Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Post 497 : Meeting God in his own country….(Mumbai - Hubli - Kerala - Banglore - Mumbai drive)

Prologue : Vinod Panikar, a colleague & a friend of mine is a complete auto-phile (am not sure such a word exists, but excusey mua my tiny liberties). He has been wanting to do a driveathon ever since he bought a Civic (about 1.5 years ago). Vivek bought into this aspiration in the recent months. We almost drove to Kerala in October 2008 for Santosh Vishwanath’s wedding (another ex-colleague)….but then the plan fizzled away. But this time, it was different.

For starters, we did not have too much of a plan, save one goal – drive to Kerala be back. Some of these wild ideas work best without a plan (aha!! the Joker speaking again) – for if you plan, you end up figuring out enough reasons why “this” is not going to work. So the brief was simple – Mumbai-Kerala and back in 5 days.

Vivek and Vinod were ready and signed up. I was unsure wifey would make it to this (we all knew it was going to be strenuous, and India is most unfriendly(read lack of loos) to the female traveller) – but surprise surprise she signed up, she could not afford to miss not going to Kerala (I am confused with this sentence, 2 negatives and a “miss” – f*** it, all I wanted to say – she had to be part of it…)

We decided to cheat on our bare-bones plan. We decided to leave on 24th evening and gain some extra time at Kerala.

Travelogue : 24th Dec 2008 (Wednesday 5pm) to 28th Dec 2008 (Monday 7pm)
Cast : Wifey, Vivek Menon, Vinod Panikar and me
Cars : We took only Vinod’s car, a black Civic (thank god, some of us still think like Henry Ford – we will buy a car of any color as long as it is black….I find the arguments which people to not buy a black car ridiculous - “it is very beautiful, but very hard to maintain”, “it heats up quite a bit”, “one scratch and it will show” – my response, guys get a reality check – would you not marry a beautiful partner, because she is tough to maintain, or she has a temper, or blemishes show easily – and if you are going to tell me that a car and a partner differ – serves you right – drive the beige car and screw the shrew …..I can’t fight against an empty cranium that serves muddle head arguments.)
More on the car later, just one point, we could not have chosen a more apt vehicle to meet God – the transporter was just as divine.

Odometer for the trip : 2980 kms door to door

Route :
24th - Day 1 --> Pune --> Kolhapur --> Belgaum –> Hubli (approx 550kms) (throughout NH4)
25th - Day2 –> Hubli –> Manglore –> Kasargod (380kms) (though NH17)
26th - Day 3 –>Kasargod—> Kannur –> Calicut—>Trichur (approx 450kms) (through NH17)
27th – Day 4 –>Trichur –> Coimbatore (120 kms) (State highways)
28th – Day 5 –> Coimbatore –> Banglore –> Chitradurga (via State + NH4) (approx 600kms)
29th – Day 6 –>Chitradurga –>Hubli –>Pune –>Mumbai (700kms via NH4)

Point to note about the route :
- We were told to take NH17 and hence we took it during the onward journey. Use that crappy advice only if you plan to make this journey in about 3 days. NH17 is fuck-all, opt for NH4. NH4 is definitely the more longer, but much faster and easier on the car machinery. (We must thank Vinod, he was the first one to see through the NH17 sham).

Stays :
24th – Day 1 – Hotel Hans @ Hubli. Clean good 3 star equivalent. Very close to the highway. Tarrifs about 1800+taxes. A good hotel, decent breakfast, good courteous staff. IMG_0007 IMG_0002

Recommended for a good stay. Overall (based on cost and expectation from the place, 3- meets expectation, 5 –exceeds, 1 – miserable) – this place deserves a 4.
25th – Day 2 – Deira Residency - Kasargod @ Kerala – very cheap and clean hotel. Does basic stuff, but has AC, clean beds, hot water. Cost us about 1300 per room. Definitely not 3 star. Does not have it own restaurant, uses a nearby one. So-so food (though the warmth was great. Overall 3
26th – Day 3 – Dass Continental @ Trichur – Clean good hotel. Almost a 3 star, except for a few finer points like noise insulation and food choices. 2000 per night. Food was so-so. Overall 3
27th – Day 4 – CAG Pride @ Coimbatore – definitely the best hotel in our list. 2800 per night. Stand out 3 star. One of the best hotels in that class I have stayed at. Food was great (both at dinner and breakfast). Extremely courteous staff. Overall 5
28th – Day 5 – Aishwarya Fort House @ Chitradurga, Karnataka. 1250 per night for an AC room. Gigantic rooms, loos and balcony. Very so-so food @ Dinner and outstanding @ breakfast (best one of the trip). Passable but serves an important purpose of halting during the trip. Overall 2

How we met God in his own country:

Day 1
- We left Powai @ 5pm
- Halt after Pune (15kms later) at around 830 @ Joshi Wadawaley (a good homely joint, a favorite of mine, highly recommended) for the night meal.
- Vinod had switched on his Garmin GPS (later referred to as GRAMIN). A text to speech converted to a lady’s voice helped us through the travel (“you will be reaching Puunnn in a 100kms”). I like the technology, is precise and especially useful driving within a “untamed” country like India.
- I drove the CIVIC for the first time. Had I driven this a month ago, I would have bought the civic instead of the CITY. This vehicle is a dream come true. Its ages ahead of the Santro for just 3 times of its price. There is a 10x benefit for a 3x price increase….I fell in love with Vinod’s Civic the minute I hit the road driving. My closest experience to a sports car. I hit speeds of 178 during the trip (on other days during “day driving”)
- We reached Hubli at 1.30am. Driving into the city, we were surprised to still see quite a few people on the streets. Hans is 6kms off the highway. Checked into the hotel at 2am.
- No food except for grilled sandwiches + tea was available. Key point to note, we got sandwiches made in sweet bread – ahem!!
- Closed the day at 630kms

- Breakfast @ Hans – Eggs and Tea Cake (they were very well made and fresh)
- Started driving at 10am
- We had a “oh no” moment, when Vinod was pushed off the shoulder by an oncoming bus (at 120+ that loss of traction was overtly compensation by our skipped hearbeats). My theory – accidents happen – the sign of a good driver – how soon in split seconds do you recover and do the right thing – Vinod scored handsomely on this parameter – he recovered like a rally champion – within a few millisecond we were back on the road – business as usual.
- Lunch @ Pandurang International – So-so food, but crappy service and loads of attitude from the manager. Nothing memorable about the hotel, save the name, almost like Gangubai Hillton Towers….get the drift??
IMG_0013 IMG_0015
- Throughout Kerala/Banglore trucks seem to prefer bumpers made of old tyres. Was a very unique innovative way of dealing with the risk over the highway.DSCN2851
- At 6pm we halted at Sharad International Hotel. Crappy hotel with a menu like a book, but very little but Tea and Onion Bhajis to offer. The menu was hilarious though!!
- By 9pm, wifey needed to have nature’s break – we searched @ Kasargod – no options – finally requested a shady lodge – MM Lodge – had to pay him 40 for using his loos.
- We were 400 away from Trichur at least, I was driving and continued to travel through dense ghats and crossed a police checkpoint. (about 35kms from Kasargod).
- Vinod had some epiphany and asked him road to Trichur (he looked at us incredulously and said) – Trichur, this goes to Manglore (oh fuck!! screwed by an elephantine dick!!)
- We drove back 35kms to Kasargod and decided to hunt for a hotel there (by now it was 11pm).
- We did manage to reach a good hotel called J K Residency, but it had no rooms available.
- Deira Residency seemed the only other liveable option. We crossed our fingers and drove into that place. Rooms were available (Hallelujah!!)
- Food ? “No Saar, kitchen closed”. We persisted and requested and we got 8 rotis, 3 egg curies and 1 ghee (nie) rice. What I liked was the fact they were sweet enough to accommodate the request of 4 lost city dwellers. (Full marks to them on that account).
- Closed the day at 1140kms

Day 3
- Breakfast at the sister restaurant of Diera was Egg Curry + appam + cherupayar (moong).
- We started at 9pm out.
- Good thing we had not stretched the previous night. The roads in Kerala are horrible. The planning is obnoxious. Every 5kms is a town (ON THE NH), every town has a roundabout without directions – you can either rejoin the highway to go back to the previous town, time is not an premium, neither is petrol, nor is the destination important….hail red flags and Lucky Strikes.
- We had lunch @ Fortune @ Kochi. Great clean place, good food, lousy service. Thats again a Kerala thingy – a throbbing 20 table restaurant will have 2 servers who are loaded to death and you are agonised that you have to live through it. Clean Loos. Definitely a recommended halt. 3 star hotel – 4 of us ate complete set meals for 710 ….beauty of coming out Bombay is that the world around seems so cheap and affordable.
- We reached Trichur @ 830pm. Planned to stay at Vishnu Resort Hotels, who offered us awesome rooms (the resort itself is awesome) but only till next morning. We being who we are said “fuck it” and moved onto other options.
- Miss Poornima @ Vishnu Resorts – she is the GM recommended Dass Continental, whereas our friend Santosh Vishwanathan recommend Joy Palace. Poornima veered us away by suggesting that the place had police raids (in retrospect that was the largest pile of bullshit ever heaved on us!!)
- Dass Continental turned out to be crowded decent place (I like Hotels only if they are crowded). I remember on the hour of checkout – a lackey named Arun Nair (Marketing manager) came upto me and spoke in chaste Hindi – hindi in Kerala is rarer than spring water in Sahara. I lapped and drank
Arun – How was your stay?
Me – Good. Decent clean hotel would recommend to others.
Arun – Sir, Joy aur Ashoka Inn bhi clean hai, lekin aapko Dass ke paas hi vapaas aana hai (pause) unke paas Arun Nair nahin hain na….
- On the night of checkin we had nie dosa and cups of tea.
- After dinner we walked to the Trichur Vadakanathan Temple.
- Day ends at 1510kms

Day 4
- Morning we drove to Vinod’s inlaws place (his inlaws are sweet and loving in a very South Indian way…will not forget them and his uncle easily – a nice portly chap who seemed very intelligent – far too intelligent (and worldly wise) to blend into the settings we met him in…
- Awesome Putt-Kadlai for breakfast followed by Yellow coconut water and tender coconut.
- Drove to Guruvayoor temple.


- Had a 1-1 with the lord :-)
- Could not have lunch @ Elite – because we reached at 145pm and they had by then run out of rice. Vinod was disappointed. Supposedly this was the second time this had happened to him.
- We did shopping. Bought chips, sweets
- Vivek bought a brass vessel used to keep rice and make payasam and a vallakh (the lamp)
- I bought a few small brass articles and a wooden wall sculpture. (I truly like to be surrounded by fascinating complex art forms….I think it gives my home character and depth).
- We reached back at Vinod’s place at 4pm
- Ate fresh boiled tapioca garnished with curry leaves and green chilly. It was awesome.
- Reached hotel at 5pm and exited out at 6pm for Coimbatore.
- Reached CAG Pride by 8pm.
- Went into the restaurant at 830. We had chilled beer. Vinod had chicken wings cooked in pepper and he loved it. I had egg biryani (which I could not taste because of a blocked nose), Vinod (again!!) helped me finish it and thought it was brilliant.
- At 1630 kms we ended day 4

Day 5
- We left at 8am (only day we left before 9am – and invariably it was I who with a weak bowel and late bathing kept everyone else waiting).
- Vivek drove onto Salem. The road was not really the best though not as bad as Kerala
- We halted at Salem for lunch @ Apoorva. Only place we had meals on Banana leaf.DSCN2937
- This is at the junction where we start off onto the Banglore Road.
- I took off from Salem and our luck changed ;-) with the roads I mean. We drove straight through to Banglore.
- After Banglore we halted at a deserted Reliance Petrol Pump – Sree Krishna Hotels – which served nothing but tea. – Vinod had a fun conversation with the waiter
Server – Sir, sit.
Vinod – Kya Milega?
Server – Bonda, Onion Bhaji
Vinod – Aur Kya
Server – Gobi Manchurian
Vinod – Aur Kya
Server – Chai
Vinod – Theek hain, baaki logo ko aane do(we were in the loo)
Server – Tum batao na tumko kya chahiye. Baaki log unka choice batayenga.
- We finally had tea and biscuits and left
- Reached ChitraDurga @ 8pm
- Checked into Aishwarya Fort House
- Crowded hotel (I like crowded hotels…I know I am repeating myself)
- Food was crappy. Beer was good and cheap. We paid 75 for a 65 MRP bottle.
- Rooms were gigantic.
- Ended day at 2205kms

Day 6
- Awesome breakfast of fresh IDli, Kesar Bhath and Upma – fresh, piping hot. Great Masala chai, had 4 cups of it.
- Left at 93opm
- Drove straight to Hubli. Halt at Kamat’s for Tea and Clean Loos
- Next halt at Pune Joshi Wadawaley which we reached at 4pm
- Straight home @ 2980kms @ 7pm

Random Musings
- Roads condition – Kerala (Pathetic) – Maharashtra (unbelievably good) – Banglore (good in most bits)
- Small winding roads in Kerala with huge potholes were classified as NH in Kerala
- Gokula Nalanda Restort 60 kms from kannuar and 40kms from kasargod – looked like a very good one...
- Speed-breakers are car scrapers. None of them are designed for a ground clearance of 160mm which is what a city and civic deliver.
- Speed breakers on a highway – absolutely asinine. At one point on Chitradurga 15kms from the main city- we were coasting at 140kms @ 7pm when 3 absolutely back to back rumblers broke our backs (and almost our darling civic’s axle)
- Salem had a huge Shivling Temple with some 100 odd visible Shivlings
- Next to it a huge property being developed by the Vinayaka trust.DSCN1706
- After you exit from Chitradurga towards Hubli, some 50 kms later, a huge Buddha statue.

- If you travel, do it with like minded people. Till now it was always me and my wife. That worked well.
- Vinod and Vivek were perfect buddies through this. Their approach to the drive was exactly like mine. It made the whole journey so much easier for all. (Thank you both buddies).
- Travel in a good car. We drove the CIVIC for 3000kms in 5 days, not a single PSI of pressure leaked of its tyres and we did not re-fill it even once. Awesome car.

Last word:
- I used to bike long distances. After ages, I felt like that again. All my previous car trips now seem like a build up to this one. This one was liberating and almost spiritual. I hope to do many more soon.
- Next stop Leh ?? Anyone

Vivek and Wifey

The Civilised Beast and Me


Bad spellings @ Ghatkopar


A click genius called Vinod…


A beach near Manglore.

DSCN1685 DSCN1686 DSCN1687 DSCN1688 DSCN1689
Bad Spellings @ Sharada International


Sunset on the last day from the car….


wifey and me first day clicked by vivek


I am obese…I eat fast food and drive fast trucks


vinod, vivek and wifey


The name says it all…Sastha Wine Mart


Garmin aka Gramin @ Work


Brilliant snap (by Vivek) of a man who is seeing his entire life (truck) pass by in an instant :-)DSCN2978

Windmills along the way

Post 496 – Ben Stein on Madoff

Read this article in NYTimes….liked the general feel of it. Reproducing it below, so that you dont have to move out of this site. (Original article at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/business/28every.html)


Everybody’s Business

They Told Me That Madoff Never Lost Money


Published: December 26, 2008

ABOUT two years ago, a little delegation from a major investment bank arrived at my home in Beverly Hills. These nice young people were from the bank’s “wealth management division.” I told them straight away that I didn’t have anywhere near enough wealth to make their trip worth their time, but they smilingly insisted that we could help each other.

Philip Anderson

They told me that if I invested a certain sum with them, they would make sure that a large chunk of it was managed by a money manager of stupendous acumen. This genius, so they said, never lost money. He did better in up markets than in down markets, but even in down markets he did well. They said he used a strategy of buying stocks and hedging with options.

I protested that a perfect hedge would not allow making any money, because money made on the one side would be lost on the other. They assured me that this genius had found a way to spot market inefficiencies and, indeed, to make money off a perfect hedge.

I thanked them for their time and promptly looked up Bernard Madoff online. Nothing I saw was even a bit convincing that he had made a breakthrough in financial theory. Besides, this large financial firm was going to charge me roughly 2 percent to put my money with Mr. Madoff’s firm. I could invest my few shekels with Warren Buffett for no management fee at all.

I checked with my investment gurus, Phil DeMuth, Raymond J. Lucia and Kevin Hanley. None of us could see how Mr. Madoff could do what his friends said he could do. I politely passed and went on my way, finding my own inventive ways to lose money on a colossal scale during these last 15 months.

My point is not that I was so smart. I am not and I was not. Mistakes are a big part of my life. My point is that, as humans, we seem unable to learn from our mistakes very well.

I have never heard of an entity that could make money in all kinds of markets consistently, year in and year out. Yet we continue to believe that there will be one. It is, like much else in finance, a myth that will not die. I have never heard of a financial manager who promised to be able to defeat the markets anytime he chose and who, in fact, was able to do so. Even Mr. Buffett says repeatedly that he will have losing years and losing stretches of years. (Wow, is he right this year.)

By the same token, I belong to a number of country and town clubs. In all of my years at them, I have never gotten an investing tip that made money. In fact, as far as I can recall, I have never gotten a tip from any source that made me money, except for my former agent’s wife mentioning Berkshire Hathaway, Mr. Buffett’s company, 30 years ago.

The same goes on a much larger scale for the debacle of subprime mortgages. In essence, it is a much larger version of the Drexel Burnham Lambert junk-bond debacle of the 1980s. Back then, investors were charmed by the idea that the lower-ranked the bond, the more money it would make. It seemed like a great idea: there’s this little corner of the market that the big boys turn up their noses at. But in this little corner, huge money is made. It’s almost like the myth that you get great bargains in poor parts of town.

In fact, the Drexel episode should have taught us to be wary, indeed, of poorly rated debt. But it didn’t. The new version of the myth was so alluring that it drew in not just billions of dollars from lenders and mortgage bond buyers, but much more in derivatives linked to the myth.

Then there was the myth of the hedge funds. One great advantage of being 64 is that I can remember the early hedge funds of the 1960s. They, too, were supposed to turn water into wine, but they fell hard in the stock market meltdown that also laid low the Nifty Fifty — another 1960’s idea that 50 carefully selected stocks could long beat the indexes.

I can still recall visiting an early hedge fund pioneer. He had a small stereo playing rock music in his office as he tried to make millions. That’s how cool he was. I don’t know where he is now and I don’t want to know.

AND there are many other myths I could talk about, myths that we believed in and that tricked us and hurt us. But I will tell you about the main myth that’s hurting investors right now. It is well expressed by my hero, Bob Dylan, who warns against being “ nothing more than something they invest in” in the immortal song, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).”

We are more than our investments. We are more than the year-to-year or day-by-day changes in our net worth. We are what we do for charity. We are how we treat our family and friends. We are how we treat our dogs and cats. We are what we do for our community and our nation. If you had $100 million or $100,000 a year ago and now you have a lot less, you are still the same person. You are not a balance sheet, at least not one denominated in money, as was explained to me recently.

Losing and making money are not moral issues so long as you are being honest. You may have a lot less money as this year ends than you did two years ago. But you are just as good or bad a person as you were then. It is a myth that money determines who you are, and if you have gotten over that myth by now, then 2008 will have been a very good year.

Ben Stein is a lawyer, writer, actor and economist. E-mail: ebiz@nytimes.com.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Post 495 : Learning my swansong – 6 (3 ragas down)

Now I can play 3 ragas
1. Darbari Kanhara
2. Yaman
3. Bageshri

In Nov 08, practised for 14 out of a possible 30 days. That makes it 78 out of 115 since 7th Aug 2008.

Post 494 : Weight Watcher 18 (11 is a tacky number)

In the month of Nov 11 out of a possible 30. My dismal record at exercising regularly continues.

Looks like I am not running fast enough and bad health will catch me sooner than later.

Total since 5th Feb 2007 is 320 out of 674, still less than 50% days.

Post 493 : Benchmarking against the market

I said in a previous post that I would like to benchmark against the market. Thats seemingly very difficult to do for want of a model.

I am currently with the set I left it at last month, but percentages have moved.

Plus I have added to the list of stocks I like:

Kamat Hotels
Asian Paints

The only exit from my portfolio has been United Breweries.

Let the game continue….

Post 492 : Passages 43 : Backcover – Fireproof Raj Kamal Jha

I looked at the window again. The words had begun to fade as the room inside must have got colder. All I could see now was E P ME, the E of the ME disappearing, and as I focussed on the remaining letters, there was a blur of a movement inside, I saw a form pass by the window, a hand reach out to wipe the glass clean, draw the curtains close, I saw the lights switch off, turning the window into a rectangle of darkness.

- Backcover of Fireproof by Raj Kamal Jha

Post 491 : “British Pakistani”

While 26/11 the terror attacks happened, I was in London. It was amusing to see the Brit “scumbag” press refer to one of the suspects as a “British Pakistani”.

Now, either a person is a Brit or a Pakistani….I like how the West likes to be politically distanced from anything which can be incriminating….

Post 490 : Movie 21 – The girl in the park

I watched Aliens as a kid and liked Sigourney Weaver quite a bit, and this movie was a watch only because of her.

Very drab movie. Not recommended at all.

The whole story revolves around how a mother who lost her daughter in the park, years ago, is now, years later, adjusting to it, by making herself believe that the daughter will still be found.

I would rate it 3/10. Avoid. Both Kate Bosworth and Ms. Weaver and passable. Give me aliens any day.

sep1007-girl_park kate-b_0


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Post 489 : Movie 20 – Journey to the center of the earth

Complete waste of time. Tacky plot and tacky effects. The book is better. 4/10 – don’t watch.

Final comment - a very mindless venture.


Post 488 : Movie 19 Wall E

This movie is melancholic, and paints a real picture of the world’s future. Very apt theme of craving for mother earth.

What to look out for:

1. Pixar’s story-telling
2. The Characters
3. Background music (this movie has almost no dialogues)
4. The jibes and satire (e.g Buy’n’Large Corporation)
5. Peter Gabriel’s Down to Earth

What not to look out:

1. I thought the movie labors in the middle section, esp. when Walle travels to the space ship.
2. Eva (the love interest) seems confused and ambivalent (she cuts both ways!!)

Will I see this movie again? Maybe not. Will I own the DVD? Maybe not. Will I say “highly recommended” to my friends? Maybe not.

Three “Maybe  nots” make this a 7 star movie (7/10)

wall-e2 wall-e

wall-e3 wall-e_3

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Post 487 : Movie 18 The Dark Knight

I have already posted so much about this movie in the day today. I wont bore you much more, just few quick points:

1. Its not a traditional super hero movie. In this case the hero is more human than hero.
2. The evil guy hogs the limelight, but not for once does he come out glorified. Batman (the good guy) is always the fall guy. “Good” actually loses quite a bit in this movie, but you and I come out still wanting to be the “good”.
3. Stark, dark imagery.
4. Some razorsharp cinematic execution/editing – key ones- the bank robbery at the start, the trailer chase of Harvey Dent (where they showcase the Batmobile in full glory), the jettys towards the end and the 10 minutes around the detonator scene…
5. Gotham looks like New York.
6. Extremely realistic movie
7. Questions/explores the moral fibre of the world around us.
8. Imminently leagues ahead of the run of the mill everyday movie. This should be a cult classic.
9. Heath Ledger as the Joker is menacing.

In short a 9/10 movie. Go hit it.

Post 486 : Movie 17 - Positive – a short film by Farhan Akhtar

This is film about a college kid who grows up to see his childhood view of the world, ebb and now start appearing as less than perfect. He realizes the flaws in the world, and to top it all discovers that his dad now has Aids.

Both the dad and the son are photographers.


Extremely touching story and very well enacted by all the actors. Very real.

Arjun Mathur - Abhijit
Shabana Azmi - Mrs. Soni
Boman Irani - Mr. Soni


I liked the movie a lot. Caught it on National Geographic today.

Go watch the movie at

Post 485 : Who is a terrorist?

Like others, I have tried to search for a raison'd'etre for why someone rational would want to blow up the Taj.

The more I think of it, the more I am convinced that terrorism has no logic, is cowardly and is an act of those who would rather hide their head in a toilet bowl than face a gun.

Like Alfred says in Post 478, a terrorist is someone who likes the watch the world burn.

Lets say that, acknowledge that such people also exist and finally, try to include them back into the mainstream....

Post 484 : Twins 5 (Dick Fuld (CEO Lehman) vs. William Fitchner (Bank Manager, Dark Knight))

William Fitchner More at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001209/



Dick Fuld More at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_S._Fuld,_Jr.


Post 483 Movie Quotes Dark Knight (Gravity and Madness)

THE JOKER If we don't stop fighting, we're going to miss the fireworks.
BATMAN There won't be any fireworks.

Just couldn't let me go, could you? I guess this is what happens when an
unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible,
aren't you?

(Batman secures the Joker UPSIDE DOWN. The Joker is LAUGHING.)

You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of selfrighteousness...and I won't kill you
because you're too much fun. We're going to do this forever.

You'll be in a padded cell, forever.
Maybe we can share it. They'll need to double up, the rate this city's inhabitants are losing their minds...
BATMAN This city just showed you it's full of people ready to believe in good. The Joker looks up at him. A twinkle in his eye.

Till their spirit breaks completely. Until they find out what I did with the best of them. Until they get a good look at the real Harvey Dent, and all the heroic things he's done.(indicates ferry) Then those criminals will be straight back onto the streets and Gotham will understand the true nature of heroism.
You didn't think I'd risk losing the battle for the soul of Gotham in a fist fight with you? You've got to have an ace in the hole. Mine's Harvey.
(Batman hauls the Joker up, nose to nose.)

What did you do?
I took Gotham's white knight. And I brought him down to my level. It wasn't hard- madness is like gravity. All it takes is a little push.

Post 482 : Movie Quotes Dark Knight (Planning and its failings)

THE JOKER I don't want there to be any hard feelings between us, Harvey.
(The Joker loosens Dent's restraints.)
THE JOKER When you and Rachel were being abducted I was sitting in Gordon's cage. I didn't rig those charges-

Your men. Your plan.
Do I really look like a guy with a plan, Harvey? I don't have a plan...The mob has plans, the cops have plans. You know what I am,Harvey?

I'm a dog chasing cars... I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it. I just do things. I'm just the wrench in the gears. I hate plans.Yours, theirs, everyone's. Maroni has plans. Gordon has plans. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I'm not a schemer, I show
the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. So when I say that you and your girlfriend was nothing personal, you know I'm telling the truth...

It's the schemers who put you where you are. You were a schemer. You had plans. Look where it got you. I just did what I do best- I took your plan, and I turned it on itself. Look what I've done to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Nobody panics when the expected people get killed. Nobody panics when things go according to
plan, even if the plan is horrifying. If I tell the press that tomorrow a gangbanger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics. Because it's all part of the plan. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, everybody loses their minds!Introduce a little anarchy, you upset the established order and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos, Harvey? (Dent looks into the Joker's eyes. Finding meaning.)

THE JOKER It's fair.
(Dent looks down at the coin in his hands. Turns it over, feels it's comforting weight. Shows the Joker the good side.)

You live.
(He turns the coin over. The flip side is deeply SCARRED.)
DENT  You die.
(The Joker looks at the coin. Looks at Dent, admiringly.)
Now you're talking.

Post 481 : Movie Quotes Dark Knight (Being a man of words)

THE JOKER I told you- I'm a man of my word. (looks around) Where's the Italian?
(The Chechen shrugs. Pulls out a cigar. Lights it.)
CHECHEN More for us. What you do with all your money, Mr.Joker?
(The Joker GRABS a can of GASOLINE from his thug.)
THE JOKER I'm a man of simple tastes. I like gunpowder. Dynamite...(He is SPLASHING gasoline onto the money.)...gasoline...(The Chechen, FURIOUS, steps forwards. The Joker turns. JABS his gun in the Chechen's face. The Chechen's bodyguards REACT. The Joker's men DRAW on them.) And you know what they have in common? They're cheap.
CHECHEN You said you were a man of your word.
(The Joker PLUCKS the cigar from the Chechen's lips.)
THE JOKER I am. (The Joker tosses the cigar at the pile. )I'm only burning my half.(The Chechen watches the money catch fire.) All you care about is money. This city deserves a better class of criminal, and I'm going to give it to them. This is my town now. Tell your men they work for me.

It's not about money. It's about sending a message...(The Joker watches the towering FLAMES. Lau screams.) Everything. Burns.

Post 480 : Movie Quotes Dark Knight (Knife vs. guns)

You know why I use a knife, Detective? Guns are too quick. You don't get to savor all the little emotions. See, in their last moments, people show you who they really are...
(Stephens tries hard to ignore him. It isn't working.)
THE JOKER So, in a way, I knew your friends better than you ever did. (smiles)
Would you like to know which of them were really cowards?

Post 479 : Movie Quotes Dark Knight (Being ahead of the curve)

THE JOKER Those mob fools want you gone so they can get back to the way things were. But I know the truth- there's no going back. You've changed things. Forever.
BATMAN Then why do you want to kill me?
(The Joker starts LAUGHING. After a moment he's laughing so hard it sounds like SOBBING.)

THE JOKER Kill you? I don't want to kill you.What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off Mob dealers? No you...(points)You. Complete. Me.
BATMAN You're garbage who kills for money.
THE JOKER Don't talk like one of them- you're not, even if you'd like to be. To them you're a freak like me... they just need you right now. (He regards Batman with something approaching pity.)
THE JOKER But as soon as they don't, they'll cast you out like a leper.
(The Joker looks into Batman's eyes.Searching.)

THE JOKER Their morals, their code... it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. You'll see- I'll show you... when the chips are down, these civilized people... they'll eat each other.(grins) See, I'm not a monster... I'm just ahead of the curve.

Post 478 : Movie Quotes Dark Knight (Some people like to watch the world burn)

Targeting me won't get their money back. I knew the mob wouldn't go down without a fight, but this is different. They've crossed a line.

ALFRED You crossed it first, sir. You've hammered them, squeezed them to the point of desperation. And now, in their desperation they've turned to a man they don't fully understand.

WAYNE Criminals aren't complicated, Alfred. We just have to figure out what he's

Respectfully, Master Wayne, perhaps this is a man you don't fullyunderstand, either.

ALFRED I was in Burma. A long time ago. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders, bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a
bandit. We were asked to take care of the problem, so we started looking for the stones. But after six months, we couldn't find anyone who had traded with him.

What were you missing?

One day I found a child playing with a ruby as big as a tangerine. (shrugs) The bandit had been throwing the stones away.

So why was he stealing them?

Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for
anything logical, like money... they can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or
negotiated with.(grave) Some men just want to watch the world

Post 477 : Movie Quote Dark Knight (How the Joker got his scars)

Hello, beautiful. You must be  Harvey's squeeze.(runs his knife across her cheek) And you are beautiful. You look nervous- it's the scars isn't it? Wanna know how I got them? I had a
wife, beautiful like you. Who tells me I worry too much. Who says I need to smile more. Who gambles. And gets in deep with the sharks. One day they carve her face, and we've
got no money for surgeries. She can't take it.(presses knife into her cheek)
I just want to see her smile again.I just want her to know I don't care about the scars. So I put a razor in my mouth and do this to myself... And you know what? (starts laughing)
She can't stand the sight of me... (or crying) She leaves! See, now I see the funny side. Now I'm always smiling.

Post 476 : Movie Quote Dark Knight (How the Joker got his scars)

Wanna know how I got these scars? My father was a drinker and a fiend. He'd beat mommy right in front of me. One night he goes off crazier than usual, mommy gets the kitchen knife to defend herself. He doesn't like that. Not. One. Bit. (The Joker TUGS Gambols cheek with the blade.)  So, me watching, he takes the knife to her, laughing while he does it.  Turns to me and says 'why so serious?' Comes at me with the knife-'why so serious?' Sticks the blade in my mouth- 'Let's put a smile on that face' and...

Post 475 : Movie Quotes Dark Knight (Batman's Limits)

ALFRED  Know your limits, Master Wayne.
WAYNE Batman has no limits.
ALFRED Well, you do, sir.
WAYNE I can't afford to know them.
ALFRED And what happens the day you find out?
WAYNE We all know how much you like to say 'I told you so'.
ALFRED That day, Master Wayne, even I won't want to. Probably.

Post 474 - Movie Quote Dark Knight (Joker on what does not kill you)

I believe what does not kill you, simply makes you stranger....

Post 473 : Music 40 : Down to Earth - Peter Gabriel (Wall E)

This is vintage Peter Gabriel with a brand new song. Listen to the vocals (esp. the choir harmony), read the lyrics. Mindblowing Aha!!


(Feat. Soweto Gospel Choir)

Did you think that your feet had been bound
By what gravity brings to the ground?
Did you feel you were tricked
By the future you picked?
Well come on down

All these rules don't apply
When you're high in the sky
So come on down
Come on down

We're coming down to the ground
There's no better place to go
We've got snow upon the mountains
We've got rivers down below
We're coming down to the ground
To hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
(Come) send the seeds out in the breeze

Did you think you'd escaped from routine
By changing the script and the scene?
Despite all you made of it
you're always afraid of the change

You've got a lot on your chest
Well you can come as my guest
So come on down
Come on down

We're coming down to the ground
There's no better place to go
We've got snow upon the mountains
We've got rivers down below
We're coming down to the ground
We'll hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
(Come) send the seeds out in the breeze

Like the fish in the ocean
We felt at home in the sea
We learned to live off the good land
We learned to climb up a tree
then we got up on two legs
But we wanted to fly
When we messed up our homeland
and set sail for the sky

We're coming down to the ground
There's no better place to go
We've got snow upon the mountains
We got rivers down below
We're coming down to the ground
We'll hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
(Come) send the seeds out in the breeze

We're coming down
Comin' down to earth
Like babies at birth
Comin' down to earth

Redefine your priorities
These are extraordinary qualities

We're coming down to the ground
There's no better place to go
We've got snow upon the mountains
We've got rivers down below
We're coming down to the ground
We'll hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
(Come) send the seeds out in the breeze

We're coming down to the ground
There's no better place to go
We've got snow upon the mountains
We've got rivers down below
We're coming down to the ground
We'll hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
(Come) send the seeds out in the breeze

Post 472 : I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky....

I really hope R Kelly does not mind :-)

Post 471 : Why so serious, son?

Saw the Dark Knight twice in the last week. Its dark, but its heart is in the right place.


The irony of the (similarity between the war in Gotham and the ) ongoing attack on Mumbai was not lost on me. It was interesting to see Batman refusing to kill the joker inspite of the evil he perpetrates.

There is a story there..
Of good versus evil, of what drives rage and rampage, of how behind every terror is a man(woman) who has lost the ability to think rationally and who sees apocalypse as a philosophical constituency.

There is a lesson there...
The innate goodness of living beings (humans and animals) cannot be overshadowed by a few freaking nutcases. Balls to them, screw the defective pieces, the rest of mankind wants to be good.

There is a big question there...
When we look at evil in the eye, do we give in, do we for purposes of waging a war, reduce ourselves to ranks of the evil muppets?

I know my answer, and will stick to my rules. You, on the other hand, can choose to be Harvey Dent, if that is what it is going to come down to.

Post 470 : The fallacy of performance...

An epiphany recent struck me on the topic of "investment performance".....

Invariably, we calculate performance on two basic params:
1. Against a benchmark.
2. Against what we started off with.

I will ignore the first, but look at the 2nd point closely.

Lets for sake of making this easy, assume I had Rs.100 as my corpus on 30th Nov 2007. Lets say tomorrow this has fallen to Rs. 40. My performance for the past year - reduction in corpus to the extent of 60%.

Now assume, on 30th Nov 2009 I am back at Rs.100. My performance is a 250% gain.

Summary :
Rs. 100 on 30th Nov 2007
Rs. 60 on 30th Nov 2008
Negative returns of 60%
Rs. 100 on 30th Nov 2009
Gains of 250% for the year.

Notice the skew....get the drift.

Upside is always from a position lower and hence looks very sexy, downside is always from the "stated top" and hence looks like a soft landing.

None of what I said above is illegal or unethical. Its just that the way we calculate, seems to impact human pysche such that we always underestimate a fall and we always are delighted with a rise.

Whats the point?...Nothing, really, just helps to know how we are hardwired.

Posty 469 : A week of trying to kill the songbird....

I was out for just a week, and look what those a***holes did to my city. They bombed it, raped it, hammered its crown (The Taj) and blew its beer belly (Leopold).

I am reading blogs/newspapers/media full of bravado...."yeah, lets sock them up", "lets, fuck the pakistanis", "lets get the muslims by their hanging balls", "lets make the politicians chew cud"....and on and on...

What amuses/amazes me is the response in itself...by its very nature its violent, its eye for an eye, and it is absurd. I strongly believe no single community is responsible for this problem.

I know quite a few Muslims, they are more pious than most others. I know a few wannabe politicos, and they are quite decent human beings as well. Pakistani civilians, they just love us.

Do you blow up Karachi, because some fucker in ISI cannot control his hormones? Do you mass murder Muslims, because some lolly sucking coward believes it is "the road to paradise littered with 73 virgins" when he shoots innocent babies with a bazooka?

The world is a bad place, and I don't mean that we sit and watch the joke as it gets worse. An eye for an eye is needed. The question is "which eye" for "which eye"?

I only have questions, don't have answers. For sure, I know the "answers" which I am hearing so far are so damn wrong, I know it by the curl in my insides.

What do we do? Just twiddle our thumbs.....Or,  fo starters, Mr. Mehta has a few tricks up his sleeve. Reached here via Gotta Be Max.

The article is at NY Times. I have copied it below for easier reading.


What They Hate About Mumbai img1


Published: November 28, 2008

MY bleeding city. My poor great bleeding heart of a city. Why do they go after Mumbai? There’s something about this island-state that appalls religious extremists, Hindus and Muslims alike. Perhaps because Mumbai stands for lucre, profane dreams and an indiscriminate openness.

Mumbai is all about dhandha, or transaction. From the street food vendor squatting on a sidewalk, fiercely guarding his little business, to the tycoons and their dreams of acquiring Hollywood, this city understands money and has no guilt about the getting and spending of it. I once asked a Muslim man living in a shack without indoor plumbing what kept him in the city. “Mumbai is a golden songbird,” he said. It flies quick and sly, and you’ll have to work hard to catch it, but if you do, a fabulous fortune will open up for you. The executives who congregated in the Taj Mahal hotel were chasing this golden songbird. The terrorists want to kill the songbird.

Just as cinema is a mass dream of the audience, Mumbai is a mass dream of the peoples of South Asia. Bollywood movies are the most popular form of entertainment across the subcontinent. Through them, every Pakistani and Bangladeshi is familiar with the wedding-cake architecture of the Taj and the arc of the Gateway of India, symbols of the city that gives the industry its name. It is no wonder that one of the first things the Taliban did upon entering Kabul was to shut down the Bollywood video rental stores. The Taliban also banned, wouldn’t you know it, the keeping of songbirds.

Bollywood dream-makers are shaken. “I am ashamed to say this,” Amitabh Bachchan, superstar of a hundred action movies, wrote on his blog. “As the events of the terror attack unfolded in front of me, I did something for the first time and one that I had hoped never ever to be in a situation to do. Before retiring for the night, I pulled out my licensed .32 revolver, loaded it and put it under my pillow.”

Mumbai is a “soft target,” the terrorism analysts say. Anybody can walk into the hotels, the hospitals, the train stations, and start spraying with a machine gun. Where are the metal detectors, the random bag checks? In Mumbai, it’s impossible to control the crowd. In other cities, if there’s an explosion, people run away from it. In Mumbai, people run toward it — to help. Greater Mumbai takes in a million new residents a year. This is the problem, say the nativists. The city is just too hospitable. You let them in, and they break your heart.

In the Bombay I grew up in, your religion was a personal eccentricity, like a hairstyle. In my school, you were denominated by which cricketer or Bollywood star you worshiped, not which prophet. In today’s Mumbai, things have changed. Hindu and Muslim demagogues want the mobs to come out again in the streets, and slaughter one another in the name of God. They want India and Pakistan to go to war. They want Indian Muslims to be expelled. They want India to get out of Kashmir. They want mosques torn down. They want temples bombed.

And now it looks as if the latest terrorists were our neighbors, young men dressed not in Afghan tunics but in blue jeans and designer T-shirts. Being South Asian, they would have grown up watching the painted lady that is Mumbai in the movies: a city of flashy cars and flashier women. A pleasure-loving city, a sensual city. Everything that preachers of every religion thunder against. It is, as a monk of the pacifist Jain religion explained to me, “paap-ni-bhoomi”: the sinful land.

In 1993, Hindu mobs burned people alive in the streets — for the crime of being Muslim in Mumbai. Now these young Muslim men murdered people in front of their families — for the crime of visiting Mumbai. They attacked the luxury businessmen’s hotels. They attacked the open-air Cafe Leopold, where backpackers of the world refresh themselves with cheap beer out of three-foot-high towers before heading out into India. Their drunken revelry, their shameless flirting, must have offended the righteous believers in the jihad. They attacked the train station everyone calls V.T., the terminus for runaways and dreamers from all across India. And in the attack on the Chabad house, for the first time ever, it became dangerous to be Jewish in India.

The terrorists’ message was clear: Stay away from Mumbai or you will get killed. Cricket matches with visiting English and Australian teams have been shelved. Japanese and Western companies have closed their Mumbai offices and prohibited their employees from visiting the city. Tour groups are canceling long-planned trips.

But the best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever. Dream of making a good home for all Mumbaikars, not just the denizens of $500-a-night hotel rooms. Dream not just of Bollywood stars like Aishwarya Rai or Shah Rukh Khan, but of clean running water, humane mass transit, better toilets, a responsive government. Make a killing not in God’s name but in the stock market, and then turn up the forbidden music and dance; work hard and party harder.

If the rest of the world wants to help, it should run toward the explosion. It should fly to Mumbai, and spend money. Where else are you going to be safe? New York? London? Madrid?

So I’m booking flights to Mumbai. I’m going to go get a beer at the Leopold, stroll over to the Taj for samosas at the Sea Lounge, and watch a Bollywood movie at the Metro. Stimulus doesn’t have to be just economic.

Suketu Mehta, a professor of journalism at New York University, is the author of “Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Post 468 : Raga Notation

I plan to start publishing some of the Ragas I am learning. I am definitely afraid what I am learning is just one particular version of the Raga and my own limited rote is not going to take me too far. Want to share (my version) of what I am learning for 2 reasons:

1. To share
2. To get validation that I am on the right track.

To share my version of the Ragas it is very essential we get out notation right. So I publishing in this post the notation that I am going to use to explain the sequence of notes.

You have to remember :

1. I am learning these on the harmonium
2. I am at this point not too bothered about taal and timings. (am still at a very early stage).
3. I am self-taught, so my knowledge is fraught with error and mistakes.

The sequence of notes for me is....

Lower Notes (left of the harmonium) - Mandar Saptak



Center = Madhya Saptak


Tara Saptak (higher notes)



Enough for now, if I use more notations will update this later.

Post 467 : Mr. Market vs. me (Baseline and sound a war cry....)

Like all macho bumblers (I am one), I sincerely believe I can outperform the market. (What a chweet delusion...) Have been investing since 1996. Lost all my savings in 2001, and then today again, I am seeing significant wealth erosion.

My sincere belief is, both of these experiences have contributed immensely to my wisdom (to wit, what use wisdom when there is no wealth to back it!!, but remember when the game is over the king and the pawn go back into the same box).

My recovery from 2001 was not well documented. This time around I plan to play this game hard and fight tooth and nail. I have heard soothsayers predict the worst. Equities are being written off.

I vehemently disagree. Mutual funds be damned, so be FDs, debt funds, real estate and ilk. I might lose, I might win, time will tell. Till then, lets enjoy the game. I think Satish shares a similar belief here.... http://www.bombaylives.com/?p=1383

I plan to post my weighted portfolio out here once a month. My bet is, next 1-3 years, we shall only see volatility and trending decline in our weighted portfolios, and then the tide shall turn. I am biding my time for that day.....

Here goes my porfolio......



For me to win, everything else remaining constant that 79.41 has to steadily increase. For Mr. Market to win, all he has to do what he has done so well in the past 3 months....play hammer and tong.

Post 466 : Music 39 - Crying in the rain (Everly Brothers)

I used to have the Everly Brothers (golden hits) album while I was growing up. The first song on that tape was "Crying in the Rain". The album was on a Indian label called Magnasound and it had cost me Rs. 35, maybe in 1991 (not too sure though).

Today, thanks to Max and his post...http://nfyniti.blogspot.com/2008/11/crying-in-rain.html I recalled this song again. Downloaded it and was listening to it almost ad infinitum... I also like the A-ha version the same song, something I (again) grew up listening to (as well).

Very lovely song from 1961 (I think my memory still works....I  actually did a google later and was off bang on....phew!!).



Song Lyrics: "Crying In The Rain"
Recorded by: "Everly Brothers"
Written by: (Carole King and Howie Greenfield)
Single: Released December 1961,
B-Side - "I'm Not Angry"
Album: "The Golden Hits Of The Everly Brothers" - June 1962

I'll never let you see
The way my broken heart is hurtin' me
I've got my pride and I know how to hide
All my sorrow and pain
I'll do my cryin' in the rain

If I wait for cloudy skies
You won't know the rain from the tears in my eyes
You'll never know that I still love you so
Though the heartaches remain
I'll do my cryin' in the rain

Rain drops fallin' from heaven
Could never wash away my misery
But since we're not together
I look for stormy weather
To hide these tears I hope you'll never see

Some day when my cryin's done
I'm gonna wear a smile and walk in the sun
I may be a fool but till then darling you'll
Never see me complain
I'll do my cryin' in the rain

I'll do my cryin' in the rain
I'll do my cryin' in the rain

Post 465 : Serotonin in my head...

I am feeling ravaged, there is a mad head-ache plaguing me. It is also giving me the fever. I had to rush back from office. The nausea is unbelievable and was burping all the time.

I did a google on "burp nausea headache" and the first two pages were only about "morning sickness".

Is that what I am suffering from :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Post 464 : Live in your world, play in ours






Long before PS3 and the current branding, Sony Playstation used to run this campaign called

Live in your world Play in ours

I personally have felt this was brilliant. I wonder, why, they gave up on this brand strategy.

I still think they should revive it, it will do wonder to their brand image.