Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Top Masala

Discovered an interesting fun and jokes site called Top Masala. Do check out Google Logo Maker and Google Easter Egg. Cool stuff. This is how Santre looks as a Google-like logo. Cheers.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Digital Universe is coming

Have you checked out Yahoo! Answers? It’s an interesting proposition. You can ask a question on any topic under the Sun and hopefully get answers from real people. Yet another step towards user generated content but it can attract a lot of fluff and that’s a big downside. Talking of user generated content, do take a look at Digital Universe. The site, slated to be launched in January 2006, seeks to be a place where a “growing global alliance of researchers, scholars and experts are beginning to collaborate on content and use new rich-media tools to convey knowledge in innovative and visually astounding ways.” It is designed to do away with the apparent weaknesses of Wiki, and I think the idea of showcasing subject based portals is a good one. Take care…

Monday, December 26, 2005

Wink @ Web 2.0

Discovered an interesting graphic about Web 2.0. Whaddya think?

Do take a look at Wink, a new search engine that lets you search across the Tagosphere. Here’s an excerpt from About Wink: “Wink is a search engine that lets you find the results that people think are most popular. We believe we can provide an alternate search engine that determines relevance by what people indicate are the best links. We crawl, Digg, Furl, Slashdot and Yahoo MyWeb, index the results, and figure out which pages are most relevant through our TagRank (tm) algorithms. It's still early and we're just getting going…”

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Of Phantom and Sati

It’s X’mas today, so here’s wishing all you folks a Merry X’mas and lotsa joy and sunshine in the coming year.
The malls of Gurgaon are pretty swank. The other day, after a drink at TGIF at the Metropolitan Mall, S and I picked up some dried-fruits confectionary and, to my delight, a trilogy on Alexander by Italian historian and archaeologist Valerio Massimo Manfredi, and A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar. I loved the film and plan to read the book after I am through with Shalimar. (Yes, I have still not finished it. Reading Rushdie is an education in itself, and as I had said earlier, it takes a lot out of you. Great fun, nevertheless).
Yesterday, on the X’mas eve, we decided to see The Phantom of the Opera on the Zee Studio channel. This January, on a snowy Manhattan evening, I was lucky to see the show at the Majestic Theatre on the 44th street (the Broadway has a beautiful feel about it; for theatre lovers, it’s a neon-lit fantasia) and what a delight it turned out to be.
ALW’s music has this strange quality of getting into your bones and you can experience its effect on you. The signature tune of the Phantom is truly one of the most intense that I have heard. The film does justice to the musical and is very well made. Gerard Butler as Phantom and Emmy Rossum as Christine are super.
I am fascinated by the catacombs underneath the Paris Opera House. Years back I had read Frederick Forsyth’s The Phantom of Manhattan. The novel brings the legend of the mysterious Phantom back to life, but more importantly, has a great description of the building of the Paris Opera House. The Internet tells me that it survives in much the same form. “It occupies a three-acre site and some idea of the labyrinthine nature of the building can be appreciated if one considers that the auditorium accounts for less than one fifth of the total space. There are over seventeen storeys, seven of which are below the stage level; the stables for the opera horses still exist. There is a monument to La Carlotta. More important, there really is a lake underneath the building; it is an integral part of the design, and the water level acts as a ballast, raised or lowered, depending on the weight of the stage, seven storeys above it.” Can you imagine that!
After lunch today, we decided to check out RPG’s Raincoat, but lo and behold, the VCD turned out to be (thanks to the shop at Khan Market) that of Aparna Sen’s 1989 flick, Sati. So, Sati we saw. Besides Shabana’s performance, it didn’t work for me. The pace is dreary and while it is brutal in its depiction of the early 19th century rural Bengal and the prevalence of the dreaded Sati pratha, I didn’t find the story compelling enough. Looked like the typical neo-realistic art cinema stuff of the 80s. Take care…

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Delhi Mixer

Yesterday I attended Rafat’s ContentNext Delhi Mixer at IIC Annexe where I met some interesting and knowledgeable new economy professionals and also had the ‘dubious’ distinction of introducing Rafat to the audience. After his talk, we had a lively discussion on the state of the new media in India and where it is heading, followed by snacks and booze. I enjoyed meeting Viren Popli of Star TV and Surya Mantha of Sify. Great guys. (Read Rafat's story about the Mixer here and see photos here).

Noticed that MSN India has launched Desktop TV. Though it’s early days for dayparting, it does make an exciting beginning and has the potential to introduce a new paradigm in online ad sales. Talking of advertising, do check out, a treasure trove of global ad ideas, a sort of ad ideas exchange where creators and buyer can come together.
Also, do take a look at the new search engine, Gravee. It says that it would share up to 70% of ad revenue with content owners. Cool stuff. And I kinda like the name.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Digital content is the WTG

I think we are getting there when it comes to our house design. So, S and I are pretty expectant these days.
At office, I had organised a talk on Web 2.0 by Rafat Ali, a digital content expert from LA. Rafat talked about the AOL-Google deal, Google-Yahoo-Microsoft (GYM) nexus, Web 2.0 bubble, Mergers and Acquisitions in online and mobile media, Broadband efforts of big media players, Atomization of media and the rise of consumer-generated content, Interest of big media companies in India, etc. I am a firm believer in the knowledge economy and the influence it’s gonna wield on our lives. Do check out for all the dope on digital economy, and why Rafat will end up as a very rich man when he gets acquired. Cool.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My Mirror

Flashback to 19 December 1980. A bespectacled sprightly young boy with curly black hair borrows a moped from his childhood friend and rides with him, from Kankhal to Roorkee, traversing a distance of 30 kms, to meet a girl he had been corresponding with for the last two months. He reaches her residence at the Roorkee University campus and discovers that she is still at school and decides to wait for her in her sprawling garden. After an hour or so, he sees her coming through her back garden. There is a spring in her steps and an air of expectancy about her. And what a sight she makes. Tall, elfin, long blonde hair and warm brown eyes: a perfect child-woman. Was it love at first sight? (That’s a long story, folks.) Today, I celebrate twenty five years of friendship with Shelle, my firefly, my companion in good times and in bad times, my mirror and my wife. Thank you, S.

Meanwhile, CNN-IBN has had a soft launch, but more than what’s on the idiot box, I am impressed with their website. It has a slew of interactive features and lotsa video content. Check it out.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Microsoft has tied up with MTV to produce Urge. It’s coming soon, and it should be fun for digital music lovers. I think the logo is cool. Cheers…

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Go Fish

Today I completed 6 months in my new job, and thought that I should mark the milestone. The going has been good so far. I am a firm believer in the concept of EQ at work and this place is pretty cool on that front. The knack of being on the ball, to nurture the spirit of adventure with an almost missionary zeal, to consistently seek to redefine the rules of the game, the ability to take risks, the belief in the empowering and equalising nature of new media, a freewheeling culture that puts an onus on individual responsibility, and fosters initiative and enterprise—these are some of the things that define my new workplace.
India beat SL in the Delhi test, and guess what, I have been asked to start a blog on Life in Cyberia. (Sorry, no connect between the two). Hopefully, it should go live soon. Shall keep you posted.
Before I sign off for the day, would you like to go fish? Check this out if music moves you. Cheers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Carefree Soul

Yesterday was my late dad’s birthday. He was born in 1934. While he was on my mind, I couldn’t put down my feelings in words. When I reached home from work, Soven said that she had written a poem for him. This is what she wrote:
I think of you as a carefree soul
Cheerily striding towards the gateway of heaven
I remember the way you used to call my name
Anxiously waiting for me to reply, for me to give a sign
You weren’t weak, you didn’t cling
All you asked for was for us to be there
If we could hold your hand through the dark times,
if we could reassure you gently
I feel pained you never got the love you deserved
Still in the end you left us with a smile on your face
That smile, it had hidden emotions – fear anger frustration
and Peace
You would finally be loved, you could finally be held
And now I think of you as a carefree soul
I utter my heartfelt prayer
Please forgive us

All I can say is that she got it right. Soven is a sensitive child and I am blessed to be her pop.

Discovered File Magazine, a collection of unexpected photography on the web. Do check out Holga and Lomo Fall in Love featuring the toy camera work of Elena Kulikova, a 20 year old model and photographer based in San Francisco and Amsterdam. She is an amazingly talented lass. I was mesmerised by her still life work. Cheers.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Chokher Bali and other things

Last two days have been eventful: Sachin got his 35th ton, India bundled out for 290 came back to drag SL back to 198-6 at the end of the second day of the Delhi test; Spain beat a lacklustre India, 2-1, in Champions Trophy (when will our hockey mandarins learn!), but India in a surprisingly spirited display (though typically shoddy in parts: wasted 5 penalty corners in the first half) came back from 0-2 to beat arch-rivals Pakistan, 3-2; Miss India couldn’t make it to the last 6 at Sanya, and oil fires raged like an inferno near London et al. And life goes on.
Saw Manish Jha’s Matrubhoomi last evening at home. Thought it was a dark and poignant account of the other India, which, sadly, is very real. Just 2 points: Tulip Joshi looked too made up, or shall I say, glamorous, with her permed and shampooed hair for a ravished village belle, and the end was a bit melodramatic and abrupt.
Spent a lot of time reading my absolute favourite, NYT. NYT on the Web is a sheer delight, and thanks to the internet, I can savour it in bits and pieces quite regularly. Amy Waldman, an intrepid NYT reporter, wrote 4 exhaustive pieces on India building its superhighways in a series titled “India Accelerating”. Not only were the articles comprehensive and well-researched (she spent about a month travelling the length of the pompously called Golden Quadrilateral, from Delhi > Kolkata > Chennai > Mumbai > Delhi), they were accompanied by a truly outstanding audio-visual show. I also enjoyed another audio slide show on an art historian based in Princeton, NJ, redoing her home, “converting her Cape Cod into a Renaissance villa.” Great examples of multimedia at work. Way to go, NYT.
The highlight of the weekend for me, however, was the masterly direction by Rituparno Ghosh in Chokher Bali. We saw the Hindi version of the film this evening (at home, of course) and what a cinematic delight it turned out to be. I found it cerebral, composed, bold, refreshing and a classic reminiscent of the great art of visual storytelling, only this time it depicted a social condition prevalent in the early 1900s Bengal and a free-spirited widow’s attempt to break free from the mindless shackles imposed by the society. In her celebration of her sexuality and in her refusal to self-deny, I saw in Binodini’s character shades of Meryl Streep, though in a different context, in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Aishwarya has been beautifully harnessed as an actor, and Tagore’s story is compelling in its depth and social commentary. What a treat. I have decided to see more of Rituparno’s films. Great stuff. And there’s something to be said for the Bengali intellect. Do check out this scholarly review by Mohua Mitra at Rediff. The film merits a second viewing for sure.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Shelle’s home

Shelle came back this morning after her 11 day Egyptian sojourn and the home is complete now. Last evening, Soven and I went to Pragya’s (she was my colleague in HT) wedding reception at the Taj Ambassador. A bright girl (she was a Chevening scholar), she will now be relocating to Washington DC, as hubby Bernard, an Aussie, is based there. She was very warm and I wish the newly married couple years of joy and sunshine. Meanwhile, Shalimar the Clown, always a slow read, is becoming interesting by the page. Take care…

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Man in Seat Sixty-One

Finished the last poem in the series I am planning to call Pining for S Quartet.
Do take a look at she’s coming home. Do you think it’s too simple? I shared it with Tia and this is what she wrote: “The words are very simple…as is the description…but one can feel the passion and the excitement of the writer which hasn't been expressed in words. It's just something to be felt which is what makes it so beautiful.” Any way, here is an excerpt…
isn’t it amazing you meet a child-woman
25 years ago and see her blossom into a diva
you witness various stages of her metamorphosis
you begin to share bond co-exist merge fuse
then one day you realise you have become one
not the stifling oneness but one that liberates
from the limitations of the self that extends
the inner circle’s outer boundaries
into the azure that sets you free

Last evening, we had the Broadband team party at my team member Vikram’s place and had great fun. I have a young and bright team and that gives me a lot of hope.
Firefox 1.5 is cool. Download it, folks.
And before I go, here’s true labour of love on the net. Check out This is the travel site of Mark Smith, a British Rail railwayman who always manages to get Seat 61 in Eurostar 1st class, “starting point for overland journeys from London to Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, Syria, Russia, Ukraine, and even Japan via Vladivostok...” The site is very well received in the British media and is very useful. I stumbled upon it when I was researching for rail travel from Alexandria to Cairo. Says Mark: “ is a personal website, run as a hobby. It's not a business, and I'm not an agency, just an individual with some knowledge which others might find useful...I get a small amount of commission if you click through and buy a guidebook from Amazon, or a railpass from Rail Choice or Rail Europe and one or two other affiliate schemes - this covers the web-hosting fees and if I'm lucky, buys me a beer or two...” Swell guy!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

T’s in love

T’s in love at Trinity. In her typical intense style, she wrote (and meant it): “We're either going to be each others’ strength or we might just destroy each other. Either way he is an extension of my soul.” Ah, the impetuosity of youth and its belief in the grand design of things. Anyway, love is something to celebrate, ergo, am sharing it with all you folks out there.

The other day, Soven and I were taking a walk in the park, and I said casually that I maybe getting old. Soven responded to it in all earnestness: “Papa, don’t say that. You are not getting old because you continue to dream. And dreams are such a good thing. They keep you young. It’s important that not all our dreams come true, then you have something to aspire for.” No wonder, Shelle calls her our Little Mama. She outdid herself today when she told me that Mozilla has released the new version of Firefox. I didn’t know that. Here’s the link to the story about Firefox 1.5 she sent. Check it out. I can’t wait to download it. It comes with a spate of new features like “automated update, faster browser navigation with improvements to back and forward button performance, drag and drop reordering for browser tabs, and improvements to popup blocking.” It’s a wonderful feeling when you learn from your child. Soven, babes, I am proud of you. Take care…