Thursday, August 31, 2006

Post 100 : Purpose of life - lose desire? be celibate? throttle 'aliveness'? Be Content.

Was speaking to someone today who happened to mention that he is in a state of 'contentment'. Ideally, thats a great state to be in.....almost utopian....

At the same time, it makes wonder, what do you live for - to live, or to achieve. You can achieve only if you are not content, only if the grease in your system starts leaking.....

What would a content person look forward to? Peace....well, its true....but a little bit disquieting, I guess.

This is possibly where a lot of 'celibate' philosophies (the only that provoke you to believe desire is the root cause of all evil) tend to fail to impress a rational (questioning) mind. (If you must, please read Siddharta by Herman Hesse...highly recommended)

Isn't desire to achieve Nirvana, a desire also....if you are content, will such a desire arise (thats a different point that I think 'Nirvana' as a concept is humbug.....Nirvana is being okay with what life offers you today and not something alien to be achieved in the 'future').

On a similar note, I recall, that in Bill Bryson's A short history of nearly everything, there is a chapter which explores basic life (amoebas, algae, fungus...bacteria, virus)....and he brings out a subtle but very interesting (and at times disturbing point).....Whereever you look, life seems to only one answer to the 'purpose' of life....and that is....to exist, to be, to procreate, to continue....this precept is out in nature almost ad nausem.

Lastly, I think the ability to accept, to be okay with life is far more important than anything.

Have I got either - 'the power of acceptance' or 'contentment'.....nope, I am possibly just another basic loser, struggling to come to grips with a world that runs amok (around me).

;-)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Post 99 : Milk is more dangerous than cola

I liked this article from Swami (who is primarily an economist), who normally writes with a fiscal bent of mind. I agree with quite a lot of what is said….Just to add quite a bit of the milk we actually have is not milk but water with urea and taste agents. If there had to be milking cows/buffaloes to provide around 0.5 litres of milk to every person in Mumbai/India then they would represent a separate state in themselves.

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Milk is more dangerous than cola

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar Source : Times of India Dt : 27th Aug 06


Will any Indian NGO take up the challenge of denouncing milk as a health hazard? I doubt it. Bashing MNCs is much easier than bashing a sacred cow. For the sake of transparency, NGOs and politicians should specify how many people they are prepared to see killed per thousand jobs created.

The pesticides-in-cola saga continues. The health ministry's expert committee says Coke and Pepsi are safe, and has trashed the testing methodology of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the NGO that claimed to have found pesticide in colas up to 50 times the proposed health limits.

CSE in turn has trashed the expert committee. Despite the health ministry's clean chit, several states continue to ban or restrict Coke and Pepsi.

I view the controversy as time wasted on a low-priority issue. Yes, we need better health standards, but why focus on colas? The pesticides in colas come from groundwater. Better water purification by the cola companies can reduce the pesticide content from minuscule to microscopic.

But an infinitely greater health hazard comes from pesticides ingested by millions who drink untreated water from wells and tubewells. We need better agricultural practices to curb pesticide use, and promote pesticides that degrade quickly.

Cola companies cite government surveys revealing pesticide levels 3,080 times higher in milk, 69,700 times higher in vegetables and 111,600 times higher in fruit than in the proposed cola standards.

Nutritionists treat these items as dietary essentials, which are permitted high levels, unlike colas, which are inessential and merit microscopic pesticide levels. But if you ban colas, what will people switch to? Milk, tea, cane juice and fruit juices. All of them have more pesticides than colas.


Rather than focus on colas, we should highlight the dangers in traditional foods like milk, fruit and vegetables. Let's start with milk. Indians have an ancient attachment to it, arising from the story of Krishna, the cow-herd. So no NGO, politician or nutritionist dares call milk dangerous.
The way pesticide norms are drawn up, the traditional food basket (including milk) is regarded as essential food whose pesticide levels are regrettable but given, and the aim is to reduce pesticides in other items labelled inessential (like cola).

To me, this seems crazy. Young children, who drink milk but not cola, ingest enormous doses of pesticide, thousands of times higher than in cola. Yet, no NGO or ministry dares call this a problem.

Is milk an essential food? Not at all. Humans evolved for hundreds of thousands of years before herding cattle, and flourished despite drinking no milk. Even today, large parts of Africa and China drink no milk. It is not essential.

Indeed, milk is a health hazard.

For millions of lactose-intolerant people, milk is a poison. Many city-folks know about lactose intolerance, but hundreds of millions of villagers do not, and kill or maim their children by dosing them with milk.

Humans are the only species to drink milk after being weaned from the breast. How do they achieve this feat? By drinking the milk of other creatures, something no other species does. Not surprisingly, drinking alien milk produces allergies and a host of other health problems.
Evolution has not yet made humans proof against alien milk. Hence, a growing number of people have become vegetarians — they eat neither meat nor dairy products. They know milk is not essential, it is a hazard.

The guru of baby and child care, Dr Benjamin Spock, opposed giving cow's milk to children, saying it can cause anaemia, allergies, diabetes and (in the long term) heart disease.


Another US author, Dr Fuhrman says in his book Disease-Proof Your Child, that cow's milk is linked to anal fissures, childhood-onset (Type 1) diabetes, chronic constipation, Crohn's disease, ear infections, heart attacks, multiple sclerosis, and prostate cancer.

Fifty years of heavy advertising by the milk industry have created an illusion of a health food, but the reality is different. Dairy foods should be consumed in limited quantity or not at all.
Dr John McDougall, another American doctor, explains that high fat is a major dietary culprit in milk. Cow milk is labelled as having 3.5% fat, but this fat contributes 50% of the calories in milk.
The percentage of fat is as high as 7% in buffalo milk, which is prized in India for its butter content, but is the unhealthiest of all.

Finally, milk (like all animal products) is a concentrator of pollutants (pesticides, heavy metals). That makes it a hazard. The US authorities classify milk as an allergen, and routinely force US food companies to withdraw products that fail to mention that milk is an ingredient.

So, will any Indian NGO take up the challenge of denouncing milk as a health hazard? I doubt it. Bashing MNCs is much easier than bashing a sacred cow. Politicians and NGOs will point to the big employment yielded by milk production.

For the sake of transparency, they should specify how many people they are prepared to see killed per thousand jobs reated. Pretending that milk is essential and harmless is both false and non-transparent.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Post 98 - Passages 3 - Pleasure of being a whore (and childless)

SV, Salman Rushdie, Pg 71 It came: "One day I will also take the dollars. Not for the money. For the pleasure of being a whore. Of becoming nothing. Less than nothing.". And now, at last,the real storm, the words behind the words, less than nothing. "When I die", Changez Chamchawala said to Zeeny,"What will I be? A pair of emptied shoes. That is my fate, that he has made for me. This actor. This pretender. He has made himself into an imitator of non-existing men. I have nobody to follow me, to give what I have made. This is his revenge : he steals from me my posterity."

Post 97 - Passages 2 - Opposite of faith

SV, Salman Rushdie, Pg. 92 Question : What is the opposite of faith? Not disbelief. Too final, certain, closed. Itself a kind of belief. Doubt.

Post 96 - Passages 1 - What is a poet's work?

SV, Salman Rushdie, Pg. 97 "A poet's work", he answers, "To name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguements, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep". And if rivers of blood flow from the cuts his verses inflict, they will nourish him.

Post 95 Passages

I thought it might be interesting to have my favorite passages from literature posted out here. So a new series shall begin.....

BTW, Passages is the name of one of the biggest fusion albums of all time between Pt. Ravi Shankar (Anoushka's dad ....yes, the world has moved) and Philip Glass.

Post 94 Precepts 2 : Pressures of a life, sliced through the uncle's knife

From an older blog, which looks like it is running its way into oblivion.....Originally Dated : 26rd April 2006

Was written when I was spending some time @ ADP......

Slightly preachy, slightly narcisstic, slightly long....ignore of you don't like long preachy prose pieces

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I was having a long chat with one of our team members (its irrelevant to this discussion who). For some reason he/she (shall use 'she' in the rest of the article to promote gender equality via a Mandal like ruthud logic.....'backward' gender reservation......Will Mr. Arjun Singh be happy?) thought I could help her tide through some difficult decisions in life.

If I were to quickly summarize her problem, it was concerning 'stature' in life.....a simple example being......my classmates are making more money than I am...... most of them are now in US......most of them are doing some sexy work......and 'me'.....still doing some low-in-the-value-chain humbug.......!!!! I am assuming you get the drift.

I am no management or spiritual guru. One look at my life and its will be quite obvious, that I am more flawed than normal humans, have quite bit of things loaded against me. So then, how did I help this person? Well, honestly, I don't think anyone can help another in such scenarios. All you can really do is lend a perspective, and I am confess, I am full to the brim with that. Why? Well, I guess, one thing really going for me is that, I think (like Descrates did long ago), and I never stop. The day I stop doing that, I die.....like I do say '(good) procastination is a definite sign of life'.

During the course of this discussion shared quite a few precepts with her. Each of them was thoroughly peppered with examples from my life. Without going into who, what, why, where.....let me just spew them out here.....if it helps any of you in any way, the effort of writing this would have paid itself over a million times.

Precepts (not necessarily in any order):

1. Life is full of stress. Stress - can be definied as any variation or change one encounters, a blip in the pattern of our life. Given the kind of professions, we yuppies choose today....advt., IT, ITES, Wall Street......stress should be an accepted part of life. What we should distinguish between is +ve and -ve stress. +ve stress is for example, having too much work, or having to do something one has never done before, or working around technology/design challenges. -ve stress on the other hand is items like - my colleague is making more money than me; 'that person' is an a***hole, he is going to my boss and backbiting; how do I make sure I make Queen Latifah (a colleague of yours ;-)) appear in a bad light...she should not get this promotion. You get the drift.....In my opinion, +ve stress is necessary, should be encouraged, and the more you take it, the faster you run, its like steroids...also it fuels positive happy hormones within your brain.....thats how greatness is achieved, through a positive stress spiral a.k.a Gates. Negative stress on the other hand is detrimental not only to professional life, it also ruins your mental peace, in essence starts killing you....its like cyanide. It will eventually lead to death (if not physically, spiritually at least). In Summary, Precept 1: +ve stress is good for you.

2. You are 'you'. Don't let other definitions define 'you'. Define the 'you' yourself. Example, don't be worried about how much your colleague is making, that is not going to remain relevant for long. My point - define what you want to do, put together a realistic plan to get there....start running as fast as you can (look at precept 3).....you will eventually get there. Comparisons will get you no-where. We are all different human beings. Don't look upto Mukesh Ambani and be awed by his wealth or stature. At the end of the day, two mature, extremely wealthy brothers still split, created turmoil for their mom, had a noist spat in dailies, and eventually added to the unhappiness quotient in the world.....do you still want to be Mukesh......if there was ever an example, of how money cannot buy happiness....its the Reliance family. If there was ever an example, of how power cannot buy you your 'own' life....its the Gandhi family ; or how looks don't guarantee happiness, its Pamela 'Baywatch' Anderson or our own Ash; or how the 'whole world' is still not enough, if you dont' know when to stop - look at our knuckle brained politicians; or how the power to wage a war,does not solve anything....look at a.k.a Bush. Precept 2: Define what you are, what you want to be, and have the discipline of knowing when to stop. Don't define your life in terms of external manifestations a.k.a money, power, position, stature etc.

3. Precept 3 :Run life fast and hard, but remember life is a marathon, not a sprint. Dont try and achieve in 3 years what you typically want to achieve in 30 years of your career. You will eventually get there. The the journey is just as important as the destination, and so is the speed at which you drive.


4.There will be times in life, when you start feeling low, when you feel you are going stale...you thing you are not doing anything exciting in life.....you are struggling with the tedium of non-action....you are fighting visible apathy. This kind of event would come into our yuppie lives in cycles of 7 years (just an approximation), because in 7 years our psyche would(should) crave for re-invention. What do you do, if you are right now in the midst of such a rut? Typically when you caught out like this, you would be listless ( I have been there so many times)....not knowing what direction should the rudder be steered. What I have realised is the best thing to do such moments, is change gears, and shift from marathon to sprint. Which means, whatever you are doing , start doing much faster. Agreed the pace will not be sustainable, but what will (should) eventually happen is, you will push your mind out of its inaction, also you might find your 're-invention' during your sprint (in what can be called thin-slicing).....because you are running your CPU at 100% or more, and hence bursting at the seam, your brain might process all the information faster, and hence come out with a eventual decision about 're-invention' in a much more 'tube-light' kind of model. Precept 4: When in doubt about life and how it currently stands, instead of pausing, run doubly hard, run a sprint, till you find the direction you need (believe me, the next freeway exit can never be too far away).


5. Every 7 years life will force you for a re-invention. Thats because our mind is not discrete, its continuous.....Its constantly learning. Every 7 years or so, the accumulated learning of the past, helps us into a new realm of corporate maturity...with every new facet of maturity, we question more, we move up a bit more in the Maslow heirarchy. It helps to be aware and plan out. Precept 5: If you start working at 23, watch out for your 30th, 37th and 45th birthdays.....(being aware will make you a little more perceptive, and hence you will bat much better).


6.Our minds are brilliant information crunchers. 9/10 times our mind(the background) via thin-slicing knows exactly what is the direction to take. Its just that our foreground (our thought, our conscious will), is often shutting off awareness of this background or resisting it. This is what most great souls mean when they say ' I heard a voice in my head'. Listen to your gut, trust it, and hone it.......For example, I have infinite trust in my gut for stock-picking, for interviewing, and for almost everything in my life....in that sense, I tend to be a very 'intutive' person. Allow your background and foreground to exist in synergy. How many times, you have walked into an oppurtunity (whether its for a job or a life partner, or a stock on the market), thought about it, had an intution and still walked away.....My advice, listen to your intution....that does not mean- take it blindly, but at least listen to it, be aware of it. Precept 6: Listen to call of the wild (or your mind). I have done that quite a few times, and never once regretted it (be it stocks, my wife, or my jobs).....


7. I am an atheist, a complete non-believer in so many things which others take for granted. One positive fallout of this is my amazement and awe at so many things in life. I don't have 'destiny' to blame, and hence I try and understand life all the time. I don't have a God to pray, hence I keep trying to define my own spiritual space. The other fall out - I have very simple value systems in life. For me, I am still struggling with defining the higher purpose of life. What I have learnt is the whole world is a game, if by whatever we do, if we can increase the community happiness, it shall come back to us in some measure (thats what I understand by the continuous circle of karma). Also, keep striving for your own mental peace, because thats all life is about, peace and comfort within a game in which you have to keep playing. At the end of this all, it would be very weird, if Life turned out to be a game where your murder a million people, amass 70bn dollars, create a corporate structure where everyone despises you, fight with your own brother and ignore your own mind........Mental peace is about synergising, making the right compromises, balancing out all apsects of life.....knowing that happiness comes from within and not from an external measure.....(Once again, is Mr. Bush happy? I beg to differ). Precept 7: Chase personal peace and contribute to community happiness, it shall payback one day. ( I dont even mean to suggest that all of you become atheists, infact I envy folks who can adhere to a belief system, it makes life so much simpler and easier).


8. Life offers a whole host of choices. We need to know when and how to excercise them. We can also shut off some choices, by an earlier choice we made. For example, if you are alone, with no strings attached, you can decide to munch just a Mac and some fries. Can you do the same, if you were with your mom or with a 2 year old child. Similarly, you can choose to work at a job that pays you 20k pm; its a job as a journalist, which is what you always wanted to do. Can you afford to take this job up, if you are already CEO, having 2 babies and 3 Mercs to pay for? Am I suggesting we always escape life, live like a saint or a recluse. No indeed, I am not. Instead I am simply saying, one of the aims of life should be to always have more open choices than closed choices. Since I don't have a merc today, I choose to downgrade my job whenever I wish to. Since I have a lovely wife, we can decide to time a baby whenever we are ready for it. Since I work for a NY based investment bank, I can choose to switch to NY any time I want to. Since I live in India, I can choose to meet my family and friends as often as I want to. Since I have some saving in my bank, I can choose to live life wire-free, no strings attached.......Precept 8: Always try and be in position where you can excercise a choice, rather than having a choiceless choice. Once there, learn to have the discipline to exercise the tough choices.


9. If we were akin to a music album, we were never meant to be one-track wonders. We were supposed to composed of 8-10 reasonable tracks of which one is a super track, the title track. Life is more than an investment banking job. Keep both sides of your brain alive always. Don't kid yourself by saying 'today I shall work, post retirement, I shall take up painting or philanthropy'. Life is not a batch job, its rather a real-time online system. All threads have to be given minimum CPU time, and all of them need to progress. How will be see beauty in painting at 60, if you never saw it at 16. How will you ever get goose pimples hearing Beethoven's 9th, if all you ever heard was Govinda and Anu Malik numbers. My advice, cultivate serious distractions, beauty is never skin deep.....live with the stock market for 10 years and you see a hidden method in the madness, read Rushdie and Roy to appreciate the power of words, see Saturday Night Live to understand there is more to humor than mindless sitcoms, drive a bike to realise, that you as a human being were infact meant to be free - in touch with wind and not trapped within a schum of a Merc.....Do all of this all the time, give 5% CPU to this throughout. For one, you shall start seeing patterns of beauty hidden within these distractions, secondly, all lobes of your brain will constantly be used, and hence you shal be more alive. Precept 9: Don't live a deffered existence, and cultivate serious distractions.


10. If you are doing what you like, if you good at what you are doing, if you can apply yourself, money, stature, wealth, power etc. will all automatically follow. All these 'measurements of sucess', you will eventually realise are incidental. You don't start writing a book, because it must sell a million copies....you write it because your mind tells you to.....you cannot exist without writing it.....the fact that it is a best seller is just incidental. If you can do this in every single sphere of your life, you must pat yourself, my friend, you have definitely 'arrived' in life. Precept 10: Success is incidental.


My old friends used to fondly call me 'uncle' because I was always too serious for their taste. Hope these 10 precepts from Uncle's Kitchen help you in some slight sort of way. I am glad to discuss them, improve them, because as I admitted, in life as a race, I am still losing precious seconds in every lap.....Teach me to drive faster/better, hopefully I shall be smiling when I take the chequered flag.

Post 93 'Absurdity' is the enemy of 'commonsense'

From an older blog, which looks like it is running its way into oblivion.....Originally Dated : 23rd April 2006

Was written when I was spending some time @ ADP......

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Recently I encountered a statement, plastered all over this place. "Variation is the enemy of quality."

This statement is eating so much mindspace out here, that its not even funny. Does this statement deserve such a large mindspace, infact does it deserve any mindspace at all.

I am sure, some over-zealous quality zealot (figure of speech - repetation) wrote this in a huff of jingoism. Analyze this, does it make any sense at all?

What does variation mean? Well, variation means deviation, any change from the standard statistical curve.

What does quality mean? Quality means how close is a product to its 'ideal' definition. (Read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance, if you must). What happens to products which don't have 'ideal' definition, like a painting or a sitcom or a piece of code.....well, in that case, it works by 'worldviews' - which means what is the globally accepted norm. So for example a book of literature is good, if it does well on the best seller list, and a jury of 5 already eminent writers/readers award it a booker.

Come again, is variation an enemy of quality? If this absurd statement, has even an iota of truth behind it, then implicitly we humans have the lowest quality, because no two humans are alike. We all have large deviations in the way we use our appratus (which is our brains, our thought, our ideas, our bodies.....)

Similarly, does it mean that two programmers use two different strategies to solve the same problem (one uses for-next for looping, the other uses, while-do), are enemies of quality.

So can we ever say with any certainity what exactly is the enemy of quality....Yes, you can.....absurd statements like these, which give people the wrong ideas, force-fill them with wrong notions...hence decrease the intrinsic quality of us human beings.

The enemy is within the system...not outside it......The Ellsworth Toohey amongst us is our enemy (read Ayn Rand, if you must).

As one of my favorite author says, "If there is one thing I fear in life, its being reduced to absurdity." (Rushdie in Midnight's children....verbatim he says, 'I must work fast, faster than Scheherazade, if I am to end up meaning -- yes meaning -- something. I admit it: above all things, I fear absurdity.').

Maybe that statement is a good starting point to remind ourselves of quality and work in the right direction.

Post 92 Isn't it ironic? (5 Stars, when all you need is a shooting star?)

Jigar and me were walking along Haiko, our neighbourhood supermarket. At Haiko, the rack near the payment counters is stacked with Cadbury chocolates & Camlin crayons and pastels.

I was toying around with a 5 star (costing Rs.5)

Jigar was toying with a box of Camlin poster colors (costing Rs.40 for a box of 4 color bottles).

Jigar pointed out a sad irony of life. He said as a kid he used to sob for a bottle of poster colors, and his mother always used to divert him away from it......

Today, here he was, making enough money to probably buy 10 such bottles daily even if he wanted, but lo....he did not percieve any attachment towards the box at all.

I could not help rewind and think similarly about 5 stars, I can probably buy 100 of them daily, if I wanted to.....here I was, with a cart, choc-a-bloc with vegetables and groceries, but not a single 5-star contained within it.....

Is it life which is perverse, or are we looking at it through really crooked persiscopes?

Post 91 - People I admire -3- Who will cry when I die?....(hic!...hic!)


I have very few beliefs in life, and possibly even fewer heroes. Admist this aridness of my soul, if I had to choose only one hero, it will have to be Salman Rushdie.

Why the author of 'Satanic Verses'?

He has this magical pen, this very lyrical quality to his prose, irreverant, yet impactful. I have read almost all his books, and ....and....and....well, if I have seen any signs of divine in this mad world, it must be in the surreal prose within his books.

I always wanted to be a renowned author. If I were to write just one book, whether it were published or not, what it would be? It could be any one by Rushdie.

I proclaim this to the whole world, if I did write some tome equivalent to the 'Midnight's Children', even if it never got published, I would die a very satisfied man.

Question is, will I ever die 'satisfied'?
Well, I have made a few (but monumental) mistakes in my life. One of them, and I shall forever repent for that, was to never choose a career in literature.

What the other mistakes I have made? I chose 'noise' instead of 'silence', I chose to 'die a slow death' than one 'big bang funtoosh', I chose 'straight' over the 'crooked', I chose 'lumpen' over a 'nadir', I chose to drag my feet with a bitch called hope over life.

So much for this rant.....maybe its the moor's last sigh.

Post No. 90 - Mid-Day Cartoons 14 (Hitler's Cross)

Source : Mid-day Artist : Hemant Morporia


Background


A restuarant called Hitler's Cross was opened at Vashi, which led to widespread indignation from all over the world, including Israel, BBC and Germany.

I found it amusing....maybe I really don't appreciate what a holocaust means.

Related Story

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060821/od_nm/india_hitler_dc

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Post 89 Precept 1 - Money for nothing (and your life's not free)

Money is a strange thing. Can you define it?

My old boss, 'Maninder Singh' used to define it as the power (liberty) to burn fossil fuel. I must admit, I have never heard a better definition.

It primarily means that Gates can theoretically use resources from Mother Earth to the extent of $45bn dollars....makes sense....it does to me.

How much of it is enough?

Well, without going into a long philosophical discussion, I have thresholds for it.......

Threshold 1 : This is the point when you make enough money to cover the lifestyle you desire (for me I reached this in the 3 year of my career).

Threshold 2 : This is the point when you have enough money to cover the lifestyle you desire for the rest of the life, even if you don't earn a penny from that day (I am still not near this threshold, but am not very far either, shall get there by 2010...or so I hope).

Threshold 3 : Is a point where you really don't need any more money and you don't work for money...its incidental. Its ideally the point to call quits (and should be (ideally) close to threshold 2)

In the usual flow Threshold 1 should preceed 2 which should preceed 3.

Is it a easy discipline to recognize these thresholds and respect them? I used to think so, but no longer think so.

I know enough people who make much more than I do, whose needs are much lesser than mine, but don't even recognize threshold 1. In some senses, they are falling into the proverbial trap, where 'money' is an end in itself?

My point is, one of the key attributes a person should mature upon is to bring a sense of detachment with money....If for example, if all my money and assets were stolen away (or an earthquake took it away from me), would I be bothered? Yes, momentarily, but thats where it should ideally end.

One has to become freerer with money, it finally nothing but pent up capacity to burn fossil fuel. Why insure the future, you may never even see tomorrow (why go so far as 25 years later).

Money should contribute to your happiness, and not be a dis-satisfier.

Is this preachy? Chuck it? Maybe its the autistic me running amok..... running amok, running guilty.....seeking to be a proud monkey.

Post 88 Music 6 - Tere Bin OST 'Bas Ek Pal' by Atif Alam

I first heard this song on a TV promo for the film. You can immediately draw famaliarity with the vocals if you have heard the monster hit ' Lamhe' from Zeher, and the reason for the familiarity is ....common vocalist......Atif Alam.

Lay my hands on it a few days ago, must admit the song is such a good song......Why?

The song is supposed to be a lament by a lover for the love that never was. Hearing Atif singing on this one, and there are no two ways...its a distinct lament.....of a love lost, of a pain that still is, of a wound that still hurts.

No great lyrics, reasonably okay music (could have been slower and less thumping) to exaggerate the lament effect.

Overall a great song.....would rate it 8/10.

One word of caution : Avoid the remix, unlike the Lamhe song which is great either with or without remix, this one's remix is rape with a capital R.

Top songs for 2006 so far (in order):
1. Mitwa (KANK)
2. Beedi (Omkara)
3. O Saathi Re (Omkara)
4. Dekho Na (Fanaa)
5. Tere Bin (Bas Ek Pal)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Post 87 Stock Update - 5 (Quarterly Report)

Refer to http://iamitabh.blogspot.com/2006/05/stock-picks-for-2006.html
These were my calls before the market fell in a tipsy topsy turvy curve. (May 21st)

I still stick to my bets, and as of today (19th Aug)

Satnam Overseas - 82 (target 180 June 07)
Apollo Hosp - 441 (target 650 June 07)
Asahi India -86 (target 140 June 07)
Indraprastha Apollo Hosp - 33 (target 48 June 07)
Mahindra Finance - 234 (target 380 June 07)
Hinduja TMT (which I recommended for the best part of the past 1 year starting @ 290, and as recently as of July @ 490 with a target of 1000 by June 07) - 551

Shall publish results quarterly. My targets remain unchanged. Happened Investing.

Post 86 Clits, Tits n Elephant Dicks



Sanjeev Khandekar's (only) claim to fame in my myopic world is the controversial exhibition titled “Tits n Clit and Elephant Dick” which had a week-long run at Jehangir Art Gallery.

There was a lot of artistic license around this exhibition, which a lot of ribald erotica and some grotesque (turn off) modern art around the darker side of personal sex.

Just as expected, our prudes went up and against this form of art, and Sanjeev got a lot of bad press (which is possibly the only press he ever got in his life).

I read his interview in Tehelka edition, 19th August, and was amused on how abstruse can an artist get while conveying his thoughts. I was almost rolling over (like a tickled elephant ...ahem...with a dick)....reading the 'gas' he released during the interview.... Makes you wonder, the moot question should be : How does one distinguish between art and fart? I am sure his interview falls in the later.

Excerpts from the interview
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Q. Which artwork are the complaints objecting to?
A. Its an installation piece, 'Potrait of an Artist as a Real Doll', which includes a fibreglass model of a male model with an erect penis.

Q. What is it exactly that your work is seeking to confront?
A. This is largely based on my interpretation of Jean Paul Sartre's writings on contingent and necessary love, well-established intellectual questions, perfectly valid for artists to explore.

Q. Isn't a self potrait with a hard on a bit narcisstic?
A. Well, I am trying to make a statement, about the unleashing of unconscious desire in our uniploar capitalist society. Previously, society repressed desire, now it is rampant and that's creating new problems, new situations. I am trying to make the point that ideology is absent from today's world.

Q. With your penis?
A. Well, I wanted to show that artists are also in decay in today's world.

and........

Post 85 Mid Day Cartoons 13 (Liquid Bombs)


Source : Mid-Day Artist: Hemant Morporia Dt : 16th Aug 2006
This one appeared a few days after London averted a terror attack, which was supposedly planned with liquid bombs, following which all liquids were banned in aircraft (especially in the hand luggage)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Post 84 What would buddha do - 1 (If colleagues in office think you are an a***hole)

There are a few of my peers in office, who very obviously think I am a phucking jerk. They find me the proverbial fly in the ointment, the anti-grease which makes it difficult to run their vehicle.

Why don't we get along?Because we are different types, our fundamental value systems are different, also internally we compete on an implicit level in everything. Another fundamental difference is our approach to things, and how more often than not, that ends in conflict.

Given my value systems, I am absolutely sure, I am doing the right thing. At the same time, I sometimes wonder, should I yield a bit, so that things work out better (which I genuinely want, I mean the 'better' part....life is too short to make enemies).

At the same time, if I yield, I compromise on my core values.

One last point, I am not holier than thou, I often yield @ home or where a personal equation has to be preserved. Am I a victim of double standards? Am I walking talking hypocrite? Am I truly a difficult a***hole to work with?

What would buddha do?

Conversely, would buddha do anything at all?

Post 83 Independence, it depends

A lovely take on what independence means to GenX, a rudderless generation, lost in oodles of self-deprecation. Am I being holier than thou?

No, I am in the same shambles, don't really understand what it means to stand for a national anthem of a nation that is riddled with jackasses who claim to be politicos, a nation ruled by a force of nincompoops....all the while, the people who stand for the national anthem - grovelling servile and acquiescing....

Do I lament the death of a nation? Do I feel impotent in a struggle for which I claim no responsibility or perversely no participation.

What does it mean to be stabbed, to be bleeding, to be numb to pain, to feel sentenced to gallows without a fair trail?

Is a contour in a map a nation? Is a flag what defines a nation? Is the national anthem which defines my nation?

Sorry, my a***hole, crack-jack bunnies, I am bind and tied while you rape me of my nationality....I can't help that, but yes, I refuse to accept that I belong to a nation of faggots....

If I must belong, it will be a world, to mother Gaia, to the Utopia that it once was.....

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The article below is from Hindustan Times, 15th August, its very well written....very taut.... by MONDY THAPAR

A FEW years ago, I was in a Bombay cinema where the Jana Gana Mana started to play before a film. Not being up to date with public etiquette, I decided to take my cue from the rest of the audience. A few people in the distance stood up. A couple of men in front of me clutching their beer bottles stayed put in their seats. Everyone else (without any happy beverage at their disposal) also remained seated. Responding to my herd instinct — the same instinct that had led me to the cinema to watch a film in the first place — I also kept sitting. As the orchestral version of the national anthem played on, I wondered whether all of us, barring the few soul-stirred enough to stand, were unpatriotic or even anti-national. After a few minutes, Jhankar Beats started and questions of nationalism disappeared into the background.


For folks like me, born decades after 1947, Independence and Independence Days are a mix of sepia history, mandatory remembrances, State-sponsored celebrations, special editions by newspapers, magazines and TV stations and quick holidays somewhere nearby. While as a nation we tip our Gandhi topi to those whose actions led to our country becoming a free nation, this tip ping is done almost as an automatic gesture, like the way we wash our hands after a meal. While an older generation may pour scorn over this sanguine approach to Independence Day, this is a fact that is as natural as it is true.


Valuing Independence Day for those who genuinely understand/understood what it was to be under foreign rule is bound to be different from those who value it as ‘just’ a special day on the nation’s calendar. For the latter, August 15 is less about tryst with destiny and more about the nation’s supposed destiny as a successful, confident and modern country. Which is why there is a separate set of unwritten rules for those of us perfectly proud Indians who would rather sit while the national anthem is being played in cinemas, to gauge how independent we have become.


These items on the check-list are almost invisible, and aren’t the complex-ridden ones that our anachronistic swadeshi brigade would judge our Independence — by eating at McDonald’s or preferring a Hollywood movie to a Bollywood one, etc. The social and cultural dependence that I’m talking about is that associated with urban popular culture in India.


It’s one thing to see Dolce & Gabbana giant billboards selling D&G products, but quite another to see the scores of other products — either Indian or addressed to an Indian market — advertised by long, leggy blondes who are not recognised Hollywood (and thereby global) icons. If that sounds a tad too swadeshi, how about explaining why an Indian news paper (this one actually) reported South African cricketer Hashim Amla as a “coloured” cricketer. Surely, for a vast majority of the readers, “coloured” would signify a post-Holi visage rather than a P.W. Botha-sanctioned description?


Then there are the niggling things — like describing the date of the Mumbai train blasts as 7/11, instead of 11/7 just to make it skip along the tongue with 9/11. Short of dating Independence Day as 8/15, we tend to forget that we have our own dating system, thank you very much.


Ask any production hand in the media and you’ll know that barring pictures specific to India (like the Taj Mahal or rickshaws), it’s far easier to get foreign photos than Indian ones on the internet. So if there’s a feature piece about relationships or hair care, eight times out of ten you’ll see an accompanying photograph of a videshi with the article.

Indians have supposedly become more confident about being Indians. True. But when the media and advertising are still dependent so much on images, usages and perspectives that have very little bearing with us, what harm can there be to sit through the Jana Gana Mana. It certainly is a more conscious and honest decision on the part of us crypto-patriots.

Post 82 Books - 3 Bill Bryson A Short History of Everything




I began this book on a whim, have always been fascinated with books which explore our eternal search for meaning and understanding.

This book indeed does a good job of taking an average reader (yes, at some places, Mr. Bryson has trivialised technical topics to such an extent, it is almost, as if, he assumed he was writing for idiots.) through the travails of our life, from the point of Big Bang, right through all the biological, astrological, geological and atomic version of our own planet.

What I found fascinating was what a good job it does of highlighting our own frailities and the how hopelessly wrong (sometimes) our sense of comfort or continuity in life might be.

Through instances of the the trillion microbes building an ecosystem of an average human body, to how an average meteor travelling at around 30,000kms/hr is virtually undetectable, and even if we had a precursor, it would be just a few minutes to doomsday; or how, Tokyo is potentially up for an earthquake any time soon now (and potential losses are around $97bn, wonder if it is so imminent, why don't people just desert tokyo); or how, Yellowstone National Park is a disaster waiting to happen, and if it does, it might cover the whole of NY with upto 5 meteres of ash.....and so on.

Life is fragile. We all know that. What this book also highlights is how inconsequential we are in the scheme of the universe, we (as in the whole earth) is probably as significant in the universe as a single atom in a Boeing 747......We would be one amongst trillion trillion trillion trillionth atoms......and then of course, we( as in a single human being) is possibly one trillion trillionth of the whole earth.

(Yes, the creator is perverse, and our search for meaning is an empty chase.)

One negative though, for the book, is its constant context incompleteness....what I mean by that, is very often, a nice topic starts, but the author in a attempt to cover more in the same space, rushes over.......

Other than that, I would give the book 9/10 for being a great pacy read, a good concise tome of history of the world....just as the title suggests.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Post 81 Paranormal Behavior

I am a staunch atheist, a complete non-believer, a free wheeling floater.....Is life easier that way? Hell, actually no, its kind of very difficult, to use a favorite term of mine, its 'clutchless' and 'rudderless'.

This one happened about a year ago, don't remember the exact date.

I live on the 3rd floor of an apartment complex. My car gets parked into a slot right under my bedroom window. A bit of background, as I have often said, I go into a dream state, as soon I goto sleep, its incessant, and lasts all through my sleep, its almost as if my unconscious mind is super-hyperactive.

I only remember the few dreams or thoughts which have been scary to register into me and actually wake me up.

Around a year ago, I remember waking up in a dream which was dealing with someone arsoning my car.....breaking the panes..... not that I am overtly attached to my car, but remember that I was scared by the violence of the dream.

I had opened my eyes for less than 20 seconds, and then suddenly, my car's alarm goes off...high pitched siren.

That really freaked me out. I did lock-unlock it with my keyless entry remote (which works even from the 3rd floor), and then tip-toed from the stairs down three floors at 3am in the night, to make sure (no one was running amok with my car).

I have thought often of this incident, and wondered, am I getting the sequence of events wrong, just a make believe? I shall admit, there is a fair chance, my mind is making this up?

If not, I am hardpressed to come up with any sort of rational explanation on (whether at all) the two events were connected.

Ho hum.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Post 78 Stock update

Topsy turvy....I do a complete U turn.....
In the past 2 months, have gone ahead and diluted all my holdings and re-entered my old horse Hinduja TMT.

Whoa, why, what happened?

Call it second coming.....Let me explain....

The stock fundamentally valued in the following terms:
1. Rs.50/stock of cash which they approx have.
2. The Media arm which is valued @ $1bn
3. The hutch stock sale which kicks in about Rs.450/stock
4. CAS which shall kick in towards year end, leading to substantial revenue gain to the media arm.
5. Prime realty near Banglore's new Airport.
6. The demerger which itself shall unlock value
7. About Rs.40/stock which the company still has in terms of other investments.
8. A BPO business of 8000 people spread over India/Philiphines, earning about 100cr per year or around Rs.15 EPS annualised. This business itself should be worth around $300-400mn dollars.

Would you still want to value HTMT @ 2000Cr or $400mn for all of the above.

I am sure the real neat value of this stock pile is around 1500 per stock.....

When will that happen? I guess pretty soon. My mother always told me, patience is a virtue, beta....I guess it is, especially when greed is involved.

Post 77 Book -2 ( Herman Hesse's Siddharta )


Just finished reading Siddharta by Herman Hesse. Was always under the wrong impression that this is about Gautam Buddha. Its actually not, its more about a Brahmin boy named Siddharta, who lives in the times of the Buddha, and his own journey through the meaning of life.

The simple premise of this book is that life offers the sublime through various routes - no matter what route you traverse, the sublime is not very different....they appear different along the way.

So for a Sri Sri Ravishankar, it might be through social work, for Buffet it might be through Berkshire Hathaway.

Am I equating Sri Sri with Buffet, or is the book suggesting that......No thats beside the point. What is important is to remember that our one single goal should be to be @ peace with oneself with the world around us, to be more accepting.....does that mean we become more fatalistic....no, the book does not say that as well.

All in all, a great book, almost a little better than Somerset Maugham's The Razor's edge, but still a little flawed here and there.....Why? because in the form of a parable, the book does convey a truth, but are all truths to be accepted, and more importantly, is being more accepting (or mindful) easy.

I have failed miserably at it, and I think this book cannot help you really cross the chasm, if thats what you expect it to do....

Overall rating a 8/10 for being such a nice parable.....A book that debunks a few paths, while glorifying others, all the time, (albeit paradoxically) re-inforcing that all paths lead to the same truth...



Monday, August 07, 2006

Post 76 Signs of IT coming (NDE)

In the past month, 4 times (yes, precisely...) I have this strange recurring theme within my dreams.

First to set the record straight, for the life of me, I can't remember any motifs from any of my dreams. I dream as soon as I sleep, but I forget them as soon as I wake up. Does it happen to any of you? (Also, in my case in the REM state, between the vieled state of conscious and unconscious, I try to gauge whether I am getting sleep or not....on how garbled my conscious thoughts....the more garbled, the more dream-like.....its a sure sign that I am getting closer to sleep). (Did I hear someone saying "what a fart!!"......my only defense, "why would I?")

I remember all 4 instances of this dream (there might have been more unrecorded ones)......for a single simple reason.....I woke up in the middle of my sleep on account of this dream. Its like my dream-state was jolted out of the window with a thud, and crash boom bang, I am awake.....almost like in the middle of a nightmare (wonder why a nightmare is called a nightmare....well another time).

In all 4 cases, I have dreamt that I have a grave respiration problem, leading to asphyxiation......or severe lack of oxygen.

In one of them, I remember clearly meeting a doctor who is speaking to me in a post-operative set up telling me that there was so much mucus in my nose and respiration channel, that he had to operate on me as soon as I was wheeled in to save me from the fatal conclusion.....

In two of them, I am gasping for breath, almost choking from lack of oxygen.......can feel as I am losing the grasp of consciousness (the exact seem feeling when you are passing out....I passed out recently....and the exact feeling is strange.....at that single instance (which must in milliseconds....) you get overwhlemed by too many thoughts....all getting mangled.....and lo suddenly you pass out, as if your mind could not deal with the overload......Is this what happens when we die as well?).....

In the recent one, I had the feeling of gasping and losing consciousness, and the same desperate signs of recovery which a brain gives off before passing out.....

I don't know whether all this is NDE, classifying it like that would be too exaggerated, but then on the next morning, with a clear mind, I often wonder " Is my body trying to tell me something?"

(I must add, I am severely claustrophobic, hate closed tunnels, closed spaces....and have a perennial common cold...almost chronic.)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Post 75 DNA of happiness

Million Dollar Smiles - Peter Singer - Times Of India 4th Aug 2006

Would you be happier if you were richer? Many people believe that they would be. But research conducted over many years suggests that greater wealth implies greater happiness only at quite low levels of income.
People in the United States, for example, are, on average, richer than New Zealanders, but they are not happier. More dramatically, people in Austria, France, Japan, and Germany appear to be no happier than people in much poorer countries, like Brazil, Colombia, and the Philippines.
Comparisons between countries with different cultures are difficult, but the same effect appears within countries, except at very low-income levels, such as below $12,000 annually for the US.
Beyond that point, an increase in income doesn't make a lot of difference to people's happiness. Americans are richer than they were in the 1950s, but they are not happier.
Americans in the middle-income range today have a level of happiness that is almost identical to well-off Americans. Most surveys of happiness simply ask people how satisfied they are with their lives.
We cannot place great confidence in such studies, because this kind of overall "life satisfaction" judgment may not reflect how much people really enjoy the way they spend their time.
Princeton University's Daniel Kahneman and co-researchers tried to measure people's subjective well-being by asking them about their mood at frequent intervals during a day.
In an article published in Science, they report that their data confirm that there is little correlation between income and happiness.
On the contrary, they found that people with higher incomes spent more time in activities that are associated with negative feelings, such as tension and stress.
Instead of having more time for leisure, they spent more time at and commuting to work. They were more often in moods that they described as hostile, angry, anxious, and tense.
Of course, there is nothing new in the idea that money does not buy happiness. Many religions instruct us that attachment to material possessions makes us unhappy. The Beatles reminded us that money can't buy us love.
Even Adam Smith, who told us that it is not from the butcher's benevolence that we get our dinner, but from his regard for his self-interest, described the imagined pleasures of wealth as "a deception".
Nevertheless, there is something paradoxical about this. Why do governments all focus on increasing per capita national income? Why do so many of us strive to obtain more money, if it won't make us happier?

Perhaps the answer lies in our nature as purposive beings. We evolved from beings who had to work hard to feed themselves, find a mate, and raise children.
For nomadic societies, there was no point in owning anything that one could not carry, but once humans settled down and developed a system of money, that limit to acquisition disappeared.
Accumulating money up to a certain amount provides a safeguard against lean times, but today it has become an end in itself, a way of measuring one's status or success, and a goal to fall back on when we can think of no other reason for doing anything, but would be bored doing nothing.
Making money gives us something to do that feels worthwhile, as long as we do not reflect too much on why we are doing it. Consider, in this light, the life of the American investor Warren Buffett.
For 50 years, Buffett, now 75, has worked at accumulating a vast fortune. According to Forbes magazine, he is the second wealthiest person in the world, after Bill Gates, with assets of $42 billion.
Yet his frugal lifestyle shows that he does not particularly enjoy spending large amounts of money. Even if his tastes were more lavish, he would be hard-pressed to spend more than a tiny fraction of his wealth.
From this perspective, once Buffett earned his first few millions in the 1960s, his efforts to accumulate more money can easily seem completely pointless.
Is Buffett a victim of the "deception" that Adam Smith described, and that Kahneman and his colleagues have studied in more depth?
Coincidentally, Kahneman's article appeared the same week that Buffett announced the largest philanthropic donation in US history — $30 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and another $7 billion to other charitable foundations.
Even when the donations made by Andrew Carnegie and John D Rockefeller are adjusted for inflation, Buffett's is greater. At a single stroke, Buffett has given purpose to his life.
Since he is an agnostic, his gift is not motivated by any belief that it will benefit him in an afterlife. What, then, does Buffett's life tell us about the nature of happiness?
Perhaps, as Kahneman's research would lead us to expect, Buffett spent less of his life in a positive mood than he would have if, at some point in the 1960s, he had quit working, lived on his assets, and played a lot more bridge.
But, in that case, he surely would not have experienced the satisfaction that he can now rightly feel at the thought that his hard work and remarkable investment skills will, through the Gates Foundation, help to cure diseases that cause death and disability to billions of the world's poorest people.

Buffett reminds us that there is more to happiness than being in a good mood.

The writer is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Copyright: Project Syndicate.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Post 74 Music 5 - Dekho Na (Fanaa)

A clear contender for the best romantic song, I have heard in a long time.....

Prasoon Joshi almost does a Gulzar......Sunidhi and Sonu are superlative.....its such a tough song....listen to both of them and you might get a faint glimmer of what seperates the chaff from rice.....

Has some great tempo changes.....some very unusual orchestrisation, some very out of the world lyrics.....

If Sunidhi keeps singing like this, very soon she shall be my all time favorite (she does a massive attack on 'beedi' from omkara as well).

Lyrics by Prasoon Joshi.......(Translation from http://www.bollywhat.com/lyrics/fana_lyr.html)



yeh saazish hai buundo.n kii
The raindrops are conspiring
koii khwaahish hai chup chup sii
with my hidden desire.
yeh saazish hai buundo.n kii
The raindrops are conspiring
koii khwaahish hai chup chup sii
with my hidden desire.
dekho na...
Just look...
hawaa kuchh haule haule
The soft, gentle breeze
zubaan se kya kuchh bole bole
is saying something extraordinary:
kyo.n duurii hai ab darmiyaan
why this distance between us?
dekho na...
Just look...
phir na hawaa'e.n ho.ngii itnii besharam
Never again will the winds be so impertinent,
phir na Dagmag Dagmag ho.nge ye qadam
or my feet so unsteady beneath me.
haay
Alas...
phir na hawaa'e.n ho.ngii itnii besharam
Never again will the winds be so impertinent,
phir na dag-mag dag-mag ho.nge ye qadam
or these steps so unsteady.
saawan yeh siidha nahii.n khufiyaa baRa
This isn't a straightforward rain; there's something secretive about it;
kuchh to baraste hu'e kah rahaa
it's saying something as it showers down.
samjho na...
Try to understand it...
hawaa kuchh haule haule
The soft, gentle breeze
zubaan se kya kuchh bole bole
is saying something extraordinary:
kyo.n duurii hai ab darmiyaan
why this distance between us?
dekho na...
Just look...
jugnuu.n jaisii chaahat dekho jale bujhe
Watch love, like fireflies, flare and fade away.
miiTHii sii mushkil hai koii kya kare
It's such a sweet difficulty; what can anyone do?
jugnuu.n jaisii chaahat dekho jale bujhe
Watch love, like fireflies, flare and fade away.
miiTHii sii mushkil hai koii kya kare
It's such a sweet difficulty; what can anyone do?
ho.nTHo.n kii arzii aisii THukaraa'o na
Don't rebuff the petition on my lips;
saa.nso.n kii marzii ko jhuTHlaa'o na
don't doubt the desire of my breath.
chhuu lo na...
Touch me...
hawaa kuchh haule haule
The soft, gentle breeze
zubaan se kya kuchh bole bole
is saying something extraordinary:
kyo.n duurii hai ab darmiyaan
why this distance between us?
dekho na...
Just look...

Post 73 Music - 4 Omkara "O Saathi Re"

O Saathi Re Din Doobe Na, Aachal Din Ko Roke, Dhoop Ke Peeche Dode Chaanv Chue Na…

Shreya Ghosal + Vishal Bharadwaj.....makes you wonder, why Vishal does not sing more often, and why Gulzar does not write more often.....

This one has such a lullaby kind of feel to it.....yet it has nice surprising overtones where you really don't expect....lightly mixed crescendoes with melodic improvisations....

Thaka thaka suraj jab nadee se hokar niklege,
Hari Hari kayee pe, pav pada tho pislega,
Tum rokkey rakhna, mein jaal giraun,
Tum peeth pe rehne, mein haath lagaun,
Din gire na.......

Or somewhere else

kabhi kabhi yun karna, main daantu aur tum darna,
ubal pade aankhon se, meethe paani ka jharna
tere thorohe badan mein sil jayungi,
jab karvat lega, schill jayungi re,
sangh le jauunga......

Strong contender for "Song of the year" from my stable......(competes with Dekho Na from Fanaa & Mitwa from Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna)....the three best songs from the year so far.....

Post 72 One more to the spirits....

A friend(guess can call her that) of mine has written this in her blog. A scathing view if one must say so, but absolutely spot on....no skates, no stakes....

http://where-the-mind-wanders.blogspot.com/2006/07/spirit-of-mumbai.html#links