Saint Valentine

Another view of Mumbai's Ballard Pier from my desk. May be I am too busy between meetings so no time to romance with my valentine. Well, heart shape balloons floating around our office here and there reminding me of the special day. Due to meetings and tight schedule I even missed the chocolate distribution. C'est dommage!!! :( . Although enormous work-pressure but many thoughts are coming across to make evening better. Let's see if it works or not.

Wednesday- Best of all weekdays

From Sunday evening I keep waiting for middle of week i.e., Wednesday as next weekend looks too far to me. If there is any special occasion planned for Wednesday evening it really cheers me up. On last Wednesday it just happened that Pamela called me at work saying that she is going to come to VT (CST) all by herself boarding a local train (…..for first time).Thanks to Meher for encouraging Pamela to come over in the first place.

Well, Pamela did panic at last part of her journey as she was all alone in the wagon with two transsexuals sitting beside her. Moreover, on not seeing me at VT she vented her anger on me over phone as I was to meet her there. Its true, that I somehow always get entangled in work or some urgent phone call when ever I need to be on time to meet her. On top of it her phone battery was also running low. Somehow we did meet up without much problem and I am not that good writer to juice up that meeting. Anywayz, as per plan we met Meher in front of GPO and headed to Kala- Ghoda via Cab.

Gate of HORNIMAN CIRCLE GARDEN

Kala-Ghoda is crescent shaped plaza nestled around an array of heritage buildings such as Elephantine College, the David Sassoon Library and the Watson Hotel. It is named after a statue which is long gone now of King Edward VII astride a black horse. This plaza is around South Mumbai which is fast emerging as the arts hub of downtown Bombay. Meher being born and brought up in south Mumbai she knows streets like back side of her palm. After walking across all those gorgeous office buildings from bygone years we reached Horniman Circle Park where French rock band “Merzhin” was to perform for the Kala-Ghoda festival organized by Alliance Française, Mumbai.. This festival actually takes place inorder to improve the existing infrastructure of the area and giving it a distinct identity as Mumbai's art district. And this festival basically brings together work from various fields like arts, theater, film, music, literature, dance, heritage walks, exhibitions, children's events offering an interactive cultural mélange for Mumbaites.

Anyway, the introduction from the Director was very "French" as he mentioned if you want a good life learn French. What a snobbish French way of welcoming audience. Point to be shared is - a very different experience as we enjoyed the concert sitting on chairs ;) ...hmm a rock concert and sitting!!! The band was good and they tried their best to get people rocking but it did not work after all Indians..... that too on Wednesday evening.

Spanish lamb

From there after an hour we left for dinner walking two blocks we found ourself in front of Café Mocambo. It has two levels of seating.; the interior is decent but not stunning. The menu is mostly continental and parsi with lots of Pasta dishes to choose from. Other then that lamb, steak and lasagna are also available. They have standard fridge displaying yummy desserts - really yummy! Many phirangis also hang out here.

Britania - Irani Restaurant

Ballard Estate is old corporate park in Mumbai where most of the buildings have high ceiling and windows a left-over from British Raj. I feel very fortunate as my workplace is on this street and moreover when I get bird's eye view of Mumbai from my desk.

For lunch, I have walked past Britannia before but for some or other reason I did not entered. It is one of Bombay's famous old Irani (Persian) restaurants situated at Ballard Estate. This no-nonsense, no-frills, 90-year-old restaurant is the last of a dying breed of establishments once found on every corner of South Mumbai. The environment is simple and functional, with little room for extras like presentation and ambiance. There is no love greater then love of eating - is their motto. It is mentioned on the menu food will be served within 10 minutes and they really do so. A must if you don't like vegetarian food you might want to drop-in. There is a different menu for each day of the week. Apart from the fact that it is the stuff of legends, the building was designed by George Wittet, the architect of the Gateway and the Museum.

I was lucky one as there was Berry-pulao that day one of their speciality. Berry pulao (a version of the Iranian zereshk polow) is the outstanding signature dish, made with succulent spiced boneless mutton (or chicken), fragrant long-grain basmati rice, and tart barberries imported from Iran. Though it was rich and heavy but its worth - once in a while.

Micro$oft Launch @ Mumbai

Micro$oft is doing a round of business and technical launch show around India. The products are Exchange 2007, Office 2007 and Vista. I attended only a brief session @ Hyatt.

Well, somehow my name was not there even though I registered 10 days before the event.

And my business card with orange and blue dots did not help much to get attention from those desk people. Anyway, it was solid 40 minutes of work for me – replied emails, chat with business contact got updates from their team – thanks to CDMA mobile card. This picture of Mumbai’s famous "dabbawalla" got my attention which is installed in the down-stair lobby as an object of art.

Well lots of promises about security from Micro$oft, but I got bit scary about the new “Office Groove 2007” as it seems it uses port 80 to connect and update sharepoint server. I think I need to know more before I make my final take. A new mantra was “blog” as speakers were mentioning new search capabilities; and used internet and blog as two different things. Sorry could not follow - does not blog stands for “Web-Log” in short.

Well it is M$ at the end of the day – every time they promise – “We are more OPEN with our new version of software so your heterogeneous network components can work seamlessly.” But then they redefine new standard for their implementation of “OPEN” standard. And people in the technological world have to take two steps back with one step forward. Leave apart, let’s not get into those details.

I might miss a good lunch to rush back to work. Goodies are welcome M$: D

Zooomr Pro

After trying my luck with flickr I figured out that I have to look for alternative. With Yahoo! there is nothing for free. Almost certainly they will follow suit when someone else win in their own game like gmail vs yahoo-mail. So trying my luck for Zooomr pro now.
DSC00024
P.S. I got the pro account :D

Another weekend

Well another day! Some techie note ; upgraded the web site to the latest beta release of Wordpress. And I found some strange behaviour. This is what I put forward to the mailing list. But with few minute of research found the root cause.

A dark post

Well this post is a dark one-

Aaj fir dil hai kuchh udaas udaasjaane kyun ek mayusi si chhayi haiaaj fir palkon pe pani haibheer mein hoon fir kyun ye tanhai hai jaane kyun bebas aur beychain hai dil mera....

In simple words, things around me are going crazy.... restless mind as there are loved ones who are dealing with the PROBLEM on the ground with hard reality; facing it more harsh then me who is being updated with phone calls only.

Anyway, recently I came across one site which tells about sleeping. I assume you all must be knowing about good effects of sleeping. According to the sleep test

I show symptoms of sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder.

Then I took another online test – and the results is

Might have moderate depression

Well that is all ;I feel good now as I hit the "publish" button

Travel Under Terror

Mumbai local train poster

There were massive bomb blasts last summer in Mumbai local trains. After that now there are constant reminders for the commuters to be on alert and check their surroundings. It is logistical nightmare to manage the massive number of commuters who takes train every day in Mumbai. In simple words, “impossible” will be closest word I can pick.

Few months back after lots of planning and public announcement Mumbai Police conducted a security drill where every passenger was supposed to pass via metal detector in two Main Terminus in the evening but after few moments it was clear that police can not handle the stream of passengers in lakhs and crores as they were heading home and it was abandoned. The good news is that it is indeed possible to check if the need arises but impossible on regular basis.

Although, there is always one or two man in khaki uniform in each station. But those people physically look so unfit with their bulging waistline that I personally do not feel any safe with them. Its just a game of probability in Mumbai terrorist attack. If you happen to be at Mumbai in the wrong time at wrong place you are in danger. No one can save you in Mumbai as it runs by “Bhai” (common con for the Bhai). There is always a strong nexus between underworlds with every business that flourishes at Mumbai. Be it movie making, real estate, jewelry --- just name it.

So till next time Mumbai rocks again – safe and happy commuting – Mumbaians.

New Gadget K790i

Well I got it. After lots of deliberation I upgraded my choice to K790 from K750. The big difference is price and features to say in simple words. I heard in recent time James Bond used this same phone in his last movie. Not sure what all other accessories Mr.Q added for him on the film.

I wanted to buy a camera phone as that will be handy to capture events. I remember spending $250 in Fry’s for Handspring Camera module in 2002. Oh! That looks like dinosaurs in comparison now.

GPO Mumbai

Here are some pictures from the camera. The first one is of GPO(General Post Office) Mumbai; I was amazed when I went there first time. It is a true heritage from British time in Indian history. Unfortunately, it could have been better maintained like a heritage site. The design of “centenary hall” is so European with big round center desk.

Mumbai NewsPaper Stand

The next picture is of the newspaper stand near my office. Well, a contrast from Pamela’s picture Paris news-paper stand. ;)

Back to my phone I just want to make a note to future/current owner to use MyPhoneExplorer a freeware to sync. You can sync with Thunderbird for your address book - not being stuck with M$. Still waiting from Hutch customer support for a simple MMS settings to be downloaded on my phone so that I can access internet and other cool features; according to their SLA it might takeup to 72 hours and I am still waiting :(

Welcoming 2007

Well Saddam Hussein is dead so what is next for 2007? May be there will be very few asking this questions as they start to celebrate New Year tomorrow. I never ever thought that I will comment upon politics on our blog. But I think I break that rule today.
Everyone taking stock of year that is almost over. I personally do not like the week “from Christmas to New Year”, I do not have a solid reason for the same. I just do not find a reason from my inner soul to celebrate the same.
Starting from Y2K something or other has happened and dampened my parting spirit. I will like to list them here.
  • 1999/Y2K was special as I was on alert being an I.T guy.
  • 2001/2002 I realized the hard reality of lay-off as my close co-workers were asked to go. Always these layoff happens in the last week of December ?
  • 2002/2003 More co-workers joined the old group and my work location was getting closed. 31st December was their last day at work, holy crap what next for New Year?
  • 2003/2004 Nothing special – hanged out for 30 minutes or so on Champ-Elysees in Paris. Lots of confused, drunken, yelling people around. Later in the night it got worst. 26th December Earthquake in Iran, lots and lots of people died.
  • 2004/2005 – Pamela was in India; hanged out with Murali – who was not in a happy mode either, a cold winter night in Paris. What a nightmare Tsunami in South-East Asia struck on 26th December.
  • 2005/2006 – Best of the last few years spent in center of Vedanta Ramakrishna,Paris with other people. Nothing much happened around the globe. It was spiritual and enlightening.
  • 2006/2007 – Well alone again; And the news of Saddam did dampened my mood to write the post. I am not a fan of him but I do not support death penalty.
As I write this post - I would like to remind you of those 10 Trillion dollars budget surplus America (USA) was supposed to have is long forgotten debate in NPR (national public radio). I did have my $300 tax refund for Year 2002. But I think world was happier place before.I sometime think this is my craziness to care about all these. But with so many death and destruction what did Mr. Bush achieved????
I wish I could question to those who in their ignorance, arrogance, religious (including gun, gas) voted for him twice to make this world a better place. A common American must understand his or her voting power as world super power and true democracy of the world. Probably this part of advice they dislike most and proved it :S
Well enough said, the blame goes to other politicians and nations as well as they did not oppose at all about what is going in Iraq. May be the responsibilities lies with us as well as individually I did nothing to make world a better place. I hope there is an end to the blood-shed in Middle-East - it might spread all across the region in 2007.
Well Happy New Year. Sorry for being cynical.

Indian Newspapers

There is no real newspaper to read in India at this moment. Well I know I made a big statement but could not start in better sarcastic way. Hold on, let me explain from my past to present. I was thinking abut this topic for a while a now as I see so many newspapers under my nose while going to work by local train in the morning. It is almost like I read every other headline from three to five major publishing houses.

Newspaper means many things to so many people but for me it surely means a starting of a new day with news from yesterday,today and tomorrow. A cup of hot beverage in one hand and a newspaper in the other will be best way to start my day.

I remember once the newspaper used to be very boring in black and white. That time there was no mass “offset” printing for newspaper in India. The printing was not very clear and it used to be thin with only 8 to 10 pages.

If that make you think I am old ;) I was hooked to newspaper quite early. Then suddenly one morning came offset printing with half-tone picture of famous events in rare occasions. I remember it lasted for few years. Then suddenly we found ourselves with the color supplement for the weekend. It was exciting to check on weekly basis those glossy papers; some times we would save them to cover books :D

With time newspaper started to become heavier in weights and started to loose focus from main news. The downhill journey started. The focus of editors turned to advertisement to make news paper cheaper for making more profit.

Like addicts we got used to read about all those cocktail parties in front page and City Complements.

This turned a golden way for the newspaper publisher to print photos of celebrities. All celebrities like to show off little or more depending on their personalities. May be we can call it a golden hen for the editors. Indian society being very hypocratic it was an easy way to publish swimsuit photos of Ms. Anderson with out any one complaining. Indian educated conservative middle class adores the same. The whole news paper has become a tabloid. That way Ms Stone & Spears makes exclusive headline.

May be with economy doing good everyone is having a feel-good-factor; no one really wants to read real news about the global climate change or war on Iraq - everyone is happy in their little world. People are also bored with reading Indian politics the same story of corruption, vote bank – religion or caste from our politicians.

It is all most free can you believe that you can get one full year subscription for just Rupees 199(less than 4 Euros). That means less then One Rupees a day where One rupee can not buy any thing in India now.

Linen anniversary

It is four years that we got married :D and according to the naming convention it is Linen Anniversary we have still have a long way to go before it will be any precious or strong material.
This day is special in another way as it is birthday of Prateek (maternal cousin of mine). Now we stay above floor from Prateek. After our wedding this is the first time that we three are together. But this week Prateek is the man of his house as my Uncle and Aunt are out of town. Now planning for going out for dinner became a complicated task as we do not own a car yet. And I can not drive my Uncle’s car; without car moving around Navi Mumbai is not convenient and particularly in late evening or early night. We three settled for a scale down version agreed to meet up at Vashi which is most crowed Hip-hop Township in Navi Mumbai.
The day started in the usual way. After work at evening I took the train back and got down at Vashi. Now I was bit early for the meeting with Pamela and Prateek. They told me as soon they start in car they will call me and asked me to hang out in the only big mall of Navi Mumbai called "CENTER ONE".

I was lucky to get a bench to sit in the mall and watch people to kill time. Those 30 minutes was very long and boring in simple words. And I never fancied waiting. But then watching people is all I could do ?. Well this mall is a circular one with escalators in the middle and my bench is at 2nd floor looking at the escalators.
Soon I watched something usual to myself; there is one dedicated person next to the escalator to assist people. Yes there are people who need assistance in getting to a moving staircase and thanks to mall management and abandon man power of India for providing the same. It was funny looking at those nervous faces as they put their steps on escalator.
That reminded me of my mother who insisted in taken steps in place of escalators in Paris last year. That time I fount it was very silly and what is the big deal that she was mentioning about escalators. Now looking at so many people needing assistance I found myself on the wrong side for making fun of mom.
Well after waiting around half an hour the plan got changed as the driver who was supposed to drive Pamela and Prateek did not showed up; I have to catch train back to Kharghar. We had to settle for a vegetarian restaurant within walking distance from our home well a VERY BIG disappointed evening.

P.S. Now as I try to complete this post after almost a month – the evening is yet to come for going out for a good restaurant.

Local trains of Mumbai

After moving to Mumbai (India) commuting from one place to another was a big problem (as we didn’t have our own vehicle). It seems Mumbai local trains are the most efficient one carrying millions of people everyday. Getting in and out of local trains is one of the hardest tasks particularly during rush hours which every mumbains has to undergo at least ones in their life. So, lot of advice was given from Santanu’s maternal family who are staying here for more than 15 years. Being given lot of advice the matter aroused curiosity within us.
So, on first day things seemed to be very easy unlike the situations which were being narrated to us. Even getting seats were not a problem neither getting down nor boarding was difficult. Thus our first trip by Mumbai locals was quite easy and calm.
By the time we have already traveled twice or thrice for short distance in non rush hours. Now one day we decided to go to Mumbai central and particularly towards south to meet one friend. But, that day our boarding station was quite crowded then ever experienced before. We mustered enough courage to board a train together which was again an experience in itself. While waiting for our train, at platform we saw lots of women were waiting at one particular place which we soon realized that this might be the spot where ladies compartment would be coming.
Normally, all seats are taken by burly or experienced people who time their jump onto moving train with perfection may be comparing them with urban cheetah will not be out of place. By the time train leaves platform its overcrowded with half of people hanging towards outside either to get fresh air or are waiting for next station to arrive. Hardly any place is there for a little fly to get in through the door.
In that crowd you can see people from different walks of life where some are reading newspaper or some are listening to music so loud as if he is playing for his co-passengers or some are snoozing or some are staring while others maybe observing people like me. Even staring at women who has dared to be there in general class is quite common as Mumbai locals don’t believe in chivalry. Being only woman I looked around myself where I found few people are standing like fortress around me, while others staring at me and when I look at those staring eyes I found many people pretending not to.
Santanu is very possessive in certain matters by keeping his arms around me so that no one dares to say or touch trying to make a protecting shell. Somehow after a while we got some place to sit for few stops in the mean time we learnt that if we have to get down at requisite station then we have to leave our seat atleast two stations prior in order to prepare ourselves to get down.

While sitting one experience many other things like depending on your height one get following views - someone’s armpit across your nose; well oiled hair poking right inside your nose; a newspaper across your face; people shouting over phone etc. That’s not last if you want you can look outside even where you see many sitting beside railway track, brushing teeth, answering natures call and what not. Anyhow with the crowd we managed somehow to get off from the train without losing our handbag, sandals or any other personal belongings.
In Mumbai, there are three main train lines, with few junctions where people can change train. And there is no single station where all these three lines connect each other. So getting in or out at any of these junction station is really ultimate one…. rush squeezes to the limit which something I have never experienced before - its intimacy at its best and privacy at its worst…. it’s co-passengers who will make you get off the train where you don’t need to put any effort to walk out. One good push…and you find yourself at station and thanks to god that we found ourself in one single piece and moreover with all our belongings intact and within seconds you realize that crowd which helped you in getting off the train is already dispersed.
And we took a long deep breath…..maybe something new to us but its just one more day for all other mumbaians. While walking past the platform I thought what about those disabled handicapped people, children, aged people, or pregnant ladies…..is there anything for them like in western countries. In certain matters, India needs lot to do to improvise its commuting system for every kind of its citizen.