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Life as I'm learning it

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Location: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States

"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an ag├Ęd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Much ado about...

Budget 2006 is just two days away. And news channels are falling over each other in debating what the Finance Minister is going to say.

Personally, I couldn't care less. Yeah, I would be happy if he brings down tax rates, lowers excise on imported goods etc. That can and should be covered in a couple of hours of programming. However every news channel has been inviting people from the higher echelons of industry, who would only say "Well, last year we expected some decisions from the Government. Our industry badly needs this to compete globally. We hope the FM listens." Yeah, as if...

My uncle, a trained economist himself, wants to reserve his comment on the budget. All that he told me was "The FM will say what he is going to say. These news channels have nothing better to do, so you get deluged by people who think they can go one up on him."

Jessica Lal...

This is something for which I will salute the media. They have done a fantastic job in terms of bringing it to the viewer, and making his voice heard. Given the kind of response from the public (the NDTV count had crossed 110,000 as of last evening), the case might be reopened. How different the end result will be, we don't know. Nevertheless, this signals a great beginning.

Pudhiya Dhinakaran

Sun Network's newest offering is the new Dhinakaran newspaper, which hits newsstands today. In usual Sun style, there is so much advertising, both in TV channels and on radio. "Super ma!" is the tag line. As I don't read Tamil newspapers, I won't comments. However, I found one particular line in the ad funny. "Dhinakaran irundha andhasthu!" Which means "Dhinakaran is a status symbol!" At one rupee...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Awaiting Mr. 10000

As of this writing, VKpedia has received 9996 hits (of which a good number should be from a narcissist, whom my parents named Vijay Krishna). When I started out, I did not know that 40 people would care to look up my corner in Cyberia every single day.

I didn't realise I would be part (however small that might have been) of something as ground-shaking as Bloggers v/s IIPM. Never realised I would meet hundreds of new people - none of whom I have ever seen or spoken to. Yet, I have wondered how they would react to some news, incident or occurrence.

I remember, when I was in high school, I dreamed that I would be a great person some day, and I would have a website where I would put my thoughts and people who fall over each other and read it. In a way, therefore, my idea of blogging had started even before blogs first originated.

My first blog was christened Notes of a Nomad, rather appropriately I must say, because I subtitled it "a wanderlust in spirit". That fantasy ran for four weeks, after which I had decided that it was enough. Subsequent attempts should compete for stupidity awards. Then one fine day, I stumbled on the name VKpedia as a play on Wikipedia. I created a blog more to hog that name rather than with any other serious idea. The rest is his-story...

Blogging has been a learning experience through and through. I might not have been a devoted learner, but the new vistas this hobby has opened are boundless. You may not like it, dear reader, but I love blogging, and I will continue doing it!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Spoonerism (spn-rzm)
A transposition of sounds of two or more words, especially a ludicrous one, such as Let me sew you to your sheet for Let me show you to your seat.

I made up one last night...
Harry Potter <--> Happy Rotter

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Help and grow rich

"Some are born wealthy.
Some achieve wealth.
And some have wealth thrust upon them."

I should consider myself to belong to the third variety. But this thrust-upon-me wealth might as well lead me into bigtime trouble, because I now find myself in the midst of an international conspiracy, one so big, that Robert Ludlum, if he were alive, would write a novel with Vijay Krishna as the central character.

It all started two weeks ago. Sergeant Irwin Shawn of the US Army contacted me. It seems he belonged to the First Armored Division that entered Baghdad during the Iraq War a couple of years ago. As luck would have it, Sgt. Shawn stumbled upon a mountain of cash, which was so much it took him a good 2 years just to count it. The Sergeant estimates the amount to be 250 million US dollars. It seems Sgt. Shawn has inquired far and wide for a man with good investment skills. And (as I hold a triple major - summa cum laude - in Finance, Banking and Capital Markets from the Wharton School) he wants me to invest the sum. For this help, I get to keep 40% of the sum - 100 million dollars, all in 100-dollar notes.

I was at first skeptical about this. My south Indian brain, with all its in-built conservatism and sense of security, urged me not to trust a renegade sergeant. However, yesterday, Major Richard Atwater of the same division sent me a mail. Major Atwater (who attended graduate school with me) urged me sincerely that even he was taking only 30%, but was offering me the lion's share. I missed sleep last night thinking about the things I could do with a hundred million. That's a cool 440 crores in Indian money. I could have breakfast with Aishwarya Rai, lunch with Mallika Sherawat and dine with Katrina Kaif. I am prepared to ignore the fact that they are not good at cooking. Even better, I could holiday in Provence forever.

I had almost finished composing a reply to Major Atwater, when in came a pleasant surprise. Princess Stella Ajana of Nigeria needs my help. And she wishes to transform me instantly into her Knight in Shining Armour. This damsel in distress wants to commence a long-term relationship with me, if I help her family out in investing a sum of 7.35 million USD. On the one hand, there is Major Atwater's 100 million, endless holidays in Provence, Ash, Katrina and others. On the other hand, there is this seemingly paltry sum of 7 million, but it comes with a Nigerian princess as an added attraction. What do I do?

I think I have decided. Of what use is so much money to me? If I don't have someone else to enjoy it with? And that someone is a princess? Dilemma? No dilemma! After all, what's life without a royal challenge! I'm going to mail Princess Ajana -- no, my wonderful Stella. I'll give her a helping hand, and win hers in love. Rest assured, dear reader, you might have heard of platonic love. This is one, and I'm the ONE!

See ya in Nigeria!

Raaja... raajaadhi raajan indha raaja!

That elusive Oscar

Since last Friday, Sathyam Cinemas in Chennai has started a new series called "Pure Cinema". With this, they intend to bring the best of world cinema to Chennai. The first in this series, for which there is one show during each weekday and two during the weekend, is Terry George's Hotel Rwanda.

The movie is a modern classic, and tells the story of Paul, a hotel manager in Kigali during the bitter and bloody conflict in Rwanda. Don Cheadle gives a compelling performance as the man who has to balance pressures on all fronts, as he strives to protect his family and hundreds of refugees who have thronged into his hotel. Reminiscent of, and in the same class as Roman Polanski's The Pianist, this film provides a fitting start to this new series.

After being mesmerised by Hotel Rwanda, I'm led to think of a related story. Earlier this week, Paheli, India's representation at the Oscars failed to win a nomination. As usual, our media has made so much noise about it. I wonder why.

Firstly, all this talk about Indian movies winning Oscars is plain nonsense. It is a very critic-ish thing to expect each movie to be Oscar material. Even before some actor or director starts doing the groundwork for a movie, the media is abuzz with speculation. The media puts on this faked obsession with Academy awards immediately. You know it is faked because none of the Oscar-nominated films are released in India before they are nominated. Also, there is this growing criticism of the Oscars in the West. Frankly, after Titanic and The Return of the King (the concluding part of the Rings trilogy) were showered with 11 awards each, one should have realised the phony nature of the awards.

Even then, it is not wrong to set such lofty benchmarks but those are not the reasons that drive Indian mainstream cinema. (Of course, they are an excellent, more peaceful way to spend D-company's money.) Indian moviemakers aim to cater to an Indian audience. We folks are so used to seeing our favourite heroes jumping across mountains, driving trucks on 2 wheels, and board time machines in order to dance with their ladylove in Switzerland one moment, and in New Zealand the next. I don't want to sound elitist, but our movies are hardly realistic. And to expect a world jury to reward us for such expensive khichdi is madness.

Aseem Chhabria writes in Rediff that a member of the Academy told him about Devdas, "The girls were pretty, but the movie was... " I remember there was a huge uproar from the South that year, that Devdas was not India's best movie. Mani Ratnam's Kannathil Muthamittal was far better, more realistic and much in tune with the issues of the day. Yet, we decided to stick on to a two-bit nightmare.

We must acknowledge that our movies just won't make the cut. Of the hundreds of movies churned out the factories of Bollywood, Kollywood and other woods, hardly a few would pass mention as being really good. It is ok with us. We don't need to ape the West. Our cinema is our cinema. Impure as it may be, it is what we accustomed to. Let it be. But let us try to be a bit more practical, and not run after Oscars. Page 3 media, this one's for you!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Can you feel it?

Just back from a dinner hosted by a colleague. This happened over dessert...

I was telling a colleague what I had heard about ice-creams - "You know, Aman, someone told me this. Seems like when you eat ice-cream, it triggers some part of your brain, and you feel some sensations as you do when you are in love. Am not sure how true it is though."

Aman, feeling very concerned, replied, "Well, Vijay, after eating this ice-cream, I'm feeling an ache in this tooth. Could this be the same thing as in love?"