Monday, September 29, 2008

I want to be cool(ed)!

When I was a small 'un, growing up in the desert plains of Saudi Arabia, I remember a time when the temperature in our area dropped to below zero degrees centigrade. I was really young at that time, and my memories are slightly vague. Mostly remember a blue sweater, and blue gloves and a huge wollen cap that pretty much drowned my head. Everybody kept saying its very cold, but somehow, I kept hoping that it would snow. It didnt, and all i ever got was the frost on the window.
After that, I moved to various places, Dubai, Kerala, Pune, and Chennai, but ofcourse none of these places had a remote chance of being snowed down. Ever. And as time progresses, I feel that my interest in seeing snow are melting like the ice caps in the Artic circle.
Its ofcourse one of those things in India, where when talk of overseas travel comes up, one of the common questions is with regard to snow. If u've seen snow, then u dismiss it lightly like its an everyday occurence. But for people who havent, its still a unique experience the first time around, and lots of photos later, u get accustomed to the fact that its probably not really a good thing especially for various modes of transportation.
I'm, ofcourse, still waiting for snow, and with every trip I take to UK, I always hope that this time there will be snow.
Well, I came pretty close the last time. The temperature dropped below 0 again and there was frost.
It had settled over most of the scenery in the morning, and sort of seemed like somebody had done a desaturate in photoshop on the landscape. The initial reaction was to go shutter crazy and snap a lot of pictures, but i thought i'd wait and see if maybe this time, there might be snow! And my hope as a kid, to see snow, had been rekindled again. But it turned out to be a false alarm. There never came snow. Well, atleast we'll always have had frost!
I am actually a cold person. No, not as in, I'll-walk-by-a-dead-body-and-act-like-i-see-it-everyday cold, but more like, i'd-rather-be-in-antartica-than-in-the-sahara-desert type cold person. I sweat like a whole herd of pigs in the presence of the slightest increase in temperature above 20 degrees celsius. Yes, I come with storage instructions - keep slightly refrigerated at all times! This usually amounts to my clothes being drenched with sweat when most people dont even break out into a sweat. On top of that, i've got a very mild case of Axillary Hyperhidrosis. Wat's that u ask? Well, this wouldnt be an informative blog if u didnt learn something everyday. That's medical gobbledygook for sweaty armpits!! This is obviously a point of consternation for me, especially since I am in the corporate world, and in the diabolically hot land of Chennai. Chennai is also temperature controlled - maintained at a low grill setting of 40 degrees throughout the year. So sweaty armpits, hot city... u get the picture! I reamin indoors whenever I can, because the moment i step outside, its like i took a bath in my clothes.
I recently drove down to Bangalore in my new car (separate post on that one) and everytime I go there, I never want to return. It takes me a couple of weeks of moping, and wishing before I return to appreciate the qualities of Chennai... which pretty much consist of 'Since I am here, I'll stay here. Besides, its a nice place if not for the heat' Yup, Bangalore, despite its growing traffic problems, is still an amazing town weatherwise. And women wise as well, but that's another story.
Anyways, no point in wishing, when I've got Chennai! I guess the best I can do is hope that due to rapid climatic changes caused due to some meteor hitting the earth in Russia, there will be some really cold weather in Chennai sometime... wishful thinking...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight... See it! Its worth it

S, u see a movie, and you feel you need to tell people about it. To share the experience, and help others to share a similar experience... yep, not just misery, even having experiences love company. I saw the movie The Dark Knight today, and boy! Was it a doozie! Its not a family movie, mind you. But its a movie that deserves to be watched nonetheless. It balances fine film making (in the arty award winning sense) with summer blockbuster action. If ever there was a doubt, that films could not be both at the same time, TDK blows away that concept. Christopher Nolan, take a bow. You've made one of the finest movies I've seen in a while. Infact, I feel a sense of deja vu when I say that. I felt the same way when I saw Memento. The writer-director combo of Johnathan and Christopher Nolan come together to create yet another awesome movie.
If Heath Ledger had been around, he would have been happy to know, he created a legacy that would be remembered for a long time. His portrayal of the Joker has raised cinematic evil to new heights. A person with no plan, just a need to perform...
The story is gripping, the action is amazing (watch for the batpod as it runs up a wall and flips over like a martial arts move), and everybody does well. Ofcourse everybody except for the female lead. She unfortunately doesnt have much of a role. Infact, none of the women characters in this movie seem to be well developed (and I dont mean physically).
But yet, its an awesome movie. It motivated me to blog about it, just so that I remember I recommended people to watch it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Where the hell is Matt?

Another video which will warm your heart. And make u wonder why he dances like that!

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

OMR tales

Traffic in Chennai on the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) has improved after they constructed the 6 lane highway, the IT highway or Rajiv Gandhi Salai as its known officially. Yet, there are choke points along the way, which as my friend Santosh points out, indicates bad planning. Most of these bottleneck areas are because of junctions where traffic needs to get on or get off this road. As usual, the road planners didn't have the foresight to plan for these exits, unlike most international highways. But yet, having such big roads is a big relief for people who have to drive up and down that road every day. But I hope I've not spoken too soon about the comforts, because there's a toll gate coming up and I expect that it the bad planning effect would rub off on that as well. Here's hoping these people understand the requirements of the users of the road, especially those who have to use it on a regular basis.

One of the things I had mentioned in a post long time back was about the lack of driving skills. It's not as such a lack of driving skills, but more a disregard for road etiquette. Unfortunately, on the OMR, the only thing that works is every man for himself. Everybody, especially the buses and the taxis, drive like the road is theirs and everybody else should get out of their way. I fail to understand why they have to cut across from either side, brake quickly, and then have the audacity to blame you for not driving fast enough. Sometimes, I get the urge to just remain in front of one of these guys, bearing his constant flashing of his high beam and repeated honking, just to annoy him for a change. But it doesn't do any good to anyone.

The main problem with the lack of road etiquette besides the annoyance is the danger of accidents. There's so many of them happening on this road now that the police had planned to be more vigilant. But the people who drive rashly continue to do so. It's really irritating that these taxi drivers not only endanger themselves but also the people sitting along with them because of their recklessness.

Equally annoying recently was some VIP who decided to go through this road during peak hours, when there's bumper to bumper traffic at some of the bottleneck areas. There was a convoy of 4 cars, all large ones, which honked and flashed, and generally annoyed people in general, trying to get past the traffic blocks by moving traffic aside. What right does he have to do that? In fact, I think it's a good idea he has security. I doubt if any terrorist was interested in him, but if I got the chance, I'd have liked to give him a dose. That's probably it. He needs Z+ security for protection from the common people. The ones who elected him in the first place.

Another point to note is that he had four cars. Imagine if every politician or person in power used it to have his own entourage. The amount of fuel being wasted for his joyride. It's distressing that in a time when the common man is being taxed by skyrocketing fuel prices, there is such rampant wastefulness.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My first RAW (Really Arbitary Writing) post

Sometimes, I get this urge to write. Just pen down some words which might or might not mean anything. Its not a urge, its a need almost. I dont understand it, but I am usually too lazy or too busy with something else to actually go through with it. The other problem is that most of my thoughts are pretty disorganised, and then having to organize them, and write properly becomes a chore. Why cant we write unbridled, un-spell-checked, and free from the needs of strict decorum. If we can use words we think of, and dont have to worry whether the context is right. If sometimes, we can write exactly how we think. Because in our heads, we dont have grammar, we dont have proper syntax. Atleast not in my head! So, for a change, I decided to put in a post exactly how it came out of my head. These are the words I'm thinking and typing at the same time. Ya, I am a little fast in the typing department, so I can type and cover most of my thoughts and then think some more. <pause to think>
I go read others blogs and I find them so well made, so properly done, and I think, so much effort. But then I see the readership in their blogs, and compare that with mine, and I see why. I guess, it really requires some amount of skill to be a good writer as opposed to just wanting to write because u can. Big realization, I know, but sometimes just saying it out makes it seem more important than just calling it a cliche!
So there it is. A blogpost that hasnt been thought through fully. Just written,as the thoughts came. I guess, its a little consistent, but at the same time, pretty disjointed in its messaging.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Now they blame us for eating too much

Back in the days when Marvin Gaye sang
'Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be...'
people worried about radiation in the earth and oil wasted in the sea. But these days, even worries aren’t what they used to be...
People are becoming more and more stupid. Case in example, George W Bush. Ok, ok, everybody by now acknowledges that the leader of the free world has taken the concept of free speech to amusing levels. One wonders whether he has speech writers or whether there are a bunch of people who constantly bang their heads against the wall whenever the president says whatever he feels like... Most recently, Bush went on record to state that the food problem in the world is because we Indians are eating too much. Really, Mr. Bush?
Look, dude (referring to Mr. Dubya), you have no right to call us over eaters. Not from a country that’s fighting obesity as strongly as it is terrorism. Somalia, or some poor African country can. I won’t argue with them. But if you point out that the food crisis in America is because of India (or China), well, like the following article in TIME magazine says… “India to America: Eat Less, Fatties!
It seems as if there's anything wrong with the world, it has to be due to something the 'third world countries' are doing. Its like with the time where they blamed us for all the pollution in the world. When the supposedly 'first world countries' were running their industries the skies, that was ok. Now our side of the world is trying to advance, and we have to be careful about not polluting the world?? Well, cough it up, u lazy obese slobs... Asia and the supposed 'third world countries' are here to stay, and we want our pound of flesh too...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Love the World

Here's something that's really nice. Its short, but it covers a lot of ground (pun intended)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Oil n Gold : How the Mallu story does unfold

It seems the world is headed for a recession. The International Monetary Fund said so. And they did research to prove it. OH GREAT! Just when I was settling in, had invested a little money in the stock market and started to follow the indexes, it crashes. Ofcourse, until now, I didn't have any savings to make investments. As usual, I never win.

Ofcourse, at times like this, we should look to the good book to guide us. And in this case, the book has something that's the most hard hitting and relevant right on its back cover. It says … Dont Panic!

…Atleast not yet, I guess. But take your money out of the stock market, and put it in gold. As a mallu, I've seen the voracious appetite for gold that's prevalent in Kerala, but I never understood it. Maybe it has to do with the fact that most of the gold in India is found in the south… em…. 99% of it according to this article in the Hindu. (There's something I didn't know before). Or maybe its because, Kerala's got more women than men. Luckily gangsta rap isn't very hip in Kerala, otherwise we'd have more teenagers into bling! That'd have helped the gold industry… infact they shud probably consider creating a new segment than always harping on weddings and overachieving women.

Anyways… Now, it seems the average malayalee is much smarter than everybody else. We've been hoarding gold since god knows when. Atlast, we'll have our due… when the world collapses under the legacy of the imperialistic and war mongering dollar, the leftist state of kerala will snicker in satisfaction at having held on to their Marxian ideologies…

But wait a sec… So far this ideological state survived because the main ambition of every slightly smart and industrious mallu was to transport his heavily coconut-oiled self to the 'gelf', the oil-enriched big dollar ticket to offset lower earning potential in Kerala. By struggling, bribing and sometimes actually smuggling, he manages to reach the Promised Land and leave God's own country behind. He toils hard, and harbors dreams of accumulating wealth so that his brethren back in Kerala can…em… hoard more gold… Ofcourse with the descent of the dollar, the exchange rate is slowly becoming unfavorable. This has resulted in the inflow of NRI rupees becoming a trickle, and mallus being forced to re-assess their gulf strategy.

Oh how the gold rolex-ed, gold chain-ed, ray ban-ed, 'tang & nido laden' mighty have fallen…

Yet, malayalees are very good self-preservationists… they'll find their way back! I shud know, after all I am one… at heart atleast…

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why men drop while women shop!

(continuing the thread on shopping...)
Considering my continual attempts to shop and having to visit multiple shops before I can get anything, I am a very experienced shopper and make for good shopping company. I cant buy anything anyway, so its always about the other person. But mainly, its because I've been house trained as shopping company since my childhood. Coming from a family, that had two women, and a father, I was usually... no, no make that, always... the male member who got to accompany the women on their shopping expeditions. As everybody knows, women are the true shopping exponents. They can spend oodles of time, running from shop to shop in search of the elusive color/design/price point. My mom and my sister encompass my true experience of the shopping domain. My mom used to be a pretty nifty shopper, and she would buy only what she really liked. Most people can be swayed into buying stuff based on suggestion and repeated exclamations of the awesomeness of the said product. But not my mom. She only bought what she really liked. My dad, on the other hand, found that, having an obedient son is an easy way to avoid the tedium of waiting for my mom to find something. So, shopping usually involved my mom and me getting dropped to a shopping area by my dad and then getting picked up after we’re done. It also saved my dad from getting rejected in his expert advise in buying stuff. Coz, like I said, my mom only buys what she likes.
Then there’s my sister. For her, shopping for clothes is like being in the army. Not in the formal, stark, starched uniform kind of way. But in the never-say-die, single minded focus and determination sort of way. Yes, my sister can claim to have scaled many peaks of endurance and staked claim to them. Most people would shrivel up and die by the time she finds something she likes. Most people I know have a breaking point. Between having to wear out a pair of jeans to tatters and having to buy a new one that’s not ‘THE ONE’, people would probably select the latter. Not my sister. There have been times, when I’ve been humbled by the enormous patience and restraint with which she shops. The last elusive search for a pair of jeans which met with my sister’s approval took about 6 months and a gajillion shops in 2 countries! But yes, now the world is at peace again. Until, the next time!
(In case u didnt get it, the title was supposed to be a play on the books by Allan & Barbara Pease, the ones that try to figure out men and women. They're really good, BTW)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Apparel shopping for the horizontally challenged!

After repeated vain attempts at trying to buy clothes of my size in most retail establishments, I have become a very discerning shopper. I usually window shop and if I really like something, I have a covert process of size identification. I start with a study of the lay of the shop. With some casual glances, I can make out whether the store is truly customer friendly or is just out to make money.

One of the best ways to figure that out, is to see if sizes about 40 waist size are available. You see, capitalistic money minded business types will figure out the fact it is a waste of shelf space to place clothes of large sizes. The general trend I guess, is to figure out a bell curve of the demand of the sizes and then cut off the upper and lower ends, so as to maintain a constant demand
across SKUs. Bleeding buggers. Bleeding money minded buggers.

The good stores, the ones that feel they need to cater to all sizes of human beings and doesn’t discriminate against the lesser than Adonis shaped are to be praised, even if they might take a hit on inventory especially for the large sizes.

So, an initial analysis of the shop usually turns up the following info. Usually, they place pieces in ascending order of sizes. So, looking from the bottom up usually provides the best way to figure out the size availablilty. But it can also be possible for larger sizes not to be placed in the main rack as their demand is less. So, then I casually enquire about the available sizes to the nearest sales guy, making it appear like, its more out of curiosity than a immediate desire to buy it.

Another way of figuring out a good shop is the way the sales guys respond to you. In the Penny Pinchers United places, you can be sure that they would size u up and not waste too much time with you. But in the All Are Welcome establishments, the salespeople are more genuinely friendly and helping.

Then again even within the friendly and helping type of salespeople, there are different categories of helpful staff. Take two examples.

Me: (holding onto a amazing looking and rather largish pair of cargoes) So, these look like a new style for x brand, right? Are these comfortable?
Dull salesguy: Yes, sir. Very nice, very comfortable. John Abraham looked awesome in this in Goal. You want to try it on?
Me:(thinking) Goal? There are other people who were unfortunate enough to see that sad movie?
Me:(out loud) Oh no.. no.. I am just looking. So is this available in all sizes?
DS:all the way upto 36 sir.
Me:(thinking) All the way? What does he mean all the way when that’s just like 3 sizes? Its not even interesting. Boring cargoes.. who wears them anyway?
Me:(out loud) oh! Wow! I’ll come back later. Thanks

On the other hand, a smarter salesguy might be a little bit more enterprising

Me: (desperately wishing this pair of amazing trousers would fit) What all sizes do u have of these trousers?
Smarter sales guy: Sir, these don’t have extra large sizes. What we can do, is take thelargest size, and increase the width by about two inches. Why don’t u try this on, and see how much difference is there?
Me: heh,..heh… no, no I am just browsing. Maybe I’ll come back later. But how much is it?
SSG: Only the cost of an arm and a leg.
Me: Only? Wow! Let me try it on then!
Me: (struggling to fit into it inside the fitting room) Damn this infernal metabolism. I wish I was like those guys who eat everything and don’t gain weight….
Me: (outside the fitting room) No, this doesn’t feel correct. Also, I bought two pants last week. I was just trying it out. Thanks, man!
SSG: Sir, we can increase the width if u want.
Me: No, No.. its not that. I didn’t like the fit at all…
SSG: Ok sir… we also have some track pants which are very elastic if u like.
Me: (Thinking) Next he’ll be telling me he’s got good maternity wear....

And after all this, the joy of actually being able to get a piece that fits in really amazing. Of course the joy is usually short lived and the remaining desperate times of unavailability are usually characterized by a desire to just get stuff stiched!

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