Friday, December 30, 2011

A very happy new year, 2012

Here's wishing all you readers of my blog, a very Happy New Year!

Friday, November 25, 2011

And My Marantz PM 57 sings again....

What a solemn moment it was when Praveen of Vipul Electronics connected my loyal amplifier to the Sony CD player and the pair of Sonodyne bookshelf speakers and when I told him that I will be switching it on. With The Police's "Zenyatta Mondatta" CD inside I switched my amplifier on and it starts playing like I heard it the very first time, flawless and beautiful. After the September 11, 2001 attacks I put my hi-fi gear away in storage in California before returning to India. Later I managed to get my amplifier and CD player but not the remainder of the gear. So after 10 years my Marantz still plays beautifully. I had actually purchased it and the CD player in 1998.

It is also a moment of great joy to know that Marantz (this time the PM 6004) won the Product of the Year Award at this year's What HiFi annual awards (held just weeks ago) in the Integrated Amplifier category. There couldn't have been a better coincidence.

The Sonodynes were no comparison to the Klipsch KSB 3.1's that I used to own (now sitting in a garage in the U.S) but the Sonodynes did their best bit and I was impressed to buy a pair. Within a few days they have already gone beyond the "break-in" stage. I also managed to find the sweet-spots after some moving around and re-positioning.

Let me hope someday I'll get my Klipsch's back and my brilliant Definitive Technology subwoofer too.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kajal wasn't here

Though she is the heroine of the movie I had my doubts if she would be part of the crew that was shooting at my office. My guess was right. Kajal wasn't here. But Surya was. One guy even managed to take pics with him.

For a moment I thought I had missed a memorable moment.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kajal Aggarwal shooting at my place of work!

I am astonished at how sometimes things you love so dearly can suddenly appear so close and so soon. It was only around last year this time I was watching her in "Magadheera", so many times and now Kajal is shooting in Chennai in the very place I work? Actor Surya is here too. As I was heading in that direction today, I did visit office and the floor where the shoot is going on. Unfortunately I wasn't able to see her or Surya. Should I stay put? Wait for her like those die-hard fans waiting to catch a glimpse of their idol? The security guy at our building was telling me that the unit was going to be there for both today and tomorrow. Unfortunately I have other work to do. Oh Kajal, how close and yet how far!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A winning Rangoli design

When the participants of this winning team started adding the "Champankee" flower (I love its strong fragrance) to the left and right edges of the rangoli decoration at the competition during the Diwali celebrations at my client's place, I was only thinking that they were going to ruin it. But I was in for the surprise when I took the picture. The flowers actually made it look like a carpert. It stood out from the rest of the competition. The simple idea of placing the flowers made this design unique among other entries. Click on the pics to view them full-sized.

Here were the other entries. This one was from the freshers.

In my opinion, this next entry deserved second place.

Instead this one took second place.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Why it is called the Rhinocerous Beetle

Even on the last day at my home nature doesn't fail to please me. I found this rhinocerous beetle which I snapped immediately.

Here's another pic.

And in this one, the bug looks very similar to the animal it takes its "first" name from. Click the pics to view them full-sized.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Last days at my current home

That portion of the earth used to be mine.

My new buyer will take possession of my home in October. Luckily I found a place in the colony just a stone's throw away from my home. Whether I'll get to live in an independent home again, only time will tell.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chaithu is a teen now

Just took this pic of him on his 12'th birthday this morning before he boarded his school bus.

He also gets his first mobile phone today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Metallica in India, this October

The Thrash-metal giant whose fans number in the thousands or maybe even millions in India is on tour and will be visiting us in October. As things stand they will be performing in Delhi on the 28'th of October and then at Palace Grounds, Bangalore on the 30'th. Tickets are being sold at and Get them before they are gone. Am I going? Donno but have never been a fan of Metallica like some of my friends are. Maybe I'll change my mind later.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Happy Onam!

Close to her 70's, waking up at 4:30 AM and arduously working on the "Pookalam" is something that my mother deserves to be commended for, when I can't do the same at my age. She was actually asking me to come and take a picture but I could do so only at around mid-day. The "Pookalam" was fairly fresh.
And here are the next gen beside Amma's Pookalam.
To all my readers, wish you a very Happy Onam!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Hindu's poor standards

For several years now "The Hindu" has been publishing gory pictures in full colour in its daily publication and today is no surprise. To wake up early morning to see blood-splattered images of torn bodies (there is a decapitated torso of a human in today's pic) is just disgustingly sickening. There are kids that read the newspapers everyday and I wonder if there is any such standards in publishing such pictures. Today's picture is on the frontpage. Oddly when Osama Bin Laden was killed, pictures did not appear on the front page. The Hindu also published a note near the photographs of the dead Osama and his aides saying that due to the gory nature of the pictures, they were being printed in Black and White and that is how they were published. Not that I wanted to view Osama's pics in colour but when leading T.V channels are following standards by either morphing or hiding gore and cautioning viewers with viewer-discretion and such, why can't a leading newspaper like the "The Hindu" also follow suit.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Chameleon hues to drive away the Monday blues

Who would have thought of sighting this beautiful creature on Monday morning. My neighbour Showkath's driver got it from Somamangalam in a box. When we let it out it was not trying to make a dash into the garden or run for its life. Instead it was carefully observing its new environment with its awesome eyes and moving in almost slow-motion fashion. The eyes work independently of each other giving the creature an almost 270 to 300 degree viewing angle. Like a telephoto zoom the eyes can also be zoomed out or zoomed in. It was constantly at it. I'll post the videos later. Here's another close-up. Click on all the images to view them big sized.
Trying to make it turn red we ambitiously even put him on a plant flowering red flowers but our new neighbour didn't oblige. Earlier we had put him on a shrub with yellow flowers and then there was magic. Notice the eye socket and body color change yellow.
The creature attracted a small crowd and it had us entertained for almost an hour.
We saw it last in my garden. Wonder where it is now. Was keeping it a pet, an opportunity lost?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Very Impressive - Harmonize Projekt

So what can remove the writer's block in me? A musical performance as this of course! The Rosebowl Channel (I don't know how to get that channel here in Chennai) in Kerala has been churning out performances as this a dime a dozen. Sadly you'll have to be in Kerala to watch this channel. It was on this channel that I discovered Avial many years ago. And this year they did it yet again with performances by the Harmonize Projekt.

When I read about them in The Hindu I forgot to check them out but I find every reason to include a reivew of the perfomances here. If you like cover versions then you must watch them or listen to them. They are making waves on the Internet, particularly on YouTube. Their treatments to some originals make the originals sound even better though not all their experimentation goes down well with me particularly when their innovation takes out the original flavor. But otherwise their covers only deepen the existing flavors of a song making it more beautiful and that's their magic. Kalyani Nair has a great voice and she impresses with her singing. The minimal but good support from the musicians is to be appreciated too.

Here are videos to watch, ranked from best to the not-so-best. But all of them impress, nevertheless.

Lovely slide guitar solo on this one.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Don't be fooled by this trick from Airtel

If you use a smartphone and are trying to downgrade your 3G plan with Airtel, a trick is going to be played on you which may force you to not downgrade or if you have to upgrade back to your older higher priced plan, but don't fall for this trick.

Two months ago I realised I was using an average of 150 MB of their Monthly 450 plan which allows a total upload+downlad limit of 650 MB per month. So I call cusotmer service and downgrade to the 200 plan which allows a 250 MB upload+download limit per month, sufficient enough for my 3G usage. A few days after I made this change I get a call from a third party company telling me that as per information that Airtel has provided them I have already exceeded my limit by 45 MB. There was no way that could have happened. I hadn't made any unusual usage of the internet on my phone. The guy on the phone also told me that it will cost me Rs.15 per excess MB of usage. It was ridiculous. I took down his number and called Airtel. To my surprise my Airtel usage until then was just 3 MB. But the annoying part was this. Airtel tells me that I have to wait till the end of my billing cycle to find out how much my exact usage was. If that was the case how did they tell their third party that I had already exceeded my usage by 45 MB. Something was clearly wrong! I wasted valuable hours for the next three days and in vain. Finally I even stopped using my 3G till I got my bill. When the bill came I was amazed. There wasn't any significant change in charges. What a waste of my time and efforts.

I then wait for my next month's bill and I notice the change due to the downgrade. My bill slashed down by Rs.500 by moving to a lower plan which was perfect for me.

A few days after this bill arrived I again get a call from the third party saying I have again exceeded my bill by that same 45 MB amount. This time it was obvious something was fishy. When I called Airtel customer support I gave them the number of the third party and the lady answering the phone (Airtel support) even told me some marketing guys must be doing it. Just as she was saying that I could hear someone blurt out something at her end. Was it some manager telling her to shut up! The connection was terminated immediately without the usual "..Thank you for calling Airtel. Have a nice day." Really odd and something I never expected from Airtel whose service I have always enjoyed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A boquet in the sky

I was wondering what that big dash of red in the sky was, when I rode past the tree. This Gulmohar had more flowers than leaves. I am sure other than the rains it was hardly being watered. Couldn't resist the temptation of taking a picture.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Where are "I" now?

Well it seems like "ages" since I touched my personal blog or any of my other blogs or writings but I have a big excuse. I have been very busy like everybody else but a little more busier, trying to sell my home and move closer to my son's school's new location which is 20km from where we currently reside. So much has happened since I last wrote but managed to squeeze in a 4-day-trip to Kerala in the thick of the monsoon there. Wasn't it beautiful to watch the rains there. Fortunately Chennai has been receiving some sharp showers too once in a while.

Hope to get back soon with tons of posts. There is so much to write afterall.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What was good and bad about Kailash Kher's concert last night

It was my first visit to Mutha Venkatasubbarao Concert Hall inside the Lady Andal School on Harrington Road, yesterday.

As for the concert hall the acoustics were superb. If only the air-conditioning was distributed fairly well in all places the audience wouldn't have had to scream "AC, AC" towards the end of the show. The organizers also seemed to have done a stellar job organizing the event with lots of volunteers and security.

And now for the concert. First the good things.
Kailash was wonderful with his voice and sang with total ease and comfort. His singing was very good. His simplicity and down-to-earth openness won the hearts of the audience.

And now the bad things that actually was a big let-down.
1. Where was the drums? Though most of the songs in the evening were the slow numbers I missed his rockers. And without drums songs like "Tauba Tauba" sounded awful. The very presence of a drum kit, and the sounds that emanate from it, the crash of the cymbals, the sounds of the high-hat, the bass drum, the snares and the toms, would have altered the sound of the show. But where were they?

2. Awful lighting. - Whoever was managing the lighting was doing such a shitty job. A kid could have done better considering how many different types of lights the concert hall had. Most of the time we could hardly see Kailash's face during the performances. The band was playing in total darkness most of the time. I wonder how the stringed instrumentalists were able to see what strings and frets they were playing had they wanted to look at them.

3. A little more emphasis on the lead guitar would have made a difference too. Not that the lead guitarist had time for solos but whatever he was playing was not audible enough, particularly in "Tauba Tauba".

4. Finally Kailash failed to play some classic rockers such as "Chaap Thilak" and "Rang Rang Ma". I also wanted to hear "Daulath Shohrath".

So without the drums this concert scores low in my opinion but the modesty and the singing prowess of Kailash can never be denied.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Kajal Aggarwal/Magadheera week

I had two posts both "not very pleasant" to start the new year and I didn't want to post. But I hardly realised I would watch something so pleasant for the New Year that I am glad to write it about now.

Ever since I saw the film clip of the telugu movie "Magadheera" posted on FaceBook I have been curious about this movie. Actually on FB the person who posted the video was ridiculing the scene and so were many others. But ironically I found the sfx scene (of the climax) quite dramatic and wonderfully done. I also did watch the amazing fight scene where the character "Kaala Bhairava" takes on a 100 men on a cliff, wonderfully created using CGI.

A couple of weeks later I came across the song "Panchadhara Bomma" on YouTube and was completely blown by Kajal Aggarwal's performance (who wouldn't). A few days after that I listen to "Bangaru KodiPetta" at the Sony store and the staff there is clueless which movie it is from. What a pleasant surprise it was to find out that it was from "Maghadheera".

Thanks to Shruthi at the office, I got the HD DVD disc last Monday and I don't know when I'll actully be tired of watching the scenes and songs from the film. Though I was more keen to watch the SFX it was Kajal Aggarwal who stole my every attention.

Never have I been blown by such a performance, beauty, grace and range of emotions as Kajal's in this movie. Kajal delivers in every frame. Incredibly adorable, The Police's song "Every little thing she does is magic" comes to mind when I watch her. I was amazed by her character and her child-like charm. In many years I have never been stunned by an actress and a performance as this. Being a non-telugu person I wonder if she was acting it out naturally or if someone was telling her to do so. I can only think of the former and if it really was I must say she is a natural. Kajal was simply awesome. I wonder what it would have been to watch her on the big screen. I have watched the "Panchadhara Bomma" video countless times or to be more precise some of her expressions in that song a countless times. With a gorgeous straight from the heart smile and not to forget stunning looks she is a winner in Magadheera. She has such a happy aura about ther that scenes where she should cry or show anger seems a bit unacceptable. Her dubbed vocals were perfect too, not the nauseating tone (of God only knows who) of the girl we used to listen to in the innumerable Tamil movies.

Probably it is my state of mind, or maybe it is because I like her character and her in this movie that I am lavishing praise. However I did not find this charm in the clips of her movie videos before or after Magadheera. Her interviews where she is conversing mostly in English and other raunchy videos on YouTube where I thought she was just being exploited was a big let-down.

Kajal is also the reason I like the songs in this movie. Musically I will not say songs are top-notch. M M Keeravani does make those cliches in his music which otherwise would have made "Bangaru Kodi Petta" a smashing rocker. Actually it still can be modified with those cliched parts removed. In the early 90's I recall "Kshana Kshanam" that many of us were watching in Telugu. The song in the final credits of the Magadheera was good too and here too Kajal impresses.

On the weekend I even tried checking for a couple of Telugu channels. I did want to play the movie on my parents newly purchased LCD TV which is 1080p HD but I wasn't able to.

Man, have I been blown away by Kajal? So what?