Cerebral Shangrila

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year !

Wish you all a very happy new year ! May the new year bring peace, joy & prosperity to everyone.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lessons in Frugality

As the economic slowdown deepens, consumers all around the world are learning new tricks about saving money and frugal spending.

Can India teach the US a lesson or two in this? Aren't Indians big on saving with frugal practices such as " missed calls". Here is a piece from NYT on what the others can learn from Indians .

Here is the crux of the argument:

"Watching Americans try to make themselves frugal is like watching Mongolians try to make Bordeaux wine.Thrift does not come naturally to a country that turned layaway, zero-interest home loans and pre-approved credit cards into a mode of living. And so as they trudge through a cruel holiday season, Americans are cutting back, but hesitatingly and maladroitly.

India is to frugality as Bethlehem is to Jesus. But in recent years, the mega corporations of the West, not content to foment irresponsibility at home, sent pinstriped missionaries here to nudge genetically predisposed savers to spend.Millions of Indians converted, but millions of others ignored them - and, for the West, luckily so. As rich countries enter a new era of scarcity, the best practices of the gurus of frugality can serve as a textbook for frugality's new pupils."

While some of the tips do sound a little trivial and jingoistic, there is definitely a lot of truth on the need to practice frugality in good and bad times.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Google Zeitgeist 2008

Here is a look at 2008 through the collective eyes of the internet users. So what did people across different countries search (via google) on the internet in 2008?

India :

a) Most popular are also the most basic searches : Orkut, gmail, Yahoo

b) Top Bollywood celebrities : Katrina Kaif, Aishwarya Rai , Salman Khan ( Isn't there a voodoo connection here ? )

c) Top holiday destinations : Goa, Kerala, Kashmir ( Good to see Kashmir in that list)


a) Most popular : lyrics, youtube, yahoo


a) Most popular : Obama, facebook, att ( If you have the same question as me, Palin is at # 7)


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pak - United against the wrong enemy

The Economist hits the nail on the head in this article titled " Pakistan - United against the wrong enemy".

"If Pakistan's leaders had ever united against Islamist militancy as they have against India over the past three weeks, their country would not be the violent mess that it is.

Ever since India alleged, with subsequent corroboration from America and Britain, that Pakistani terrorists carried out last month’s mass murder in Mumbai, the country’s politicians, generals and fire-breathing journalists have been declaring themselves ready for war—if that’s what India chooses.India’s government, despite huge pressure from its own bellicose media, has been more restrained. It has said it does not intend to attack its neighbour. "

Even if Pakistan spends half the time and resources that it spends on worrying about India in fixing its internal problems of militant fundamentalism and economic disenchantment, the world would be a better place. The Pakistani government owes it not just for the sake of the western nations ( or India) but to ensure peace and prosperity of its own citizens.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Hong Kong Night Skyline View

This picture is simply stunning.

Though I have been there at the Victoria peak in HK, I can never take such a breath-taking shot. Kudos to the photographer !

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Thursday, December 25, 2008


I saw the animation movie Ratatouille ( pronounced as rat-a-too-ee) today. The movie is " sheer genius" and perhaps one of the best animation movies that I have ever seen.

The movie is funny, poignant and deeply philosophical without ever tending to be melodramatic. Breath-taking visuals ( Love that first view that Remy gets of Paris) and great characterization. In short, its the perfect movie to watch on lazy holiday afternoon !


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Religion and recession

It is counter-intuitive to figure out that religion benefits during the downturn. NYT reports that there has been a significant increase in church goers since September. But bigger numbers are not turning into more $.

Reducing collections, poor fiscal management and past borrowing binge blunders are forcing more religious institutions towards chapter 11.

That leaves us with broader questions surrounding the business motives of the religion. Should religion be run like "business" ?

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Bush Shoes - The incident and its associated economy

This incident, of course, is quite well known by now. However, what is not well known is that a internet firm that offered this as an online game got sold in eBay for $7,800 and the company ( Baydan) that manufactures the shoe has seen an unprecedented surge in orders for that pair of shoes.

Noting the spike in sales, Baydan’s general manager, said, “Mr. Bush served some good purpose to the economy before he left.”


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nizhal Nijamagirathu

Its one of those occasions when you stumble upon a gem. I managed to grab a DVD of this movie from the library just out of curiosity and what a movie it turned out to be.

It has got all the vintage touches of KB with some power packed performances, especially from actress Shoba. The screenplay is a clever combination of " taming of the shrew" and rich vs poor social divide. Starring Kamal Haasan, Sumitra, Shoba, Sarathbabu and Mouli in memorable roles, the movie is yet another exposition of the issue of unwed mothers, social stigma and need for human companionship.

Kamal plays the revolutionary socialist with elan while Sumitra fits easily into the role of a " Androphobic "( hatred of men) while Mouli plays a very different role as someone obsessed with women and gossip. However Shoba, in her debut movie, steals the scene from everyone. From being a dreamy eyed teenager to the wronged women and an unwed mother , she is very natural and realistic in every scene ( Its a pity that this talented actress commited suicide at such an young age).

KB has etched his characters with utmost care and the dialogues are punched with enough power and justification for each of the characters. Surprisingly, the movie features just two songs but what a song those two turn out to be ...

If Shoba is the heroine of the movie, then Kannadasan should rightfully be hailed as the hero of the movie for penning the soulful songs " Kamban Yemandhan" & " Ilakanam Marutho" . First, it takes guts to start a song with the lines " Kamban Yemandhan" and " Ilakanam marutho" is an apt lesson for budding lyricists on how to capture the essence of a movie in simple yet soulful words.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Economic giants in trouble?

Now that the once popular decoupling theory has been comprehensively debunked, its worthwhile to examine the seriousness of the trouble brewing in the economic giants of the future - China & India.

The Economist has a special report on India & China and the uncertainty facing these markets. For India, the medicine it has prescribed are in four key areas :

"If India is to sustain a growth rate of 8% or higher, as it aims to do, it will need to manage four potential constraints. The most pressing, its rotten infrastructure and the dreadful quality of its education, are, alas, not new. But the government’s response has long been inadequate, and with India’s burst of high growth these two problems have become more urgent than ever. India’s current rulers, the mahouts to an elephantine state, seem at least to understand this. But their efforts to end these troubles remain unconvincing. India’s other big constraints, its cumbersome labour and land laws, should be easier to fix. But there is depressingly little sign that this will happen soon".

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Citizens Rally

It is so heartening to see this. My only wish is that we should sustain this momentum to achieve some measurable goals and objectives.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mumbai Terror attacks - aftermath

We are suddenly an angry nation and rightly so. The scale and modus operandi of the attacks have stunned the nation creating a melange of emotions - anger, pain, sorrow and more anger.

It is extremely vital to channel this anger into a positive energy. Each of us have a definite view on what needs to be done but most of us are unwilling to act on it due to various circumstances. Here is someone who wants to make a difference ( and is as confused & angry as I am) and is willing to act on it.

I remember the quote of Margaret Mead , " "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Let us stop talking . Let us act.