Sunday, December 28, 2008

Time Machine

“I have not lost my mind - it's backed up on disk somewhere.” -- Unknown

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Indian Chinese

Amidst all the hullaballoo surrounding Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, we seem to have forgotten some actual bollywood films released last week. A keeper, from one such movie Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye:

Soy sauce = sirke waala sauce.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quote For The Day

What’s another word for Thesaurus? –Steven Wright

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Eid al-Adha Mubarak

Home is where the heart is.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reason #32 To Be In Kuwait

I get to live with my dad.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dance Pe Chance Maar Le

…O zara kamar ko aise ghumana

jaise hawa main aath banana

le ban gaya step soneya

tu ban gaya hip soneya….

More Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Business And Sex

A small excerpt from Hooman Majd’s The Ayotollah Begs to Differ:

All business is like first-time sex; there are promises, then a little foreplay, followed by more promises and perhaps a little petting. […]At this stage things get a little complicated – you’re not sure who’s the boy and who’s the girl, but what you do know is that if you continue, you might get fucked. […]So you decide to proceed cautiously, touching here and touching there, showering the other party with compliments, and whispering an undying commitment, and then maybe, just maybe, it will all end in coitus, but it is rarely as satisfying for one party as it is for the other.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Adieu Jumbo

Vengasarkar’s Indigestion

Why oh why?

Dilip Vengasarkar is no longer a national selector for our team and that seems to have given him a license to take it out on all those players he does not like. First it was Ganguly to whom Vengasarkar would not respond as “we are in the middle of a Test series and it might affect the focus of the team”. But that did not stop him from promising to give Ganguly more than he asked for.

And now it is Kumble whom Vengasarkar has honored with his wisdom. Vengasarkar believes Kumble’s time is up. Why does he have to go on experting in the middle of a Test series?

Kumble, ever the team man has just announced his retirement (via cricinfo’s live commentary) and Ganguly ,never the one to hold back his punches, is going to give Vengasarkar a lot more once the Nagpur Test is over.

So, get ready Mr. Vengasarkar.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

B2B Market

There is a comprehensive podcast over at Knowledge@Wharton titled Opportunities -- and Obstacles -- for the B2B Market in Tough Economic Times. Some snippets:

It's becoming increasingly easy to track customers and specific transactions over time. So instead of being very transaction-oriented -- "we just want to sell stuff now" -- start thinking about relationships with customers. It's something that's existed -- the concept -- in B2B markets for a long time, but the ability to actually anticipate what their needs are going to be, and what they're willing to pay, and what other offerings you want to wrap around with that particular product -- those capabilities are better than ever before.[…]

In these difficult times, it becomes even more important to focus on the best customers you have -- the ones you have a good long-term relationship with, that you're going to work together with on a partnering basis, and to even increase the ties that you have with those customers.[…]

Everybody thinks about products. That's not where the major innovations have come from. There have been innovations in business models. Now is the time for firms to think about doing business differently, because the rules of the game have changed. If you use the old business model, you're not nearly as likely to succeed coming out of this as if you begin questioning the fundamental business model -- the way you do business, the offerings, how you go to market, etc. -- coming out of this situation.



The third India Australia Test is on and Ravi Shastri, in his infinite wisdom, intones that the reason VVS Laxman is so relaxed at the crease is all preordained. You see its in his name Lax-man.

All I want now are some laxatives to digest such tripe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Office Robbery Statistics On Wikipedia

Michael Scott in The Office season 5, episode 4:

It is not known how many office robberies take place every year because there is no wikipedia entry for office robbery statistics.

There is one for The Office though.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dumbing Down

Christopher Hitchens writes about Sarah Palin’s contempt for science and basic research:

Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just "people of faith" but theocratic bullies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Before Diwali

The Big Picture blog has some pretty amazing pictures of buildings and monuments from around the world, illuminated on various occasions during the past month. A peek:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Smoke And Smoke

There is a story in today’s Washington Post about the recent smoking ban in India. This quote succinctly sums up the apathy and complete lack of belief in our law enforcement agencies:

Everyone is smoking everywhere," said Sai Ram, 58, a businessman. Referring to the recent increase in bombings across the country, Ram added: "The police are not able to stop the terrorists, so will they really be able to control smokers?"


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Question And Answer

At the end of third day’s play in the second Test today, Ravi Shashtri was interviewing Amit Mishra who took five wickets on debut.

Ravi Shashtri: Of all the five wickets that you took, which one of them did you like the best? Obviously the first one.

Obviously Shashtri does not need answers. The man provides his own.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Natural Progression

There is a story in Sunday’s New York Times about how the communist administration in Xinjiang, a large autonomous province in northwestern China, is controlling the practice of Islam among the 19 million Uighur residents of Xinjiang. An excerpt:

Two of Islam’s five pillars — the sacred fasting month of Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca called the hajj — are also carefully controlled. Students and government workers are compelled to eat during Ramadan, and the passports of Uighurs have been confiscated across Xinjiang to force them to join government-run hajj tours rather than travel illegally to Mecca on their own.

It seems to me that the communist rule and its negative aspects in China are most evident in the the provinces which are not the at the centre of the country’s economic development. In the eastern coastal provinces, which have almost all of China’s booming port cities, the government tries to shift the focus from its all-encompassing authority to its more benign nature and its enormous successes in the development.

But then, it could also be argued that economic development and upward mobility in a region results in its inhabitants placing more and more importance on their economic well-being and keeping their religious beliefs and practices to themselves. The administration, too, then has less and less incentive to clamp down on them.

Dhoni’s Team

It was the last over of the second day in the second India Australia Test today at Mohali. Amit Mishra, playing his first Test, was bowling to Michael Clarke. After Mishra had bowled a couple of deliveries over the wicket Dhoni suggested, shouting out to Mishra, to go round the wicket.

And lo! The first ball the young leggie sent following his captain’s advice trapped Clarke plumb in front of the wicket.

What stuck me was that Mishra, exuberant, ran to hug Dhoni – closely. Newcomers to the team these days really look up to Dhoni as their leader, and Dhoni does not disappoint them either. The man has ice-cool nerves and a top cricketing mind to match. Captaincy seems to bring out the best in him as well as his team – a happy contrast with our past captains.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Difference

I watched a PBS documentary on use of "Advanced Interrogation Techniques" (a.k.a. torture) by US administration in questioning hundreds arrested from Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan. It is brutal. One quote from a former prosecutor, who did not approve of the methods used, stays with me:

If we compromise our own ideals as a nation, then these guys have accomplished much more than driving airplanes into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Root

Ramachandra Guha has a timely article on India Together about Lal Krishna Advani's recent shenanigans:

Had Advani not embarked on that ill-advised march, there may never have been an
‘Indian Mujahideen’. Had Advani not encouraged Hindu goons to carry weapons and
use them, there may not have been that pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat in
2002, or, indeed, these more recent attacks on Christians in Orissa and

As it goes, the vagaries of a coalition might keep him in check if he does becomes the prime minister.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Time is that quality of nature which keeps events from happening all at once. Lately it doesn't seem to be working." - Anonymous

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cold, Round, And Crowded

This review of Thomas Friedman's new book about climate change and renewable energy Hot, Flat, And Crowded best echoes my thoughts on why I've grown to dislike his writing after immensely enjoying The World is Flat.

Friedman seems so cocksure - even when he shouldn't be. He's certain, despite a tsunami of evidence to the contrary, that the world is flat. That ten-dollar-a-barrel oil caused the downfall of the Soviet Union. And that a gas tax will be a universally acclaimed "win-win-win-win-win" as soon as a tell-it-like-it-is a green candidate reminds voters that right now we're being taxed by Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia, and Iran.

In my opinion Friedman, in his quest to reach the widest possible audience, dilutes the content so much that it feels like a drag to read and, his irritating habit of every other person he mentions in his books as "my friend" is off-putting too.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sports Formal

Love the sneakers with trousers! It was my dress of choice on many Eids.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Siege of Mecca

The Siege of Mecca - The 1979 Uprising at Islam's Holiest Shrine is a book by WSJ columnist Yaroslav Trofimov. The subtitle of the book explains what the book is about.

The blurb and reviews on the back of the book say it is an action-packed account of the seizure of al-Masjid al-Haram complex in Mecca in 1979. The uprising began on the first day of Muharram in the year 1400 according to the Islamic calendar - at the beginning of a new century. The corresponding date on the Gregorian calendar was November 20, 1979. The siege was led by a Saudi guy named Juhayman al-Uteibi. He and his group of about 500 people who participated in the uprising claimed they had the Mahdi among them. With the extensive preparation they had done including the stealthy accumulation of large number of weapons in the Masjid-al-Haram complex, they were able to keep the whole complex under their control for two weeks, resisting the Saudi army and practically the whole Saudi Arabian monarchy. (More about the seizure on wikipedia.)

What I liked most about the book was the whole background and the precipitous conditions in the Middle East at the time, and to a large extent the response which the uprising evoked in the entire Muslim world. Iran had just had a revolution causing the Shah to flee and the religious theocracy taking power. Shah was on good terms with the US and the Iranian revolution had its opposition to America and by implication the western culture as one of its fundamental differences with Shah. Anti-American sentiment was very powerful in Iran and never below the surface it had started to spread to the neighboring countries too. It’s easy to forget but those were the years of cold war and a balance of power between USA and USSR was forever taking place in this highly volatile region. Zia ul-Haq had just came to power in Pakistan after overthrowing Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his government and he too had begun to lean toward the fundamentalist elements in Pakistan leading to a large antagonism towards US which culminated in the severe attack on the US embassy in Islamabad shortly after the news of the siege started to reach around the world.

The book also sheds light on what the uprising did to Saudi Arabian monarchy and the effect of the Ulemas in determining the general attitude of the kingdom towards all things external. Moderate interpretations of Islam were relegated to the backseat - a struggle which we are witnessing to this day. The author goes as far ahead as to claim that the widespread fundamentalist attacks today all over the world and especially in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan can be traced to the seminal event in 1979 and Juhayman al-Uteibi's teachings.

Information can be very hard to find in a society like Saudi Arabia's and an extraordinary research and journalistic effort has been spent in fishing out the details for this work. The pictures in the middle of the book including many photographs of the uprising are an additional treat.

I not only immensely enjoyed reading this book but also understood, as a result, a little better why the world is the way it is.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


These are two songs from movies that came out recently that I am in love with:

Chakkar Ghumyo from Aamir

Bandya Ho from Khuda Kay Liye

Gems both of them.The Bandya Ho lyrics are from a great Urdu poet of yore Bulley Shah.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Kite Runner - Movie

Just finished watching the movie. It is a very lovingly made film I think. The director Marc Foster's other movie I have watched is Finding Neverland and I found that too, charming in its own way.

The child actors who play Hassan and Amir are very good cast and I enjoyed listening them speak Farsi among other things. After reading the book a long time ago I had thought that Khaled Hosseini had gone a little over the top towards the end and made it too dramatic. And since it was a long time ago, I had forgotten the events when Amir goes to Afghanistan. To my pleasant surprise, I did not feel the same way about the movie. It was all good - the redemption of Amir and his running kites for Sohrab.

The character which stuck me the most in both the book and the movie is Amir's father. To see him leave his country - never to come back and build a new life in America, raising Amir and his hope of seeing Amir become a doctor was moving.

I am surprised that the movie has not become as popular as the book.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sultans of Swing

Yup. The original ones. Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

Together, they formed the most lethal opening bowling pair I have seen. My first memories of cricket have these guys in them. India was playing Pakistan in the Australasia cup final in 1994. The Pakistani bowlers ripped through our batting and of course, we lost. I always felt that India was constantly at the back foot when playing Pakistan in the 1990's. Sharjah was the ODI destination of choice then and both countries played a lot there. The finals of the tournaments were held on Fridays and if one of the team was Pakistan, the other team invariably ended up on the losing side. India bore the brunt a number of times.

I was a big fan of Pakistanis' raw aggression - fighting until the last delivery had been bowled. On the other hand, Indians looked and played timidly - rarely did I see the spirit and aggression which has become visible only lately. I think it is the fast bowlers which Pakistan had at that time which differentiated the two teams. The batting was more or less equally adequate and the fielding equally below-par for both the teams. India's record against Pakistan when Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were operating together bears testimony to this. India lost 60% of the clashes in 1990's.

Of course, India won the world cup ties in 1996 and 1999 and in my opinion victory against Pakistan then meant to us (to me at least) more than our recent victories against them. One reason is India v Pakistan matches were a rarity then; the other is that Pakistan was the stronger team back then. Look at some of our current cricketers going gaga over beating "the strongest team in the world" after the CB series and you get the idea. And who can forget the classic test series when Pakistan visited India in 1999. They had a new weapon in Shoaib Akhtar. The eerie silence at the jam-packed Eden Gardens when he cleaned up Dravid and Tendulkar in successive deliveries was a heart breaking sight.

The reason I am reminicising about all this today are these pioneers of cricket videos on youtube. Some trivia from the videos:. 1) Waqar Younis lost the smallest finger of his left hand while swimming in a canal when he was a teenager. 2) Wasim Akram was a practice bowler for net practice until Imran Khan noticed that he was better than the fast bowlers in the team. Go watch these videos for some breathtaking swing bowling. Especially the inswinging yorkers of Waqar Younis. Its impossible not be awed.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A New Look and Two Stumbles

I finally changed the blog template today. I found this clear template at FinalSense. This is exactly what I was looking for. A clutter-free design and increased reading area. The original blogger template was darker- something which I had never liked. In terms of creativity, I am as good as English, August's Tamse and hence the easy choice of not creating my own theme. Now I am looking to put a picture in the header and make the title section visually pleasing.

I discovered a couple of very cool blogs in the past few days which I want to mention here. The first one is Helloji. Go here for some light-hearted fun and discussion on all things Indian. Second is Stuff White People Like. This is, and my opinion is shared by almost all white people I consider my friends, is a much hilarious blog. To truly appreciate it, I think you would have to have lived in amreeka for sometime but I think it is fun even if you are not able to catch all the subtleties.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Secular Common Sense

I read Mukul Kesavan's essay on secularism in India. He makes a lot of interesting points which I would like to recount here.

An important point but one which we might already be aware of is that Congress's secularism was founded as an opposition to imperialism. Only when it represented all of the Indian society could congress be successful in its freedom struggle. India as a state as we know it today was ironically formed as a result of imperialistic economic oppression of all sections of our society. If congress were any less secular, then it is possible to imagine that the Indian subcontinent might have been divided into more parts than is the case and the divide and rule policy might, once again have been triumphant.

He quashes the idea which finds many entertainers that Congress (and hence the Indian state) has appeased minorities at the cost of majority to establish the State's secular credentials. Exactly opposite has been the case and too little has been done in this respect. Muslims, and I am speaking of only a section of the minorities here, albeit the largest one, were by all standards of development, backward compared to the rest of the country, even before independence. At the time of partition, many well-to-do Muslims moved to Pakistan and so the discrepancy widened.

Kesavan then talks about reservation. Caste-based reservation was built into our constitution to right the centuries of wrong done to Dalits by the upper caste Hindus. This reservation is exclusively for those Dalits who are Hindu. Thus in a curious way all the minorities, who do not have any kind of reservation have been subsidizing a large section of the Hindus. This, on top of when the ones responsible for the condition of Dalits were Hindus.

I believe that reservation is still necessary to have because the centuries worth of injustice cannot be undone in a short time. But then, we have to make sure that our current policies are not creating future conditions for more reservation. An option could be to make financial condition of a family the criteria for reservation instead of caste.

In 1996, Supreme Court of India in relation to the case of annulling an election on the grounds that the candidates had used religion as a tool to garner votes, ruled that "...the word Hindutva is used and understood as a synonym of "indianization". i.e. development of a uniform culture by obliterating the difference between all the cultures coexisting in the country." At best, Hindutva might be understood as a way of life, just like Islam is. But I do not think the minorities think of Hindutva in the same breath as indianization.

But as an unnatural nation as chronicled beautifully by Ramachandra Guha in India After Gandhi I believe we would go on and become better along the way.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Iqbal Abdulla is a member of our under-19 cricket team which recently won the world cup in Malaysia. Iqbal is originally from Azamgarh in UP and he was discovered and brought to Mumbai four years ago by his coach. He plays as a left-arm spinner and a lower order batsman. He was the only player from Mumbai in the world cup winning team and was the pick of Indian bowlers taking 10 wickets in 6 matches at an average of 13.

More on serendipity, Iqbal Abdulla's father, just like shreyas Talpade's father in the movie Iqbal did not want him to play cricket. He used to think that sport does not have any future. Thankfully he has been proven wrong.

Our Iqbal can talk as well as listen and he is quite witty actually- some qualities which the reel version lacked.

Sources: cricinfo and Indian Express

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Problem of Plenty

There is a brilliant news story in New York Times about the incredible rise in inflation in the middle-east countries. The steep rise in oil prices has lined the pockets of the government which has grown more and more callous and corrupt. The incentive to try and develop the economy in a wholesome manner is non-existent. All we see is the glam and glitter of Dubai and Abu Dhabhi.

Its such a sad state of affairs and in large part responsible, as the article notes, for the increasing unrest among the people.


TaTa Bye Bye

The parting phrase Bye is a shortened form of Goodbye which in turn is a shortened form of Good be with ye.

So many of us have grown up with TaTa as our standard parting phrase that it kind of intrigued me to find out the origin of this usage - or at least try doing so. As I remember now, I did not use Bye all that much until I was in class XI. Before that it was just TaTa. Even now, the youngest of my cousins always parts with TaTa.

But when you are in the US of A you gotta be more careful. I just sounded my roommates on what parting phrase would they use with a friend for example. They would not use Bye Bye and they would never use TaTa when parting with friends because both of these are considered gay and super-gay in that order.

I used to think that TaTa has got something to do with TATA written on the back of so many trucks in India. When we read the word as the the trucks are passing by, the word TaTa becomes kind of a parting phrase. But apparently the word has got other connotations as well.

There is a travel website in India which has TaTa Bye Bye in its domain name.
Contrasts anyone?


Monday, February 18, 2008

Real Life Dor

Read this news article on Khaleej Times about a murder by a Kerelite man in Kuwait.

An actual case of the accused's family asking pardon to the victim's wife - for the victim was allegedly killed by the accused in a scuffle over a cricket match in Nov 2007- presumably India vs Pakistan.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Blogging About Blogging

Came across this very comprehensive article about the art and science of blogging by Sarah Boxer.

Rashmi Bansal of Youth Curry has penned her thoughts about blogging from a blogging workshop she conducted on her blog here.

This is such a self-fulfilling post!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mera Jahaan

The song which I like most from Taare Zameen Par is 'Mera Jahaan'. Here are the youtube video and the lyrics for the song

A Little Sweet, A Little Sour
A Little Close Not Too Far
All I Need, All I Need
All I Need Is To Be Free

Chhoo Loon Main Itna Kareeb
Chal Padun To Kitna Door

A Little Sweet, A Little Sour
A Little Close Not Too Far
Chhoo Loon Main Itna Kareeb
Chal Padun To Kitna Door
Sapno Ka Buna Sweater Sa Warm
Safed Baadalon Ke Paar
Mera Jahan

Let Me In Without A Shout
Le Me In I Have A Doubt
Let Me In Without A Shout
Let Me In I Have A Doubt
There Are More, Many More
Many Many Many More Like Me

Akela Nahin Main
Khuli Aankhon Se Neend Mein Chalta
Girta Zyada Kam Sambhalta

Akela Nahin Main
Khuli Aankhon Se Neend Mein Chalta
Girta Zyada Kam Sambhalta

Phir Bhi Na Koi Shaq Na Subha
Nikalega Phir Se Sooraj Jo Dooba
Hairat Ho Sabko Aisa Ajooba Hai
Mera Jahan

Open Eyed How I Run
How I Run To The Other Side
Open Eyed How I Run
How I Run To The Other Side
Then I Glide Like A Bird
I Just Want To Be

Udne Ko Sau Pankh Diye Hai
Chadne Ko Khula Aasmaan
Mudne Ko Hai Karwat Karwat
Aur Badhne Ko Mera Jahan

Bachpan Ke Din Chaar
Na Aayenge Baar Baar
Jee Le Jee Le Mere Yaar
Jeb Khaali To Udhaar
Jee Zindagi