Saturday, November 22, 2008
That something strange, would cross my mind
Wading through, the darkest hours,
What will I lose, what will I find?
The sun has set, but not upon my thoughts
A lot within, a few without
I sit at rest, through with it all
My mind at peace, is what I doubt
Creating visions, pictures and scenes,
Just like me, working overtime
Fighting with itself, to see who would win
It’s my very own, but no dreams are mine
The morning comes, and the hangover remains,
The nightmarish cocktail of all that I passed by
And when they’ve given up asking questions
My brain’s busy answering, the What, the How, and the Why
It’s right to rest, it has forsaken,
A strange mission, it has embarked upon
Chasing itself, never catching up,
Still undecided, has it lost or have I won?
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Never has Wallstreet been given such a bad name as before this, for triggering off such a widespread financial disaster. The 19.1% fall in Russian markets is an indication that was not a mere flu which had gripped the US economy but a cancer spreading to every limb of the global economic ecosystem. Because this time, there are no political reasons leading to investor concerns (note that there was a 9 odd percent fall in the Russian markets when Mr. Gorbachev was overthrown, but there were no major fundamental economic changes then). What we have now is a once in a fucking lifetime situation where the most basic elements of finance have been casually neglected.
Risk and return are always interlinked. All Jacks know that. And yet, when it came to building the grand financial house that everyone has been living in since the last IT-led recession, they all forgot the equations. Balance sheets are still balanced, but with artificial values. Hypo, Fortis, WaMu and AIG have shown us that even institutions which deal in individual consumer money paid no heed to any risk management ideologies, and conveniently rode the sugar-coated mortgage gravy train. High risk, very high initial gains, and then one day they found termites crawling all over the foundation-less house...
Multi-multi-billion dollar bailout packages are suddently proving to be too less to hold the contagion. Within one month, economic slowdown has assumed higher priority than inflationary concerns, and as is always the case, governments are now racing against each other to see who cuts interest rates the most. The only problem with this solution is that it is inherently cosmetic in nature. It's like providing an analgesic to someone who has just been shot in the knee. The pain might subside for some time, but the wound will only fester if the bullet is not removed in time.
Is there any other recourse we can take to ensure the house is brought back up again? For now, Jack doesn't seem to have any answers...
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Perhaps the recent, extremely shameful incident at Lonavala is just a proof of that. A bunch of really old men (median age was 45+) had gathered to watch dancing girls who are of the same age as their respective, respectable daughters. It would still be considered ok if it were limited to normal girls, wearing normal clothes, dancing to normal songs and then everybody going back to their own respective, respectable homes. But this get-together of custom officers was conveniently converted into an event which was as raunchy as a bachelor party, which is perhaps an indication that these officers were perhaps facing the 20 year itch in their marriage.
Good husbands these were, you would say. And doting fathers too perhaps. And God-fearing, Rakhi-tying brothers as well, you might add. Fucking schizophrenics, is what I would label them
What is more disturbing is not that these men committed this strange act. But the fact that thousands of such sick people, with multiple personality disorders, are running loose. The ones who are instituted in mental asylums, or undergoing neuro therapy, are just a minor fraction of those that actually need a mind-changing treatment. They are out there, your relatives and loved ones, the human avatars of your five-in-one electronic gadgets. The father, the brother, the rapist, the lier and the crook, all rolled into one neat, laundry-fresh package...
Perhaps it is time to realize that the apple of your eye, might be nothing more than a safe home for worms...
Sunday, August 17, 2008
We were friends (indeed, in need as well as in deed). Good friends. A relationship that was mostly "on the rocks". Always through "thick", never thinned by adulteration of any kind. But it's not that we were drifting apart. Perhaps we needed our own space, our own precious distance.
In terms of time though, it's close to a couple of months now. Certainly our maximum separation in the last thirteen odd years of a rather close acquaintance. Today it sits still inside it's bottle. Ageing itself. Waiting perhaps, for those secrets to start pouring out, at almost the same rate at which the drops flow.
There are withdrawal symptoms as well. Though I don't know what those symptoms are, but I am sure I can attribute a few stomach cramps to my abstention policy. But just like all such side-effects, these too shall subside as the distance between us grows further...
Frankly, I don't know if it's really over, but one thing's for sure --- the hangover still remains...
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The aspect to which I got stuck today, was the viewpoint of these little pieces. "Our" viewpoint (as individual humans) is what I am referring to here. If I were to think of us as pieces of this huge jigsaw puzzle, it is true that when we all kind of gather together, we do solve this puzzle. The problem is -- do each of these jigsaw pieces know how this picture (which they have solved) looks like? The "outsider" view, so to say, is missing. No wonder that each puzzle piece is so fuckin' confused. Fat pieces, thin pieces, long pieces, short pieces, some jagged at the edges, some smoothened at their corners, some colorful, some shades of grey, all of them equally unclear about the collage that emerges when the Big Picture tries to assemble itself. Unclear about the result of their activities. A lot of higher-than-normal spiritual beings have often indicated that the purpose of our existence is to complete this picture...
Perhaps a glimpse of that picture would have been helpful...
Consider the fact that we have latched on to the India Shining dream for quite some time now. Till January 2008 we were actually thriving on dreams. Just like everyone else in the world. Every single analyst out there had touted that this dream run would continue. Pigs were flying, and we were all clapping, making money and making merry. Then reality punctured our inflated pigs, and we stood gaping at the skies. "It's a temporary phase, the market fundamentals are intact", and similar words were now the main content of every analyst speech and report. That we still had P/Es of 35-40 for almost every industry, was still not cause enough to be worried. The "decoupling" theories were falling apart. That we are very much a part of this economic world was now slowly becoming clear. Till the subprime shit hit the fan, and there was stink all over...
But we obviously have too many other things to keep us occupied. Our strange political system, for instance. The Indian Parliament has been converted into a zoo-cum-circus, where all animals are happily feeding upon the growing tax collections. We have jokers (this one is obvious), and "horses" being traded freely, and ring masters, and lions and sheep, and of course, in abundant quantities - wolves. But the market was happy. 800+ points happy. Here is one decoupling which is really obvious -- The market is only concerned with the end, and never with the means to that end.
And we too, perhaps out of our hope of the market turning bullish again, or perhaps out of forgetting the fading images of MPs waving big bundles of thousand rupee notes, will focus again on the rising share prices. I am not saying we should not. Inflation (along with the oil prices) needs to come down. Home loans certainly need to be back within human limits. But just a wish (and nothing more) that in some way we should build within our system a Morality Index (Mordex, if you please...) that does not allow our nation to even briefly forget the nonsense which our leaders are perpetrating. A big soul mirror, which does not allow the means to run a different course from the end that they lead to. A system which will force us to take note of (and remember, till the next voting date) the dangers of a fake democracy. I believe that a benchmark of this nature, would some day, hopefully, guide to us a more realistic, well-rounded, and equitable Indian Dream...
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
To those who are frequent visitors of the Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai, the two silver mice located within the temple are not an unknown sight. And though this was not my first visit to the temple, yet for some reason I had perhaps not noticed them earlier, or (and this is actually more true) had not noticed the behavior of people towards the two silver statues. They were flocking towards the statues (nothing strange about that), and they were touching the feets of these mice (nothing strange with that either, since it is customary to pay your respects to every God-related idol in a temple). What was strange, however, was the fact that these devotees were bending down towards the ears of these mice and apparently saying something, as if speaking into a microphone.
And this is when a fellow devotee explained that since the Mouse is the official ride of Lord Ganesha, it is believed that whatever is spoken into the ears of these mice will be communicated to the Good Lord Himself, thereby resulting in a higher probability of that wish being granted. It was also interesting to observe that while speaking into one ear, the devotees were closing the other ear, with the intention that nothing should perhaps "leak" out to the other side.
I stood in the line. Observing. People speaking with all their earnestness (and hope), rattling off their wishes, all their dreams converted to some words. To no one would they have told these wishes (perhaps no one would have listened). But here, these silver idols were listening to all they had to ask. Metal messengers were their messiahs. After all, God is like senior management (or so they believe), you need someone to get your "file" in...
What did I wish for? Of course I am not supposed to tell. My secret lies with one of those mice. All I can disclose is that my statement consisted of less than six words. A six-pack of sorts. It must have been the shortest message the mice would be delivering. Perhaps it has reached Ganesha by now. Maybe it's on it's way. But reach it will. At least that's what belief is all about.
But one thing I again learnt that day. The human desire to have a face to talk to. To speak out what's hidden inside. To have anyone to open up to. Even if you have to close the other ear yourself. Even when you are never sure. Even if you have been asking the same thing over and over again. Even if there are tonnes of wishes, waiting to be fulfilled. Even if one of the mice is a donation by Mr. Bachchan...
Sunday, June 08, 2008
In addition to the cumulonimbus clouds craftily placed over one of the runways of MIAL, just to make the game a little more interesting, our dear who-art-in-heaven decided to add a canine chaos to the drama. And "All the king's horses, and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again", or in this case, all the ATC's resources couldn't drive the creature away from the other runway for a good forty minutes, which were enough to make almost the entire airport staff, as well as the pilots (and not to forget the passengers) feel as if a mad dog had bitten them, and a severe strain of rabies had spread all through their respective systems...
"I believe I can fly... I believe I can touch the sky..." is probably what that helpless creature would have been singing. Perhaps every day of observing useless jokers fly high would have inspired the dog to claim "If these creatures can do it, then certainly I, who is much more faithful than the average traveler, can also do it. All I need therefore, is a good airplane". And good airplanes - they are aplenty, so many that you can keep four of them flying indefinitely, and yet have enough remaining on the ground to be filled up.
Of the five hundred odd passengers who remained in the air much longer than their cheap fare permits, there must have been some dog-owners certainly. I am sure at least a few of those would now be giving second thoughts to their undying love for whatever sub-species they own...
And it has also been heard that the MIAL ATC has outsourced the dog-catching operations to a SWAT team that has been specially trained to deal with precisely such kind of extremely dangerous situations....
Saturday, June 07, 2008
लेकिन सच कहें तो एक अलग ही मज़ा है... बस देखना ये है कि कितनी बार हम ये आनंद उठाने के काबिल पायेंगे ख़ुद को...
Sunday, June 01, 2008
The soft warmth in the wind, being spread around by the ceiling fan; the faint post-late-shower drowsiness; the sight of the reduced numbers of vehicles on the road, as if the traffic itself is taking an afternoon nap; the cozy smell of garlic and pepper being used in probably the apartment next door; the taste of potato wafers eaten in passing; the occasional rustling of the newspapers, as if adding a minor note to the afternoon symphony, which (unlike a traditional symphony) is an experience affecting all the senses…
For some reason it feels as if time stops for a little longer on a Sunday afternoon. Looks like Time itself is busy remembering every other Sunday, and is perhaps pausing to reflect on times gone by. And every single thing looks like it has happened before. Like a photocopy of earlier moments. Almost the same everytime, regardless of the years gone by, or of the change in the entire set of surroundings, like a photograph, only a little affected by the weather but overall still the very same.
And it’s with the same photo-album-viewing anticipation that one waits for these afternoons, to relive the same, simple sensations that thankfully, somehow seem to withstand all the other stuff that time throws in our way. As much as people believe in TGIF, perhaps a different kind of positive belief should also be attributed to TGISA…
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
"But when was ten years ago?" I replied, baffling myself and the wizard at the same time. "Because it feels like forever, except that the forever was just another short moment." The wizard by now had regained his composure (perhaps wizards have a hobby of regaining composures).
"Let's go year-wise then", he suggested wisely, trying to give a solution when I hadn't even realized that there was a problem to be solved.
Or perhaps there was. I myself was responsible for starting this dialogue. It could very well have been a monologue until the wizard came along and I blurted out my thoughts, like a magician using an ink-pen instead of the wand to cast spells.
"Why does everything feel so different now?" is what I was trying to answer. "Have I changed, or has the world? Maybe it's another proof of relativity. We both have changed, relatively speaking."
Ten years ago, I was in a different world.
A dial-up connection used to be a prized possession. Today I brand 256Kbps as a "slow" link.
Ten years back, I almost measured the alcohol I was pouring onto the ice-cubes. Today I count only the ice-cubes instead.
India's performance in the cricket world cups was a topic of discussions over coffee cups. We probably discuss Sreesanth vs. Harbhajan with the same flavor today.
We used to walk around before dinner so that we could have a healthy appetite. Today we walk around to compensate for the unhealthy appetite that we live with.
We used to find ways to while away the hours, today it takes only a while for all the hours to vanish without our cognizance.
And come to think of it, back then, I was free, but not independent. Today I am independent, but perhaps not free...
There is perhaps one thing however, which at a macro level at least, hasn’t really changed. Ten years ago, there were enough reasons to keep me awake at night. Ten years later as well, there are again enough, albeit very different reasons to lead to the same state of wakefulness.
So then, am I better off, or is what’s weighing me down, not my own weight…?
The wizard was smiling. I had turned around while I was mumbling, but the wind from the sea was strong, perhaps strong enough to give shape to those mumblings and let the wizard see what I was thinking. "You must be very worried about those scales, I suppose", he offered, and it was again my turn to be taken aback. He could figure out that I was thinking in whose favor the scales would be tipped, if it were Me vs. World, what if it were Me vs. You, or even Me vs. Me.
Perhaps specially, Me vs. Me.
“So what’s your verdict? You seem to know everything”, a hint of exasperation obvious in my voice.
“The grass is apparently greener on the other side, and greener grass is generally heavier”, pat came the nonchalant reply.
“What exactly is that supposed to mean? I was looking for something deeper than that. I don’t expect this grass-stuff from a wizard, for Heaven’s sake…,” my tone had considerably deteriorated, and there was a drop of desperation mixed into the exasperation already present. It was as if I had been waiting for a divine light of revelation, and all that had shone upon me was an eight-watt fluorescent lamp.
“If it is always Me vs. Me, then does it really matter who wins? In the end, you will be the winner, and you will be the loser as well”, the wizard also showing signs of annoyance, but still very much contained.
But there is something even he doesn’t know. The scales are always tipped. One way or the other. The joy is mine, so is the sorrow. Life’s never a zero-sum game. But it’s a game nevertheless. Like Monopoly. What you win is sometimes what you would never need. And what you need is sometimes what you never get to win. The equation is always unbalanced. “And all I am trying to do here is to fit in some numbers and logic to make it even”, I almost shouted back, as if in retaliation. But by now the wizard had started walking.
I realized he was following me, on the ground, moving smoothly over rocks and grass alike. And floating on water, like a true-blue wizard. Growing taller with the setting sun, even stretching onto the other side of the road. Being run over by the speeding traffic, but never dying, always committed (until of course my tryst with the proverbial dust or ash), to be my formless, desire-less, weightless alter-ego, making sure at least this scale is always tilted on my side…
Sunday, April 27, 2008
And it is this precisely this ruin which a number of our government personnel are causing. I am referring to the (yet again) moral policing efforts by various “educated, cultured and honest” members of the state and national government bodies. I heard a minister on the TV confirming that in the IPL match in Mumbai, there would be a hundred-plus policemen keeping a “close eye” on what the cheerleaders are wearing. Certainly a much needed activity for the welfare of the nation. So now we know why the policy force has a little trouble in controlling crime in our country – they are busy checking out babes (as an official government duty).
These social guardians believe (even now) that the moral framework of our nation’s populace is within their control, and if the cheer leaders are removed (or more clothes are added), it will bring about a moral upliftment of our society. They believe that if our children do not watch these women, then they will focus more on their studies and will not indulge in the various sexual activities at which they are so adept already. They forget that we are a billion plus nation, and we wouldn’t have ever reached this target had our earlier generations fucked around a little less (pun absolutely intended).
If only these blackholes-of-our-tax would learn to identify what needs their attention (it’s somewhat disturbing to note that a murder or rape convict would be roaming free for years, while all kind of notices would be served on the teams’ managers within a few days).
In the end (as is usually the case), let’s again hope (this resource is fast depleting too) that some day better sense will prevail. Until then, keep on cheering…
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I had never thought it could get so un-nerving, the absence of a constant sound in your life. A particular color that runs through a fabric had been selectively washed off. The streets below looked disturbingly empty. Like someone had walked away with the screen, and had kept the projector running...
Perhaps no other city relies so much on public transport as Mumbai does. And just like all things which are taken for granted are sorely missed when they are gone, the three-wheeled, non-electronic-metered, CNG-operated lifeline of this city was missed. Both by those who avail of these ricks, as well as by those who don't, cause the latter variety was particularly surprised by the sheer absence of traffic on the roads. Where have all the people gone, was what I was thinking. Apparently quite a few decided to work from home today (what a wonderful excuse...). The rest took a forced leave. And those without whose presence things don't move in offices had to perhaps contend with the super-crowded buses, or the superlatively-crowded trains (yes, hanging onto a fellow traveler's collar, with one foot in the air and the other on another fellow traveler's foot, does qualify as "commute" in local Mumbai lingo)
Nobody of course was really bothered about the rick-guys. Some really convincing, well-oiled, well-politically-connected senior sales manager of the Electronic meters company did a good job of convicing the local authorities as to why all these fellows should shell out 3K INR for something that is as easily tamperable (visit Lamington road for more details) as the mechanical ones in use today.
Of course things didn't fly for long, and the strike was called off when the government promised to create yet another committee (all part of the afore-mentioned sales manager's plan) to look into this urgent matter. As is usually the case with government committees, it will take them two months (and a few crore rupees will again exchange hands) to decide whether to introduce these new meters or not...
At least till then, this city can find comfort in the noise again...
Monday, April 21, 2008
Talking of advertisements, there have been quite a few which appear to have been recently created perhaps just to catch the eye-balls during the matches (and there certainly are enough eye-balls, if the packed stadiums are anything to go by).
There's of course the new Vodafone "Happy to help" series, which seems to be an effort to ward off the evil aura surrounding customer care. Traditionally, customer care (of Vodafone, or any one else's) has been given the same treatment as people would give to an unhelping, old, cranky doctor at a lone hospital (the types who prescribe strange injections and then smiled fiendishly?). And it is this "visit-only-when-about-to-die" image that Vodafone is trying to wash away. Quite a cool ad...
The Max NY Life pension plans ad is another nice one which touches a cord somewhere, reminding one of decisions taken with everyone but yourself in mind. It is noticeable that the basic message is the same as SBI Pension fund, viz., live "your" life at some point...
There's the Samsung Freshtech thing, focussing on the freshness positioning (with a particularly creative act of the lady pushing in green plant leaves inside the refrigerator towards the end of the copy).
I suppose the advertisements have to necessarily follow the innovation and "newness" theme, given the creative, fresh (albeit copied from other worlds, but nevertheless very new from an Indian perspective) nature of the entire series itself...
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
So yesterday I got the replacement for my broken XBox (The one which died in the ring of red-lighted fire...). Kind of quick service I must say, and at some point I was a little surprised (and worried too -- the kind of feeling you get when you enter a bank and the entire staff is smiling at you and offering you beverages of your choice, almost convincing you that they have lost all your money).
I found later in the day that my worry was not totally unfounded after all. The games started normally, and I did play for a little over an hour, after which I suddenly heard strange noises coming from the console, and it went blank... I said "f..." or words to that effect, and checked for smoke... There was none. I then restarted the box and realized that the disc drive had given away, cuz for all my discs (games/dvds) the screen is proudly displaying "disc unplayable".
I must confess that this was (till date) the most short-lived replacement of any product that I have ever seen (touchwood)
And thus the exchange process begins again... :(
Monday, March 17, 2008
... Just a couple of days I was raving and ranting about my XBox experience of playing Lost Odyssey and PGR4 etc... Not that I believe in it, but as they say in my circles, "nazar lag gayee", which is an old superstition indicating that someone's curse has befallen upon a particular aspect of happiness which I was experiencing.
It started on Sunday morning when I tried to start my XBox (Sunday mornings are such a wonderful time to play games). All I could see on the console ring of lights, was the flashing of red lights in three of the four quadrants that make up the ring of lights. I thought this was just something normal and a restart would probably fix it. But same result after the restart. Then again, and again, and again...
I went off to sleep, a very disturbed sleep it was. Tried powering it up after a few hours (after the F1 race to be precise). It did power on with the green lights, but then froze (or hung, like an old computer) within a minute. And then it didn't come back.
Now I started my online hunt for finding a remedy to this (it was like a baby searching for his candy online because it's suddenly gone missing...), and was surprised to see complete web-sites dedicated to nothing but solving what is a global phenomenon -- "The rings of death" as it is known among the XBox circle.
Was further surprised to find that Microsoft acknowledges the same and has agreed to extend the warranty of those users who have experienced the three red rings..!!! So we do have a silver lining there...
Overall, the bad part is that my "Lost Odyssey" is really lost till I can figure out how to get this fixed.. :(
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I had an extremely harrowing experience in my last flight on GoAir. My baggage was damaged to such an extent that it looked like it had been rammed with a hammer. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I will just let a couple of snaps of the damaged suitcase do the talking --
And as if to rub salt on our wounds, the GoAir team at the airport offered us the princely sum of Rs. 700 as a reimbursement for this loss, indicating that somewhere in their policy they have a rule which allows them to provide Rs. 200 per kg of the empty baggage, if the baggage is damaged beyond repair. There are three sides to this --
First of all, it surprises me to think that an organization could have a policy for reimbursing only for the weight of the empty baggage, when what a passenger checks in, is of course the suitcase with some stuff inside (duh, really...).
Secondly, till date I couldn't find this phrase of "empty baggage" written anywhere in their T&C on the GoAir website.
And thirdly, there has to be some correlation between what is offered as a compensation to the original price of the product. The suitcase in question was approximately 10000 Rs. and is of course rendered completely unusable.
Needless to say, all the trouble at the airport and my consequent emails to the GoAir Customer Service department have met with the same response -- falling on deaf ears. But I have taken the pledge (and would recommend the same to all near and dear ones)to never ever travel by GoAir again.
I guess the word "low-cost airline" actually means "cheap airline", in every sense of the word...
It's interesting to see how a video game can provide the much needed (and often ignored) business skills to an unsuspecting player (Refer the earlier post).
Here are some gems which I could gather --
1. Know your friends well, but know your enemies better. I am referring to using the right rings, accessories and items to target your enemies' special skills. The whole sequence of water against fire, fire against wind etc. is so important to be kept in mind throughout, just as in a real business, you need to target different competitors with different strategies, one size doesn't fit all.
2. Not everyone in the team should fight from the front. This is evident in the way you arrange your team's "formation". At all times you need someone in the back providing you the necessary spells (black, white etc.) to assist the party going while your front-line players wield their attacks. Easily replicable in a real business scenario.
3. Sometimes, you need to sacrifice your interests for the benefit of the entire team. I am referring to the "taunt" skill, which directs an enemy specifically at one of the players, so that a potentially weaker player doesn't get hurt. A rule often forgotten in business, where we end up sacrificing the team so that we (as an individual) can stay afloat.
4. Attack the core. There are various "BOSS" battles where the most powerful enemy member is flanked by his/her minions and this boss can keep on recharging these servants, or can keep calling for more help, or keep inflicting significant damage upon your team. It is important in such scenarios to try and damage this dangerous guy, even though the more frequent attacks will keep coming from the enemy's front-line. Ditto in business.
Enough information is there on the internet on this amazing game for XBox 360. So I will not attempt to create another walkthrough or guide here. I would provide more of a review than anything else.
I have been playing LO for the past two weeks now, and I have to admit that I don't mind losing all the sleep that I have lost for lost odyssey.
This is one RPG of the highest order. Brilliantly crafted (yes, crafted is the right word), with all the perfect ingredients to provide a challenging and engaging experience. The story (whatever I have covered so far) is well thought-of. The cut-scenes provide a good break from the frequent battles.
And what steals the show are the "dreams" of Kaim. Each of them is a superb short story, set with the right background music. The stories in these dreams have almost have a O' Henriesh (for want of a pre-existing word, I had to come up with this) touch to them, with the right emotional content to immerse the player deeper in the role of Kaim. Because (as is usual with any game involving some kind of battles or fights), it is easy to forget the characters while you are focusing too much on the enemies. These dreams prevent just that -- your focus returns on the mission and the life of the protagonist, as he tries to find himself through the environment around him. And finding thousand years of lost memory is certainly no mean task...
Another striking aspect of the game are it's business management like techniques, while I will list out in the next post, since that's a separate topic altogether.
Of course, there are some shortcomings which do make the game a little tedious at times. The worst experience (so far) was the flower and branch finding sequence for Lirum's funeral. It was interesting in its own way, but did not provide any motivation or challenge to let me take any interest in the activity. And the final activity (in the same funeral sequence) of matching the torches to the rest of the crowd's torches, was where I almost felt that Lirum certainly didn't trouble anyone as much when she was alive than now that she was dead.
Another area where the game could have improved was in keeping battles and puzzles separate. In Experimental Staff for instance, while the player is trying to figure out the maze of platforms and levers, he/she doesn't want unnecessary random battles to distract and frustrate.
But these glitches apart, the game is marvelous in most respects, and should become an inspiration to other RPGs out there... Meanwhile, I can't wait to get back to where I last left Kaim...!!
I have absolutely nothing against women in short clothes. I am not one of those self-confessed moral policemen who have disturbed (and continue to disturb) what I believe is a very open-minded, forward-looking equilibrium which is beginning to get established, albeit very slowly, in our societal framework.
I was however, a little surprised and intrigued the other day during my thumb-exercise routine (a.k.a. channel-surfing), when I saw a VJ (it was either of MTV or [V]) sitting quite pretty in nothing but a towel. Interestingly, she carried out the entire show in just that. Admittedly, a very different concept for dressing up a VJ. In any case most of the VJs don't wear too many clothes, so the amount of skin exposure was roughly close to the channel average, with of course the added titillation of a constantly high probability of the towel knot giving away...
And how cost-effective it is... With the shortest of dresses costing a bomb (I still don't understand how a total of 50 sq cm of cloth can cost a few thousand rupees), the towel would certainly not be an expensive item. I mean, it looked normal (and trust me, I was looking quite closely..:) ), with no signs of any gold or diamond hidden somewhere.
Overall, a cool concept, nicely carried out. Good work...
The Formula 1 series is here again, with the first race tomorrow. It's a wonderful feeling, year after year, to witness the action-packed drama that F1 always promises to be. And this time, we of course have another reason to cheer - Force India. Though I am afraid this might turn out to be a similar enthusiasm what we had when Narain was racing. The first few races we would have expectations of seeing an Indian driver somewhere close to the podium, but later on in the season our attention turned back to the usual suspects - Raikkonen et al.
But as they say, there is safety in numbers, with an entire team (the race drivers, the test drivers, the technicians, engineers, pit stop personnel etc.) being now a representative of the Indian dream, there is more hope, more expectations, and most importantly, more excitement, which is ultimately what the F1 grand prix is all about anyways.
Here's wishing the teams (and the race crazy audience), another wonderful season... Of course, from my side, a special good luck message for Raikkonen (who, irrespective of which team he drives for, is in my opinion the most talented driver ever -- being calm and cool at 300 kmph is a very rare talent).
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
There are tons of games out there. You name the category, and you will have games catering to the minutest niche within that category. But every once in a while there is produced a game which makes you respect the skills of the game designers and developers. One such game is PGR4 (Project Gotham Racing) which, while belonging to the mother genre of Car Racing, does many things differently than the other racing games out there.
The first (and the most obvious) differentiator is the mixture of cars and bikes in the same race. At one go, PGR4 has become another competitor to MotoGP and other bike racing games, in addition to anyways competing with other car games. The choices are huge, the games are tough, and this mixed racing grows upon you as you experiment in the game with your choice of vehicle.
The next unique quality of PGR4 is the slightly reduced focus on simulation. Frankly, PGR3 was a pain as every single car used to veer out of control at the slightest touch. Here, it's much better, and at the same time they haven't moved on to a total arcade theme, thus retaining the best of PGR series.
And the most revered feature in PGR4 is the weather effects. Amazing stuff. If it's raining, you can feel the car getting out of control at higher speeds. If it's foggy, you can still feel the non-dryness of the tracks, something which might have been overlooked but wasn't. And if it's snowing, you need to keep a tight reign on your thumbs as a little extra move can give you cool drift points, but at the same time can also take the race away from your hands.
Though one feature which has constantly been missing from the PGR series is the lack of customization of the car. With these realistic weather effects, avid racers would definitely want to try their hand at customizing the car to the weather (have wet-track tires for example). Or change the steering control depending on the curviness of the track. These are areas where I believe NFS is still the leader. Though with ProStreet it appears that NFS is moving closer to simulation, but since I haven't played the game I will not comment any more on that game.
Overall, PGR4 is a very cool game. Hats off to the PGR4 team...
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Coming to the point in question, which is the analysis of this phenomenon, I have figured out one of the more weighty reasons of my figure going out of shape -- the volume and quantity of food consumed (by me of course) within the premises of my parents' and my in-laws' residential compounds respectively. And some of my prudent readers would have understood (some out of personal experience, the others out of surrogate information), as to why this is labeled as something "not under my control".
There are various techniques involved here, some of which I am sure have obscure, oriental origins. Techniques of persuasion, that is. The first technique is a well known marketing gimmick knows as "spoilt for choice". This is something similar to the Great Indian Mall Revolution, wherein there are at least a hundred varieties of the same thing are placed before the buyer confusing her out of her wits resulting in significant unnecessary items being dragged into the shopping cart. With five curries, four dry "sabjis", two varieties of rice (the "steamed"and the "fried"), and a few mashed items served before you, it's difficult to keep saying "No, I think I am full" repeatedly. The net result being that your plate does get full with little quantities of every single item.
The next technique is "persuasion by motivation". This involves demonstrations of food consumption along with cajoling and cheering phrases such as "come on, you can do it", "you have it in you" etc. After a while it becomes a "you vs. you" kind of situation where you end up competing with your own previous best records at eating large quantities of food.
The third, and the most potent is the "persuasion by temptation" technique. A la-Jughead kind of scenario ensues, with some of the most mouth-watering delicacies kept at the precise angle to your nose, ensuring that all the right olfactory nerves are affected, leaving you with no option but to commit the real "original sin" (remember Eve first took a bite of the apple, and then she and Adam did whatever it is that they were anyways supposed to do)
But whatever the techniques, and whatever the increase in weight, the tongue, oesophagus, stomach (and other organs whose names I am not aware of), certainly enjoy the treatment.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I was at the Bangalore airport last week. There were (I had enough time to count) a total of 127 people in the queue ahead of me for the security screening. It appeared as if we were all going for a “darshan” or something. At least the feeling after the screening got over, was something quite similar.
The new International airport shall be operational soon, and while currently it takes about 1.5 hours to go from the airport to anywhere, it will probably take at least 3 times more after March ’08. Those of you who remember having seeing Shrek, would recall the kingdom of Far Far Away. The new airport at Devanahalli (incidentally, the birthplace of Mr. Tipu S) is exactly there – Far Far Away…It is believed that a few localites (perhaps in honor of Mr. T Sultan) have started new ventures (with 41% stake being held by Karnatic Local Groceries Capital which is based out of Bilekahalli) of horse-rental services, which is causing great worry to the CxOs of Avis and team.
Perhaps the early morning flights (yes, the ones for which you have to wake up at 4 AM) won’t be good enough to attend meetings starting at 11 AM. Because it will probably be already 7 PM by the time you reach your destination, and it will be time to catch the return flight. This flight, of course, would be at 4 AM the next morning, and for you to reach in time for the important security screening mentioned above, it would be advisable to leave almost immediately, on horses or other modes of advanced communication.
It might be a good idea for the tours and travels companies to start special “packages” catering to this new segment of “Airport Journeymen/women”. As our popular CNBC analysts would say, it is perhaps time to invest in KLG Capital, as it is about to start carrying it’s due diligence exercises on these companies...
Thursday, January 10, 2008
With pen, paper and ink…
Shepherding those meandering thoughts,
With a mild, cold drink…
They wandered, aimlessly,
Each, an endangered recluse…
As I sort them all out,
And put them to some use…
Ideas, hovering around surreptitiously,
Searching for landing space…
They heard the gun at different times,
Running their own, unhurried race…
Days passed, in unheard agony,
They shot past the finishing line…
I wonder how I missed them all,
Considering they were all mine…
Signals, hurtling slowly,
Colliding in the electromagnetic battleground…
Some diminishing, some diminished,
My own thoughts, unrecognizable when found…
They stare back, questioningly,
What took you so long, they ask…
No excuses, just trifle remorse,
As I shift behind the mask…
I am back, honey,
Like a drunken lover, I proclaim…
Carving them out, from inside their graves,
To begin anew, the attempt to tame…
It will work out, surely,
We have agreed upon that…
Tranquility, harmony, and world peace,
Once again, with the writer’s hat…