Monday, December 31, 2007

saved the best for last?

just saw taare zameen par this afternoon. had read enough reviews and got feedback from friends who had already seen it and couldn't miss it.

it was exactly what i had expected from the film, an aamir khan film. (i think even if he hadn't directed it himself, he would have ensured it was treated the same way!)

its definitely worth a watch. so don't miss it. given the timing of its release, i think it will be rated as the best film of the year 2007 and also be a hit in 2008!

darsheel safary as ishaan awasthi, the dyslexic kid, and tisca chopra as his mother get my votes for the best actors in the film. and i think the film would have been as wonderful even if aamir khan had got anyone else to play his role in the film. the subject matter and the way it was dealth with would have ensured that. don't you agree?

the movie, like most of our films, ends on a happy note. that's part of aamir's formula for commercial success and you can't hold that against him.

but life doesn't always have happy endings in store for such dyslexic people. but the film at least increases awareness and attempts to sensitise people to this phenomenon.

like i said earlier, its a film you must watch. if you haven't already!

p.s. i would be lying if i said that i did not have moist eyes during some of the poignants portions of the film. (so be ready for some 'moist eyes' yourself!)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

an adventurous weekend

the golden square gang made good use of the long holiday weekend, took the day off on the24th (monday) and had an adventurous weekend from 22nd till the 25th. pawan and his family were also here this time on vacation from singapore. (read about our earlier trip to kashid here.)

we drove down to palas resort which is on the mumbai-goa highway (just a little before nagothane - check the map here) on saturday morning. (we were planning to start by 7.30 am but ended up leaving only by 9.30! tanu will never let me forget about this for life!)

we had a good time at the resort. the pics say it all. spent time in the pool, playing cricket, badminton, football, cards, dancing, watching 'the incredibles', lazing around.... and most importantly stuffing ourselves at every possible opportunity.

on monday (24th dec) we drove to kolad which is about 45 minutes away from the resort and spent a day at the z-bac adventure facility. everyone, including the kids, rappelled, rafted, climbed rocks, made pots and had a whale of a time!

the punch-line for this trip was 'jaana padta hai!' (one has to go!) people had to use this line whenever they had to excuse themselves from the group (for reasons i can't state here, since this is a family blog) or when they had to try out the adventure activities after the kids took the lead!

palas resort is named after the nearby village called palas, which in turn is named after the 'palas' tree. this tree has leaves with 3 large segments and these dried leaves are used to make 'patravalis' or plates.

this trip also showed us that -

1. food tastes much better when we are really really hungry!
2. kids are much tougher than we make them out to be.... they need more exposure to nature.
3. roughing it out occasionally is good for all of us... it helps put things in perspective.
4. fear is in our minds... and we normally transmit these fears to our children.
5. children overcome their fears quite well if they are left on their own. they get inspired by the other kids.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

there's no such thing as 'free'!

i recently got an sms from a lady who said that she will not be using her cell phone any longer and that she can be contacted only by email.

when i checked with her later (not through her phone) then she explained that she felt the phone was a nuisance (an obstacle in her path) and that she wanted to try this out as an experiment!
how many of us can think of doing anything like this? and survive? the only time i manage without a cell-phone is when i am on vacation. else i usually get a panic attack or a great sense of incompleteness when i leave home without my phone. and its not a one-sided thing. most of my friends, family, business colleagues, clients, etc also would feel annoyed/upset if they are not able to contact me on my phone.

now if we think about this carefully we notice that the cell phone, like many other things in life today, is a tool which binds us even while it frees us in some other way. this reminds me of what a great master said recently - 'remember, the law is, you have to pay the price for anything in life'.

the blackberry allows me to access my mail anywhere, so it frees me from my desk. but then ask any harried executive's spouse and you will hear a long discourse on how it has become the bane of their existence!

travelling by car frees up so much of my commute time (not to mention the convenience) but then i have to walk on the tread-mill to overcome the problems associated with my sedentary lifestyle!
i could go on and on.... but i guess the message is very loud and clear - there's no such thing as a free lunch!

Monday, December 17, 2007

flight to nowhere!

a mumbai-ahmedabad Go Air flight took off on 13th december without 24 passengers. (read all about it here).

no i am not going to shout myself hoarse that this is grave injustice and that the airline should refund the money. nor would i say that the passengers deserved such treatment for reportedly being abusive and violent with the airlines staff.

i think the truth, like it mostly does, lies uncomfortably somewhere in between.

(i recently had a similar experience on my way back from delhi. waiting for your flight in delhi airport after your security check is a very depressing experience as compared to any other airport in the country.)

- the airline for some inexplicable reason chooses not to keep the passengers updated on the status of the flight. why don't they realise that passengers would be less upset if they were told about the problem upfront?

- i don't like to crib, but the state of the delhi airport brings out the worst in me (maybe bangalore is a close second) - its usually dirty, there are not enough chairs, the air-conditioning is either too hot or too cold, the snack counters sell food at a premium, the indicators are usually not working, ... i could go on and on... but like i said, i don't like cribbing :-)

- and passengers don't help the situation any. they normally tend to do one of the following

  • start pouncing on the poor ground staff as if they have purposely delayed the flight and are taking perverse pleasure in agonising the passengers!

  • start crowding around the gates demanding to know what is happening, when they will be asked to board, will they get some refreshments, will they get a refund, will they be accommodated on another flight, etc?

  • demand that the airline charter another aircraft because the aggrieved person who is making this brilliant suggestion has to reach his destination to meet some other equally important person at any cost (as long as he is not bearing the cost!)

  • threaten the afore-mentioned ground staff with dire consequences and demand that the top honcho of the company appear in front of them right now and give them an explanation for this mess.

  • or threaten to drag the airline to court for the mental torture and trauma caused and the irreversible damage caused to their delicate psyche! (how about the poor staffer who's wondering what sins he had committed in his past lives to land this job!)

  • and the smarter ones are trying to negotiate free life-time flights, upgrades to business class, use of the vip lounge, etc. to compensate for the inconvenience.
sometimes i miss the good old journeys by train!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

vodafone blues!

i don't know if its only i who's going through this experience. but i've been on the receiving end of the drastic and perceptible deterioration of quality of service in my mobile phone service. and this has been noticed ever since vodafone took over hutch in india.

the problems range from :
1. sudden absence of signal.
2. regular dropping of calls (at least 8-10 times a day).
3. poor voice quality (and no, i have not changed my handset recently).
4. and all this obviously resulting in higher billing amounts every month.

but i must mention here that this has been my experience in mumbai (and also when i travelled out of mumbai to delhi). i am not sure if others have had similar experiences.

if there are more of you out there who are facing a similar problem, here's a simple plan that i am putting into action.

1. i am writing a complaint mail to the following address - with a copy to the nodal officer whose email id is provided on their website. the url is - (i tried submitting the same complaint through their online feedback form but with no luck.)

2. the text of the mail is -
Hi :

I've been a Voadfone client since many years now (right from when it used to be Maxtouch, to Orange, to Hutch to Vodafone now).

My number is 9820190487.

Ever since Vodafone has taken over Hutch I have noticed a perceptible deterioration in quality of service. This includes -

1. Sudden absence of signal.
2. Regular dropping of calls (at least 8-10 times a day).
3. Poor voice quality (and no, I have not changed my handset recently).
4. And all this obviously resulting in higher billing amounts every month.

With this mail I am writing to communicate to Vodafone that I AM EXTREMELY UNHAPPY WITH THE DETERIORATING QUALITY OF SERVICE!

I hope that :
1. You will acknowledge my mail.
2. You will let me know how you propose to improve the quality of service.
3. There will be a significant improvement in service standards.

Best regards,


3. you can replace the number and name with your number and name.

4. mark a copy of your mail to me at

5. i then propose to collect all your mails and send a consolidated mail to the vodafone india ceo. (if anyone has his email address please send it to me.)

i am sure such collective action will get their attention, and hopefully get them to act promptly and fix this problem.

please send out your mail by the 20th. i will keep you all posted about further developments.

Friday, December 07, 2007

when tv was a celebration

(this post was suggested by my brother.)

i don't know about you, but i remember the days when a television set used to be a big luxury. where i grew up, it used to be as rare as a 'vertu' phone is today, maybe more so :-)

and tv watching used to be a social event. those were the days of black & white tv and a solitary 'doordarshan' channel. and the programs were beamed only for a limited number of hours each day. and weekends were the high points when we all trooped to the houses of one of the more 'fortunate' ones to take in the weekly dose of a regional language film on saturdays, a children's english film on sunday mornings and a hindi film on sunday evenings.

it was not a rare sight to see an entire family visit another family so that they could watch tv together. and the news break was an occasion to have some tea and snacks too :-)

and there was no mtv, can you imagine??? only some rare telecasts of the grammy nominees or an occasional collection of the european 'top of the pops'! with artists in sequined dresses performing in clubs with disco lights!

those were the days of star trek, and fireball xl5, and 'go kart go' and lucy ball. and buniyaad, of course :-)

and we used to lap all this up so eagerly. each film or episode would be discussed at length in schools and playgrounds.

but today we have a surfeit of channels offering you everything you could ever possibly want. but we don't find anything worthwhile to watch. and we don't even have any excuses to visit neighbours for a movie and some tea and snacks. we prefer doing this in secondlife! :-)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

did i miss something?

it sounds like the economic times is venturing into the business of foretelling the future. this article looks like a peep into the future. but the reader is clueless about who or what is launching the service that this article is talking about!

i am reproducing the entire article verbatim here. i would like you to read it and tell me if you got it? i didn't.

Browse, chat, confer — all on the same Web page!

AHMEDABAD: All your favourite Web sites will soon be available on a single platter. Personalised, only for you. So, whether it’s checking latest stock market tips online, discussing it with your analyst friend through a chat tool or taking global cues and holding live video conferences, everything will be available on a single Web page. And that too without any downloads but by simply registering on a Web site. What’s more, the new tool will also enable phone, mobile and web users collaborate on a single platform.

('quick bytes' section on page 5 of the economic times of 3rd decemeber 2007.)