Friday, July 31, 2009

674 : Earsight by Rumi, from Bridge of the soul by Coleman Barks

Do you want the sweetness of food
or the sweetness of the one
who put sweetness in food?

There are amazing things in the ocean,
and there is one who is the ocean.

Think of a carpenter’s alert comprehension
when he builds a house.
Now think of the one
who creates consciousness.

It takes skill to extract oil from a nut,
Now consider how sight lives in the eye.

There is a night full of wildness
of wanting. Then dawn comes.
You take my hand in yours.

There are those who doubt
that this can happen.

They pour powdered fold into barely bins.
Then follow donkeys to the barn.

Enough worlds. Friend,
you can make the ear see.

Speak the rest of this poem
in that language.

673 : God is in the details…

You walk into a doctor’s consulting room and see a roomful of bevy idols, all sorts of Hindu Gods, in a carefully venerated area of his clinic. Fresh incense and flowers light up the place.

Would you find this very incongruous?

I think I am truly bifocal.

672 : Wish you were here (Riff from Pink Floyd)

(Was listening to it, and could not get over the irony of the initial riff)

So…so you think you can tell,
Heaven from hell…
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field…..
From a coal steel rail…
A smile from a veil,
Do you think you can tell?

Isn’t this superb poetry?

and some place else in the song

And did you exchange
A walk on part in a war,
With a lead role in a cage….?

671 : Primal fear…

My mother tells me (and I have vague self-fulfilling memories) that I used to be a tinderbox as a kid, supposedly, took off from my dad (who is today as sober and tad as a hamster).

Maybe those instincts never went away, they were always there, now, rearing its head at the most unwelcome of spots in my life.

670 : What does not kill you, must make you unpopular

I believe in enduring to the extent possible. Life was never meant to be easy.

Imagine life without paracetamol, ibuprofen, estrangement, escapism….

My approach to life makes me immensely unpopular (eh, notorious, eh!!)

Imagine life without being popular.

669 : Haiku “unblown flute” by Basho

I heard the unblown flute
In the deep tree shades
Of the temple of Suma

- Basho

668 : Respect for the wishes and peace of the dying….

I remember recently, when someone close was passing away, all of us almost unanimously agreed that its far better to let him die in peace, than to have him studded with pipes, tubes and appendages all around. Life support and ventilator be damned…..Dying is a very personal moment, lets respect that process.

I think back hard, and recall the reactions of all were unanimous, everyone signed up for this, and felt very strongly for it.

And yet….today….

Picture this……I will come back and tell you to stick a band aid on your thumb, to stop smoking, to stop drinking beer, to stop listening to Eminem, to eat less…..and a thousand other things which you might fundamentally find repulsive or “anti (your definition of ) life”. Its your life, and nothing gives me the right or freedom to bump into it. For you, (possibly), stopping smoking is just as painful as having 15 strobes connected up your shithole.  What gives me the liberty and comfort to intrude upon you this way?

My dear friend, by definition,  you are still “living”,  unlike the case above, who was clearly classified as “dying”.

What amuses me in this dialectic is the fact that, we seem to have to have forgotten that we were all born dying. Aren’t we  are all dying all the time?  Death is not a discrete process (as we all objectively perceive it to be) but in reality, its a unarguably continuous process.

Its just that for some the process of dying is a matter of days, for some others, its a horribly prolonged 83 years and 11 days.

Respect the dying. Don’t force your thoughts and views down their shitholes. Let others RIP.

667 : The King is dead, long live the king

I like Ferrari as a team, and Massa Felipe as a driver and visit espnstar.com everyday to check his status (he suffered a massive freak accident during qualifying last weekend).

Was relieved to find that he is back to consciousness.

And?

Schumi is back. Whaaaattttttttttttttt?

Yes you heard right. Michael Schumacher is going to race for Ferrari as a fill in for Massa.

To be frank, I was really losing interest in this year’s F1 and now this. Way to go Michael…..

Here is what Eddie Jordan says about Michael’s return, “

"Whether 20 or 40, I'm not sure it will make a huge difference to his reactions.

"Perhaps he may be a milli-second away, but then he was a milli- second better than anyone else."

Tune in on 23rd for the race at Valencia.

http://www.espnstar.com/motorsport/f1/news/detail/item299667/Ferrari-will-see-'new'-Raikkonen/

http://www.espnstar.com/home/news/detail/item300333/Hamilton-excited-by-Schumi-challenge-/

http://www.espnstar.com/motorsport/f1/news/detail/item299508/Schumacher-to-return-for-Ferrari/

Thursday, July 30, 2009

666 : Stanley Bing : Corporate Earnings Reporting Template

I love Stanley Bing. The guy is ridiculously funny. A bit like Dilbert, just much worse, just more sardonic, and much more insider. He can rip reputations and most of his items are highly topical.
Catch all of him at http://stanleybing.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/

I have reproduced his template for reporting corp earnings here, for easier reading....
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Today we offer a template that should be serviceable for all earnings-related stories, be they generated by a security analyst, reporter or blogger.

————————————————–
July/August __, 2009

BARFINGER CORPORATION SHOWS IMPROVED EPS GROWTH; DISAPPOINTS STREET
By Hortense Wazoo, staff reporter (or 17-year old economics student hired by the investment bank to write scary things to befuddle adults for a while)

The Barfinger Corporation today reported earnings that, because they were better than expected, threw all the people whose job it is to predict such things into a complete tizzy, confusing everybody and leaving a nasty taste in our collective mouth.

Revenue, earnings per share and cash flow were all essentially flat from year to year, a tremendous achievement in this economic climate, according to analysts, but one that might not be repeated unless it is, which would once again surprise people concerned about a dead cat bounce or green shoots that possibly could turn yellow overnight unless sufficiently watered. These concerns have a majority of observers scratching their heads and other less savory areas of interest.

This aura of doubt could land Barfinger in the heavy rough, not the kind you find on American golf courses, but the real nasty stuff you encounter at, say, Turnberry.

[NOTE to writers: The latter is a mere placeholder for the fictional Barfinger Corporation, which is in golfing supplies and horse collars. Look for a possible amusing twist on the actual entity's field of operations here, as in “finds itself in oily waters” for an energy company or “may be facing some serious static” for a media enterprise. A full list of approved cute references in this regard is available upon request.]

Even as Barfinger has been hurt by problems in its sector [again, a complete list of designated problems and their associated catchphrases may be downloaded; they include “plunging ad market,” “collapsing mortgage sector,” and “beleaguered banking institutions,” among others], it always could rely on hats, flags and beaverboard. Those businesses, of course, are all showing increased signs of wear and tear (particularly if it’s a garment-related company; if it’s ice cream, it can be said to be “melting down” and so forth).

ACTUAL REPORTED NUMBERS GO HERE, I.E.: The Company produced $___ million of operating income on revenue of $__ billion, with a significant swing in Earnings Per Share. While this shows major improvement from the fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009, everybody was looking for more while expecting less.
“They did pretty well given the total collapse of mercantile capitalism during the quarter,” said Charley Bluefin, an analyst with Dewey, Cheatham and Howe, the investment banking concern we always go to when we need our basic assumptions articulated by an ostensibly disinterested source. “But we’re going to downgrade them anyhow, since we have a sell rating out on them and really hate to look wrong.”

PLACE FOR UNSOURCED SPECULATION AND OPINION MASQUERADING AS ANALYSIS, I.E.: Rising financial distress in the associated sector/global economic situation/aroma of surrounding community is likely to damp demand for whatever it is they do. And a growing wave of bankruptcies could mean that existing long term assumptions might be possibly impacted, or could be, if they were. [N.B.: MAINTAIN CONDITIONAL TENSE.] In fact, deals with a number of Barfinger’s suppliers show that the economic downturn is placing all business related to its operations in mortal danger. Many are not expected to live, or if they do, to require a respirator for years to come.

Barfinger is by far the biggest supplier of ___________ to the entire world. Being a leader puts it in the greatest possible danger, and will, it is thought by some who will remain unnamed, bring the company to its knees by next ________ (pick day of the week). Those percentages will likely rise this year, as other undesignated stuff that bolsters our assumptions declines.
For some reason, Barfinger’s stock went down __% in early trading immediately following this report.

[STOCK SYMBOL; REPORTER CONTACT INFORMATION]

665 : Jargonbuster - 2 : "are you on top of it?"

Background : "Are you on top of it?" is a way of asking do you understand every aspect of the problem in question, with all the latest updates on it. (It has nothing to do with sexual innuendo please!!)
Usage
1. World war II is on. Sonia to Manmohan, "Are you on top of it?"
2. Water cooler is not working. My boss to me, "Are you on top of it?"
3. Bulb not working in the kitchen. My wife "Amit, are you on top of it?"
Fun Fact
Getting on top of things, is now a corporate obsession. If you are not on top of your game (term for whatever it is you do), you are sadly going to be fucked anytime soon....The ridiculous-ness of this excerise gets into your skin at times. People at janitor levels want to be on top of the company's bottom line, and the CXO wants to know the number of wicks in the janitor's broom. Get the drift?

Do read http://spinningawheel.blogspot.com/2009/07/637-when-do-you-tell-your-boss-stanley.html

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

664 : Jargonbuster - 1 : "strategic" versus "tactical"

Background : These two words mean exactly two opposite ends of the spectrum. To do something for the short-term, means you are working on a "tactical" fix, and if you are doing it for the long-haul, it is termed "strategic". Usually anything above 12 months terms to classified long-haul.
Usage
1. Using Internet Explorer is "tactical", a more "strategic" solution would be if we moved all to firefox.
2. Ravan is an imbecile, but he is all we have, lets use him in the "tactical" term, Ram will eventually replace him as part of a "strategic" initiative.
3. Amit is very tactical driven, (a shrug of the shoulders as in to say poor fellow) he just cannot think strategic.
Fun Facts:
Invariably, there is nothing strategic or thought through in "strategic" work, except that we expect the utility of the task to run into 10+ months. Similarly, you might do a well thought utility item, but which lasts only 2 months and this will be called "tactical". So you game the system, by making the lifespan of the activity in question "appear" to be more than an year.

663 : Jargonbuster

If you work in a corporate wormhole like I do, you pick up these abstruse uses of english as a language, which are totally hilarious when heard out of context. A few months ago, I decided I was going to start a series on this one.
I have finally gotten down to doing it. In the next few months, lets see how far this junky monkey can go.
Contributions invited.

662 : Until it sleeps....

When you are seeing too much of my fuckety tickety "drawing room" preaching/meditations & prosetlyizing, you can be very sure, that I have not been sleeping well. Its almost 12 at night today, thats the 2nd time this week, I have struggled to sleep.
Are the miles over?

661 : Black is the color of the beast (and T-Ford)

I am in such a black mood today, and visibly my previous posts convey that. Don’t color me bad, I am not always like that!!

660 : Life on the other side….

We are turning unabashedly nuclear. I look at my own life, we want to define it in terms of “me”, my wife, my child, my house and my job.

Very conveniently, parents, childhood friends, brothers…. (in essence everything that you cherish and hold precious) are relegated to the background drone….and the foreground is completely appropriated by the “my” choir.

I sometimes sit and wonder, how lonely it must be for the older generation? No job, no dream, no challenge, no object of affection….just easing into oblivion? Do I deserve this when I will be 70? Then why does my dad get this doled out?

My world is an unfair world.

659 : A friend in deed is a friend indeed….

Someone who is closer than a friend, a buddy, a brother and a pal (even if they are all put together)…commented on my blog yday. The irony, I have not spoken to him in years.

I never knew he had a blog.

I am old enough to hate surprises. Must say this has been one of the best ones in a long time. I felt as I had walked into a coal mine and stumbled upon the Kohinoor.

My alter ego. Muaaahhhh !!! back to you

658 : Them, Us and I

I missed someone’s bday today. Someone who is a part of me.

Why did I miss it? Because of some screwed up office work?

Would I have missed it if it was my kid’s bday, or my wife’s bday, or my own? (actually the last example, is a complete non-event in my head….so excuse that)

My point, we conveniently renegade on what we don't want to do. We distinguish between what needs to be done, and what can be missed.

My life is fuckfest of negotiation. Every waking minute is one of them.

I chose to miss someone’s bday today, could have made it if I wanted to, and it makes me sad, knowing that my priorities are all screwed up.

Another life and I shall start with a fresh baseline  :-)

657 : On the road to hell…

33 is a age where you liked to be defined as “young, dashing and handsome” and not as a biased shit-hole wag.

Come 33, and I have figured I have become a flammable tinderbox, a walking cauldron of biases.

Someone I was speaking to the other day, consoled me, “only the strong-willed and heavy headed chaps develop biases”, what she meant was I was both “strong of opinion” and “brainy”.

Dil ke rekhne ke liye yeh khayal be acha hain” (Ghalib  says, “To suit one’s point, that is indeed a good argument”).

I honestly think it is too much self-indulgence…..its too much narcissism.

A bias in my opinion is nothing but a defence outpost. A ring you draw around your own weak points, a perimeter around your own shaky road, albeit a straight rocky road to hell.

Monday, July 27, 2009

656 : Empty by Rumi, from "Bridge to the soul", translated by Coleman Barks

Come out here where the roses have opened.
Let soul and world meet.

The sun has drawn a fine-tempered
blade of light. We may as well surrender.

Laugh at the ugly arrogance you see.
Weep for those seperated from the friend.

The city seethes with rumor.
Some madman has escaped the prison.

Or is a revolution beginning?
What day is it?

Is this when all we have done and been
will be publicly known?

With no thinking and no emotion,
with no ideas about the soul,
and no language,
these drums are saying how empty we are.

-Rumi, "Bridge to the soul" translated by Coleman Barks

655 : Haiku on frog by Basho

The old pond,
A frog jumps in, -
The sound of water.

654 : I am being observed

On the net, I mean...
Google tells me 30 people visit my site everday on an average for the past 1 year. More than 98% search for me on google and reach me, and they search for "amitabh iyer blog".

This to me is very perplexing. I could imagine 25 people searching for me in the first month (my entire acquantaince list adds up close to 30), but for some "30" people to do it day on day.....either I am really popular, or my audience does not know what a bookmark is.

I think I need to meditate under a tamarind tree on this topic.

653 : Restaurants @ London

I have not travelled much of London, but in my limited stay I could make the following observations and ratings.
1. Tiffinbites - Good Indian food - served hot in dabbas. @ St. Paul's Cathedral & @ Canary Wharf. Rated 7/10. Has very good veg options.
2. Pret - A - Manger - Good fresh sandwitches - Has good hot wraps and soups at lunchtime. Rated 7/10. Its all over the place.
3. Wagamama - have eaten at the one @ Canary Wharf. Great healthy food. Lots of veggie options. Rated 9/10
4. Benares - Atul Kochhar's Michelin Star rated restaurant. Over-hyped and not at all VFM. Rated 6/10 simply because food was good, but very expensive. This one is near Regent Street.
5. Haz - The turkish joint. Ate at the one on Fenchurh street one. Turkish food not to my taste. Overall 5/10.
6. Soho Pizzeria - in the lane adjoining Hamleys on Regent Street. Remains one of my favorite place to eat. Rated 9/10. The best hand made pizzas I have eaten in my life, and I have eaten here at least 5 times over a 4 year period, so they are consistent.

More to come at a later date.

652 : What looks perfect, must be....

You look at a Ricky Ponting (or a Sachin) century and then you catch a VVS Laxman century.... You watch a Stanley Kubrick "Shining" and then you watch in 2009 remake of shining... You eat mummy's (or spousies) dal and then you eat restuarant dal.... You hear Pt. Bhimsen Joshi sing Raag Megh, and then you listen to Raag Megh in a Mahesh Bhatt movie.... Get the drift?

At a gross level, all looks perfect. At a granular level, they are light years away from each other. You cannot replace Kubrick's insane brilliance, even if we gave the best directors today unlimited budgets.

What makes the seemingly complete, incomplete? What makes you say, "This dal is perfect, but not like my mommy's"?

What makes you look at your "seemingly" perfect life, and say, maybe a red here and the blue there can make it a little more perfect ? We need to remember that perfection is never achieved, limiting factors will always kick in.

Points to ponder
- do we realise what the "limiting factors" are
- do we give up in the face of "limiting factors"
- can I define what "my" "perfection" is?

651 : When you travel, your mind stops wandering

I returned from another quick business trip. Everytime I travel either on a vacation or a business trip (summary - everytime I break my routine day job), I return extremely introspective.

And when I mean introspective, I mean it in a deeply rummaging fashion, which means my internals are all topsy turvy, my thoughts are running rickety tickety, and my mind is like an inverted image of that of Dalai Lama.

What does it for me? I don't know, but I question, I search, I enquire for that elusive sense of purpose and drive that will take me closer to "meaning". I wanted to use the word "truth" (then I said WTF, I dont want to do an IP violation on the father of the nation).

I was always a bifocal kid. Having no direction, yet a sense of purpose....having no talent, but a passion....having no output, but with a curiosity like a sponge....having no winner, but being okay at my imperfect world.

Today, when I look ahead, I still want to do so much. There is miles to go (not sure when I will sleep though!!) I am 33, the ideal heady cocktail for a mid-life crisis. I can't ruminate any more.

Will I ever have a future? Will I ever get a corner office? Will I ever run 42k? Will I ever learn to play a single correct note of music? Will I ever see the other side of canvas, it might be silk? Will I ever be a "good" family guy? Will I long enough to tell? Will it ever matter? Everytime I break my routine, my mind runs like a headless chicken.

Ignore my rant, but do tell me, given this war poetry (in a 80 piece orchestra running) in my head....is travel a good trick for me or a bad lemon?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

650 : The Doctor is Within by Pico Iyer at NYTimes.com

Another brilliant one by Pico Iyer at NY Times (Iam now beginning to believe NYTimes could be one of the best journals on this planet) http://happydays.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/the-doctor-is-within/

Reproduced below for easier reading.

July 22, 2009, 10:38 pm

The Doctor Is Within

By Pico Iyer

Dalai Lama

Associated Press/Ashwini Bhatia Dalai Lama speaking last month to Tibetan students at the Tibetan Children’s Village School in Dharmsala, India, about the principles of Buddhism.

“Dream — nothing!” is one of the many things I’ve heard the 14th Dalai Lama say to large audiences that seem to startle the unprepared. Just before I began an onstage conversation with him at New York Town’s Hall this spring, he told me, “If I had magical powers, I’d never need an operation!” and broke into guffaws as he thought of the three-hour gallbladder operation he’d been through last October, weeks after being in hospital for another ailment. For a Buddhist, after all, our power lies nowhere but ourselves.
We can’t change the world except insofar as we change the way we look at the world — and, in fact, any one of us can make that change, in any direction, at any moment. The point of life, in the view of the Dalai Lama, is happiness, and that lies within our grasp, our untapped potential, with every breath.

Easy for him to say, you might scoff. He’s a monk, he meditates for four hours as soon as he wakes up and he’s believed by his flock to be an incarnation of a god.* Yet when you think back on his circumstances, you recall that he was made ruler of a large and fractious nation when he was only 4 years old. He was facing a civil war of sorts in Lhasa when he was just 11, and when he was 15, he was made full political leader and had to start protecting his country against Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, leaders of the world’s largest (and sometimes least tractable) nation.

 

This spring marked the completion of half a century for him in exile, trying to guide and serve 6 million Tibetans he hasn’t seen in 50 years, and to rally 150,000 or so exiled Tibetans who have in most cases never seen Tibet. This isn’t an obvious recipe for producing a vividly contagious optimism.

Yet in 35 years of talking to the Dalai Lama, and covering him everywhere from Zurich to Hiroshima, as a non-Buddhist, skeptical journalist, I’ve found him to be as deeply confident, and therefore sunny, as anyone I’ve met. And I’ve begun to think that his almost visible glow does not come from any mysterious or unique source. Indeed, mysteries and rumors of his own uniqueness are two of the things that cause him most instantly to erupt into warm laughter. The Dalai Lama I’ve seen is a realist (which is what makes his optimism the more impressive and persuasive). And he’s as practical as the man he calls his “boss.”

The Buddha generally presented himself as more physician than metaphysician: if an arrow is sticking out of your side, he famously said, don’t argue about where it came from or who made it; just pull it out. You make your way to happiness not by fretting about it or trafficking in New Age affirmations, but simply by finding the cause of your suffering, and then attending to it, as any doctor (of mind or body) might do.

The first words the Dalai Lama said when he came into exile, I learned not long ago, were “Now we are free.” He had just lost his homeland, his seeming destiny, contact with the people he had been chosen to rule; he had been forced to undergo a harrowing flight for 14 days across the highest mountains in the world. But his first instinct — the result of training and teaching, no doubt, as much as of temperament — was to look at what he could do better. Now.

He could bring democratic and modern reforms to the Tibetan people that he might not so easily have done in old Tibet. He and his compatriots could learn from Western science and other religions, and give something back to them. He could create a new, improved Tibet — global and contemporary — outside Tibet. The very condition that most of us would see as loss, severance and confinement, he saw as possibility.

Not all Tibetans can be quite so sanguine and far-sighted, of course, and in terms of a resolution of Tibet’s political predicament with China, the Dalai Lama has made no visible progress in 50 years. Beijing is only coming down harder and harder on Tibet, as he frankly admits. But when I watch him around the world, I see that he’s visiting other countries and traditions in part to offer concrete, practical tips for happiness, or inner health, the way any physician might when making a house call. Think in terms of enemies, he suggests, and the only loser is yourself.

Concentrate on external wealth, he said at Town Hall, and at some point you realize it has limits — and you’re still feeling discontented. Take his word as law, he constantly implies, and you’re doing him — as well as yourself — a disservice, as you do when assuming that any physician is infallible, or can protect his patients from death in the end.

None of these are Buddhist laws as such — though in his case they arise from Buddhist teaching — any more than the law of universal gravitation is Christian, just because it happened to be formulated by Isaac Newton (who said, “God created everything by number, weight and measure”). I’ve been spending time for 18 years in a Benedictine monastery, and the monks I know there have likewise found out how to be delighted by the smallest birthday cake. Happiness is not pleasure, they know, and unhappiness, as the Buddhists say, is not the same as suffering. Suffering — in the sense of old age, sickness and death — is the law of life; unhappiness is just the position we choose — or can not choose — to bring to it.

Not long ago, I was traveling with the Dalai Lama across Japan and another journalist came into our bullet-train compartment for an interview. “Your Holiness,” he said, “you have seen so much sorrow and loss in your life. Your people have been killed and your country has been occupied. You have had to worry about the welfare of Tibet every day since you were four years old. How can you always remain so happy and smiling?”

”My profession,” said the Dalai Lama instantly, as if he hardly had to think about it. His answer could mean many things, but one of the better things it meant to me was that that kind of happiness is within the reach of almost anyone. We can work on it as we work on our backhands, our souffl├ęs or our muscles in the gym. True happiness, in that sense, doesn’t mean trying to acquire things, so much as letting go of things (our illusions and attachments). It’s only the clouds of short-sightedness or ignorance, the teachers from the Dalai Lama’s tradition suggest, that prevent us from seeing that our essential nature, whether we’re Buddhist or not, is blue sky.


* Some commenters to this post have disagreed with the statement that the Dalai Lama is considered to be an incarnation of a god. The Dalai Lama often describes Buddhism as a “non-theistic” philosophy, in which there’s no need of belief in a Creator. But Tibetan cosmology — as in many other Buddhist cultures — has created various gods, perhaps to represent certain qualities, and the Dalai Lama is seen as an incarnation of Chenrezig, a deity who has chosen to remain on earth to help people achieve enlightenment. To the non-Buddhist world, the Dalai Lama always presents himself as just another human, like us, or like the Buddha; but within the Tibetan context, he has this other dimension.


Author Photo

Pico Iyer is the author of nine books, most recently, “The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama,” just out in paperbac

649 : Movie 31 : Franklyn

Saw a Brit movie called Franklyn. Tries to masquerade as an art movie, but honestly goes nowhere in my opinion.

Having said that:
1. Some of the characters are etched out brilliantly.
2. The world of the past, really conveys a true gothic sense. Excellent use of camera and techniques.
3. Eva Green has done a outstanding job of a artist with an over the edge troubled past.
4. Some excellent dialogues.

"If a god is willing to prevent evil, but not able, then he is not omnipotent. If he is able, but not willing, then he must be malevolent. If he is neither able or willing, then why call him a god?”

7/10 for those 4 aspects. Watch it, if you plan to make a movie or are learning it. Just remember, every movie needs to have a purpose and a plot – esp. if it is made for commercial entertainment. This director seems to have forgotten that.

Emilia (Eva Green) franklyn-jonathan-preest

648 : Lars von Trier in FT.com

Who the F is Lars Von Trier?

Welcome the dark brave world of darker movies. He has previously made “The Idiots”, “Dogville” and now “AntiChrist”.

Why are we talking about him?

1. He is from the “dark” side (not in a noir sense, but in a “real” sense). He sees “grief” as more overbearing than the “joy” at life. (and the connection with “me” is…well, forget it, save that for another post).
2. His views exactly echo a few of mine. (We all like our mirror images…at least I do)…..
3. If I do get a chance, will buy”Antichrist” on DVD.

 

Excerpts from the interview at Ft.com ….

But there are, admittedly, few laughs in Antichrist. The film opens with a couple (Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe) making love while their neglected toddler son slips and falls out of a window to his death. They retreat to a cabin in the woods to help them overcome their grief but nature, in its wildest and most primeval form, has the opposite effect: the couple attempt, in graphic and horrific detail, to destroy each other.

Forget the bloody mutilations, I say. As the father of a young son, it is the first 10 minutes that are the most unbearable to watch. “Yes,” he nods. “I have four children. You think that the more that you have, the easier it gets but that is not how it is. You worry more and more.”

So it is a film primarily about the intensity of grief? He bridles. He has publicly admitted that the work was born of depression and is reluctant to talk about it in any other terms than as a dream-like expression of “deep anxieties”. Was it at least cathartic for him? “The only thing I know is that the practice of making the film was good for me. I wrote it really quickly just to do something instead of lying down looking at the wall. I didn’t really care for it while I was making it. I care for it now.”

I say the film is relentlessly bleak but he demurs. “If you know a little about cognitive therapy, which I have undergone for two years, the way it is written about in the film is quite sarcastic. He [the therapist played by Dafoe] is a very rational man, and one of the jokes is that as a therapist you would, typically, say that anxieties are never real: they are only thoughts. But this film shows the opposite – the more thoughts you have, the more they can become real.”

and elsewhere…

ask what his future plans are. “Nothing,” he replies with foreboding. “I am taking some time off, which I am very bad at. All your psychic problems tend to explode when you do nothing.” Does he ever come to London. “Yes, but I am terrible on ships.” There is a tunnel, I say. “No, I couldn’t do that. Do you do that?” I confess a little guiltily that I have no problem with any form of transport whatsoever. “I would have to have a lot of therapy before I did that. I like to stay at home.”

He calls me a taxi and leads me out, past a well-kept vegetable garden. I express my admiration and we stop for a moment. “It is very fascistic, he says. “You take out the weak and the strong remain. It’s like ethnic cleansing.”

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647 : Movie 30 : Daniel Craig’s Layer Cake

My first Daniel Craig movie. A very engrossing movie about a drug dealer’s life. It has a lot of the twists and turns that keeps you riveted.

Another British movie. A very watchable movie.

Mr. Craig looks handsome and can act very well.

A 9/10, for being a engrossing thriller….

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646 : Movie 29 : In the loop (British Comedy)

If you are a Snatch, “Lock, stock & 2 smoking barrels” fan…..you will drool on “In the loop” – British political satire.

The use of cuss words and creative abuses is so over the top that after a point you start missing the laugh, because you are still struggling to make sense of the “insult”.

Definitely worth a watch. Read some of the dialogues here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1226774/quotes

A 8/10 for being a laugh a riot.

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645 : Movie 28 : Monsters vs Aliens

A nice feelgood movie, great graphics. Must see for kids, a bit violent in pieces but very funny at other places. Overall, clean entertainement.

I wish I could have caught this on 3-D. I would rate it 7/10. Good movie to watch with kids.

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644 : Movie 27 : Jerichow (German)

Watched this German movie called “Jerichow”. A typical dark noir movie – well constructed, taut and with a typical (again!!) noir ending.

The movie shows Germany, as I would have never seen it.

This is my second German movie (“The Lives of others”, being the first one).

This is not as good as “the lives of others” which was outstanding. This one is good, imminently watchable.

I would rate it below our own “Manorama Six feet Under”. Overall 7/10.

Jerichow at IMDB Jerichow (2008)

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

643 : Movie 26 : The Bucket List




Watched this Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman movie named "The bucket list" about 2 terminally ill patients who set out to experience everything they would like to "do" before they die.
Unlike most movies I end up catching, I enjoyed this one. There is a sense of melancholy mixed with humor.
I wondered what would my own "bucket list" might contain. Look to the left bar on this blog, a few sample items are already there.
One shocking insight out of this introspection (shocking even for me) - what I do in my everyday life is in no way linked to items on my bucket list.....Let me explain, "A Corner Office" would have been an item so much more in line with my daily grind.
On the other hand, my items seem disconnected from my "everyday". For example, to climb Everest, I need to be fit, am I working on that? Nah.....The story of my life, is it?
Coming back to the movie, I rate it 9 by 10 for being a honest, tongue in cheek and interesting movie which forces you to think.

642 : Similarities between Marklar's from South Park & the Japanese


Spousy and I both like South Park, in case you did not already know my sense of humor is very perverse.

In one of our fav episodes (google tells me it is #311), there is an intelligent race called Marklars, who refer to all proper and common nouns as Marklar. "Marklar is posting this Marklar on a Marklar, which is hosted at Marklar" (Amit is posting this item on a blog which is hosted at blogspot)....is a perfectly legal sentence in Marklar dialect.
One of characters ask the Marklar lead, "isn't this very confusing"....he says "No" and then says "Marklar step forward" and then one of the people from his team (supposedly the Marklar he was referring to) steps forward.....

Hope you get the drift....the episode is hilarious to watch.

Switch back to real life. I have been working with Japanese folks for quite a few months. In corporate circles, their first names have no usage at all. So for example, "Niko Hayashi" will become Hayashi San and so will "Takako Hayashi"....and all other Hayashi's.

The fun part is when you are in a meeting with 3 Hayashi's and 6 Suzuki's.

Its amusing and amazing to see (how just like the Marklar's) when the boss says "Suzuki San, can you handle this?"....always, the right "Suzuki San" says "hai" (Yes).

I wonder how do they do it? Are they as advanced as the Marklars. Hope to resolve this mystery one day.


From http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Marklar

"Marklar, these marklars want to change your marklar. They don't want this Marklar or any of his marklars to live here because it's bad for their marklar. They use Marklar to try and force marklars to believe their marklar. If you let them stay here, they will build marklars and marklars. They will take all your marklars and replace them with their marklar. These marklars have no good marklar to live on Marklar, so they must come here to Marklar. Please, let these marklars stay where they can grow and prosper without any marklars, marklars, or marklars. "

641 : Tamil Poetry - Three Poles by S Vaidheeswaran

At a dizzy height,
A bird,
An illusion
Of touching the moon


"If the moon is so near,
Why not bring
A pinch of moon to me".

Mused the Earth.

"This bird
Keeps slamming
At the obstinate earth -
Is she blind?
Can't she see my cool face?"
Brooded the moon.

In between
The parrot
Knew but little
Except the flutter of its wings.

(From Tamil New Poetry, translated by Dr. KS Subramanian, a katha.org book)

640 : Tamil Poetry - untitled by Azhagunila

Rain
Poured in torrents
Still

Not more than six or seven droplets
Could linger
On the power line

(From Tamil New Poetry, translated by Dr. KS Subramanian, a katha.org book)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

639 : Zen 3 – We are a function of….Dalai Lama

Many creatures have toiled jointly or singly to make our lives comfortable. The food we eat and the clothes we wear have not just dropped from the sky. Many creatures have labored to produce them. That is why we should be grateful to our fellow creatures.

- Dalai Lama

Sounds simple, yet it is very insightful isn't it. We often forget these facts in our lives. How many hands have worked on that piece of bread you are chewing right now…..Think and wonder?

638 : Am I a techie?

Was speaking to an acquaintance of mine, whose blog seemed to focus only on Java and the latest development in that language and libraries.

He seemed so genuinely kicked up about “Jersey”, “JAXP”…and the ilk. I gamely played on, until he commented on this blog. His point was “Amit, you have lost touch with your roots, you have forgotten that you like technology. You are now behaving like a “manager” (manager in India always has –ve connotations). Your blog has little or no technology at all. Are you not kicked by it at all? Why dont you follow latest from the Sun, Microsoft, Oracle stable – its fundamental to our business.”

Looking at it objectively, parts of what he said were true:
1. My blog is almost bereft of anything hi-tech.
2. I know more about the earnings estimates of Sun(now IBM) and Oracle, than their latest product offerings.
3. I dont track latest happenings in .NET, Java or any other programming language.

Question is, does that mean I not a “techie”?

I started programming when I was 10, worked my way through BASIC and C pointers and TSR (Al Stevens, anyone…). I chose my career instead of it becoming a force due to monetary causes. I really loved programming as a kid and even now. I like to go hack at it whenever I get the chance. I recently wanted to pick up the Lego Mindstrorm, so that I could do 4-bit coding again and “build it all up from scratch”.

Where I seem to have lost it, is what I call as “the familiarity premium” space. Today a techie is valued because he follows the latest in Java or .NET or Oracle, and not because he is a good coder or a good db tuner….which is kind of very sad.

I dont have any interest or passion in following a space for no real end. I would rather leave it to people who get a kick out of it. I have no desire to know more about Java or any other jack-bunny programming language.

I am more into video editing, music creation, photography, motor technology….and the whole gamut.

Am I suited for the industry I work? Don’t know. Over years, its become more mindless drivel and herd driven. Creativity is discouraged instead of being at a premium.

Am I a techie? I still dont know the answer.

What I do know, my blog will continue to be as is. Stasis.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

637 : When do you tell your boss – Stanley Bing from Fortune

I like Stanley Bing, and I like the way he decimates everyday corporate reality….a la Dilbert. Here in this article, he covers my favorite anguish – the boss’ desire “to be on top of things”. Read on to have a laugh and a fart :-)

(You can catch it at http://stanleybing.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2009/06/16/when-do-you-tell-your-boss/ I have reproduced it here for easier reading)

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There have been several kerfluffles around my office recently, all revolving around the same issue: What do you tell your boss and when? This would seem to be a simple question, but it’s not. First, it depends on the boss. Some guys (and in that category I, as always, include women guys) want to know nothing until it rears up and bites them in the butt, and then you should have told them. Others want to know what color tie or scarf you’re planning to wear next Thursday. And the target moves. On Monday, Chet may want to know everything. On Tuesday, you can’t rouse him from his slumber.

So what’s a poor employee to do? Take this quiz and see how sensitive you are. How you score may determine whether or not you have a future.

1. You have a big party coming up and you’re trying to decide what canapes to serve. Do you tell the boss?

a. No, that’s ridiculous.

b. Of course! She likes to know every little detail!

c. Not really, except I make sure to have those little empanadas she likes so much.

2. You’re going on vacation next month. Do you tell the boss?

a. No. My life is my own!

b. Of course. He likes to know every detail.

c. I’m going to check the dates to make sure it coincides with his vacation as much as possible, but in the end I’m going to do what I have to do, making sure that he and his assistant know what my plans are.

3. You’re going to have a meeting with a bunch of people about something that may or may not happen sometime in the future. Do you tell the boss?

a. No! I’ll tell him about it when he needs to know.

b. Of course. I don’t floss without telling him everything.

c. Yeah, I’ll shoot him an e-mail, just an FYI. Some people are attending who may mention it to him and then he’ll feel like he’s out of the loop. He hates that.

4. Your division is about to make a big deal with another company. It’s going to be announced next Tuesday. Do you tell the boss?

a. I’ll tell her Tuesday morning. You know, give her a “heads-up.”

b. I’ll tell her about the whole thing right now, before we even talk to Law and Public Relations. She’s going to want to go over this thing from top to bottom!

c. I’ll get all the moving pieces started, and then dial her in, probably on Friday. That will give her the weekend to go over the paper and think about what we might have missed.

5. You’re getting a divorce. Your life is a shambles. Do you tell the boss?

a. Definitely! He’ll feel really sorry for me!

b. I’ll mope around until he asks me what’s wrong. Then I’ll tell him everything. For a LONG time.

c. I’ll mention it. Since it’s not about him, he’ll have limited interest in it, but he ought to know in case I flake out a little bit in the coming months.

SCORING: Score yourself 1 point for every a. answer, which is a low score because you’re a really stinky communicator and a bad employee. Score yourself 2 points for every b. answer, because while you’re a suckup, you’re erring on the right side by reaching out and trying to make your boss aware of things. You’re likely to be a pretty big pain in the a**, though. Keep that in mind. Score yourself 3 points for every c. answer, because you’re clearly trying to address the issue with subtlety and modulation. You may not get it right every time, but you’re trying to play it a situation at a time and neither tell too much or too little. So good for you.

As always, the higher you score, the higher your score. Give yourself a point for trying. Trying counts.

636 : Eyes

Yesterday, I strayed into those eyes. They looked calm, content and reassured. And yet, there was a sense of becoming, a pregnant precursor, a forebode in them.

As if you were staring at life and death at the same time….and that my friend, can be the closest I have gotten to epiphany.

635 : Knower of tongues – Mirza Ghalib

If there is a knower of tongues, fetch him:
There is a stranger in the city,
And he has many things to say.

(Mirza Ghalib, translated by SR Faruqi, from the first page of “The enchantress of Florence” By Salman Rushdie)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

634 : Music 51 : Dhan Te Nan (From Kaminey)

Should go straight up there with the top songs for 2009. If I were to rate for this year, I would put

1. Arziyan (From Delhi 6)
2. Masakalli (From Delhi 6)
3. Dhan Te Nan (From Kaminey)

Of course bubbling under, is Pehli Baar Mohabbat (from Kaminey again!!). This year has been a drought. Hardly any good songs coming our way.

Dhan Te Nan is outstanding gushes of vocals from Sukhwinder and Vishal Dadlani. Lyrics are cool (Gulzar) and music is riffy and rocky (Vishal Bharadwaj)

I have added my own translations where I think it would matter.

[Aaja aaja dil nichode, raat ki matki tode,
Koi goodluck nikaale, aaj gullak to phode] -2 times

(Come on, lets squeeze the (items in the) heart,
                     Lets break the vase of the night,
Remove the good luck (out) of the (broken) part,
                    Today, lets break the piggy bank (right!!)

[Hai till till taala mera teli ka tel,
Hai kaudi kaudi paisa paisa paise ka khel]- 2 times

(My bottle is made of several drops of oil,
This game of money is made of coins and coins of toil)

Chal chal sadko pe hogi dhan tan,
[Dhan te nan, te ne ne na…. ]– 3 times

Aaja aaja dil nichode, raat ki matki tode,
Koi goodluck nikaale, aaj gullak to phode…
Aaaja aaja….

Heyyy…aaja aaja…

Aaja ki oneway hai yeh zindagi ki gali,
Ek hi chance hai,
Aage hawa hi hawa hai agar saans hai to,
Yeh romance hai.

(One way street – that is this life,
                           This is the only chance (we) have,
Future looks windy, if the breath is rife….
                            Then this is a romantic wave….

Heyyy…
Aaja ki oneway hai yeh zindagi ki gali,
Ek hi chance hai,
Aage hawa hi hawa hai agar saans hai to,
Yeh romance hai.

Yahi kehte hai yahi sunte hai,
Jo bhi jaata hai jaata hai,
Wo phir se aata nahi.

(This is what we have said and heard,
One who goes never comes back again…)

Aaj ya kal nichode, saath ki matki tode,
Koi goodluck nikale, aaj gullak to phode.
Hai till till taala mera teli ka tel,
Hai kaudi kaudi paisa paisa paise ka khel
Chal chal sadko pe hogi dhan tan,
[Dhan te nan, te ne ne na…. ]– 3 times

[Koi chaal aisi chalo yaar ab ki samandar bhi pull pe chale,
Fir tu chale uss pe, ya main chalu shehar ho apne pairon tale]- 2 times

(Walk the walk in such a way that even the ocean clings to the bridge,
Then, whether you and me walk on it, (dont matter), we are the (still) the rulers of the ground beneath our feet!!)

Kahin khabrein hai, kahin khabrein hai,
Jo bhi soye hai khabron mein unko jagaana nahi.
(There is news here and there,
Lets wake those who are still sleeping (inspite of being part of the news))

Hooo aaja aaja dil nichode, raat ki matki tode,
Koi goodluck nikaale, aaj gullak to phode…
Aaja..aaja…

[Hai till till taala mera teli ka tel,
Hai kaudi kaudi paisa paisa paise ka khel] -2 times

Chal chal sadko pe hogi dhan tan,
[Dhan te nan, te ne ne na….] – 3 times

jun-kaminay

Sunday, July 05, 2009

633 : The confused Buddha

Amitabha2

My name means “Buddha of Infinite Light”. Well, thats where the similarities end :-)

I want to practise non-violence, but my life often makes it difficult for me to do it. I tried giving up egg, honey, leather and have returned to all of it.

Yesterday, I had a piece of chicken. What was going on within me? Confusion and a sense of spatial divorce (whoa!! figure that out!!)

I had got Pest Control done at my home a day before, must have killed around 800 bugs at least. I paid for it, initiated it knowing fully well that I will murder lives….

Would Buddha have signed up for this…never!!

This goes to one of the Zen Stories. A disciple asks his master, “ I am having to kill chicken to feed myself, but I would rather not kill the mother hen, who has potential to bless more lives…I would rather kill the baby chicks.”

The master pauses and thinks, if you do have to kill for meat, then kill an elephant. With one life you can feed a village.

632 : Avoid the Yellow Fever (Review - The Yellow Chilli @ Powai Hiranandani)

Sri – Smi, Vivek, Vinod and Pratibha (and 3 motley kids) had all congregated at the “new do” (we are family men, so “do” never refers to a speak-easy) @ Powai……the esoteric (name only !!) “The Yellow Chilli”.

10 Reasons why you MUST visit “The Yellow Chilli” @ Powai

1. You like standard dishes served to you with exotic names, but with little else.
2. You like to order starters which never reach your table (We ordered starters, waited for 45 minutes, before we realised the order had mistakenly been not punched in…how convenient. And oh by the way, if you ask the host, “whats for starters”, he says, “we have aperitif”…ah!! minnows like me need to learn some french)
3. You like Margarita’s served to you warm and fuzzy…a la red wine @ 18 degrees or so.
4. You like Indian breads (rotis, naans, kulchas) served cold and rubbery.
5. Your little toddler hurts yourself, she pukes, the tiny one cries, but no help is forthcoming. (You are born alone, you die alone…so might as well, handle yourself @ “The Yellow Chilli”)
6. Managers in ties keep floating around only to collect cash and checks. (Cash is king, service is incidental).
7. You like going to restaurants where the your host cannot describe the dish, cannot pronounce it, and worse still has no clue that minor customization is the first cornerstone of a good desi restaurant (try asking a dish to be slightly more spicy.)
8. You walk into an empty restaurant (at 7pm), but they ask you to wait outside for 10 minutes, because they are “ preparing the table”.
9. Mint @ the end of the meal, will be delivered to your table, only if you ask for it. (Ah, the joys of eating Chicken Tikka and stinking there after).
10. You write a big “zero” in the “tip column”, and a big rant in the feedback form, and the manager reads it, smiles, says “thank you” and walks away. Buddy….take my advice, conversation (sometimes) helps.

Meal for two will cost 800, and it will be a watershed moment in your gastronomic history. This is your chance, go write the pages of  your memory….before this place closes down.

This is one heck of a memorable meal. I hope I live to tell this to my grand-children of its notoriety :-)

631 : Rains @ Hiranandani Powai on 4th July

Shot from a high rise….

 

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Someone told me long ago theres a calm before the storm,
I know; its been comin for some time.
When its over, so they say, itll rain a sunny day,
I know; shinin down like water.


I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know, have you ever seen the rain
Comin down on a sunny day?

Yesterday, and days before, sun is cold and rain is hard,
I know; been that way for all my time.
til forever, on it goes through the circle, fast and slow,
I know; it cant stop, I wonder.
Yeah!

(Have you ever seen the Rain, by Creedence Clearwater Revival. My personal favorite though is a version of the same song played-live by REM+Dire Straits)

630 : First Rains @ Hiranandani Powai, shot on 26th June 09

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Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
And where have you been my darling young one?"


"I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans"

"I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain a-gonna fall"

"Oh, what did you see, my blue eyed son?
And what did you see, my darling young one?"

"I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'"

"I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain a-gonna fall"

"And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?"

"I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin'
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin'
I heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin'"
"I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin'
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
I heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley

And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall"

"Oh, what did you meet my blue-eyed son?
And who did you meet, my darling young one?"

"I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow"
"I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded in hatred

And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall"

"And what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what'll you do now, my darling young one?"

"I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'
I'll walk to the deepths of the deepest dark forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters"
"Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner's face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where the souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number"
"And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it
And I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'
But I'll know my song well before I start singin'

And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall"

(A Hard Rain’s gonna fall – Boy Dylan, remains one of my all time fav. songs – read the lyrics carefully, better poetry is hard to come by)

629 : I am incorrigible

Still tracking markets. Still expect them to fall by 30% at least. Why? Well, in the first place, there was no reason for them to rise.

I am 100% cash at this point.

(Hic!! Hic!!) every time I have said something like this, the markets have gone and done the exact opposite of what I expected them to.

You bull out there, I am your best friend :-)