Dec 23, 2007

General Weekend TP

1. Came across this blog - Destination Infinity. Only 3-4 posts, so read the whole thing in one sitting. Its a refreshingly different an interesting read. Take a look.

2. Saw 'Jab we met'. Nice movie. Almost-believable story, good music, good acting, and good punjabi touches ;) No one could have done the good-boy role better than Shahid. No one could have done the loud-gal better than Kareena. And no one could have done dar-ji better than Dara Singh! But i still dont like Kareena (too loud, and unconventional looks)

3. Finished Season 3 of Boston Legal. It's not an easily likeable program. But it gets you hooked once you get 'into' the plot and characters. Smart, funny and serious - all in good measures.

4. Went to Fuga. Now even Fuga's crowded - like all other discs in Blore (save, perhaps, Taika). Sheesh

Dec 19, 2007

Goa 2.0

If you are one of the types who work long stressful hours all the time, and sleep away half of your weekends, it is a good idea to get away from it all once in a while and recharge. Live a simpler life for a couple of days, in a simpler town, leaving your usual world far behind. It works much better than anything you do on a holiday in the same city where you work.

Last year, I'd gone to Goa and had a wonderful time. I resolved i'd do it every year. And I'm glad I stuck to that resolution in spite of the mayhem in the office.

Tush and I went from Blore and Jo joined us from Mumbai. We had an absolutely awesome time. Water sports, beer on the beach, shirt-less drive thru the city, excellent sea food, swim in the sea as well as the hotel pool, soaking in the scenic beauty from atop a fort, partying at a Cliffhanger nightclub, racing like kids on the beach, playing cards in the hotel. It's tough to believe how much fun can be had in a single weekend, unless you've been to Goa with a bunch of good pals.

The other striking thing was the change in the town's character. Now, Im sure many readers would have seen or heard about the foreigners-loaded, anything-goes, rave-partying, Hare-Rama-Hare-Krishna-(smoke-it-up) scene that existed in Goa till recently. It's all gone. The Govt has cracked down on behavior unbecoming of our 'Indian culture' - they've denied visas to the hippies and shut down all the rave parties and most of the clubs that used to be the centers of free-fun in Goa.

The starkest change was noticed by Tush at Paradiso. The last time he'd been there - it was a completely charsi place, with firangs lying on the floor completely zoned out, lesbians openly making out, and Vedic chants playing in the background. Now its like any other disc in B'lore - commercial and desi music, lotsa desi crowd, hell they even have a CCD in there now. So, if you were planning on having a wild time in Goa, the option's been taken away by the Govt.

But it's still a lovely, laidback, friendly place - now less crowded and cheaper than earlier. And I, for one, am surely going again next year!

Sidenote: This post is entirely about North Goa - the Candolim, Calangute, Vagator, Anjuna region. South Goa - with all its 5-star hotels, resorts and casinos - is an entirely different place.

Dec 2, 2007

Learning from HK

I always believed that one of major causes, if not the root cause, of our relatively poor infrastructure and low standard of living (compared to cities in more developed countries) is our population. 'Itne logon ko kaise manage kiya ja sakta hai? Problem to honi hi hai.'

But this misbelief was shattered on my recent trip to Hong Kong. All the buildings there seemed at least 20-storeys-high, and weren't far apart. So I knew, instinctively, that the population density couldn't be significantly lower than Bangalore, if at all. And I've confirmed it. (HK is in Shenzen, which comes in at no. 5)

The roads are as narrow as Bangalore, yet I saw people drive at 70 kmph in the peak business hours. The local train was almost as crowded as they are in Mumbai, yet it wasn't difficult to board or alight, nor uncomfortable. The bars were small, the showrooms were small, yet they made a good impression.

I've come to the conclusion that population as such isn't an unmanageable problem. The need is for a good, strong-willed administration and disciplined behavior from people. People have to start believing that forming queues makes waiting easier and shorter. That traffic signals and rules are for their own safety, and following them will actually speed up transit. That the little effort required to use a dust-bin will keep the city clean, and a clean city is a lot easier on the eyes and lungs. They should realize that their selfish, impatient, reckless behavior creates disorder, and disorder actually makes life much more difficult, beating the selfish motive they had in the first place.

But to change the way people behave, they need to be disciplined with a stick for some time, till they see the benefits for themselves. And so the real problem is the governments and administration we have - they simply dont have the will to use the stick. I hope this problem, like population, is also one that we can deal with. But for now, I don't think so.

Angrez humein angrezi sikha gaye, aur aaj hum angrezi bhasha ke dum pe badh rahe hain. Kaash, unhone humein, Hong Kong ki tarah, tameez bhi sikhayee hoti.

Dec 1, 2007

Review: Joker in the Pack

Just finished reading the book by Pandu and his friend. If you've studied at one of the B-schools where 24 hours in a day just didn't seem like enough, the book is a great route to re-visit those days and refresh enjoyable memories. And if you are considering going to an IIM or such-like for an MBA, or generally curious about what goes on there, the book paints a remarkably accurate picture.

It is difficult for me to really evaluate this as a novel, because I knew most of the characters and the story. So it felt more like a session with friends, reminiscing about the good old days over a couple of beers or coffee, than reading a book where a story gradually unfolds with unexpected twists and turns. But I'm sure people will enjoy it - because it has a smooth and engaging narrative that will not let you put it down. Also, the candor with which some of tougher realities have been described is admirable.

An honest review must also include criticism where it's due. I felt the narrative was too focused and presented a slightly narrowed view. Sure, life - in general, and particularly at an IIM - is tough. And we all worked harder to achieve ambitious goals there, than we've done elsewhere. But there were also times spent at Kebab shops, getting drunk at insti parties, playning comp games, or generally chilling with friends with Fauji's 'country' butter chicken and Romanov - which are some of the more pleasant memories, which we all will look back at and smile when our hair turns grey. If some of these had been included in the book, it would painted a more complete picture and been less intimidating to future Jokers in the pack. Perhaps they chose not to include such stuff for better commercial/creative reasons than I know, but that's my opinion.

Overall, it is a great effort, and I would recommend it to everyone who ever has any thoughts related to an MBA.

Sidenote to people who were on campus with Pandu - MUST read this. Chances are you'll find people you know in the book, and it feels nice!