Cerebral Shangrila

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Match of the Decade

What a match it was. Stayed up till 5am and it was worth every minute of it. Players that really impressed me : Raina, Sehwag (He lives in another planet), Munaf (never thought I will say this), Wahab Riaz and Afridi (with his speech).


Saturday, March 19, 2011

From iPhone to HTC

After having lost the iphone, I needed a phone. I wasn't sure which one to buy but I was very sure which one I shouldn't buy. I didn't another iphone - it was too much of a financial and emotional baggage to carry. I also decided that I was not going to buy another expensive phone anymore.

That was when HTC entered my life. HTC was the opposite of iphone - Very good phone, Android device and the rising star. In the end, I chose the HTC Wildfire and been extremely happy with it.

Pros :

a) It is a good "phone" (Though still not as a good as Nokia for voice clarity)

b) Android Market / Apps

c) Touch Screen

d) Built for usage of Social media (Facebook, Twitter)

e) Touch keyboard is easy to handle

f) One can turn the phone into a 3G router thanks to Android Froyo ( Cool feature!)

g) Price - Great value for a sub US$300 phone.

Cons :

a) Touch screen is a little patchy

b) It takes time to respond (sometimes)

But in the end, I think I got what I was looking for.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A world away from iPhone

The story starts in a typical bollywood flashback......(Do you hear/see music and revolving lights?).......6 months ago...

It was one of those unusual days in Singapore when it rained cats & dogs early in the morning (As most Singaporeans know, rains are half-a-day workers, it only rains between 2pm-6pm in SG, as per the Govt's order). I got out of the bus, waiting for the rains to stop, so that I could cross the road to reach the office. Minutes passed by and there was no respite from rain. That is when I made the boldest move in my life ( Ok, second most bold move after you-know-what). I decided to hail a taxi that would take me to the other side of the road. I rushed into the taxi to avoid getting drenched, when it all happened. That beautiful wicked device they call the "iPhone" jumped out of my pocket and in a second fell into an open drain (not open for humans but open enough for iPhone). It took me a second to realize that my life had changed. It was all over. The gush of water swamped the phone and it was well on its way to join the Indian Ocean.

In Zandu balm style - " Poye Pochu" " Poyindhe"..."It's gone".

I suffered from "iphonophobia" for the next 3 days, jealously ogling every iphone user in Singapore (which is every other person in that country). Why does it have to be me? When compared to all those flashy folks, I didn't even have an iPhone 4. I never downloaded more than 5 apps / day. Why me?

A few days later, I realized the purpose behind this charade. It was god's way of rescuing me from the emotional hell of Apple and throwing me into the un-emotional heaven of Andriod. That story will unfold in Part 2...


Monday, March 14, 2011

Why we hate the wall street?

Whether it was thoughtless remark or true expression of his heart, either way, I haven't heard something as stupid and heartless as this in a long time.

RIP the tragic victims in Japan.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dreams from my father - Barack Obama - Book Review

After you finish reading this book, you feel very small. To have come to where he is today from where he was, is a tale of sublime inspiration and grit. Obama lays it bare in this wonderfully written book. He talks candidly about his confused identities, life without a father, ambivalent feelings towards his father,the black lineage and his odyssey to Africa where he attains truce with his inner conflicts.

Obama comes across as an "average Joe" as he bring out his own prejudices and inner conflicts without ever trying to glorify himself. The best parts of the book are his interactions with his sister Auma and his visit to Kenya, where he meets the entire Obama clan.

Great book and tale of inspiration on what every man can achieve irrespective of where he comes from.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Movies that made you cry

Lists are lists. We hate them but continue to secretly patronize them. Rediff has published a " Movies that made you cry" list.

Before reading the article, I would have guessed "Anand" to be # 1 in the list. Surprising to see "Sadma" being # 1. However, got to agree with the choice. Even a stone-hearted would shed a tear in the climax scene. Where did that Kamalhaasan go?


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Of Languages, Racism and Road

By any standards, I am a lucky bloke. Within two months of arriving in Australia, my work has already taken me to Melbourne, Perth, Auckland and Wellington with weekends thrown in between for sight-seeing.

I returned back to Sydney yesterday after more than a month on the road traveling to Melbourne, Perth, Bali, Auckland and Wellington. With nothing much to do during the weekend, I headed to the local library to borrow some books. Library memberships are free in most libraries in Australia (they better be for the amount of tax that I pay!). I walked to the reception and stated that I wanted to become a member.

Receptionist : Hi, Welcome to our library. May I have your name and address?

I handed the proof of address letter that I had bought. What she asked me next caught me by surprise.

Receptionist : Do you speak/ read any other language than English?

Me : Yes, I do. Why do you ask?

Receptionist: We are trying to build our overseas books collection and would like to serve our customers by buying books in their mother tongue. What languages do you speak/read?

Me : My mother tongue is Tamil and I can read/speak Hindi as well.

Receptionist : Do you want to suggest some books in Tamil?

Me : Yeah, Sure.

Then I went ahead and gave her a list of books that I would like to read ( primarily works of Kalki, Devan, Bharathiyar, Kannadasan and Jayakanthan).

This isn't an unusual conversation in most developed countries that are striving to encourage diversity. However, for a country that is being accused of racism, I wondered if all those remarks made in the media were nothing but sensationalism. In the past month, I have spoken at conferences in Melbourne, Perth, Auckland and Wellington. Everywhere I found people to be extremely warm and friendly to me. Despite my accent , most attendees were effusive in their praise for my content and knowledge of the subject ( Whatever little I know).

Is Australia racial ? Perhaps, but I haven't seen that yet.

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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Bade Achhe Lagte Hain

I was standing at the Sydney airport, waiting for my baggage to arrive. Like most others, I was glued into the phone, trying to catch up with lost email. I looked up and there he was waiting for his luggage.

Is that Amit Kumar - the playback singer ? He looked much younger than his age ( I did a quick math based on what I knew and expected him to be at least 55). Is it the same Amit Kumar, son of Kishore Kumar, one of India's greatest artistes? Nostalgia swept me and in a typical Bollywood flashback all his hit songs ran through my mind - " Bade Achhe Lagte Hain ( Ballika vadhu - My favorite song of his), " Yaad Aa Rahi Hai" (Love Story), "Uthe Sabke Kadam" ( Baaton Baaton Mein), " Deewana Dil" ( Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa).

I pondered if I should go up and speak to him. The heart said, "what do you have to lose"? - Just do it.

Me : Hi Amit, I am XYZ and a big fan of your dad and you.

Amit : Thanks. How are you?

Me: I am fine, thanks. So did you just arrive from India?

Amit : Haan Yaar. We just landed and am waiting for the luggage.

Me: Yeah, I do know that you are here for the "Rahul & I" concert with Ashaji.

Amit : Yes. I came today. Ashaji is coming tomorrow. Are you coming for that concert?

Me: Unfortunately, No.

Amit : So, where are you from in India?

Me : I am from Madras (Funny how I still say Madras to people older than me).

Amit : For someone from Madras, you speak good Hindi ( The highest compliment I ever got / possibly would ever get for my Hindi pronunciation!).

Me : I am still a learner. If you don't mind, can I take a photo with you?

He obliged immediately and posed with his arms around my neck.

Amit : Can you check my customs declaration form? Your country men ask a lot of questions.

I quickly scan through the card and all seemed well.

Me: Are you singing "Bade Achhe Lagte Hai" at the concert?

Amit : May be. Audience mostly request for it. Actually we haven't finalized the song list yet.

Me : What is your favorite song of your Dad's?

At that moment, we reached the customs gate. The customs officer allows me to pass through with no check but asks Amit to go through the scanner. Ha, I wish I had heard the answer to that question. So long !


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

5 reasons why I love Air New Zealand

a) They run quiz contests on TV in the short hop flights. Great time pass for the quizzer in me !

b) They are part of Star Alliance. So I get extra luggage allowance, lounge usage.

c) The check-in is completely automated, except for the security check.

d) They serve L&P, better known by its slogan "World famous in NZ" (Its a lemon carbonated drink).

e) They have one of the funniest safety instruction video, courtesy the " All blacks" rugby team.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

12:51 pm @ Cafe, Wellington (NZ)

The time was 12:51pm. On hindsight, I presume it was 12:51 pm since I didn't realize it then. I was busy chatting with a customer about the state of internet infrastructure in New Zealand. Suddenly, someone from the next table nudged me " It is 12:51 pm". The entire cafe, in a spontaneous gesture, stood up silently for 2 minutes. At the end of 2 minutes, many were silently crying. Strangers were hugging and comforting each other. It had been exactly a week since the devastating earthquake struck the beautiful city of Christchurch. Wellington, a city far away in North Island, wept for Christchurch.

At that moment, I felt the pain. I was a stranger on his first visit to NZ, someone who had never been to Christchurch. But somewhere deep down the heart, I felt that pain. The pain that you experience due to helplessness, sympathy and an universal love of humanity that crosses all barriers. The pain that causes us to forget our differences and huddle together as fellow human beings.

I salute the Kiwi spirit ! I am sure they will rebuild Christchurch to be twice as beautiful as it was before. The best way we can pay homage to that city is to go and see it in all its glory. My greatest teacher in life has been/will continue to be my "Travel".


In Wellington, NZ

I am in Wellington today. As I traveled from Auckland to Wellington, couldn't help admire the resiliency of the Kiwis in the aftermath of the earthquake. The airport was buzzing with volunteers, ever ready to lend an helping hand to the numerous survivors arriving from Christchurch.

Boarding an airplane was a completely automated process except for the security check. Busy today at Wellington today with no time for sightseeing. However, I have made a promise to visit the south island (at least on a 10 day holiday) to soak in the beauty of this blessed country.

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