Monday, January 26, 2009

Rashtrapati bhavan on the republic day

What republic day means to most of us is a holiday and a break from our usual working routine. Incidentally this time it was Monday, so it meant 3 days of consecutive holidays. Now who will not love that? Most of my friends are back home to cash in on the occurrence.

Have you ever wondered why 26th January was decided to be the day the Indian Constitution would come into force. Was it that just that in the nick of time on 26th January the formalities were completed for the Constitution implementation? Here is the reason why.

Although India gained independence from the British rule on 15th August 1947 - an occasion marked with the Independence Day celebrations every year the establishment of the Republic actually has its roots in the Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress at midnight of 31st December 1929 -1st January 1930 when the Tri-Color Flag was unfurled by the nationalists and a pledge taken that every year on 26th January, the 'Independence Day' would be celebrated and that the people would unceasingly strive for the establishment of a Sovereign Democratic Republic of India. Thus by the time independence was achieved this day had already assumed a lot of importance and so the fathers of our Constitution decided to declare it as coming in force on this day.

I was having my usual snacks in the evening when a group my friends offered to go to CP (Connaught Place). Being quite bored out of the usual routine I readily agreed.



On the way we were passing Rashtrapati Bhavan (the official residence of the Indian President), and by God it was beautifully decorated. We were simply awestruck by its beauty. The glitter of the lights was making it like a newlywed bride. We decided to break our journey there and spend some time. We enjoyed every moment of it and it was an awesome feeling to see it so closely. Sure we were not allowed inside but the outside was no less attracting. Now I am planning to pay a visit to the Moughal gardens in Rashtrapati Bhavan which are opened for a month during the spring. Let’s see if time permits.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Trip to LONAVALA









I was just remising an incident in the first year of my engineering when a group of my friends decided that we should go to Lonavala. And that incident I can never forget in my life.

It was 11:00 p.m. and the day was like any usual day. We were all involved in bakar (a classic term meaning gossips in student parleys in India). Suddenly one of the friends said lats enjoy the night in Lonavala. It is a famous hill station near Pune. We were all first years and most of us did not haves bikes. So they were arranged from the seniors on the pretext of going to some local places (they would never have agreed to lend it for Lonavala). At nearly 2:00 a.m. we all were ready. As the next day was a holiday, missing classes was not an issue. Now let me introduce you to the star of this story. His name is Rahul (name changed to protect identity) but was popularly known as “Bade bhaiya”. Bade was a classic character of our college. He was the Charlie Chaplin. No, no don’t misunderstand me, the guy is well built, 6 feet tall and dashing but somehow due to his comedian attitude acquired this title. Incidentally he was also my room mate.


So finally we had 7 bikes and fourteen people. I was the pillion with Bade bhaiya. We were on a splendor. After the journey finally took off in the wee hours of the night, some problem occurred and we were separated from the rest of the group. Our bike was lagging behind. Bade bhaiya who was overconfident of his knowledge of highways interpreted the directions given by our batch mates incorrectly. We were directed to take the road going straight from FOOD Junction. Incidentally Bade bhaiya knew the road till food junction, but an overconfident brat that he is got lost twice before actually we could reach there. Finally at the food junction he took a turn that led to a narrow road which was not remotely looking like a highway. I asked Bade, “Dear are you confident that we are going right as this does not seem to me as the correct path” to which he said “yes dear. I am sure, this is a short cut to Lonavala” to which I said “Man, you are great, you know shortcuts to Lonavala too.” Finally after moving at 80kmph for 15 mins we could finally see lights and traffic. I said “wow bade, you are the best, Lonavala in 15 mins?”. Then suddenly I saw E Square Multiplex (a multiplex of this name exists in Pune), I said “Bade look, there is E Square in Lonavala also” to which bade said “man this is not the E Square of Lonavala but of Pune”. I was furious on him. I abused him badly and forced him to ask directions or we would be circling Pune till dawn. Finally he acquiesced to my demand and then we were again on the right track.


Let me describe the highway. It was completely dark as it was the new moon day and there was no one to be seen on the highway. I was confident of the driving skills of bade bhaiya (something which I repent till date) and we were moving at 90kmph (way beyond the capacity of Hero Honda Splendor). He was going this fast as all the group was ahead of us and we wanted to catch up. It was around 3:30 a.m. we overtook two bikers and were moving ahead with confidence and high spirits. Suddenly we say huge rocks in front of us which were a product of a recent landslide. The distance at which we saw them was barely 20 m (thanks to the dim light of Splendor). Bade’s first reaction was “Oh! Shit” and then in barely no time our bike hit the largest of the rocks. The change in speed was 85 kmph to 0 kmph in approximately 0.005 sec. The rear wheel of the bike was in air as a torque was acting on it with the front wheel being the center of rotation. The impact on my buttocks was large enough to kick me as a projectile and I was thrown in air. The words which Bade uttered were “Sorry” and while in air I said “*********” ( sorry will have to censor it as it is a public post but you can count the letters and guess the feeling to make out the word). As I fell of the opposite lane on my legs, I was going unconscious and a truck was coming with speed in the same lane head on. Thanks to Bade he shouted “Anvay , bhag” and I saw the truck in front of me. I guess my subconscious mind told me to get off the road. But it was also not a comfortable option as adjoining the lane was a trench deep enough to have ended my life had I made a mistake. Finally the bikers we had overtaken came to us and fetched us the first aid and soon my friends were also back to the accident site and drove us to Lonavala hospital. This was my closest encounter with death. The incident became a joke after words the way I narrated it but let me tell you, it was truly horrifying.

ING Miami Marathon 2009



The ING Miami Marathon is a annual sporting event hosted in Miami and Miami beach Florida. Its inaugural race was on Feb 2nd 2003 and since then it is one of the fastest growing annual marathons, attracting world class distant runners.


It is open to all males and females from any country and is an official qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Last time, January 27 2008, more than 10,000 runners from over 40 countries ran the streets of Miami in the marathon and half marathon.


The backdrop of the athletic efforts of the participants consists of paradise-like beaches, enormous cruise ships, breathtaking ocean views and luxurious jet-set mansions. Doesn’t all this sound like the perfect setting to film a Hollywood movie? This thought has come to a number of Hollywood directors who shot their movies in the tropical Miami scenery, and the marathon course lets the runners pass some of the movie locations. Among many others, the fast-moving '2 Fast 2 Furious', the legendary gangster movie 'Scarface' and the pastel-shaded 1980s TV show 'Miami Vice' have been shot in the streets and on the beaches of Miami. The marathon organizers highly encourage Miami citizens to come and support the persistent athletes. They even make special Cheering Zones with extra entertainment for both runners and onlookers and print each participant’s name on his or her bib number for personal cheering. So get ready for it as it is being held today.

Chokhi Dhani : The Ethnic village resort







In November last year on my Pune visit 4 of my friends planned a visit to Chokhi Dhani, the ethnic village resort. The resort is an amalgamation of modern management and old traditions and attempts to bring us closer to the traditional Rajasthani culture. Originally this resort was started in Jaipur but with time opened up at many other places following the success of the first. Well I have been only to the Pune one, so it is what I am going to talk about.

The resort is located at the outskirts of Pune on the Ahmednagar road, popularly known as the Nagar road. The timings are from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The place is completely cut off from the city and eventually is very calm and quiet. As soon as you reach there, you are welcomed in the traditional Rajasthani style with garlands and dance. The immediately you are offered light snacks which include jajeera and kachori, very popular in Rajasthan. The staff is all dressed in traditional clothes and is very hospitable. After this the place offers you an array of opportunities to enjoy yourself. There is a camel ride, puppet show, teerandazi, jadoo, pottery making, dance, traditional music, archery, massage and photography in traditional clothes. After you are content with all this entertainment, a smorgasbord is waiting for you, which will please even the most fastidious person on this earth. The staff there is fully at your service and adds a personal touch to each diner. After the dinner you can roam around a while or just leave.

And well the million dollar question now will be, how much for all this. Well the rate in Pune was Rs. 400 the last time I went there in November. But it may have increased. Personally I feel that it is slightly over priced but considering the treatment you get and the purchasing power of Pune citizens it’s certainly not a bad deal.

Well the first two pics I have put up here are of Chokhi Dhani, Jaipur and the last one is of Pune.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

People and Life



Pirates of the Caribbean- The curse of the Black pearl

Captain Barbossa : “Jack, I thought I had finally figured you out, but it seems that you are a hard man to predict.”

Jack Sparrow: “Me, I am dishonest and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly, it’s the honest ones you need to watch out for, as you do not know when they will do something stupid“.

So dishonest men are more trust worthy, than the honest ones. In real life the people who can call a spade, a spade are better people for trust as theses people believe less in conspiring. They are never afraid to speak their mind and sometime may appear foul mouthed, but remember, they are better than the diplomatic ones who will keep it all to themselves and may one day erupt like a volcano which will shake your foundations like an earthquake.

Mentem Hominis Spectato Non Frontem i.e do not judge a man by his outward appearance. Always remember that.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The OPEN SOURCE MOVEMENT

It was a day well spent. First the preparation of my CFA was going on in full momentum and then in the evening we had a lecture from Mr. Venkatesh. He is working as a senior executive in Red Hat and is closely associated with Open Source development there. Although I had read about community developed software earlier also, but today I realized its true potential. He told us how Linux was developed by Linus Torvalds when he initially wrote 10,000 lines of code for the operating system. In the last 18 years through community development this code has become of more than 204 million lines in the Fedora 9 version Sold.

Another question which we asked him was that if open source software is free then from where Red Hat generates money. I meant that what was the revenue model being followed by the company, in response to which he said that although the source is free but we generate money from installation and maintenance services.

The other important aspect of the open source software is that everything is before you. I mean there can be no hidden code implanted in it. Software used in banks, defense etc. cannot work on proprietary software as they can have backdoors which can prove fatal for these applications.

The open source software also results in a great cost reduction as you do not have to pay anything to use it. The policy of software companies and Pharma companies was also taken up but we found that Pharma companies usually involves huge sunk cost and hence cannot afford to leave the patents but software which has zero marginal cost of production should not be so much high priced. He also said that the high pricing of software has lead to its heavy piracy.

Bush exits WHITE HOUSE














Hey friends here comes the day when Bush will finally exit the white house and this will mark 12 years of the family in the White House. What his tenure means for the Americans I am not sure, but for the world he was not a very encouraging leader. Well lets leave this debate and enjoy some of the cartons on him.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire: India’s Hope at the Oscars







Slumdog millionaire, the story of a slumboy who goes on to become a millionaire playing on the show KBC hosted in the film by Anil Kapoor is the talk of the town these days. Based on a novel “Q&A” by Vikas Swaroop, an Indian diplomat, the movie has swept the Golden Globe awards and is expected to rock at the Oscars. The movie is made in a typical Hollywood style with no songs and shows the reality with a perfect blend of drama. The movie deserves all praises for the direction, acting, music and every aspect that has been involved with it. Kudos to Danny Boyle for the masterpiece he has created.
But then I am a bit puzzled too. Why is it so that only the movies which show India as a deprived nation win so much acclaim around the world? Why India’s true expectation at the Oscars are delivered by movies which depict India as a typical third world country where people can’t get two square meals a day. Delving into the history, we find that the first Indian entry to the Oscars which was in final five was Mehboob’s “ Mother India”. This story is about an Indian farmer family which is facing tough times and has troubles feeding their two children. The clutches of the money lender, the unpredictable nature of the rains and bad luck in tandem make it difficult for the family to survive. But mother India chooses honor over blood. India’s next entry which came that close to winning was Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay. This was a story of a Slum boy who had run from his family in the village and came to the dream city to earn livelihood and live a good life, but as the fate turned out he came to Bombay Slums. The director through his eyes presents us a picture of these slums, where in prostitution, drug dealing and child labor have been depicted beautifully and bring tears to the eyes most impassive. The last one “Lagaan” show India under the East India Company where farmers were exploited and were made to part with their hard earned bread in the form of exorbitant taxes. And now, “ Slumdog”, India’s next big expectation.
What’s common in these movies? They all show India as a typical third world country and the Indians poor. Why is it that any Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra movie have never been acclaimed? It is said that the former show reality. What is reality by the way? As per the western definition, it is the the story of the slums, the hunger, the starving belly. I am to ask, has India not progressed in these fifty years post independence. Our companies are quickly climbing the Forbes list of the best and we have one of the largest intellectual pools in the world. The list of richest people in the world is figuring more and more Indians. I agree that India has problems and farmers are committing suicide in different states and that 95% of Mumbai’s (Bombay) population lives in 5% of the area. But both are realities. The story of Jamal or that of Dhirubhai, goes from rags to riches. I just want to make the point that India is doing well and we are progressing. Definitely a country whole wealth has been plundered mercilessly by the Arab invaders and then the British it would take some time to be back on track. And as to when, I should say, yes very soon.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

War on Terror




The world is a different place after 9/11. The day the twin towers came down and became ground zero the world realized what terrorism was. No doubt it takes attack on the elite to the forces controlling the world to take note. This is what precisely happened. U.S led a war against Taliban, which was its own creation, a monster which became a threat to its creator. Never before did the U.S realize the plight of the nations suffering from terror.
In the name of war on terror thousands of innocent civilians were killed and the real perpetrators never could be caught by the Americans. The next target of U.S or to be precise Bush was to square of the feud between him and Saddam Hussain. No wonder that here also the American forces could not find the claimed weapons of “Mass Destruction” on the premise of which this war was waged. The U.S is playing a bully terrorizing and murdering innocents. It is this attitude of U.S which will one day lead to its downfall.
The sentiments against the U.S in the muslim world are at a peak and pacifying them in near future appears bleak. Agreed that they have the best technology and state-of- the-art defense system but even that is not enough to protect them against Fidayins. The Iraq war which was a tussle for dominance on worlds oil resources has led to more losses than gains.
India is a country that has been as much a victim of terror as the U.S if not more. We expect support from them to fight this menace and understand that Pakistan is sponsoring the terrorists. The selfish interests of the U.S are coming in the way of their providing us a whole hearted support. I hope they wake at the right time and stop playing politics or there will be more 9/11s.

Sachin not in ICC top 20 of greatest batsmen ever

Little master, Master Blaster, The Little Champion are just some of the titles bestowed upon one of the greatest batsmen of all times, the hero of India and the hope of a billion people, “Sachin Tendulkar”. Today morning while reading the newspaper I was surprised to find out that he has been ranked at No. 26 in all time great batsmen rating for test cricket batsmen and at no. 12 for the ODIs. Clearly for me these rankings hold no meaning, which do not think of keeping Sachin even in the top five. I am a student of a B-School and in our business rankings are not something you tend to follow closely. Statistics is something which can be easily manipulated and changing the parameters here and there you can place even ENRON at the greatest company of all times. What is more important here is for us to realize the role Sachin has played for the Indian cricket. At one time he was the only hope of a billion plus people and was treated like God in a country which treated cricket as a religion. Bookies were afraid of him and he gave nightmares to one of the greatest leg spinners of all time Shane Warne.
Well team effort is very important but history has always been biased to favor those who have lead their team or army to victory single handed. Such heroes are called one man army and become immortals in history. Team effort has never brought glory to a single individual. Pele, Maradona, Sachin what did these people have in common, that they were alone enough for the eleven players in the opposite side and the strategy of the opposition was also to target the single individual for victory. Pele and Maradona led their sides to victory single handed in world cups. In the 1996 Will World Cup Sachin alone took India to the semis, before the turning pitch of the eden garden wiped Indians off. And with respect to pitch also I must say that till Sachin was there on the field India was doing well. It was only after he got out at 64 did the pitch started turning abnormally. Maybe the pitch also knew that it was of no use to turn while Sachin was playing. Jokes apart this shows the power of master blaster and his talent. Among the contemporary actors only Shahruk is bestowed upon the title of King Khan, when maybe even Amir, Saif, Akshay are as good as him. The reason is when the Indian film industry was going through a slowdown phase in the late 90’s , and the films of all the major stars were failing miserably, Shahrukh’s films were doing good business. His presence in the film was enough for the ticket counters to make advance booking for a week. This is the power of one man army. Talking about the Gujrat CM Narendra Modi, his party was not supporting him for the elections. Most senior leaders were jealous of his rising power and all the senior leaders of BJP refused to go to Gujrat to campaign for Modi. He was all alone in the battle field but his determination and political acumen lead to a victory for him. It was perhaps the first time I had seen that news papers had written Modi wins Gujrat instead of BJP wins as they knew whose victory it is. Hence ICC can come out with as many rankings it wants but the master blaster will still be No. 1 for India and the world.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Satyam Fiasco



The image of Corporate India has been tainted with the Rs. 7000 Crore fraud by the Raju family. The news about this incident spread like wild fire and soon Google was flooded with search strings which included all possible combinations of Satyam, Raju, Fraud etc. My dad was very much worried hearing about the news as he could not recall which IT firm had hired me for summers. An offer letter from Satyam which would have been celebrated only 2 months back would now transform into a worthless piece of paper. Fortunately I was lucky and my mother reassured my father that its not Satyam. The Satyam recruits who till few days back were crying about the delay in the date of joining are now feeling lucky to have avoided the association with the tainted firm. Now they can apply else where, a scenario which also is not very promising keeping the global slowdown in mind.


Well talking about the origin of this crisis, it dates back to the year 1999-00, when Satyam acquired a firm named Indiaworld. This acquisition was done just before the dot com bubble burst and Satyam suffered huge losses in this deal. To deal with this the books of Satyam were cooked to show the company in good health and Mr. Raju expected to fill the gap in the coming years. But as the fate turned out the gap instead of filling got widened year after year until one day it became impossible to continue with it. The Satyam Maytas (Satyam spelled backwards) deal was a plan to fill this gap. The Maytas promoted by the sons of Raju was a real estate company and Raju planned to fill the fictitious assets of Satyam through real assets of Maytas on a payment of $ 1.3 billion. The payment was not actually to be made (all in the family). But the investors and share holder fury did not allow this to happen. And finally Raju was forced the directors of the company to issue a confessional statement.

The employees of Satyam, most of whom did not have any hand in this crisis are now paying the price of the evil deeds of their employer. Raju who was a hero and a model entrepreneur has overnight become a vilon.

The employees of Satyam have done no crime the government should take care to see that the company continues to operate. It was the last thing we needed in the time of "Global Slowdown".