Saturday, June 30, 2007

Do not call, please!

I wrote sometime ago about the Do Not Disturb 'service' 'offered' by the mobile operators. I filled those form and have noticed over time that the unsolicited calls/smses have reduced by as much as 90%. I still do get one or two spam smses and feel like whacking the guy who sends it, but it's peace for the most part.

On similar lines, there is a Do Not Call 'service' provided by ICICI bank. Being one of their customers, I get frequent telemarketing calls for their loan offers or credit card offers. I guess having a neat credit history only worsens one's case. I've now registered for the Do Not Call service now.

I just hate calls from unsolicited numbers. It's even more irritating to get a call about a '4 lac, no questions' loan offer when you are in a middle of a serious meeting. I do like banking with ICICI coz their internet banking is good, and I rarely have to go to their branches, but telemarketing has been an irritating part. Hope there's some more respite from now on.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

United Colors of Kerala

Jamster decided to get married, and some of us decided to use that as the perfect execuse to take a chill-pill. It didn't take a second to decide to bunk a day once we knew the marriage was in Kerala. Kerala impresses me everytime I go, and I have no idea why. It's probably the colors, the attire, the genuine bungalows that pop out of nowhere - shouting 'gulf money' all over, the terrain, and, ofcourse, the language and the way they speak English. I love Kerala!

We took the Chennai-Coimbatore-Palghat-Thrissur route. While waiting for an engine to pass... guess it was a moment of pleasure in the kid's life!
I don't know the name of this falls [It's en route to Vazhachal falls], but if you've watched the video of the famous Tam number 'Kaatre en Vaasal' from the movie Rhythm [or was it a different song?], you're home.

Wouldn't you just love being on the driver's seat? That's my friend's Blue Swift there.

The entrance gate en route to the Athirampally falls. You read that right!

The Athirampally, or Punnagai Mannan falls itself. I vaguely remember visiting the falls as part of the college tour, but I don't remember it to be half-interesting as it was now coz we were under watchful eyes then, which killed all the fun. Time and energy were the only things that we had this time around. We trekked down 300m to the bottom of the falls, and got this view. You'd most certainly think it's raining down there, but not to worry - the breeze carries the water droplets quite far that you think it's raining all over. You have to experience it to believe it.

The view from the top. I made the typical photographic mistake - not capturing an object of known size to project the real size of the waterfall.

United Colors of Kerala!

I don't know what this guy was trying to convey, but it was larger than life.

Here's the L&T Coimbatore Bypass, one of the best engineered roads in the country -just a couple of KMs from my home. If you love the fights between rubber and the tarmac, this is where you want to be.

We hit 150 kmph in our blue Swift, and came out astounded with the car's performance. The car felt solid at that speed, and we felt there was room for more. In fact, I think I averaged almost 110 kmph in the Bangalore-Chennai highway for about a couple of hours during the night-time, and didn't feel unsafe even for a single moment. Maruti Swift truly rocks for its price.

Until next time!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Say Al-Lubnāniyyah!

Till last Sunday, my experience with Lebanese cuisine wasn’t anything to write home about. I had tried Lebanese kebabs here and there, but it had always been bland on the tongue, and always been costly. But I knew something didn’t add up since those weren’t the kind of reviews I used to hear from people who’ve tried it big time. The thought suddenly came up last Saturday – on a surprisingly slow afternoon when even a classic like Flags of our Fathers didn’t tie me too much to the seat.

That’s when I hit upon the idea of checking out one of those exotic places in Chennai, and I knew where to head for opinions. is the forum where expatriates move around quite frequently, and wine and dine discussions really have a lot of credibility. A quick check, and I zeroed-in on the unobtrusive Lebanese Restaurant that actually happened to be on my everyday office route.

I ain’t going to write too much since Chandoo has done all the writing, and I love flicking:
I was pleasantly surprised to find the place to be quite spacious and big. The walls were decorated with photographs from Lebanon and other Mediterranean countries. The décor itself was simple and charming. Smooth and unobtrusive Arabian music filled the air.

We started out with HumMus, a chickpea paste made by adding lemon and garlic juices along with pita bread. We also ordered few drinks to go with it, and most of them were house specialties - date syrup, a refreshing mint juice etc. The waiter was kind enough to explain each dish he brought along.

Going there: Cedars is on Gandhi Mandapam Road, on the left side if you are coming from Anna university / IIT.
Must Haves: Jelab / Mint Dew / Shawarma / HumMus / Hookah if you like
In all, it’s 5 stars to this place. Authentic-sounding Lebanese cuisine that is delicious; a neat and quiet ambience; knowledgeable waiters; and soothing music. It would cost about 400 Rs on your pocket per head, but it’s just worth the experience. Apart from stocking up your socializing vocabulary, you could actually spend a nice evening sipping one of those very-exotic mocktails.

Here’s hoping to write a review every time I visit an exotic restaurant. Hmm, wish I had 36 hours in a day!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sivaji the Sensation

I was never planning to watch Sivaji, The Boss, Rajnikanth’s latest blockbuster on the second day of its release. Infact, I didn’t know I’d be in one of the theatres this morning till the fag end of yesterday. The whole of Friday went by as if a carnival was happening around the corner and I wasn’t a part of it.

Stories came in hordes.

Articles on Sivaji topped the ‘most read’ sections in newspapers. Sivaji made to the headlines in every news channel worth a mention. About 2100 members were to hit the theatres on Saturday from the company where I work. One employee bunked the office on Friday – first day of release – citing the classic ‘grandmother’ reasons and was caught red-handed while giving a review to NDTV. I don’t know what he was thinking! Purely official mails carried the ‘Boss’ themes. Magazines wrote about tickets selling at 1,900 Rs and being sold out till the end of June'07. You hear about the 30$ tickets in the US, and a guy spending 50$ on popcorn for jubilation throws. The temptation was too much to resist. And then, an influential friend of mine gave the lucky call - first show on the second day of release. ‘Wow!’

I hit the theatre at 7.30 this morning. The first thing I noticed was the presence of police – understandably to ebb the frenzy. The movie started, the 'Boss' walked in with a mask, the dancing began, the whistles blew everyone’s eardrums off, and all of it peaked to an unprecedented high when the Superstar gave his first glance at the audience. Amidst the crescendo, in that moment, that very moment, you know there can only be one such guy, perhaps in the whole world.

The movie itself is proper entertainment – one that just can’t wrong. The first half just rolls across – and you just feel very happy being there. Vivek is at his best; Shriya’s got a thunderbolt screen presence, and AR Rahman’s tunes keeps growing on you as you listen more and more. The plot is a perfect mass entertainer, one where nothing can ever go wrong – good wins evil, do-good to society, and a bunch of dumb villains. Add to all this, the music videos are something else – you know where all the money went in making this the costliest Indian movie yet. Let’s not even start about Superstar’s antics and their effects on the audience.

I don’t think I was a full-time Rajnikanth fan before, but I guess I am one now. Salutations to the brand called Rajni, one that has been built without even endorsing one product on small screen television or anywhere else.

Watch the movie if you don’t want to be left out of the carnival in the town. Watch the movie because everyone around is going to speak about it – for sometime to come. Watch the movie because it’s the latest ‘Da Vinci Code’ in this part of the world. Watch it coz you have to watch it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Go Black!

I first heard this when a colleague/friend of mine told me about how much power we could save by using 'Blackle' instead of 'Google'. There's a lot of material out there, so I ain't gonna type the whole thing again.

Blackle saves energy because the screen is predominantly black. "Image displayed is primarily a function of the user's color settings and desktop graphics, as well as the color and size of open application windows; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen." Roberson et al, 2002

In January 2007 a blog post titled Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year proposed the theory that a black version of the Google search engine would save a fair bit of energy due to the popularity of the search engine. Since then there has been skepticism about the significance of the energy savings that can be achieved and the cost in terms of readability of black web pages.

Go Blackle. Guess it takes a little bit of getting used to it - and tackling your impulse, but I guess it's worth it.