Tales from Whisper Valley : of cats, skipped meals, unwashed laundry and such...

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October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004


       -Guy Kawasaki

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.
        -Bertrand Russell

Wear sunscreen
       -Mary Schmich

Man was given an imagination to compensate for what he isn't; a sense of humour to console him for what he is.
        - Francis Bacon

       -W.H. Davies

Not all those that wander are lost.
       -J.R.R. Tolkein

Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think.
       -Jean de La Bruy√®re

The average person thinks he isn't.
       -Father Larry Lorenzoni

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
       -Pablo Picasso

Become who you are.

Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.
       -Frank Tyger

Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.


the woes of globalisation
The bird flu scare in Thailand has ensured that processed cat food is no longer available in Hyderabad. After having spent eons on the phone calling every supermarket in town to locate any dregs hiding in their inventory, I was thrilled to spend a day in Chennai last week - pretending to work :) - where I was able to snag a month's supply! *phew*

Christmas is coming up swifter than it should, and I'm curious if I'll manage to get out of town; need but a fraction of the enthusiasm that came out of last year's vacation! Spent some time with a young couple over the weekend - who'd been everywhere from Paris to Vietnam on their bi-annual vacations; I think envy will now fuel some of that enthusiasm :)
11:00 PM Monday, August 16, 2004


it's about being yourself!

5:19 AM Sunday, August 01, 2004


Spent Friday at a beautiful, but desolate lake set amidst some low, rolling hills on the Karnataka border - trying my hand at everything from bending my glasses out of shape by hitting them with a volleyball (unfortunately, while wearing them) to a bit of rappelling down a dam (that hasn't seen water in the last few years). It was a fun trip, even if on the tamer side. High points included riding on top of the bus down little village roads - while trying to dodge the occasionally tree trunk that'd try to brush us off; and trying to stay upright on a toboggan masquerading as water ski's (don't ask) on the lake.

Spiderman 2 was a decent watch, but couldn't hold a candle to the high point of the weekend - I've finally got myself a working beta of Halo 2. To the uninitiated, this is an XBOX game that mostly involves shooting other equally insane people in the head.

"Halo 2 is a lot like Halo 1, only it's Halo 1 on fire, going 130 miles per hour through a hospital zone, being chased by helicopters and ninjas ... And, the ninjas are all on fire, too."
                   -Jason Jones, Bungie Studios

6:40 AM Monday, July 26, 2004


its a big bad world out there...

create your own "visited country map"

1:14 PM Friday, July 23, 2004


The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours.  No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen.  And the fact that it practically always doesn't, matters not a jot.  The possibility is always there.
                   -Monica Baldwin

7:19 AM Wednesday, July 21, 2004


Most people I meet these days seem to have lists of things to get through in life - learn Bengali to read Tagore in his original language; live in New York; sky dive and so on. My list isn't anywhere near as lofty, but I just did tick one off my list - wake up at 5:30am to go hit the driving range near my place! Actually reached the Golconda Golf Course shortly after 6am with some fellow nutcases from my workplace to hit a bucket of balls in random directions. Nothing is sweeter than the sound a perfect connection makes - when your club face strikes your ball just right. Particularly when that sound is as rare as it is with us :). We're aspiring to repeat our adventure tomorrow - wish us luck!

7:10 AM Tuesday, July 20, 2004


When Dad calls out of the blue and threatens to visit the next weekend, you know your trip home is overdue :). I finally packed my bags and ended up in Lucknow for an extended weekend - my longest trip home in the last few years.
The wizards at Reliance ensure I can sit out in the garden, far away from Hyderabad, and still get online without much ado. Unfortunately, Hutch's GPRS service doesn't seem to be up here, so my PocketPC phone's having to piggy back on Reliance via my laptop, instead of being my primary means of staying connected :(.
Went cycling with my dad - down roads in the midst of lush greenery, passing through La Martiniere's, tomb's from the 1857 mutiny, an animal farm and the banks of the Gomti river. I'd be visiting more often if I'd known there was as nice a cycling track nearby! Evening out with folks, sampling some of the delicious kebabs the city has to offer. Crazy prices. Delicious food. Burp!

10:30 AM Friday, July 16, 2004


Some of you had asked about hosting images on blogs. For those using Blogger, here's a free service from Picasa, Google's latest acquisition.

11:11 PM Tuesday, July 13, 2004


The Art of Living course helps make you smarter, cures cancer, brings about world peace, and is well on it's way to solving world hunger too. Ok - maybe not all of that :) But it sure is one heck of a stress buster!

The course consists of about equal portions of "gyan" and another half of breathing exercises/meditation. I found the gyan half of things mixed - parts of it were interesting (pithy wisdom, particulary in their literature!) and a lot of it was stuff your mom already tried telling you. They do interesting things to try and reduce inhibitions among participants - and similar to the church - try to build a sticky community that provides participants an ongoing support group/circle. Different strokes for different folks :)

The breathing exercises were fascinating! They weren't kidding about people developing physical reactions the first few days - fingers curling, tingling vibrations, jaw turning numb, tongue being paralysed at times (yeah, yeah, i know; pity it passes :). Very, very curious. They (unfortunately) don't recur after the first few days, but the 45 minutes of breathing exercices do induce a trance like state from which you wake up amazingly refreshed and happy with the world at large.
8:33 PM Monday, July 05, 2004


Curiosity finally prompted me to sign up for a Art of Living course. I'd been amazed when an acquaintance had quit a decent job - with the world's only software company that posts profits in excess of a billion - to go work with the program, fulltime. I was also curious because a friend had described reactions to the breathing exercises that were almost physical.

My first class was yesterday, and I'm going to put in a valiant attempt to stay through the course. Six to nine in the evening, for six days, does mess up what time you have outside of work!
6:35 PM Tuesday, June 29, 2004


One of my favourite memories from visiting Tanjore as a kid, was spending time at the Sarasvati Mahal Library. Started in the 16th century as the the Maharaja's royal collection, their collection spans incredibly delicate manuscripts on palm-leaves to an eclectic collection of books dating to the first half of the twentieth century. I've spent several weeks browsing their musty shelves, finding gems like Fred Hoyle's Black Cloud that I've never been able to find since! None of this "computerisation" thing then, so you had to be patient and diligent, (and often adventurous given their state :) while you prised books out of shelves that had rarely been used of late.

Last weekend at Bangalore, I ended up spending a wee bit of time at the Select book store where I managed to find some interesting books I've previously read, on editions dating back to well before my parents were born; part of the package was the very rich musty smell, extremely brittle pages, silver fish feeding spots... interesting acquisitions - I wish I had more time there!

Current read : Why we buy - interesting, entertaining and informative tome on shopping behaviour; turns people into an armchair experts on creating shopping experiences overnight :)
10:13 PM Sunday, June 27, 2004


Spent part of the week cocooned at the Eagleton Golf Resort on the outskirts of Bangalore. The theory was that getting us away from our workplace and locking us into a schedule packed with golf and intense brainstorming sessions would result in a grand master plan for the next fiscal year. Dunno about the grand master plan, but I came back with aching, well stretched arms, the slightly waffling desire to improve my swing, and a spiffy new toy - a Pocket PC/Phone/Camera/Paperweight.

While it's cool, it's also way bulkier than I'd like my phone to be; I'll try to convince myself that the camera, email, and games make it worth the extra effort. Oh, and not to forget the cyborg like bluetooth headset with a blinking light behind my ear :)
7:54 AM


Three games, with three different people over the last week, and I was considering carving up and repurposing my Scrabble board as an Ouija board instead. A chance game today, with a 200 point lead over the other convinced me to wait a while before I give up on it. Lady luck's been kind for a change :)
12:31 PM Saturday, June 19, 2004


Joined a friend and attended the weekly meet of the Young Orators Club. YOC seems to attract an interesting bunch - ranging from enthusiastic college kids to slightly jaded folks who've been around at YOC for the better part of a decade. Don't know if I've acquired enough passion to be regular, but one of the speakers did inspire me to get around to reading my copy of Les Miserables (been languishing on my bookshelf for months). The radiant imagery he conjured up just describing the book makes me suspect I'm missing out big by not reading Victor Hugo.

Weekend's dose of movie's included Hum Tum, Harry Potter (TPOA), Oliver's Story and The Magdalene Sisters. Like is true for the book's, Oliver's Story doesn't hold a candle to Love Story, despite the movie director having gotten creative with the story. Magdalene Sisters joins my list of "movie's with character" - Sleepers, Philiadelphia, Forest Gump, Scent of a Woman, No Man's Land... It's a harrowing account of institutionalised horrors visited on women suspected of immorality - as late as the ninties. Poignant, powerful and disturbing.

Wow! Four movies, two games of scrabble, 20km of cycling, and a meal cooked at home (even if with some help :) - and to think I planned to start this post with how laid back the weekend felt!
8:24 AM Sunday, June 13, 2004


Read the Dominique Lapierre/Larry Collins book Is New York Burning? If you've read the Fifth Horseman, this book is a rehash of the nuclear-bomb-hidden-in-New-York-theme set in post-9/11 context - a very disappointing read from two really neat authors. What was interesting though was that I couldn't find this book on Amazon (so I could help slam it with a review)! It seems it had it's world premiere in India - it's here before being released in the US. Me says with good reason, and hopes it isn't released anywhere else!

The Little Prince makes for a far more interesting read - even if you do the typical grown up thing and allow your mind to wander, wondering about the futile aspects of adult existence. A short read, it describes the travails of the Little Prince from planet to planet, each populated by a lone adult, with a whimsical "grown up" trait. It comes well recommended!
8:51 AM Tuesday, June 08, 2004


Talking about sticky services - I've run into two incredible deals recently, which I haven't fully adopted because they're also incredibly painful to switch to.

Google's GMail seems like an amazing idea - a gigabyte of storage for your web based email, coupled with an incredibly zippy, lightweight and powerful UI. Unfortunately, I'm too firmly wedded to my Hotmail account to consider switching - because of the effort involved with telling everyone, and also because I'm uncertain of what Google's long term commitment to email is.

I've also subscribed to Reliance's CDMA mobile phone service - incredible value for money when it comes to long distance calling (1 buck a minute to any cellphone in India!) - but I'm still lugging my GSM phone along as my primary phone :( Again - too much effort shifting off, and an icky non-Nokia UI on the LG phone that I'm not sure I'll settle down well with.

If only making these transitions were easier...
8:38 AM


A quick weekend jaunt to Chennai - bummer having your mom read your blog, when you haven't told her what you've been doing, no? - had me flying Air Deccan - India's own low fare airline. At a shade over 4k for a round trip flight between Hyderabad and Chennai - it's incredible value even if you have to buy your snacks and beverages on board! Apart from the obvious differences (seats aren't preallocated) and that it's a tiny plane, with a slightly bumpier ride - there's little to crib about.

Like a colleague from the UK recently said - for 25 pounds, there's not another airline in the world I'd fly!
8:05 AM


Having some time to kill before meeting a friend for the evening, I stepped into a Reliance Webworld to peek at their cybercafe. Bought a 50 buck membership and used it to get online - and posted this. Great convenience, speed and ambience - clean, bright and airy (albeit a little noisy from the gamers) unlike typical cybercafes with half-broken computers.

They've done some interesting work around how they price and charge for their services and seem to have opened up the market to a whole new set of Internet/net gamers.

IMHO Reliance is going to be the single largest change agent with bringing the holy grail of "affordable computing" to India. And they'll make money on it. It's going to be interesting once they figure how they create offerings outside the cities... I know I wouldn't want to be competing with them!
4:52 AM Sunday, May 30, 2004