Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Horn OK Please

We were talking about the current engagement and how sometimes bureaucracy is at its stupidest best. People sometimes go overboard following directives and processes which have ceased to make sense or they really don't know why the process is as it is. To elaborate the same, a colleague of mine shared an interesting anecdote which atleast I wasn't aware of. The inception of "Horn Ok Please" at the back of all Indian trucks.

The story goes like this. During the British era, vehicles used to run on petrol or kerosene. And most of the trucks during that time used to run on kerosene. All trucks were painted with OK where 'OK' stood for 'On kerosene'. As time went by and India became independent the processes were handed over to the RTO. In their process checklist to make sure the truck was allowed to ply on the road, the concept to paint 'OK' was continued but why it was 'OK' and not something else was never questioned and over time, one forgot what 'OK' stood for in the first place! Another check was to have 'Horn Please' painted as trucks didn't have good enough rear view mirrors and vehicles were to blow the horn to announce their existence behind the trucks! You add these two up and you get 'Horn Ok Please'. It was an eye-opener for me (not so much the Horn Please than the 'OK' bit of it, cause honestly I didn't know it had any significance.

And then you have the 'Bure Nazar wale tera mooh kala' etc. In USA, there are a few funny variations of that. On the left would be 'El Paso' and on the right would be 'El Cruncho'. Or the left would have 'Pass way' and the right would be 'Pass away'. Funny eh?

Purpose of life

Psychkick has an interesting article.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Long long weekend

Thanks to work and my colleagues who want to work on a presentation which is done from my side, I haven't been able to slip away for the weekend. Friday night was fun. Going to Rock Bottom again. Love that pub. Brews beer inhouse and I order the brewmaster's special which is like an Irish stout and another pale which is a slightly lighter pale with a bit more kick. And top that with a NY steak...I get tired stuffing all of that. So the plan is always to sit out in the patio...enjoy the cool breeze as the evening sets in. The music is quite to my taste too...mostly 70s and 80s with a bit of western thrown in (comes with the territory). My plan to Denver this weekend got dashed but I have Denver and Aspen on my list. Would go before I leave. Maybe next weekend for Denver. Anyone been there? If yes, suggest things to do other than 16th street. :)

Yesterday was spent working on the slide deck and doing groceries. Today was spent lazing, watching TV and my x-files dvd. Can't stay indoors tomorrow.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

X-Men 3: The Last Stand

Ok. I just got back from watching this movie. This is where the summer starts. The story is quite simple - a cure for mutants is out and Magneto raises an army to fight that, while our X-Men try and fight him. I could go on a lil' bit more but then I would give out the spoilers. Bryan Singer left to take up Superman Returns and Brett Ratner tried his hand at this part of the X-men trilogy. Well to be fair, the special effects are quite good and makes for great viewing at the theatre. But I would have liked to see him develop the characters a bit more. Some are wasted like Rogue. Storm and Wolverine while playing the major roles, look like they are doing cameos. This one is all about the Phoenix (the split side to Jean Grey) and that is something that Ratner could have used to really give us a great movie. He disappoints there. But overall, this is quite a good summer movie - with the popcorn and the soda and your friends. Advice is go to a theatre with a big screen with DTS, Dolby Surround. Imax would be perfect for this. It isn't out here on that, else that would have been my first preference. just for your information, we had to go another theatre as most shows are sold out. And I went for the same show for which I went for Da Vinci. Look out for the box office results after 1 week. This is going to be on top. Go watch it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

In case you were wondering...

...why I haven't been posting often enough, the answer is it's been quite a hectic week at work. Getting up at 6am, in office by 7:30am...meetings and meetings...off by 5pm. The last couple of evenings have been good...margaritas and glenfiddich's been giving me company. So have been a couple of colleagues. Come back home (hotel...sigh!) and catch the conference finals. Off to bed by 11pm. So thats the life in a nutshell. The long weekend's close and I haven't a clue of what I'm going to do. The best bet is to go to Denver for a day or night depending upon company. Else will suffocate with 3 days in the hotel. Don't think that is going to happen! Watch this space for more pics.

Happy Budday to James! Hope you had a good one!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

I was reading how its created a major controversy in India and how it might not make it to the screens. Well let me put it this way, even if it did, not many people would be around to watch it (But I hear the opening weekend's been good so far which is not surprising). I am a sucker for reviews but even when I knew this one hadn't got the best, I decided to make an exception because its a Ron Howard movie and there's Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou in it.

Most reviews have compared the book and then the movie. My take on this was related but slightly different. I had read this one first and then Demons and Angels. And while I remembered the outline of this plot I remember more of the fantastic (bollywood kinda) plot of the latter. So when I went to the movies this Friday, I was expecting to told the tale again where I would start remembering the whole plot.

Here's what I think, everyone keeps blasting the plots but take a snap poll and you will find most of these people had read one if not two of Brown's books and read them cover to cover. Why did they read it? Because I believe Brown's were the first of the religious thrillers and controversial ones at that to come out recently. So pot-shots are fine. Just don't be hypocritical. A movie is a movie is a movie. You like it or hate it. Its quite the latter for me this time around. Why? Because the story telling of Brown was much better which made you turn those pages and you painted a different picture of Robert Langdon. And this is exactly where the movie fails. Its not gripping enough (I even managed to doze off for a few seconds cpl of times) and Tom Hanks with his oh-not-so-cool hair ruins it. It needed a Harrison Ford-Indy Jones kinda person to pull it off.

But my friend who surprisingly hasn't read the book, was quite intrigued. This was exactly what happened to a few of us when we had read the book. You wanted to find out more - is this fact or fiction? Which parts? So it helps to build intrigue for people who haven't read the book. But for most like me, who have, it came as a cropper. I would label this a dvd-movie. Not one to go to the cinemas for. The one most affected is Sony Pictures which hasn't had a hit for quite sometime and was banking on this one!

You might wanna go for one of these releasing over the next few weeks:
1. X-Men 3 - I would be watching this on an Imax
2. The breakup - Vince Vaughn usually gets me in splits
3. Superman returns - promos look real good so far.

Other than these, no major ones till end June.

Life as you like (or maybe dislike) it!

I haven't got down to any proper blogging since I got here in Co springs. Work's been very hectic and when I get off, don't have too much energy to blog other than write a cpl of sentences. So here's an attempt to captue the last week and see life here through my eyes.

This city as I might have said earlier is small and pretty. Around 450,000 population. Most of the people here are or have been attached to the US Air Force which has a base here. And so are the people at work. Atleast 95% of them are connected to the Air Force, some having served in it for as long as 16 years. And quite a few have served abroad which makes them more culturally tolerant in these parts. Quite friendly rather.

Taxi drivers have been nice. Well most except a 70 year old woman (is that legal?) who got irritated when she didn't know the way and we told her directions. But others who are new or not sure of the way will turn the meter off if they or you think are lost. I haven't seen this anywhere. They'll always keep the meter running even if they do go in circles. So that was a pleasant surprise. A korean lady was telling me how she got here more than 15 years back because South Korea was getting over-populated and people were living 'on top of eachother'. So when I told her what the population was in Bangalore, she just grinned and suggested I relocate too. That was funny.

Another thing that I had noticed too. Americans usually don't like surprises. In things in daily life for sure. So the motels/hotels would look the same. The breakfast is similar. Cereal, bread, eggs, bacon, waffles. If they ever tried an Indian breakfast (considering we have different things to eat in the north, east, west and south) they could have one kind every day for a month. At lunch too, I'm already bored with office food - burgers, sandwiches - spread's the same everyday. I think I'll make my own sandwiches and get them to work. Atleast I'll have a choice. And yes, I can sympathise with everyone who is a veggie in this country because I am one, couple of days in a week. Its basically wraps - stuffed with things I don't want to find out (i just want it to go down my throat) -and thank God for dressing. Most of them are bland, so you would rather lean the Mexican way. Better choices. The cook (at the office cafeteria) actually thinks what to make for lunch for my colleagues as they are both veg. So there you go. His biggest challenge in life so far!

Another interesting thing I found out in restaurants and bars here. After you are done they ask you if you would like seperate bills or a combined one. I wish that happened in India when I had people on the table doing 'hisaab' of every rupee that he/she did or did not eat (which gets me quite irritated and also tempts me to hide under the table). I actually don't care for either but quite a few people do I guess.

But other than natural history, everything in this city/country (or whatever little I have seen so far) is like a printing block you use when you print clothes. Every block has the same things. Which is convenient in one sense but monotonous in the other. I'd rather tavel to a Johnson's market to get a fanoos roll if you know what I mean. I wouldn't want it everywhere.

Thats about it for now. Oh and yes, someone asked me if people in India ate meat (as in beef). When I said yes, he almost crashed his car! Go figure.

Flickr - Colorado Springs

Flickr - Colorado Springs

here you go, pics from the part of the world i am in. which is quite pretty.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Colorado Springs - PhotoBlog

This is the more scenic photoblog. Some more at Traveblogs. Will write more soon. Right now I'm very very tired. And btw, don't watch Da Vinci Code, unless you wanted to see Audrey Tautou. Will post on that too soon.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Weekend's here

Phew! Quite a week. New place. New country. New people. New processes to fix. Been quite good actually. Jumping from meeting to meeting. Making new friends. Most are quite friendly. Hectic. Weekend's here. Would be going to Pike's Peak tomorrow morning in the train (Cog Railway). Rest of the weekend still needs to be figured out. Don't want to plan it all out. Denver or Aspen over a weekend would be an option. So keep watching this space for photos. I need to post on the Travel Blog too. Hmmm.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Skype offers free calls across US and Canada

In case you didn't hear about this, now you can use Skype-Out and dial out to any phone across USA and Canada and not pay a single dime. I have been doing that since yesterday, and there's no catch. Quality is great as usual and for free!

This is where I'm working...

This is what I see when I come out of the office. Pretty ain't it?

Sunday, May 14, 2006


This is the first pic I took as I got out of the hotel to take in some fresh crisp morning air. Its the nice-kinda cool. Need to head to the mountains soon. :)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Colorado Springs - Part 1

I’m was waiting in Chicago airport for my connecting flight to Colorado Springs when I wrote this. Left Bangalore at 1:30am Fri night for Frankfurt and then from Frankfurt at 10:20am local time for Chicago. All in all I’ve done 18.5 hours of flying time. Add 3 hours at Frankfurt and another 3 here in Chicago, plus the 2.5 hours of flying time to Colorado Springs and I’ve been on the road non-stop for more than 24 hours. Surprisingly I’m quite fresh. After traveling Air India business and first class, flying economy for long-haul was a pain, especially due to lack of leg space. I think for further company traveling I’ll switch to Singapore Airlines (everyone says its better for economy travel). This was my first experience with Lufthansa and I’m not quite thrilled. Compared to them Air India is far better, even in economy. On route from Bangalore, I never got offered a drink. I thought I’d have a couple so I could sleep well. Wasn’t the case. I couldn’t help but notice a clear difference in behavior towards those who spoke German and those who didn’t. Or was it the colour? Couldn’t tell for sure. Onwards from Frankfurt, when I asked for a German beer (which they were promoting), after finishing the first drink, I was politely told that I was to wait till lunch was served. Like the headmistress rebuking the errant schoolboy. And to think this whole trip isn't free and I get this kind of shoddy service. I have had discussions, arguments with people regards to Air India service. Trust me, I think its way better. It’s a different story that most of us love to think that cribbing about our national carrier is our birth right and the same become mice when it comes to non-national carriers. I’m not saying that Air India is the best, but I think at the same time, it needs to be cut some slack.

In other news, I had to message Arne from Frankfurt that I wouldn’t be able to come back on 10th June for the England-Paraguay match! I left a World Cup ticket! Still cannot believe it. Alas, money needs to be earned so that future world cups tickets happen!


Reached my hotel. The cab driver was quite interesting. He gave me a quick history and geography of the place. He also reminded me that I shouldn't fall for the 'wrong' American woman! When I asked how does he define 'wrong', he said the ones that are after your money etc. Then he added that the men have turned them into 'wrong' women...young men lie to the young women to woo them and then leave them. Now the same women have gotten wiser and are paying it back. He nodded when I asked if it was a case of what goes around comes around. Found the whole discussion quite interesting and funny. People seem to be very friendly and so it seemed. I need to take some pics. The city (450,000 in population - so he said) is 40 miles X 40 miles. Very pretty with mountains around and the clouds hovering over them. He asked me to watch out for the sunshine when it breaks through the mountains. Would be waiting for that for sure!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Watch Bangalore Traffic Live

I received this link sometime back today. You can see live traffic at Brigade Road, Hosur Road, Bannerghatta Road, Basaveshwara Circle and Mekhri Circle.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I have been missing in action for quite sometime. The time was spent in getting the project work finalised for which I fly out this weekend. Colorado Springs. 2 months. Going crazy in getting all admin work done for travelling. Just absolutely hate it. Plus a friend's wedding to attend to before that. Dry Cleaning. Packing. Figuring out 3 different itineraries due one colleague's tussle with 'do I travel on H1 or B1' due to some complications. Looks like I'll be travelling on road from Denver to Springs. Which should be nice. But after a long long flight, I might not be actually looking forward to it. My world cup also goes for a toss, especially after I landed the tickets to the 10th June game between England and Paraguay. I really wanted to go for that. Need to pass it up now. Sigh! :(

Friday, May 05, 2006

Walk On

I love this song and the lyrics of this one...

Walk On - U2

Leave it behind
You've got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you steal
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress up
All that you scheme...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Opoorbo Bong Links

Baudolino writes:
In lieph, thear are only too theengs…
Bhaan is deescussing politeekaal philosophy bheeth phrends at Oly Paab; the second is eating daabul-egg, daabul-chiken roll at Kooshoom. Beyond that, all eej maayaa.
For more of it, head here.

Kau has stuff on Bongs being normal - "Bengali consumers want value for money as well as quality products."

Go read.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Windows Live Mail Beta vs. Yahoo Mail Beta

I started using the Windows Live Mail Beta (the new Hotmail that is) since last week when I got an invite. Somehow it just doesn't cut it for me. While I'm not sure how many of you have started using Windows Live Mail, I can assume that most of you would have used Yahoo Mail Beta.

Its a good move to change how hotmail's operated all these years. This is the second revamp since Mr. Bhatia sold his start-up. The idea is quite similar to how Yahoo has gone ahead with its Yahoo Mail Beta. But there's a few things I'm not quite happy with.

The first difference for me is the space. When I use an application, especially an email client, I'd like to see more of the screen free from ads and other promos. With Yahoo, all their adverts are on the right hand side as part of vertical banners and there are some buttons on the left hand side bottom. But with Windows Live there's this huge banner of MSN at the top which accounts for 20% of the space vertically. So if you have the reading pane at the side or the top, there's quite little of your actual message that you can read, being cramped vertically or horizontally. Plus they have the sidebar banner on the right too. So eats away too much screen space.

Next is the heavy GUI. While Microsoft Outlook 2003 is quite heavy, I didn't expect an internet email client to be quite so heavy. While Yahoo just takes about a second to display the main message, Windows Live takes atleast 3-4 seconds for the message to come up (keeps saying 'working on your request'). This could be quite irritating if someone were to use a dialup.

The tabs and options in Windows Live Mail can undergo massive improvement. I just don't like how they are organised, waste space and also don't give as many tab options like Yahoo viz. marking messages or flagging them, something that is inherent to Outlook.

The whole look is quite childish and tacky compared to Yahoo. And the funniest part is that I use hotmail a lot more than Yahoo. Also keep in mind, people who have used the Web Outlook version are quite a happy lot. So why not follow a successful formula and format (since they are part of the same family)? I just hope being a Beta version, there's a lot of improvement till they come out with the final version.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


1. Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean - Hips don't lie
2. Chicane feat. Tom Jones - Stoned in love
3. Deep Dish feat. Stevie Nicks - Dreams
4. Fort Minor feat. Holly Brook - Where'd you go?
5. Freemasons feat. Amanda Wilson - Watchin

Monday, May 01, 2006

A weekend of movies

I had got a few movies to watch over the long weekend. Let me talk about the ones I watched.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

This one's very slick, funny and has Downey Jr. (Harry Lockhart) and Val Kilmer (Perry Van Shrike). Its about being at the wrong place at the wrong time with a few twists and turns. In a nutshell, Downey Jr. is a thief who while escaping from the police ends up at a casting session and gets selected to be an actor. At a party he meets a blonde whom he quite likes and by another few scenes we find out that she's his high school friend who's a struggling actress now. And for the record he's always been her 'friend' while she's gone ahead and shagged everyone including his best friend. Then we meet Kilmer who is a private eye who is supposed to train Downey Jr. During the training they witness a murder and the film takes off. From then till the end its all 'masala' - witty dialogues and sequences which would put Bollywood to shame. But its all good with some popcorn and friends. Quite entertaining.

Few quotes:
Perry Van Shrike: Look up idiot in the dictionary. You know what you'll find?
Harry Lockhart: A picture of me?
Perry Van Shrike: No! The definition of idiot. Which you fucking are!

B-Movie Actress: So what do you do?
Harry Lockhart: I'm retired, I invented dice. What do you do?


Woody Allen movies are ones which you either love or hate. This one's the former. Jonathon Rhys Meyers (Chris Wilton) and Scarlett Johansson (Nola Rice) are quite superb in this movie. Tennis pro Chris Wilton takes a job as a tennis instructor and hits it off immediately with one of his students, wealthy young Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode). Tom introduces Chris to his family and Chris falls quickly into a romance with Tom's sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer). But despite the growing certainty that Chris and Chloe will marry, and the enormous professional and financial advantages that come Chris's way through his relationship with the delighted Hewitt family, Chris becomes increasingly intrigued and eventually romantically involved with Tom's fiancée, Nola Rice, a struggling American actress. Their passionate trysts leave Chris in danger of losing the wealth and position he has now come to enjoy. The only solution to the dilemma seems unthinkable...the end is quite a see-saw one, with Allen struggling like the audience to figure out which would be the ideal one. What I liked most is how he's threaded the concept of luck in the movie. Specially the first scene and the last one. About how a tennis ball can hit the net and go either way - you might win or you might lose. Everything!

Will post about more soon. And yes, if you haven't watching Coupling, you should do that as soon as possible. Its like the British version of Sex and the City. Just more funny if you like British humour. Had me in splits.

[WC2006] Fan Interview - Germany

With the World Cup so close, I got in touch with a close friend of mine in Germany and got his thoughts on the German team and the tournament.

Tell us a little about yourself: Name/Age/Profession/Hobbies

Arne Schepker / 25 years / Marketing Manager / Sports (triathlon, outdoor), traveling, movies

Club Supported?

Werder Bremen

Well, we are almost there. How much pressure is the team under to win the cup as the host country? What do you think are the chances? Realistically.

The pressure has been enormous throughout the past 2 years and rising! Especially since the German team did not play any “serious” games without the qualifiers, there is always doubt about where we stand. I believe, the pressure will mount even higher during the world cup but so far – thanks to Klinsmann – it has been very positive pressure which will help the team more than harm it. Our chances are very good – we are playing at home, have the whole country of 82 million supporting the national team, have a young & hungry team, none of the favorites are in incredible form (except Brazil maybe) and in the world cup anything is possible.

We will win it all! (quite realistically)

A lot of people say Germany doesn’t play attractive football. Moreover it isn’t that effective anymore. What do you say about that?

That is the old prejudice… but wrong and outdated. 1.) Looking at 2002, we were highly effective and advanced to the finals and played quite attractive soccer in the final against Brazil. Germany simply does not show it all until the world cup games. 2.) Klinsmann has the team playing more offensively than his predecessors. The ConFed cup games showed where this is leading – fast, direct & offensive soccer mixed with the traditional tactical & physical German strengths.

Germany always had a great team at world cups. They have been lucky in the last couple. Will we see a team like we did back in 1990?

No, the current team is completely different. It is much more “team” than a number of stars (Matthäus, Völler, Brehme, etc.). They are also much younger and thus more “hungry”. I believe, they could be THE surprising team in the world cup.

Germany won in ’74 and then in ’90 after 16 years. Its 16 years from then. Fancy your chances mate?

Any host country has increased odds to win the cup – with the incredible fan support, the comfortable climate, accustomed stadiums/grass/balls, etc. I am looking forward to it already…!

Is Klinsmann the man? How would you compare him to the erstwhile world cup managers for Germany?

Klinsmann is the man! Absolutely. He managed to turn around the atmosphere not only in the team but the whole country with his vision & positive thinking. It has been a while since the Germans where so strongly rooting for their team.

His training methods are state-of-the-art and he brings in experts from outside football frequently. He has a good team of professional assistants in Löw (ass. coach) & Köppke (goalkeeper coach) and works well with Bierhoff (team manager). Slowly but surely, he has kicked all the old “buddies” out of the DFB structures (from the event manager to the cook). It was about time… This will pay large dividends in the long run – we now have capable U21 & U19 coaches and an experienced technical director in Matthias Sammer.

A large number of the German players are from the Bundesliga? Is that good or bad?

Generally, that is good – it shows that the good German players can stay at home in a strong league (unlike the Dutch & French). On the other hand, the German league does not have the same structural financials & ultimately (at the very top) not the same level that the Spanish & English leagues have.

We think of Germany and we think of Ballack. Who is the unsung player in the squad according to you?

Miroslav Klose – one of the best strikers in Europe (see the Golden Shoe standings), when Bremen played Juve Fabio Capello was afraid of only one player… guess who.

Have you got the squad to take on the rest of the world? Are you one of them who wants Scholl to come out of retirement and play in the world cup (your manager doesn’t want him)?

Yes, the team is young, strong & hungry.

Scholl is still a good player but well past his prime. With the small world cup rosters, we cannot afford to bring along players that cannot play 90-120 minutes. I am sorry, but this time the BILD magazine will not be successful in “pressuring” the coaches into bringing a dinosaur on-board for the world cup (see Matthäus in 2000).

What would the perfect starting 11 for the German team?

Lehmann – Janssen, Metzelder, Mertesacker, Owomoyela – Kehl, Frings, Borowski, Ballack – Klose, Podolski

Is Lehmann the better choice than Kahn?

Yes, he is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world right now. Simply look at how many games with 0 goals against Arsenal played this season in the Champions League (with a couple of 20-year old interior defenders). Don’t get me wrong, Kahn is still a world class goalkeeper and would play in any other national team. Germany has always had world class keepers throughout the history. This is a decision for who is in better shape.

I wouldn’t ask you who would win the Cup as chances are you will tell me it would be Germany. So let me ask you who do you think would be the four teams in the semi-finals?

Brazil, Netherlands, Italy, Germany

Would a Japan or a Korea or Serbia do the unthinkable?

Not even close.

Who would be the three players to watch out for?

Germany: Klose, Podolski, Borowski

Young players: Robben, Fabregas, Messi

Overall: Ronaldinho, Henry, Lampard

Which would be your ideal match of the tournament?


(Brazil-Netherlands would be OK as well… seeing the Dutch get their asses kicked.)

Being a German how frustrating is the ticket lottery? If you don’t end up getting a few, where would you be watching the matches?

The lottery is/was unbelievably frustrating – a lot of my friends got tickets, I did not. The tickets on the open market are either crappy games or (see eBay) prices are sky high!

Tell me something I didn’t ask but you wanted to talk about it anyways.

Did I already say that Germany will win the cup!! :)

Cross posted at BlogFC and Welcometotheballgame