Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sher-o-shayari

Got some nice Ghalib couplets from the net :-)

----------------------------------------------------
वो आए घर में हमारे, खुदा की कुदरत है
कभी हम उनको कभी अपने घर को देखते हैं

"She's come to my house, the lord be praised!
I (go on) looking, (first) at her...(then) at my house..."
----------------------------------------------------
क्यूं जल गया ताब--रुख--यार देख कर
जलता हूँ अपनी ताक़त--दीदार देख कर

Why did (it) not (get) burnt up on seeing the glow of the Beloved's face?
I am jealous on seeing the strength of my (own) sight!
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इन आबिलों से पाँव के घबरा गया था मैं
जी खुश हुआ है राह को पुर-ख़ार देख कर


I had panicked due to these blisters of (my) feet
the heart has gladdened on seeing the path filled with thorns!
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थी ख़बर गर्म कि गालिब के उड़ेंगे पुरज़े
देखने हम भी गए थे पर तमाशा ना हुआ


The rumour was hot that pieces of Ghalib would fly!
I also went to have a look, but the (promised) spectacle did not take place!
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बोसा देते नहीं और दिल पे है हर लहज़ा निगाह
जी में कहते हैं कि मुफ्त हाँथ आए तो माल अच्छा है


(she) doesn't bestow a kiss, and (yet her) eye is constantly on (my) heart
(in her) mind (she) says, 'if one gets it free, it is worthwhile merchandise'!
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उन के देखे से जो जाती है मुह पे रौनक
वो समझते हैं कि बीमार का हाल अच्छा है


Since (my) face lights up from her looking (at it)
she assumes that the patient is in good health
--------------------------------------------------

हम को मालूम है जन्नत की हकीक़त लेकिन
दिल के behlane को गालिब ये ख़याल अच्छा है


I (do) know the truth about heaven, but
to keep (one's) heart content, Ghalib, it is a good thought
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फिर
तेरे कूचे को जाता है ख़याल

दिल--गम गश्ता मगर याद आया

The thought again goes towards your lane

However, (I) remembered the lost heart

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कोई वीरानी सी वीरानी है

दश्त को देख के घर याद आया

This is some desolate desolateness! / Is there any (truly) desolate desolateness?!

On seeing the desert (I) remembered (my) house!

----------------------------------------------------------

क्या ही रिजवान से लड़ाई होगी

घर तेरा खुल्द मे अगर याद आया

What a fight there will be with Rizwan

If, in paradise, your house comes to mind

Rizwan is, in Islamic mythology, the keeper of a garden in paradise. The sher seems to evoke a hypothetical situation where the poet, on remembering the Beloved’s house while he is in heaven, would compare Rizvan’s garden unfavourably with it. Which would, naturally, be resented by Rizwan, leading to an exchange of words.

However, another more subtle nuance also can be pulled from the sher – where ‘yaad aayaa’ is taken (like so often in this ghazal) to idiomatically mean the process of setting off for some place. In this sense, even when he is in paradise, the Poet might want to return to the Beloved’s house, which would, of course, lead to a bit of a tussle at the gates of paradise, as Rizwan tries to restrain the departing Poet

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मैंने मजनूँ पे लड़कपन में असद

संग उठाया था कि सर याद आया

Asad, I had, in childishness, picked up a stone (to throw) on Majnoon,

When I remembered (my own) head!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

फिर कुछ इस दिल को बेक़रारी है

सीना ज़ोया--ज़ख्म--कारी है

There's again some (thing like) uneasiness in this heart

the chest is searching a deep wound

---------------------------------------------------------------

फिर उसी बे-वफ़ा पे मरते हैं

फिर वही ज़िंदगी हमारी है

(I) again 'die for' that same unfaithful one

(Once) again, that same life is mine

------------------------------------------------------------

दिल--नादान तुझे हुआ क्या है
आख़िर इस दर्द कि दवा क्या है

"o silly heart, what's happened to you?
what medicine, after all, is there for this pain?"
------------------------------------------------------------

हम हैं मुश्ताक और वो बेज़ार
या इलाही ये माजरा क्या है

"I am full of ardour, and (yet) she (remains) displeased
dear god,what is this going on?"

------------------------------------------------------------
मैं भी मुँह मे ज़बान रखता हूँ
काश पूछो कि मुद्दा क्या है

"i too have a tongue in my mouth
if only you'd ask what the issue/intent is"

------------------------------------------------------------
जब कि तुझ बिन नही कोई मौजूद
फिर ये हंगामा खुदा क्या है

" when nobody but you is present (exists)
what, dear god, is this din?"

----------------------------------------------------------

हमको उनसे वफ़ा की है उम्मीद
जो नहीं जानते वफ़ा क्या है

"I (live in) hope of faithfullness from someone
who doesn't (even) know what faithfullness is"

----------------------------------------------------------------

मैंने माना कि कुछ नहीं ग़ालिब
मुफ़्त हाथ आये तो बुरा क्या
है

"granted that Ghalib is nothing special
but if you get him free, how is it a bad deal?!"

-----------------------------------------------

हर एक बात पे कहते हो तुम कि तू क्या है

तुम ही कहो कि ये अंदाज़--गुफ़्तगू क्या है

On every occasion/utterance/issue you say 'what are you?'

you tell me, what sort of conversational-style is this?

------------------------------------------------

रगों में दौड़ते फिरने के हम नहीं कायल

जब आँख से ही न टपका तो फिर लहू क्या है

I am not impressed with (it merely) running about in veins

Until it drips from the eyes, what (sort of) blood is it?

------------------------------------------------

हुआ है शाह का मुसाहिब फिरे है इतराता

वगरना शहर में ग़ालिब की आबरू क्या है

He has become the king's associate, (and hence) struts about (all over the place)

Otherwise, what is Ghalib's standing in the city?

---------------------------------------------------------

Hai khabar garam unn ke aanai ki..
Aaj hee ghar main boria na hua!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

हज़ारों ख्वाहिशें ऎसी कि हर ख्वाहिश पे दम निकले
बहुत निकले मेरे अरमान लेकिन फिर भी कम निकले

"A thousand such longings that on [for] each of them, (my) life would exit
(Many of my longings left, but still only a few left) / (My longings turned out to be many, but still turned out to be only a few)"

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मोहब्बत मे नहीं है फर्क जीने और मरने का
उसी को देख कर जीते हैं जिस काफ़िर पर दम निकले

"In love, there's no difference between living and dying
(I) live for the sight of the same infidel, for whom (I) die"

--------------------------------------------------------



Monday, May 19, 2008

Mulayam ki Daud Maya tak

In the never ending Mulayam-Mayawati mahabharat, this is the one of the latest item
Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh on Tuesday assailed the raid by the Uttar Pradesh police on the Kolkata residence of party general secretary Amar Singh and threatened to expose the “misdeeds” of Chief Minister Mayawati. The former Chief Minister claimed he had enough material at his disposal.

The question any sensible journalist should ask Mr Mulayam singh is - If you have any proof of Maya's wrongdoing why don't you just bring it out rather than only "threatening to expose" it.

and this one takes the cake:
The former Chief Minister referred to the seizure of two and half quintals of explosive material from the Orai railway station during his regime and alleged that two Ministers of the Mayawati regime were involved in it.
He claimed that she (Ms. Mayawati) had requested Mr. Amar Singh in the Rajya Sabha then to get the case dropped as it involved her partymen.
He is suggesting that on request from Mayawati his government had let go of two criminals?

This is preposterous. I guess only in India a top politician like Mr Mulayam can afford to speak his mind as clearly as this. I am wondering if the journalists were sleeping, It was their job to ask some tough questions.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bomb Blasts in Jaipur - what can the Indian leadership do?

Yesterday evening Jaipur was rocked with 8 bomb blasts, the blasts occurred within 12 min.

Unfortunately such terror incidents have become frequent in India, within the last few months we have seen bombs going off in Hyderabad, Ajmer and now Jaipur!

Apart from the tragedy of the blasts themselves, a more disturbing fact is that new, smaller cities are being targeted.

I was thinking about what our government can do to avoid these tragedies, I am no expert on the subject but still the following points comes to my mind.

1. Strengthening of criminal justice system - The criminal justice system in our country has largely collapsed, the police is not as efficient as it should be, Public prosecutors are not the best people in their profession and the court cases drag for years.

There is an urgent need to modernize and built an efficient police force for our cities, Also needed is reform of our judicial process so that courts can dispense justice faster and the country needs to attract the best legal talent to fight cases on behalf of the state.

Apart from internal security, There is a civilian angle to it as well - a large number of Indians are victims of delayed justice.

Strengthening of courts will help us reduce corruption, promote rule of law in general and improve our overall investment climate.

Right now, in disputes "Might" wins most of the times, people dont even bother to seek a judicial recourse, as they know it doesn't work.

People indulge in corruption (and break the law all the time in general) as they know even if they are caught, either they will bribe their way out - thats more corruption, or the courts will take years (if not decades) to come to a conclusion and by that time, proving their culpability will be almost impossible for the prosecutors.

Having said all this - Execution of these reforms is tough part. Law enforcement reforms and judicial reforms will take a long time, will not be easy and will require an indomitable political will.

2. The above is a long term measure, What do we do in the short term - to avoid the next blast?
There are no easy answers, Our central, state governments have to work with intelligence agencies and local law enforcement to avoid these kind of tragedies. Quality of governance has to improve, our intelligence abilities have to be improved, and our public's security-consciousness has to be improved.

The department of homeland in the US for example has put into place a vast system of procedures and processes to assess security risk at any given point of time. There are ratings assigned for the threat level at any given point, and security precautions are taken accordingly.

The system was created after 9/11 and even though has its share of critics, it has definitely helped raise awareness among the general public. Any threat level changes are widely reported in the media and also displayed in a lot of public places. Any high threat level will make the general public much more conscious to identify any suspected activity.

3. Geo-political issues such as Kashmir if resolved will put India and Pakistan on the road of peaceful co-existence. However this is a complex, long pending issue and resolution to it is not entirely in control of Indian political leadership.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Yes we can -> Can He Stand?

Democratic race is still not over, but republicans have started attacking the presumptive democratic nominee Barack Obama.

The latest one is the launch of the website canweask.com which asks some tough questions from Obama. Nothing new, these issues have already come up at different points in the last one yr of campaigning, but the packaging is true 'election' style....




The video has voice clips of Obama supported chanting "yes we can" in his campaign speeches.... Nice editing...

The question is: Can Obama stand the heat?
So far he has not really handled criticism from the Clinton camp well, the attacks from the republicans during the main election run are going to be much more vicious - Pronouncing the full name of Obama (Barack Hussein Obama) for example, will be enough to drive away Americans in hordes from Obama.

Even though McCain promises not to use such tactics, still who knows? In the last elections for instance the swiftboating was not an official George W Bush's campaign idea, but it lead to defeat of John Kerry.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Learnt something today - the hard way

As per the news reports I read earlier, in Chennai a compulsory helmet rule was enforced in July 2007. But when I came back here in March this year, I didn't see so much of enforcement on the ground.

However today I was caught :-) 100 bucks was the fine... after that I went straight to a helmet shop and bought a helmet :-)

Learnt a lesson the hard way....but thankfully not by the "hardest possible way" in this case ;-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sub Prime woes

For the past few weeks the stock markets around the world have been highly volatile due to what is known as "Sub prime mortgage crisis".

I remember BusinessWeek broke the story on subprime mortgages some last year and since then one by one a lot of sub prime mortgage lenders in the US have gone bust. Here is a explanation of the issue.

What is a sub-prime mortgage: Unlike India or other developing countries the United States has a very structured credit reporting mechanism, Nearly every US resident having any economic activity has a credit history based on the his/her past record in paying the past loans. This credit history is assigned a score known as a credit score (also known as FICO score). A good credit history and score is seen as a sign of financial responsibility and gives lender a good idea of how risky a borrower is.

People having good credit histories and scores are clubbed into a category known as Prime borrowers, whereas those having a poor track record are in sub-prime category.

Obviously Prime borrowers command the best interest rates and terms from lenders for their mortgage/auto or any other kind of loans, sub prime borrowers on the other have to contend with much higher interest rates and terms, Many reputed lenders lend to only Prime market.

For the past few years the US has seen a robust real estate market, During this phase, some lenders started what is called “Predatory lending” practices to the sub prime borrowers, new exotic varieties of mortgage products like Option ARMs were cooked by these lenders. To illustrate in one variety of these mortgage products the lender would offer a introductory 1% interest to the borrower in the first year of the loan, or for the first year the borrower would have to pay only the interest part of the mortgage that too only partially, as a result unsophisticated sub prime borrowers made costly mistakes and took decisions to take mortgage loans they could have never afforded, after the initial year or so when the loan installment started going up sharply (2,3,4 times in many cases) the borrowers started defaulting on the loans, and hence this whole mess.

In the US the mortgage lenders sell their mortgages as securities on wall street and US being the financial superpower financial institutions from across the world puts money in these securities. Nobody realized that the assets behind those mortgage backed securities were such risky mortgages and this is how the whole chaos spread across the world. Even now we don’t know exactly which banks and FIs are affected.

Related articles on Bullish Indian blog:

What is sub prime lending
How does global markets gets affected



Sunday, August 12, 2007

US Presidential elections 2008

In the past few weeks, There have been a series of controversies related to comments made by Presidential hopeful Barack Obama. In the earlier days of his campaign I liked the guy but his recent comments increasingly shows that even with all the right and honest intentions he lacks maturity to fit into Presidential shoes.

Hillary Clinton on the other hand is presidential, smart, sensible and gives the impression of being far above the pettiness of the issues her democratic rivals are raising against her. She is emerging as the front runner in the race for the white house.

Overall its fascinating to watch the American democratic system unveiled in the form of Democratic and Republican Debates. The candidates might be good at spin but are still made to answer pretty tough questions.

I hope that some day India also adopt this kind of transparent election campaign system in some form. What we have currently is a system which lacks this kind of transparency and honestly.
I think this is due to the Indian electorate, a majority of which remain illiterate or semi-literate and are oblivious of the real issues country faces, they just vote on cast line or some petty issues created by our politicians, and these are perhaps the only people who go to vote, the educated middle and upper class remain away from voting

But that too some extent is due to the arcane system of electoral set up as well, Myself for example have never voted, I don't know where should I vote as my place of residence keeps changing every 2-3 yrs or so and I don't know when the electoral lists are prepared and how to get my name added/deleted to those, Perhaps a ration card will be required or proof of residence at the new place, The point is that the sheer idea of going to a government office to get something done puts me off, and I know I am not alone.

Mush in trouble


Past few months have brought what looks like a heap of troubles for Pak President Musharraf.

It all started in march of this year when in all his wisdom he decided to suspend the CJ of the country and the rest is history. The whole country stood up in CJ Choudhary's support and turned him into a instant hero.

Obviously, Mush didn't expect the kind of uprising across the country against this decision, added to it was the whole case of Lal Masjid terror crisis, uprising in NW frontier province (with the collapse of nearly a year long agreement with tribal elders) and recent strains in the relationship with US with the United States increasingly getting impatient over Pakistan's inability to do "enough" towards its promises - fight against Taliban and Al Qaeda on its soil.

Musharraf game plan was to get elected for another term as president while also retaining his army uniform, few would have called it improbable before march but now the situation has changed entirely, to the extent that even the option of imposing emergency was considered but given up due to US pressure and domestic resistance.

US finds that Musharraf is the only option left for it in Pakistan, and if his regime topples the country might fall in the hands of extremists. This is the prime reason Mushrraf is exploiting to get US backing and remain in power.

This reasoning is nothing new to Pakistan, even Nawaz Sharif used the same reasoning for demanding help from US during the Kargil war.


In his book "Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, And the Bomb" Strobe Talbott describes the whole sequence of diplomatic exchanges between Sharif and the US administration led by President Clinton.

Talbott points out that whether it was the issue of Nuclear Tests or Kargil war the moment US tried to push Pakistan, Sharif used to come up with this "Suicidal" argument that if his government is pushed too much by US, Pakistan will be in chaos and will collapse.

According to My Talbott, India on other hand tackled US as an "equal".

Coming back to Pakistan, as things stands now options are very limited for President Musharraf; Chances of him getting elected by the present assemblies are remote, even though he has enough votes but any such move will result in a huge uprising against him; he is negotiating with Benezir Bhutto for her return and an electoral arrangement for power sharing but Bhutto insists on Musharraf quitting the army uniform and dilution of presidential powers (particularly the one by which a president on his whims and fancy can fire an elected prime minister and his cabinet)

If the deal with Benezir Bhutto doesn't work out for Musharraf, to remain in power he will have to impose emergency and get elected, or he will have to quit and go into exile, both the options are pretty depressing for Pakistan.

On the other hand if the deal with Bhutto works out, situation seems slightly brighter but Musharraf will have lesser powers and another power center of a new Army chief may emerge.

Even after 60 years of independence Democracy remains a distant dream in Pakistan, I was shocked when I came to know of the fact that no elected government or assembly (either at a state or national level) has ever completed a full five year term in that country.

On a lighter side I find the main headline on Pakistan TV website really amusing. It never changes, it always remain either "President General Pervez Musharraf" or occasionally "Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz" with the story below highlighting what the president/PM said or did that day :-). This is the face of government owned media.

Mercifully India's Doordarshan is still not so bad.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Madam President


Pratibha Patil is the new President of India, As I watched the debate on CNN-IBN I could not help but notice a larger issue we Indians have missed in this whole election drama.

The issue is, in this election we have put an end to an admirable convention of electing a non-partisan,non-political president.

The convention started with Kalam who turned out to be a fantastic "People's president", I think credit for starting this convention should have gone to NDA who made his presidency possible.

Sadly the Congress party and their left allies were in no such mood and decided to elect a political rubber stamp like Ms Patil.

Amit Verma of livemint has written a very humorous sarcastic article, Even though some of the comments seems to be below the belt, Amit Verma represents the desperate feelings of a growing educated class who have been left with very little say in the political system of the country.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Of "Passport Baba" and "VISA Balaji"

Among the day's idiotic stories, there was this story in ET about one "Passport Baba", where hundreds of people come and tie their passports to the old pipal tree in the hopes of hitting foreign shores!

When I told of this to a friend, he told me about "VISA Balaji" where people converge for divine intervention into their VISA approval process... and it is supposed to work!

I guess India doesn't need its own parody newspaper like "The Onion", since the regular stories and events themselves are so much amusing and resemble parody :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose is a popular american journalist, recently he has put up thousand of hours of his one-to-one interviews on his website (http://charlierose.com) for free viewing.

This is a great source of watching online interviews with people from so many diverse backgrounds.

I have watched the following interviews till now:

With Warren Buffett:



With Susan Buffett:


With Geroge Bush:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Food for thought - President Clinton

A fantastic interview with president Clinton at the Aspen idea festival, here is the link.

In the hour long interview Clinton throws some interesting and amazing facts in a very eloquent way, a few of them here:

1. Interdependence: Today we are more interdependent on each other than any time in the past, Interdependence as compared to globalisation, covers the a far wide spectrum than just economics.

2. The issue of identity and the roots of terrorism: Clinton gives the example of the recent bombing attempts in London to argue that real root of terrorism is actually the issue of identity, among people who seem to have lost it and don't feel part of the mainstream even after living for many years in an alien land. For this he says the world needs to be far more open to other cultures and people.

3. The new "IT boom": Clinton attributes the huge growth in average American incomes of the 90s to the Information technology boom, he goes on to say that a developed country like US needs a new wave like IT every 6-8 yrs to sustain the income growth and to keep the wide economic inequality in check.
He suggests wide and far reaching investments and initiatives in controlling green house gases across America, This he suggests will serve to create millions of new jobs and strengthening of middle class.
Now this is some innovative thinking, but then the new jobs this proposed wave can generate will be low end jobs as compared to the IT boom. This will help the lower middle class Americans but its hard to conceive of it as the panacea of all ills.

4. On the Israel-Palestine conflict Clinton views are that if this issue is resolved half the problem of islamic terrorism will be solved and the region can emerge into new powerhouse of the middle east.

Unfortunately, given the recent developments in the Palestine, this seems highly unlikely anytime soon.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nehru - A man of letters

A new book of Nehru's writings has come out: 'The Oxford India Nehru'.

I just read its review on livemint.com and decided to include it in my "To be read" list of books.

Like zillions of Indians I have always admired Nehru for his great vision and leadership of the country, true he also made some mistakes but then who doesn't!

His books, 'Discovery of India', 'Glimpses of world history' are masterpieces written from jail.

and these lines are just wonderful:

“A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”

from his historical speech "Tryst with destiny".

Friday, July 13, 2007

Musharraf interview

Over the past few weeks, Stories coming in from pakistan have been pretty significant. I've been following them closely with dawn.

Just watching this 'family' interview of Mush, the interview opens with Mush saying:
The biggest quality of us (he and his family) is our humility
How humble of him :-)

Below is the interview, Mush stumbles and stammers as usual, still pretty interesting, gives some peep into the lives of him and his family.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Incredible India - not so incredible response :-)

The ministry of tourism, Govt of India has launched a wonderful website for the Incredible India campaign.

Even though this might sound like a crazy idea to most Indians, I thought of giving them feedback. Here is the email I tried to send them:

From: Abhinav Bhatnagar <masked masked >
Date: Jul 7, 2007 8:50 PM
Subject: Feedback on incredibleindia.org
To: contactus@incredibleindia.org

Dear Sir/Madam,

At the onset, let me take the opportunity to congratulate Ministry of Tourism, India for the wonderful "Incredible India" campaign.

The website http://www.incredibleindia.org provides a wealth of information and is beautifully designed. Being an Indian currently residing abroad I felt proud of this website.

I was impressed by the fact that the website is available in four languages. Hindi, Chinese, French and Japanese. I am sure efforts would be underway from your end to provide the site in other languages (particularly european ones) as well.

Being from IT background and having experience in website designing, I could not help but notice a few areas of improvement, I have listed them below:

1. Out of curiosity, when I selected the chinese option on the website, I was presented with a warning message from the Google desktop search program which I have on my machine. Please see the screen shot in attachment.















2. Broken links:
  • On the information page for sikkim the following two links are broken:
http://sikkim.nic.ind
http://www.sikkimtourism.org
3. The home page have some irrelevant links from the point of view of a tourist for example "Entrance test for guide training course etc" these links can be instead moved to a separate section; something like a new section for Administrative matters etc.

These are just some of the improvements which can be made to make the website more user friendly. Ideas can be taken from certain other websites.

There are many other creative things which can be done, for example the TV ad campaign videos can be made available on the website, they can also posted on popular video sharing sites such as Youtube.com, video publicity over Internet can provide huge viral marketing gains at a very nominal costs.

Excuse me for the long email, I will conclude this here congratulating you once again.

Thanks and Regards,
Abhinav

Obviously I was trying to help them here, however when the email bounced from their servers with the message "User mailbox exceeds allowed size: contactus@incredibleindia.org"

Perplexed, I looked up another email address from the site but same result:

"User mailbox exceeds allowed size: webmaster@incredibleindia.org"

anybody reading this has any idea what could be done? , I feel that I justed wasted half an hour typing that mail.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

After a year break - "The Stock market"

I again took a long break on this blog.

The past few months, I've had so much free time that I started spending time on the indian stock market. I have been investing (or sometimes trading) since 2002-03 but never had this much time at my disposal.

I have reviewed all my past investments, made a portfolio tracker excel, which draws real time quote from BSE, to track them and pruned some of the non-perfoming stocks.

Also I have invested in some new growth areas.

I plan to write on this blog about those.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Salaam Bombay

On April 3,  I wrote this.... But could not post it... hence posting it now...
 
Saw <i>Salaam Bombay</i> yesterday. The film deals with the issue of street children and their lives.It was moving.

Even though entirely shot in Bombay in 1986 it is sad that even today one can easliy find such children in huge numbers in Indian cities. In the DVD there were a few documentries about how the film brought awareness in general public and how some NGOs have been started for the betterment of street children .

Here is one.There were video footage of some of such centres as well. Their effort is really commendable but I must say that much more needs to be done on a massive scale.

In India all these issues of poverty- corruption-Infrustructure-Growth are inter-related and we as a nation are struck in visious circle.Some way has to be found to come out of it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Winning

I am reading "Winning" by Jack Welch these days....The book is the result of hundreds of seminars and Q&A sessions Jack Welch conducted since he retired from GE.

A lot of the book's material is taken from the real questions people asked Jack and his replies to them.... The guy is just amazing..... While reading the book frequently this was happening :

I'd see some question and I'd have some idea about what Jack is going to reply but his actual reply would be so different and so much more practical that it really challenged my thinking.

The other thing about Jack which I felt was his ideas and his "theories" sound so universal that I never felt that he is an American talking about American business. He has mass appeal. His ideas make real sense... It will be wonderful to see them in action.....

For example this is what he had to say on being a leader and taking tough decisions:

"You are not a leader not to win a popularity contest, you are a leader to lead".

On getting a promotion his advice is:

"Do deliver sensational performance, far beyond expectations, and at every opportunity expand your job beyond its official boundaries".


he then goes on to give an example from his early career:

He was asked to make a presentation to a visiting senior manager about the progress they were making on a new plastic product, He not only did that but he also made a detailed analysis of the market potential of the product, its competitors and a five year market outlook.

".......You are a leader to lead."

"Do Deliver sensational performance......."

The words are so inspiring for anybody to go ahead and take on the world!!!

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Da Vinci Code - The movie v The Book

Wrote this entry on the day after I saw the Da Vinci Code but forgot to post it---

The most awaited movie of the year has finally been released!!

Being a big fan of "The Da Vinci code" (TDVC) I went on the first day (but not the first show) of opening. Me and another TDVC fan were eagerly waiting for May 19th and had virtually read every news/bit/info about the movie.

First the logistics: The movie was marketed well and here in Ann Arbor it was released in a 20 screen multiplex called Showcase Cinemas, to be sure, we had booked tickets on the net but later found out at the theatre that there was no shortage of them on the spot. The reason being that TDVC was being shown on 6-7 screens parallely!!! we were amazed and praised America yet another time...:-)

The movie as such as good or even great! but paled in comparison to the Novel. I somehow felt that the production team had a tough job on hand, trying to make a movie on such a complex subject/story is not easy. There was just too much information in the book to which justice can't be done in a 3 hrs movie, hence we saw all the historical facts mentioned in the books being shown as some kind of background images which moved quickly. I really wondered if people who had not read the book would have really made out the story!

Probably a TV mini series of a total of 6 hrs would have been better but then it won't have made as much money for the producers.

The cast was just Perfect. Tom Hanks was superb and so was Audrey Tautou.

In India the movie was banned in some states, its really funny because all the christian countries are showing it. Why our Indian christians alone are so conservative I don't understand. There were news reports that in some states even the muslims objected to the movie!!! I fail to understand why...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Of BHollywood and Hotel Rwanda

The movie season continues. First it was Hollywood-Bollywood and then Hotel Rwanda.

Hollywood-Bollywood is a light movie based on the "Immigrant-theme" and the ABCD generation.
Lisa Ray was charming as usual. Rahul Khanna is a good actor but has done very limited number of films till now. One dialogue which I liked from the Movie was when Rahul Khanna start thinking that Lisa ray was a prostitute, he tells her this:

"Sue, As such it doesn't matter but those middle class values are too deeply ingrained in me". (Not the exact words but something similar)

I found it to be so true, those "Indian middle class values" and the fact that they are imbibed deeply in such families.

Hotel Rwanda was a vastly different movie. That was not an accident pick, I wanted to see that for some time. I had heard and seen on TV about the Rwanda genocide of 1994, I did some searches on the internet out of my interest and came to know that about a million people were killed by the hut militia.

The movie though was a far more detailed account of what happened there. The story is a real life story of a Hotel Manager Paul Rusesabagina and his heroic handling of the situation which led to the saving of 1200 innocent lives.

There were two main ethnic groups in Rwanda: the Hutus and the Tutsis. Their mutual hatred was a result of the colonial past, The Belgian rulers gave the Tutsis privileges in the power structure so the Hutus started feeling alienated. It reminds me of the "Divide and Rule" policy of the British in Indian subcontinent.

The movie is a brave attempt at shaming the international community to not to forget Africa and not let such a shameful thing happen again.

In the features section of the DVD there was a video clip of real life Paul Rusesabagina visiting Rwanda for the first time after the genocide. There were clips of tens of human skeletons (Including those of small babies) lying in the rooms of the "Genocide Memorial" in Rwanda. Its unimaginable that such a thing really happened.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Of "Notting Hill" and our resistance to change

Notting hill remains one of my favorite movies. Having seen it on star movies umpteen times I remember a lot of its dialogues too.
The most touching scene is when Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) tells Hugh Grant:

Let me tell you, this fame thing is not real, and don't forget that I am also just a girl, standing in front of a boy asking him to love her.

Gosh! the dialogues are so good...

I equally like the soundtrack too, particularly:

It's amazing how you can speak right to my heart

and She

In the DVD which I borrowed from the library there were other features too. There were a 3-4 scenes which were shot but later deleted from the movie, looking at them I felt that it was a good decision, but then had they been part of the movie originally I don't think I would have mind.

Its amazing how we get used to things as they are and can't imagine them to be something else.

Talking in the context of movies, "Swades" was supposed to have Amir Khan as the lead actor but since he refused Shahrukh Khan was chosen. Having seen the movie I can't imagine anybody else playing that role other than Shahrukh! Perhaps in this case it is his excellent acting and screen charisma which is responsible for it.

I am able to relate this to a number of other things in life and I feel that things which we (if I may take the liberty to generalize for everybody) like or which are considered good by us, we are not willing to change anything in them. I guess this is what is called "Resistence to change" and the book "Who moved my Cheese" was all about it.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad Ad

I read this interview on rediff and felt "inspired".

Remember those "Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad"1 messages on Doordarshan in good old days? There were so many of them. I think in those days those messages used to outnumber the commercial ads on DD.

Anyways I dont want to get distracted by their memories right now, what I want to mention here is a particular message out of those numerous messages. I dont remember it exactly but it went something like this:

An unemployed guy in a village is shown cursing the government for his situation, and then in another scene a 'self-employed' guy is shown running his own business, it is shown that he is also employing a couple of other people.

Finally the clip used to end with a punchline "Kudh bhi rozgar pao aur dus aur logon ko bhi rozgar do" ( Get yourself means of living and also give employment to ten more people).

The idea obviously was to encourage young people to start their own businesses and not depend on government for jobs.

I don't know how effective that message was and what difference it really made to the lives of unemployed youth, but some how I imbibed it deeply; and that is partly why I find interviews and articles like the one mentioned above very interesting and inspiring.

Having said that I guess I don't want to start a business just to create new employment, my idea is to do something more meaningful than I am doing now and do that with real passion.

I guess I need an idea to start with. When will I get my idea? Is there something as novel and as big as "Internet" going to happen?

I don't know and its difficult to forsee also, but what I know is that I should be ready.
Right now everything is abstract in my mind. I don't even now what should I do to be prepared. For now I am just going to entrepreneur.com to read some articles.


1: I forgot what they used to call it in english. Anybody who is reading this please let men know, if you know - Thanks in advance

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sonia Gandhi resigns from the Parliament!

This morning when I opened my laptop for the news the surprising news was: Sonia Resigns

Although not a 'Congress fan'; I appreciate this decision taken by Mrs Sonia Gandhi. After all how many of our politicians are willing to take such a bold decision? Even the left has said that their MPs won't resign.

One must also remember the decision taken by her Mother-in-law when she was disqualified from the Lok sabha. She imposed Emergency on the country.

Times are different one might argue and also Sonia Gandhi today is on a far high pedestal vis-a-vis other politicians, but still this is a very good development for Indian democracy and must be welcomed.

In my view Mrs Sonia Gandhi has set an example.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Google - just an obsession or is it for REAL

Like a billion other people I am also thoroughly impressed with Google!

The way they started off,
The way they have expanded their business based on one core competence "Search", one would have never imagined that search can be so powerful!
The way they listed their stock.
They have an "official blog" AFAIK no other major corporation has one.
The way they recruit.
Time management policy (the 20% free time rule).
Their Amazing products! ( I just love my google desktop search) including recently launched Google finance

The list can go on and on...

Due to above reasons and some of my "Gut feeling" I wanted (or do I still want?) to own Google stock.
I started tracking it when it had already run upto 420-430$ after listing at 85$ in their IPO.
Google was having its dream run. After figuring out that it is possible for me to own it, I had
decided to open a brokerage account with scottrade here in the US.

But then one fine day Google began to slide coz of some bad news and has slipped by about 100$ since.
I postponed my decision indefinitely :-) and am watching it closely.

While discussing this with a friend it occurred to me that its better for me to stick to the "known" waters of the Indian stock markets, afterall they are giving some very good returns for the past
few years! But then "in the Indian market can one find a stock like Google?" goes the counter argument.

I think I need to do some more home work before arriving at any decision.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

DVD Wars - Netflix and BlockBuster

When I was India, I had seen Netflix ads on the internet but never bothered to figure out what it is.A couple of weeks back I got to know about how Netflix has put DVD rental giant Blockbuster out of business in the issue of knowledge@wharton .

At the same time an "NRI"(well he doesn't claim to be) friend of mine suggested subscription to Netflix so I decided to figure out what this Netflix thing is all about. The first stop was their website. It offers 2 week of free trial and unlimited DVDs + no late fees + free both ways shipping. I was amazed at the business model. It seems that Netflix founder got the idea once he had to pay 40$ as late fees to his DVD rental company(which is an obvious reference to Blockbuster).

I checked out their collection and was happy to see a lot of Bollywood movies there.

I was wondering how Netflix is making money! Then I found this from wikipedia.

It was a smart business model but was unfair to the customers. Even now the same practice of 'throttling' exists but it seems they disclose it in their fine print.

Hence finally decided not to subscribe to Netflix!

Blockbuster also decided to open a "me too" DVD rental service, But I don't know if that also suffers from the same "flaw". They are offering one month free trial.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ann Arbor Library

Ann Arbor has an excellent public library system (website).

I had heard about libraries in America but still for me it was hard to believe that such a good facility can exist in such a small(relatively) American city.

I am even able to find DVDs for bollywood movies! Having said that I found that the only way to get what you really want is to use their website and reserve the items in advance. Having a policy of "unlimited checkouts allowed" ensures that none of the "hot" items is available on the shelves.

Overcome by greed I reserved and got about 5 DVD's of my favorite actor Tom Hanks ...But didn't found the time to see them....

Still managed to see "Sleepless in Seattle", "LadyKillers", "You've got mail" (this is for the nth time I have seen this one), currently I am watching "The Green Mile".

also got "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintaining" as I was not able to finish it earlier in India...Somehow I had lost that book....

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

TFTs continued..

Its been pretty exciting ..my last 2 months in the states,Here is a list of TFTs (Things done for the first time :)

  1. Experienced tempratures below -10 C for the first time in my life :-)In fact one day a walk across the road felt as if I am on a trek to the north pole! ...wait a sec ..I think I need not goto that level...otherwise I will have to write for the rest of my life..so henceforth only the"substantial" things...
  2. Flew a single engine small plane!!!.wait here is the fine print*... The snaps are here.
  3. Got into a swimming pool! ..definately a substantial achievement for me!!! yet to learn swimming though.
  4. Played Tennis!!! this was as recent as last sunday..12th march.


* with the help of an instructor.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The last time I did something for the first time

I've always felt inspired by Emirates' punch-line :"When was the last time you did something for the first time ?".
The last Sunday (10th Dec), I went to a see a live game for the first time in my life.
Me and a friend went to see India play Pakistan in a champions trophy match.
India won by 3-2 .The atmosphere was electrifying, the Indian crowd just went mad (both of us too).
Because of all the shouting and cheering I actually had a pain in my throat afterwards!!!

I was just wondering how exciting life would be if I try to do something for first time everyday? Or if that's too much perhaps every week? That's more manageable I guess.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Awaaz uthao neend se jagega india

Mr Narayan Murthy decison to resign from the chairmanship of BIAL (bang international airport ltd)
is understandable, it comes in the wake of shocking remarks made by the Ex PM Mr Deva Gowda.

Even though to most educated people Mr Murthy command far more credibility and respect than My Gowda, the pity is than nothing much seems to be happening because of that.

Bangalore's crumpled infrastructure is going to remain just that until our politicians really wake up.

Coming to specifics Mr Gowda claims that Mr Murthy didn't do much as chairman of BIAL. The fact is Mr Gowda and his party have done everything possible to stall the very same project as well as other prestigious projects in Karnataka.

What these people don't realise is that quality infrastructure will open gates of development in their state and benefit everybody. They are only concerned about their
short term benefits. Such myopic vision from a former PM of India is a matter of great shame for the whole country.

In another part of the country Ms Mamta ( of Samta-Mamta fame) have opposed the allocation of 65 acres of land for a upcoming motorcycle plant in WB. She says that she is all for protecting farmer interest. Does she means is that there should be no industries in WB??

When will India wake up?

I like those NDTV India's promos:

Awaaz uthao neend se jagega india ....Awaaz uthao .....

Sawaal poocho ....

Kadam bhadao....

pretty inspiring.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Book Review of "Five Point someone" by Chetan Bhagat

Here is the review of the book "Five point someone",  I wrote sometime back:

Written in a simple , non-fussy, informal language the writer relives his IIT Delhi days and After reading it I too was lost in the memories of my college days! . I bought the novel on my weekend trip to bangalore, I was staying in IIM Bangalore's hostel with Tarun, so got the opportunity to read this book in a "college like" setting. Finished it off on the night of 21st-22nd may . Even though this may not come out on the list of bestsellers or one of the classics, but I think its a must read for anybody who's been to college. The story revolves around 3 undergraduates, Hari , Alok and Ryan studying in IIT Delhi. Hari falls in love with one Prof Cherian's daughter Neha. As they indulge in more and more "extra curricular" activities their grades fall and always remain on the fringes of 5 something , hence the title. Even though the title also says "what not to do at IIT", it doesn't seems like writer's advice! The background of the writer interests me (may be coz I don't have it :-) , an IITD - IIMA passsout Chetan is working for a MNC bank in hongkong.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Zen and the Art of motorcycle maintenance

I am reading this classic for the past one month or so. It has so deep
underlying meanings that its taking a lot of time to sink in. I am not able
to read more than a couple of pages at a time. Yeah it gets dry at times but
still has some 'hard to describe' feel to it which doesn't let me putting it off.

A must read for everybody. I have not finished it yet and I am already planning to reread it.


....

Bought "The Story of my experiments with truth" yesterday (Gandhi Jayanti).

One more book added in my pile of unread books lying at home...