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Friday, October 29, 2010

I love Political Celebrity Visits ...

Yes ... I love Political Celebrity Visits ...
 
Whether it is our own Prime Minister or President or President Obama or President Clinton or for that matter any high profile political individual whose visit calls for heavy bandobast and a slew of clean-up and beautification activities around their visit ...
 
Yes ... They create a traffucked situation and you got to wait endlessly for them to pass if you are to cross their path ...
 
Yes ... It is often seen and perceived that nothing is actually achieved by their visits ...
 
Yes ... In general. these visits cause a lot of trouble and pain to the aam junta during their visits ...
 
But look at the bright side ... (be positive)
 
Roads which they will take are repaired and made crater-free
 
Roadsides are cleaned up and all markings are re-colored
 
There is heavy bandobast of policemen so crime is controlled for the few days
 
Beautification projects idling for long (and almost forgotten) are revived and completed in a hurry
 
Even the Green Quotient of the roads (they take) goes up a bit ...
 
So many advantages ... against a few minor temporary disadvantages ...
 
Not bad at all I would say ... "Kuch paane ke liye kuch khona bhi to padta hain"
 
I would suggest that high profile political celebrities should visit our city once every quarter and for security reasons have their meetings in different parts of the city everytime and they should always take a previously unused road / route to the previously unused place. This will do wonders for their image and of course, the city too.
 
President Patil's visit to Mumbai this week and President Obama's visit next week ... Its like Diwali Cleaning going on, not just in the house but in the city as well ...
 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Movie I saw in July ...

Yeah ... Its Movie and not Movies ...
I saw only ONE movie this month and that is also not something I enjoyed!
 
The Last Airbender (3D)

 

I had read the reviews of this movie and there was no reason I was going to watch it in a theatre. The reviews were pretty disappointing. My wife wanted to a enjoy a movie at the "The Red Lounge in Cinemax" and I was keen to show her an English movie in 3D. When we went to the  The Red Lounge in Cinemax at Infinity Mall in Versova; the only options we had were a romantic movie "Milte Milte" (which no one was talking about and had bad reviews anyway) and "The Last Airbender" which was incidently 'an English movie in 3D'. So that's how I ended up watching this one. I don't think I need to write anything about the movie at all. Much has already been written about it ... and its not really nice.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Books I read in July ...

 1.       The Immortals of Meluha by Amish – First Part of the Shiva Trilogy

 

A very interesting read. I completed in precisely one day J started it in the morning at around 6 and finished it off by mid-night !!! FELT GOOD !! Flight journey and waiting at the airport gave me ample time to read this one from start to finish in a single day.

 

A very interesting story woven out of the premise that Lord Shiva was actually a human being and not a divine being who was pushed to great karma and godliness by his deeds and circumstances and of course, the omnipresent motivation of Love. A very interesting read indeed except for the part that it is the first part of a trilogy and now we gotta wait for the subsequent parts to be published which might as well take a year to come by.

 
2.       Divine by Choice / Partholon 2 by P. C. Cast

 

The Part 2 or sequel to Divine by Mistake (which I read and completed last month). A nice read. I like the style in which the book is written. There are sooooo many places where a smile automatically comes to your face while you read the story. The writing is light as well as intense at times and a truly fun thing to read.

 
3.       The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

 

Its an absolutely emotional love story. A tale of separation and coming together and then getting married only to be separated again, this time by an invisible and undefeatable force called Alzheimer's. It was something of the kind that brings tears to my eyes. Yes, after Cecelia, Nicholas did this to me.

 
4.       Daemon by Daniel Suarez

 

A sci-fi technology thriller about a mastermind guy who is making things happen … after his death. He is figuratively operating from his grave through a distributed computer program he designed. Its so damn scary !!!

 

Everything Daniel has written about seems possible. In fact, all the things he has written about (well except maybe a thing or two) are technologically not only possible but I am sure they are already a reality in some form or the other. Its how Daniel has put them all together and woven it tightly into a scary tale of world domination by the dead.  An awesome read. I would recommend this  one to anyone who is interested in technology and has a bit of interest in computers and networks. Others are sure to enjoy. BUT the one who understands a bit of technology and networking will be thoroughly scared as he/she realizes that the Fiction written in the book can well become reality.

 
5.       Remember Me? By Sophie Kinsella

 

A nice one. The second Sophie Kinsella that I am reading and I love her writing style. I was reading Partholon and this one together and there were so many places where one story reflected some similarities with the other. A lady trying to figure out what happened behind her back in her name.  

 
6.       Freedom by Daniel Suarez

 

I try not to read 2 from same author in the same month but when it is a matter of a sequel … then one can't really resist the temptation. It happened last month with Matthew Reilly. This month it is Daniel Suarez.

 

Freedom is a sequel to Daniel's first book Daemon. But, personally I feel Freedom isn't really a sequel or 2nd book. Daemon and Freedom are in fact one single long story written in 2 parts for the convenience of holding the book in the hand. Imagine holding a very thick book and reading it, carrying it around. The story does not really come to any logical end in Daemon, it simply pauses.

 

The story about the taking over of the world by the distributed network AI construct continues with the humans beginning to play a greater reality and things getting geo-political.

 

I liked reading Daemon and Freedom. They talk of a scary reality. Something which I have thought and at times discussed with friends. Life becoming a data stream which could be manipulated or mis-used to anyone who had access. And access, after all is nothing but knowledge of some codes and passwords which are not really difficult to crack.

 

Yet another thing … I read this one in 2 days flat.

 

 

It's a nice feeling completing 6 books this month.
Back to back, two months with 6 books.

  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Airtel continues to frustrate me

I have already written in an earlier blog post (5 days ago) about what
Airtel did and how inconvenient it was.

5 days after submitting the documents I still have to hear the stupid
message in 2 languages before every other call i make. Same for my
dad. It is pretty frustrating.

Yesterday i received 10-12 SMS asking me to submit documents.

Called up Cust Care and they had no solution to offer except asking me
to submit the documents (which I have already done) and then asking me
to visit the airtel gallery to get the problem resolved.

AIRTEL. FRUSTRATION. MORE FRUSTRATION.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Inkheart Cover Design

While reading Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; I came across a passage towards the end of the story where the book called 'Inkheart' is described. The cover page with its imagery and colors is described.  Reading that I turned to the cover of the book I was reading only to find them out of sync. I wondered why the cover artist or the author did not pick up the description of the cover in the book to design the cover of the book.

Why is the actual cover different from the description inside? Did the artist NOT know of the description? Did the author forget that the cover design was described in the book and that was supposed to be used as a basis of design by the artist? Or was it that the publishers feel that the actual description of the book within the book was not saleable enough?

 

I googled about it to see if i can find something ... Did not.
Anybody knows anything about it ...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

RIDICULOUS - Airtel blocks Outgoing for want of documentation

 

I had been receiving the sms from airtel regarding submission of documents as per new government norms. Ditto for my dad and bro (we are a Airtel Family)

 

Due to one or the other reasons I couldn't go over to the 'nearest' airtel customer care centre (which is not really so near). My mistake. I accept it.

 

Then suddenly today my outgoing calls are barred and I am told that I need to submit the required documents to enjoy the services. THIS is preposterous, ridiculous and absolutely inconvenient. When I went to the Airtel Gallery, there was a HUGE CROWD. My token number revealed the fact that there were about 150+ people ahead of me on the queue.

 

That was one frustrated crowd. People who were supposed to be in offices, parties, family functions, hospitals, colleges, businesses … were out here trying to first understand what documents were required and then busy getting the documents in place … biggest bottleneck being the rejection of Ration Card as address proof and need to submit a photograph.

 

The most noise came from people who were in the middle of a medical emergency where a family member was in hospital and their outgoing was barred cutting them off.

 

I accept my mistake and many others would accept theirs too. BUT barring outgoing without any warning message or communication was absolutely unwarranted. It put people to a lot opf inconvenience. And even if you planned / intended to do it, we consumers at least deserved a direct warning. Submit documents in 7 days or face disconnection os something like that.

 

I have personally never been a fan of Airtel. Took this number of mine in 2003 when I joined NITIE for MBA and the only other way my parents could contact me was through the hostel common phone.This number has since then been given out to sooo many people, friends, colleagues, business associates, clients in different countries and so on. I don't want to leave this number. And so I am stuck with Airtel.

 

There have so many occasions in past so many years when Airtel has wrongly deducted money from my pre-paid account and numerous complaints and hours of customer care music later, the money still never came back. System upgradation and system unavailability being the common reason you hear from Cust Care Agents for unavailability of info. 

 

Airtel has one hugely dissatisfied customer in me.

 

So I wait for Number Portability to become a reality in India.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Movies I saw in June ...

Sex and the City 2

 

Well, I have never actually seen the series SATC on TV but the movie was a strange choice made by my wife. Of course, the movie hardly had any element of actual sex; it simply borrowed the title from the TV series from where it picks up the lead characters and actresses. I did not realize it then that this was the second SATC movie. Saw the first SATC movie on Star Movies (i guess) a few weeks after watching the second movie in theatre

 

An interesting comedy movie. Enjoyable. Entertaining.

 

Raajneeti

 

A very interesting movie. Not really an entertainer but then Prakash Jha has not really been known to make entertainers. He makes those serious kind of movies which are not a bore to watch. Raajneeti was precisely that. A movie which is worth watching, but once. Its not something you would like to watch again. Good performances and a nice storyline with all its interconnections and parallels with the great epic Mahabharat.

 

I clearly liked the role character played by Nana Patekar. He played a person who was not clearly in power nor was in a lead role; BUT he was clearly the one who was pulling all the strings. He was akin to Krishna in some way who did little on his own but influenced others into action which shaped the story and the consequences.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

Books I read in June ...

A good month as far as reading is concerned. In fact, it was excellent.
 

First of all, I completed the books started in April-May …. All 3 of them.

 

1. P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

 

An absolute emotional roller coaster which sent the tears flowing and overflowing. This is the second book by Cecelia that I am reading and she has done this again to me (the tears overflow while reading fiction thing). This story is about a girl who loses her husband and finds herself unable to cope up. Her husband literally helps her cope and move on. A series of letters written by the husband before he died serve as the guiding lights for the girl.

 

If you have loved someone or lost someone you loved; you gotta read this one. Or see the movie (which I haven't seen yet)

 

2. Atlantis by David Gibbins

 

Wont say much about it. It was an interesting read but I would probably think twice before picking up another one by same author.

 

3. Divine by Mistake by P C Cast

 

An interesting plot where a girl finds herself become a 'goddess' by mistake / by chance ... she goes through the various stages of a change ... denial, acceptance, exploration and enjoyment ... the novel was an interesting read ... This book is part of a series and I look forward to read the sequels ..
 

 Beside completing the 3 books above, I also started and completed the following in June ….

 

4. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 

 

An amazing read. Even after watching the movie, the book was a very nice read. Unlike so many other novel-made-into-movies, the movie in this case was pretty close to the book. It was almost like watching the movie scene by scene while reading. Only the fun was more J It's a hilarious read and a definite stress buster (that's what my friend calls this book)

 

5. Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly

 

Completed this in 4 days flat while travelling in train & car and resting in Rajasthan and Gujarat during my one week trip. High octane action packed thrillers (especially the ones by MR) don't really take too much time to read since they are simply unputdownables! Six is sequel to Seven which I read earlier this year. Jack West Jr. is the protagonist in this series.

 

Jack West Jr. is a combination of Indiana Jones, Robert Langdon, and Jason Bourne – with the right mix of ancient stuff knowledge, adventure and high-octane action. Jack is virtually indestructible (as is evident from the numerous sequences where MR put him through near-death and sure-death situations) and is surrounded by an international cast of characters who continue to fight against some real evil villains, one of whom is Jack's own father.

 

The pace of these novels is extremely fast and lessons in history and geography woven into the fabric of the story. MR uses technological advances like gull wings which allow Jack to fly thru the air and warblers which divert bullets even at close range.

 

One of the most attractive and interesting features of Matthew Reilly books in this series are the illustrations which help the reader visualize exactly what obstacles Jack and his crew need  to overcome. I wouldn't have enjoyed the books as much as I did without the illustrations.

 

 6. Five Great Warriors by Matthew Reilly

 

Started this one in June but finished it off on July 1st. It took about 4-5 days to complete the book I couldn't even wait for 2-3 days to begin the book in July since this is like a sequel to MR's Six Sacred Stones and a continuation of the same story/plot. I just couldn't wait to read on ….

 

The book begins with how the protagonist Jack West Jr. escapes a sure-death incident which was the concluding point in Six Sacred Stones and continues right from the beginning with impossible escapes and high octane action.  This sure-death sequence at the end of "Six…" was yet another reason I couldn't wait to start this book.

 

The book was good but still disappointed. The story went way too fast. MR made Jack West Jr and his team go through too many things, 4 Vertices and 4 Pillars along with some other things and New Villains … too much for a single book. Result: he just sped through everything. The charm of MR books, especially the Jack West Jr series is the grandeur and the amazing action attached to the grandeur. The plot had the potential but it seems there were external pressures on MR and he (unfortunately) succumbed to it L

 
 

After an abysmal month of May (as far as reading is concerned and not otherwise) … June with 6 completed books feels good. Really very good and satisfying. A lot of travelling helped and so did the time spent waiting in queue outside Passport office etc and at railway station and airport etc.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Movies and Books :)

I have been posting about the movies I watch and the books I read … but recently noticed some books in movies so it tingled my curiosity and thought of putting in here.

I was watching the movie 'Pyar To Hona Hi Tha' a few weeks ago on TV and in one particular scene towards the climax Kajol is shown to be reading a novel. I was quite surprised to see that it was a Robert Ludlum novel (considering that the movie was itself a romantic one with no traces action or that of being a thriller which Ludlum is known for)

And then a couple of days ago, Shraddha noticed that Katrina Kaif was holding a Matthew Reilly novel in the movie 'Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani'. Strangely, MR also writes action packed thrillers and Ajab Gajab was an out and out romantic comedy.

Strange to see this combination of romance and action :)

I would love to know what books they are actually reading. Just out of curiosity.
Did not find any mention of the same on the internet (i googled, of course)
Anybody knows ? ? ?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dog-earing: a crime towards books!!

In Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (I read it last month), Meggie (a little girl) opens a book that is given to her and is asked to turn to a dog-eared page. She dislikes this act of folding a corner of a page as much as her father and simply straightens it out.

Shraddha (my best friend and book buddy) and I have similar views on dog-earing. We feel it is akin to damage to a book. We don't dog-ear our books. She uses proper bookmarks and I used a variety of things as bookmarks (piece of paper, book or bus tickets, even movie tickets J). These days even I am using bookmarks since most of the books that I am reading are from Shraddha's library and she has a bookmark in each of her books J We both love our books and take care of them pretty well protecting them from weather, wear-n-tear and people alike.

We are both pained to see other people manhandling their books or in rare occurrences not really being careful with our books. Reminds me of an interesting incident where Shraddha was about to offer a bookmark to a lady in the local train. She saw the lady dog-earing her novel and was about to ask her to straighten it out and give her a book mark from the book she (Shraddha) was reading. People, in general, might not appreciate such acts and so she restrained herself.

 

Guys and Gals out there ... please take care of your books. Or the demons of the books will haunt you in the dreams and do god-knows-what to your ears :)

Monday, October 04, 2010

Movies I saw in May ...

Housefull

 

One of those hilarious movies where one lie leads to another and then another and then everything is mixed and jumbled until the final climax sequence when everything falls in place as confessions are made and truth is revealed. An entertainer. Can be watched again, albeit you have company to laugh with. It is a typical Akshay Kumar comedy with a good measure of Riteish deshmukh thrown in with Deepika in her trademark short shorts and Lara to give company.   

 

Its a Wonderful Afterlife – Hai Marjawa

 

A funny movie to watch but then again, it's a watch-once movie which you wouldn't want to see again unless you were wishing to get a nice cozy slumber.

 

Iron Man 2

 

Well, what would one expect from Iron Man movie. Explosive Action (literally) with hi-tech gadgetry packed in a metal suit. After the 'Dark Knight', I found that this one also had its fair share of emotional content besides the action. Its often interesting to see how Hollywood balances action and emotion. I don't see that in Bollywood.  

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Books I read in May ...

Well ... a couple of posts about things here and there ... and now I am back to my pending books and movies posts from the past months :)
 
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May 2010 ... An extremely busy month I would say (I got married in this month after all after getting engaged on 22nd April … )

 

I started a couple of books but could not progress much. Could not complete a single one.

 

1. Divine by Mistake by P C Cast

 

2. P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

 

3. Atlantis by David Gibbins

 

I actuallly started 'Divine by Mistake' in April but managed to read only 35 pages during April :P The book did not move further until the last week when i managed another 100 pages or so ... but it is still not completed.