Sunday, September 16, 2007

The heritage hangout

One of my colleagues who recently shifted out of Chennai told me that if there is one thing that he will definitely miss Chennai for, it's the coffee. I had to agree with him. Chennai rocks when it comes to coffee. No other place I've been to beats Chennai when it comes to coffee. You can barge in to any shop that dishes out coffee (and you'll find thousands across the city), and you can bet on your odds that the coffee is going to be good - immaterial of whether you are dishing out 3 rupees or 50 rupees.

Of course, when you know where to go as a coffee connoisseur (Hot Chips), you'll just love it. And what more, you get the Hot Chips coffee for five bucks. Hell, I love coffee and I'll pay twenty more if I have to. But this is not about coffee or Hot Chips. This is about one place you have to visit if you happen to be in Chennai. It's Amethyst, a nondescript hangout place in the heart of the city.

It's an old heritage bungalow converted into a coffee/fast-food type hangout place. The bungalow is a distillation of peace and beauty - quiet, lots of greenery, lots of space and lots of fresh air. It's natural. I found the prices to be similar as that of CCDs. And what's a better deal? The ultra-commercialized Cafe Coffee Days or a nice peaceful garden? If you want directions, you'll find the map in a Kiruba's post some years ago. Once you are on the road, watch carefully for a guard outside a colonial bungalow. There will be no banners advertising this place.

It's a perfect place for conversations, and when some of us met yesterday, we almost solved half the world's problems.

More reviews here:
Metblogs: Amethyst, Jewel in the heart of Chennai.
Hangout Digger

Friday, September 14, 2007

May My India!

Wow. This is about one of the best things to happen in the web in India in the recent times.

One of the most useful online services when you travel into the US (or other developed countries, I would presume) is the direction find facilities such as You just type in the complete 'start' address and an 'end' address, and you generally get a perfect outlay of the routes you need to take to get to the destination.

Looks like we have something similar down here in India too. I just saw the comment to my last post about and checked a couple of locations I know, and Voila! these guys seem to have got it right. Kudos. Even an approximation of the routes would be immensely helpful to all of us.

Now if I go to a relatively new city - say Delhi, rent a car and try to drive between the routes between Greater Kailash and Connaught Place, I know where to head for the direction and routes. If the service works throughout India or at least in Tier I to III cities, I think this is fabulous reason to get addicted to the web. Until then, hats off to the team for the attempt to bring the concept to India.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blog Action Day: Prelude

This is for fellow bloggers.

Bloggers around the world are about to unite on October 15 to write about the environment. Visit Blog action day. Register your blog and help promote the event.

The best thing about this is that you could write about anything you like - if you hate people polluting rivers, taking public places as open-air lavatories, those spoiled kids driving around with blaring music, throwing trash all over your favorite hill-town, or against US and Australia not signing the Kyoto Protocol ... anything!

As I write this, more than 4300 blogs and websites are participating around the world.Hattip (and Thanks!): Mukesh, reader and my classmate.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Different people, Different thoughts

I think the HSBC ad rocks. I haven't felt this way about that ad for so long, but I now do.

Getting to the point - Chandoo and I had a great discussion almost 6 months back [and one of those truly fruitful and unforgettable ones, even for my notoriously painful memory] during one of the routine walks. The discussion centered on the importance of working hard, and whether there is a marginal benefit of working extra hard vs. working plain hard. To give an example, from economics, machines provide maximum utility when operating at 80% of their maximum speed. If you continuously push them more for a long period - say 95% of their max. speed, the wear and tear costs increases much more than the extra benefits accrued because of the 15% extra speed. [Which is also why cars make such a rattling and blowing off noise when you push towards the maximum speeds, and do great just a little below.]

The discussion between Chandoo and I centered on working hard vs. extra hard throughout your life time, and if the benefit that accrues going that extra mile justifies doing the extra bit. We were at a fix, and came close to the conclusion that working extra hard may not be as beneficial as one might think (or made to believe by the society, friends and family circles) because, in the long run (say when you reach retirement), the difference one could make working that extra mile would probably be owning an extra house in a metro suburb. And frankly, what difference does it make to you or your off-springs if you own 3 instead of 2 houses by working 'extra' hard as opposed to plain hard? Does it matter whether you end-up as a CxO or a Director in a company?

Coming to the point, my parents have always asked me to tone down on work - irrespective of whether I work 8 hours that day or 12 hours that day. I happened to receive the Employee of the quarter this time, and I frankly didn't know such a thing existed until I was called for it (which means I didn't put anything extra looking for this), but this has stirred up the discussion again in my home. While my close friends think it's great (and nobody knows how great it is), parents are too cautious and concerned to see the goodies. Ditto with some of the old family friends who have 'seen it all'. May be it's just different people, different thoughts... but what is the ideal thing to do? To just work hard, or work extra hard? Or should we wait for time to take its own time to provide the answer?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Yawn Experiment

Does yawning make you yawn? I mean, it's common to feel hungry when you see others around you munching something. It sometimes make you feel like going and grab something immediately. Similarly, Science blogs has conducted a live experiment.

The image below is of a man yawning [Franz-Xaver Messerschmidt's The Yawner (model), circa 1778-1783].

Does the image below make you yawn?

It didn't make me yawn the first time, not even the second time. But I kept thinking about it and when I saw it the third time, I did yawn - but am still not sure if I forced myself into it and eventually gave in thinking I'm going to yawn all the time. I still am positively puzzled!