Cerebral Shangrila

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rainbow Quiz - Identify the personality - Week 37

Here is the next weekly "Rainbow" quiz , where I would be giving 7 clues (Hence the name Rainbow) about a personality. Try to discover the person in the least number of clues . You can either leave the answer as a comment / email me . Feedback/ suggestions welcome. Googling is not preferred but then its just for fun and so go ahead if you need to.

His life is a true rags to riches story.

clue # 1 : "X" was born in the Guangdong Province, China . In 1940, the family fled to Hong Kong to avoid the turmoils in China.

clue # 2 : "X" was forced to leave school before the age of 15,due to the death of his father, and found a job in a plastics trading company where he labored 16 hours a day. At the young age of 21, he started his own company from borrowed funds.

clue # 3 : Through hard work, and a reputation for remaining true to his internal moral compass, he was able to build a business empire that includes: banking, construction, real estate, plastics, cellular phones, satellite television, cement production, retail outlets (pharmacies and supermarkets), hotels, domestic transportation (sky train), airports, electric power, steel production, ports, and shipping.

clue # 4 : In spite of his wealth, "X" has a reputation for leading a no-frills lifestyle, and is known to wear simple black dress shoes and an inexpensive Seiko wristwatch.

clue # 5 : "X" is also a noted philanthropist; his donations resulted in the founding of Shantou University in China. He was in the news recently, having contributed $100 million to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in the National University of Singapore.

Clue # 6 : He is the richest person of Chinese descent in the world and reputed to be one of the richest and most influential investor in Asia.

clue # 7 : He sums up his business philosophy as " The future may be made up of many factors but where it truly lies is in the hearts and minds of men. Your dedication should not be confined for your own gain, but unleashes your passion for our beloved country as well as for the integrity and humanity of mankind"

Who is X ?


Friday, April 27, 2007

Quick Trivia - # 2

Which famous carbonated beverage was called " Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-lime soda" when it was introduced ? Interestingly today, the rights for this brand is held by Cadbury-Schweppes in the US and by Pepsico in rest of the world.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nalanda Univ - Revival

One of my biggest regrets is that I never made the planned trip to Gaya, Bodh Gaya in Bihar. I planned a trip (during my Delhi days) but unfortunately had to cancel it due to a family emergency.

It was heartening to read about the attempts by the Indian Govt ( Along with Japan & Singapore) to revive the famous Nalanda University. The Dean of Yale School of Management has written a wonderful opinion piece (in the New York Times) on the Nalanda University - how it should be and what it means to the world.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Quick Trivia - # 1

Which is the most commonly stolen book from the public libraries ?


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

IKEA - Says no to Plastic bags

I was at the IKEA store (The Swedish home products giant) during the weekend. Starting from 22nd April ( Earth Day) , IKEA announced that it would stop offering free plastic "carry" bags at its stores. Another bold initiative to reduce waste and build a green future.

This is what IKEA says about this initiative.

P.S : Btw, one of my favorite restaurants now is the cafeteria inside IKEA. Awesome food they serve !

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Rainbow Quiz - Identify the personality - Week 36

Here is the next weekly "Rainbow" quiz , where I would be giving 7 clues (Hence the name Rainbow) about a personality. Try to discover the person in the least number of clues . You can either leave the answer as a comment / email me . Feedback/ suggestions welcome. Googling is not preferred but then its just for fun and so go ahead if you need to.

He made the budgets sound so simple. A man of utmost integrity and towering intellect.

clue # 1 : "X" in Bombay to middle-class Parsi parents.His family name derives from the profession of his forefathers who had been manufacturers of palanquins.

clue # 2 : "X" was educated at St. Xavier's College in Bombay. He was a dedicated scholar and excelled even though he was hampered by a bad stammer ( Ironical for someone who excelled with his oratorical skills later in life).

clue # 3 : Since most courses were closed when he approached the colleges, he enrolled at Government Law College, Bombay, where he discovered that he had a gift for unravelling the intricacies of jurisprudence.

clue # 4 : "X" was first Class in both First LL.B. and Second LL.B. (bagging almost all possible prizes and medals), and first in every individual paper in the Advocate (O.S.) examination. On one of his answer papers in LL.B. the examiner wrote, "Frankly, this candidate knows much more than I do."

clue # 5 : "X" was offered a seat on the Supreme Court Bench, more than once -- probably the youngest to receive the offer, the first to be chosen straight from the Bar.He was offered the office of the Attorney General of India, again more than once and probably the youngest to get the offer.

clue # 6 : His annual Budget speech initially drew an audience of about four hundred which gradually swelled to about one hundred thousand. Nothing less than Bombay's largest cricket ground, the Brabourne Stadium, could hold the number.

clue # 7 : The public hailed him as "the Keeper of the Nation's Conscience" and Prime Minister Morarji Desai described him as "the country's finest intellectual". Rajaji called him "God's gift to India".

"X" received honorary doctorates from Princeton University, Rutgers University, Lawrence University, University of Wisconsin, Annamalai University, Ambedkar Law University and the University of Mumbai. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan.

Who is X?

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Macau - Travel Diary (Travelogue)

They call it the " Las Vegas " of the east. I would say " Goa + Mumbai + Las Vegas = Macau". It retains the Portuguese looks of Goa , has the chawl like old city feel of Mumbai and has the ultra-glitzy casino trendiness of Vegas. An amazing amalgam. With Macau already overtaking Las Vegas in gambling revenues, it is set to attract huge investments in the near future.

GETTING HERE : Macau has an international airport on the Taipa island and is well connected to most Asian cities. The flying time from Singapore to Macau was 3.5 hours.

VISA DETAILS : Indian Tourists traveling for less than 30 days do not need a visa ( Wow !) . However if one intends to stay for a longer time, the visa needs to be obtained from the Country of residence.

WHEN TO GO : By far the best time to visit is in April or Oct-Dec. Jan-March is cold and May-Oct is humid and there are thunderstorms in Aug-Sept.

CURRENCY : The Currency of Macau is Pataca (MOP$). 1 Pataca is roughly equal to 1 Hong Kong Dollar.

POLITICS : Macau is a special administrative region (SAR) of China, like HK and benefits from the priniciple of "one country, two systems".

LANGUAGE : Portuguese and Chinese are the official languages. Cantonese is widely spoken. English is rarely spoken and hence carry a translation guide with you. Get hotels names, tourist place names translated to Chinese to make things easier or carry a map with all tourist place names printed in Chinese ( I did both).

LOCATION & AREA : Macau is located close to Mainland China and Hong Kong. It consists of the mainland peninsula ( which is just 3km by 2km) and the islands of Taipa and Coloane (which are even smaller). Taipa, Coloane are 15-20 mins by bus from Macau peninsula.


Buses: Plenty of buses ply the island. All name boards are in English (also) and the bus-stops have all the stop names. Since its a very small island , most places can be reached on foot.

Taxis : Taxis are cheap and available in plenty but remember that the drivers speak little English.

Ferries : There are ferry services every 30 mins to Hong Kong. It takes 1 hour to reach HK by ferry.

TIMEZONE : Macau is GMT + 8 hours.

FOOD : Macau cuisine is unique because of its mix of Portuguese and Asian cuisine. Being a vegetarian, I was a bit apprehensive before travelling ( Veggie food in a Chinese land ). However, I never had a problem thanks to the Pizza chains and Indian restaurants. Macau has three Indian restaurants.

Aruna is located close to the Sands Casino ( opposite to the Shell gas station on Avenida da Amizade) . Though its a small place, the food is tasty.

Indian Garden located on Taipa island ( close to the Macau stadium) is the best Indian restaurant on the island.Though a bit pricey, the food and ambiance is very authentic ( The bonus for me was that the owner hailed from Chennai !).

There is a Nepalese/Indian restaurant close to the Macau stadium ( in the complex to the right of gol chakkar next to the stadium). The food was quite good here too.

I can now claim to be an authority on Indian food in Macau, having tasted food at all the Indian restaurants on the island/peninsula !


Ruins of St.Paul's :
Its the definitive landmark of Macau. The ruins are the facade of the church that was destroyed by fire in 19th century. Wonderful architecture !

Senado square : The most popular meeting place and venue for celebrations. Very spacious and colorful !

A-Ma temple : The most famous Chinese temple in Macau. I was amazed to see so many people throwing money (dollar bills) into a bowl of water !

St.Lawerence and St.Augustine church : Beautiful architecture inside the church.

Fisherman's Wharf : Visit the Volcano, joy rides and thematic cities inside this entertainment park.

Kun Lam statue : The "Statue of Liberty" of Macau. Its a towering and graceful statue that stands on a podium in the sea.

Sands Casino : Its huge. Its awesome. Reputed to be the largest casino in the world.

Wynn Casino : Glitz and glamour combine to make this casino a "must visit" place. Its also a fashion mall with all marquee brand names. Don't miss the fountain show in front of the casino. The casino is quite huge and I have a special liking for Wynn since I won $100 while gambling here !

FINAL WORD : Macau is very unlike the other cities that you might have seen. Go with an open mind and enjoy the amazing amalgam of cultures !

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut - RIP

I didn't know too much about Kurt until a few weeks ago. I did know that his book " Slaughter house-five" is listed as one of the top books in any "best 100 novels/books" list.

I decided to read that novel and promptly borrowed it from the library last week. I started reading the book on 11th April . By an eerie coincidence, I read the next day that Kurt Vonnegut had passed away on 11th April,2007.

Heard all the authors ( at least the ones that I haven't read) are now praying that I don't started reading their works !


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blogging in Hindi

Google Blogger unveils its transliteration feature that automatically converts english characters to hindi. Here is a simple FAQ on how to do it. It can never get more simpler. I hope they unveil a tamil one soon.

गूगल जिंदाबाद !

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Rainbow Quiz - Identify the personality - Week 35

Here is the next weekly "Rainbow" quiz , where I would be giving 7 clues (Hence the name Rainbow) about a personality. Try to discover the person in the least number of clues . You can either leave the answer as a comment / email me . Feedback/ suggestions welcome. Googling is not preferred but then its just for fun and so go ahead if you need to.

X is one of the must committed conservationists to have ever lived.

clue # 1 : In the 60's, "X" secured financing for a trip to Africa. There she got a job researching gorillas.

clue # 2 : "X" displayed a proficiency for gaining the animals' trust and named several of those she worked with, including her close "friend," Digit.

clue # 3 : In the late 60's, she founded the Karisoke Research Center, a remote rainforest camp nestled in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda.

clue # 4 : When X's photograph, appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine, X became an international celebrity, bringing massive publicity to her cause of saving the mountain gorilla from extinction.

clue # 5 : "X" strongly supported "active conservation,"i.e., anti-poaching patrols and preservation of natural habitat (as opposed to "theoretical conservation" which includes the promotion of tourism).She was also strongly opposed to zoos .

clue # 6 : "X" was found brutally murdered in the bedroom of her cabin in the mid 80's. Her skull had been split by a native panga, a tool widely used by poachers.

clue # 7 : Months before her death, "X" signed a one million dollar contract with Warner Bros. for a movie which was to be based on her book."X'"s will stated that all her money (including proceeds from the movie) should go to the Digit Fund to finance anti-poaching patrols (The movie stars Sigourney Weaver in the title role - an excellent movie).

Who is X?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Work schedule gets punishing

Its really bad. I have been spending an average of 14 hrs/day at work over the last few weeks and this has significantly affected my ability to blog. And the worse thing, there is no respite in sight.

The only good thing to look forward to is the HK - Macau trip ( Leisure trip) during the Easter weekend. It would be my first trip to Hong Kong.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

75 hindi cult songs

Screen comes up with a list of 75 cult songs that have redefined viewers' tastes across generations. Not many surprises but some glaring omissions like Pyaasa, Baiju Bawra, Chitchor ....Neverthess, worth a read...