August 22, 2009

Reel views for Real Views!

I am not sure many of you have heard of James Berardinelli. He is one of the acclaimed movie reviewers and is based in the US. I chanced upon one of his reviews of a film and found his reviews very similar to my taste. Since then, I simply swear by his reviews:-). My friends find it most amusing, and wonder how I believe his reviews and not more popular sites like or, that the rest of the world goes by.

Coming to think of it, its really funny, I am sure Berardinelli does not even know he has such a die-hard fan in Chennai (how would he?). But I must say his reviews and writing style appeals to me and I agree with his reviews. You see, what is a movie review after all? Its extremely subjective, often, I happen to enjoy films that don't run so well:-). And James thankfully does not review movies for a livelihood. He is apparently an engineer or something and reviewing is a hobby. So here goes the link to my favourite reviewer - check him out and tell me if you agree with me, his website is aptly called Reelviews.

August 21, 2009

The Namesake

I wonder if any of you got to see this movie, the Namesake. I am not going to post the review here. Just thought that I should share that its quintessentially so Bengali! and the Director Mira Nair has done an amazing job! Anybody who has lived in Kolkata will easily relate to this film and it has captured the tiny, small little details of life in that city very well, very subtly -you almost have to watch the film closely to notice them. I was transported to the days when I lived in that city, albeit very briefly. Tabu has done an outstanding job in the film and so has Irrfan Khan. Its these two who bring the movie to life. Although I haven't read the book on which the movie is based, the theme has been attempted before, but I must say that this movie stands heads and shoulders above the rest in the theme of cross cultural experiences and struggles of life of NRIs.

If you notice, Kolkata is a city that polarises people. Either we see die hard Kolkatans praise their city to the moon or its Kolkata hai hai! Its a city of absolute opposites (you have the best high-end appartments jostling for space with those that may crumble with a tremor in Andamans:-), the fastest mode of transport, the Metro vies with hand pulled rickshaws!) and I must say I enjoyed my stay there. Having lived, mind you not visited, all the four metros in India, I can say from experience that this city is completely different and the people living in Kolkata are made of a different psyche and don't conform to the general character you come across in Mumbai, Chennai or Delhi. Its kind of hard to put into words what I am saying but if you stay there for over a month, believe me you will understand how different the people are, out there!!

August 18, 2009

The colour of the WTO rules matters in its pursuit of mice!

Here is a nice article on China & WTO. We have all heard Deng Xiaoping's memorable quote, "It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice". He would certainly have to eat these words in the current scenario..

China, as a country has always fascinated me and if you notice, its one of those topics that also polarises people. Either they go ga-ga over the progress and development in China over India, or they are extremely critical of the cost under which development has happenned in China and human rights violations that gets under reported in that country. I have had the fortune of listening to both sides of the argument. While I have not personally visited the country, I tend to agree and believe Dr. Guy Sorman whom I have heard on more than one occasion and on various topics. He is an extremely articulate and insightful economist and gave an excellent talk on How the West views China vis a vis India.. Among many other points he raised, he finally said that personally he was more happy with India's Hindu growth rate than China's, which he called extremely unsustainable. He elaborated with many examples and I will probably post on it, separately. Meanwhile, I just wanted readers to check out this article by D Ravi Kanth.

Manmohan Desai, are you watching:)

There's so much going on between the two brothers for the past few years that public has probably become immune and apathetic by now, like me. But today, I decided to get educated on the latest fracas between them, that is now threatening to spill into public sector company, NTPC. Oh yes, I am talking about Mukesh and Anil Ambani fighting like street children. Oh, there must be a lot of money at stake but is any money worth fighting like this!! I was just discussing this issue over tea this morning and I realised, such tangles and complex legal wrangles may have each side resorting to what they feel is right and this can go on... But its more important and intelligent to resolve issues than take strong, stands. It simply beats me how such simple truth and wisdom can escape such intelligent, sharp, businessmen.
If the two brothers would only sit and close the deal between themselves and get on with their lives... they will end up concentrating on their business and end up making more profits, than, spending all their energies fighting and lobbying with government to arm twist policy in their favour, not to mention the consequence of emotional turmoil within the family.
Very often, its not important who is right and who is wrong, what is important is to resolve the issue through dialogue and get on with our lives... This should be our guiding principle at micro and macro levels. Didn't want to sound preachy but I just realised the importance of conflict resolution over what is right / wrong:). Manmohan Desai would be itching to make a film on these two brothers and, for sure, it will be an all time hit:)

August 16, 2009

Road often travelled:)

Ah yes! We decided to take a short break to Pondicherry this weekend. All my friends were surprised with our decision - what will you do there and haven't you seen all of Pondy by now, having been in Chennai for 10+ years now, its got the same muggy climate as Chennai, etc etc.

I am so glad I didn't listen to any of them!! It was perfect weather - cloudy - almost threatening to rain, but didn't.. We landed late afternoon on the saturday and headed for the beach. We walked about, sat awhile, soaked in the festivities of Independence Day celebrations and it was also The Mother's birthday. We did the usual souvenir shopping to end the evening.

The festive mood caught onto us and we decided to dine in one of the finest restaurants in town - The Promenade. Awesome food and we enjoyed the ambience and the spread. We capped the day by dancing at Risque - the Disco! The next day morning drew us back to the beach for a short walk and some tea at Le Cafe was just what we wanted to round off the morning at the beach.

We had a late breakfast and drove back to Chennai in time for lunch.. A perfect holiday, with no agenda and no places to see - simply chilled and unwound at Pondy. Check out some of the snaps

August 10, 2009

What connects Indians?

This is really a wonder, isn't it? Is it just a line on the map carving out the boundaries? If that's the case, how did we arrive at this boundary? We are such a diverse group of people with more than 600 dialects and so many languages and different cultures... So, what connects Indians? My husband used to always talk about this with great fascination.. He of course, held (or is it holds??:-)) the view that we are all bound by the Hindu way of life and that is what is common among the people, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to Somnath to Shillong. So, he would argue the case for our country to be more appropriately called Hindustan.
I tend to more than agree with him on this point and I was therefore very excited when I heard my Guru say almost the same thing when he was on a temple tour to some of the most important temples in Tamil Nadu last week. HE spoke about the Jyotirlingas spread all over the country and the practice among devout Hindus to go to Kashi and bring the water to Rameshwaram and then again take this back to Kashi. HE said all this was one way of integrating the different regions and practices and HE further said that the practices can be different in the Shiva temple at Kedarnath and Rameshwaram but the essence was the same.
In my mind, this is the last word on the topic:)

August 8, 2009

Measuring Individual Greatness!!

I happen to work with an amazing individual. He is truly a very humane, humble person yet easily one of the most accomplished and intelligent. Its so rare a combination to see all these qualities in one individual. I definitely consider myself lucky to be working with him and learn from him. Yesterday was his birthday and its also our Foundation day and we have a tradition of inviting other leading dignitaries and public figures to felicitate on the occasion. And I was quite struck by one man who spoke straight from his heart and the point he made.... He elaborated Professor's greatness and said that its truly remarkable that anybody who has a problem in this field had only one person to go to and it was Professor; sometimes and often, he is approached by groups that differ fundamentally in their ideology and appear to be from opposite camps... Yet, they find in him a leader who can solve their problems.... Isn't this a very rare trait in people??

This struck me as a very qualitative measure of the greatness of an individual.. One who can accomodate all viewpoints, opposites and live an inclusive way of life. In my opinion, he has demonstrated the ability to rise beyond categories and boundaries that we create in our minds and is able to resolve conflicts and arrive at solutions for a range of opposite and diverse groups of people. If you are still wondering who I am referring to, well, its my dear Professor, M. S. Swaminathan. Organic lobbyists go to him to get across their points of view and get heard among policy makers.. Scientists working in GM technology go to him and explain the benefits and economics of GM crops. He listens to all groups, stakeholders, press, etc. and gives a practical insight to any vexed problem and directs government policies.

In my opinion, he scores 100% on this "measure of individual greatness" test:).

August 6, 2009

Evolution of Man

Evolution is one of my most favourite subjects.. its so fascinating and full of intrigue! As a student of Biology, I had a fair share of reading to do and I devoured Dobzhansky and Charles Darwin and many classics on the subject. Of course, even today, nobody's theory has the final word on it and there are plenty of unanswered gaps to the existing theories and that's exactly why the topic remains so fascinating.. For example, to take a simple argument, we are told man evolved from apes.. and we all know the theory of 'survival of the fittest' and 'theory of natural selection' - then why are apes still around:)??. And the controversy surrounding introducing Intelligent Design in schools by the Bush administration kept the interest alive in public domain. Very recently, I read the latest issue on New Scientist which lists 'ten mysteries of you'... You can read the full article here
Its a very interesting list of ten things that all of us humans do which is quite strange by itself.. Wonder why we do any of these things and why hasn't it vanished if its a relic from our ancestors..

August 5, 2009


Substance abuse is such a serious issue among the sporting world. Its so unfair for those who follow rules and play the game in the true spirit vs those who have no scruples or ethics. Yes, we have these two kinds of people everywhere, in every sphere and profession. And we have adopted different systems to keep them under check. Among sportsmen, its the WADA code that has been accepted internationally by all iconic players, although its draconian and an intrusion into their privacy. But rules are rules and sometimes they are the price we need to pay to weed out corrupt elements in the game.
My point is, if star, iconic players like Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Ronaldo etc. can sign on the dotted line, despite reservations, what's the big problem with our cricketers? Oh yes, we all know they are spoilt brats, pampered and they've always arm twisted and had their way. It will therefore be interesting to watch what happens this time round, what with ICC sticking to its guns. While our cricketers enjoy and bask in the glory that BCCI is today the most powerful voice for cricket, in the world, its ultimately because of the large millions of viewers back home in India, who have made this possible. Its sheer population that has catapulted them to such status among other cricketing nations and not some special talent in these individuals.

I am so ashamed of their latest show of muscle flexing that has become more frequent, offlate. Its time other nations call the bluff and give it to these players.

August 4, 2009

Shareholders vs Stakeholders

The latest encyclical from Pope had an article on outsourcing problems and globalization and the Pope highlighted the woes of stakeholders while the shareholders made merry. At a superficial level, it appears to make sense and many would buy the argument.. In this connection, Swaminomics column on the Times last week was brilliant and insightful on this subject and I highly recommend it as a must read
I now completely agree with S A Iyer and I do think the narrow /traditional definitions of shareholders and stakeholders don't hold water in this era of globalization and an almost 'one-world economy' scenario. Its time to change and open our minds and rid ourselves from myths and concepts.

August 1, 2009

Health drink: Ginger Beer!

This is one of my favourite drinks:) and very simple to prepare and extremely healthy.. Usually, anything tasty is not healthy and vice versa, isn't it? Here goes the recipe.. take ginger, say about 200 gms, crush with a pestle or a heavy stone (always kept handy in an Indian kitchen), put in a mixie and blend with about half a glass of water. When smooth, filter out the fibres and heat the juice from the ginger for 2 minutes in a pan. Add about 200 gms jaggery (more if you want it sweeter), squeeze 2 ripe lemons and voila, your drink is ready. Its an excellent drink to rid your stomach with unwanted stuff and also removes flatulence.