Friday, June 27, 2008

PDA - hunt and haunt

I've decided to buy a PDA.

I'm getting rid of my Nokia E65. No, nothing wrong with the phone. Trust me, it's great! But it is not serving my purpose, which is connectivity. By connectivity, I mean I want my emails, my calender, my files etc accessible to me 24/7. I spend 3 hrs in the car daily traveling to and fro from work. And on most days, I need to be wired. Having a laptop is ok but again, everytime I need internet on the move, I need to connect it to, yes, my cellphone (which doubles up as a modem). So I decided to modify this chain a bit. From Me -> Cellphone -> Laptop -> Work to Me -> Cellphone -> Work.

Easier said than done. This is going to have repercussions. For starters, big hole in my pocket (PDAs don't come cheap!!!), angry wife (Imagine sending out a quotation while I am strolling leisurely in the park with my wife), no peace of mind (There's always going to be some work). Maybe strained eyes too.

And, after much deliberation, I concluded that all of the above are manageable. Have a big commission check coming (Talk about counting my chickens before they hatch!), my wife is a sweetheart (She'll understand) and about peace of mind, what's that?? Oh, did somebody say strained eyes as well? Who?!

So, the next step, the million dollar question: Which one do I buy?!?

And this has been haunting me for over 2 weeks now!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Movie review - Sarkar Raj

I saw Sarkar Raj this weekend. Thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I think it was a fitting sequel to Sarkar. It was well connected and thought through. Had interesting, almost intriguing, twists and turns. I am rating the movie using a mechanism I thought about a few weeks back. Does not contain spoilers. Ratings are subjective.

Arc: (Low)ish - (High)ish - Really (High)

Star power: 9 (Aishwarya looked completely out of sorts though. But yes, both the Bachchans steal the show! A couple of new faces show promise as well)

Mumbling quotient: 9.5 (Crystal clear)

Bladder: 10 (You can make it all the way. A little over 2 hours I reckon)

Artistry: 8 (Camera angles, background score, cinematography and direction - Bang on!)

Sadism: 8 (Justified)

Originality: 6 (Maybe some dust from The Godfather series has rubbed a bit)

Incomprehensibility: 9 (Makes sense all along)

Humor: 2 (Hardly but unnecessary)

Scariness: 1

Suspense: 7 (Can keep you guessing)

Overall: 8.5 (Would have been a 9 if Ash wasn't part of this project)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tiger Woods & Roger Federer - What is their secret?

Tiger Woods has clinched yet another major title, his 14th I think. The US Open 2008. Now he's only 4 away from the all-time majors record of 18 set by Jack Nicklaus. The great Jack Nicklaus. No other player in Golfing history has come even close to what these two have achieved. Truly the game's greats! But the greatest? Is it Woods or Nicklaus? This question has been baffling golf fans all over the globe. I think Nicklaus is the greatest right now! And I think Woods is on his way to greatness. And rest assured, by the time he hangs up his boots, he would have reached where no other golfer in history has ever reached. He's just 32.

A similar story is being scripted in another sport - Tennis. Roger! Roger! Roger!!! Yes, Roger Federer is close to reaching tennis immortality. 12 grand slam titles - and 2 shy off the record set by Pete Sampras. But like Sampras, Federer too has not won the French Open. Sampras never made it past the semis though. Federer has lost the final 3 times in a row to clay court nemesis Nadal. Does not take any luster of Federer's achievements and domination of the men's tennis circuit. Maybe just a little for the purists. He is and has been the world number 1 for the last five years, which is also the record for the most consecutive weeks as number 1. At 27, he has the second highest career earnings in history. For some, he already is the greatest ever! For some, he is one of the greats. And for some more, he is on the way! But you know what? Let's visit this space again in, say, 3 yrs, when he is 30 (usually the crossroads for all tennis players) and take up this argument. I think there will be no argument.

What's common between these two gentlemen - Mr. Woods and Mr. Federer? Couple of points come to mind right away - masters of their sport, rich, innovative, great suits and watches, the Gillette ad etc. But all this is superficial. I think it's the kind of human beings they are. Both of them have never been caught on the wrong foot or with their pants down. Both have exemplary behavior in public (on and off the court), superb sportsmanship, do not succumb to pressure, lead by example, support many noble and humanitarian causes, have revolutionized their sport, are honest and even modest. Millions of people all over the world look up to these guys. And, boy, have they obliged or what!

These two are great sportsmen but even greater human beings. They don't make too many of 'em anymore!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dubai Taxi

Much has been said and written about the Dubai taxi. This is my attempt to uncover the other side of the story. These are my personal observations over the last 8 months. So here goes:

1. A taxi driver has daily targets varying from Dh 300 to Dh 400 per day. This varies between different taxi companies. Their fixed salary is on an average Dh 1800 per month. On attaining their targets, they get commissions (avg. around Dh 1000 per month)

2. They work 12 hr shifts usually starting anytime between 4 and 8 AM and vice versa. A couple of taxi companies have 24 hr shifts.

3. Different colors of the car roof top denote different taxi companies. Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Blue etc. Red is owned by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad.

4. Taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers from bus stands except the Red ones. If they do, they are fined Dh 500. The shocking part is when there are too many passengers waiting; the RTA officer wants them to pick those passengers!

5. Some of them have to pay for their own fuel – usually Dh. 25-30 per day.

6. These guys drive close to 400-500 km each day within their 12 hrs.

7. They don’t have a designated lunch time or a rest time. If the RTA finds a taxi driver not accepting passengers because he is having lunch or resting, they are fined. Yes!

8. Some companies provide accommodation, food and annual vacation while others provide none and vacation is bi-annual. And if they report late for work from their vacation, they are not given keys for the taxi. They are at times called to office every morning and made to sit there till close of business and then asked to come back again the next day. This happens for 2-3 weeks before the keys are handed over. Some punishment, huh!

9. Once a driver completes his shift, he is supposed to go to the company, deposit the collections, get the car washed & pick up his partner driver. The partner then drops the 1st driver to his residence, visits the company again and logs in his attendance. And that is when his shift starts. This whole exercise takes close to 3 hrs. So for instance, if driver 1 completes his shift at 3pm, it is only by 6pm that driver 2 is ready to take passengers. That particular taxi does not accept any customers between 3 to 6pm. SO there must be hundreds of such taxis which are not doing business for 2-3 hrs daily, which sometimes are rush hours, just to change shifts – explains why there aren’t taxis on the road when we need them the most!

10. If they are involved in an accident where the driver is at fault, they are supposed to pay 10% of their car’s cost which amounts to almost Dh 8000.

11. If they don’t hit their target for the day, their commission takes a negative cut.

They toil around all day in traffic that we dread the most, sometimes hungry and not rested, working graveyard shifts, sitting at one place, working on minimal wages, away from their families for many months at a stretch, under the ever-so-prowling eyes of the RTA, with traffic laws getting stricter by the day!

Would you like to work this way? If yes, great! Next time a driver annoys you, do as you wish. But if it is a No, then spare a thought for these guys. Next time, before you curse them or blame them, think twice! I am not taking sides. Just bringing out their side of the story.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Aamir calls Shahrukh a dog"

Headlines: Aamir calls Shahrukh a dog.

Really? Aamir called SRK a dog? Wow! Where? On his blog. What? In a public forum? Wow again! Some guts that man has. After all, who can say such a thing to the King Khan. Wonder how SRK would respond!

Easy to generalize and conclude such statements, right? And that is what our (in)famous press does these days. Well, let me retract. Aamir merely says that he has a dog named Shahrukh at his Panchgani home. That too the dog originally belonged to the caretakers of that house. He 'inherited' it when he bought the house. Some also say, he bought the house because of the dog, which I find hard to believe.

Coming to point why I am writing this post, so what if he keeps a dog named Shahrukh? Does SRK have a copyright over his name? Secondly, AK is known for his say-it-as-it-is approach. That's why he's AK. So how does it matter? It does matter to the press. They had a field day (for many days!). And to a few million die hard SRK fans. I am an SRK fan; more SRK than AK fan. But, if AK posts a comment like that, I give credit to him for doing what he does best - being himself. The man is the only guy who can say something like that and still stand his ground. And that too in writing! Flashback to the filmfare awards 2008: Everyone remembers the way SRK and Saif completely took apart their fellow colleagues with their timely, witty and, sometimes, gross (and offensive) gags. I remember telling my brother, "Only SRK can say all that and get away with it". But only AK can say something about SRK and get away with it.

Finally, there is someone in the industry who doesn't kiss Shahrukh's ass (unless Aamir plans to buy a bitc.....err female dog! Any guesses on it's name? ;))

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Indian Premier League (IPL)

First chapter in cricket newest revolution has ended. The IPL concluded this past Sunday. It was curtains for one of the most successful cricket competitions in recent times. And what a story it has scripted. Baring the world cup, never has such interest ever been generated for Cricket. The T20s has taken the world, and now India, by storm. As if being world champions was not enough! And, rest assured, IPL 2 will be bigger, grander and larger than life! And I will be waiting.

Yesterday evening, for the first time, I realized how addicted I had become to it. I got back home at about 8.40pm, walked into my room, kept aside my cellphone, keys, wallet etc and walked back into the living room. Took me a few seconds to hunt down the remote and turn on the TV. And, as if by default, my fingers pressed '2', '1', '0' in quick succession that took me to SetMax. And, after I saw a young Amitabh Bachchan delivering dialogues in his trade mark style, that it hit me like a lightning bolt - No more IPL!!! It is over. Gone. Finished. Concluded.

My heart sunk. I was missing it. I was missing the IPL. As a ardent cricket aficionado, this was not good for me. My thoughts started scrambling - Why did it have to end? Would I get to see Warney in action again? or a pulsating Shoeb Akhtar running in to bowl? Before all this could get the better of me, I could hear my mind say what Agent Smith said, "Everything that has a beginning, has an end!" (Btw, my mind said it in exactly the same way and style as said by Smith in Matrix Revolutions! I don't know how it did that. Amazing the possibilities of a human mind.....human who?!).

I got in bed later at night and my wife asks me, "Everything ok?". I replied, "Yes. Why? Do I look like something's wrong?". She replies, " Yes. Since the time you got home, you look lost". Not knowing why she felt that way, I replied, "Everything's ok dear. Maybe I'm just tired".

Sorry honey. I did'nt realize it last night but did so when I got to work this morning. It's the IPL or, rather, the lack of it.