Archive for April, 2006

Sneaking out at the drop of a hat, is one of those prized habits which I thought I have lost in the dry dreary sands of monotonous daily professional life. There used to be a time, when a whim or a fantasy could have my gang trolling down around two kilometers at the inauspicious innocuous time @ 02:00 hours towards the highway in pursuit of cold coffee with ice-cream and dollops of gossip. Those days, we thought it was a passing phase and more as a sign of young restlessness, was quite right about the first one, though much later I realized that it was more a result of intoxication by life; getting a kick out of it!I had long been planning a trip down to some nice location, and have it as a college reunion of sorts. Finally time had come and we headed for
Goa, thanks to ridiculous planning and an almost absent co-ordination! People landed from far and wide; Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Pune and
Delhi. Some got a leave, some ‘managed to fall sick’ and some others arranged a GD/PI at one of the IIMs as an excuse to take the FRI off. Thus we had Fri, Sat and Sun to savor
Goa.
It was as if we were re-living out college years these three days again, starting with the inevitable mess-ups’ that was trademark of any of our endeavors back in college. One of the guys managed to miss his Flight, ended up shelling a small fortune to return to his hometown and in the process abstain from the meet; others managed to loose their sunshades/sunglasses and spectacles; and then there were a few discerning others like me who managed to get his Digicam soaked in salinated sea water, thus putting it out of circulation for a long while apart from creating enough room for expenditure so that all dinners at restaurants for the next three months will have to be stopped to compensate for the loss!

Goa from Satellite
(Goa as it Looks from Satellite)

Myself and a friend took a Volvo from Hyderabad to
Goa, Paulo Travels, a Volvo service which was till now one of the worst maintained, most expensive and most impolite that I had come across till now. But being the monopolistic service provider to
Goa, we were left with little or no choice. So while I spend the night wide awake grinding my teeth in the cold ( the Air conditioning was running at full power for no reason and the luxury of blankets were not something Paulo entertained!) and bearing the loud snores and the drooping head of my friend A, I kept wondering about the unpredictability of life, here I was meeting up with all my hostel buddies after such a long time, quite a few of us couldn’t make it in the convocation and rest assured that very few of us would ever be able to take time out of their jam packed schedule driven lives to make way from another meet once they get full fledged into the Hustle-Bustle of life.

Goa Tourist Map

We reached Panaji at about 10:30 A.M after a long journey of about 15 hours and drove straight to awaiting friends at ‘Palacio-de-Goa’ hotel, a rather nicely kept up hotel with a decent pricing for its services.Soon we took to hiring bikes to go around the city, and check out the beaches. At this point it is worthwhile to mention the special preferences that some people had towards beaches frequented by foreigners, who were uncannily naked and took to sunbathing ignoring the gaping eyes of the natives and the Indian visitors.

I actually had the uneasy experience of having a fellow Indian tourist run out of Water while bathing, to go fetch his camera to take a snap of a blonde foreigner tourist who had just taken off her top and was proceeding to the waters for a bath. That person actually proceeded to about 10 meters of that lady with his camera in his hands and a lustful eyes and a gaping tongue hanging out, and took her snap. My instant reaction was of that of humor, but the realization soon dawned on me that, we 'Sex Starved Indians' are probably one of the most indecent and cheap behaving ones when it comes to respecting people's private space

On Board the Ferry
(On board the ferry enroute to Calangute)

On Board the Ferry

We short listed three beaches as a part of out Itinerary, Calangute, Baga and Anjuna. All these beaches were at a drivable distance from Panaji and were quite popular amongst the tourists. Of these Calangute is by far the most popular of all beaches, Anjuna as per the highly reliable information of one of my friends from IIM-Lukhnow is the more 'Virgin' one, rather less commercialized and a favorite amongst the peace loving, topless and sun bathing foreigners. Hence it found an irrevocable place in the ‘must see’ list of this college pass-out bachelors group. I must admit, I too was quite excited at the thought of getting a real peek into the nicely chiseled bodies of blondes and brunettes.

Goa Panjim.jpg

(Beaches Along
Goa Costline : From Satellite)
What was left of the first day was spent grandiosely trolling in the Calangute beach and swallowing and digesting the beauty of the ocean and the sky and the horizon that holds them apart. Incidentally a lot of water and adventure sports activities are available in Calangute, these include but are not limited to water scooting, Para-sailing, paragliding, speed-boating and paddle-boating.

Sun Going Down Against the Setting Sky Soaked Gang

 

Calangute Beach

(Calangute Beach : from Satellite)

The most exciting of these was definitely Para Sailing.

Parasailing

The sheer pump of adrenalin as the jet of cold air thrusts on you and jolts you high up in the air, can be scarcely put to words. Initially it is scary and you hold on to the safety harness, wondering when it will slip through your torso and engage you in a free- fall, slowly the realization takes over, that its probably not going to happen, and even if it would, it would probably be better to enjoy the breathtaking beauty all around. Soon the muscles begin to relax and you are finally enjoying the spread around you. The splendidly Turquoise Blue water and the golden sands with little 'ant-sized' people hustling-bustling around the shores. Its truly a breathtaking experience. What makes it all the more exciting is the sudden jerks that you are bound to get as and when the speedboat decides to increase its velocity, with an effect pushing you higher up in the air. One such jolt, and your worst thoughts come dancing back, are you finally going to drown & die? Oh No! you are not even Married, and even worse you are still a Virgin!!

Water Sctooting

Anjuna Beach

(Anjuna Beach: From Satellite)

 

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Fly Away Deccan

Posted: April 17, 2006 in Arbit Thoughts

Two little dickie birds Sitting on a wall;
One named Peter, The other named Paul.
Fly away, Peter! Fly away, Paul!
Come back, Peter! Come back, Paul!
My ordeal with Air Deccan on my return journey to
Delhi is difficult to ‘Simplifly’ into words. I set forth for Delhi from
Hyderabad after being informed that the flight originally scheduled at morning 0700 hours would be actually taking off at 1830 hours. This was good news as now I could save my one day of leave and yet continue with my preplanned itinerary.
The fun started once I boarded the autorickshaw to the airport about an hour and a half before scheduled departure. Halfway down the way I was informed by a helpful Customer Care ‘Executive’ from Air deccan that my flight was further delayed by 2 hours. On Enquiring the reasons for being informed so late the gentleman replied that he had 300 passengers to inform, I understood the implied message that ‘for an LCA you should be thankful that we at least care to inform’. Decided not to be penny wise and pound foolish, decided to spend my time and save on the moolah. Went to the airport and started waiting in the ‘lounge’ if you can call it so. Looks apart, I think that most big bus terminals are better planned and managed than

Hyderabad
NTR
Airport. To add insult to the injury was the fact that market perception in
India find it perfectly justifiable to keep people flying budget airlines waiting without any information whatsoever. Honestly, the customer service doesn’t even pretend to exist in this segment.With Security Checks done, we went for boarding; a long queue which thicker at the midriff and thinner at the ends was visible, affording the bystanders the full entertainment of any such social arrangements. Whether is was a well built Marwari Couple with their innumerable kids or students fresh out of B-School (ISB, One of the country’s elite B-Schools had its term break at that time) vying for foot hold. Reminded me of the famous line for ‘Kerosene’ in the ration shops during the starting years of the gulf war.

The reception provided to us was even more startling. The whole aircraft was being attended by three attendees of whom one seemed to be the senior ones. This lady was well dressed, but something about her body language spoke of an air of unfriendliness. Worse, her behavior was closer in spectrum to that of a kindergarten class teacher than an attendee or a waitress. On one instance, she told an elderly gentleman waiting behing another person in the aisle to go to the restroom, “Only one person is allowed to wait in the aisle, go back to your seat”. The words ‘Sir’ and ‘Please’ were conspicuous by their absence and one could feel the disrespected melted to the elderly gentleman, who silently walked back to his seat.

As if as a silent mark of protest, most passengers who could overhear the didactic discourse gave a cold condescending stare to the hostess who comfortably chose to whiff it off.

 

Though the rest of the flight remained rather uneventful, if I discount the near hour long wait for my luggage, this whole journey taught me some very critical lessons in management of an organization.

  1. In any Business Environment, all your actions are observed by people all around, and these play a critical role in deciding their reactions to you. So STOP and Watch it!

  2. Impoliteness is a CARDINAL SIN! Business is an activity practiced by gentlemen & Ladies of good upbringing, nobody likes to do business woth a Grizzly Bear.

  3. Smiles go Miles!

  4. It is in interest of the organization to sport a well managed and systematic front. A shabby show there can wreck havvoc on its reputatiopn and tarnish it beyond recognition.

  5. Lastly, Proper Human resource training is opf utmost importance, they are afterall the face of what you claim to stand for!

HANNIBAL – Movie Review

Posted: April 4, 2006 in Movie Reviews

Cover

Hannibal begins with a lengthy prologue detailing Clarice's fall from grace within the FBI. Just when her career seems to be over, a mysterious benefactor comes to her rescue. He is Mason Verger (an uncredited Gary Oldman), whose "family's political contributions aren't enough to buy him a senator, but they are enough to rent one from time-to-time." Verger was one of Lecter's victims – he survived his encounter with the doctor, but at the price of a horribly disfigured face. Now, he wants Clarice back on the case because he plans to use her as bait.

Picture

Acouple of other observations as made from the movie are listed below in bullet points.  

  • Relation of Clarice Starling with Hannibal Lecter, the mental chess between evenly matched players drawn together by a perverse yet fatal attraction. This relationship, the most compelling aspect of the movie silence of the lambs, is absent in this sequel
  • Dr. Lecter is witty, urbane, suave, of exquisite taste, and yet unnervingly cold blooded as usual; making him a one of the most fascinating villains; a role played with riveting force by Anthony Hopkins.
  • Dr. Lecter is undoubtedly the most powerful character in the story with the role Clarice reduced to that of a mere side role. The absence of the intense and endlessly fascinating tussles between her and Dr. Lecter in a eye to eye mind game is conspicuously absent.
  • Jodie Foster was sorely missed in the movie, but one can understand her refusal to do a compromised and severely undermined Agent Starling’s role.
  • Anthony Hopkins, delivers another one of those knock-out punches, all through the movie putting life into the character
  • Particularly loved the last couple of scenes, smelling of intriguing levels of emotions and crystallized by powerful characterization
    • The part where Dr. Lecter asks Clarice if she would ever ask him to stop with love. And on the answer ‘Not in a thousand years’ he enigmatically replies, ‘That’s my girl’
    • Then when he continues to kiss her and in the process gets handcuffed by Clarice; tears streaming down her eyes. And the fact that the flames are kindled both ways evident when Dr. Lecter says ‘This is really going to hurt’, a tear trickles down his hand and he proceeds to chop off his wrist (implied). Somehow reminds me of the movie Gone with the Wind, where love is depicted so cryptically complexly especially when seen through glasses of reason.
    • The part where Dr. Lecter explains the cuisines in his box to the curious kid and on his insistence on having the human brain preparation, exclaims ‘You are an Interesting Kid’. Further when Hannibal finally accedes to his request telling that ‘Like your mother has told and my mother has definitely told me, we must always try something new

At end of it it was a move worth watching, though a tad bit of lower profile than its predecessor, 'Silence of the Lambs', thoroughly enjoyed watching it, especially with the performance of Anthony Hopkins and the powerful role of his character. Will give it a rating of 7.5/10

Akshardham Temple

Posted: April 2, 2006 in Gibberish Blabber, Photos

With more than ample time to spare and running out of places to visit, I decided to include the much talked about, newest attraction of Delhi, Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple.

Akshardham Main Temple

With this is mind, hoped into an auto after taking a metro ride to Connaught Place, and it faithfully landed me right at the doorstep of the huge 'Temple Campus' (Working in Hitech City this is the easiest similie that came to my mind, need not be the best or the most appropriate). The Temple compound was almost immeasurably huge, much larger than the Infosys People Factories constructed across the country.

Mandir Complex

The first thing that crosses one's mind or rather that should cross the mind is the name of the mandir, Akshardham. The very sound of it proposes great meaning to the plenary nomenclature. Akshardham means the eternal, divine abode of the supreme God, the abode of eternal values and virtues of Akshar as defined in the Vedas and Upanishads where divine bhakti, purity and peace forever pervades.

The entire tour of the mandir can be considered to consist of the following sub itenaries for every darshanarthee or devotee

  • The magnificent Central Monument
  • Other Monuments of religious importance, like the foot prints or the ten doors
  • Hall of Values (Paid) – 45 mins Audio Animatronics show
  • IMAX Screen Film on Neelkanth (Paid) – 40 mins movie
  • Boat Ride through the Indian Heritage artifacts and models(Paid) – 12 mins

The Central Monument

The beautiful monument built without steel, consists of 234 ornately carved pillars, 9 ornate domes, 20 quadrangled shikhars, a spectacular Gajendra Pith (plinth of stone elephants) and 20,000 murtis and statues of India’s great sadhus, devotees, acharyas and divine personalities.

Gajendra Pith

Carvatures
The monument is a fusion of pink stone and pure white marble, where pink stone symbolizes bhakti in eternal bloom and white marble that of absolute purity and eternal peace. The specifications of the monument are as follows

Height: 141.3 ft
Width:
316 ft
Length:
356 ft

The roof has intricate carvatures which have the power to mesmerize any roaming sight.

Ceiling

Water Elephants

There are many other splendid monuments like the fore mentioned The star attraction of the whole tour however is the three paid audio visual shows, which are so superbly crafted that they take you to a different realm altogether, almost making you feel that you are transported to the time when neelkanth quit his home in search of truth.

Bored to death

Posted: April 1, 2006 in Arbit Thoughts

The thing that I miss the most from my college days is the thrill that life had to offer, the sheer unpredictability of each day, the wat for the day to unfold, and as it does to enlighten us with what it had to offer. The Crests, The troughs, the bends the turns that the road used to make us take; hated them when was there, hate it even more now when they are not around. Believe me nothing is worse than driving on a smooth six lane road, with no obstacles, no humps and no potholes. It almost becomes torturously monotonous. 

So why the hell do I not go ahead and quit my job? I don't really know, maybe its because I am insecure, not about my own abilities, though that too is there,but much more about the fact that I do not have a pedigree to come back to mainstream society later if and when I so choose.

What do i gain from my job? Well, I am financially better off, though marginally, but still am able to hold my own. And I buy time for myself. I am thnakful that I got into a job rather than do MS in computer science as I had actually planned, as I would have soon realised that, what I really want to do is much more than plain Computer Science, and Definitely a whole lot more than Plain Engineering. That way I feel that life is really a great teacher and truly enough Whatever happens Happens for Good!

So what do I plan to do, well for one I definitely plan to do an M.B.A from oneof the best B-Schools in the world. This is the simpler part, things get really complex after this. These are a couple of things I really want to do after that, Lest of all I would never want to 'Settle' in life, unsettled is the way to go for me. 

  1. Go on a Bharat Darshan tour on a car/bike/bus with my travel itenary including atleast one city in every state of my this vast country
  2. Spend some time with Adivasis, hike across the Himalayas, Life a couple of months in Ladakh in peak winter season, go scuba diving in  Andamans and go fishing with fishermen in Chennai.
  3. Start  Private DJing practise,  which would include playing for Luxury lounges on weekdays and Discs on Weekends.
  4. Dabble with a small business of my own,somethingconventional yet with lot of scope, something involving a lot of Human-to-Human Interaction; my pick of the lot is an Automobile Dealership.
  5. Spend some time in New York, New Jersey, Mexico City, Cairo, Jerusalem, Moscow, London, Frankfurt, Singapore, Melbourne and Tokyo; and in the process understand and assimilate their culture, absorb their traditions, analyse and compare and enrich my ideas and beliefs.
  6. Finally, find a life partner who is truly unconventional in all her beliefs, in her thoughts and in her conceptions. One who is able to seperate outgrain from the chaff; see throughthe haze and filter out the relevant the crux, the jist!

I know, this wishlist is absurd and beserk, almost bordering insanity. But must admit it definitely sounds formidably interesting and an infinite times more attractive than the life of a three-piece-suited Investment Banker, my previous long standing ambition. It will definitely be a life well lived, a story worth being told; after all, One life is all we get.

Reminds me of the prophetic lines from 'Agantuk' by Satyajit Ray "Kupamanduk", meaning a frog in a well. A frog which spends his whole life in the dark damp smelly well, fervidly believing that the whole world is just as he sees it, dark damp acrid in odour and slimy on the ends! That's until, one day he falls into one of the buckets which were dipped to fetch water and gets pulled to the surface. This is when the bright sundhine and the dry ground, the lush green trees and the pleasant shade and the colorfully clothed  villagers are visible to him.

Right now I feel like that 'frog' caught up in the well of 'software industry' or rather ' engineers' or even worse 'technology workers'. Wondering, when I will get released to see the outside world, the world which is so big, so huge, so diverse and so different from all what I have ever seen. 

 In this regard, one very interesting blog which I read, wishfully, quite often is here. Do give it a read, and I am sure even you will feel like Freeing your soul to fly far and wide.

Visit to Kanpur

Posted: April 1, 2006 in Gibberish Blabber, Photos

My short trip to Delhi was spiced up by a 3 day detour to Kanpur. It all started at earlymorning 0500 hours when I boarded Shatabdi Express from New Delhi to Luckhnow, with my journey ending at Kanpur. What followed was a nice experience of a town sleepily immersed in a small town mentality; amicable people strolling at leisurely pace, congested roads, almost lack of public transport facilities except auto rickshaws and six seaters and a power supply which was inconspicuous with its absense almost the same amount of time as it was actually present.

The mornings were spent with lengthy walks in the adjoining Agricultural University, which had almost endless farms in which the crops were the decor for the large part of the land. Thanks to the controlled irrigation, cultivation and other agro based technologies being practised the fields were almost picture perfect with greenery splattered woith hues of golden yellow and bright shining grain stalks.

Green Revolution

The farming practised is extensive in nature and exhaustive rotation of crops also takes place, as a result a variegated spread of plantations are easily visible across the vast strech round the year .

Agri university

I also spent a totally usable evening watching an equally useless movie at the aole decent M ovie theater in Kanpur : Rave3. I watched a stupifyingly decayed and stale movie called 'UMAR' hence no wonder thatin the total hall apart from us there were only four other people who had turned up towatch the film.

The good thing about this however was the fact that we got to see the Rave3 and the associated shopping complexes and make knick-knack purchases.

Rave 3

At a Food Court

Overall kanpur was a very interesting experience for a Big city Dweller like me. For someone who has spent his entire life in metropollis such cities really facinate with the curt set of offerings in terms of culture shocks and challenges it throws up and with the pleasant homliness even the ost desolate corner of the city has to offer.