Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Lllloooo$L mystery



My friend received a very cryptic email. The body of the email contained only the word “Lllloooo$L”. The sender was his customer from UK! As soon as the email was received, my friend and his teammates panicked for two reasons. The sender was the subject matter expert for the application supported by my friend and his team. In addition, there were in the middle of a nasty issue in the application and emails were flying back and forth.

Their customer may have found out what was causing the nasty issue and narrowed it to “Lllloooo$L”. This caused everyone to panic.Ideally, they should have identified the issue instead of the customer.  When the panic subsided, the first course of action was to ask each other about “Lllloooo$L”. But, they drew a blank there! Following this, they broke into smaller units and began searching in the internal knowledge base, code repository and also the internet. The search was futile. The frustration level were going north when they received the second email.

The sender of the second email was again the customer from UK. Unlike the first email, this was not cryptic. It said, “This is what happens when a 1 yr old gets hold of the Blackberry!”. The earlier cryptic email, which resulted in the wild goose chase, was sent by an innocent one year old who was playing with the Blackberry.

Always leave the official toys out of an infant’s reach. Ask when you are not clear!

Picture Courtesy: http://www.ethiopianreview.com

Tags: Musings,Email,Blackberry

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Books: Made to Stick



Influenced by the terminology “what sticks” from the book “Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, Chip and Dan Heath guides the reader through a series of ways in which you can sound your ideas effectively to an audience. For Chip and Dan, stickiness defines how your ideas was understood and remembered by your audience. Using this book, Chip and Dan put forwards six principles of sticky ideas. They are Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories. They coin the acronym SUCCESs to easily recall these principle.

In this book, a chapter is dedicated to each principle. For keeping the interest of the reader alive, the authors do not go in a theoretical mode. Instead, they mix their chapters with plenty of anecdotes which gives an insight into how these principles have worked for others. In addition, each chapter, dealing with a principle, have a section named “Clinic” wherein a message is deconstructed to highlight the strengths and weaknesses.

If you are an aspiring writer or playing a leadership role, this book will help you to communicate better.

Picture Courtesy: Amazon

Tags: Books,Chip Heath,Dan Heath,Stickiness

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Movie Review: Pranchiyettan and the Saint



On a dark night, CE Francis(Mammootty) light candles on the graves of his ancestors. After lighting the candles, he moves away and watches the grave from a distance. The ghosts of his ancestors come outside grave and discusses Francis’s mental turmoil. In between the discussion, they ask Francis to return back to the church. Inside the church, Francis prays in front of the idol of Saint Francis of Assissi. To Francis’s surprise, the saint(Jesse Fox Allen) appears in flesh before Francis. Then, Francis narrates his story to the saint.

Since his family, based in Thrissur, made their money by trading rice, Francis was nicknamed Aripranchi by his classmates. While in high school, he fell in love with Omana. But his classmate Jose created a misunderstanding between them. Then, Jose and Omana fell in love gradually. Now, years later, Omana(Khusboo) and Jose(Siddique) have become doctors and are married to each other. Francis discontinued his studies in Std X and is a very successful businessman in Thrissur.

Owing to Francis’s educational background, everyone calls him Pranchiyettan on his face and Aripranchi behind his back derogatively. Francis, pained by this, decides to contests as the president in the local chapter of a well known club. There again, Jose contest against him. Francis is coached by Vasu Menon(Innocent) his friend, Yousuf(Idavela Babu) his personal secretary, Bahuleyan(Ramu) a friend, Uthuppu(TG Ravi) a well wisher and Supran(Tini Tom) his driver. Despite all this, Jose defeats Francis. This defeat leads to other attempts by Francis to gain respectability in the community. These attempts bring Ajay Nambiar(Balchandran Chullikkadu), Padmashree(Priyamani) and Polly(Master Ganapathy) into his life. But, these attempts also result in the mental turmoil of Francis.

Renjith dons three roles behind the scenes – the script writer, the director and the voice of Saint Francis of Assissi while speaking Malayalam. He excels in all the three roles. In the script, Francis narrates his story to the saint. So, it takes the viewer from one incident to another till it leads to the climax. The incidents of Francis’s life moves smoothly without taxing the viewer. As a director, he ensures that his characters delivers the right performance without going overboard. Since the story is set in Thrissur, all of the characters converse in local dialect of Malayalam. The directors steers away from evoking deliberate laughter while the characters use this dialect. Instead, it amuses the audience.

Mammootty delivers a flawless performance as Pranchiyettan. He uses the Thrissur dialect effortlessly making the character more adorable and believable. Mammootty’s Prachiyettan is a guy who suffers from an inferiority complex because of his educational background. Everybody wants his money. But they are not ready to give him respect. Unfortunately, Pranchiyettan knows this. But he is taken advantage of easily.

All the other performers suits the role. But it is Jagathy Sreekumar who is very impressive in a very short role as the Gandhian Deen Dayal. Deen Dayal is not a funny person. But his interactions with Polly provides a lot of light moments.

Watch this.

Language: Malayalam

Genre: Drama

Rating: ***

Tags: Movies,Mammootty,Innocent,Priyamani,Renjith,Drama

Monday, September 20, 2010

Movie Review: Elsamma Enna Aankutty



Balan Pillai City is a little village tucked away in the mountain ranges. The village is named so after the owner of the first and the only tea stall in the village, Balan Pillai(Janardhanan). The naming was given by the local drunkard Varkey. Now Varkey is no more. He is survived by his wife(KPAC Lalitha) and four daughters. The eldest is Elsamma(Anne Augustine). After her dad’s death and her failure to pass in Std X exams, she takes up the responsibility of the entire family.

Elsamma supplies newspaper and milk to the various households in the village. Her friend Unnikrishnan(Kunchacko Boban), who she calls Paalunni, own cows and supplies milk to Elsamma. Paalunni secretly loves Elsamma. But he never gathers courage to tell her. Paalunni urges Kunnel Paappan(Nedumudi Venu), the local rich man, for acting as the go-between as he is very close to both Elsamma and Paalunni. Elsamma also is the local representative and the local agent of a newspaper. Using the newspaper, she constantly wages war against the panchayat member(Jagathy Sreekumar) and the local toddy shop owner(Vijayaraghavan) who also runs an illegal brewery. She also targets the marriage broker(Suraj Venjaramood) who is usually involved in one scam or the other. The events in the small and beautiful village take a different turn with the arrival of Ebimon(Indrajith), Kunnel Paappan’s grandson.

Lal Jose directs this movie based on a script by M Sindhuraj. Lal Jose and Sindhuraj deserves credit in taking a melodramatic story, sprinkling it with humor in big doses and serving it to us. During this process, the emotional contents are left unperturbed without going overboard. It is a very thin line to tread. Lal Jose pulls off the biggest challenge of entrusting an author backed role to a newcomer. We are convinced that Elsamma is indeed an aankutty in the initial part of the movie itself. The story revolves around how Elsamma overcomes difficulties in her life. So, the script just moves from one thread to another without having central plot. But, this can be overlooked. The negatives of the movie are the casting of Ebimon and the marriage broker. Ebimon’s intentions are left ambiguous and the marriage broker is a nuisance who never takes the plot forward. Having two seasoned artists to play these sets the wrong expectations with the audience. The experience of the movie could have been enhanced if Lal Jose had made the newcomer use her own voice. The visualization of the songs are good but the songs themselves are not great.

Anne Augustine, with a lopsided smile which reminds us of her father Augustine, gives a superlative performance as Elsamma. Her Elsamma can be gentle and also tough. She can even scare the henchmen of the local liquor baron. She has no time to waste as she is focused on providing the best for her family. Check out the scene when she gets upset with her mom for running away from their home to escape the work at home. She is vulnerable only for a few seconds and then she is back to her old self.

Kunchacko Boban is good as Paalunni. The whole world knows he is in love with Elsamma. But he can’t get the courage to tell her. Indrajit tries but the badly written role fails him. The rest of the performers are in the usual best.

A must see for Anne Augustine, Lal Jose and a melodramatic story told with humor without being preachy or being a tear-jerker.

Language: Malayalam

Genre: Drama

Rating: ***

Picture Courtesy: http://www.elsammaennaaankutty.com

Tags: Movies,Anne Augustine,Kunchacko Boban,Indrajit,Nedumudi Venu,Jagathy Sreekumar,Vijayaraghavan,Suraj Venjaramood,Lal Jose,Drama

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Books: Between the Assassinations



Aravind Adiga tells a handful of short stories happening in a fictional coastal city named Kittur in South India. Kittur, like many other coastal cities, has Hindus, Muslims, movie theaters, restaurants and a central market. You will find people from all walks of life in this city with their own prejudices. Aravind Adiga takes us through a walking tour of the city at the beginning of each chapter and then narrates a story.

The stories are set between the two assassinations that rocked the country – the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and that of Rajiv Gandhi in 1990. The organization of the book is reminiscent of RK Narayanan. But the comparison ends here. The various stories in this book deals with the differences in the living style of people; the inequality in caste, religion and economic status. The Hindu-Muslim conflict are a prominent feature in the early part of the book. Then, the book takes on corruption and the hopelessness of the lower class.

Through the stories, the reader is familiarized with people like Ziauddin who is exploited for his hatred towards Hindus, Abbasi who is bogged down by corruption, Xerox who makes a living by selling books obtained through illegal means, Shankara who is the son of the high caste father and a low caste mother, D’Mello who wants to achieve fame through his favorite student, Keshava who rises high and subsequently takes a plunge, Gururaj who was a fiery journalist once, Chenayya who toils hard, Sowmya who begs to buy ganja for her dad, Jayamma who makes money for her relative by working as servant, George who hates the rich but plans deviously to take control of a married woman’s house, Ratna who reluctantly helps a diseased person, Giridhar Rao and Kamini a childless couple who entertains friends every week and Murali a disillusioned communist.

Aravind Adiga narrates the story in an uneven pace. He is very descriptive at places where he takes time to explain events. But then he takes off rapidly with the rest of the story. The stories are melancholic. The setting of the story – between the assassinations – is not very clear. The stories depict the state of the country not necessarily in any particular period but any time after independence.

Tags: Books,Aravind Adiga

iPod that controls nearly everything



The first surprise in the room was the voyeur’s delight. Once that sank in, I noticed an iPod on the side table near the phone. The previous tenant might have left this behind. As I have also left behind numerous valuables while vacating a hotel room, I immediately called up the reception to inform them of the valuable-left-behind scenario. The attendant at the other end of the phone stifled a laugh. Then he informed me, “Sir, that is iPod for controlling the TV and the lights!”. I was shocked!

I played with the iPod for the next few minutes. The attendant was right. The iPod could control the lights and the TV. It had access to repositories of movies and songs too. The iPod had two more features that were not functional yet. Those are for ordering food and controlling the doors! Very soon, the hotel is going to introduce these features too.

See below for the amateur videos of the iPod. This was taken in Sayaji Hotel, Pune.

Tags: Travel,Videos,iPod,Sayaji Hotel

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Who is paying for their counseling?



The police will train some 40,000 auto drivers and counsel them to behave better with passengers. This is the right step as the police receive 200 complaints every day against auto drivers. If you compare the number against the population of the Bengaluru, this is a miniscule number. But 200 disgruntled citizens, who are willing to take the trouble of lodging a complaint, is quite a huge number. I end up having arguments with auto drivers, walk away fumingly and finally take out the anger on someone else. There may be more variants of my behaviour making 200 only the number of registered complaints.

Training is good to tackle this menace. As training in such a large scale means quite a lot of money, who is going to foot the bill? This looks like an exercise funded by the taxpayer’s money. But, why should the taxpayer fund this exercise? It is the taxpayer who uses the auto for moving across the city. In this process, the auto drivers always make sure the taxpayer is ripped off. There are many reasons to extract more money from the passenger – faulty meter, extra distance for the U turn in order to return back or plainly Rs 20 above the meter!

When the police scramble to arrange counseling, there is a silent player whom they have not considered; the auto driver’s union(s). When auto drivers strike, these unions are the driving force behind it. If the unions are for the betterment of the collective, then why are these unions not involved in this operation? As this is an initiative benefitting it’s members, shouldn’t they put in a part of the money spent in this exercise?

Picture Courtesy: http://rickshawchallenge.com

Tags: Musings,Bangalore,Auto Driver,Counseling,Taxpayer

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Books: A Drink Before The War



Private Detective Patrick Kenzie is given an assignment by three prominent politicians - Representative Jim Vurnan, Senator Sterling Mulkern and Senator Brian Paulson. He has to find a cleaning lady named Jenna Angelina who was working at the State House. The politicians are trying to find her as she has gone missing after stealing important documents from the State house. When Patrick and his partner Angie Gennaro works on the case, they realize this goes beyond locating the missing person and retrieving the important documents.

Dennis Lehane is the author of this book and this is the first in his series known as Kenzie Gennaro series. The story unfolds from Patrick’s perspective. Patrick is a cynic and often talks with dollops of sarcasm. Despite bending and breaking the law at many places, he wants to serve justice; sometimes without the involvement of cops.

The novel takes a disturbing and hard hitting stance on people living in the malnourished sector of Boston. The whites and blacks are divided. The poverty and hatred are high everywhere which translates to inequality, oppression and violence. The characters are subjected to inequality not only because of the color of the skin but also due to the economic background. The oppression comes in the form of authority and also from their fathers.

If you can stomach violence, this is a good read.

Picture Courtesy: Amazon

Tags: Books,Dennis Lehane,Kenzie,Gennaro

Monday, September 13, 2010

Platinum card for Clipper lounge



A friend recounted an incident involving the Clipper lounge which incidentally stresses also on the importance of clear communication. My friend was reminded of the Clipper lounge when he glanced at a platinum card. I was clueless about the lounge. He had come across this lounge in one of the airports during his high flyer days.

After being impressed from outside, he walked across to attendant standing outside the lounge. My friend kick started a conversation with the attendant. He asked, “What is the easiest way to get in?”. The attendant offered the easiest way, “Do you have a platinum card?”. My friend shook his head and walked back determinedly. As soon as he returned home, he called up his bank for platinum card. Since he already possessed a Visa gold card and also satisfied all the criteria, the bank delivered him a Visa platinum card.

During the next visit to the same airport, he walked confidently to the Clipper lounge, handed over the platinum card to the attendant and waited to be shown in. The attendant took a look at the card and stated, “Sir, we only allow platinum cards from MasterCard!”.

Picture Courtesy: http://www.fairinvestment.co.uk

Tags: Musings,Visa,MasterCard,Clipper Lounge

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Movie Review: Shikkar



A group of unidentified Naxals plan on travelling from Andhra Pradesh to a small village near Idukki in Kerala named Chittazha to find someone. Chittazha is a sleepy village wherein migrant workers arrive to cut bamboos during high seasons. These bamboos are transported to nearby places using lorries. Balaraman(Mohanlal) is a lorry driver who has been living in the village for the past couple of years. Because of his courage, everyone in the village reveres him. Balaraman is assisted by Maniappan(Kalabhavan Mani).

Balaraman is a widower, whose wife Lakshmi(Sneha) succumbed to death tragically in the past. They had adopted Ganga as their own child. Ganga is the daughter of Balaraman’s elder brother. After Lakshmi’s death, Balaraman wants Ganga(Ananya) to become a doctor. But after Lakshmi’s death till date, Balaraman and Ananya never stays at a place for a long time. The rest of the movie explains why Balaraman is moving from one place to another, what he is afraid of and who the naxals are.

M Padmakumar directs this movie. The movie captures the fear of Balaraman effectively but fails to engage the audience because of a mediocre script. The story has a variety of characters in the first half which slows the movie down. All these characters are almost forgotten in the second half. The background music is so loud that it becomes an irritant. The climax is stunning. But the path to the climax is agonizingly slow. The cinematography by Manoj Pilla is excellent as it shows the thick forest in it’s grandeur. The night photography technique used is commendable but are not completely flawless.

Mohanlal breezes through as Balaraman. Mohanlal’s Balaraman is courageous but fearful at the same time. He is also restless because of his troubled past. Mohanlal eases in and out of these various shades effortlessly. The action scenes and chases inside the jungle are tricky. Mohanlal brings in so much energy in these scenes that you are in awe of the man and also breathless watching the scene. All other supporting characters are dwarfed in front of his performance.

Wait for the DVD.

Language: Malayalam

Genre: Thriller

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Mohanlal,Ananya,Kalabhavan Mani,Padmakumar,Thriller

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Books: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest



The story starts a few hours from where The Girl Who Played with Fire ends. Salander is wounded and rushed to the hospital. Along with her, the person whom Salander tried killing is also admitted in the hospital. The doctors save both their lives. When they struggle for life in the emergency ward of the hospital, a section within the Secret Police Sapo, becomes active. They know Salander can bring them down. As a result, they plan on making the Salander affair go away. They are ready to stoop to any level.

Meanwhile, Blomkvist realizes his fight is against a section of the government. He plans his moves carefully and gets his sister Annika to represent Salander. But soon, members of Sapo follow Blomkvist and taps his phone. Blomkvist gets additional help from Armansky, Salander’s boss. The rest of novel tells us how Blomkvist tackles these evil forces to get justice for Salander.

Stieg Larsson writes the final installment of the Millennium trilogy with this book. Like it’s predecessors, this is a gripping read. In the second book in the series, Steig had unraveled mystery behind Salander. In this book, he tells us how Salander is vindicated. The book has enough twists and turns to make it obsessive page turner. She is devoid of her only strength – computers – in the hospital ward. But Stieg finds a way to get her one. In a similar way, Stieg surprises us the reader with the simple but brilliant way in which his characters overcome obstructions. He also has all the well wishers of Salander coming together to get justice for her. When all of them come together, the reader also unwittingly becomes the part of the gang.

Excellent finish to a fine series.

Picture Courtesy: Amazon

Tags: Books,Stieg Larsson,Millennium,Salander,Blomkvist

Friday, September 10, 2010

Movie Review: Dabanngg



Chulbul Pandey has always been neglected by his stepfather Prajapathi Pandey(Vinod Khanna). Prajapathi dotes on his son Makhanchan. Naini(Dimple Kapadia), Chulbul’s and Makhanchan’s mother, justifies Prajapathi’s actions. Makhanchan is not so bright and hence Prajapathi is concerned about him. Years later, Chulbul(Salman Khan) becomes a cop while Makhanchan(Arbaaz Khan) assists his dad in running their factory.

Chulbul is an unconventional cop. He raids the robbers, recovers the money, keeps a major portion with him and shares the rest with fellow cops. During such a raid, he bashes up the henchmen of Cheddi Singh(Sonu Sood), who is the leader of the youth wing of a major political party of the ruling home minister(Anupam Kher). Chulbul and Cheddi cross swords.

Chulbul meets Rajo(Sonakshi Sinha) while chasing goons. He is smitten by her and follows her everywhere with an intention of marrying her. Meanwhile Makanchan loves Nirmala(Mahie Gill). But, her father(Tinnu Anand) disagrees their union as Prajapathi wants dowry. How Chulbul comes to terms with his stepfather and also vanquishes Cheddi forms the rest of the story.

Abhinav Singh Kashyap debuts as a director with this film based on a script co-written by him. Although the intention is to deliver a masala entertainer with a new age look and feel, the director fails to do so; but not because he is not competent. The primary reason is miscasting and the secondary reason the script. The script is interesting at places. But overall, the viewer’s interest waxes and wanes. After Chulbul meets Rajo, there are songs in quick succession which stalls the story. During the second half, the drama picks up. There are ample scenes to showcase Chulbul whereas the villain is neglected. Because of the above flaws, Anubhav’s strong points of the movie do not get the right attention. The strong points are the background score by Sandeep Shirodkar and fights by Vijayan. Sandeep Shirodkar’s music is reminiscent of Desperado. It suits the rustic locations and the macho characters. The initial actions scenes in the movie is what can be seen in Tamil or Telugu movies. But the final action between Chulbul and Cheddi is good. Both of them are hitting each other hard and quickly. Then, they go shirtless.

Salman Khan botches Chulbul Pandey. He is good in action scenes. But on the flip side, he is not able to successfully portray the dual faced Chulbul effectively. He mumbles the dialogues taking all the fun out of the one liners. Arbaaz Khan fails miserably as Makhanchan. Makhanchan is naive and can easily fall prey to schemers. But, Arbaaz’s Makhanchan is not naive but wooden. Sonakshi Sinha debuts as an actress and she has nothing to feel proud in this movie. Sonu Sood’s Cheddi Singh would have turned out to be a better villain if more screen time was devoted for him. All the other supporting cast are wasted.

Stay away! If you are an action fan, wait for a few days and the action scenes may appear on youtube.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Action

Rating: *

Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

Tags: Movies,Salman Khan,Arbaaz Khan,Sonakshi Sinha,Sonu Sood,Abhinav Singh Kashyap,Action

Planning the delivery of a software project



Planning the delivery is always an exhilarating experience. While sitting down with a colleague for planning, several minutes passed where we discussed the approach. We were getting nowhere as these discussions were around general topics. Then we looked at the delivery dates and planned backwards. Smiles appeared on our lips for the first time after adopted this approach. We were converging and both of us wanted to plan the delivery based on the volume of work instead of a date taken out of the air. So, my colleague relaxed a bit and the initial skepticism vanished. He also shared an interesting tale about planning the delivery of a project that was on the rocks.

This project was also plagued with classic textbook mistakes and evils associated with any project going under. In order to recover, the manager had a realistic plan. But, the customer wanted an earlier delivery. Unfortunately, both parties could not agree. Hence the manager’s manager was brought in to make things happen. The manager’s manager had a very simple way of executing the project and delivering it on the expected timeline of the manager. The manager’s manager opened the project plan and looked at the various tasks. He narrowed on a critical task. The duration was 10 days. He called the developer in charge.

The manager’s manager asked,  “Does this task take 10 days?”.

The developer froze and replied, “Yes”.

The manager’s manager continued, “But you can finish off by Friday. Right?”. Friday was less than 5 days away. The statement was a question. The command and challenge was hidden deep inside the innocent question.

On hearing this, the developer was shaken. He also bit his lips under the unwavering gaze of the manager’s manager. The manager’s manager was expecting an answer. As a result, the developed fumbled, “I.. can…try”.

Now, the manager’s manager turned to the manager and declared. “There, you have the commitment from the developer. You will get this piece by Friday. You can either change your plan or work on the downstream activities”.

My colleague did not narrate the rest of the story. The point was clear. This is another way of planning the delivery. However, I’m not sure what is the success rate in this approach.

Picture Courtesy: http://www.haohaoreport.com

Tags: Musings,Manager,Developer,Delivery,Project,Planning

Thursday, September 9, 2010

High Visibility Project



“This is a high visibility project”, said my colleague. He was guiding me through a presentation in PowerPoint. While he talked, he was flipping between two pages with block diagrams. One of the block diagrams showed the entire applications rolled out by the customer while the other showed the governance structure of the project. He followed the above statement with a question. “Do you know why?”. I waited expectantly for him to unravel the mystery. “Since this is a strategic application, this guy has special interest in this project”. The flipping had stopped and I was staring at the organization chart. He had pointed to a block which indicated the position of this person in the governance hierarchy. There were none above "this person. So, this person was someone really important!

My colleague may have been speaking without any malice. But this conversation reminded me of my plight a few years back. During that turbulent period, I was involved in a very stressful “high visibility project”. The words “high visibility” were repeated in almost every meeting. The result was that I felt guilty. I may not displaying seriousness in the job that these people have to repeatedly hammer the “high visibility” nature into my head. I suspected my body language was betraying me. So, I worked on it. I tried everything in the book to alter my body language to display seriousness. Soon, I was left with only one option to be tried out. Salivate like a dog when these words were mentioned. The idea did cross my mind. If these were said to me for another couple of instances, I would have salivated too! I desperately wanted these words to go away!

Like all bad times, this also went away and life returned to normal. During those stressful days, a colleague, who I admire for his cool-as-cucumber attitude to this day, made an interesting remark. “High visibility project”, he smirked. “Show me one project which is not high visibility. All of them are under direct scrutiny of somebody of high importance one way or the other!”. He said it so casually. Yet the message was clear.

Picture Courtesy: http://chrisbrodydesign.com

Tags: Musings,Project,Visibility

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Voyeur’s delight



Picture 163 The doors of the bathroom were open when I entered the hotel room after checking in. I had arrived in Pune in order to work out of this city for a new initiative. While preparing for the visit, all my colleagues, who had earlier been in the city for business, recommended this hotel as the best place to stay. The footnotes to the recommendation were so strong that I feared I will be pronounced a loser if I did not stay at this hotel. When I stepped into the hotel, I realized my fears were not baseless. I was blown away by the ambience of the hotel. Before planning my visit, I have not heard of this hotel; even when I was living in Pune years back. They have opened this place after my departure from the city.

But, the open doors bothered me. I have never witnessed this in the past. So, I felt something amiss. The doors appeared to the normal size. Then it hit me. It was not the door for I have already passed the door to the bathroom while entering the room and they were closed. This was a huge glass window with the blinds raised. They raised the blinds in order to give a clear view of the bathroom when the guest walks in. I was alarmed now.

What is the purpose of the huge glass window there? Then, I started rationalizing. I could see what is happening in the bedroom from the bathroom.

But why would I need that? There will be no intruders if I lock the doors. I could watch TV when I’m taking a bath.

How can I watch TV when my water flows over my eyes? All these rationalization left with only one possible option!

It is a voyeur’s delight! I can watch someone taking a bath! I have discovered the true purpose of glass window. Suddenly, I felt peace. But before long, the reality hit me. I’m here alone!

Whom am I going to watch? Myself?

Tags: Travel,Pune,Glass Window,Bathroom

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Travails of a software professional



Recently, I overheard the following conversation in a crowded elevator. The main protagonists kept the decibel levels high; fully unaware of the rest of the crowd. How did the rest of us in the elevator cease to exist for them is still a baffling question. We were pushing against each other in that crowded elevator on a drowsy Monday. So the question remains to be answered.

Protagonist 1: What do I tell my parents?

Protagonist 2: What is there to tell them!

Protagonist 1: They ask weird questions! They are not even supportive!

At this point, the second protagonist becomes silent. The silence signals the first protagonist that there is nothing new in these assertions.

Protagonist 1: My cousin works in the super bazaar!

I sensed the second protagonist’s sympathy for the lack of equality generated by different job titles in the family.

Protagonist 1: He works in the checkout counter and prints the bills.

Now, the first protagonist is agitated. This is quiet evident in his voice.

Protagonist 1: He uses computers as part of his work. I also use computers as part of his work. My parents are not able to differentiate between us.

Picture Courtesy: http://thedp.com

Tags: Musings,Elevator

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Nalambalam: Payammel Shatrughnaswamy Temple



The fourth and final temple in Nalambalam is dedicated to Shatrughna. Shatrughna is the least known among the four sons of the Dasharatha. Shatrughna is said to the reincarnation of Vishnu’s Sudarshana chakra. Hence the main offering in this temple is also Sudarshana chakra.

 Picture 107


View Larger Map

Also see,

  • Nalambalam Origins
  • Triprayar Sreeramaswamy Temple
  • Irinjalakkuda Sreekoodalmanikyam Temple
  • Tirumoozhikkulam Lakshmanperumal Temple
  • Tags: Travel,Payammal,Shatrughna

    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Books: Avenger



    An young relief worker named Ricky Colenso is murdered brutally in Bosnia. As a result, an hunt for the killer is kicked off and justice is served after executing a rendition on the criminal. Federick Forsythe gives us a detailed view of the brutalities behind a genocide and determination of a few men who pursues justice or revenge, purely based on your viewpoint.

    The book is divided into three parts. Forsythe introduces the characters, describes the crime and the decision to pursue justice in the first part. In the second part, the criminal is traced and located. The extraction of the criminal is executed in the third part. Forsythe’s hero is the Avenger who specializes in rendition and ends a movie a few days before September 11 2001.

    There is no suspense because it ending is a foregone conclusion. In spite of this, Forsythe captures our attention by detailing the events like an investigative journalist. Instead of commenting on the events, he narrates it to us, gives us a brief background and makes us draw inferences.

    This is a fast moving thriller and ideally suited for people who love espionage.

    Picture Courtesy: Amazon

    Tags: Books,Federick Forsythe

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Timesharing a pink computer!



    Two girls, who are fast turning five, have devised a beautiful way to timeshare a pink computer. There is only one pink computer and that belonged to one of the girls. So, they came up with this idea. One uses the computer while the other counts till 100. After counting to 100, they switched roles.

    Soon, they switched to alphabets as counting to 100 was tedious. Now, they have singing “Skip around the roses”!

    Tags: Parenthood,Videos,Pink Computer

    Movie Review: The Expendables



    Barney Ross(Sylvester Stallone) leads a group of mercenaries known as the Expendables. The group consists of Lee Christmas(Jason Statham), Yin Yang(Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen(Dolph Lungdren), Hale Ceasar(Terry Crews) and Toll Road(Randy Couture). While trying to rescue hostages from Somalian pirates, Gunnar becomes uncontrollable. He not only acts in haste but also tries to hang a pirate. Ross interrupts the ensuing fight between Gunnar and Yin. Then, Ross expels Gunnar from the team.

    On their return, Tool(Mickey Rourke) assigns Ross to a new mission. For the new mission, Ross meets a mysterious man named Mr Church(Bruce Willis) inside a church. Another mercenary leader named Trench(Arnold Schwarzenegger) also joins them. Mr Church wants to eliminate General Garza, the dictator of a small island named Vilena. On hearing the mission, Trench backs out citing disinterest. So, Ross goes to the island with Christmas. General Garza is backed by James Munroe(Eric Roberts) whose henchmen are Paine(Steve Austin) and the Brit(Gary Daniels). The reconnaissance operation turns out to be eventful. Very soon, Munroe and the Expendables cross swords. This forms the rest of the story.

    Sylvester Stallone directs this action movie. The script consists of mix and match of various scenes from the popular movies of this genre. The ensemble cast coupled with the two cameos makes this treat for the action lovers. The emotional scenes are a drag but provides the unintentional laughter. The dialogues does the thin wire act between self deprecation and narcissism; leaning to the latter generating either smirks or guffaws from the audience. As a director, Stallone gives the audience enough action. The techniques used by Stallone sometimes fails. For instance, the fight between Gunnar and Yin(Goliath v/s David) is lost due to quick change of camera angles and the way the scene is cut. Similarly, the actions sequence in the climax fight are difficult to follow although it contains some of the best fights.

    Jason Statham shines above the rest with his energy. Jet Li is underutilized and his fights have not been shot in a way to highlight his strengths. Stallone put in his heart into the role but miserably fails. When he runs for cover, his age shows.

    The emphasis is on the old school action. The green screens are minimal. If you are an action fan, go for it! Forget the logic and enjoy the stupidity on the screen.

    Language: English

    Genre: Action

    Rating: ***

    Tags: Movies,Sylvester Stallone,Jason Statham,Jet Li,Dolph Lungdren,Terry Crews,Randy Couture,Mickey Rourke,Bruce Willis,Arnold Schwarzenegger,Eric Roberts,Steve Austin,Gary Daniels,Action

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Movie Review: Shutter Island



    In 1954, US Marshals Teddy Daniels(Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule(Mark Ruffalo) are assigned a case to investigate the disappearance of a lady. The lady was an inmate of Ashecliff Hospital located on Shutter Island in Boston. Ashecliff Hospital houses the most dangerous criminals who could not be treated anywhere else. Teddy and Chuck have been assigned as partners recently.

    On reaching the island, Teddy finds the hospital equivalent to a fortress. The only way in or out is using the ferry controlled by the armed guards. Most of the inmates are restrained in chains. Teddy and Chuck meets Dr John Cawley(Ben Kingsley). Cawley is the head psychiatrist and provides a background on Rachel Solando, the missing lady. Rachel had drowned her three children before she was admitted in Ashecliff. In Ashecliff, she is under the care of Dr Sheehan. Unfortunately, Dr Sheehan had left for a vacation just before the lady vanished.

    Teddy and Chuck investigates the disappearance along with the hospital guards. They meet resistance from the hospital authorities, mainly Dr Jeremiah Naehring(Max von Sydow), when they ask to examine hospital records. The hospital guards are also unfriendly. Teddy also develops migraine attacks and also have visions of his past. Are the hospital staff trying to cover up something? Has Teddy got anything to hide? All these are answered in the movie.

    Martin Scorsese directs this psychological drama based on the eponymous novel by Dennis Lehane. At the onset of the movie, he successfully establishes the conflict of the lead actor with successful flashbacks to his past. By doing this, he also makes the audience question the motives of all the players thereby starting a guessing game in the minds of the audience. The background score is eerie which suits the tone of the movie. Although the movie do not depict violence a lot, it is still disturbing as the director forces us to imagine the violence that would have transpired earlier!

    Leonardo DiCapro puts in a convincing performance as the deeply disturbed Teddy Daniels out to find the truth behind the disappearance of the hospital inmate. Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo and Max von Sydow supports him very well.

    A combination of good director along with seasoned performers makes this a worthwhile watch. This is highly recommended.

    Language: English

    Genre: Drama

    Rating: ***

    Tags: Movies,Leonardo DiCaprio,Mark Ruffalo,Ben Kingsley,Max von Sydow,Martin Scorsese,Dennis Lehane,Drama

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Nalambalam: Tirumoozhikkulam Lakshmanaperumal Temple



    Picture 105 Tirimoozhikkulam Lakshmanaperumal temple is the third temple in Nalambalam. The main deity here is Lakshmana. The temple is located in Ernakulam district very close to the Thrissur-Ernakulam district borders. This is the only temple that falls outside Thrissur district among Nalambalam.

    There is a legend behind the genesis of the name associated with the temple. Years ago, Lord Vishnu appeared in person before a sage after being pleased with the latter’s devotion. After blessing his devotee by providing a vision of himself in flesh, Lord Vishnu taught him the ways to achieve peace and salvation. Because this was the place where the lord decided to appear and pass on the knowledge, the place was later known as Tirumoozhikkulam.


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    Also see,

  • Nalambalam Origins
  • Triprayar Sreeramaswamy Temple
  • Irinjalakkuda Sreekoodalmanikyam Temple
  • Tags: Travel,Nalambalam,Lakshmana

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