Saturday, 31 December, 2011

Of the New Year and the New Year resolutions...

Here comes yet another New Year eve and you just get a feeling that there is nothing new about it. You have lived this day every year for decades now. The janta around you keeps bugging “31st ka kya plan hai? Party sharty kaha hai?” You see hoardings of “New Year bash, unlimited food and drinks” everywhere. But those don’t excite you anymore. You wonder and worry if the alcohol consumption on this day is more than the water consumption. You are probably searching for a less noisy, less crowded place where you can celebrate the evening with your dear ones, spending quality time with them.

Well, if this is happening to you, it’s a sure sign that you are growing Old!! 

You always decide upon a few New Year resolutions every year. And you do stick to them wholeheartedly on the 1st Jan... Sometimes, you hold on to them for more than few days, may be even a week. Then you give up and wait for the year to end. On 31st Dec, you make a new New Year resolution. Once again. This time, with a stronger will and a fresh vigour. And the cycle continues. Year after year…

Well, if this is your story, you have what they call “A never say die” attitude. Keep it up!!

I was browsing a typical Job Description on a job portal. It had several points listed down. 3-5 years of experience with exposure to blah blah blah. Knowledge of blah blah would be an added advantage and so on. The last point read “Should have a lot of FIB”. I wondered what FIB meant and there it was - explained in the line below in brackets “(Fire in the Belly)”. I had a good laugh.

Today when I think of it, I feel FIB is missing in our lives. FIB is missing if you do not feel excited about anything in life or if you feel you are growing old. FIB is missing if you are unable to keep up your New Year resolution or any resolution for that matter. FIB is certainly missing if you feel there is no purpose in life.

So this new year, I wish everyone gets more of FIB to set their lives right. To fulfil their dreams and do what they always wanted to. People who love me keep asking me to reduce my Belly (The B in the FIB). But to do that also I need more FIB!!
P. S. – I am writing after a long long time. I want to keep writing more of such crap regularly in this coming New Year. Hope I get enough FIB to do that! J Wish you all a very happy new year!

Monday, 19 July, 2010


turns out to be a refreshing breather amongst the numerous awful Hindi movies released this year. A must watch for anyone and everyone who has ever dared to dream… The movie brings on the plate a variety of emotions like love, hatred, disappointment, hope and rage in a delicate yet powerful way!

Udaan begins with Rohan and this three friends getting caught watching a b-grade film at a local theatre in Shimla. They end up being expelled from the boarding school. The movie then traces Rohan’s life as he suffocates and struggles but finally breaks free from his brutal and autocratic father.

Rohan’s father, who owns a small factory in Jamshedpur, wants Rohan to study engineering and work in the factory. He has his own set of rules and ideologies. He bullies Rohan to follow them. Rohan in contrast is a creative teenager, who aspires to be a writer. Other major characters include Rohan’s cute little step brother Arjun, his empathetic uncle and his friends at Shimla and Jamshedpur.

The story is simple, at times a bit slow and repetitive. So is the cinematography. Yet, Udaan never loses its charm!

The cast has delivered a stellar performance and one can easily relate to at least a few of the characters or scenes in the movie. Scenes like the one where Rohan’s father burns his writings are stirring and disturbing. Then there are other dramatic scenes, like the last one, where Rohan rebels and successfully frees himself and his younger brother from his father. Apt and Subtle humor is effectively used throughout the movie. The music is fresh and soothing with fine lyrics.


Et cetera…

Although the intensity of the movie had not yet sunk into the intellect, we all couldn’t help but burst out laughing even as we desperately searched for a loo at the City Centre, Chennai. Fighting with odds like long queues, renovation work and shop closing times, we managed to get into a restroom after almost 20 mins and relieved ourselves. This was followed by a satisfying meal. Then, a few rounds of singing old hindi songs loudly in the auto-rickshaw and the campus. “Super!” exclaimed the auto driver anna. Indeed, it was a super evening.. One that I will remember for many good reasons :)

Movies have immensely helped me kill time in these past few lazy weeks, or rather months. I’ll always be indebted to them. Here’s how I rate the movies I’ve seen this summer..

The Good: Toy Story 3, How to train your dragon, Harishchandrachi Factory(Marathi), Udaan

The not so Bad: Date night, A-Team, Knight and Day, The City of Gold, Remember me, Prince of Persia

The Bad: Kites, Ravan, Rajneeti, Haapus (Marathi), Badmaash Company, Houseful, I hate luv storys

The Ugly: Paathshaala

Next movie: Inception

Wednesday, 19 May, 2010

Khana and Khazana...

The Bombay Stock Exchange, 28th floor, 12:30 pm:
It’s been more than an hour that I have been on my desk and there is so much to do! My to-do list includes:
Checking the IFMR chain mails…
Following the volatile status message wars…
Watching NDTV profit and trying to lip read what the anchor has to say…
And of course pretending to work…

The markets are trading at the day’s low due to weak global cues and concerns over the Greek debt crisis. It’s not only gloomy on the dalal street but also inside BSE. The mentors are worried that the interns are good for nothing, the interns are in turn worried about their stipends and the folks in the adjoining cubicle are worried that their lunch order is not yet delivered. Among all these global and local worries strikes the big question of the day. Where do we go for lunch?

Respecting our whims n fancies and the mood for the day, we decide on what cuisine we want to eat. Then we burrp for the restaurants which can satiate our wish list and hopefully our taste buds too. After saying “chalooo” for half a dozen times to each other, we finally lift our bums from our seats and land on the dalal street. It’s usually the four of us: me, Chaitanya, Priyanka aka chirkut and Pawan.

Dalal Street and fort area, 1:00 pm:

The markets crash further after the opening of the European markets. Global and local worries continue to haunt us! While heading for lunch, Chaitanya and Priyanka are worried about getting tanned in the sun and its future consequences. Pawan is worried about the distance left to be covered. I am wondering if we are walking in the right direction or the opposite one. Finally we find our place, get in and start browsing the menu card.
Hmm… Well, my silly internship project is to do a comparative study of algo trading strategies across exchanges. It is certainly not to do a comparative study of food quality across restaurants. But the sincere, hard-working, dedicated guy I am, I always go an extra mile and push myself to deliver more than expected. So here you go… few quick reviews of eat outs near fort!!

Mahesh Lunch Home ****
Excellent sea food, says Chaitanya. Good hyderabadi chicken biryani as well. Not bad for veggies too (although nothing is good for them). I’ve tried veg pulav and biryani. The quantity is decent. Ambience is ok. They play instrumental music, usually old hindi songs. Check out the restroom on the 1st floor :) . And also check out the drinks menu, even if you can’t have them.

Welcome Restaurant (Since 1924) ***
Tried Chinese (choupsey) and Pav Bhaji. It’s the typical udipi style restaurant with a loyal customer base.

Fort Central (Since 1942) **
The aamras was ok but puri and batura sucked. It was pretty crowded and one uncle actually threatened Chaitanya to finish her mango shake and vacate the seat. That’s probably the only time I have seen fright on her face.

Nandus paratha’s *****
Among the finest and the heaviest parathas I’ve seen. They offer a good diversity in paratha stuffings like chocolate, wadapav, pavbhaji, cheese chilly mili, pizza topping etc etc. A very small and cramped place to sit, but the food compensates for the discomfort.

Jimmy Boy *Forget it, boy! Tried dhansak, a raspberry drink and few other parsi dishes. It does nothing other than sucking your dhan. The food was bland and expensive.

5 Spice *****
It’s known for its Chinese food. The quantity is really good and the taste is even better (or maybe we were just too hungry). You may also try brownies and pastries like ‘death by chocolate’. We did not have the appetite to die for it.

Army Restaurant (Since “Rock on”) ***
Decent pav bhaji and kheema pav. It’s the same restaurant where Arjun rampal, Farhaan Akhtar and gang met often in ‘rock on’. The Khurshid chacha in the movie still manages the counter. It’s a noisy place, but worth going once if you are a rock on fan. Food is average.

Fountain Plaza ****
Awesome kerela style food. Their chicken biryani is world famous in the fort area. Little choice for veggies though. Nevertheless, it is value for money. Biryani is just about 60 bucks. Good range of sea food as well – all mallu style.

Lalit Restaurant **
Gujrathi and Marathi thalis on offer. I did not think it was authentic Marathi food. Misal pav was below-average. Some weird music is played here.

BSE Canteen **
The food is okiesh but there’s almost no variety. Mysore masala dosa, utthappa, lunch, dal rice and couple of more dishes – that’s what the menu looks like.

Yazdani Bakery (Since ages) *****
A heritage bakery which takes you in the past. The wall clocks, the posters, the tables and chairs, the roof, the machine that makes bread slices, even the waiters. All of them make a good pre-historic ambience. The cakes and desserts are nice. They taste like homemade cakes as they are prepared on wooden ovens. Some of the items I can remember are golden sponge cake, chocolate cake, apple pie, carrot cake, mava samosa etc. Also try brun maska with chai on a relaxed evening.

Chaotic Juice shop ***
This juice shop in front of the ICICI bank near dalal street is chaotic and the operators just multiply the chaos. But they do have a good choice of juices, milkshakes and combination drinks.

Food Inn, Colaba ***
It’s a run of the mill Punjabi veg restaurant. Don’t go by the hype and the ratings on burrp.

Peshawar ****
Visit this place if you get a craving for aloo parathas. The parathas were indeed good but a bit expensive. Not recommended for students or interns who are yet to get their stipends.

New Anand Bhavan ***
Not really new. This place reminds me of the taste in Chennai. It gets a loyal tamil customer base.

Anna Leela Modern Café **
A small place with a good variety in the menu but the food is just average. Entry restricted on the 1st floor if your height is 5 feet 8 inches or more.

The Bombay Stock Exchange, 28th floor, 2:30 pm:

We are all satisfied and at peace, no matter where we had our lunch. Meanwhile, the markets have recovered from the day’s lows and are now trading in green. Priyanka has changed her status from “I am hungry” to “I am sooo full”. I am feeling very sleepy as I continue to pretend to work and wait for 5 pm.

Monday, 3 May, 2010

It is... Amchi Mumbai!

I’ve finally got the opportunity to have a closer look at Mumbai.. The town area of it... And I’m loving it! The grand Brit architectures housing several banks, corporate headquarters and government departments, the numerous food-joints (from road side stalls to five-stars), the no nonsense taxi-wallahs and the busy looking, brisk walking janata in formal wear… This place does look like the financial capital of India. It’s in the air, as they say.


I am also travelling by the local train daily from Vashi to CST. Something I haven’t done before, unlike thousands of Mumbaikars. I think, I have moved on from the beginner to the intermediate level, learning the rules and strategies of travelling by trains in Mumbai. Here are some free tips!

  • If you ever get three wishes from the almighty or find an Alladin’s chirag somewhere, make sure you ask for a window seat. Believe me, this is one thing you just can’t get… For everything else, there’s master card!

  • Be alert, attentive and maintain lane discipline at all times in the train! If you don’t do that, you might either land on the wrong station or miss the right station even before you realize. 

  • Train is probably the best place to meditate. Because there are not many other things, you can do.

  • If you feel like doing something good for the world, just shout loudly “andar chalooo” along with the crowd that pours in at every station. 

  • The Train is among the best hangout places in Mumbai. Just that you need to be qualified at the expert level to hang out of a local train. 

  • You need just three words to kickoff a skirmish in a Mumbai local – “Dhakka mat maro.”

Mumbai is one city which has seen more disasters and pain than any other city in the world. Many of those have been of such high magnitude that could tear apart and destroy a city completely. The blasts, the riots, the floods, the regional politics, and the never ending terrorist attacks. But, it’s incredible to witness how quickly Mumbai gets back to its feet every time and eventually emerges being stronger than before! I think mak doesn’t make it possible; it’s the beautiful people of Mumbai, the mumbaikars who do!

There’s no doubt that the series of tragedies have changed Mumbai, over the years. Vehicles are not allowed on the dalal street. Entry inside the gateway of India is prohibited. You’ll often see a policeman standing by a gunpoint at the CST. But there are some things that have not changed… and for good!
  • Mumbai is still, the only real cosmopolitan city in the country. You’ll find people from all states, regions, religions and castes mingle with each other like long lost friends. You can easily make friends with a complete stranger and discuss philosophy over a train ride. It’s in Mumbai that you truly get the opportunity to identify, understand and appreciate different cultures, customs, festivals, languages, cuisines and more! Its this variety (or unity in diversity... blah blah) that makes mumbai so different, colourful, vibrant and energetic!
  • The nightlife is thankfully still upbeat and unaffected. Mumbai never sleeps! Indeed, it’s a place where “raat ke bara baje, din nikalta hai”.
  • I think women in Mumbai are much more independent and confident as compared to other cities of India.

Of course, there are always two sides of a coin… and maybe I don’t like to talk about the other side. But I have always loved Mumbai for the above reasons and for what it is. I have found myself happier whenever I am at home and for me, Mumbai is among the best places in the world!

(Pics courtesy of Chaitanya)

Sunday, 14 February, 2010

Change is inevitable. Change is constant.

This is how life has changed for me in the recent times.

From Software Developer to Student
From Infosys to IFMR
From Salary to Pocket Money
From Selaiyur to Nungambakkam
From Bunking Office to Bunking College
From Tech/Domain tests to end term exams
From Allen Solly to Peter England
From Killer to Trigger
From Lifestyle to Sarvana stores
From Spending Power to Cost CuttingPower

From Woodland to Bata
From Reebok to Action
From Apsa Kitchen to Bakya Fast Food
From Residency buffet to Dhaba Express buffet
From Bikes & Barrels to Apna Terrace
From Aila Plane to Bhartiya Rail
From Personal Loan to Educational Loan
From Inox to Ega

Thank God, some things like good food, sound sleep, peace of mind and love of family & friends have not changed!