Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wiicosystem



Hamara Wii! Yes - this one gadget has always been "ours" - Soumya loves it as much as I do ... if not more :)

We've had the Wii since last December - a big thanks to Ankur and his mom for making that happen! For the uninitiated ... you still can NOT walk into a store and find Wii on the shelves!!! These beauties are sold-out within an hour! Always ! and even after 6 months now ... but I digress (I just wanted to rub in some :D)


It all started with Wii Sports ... the irrestible pull of playing Tennis and swinging the controllers like they were the real raquets! Never really liked Baseball much ... live or animated! so despite Pranav's many attempts ... never really played baseball much ... same for golf.

BUT boxing is another beast altogether! I do not remember playing a single boxing match without breaking a sweat - good excercise this one I tell you. And there's one more annoying fact - Soumya kicks my A#@ in boxing ... everytime! And its not just Soumya ... just about every wife out there ... same story - wife beats husband to a pulp in boxing ... many couples have boxed on the Wii ... same result everytime ... never decided on points ... wife knocks out husband brutally - consistent like gravity! You guys out there reading this know what I'm taking about ... and who I'm referring to ;)



The Wii accompanied us to Angola (obviously) ... but its been Excite Truck all the way for the past couple of months! Again Soumya beats me at this fun racing game ... Its a racing game and I usually lose :P - no really - I'm quite good at racing games - have evolved over the years ... but still Soumya beats me consistently at this game! Still have a number of games that we have yet to explore - remove from their packaging i.e. Warioware - smooth moves, Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia Rival Swords etc. - will post updates as and when that happens!

We both love our Wii ... and for a reason :)

So much so that in a sheer display of brilliance, Soumya once blurted out Wiicosystem when she saw all the Wii accessories springing up at the stores ... brilliant stuff I tell you - loved it so much that we bought the domain! scratch that - I bought the domain ... and one of these days wii will play around with it! http://wiicosystem.com/



OK nuff time wasted away from the Wii. Wii will Wii Back!

And oh ... in case you were wondering - I wrote this post a while ago but I was waiting (patiently) for my S9100 to arrive so that I could take these arty farty pics :) Wii baby!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

30


It started with a random dinner invitation at Roz and Ade’s for Saturday – little did we know that we’d walk into a surprise birthday party for the two of us! Very sweet of our colleagues at work and their significant others to arrange cake, food and celebrations :) - lots of interesting stories shared ... including things that one would never do again! Lots of anecdotes, lots of teasing, lots of laffs …
Quite an eclectic group this one – they run, cycle, and some of them spent 6 months in 2004 trekking the Appalachian mountains from Georgia to Maine – now that’s quite a distance – I have driven along that route and its a couple of days drive! And these folks hiked the entire way – how cool is that. Most of them are true expats – in the sense that they have been away from the US for a long long time – and in various locations across 1st 2nd and 3rd worlds!

Ya I know – not the typical “old” folks that one comes across in des! Some of them have been married longer than we have been around - or at least longer than I have been around! And the spirit these guys pack – superb! Like they were 22 or something!
Made a note to self to be physically fit and mentally young like these folks! AND to be less emotional and less senti unlike most of the old folks we know … AND be more adventurous and hajaar TP like these guys. Our old folks did not enjoy the same privileges and ease of life that these people did (arguable) and hence they are caught up in other things in life ... yada yada yada … I’m not comparing … but I have no excuse like that! Note to self stuck.

Sunday - Happy Birthday Soumya.

Planned to go to the beach but we missed the boat – literally – we missed the last boat by 3 minutes so walked for a while on the Marginal instead – very nice. Need to do this more often. I know we watched a movie later ... but can't remember which one. Like someone mentioned at the party - after 30, you suffer from CRS - a highly technical term - "Can't remember Sh#t!" - priceless!


Wednesday – Hello 30!

Woke up to a wonderful birthday message in 12 languages by D. Awesome. Only caveat being that I ended up wishing myself some 25 times :D … yes I had to read them out loud! Vintage D!


O’Careil – Portugese for Curry – and destination for dinner … the only Indian restaurant in Luanda. Very good d├ęcor, nice ambiance, decent food – you take what you get … and add some salt ;) Had a good dinner - Usual suspect veggies – no chat or dosas or pav-bhaji … sigh sigh … Needlessto say - We ate a lot!



Some Diet coke and some Patel Shots later … its Thursday now … am catching up on the birthday “wishes” … Thank you all of you - for sending across your wishes on all possible mediums ;)
oh well :) … what goes up – comes down!
...

"How do I feel?" you ask ...
"About what?"
"Oh ok ... No difference yet ..."
Besides - once CRS kicks in ... I won't know anything - will I ;)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mithoon ko hamara Salaam

No not the Disco Dancing types ... atho this one can make you sing n dance!
Mithoon Sharma, born on Jan 11, 1986 - yes 21 years "OLD" - is a wonderful music composer ... and I must say that I am very impressed - no really - this guy is very good.

I am listening to the soundtrack of " The Train" - and Mausam and Beete Lamhein are instant favorites - listen to them and you'll understand why. And its his voice on Mausam ... even better!
When I did some Googling I found out that the song "Maula Mere" which I heard sometime ago - and really liked - is composed by this dude - just found that out! (along with the fact that he displaced Himes-bhai for The Train :D )
And then the big one - "Tere Bin" from Bas Ek Pal - definitely up there in one my favorite songs ka list - again ... composed by Mithoon - very very VERY Impressed.

My bad for not finding all this out earlier ... like they say - assumption is the brother off all problems ... I simply assumed!

So Hats off to you Mithoon - I will definitely look out for your compositions - keep up the good work.
p.s. I hope that you dont fade away like Anand-Milind did after QSQT ... something tells me that you won't!

Friday, June 08, 2007

WiTricity


Yes it is here ... Wireless transmission of electricity.
I have been discussing this void with a bunch of people for a number of years now and I am so excited that a team of researchers at MIT have finally done it ... Kudos and THANK YOU Marin Soljacic and team for all your efforts ...
Fast foward to 2017 ... Imagine a living room without wires ... nice ... very nice.

Note: The term WiTricity was coined by the team at MIT.
Photo courtesy the AP.

Monday, June 04, 2007

God Bless the English

Computers - what would we have done without them - information exchange at the snap of your podgy fingers! Phones - what would computers be without the invention of Phones and telecommunication networks
Then again - what would all this be without Electricity ... or the Edisons, the Newtons & Einsteins ... working together trying to invent the fastest way to make money! You get the drift ... can go all the way to "Main Samay Hoon" - but we wont - in the interest of time.

Traveling to a Portugese country - Angola - where they don't speak any English - does open-up a few doors of comprehension (pun intended)
Sure I am definitely able to communicate to my driver that I want him to pick me up after 1.5 hours but only after a fair amount of acting, emoting, pointing, 'frustrate-ing' :P and the occasional dancing! The perfect ingredients for collaboration I tell you - intelligence, capability, creativity and the inability to do anything together ... quickly and productive that is!

We owe the English quite a bit - with their colonization and looting and pilferage - they (unknowingly ... like the apple) left behind the single largest enabler of collaboration and ergo advances in science and technology - A COMMON LANGUAGE.
Thank God that they went across the world and dropped English along with their other crap wherever they went.

Now you linguists and purists (a lot of them desi) may argue that English is a poor language, a borrowed language, ... yada yada yada ... but despite the magnificence and beauty of Sanskrit or Latin they are not directly responsible for me to be able to type this out today! English is!
But then it is a curse I tell you! If the English had not done whatever it is they did, it would NEVER have been possible for someone to create a "I hate Shiv-Sena" community on Orkut ... ergo forcing some fanatics in a "DEMOCRATIC" country to trash up a random cyber-cafe. The otherwise-peaceful Soldiers-of-Shiv and loyal servants of Child-Master would have been blissfully ignorant and the world would be a happier place but then - I digress.

Then again we may be heading towards the second Tower of Babel ... and the English will be responsible for God's wrath to come ... ... ... er ... for now I think I'm going with being realistic!

I never thought that I would say this - God bless English and the English.

Ola from Angola

8th May 2007 - It was 8am’ish – we were peering out of the window – looked a lot like landing in Bangalore … reddish-brown and green … sprinkled with small settlements. The flight landed and took a quick sharp turn and parked – this is an aero-plane mind you – and we waited in the “alley” to allow a flight to take off ... less than 30 seconds after we stopped and parked … a few yards away from us … rumble, shake and all – and then 3 more took off before we started cruising to the terminal! We had reached Angola!

They tell me that Luanda was planned for 400,000 folks and as it usually happens in cities … there are about 4 million folks living in the city today! Of course we expats don’t help the situation either!

The airport brought back memories of landing in Chennai – on a hot summer night in 2002 – no a/c, no escalators, stagnant water … and in the international terminal! There was no stagnant water here … and no escalators either :) - but it was hot and humid and we were enjoying everything.

Onto the Parking lot - Pleasantly surprised to see Mitsubishi Pajero’s, Lexus SUV’s and juiced-up BMW X5’s and H2’s – of course this is the airport of the capital of Angola! You can imagine how surprised I was when the same sights continued all the way from the airport to our apartment – no we do NOT live by the airport like some people I know in Bombay!


Hello Luanda … You see the cars on the road and you get the feeling that you’re in the US … all the above luxury vehicles seen regularly in between the usual suspect Rav4's and Nissans or Mitsubishi trucks/SUV's ... and then you look a few feet below and realize that there is no “road” to speak of! It’s a mesh of potholes and tar and mud - like in apna 3rd world India! Actually I take that back - I've been around the city a bit and now the roads in Bombay seem like freeways in comparison! Old jungle saying - "One man's Bombay is another man's Los Angeles!"

Mostly SUV’s on the road … of course that is because the roads are not good – never mind the lack of space! Not only are these really expensive cars by any stretch of imagination – BUT – none of them have stock parts on them … Hello Enkei, Hello Turbochargers, whats the fuss about alloy-wheels – do they sell cars without them in other parts of the world? … something doesn’t fit – I did not see so many expensive cars even in Salt Lake City! (Utah not Calcutta! Sorry Sumona - couldn't resist that one ;) )

That’s Luanda (for me) – where the really (and I mean REALLY) rich live side by side to the really (and I mean REALLY REALLY) poor. No middle-class to speak of – at least none that I have seen. Kinda begin to understand why everyone and their grandmoms in India are feverishly gyrating about the fact that India has such a large “middle-class” population!

Have been to the shopping mall in Luanda – yes there is just one (so far) – Belas shopping. Nice place. Ample parking and very professional looking. A simple cotton shirt made by the famous ChipChip brand (or something like that) costs approximately 180 bucks … oh yes – the green ones – 180 American dollars! (and oh - about the famous brand – I was being sarcastic!). Of course gas is cheap – approximately 50 cents a litre (they use litres here – yaaay) … or about 1.5 USD for a gallon … and of course bottled water is about 2 dollars for 1.5 litres … or about 4+ USD for a gallon … I wont be surprised if some folks consume gas instead!

And people are always well dressed out here … not that it’s a bad thing – but you would think that they are on their way to a party … nevermind the time of the day. Very interesting I tell you - you see color coordinated Gucci's, Prada's and the likes ...

The beaches here are really clean and nice … have been to a couple of them so far – very nice. The weather is very good – so far – they tell me that I came at the perfect time – monsoon is over and winter is setting in – so looking forward to more fabulous days – its really pretty – when you look beyond the heavy lifting cranes and construction equipment hammering away incessantly!

The people – very nice – like they usually are. Of course we are experiencing more of a cultural shock out here than we have ever faced (and we have traveled a bit) – more on that later – maybe Soumya will explain better! There is another huge problem with body-odour at work ... but I will not get into that right now!

We seem to have bonded instantly with the country … the sights … the smells … very much like des. On closer examination there are some startling differences – not that we never expected to see any … its been fun so far.
Keep checking this spot for more updates, experiences and learnings!

before I go - I was trying to solve the mystery of body-odour and I stumbled onto this interesting read on Angola . I liked the title that the author has used.

More to come -

1. Expat community

2. Culture shock

3. Body Odour

4. The Party scene

5. Wind Surfing

6. Thank You England

7. Lucky India with Congress

For now here are some sights captured in the past few ... (captions included :D ... and hope you like the sun)