Saturday, 27 December 2008

Is There Plastic In Kurkure?

Is there plastic in kurkure? Kurkure is a highly popular Indian snack liked by young and old alike. In fact its got a pretty heavily devoted following amongst the children. Its a Pepsico product. Lately there has been an email circulating that there is plastic in kurkure and if you burn kurkure you can see the plastic melting. For mothers with an addicted brood of kurkure eaters and followers thats tough news (or welcome news, if thats your cue to start the kurkure de-addiction process, whichever way you tend to look into it). Kurkure of course has responded with an ad "No Plastic in Kurkure," which means the allegation has found a response amongst kurkure users and maybe also has affected sales.

We have known for long that Pepsi and Coca Cola and maybe other MNCs take the lives of Indians lightly and dont really follow the same stringent rules they follow in Europe, USA and Australia when they manufacture their products here. There are enough loopholes in our processes to enable them to get away with it. And why blame them. Our system co-operates with them, as it co-operates with all big business that provides revenue.

It upto us the end users to discriminate and turn back to home-made products for "health"

Here's Kurkure's side of the story.

Barack The Magic Negro

Here is the "Barack The Magic Negro" song from youtube. The song was first aired at a Rush Limbaugh talk show in 2007. A Republican Party major operative and a Republican National Committee member, Chip Saltsman, has distributed the song in a CD to colleagues in what is being described as a "joke". The song is to the tune of a song "Puff the Magic Dragon".

Friday, 26 December 2008

Dostana Hindi Movie Review

Main gay hoon, Main gay nahin hun, Main gay hun kya? Kya tum gay ho? This sums up the story of Dostana – a story of two young men over confused about their sexuality. Well the plot is thin – So thin in fact it loses itself many a times in the tangle of legs and hormones - of Priyanka Cho. and John Abe. And the cute one day stubble of Abe babe. What was Bobby Deol doing with those three? The Deol Baba was such a let-down. I was really thankful to Bobby for providing some relief in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (The worst ever movie I have ever watched) – I guess the Director too thought of Bobby’s role in a similar way – to provide plenty of back-up to the Bachchan Baba. But here’s news for you – Abhisekh Bachchan was outstanding – Bobby Deol was a dead bore. Dostana really has brought the term gay out of the closet, in India amongst the masses. There are some thoughts that the movie would throw the fragile gay rights movement in this country decades behind. I tend to disagree – bringing such a theme into open and into the mainstream was necessary in India.

Coming to the (non-existent) script, Abhisekh Bachchan and John Abraham decide to project a homosexual relationship in order to get accepted into a PG accommodation. As the third occupant was a young pretty babe, the niece of the house-owner, young males were not allowed. However the two decided to prolong the acting in order to get a faster visa too. In the meantime, they both fall in love with the niece (Priyanka Chopra) and the three become fast friends. Priyanka, meanwhile, is in love with her Boss, Bobby Deol. The two John Abe and Abe Babe do everything their power to thwart that relationship, even going as far as to poisoning Deol’s young son’s mind against Priyanka.

There are lots of comic encounters, climaxes in the script. The scene where Priyanka’s gay Boss Boman Irani tries to make a play for the duo with a Visa officer looking on was hilarious and exasperating at the same time. In fact, that sums up the whole movie – funny and exasperating in turns. I feel John Abraham doesn’t deserve such a huge part in any script – one does tire of the biceps and looks for some expressions at times. Sigh. Too much to expect. Kiron Kher does a gem of a job as a gay person’s mother – a traditional mother trying to come to terms with her son’s sexual orientation. Susmita Mukherjee overacts. Irani does his bit convincingly. There's Shilpa Shetty in a wee bit role too. But the movie belongs to Abhisekh and Priyanka. Priyanka was outstandingly gorgeous. Actually the three of them (Priyanka, John, Abe) in their scenes together make the movie paisa wasool. One does exit the theatre with a goofy smile – so that makes the movie worth watching!

I do know it’s too late for a Dostana review – but what the heck – I watched movie now and couldn’t help writing about it! Dostana is apparently faring very well at the Box Office too.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Santa Claus Story

Here is the Santa Claus story. A story made by poems, love, hope, benevolence and moreover a story which has possibly brought smiles and cheers to more children than anything else combined.

St. Nicholas lived in what is South of Turkey now. He was a benevolent cleric, a patron of the poor, with some noble deeds which made him a "Saint" in the eyes of the common people. He even withstood Roman persecution as did many clerics of those times. However nothing would have prepared even him to be the Santa Claus of today, driving his sleigh loaded with gifts!!!

The elvish twinkle eyed and twinkle toed Santa with his "Ho Ho Ho" can truly be attributed to cinema, literature, folklore and largely a poem by Clement Clark Moore "Twas The Night Before Christmas".

In the poem "Twas The Night Before Christmas", Clement Clark Moore first gave the names to the reindeers which drove Santa's Sleigh and made an image of a twinkle-eyed, pot bellied jovial gift giver. Santa and his reindeers have since been part of folk-lore being there to wash away trouble and sadness and bring joys to the lives of rich and poor children alike! How they came from the North pole is another story!

Here's more on Santa!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

How To Make Pasta

I guess how I made Pasta would be a more appropriate title for this post! Anyways, here it goes...

I was having a small get-together, a kind of mini kitty party a few days back and I decided to make pasta (with sauce and all of course). For some unknown reason (after all I had never tried to make pasta before), I decided it was the easiest thing to prepare. So, I went about shopping the evening before.

Ingredients

I picked up the best-looking packet of macaroni, a can of baked beans, a tinned mushroom, a tin of tomato puree. Then I looked at the cheese available and found just the right thing, a packet of grated cheese. See, I had done my research on the net. I had found a dozen recipe of pasta. Its another matter that none of them advised putting all these stuff together. I also picked up bottles of garlic salt and white pepper.

Just as I was leaving, I was suddenly assailed by doubts (a rare thing, but there…) I got a packet of noodles and some perfectly cut frozen vegetables as well as a bottle of soya sauce – to make noodles if worse came to worst!

I started my pasta at midnight after bundling off the kids to bed, the party being scheduled for the morning.

Cooking The Perfect Pasta

As per instructions on the net, I would need 5 liters of water to boil 500g of Pasta. I found my biggest pan could hold just 3 litres. I made do. The water had to boil first. That went fine. Then sidle in the macaroni into the boiling water. Yes, please don’t throw it in, the water’s boiling, the pan’s full, just coax in the pasta, unless you have a preference for getting scalded! Keep mixing it, so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom. One really has to be careful. The best instruction I found online said that, take a bite and remove the pasta just when you feel the softness is as you would like to eat it. There is some philosophy somewhere here. So many things in life are that simple!

I removed and drained the the macaroni onto a colander. I kept aside some of the liquid to use in the sauce. You will find there is very little liquid left when 500gms pasta is boiled in 3 ltrs of water!

Pasta Sauce

Next step was to prepare the pasta sauce. I put two tbs of butter into a pan, then scraped some garlic cloves into the pan. Then I sprinked garlic salt and white pepper. I added the mushrooms from the can (drained), then emptied a 200 gm tin of tomato puree. The paste seemed to be very very thick. So I added the reserve water I had kept aside and let the mixture simmer. It was a real pungent taste. I realized too late that the tomato puree was really thick and just 3-4 spoons would have sufficed. So I had to keep on adding water to get the right consistency! So I had a huge pan full of pasta sauce. I made some white sauce next. I am not going to describe the process. Oh, well. I boiled some milk (200 ml), added some butter and mixed in 2 tsp of white flour. Is that white sauce? Well, I always prepare it that way…

Final Dressing

Now for the finale. I mashed 3 medium sized potoes which I had previously boiled. I brought out my largest casserole (I was not really prepared for the huge quantity). Then I poured in the macaroni. Added the mashed potatoes, the baked beans (with the juice), the white sauce. The pasta was still dry. I added the sauce I had prepared. I realized I needed just one-fifth of the prepared quantity! But I strained out all the mushroom from the sauce to add to the pasta. I mixed in all the contents, cooled it and stored it away. I entire process lasted one and half hours, including preparation time.

Just before serving the next day, I took out the amount needed onto another much smaller carsserole, sprinkled the grated parmesan cheese on top and heat it in the microwave till the cheese melted.

So there, I had my pasta ready (so what if we all had to eat pasta for 3 days!) and it really, surprisingly tasted good!

Try it, and tell me the results! Just remember 500 gm pasta would maybe feed around 15 persons as a snack, and my party was just for 5 people.

And now the family has started on the noodles (remember the packet I got as back-up)!!! But that recipe is another story.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Weight Loss Through Wuyi Tea - A Magic Diet!

Is Wuyi tea truly a magic diet weight loss formula? Looking for slimming plans (as I usually do at least once a month :-) I came across what is being claimed as a magic weight loss plan, the Wu Yi diet tea. The plan is simple. Just two cups of Wuyi tea a day, 30 minutes of walking, normal balanced diet.

What exactly is Wuyi tea? It’s the tea grown in the volcanic Wuyi mountain region. Wuyi Mountain is located in Southeast China. It is a Unesco heritage site and the cradle of neoconfucianism. The setting of Wuyi mountains, the nutrient rich trapped soil, the high humidity and provide the perfect environment for tea from that region. Tea from the Wuyi Mountains is being exported for centuries. The Chinese take their tea seriously. Drinking tea is almost a spiritual act. The tea is savoured and taken in small clay thimbles with both hands in the traditional Chinese way. The ancient Chinese believed this tea to be a cure for many ailments.

The most famous Wuyi Tea, Da Hong Pao is grown in only three bushes which accounts for its exhorbitant price (if its available!) Xing Hong Pao is grown from the branches of the smaller red robe trees which are descents of the original three red robe trees.

So why is the Wuyi tea believed to be a diet tea? Possibly because the caffeine in the tea raises the body’s metabolic rate? The tea in itself contains very little calories and should be taken in lukewarm water. Wuyi tea, in addition contains higher levels of polyphenols and thus has high antioxidant properties which are attributed to protect from a variety of diseases (the ancient Chinese medics prescribed them often). It also is supposed to be responsible for increasing body metabolism, which may account for the weight loss properties.

There are many resources on Wuyi tea on the Net. Here is one.

Play Escape The Hotel Online

Here is a free online game Escape The Hotel. Play Escape the Hotel online and Enjoy!


Play Games at AddictingGames

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Mumbai Terror Attacks - Why And How and Its Effect

How devastating is the Mumbai Terror Attack to the Indian psyche?

Mumbai terror attack is the culmination of a long year of terrorist strikes in India. Terrorists have struck at will from Bangalore to Jaipur to Guwahati, in fact all corners of India. Given the resilience of the Indian people, it has devastated some but the majority of Indian people have gone on with life as before. The Mumbai terror attack is different. Terror has struck at the soft underbelly of the Indian landscape – the moneyed, the powerful. A bank’s chairman captured and killed, the Hotel’s GM’s family murdered. A newspaper editor still missing. These are killings the press will remember. If the Press will remember, the country will remember. And with elections approaching – The Govt. will have to do something about it. The terrorists however have been kinder to their Muslim brethren in this country. I dread the type of retaliation that would have been fuelled and abetted by the ultra right politicians, if the terrorists' attacks had just been on Hindus.

The terrorists reportedly were looking at British / US passport holders and attacked a Jewish house. That brings us to the agenda of the terrorists. There is no doubt it was funded by international agencies and planned abroad. Their view was to gain international attention. Maybe it was a double-edged sword. They wanted international attention and to get the support of the anti- Indian, Kashmir groups, local support so to say, the indiscriminate strikes at public places happened – to get back at India. The developed World has been quiet. How does Al-Qaeda and its supporting arms like LET keep the terror army motivated? Where do the terrorist funding come from if the boys being trained on the high mountains of Pakistan do not get a job? India is always an easy target. But with so many strikes another strike doesn’t really catch the country’s attention. Hell, they have even got away with shooting in the Indian Parliament (the common man’s refrain at that time was – God, why didn’t they kill the lot – truly). So the international flavor to the strike. Through India – maybe crippling Indian growth and setting it back 2-4 years. The purpose is solved – anti-kashmir terrorists get back at India and Al-Qaeda training and funding purpose solved with attacks on Jews, US and UK tourists.

However I feel another purpose of the terrorists could not materialise. Taking hostages and negotiating. The Indian Army and Police with their chaotic handling of the situation ensured that there was no scope for negotiations. They created enough confusion for any demand for negotiation to be lost in the mayhem. The police had lost their top brass – so maybe they didn’t care any longer for lives lost. Anyways when already 100 people had been killed how could 20-30 more lives matter – the commandos job as I can gather from news was to capture or kill the terrorists – at any cost. Actually, this might be the only positive that might have come out of this strike. The nation still cringes at the memory of a smiling Jaswant Singh handing terrorists crores of rupees plus releasing a top terrorist during the Kandahar hijacking.

So will India get back on tracks – you bet. That means people will continue to travel and move as before. The country’s growth will be affected. That means there will less jobs and more unemployed – this will lead to more unrest. I just hope this part of the World doesn’t become one more Afghanistan. It will be a difficult time for the World – the next few years, India included.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Play Mario Online - Mario Widget

Here's a nice little Mario Game anyone will love!

Ten Toys We CAn Make - Home Made Toys We Have Forgotten!

As I look at the toys being advertised, the shops being crowded, the rush for popular toys, I am reminded of the toys we had when we were younger. Toys were so simple then. Do children really play with all the toys they wish for? Why do they mess around with glue, clay and colours when the latest gizmo occupies pride of place on their table? Isn't it just part guilt, part affection, part "keeping up with the Joneses" that make us give them the latest and the best, year after year. How would you and by transference the child feel should a $100 Toy break in a day?

Children love simple stuff. However they are hardly exposed to simple joys these days! I am listing here some toys every child will love. You would enjoy making them, getting your hands dirty or getting them from the store. They are replaceable but most of all they are FUN. Kids from 2-7 years will enjoy them. And sadly most of them have been forgotten.

A Wireless Set
- Just a piece of string with cardboard boards at the end for earphones (maybe you can do it better!)

Marbles - Oh, the joys of playing with marbles!

Stitching
a new dress by hand - not with the sewing machine.

Kites

Water Colour

A Clay Set - Try digging the clay from the yard, making shapes and then putting it on the stove to fire it!

Plastic spoons (generally found in formula milk)

Collectibles like bookmarks, stamps, labels, pencil stubs

A Homemade Book of Quotations

Picture frame

Little boxes, bottles to play stack, or glued to form monuments or just mess around with!

Paper planes, Boats!

I remember clearly two sets of precious toys I had in my childhood that I never tired of - one a little doll not more than 6 inches in height and another a clay kitchen set. I guess they are too frugal for today - but we could still make a start and bring simplicity back to our children's lives!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Anil Kumble - India's Greatest Cricketer

The retirement of Jumbo comes as a shock to me (well not really, considering the way he has been hounded the past month). And my admiration for the man goes up by one more notch. Here's why. He is the captain of the team, in the midst of a winning series against the World's No. 1 team. The next team India would play is England at home. Tailor made for Anil Kumble, right? Jumbo doesn't think so. Without any dramatics, long farewells, emotional press conferences, he just says - thats it. That's Anil Kumble for you. That's Jumbo - a man with a jumbo sized heart and humility and very little ego or drama. He didnt play well, he quit since he wasn't getting any younger at 38.

But he doesnt lack in emotion, he just doesn't care to wear it on the field. Look at the venue, where he decides to announce his retirement. Feroze Shah Kotla - the venue where he has taken 10 wickets in an innings.

Many may not agree with me here, but I would rate Jumbo among the Top 5 bowlers ever and the Best Cricketer India has produced. Let me just state a few statistics to establish my claim. I am not talking of his unique spirit here in bowling with a broken jaw, a bandaged finger, of the statesmanship shown on India's last tour of Australia. All these together would catapult him into the best cricketer ever league!

Anil Kumble has 619 wickets in a career spanning 18 years in a highly competitive sport like cricket! Remember the careers of talented spinners Sivaramakrishnan, Hirwani, Maninder Singh, Venkatapathy Raju? Of course you remember them! They are all over TV and in the selection committees! Now you understand where Kumble stands! He was definitely never touted as talented as any of them! He just quietly played 18 years, took 619 wickets over 132 Tests and spun India to victory after victory at home and abroad!

Its not just the longevity of his career that makes him the greatest ever Indian cricketer. Heard of someone called Shane Warne? Joking. Shane Warne is treated at par with a legend in Australia. There is no doubt of his standing in Australia or World Cricket. Look at his statistics. Warne has 708 wickets from 145 Tests. Mightily impressive, wouldnt you say? Of course it is! Now look at Anil Kumble's statistics. 619 wickets from 132 Tests. Just 89 less wickets from 13 less Tests!

Kumble is a legend not just for the length of his career or the wickets he has taken. Its for the wins he has given India. And its not just at home. Of course at home Anil Kumble was the King. But he was instrumental in many of India's memorable wins abroad after 2002, wins at Headingley, Adelaide, Multan and Kingston. He took 20 wickets at Australia to be the highest wicket taker there in the last tour to Oz. Winning 43 of the 118 he played, he was undoubtedly India's greatest match-winner. Before 2002, he never had a score to bowl to abroad. Its only after 2002 after Rahul Dravid started his golden run, Kumble could bowl his bouncers and googly with aplomb. And the results were for all to see. Here are some of Kumble's match winning statistics.

Career Statistics Here

For me some of the greatest Kumble moments were his leading the side to win at Perth (India were supposed to be blown aaway there!), his century at Oval (Murali and Warne havent got one!), his ten wicket haul versus Pakistan at Delhi, his playing with a bandaged broken jaw at West Indies...

For me he is real God of Indian cricket!

My Grandparent's House - A Ghost Story

(This is purely a work of fiction - any resemblance to any story, place or person is maybe intentional, maybe not!)

This incident happened to my father’s friend, Chandu Da. He had been to our ancestral home at Puri, a popular destination for Bengalis. Father had suggested he stay at our empty place during his trip there. The house had been occupied by my uncle (father’s cousin) until his death, recently. My father, his four brothers and their family always went there on holidays and special occasions like Rath-Yatra.

Let me just describe the house. Its on the outskirts of Puri. Having been built some centuries ago, it stood, a grand house amidst a huge coconut grove . It must have been the only property of its kind in the locality not having fallen prey to real-estate developers. The caretaker stayed with his family in a small out-house. The house itself was built traditionally with rooms around a central courtyard and an encircling verandah. My uncle’s room was the one occupying the central place. It had a huge bed, a rickety ancient easy-chair, an old fashioned bookcase. There was a faded portrait of my uncle’s when he was young (it was painted after his graduation, as was the norm in those days). Over the bookcase were his specs, which no one had the heart to remove, and an old wall clock, the kind which had a pendulum. There was a closed window facing the adjacent room and another opening outside into the grove.

This was Chandu Da’s story…

He returned home late, after work, dinner and some time on the beach. It was quite a distance from the gate to the house. Chandu da was immersed in his own thoughts when suddenly he became aware of the silence of the night. There was very little moon. The coconut trees swayed and there was the faint smell of the gangaseuli, a local flower. Feeling rattled by the eerie silence, he hurried into the house. He fumbled with the lights, then switched them on. By that time, after his walk through the empty grove, he was already uneasy with little idea what was in store for him that night. He thought of waking Raghu, the caretaker, but could not think of a reason, since he had already had his dinner and had asked the man not to wait up for him.

After washing up, Chandu da settled down to read in bed. He had retrieved some book from my uncle's bookcase. My uncle was a war aficionado and there were literally hundreds of books on World War 2, 1971 Bangladesh war and more. Chandu da stayed awake for some time aware of the squeaking of rats, rustling of coconut leaves and maybe an odd creaking noise. The uneasy feeling, which had assailed him since he came in, became overwhelming. He got up and closed the window. The only noise was the old Grandfather clock ticking and the pendulum swaying like in movies. Suddenly the portrait of Uncle seemed to take on a lifelike aspect. Not being able to tolerate it any more and feeling exceedingly foolish for feeling so terrified, Chandu da switched off the lights and tried to go to sleep.

The noise of the rats wouldn’t let him sleep. He could distinctly see one huge member of the species go up the clock. It happened such that after some time he became conscious only of the rats. They refused to go away. He felt their whisperings in his ears, their squeaks, their scurrying, all with increasing clarity. He must have dozed off then, for he dreamt of huge rats, my uncle, father, the coconut grove all in a kaleidoscopic medley. When he woke up next, he felt a tugging at his trousers and the first thing he thought he saw, was my uncle sitting on the easy chair at the foot of the bed. He shouted. Then he realized, it was just a rat, a huge one, on the easy chair. The one, which must have tugged at his trousers. The rat refused to budge. Chandu da must have dozed off again, for he again dreamt of my uncle gazing at him from the easy chair. He woke up. The rat was still there at his feet. He chanced to look up at the portrait. He saw the stern face of uncle there. He then looked back at the rat and started. There was the same stern face. Looking back and forth from the portrait to the rat he kept seeing the uncanny resemblance, then gradually before his eyes, there was my uncle sitting directly in front of him on the easy chair – appraising him. Chandu da fainted. That was how the housekeeper found him when he let himself into the house early the next morning...

Well, we couldn’t make much of this incident. It was our house and our uncle. He was a kind man, when alive. Maybe, that was his way of keeping an eye on the house and strangers? Anyways, guests these days always sleep in the guest room, only the family go into Uncle’s room and they have no problem other than a feeling of warmth and happiness and being home…

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Barack Obama Will Be 44th USA President - Here Is His Victory Speech

Obama has won the Presidential Elections to be the 44th President of USA, the first Black President, after a gruelling two year campaign where he first fought a hard bitter battle to beat Hilary Clinton to the Democratic Party nomination. Starting as an outsider (he was initially almost 30 percentage points behind Clinton in polls), he fought a hard, steady often acrimonious battle to wrestle the Democratic Party nomination against the powerful Clintons. Then followed a battle against McCain which he won with a better grass root level mobilisation of workers, efficient and often record breaking fund raising helped by a general disillusion of President Bush's policies and a staggering economy. In the final months of the race, McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as VP seemed to have helped him too.

The victory speech of Obama has been like his campaign - gracious, with a moderate tone and inclusive. Hats off to America "where all things are possible!"

Here's the link to the transcript of Obama's acceptance speech in his hometown Chicago.

Here is the transcript (from Fox News)
"BARACK OBAMA: Hello, Chicago.

(APPLAUSE)

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

(APPLAUSE)

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

(APPLAUSE)

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton...

(APPLAUSE)

... and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

(APPLAUSE)

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years...

(APPLAUSE)

... the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady...

(APPLAUSE)

... Michelle Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

Sasha and Malia...

(APPLAUSE)

... I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us...

(LAUGHTER)

... to the new White House.

(APPLAUSE)

And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.

(APPLAUSE)

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe...

(APPLAUSE)

... the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

To my chief strategist David Axelrod...

(APPLAUSE)

... who's been a partner with me every step of the way. To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics...

(APPLAUSE)

... you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done. But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy...

(APPLAUSE)

... who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

(APPLAUSE)

And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.

There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

OBAMA: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

(APPLAUSE)

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

(APPLAUSE)

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

(APPLAUSE)

To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

(APPLAUSE)

That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

(APPLAUSE)

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see?

What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America."

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Sarah Palin Rap Video And Lyrics

Here is the Palin Rap Video in SNL, It is enjoyable and has become a massive hit too!
Amy Poehler rapped while Palin looked on and enjoyed the show.



Here is Palin Rap lyrics too.

one two three

my name is sarah palin you all know me
vice president nominee of the gop
gonna need your vote in the next election
can i get a ‘what what’ from the senior section
mccain got experience, mccain got style
but don’t let him freak you out when he tries to smile
cause that smile be creepy
but when i be vp
all the leaders in the world gonna finally meet me

how’s it go eskimo
eskimos
tell me what you know eskimo
eskimos
how you feel eskimo
ice cold
tell me tell me what you feel eskimo
super cold

i’m jeremiah wright cause tonight i’m the preacher
i got a bookish look and you’re all hot for teacher
todd lookin fine on his snow machine
so hot boy gonna need a go between
in wasilla we just chill baby chilla
but when i see oil lets drill baby drill

my country tis of thee
from my porch i can see
russia and such

all the mavericks in the house put your hands up
all the mavericks in the house put your hands up
all the plumbers in the house pull your pants up
all the plumbers in the house pull your pants up

when i say ‘obama’ you say ‘ayers’
obama. ayers. obama. ayers.
i built me a bridge - it ain’t goin’ nowhere.
[ohhh]

mccain, palin, gonna put the nail in the coffin
of the media elite
she likes red meat
shoot a mother humpin moose, eight days of the week

now ya dead, now ya dead,
cause i’m an animal, and i’m bigger than you
holdin a shotgun walk in the pub
everybody party, we’re goin on a hunt
la la la la la la la la

yo palin, i’m out

Play Sudoku Online

Many of you out there would be Sudoku addicts. In fact before i took to online writing, I too was a keen sudoku player.

Sudoku originated from US but the version that we are all familiar with came, recycled, from Japan (hey, I didnt know that, wikepedia says so).

Sudoku's a way to place just 9 numbers (from 1-9) on a 9X9 square grid. Sounds easy, doesnt it? But the hitch lies here, you can have only one solution, you cannot repeat a number in a horizontal line, vertical line on in a square! Not so easy, you see.

Why should you play sudoku?

I played it when I was pregnant and had left my job and didnt have anything to do...You cant get pregnant but well you may have a lot of time to waste:-)

I also played it because I never have been able to solve a crossword in a morning paper, and this was the first crossword like stuff that I could actually manage to finish!

I also played it because it was about numbers and it made me feel good solving them (believe me the solution has nothing to do with nos. you even substitute the nos for alphabets and use the same rules!!! - thats an idea for a new game - wow) because many people didnt even look it because they were numbers! numbers =>brains=> me!!!

Finally, I played it since I became an addict!!! I mean i never became addicted to the Rubik's cube (I could never solve it, dammit)...so Sudoku was an intelligent way to make my family think I was doing something brainy!

The Best Sudoku Site I have Seen is This. Its easy and fast and keeps your stats too!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A Musical Tribute To Asha Bhosle - 75 Years

Asha Bhosle completed 75 years on 8th September. She first recorded a song in 1943, 65 years back. What a journey it has been since then for this grand lady of Indian music! Still lends her voice to actors young enough be her grand daughters! Here’s a musical tribute to Asha Bhosle.

Nanhe Munne Bacche Teri from the movie Boot Polish (1954) was one of her earliest songs as she made the transition from B-Grade movies playback to the top directors. Raj Kapoor gave her the break here.



Uden Jab jab Zulfein from Naya Daur (1957). Naya Daur was Asha's first break which vaulted her to stardom. The pair of Asha-Nayyar went on to create tremendous music later and were also involved emotionally. BR Chopra was the producer of the movie.




Her partnership with Pancham da was legendary and lasted till RD Burman's death. Asha discovered herself many times over with RD Burman's compositions. She became well known as the voice of Helen with Piya tu... She did songs ranging from the racy Caravan to the soulful Ijaazat, romantic Yaadon Ki Baarat and melodious Hara Rama Hare Krishna with him. Here are two Pancham - Asha songs

Dum Maro Dum - Hare Krishna Hare Ram (1971)



Jaane Jaa Phir Raha, Dhudndta Hi Raha (Jawani Diwani)



In Ankhon ki Masti from Umrao Jaan in 1981, the movie for which she won her first National Award. She could sing ghazals too!



Parde Mein Rehne Do - Never one to miss out on a trend, Asha was one of the first of the older playback singers to make the foray into the remix world and achieved instant success. One of her earlier remixes which became a roaringly successful video.



She recorded a duet with Australian cricket hero Brett Lee "You're the One For Me" (2006)



Asha sings Aaiye Meherbaan Live (a OP Nayyar Composition from Howrah Bridge)



She celebrates her 75th anniversary with what else – a new album!

Some other Asha trivia. She has been nominated for Grammy. She can sing a Mozart aria in her own scale and she owns Queen Anne furniture! She has also won the Dada Saheb Phalke award, the highest honour in Indian cinema.

Here’s to many more years of Asha and her songs!

All about Asha Bhosle

Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You

If I had to live my life without you near me
The days would all be empty
The nights would seem so long
With you I see forever oh so clearly
I might have been in love before
But it never felt this strong

How many youthful love ballads have commenced here! This beautiful melody originally written by Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser and sung by George Benson, was given a whole new makeover by Glenn Mederios. Its the original love song, sung for the truly wholesome first love. Tell me, which young lover wouldnt have presented a recording of this song to his lover, fifteen years back! Mederios, a Hawaaian singer, recorded this at sixteen. It went to the States and became extremely popular just by word of mouth, no extensive trailer release, no pre release hype! It has even been used by the US Army at one point!

Here's a video of this song and the complete lyrics

If I had to live my life without you near me
The days would all be empty
The nights would seem so long
With you I see forever oh so clearly
I might have been in love before
But it never felt this strong

Our dreams are young
And we both know they'll take us
Where we want to go

(Chorus 1)
Hold me now
Touch me now
I don't want to live without you

(Chorus 2)
Nothing's gonna change my love for you
You ought know by now how much I love you
One thing you can be sure of
I'll never ask for more than your love

(Chorus 3)
Nothing's gonna change my love for you
You ought know by now how much I love you
The world may change my whole life through
But nothing's gonna change my love for you

If the road ahead is not so easy,
Our love will lead the way for us
Like a guiding star
I'll be there for you if you should need me
You don't have to change a thing
I love you just the way you are
So come with me and share the view
I'll help you see forever too

(Repeat Chorus 1)

(Repeat Chorus 2)

(Repeat Chorus 3)

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Mummy Woes

I have recently shifted to a new place leaving behind the comfort of my home state, Mom, Dad, in-laws, aunts, uncles, etc, etc. You get the drift. With all the attendant heartache (or relief!), I have also left behind the comfort of a domestic help.

It’s a novel experience for me caring for my children all alone and all day. Before this, I always had people to cook and care for the child. So much for the advantages of working out! Working seems so very simple compared to this! You just need to take care of the target and the rest falls into place. Like a fat cheque at the end of the month! You come home at 8 in the evening, cuddle the child, before handing him over to be fed. In the meantime you catch the news and then some cartoon with the toddler.

Now look where I am. It seems my entire life is just planning the next meal and then ensuring that that meal goes where it's intended and not into the dustbin! Just when breakfast is over, lunch needs to be cooked. After running around feeding a cantankerous kid his lunch (it takes roughly around 2 hours, maybe…if one is lucky), its time to plan for the tea time snack and dinner. But I have been cheating on dinner, so far. I’ve been getting it mostly from the local deli. It’s another matter that the man behind the counter asked me yesterday, “no house cooking, ma’am? you work outside?” leaving my husband grinning and me …furious!

Moreover, it is not all cooking too. Clothes, dishes, they all need to be cleaned (only part that’s automated), hung, dried, folded et al. Wipe the table, put aside books, shoes, cds, plates… believe me keeping house is a never ending process. Just when I think I can put my feet up with a mug of tea, I find the apple juice has been spilled. While I wipe that clean, the kid has found a means to climb the TV unit, of course not before tearing the day’s papers to shreds and strewing the neatly folded clothes all over the carpet. And as I run mad clearing up, he manages to break a egg. Well, I hope, the baby will have to have a nap. I can catch a bit of breath, then. Maybe start a novel or, just maybe, if I am lucky, get in a blog. That is the hope I have been nourishing the past fortnight. And it still remains a wistful forlorn hope…for I go to sleep before the kid does!

It reminds me of the story of “Uncle ___ Hangs A Portrait” from Three Men in a Boat! I have never believed that being a home-maker is easy. I am being proved right many times over. Sshh…Don’t wake him. Its 12 AM and he is finally asleep!

All said and done, I don’t think I will trade all these for Office work ever again. Especially when my child whispers to me at night, Mama, please do not go to Office – ever! Its not really tough being a Mom...

How To Clean Your PC

PC users these days start off with the internet unlike in ancient times when PCs were mostly standalone. However with constant use of the Web a lot of junk files tend to get accumulated in the PC and unless cleaned regularly, they really slow down the system.

Here are some basic maintainence steps that have worked very well for me in the last decade for my PC/laptop. You can try them before calling in the experts. The steps are for Windows users

Clean Temporary Internet Files

Go to Internet Explorer/Tools/Internet Options

At Temporary Internet Files
Delete Cookies and delete temp. internet files

Reduce the No. of Days to keep in History to 3. The default option is 20

Clean Temporary Files

Go to Run at the Start Menu
Type %temp% and click ok
Select all the temporary files that appear and send to Recycle Bin

Empty the Recycle Bin

Empty the recycle bin at periodic intervals as it tends to slow up the PC.

Here's another way to clean those temporary internet files and the recycle bin. Use this regularly.

Go to Start / Program / Accessories /System Tools / Disk Cleanup
Run the Disk cleanup

Defragment Disk

Go to Start / Program / Accessories /System Tools / Disk Defragmenter

Analyze and defragment the disk if recommended. This can be carried out once in two months or so.

Last but not the least scan the PC with an antivirus (that has not expired!) regularly.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Indian Ads and Symbols Review | 5 Classic Indian Ads

Here's a review of five classic Indian Ads and their enduring symbols that we have grown up with.

Of course others may qualify too, but these 5 are still going strong and continue with their original theme since colour television made an appearance in India in the early eighties. I have chosen these symbols also for the impact they have made on their product as also the attention they have generated.

Surf and Lalita Ji

One of the earliest classic advertisements, it showcased the middle income Indian housewife’s frugality and as well as her no nonsense attitude, principles and her continuous striving to get the best VFM. All these in a remarkably well made 60 sec spot! It even spawned a TV serial Rajni as well as made Kavita Chowdhury playing Lalita ji famous. She later starred in a successful TV serial Udaan.

Tagline - Surf Ki Kharidari Main Hi Samajhdari Hai!



Onida Devil

Who doesn’t remember “Neighbour’s envy, Owners pride”? The Onida devil became a symbol of ownership and onus and' everything from the latest car, house or boyfriend qualified for the phrase, "neighours envy, owners pride


Colgate Surakhsha Chakra

The Colgate "surakhsha chakra" (ring of confidence) with the ting tong click has been a most enduring symbol. From Sangeeta Bijlani in early 80s to Divakar Pundir today, they have all helped in keeping colgate synonymous with toothpaste. And the ad has evolved with the times without sacrificing any of its essence.

Hutch/Vodafone Pug

Oh the cute pug! Though not as old as the other Ads, the Vodafone pug has spawned more than its share of accolades and controversy! And last heard of, the owners of these pugs are appointing dog-guards to thwart pug-nappers. Seriously. This pug is the latest target of the kidnapping industry.

Nirma Dancing Girl

Nirma nirma nirma, washing powder nirma…so simple, easy and so melodious that it was easily caught by every child! And when a jingle is repeated everywhere, you know it's successful. Nirma still continues with the same strain of the jingle albeit the ad has undergone major overhauls. The commercial contributed in no small way to Nirma’s success in the eighties and kind of pulled the carpet from under Surf’s smug feet!



Some other ads and their jingles from the 80s and early 90s that have stayed in memory are

"Jab mein chotta bachha tha" - Bajaj Bulb
Vicco Turmeric Ayurvedic Cream (again with Sangeeta Bijlani)
"I am a Complan Boy" - Complan
"Hamara Bajaj" - Bajaj

One ad that has changed beauties / personalities over the years but where the essence has remained the same is Liril. The 80s ad had Karen Lunel bathing in green bikinis under a water fall and was definitely ahead of its time for India.

 

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

How To Get Rid Of The Insurance Agent!

The Insurance Industry promises many things. All those delightful, costly, lengthy insurance commercials promise you the best of education, terrific pensions that takes care of the world tour, lovely sea-front mansions, huge cars, etc etc. And they all make you believe just taking an insurance would get you those! You know where the money for all these ads come from? Of course your auto insurance quote, your life insurance quote and all the terrific insurance quotes you get and the many policies you have taken! Know what, you may not really need more insurance (i mean risk coverage by that, not investments, though insurance companies tend to mix both and absolutely misconfuddle you!). But would your agent take that. No. You will be convinced and then convinced some more that you absolutely need that policy. So how do you get rid of these pesky perseverent species?

Here are some surefire ways to keep them away.

- Tell them you are at the hospital, and could they please come over with the best life insurance quote. And then ring them back again the next day. That surely will give them a taste of their own medicine.

- You car just had an accident and you want someone/anyone to come over and clear up the mess. Most of them dont want to take ANY responsibility.

- Ditto the procedure for house insurance

- Tell them you are out of a job and could they help enhance the credit limits

- Convey conspiratorially you have a diamond mine in your backyard and could they come and survey it and then get it insured. If nothing, your garden may get dug up!

Warning and P.S. - i have nothing against insurance people. And you do need insurance. Just make sure you only cover as much as you need and as much as you can afford! Also insurance is "sold" not "bought", the poor guys are just doing their job, for a living!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Marriage Anniversary Gifts

Wedding anniversary gifts started with the idea of putting a value on each year of marriage completed. So if it is a challenge for you to come up with a wedding anniversary gift every year, the work is already cut out for you by tradition! What's really interesting is that there is a specific gift associated with each marriage anniversary.

While each of us know the traditional anniversaries, silver, golden, diamond, etc, each of these commodity is actually the gift that the man bestows on his wife. A silver garland for 25 years, a gold ornament for 50 years is the idea. At the lower end of the wedding spectrum, one year of marriage deserves a gift of paper and five years qualifies for wood. Its older the better, like wine!

Traditional wedding anniversaries gifting started in Central Europe anound mid 19th century. There was a specific gift associated upto fifth anniversary and then every five years. The American National Retail Jeweller Association in all its smartness issued a list in 1937 in what can be termed as contemporary wedding anniversary gift list. This list includes a spefic gift upto 15th year and then every fifth year. Trust them to have added ten more years of compulsory gifting!



Learn more about wedding gifts, anniversaries, history of wedding anniversary gifts both modern and contemporary here.


http://marriage.about.com/od/anniversariescelebrations/a/annivhistory.htm

http://www.anniversaryideas.co.uk/traditional_history.asp

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Socially Responsible Mutual Funds

Socially Responsible, "Green" Mutual Funds or simply "Do Good" Mutual Funds seem to have caught the popular imagination. With everyone from Al Gore to top companies "doing good" to save the World, Md. Yunus winning the nobel prize for his work in micro-credit, being ""socially reponsible" while catering to investment needs has gone mainstream. While previously preferred only by a few, they have entered the social consciousness of an average investor.

So what is a "socially responsible" fund? In a nutshell, its a scheme of a mutual fund that invests only in companies based on their social ethics, the environment policies followed by them, their corporate governance and business ethics. These schemes are researched and rated on the above basis and then their balance sheet and market performance is taken into account. Maybe the investor will get 5% or so lower return than the best diversified fund but the satisfaction will be there that the investor's return is not adulterated by greed!

Check out this article for more on these funds.

http://finance.yahoo.com/focus-retirement/article/104001/The-New-Do-Gooders?mod=retirement-IRA

What Is A Gormagon?

A Gormagon according to Francis Grose is a six eyed monster with three mouths, four arms, eight legs, five on one side and three on the other. Does it remind you of any one? ...just remove the word monster...then with six eyes, four arms, eight legs....what does Indian mythology have?

Indian mythology is full of such Gormagons...Only one of them has been likened to a monster (Ravana)...but he too was a "bidwan" (highly educated) and a Super King. Most Gormagons in Hindu mythology have been Gods.

Ravana had 10 heads and twenty arms (5 parasitic twins???) No wonder he could think ten times better and was revered and feared in equal measure. And who conquered him?

Rama, the lord with ten avataars... who originally is the four armed Vishnu! The for arms holding the "sankha" (conch), chakra (a revolving wheel made to measure), gada (mace), padma (lotus).


Then there is the three headed Brahma too (with six eyes)...and Durga with ten hands and three eyes. Shiva as Natraj has four arms and he also has three eyes. The third eye is all-seeing.

Indian mythology is replete with "gormagons" and none of them are monstrous like Gorse's creature.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Pattaya - The Place To Be!

Pattaya is the original "city of sin" though the Thai Govt. is trying hard to conceal the fact behind crocodile parks, elephant villages, coral islands and Ripleys museums! I mean in which other city would you find "working girls" openly accosting and soliciting single males at every roadside, beach side stall, pub, beach chairs, benches! The most amazing thing about Thailand holidays and Pattaya hotels is how they have made tourism work so efficiently with minimal knowledge of English!

I just returned from a few days trip to Thailand, and Pattaya obviously was part of the itinerary. Every travel agent during holidays in Thailand suggests Pattaya because its cheap, it has the sea and it has attractions of such exotic and erotic variety.

The trip to Pattaya was an eye opener to say the least. One couldn't help but enjoy the unprohibited show and the accompanying joie de vivre! Go-go bars on the street with open entrances (you can watch those svelte pole dancers from outside), the beautiful and "world famous" Alacazar Show (you cant even begin to guess that the performers are hermophrodites!!!), the line of beach stalls tossing together a home made fried rice, fried chicken, fruits, the beach masseuse going about her job thoroughly & professionally... and all those girls...so many of them dressed in all manners of provocation, everywhere. You cant tell one from the other. They are all stick thin, small and God knows how desperate. The lucky ones have landed a fat and rich companion. In fact where ever one looked there was a stocky elderly person with a Thai arm candy in tow, and they formed the most sought after clientele on Pattaya Beach! And then the Thai massage parlours! Parlours were there every 10 yards or so promising exotic Thai massage, Body massage, foot massage.

Pattaya Beach became all that it is famous for mainly during the Vietnam war when the soldiers came to it for recreation. Soon the local populace woke up to the opportunities and the rest is legend. However for a short period after the Vietnam War, the town faced a real crisis with no mainstay tourism with the original clientele back in their country. The town spruced up, provided more facilities and the world woke up to Pattaya.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Ideal Diet!


This article's not for you if are serious about losing weight! This is for all out there like me who know all about the weight loss diets, who find out all they can about losing weight, low carb diets, check out all diet programs, participate in all diet plans, with absolutely no hope or intention to minimize those pounds! For us its not really extra weight, its "the ideal weight!"

I am going to talk about what people are looking for in a diet...not what they really need to lose those ungainly bulges! These two things are as different as apples and oranges as you will see!

What you really need

- a strict diet! have a look a the flat belly diet and all the other diet plans out there

- a strict diet- no impulse icecream, pastries, patties, burgers, lards, fried chicken, fried anything, restaurant food, creams, mid morning, mid evening, mid day snacks

- a strict diet - refuse that extra drink, dessert at your friend's... you might have noticed those trimmed figures always act coy while eating...SO START ACTING COY ...where the spread is mouth watering

- and regular exercise... anything...why not try the 12 second sequence weight loss program? that is HOT now! You can try anything but do GET up and BEND!

But do you really want to do all these?

Now please be honest...arent you really looking at a "get thin quick" remedy? The methods stated above above are what we all know would lose weight...eventually. So why and what are you searching for in that ultimate diet?

I know WHAT I AM searching for in that ultimate diet!

It will be a diet plan that will enable me to get up at 10 am when the holidays are on without any thought of an impending morning jog disturbing my slumber! A diet that will enable me to check on that lovely flavour in icecream that everyone seems to be gorging on! It will be maybe a diet pill that will allow me to pick up whatever food is available at the nearest store whenever i am hungry! And the diet menu should not prevent me to taste any dessert spread that I feel compelled to have when I am dining out.

And when I am home from work, my diet and exercise regimen should never never prevent me from propping up on the sofa and going to sleep munching on that fried chicken/pizza/burger/noodles watching TV and not even thinking about hitting the treadmill in the morning (remember I mean to wake up 30 mins before office)!

Will my diet allow me all this? That will be my ideal diet!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Race - Hindi Movie Review

I dont really watch too many movies, but when i do I like to share my feelings about the movie! Here's my review of Race, a recent Hindi movie. hether you like it or not, I am going to subject you to a few more movie reviews after this!

Infact i am giving a link where you can watch the movie - free!

Race the movie is aptly named. Do you remember "Naqab" by Abbas Mustan? How the plots and subplots and the twist in the tail had you gripping the edge of the seat throughout the movie. Well Race doesnt have Abbas Mustan favourite Bobby Deol, but it has a more than capable Saif Ali Khan. And of course Akshaye Khanna has to be there! He excels himself in movies of this genre. But having seen him in all these similar kinds of Abbas Mustan thrillers, I feel he should start experimenting.

Saif (Ranvir) and Akshaye (Rajiv) are brothers. Saif runs a stud farm (the biggest and best in Durban) and Akshaye drinks and makes merry. Saif is the over-achiever, a Richard Branson like character, always out for the thrills, living life on the edge...till someone tries to kill him. The lady loves of the brothers are Bipasha Basu (a top model) and Katrina Kaif (Saif's Secretary). The plot changes as frequently and as rapidly as a model changes clothes in a show! And at times I am left steps behind on the story (I had my infant son with me).

Anil Kapoor has a unique role in the movie. He plays a mercenary detective RD with the Samira Reddy as his dumb assistant (a la Karamchand and Kitty). They get some of the best dialogues and the sensuous Samira gets a lot of laughs. Anil Kapoor is like the proverbial wine, at his maturing best! All three of the ladies impress as does the entire cast. All the characters have their grey areas. No black and white or good or bad classification. Life is a Race and everyone does all he or she can to win the Race.

The locales are breathtaking as also the horse racing and car racing sequences at the beginning and climax. The editing is superb with not a single redundant sequence. The songs will be around in the discs for a while but nothing really that will stick around for long!

The movie is fast paced, racy, cool and well worth watching. But not really memorable!

Download and Watch Race Here

Mutual Funds And SIPs - Basics

You dont need to have a lot of money to start investing. Thats a pretty erronous belief. The answer I often come across on investment queries is "I dont have money" to invest. This answer often is the start of your investment needs. You dont have money - so you need to make whatever you have work.

Take for example you save Rs 100 every month. That makes it 1200 every year. Lets say, you are putting it in an instrument/bank/deposit that gives 5% annually. At the end of 5 years you are getting something like Rs 6830. Suppose there was an instrument that gave you 15%? You know the amount you will make? Rs 8970! A cool disposable income of Rs 2000!!!

The next question is - who will give that kind of money/return. Mutual Funds, well researched stocks have given that kind of return and more. Do you know that markets in Brazil, India, China have given returns in excess of 40% (conservative) in the last year. And its not a single year episode. These kind of returns have been seen for the past 4-5 years. To ride these growth markets, a plethora of country specific mutual fund schemes have arisen. So investing is a global phenomena! And if you are from these nations, your choice becomes wider! Even certain sectoral funds/aggressive funds have maintained a high rate of return.

So how do you jump unto the bandwagon - so to say... You don't happen have too much idea of stocks, returns, markets, etc and naturally you don't want too many risks. So mutual funds become your natural choice. Mutual Funds diversify your risk (puts your money in many companies, eggs in many baskets, so to say), you can invest small, you get the benefits of professional research (every stock that a mutual fund puts its money in is researched by a team of professional fund managers) and professional fund management services; its mostly liquid, ie, you can put your hands on your money whenever you want it.

The best way to start investing in a mutual fund is through a Systematic Investment Plan (SIP). It means just that! You invest small amounts systematically in a fund/scheme of your choice. Its tailor made for a small investor and follows a concept called rupee cost averaging (or dollar cost averaging!)

Here are some easy steps to start investing.

1. Decide how much you can save in a month...Even if you "don't have money to invest" you must be saving something.

2. Find a financial advisor. She/he will guide you on the schemes.

3. Research on the scheme suggested on the internet. Follow some basic principles - see the pedigree of the fund house, see the pedigree of the scheme like last 3-5 yrs performance, see the other schemes the fund manager is managing, the corpus of the scheme (ie the total amount of money in that scheme)

4. Stick to your small investment amount till you are comfortable investing, ie don't let the advisor sweet talk you into putting in more!

5. See the liquidity of the scheme, ie whether you can withdraw your money whenever you want and if any cost/load involved.

6. Bingo you can start your SIP (systematic investment plan) and be on your way to investment riches!. Remember SIPs in equity mutual funds are your first tentative steps into the stock market (and eventual unimaginable riches :-))

Please dont treat this as a comprehensive investment compendium - its just a small nudge towards making your savings more effective!

Friday, 4 April 2008

Word Of The Day - Horology

Horology is the science of study of clocks and watches. This study has a fascination for many people (who isnt fascinated by watches?). At the turn of the nineteenth century during the "industrial revolution", when many of the things we take for granted like electricity, mechanical transportation, flying, telecommnunication to name a few, evolved enough to be useful, horology was a study pursued by many for its intricacy and relevance. Now i guess its left to the watchmakers to work it out and that too with more relevance on design than time-keeping!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

The Writing Experience

Why does one Write? Is it just to Make Money? Can everyone write a Book? Creative writing is a uniquely selfish process. The writer gives her heart and soul into those few written words and the involved author doesnt really look at the sentiments of the audience!

Writing is a cathartic process. Very few genuine writers do it for money, at least to begin with. An authentic work of art can never be produced if economic gains were the only motivation. So we have wannabe writers churning out reams of words...How many of them are ultimately successful? But everyone lives for a masterpiece, that one product where the world will realise the true value of the writer.

Where will anyone who wants to write, start from? There is, I believe, a writer in every one of us (maybe not an editor, though!), for doesn't each of us see the world uniquely?

To start writing one just needs to follow these basic principles

W - Write whatever one feels...just jot it down.
R - Read everything...anything interesting
I - Innovate - think of new aspects of a story - eg Hilary Clinton - how would she look with a nose job :-)
T - Tenacity - that will carry you, if nothing else. DONT GIVE UP
E - Echo - Last and of course the most important, let whatever you have written Echo! Read your work aloud to friends, talk about it, distribute it, advertise it - for unless others know about it, how will you know whether they like it or not? Opinions, however distasteful, always are the foundation of better or improved results. And only you can talk about your work, not others.

So, pick up your pen (or mouse) and WRITE (or type)!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Easy Tea And Coffee Recipe

Being a tea and/or coffee addict, I have learnt to experiment a lot with these two beverages. While my south Indian friends have taught me the best way to make coffee (both filter and instant), i have also had ample opportunity to taste the strong masala north Indian tea, just right for a heavy winter morning. And then there's the Bengali Tea. The flavour just kisses your palate and you are left wishing it would linger all day with you..and for many cups more. I thought I will just share my way of making tea...which I have 12-15 times a day!

How to Make Indian Tea

A bit more than 3/4 cups water - Bring to Boil in a saucepan

A bit less than 1/4 cups milk - add and bring to further boil.

Add sugar to taste.

Add Tea Granules (1 to 1-1/2 tsp depending on the size of your cup) after water and milk has boiled properly.

Bring to boil twice (dont boil too much, just enough for the granules to mix in with the liquid). Switch off the stove. Add One spoon green leaf Darjeeling Tea. Cover and leave it till the tea leaves sink (yes, thats brewing).

Strain, Pour and Enjoy!

Coffee (Instant)

Add two tsps plain unflavoured instant coffee to your coffee mug. Add two spoons of milk and two spoons sugar. Stir it well till it foams. Bring water (1/4 mug) and milk (3/4 mug) to a boil. Let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. Pour it on the coffee in your mug. Stir and you have your hot steamy foamy mug of coffee ready.

This is not the connoisseurs cappuccino, but tastes divine. Add a spoon a cream on the top if you have a taste for it!

I Am An Online Games Addict

I am an online games addict. Free online games, Card Games, especially Spades, are my favorites.

Yahoo Games website is the most incredible online gaming site I have come across. My earliest introduction to the internet was of course through Hotmail. It was amazing to be able to send a message across the seven seas in a few seconds and get a reply too, esp. when phone calls were so damn expensive.

Then I happened to stumble upon Yahoo. And as there was not really much to do at college other than studying (in a residential b-school being the only married person in class, keeps you kind of lonely) I came across online games. Yahoo Games then was not the hyper cool version it is now. And there were not really many people online. I started with Literatti (as that was the least hedonistic way of wasting time!) and made some of my closest friends online at Yahoo Games.

After I left college I was busy for a couple of years. Then I had to leave my job. That was the time I really became a Yahoo Games junkie! I again started with Literatti, but that required too much of effort and thought. I played Chinese Checkers (do try it, its lovely) and then Hearts, before I finally settled with Spades. By then the gaming industry had evolved beyond recognition. No one played the Prince of Persia, GP (I have still not been able to find it online) or Mario or even Doom. Gaming scared me, joysticks fuddled me and those buttons and the remotes completely puzzled me. So I stuck to Yahoo Games. It was simple. We were a community. I played in the afternoon with old foggies whose girlfriends had left them or new mothers just taking a break.

I played on and off during jobs and almost full time when I was out of it! It was an addiction and there was always somebody playing when I wanted to, a community of strangers I could share any problem with.

Then something happened. Last September, I was introduced to blogs. I have played maybe 10 games of Spades since and my ratings have taken a dunking. My old friends are not there when I go back to the Yahoo Games. I have become a blog addict and more over making money via blogs has re-inforced that addiction!

So I have switched one addiction with another...and making money in the process so very much legalises my net addiction!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny and Other Easter Words

I never realized there would be so many Easter Words in our vocabulary. While one can go on an Easter Parade on Easter Sunday obviously wearing an Easter Bonnet (Irving Berlin's song "Easter Parade," written in 1933), its more common to wear an easter hat to church on Easter Sunday again.

Easter actually is associated with spring and rabbits are the symbol of spring, of abundance, gaiety and fertility too. So do you wonder where Easter Bunny comes from? But one has to wonder how this bunny, a mammal, can lay those multicoloured Easter Eggs! The easter egg has many significance, which maybe the little kids striving to make the best one, wouldn't be aware of. The biggest significance is that it's a sign of immortality and fertility. It signifies the beginning of life too, for its supposed to be a symbol of re-emergence of Jesus from his tomb.

The biggest significance of Easter is that it falls in spring. Its the time most spring festivals of other religions too occur...so called pagan festivals, ancient festivals, hindu spring festival of holi, eid and such. And wonder of wonders Easter too is named after an ancient spring goddess Eostre, goddess of Spring and fertility.

So the Resurrection of Christ like all other festivals is interwoven around ancient customs too, customs whose basic precinct is similar - celebrate the equinox, spring, beginning of life, harvesting - customs across race, religions, continents.

How can i forget Easter lilies. This spring flower in all its white symbolises purity and peace. Its blossom is the analogy of Jesus's resurrection while the buld is a symbol of the tomb...mush like the Easter egg!

Friday, 21 March 2008

How To Attract Women With Your Online Dating Profile!

What Women Look For In Online Dating Sites!


If you are a serious player in the online dating space you better watch out! Women are growing more discering with a proliferation of these sites and can smell a scam well from a distance (at least the net savvy ones can!)

Here's what you should do to attract the right kind of attention

Profile Picture

Women get turned off by the obvious fake photos. Put something of yours that is recent. You can put on a cap or maybe the glares, in case you feel you are ordinary looking. But never don both. And if you are balding, then shave it all off and pose! That will be just sooo cool.

Remember a good profile picture will be ninety percent of the job done. The comments and your views come much much later.

Education

Emphasis your education, always. If you are from a top college dont hesitate to mention it. Girls dont mind nerds irrespective of what you may have heard. maybe you can mention the freelance project you did while at college that got a patent.

Activities

Next comes this important aspect. Dont ever mention taking your previous/current girlfriend to the beach has been your favorite pasttime. You can mention movies, maybe taking your mom shopping (she knows you are caring). And dont forget to mention your interest in sports...basketball, soccer, even MMA will do. And F1 and snow sports will positively score on the cool quotient

Music

Make sure you spice up the latest hits/favourites with some healthy 80s and 90s music. At least you are grounded.

Other activities

You can mention the cartoons you like. They seem to score these days. Dont give your political views. And mention any instrument you can play (doesnt matter if you did it in 3rd grade)

You should ultimately come across as bright, funny, intelligent, smart, reasonably good looking, dependable, caring, strong...whew

Top these with a snap of a gang of guys having fun (preferably with you at the centre). At least she knows that if you dont work out, she has got leads on some best looking guys around (your friends!!!)

An Oasis In Sahara

The year was 1985. US had just carried out air strikes in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. Gaddafi had survived but there were rumours that one of his infant child had been killed. Gaddafi moved from one tent house to another in the desert in the dead of the night.

It was the time we had to go to Libya. My father was a surgeon in one of the provices there. The southern province, the capital of which is Sebha, is deep in the Libyan desert. Sebha is an Oasis. The first view of Sebha from the aeroplane is something that has remained etched in my memory till date. An oasis of green in the midst of miles and miles of desert. I remember getting the impression that if the desert so decided, it could engulf the small city in one massive gust of sandy swirl. The city was encircled by rings of date palms which kept out the desert.

But more surprises were in store for us when we landed. Nothing had prepared me for the sheer modern-ness of the city. Clean wide expressways, with scores of new cars of all modern makes, a squeaky clean modern hospital, beautiful stadium, etc. I never remotely expected to find it in the middle of the libyan desert! Not only were the roads a delight, the hotel where we stayed was most modern. And from the ninth floor (where we put up) one could see the palms that encricled the town and glimpses of the desert beyond!

But more surprises were in store! What would you expect to find in a city in the middle of a desert ruled by a dictator in the Arabic world? Definitely not modern Arabic women (yes many jean clad girls going to college too!) with burkha only if they so desired. I even saw some ladies driving! And there seemed to be complete harmony between the black and white Arabs too. I really dont know what I expected after reading our culturally blind magazines and books so full of stereotypes, but I somehow expected the Blacks to be clad in rags and universally poor (I am just stating what myopic knowledge I had at 14 years!)...instead they were always well dressed, polite and educated!

The town of Sebha was where Colonel Qadaffi was born. So we were shown the hovel where he spent his youth, well preserved and in sharp contrast to the surroundings (yes it was a small mud house in a true concrete jungle, as if shouting - look this is the progress i have made for my country!). The town was football crazy..and there were plenty of street teams. But we never faced any problem moving around on the beautiful sidewalks, which is more than what I can say for the streets of New Delhi! The only signs of desert were on the outskirts of the city, where there were some mud houses and herds of camel (I guess this is what I had expected to find originally!)

Gadaffi was everywhere, smiling from billboards, parks, squares, stadiums...There was only one TV channel and it doesnt need brains to know what it showed! The supreme commander! He was on tractors in a farmland, or sailing, or on a motorbike, or taking decisions...always smiling as if saying I am all yours!

I really dont know what is happening in Libya now. But old friends of my parents say it faced a lot of hard times because of almost a decade of embargo. Gaddafi is a much mellowed man (not that the world cares how he treats his subjects as long as there is no problem with the oil supply at low prices!) and the cities have somewhat lost their sheen. But whatever may have happened its difficult to forget the warmth showed by the locals in my short time couple of months stay there.

An Oasis In Sahara

The year was 1985. US had just carried out air strikes in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. Gaddafi had survived but there were rumours that one of his infant child had been killed. Gaddafi moved from one tent house to another in the desert in the dead of the night.

It was the time we had to go to Libya. My father was a surgeon in one of the provices there. The southern province, the capital of which is Sebha, is deep in the Libyan desert. Sebha is an Oasis. The first view of Sebha from the aeroplane is something that has remained etched in my memory till date. An oasis of green in the midst of miles and miles of desert. I remember getting the impression that if the desert so decided, it could engulf the small city in one massive gust of sandy swirl. The city was encircled by rings of date palms which kept out the desert.

But more surprises were in store for us when we landed. Nothing had prepared me for the sheer modern-ness of the city. Clean wide expressways, with scores of new cars of all modern makes, a squeaky clean modern hospital, beautiful stadium, etc. I never remotely expected to find it in the middle of the libyan desert! Not only were the roads a delight, the hotel where we stayed was most modern. And from the ninth floor (where we put up) one could see the palms that encricled the town and glimpses of the desert beyond!

But more surprises were in store! What would you expect to find in a city in the middle of a desert ruled by a dictator in the Arabic world? Definitely not modern Arabic women (yes many jean clad girls going to college too!) with burkha only if they so desired. I even saw some ladies driving! And there seemed to be complete harmony between the black and white Arabs too. I really dont know what I expected after reading our culturally blind magazines and books so full of stereotypes, but I somehow expected the Blacks to be clad in rags and universally poor (I am just stating what myopic knowledge I had at 14 years!)...instead they were always well dressed, polite and educated!

The town of Sebha was where Colonel Qadaffi was born. So we were shown the hovel where he spent his youth, well preserved and in sharp contrast to the surroundings (yes it was a small mud house in a true concrete jungle, as if shouting - look this is the progress i have made for my country!). The town was football crazy..and there were plenty of street teams. But we never faced any problem moving around on the beautiful sidewalks, which is more than what I can say for the streets of New Delhi! The only signs of desert were on the outskirts of the city, where there were some mud houses and herds of camel (I guess this is what I had expected to find originally!)

Gadaffi was everywhere, smiling from billboards, parks, squares, stadiums...There was only one TV channel and it doesnt need brains to know what it showed! The supreme commander! He was on tractors in a farmland, or sailing, or on a motorbike, or taking decisions...always smiling as if saying I am all yours!

I really dont know what is happening in Libya now. But old friends of my parents say it faced a lot of hard times because of almost a decade of embargo. Gaddafi is a much mellowed man (not that the world cares how he treats his subjects as long as there is no problem with the oil supply at low prices!) and the cities have somewhat lost their sheen. But whatever may have happened its difficult to forget the warmth showed by the locals in my short time couple of months stay there.