozone holes, glacial melting, Kyoto protocol, carbon credits, weather satellites etc with NS. Maybe they talk in generality in those meetings with courtesies and small talk, the bigger issues as memoranda etc being covered by their secretaries and the technocrats behind them and then go just to sign on the papers. I don't doubt that some are savvy in certain domains, but I feel that it is usually the "behind the scenes" bureaucrats who move the system.

For example SW, won't talk 4G, 5G, software defined radio, EV-DO, WiMAX, LTE, packet backbones or network evolution with [MK] or his aides like his deputy CM [MS], the union ministers [AR] (who obviously would be there for meetings like this)  and the other cabinet minister [MA]. BTW, [SW] is no more the CEO of Nokia-Siemens, it is Rajeev Suri now.

Last week, on TV, I was watching a verbal duel between Jairam Ramesh and a group of scientists in a meeting over genetically engineered brinjal (And what is it with TimesNow channel! Showing it all over and over again as if India has walked out of the Copenhagen Summit). Never thought that the scientists could shout and heckle him off the stage. One minister whom I have seen talk some sense in a techie meeting (though not in depth) is Kapil Sibal, when he was in the Ministry of Communications at some IEEE conference in New Delhi. He talked on the social aspect of technology and ramifications and gave some interesting stats.

Here is my unofficial "imagination run riot" take on how the MS-NS or the MK-SW meeting may have progressed. The general folks have no clue on what transpires in those meetings as everyone involved is bound by the "official code/oath of secrecy", whatever it is. And all the disclaimers apply.

For example, this could be the hidden transcript of the meeting between MS and NS.

[MS]: Welcome, Mr. NS
[NS]: Thank you, Mr. MS [shakes hands]
[MS]: Please take a seat [motions NS to his seat]
[NS]: Thank you.
[NS]: [Clears throat] M, Why is it that you always wear a purple head thing?
[MS]: [smiles] No special reason Mr.S. I just like the colour. The head thing's name is turban.
[NS]: Turban, now I know. The one Osama wears. Do you know, we have a new rule in France that bans purdah for women in public? I am not sure if the rule covers turbans. If so, you may have to pay a fine of 500 euros next time when you visit France. [guffaws]
[MS]: [sheepish grin and mumbles] But turban is different from purdah and this is different from Osama's.
[NS]: Did you say something Man?
[MS]: No No. Please have some water. The water is bottled naturally at the glacial springs in the Himalayas.
[NS]: Merci. The water is not from Evian!!! [Turns to his aide and says, Pouvez-vous me faire l'eau d'Evian?] You see, I get my own water, "La France est grande".
[MS]: How is Ms.Carla Bruni?
[NS]: Ah! Asking about my suprême dame. Je t'aime Carla. She is busy and into musique these days. She is also thinking of modeling. Model, you see. Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Miuccia Prada, Donna Karen you see.
[MS]: [Gulps]
[NS]: How about your life, M?
[MS]: [Peers through his glasses]. No personal life Mr.S. My madame is doing good. Daughter is in the US, making Obama's life difficult. My political life is in the hands of Soniaji. [clasps his hands]
[NS]: Ha Ha. Obama, he is inexperienced, ill-prepared by his advisors and not up to standards, vous voyez. And Merkel, she is a copy-cat and Zapatero, the Spanish guy, not very clever. [smiles and then grins] Sonia, Ahhh, Let me talk to Silvio. Nous sommes de proches amis.
[MS]: [Startled that NS may comment something more controversial] Shall we quickly run through our releases, before we meet the press?
[NS]: Okay. Commençons.

[The teams run through the text of the press releases while the heads acknowledge and sip water]

[MS]: [to his aide] Can we please have the official photographer come in and take a photo of our meeting?

[The photo of all the key folks sitting on a table with some papers on it and sitting on the comfy wide sofas facing each other is taken]
[MS]: Let us go to the press conference, Mr. S? The press would be waiting.

[They walk to a room where cameras and microphones are setup like a garbage dump one on top of each other and news folks overflowing in the room]

[MS]: Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the briefing. Myself and Mr. NS have had wide ranging discussions a few minutes back on terrorism, environment, culture and international relations. We have pledged to work together on issues of mutual and national importance and [blah blah blah]

This could be the transcript between MK-SW meeting.

The meeting room has MK, AR, MS and MA and their secretaries. SW is ushered in with a colleague or two.

[SW]: [looking at all] va-na-kkaa-m.
[All]: வணக்கம். [and nod their heads]
[SW]: Thank you Sir, for meeting us.
[MK]: Thank you. This is MS, my deputy, this is MA, minister of textiles, this is AR, the telecom emperor.
[SW is confused, who is who, since all of them are wearing the 'karai' white veshti and has no clue why the others, especially the minister of textiles, are in this meeting]

[SW]: Nice to meet you, Sirs.
[MK]: உங்க companyல என்னவெல்லாம் பண்ணுறீங்க? (What all do you do in your company?)
[SW]: In addition to phones and their software, we work in latest wireless technology like 4G, 5G, WiMAX, Wide band frequency hopping spread spectrum receivers.
[AR is now fully alert on hearing the terms 4G, 5G and spectrum in the reply.]
[MK]: [shakes head to ack] and then looks at AR and MA. என்ன தம்பிங்களா, நமக்கு 2.5Gலயே நல்ல ஆதாயம். இவரு என்னமோ இன்னும் நிறைய சொல்லுறார். பாத்துக்கோ. (Dear folks, We had a windfall in 2.5G. This person is talking of more things. Look out)
[SW]: Sir, that additional land requested for expansion ...
[MK]: [looks at his secretary] எல்லா விஷயமும் சொல்லிறுப்பா. (tell him all the info) [looks at SW] My secretary will help you with all that and I'll approve. Don't worry
[SW]: Thank You, Sir.
[Secretary looks at SW like a lamb being taken for slaughter]

[MK]: ஒன்னு தோணுது. ஒரு புது திட்டம். தமிழ்நாட்டுல எல்லா குடும்பத்துக்கும் இலவசமா 2 cell phone குடுக்கலாம்னு, இலவச TV மாதிரி. இவங்க phone பண்ணுறாங்க இல்ல. என்ன பண்ண முடியும்னு கேக்கலாம். நாம இலவச cycle குடுத்தோம், இலவச கல்யாண பணம் குடுத்தோம், இலவச TV குடுத்தோம், Rs.2 அரிசி குடுத்தோம். இப்போ இலவச mobile குடுத்தா நம்மளை சரித்திரம் மறக்கவே மறக்காது. தம்பி MS, நீ இதை பாத்துக்கோ. [to secretary] இதையும் discuss பண்ணிருப்பா. (Something strikes me. A scheme. We shall give 2 cell phones free for every family in TN. These folks make phones. We can ask what can be done from these folks. We gave free cycles, free money for newly-weds, free TV and rice for Rs.2 and now free phones. We will never be forgotten in history. Dear MS, please take care of this [to secretary] Please discuss this as well) 
[AR, MA, MS]: தலைவரே. உங்கள மாதிரி யாரும் யோசிக்க முடியாது. (Nobody can think like you, our leader)
[SW blinks, not understanding what is being talked about]
[MK]: We will issue a press release. My secretary will get in touch with you further.
[SW]: Thanks for the meeting, Sir.
[MK]: We shall have a photo for the press release. Please wait.

[Photographer comes in and SW poses with a bouquet to be given to MK]

[SW]: Thank You, Sir.
[All]: Thank You. 

[Next day press release - TN CM's meeting with Nokia-Siemens CEO. New people-friendly CM's scheme for the people of TN to be announced on April 1.]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday morning C&H + Dilbert

All copyrights for the comic strip acknowledged.

All copyrights for the comic strip acknowledged.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Of a good drive, a filling lunch and a nice siesta

Sometimes, there is nothing that beats a long drive (especially when you don't drive :-)), a good lunch and a fine siesta.

On Saturday, I was chaffeured by the señora, accompanied by la niña and el niño, to the Kamat Lokaruchi, which is on the Bengaluru-Mysore highway between Ramanagara (of rock climbing and Sholay fame) and Channapatna (of the wooden toys fame). It is a themed restaurant offering typical Karnataka dishes like joladha roti (roti made from jowar (or sorghum)) and its accompaniments, akki (rice) roti and a completely different set of accompaniments and a few other dishes for which I do not have a name. The ambience is different and the staff, courteous.

It is interesting the way señora reacts when I drive and what I do when she drives. Señora has an imaginary brake under her legs at the front passenger seat and a hand on the dashboard as I do my maneuvers on the road and complains that I am a bad driver. She uses her imaginary brakes to full effect. I just cannot relax when she is on the wheel though she is better on the road and I complain that she doesn't honk enough. The idle chatter, long pauses at times between sentences, some rants, the drone of the car engine and watching the road go quickly by (that is so calming on long drives) that characterize most of my drives. Señora blazed on the highway, weaving around safely, and keeping a consistent 80-90 kmph and we were at the restaurant in around 35 minutes or so from home.

The lunch was as heavy as a python gobbling a deer, to last it a week, with a sumptuous spread on plantain leaves. I, being a very picky eater, loved the meal. I have never tried the full meal earlier though I have dropped into this restaurant a few times before. I don't know how people manage to work (or try to) after having such a meal. Came back home whizzing again on the highway and dozed off for a late-day siesta. Sleep just takes you over just like that after such a lunch and drive and the bad posture on my siesta sprained my back, it seems. And at the shop outside the restaurant, picked up an interesting tool, one to scratch your back. For that "scratch-scratch" satisfaction when it itches at the absolutely unreachable point in your back even with your hands in all contortions. :-) :-)

And now the last few hours before work beckons after a long break of 4 days, one of which was an excuse on Friday for the eclipse. I've to figure out a reason for the bunk. All that I saw of the eclipse was using probably the simplest working demonstration of a pin-hole camera, i.e. just 2 sheets of paper and a pin hole on one. :-) And idled all day long, save completing a recommendation for one of my ex-colleagues applying for his international MBA.

Mmm... What I hate about these short vacations is that they end just like that and a long week with lots of work stares at you. :-(

Friday, January 15, 2010

Short Takes

A few takes on movies that I watched over the past few days, on TV, DVD or the PC. The movies are not recent releases and I am no big connoisseur or follower of movies. I see it at my own pace and time. Sometimes, I enjoy, sometimes I switch off, sometimes I see it again. :-)

Alai Paayuthey
One of my evergreen favorites. What a screenplay on a simple story! Wonderful narration! Nothing was unnecessary except for a song (September Maadham). The song Evano Oruvan, by Swarnalatha is my fave. The climax was weak to accept, but rest of the movie, stellar. Maddy and Shalini crackle like the winter static with their sparks. A perpetual favourite of mine!!!

Wake up Sid
Decent "coming of age" movie and Ranbir seems to have a knack for comedy (intended or not). Konkona looked a tad older to him, not jarring however. Kept me awake to see to the end.

Nice movie with not much of sermonizing. At places, Amitabh's make up and acting looked overboard, but the movie moved forward pretty well. Vidya Balan looked eye-catching as a mom and was a revelation (my first movie of hers, seen to its end. Saw Lage Raho Munnabhai, Guru in parts :-)). Abhishek was good, but not extraordinary. Worth watching.

Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani
What shall I say about this movie, a comedy? The less said, the better. Ranbir gets you smiling and beyond in a very few places, Katrina looks beautiful and does nothing. Story, none. The only thing I'll remember is that I stayed in Ooty late last year in the same hotel where Ranbir and Katrina were put up when they shot the movie. :-) (there was a photo of them in the lounge). Psst.

Twilight (1st movie)
The first line of the movie (the voice over which starts as "I'd never given much thought to how I would die") had me hooked. The story meanders on the vampire thread, no vampire gore though and not much of special effects. Straight and simple. And, Robert Pattinson (Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter series) looks a tad more pale, maybe to reinforce his vampirishness, but Kristen Stewart is just so ravishing, just so radiant. Can watch the movie again for her. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On Pongal, Makara Sankranthi and Lohri

A paean to the faceless farmer 

Rice, wheat and cereals, we take for granted;
Is from the blood, sweat, love and tears of someone wanted.

Yet, do we remember you proper and right?
The unknown, unsung farmer, without whom our life is a blight.

Hours and hours of work in the fields, you vest;
Day in and day out, with no break or rest

Whether it is sun, rain or drought, you sow and reap;
The crops nurtured with care as we sleep.

To you, the men and women true;
We owe you a thanks, from our heart anew.

As you celebrate your harvest festival,
We respect your effort and wish you well.

As you thank the sun, the rain and your stock,
By boiling rice, milk and jaggery in a pot.

For all the work that you have done for us,
May the future for you be prosperous

Images courtesy: Wikipedia

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Morning C&H + Dilbert

All copyrights for the comic strip acknowledged.

This Dilbert is for you, zeno (for asking sometime back) and to gils (for being another example as derived from one of your recent posts) I am no saint. I blank out on names at the right moment when talking to others about someone whom I may have worked closely with. I recollect everything about them except the name and try to bridge the name by circuitous means. So embarrassing at times!!!  :-) :-)

All copyrights for the comic strip acknowledged.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Unworded - Fiery and yet mellow, Stirring and yet calm

Sunset over the backwaters of the Pichavaram mangroves (near Chidambaram)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Mind game

Was looking at a Forbes article on IBM's cat brain simulation supercomputer (which is a neuroscience modeling platform, simulating a brain with 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses which is almost the equivalent of a cat's cortex). There is cynicism in the way IBM touted it, when we are really still far far away from understanding how that gooey mass called brain really functions before even trying to model it. Got sidetracked into a diversion on perception and intuition which led me into the famous probability problem dubbed the "Monty Hall Problem". The solution for this was so controversial at that time (early 90s) that a cognitive psychologist stated that no other statistical puzzle comes so close to fooling all the people all the time and even Nobel prize winners systematically gave the wrong answer and argued against the right one.

The problem goes as follows.
Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which he knows has a goat. He then says to you, "Do you want to pick door No. 2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?
and the same in a dis-ambiguated version to fix assumptions is as follows.
Suppose you’re on a game show and you’re given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. The car and the goats were placed randomly behind the doors before the show. The rules of the game show are as follows: After you have chosen a door, the door remains closed for the time being. The game show host, Monty Hall, who knows what is behind the doors, now has to open one of the two remaining doors, and the door he opens must have a goat behind it. If both remaining doors have goats behind them, he chooses one randomly. After Monty Hall opens a door with a goat, he will ask you to decide whether you want to stay with your first choice or to switch to the last remaining door. Imagine that you chose Door 1 and the host opens Door 3, which has a goat. He then asks you “Do you want to switch to Door Number 2?” Is it to your advantage to change your choice?
If you have not come across this puzzle, try it. What would have been your answer? (No, it doesn't really matter, because there is an equal chance (or) Yes, I'll switch, what the heck (or) Leave me alone, my brain hurts) The solution has been discussed umpteen times, the problem statement reworded, variant behaviors discussed at length, proof in multiple forms, but this problem at times still confuses me because it is counter-intuitive to what we feel, think and assume about the problem. Probability and its conditionalities. Hmmm... (Somehow this problem reminds me of how Surya makes a scapegoat of Laila in glib talk + gambling in the Tamil movie Pithamagan :-))

Another interesting aspect of math theory is paradoxes. One of the famous ones is the liar paradox.
Epimenides was a Cretan who made one immortal statement: "All Cretans are liars."
How do you perceive the above statement? For me, it is like a hung process in Unix. :-)

And as regards perceptions and illusions, what else, but M. C. Escher's pictures for the visual paradoxes? Reality turned on its head with clever proportions. What an artist!!!


Copyright M. C. Escher

Official M. C. Escher website -

All copyrights acknowledged

All this reminds me of school/college days when we used to prove 0=1, 1=2 etc for fun using seemingly correct Algebraic formulations or differentiation rules.

Wish if only all Math were simple and as interesting without the tons of seemingly dry and drab theory that accompany the derivations...

Have a wonderful weekend.

Source acknowledgement: Wikipedia, Forbes. All copyrights acknowledged.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

December dawn

This is a lyrical jot of my early morning walks over the past few weeks at Bengaluru.

I saunter out of home in a time of twilight
When it is a wee cold outside.
All I see is the yellow glow
Of street lights over fog, with patches of dark.

A distant sound of trucks, I hear
The only other sound, is from my walking gear
There is a crackle and buzz from an overhead power line
A mild breeze hits as I speed up for time

The sky is dark with visible stars
The dogs lazy under the lights, care not.
A few vehicles pass by
As I enter the village close by.

Few front yards already splashed and scrubbed
And water being filled into plastic pots and tubs.
I see a cat scamper across the road
As a few people go about their chores.

The village temple is open first
Sharing a whiff of incense blessed.
I hear the Suprabhaatam from some home
And no other sound other than the cricket chirp drone.

I leave the village behind
Odd, that a grocer is open at this time.
I reach a vast empty road
Where a few dogs stand bored.

The eastern sky brightens
With the stars dimming to disappearance.
The western sky still dark
A few minutes to day-break as the night stops.

The clouds above lit golden
By the rays of the rising sun.
I hear a few caws and a cockatoo coo
And a dog's bark, with a distant hoot

I reach the climb
On which I walk a quarter mile.
The thrush stir and chirp in the brush growth
As I pant for breath on the inclined slope.

As I stride to the top, I see
A fogged city, still asleep.
I wind down the road below,
Passing a cow to be milked, with its calf in tow.

The lone bus to the village goes by
As I enter the village from the other side.
More houses now, with their front yards washed
As people stir out from their lazy night.

Some street lights still aglow
Even as the day break is mellow.
The road still silent and the sun still bearing,
Welcome to a good morning.

Aside, the only Tamil movie song I remember, that is all about dawn, is "Kaalai thendral, paadi varum", from the mid eighties Kamalhassan-Ambika starrer "Uyarndha Ullam". With meaningful lyrics, lilting voice of P Susheela and a captivating melody from Ilaiyaraaja, it is a lovely, misty song to hear anytime.

Have a good day ahead!

Note; Hail Picasa for the composite image

Monday, January 04, 2010

Monday Morning C&H

All copyrights for the comic strip acknowledged.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Band's Visit

Was watching today, UTV World Movies, a TV channel on the cable network, showcasing award winning movies from around the world. Very similar to our good old DD of yore when it used to show all language movies on a Sunday afternoon.

The movie that was playing was "The Band's Visit", a 2007 Israeli-Arab movie about an orchestra band of eight people from Alexandria, Egypt who land into Israel to play at an Arab cultural academy, goes to a wrong, but similar sounding town in the middle of the desert due to a mis-understanding of one of the band members at the airport. When they realize that they have landed at the wrong place, the only bus that comes to that town has already left for the day. They are forced to stay overnight in the town. The movie shows the undercurrent of emotions that run amongst different people in the night that they spend in the town split amongst three different families as there is no hotel in town.

The movie is slow paced, with almost half the dialogues in English with a sprinkling of Jewish and Arabic in-between. (All the movies screened are anyway sub-titled) It is not dialogue heavy as well. Short bursts of talk, long silences and pauses, wonderful music, a longing loneliness and a slight humor define the movie, with some lovely acting by the key folks.

When you get a chance to watch it, do so. You'll not feel bad over it at all. This movie won a bunch of awards and I felt that the movie was worth it.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Tourist Discrimination

On my break, in late last December, I went to a museum and the palace of the Mahratta kings in the rice-bowl of Tamil Nadu. I saw a notice board at the entrance that touted two different rates for entrance, one for a local tourist (Indian) and another for a foreign tourist. I am appalled and shamed at this dichotomy. I don't think why one would want to do this and this is nothing but stealing. I have seen this at other places as well. The foreigners don't get anything more than what I get for the additional money they pay.

I did see a fair crowd of French tourists who had their own tour guide explaining the architecture and sculptures around. I did feel happy on seeing an Indian lady guide/interpreter who was explaining things patiently in French to another group.

The other racket I generally see is for usage of a still camera/video-camera at tourist sites. Ridiculous charges for something that should be allowed as a part of the entrance fee itself!!! How do I get charged for my camera phone, which is technically a phone, but with a decent still camera and can function as a video camera as well? Also there is the temple apartheid, which would make for a high-rant post.

अतिथि दॆवॊ भवः (Athithi Devô Bhavaha). So much so for our guests, God and equality! We can definitely do better than this. Mmm...

Note: I have changed the title from "Tourist Apartheid" to "Tourist Discrimination" since the term apartheid seems to rile folks.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Hope horizon

What is in it, the new year, as the clock strikes the hour?

That everybody hopes, the year will bear, and to hold maybe forever

For a theist, it is to face God, transcendent
For an atheist, it is to prefix an 'a' to the theist dement

For a student, a few more months to deliverance
For a teen, to rid their parents' talk - nonsense
For a parent, to have their kid(s) see some sense

For the folks in love, an year to progress
For the folks not so, to fall in or fail in one
For the betrothed, a few days remain to call
For the wedded, a better vacation and no walls
For the expectant, a few weeks to tears and joy sublime

For a historian, the start of a new epoch
For a scientist, an year for a discovery true
For a politician, more words to spin and money to mint
For a soldier, an year to peace than a year to war
For a doctor, to rid some of suffering and some their vain
For a firm, profits to achieve and show a gain
For a farmer, better weather and crops this time
For a worker, more money in their hands and less to whine

For the entrepreneur, a few ideas to start
For the salesperson, to exceed their targets
For the IT engineer, more long weekends to pass
For the job-hunter, it is a job to land into
For the job-hopper, it is a job to stick to
For the healthy and the not so, more miles to go
For the indolent, an year to end the laze
For the resolute, positions to hold or break
For the irresolute, to be steadfast some day
For the hopeful, a year to hope forward to
For the hopeless, a year to hope forward too
For the adult, to have their dreams come true
For the child, they worry not, of all these goo

And ye, who may fit any of these
And yo, who may not fit any of these
In days that you have, try to be happy and content
For this year too will pass by, with no big hurry or intent.