Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Infertility treatment - new incentive by software companies

This morning, when I got into my cube, I saw a paper listing the employee benefits being offered by my company. The list contained the usual ones - ESOPs / ESPPs / RSUs, Doctor on call, in house gym, stress management, medical insurance of 7L.

The thing that caught my eye was 'Additional 1L for infertility treatment'. Now this is something new and definitely worth debating. Lunch and post-lunch sessions were spent in debating 'why infertility treatment'.

There could be multiple reasons why this figures in the list -
  • The occurrence of stress induced infertility is on the rise among software professionals, so this can be categorized as an occupational hazard.
  • Husband and wife are not co-located because of on-site opportunities.
  • People do not have enough time - that means - no action and no reaction :-).
  • Last but not the least, it might just be a one off thing and the number of people willing to come forward for this might be very few; so the actual payout from the company might be very very less.
It might be worth asking the HR their reasons for including 'infertility treatment' in the list of employee benefits.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Book Review: Men Who Killed Gandhi

Just finished reading "Men Who Killed Gandhi". What I like about the book is that it is pretty neutral in its tone - something very difficult to do on such a sensitive topic. The author, Manohar Malgonkar, has done a good job in describing the circumstances, the plot, the thinking of the "men" behind the plot, and the lacunae in the ensuing investigation.

What I didn't like about the book was the convoluted construction of sentences. At times, the punctuation marks were either missing or wrongly placed, and certain typos such as "gut" instead of "put". In short, lackadaisical editing.

If one reads this book with an open mind, it is definitely an interesting one.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Book Review: In the Line of Fire

Just finished reading "In the Line of Fire". I read it just to see his side of the story. I am not an expert on any of the topics that he has written on, so I will not comment on the specifics mentioned in the book.

One thing that I find strange is that he has ways and means to justify all of his decisions and actions. He only agrees to a few juvenile mistakes, but nothing else. There are interesting insights on social reforms and national reconstruction.

On the whole, I think one should read the book to see his side of the story, but take things with more than a pinch of salt.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Water on Moon

For the last few days, TV channels have been carrying this piece throughout the day. Two things which I find quite ridiculous are -
  • It was India's first moon mission and we were able to find water, whereas Americans went there so many times and were not able to find it.
  • In future, we will be able to use the water on Moon for drinking, making rocket fuel, making oxygen etc.
  • Till few days back, Chandyaan-1 was declared a disaster, and suddenly it has become a huge success.
To the news channels: please put the discovery in some perspective.

There was enough data available to suggest that there is water on Moon. However, the latest findings have given the scientific community conclusive evidence. In a nutshell, this has been an ongoing process and not a Eureka. Secondly, the amount of surface water on Moon is less that what is found on the hottest deserts on Earth. There are no lakes or ponds or glaciers there, not even a puddle. Nothing is known about the quantity of water buried deep inside the Moon, and whether there is any at all. That's what was crystal clear in the NASA press conference last night.

To all the scientists and governments: please manage the water on earth well. Otherwise we will have to really depend on the thin film of water that is present on the Moon.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Beauty of test cricket

Yesterday, I was watching the final test between England and Australia. The uncertainty - whether England will be able to bowl Australia out on day 4 or whether Australia will fight it out - was quite gripping. In the end, England did manage to win but Australia did fight it out, but it was quite gripping.

Hussey played really well, so did Katich & Haddin, but they made one mistake and that was the end of their innings. This is the beauty of test cricket - you make 1 mistake and you are out. As a bowler, you really have to bowl well (unless its your lucky day) otherwise you will get smacked all around the park.

I still remember in 2004, Rahul Dravid smashed a boundary of the bowling of Stuart McGill to win the Adelaide test match. How can we forget that? and India winning the Perth test after losing the Sydney test due to the most horrible umpiring in modern day cricket. How can we forget that? I belong to the school that believes in "test cricket is the real cricket"...

These days, T20 has resulted in an overdose of cricket, to the extent of causing indigestion. Test cricket has a soothing influence. 50-50 is the unfortunate victim of T20 overdose :-)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Finished reading "The Da Vinci Code"

For quite some time, I wanted to read this book. When I saw the movie, I could not understand one bit. I seemed more like a hollywood suspense thriller rather than anything else. Finally, I could lay my hands on it, and amidst a busy schedule, I managed to finish it over a period of 2 weeks. Quite interesting.

Next one will be "India After Gandhi - by Ramchandra Guha". The Jaswant Singh - Jinnah controversy has revived my dormant interest in history.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

DDCA Vs Sehwag Saga

Last night, the news channels continued with their coverage of DDCA Vs Sehwag et all controversy. That is when I came across one of the DDCA selectors. The news channel was ranting about how the son of an influential office bearer of DDCA is being selected despite his poor performance and at the cost of other more talented players. Then they showed a piece of a TV interview with one of the selectors on why that particular player was being favored.

(A piece of unsolicited advise to news channels: This is not news, this is common knowledge.)

As far as I am concerned, this selector seemed very sensible. His argument was that the player in question is in the team of 15, but has never been given the opportunity to be in the playing 11. Since he has never played in the 11, how can we gauge his performance?

In pure hindi - "abhi tak to woh player paani pila raha tha. to jab woh bahar hi hai, to use aur bahar kaise kar sakte hain?".

Makes sense :-). Dude ! You have got to be a national selector. I am positive Salil Ankola (a competent bowler in my humble opinion, who very seldom got to play cricket) must be cursing his playing days when selectors did not have the common sense that you have shown.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Creativity at its best

Abhijit forwarded me the snap on the right. The snap on the left has been downloaded from google images for the sake of comparison.

Enjoy the contrast :-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Litti Chokha

This Saturday, we friends went to a place called 'Chili Pepper' to eat Litti Chokha. Its a Bihari dish. The Litti is similar to the Baati from the famous dish 'Daal Baati', except that it is filled with 'sattu' and 'mustard'. I would say, it has a pretty heavy dose of mustard. I like that extra mustard. It just runs up my nose and makes me feel as if I have put my nose in a container of ammonia.

Chokha is nothing but mashed stuff - typically consisting of egg plant, tomatoes, potato, garlic, coriander and mustard oil. Except for the egg plant, everything else is raw. I love this combination. You can call it "Kachcha Bharit" in marathi.

The food was good. I really enjoyed the Litti-Chokha and along with chicken curry, it tasted fantastic.

Something that was really different was the attitude of the waiter. I guess he had a bad start to his evening because he was in a really foul mood. Some instances of his bad mood -
  • He was unwilling to join two tables. When we told him that for 1 hour, we will be uncomfortable, he said - "aapko 1 ghanta baithaunga kya main?".
  • Later, when we left some tip for him, he was unhappy with the tip and was grumbling under his breath.
Fortunately, there were more sensible waiters over there who told him to keep quiet.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Start-ups, Biggies, ESOPs, ESPPs

I have been part of both types of companies - start-ups and established companies. For those who are seeking thrill, start-ups provide a great platform. Unfortunately, this thrill can be short-lived because most start-ups do not succeed. There are many reasons for failure of start-ups. The most significant one in my opinion is working on something hi-tech or cool rather than actually solving some real world problem. Other important reasons are that start-ups are mostly run as per whims and fancies of one person - the founder. His judgement is central to the success or failure of a start-up.

On a different note, why do people get attracted to start-ups. One reason is they seek thrill in their work. Start-ups do offer a lot of exciting work with stiff deadlines, but more often than not, a person ends up doing a lot of direction-less work. In contrast, things proceed at slow pace in an established company. A thrill seeker will definitely get bored by the time the project actually starts. I like both forms of working, as long as there is some direction and vision associated with what I am working on.

Another reason why people opt for start-ups in ESOPs. 20000 ESOPs worth 1 cent. Sounds great. Even if the stock gets listed at 1$, one will make 20000$. By this time, one actually starts counting the money in his own hands. All this is complete eye-wash. Many even agree to salary cut, and opt for the start-up instead of joining an established company. Quite foolish in my opinion.

Let me tell you why I consider all this foolish -
  1. First of all, if you are chasing big money, you have to realize that very few start-ups actually make it big; so the chances that your 20000 ESOPs will see any reasonable valuation is very very slim. Even big companies play the ESOP trick quite well. When the stock is over-valued, they give large no. of ESOPs and when the stock is low, they give less no. of ESOPs.
  2. Big companies give you the option of ESPPs. With ESPPs, if you time things right, you can make decent amount of money. Taking into account a minimum post-tax return of 10%, the annualized return for ESPPs is much higher. (10% for 5 months, 10% for 4 months, ..., 10% for 3 days). You can do the math.
  3. Another benefit with ESPP is that you can start with as less as 1%. Some times when the stock price is high or market is falling, invest small amounts. The benefit is that in a falling market, your lock-in price keeps getting revised downwards. When the market starts going up again, increase your contribution to full 10%.
  4. Another benefit is RSUs and bonuses. RSUs are like ESOPs but with a base price of 0, so you always make money on RSUs. The no. of RSUs given is generally a fraction of no. of ESOPs.
  5. If you file patents, you can make decent amount of money with them. If your patent is business critical, every year you can make some money on it.
In short, if you want to make money, I think you can make enough money in a big company and you need not join a start-up. Join a start-up if the start-up is doing something radically new (not if it is doing some thing low-cost which more often than not turns out to be low-quality also, or is trying to outgun biggies like HP, IBM in an existing market etc), and you want to be part of it. Judging this is quite difficult and depends on one's experience and judgement. However, one has to always be prepared for some frustrating times and wasted effort. The good side to all this is that you can make some very nice friends and have some very nice conversations.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hunt for Pav-Bhaaji in Bangalore ...

turned out to be an exercise in futility. Richa was craving for something "nice" to eat since Saturday afternoon. Whenever she says "nice" - I know I am in a big soup because converting that "nice" to something specific is a very difficult task. Many-a-times, I have gotten so frustrated with this exercise of conversion that I have literally said - "Get back to me with something specific. I find all this very vague".

This time however, the conversion from "nice" to "pav-bhaaji" was quite quick. It was followed by description of how Pune pav-bhaaji is so good, and how Bangalore sucks. Nevertheless, pav-bhaaji it was. We then browsed through burrp to find out places that served good pav-bhaaji. Adyar-Anand-Bhavan was one of them and it was reasonably close.

AAB in Koramangala was way too crowded. Both of us did not feel like eating there. We made a quiet escape. We then went to Empire on Jyoti-Nivas-College road in the hope that we might get pav-bhaaji there. We forgot that Empire is a predominantly non-veg place, and both of us were NOT in the mood to eat non-veg food. We drank a glass of water and made another quiet escape from there. By now, we had given up on the idea of having pav-bhaaji.

Richa then came up with a place named "Babette's". Actually, quite some time back, I had seen a poster in NetApp. It is a continental place - we both knew. Looking at the exteriors, we thought it would be reasonable. Once inside, we realized that we two were the only people there. Richa warned me that it might be very expensive. After looking at the menu card, we realized that a simple soup was around 200, salads around 250, and entrees around 400. No wonder the place was empty. If the place is Taj, I can pay this much, and I certainly have paid this much in the past. For a place named "Babette's", paying 400 or so is quite atrocious. We made another escape, this time however, on the pretext that my pregnant wife can't eat Italian and Japanese food.

We then headed for Maharaja, a multi-cuisine place, with renewed hopes of finding pav-bhaaji and if not pav-bhaaji then some decent food. When we reached Maharaja, there was no place to park and the place looked full. So "yahan bhi give up ho gaya".

Finally, we parked near "Mast Kalandar", or at least where it was. We were searching for Mast Kalandar, but it was nowhere to be seen. We came to know that it was replaced by "Go Veg", and from the looks of it, it seemed like just a change of names. Anyways, the only other stop would have been "home", so we stepped in. The place looked "nice", the crowd was good, and we were sure we will get vegetarian food.

The food was amazing. We ate Jowar roti, Alu kulcha, Makke ki roti, Chole, Chat, Jal Jeera, Buttermilk, Maa-ki-Daal and Raita. Our tummies were full to the brim. My pregnant wife was also satisfied - which is a rarity in itself.

All this for just 250 bucks. Babette's ka soup and salad was around this much. Babette's - you are gonna close down pretty soon. I am confident.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last few weekends

Last few weekends were quite good.

Watched a play with friends in Ranga-Shankara called - "An idiot for dinner". I came to know that this play and the movie Bheja Fry are both adaptations of a French movie. I was very happy when Bheja Fry was made. I was under the impression that it was a movie in its own league and was probably a very genuine effort by Bollywood. Alas...

The play was quite good. The performance from the tax inspector was spectacular. After the play, there were shouts of once again and the tax inspector did not disappoint the crowd. The thing to note here was that he was such a seasoned and fantastic actor that one moment he was talking to the crowd - "what part you want me to enact again?" and the very next moment, he had already slipped into the character. Quite amazing.

My brother in law was here for a few days. He was playing Age of Conquerors, and that took me back to my IIT days. Those days, I used to play AoC all night, and in the morning, the whole AoC gang used to visit Maddu mess to eat "Anda Dosa, Medu Vada, Idly, Sambar" at 5:15 a.m. Needless to say, I used to sleep till evening. Those were some days. Anyways - had a couple of nice AoC games with my BIL, to the utter annoyance of Richa.

This weekend, I saw a couple of movies - "Before Sunrise" and "300". Plan to see "Before Sunset" coming weekend, and only then will I write about the pair. 300 is a good movie. It definitely arouses ones interest in history. Damn! I have to start reading history - that's what I had decided some time back, but this damned office work doesn't give me any spare time.

Rakhi Ka Swayamvar

Atrocious. TV has become atrocious.

In the name of reality TV, anything and everything is acceptable. The quality of programmes on TV has become abysmally shallow.

When I was growing up, my family did not impose any restriction on my TV viewing. TV was clean then. We had only 1 channel - DoorDarshan. The quality of programmes on DD is still unmatched. It had poor technology, and ever so often we used to have "rukaawat ke liye khed hai", and the colored vertical bars. As far as the content is concerned, DD was miles ahead of Zee and its siblings.

In the words of Nicklaus Worth, the inventor of Pascal (for the uninitiated, its a programming language that not many people have had the opportunity to learn) - "Pascal is a great improvement over many of its successors".

Similarly, DD was miles ahead in terms of content. Its a totally different story of what has become of DD. However, even in its dilapidated present form, it cannot be as bad as others.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Continuing with Cricket - T20 World Cup

Cricket has become a non-stop business. As soon as one tournament ends, we have another. The bosses of Indian & world cricket are milking the cricketers day in and day out. We keep enjoying the IPL and T20, but we don't realize that we are being taken for a big ride.

Lets get into some specific details and ponder on a chain of events -
  • After India's 2007 world cup debacle, the Indian audience was fed up with cricket. The mere mention of cricket would annoy people. The TRP ratings had plummeted, and ad revenue related to cricket for channels had gone down. With it had plummeted BCCI's prospects of making more money. The ICC was also losing a lot of money. They had to do something to bring back the Indian audience to cricket. Immediately after the world cup, we had T20 world cup, and who wins the tournament - India.
  • In the last year or so, the situation in Pakistan has been turbulent. No cricket has taken place in that country. PCB has lost a lot of money. Although the ICC has made a lot of money from Indian cricket, not much has been made from cricket in Pakistan. Pakistani audience too is not interested in cricket these days - they already have so many things going on in their day-2-day lives. What needs to happen - Pakistan has to win the next T20 world cup. Who wins the tournament - Pakistan.
  • Now lets look at the manner in which these teams have won the tournaments. When India won the tournament, nobody would have given India even 10% chance of winning the tournament. Australia, South Africa, SriLanka, NZ were the strongest contenders. Who won - India. Who would have given Pakistan any chance this year - only the most zealous of Pakistani fans. After losing to a newbie team like Scotland / Ireland - only the idiots would have given any chance to Pakistan. Who won - Pakistan.
Guys. Make your own conclusions.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yeh Cup Kahan Jayega

I am amazed to see the T20 campaign - "Yeh Cup Kahin Nahi Jayega". Last time there was a world cup in England (I guess the 1999 world cup), India did not make it past the super 8 stage. In 1999, the world cup was being hosted in England for the first time after 1983.

I remember the hysteria that the media had built up. Simply because the world cup was being held in England, and India had won the cup in 1983, India will win it again - was the prevailing logic.

This time around, we were the defending champions of T20 world cup and thats why we were the favorites to win. Many things went wrong in this campaign. Some of them are -
  • IPL - by playing too much in IPL, we were tired by the time we got to the world cup.
  • IPL - by playing too much in IPL, we have exposed all our strenghts and weakness. Others, who did not play that much role in IPL, were not idiots. They were watching us from the sidelines, and making their plans.
  • Too much expectation - India has always performed well when there is absolutely no expectation. Whenever there is an iota of expectation, we fumble. In 1983, nobody expected the team to win the world cup. After the debacle in the last world cup, nobody expected the team to win the T20 world cup.
  • Illogical bowling - look at the lengths Umar Gul is bowling, and look at what Ishant Sharma is bowling. It is self explanatory.
  • Poor fielding - we gave away 2 boundaries where there was not even a single run. We lost by 3 runs.
  • Jadeja - the guy is practically useless. He can only poke around. He cannot hit sixes. Not even 1 shot that he hit was convincing, and he wasted too many balls.
  • Raina - when he was being peppered with short balls, why the hell he has to go for a pull. He could have helped the ball on its way above the keeper. In short, lack of committment and lack of brains. One dimensional batting. This is where you need people like Tendulkar.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bangalore 10K Marathon

For quite some time, I have been thinking about participating in a marathon. Not the 42 km one. Just the 10km one. This 'quite some time' dates back to my days in Pune when I used to run 6 kms in flat 30 mins. That was quite some show. I was 24 then and weighed 73 kgs. Now 30 is dawning on me and I weigh 79 kgs. I can't run the same :-(. I still manage 3.5 kms in 22 mins or so, and can run probably 2 kms more but have to slow down a bit. However, the desire to participate in the marathon is very much intact. 

Bangalore 10K marathon was just perfect for me, and Alistair was there to back me up. I was a bit hesitant - usual doubts crept in my head - whether I will be able to do it, whether I will start cramping etc etc etc - and I was delaying registering for the 10K marathon. One fine day, Richa just registered me for the marathon, and now there was no looking back.

I have been running and gymming quite regularly, but for last 2 weeks, I haven't done any serious training. I was sure somethings gonna give way on the marathon day. Surprisingly, when I entered the Kanteerva stadium and looked at the sea of people around me, a really strong motivating feeling gripped me, and from that moment, I never thought I could not do it.

The arrangements were great. Every km, they would hand over a bottle of water, and starting from the 3rd km, they were giving glucose and electral. I kept myself hydrated, and ensured that my heart rate was within reasonable limits. From what I was feeling, it should have been around 130-140 bpm. I walked a bit, ran quite a bit, and managed to complete it in 75 mins without any cramps or any feeling of discomfort. From what I reckon, I must have ran 7+ kms and waked 3- kms

I must say, the people of Bangalore turned out in large numbers to cheer us. The runner's club had banners that read - "Pain is temporary, pride is permanent".  And when you see old people outrunning you, you definitely feel motivated. 

Monday, May 18, 2009


Many things have happened in the last few days - an unexpected performance by UPA and a subsequent and expected reaction of the stock market to an unexpected event. Regarding stock markets, I can safely say - "I don't understand them at all" - and therefore, I keep investing in good large cap companies like NTPC and ONGC. 

On a more personal front, I will be running on 31st May in the Sunfeast Bangalore Marathon in the 10 km category. As of today, I can safely manage 4kms without getting tired in about 24 minutes or so. I am hoping that I will be able to chug along somehow and complete the run.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ate a lot this week

Ever since I put my foot in Pune, I have been eating a lot. First night, I went out to have a bite of Naturals ice-cream - my favorite - Alphonso mango slices with mango ice-cream. The next day, my mother-in-law had made chicken. The next night, after my in-laws left for Mumbai, I and my brother-in-law had beer at midnight to beat the heat. It was so so hot and humid that beer with lots and lots of ice felt nice. I slept peacefully and woke up only the next morning when the power went off.

The next evening, I went to my brother's place, and once I am there, there is no escaping my
bhabhi's culinary delights and that un-ending "आग्रह". The best part is even if I eat like pig, my bhabhi manages to feed me a bit more by saying "you haven't eaten anything". That evening, I had vodka with lime cordial, and tiger prawns in coconut curry for dinner. Delicious. 

The next evening, I had gone to my friend's place for dinner. The spread was awesome. She had made fried Pomphret stuffed with green chutney, prawns made in Goan style, sol-kadhi, rice, and Alphonso mangoes for the dessert. Ate a lot and really enjoyed the goan style sea-food. 

Next evening, we ordered some food from "Tunday Kababee", a new shop in Wanowrie. Some food here means a dish of chicken kolhapuri, mutton gravy and a dish of butter chicken. I was so full at the end that I had no space for the dessert. Unfortunately, that was my last full meal in Pune. 

After coming back to Bangalore, it was time for Bala's birthday treat. He took us to Ebony in Barton center on M.G. Road, from where I could see a big chunk of Bangalore. Any city looks good at night, and Bangalore is no exception. I could see the screwed-up-MG Road right beneath me, and believe me, its a massive muck right now. Coming back to the food - I started with a Long Island Iced Tea. It was quite a cocktail - rum, vodka, tequila, gin and coke, and it was quite strong :-). The effect of cocktail was that I was cracking some really slapstick and idiotic jokes. It was followed by some chicken, prawns and khasta roti. That consumed every iota of space in my tummy.

Have eaten a lot in the last few days.. Now I need to get back to exercise...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hot hot hot Pune

I am in Pune right now, at my brother's place. Pune is a very special place for me. My first job, those bachelor days, the road in Range Hills, that Veritas office, the after dinner walks near Symbiosis in range hills, F.C Road Barista and CCD and cafe Sunrise, my days in PANTA, my house in Kalyani Nagar, the time I and Richa spent there, and the nice weather of Pune... There are so many things that bring me feel like returning to Pune.

This time however, the heat is unbearable. Its 42 and a bit sultry, and I am sweating even under a fan. The power cuts are making life even worse. Without an A/C, it is difficult to sleep at night. I know, people from Nagpur, especially my Mom-Dad, will say that we guys are unnecessarily cribbing in 42. Nagpur is reeling under a heat wave with temperatures crossing 47. Its horrible over there, and its not even the end of April. God only knows what is in store in the month of May in Nagpur and adjoining areas.

If there isn't a proper spell of rain this year, God only knows whats going to happen to all such places.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My take on IPL-2

This edition of IPL is definitely going to be a quite different from last years. Last one was all about clearing one leg and tonking the ball for a six. This was possible because of the placid Indian pitches where the ball doesn't bounce higher than the waist on most occassions. Any lallu-panju player was hitting sixes. Not this time though.

In the very first match between Mumbai Indians and Raj Royals, it was evident that scores in excess of 170 would be a rarity in this edition of IPL. Tendulkar and Mumbai-Indians were smart in acknowledging this fact, and played to a perfect plan. Raj Royals, who don't have too many noteworthy batsmen in their team, could not counter the conditions. Similarly, only Rahul Dravid has been able to master the conditions for RCB. The likes of Yusuf Pathan, who are champions on Indian pitches, are failing now.

This edition will be much better for bowlers though. If they stick to good line and length, and can swing the ball, they will be difficult to tonk. Anything short and it will be dispatched appropriately. Unlike last year, quality spin bowlers will be successful. From the first round of matches, it seems like Bhajji, Murali, Ojha and Kumble will do well.

Did I forget to mention Shane Warne? Yes, because he belongs to an altogether different league. He's not a spinner, he's a magician. People say Murali can turn the ball on glass, but somehow I don't like his action, and find it suspect. Warne's action on the other hand is clean, and I love the way he flights the ball. He is most dangerous when he gets the in-drift. Although he has retired quite some time back, he hasn't lost the touch at all.

Looking at the matches so far, and the future availability of players, it seems Deccan Chargers are leading the pack, not only in terms of wins, but also in terms of overall strategy and execution. CSK and MI come next and are probably equally placed. RCB, PLs etc are all the same. Raj Royals, the defending champions, will most likely be placed at the bottom.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Time to catch up on my reading

My reading habits have always been erratic. Some times I read too many books and other times I don't reading anything at all - except for the daily newspaper which I read from the 1st page to the last page, w/o skipping even a single headline.

Last couple of books that I read were written by Lee Child. Lee Child has introduced a character called Jack Reacher, who is an ex-MP, a dispassionate free-lance detective. The stories are interesting in the sense that the process of finding the culprit, the logic involved in doing so, is nicely laid out. However, the end of the story is pretty much boilerplate. One or two books are sufficient to know how the rest of them will be.

Suddenly, I have sort of developed some interest in history. I remember from my childhood days that I used to hate history the most, because my teachers used to gauge the quality of an answer from the number of lines that I had written. Moreover, teaching of history was based on the concept of rote-learning, which I have come to hate the most. Now that I don't have to appear for some exams, I want to read some serious history. I want to begin with the history of Indian Civilization, and then move on to others.

Looks like it is going to be a long project :-)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Back from Nagpur

I am back in Bangalore. Bangalore is really a hill station if you compare it with Nagpur. It is early March, just the start of summer, and it was horribly hot over there. I was drinking close to a liter of water every hour, and still could not quench my thirst.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Just came back from a 3-day trip to Wayanad, Kalpetta to be precise. I and Richa had gone with Shyam and Gayatri, although we did offer a free ride to Alistair also. Unfortunately for him, he was holed up in Hyderabad :-).

Some not-so-funny and funny incidents -

On the Mysore highway, a black swift was trying to overtake me from the left. Now, Mysore highway is a 2-lane (each side of median) road, with many U-turns, speed breakers, and umpteen no of interruptions. Some of them nobdoy can even anticipate - such as - ladies plucking flowers from the flowerbeds on the median, cows, bullock-carts and tractors travelling on the wrong side of the road and coming in opposite direction, and people going for a stroll right next to the median. One has to very watchful on this road. Anyways, the black swift driver was probably asleep in the wee hours and in his endeavour to overtake me, rammed straight into the backside of a mini-bus. I could see in my RVM, the bonet of his car crumbling. He was at a decent speed (around 50+). Just hope he is not dead.

In Wayanad, I and Shyam wanted some booze. We did not like the bar at the hotel, so decided to procure it from outside. Now, I did not know at all that in a communist state like Kerala, the govt controls even the sale of booze. We had to go to KSBC shop to get booze. We realized what we were getting into only after we reached that place. Dont even ask how pathetic that experience was. Had it not been for Shyam, I would have abandoned this idea completely.

The good thing about Kerala is its natural beauty - its greenery. It is quite refreshing to see so many trees and forests while driving. You actually dont feel tired at all. 

Will post some snaps soon.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Skin creams, lotions and how much I hate them

I see so many people buying the so called "age-miracle" skin lotions, creams, moisturisers in super-markets these days, and for a substantially heavy price. I am not sure the price they are paying for it is simply restricted to money. There could be other side effects of these creams which are never even mentioned.

First of all, I want to know what is the need to apply "age-miracle" creams in the age band of 20-30 when the skin is at its best. If for some reason, the skin isn't so good, then why do we not pay a visit to a dermatologist. It probably is cheaper to do so than to buy an age-miracle cream which costs 590/- and in all probability does not have any effect either. Moreover, it is not simply about cost. A dermatologist surely knows much more about the skin than we do, and a cosmetologist does. Moreover, being doctors, they can take a more holistic approach.

Yesterday, I was visiting one of my dad's friend, who happens to be a very good dermatologist. Richa asked him what should be done if you have a dry skin type. Firstly, he suggested to throw out all such fancy creams, and then told two very simple moisturisers -

  • Olive oil
  • A mixture of Glycerine (100ml), Rose water (100ml) and Lemon Juice (20ml)
These two, as per him, are the best moisturisers, in increasing order of effectiveness. Also, one has to watch his diet carefully - take in proper amount of nutrition and keep the junk away. Nothing else is required was his conclusive judgement.

I hope some sanity dawns upon people who regularly resort to off-the-shelf creams and lotions.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Bizzare and The Amazing

On my recent trip to Australia, I had the opportunity to experience some really weird and amazing things. Please note that I am not being critical here. My intention is to just report things in a factual manner :-).

I was surprised to find that bathrooms there do not have a latch. One needs to call out before he pays a visit to the bathroom. Otherwise... Moreover, none of the internal doors have latches. Moreover, many a times, half of the internal door is made up of ground-glass (translucent one). This holds true even in 4-star hotels in Australia.

When I was hunting for a rental accommodation in Bangalore, one person showed us a 2BHK house with attached bathrooms. When I inspected the house, it had a single bathroom attached to 2 bedrooms. This kind of architecture is unacceptable in India, and I was baffled to say the least. What if you forget to latch one of the doors of the bathroom? In Australia, such an architecture is very common place. In addition, you have to keep in mind that none of the doors have latches. 

Lets move on to some amazing things now. 

You can actually cycle down to your office. Cycles are allowed in trains and trams. Pretty easy, isn't it. Somehow, the bicycle still holds me spellbound. I don't quite know why, but I do like it very much.

When I was visiting the blue-mountains, I went to a shop called "Josephans". This shop serves some of the world's best chocolates, and undoubtedly the world's best hot-chocolate. The hot-chocolate that I drank after lunch was pure chocolate. No milk. No sugar. Nothing but beautiful dark chocolate. Of course, you have to love the slightly bitter taste of dark-chocolate to appreciate the hot dark-chocolate. Truly amazing.