Monday, October 24, 2011

Life in Sept 19 - Oct 22

Missa Brevis - Thanks to Modi, i went to a ballet dance by sjDance at San Jose. This was a rendition of Missa Brevis - Decent show, most of the choreo was quite abstract and little bit difficult to grasp.

Margin call - Margin call was the film club movie of the month and as before i liked it a lot. Margin call describes the financial crisis, a fictionalized account but this time from the perspective of the actual traders. It takes us inside into the lives of these traders, these young guys making salaries starting at 250K$ without knowing what are they doing. The cast is very very good, the movie is paced as a thriller all set in a time frame of 24 hrs and it all unfolds in a sombre manner. I have new found respect for Zachary Quinto after i realized that he even produced this indie movie. The underlying social commentary is quite awesome. Highly recommended.

I finally got the half moon bay apartment with a month to month lease but had to say no to the leasing agent. A hard decision.

Went to Asian Art museum with Gurshi. Thai temple with Deepti didi, Siddharth and Sneha. More details on another post.

Bought a new macbook pro. 13 inch.

Hackmeet unconference - attended Hackmeet 2011 unconference at SF.  Very useful conference, got a lot pointers on hacking and activism, meaning of digital activism and electronic civil disobedience. Very impressed by people who came there, some real activists and some of the best hackers.  Quite good talks and a lot of supportive group. Got to start doing some hacking and ECD.

Cancelled my vacation plan to India.

Met Aninda and Jatin after a long time. Went to 21st Amendment and Dosa at SF.

Went to Arab film festival - Saw movie - Hawi  - Decent movie - Liked the shoot of Alexandria. Ok story, liked the fact that not everything was revealed.  The title song was good.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dont judge us

Don't judge us.
Don't judge us yet.
One century, two centuries is too short of a time.
Leave it for the future historians.

What right do you have to judge us?
We were looted, we were exploited,
like a slave, like a POW.
They came, They saw, They conquered.
Where were you then?
Why don't you judge them?

Yes, ours is a way different from yours.
We still have a long way to improve upon.
We admire and respect your accomplishments.
We still have to fulfill basic human dignity.
We look up to you for inspiration.
But there is a cost even in your way,
a cost that is hidden,
that is either unknown or unacknowledged,
intentionally or unintentionally.
Someone is always paying the price.

What are countries?
Arbitrary lines on a map diving land on this planet.
Lines invented by us to serve what purpose?
To claim superiority of one over another ?
The process of birth is still a scientific miracle,
A randomized function where there is an equal probability
of being born here or being born there.

We may act like arrogant folks
who will discard your ideas as impractical and foreign
But deep down, we are desperately seeking answers.
These problems are more complex than we can handle.
And we are shit scared! afraid even to show it.

Don't judge us.
Don't judge us yet.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Haroun and the sea of stories

Haroun and the sea of stories
Luka and the fire of life
Author - Salman Rushdie

About 2-3 months ago, i heard an interview of Salman Rushdie on NPR talking about his new book - Luka and the fire of life. He read an excerpt and i was hooked. Luka was a sequel to Haroun and the sea of stories - a book which i had started to read while in undergrad but never crossed 30 pages.
I finished Haroun and the sea of stories in a matter of 4 hrs while sitting on flight from SF to HK. Today, at philz, i finished Luka and the fire of life.

My verdict -
Between the two, i found Haroun and the sea of stories better than Luka and the fire of life. Infact, I  loved the Haroun's story, it was one of the finest writings that i have ever read in English language. The way words are played with, the way hindi names are used and how things come together, it is just a delight to read. Luka also has similar elements and on its own, it is a good book but in comparison, it fells shorter than Haroun. Haroun had many more literary elements in it and has a more compelling storyline as compared to Luka.  Concepts like P2C2E and M2C2D meaning Processes too complicated to explain and Machines too complicated to describe when read for the first time are simply awesome.  Luka also has many such elements like the videogame analogy or three Jos - Jo Gaya, Jo hai and Jo Aiga.  Both these books are children books with fantasy and magical creatures filled; it is only time when somebody makes animation movies out of these - a job which is going to be very difficult but it will be very colorful and vivid if done correctly.

Rushdie takes hinglish to a whole new level and it is always a delight to read him. I liked Midnight's children and i like these two as well. I will have to go to his other books as well.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The flight journey

Like all things in my life, how i get to a place is equally important to me as the place. This is true of when i go to India. This post covers things done from SFO to India and back.

SFO to HongKong
Midnight in Paris - Finally, i got to see the new Woody Allen movie. Initially, it was Owen Wilson, because of whom i was not interested in watching this movie, i thought that Woody Allen has miscalculated again. But, i was wrong. Mr. Wilson, is actually trying to imitate Mr Woody himself but in his own way which is actually good to watch. The movie overall is a good movie, a movie that could only be made by Woody, old artists, new artists, low confidence, insecurities, romance etc, its all there that it is expected in a Woody Allen film.

Beautiful boy - Michael Sheen, yes i watched this movie only because it starred Michael Sheen. There is something in his acting that is very charismatic. The story is quite sad, a young boy shoots people in his college and his parents try to make sense of it. Its a very humane story, showing the strength of marriage and how one person supports another. Good acting!

Thats what i am. A feel good movie, good performances, coming of age story. Liked it.

Haroun and the sea of stories by Salman Rushdie. A different blog post will address this book.

At HongKong - Thanks to Wang and Ankur who had done some planning on things to go at HK, we went to sight see Hongkong. We went to the Giant Buddha statue in the cable car and visited the nearby monastery. It was early in the day, it was great to visit that place. The monastery is in a distant hill away from general population. Highly recommended. Next we took the tram at HongKong station to go to the peak and enjoy the skyline views. Good view.

HK to India - slept entire way.

India to HK - slept entire way

@HK - This time, we (Wang and me) went to see Macau. Macau is an hr away from HK by ferry. Macau is famous for its Casinos, its like Las Vegas of China :) But there are also some old temples there and some nice churches in downtown. Wang suggested that we should definitely buy some cookies there and they were really good. Both Macay and HK are very well developed and even though the population is dense, they are well maintained. People were really more fashion conscious at these places.

HK to SFO - slept the first half, was very tired. Then, watched two movies.
Page One: Inside the New York times - A documentary about the news paper New York times, how it is evolving to keep itself in business when the print media is dying everywhere. A look at how front page news stories are written,  efforts taken to keep news correct, non biased and impact of new york times on people. A good documentary.

Senna - A documentary on the life of driver Senna - said to be one of the best F1 drivers ever.  I have no idea about F1, yet because this doc was so popular, i decided to watch it. Senna is treated with same respect in Brazil,same as Sachin in India. Good documentary on how money/rich dominate this sport. and how Senna was instrumental in changing some of the crucial rules in F1. Couldnt see the last 2 mins as the plane was landing.

Leela ki leela

यह पांच स्टार में रहना हमारे जैसे लोग के बस की बात नहीं है
हम तो अपने देश में  ही अजनबी हो गए
अपने ही देश में जा के खो गए
देखि हमने लीला की लीला
अपने देश में ही विदेशी हो गए

We stayed at Leela for a week and believe me, even though it was all lavish and rich, it very soon became uncomfortable and unfriendly. Plus the rates, the charges, i was just surprised. We wanted to rent a taxi to explore Bangalore. I asked the front desk , how much it will cost to get a taxi for 4 hrs/40 kms, he checks his computer and comes back with a number - 3700 Rs ($70), i was shocked. I called some external cab companies and got an AC car for about 600 Rs for 4 hrs. Thats less than 1/6th.

I wanted to get a print out, i called the Guest services and they said that it will cost me 27 Rs to print a single page. For 10 pages, i can buy the entire cartridge :). For 27 Rs, you can send them the document to be printed via email and they will take its printout and send someone to deliver it to your room with an envelope around the document. Talk about self service.

I was told that the morning coffee was complimentary and it can be delivered to your room. Next morning, i was up at 5 am, thanks to the jetlag. After an hr of trying to sleep, i gave up and decided to get the south indian filter coffee. I call the Guest services  and order a coffee. After 10 mins, there is a knock on the door and i open it, yes, the coffee has come, but instead of filter coffee, it is the brewed coffee. I ask him, why brewed coffee, why not filter coffee? He smiles and says that this is the new trend here.....

Breakfast was complimentary and it was served same as US style only with more varieties and Indian options included. But the sambhar and chutney were so bland, no tamarind, no spiciness. It was as if we were in US itself.

Even though the room charges were in the range of 14K Rs, the internet/wifi was very bad. They could have charged another 1K and given me a personalized web connection.

We also took a tour of Bangalore (Trinity church-Ulsoor lake - Lalbagh - Vidhan Soudha) organized by Leela. The tour was actually contracted to some other company but it was a horrible tour.

From India "official" trip 25 Sept - 2 Oct 2011

From India "official" trip 25 Sept - 2 Oct 2011

The goods -
Leela used to have live Indian classical music downstairs every evening. That was really good. The Leela galleria outside was still very interesting, specially the Barista and Oxford book store.  They were big on selling Massages/spa. I got the Leela special massage (3000 Rs) which was basically an oil massage, quite good.

Overall, i will never stay at Leela with my own money. Not only i can't afford it, also its not worth living there.

India "official" trip

Sept 26 - Oct 3

India "official" trip happened amidst a lot of uncertainties, but it finally happened. A good trip. Adjectives for this trip would be hectic, fun, short, busy and rich. Yes, rich. Since it was official, we were going by the official policy which mandates to fly business class, live in a big hotels and has significant per day expenditure limits to enjoy other meals. Interviews at blore very too many, hectic but a lot of fun to talk to people. Overall, it felt that people were really very smart, the only difference was finally in the exposure. Indian companies, even though may be paying competitive salaries, the exposure to work has still been not that great. I wonder what would have happened to me if i had stayed back there. A thought that often crosses my mind but fails to give any answers.

Trip photos can be found here

Bramin's cafe -
Tired of having the daily rich and formal food at Leela, we decided to visit Brahmin's cafe (The number 1 Idli shop in Blore, Thanks to a recommendation from Abhay). Brahmin's cafe serves Idli, chutney and filter coffee and it was really really good, i think it was the best food i had in my entire stay there.  The filter coffee was amazingly strong. We took an auto from Leela to Basvangudi (round trip cost of about 250 rs) just to have this Idli. Thanks to Nikesh for coming with me.  We left Leela at 6 am, thanks to the jetlag, this was very easy :)

From India "official" trip 25 Sept - 2 Oct 2011

Business class -
It was great to fly business class, the key advantage is that the seat can go all the way back to an horizontal position, so one can sleep. I also got to sit on the higher deck both while going and coming back, higher deck has nothing special about it. The other advantage of the class is the lounge access at airport which basically gives you food, drinks and alcohol. But the best feature of lounge is access to shower which i heavily used at the HK airport. Since i had about 14 hrs layover each time, having the option to take a bath was very useful. Food was ok, not that great, freshly squeezed juice was awesome.

Kochi -
Went to Kochi for a day (20 hrs to be precise). Going to Kochi is always fun and relaxing. Seeing relatives, naniji brings back spirits. Life in kochi has a different feel than everywhere. Plus the greenery, yes, those trees, it is just soothing. But this time, i saw many many malls. Too much money is coming in. Aapam and egg curry is always a delight along with Payampoori.
Kochi pics can be found at -

Kochin Oct 1, 2011