Sunday, December 25, 2011

Top bina Lap

We have integrated so much with the digital world...I realized this when my laptop crashed. The motherboard that is...and that means a LONG wait as this was the office machine.
The machine was an archaic Dell 430 model. I had initially resisted getting a laptop from office. One, it would mean 24/7 support. Second, I have a very lady-like resistance to learning a new gadget. Gadgets, however simple, freak me out. But then I was given one. I had to learn first, that it has a charger. Two, that I need to learn how to plug in the network cable. Three, plug in the external mouse. I felt like a hardware engineer connecting all these wires to my laptop.
But slowly as I got used to it, I learnt I could operate it without having to keep the charger plugged in, learnt that the wireless can be configured and that the mouse can be done away with. The sleek laptop slowly crept into my bed to become my companion. Work or browsing was now being done while lying down.This serpent position quickly gave way to the supine with the laptop on the tummy. The elevated tummy gives an unhindered view of the screen :)
Well, as I slept on my side, the laptop also moved and I started reading from the tilted screen. When it blocked the fan and made the machine hot, I would turn to the other side. The laptop now replaced the book. Books started getting downloaded and read in bed. It was easier as I didn't need to get up to switch off the light after the book was read. I simply had to sleepily click 'Hibernate' and slide the machine to a horizontal position. The newspapers were discontinued as I could read the e-paper in bed.
And thus my laptop and I became 'do jism ek jaan'. Familiarity breeds contempt, they say, and perhaps that's why the laptop decided to die on me.
The first reaction was, 'you cant do this to'on,  come back to life.' It didn't budge. When the network and support team looked at it, they confirmed my worst fears. The mother board has crashed and will be replaced after you obtain all the required approvals. Sigh! This flagged a loooooooong wait. Now how do I go to sleep? I have to read for at least an hour before I can sleep...what do I do now? I dug out my books again and tried to read them. But the light that the backdrop provided to all my e-books was missing and I started finding it difficult to read by the light in my room and then the hassle of switching off the light before I go to bed. :(
The withdrawal symptoms started, with me becoming grouchy and grumpy at not having slept well in the night without my laptop.
After nearly a 2 week wait, I decided to go and get myself a new one. ( And, this is from someone who resisted buying a laptop for nearly 15 years of computer use) The main purpose was to read in bed and hence the smaller, sleeker, lighter Acer D257.

                                                                                  image courtesy:

Now don't ask me questions like what memory, what storage etc. All I know is, it has a 10 inch display and came with a web cam (haven't used the web cam yet). Ordered through flipkart and got a pen drive free with it :)
I now sleep in peace with my newer, sleeker and lighter companion.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hyderabad Book Fair, December 2011

I must admit that for a self confessed book lover, I haven't been regularly visiting the book fairs in Hyderabad. A lack of awareness of when they are held also kept me from visiting them as often as I would like to. Well, yesterday I happened to visit the book fair at People's Plaza.
I walked to the place from the Necklace Road MMTS station, about a kilometer and half away. Taking the walk was a good idea as not only did it give the body the much needed physical exercise but also did away with the hassles of finding a parking slot for the vehicle.
Just outside the entrance, you have a few food stalls selling the 'chaat' stuff, coffee & tea. I passed over the temptation to have some tea as I was more eager to get lost in the vast ocean of joy that awaited me inside. The meager Rs. 5 charged towards the entrance ticket, is, I guess, more to keep a count of the number of visitors rather than actually charging you any.
The stalls were set up in a vast area. I haven't kept an exact count of the number of stalls but I did notice stalls numbered 170 onwards. My guess is that there were about 180 of them in all. There was tea and drinking water but no food stalls inside the premises.
What does the fair have to offer for the book lovers?
  • Management books (most of them more popularly known as personality development or self help books) .
  • Religious, spiritual books and CDs: (there was also the Nitayananda's stall, lol! )
  • Books for the students: the regular sciences, GRE, TOEFL etc.
  • Some of them had the kids' stuff like CDs/DVDs playing the rhymes, cartoons etc.
  • A few stalls selling stationary
  • For people like me who dig fiction, there definitely was much to offer as nearly 40 % of the stalls had the stuff.
Second hand books abounded with many of the popular titles being offered for as less as 50/-. The new ones had discounts of about 10%. But later I realized that we could bargain further there. A word of caution for the people who already are equipped with a list of new books that they want to buy. Don't! Flipkart offers it at much cheaper rates than the fair does. Second, do check the print inside before buying. Some of them are Indian reprints and the quality of print is poor. You get the original version in flipkart.
    But for the second-hand stuff, if you are lucky, you land up with some really good picks. You just need to have the patience to delve through. The true book lover can get lost in this world as the look, touch and feel of the pages in his hands can give a heady feeling.
    We have the Numaish exhibition in Hyderabad every year. The crowds jostling for space, the long ques for tickets had put me off. To compare, the crowds here are no where as thick as the ones at Numaish, yet what's redeeming is that there were crowds. There were kids, of course and grown ups mostly 30 years upwards. There were very few of people in their 20s buying the real stuff (that is apart from the study material). I almost felt like hugging one such young girl who was seriously browsing through the novels...real novels and not just some chick-lits. There is still hope for the continuing of the culture of book reading, I thought.
    There was also quite a handful of Telugu literature.Though I don't have an in-depth knowledge of Telugu literature, I recognized some reputed names in the old world of Telugu fiction/ poetry by Sri Sri, Chalam, Yendamuri, Ranganaykamma... Telugu children's books were there but I wonder how many of our kids have even heard of the Budugu books. I heard some of the kids clamoring for 'Cinderella' books though. I also found few of the famous English novels translated into Telugu.There were a couple of stalls selling Hindi literature too.
    I felt quite heady in this environment which was breathing and living books. The sight of so many books, the sound of books being discussed...

    I made a very conservative purchase of two books : Ken Follet: 'A Place called freedom' and James Patterson: 'Honeymoon' Safe buys both...known authors, bestsellers.
    'Roots' by Alex Haley has been my favorite and I had read it when in my college. Since then I had wanted to possess the book. When I saw this book, all discretion set aside, I went ahead to buy the book for 300/- ( I found out later, available cheaper in flipkart). The fourth book was a book which had the feel of a junk-read. 'Oh Shit, Not Again!' By Mandar Kokate: unknown author, unknown book...what you buy as 'what- the- heck' kind of novelette. Will find out when I read but for Rs.130 for a new book, it is ok, I guess!
    Though far from being satiated, nevertheless, the possession of new books in hand is invigorating.
    The foodie refuses to remain quelled even in a blog about books. Well, so here's to that foodie:
    I visited Water Front at the end of my experience. As I stepped in, it was so dark that I almost couldn't see my way around. As I was one of the earlier ones to arrive, I got a place by the lake-view which I admit, was awesome. The ambiance of the place, the view, the prices in the menu, everything was superlative! Though I had to read the menu by my mobile torch, lol! The vegetarian curries start at Rs. 250. There is a section of Thai and also cocktails and mock tails (160/-)
    As I was in a bit of hurry to catch my train back, I didn't order for anything exotic or elaborate. Also the fact that I was alone and would not be able to down the regular order of North Indian fare without getting some of it packed. Ordered a simple Hakka noodle ( 253/- with taxes) which was good in taste, decent fill per plate. May reserve this one to visit with the family for a leisurely visit later as I have read good reviews of this.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Kolaveri: the carefully arranged careless look

    I am sure, by now we have the Kolaveri, every version of it, oozing out of our ears.
    Starting with the delight-to-watch Sharad Pawar one... transcending national/international borders, male/female/child/black/white/brown--even puppets on NDTV :) everyone seems to be encompassed by the infectious tune.
    The skeptics have criticized it, the comments ranging from 'Rajni's son-in-law, hence popular' 'why the obsession with white skin in the south of India', some rubbishing the lyrics and many more such comments.
    Let's admit, we don't create the music that we did until three decades back, when the lyrics held much meaning and moved us. Fast is fawned on and tardy is frowned upon. Instant gratification of all senses is sought. Here today, gone tomorrow. But as long as it lasts, people revel in its popularity.
    One was dismayed at 'going viral' in our younger days but this is now a matter of great delight. So what's working in favor of this feverish zeal that encompasses the entire world with 21 million you tube video strikes? Remember the tananatananaaaaaaaa of Malgudi Days? Can we even try to explain why we feel so warm and joyous inside us when we listen to this song...especially those parts where we hear the looooooong drawn sleepy tanananananaaaaaaaaaaa.
     Such songs go beyond the superficiality and touch the child deep down inside us. Again, I don't seek to compare the two songs in either the lyric or tune. But equate the two as I find that that is the magic that is being sought to create.
    We all know how much of a hair dresser's hand is involved when he needs to give his actors the tousled look of the mornings. A similar attempt has gone into making the song seem spontaneous and a lot more hard work has gone into giving the otherwise average-looking Dhanush a classy look. Dhanush and team has created this image of a simple South Indian rustic who seems to make light of his heartbreak. The part where Dhanush wipes his upper lip...seems so unaffected and unedited. That the song is in some silly English, helps people understand it. And they have loved it so much that no one seems to have pointed out the spelling mistake in the lyrics when it should have said 'I want you here now' and not 'I want you hear now'. Moreover, don't we all break into some such silly self-composed ditties when alone?
    What also is redeeming  is that this song has firmly put South India on the Indian and world map in an astoundingly irrefutable way. The Southies are not simply dark skinned 'Maddus' who speak with a nasal voice but are now lending more and more of resources (music directors, actors, stories, films) to the North of India where we have the likes of Abhishek Bachchan confessing to feeling wonderful while working with the Tamil film makers.
    I am aware that this song will not be the rage a year from now, but then why not just give in to the way it makes you smile and swing your head in rhythm with the simple beat?

    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    The Buffet@ GVK

    Certainly this restaurant hasn't tried too hard to name itself. It is simply called 'The Buffet'.
    I must thank Vinod for his diligent research of restaurants at BH and always discovering new ones. It hugely benefits foodies like me who love to try a new one at least once a month.
    Not keeping well prevented me from trying one last month. Made up for that by eating at 'The Buffet' yesterday.
    This is located in GVK mall and is on the 5th floor. Finding the restaurant can be tricky as not many, not even the GVK staff, have really heard of it. Second, if you attempt to go from the parking area, you'd be lost as the elevator reaches INOX. So it is advisable to take the outside lift and head straight to the 5th floor.
    Yesterday I enjoyed the warm welcome which started from the time I stepped out of the elevator. I was escorted from there to the restaurant.This pampering continued through the meal with very attentive waiters.
    The restaurant is  well lit and very spacious. Well-spaced tables give you all the privacy you need.
    I gathered from my internet search that the buffet is priced at Rs. 249 and this was confirmed by the restaurant when I called them the day before. In fact, this price is exclusive of taxes with which it comes up to nearly 300/-. A first for me, as when you inquire for the buffet price, the rate is normally quoted with taxes.
    The spread consists of both veg and non-veg dishes. And the spread is HUGE.
    Even for a strict vegetarian like me who could partake of only half the offer, I felt it was truly filling.
    What was a delight to see were the starters--four of the vegetarian ones consisting of cauliflower, potato wedges, paneer rolls and spring rolls. There were four salads on offer too...just the ordinary ones--none too exotic.
    There is no Indian food in the main course. There was pasta, noodles, fried rice, au gratin, spaghetti bolognese (didn't touch this not knowing whether it is a veg or non veg dish). There was also one Indian dish of Biryani which was awesome in taste.
    Among desserts, there is nothing unique or imaginative. You had the ubiquitous gulab jamun and ice cream and plenty of varieties of pastries and a couple of souffl├ęs. After stuffing yourself with all the goodies, you really aren't in the mood for the desserts...especially when you have so many of the same stuff to choose from.
    It was also nice to note that all food is labeled green/red according to whether they are veg/non veg dishes and are served on two different tables but confusion still persists as you find some veg ones in the non veg section and vice-verse.
    The paanwala appeared towards the end of the meal but I was in a hurry to catch the movie and hence didn't glance at the various paans in the menu. 
    My take on this spread is that it is too good to last. They cannot afford to give this kind of spread at that price for too long. Grab while the restaurant is still new. All the dishes taste quite decent.

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    The Dirty Picture_First day show

    One of the rares for a ticket for a movie without reading/watching any reviews. Its happened again today...booked a ticket for the Dirty Picture and I must say after watching the movie that I am FLOORED!
    'Awesome!!!' doesn't come even close to describing the movie And there's no one but Vidya who can do justice to such  role. I went a bit skeptical after seeing all those titillating posters but had some confidence that a Vidya Balan movie can rarely go wrong. They say success comes late to some it has to Vidya. She has proved her mettle beyond doubt. The dialogs are strong, scathing and caustic and the actor has done full justice through her delivery. there any need to write about the great actor? He is an aging, wrinkled, mustached hero of the 80s in all his macho and melodramatic glory. Whatever the narcissist hero does is simply superb. His clumsy attempts to match up to Silk's steps (Vidya Balan's name in the movie) are lauded and Silk chided for not being able to keep up with him.He is wigged and mustached like all the heroes of 80s in south. Its not like Om Shanti Om kind of superficial attempts at recreating the 80s. They have gone into the skin of 80s and we have the old Jeetu Bhai's famous pots song recreated. Ekta Kapoor plays it safe by not trying to re-create song and dance sequences from any other actor but her father's.
    Emraan Hashmi in the not-so-subtle emulation of Mahesh Bhatt as the thinking, intellectual director and Tushar Kapoor as Silk's fan do justice to their role.
    But it is a through and through Vidya's movie. Very strong script brings out the best of Vidya.
    It may not be the real life story of Silk Smitha but were she alive today, she would have been proud of being portrayed as she was in the movie. First it was the item song in Munna Bhai, and now the second time, I felt that the titillating scenes were necessary to take the movie forward.
    Very simple and strong message in the movie tells us that as long as one believes in self, there is no one in the world who can touch you but once bugged by self doubts, you can destroy yourself.
    It is a story of a simple struggler from a humble background who is passionate about acting and how she is betrayed first by her child hood idol and then another man as she scales the ladder of success. How she allows self-doubt to creep in when she chooses to listen to others and that's when the down slide begins which subsequently leads to her suicide. In her suicide, she conforms to the expectations of the world by draping herself as an Indian nari.Sad!
    A must see movie, not to be missed by anyone.