Cerebral Shangrila

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The World of Finance -- Crime & punishment

I get this weekly email newsletter titled " This Week in Finance" from CFO.com ( Which is run by The Economist) . This week's email looked like a federal indictment letter. The law finally seems to be catching up with the once " high and famous" .

Here is a sample : Ex-CFO of WorldCom to Forfeit Estate, Former Qwest Exec to Pay $2.1 Million, Judge May Lighten Cendant Prison Term, Sallie Mae Fires Divisional CFO, Former Netopia CFO Receives Wells Notice .

Friday, July 29, 2005

India's renaissance

There are two sides to a coin. While CNET gushes about India's tech renaissance , Business 2.0 has a provacative article titled " Why Latin America is the new India " .

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mumbai - a city under siege

What do Hrishikesh Mukherjee & I have in common ? ( Apart from the fact that he is one of my favorite directors) . The answer is love for the city of Bombay ( For trivia lovers Hrishida dedicated his Classic film " Anand" to the city of Bombay ).

I lived in Mumbai for more than two years and its easily the best city I have lived in. Its sad to see mumbai being submerged by incessant rains and the daily life being thrown into chaos. When the Locals (trains) stop then you know the city has come to a grinding halt. I am sure mumbaikers have the will to get out of this and in a few days mumbai would be back to its busy self ! Afterall , its a city that never sleeps.

After hearing many stories from friends stranded at work for more than 48 hours and cars floating on the road, I hope people stay indoors for a day or two and the BMC & army would be able to check the death toll.

Mumbai , get well soon .

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Illayaraja on " India Today" Cover
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The August 3,2005 tamil edition of India today features an Interview with Maestro Illayaraja and also traces his journey from " Annakili to Thiruvasagam" . I haven't read the issue yet but I understand its a must grab for Raja fans.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Rajini fan views Chandramukhi for 100 days

People never cease to amaze me. Here is a Rajini fan ( Vegetable vendor from Coimbatore) who has watched the tamil movie Chandramukhi daily once for the last 100 days !

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Deja Vu

Never attend a class or come to work directly from a vacation. I landed in Singapore at 7am on Tuesday morning and headed directly to a 930 am class. Everything went like a bouncer in the first few hours. I was in a trance and wondering what had hit me. Slowly the brain got attuned to the MBA jargons and by the evening something was going inside my head.

A fellow student asked me if I was ill. I asked " why?" . She said , " I have never seen you this quiet in a class " . I didn't know what to say . Perhaps the India trip had overwhelmed me. Amazing Travel, Being with the family , Great food..........The jargons can wait !

Monday, July 18, 2005

Back to Singapore

The sweet vacation is coming to an end. I shall be leaving for Singapore tonight and shall be reaching there tomorrow morning. My next semester Classes start tomorrow morning .

So its back to Singapore. Back to Monotony.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Backpacking in Bangalore

There is a lure in uncertainity. IMHO, the best way to get to know a city is to travel in the public transport and stumble on the tourist spots rather than do the usual carefully planned AC car stopovers.I backpacked all my luggage and armed with a camera decided to seek refuge in KSRTC. Of course I was also armed with the tri-lingual knowledge ( English,Hindi,Tamil) but no maps of bangalore and gothilla kannada.

9 am : Boarded a bus at Coxstown . Met an interesting person, who turned out to be a fellow tamilian (born and brought up in Bangalore) and gave me an education on Tamil-Kannada conflict , the Kannadiga pride,the evolution of Bangalore and directions to Bannerghatta National Park, my ultimate destiny.
10 am : Got down from the bus close to Shivaji Nagar.After 15-20 mins of walking and losing the way, landed up at Shoppers Stop.
10.30 am : Reached Richmond road on foot and was advised to take a bus to Shanti Nagar,BMCT. Found fellow "I am new to Blore" passengers who were cursing the "Kannada" boards on all the buses ( All Bangalore buses carry the FROM , TO info only in Kannada).
11 am : Reached BMCT and was informed that there is only one bus to Bannerghatta. A bus by that number came and I asked the conductor (Wow , Blore has so many female conductors),if it goes to Bannerghatta.She waved at me, which I misunderstood (She actually had asked me to board at the rear but I understood that as " No, this doesnt go" ).
11.30 am : Finally another bus came and this time I asked no questions.
12.45 pm : After a marathon journey I reach the Bannerghatta national park and I promptly buy tickets for Grand Safari ( Herbivore,Bear,Lion,Tiger Safaris) and the Zoo.
1pm : Grab a biscuit packet for lunch. The security guard at the entrance transfers all my biscuits to a paper bag since plastic covers are not allowed inside. I congratulate them on their environmental consciousness.
1.15 pm : I commence the Safari. I am assigned a seat in the rear of the Safari Van. However on seeing my huge camera , the driver invites me to the seat next to him and asks me If I am from the press (!!).
1.30 pm : I spot plenty of spotted deers,nilghais & Blackbucks ( Which they call the Salman Khan Deer) at the Herbivore Safari. I also catch a glimpse of a few bears in the Bear Safari.A bear attracted by the scent of food inside the Safari van tries to open the Van doors !
1.45 pm : The lions are all sleeping. The driver wanting to impress the passengers manages to awake a Lion which strikes a regal pose for my camera.
2 pm : This is awesome. A tiger is trying to climb a tree and I manage to get a nice photo.On seeing the Van, the tiger inches closer and stands half a feet away from me, both of us separated only by our Van's caged door.Unforgettable experience !
3pm : I wander around the zoo , which doesn't have a great variety of animals.Also manage to catch a Film on Lion Conservation in Africa.
4pm : Leave Bannerghatta.
5pm : Reach Forum Mall in Koramangala. I had heard about this new mall from a lot of friends.The Mall looked very impressive but the food prices didn't. I promptly cross the road to have a nice Idli vada at the opposite udupi hotel. Interestingly, I find most of the KFC staff eating vadas at the udupi ! So much for western craze and Globalisation !
6pm : The mall is excellent though a shade below the giant Gurgaon malls that I have seen.
7pm : GBS finally arrives and picks me up.We get stuck in the famous "Bangalore Traffic Jam".Bangaloreans either have lots of patience or lots of money or both.
9pm : He takes me out for a wonderful dinner at Chandni Chowk restaurant and we finally head to the Railway station where I catch my train.
Backpacking was fun.Bangalore's weather was fantastic as usual. So long ...............

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Shravanabelagola & Halebeedu -- Travelogue

Its a long story that started 20 years ago. After reading the Amar Chitra Katha on Bahubali, it was my childish dream to visit shravanabelagola.It took two decades to attain fruitition.


Lord Gomateeswara, Asia's tallest monolithic statue ( 58 feet) can be found here. Lord Gomateeshwara ( Also known as Bahubali) was the second Jain Tirthankara and this place is one of the most important Jain pilgrimage centers.Every 12 years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony where the thousand-year-old statue is anointed with milk, curds, ghee,saffron and gold coins. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2005 A.D ( I guess in December).

Its a steep climb uphill to reach the statue.Slippers are not allowed while climbing (Though socks are allowed).The view from the top of the hill is spectacular.Its tough to believe that the giant statue is more than 1000 years old.It looks absolutely sparkling !

LOCATION : It lies 150 kms to the west of Bangalore on the Hassan Route.Can be easily reached by Bus/Car.


The great city of Dwarasamudra flourished as a Capital of the Hoysala Empire during the 12th & 13th centuries.The city is now known as Halebeedu (Ruined City) . The crown jewel of Halebeid is the Hoysaleswara Temple which looks magnificent and has some of the most intricate carvings.The temple is very well maintained by the ASI , and the lush green gardens around the temple add to its lustre.The Linga deity is still worshipped and the huge nandis( bulls) catch the eye of even the jaded traveller.The exterior is adorned with stories from the Puranas, the Upanishads and other mythological sources and have been depicted through intricate carvings of the finest quality finish.Its unfortunate that the invaders broke the carvings and the idols during the invasions in the 14th & 15th Century.

There is a also the Kedareswara temple and Jain temple closeby. Both are in ruins and only a view of the exterior is possible.

I am amazed at the technical superiority & creativity of the Hoysala architechture.The walls here convey thousands of stories of not merely the Itihasaas but also the creativity and skills of Indian sculptors.Halebeid is an ode to our wonderful past.

LOCATION : Halebeid lies 220 kms from Bangalore and around 22 kms from Hassan.The Bangalore - Hassan highway (NH-48) has good roads.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Will be @ Bangalore

I will be at Bangalore this weekend meeting friends . I would also be visiting Shravanabelagola ( My long standing Dream) , the home to the world's tallest monolithic statue ,Lord Gomateeshwara.

Ok. Gotta run now.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Thiruvachagam Oratorio-- Review

" Thiruvaasagathukku urugaar oru vasagathukkum urugaar" .These words can never be more true.The album is vintage Raja. Illayaraja stradles with ease a Classical cross-over of Western Classical and Carnatic music.

The Album contains six songs/tracks.

1. Poovaar Senni Mannan ( Singer : Illayaraja & Chorus) : The album starts with the song " Poovaar Senni Mannan", which has booming choruses and soulful singing by Illayaraja.A great start to the Album.
2.Pollaa Vinayen ( Singers : Illayaraja,Ray Harcourt) : This is the crown jewel of the Album.Its a lengthy piece with lyrics in both English & Tamil. Stunning composition and excellent orchestration.Raja oozes with emotion in this song.
3. Pooerukonum Purantharanum ( Singers : Illayaraja,Bavatharini) : A melodious song with a strong carnatic base. It resembles one of those "sweet" raja duets.
4. Umbarkatkarasaey ( Singer : Illayaraja) : Another Soulful number.Wonderful singing and excellent orchestration.
5. Muthu Natramam ( Singers :Unnikrishnan, Madhu Balakrishnan,VijayJesudas,Manjari,Asha,Gayathri & Chorus) : A very "chirpy" song with wonderful chorus.
6. Puttril Vazh Aravum Anjen : Raja's tribute to Manickavasagar. The song has nice "wordy" interludes in the beginning .

The "Thiruvachagam" is a must buy for music lovers and hope Raja continues such musical endeavors in the future.To paraphrase one of raja's film songs " Raja Kayya vecha adhu raanga ponadhillai".This is definitely a stunning fusion of Western Classical & Carnatic music. I bow to his genius.

Here is an FAQ on Thiruvachagam I wrote to help all music lovers :

What is Thiruvachagam ?
Thiruvaachagam is a collection of classical hymns on Lord Shiva written by the poet saint Manickavasagar.
What is unique about this album ?
This is the first Indian Classical Oratorio .
Who are the peope behind this initiative ?
Thiruvachagam is the dream project of Music Maestro Illayaraja. The project was supported by Tamil Maiyam,which is dedicated to anthropological research and promoting arts and culture.
What is unique about the music ?
It is a two-hour symphonic singing with 100 chorus singers joining in for the performance in English and Tamil. The project has some of the best people in the Industry behind it. Apart from the composer Illayaraja, the symphony has been conducted by Laszlo Kovacs(Hungary'sbest known conductor) and played by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra( A 100 year old group and the only complete professional orchestraof Hungary).Richard King ( sound engineer for five grammy winning productions) is the Sound engineer and Stephen Schwartz ( Lyricist for double grammy award winning "Godspell") has written the english lyrics.
Who is Illayaraja ?
I am sure no south Indian will dare ask this question. Illayaraja is one of the most prolific composers of South India and has composed music for more than 750 films in the last three decades.He is a two-time winner of the National award and winner of numerous state awards.His non-film albums include the classical based " How to name it" & " Nothing but Wind" .

P.S : One sincere request. Please do not download this album illegally from the internet or trade mp3's. Projects like these should be encouraged. Cassettes are priced at Rs.50 and the CD's cost Rs.150 ( I bought a CD).The CD also contains the lyrics boklet. To quote Illayaraja, " My only request is listeners should not download `Thiruvachagam' from the net or go in for MP3 and the like. If they feel that my music has given them at least a little pleasure, they should buy authentic audios. I say this because `Thiruvachagam' has to find a market, if such ventures are to continue"
If this venture is successful, there are plans to undertake symphony projects of other famous tamil hymns like Thirukkural & Devaram.Let the musical journey continue and flourish !

Monday, July 04, 2005

Yelagiri -- Travelogue

They call it the poor man's Ooty.Yelagiri is a serene hill Station with plenty of Jackfruit and mangoes.Its an ideal retreat from the bustle of the city with the shortest uphill ascent.

LOCATION : Yelagiri is located in Tamil Nadu at 4500 feet above sea level. It is half an hour drive from Jolarpet Junction (near Vellore). There are regular buses to Yelagiri from Jolarpet Railway Station and from Thirupathur. The nearest airports are either Bangalore (140 Kms) or Chennai (215 kms).There are plenty of cabs/autos from Jolarpet too.The nearest Railway Station is Jolarpet Railway Station.

CLIMATE : The weather in Yelagiri is pleasant. Summers (April-June) are mild, while winters (November-February) are cool. Annual temperatures range from 11c - 29c.

Budget Hotels : YMCA , CRHSE (Centre for Rural Health and Social Education) (Room rates range from Rs.200 - 400 , Dormitory available too).
High End : Sterling Resorts , Hotel Hills, Madhura Hotels, Country Club Resorts,Taj ( Daily room rates range from Rs.1000 - 1500).

Madhura Hotel : One of the first hotels on the main road during the ascent.This hotel serves decent vegetarian food and is one of the few only vegetarian restaurant.
Others : Most of the above listed hotels have a restaurant too.

Yelagiri Lake : A small lake which has both pedal and row boats.
Jalagamparai Waterfalls : This beautiful waterfalls is located at the foot of the Yelagiri hills.However, there might very little water during the summer.
Murugan Temple : Located near the Yealgiri lake , this temple has wonderful view of the hills.
Sericulture farm : Situated close to the main market, this farm offers a glimpse of the silkworms.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCES : The first thing that struck me was the peacefulness and solitude of the place. None of the mobile phone providers have service here and that means no disturbance from mobiles (Though Reliance works at some places). Its amazing that the climb was just half an hour from the foothills and still the place was quite cool.

TRAVEL TIPS : The best time to travel is anytime except the monsoons.Please bring in Cameras & Binoculars and a woolen shawl/sweater during winters.Enjoy the morning walks and treks.There is plenty of action for trekkers.If you Want to spend a quiet weekend away from the chaos of the city, then Yelagiri is the ideal place !