Monthly Archives: July 2006

Back Home

Finally! Back to Malaysia after almost 3 months now in India. Everything is still very familiar and am so happy to be back, to eat the food that I have been missing, to sleep on that fluffy pillow, to drive in my own car, to watch “The Lake House” in the cinema that I have been going to for the past few years and so many other things (not to mention, first and foremost, to be able to meet my wife since her last visit to India).

The Mumbai bombing on the 11th of July 2006 was really terrible. Such act of cowardice and should be condemned by every civilised person. Among many other measures, one of the things that the Indian government did was to ban access to certain blogs which sparked wide protests. For whatever reasons, the end result is that I was not able to read my regular blogs hosted especially by blogspot.com which is quite annoying since most of the blogs I read are hosted by blogspot.

The first most obvious thing that I noticed upon arriving in Kuala Lumpur is that everything is just so quiet and peaceful. No more incessant honkings. The places are much less crowded. The roads are wider. There are more space everywhere and no more cows and buffalos roaming the roads. But what I see much less is the number of young people carrying laptop computers moving around. Hyderabad is really a tech city.

I was in the Microsoft campus the day just before I left for Malaysia to follow up on a project we were discussing in Bangalore a few weeks before. It is a huge campus and most of them are Indians. They surely know their stuffs in order for Microsoft to hire them but the thought of so many skilled IT people in India is just baffling. I am still refusing to believe that they are really so good just because everything else about India indicate that they are really not there yet. But I think I am badly mistaken just by taking things at face value. There are just so many high level companies in India – Infosys, Wipro, Tata Consulting – just to name a few. What I will maintain is that India will have to seriously look into and take action about the corruption problem and the major need to improve the infrastructure and utilities. Oh, and yes, they must also really do something about their financial system. The amount of money flowing in the black market is just simply incredible, even the air hostess knows that the situation is really very bad.

Ah, but I am so glad to be back altough only for a short time.


The Buddha statue in the middle of the Hussain Sagar lake in Hyderabad


Charminar – Hyderabad’s symbol

Some images from our trip outside of Hyderabad:


Fatehpur Sikri – “Ghost City”, A World Heritage Site in Uttar Pradesh


A common sight in Rajasthan – the home to the Great Indian Desert


A really nice place in the Amber (pronounce “Amer”) Fort – Jaipur, Rajasthan


Restoration work at Amber Fort – Jaipur, Rajasthan


India Gate – Delhi


A common sight in India

Some more common sights:


Some of these actually overturned


Imagine a bomb in there….


No wonder it’s so noisy on the road


A lot of really hard labour


The children of Hyderabad


Some mangoes anyone? Mango season in Hyderabad


Police everywhere, hawkers everywhere


Family day on the park near India Gate, Delhi


Auto (pronounce “Atuk”) which is not unlike Bangkok’s tuk-tuk.

All the photos above are taken by my wife

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Filed under India, Thoughts & Commentaries

One watched last night

Despite the world cup fever, I managed to watch “Mohabbatein”. I told Jack that I am a sucker for love stories and he recommended a few and one of them being “Mohabbatein”. I like that movie very much.

Shah Rukh Khan in his character on his girlfriend who passed away:

“I did not fall in love with her on the condition that she would live longer than me. There are no conditions in love, so there shouldn’t be any regrets. So what if today she is not with me, I still love her the same way, not because I can’t find someone else to love, but loving her makes me happy. Whenever I miss her, I close my eyes and she is with me.”

Then looking at one of his students whose love for a girl was not reciprocated:

“You didn’t fall in love with her on the condition that she will love you too. So just because she loves someone else, you want to forget her… don’t let go so easily. Love is just like life, it’s not always easy, and it does not always bring happiness. But when we do not stop living, why should we stop loving?”

The students left. Shah Rukh is alone. He closes his eyes. We then hear his girlfriend’s (Aishwarya Rai) voice repeating the last two sentences. She appears in person. They teased each other for a while. Then Shah Rukh invited her to dance. They both danced to the tune of the theme song. I can feel the love that Shah Rukh was talking about. I can see the happiness and contentment on their faces. Great acting. Great music. Great timing. The scene was beautifully done!!!

Here’s the lyrics of one of the songs in the movie which I really like and has been humming since yesterday.

For whatever you say about Bollywood movies, they are extremely enjoyable to watch!

Here’s a link to the theme song just for you to get a feel of the music if you wish. Click here.

Now, you can actually also watch the music video on YouTube.com but the quality is not very good. Click Here. Please give it some time to load completely before playing to watch the clip smoothly.

Lyrics:

Humko Humise

Humko humise chura lo,
Dil mein kahin tum chupa lo.

Hum akele, kho na jaayen,
Door tumse, ho na jaayen,
Paas aao gale se laga lo

Ye dil dhadka do, zulfein bikhra do,
Sharma ke apna aanchal lehra do.

Hum zulfein to bikhra dein, din mein raat na ho jaaye,
Hum aanchal to lehra dein, par barsaat na ho jaaye

Hone do barsaatein, karni hain kuch baatein.
Paas aao gale se laga lo.

Tumpe marte hain, hum mar jayenge,
Ye sab kahte hain, hum kar jayenge.

Chutki bhar sindoor se tum ab ye maang zara bhar do,
Kal kya ho kisne dekha sab kuch aaj abhi kar do.

Ho na ho sab raazi, dil raazi rab raazi

Translation:

Steal me from myself
Hide me somewhere in your heart

Alone , fear I might get lost
Far from you , I might go
Come close and put your arms around my neck

Let the heart beat (faster) , spread your hair
Blush and let your shawl fly

I would let my hair down , but it might make the day into night
I would spread my shawl but it might start raining

Let it rain , we have to talk
Come near and embrace me

I die for you , I might die in reality I say all this , I will do it

Put this red dye of marriage in my hair parting
What will happen tomorrow who knows , do everything today

Others may not be ready , but the heart is ready and God is willing.

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Filed under Movies, Movies (Highly Recommended)

Are all chauffeurs the same?

The more I converse with my chauffeur, the more impressed I am with his knowledge. I wonder if all chauffeurs are like that. I remember watching a Hollywood movie where the chauffeur chose to become a chauffeur because that job gives him a lot of time to read. In the process of being a chauffeur, he managed to save up millions due to share market tips from his boss.

For example, in my conversation with him yesterday, he said that there are so many cars now in Hyderabad. One reason he gave was because the bank now approves loans so easily and buying a car is like buying vegetables. I told him that the same thing is happening in China. For example, in Beijing, there are about 1,000 new cars every day. To my surprise, he said something like this, “If this is to continue, one day we are going to be in trouble because there is not much oil left in the world and we will see many big countries that do not have much oil like USA and China fighting to buy oil. The world politics will be played according to this coming oil crisis.”.

How many chauffers, or in fact, how many people in this world, will have this kind of insights on cause and effect? The fact that there is a coming oil crisis is not a big secret but the way he said on how it is going to influence world politics is really brilliant. And we are talking about a guy who does not have much education. He picks up English by himself and managed to marry a woman who teaches English.

Then he is also a huge movie fan. Not really Hollywood movies which he also watches but he is a huge Bollywood movie fan. Maybe most Indians are the same and this is probably why India produces close to 1,000 movies a year, the most in the world.

He is now officially my Bollywood movie consultant and he knows where to buy cheap DVDs. I have given him a float of Rs1,500 to stock up good movies for me.

Today, we were talking about “Krrish” and I asked him if it is a good movie. He said that it is like a “Superman” movie for kids and he felt that it is a really copycat job. Well, as far as I know, it is not uncommon for Bollywood producers to copycat Hollywood ideas and a whole website has been created to keep track of these copycat activities. In fact, many of the recent “copycats” such as “Taxi 9211” has become hits. He continued to say that the previous movie “Koi Mil…Gaya” is a much better movie. “Krrish” is a sequel to that movie. I immediately asked him to procure me a copy.

He is also on the hunt for me for some Satyajit Ray’s movies and he has found some. The only problem is that those are VCDs and do not have English subtitles. It is a shame that Satyajit Ray’s movies are so hard to find here.

We continued our movie talk and I asked him which movie is worth watching in the cinemas now. He immediately said “Fanaa” and he told me to watch out for “Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna” and he jokingly said that it sounds like a sequel to “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham”.

I then wondered. How could he afford to go to the movies?

The average ticket price here is between Rs60 and Rs100 for normal cinemas and Rs180 for the IMAX hall. DVDs for new movies costs between Rs300 to Rs350 and for older movies, it costs between Rs250 to Rs300. VCD prices ranges from Rs150 to Rs200 for new movies. For older movies, the price can go down to Rs25. And then there is cable TV that costs between Rs100 to Rs250, depending on which area you live but the contents are more or less the same, with an offering of about 100 channels.

Then there are the pirates. Pirated DVDs costs about Rs50 per piece, more than 1/6 of the price of the original but the pirates are not doing really a lot of business as in Malaysia. One reason is because the quality of the pirated DVDs is very bad, unlike those in Malaysia.

He said that he does not normally go to watch movies in the cinemas but he buys cheap VCDs. He will only go to the cinema if there is a big movie featuring the stars that he likes. Stars are a real determining factor on whether one goes to the cinema or not. For lesser movies, they will watch them on TV. Finding myself in my old shoes, I did not blink and asked him about the window. He said that for normal Bollywood movies, the soundtrack will come out way in advance to promote the movie (this I already know and this tactic is particularly effective in the UK). Right after one week after the movie has finished it’s theatrical runs, the DVDs and VCDs will appear in the market. However, it is not uncommon for DVDs and VCDs to be released simultaneously or sometimes one or two weeks prior to theatrical release in India in other countries (I wonder how he knows about this!). Then normally, the cable TV will play the movie 6 months after the last day of theatrical release.

Well, so much for this edition into the film business here. Will update on this as I get to know more. Hopefully I will be able to hook up to some movie producers and distributors here and get more inside info.

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Filed under India, Thoughts & Commentaries