Cerebral Shangrila

Saturday, November 29, 2003


The Coverstory of Businessweek is on the "Rise of India ". A very Balanced view & makes an absorbing read.

Friday, November 28, 2003


I have been meaning to write this post for a long time but never got enough time to sit & pen it down. Having Lived / Worked in numerous cities in India ( & probably a few in the US ) , I have always been fascinated by Cities. The hustle & bustle of the Cities and its unique characteristics make up for an interesting study & I have also noticed the possessiveness people have about their home towns. I am trying to present my opinion on the Cities where I have lived / worked . My presumption is that you need to live at least for 6 months in a city to understand and write about its Merits & Demerits. The following Cities fall under that Criteria : Madras (Chennai) , Bangalore , Hyderabad , Mumbai , Pune , Ahmedabad , Delhi since I have lived in these cities for close to or greater than six months. I will do it as a SWOT (Strengths,Weaknesses , Opportunities,Threats) Analysis.


LIKES : First things first , I still refer to Chennai as Madras , which shows how possesive I am about the City . Afterall I spent twenty years there and owe most of what I am today to Madras. The Best thing I like about Madras is the Respect & Stress on Education and a very Vibrant Intellectual / Cultural / Religious fervour. Its one of the Best Cities to Study boasting of wonderful schools & colleges and with tremendous stress on Intellectual progress. The Carnatic music season in December is one of its kind in the world and the musical experience of December could never be recreated anywhere else in the world. The people are very religious & career oriented. Of course last but not least its the Home of Idli,vada,sambhar,Dosas,filter coffee, offering excellent choice of food to satisfy the taste buds. The HINDU still remains my favourite newspaper.

DISLIKES : Climate , Poor Infrastructure (Bad roads, Water Scarcity) , Narrow Minded people bordering a bit on being too selfish , Sky High Expectations ( If you haven't studied at IIT/IIM's or If you aren't working for one of the Big Tech cos or If you are not in abroad/at least gone there then you haven't acheived much in life as per Tam-Bram lingo !!) , Political Scenario .

PLACES TO SEE : Marina Beach ( The Second largest in the World ) , Besant Nagar Beach , Valluvar Kottam , Museum , Crocodile/Snake Park , Vandalur Zoo , Mahabalipuram , Numerous Adventure parks on Old Mahabalipuram Road , Parthasarathy Temple(triplicane) , Kapaleeshwarar Temple (mylapore),32 foot Hanuman Temple (Nanganallur) , Santhome Church .

STRENGTHS : Wonderful City for Education , Hospitals (perhaps the best in India ) , Culture (Though Unique to Tamilians) , Religion . One of the vertex of the Silicon valley Triangle ( Alongwith Hyd,Blore) boasting of most of top tech cos , Also called the Detroit of India ( Ford , Hyundai , Delphi and many more lined up) emerging as the Auto Capital of India , Tremendously Organized Retail business ( Silk Sarees , Jewellery ) , High Literate population , Natural Harbour and International Airport , Excellent Public Transport ( Buses,Trains) , Reasonable cost of Living .

WEAKNESSES : Climate ( Hot almost throughout the Year . In Fact I joke saying Madras has three kinds of climate Hot,Hotter,Hottest) , Language ( Though things have changed in the last few years still viewed as Anti-Hindi State) , Poor Political Landscape ( more than three Decades of Dravidian Govt has left the State away for the mainstream Politics & also neither of the parties have done enough to foster growth or tap the potential ) , Poor Infrastructure ( Water Scarcity , Poor Roads , Drainage problems ) still haunt the city , The Chennai Autowallah continues to remain the most unreasonable person on earth.

OPPORTUNITIES : Tremedous Growth is possible in IT , ITES , Auto,Health,Retail Sectors . But Unfortunately the Govt isn't doing enough to promote the State's interests . A key City in the arena of Health Tourism boasting of World Class Hospitals like Apollo , Malar , Madras Medical Mission , Madras Medical College. Cultural Tourism should be promoted & publicized viz the December carnatic music festival ( Which already attracts a lot of Tourists from India & abroad) .

THREATS : The neighbouring CM's are very proactive & have managed to attract most of intended FDI to TN to their states (Naidu & Krishna) , Bangalore & Hyd pose a very strong Threat to Chennai providing superior Infrastructure & facility , Language ( The earlier we join the national Bandwagon the better it is for us ) , Chennai should quickly address & solve its Infrastructure problems to overcome threats from other Metros.

Watch out for more as I would be covering the other cities in the days to come.


There are some moments in life when you are left speechless by Grief & shock. I had one such moment yesterday & realised how cruel life could be.

It all started a few weeks back when I saw a posting in our Company Intranet asking for a Blood Donor (B Positive Grp)to donate to a two year old kid immediately in need of Blood. I contacted the colleague who had posted it since my Blood Group was B positive . She immediately took me to the Hospital where the Kid was Admitted. I learnt that the kid was suffering from a sudden drop in Blood platelets & the Doctors were suspecting an initial cancer growth. When I visited the kid , he was tenuously holding to his mother's dupatta and sleeping on her Lap (Seems he didn't want to leave his mother and wanted to sleep that way and not on the Bed) . However another Donor's Blood matched and hence they told me mine wasn't needed. I left the Hospital giving them my Contact numbers and asking them to contact me in case they needed more Blood. I felt an overwhelming sympathy for that kid and their family and wished all would get well.

I met my colleague a week later and she informed me that the Kid had been shifted to AIIMS since he had Cancer and they were considering chemotherapy to cure the ailment . I met her again accidentally yesterday and asked her how the kid was doing. She answered that the boy had died Yesterday because the Cancer had spread very fast and he had developed numerous other complications like pneumonia . I was left numb with shock and the image of the boy kept flashing in my mind throughout yesterday .

Thursday, November 27, 2003


I have a long weekend viz Holiday for 4 days (Thanksgiving Holidays ) . Its strange observing American Hols in India but then I guess this is all part of the Global Outsourcing wave . Not going anywhere for a change :-) cos my dad is in Delhi and also got a few events planned on sat in Delhi .

Wednesday, November 26, 2003


The Million Dollar Question over the future battle between Humans and Machines has fascinated & baffled most scientists . Here is a very interesting Article by Bill Joy ( One of the Co-founders of Sun Microsystems & its ex-CTO). Its a fairly long article but makes a very interesting Read.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


A few years back I remember seeing the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The man who knew too Much" , starring James Stewart & the ravishing Doris Day which had this immortal song"Que Sera Sera ". I knew the song was extremely popular and of course the movie was one of Hitchcocks's classics.

However I read this phrase in Todays newspaper and did some googling to find out what it means . Que sera sera means "Whatever will be will be " . Probably the apparent reference is to a more Philosophical & fatalistic view of the future .


Read about this Report which Says Dell is shifting back call center jobs from Bangalore to US since Customers complained of being unable to understand the accent. Probably the first of Jobs shifting back to US from India. Here is the Report.


I got myself a Philips 5-in-1 Player ( Which can play MP3,VCD,ACD,TAPE,RADIO) on Sunday . My Huge Collection of cassettes & CD's have finally found an avenue now . Now that Winter has set in Delhi , I would be forced to curb most of my Outdoor Travel and hence thought of gifting myself this player.

I have always believed Philips is a Wonderful value for Money. All my previous Audio systems have been Philips and they have been very long lasting and the sound effects have also been equally impressive ( Well Sony,Kenwood Belong to a Different Category but then I don't want to spend that much money).

Monday, November 24, 2003

CAT's out of the Bag

It came as a big Shock when I read in Today morning Newspapers that the CAT papers had been leaked and the exam stands Cancelled. I didn't know the news the whole of Yesterday . I thought the CAT paper this year was a bit easy than the one I had given earlier and I was also surprised when they asked us to take the question paper back with us .

Now the CAT is likely to be rescheduled in the month of Jan according to newspapers , but this is a Big shock for most of the aspirants who have other exams & schedules planned .

Saturday, November 22, 2003


One of my biggest passions is Quizzing. I have been a very active Quizzer right from my Schooling days and have been part of Quiz Organizations & online Quiz Groups. Yesterday I got the Wonderful oppurtunity to Host a Quiz at my office on the Topic "Social Awareness & Drive Safety Awareness". Yeah it was Quiz with a Difference . Under the Aegis of Social Services Committee , I conducted a Quiz on Social Workers , NGO's , Community awareness etc. I will post the Questions shortly on this site.

At the end of the day it was an immensely satisfying experience to have conducted a Quiz which I hope spurred people to make a Difference to the Society.

Friday, November 21, 2003


Punctuality sadly is a Virtue much preached than Practiced here in India . We pride ourselves in saying IST stands for Indian Stretchable Time . Punctuality is perhaps the first virtue which creates an impression in stranger's mind when you meet them.

At my work place we have a Daily meeting to review any problems/issues during the day. The meeting starts at 8pm Sharp and anyone entering after 8pm (even at 8:01 pm) has to pay a fine of Rs.50 . This has instilled a wonderful sense of time consciousness in most of us who attend that meeting . Punctuality is to a larger extent the Reflection of one's Self-Discipline & integrity . I am glad I picked this wonderful habit !!

Thursday, November 20, 2003


I have never been a fan of the Climate of Madras. But during my visit last week , I was really glad to be amidst the warm sultry weather of madras which was a great contrast to the Gloomy Cold Delhi . They say things are relative in life. One never appreciates things until he has seen the worst or the other side of the coin.

Madras is at its best in Nov/Dec/Jan . The Weather is wonderful & the air vibrates of Music & religion culminating in the Carnatic music season & maargazhi utsavams & Bhajans. Tourists flock the city for the music concerts which creates a Vibrant ambience that is Intellectually & culturally stimulating. The choice of Artistes & concerts during the season is mind-boggling. Oh gosh..I really miss being in Chennai.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003


I remember this Good old Joke "What is the Difference between Gandhiji & Lalgudi Jayaraman ? " & the answer is "One is a Non-Violinist & other is a Violinist ". Probably a PJ . When I visited Madras this time I got my Good old Violin repaired with the intention of starting Carnatic Violin Classes here at Delhi. Its been a big regret for me not continuing Carnatic music classes and Hope I continue it here in Delhi.

On a Humorous Note , Sudha Raghunathan was in the Airport lounge the same time as I was waiting for my flight. I was having my Violin strapped across like a Backpack and all the passengers gave me admiring looks thinking I was accompanying Sudha on Violin for some future Concert. Little did they realise that I was just an amateur on my way to learn Violin !!

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


The new print ads by Hutch are very cute !! (The one with the Boy & the Dog) . O & M has once again proved itself as one of the most creative Ad agencies.


Sahara has this unique bid & Win Contest in most of its flights where you could bid for Products (listed in a catalog) and get them for a reasonable price the proceeds of which go towards the Kargil Martyrs Fund. I bid & won a National Geographic (NGC) 32 Set CD-ROM Collection , Containing the archives of the entire set of Photographs & Articles of the 110 Year Old Magazine. Being a Huge NGC fan , I am pretty excited about it & look fwd to playing with the CD's.


I feel like a Battery coming back recharged after the Madras Visit. The weather was warm & pleasant at Madras ( A welcome contrast to the Cold Delhi) and the four days just passed by. It was great to be with my family & dog again .

Thursday, November 13, 2003

MADRAS - here I come

For a Change this weekend I would be visiting my Hometown , Madras (Chennai) to attend a family function. I am visiting Madras after almost 6 months and am eagerly looking fwd to the visit .

Monday, November 10, 2003


Pushkar is one of the Holiest Cities in India and the Annual Camel Fair there attracts close to 5,00,000 tourists every year including the 40,000 foreign tourists . The fair this year was from 5-8 November . My Uncle & Aunt were in Jaipur this weekend which prompted me to plan a Trip out there .

We set out for Pushkar early on the saturday morning . Pushkar lies 400 Kms from Delhi ( Delhi - Jaipur = 250 + Jaipur - Pushkar = 150 ) . The Delhi Jaipur is a part of the Golden Quadrilateral with wonderful Toll roads lined with Greenery. The crowd was an enthusaistic lot and the time flew as we drove towards Pushkar. As we reached Pushkar the Traffic grew and roads became immensely crowded and we finally reached the city after an exhausting 7 hour Drive.

PUSHKAR : Its a rather dusty quaint town with nothing much to boast of other than the Famed Brahma Temple and the International camel fair. We had to walk almost 4 kms from the parking lot to the city . The roads were extremely crowded & dusty but the festive mood kept the air ringing. After a long walk we reached the fair Grounds. Most of the camels had been sold out by the time we reached there ( Since it was the last day ) but we still managed a glimpse of close to 500 camels and horses. The camel ride was exhilirating ( the Takeoff & landing of a camel is a adventure unto itself !!) and we spent the next few hours wandering through the fair. The camel is a fascinating Animal which as adapted itself wonderfully to the Dry Desert Conditions ( It can stay waterless for days , has a very dry skin & foot adapted to wade through the sand & thick eye brows to shield the eyes from Sand etc ..) . The average price of a camel ranges anywhere between Rs.2000 - 30000 ( Depending on the age , both factors being inversely proportional ) .

We next visited the Brahma temple. It is apparently the only temple for Lord Brahma in the world , though there is nothing much spectacular about it. We then had a holy dip at the Pushkar Lake which had some illumanted lights with the back drop of a wonderful sunset .

AJMER : we then headed to Ajmer which is 12 kms from Pushkar towards Jaipur. Ajmer is famous for the Dargah of Moin-ud-din Chisti , a 12th Century Sufi saint. Its one of the Holiest places for Muslims. We visited the Dargah which had a stunning ornate entrance although the supposed to be Holy place unfortunately is more of a money laundering machine these days ( A sad thing which I had noticed in Vrindavan too ) .

JAIPUR : We left for Jaipur early sunday morning. Our Driver would put to test Schumi's winning record had he competed in F1 !! The city palace is beautiful in parts and has some good collection of fabrics & weaponery. There are plenty of the famous Madhubani paintings of Rajasthan there . We then Went to Jantar mantar which is just beside the palace. Jantar Mantar was built by sawai Jai Singh in the 18th Century and uses huge Geometrical figures to Calculate the Time & other astronomial phenomena. Its a dream place for astronomers and it calculates time with an amazing accuracy for a place so old. we then saw the Hawa Mahal (Palace of winds) . The view from hawa Mahal is quite spectacular & the front facade of the monument offers some great photographic moments . We then met up with my uncle & aunt and had some good food at Dasaprakash. We then visited the Amber palace & fort located 11 kms from Jaipur on the jaipur - Delhi Highway . Its a beautiful palace and the sheesh mahal has some intricate carvings & glasswork which leaves one spellbound. The view from the top is very good too . We then headed back to Delhi and ended a very memorable trip.

: The best time to make the trip is when the camel fair is on. The camel fair dates get fixed based on the Lunar calendar and the full moon day. Nov-Dec is the best time to travel since Rajasthan is very hot otherwise. People with Dust Allergy should bring plenty of medication . Come with loads of Cash if you want to buy a Camel or Horse !!

Thursday, November 06, 2003

French Connection

I have been wanting to learn a new language for quite sometime. But as usual my laziness has resulted in procrastination more often than not. Thanks to my friend Venkat , I finally pulled up my socks and both of us enrolled in French classes leading to CFE at Alliance Francaise today.

I have always admired the richness of the french language ( Though the language I would have loved to learn is Urdu !!) and am glad that finally I am making some progress towards it.


Microsoft is offering reward Money for finding virus writers. Here is the article.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

He could have been as rich as Bill Gates

His OS is almost as widely used as the Windows & if he wanted he could have gotten as Rich as Bill gates. Read more about this interesting Gentleman in this article.

XBox will have IBM Chips

Microsoft seems to have deserted its good friend Intel , since the next generation XBox consoles will have their Rival IBM's PowerPC Chips. Here is the Report.

Monday, November 03, 2003


Here is a small piece of article from Chennaionline & an Editorial from Sangeetham.com


My Uncle & Aunt have come down from Mumbai to Delhi and we went to Chandigarh & Kasauli this weekend. Since I have already written about Kurukshetra & Chandigarh earlier , I will not cover much about them. But every time I visit Chandigarh it seems to me the most beautiful city in India .

Kasauli is a quaint little town located 50 Kms from Chandigarh on the Chandigarh - Shimla Highway . Its a small town with pristine beauty far away from the madding crowd. We stayed at the HPTDC Hotel called Roscommon . It just takes a little more than 3 hours by walk to cover the entire town of Kasauli ( 5-6 kms) . According to Legend , when Hanuman was carrying the Sanjeevani hill from Himalayas to Lanka his foot touched a mountain peak here in Kasauli. There is a Hanuman temple built there ( ooff , its a steep climb !!) . The Mall road is littered with a few shops and offers some wonderful views of the monutains. Life is very quiet & peaceful in this litle town far away from the chaos of Delhi. The Kalka Mail at 23:45 is a good train by which one can return to Delhi early morning.

Kasauli is an ideal place for travellers who want to avoid the crowded Hill stations like Shimla or Mussorie.


It was with great sadness that I read about the Death of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer , the Doyen of Carnatic music. One of the outstanding vocalists of the 20th Century he was like a pitmaah to most of the upcoming carnatic music artistes . His rendition of Karaharapriya & subhapantuvarali ragas still remain etched in my memory . May his soul rest in peace.