Cerebral Shangrila

Friday, November 21, 2008

An outsider's view of Manila, Philippines

I am in Manila, Philippines this week on a business trip. Some quick observations on the city, people and the culture :

a) There is nothing fake about Manila. Its a city of contrasts where the huge shopping malls rub shoulders with poor slums, Merc cars share the road with Jeepneys where 20 people cramp into a small vehicle, Private gated communities of rich people vie for land with poor slums with dense population.

b) One can find American food chains everywhere. There is a McDonalds, Pizza Hut or KFC everywhere together with local giants such as Jollibee. All have one thing in common - serving junk food ! Philipines also has a wide variety of international cuisine - Japanese, Korean, Mediterranean. The prices at most of these places would make one swoon ! An average meal in a good restaurant would cost at least 500 pesos ( Rs.500) per person.

c) The transportation options are mind boggling. Plush taxis, ordinary taxis, Jeepneys ( Think of it like a Delhi Fat-fati), FX ( Shared Toyota Qualis), LRT, MRT, Buses. Traffic jams are a way of life. Anytime, anywhere, anyday.

d) Filipinos are some of the nicest people I have met. Very hospitable and friendly. I am doing field research here meeting 4-5 IT cos every day. Not a single meeting has been postponed or delayed. They are always there - accomodating and helpful.

e) The Lifts have operators in most buildings. Haven't seen this in a long time.

f) Manila has 3 of the 10 largest shopping malls in the world. They are huge ! For most people, Malls are an escapism from everyday oppressive life and humid weather ( yeah, all malls have AC's !).

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ghulam Ali - Live in Singapore

I was at this Ghazal concert yesterday. Ghulam Ali along with Mehdi Hassan ( Whom I deeply admire for his soulful singing) is widely acknowledged as the King(s) of Ghazal.

Here is a quick review of the concert :

Pluses :

+ He did sing some of his most popular Ghazals such as Chupke Chupke, Hungama Hai Kyon.
+ The ambience and brief flashes of brilliance.

Minuses :

- He is 68 years old and it shows in his voice and sruti alignment.
- The uncalled for comments on film music and Classical music ( albeit subtly).
- The accompanists were quite ordinary.

Here is the list of songs he sang :

1. Har Ek Baat Pe ( Mirza Ghalib )

2. Karron Na Yaag Magar ( Ahmad Faraz)

3. Chupe Chpke Raat

4. Dil Main Ek Leher (

5. Jab Tassul Mera

6. Humko Kiske Gham Ne

7. Pehli Vaari ( Punjabi song)

8. Hum Tere Shaher

9. Nazm - Yeh Baaten

10. Hungama Hai Kyon

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Dostana" banned in Pak

Its one of those instances where they have done the right thing for wrong reasons. The movie Dostana, which deals with homosexuality, has been banned in Pak. In my opinion, the movie should be been banned all across the globe for its insensitive portrayal of a touchy issue.

I guess some fun is acceptable when dealing with such issues but to fail to capture any essence of such a serious issue, is just another surface attempt by film-makers to make money at the expense of others.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008


As Martin Luther King Jr said in his historic " I have a dream" speech ,Americans have overwhelmingly " judged a man by the content of his character rather than by the color of his skin".

No US president in recent times has come to power with such huge challenges and expectations as Obama.

"Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible" . The world expects that and much more from Obama.

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