Saturday, October 29, 2005

Post Deluge Update

The torrential rains in Chennai have seem to have its effects on my health. I’ve fever, and its not due to getting drenched in rains or due to cold, but due to food poisoning. This provides the final stamp on the fact that my stomach is more sensitive than my nose.

I was running high fever yesterday. Vomited a number of times, and was feeling very weak. I took crocin, took a lot of rest and ate very little food yesterday night. Mostly fruits and a couple of idlies.

Today morning I’m fine. Feeling better, the fever is gone, but I’m feeling very tired.

Its not a problem since I’m leaving for Bangalore tonight. All my ailments will vanish as soon as I enter home. Will be back only on 3rd morning.

Feeling very homesick.

Happy Diwali

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rainy Days in Chennai

It’s the fourth continuous day of rain in the city of Chennai. The good thing is that the temperatures have gone down considerably, I am not finding any difference between the present climate of Chennai and Bangalore. The bad thing is that it rains heavily when I am planning to leave for the office in the morning and while I am planning to leave for home in the evening.

Added to that I do not have an umbrella and I’ve not brought my raincoat from Bangalore. So I am totally at the mercy of rain god. In fact after I start my bike, I lookup to the sky and say a silent prayer that I should reach home dry and safe.

On Monday, I was sprayed by one of the fellow bike driver while I was on my way to office. So I devised a strategy to be followed when I drive on roads while its raining. I’ve been following this strategy and its been very successful for the past 2 days. No dirt or stains on my white uniform!!!

I never stay behind a two wheeler, what I do is, I follow a large vehicle which is moving along with the divider in the road. I maintain a safe distance and do not allow other vehicles to get in between me and large vehicle ahead of me. On Tuesday, it was a truck, while today it was an Ambassador car.

The roads are not flooded, but there are muddy puddles in the middle, which are a serious threat to my white uniform. Somehow I have been successful in avoiding all of them in the past 2 days.

It was raining yesterday night too, and I was stuck in my house, unable to move out and have dinner (We do not cook at home). I had to order pizza from Dominos. 90 bucks for a simple Non-Veg pizza!!!

According to the Met department, the rains will continue for another 2 days. So I need to follow the same strategy for the next two days too. Wish me luck!!!

Its been raining very heavily in Bangalore too. Most of my friends are spending 3-4 hours stuck in the traffic, in the heavy rains, between their office and home. In fact one of my friend, decided to stay back at office rather than getting out in the mess. May areas are submerged in knee deep water – Hosur road, HSR Layout, etc. Madiwala lake is overflowing.

I’ll be leaving for Bangalore this weekend. Due to the rains, all the major roads between the two cities are in a bad shape. I hear that the road is shutdown for traffic today. Another bad news is that on Sunday, Bangalore Kanyakumari express derailed in the Bangalore-Jolapettai section, due to which the rail traffic has come to a complete halt in that section.

I hope that things start stabilize by Saturday, so that I can go to Bangalore for a 4 day Diwali break.

I’m busy reading The Negotiator by Fredrick Forsyth. An amazing book, I really had to force myself to put it down and go to sleep. It was 1am when I finally decided that I should sleep. The narration is brilliant, always keeping me guessing. Have read half, and the way Forsyth is taking the story, I’m sure that I’ll complete the book in 2-3 days.

This one will definitely go straight to the top of my favourite books list, along with The Bourne Identity, Godfather and Total Control.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

1000 Women for Nobel Peace Prize 2005

This years Nobel Peace Prize was announced on the 7th of Oct. The award was shared by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its director general Mohamed ElBaradei. They were awarded the peace prize for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and also to ensure that the nuclear energy being used for peaceful purposes are used in the safest possible way.

The Noble Prize was instituted in the year 1901, and the first prize was awarded to Jean Henri Dunant, the founder of Red Cross and to Frederic Passy, a French economist. Over the years, the Nobel prize has been awarded to individuals as well as organizations, keeping in mind the will of the Alfred Nobel. Alfred Nobel, who instituted the Nobel prizes, has mentioned in his will that the Peace Prize should be awarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".

The first woman to win the Peace Prize was Bertha Sophie Felicitas Baronin von Suttner, who was the honorary president of Permanent International Society Bureau, who won it in the year 1905. Over the years, only 12 women had won the Peace Prize, the last one being Shirin Ebadi in the year 2003 for her efforts for democracy and human rights in Iran.

Towards the end of the year 2003, a project was initiated, called 1000 Women for Nobel Peace Prize 2005. Their aim was to put forward to the world the work done by various women across the world to counter injustice, discrimination, oppression, and violence. Their idea was to collectively nominate 1000 women from various parts of the world, who have fought against injustice, discrimination, oppression, and violence, and thereby obtain recognition for the efforts of women towards world peace.

I appreciate the work of the project in bringing to the world the work done by 1000 women from across the world, who work under challenging conditions in uplifting the society and addressing various concerns of the people. It was a bit disappointing that they could not get the Peace Prize.

In the past, women who have won the Peace Prize like Mother Teresa in 1979 or Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991, they had done something for the entire country. Their movement was to uplift the entire country from poverty or from human rights violations. Their action was not limited to a particular region or society. In the 1000 women nominated by the project, there might be a few who have worked for a particular region or a society.

I am not saying that their work is in any way inferior to the work done by others, but when competing for an international award, the judge committee would have expected more. I believe that’s the reason they were unable to get the Peace Prize.

I appreciate the fact that there are many women who selflessly work towards the upliftment of the society. Many have faced social and family constraints in working, but all of them have persevered and have made a mark in their work towards society.

I salute each and every one of them.

Article in The Hindu, titled “Treating women's health” dated 23rd Oct.
Wikipedia’s article on Nobel Peace Prize
The official site for Nobel Peace Prize 2005

Monday, October 24, 2005

75 Questions

I'd been tagged for this huge and lengthy one by Parth Anand. It did not take much time, since most of our answers matched. So it was my favourite Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V. It was not coz I wanted to make a short work of it, but it turned out like that.

So here it goes.

1. Gum: Centerfresh
2. Restaurant: Vasanth Bhavan
3. Drink: Coffee / Tea
4. Season: Winter
5. Type of weather: Cold
6. Emotion: Insecure
7. Thing to do on a half day: Watch TV or Read a novel or Work on my PC or Sleep
8. Late-night activity: Watching movies
9. Sport: Cricket, Football and Volleyball
10. State: Tamilnadu, India
11. Store: Nearest grocery store.

When was the last time you.....
12. Cried: 9th Nov 2003 – The worst and the most unforgettable day of my life!!!
13. Played a sport: Sometime in August. Played a volleyball match in the office
14. Laughed: 2 hours ago in a meeting
15. Hugged someone: When I met a buddy last week
16. Kissed someone: Its a Secret!!! ;)
17. Felt depressed: When I filled the details of 16, a few seconds ago!!!
18. Felt overworked: During my summer project with Saatchi & Saatchi in 2004
19. Faked sick: Never
20. Lied: Don’t remember. I lie very often, so there’s no point keeping track of it.

What was the last....
21. Word you said: “Its tough”. When I was solving a puzzle sent by a colleague, half an hour ago.
22. Thing you ate: Bread with jam and butter.
23. Song you listened to: “Suttrum Vizhi” from the Tamil movie Ghajini.
24. Thing you drank: Water
25. Place you went to: Shop outside my office to have breakfast
26. Movie you saw: A Lot Like Love (A dumb and stupid movie)
27. Movie you rented: “Balettan”. A mallu movie when I was at home 6 months ago.

Who was the last person you...
28. Had a sleepover with: My friends from office. We had a bachelor’s party 2 months ago.
29. Called: My aunt.
30. Went to a movie with: My friends from office
31. Saw: My colleague in office, who is sitting next to me!!!
32. Were angry with: The person who sprayed my shirt with dirt on my way to office today morning. It’s raining in Chennai.

Have you ever...
33. Danced in the rain: I’ve walked, driven my bike, but never danced.
34. Kissed someone: It's again a secret!!!
35. Done drugs: No
36. Drank alcohol: Yes
37. Partied 'til the sun came up: Yes
38. Had a movie marathon: Yes
39. Gone too far on a dare: No
40. Spun until you were immensely dizzy: Yes, while I was a kid.
41. Taken a survey quite like this before: There was one Seven things tag, which I had done earlier.

My life...
42. Name: Arun R
43. Gender: Male
44. Birthday: 26th Feb 1980
45. Relationship status: Single and Looking
46. Nationality: Indian
47. Occupation: Management Trainee

48. Love is: being there when u r needed the most
49. Love or lust: prefer love
50. Best love song: “Pehala Nashaa” from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar
51. Is it possible to be in love w/ more than one person at the same time: No, I can’t.
52. When love hurts, I...: Move on. There are better things in life.
53. Is there such thing as love @ first sight?: No, at first sight, its infatuation.

Opposite sex (or same sex)...
54. Turn ons: Eyes, long hair, a good figure.
55. Turn offs: Makeup, Pungent perfume, skimpy or revealing dresses
56. Do your parent's opinion on your gf/bf matter to you?: Yes
57. What kinda hairstyle are you into?: Summer crop.girl
58. What is the sweetest thing a girl/guy can do for you?: Do something before I ask them to.
59. Are you the type of person to HOLLA and ask for numbers?: No

Picky picky...
60. Dog or cat: Cat, I love the way they cuddle.
61. Short or long hair: long.
62. Sunshine or rain: rain.
63. Hugs or kisses: Men - Hugs, Woman I love - both
64. Summer or winter: Winter
65. Written letters or e-mails: e-mails
66. Car or motorcycle: bikes
67. House party or club: Club Party.
68. Sing or dance: dancing, especially after I’ve had a peg or two.
69. Freak or slow dance: Freak!!!

70. How are you today: I hate Mondays!!!
71. What pants are you wearing right now?: Blue pants, part of my uniform.
72. What shirt are you wearing right now?: White, again part of my uniform.
73. What does your hair look like at the moment: Neatly oiled and combed.
74. How is the weather right now?: Its raining, there’s a cool breeze outside, The Perfect weather for me.
75. What did you have for Lunch/Dinner: Will leave for lunch in another 20 minutes. I’m famished. Lunch will be South Indian vegetarian meals!!!

So now anyone who has read this, and wants to take it are welcome. I do not want to force anyone to do it!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Baby boy named Google

How big a fan are you of Google? I mean, what lengths are you ready to go to show that you are a die hard fan of the billion dollar company, which is being viewed as the next big thing in computer world after Microsoft.

May be you would set the homepage of your browser to Google and use only Google Services and Tools, shunning all the competitors of Google. May be you would start wearing T-Shirts with Google written across it?

But are you such a big fan that you would name your son/daughter as “Google”?? Stunned? Well, that is exactly what Mr. Walid Elias Kai, a Lebanese, and his Swedish wife Carol Kai have done.

Walid, is an avid fan of Google. He’s a Ph.D. candidate in search engine marketing, and is currently working on a new Google Service from his home. When he was blessed with a son on Sept 12th of this year, he decided to name it Oliver Google Kai.

The decision drew rounds of laughter from his near and dear ones. Walid’s brother commented, "Yeah, and you should name the next one 'yahoo fuji nikon'"!!! But Walid persisted, and the name was registered in the Swedish registery.

When people ask Walid whether Google would have a tough time in his school due to his strange name, Walid was quoted as saying,“ Absolutely not, if he is using Google Search engine and he is building new idea with his friends around The Psychometric and Informational Structural Mind. Thanks.”

Here’s a photo of the young Google. He’s cute!!!

He has his personal website and blog too.

I wish him a long, happy and healthy life. I am sure that his parents are eagerly waiting to hear Google Talk!!! (Pun intended)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Babies for Sale on Auction Site

Imagine browsing through E-Bay for some purchase and you suddenly come across a page, where a person is selling babies!!! Would you believe it?

Its true, it really happened in China!!!

A webpage registered under a user known as “Forever Innovative” claimed that it could sell babies less than 100 days old from the province of Henan. The auction started at 1 Yuan, but the site claimed that you can immediately buy a boy if you were willing to pay 28,000 Yuan (US$ 3,457) or a girl if you were willing to pay 13,000 Yuan (US$ 1,605). An e-mail address was also provided.

In China, where it’s a strict rule that a family cannot have more than one child (This rule is strictly followed in the cities, but not so in the interiors), this coupled with the fact that many couples cannot have children has led to lot of illegal trafficking. China deals strictly with illegal human trafficking, perpetrators are executed.

In this case, the user had registered with this particular name for the first time and had not yet done any transaction, making the tracking of the person difficult. Usually the Chinese authorities have strict measures to curb illegal trafficking, but the word “baby” had not been censored, hence this site was not screened initially.

The site was browsed by 50 odd people, before it was brought to the notice of the authorities. E-bay immediately took the site off the Internet.

Source: The Shanghai Daily & Yahoo! News

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Banned MTV Ad

Even thought this ad was banned in the US after MTV aired it once, it is spreading through the Internet. I agree that there are a lot of national sentiments linked to this ad, but it can be looked in a different way. Look at it in the way the MTV wants it to be seen. What the ad asks for is true; when the world united against terrorism and gave the US a free hand in getting even with the people who committed the atrocious act of terrorism on 11th of Sept, spending billions of dollars in the process, it should also unite against poverty, hunger and AIDS which plague our planet.

Text next to the tower: 2863 people died
Text next to the guy: 40 million HIV affected people in the world
Message: The world united against terrorism. It should do the same against AIDS

Text next to the tower: 2863 people died
Text next to the kid: 824 million people starving in the world
Message: The world united against terrorism. It should do the same against Hunger

Text next to the tower: 2863 people died
Text next to the old man: 630 million homeless people in the world
Message: The world united against terrorism. It should do the same against Poverty

I could not verify the claim that this ad was banned in the US or that it was played only once. Do correct me if I'm wrong.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005

Every year the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine conducts the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards. This award is considered one of the prestigious of the wildlife photography awards, and the prizes for this year has been announced.

Prize: Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Photographer: Manuel Presti
Description: The photo shows a flock of starlings evading an attacking Peregrine Falcon

Prize: Best entry for Nature in Black & White category
Photographer: Martyn Colbeck
Descrption: Martyn took this photo on his birthday. The picture captures the plains of Africa, the cloud deck as well as Mt. Kilimanjaro, which is 40 kms away.

Prize: Best entry for Animals in their Environment category
Photographer: Martin Eisenhawer
Description: Flock of swans in a thermal lake in Japan, surrounding temperature is near to -20 degrees centigrade.

Prize: Best entry for Animal Portraits category
Photographer: Alexander Mustard
Description: A school of Bohar Snapper, one of the largest reef predators in the Red Sea.

Prize: Best entry for Animal Behavior category
Photographer: Ruben Smit
Description: Mating toads during spring. So frenzied was the activity that some of the male toads mistook his fingers, which he had dipped in the lake to take the pictures, for females and squeezed them with passion.

Source: BBC

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Google Fight

Have you ever wanted to find the difference between the number of search results for two search queries? If so, Google Fight provides the answers.

This site lets you search for two different things simultaneously and it gives the results of the total number of results. It uses the Google Search Engine. This site is basically for fun, people who want proper search results should never visit this site.

There are various options in the main page, viz, The Classics, Funny Fights, Fight of the Month and Last 20 Fights.

In the funny fights, do not miss the Fat & Ugly Vs Thin & Sexy fight. Other notable ones are George W Bush Vs Osama Bin Laden, God Vs Satan, amongst many others.

I tried a few and the results can be accessed by clicking on them.

Aishwarya Rai Vs My Girlfriend [He He..... No Comments!!!]
Sourav Ganguly Vs Rahul Dravid [The BCCI dosen't think so]
Getting Married Vs Remaining Bachelor [Should never show it to my mom]
Work Vs Sleep [Not many would agree with this]
IIPM Vs Gaurav Sabnis [Well, something for IIPM to cheer about]
Karnataka Vs Tamilnadu [I bet the TN CM is going to complain to the PM]

The fights are only limited by your imagination, so let the creative juices flow.

There is another site, Yahoo War, which uses the Yahoo search engine to conduct the searches. I did not like the layout and graphics of this site. Google Fights has a better graphics and the number of results are also more than the one shown in Yahoo War.

The search results change over a period of time, hence the comments written against the search might no longer be valid if conducted at a later period of time.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Interpreter - Review

I’d been planning to watch this movie for quiet sometime and finally I got a chance yesterday. The movie was worth all the pains that I took to watch it.

It’s the first time that a director was permitted to shoot his movie inside the general assembly or other parts of the UN building. Even Alfred Hitchcock was not allowed to shoot inside the UN for his 1959 movie “North by Northwest”. Sydney Pollack makes the best use of his opportunity and had made a thriller that everyone is bound to enjoy.

The movie also ran into some controversy in Zimbabwe, since one of the main characters of the movie, Edmond Zuwanie who is the ruler of a fictitious country Matobo, has many parallels with the present Zimbabwean ruler Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwean government accused the US of allowing the CIA to help making of the movie, so that it could be portrayed as anti-Zimbabwe.

The movie starts with the French representatives of the UN strongly protesting against Zuwanie, pressing for the international community to allow Zuwanie to be tried by an International Court for ethnic crimes. To counter the claims made by the French, Zuwanie decides to come to the UN and speak in front of the representatives from different countries.

Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) works as an interpreter in the UN. She is one of the few people who can understand the native language of Matobo – Ku. One day, when she comes to her office late night to collect some of her things, she overhears an assassination plot being hatched to kill Zuwanie when he is making his speech in the UN.

She has only heard their voices, but they know who she is and she becomes their immediate target.

Silvia is followed by a car the very next day, and she reports the matter to the authorities. A US Secret Service agent, Tobin Keller (Sean Penn), is given the responsibility to get to the bottom of this case. Keller is also responsible for the security of Zuwanie during his stay in the US.

After making an initial investigation on Silvia, Keller thinks that she is lying. Keller finds that Sylvia was brought up in Matobo, where her parents and younger sister were killed in a landmine blast. The landmine was planted by Zuwanie. After her parent’s murder, she had worked along with her elder brother to overthrow the Zuwanie rule.

Zuwanie has two major opponents Ajene Xola and Kuman-Kuman. Unknown to Silvia, Zuwanie had already eliminated Xola and her brother, who were attempting to meet Kuman-Kuman to forge an alliance against Zuwanie. The killing is witnessed by a friend of Xola and Silvia’s brother’s friend, a photographer named Philippe.

Philippe manages to reach US and tell Silvia that Xola is dead, but conceals the fate of her brother. He tells her that her brother is lost.

She seeks the help of Kuman-Kuman by meeting him unexpectedly in a bus. Kuman-Kuman denies any knowledge about the whereabouts of her brother, but promises to find him. As soon as she gets out of the bus, the bus blows up, a terrorist attack masterminded by Zuwanie’s man to eliminate Kuman-Kuman, the last of Zuwanie’s enemies.

This incident, coupled with another one, where someone breaks into Silvia’s apartment and intimidates her prompt Keller to believe Silvia.

Meanwhile Philippe commits suicide and writes a note to Silvia telling her that her brother had been shot to death by Zuwanie’s men, along with Xola.

The night before Zuwanie is to make his speech, an attempt is made on Silvia’s life. She escapes, while the killer is killed by Keller who was guarding her house. She leaves Keller and tells him that she is leaving for Africa, to the place where she was brought up.

Zuwanie arrives at the UN, and Keller still thinks that there would be an attempt on his life.

In a thrilling climax, we get to know that Zuwanie had actually masterminded his own assassination attempt to gain credibility amongst the world, so that he can rule his country peacefully. Keller also stops Silvia, who turns up at the event, from killing Zuwanie, to take revenge for her family.

Finally, Zuwanie is arrested and made to appear in the International Court for masterminding various ethnic crimes in his country, while Silvia returns goes back to Matobo, where her loved ones have died.

What I liked about the movie was the characters played by Kidman and Penn. The initial suspicion that they have about each other, which turns into affection as the movie progresses is captured very well. The director does not overdo the romance, as she leaves Keller towards the end of the movie, with a promise to keep in touch, thus leaving it to the viewers imagination whether they would unite or not.

The plot of the movie is good enough, but at a few places it drags.

The comedy is good, especially since the comedy was through the dialogues rather than in situations.

A good movie, and before I end this review – Nicole Kidman was too cute in the movie!!!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Banks or Gangsters???

Every afternoon as I move out of my office after the lunch for a walk outside, I meet a score of salespersons. They sell credit cards, insurance and loans.

Credit card sales persons tell me that their card comes “Life time free”, insurance guys tell me the tax benefits of taking their insurance policy, while the loan guys tell me the ease with which I can borrow money, they even go to the extend of telling me that I need not provide my pay slip!!!

Since I am the son of a banker, I have frequently heard my father call up loan defaulters and shouting at them, threatening to seal their factory/shop and take possession of it. He has narrated several instances wherein people provide dubious documents to take loan and how a person should be alert enough to see through such people. He was training me on “people skills”.

He used to tell me that being a public sector bank, he had a lot of difficulty collecting money from loan defaulters. He had to call them up, then relax on the rules a bit if the person is not a known defaulter. If the person did not respond after numerous calls, then the case was taken to the Debt Recovery Tribunal, which automatically made it a police case. The person’s assets were sealed and they were sold in auction to recover whatever money that was to be paid by the person. This way of recovering loan amount was time consuming, thanks to the effective Indian Penal system.

With private banks entering the banking domain, a new method of recovering money is coming to the fore. The use of muscle power or goondas to intimidate the defaulters. This method is very effective and is followed by many of the private banks. Since the banks are assured of the return of the money, they are a bit lax in evaluating the credit worthiness of the person taking the loan.

Let us suppose that a person had taken a vehicle loan from the private bank and had missed a repayment. The bank sends him a letter telling him that he had missed a repayment and needs to pay up within 7-10 days. If he does not pay up within that time a gang of 10-15 well built, mean looking men appear in your house, asking for money. They may accost you in public places too.

The defaulter is forced to pay the bank, since his name has been disgraced in public.

It is an effective method to combat the increasing the NPA values as well as to reduce to number of defaulters, but the integrity of the method needs to be questioned.

India is a democracy, and use of goondas or any other unauthorized source of power to get what one wants is illegal. What is the difference between the methodology adopted by these private banks and armed dacoity or robbery? What rights does the defaulter have if the bank intimidates or forces him to pay money?

The private banks scoot behind people, begging them to take loans, and when someone takes a loan and defaults, they use force. The person might default due to a variety of reasons, may be he is a fraud, but there are many people who might have defaulted due to genuine reasons, like a sick relative or a loss in business. Are the banks justified in using force illegally to get even with the defaulter?

Dheeraj Jain of Delhi shows us the way. He had taken a vehicle loan from ICICI Bank, and had not paid the monthly due of Rs.1889/- in February. The bank sent him a notice to pay up within 7 days, which he could not meet.

So what does the bank do? They send 4 goondas, who stop Dheeraj in the middle of the road, abuse him, point a gun at him and force him off this vehicle and take it away. Later they sell the vehicle to someone else. All this just because Dheeraj could not pay Rs. 1889/-.

Dheeraj approached the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, and got justice. The court asked ICICI to repay the entire cost of the vehicle in addition to Rs.20000/- as compensation and also Rs.1000/- as cost of litigation.

Source: Article in Economic Times titled "ICICI Bank Pulled up for Goondaism"

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Locked Out of My Own House!!!

Yesterday was the day of miseries. The past few days had been so good, maybe it was god’s way of reminding that happiness does not last for ever.

I had just returned from the trip to my alma mater as well my home. The trip to Manipal was great fun. Met a lot of my batchmates and teachers, visited all the important places in Manipal, had food in all the good locations, and talked a lot. After that I spent 2 days at home eating, sleeping, watching TV, working on my computer and persuading mom to postpone her search for her future daughter-in-law.

After that amazing trip, I landed back in Chennai yesterday morning. I had no clue about the disaster that was about to strike me in the evening.

At around 3pm it started raining cats and dogs. It looked as if the rain gods were extremely pleased with Chennaites, there was so much water falling everywhere and soon the roads in front of my office were flooded.

The rain finally let up at 7pm, and I decided to go home. I started my bike and proceeded in the usual route. Within minutes I realized that I had made a mistake. The water level in the road was constantly rising, and by the time I realized it and stopped the bike, I was in knee deep water.

Now there was the scare of water entering the silencer, but since the silencer of a Pulsar is angled upwards, I was a bit assured. Nevertheless I never let my hand off the accelerator, always pumping air out of the silencer, so that water did not stand a chance to enter it. I could not turn back and go in a better way, as turning my bike in a semi-tarred road knee deep in water did not look promising to me.

So I continued, and came out of the artificial lake in 10 minutes. I thanked god for keeping me out of troubles and headed home. It was drizzling and when I reached home and tried to open the door, I knew I had thanked god a bit early.

The handle of the Godrej lock in the front door was jammed. So there I was standing in front of my house, clothes drenched from the rain, shoes full of water since I drove through the knee deep water, unable to open the door of my house and get into the safety and warmth of my room.

The time was 8pm and a search for carpenters or locksmiths to open the door was not successful. In the meantime, I tried to force the door open, by applying force on the handle, but gave up when the handle started showing signs of giving away under pressure.

Time was ticking fast and I could not see any way of getting into my house. At 9pm, with nowhere to go or no one to approach, I went to the nearest electrical shop. Told him my woes and asked him to help. Initially he told me to contact someone else and told me that electricians do not break open doors, but I persisted. I told him that I had tried everything and I could not get into my house, I added that you are the last option I have and begged him to help me out.

May be the begging did the trick, and he sent his electrician to help me out.

The electrician, after working for 25 minutes on the lock, after having defaced it, succeeded in opening the door. The relief of getting into the house, coupled with the fact that I need not have spent the night in someone else’s house was heartwarming.

I changed the wet clothes and took a well deserved bath.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Credit Worthiness - A true story to measure its importance

I was busy shuffling through the files of one of our clients, when a young man, who might have been in his late teens entered my cabin. From his dress I could guess that he was from a family which was not well off.

I asked him to take his seat and enquired him as to why he had come to the bank. He told me that he was pursuing his engineering in Electronics from ABC Engineering College. He wanted an education loan to finance his engineering.

I enquired about his rank in CET, and he replied that he had secured a free seat in the college after being ranked in the early 7000 in CET. He also told me that his yearly fees and expenses comes to Rs.17,500/- per year. I also enquired about his father, since it is a common practice amongst banks to check the credit worthiness of the father of the student, in case the student is incapable of repaying the loan after completing his studies. He told me that his father was a farmer, but there was something about he way he replied which did not convince me, however I gave him the required forms and asked him to proceed to the concerned department of the bank.

I got back to work and was immersed in it. After half an hour, when I took a look out of my cabin, I saw the same teenage boy walking out of the bank. I was curious to know what has happened, whether he had got the loan or not, so I asked our peon to get the boy.

His face wore a sad look as he entered my cabin, and he said that he had not got the loan. I asked for the reason for rejection. He said that his father lacked credit worthiness. When I asked him what farmer his father was, he told me that he had told me a lie, and that his father was a daily wage laborer.

I asked him why he had lied to me earlier and why he should be ashamed of his father’s job? I told him that it was due to the money that his father has earned over the years which had brought him so far.

I thought that a guy, who has done well in his 10th, 12th as well as CET under such circumstances would definitely study if he is given the opportunity. By not giving him the loan, I would be depriving him of that opportunity. Moreover no rule says that you should not give a loan to student whose father is not credit worthy. What is the use of education loan, if it cannot provide education to a needy fellow like the one sitting in front of me?

So I called up the concerned person and asked him to sanction the loan for the boy. At the end of it, I was left wondering as to what would have happened if he had not come to me in the beginning. He would have gone to the concerned department, and left without a word, after his application would have been cancelled.

A few days later, another person, in his early 50’s came to see me. It was also for an education loan, for his daughter. He was from a well to do family, and as it’s the practice, I asked him the rank of his daughter in CET.

He said that her rank was in the 45,000’s. As soon as I heard the number, I told him that our bank did not offer loans for students who secure a rank less than 10,000.

He was not amused and told me that there are rules in banks, which states that the bank should provide loans to the person who needs it. He also added that if he contacted the head office, then I would be forced to give the loan. I handed over the address of our head office, and asked him to meet me with the letter from the head office.

Both the incidents are as narrated to me by a relative, who works in a public sector bank and is the Chief Manager.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Happy Dushehra

I used to look forward to the Dushehra holidays when I was in school. We used to get 10 days off and the best part is towards the end. When we kept our books for Pooja and we did not have to study for a whole day. It meant non stop TV, and the best was that my parents never asked me to study!!!!

So as these holidays are approaching, I’m getting nostalgic. Now there are no more Pooja’s and nobody asks me to study also, but missing those good old days.

I’m leaving for Bangalore today, will be visiting my college for the annual alumni meet. Monday and Tuesday are holidays for us, so will be returning only on Wednesday. This will give me another very much needed break and also some respite from the torrid of comments I received on one of my posts.

The more comments I receive, the more I am beginning to believe on what I wrote. If you are still wondering as to what I am talking about, read this post as well as the comments below it.

Wishing you all a happy Dushehra.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bajaj Avenger TV ad - Review

This ad for the latest Bajaj Avenger 180cc DTSi, is capturing a lot of attention. With a caption “Feels Like God”, there is a lot of talk going on about it. It’s a bit late to write a review, since the ad came out a month ago, but considering the fact that even agencyfaqs! has not written anything about it, I think I am well in time with the review.

The ad is targeted at the executive segment and Bajaj has always got it right with this segment. First they did it with Bajaj Pulsar, their caption “Definitely Male” along with the excellent vehicle made sure that Pulsar would be the market leader in this segment. Other automobile manufacturers are trying in vain to dethrone Pulsar.

Avenger also follows the Pulsar way, trying to get to the attitude of their target segment. There are no celebrities, no sexy female with her seducing looks, no specifications of the bike, no advantages regarding fuel efficiency, nothing. Just the bike, the guy and the way he feels while driving it. Simple enough.

The ad starts with a macho guy, with a stub, wearing a black T-Shirt and a black jeans, driving his Bajaj Avenger through the roads of Ladakh.

As he is driving, he remembers his dad slapping him, which is shown in black and white. As the ad comes back to the present, the guy takes preventive action and the voice over says, “I forgive my dad”.

Next he sees a woman getting married, which is showed in B&W, and as he comes back to the present, he looks at his ring finger of his left hand and the voice over says, “I forgive women”.

Now his boss throws a pile of paper on him and fires him. He ducks while driving while imagining that. The voice over says, “I forgive my boss”.

He encounters a hole in the middle of the road, and as his bike jumps out of the hole, he looks back at it, and the voice over says, “I forgive the government”.

He traverses through roads that beautifully hug the mountain and he moves along.

The next scene that he remembers about is that of his barber about to give him a shave. Coming back to the present, he licks at the scar below his nose and the voice over says, “I forgive my barber”.

He then sees a guy on the road, trying to start his bike. He looks at the guy and the voice over says, “I forgive my past”.

As he drives along, he sees a local who was sitting and weeding the path. The local gets up, arcs his back to relieve the pain, and the voice over says, “I feel……. I feel like….”.
Then he looks up to the sky, while the voice over says, “I feel like god”.

End of the ad.

It is one of the best ads of the year, and it is sure to capture more attention. I was struck by the ad when I watched it for the first time, the voice over “I forgive my dad” and “I forgive the government”, were too good.

You can download the ad here. (Click on the "Download Goddies" at the top left of the screen)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Ghajini - Review

Watched Ghajini last Saturday in Bangalore. The advantage of watching a newly released Tamil movie in Bangalore is that you need to reach the theater just 5 minutes early to get the tickets. I hear that in Chennai and most of the other places in Tamilnadu, the theaters are packed for the next two weeks.

Spoiler Warning: Entire movie, with plots, sub-plots, twists and climax discussed below.

The movie starts off with Chitra (Nayanthara), a medical student who wants to do a project on patients with brain damage. Her perusal through the files on brain patients leads her to one 29 year old Sanjay Ramaswamy. Sanjay suffers from anterograde amnesia, a condition wherein a person is not able to convert short term memory into long term, due to some head injury. Sanjay memory lasts 15 minutes.

Chitra expresses her desire of doing her project based on Sanjay’s condition to her professor. The professor tells her that it might not be a good idea, since Sanjay’s case is still an unproven police case, and if she gets entangled with him, then it might prove to be disastrous to her career. Chitra gives up her idea, and the storyline switches to Sanjay.

Sanjay (Surya) is busy bashing up an unidentified person. After killing him, Sanjay takes out a set of photographs, and tries to identify him. There is a photograph of the person whom he has killed and Sanjay crosses out the photograph. Sanjay leaves the scene.

The police detect the crime and comes out with full force to unearth the murderer. The police officer, played by Riyaz Khan, gets a bus ticket from the scene. On its backside, he notices that someone has written 3/100. He woes that he will get to the person who committed the murder in a few days time.

In the meantime, we get to know that the person who is killed is a gangster, whose boss (Pradeep Rawat) is worried about the fact that he is the second person killed from in a week.

The story again goes back to Sanjay, who uses another set of photographs to get back to his house. He identifies his flats as well as the watchman using Polaroid photographs. He enters his flat, and his house is full of maps and photographs. His daily life is a struggle and we also get to know that his ultimate aim is to kill the leader of the gangsters he has killed till now. To get to his ultimate aim, he uses photographs and body tattoos to keep track of various events in his life, since he knows that he would forget things in 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, the cop, identifies the conductor of the bus who issued the tickets. The conductor says that he can identify the person Riyaz manages to get to Sanjay’s flat, and after a surprise attack, manages to overpower him and tie him to a chair.

Our intelligent cop, instead of calling for backup, starts searching the house. He stumbles on a diary of the year 2002. He opens it to find a photograph of Sanjay, as a handsome guy, unlike the present state. He starts reading the diary, and that’s how we come to know of Sanjay’s past. For some strange reason, the cop still has not called for backup and instead reads the diary.

The diary tells the story of Sanjay Ramaswamy, owner of Air Voice Telecom. He has huge plans for India, and is busy building a telecom empire. The diary also speaks of Kalpana (Asin), a small time ad-model, who is struggling to make it big.

A small confusion by the employees of Sanjay forces Kalpana to feign in front of producers that she is the girlfriend of Sanjay. Kalpana is able to get better roles and is achieving what she had aspired for, until the news is broken by a magazine. Sanjay is furious to learn about it and goes to meet his so called girlfriend. On the way, he sees Kalpana helping a few handicapped children and falls for her, without knowing the fact that she is the girl who has spread rumors about him.

When he reaches the studio where Kalpana is doing her shootout, he recognizes the girl. Kalpana had not seen Sanjay before and she mistakes him for a struggling actor. Sanjay plays along and they become good friends. Many hilarious situations follows and we see that Sanjay is falling in love with Kalpana. On New Years eve, Sanjay confesses his love to Sanjana, who asks for sometime to tell her decision.

The diary ends here, and the cop bewildered for not getting the entire story starts searching frantically for the diary of the year 2003. Even now, he is least interested in calling for backup. He finds the diary for 2003, and as he is about to start reading, as Sanjay breaks free and ties up the cop.

With no one after him, Sanjay makes another attempt at killing the gang leader, only to kill another of his gang member, who divulges to the gang leader that someone is trying to kill him. The gang leader goes about killing anyone who had or would be having a grudge against him, but still he has an intuition that his attacker is still on the loose.

Meanwhile, Chitra stumbles upon Sanjay and befriends him. On one such occasion, she goes to his flat, and finds it unlocked and unoccupied. This is also surprising, but let’s not ask questions.

She goes about searching the house, and learn of the murderous intent of Sanjay, she also finds the cop gagged in one of the cupboards. Sanjay enters the scene, and starts chasing the cop, who meeting with an accident while he is on the run and is killed. Now, Sanjay starts following Chitra, who makes use of Sanjay’s amnesia to escape from him.

Chitra is unaware of the facts, and goes and meets with the gang leader to tell him the details of the person who had made many attempts to kill him. With the identity of his to be nemesis in hand, the gang leader plots to kill Sanjay. Buy Sanjay has other ideas, and he lands in the gang leaders house, only to realize that the gang leader has an identical twin. Before he can make a note of it, Chitra calls the gang leader to tell him to remove her photograph that Sanjay had to identify her as his friend and hand it over to her. Sanjay picks up the call and notes her address.

Sanjay lands at Chitra’s hostel and attempts to accost her. Instead he is trapped, and taken into police custody.

Now comes the dialogue of the movie. The police chief, looks at the tattoos in Sanjays body and says, “All these numbers are 10 digit, so they must be cell phone numbers. If we call these numbers, we can get his identity.” The entire movie hall was rolling with laughter, and I felt like kicking the person who wrote this dialogue.

One of the phone numbers is that of the gang leader, who is forced to pose as his friend. Just then Sanjay’s doctor and lawyers appear and take him home.

The gang leader attacks him at his home, but he is unable to kill him, due to the fear of police getting back to him as he has earlier made a statement to police that he was Sanjay’s friend. So he decides to wipe all evidences from Sanjay’s life which would link the gang leader to Sanjay. So he destroys all photographs, maps and defaces the tattoos.

Chitra suddenly remembers that she had taken the diary from Sanjay’s house, while she had entered it earlier. I think she was also suffered a bout of amnesia and forgot about the diary. So she starts reading it.

Now the viewers learn the remaining part of Sanjay’s story.

Kalpana also confesses that she is in love with him, and they decide to marry. Even now, Sanjay had not revealed his true identity to her, and as he was about to do that, he gets a call to attend an urgent meeting in London. Kalpana also gets a call to attend a shooting in Mumbai.

The diary ends here. Chitra is moved by Sanjay’s story and investigates. She sees a news article on one of the old newspaper she unearthed at her library, which leads her to a school kid as well as a female police office. They tell her the remaining story.

On her way to Mumbai, she rescues a set of girls who were being taken to Mumbai to be sold. Her rescue attempts and daredevilry is praised by the media, but incurs the wrath of the gang leader, who lost money due to Kalpana’s benevolent attitude.

Sanjay returns and is about to reveal his true identity, only to find that Kalpana being attacked by the gang. He tries in vain to save her, but fails. The gang leader kills Kalpana and lands the terrible blow, which makes Sanjay and amnesiac.

After reading the story, Chitra is filled with remorse, and what follows now is utter mayhem. I lost track of the movie after it, since it was plain masala stuff. To say it in simple words, with Chitra’s help Sanjay tracks the villain and hands him over to the cops.

A few words about various people behind the movie.

The director has made a good attempt at Ghajini. Though he takes his inspiration from a Hollywood flick Memento, he has added a lot of songs, action and drama to a simple story. But he has done a good job.

Surya is amazing. He is growing as an action hero. I became his fan after watching Kaaka Kaaka. His career is bound to leap manifolds after this movie.

Asin has done well in her role. Her romance with Sanjay is the best part of the movie.

Nayathara is the only sore point of the movie. After having watched many Malayalam movies where she played many good roles, it was unimaginable for me to see her dance in “X Macchi... Y Macchi...”. She looked so fat and those skimpy clothes made her look like one of the many item number dancers. Also in the final scenes, while she was running away from the villains, getting drenched in the rain wearing a white shirt, it looked more as if she was there in the movie to show flesh rather than to act. I hope this movie does not become a black spot in her career.

The songs were not so great. Two of the songs are real catchy, “Sutrum Vizhi…” and “Oru Maalai…”. Background score was a total failure. There were a few tunes taken from Matrix, and the music failed to capture the thrill and feel of the movie.

Overall a good watch, and definitely worth the money spent.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Weekend at Bangalore

Returned from Bangalore after a well deserved break. Well deserved, since I was going nuts in Chennai. Had I spent another week without any break, I would have gone mad.

Watched two movies – Ghajini and Transporter 2. Shall be writing the reviews later on.

The trip was a good one. I did miss the TV though, the cable TV operators in Bangalore had called for an indefinite strike owing to some tax struggle, but I made up for the loss of TV by going out and watching movies.

While moving around in Bangalore in the town bus, I got to see some hoardings of movies. The taglines/captions caught my attention. A few samples would tell you why it caught my attention-

  • The feel that never ends
  • No Logic…. Only Ramakrishna’s Magic
  • A real man

Another logo on the top a girl caught my attention while I was in Symphony to watch Transporter 2. She would have been 12 or 13 years old, and her top or whatever you call it said, “Stop Bitching, Let’s start a Revolution”.

Finally, before I left home, mom was complaining that I had not spent enough time at home. I need to take care of that the next time I visit there.