Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'm a twit

So after months of fighting my inherent anti-technology and anti-social nature, I'm on Twitter. Though how I’ll adapt to 140 characters, I d

Dammit, it’s going to be tough going for a verbose chap like me. I anticipate quite a challenge fitting everything I want to say and/or shar

Ah, screw it. @arvindcac, for anyone who cares. (Is that how one uses the ‘@’?) #outofmydepth

Sunday, December 05, 2010

He's good!

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(I have a lot of stuff I want to write about, but I'm feeling too lazy to do it. Silly strips are an easy cop out. Oh well.)

Friday, October 08, 2010

KakaMan #2

KakaMan continues to right the wrongs of the world... (check out his previous appearance here).

[If the image doesn't load properly, you can view it here.]

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Monday, September 13, 2010


He worked almost mechanically, his mind numbed by shock and sorrow but his body moving to a practiced rhythm.

He lined up all his ingredients. A large group had requested the Chef's special, and he was expected to deliver. Eight years as Head Chef, he had never failed. And he wasn't about to start now, whatever his inner turmoil.

The saucepan clanked against the stove, the oil stopper popped, and he carefully measured out two tablespoons of virgin olive oil. Next, the meat. Freshly ground not half an hour ago, the process smoothened by the usual preliminary hacking and rough dicing. A few stray chunks were assiduously chopped further. He'd been asking them for a new processor for months now, but the idiots in management had steadfastly refused. They dared refuse him, among the finest chefs in the city!

He browned the meat on medium heat, carefully separating the tiny pieces with a wooden fork. It was a little soft, but smelt heavenly.

He sighed. What a day for it all to unravel. They were just a week from their twentieth anniversary, and he had had a romantic getaway planned. Now it would be just him. All alone with his thoughts, his anger, his regrets.

His eyes clouded over slightly, and a stray tear sizzled on the pan. The meat was browned, ready to be moved to a colander and drained. Mustn't daydream, he scolded himself. Mustn't slack. Focus!

He dropped in some chopped onion, sautéing it in olive oil. Watched it become translucent.

Why him? Suddenly, filled with a blinding rage, why that guy, of all people? Some two bit model with rock hard abs and rocks in his head.

He threw the drained meat into the pan viciously. Flung in some tomatoes and added half a cup of water.

Stupid, stupid, stupid fool. He'd never suspected, never dreamt that she would cheat on him.

A few finely chopped stalks of celery, a bay leaf.

He still remembered the first day he saw her, she a patron at the finest restaurant in the city, he a lowly apprentice. He'd wooed her persistently, charming and cajoling and wining and dining her until she agreed to marry him.

In went the sea salt and the pepper. The water seethed and boiled with him.

He had come home that afternoon from lunch, bursting to tell her about the new opportunity he'd been offered. Head Chef at the new seven star hotel everyone was raving about! He'd thought he'd reached the peak, but there was so much more ahead!

The meat was cooking well. Time to start on the side dish.

The house was strangely quiet, the living room deserted. Weren't her soaps on this afternoon?

His boys had already shelled the beans, softened from soaking overnight. He transferred them to a pot and added minced onion and a cup of water. Paused a second, and added half a cup more. He covered the pot, his hands trembling just a little from the emotion and exhaustion.

It was the noises that led him upstairs. The guttural cries. The sound of... of another man's voice.

He leaned back, resting for a few minutes, and looked about the kitchen with pride. His kitchen. Head Chef at the most swanky (well, now the second-most swanky) Mediterranean restaurant in the city. Possibly even the country. It had taken him years of toil and perseverance to get this far, to nearly the summit of his profession. Her modelling career peaked and then sputtered, as expected, but he loved her none the less for it. Had loved her, he reminded himself bitterly.

Back to the meat. Perfect. He quickly brought some broth to boil.

She pleaded for forgiveness, of course. That bastard pleaded too, but with a superior smirk on his face.

The oven had been preheated already. All going to clockwork, as it had the thousand or so times he'd made his signature dish - a traditional Greek favourite - earlier. He transferred the meat mixture to a baking dish and added the broth and pasta. Set to cook.

He hadn't known how to react. What does one say in such a situation, what does one do? It was bizarre, and he struggled to understand the betrayal.

A quick check on the oven and the stove. All was well.

What had he done wrong? Had he not made her the centre of his universe, given her everything she ever wanted, treated her like a queen? Then why... this?

A light rattle from the pot jerked him back to reality. He peeked into it. The side dish was just right, soft and mushy. He added salt, pepper and enough olive oil to make it just a little creamy, and set it aside to cool.

He replayed the scene over and over in his mind, almost in a trance. His entry, their protests, the angry recriminations, her soft hastily-clothed body, the screams and shouts, her young lover with his impossibly perfect body...

The meat was done as well. He removed the baking dish, and covered it with a cotton towel to absorb the excess moisture. He busied himself with the plates.

The marriage was, obviously, over. He sighed, and massaged his temples. He suddenly felt far, far older than his forty five years.

With a flourish born from years of practice, he plated the meal. The Yiouvetsi, a riot of bright yellow, brown and red, with fresh parsley and a topping of finely grated cheese. The side dish, an inviting green. And, to accompany it, a glass of the finest Tuscan red wine. Onto the cart, and rolled out personally to the table.

He'd lived his life an honourable man. He'd slaved to earn society's respect, and his harlot of a wife was going to bring it all crashing down. It had been too much to take. He had to protect his reputation. He had no options.

"The Chef's special, Sir," he said to the chief patron. "Traditional Greek Yiouvetsi - Ground meat with Orzo Pasta."

A ghost of a smile flickered across his face.

"With some fava beans and a nice chianti."

(Recipes from here and here.)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Death - more musings

I have written earlier about death, where I stated that I'd like to die now rather than of old age at the end of the natural life cycle.

Recently, I had occasion to think once again about death as a concept and dying as an act, whether by accident or premeditated.

Given that I have to die someday, I felt it would an instructive, interesting and fun exercise to run through some of the different ways I could die and rank them in order of preference.

A few considerations
  • No suicide. Simply because my family wouldn't get the insurance payout in such a case
  • The more instantaneous the death, the better. I have a low threshold for pain inspite of my high desire for death
  • In compiling this list, I'm accounting for the possibility that the methods below may not necessarily result in death. I'm factoring this into the preference rating
  • Obviously, these are purely my views on the subject. You probably have a completely different set of criteria when picking how to die. If so, do share

  • I'll start from the least preferred route to death.

    10. Car accident

    Good: Extremely high likelihood of happening, given the amount of time I spend on the road and the general insanity of every Indian driver. Including me.
    Bad: Cars provide a fairly decent level of protection nowadays. Airbags, and all that. Plus I am inherently a reasonably careful driver. Still, no match for a drunken truck driver.
    Ugly: High chance of life-altering and crippling injury, but no death. Not how I want to spend the rest of my life.
    Bottom line: Highly risky, from the point of view of the kind of death I'm looking for

    9. Fire
    Good: Can't really think of any. Except that your family could claim both life and property insurance. Oh, and that you might just choke to death before you burn to death.
    Bad: Most fires that are likely to break out in the course of my normal life are in places that claim to have good fire systems. And unless it's a really big blaze and one is absolutely trapped, chances of death are minimal
    Ugly: Third degree burns, no balm of death, painful disfigurement, social horror and a ruined life
    Bottom line: Too ugly. The mind and soul quail at the thought of this route

    8. Drowning
    Good: Almost definite to kill you, if you're under long enough. If this occurs in a river, there's the added possibility you'll be crushed by rocks. Just to make sure
    Bad: Unlikely to occur naturally, in the course of my everyday life. While I do visit rivers and waterfalls and seashores and such, they are usually not dangerous enough to drown me. There is the possibility of someone trying to kill me through drowning though - a silver lining
    Ugly: A terribly painful way to go. Having briefly tried it to see what it feels like, I never want to do it again
    Bottom line: The destination is great, the journey not so much

    7. Terrorist attack: bomb blast
    Good: If it's a powerful bomb, it can pretty much blow you to smithereens. Clean and complete
    Bad: Bomb blasts are, mercifully (for the population at large), few. Relatively speaking, of course. I wouldn't want my selfish desire for death to claim other lives, at least not through a means as base as terrorism
    Ugly: Extremely high likelihood of losing just a limb if I'm not within a few metres of the bomb. And the terrorists are unlikely to feed me inside info on the bomb's location, even if they read this blog
    Bottom line: Terrorism is heinous, period. Given this point of view and the likely collateral damage through this method, my conscience can't support this

    6. Falling off a building
    Good: If the building is high enough, one is more or less guaranteed death
    Bad: "High enough" is difficult to guage. My office building only runs to five floors. My apartment complex runs to ten. Will ten guarantee death? Will five? Also, most tall buildings are protected nowadays, with sealed windows and closed terraces. And it would be difficult to prove it wasn't a suicide. People hate me, but not so much as to push me off a building
    Ugly: Anything short of death through this method. Exactly the same downside as a car accident, just more severe
    Bottom line: Seems impractical and unlikely

    5. Knife wound
    Good: Reasonable chance of this happening somewhere, especially if I roam about in dark alleyways at night. I could lose a reasonable amount of blood and thereby die
    Bad: The society around me is more of gun-oriented one, I think. Plus I don't spend much time in dark alleyways in the normal course of things - the most I get about in the dark is the drive from office to home
    Ugly: An incision that isn't deep enough will leave me in terrible pain, bleeding very very slowly (or terribly scarred) but not dead. Which kind of defeats the whole point of the thing for me
    Bottom line: This could go either way

    4. Electrocution
    Good: Given the general state of construction in many of the places I go in and out of (not the mention that my life is ruled by electrical and electronic gadgets), this is a very plausible way to die
    Bad: It would have to be a very decisive bit of electrocution to kill me immediately, not just fry my skin or internal body parts
    Ugly: One word - vegetable
    Bottom line: This, too could go either way

    3. Falling construction material
    Good: In Delhi/Gurgaon, this is always a very real possibility. Maybe a roof will come crashing down when I attend the Commonwealth Games later this year
    Bad: The Metro construction in Gurgaon is coming to an end. And there are no major buildings being built around the areas I visit - the CWG is my only hope
    Ugly: Unless it's a really large and heavy piece of material - such as a multi-ton cement section that can crush my car like a pretty girl crushing a young man's hope - this could go the car accident way. And I'd be out a car.
    Bottom line: Worth a shot, it could very well happen

    2. Gunshot wound (mugger, police cross fire, encounter)
    Good: More blood loss likely than a gun wound. Also more likely to result in near immediate death if aimed right (brain, heart). Plus gun-raj is reasonably prevalent in this neck of the woods, from what I hear and see. And death by gunfire is kind of cool, in a filmy tragic-romantic sense
    Bad: I don't frequent too many places of ill repute and high crime rates (relatively speaking, of course. Gurgaon city's is pretty high as it is.) So while I've seen many gun-toting drivers and such, I don't know if I'll actually be faced with the desired situation in the course of my normal life. If I was, though, I'd probably ask the guy to kill me
    Ugly: There's always the possibility of a slow, agonizing, death. Or just slow agony, if someone finds you before you die
    Bottom line: I like this, but it needs to be done right. I might have to be asked to be killed, but who's the killer going to complain to?

    1. Airplane accident
    Good: Perfect. Near 100% chance of death, especially if mid air or involving two aircraft. In a warped way, a cool, worry-free way to go. And I fly a fair bit on work
    Bad: The probability of dying in an accident if flying one of the world's top 25 airlines is just 1 in 9.2 million, and only 8% of fatal accidents happen mid-flight (Source). The majority of accidents are on the ground with no major casualties.
    Ugly: The other lives that may be lost. Hopefully very very few, ideally none except mine.
    Bottom line: I'm fairly sure this is the way I'd like to go.

    In summary,
    10. Car accident
    9. Fire
    8. Drowning
    7. Terrorist attack
    6. Falling off a building
    5. Knife wound
    4. Falling construction material
    3. Electrocution
    2. Gunshot wound
    1. Airplane accident

    Well, there it is. The problem is that this is all wishful thinking. There's little I can do to hasten one or more of these methods of death without it bordering on suicide, so I just have to continue (a) flying, and (b) living in Haryana and hope that one of the top two on my list, respectively, happens.

    (To my parents and a few others who care: No, I am not going to kill myself. So there's no need to worry, for now.)

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    The Florist

    "She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me. She loves me! Woohoo!"

    The young man, barely out of his teens, hugged the florist.

    "She loves me!"

    He skipped off into the street, a happy tune on his lips.

    The florist smiled, and sighed contentedly. It was moments like this that made counting and plucking the petals each morning worth it.

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    Photo credit: Martin Koitmäe from here.

    Friday, August 06, 2010

    Sunday, August 01, 2010

    If Only...

    If only you’d kept your head about you when
    Everything collapsed and the fault was yours;
    If you had trusted her above yourself,
    Addressed her doubts instead of closing doors;
    If only you’d waited for her to explain
    And not dismissed all she said as lies;
    Thought hateful thoughts each night you’d lain
    Apart, forced silence and averted eyes;

    If only you’d cared for her dreams, shared her pride;
    Put aside thoughts of ego and shame;
    If, through Triumph and Disaster, been by her side
    And, through it all, loved her just the same;
    If only you’d borne the hard truths she spoke,
    Not lied, not taken her for a fool;
    Worked to save the marriage as it broke,
    Bowed on occasion, not been a mule;

    If only you’d not been so intent on “winning”
    And tried risking it all to win her back,
    Forseen the aching loss when all was spinning
    out of control; kept quiet, changed tack;
    If only you’d forced your heart, your every nerve,
    To pause, rethink, before things were too far gone,
    Held on dearly to memories of earlier love
    When nothing else was left to which to hold on;

    If only you’d ignored crowds gossiping of virtue
    And reached out for a personal, honest touch;
    Not let assumptions and falsities hurt you,
    Counted reason with you as a worthy crutch;
    If only you’d held unforgiving words spoken in heat,
    And listened to her for a minute, just one;
    Your world and all in it would’ve been complete
    And, perhaps, you would’ve been a real Man, my son!

    Was rather disturbed by a conversation I had with a friend whose eleven year relationship has just crumbled to nothingness. And all he had to offer himself when trying to come to terms with it in the cold light of hindsight was a litany of pitiful 'If Only I Had's. Depressing, and an unwelcome reminder of my own long list of 'What If's and 'I Wish I Had's in this context.

    (Due apologies to Kipling. A man who, it is probably safe to assume, was never lost for the right words to rescue any situation, however dire.)

    Monday, April 05, 2010


    My friend FiFo is one of the most interesting guys I know. He's extremely well read and informed, has immense personal drive and ambition, displays an inspiring capacity for hard work, faces the world with admirably stoic calm and humours all the madness and insanity the rest of us throw at him.

    One of the things I've come to admire about him is his willingness to travel, often by himself, to places on his life wishlist. He selects a destination, does the required research, and strikes out. A new destination, a new adventure, every six months or so.

    Some time ago, he put up a list on his blog, here, his ten year travel plan.

    I have long had a wishlist as well, one that I have often read through wistfully but never really taken the initiative to act on. And everytime I see this list, I sigh to myself and go through a series of seven thoughts in the following sequence

    1. Aargh, I hate myself for not being more planned and making a serious move on this list
    2. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to cover at least Australia and New Zealand - perenially near the top of my list - so thoroughly
    3. I'll definitely get cracking on this once I get to India. Definitely
    4. I hope I don't do what I always do - let work, mental inertia and my habitual procrastinaation and indecisiveness kill my plans
    5. Oh hell, marriage - if/when it happens - is probably going to tie me down and limit my current carefree world-be-damned-I-love-to-explore travel. Dammit, I'd better hurry up and get all this travel under my belt asap
    6. I'll start as soon as I'm back. I promise. No more delays. This time I mean it. I think
    7. Aargh, I hate myself for not being more planned and making a serious move on this list

    Following in FiFo's footsteps, I have now decided to commit this to blog-form, moving it from the dusty archives of an Excel sheet lost on my chaotic computer to public domain. How will this be any different, how will it matter, you may be tempted to ask. And quite rightly so.

    The answer is that I'm not quite sure. But admitting to a little more openly, setting it in writing, so to speak, may help make me more accountable to myself. I would also hope (though not expect) that others who stumble across this list will offer their suggestions, and friends will periodically prod me about my progress on this list. And give me the pressure/support required to make my dreams reality (didn't mean for it to sound so dramatic, but that's exactly how I feel about it now).

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    A good representation of me and my desire to travel. Except for the
    ridiculous moustache and world-domination megalomania.

    Anyway, here goes. Most of them are the usual suspects, to begin with. And I haven't yet planned the specific cities in each country. I'd like to do the major cities, and then a couple of smaller ones (for example, Athens and then a couple of the small islands in Greece).

    I plan to update this as the months roll by, but here's my initial list, in alphabetical order. Also, just to push myself to action, I've marked out what I am committing myself to do in the next 18 months (*) and the next 36 months(**).

    India, beautiful India
    Andaman & Nicobar
    Kerala (in slow, unhurried detail)
    Ladakh and Leh*
    Pushkar (the mela)*

    The world
    Austria and Hungary
    Everest Base camp*
    South America - Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia**
    South East Asia - Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia
    South Korea
    Spain and Portugal

    It's something of a laundry list, but I am confident I can cover these in the next 15 years. That will allow me to die a little more satisfied with my life.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    At Albert Park

    The Australian Formula One Grand Prix 2010.

    The wild, thronging crowds, flooding the track post-race.

    F1 2010

    Seas of Ferrari, British, Italian, Finnish flags.

    F1 2010

    And, through the masses of people, a sight that gladdened my heart.

    F1 2010

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    Harishchandrachi Factory: Only two thumbs up

    I say only two thumbs up because I would have loved to give it more, but am sadly constrained by the fact that I am not Hrithik Roshan.

    Harishchandrachi Factory, a Marathi movie, was India's official entry to the Academy Awards in 2009. It tells the tale of Dadasaheb Phalke and how he went about making the first Indian feature film - Raja Harishchandra - in 1913, thereby setting the foundations for the largest movie industry in the world.

    Harishchandrachi Factory

    Historicals and biographies inherently carry the danger of being stolid, by-the-book informative and boring (Amelia is an example that comes to mind). But it is to the great credit of the writers of this movie that they tell a very interesting story with the right dose of drama and humour to keep one engaged and enraptured for the entire running time of the movie.

    While the writing is the star for me, the movie is elevated significantly by the phenomenal performances of nearly every actor who appears on frame. Each character is brought brilliantly to life - the passionate Phalke, his super-supportive and spunky wife, his concerned neighbours, his rag tag bunch of dedicated play actors (special callout to Sage Vishwamitra!), the stereotypical but interesting financiers... I don't know if any of them are regional stars, but they ought to be. The natural delivery, great chemistry and superb comic timing make watching the movie a true joy. The only cardboard characters (in writing and performance) are the British ones - both the firangs in India and those Phalke meets in London on his quest to learn the art of filmmaking.

    On the whole, the movie is pitched as a light comedy, which stays clear of over-dramatising Phalke's struggle or glorifying the enormity of what he achieved. It is subtle and simple, and relies on the strength of its characters to tell a fascinating tale.

    Harishchandrachi Factory is easily the most delightful movie I've had the pleasure of watching - in any language - in a long time. It's informative, inspiring and immensely entertaining. Do watch it if you get the chance.

    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Security, and all that

    There are several things I do not like about flying in the USA. My recent trip only served to strengthen my views on this. The aircraft are old. In-flight service is pathetic. Customer service is a disservice to society. Airline employees are often curt and rude. And security is a bloody nightmare.

    I completely understand why the USA is paranoid about security. It's their sovereign right to impose the most stringent security processes in the world, if they deem fit. Which they do, and more. But in the name of increased security, what takes a hit is the privacy and convenience of passengers.

    One of the things I hate the most is having to take off my shoes. This is driven by concern both for myself and my fellow passengers - I find the process of untying and tying my laces annoying, and others find the smell of my feet revolting. I also don't like having to take off my belt as this greatly increases the chance of my pants falling, given my recent weight loss. Taking off a business coat is also a pain, as it tends to get crushed and/or dirty. One lady I saw was forced to take off a loose sweater - because it wasn't tight against her skin - and her scarf as well. It annoys me that the US insists on doing all this when no other country I've passed through in the last few years - India, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands - punishes passengers with this level of security.

    And now we have the new full body scanners. There has been a lot of controversy about the 'naked' pictures that this scanner generates, and the potential for subsequent misuse. I'm not too worried - I'm neither famous enough nor good looking enough for anyone to want to keep my naked pictures. If you're curious, however, this is what my scanned image would probably look like.

    Seriously. Too obscene.
    (And nearby, a posse of beggars cheerfully rides)

    My issue with these scanners, however, is that they do not address security holistically. They appear to be the equivalent of a patch in the software world. I recently passed through one at SFO, and the normal process handn't changed. I still had to take off my shoes and my belt and my jacket and dump them on the belt. And, in addition, I had to do a ballet pose as my body was scanned.

    Did I say the normal process hadn't changed? Oops, got that wrong. Earlier, I used to deposit all electronic and metal items (plus shoes) on the security conveyor belt and walk through the detector. I would ordinarily retain my boarding pass, passport, handkerchief and miscellaneous papers (such as receipts) on my person. And they naturally never set off the detector because they're, well, paper. Now, however, the scan requires you to empty every scrap of everything from your pockets. I got a stern dressing down from the agent at the scanner because of this, and had to hold all the stuff in my pockets up above my head as I was scanned. Post scanning, I was accosted before I could put them back into my pockets, and all the papers were rifled by Security (with more stern faces and disapproving looks) and my handkerchief shaken out to ensure it was a genuine handkerchief and not a WMD.

    Painful. If they're investing so much in the scanners, why not make them capable of incorporating all security requirements? (Here's an interesting video indicating how the scanner might fail.) I'm no expert on any of this, of course. I'm just a harassed passenger, who always groans inwardly when having to travel to the USA. It is such a pain.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Two left feet

    Not a very good one, apparently.

    A cheery bhangra is more in order, perhaps.

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    Leconte - Refreshing at first, but eventually annoying

    Henri Leconte - former World No. 5 and French Open finalist in 1988 - was one of the commentators at the Australian Open last night. He was on during the match between Jo Wilfred Tsonga (Fra) and Nicloas Almagro (Esp).

    I found his performance... Gallic, for lack of a better word.

    A highly excited and emotional bit of commentating, with an unabashed bias towards the Frenchman. Some gems:
    • "I'm sorry to bother you, but do you have any ball?.. Ello, ello, we are out of balls!"
    • "AAAAHHHH" (in a high pitched voice), followed by "AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH" (in a more manly one)
    • "Come on Jooooooo, come on... YEAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!"
    • And, for almost every point: "AHNBILEEVABULL!"

      "NOOOOOOOOO!" Leconte screams in anguish as Almagro wins a point

    It was nice to have someone so passionate in the commentary box, with such free flowing, off the cuff and breezy observations on the match. A welcome change, for a bit, from the hushed-voice snooze inducers some of the matches have seen. It was like having a Mexican football commentator in the box.

    But the fact that he was practically yelling every time he spoke, coupled with his inability to be fair and objective to both players and use adjectives apart from AHNBILEEVABULL made him pretty annoying beyond a point.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Now that's a show

    Last week, I watched The Manganiyar Seduction. It's a fascinating show featuring performers from three generations of the Manganiyar community of Rajasthan, performing from within a set of thirty six stacked cubicles. Each cubicle is curtained and as the piece progresses, each solo performer opens his curtain and joins in. An artiste's cublicle is lit at times that he is performing. And given that there are about forty performers, that makes for a delightful array of voices, instruments and lights that blend together very satisfyingly in a dazzling visual and aural spectacle.

    No, this is not Bollywood Squares

    A very special mention must be made of the 'conductor', who also manned the clappers. His animated engagement with each performer - and, in a delightful piece in the middle, the audience - as well as his incredible skill on the instrument had me floored and took the show to a whole new level.

    The 'Seduction' in the show's name, by the way, comes both from the fact that the music is brilliant and draws one into the performace, and that the set is inspired by the red light district in Amsterdam.

    The Manganiyars are a largely Muslim community from Rajasthan. They are hereditary professional musicians, who have traditionally performed for the local rulers and fat cats as a means of earning their livelihood. Interestingly, they pray to a Hindu god - Krishna - apart from following Islamic teachings. Their recent history and the story of how they rose from desert obscurity to national and international fame thanks to folklorist Komal Kothari, makes for interesting reading.

    The Manganiyar Seduction was an incredible experience, and very uplifting. Definitely, definitely worth a watch if you can catch it in whichever part of the world you are.

    Read more about the show here.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    No, it's not kool


    I just got an email from someone that included the line "I'm kool with that."

    Kool. Not Cool.

    Is it really so difficult to just type it the right way? I admit 'k' is closer to 'o' and 'l' on the keyboard than 'c' is, but are you really not in a position to spare a digit of your left hand to press the 'c'?

    This just made my blood boil.

    It's not like kool is the new cool, unless it's the 80s or something. And it's not new slang/lingo, like pwned.

    It's not even like it's a significant shortening to sms-language. I can, to some extent (a small one), understand someone typing 'u' instead of 'you'. It saves time, energy, space. I see that.

    But not 'kool' for 'cool'. That's just dumb.

    And annoying.

    I'm becoming a grumpy old man.

    Thursday, January 07, 2010

    A full Cup must be carried steadily

    Starting September 2011 (20 months from now), New Zealand will host the Rugby World Cup.
    Starting February 2011 (13 months from now), India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will host the Cricket World Cup.

    20 rugby teams will feature in 48 matches, playing in 13 locations over a period of 44 days.
    14 cricket teams will feature in 49 matches, playing in 13 locations over a period of 43 days.

    The full draw and venues for the tournament were announced in March 2009.
    The full draw and venues for the tournament were announced in October/November 2009.

    A dedicated and detailed website has been launched.
    The website, a page within the ICC's Yahoo website, features the latest news from recent cricket, but has limited information about the World Cup itself.

    In New Zealand, a significant marketing campaign is being launched. Cathedral Square in Christchurch features a large billboard with a countdown to the World Cup.
    Crickets chirping. No pun intended.

    Merchandise is widely available across New Zealand and other countries.
    No merchandise has been launched in South Asia yet.

    Tickets went on sale (through travel agents) to a global audience on 1st January 2010.
    Ticket information "will be announced to the public in due course", according to the website.


    Friday, January 01, 2010

    A long drive

    Rental car: $60 per day

    Elvis album bought for the road from local store: $10

    Fuel for the 387 km drive: $40

    Driving 5.5 hours through the mountains and rain with 3 hours of sleep the previous night and nursing a massive hangover: priceless