Total Pageviews

Sep 26, 2006

Forgot to include this link...

Its the blog of Anousheh Ansari, the world's first female space tourist. Some readers might find this an interesting read.

The Coca-Cola wars

It was heavily embarassing hearing of the demonstrations, strikes and fighting in India's 100% literate state due to reports that an international softdrink company had excessively high amounts of pesticide ingredients in its products. It was embarassing to watch grown men throwing punches at each other and shouting taunts as they picked sides on who was right and wrong.

Makes you wonder whether its really a good idea to proudly state that we're 100% literate. The directors at Coca-cola must be canning themselves at the way the 'literate' people in Kerala are handling the issue.

I don't understand why the growth of a multi-national company would stunt the fortunes of the ordinary citizen. The benifits of freedom of choice should surely outweigh extra weight in a few politicians' pockets? And on the question of pesticides - there have been more that plenty of forwards stating the acidic properties of coke (bad for teeth, toilet cleaner etc.). Ok, so we've heard of it. Now give us freedom as citizens of a democratic country to exercise our rights to the choices we make. Surely, 'literate' citizens would be able to make an accountable decision?

Who says we've progressed since 1947?

On a lighter note, check out this cool video on YouTube. Its all the intros (run to couches) of the Simpsons cartoon series (16th/17th season).

Sep 21, 2006

Sep 20, 2006

Youth Onam 2006 - Blairgowrie, Johannesburg

Our 5th annual youth onam was celebrated on the 3rd of this month in grand style. The programs went well and the food was just too good...

Not bad, considering the whole function was planned by and for the youth of Gauteng. A coupla pics from the day:

First sitting. The females are served by the males.

The second seating. Males getting served by the Females.

Sep 18, 2006

BMT and Aussie cricket

It was entertaining following the latest cricket match between Australia and the West Indies in the DFL cup in Malaysia. The match was relayed online via text commentary through Work was a bit lax today, and I spent most of the afternoon following the match through the Internet.

In the previous encounter between the teams, the Windies were cruising with Chanderpaul and Gayle blasting their way to the target. Then a sensational collapse where 7 wkts fell for around 30 runs let to the Aussies taking the game away from them. A similar situation almost befell the Indian team with 5 wkts down with the score in the 30s.

I've always been a keen follower of international cricket; and one aspect that still holds my respect is the way team Australia handles pressure situations (big match temperament). I don't think there are any other cricket teams that can handle pressure as well as they do (and choke off an opposition as often as they do).

Experience on the field has taught me that its on that rare occasion that a team gets to pull themselves out a high pressure situation where all the tables are turned against them. Its sometimes a 'hero of the day' that comes around that changes the result of the game - but never seen a team do that.

Its this aspect of Aussie cricket that any avid supporter (no matter which team you support) would have to sit up and take note of. Its not luck. Not when it happens time and time again. There have been many occasions where just the slight glimmer of a win has prompted the whole team to drive a successful result (as was the case in the last match, and almost the case in todays).

So whats the secret? Perhaps developing strategies on how to handle situations such as these? Or perhaps the team's motivation jumps exponentially during these pressure situations? Maybe its individuals in the team that motivate each other? Or maybe special courses in BMT?

Whatever the reason, its still highly entertaining to watch the Aussies in action - especially when they look down and out of the game. Its never over till the fat lady waltzes.

Sep 15, 2006

Survivor - SA style

South Africa's only pay-for-view TV station, Multichoice (part of the Naspers group of companies), has embarked on a SA version of the popular Survivor reality series. The first series is currently showing on TV and has, apparantly, a growing fan base. The series is set in one of the uninhabited islands in Panama (a la the CBS version). I've not had a chance to watch an episode yet, but its highly recommended by the people around me (well, so was Prison Break, and Lost... maybe I shouldn't take much from this) :)

The joke going around these days among friends is that Survivor series should have rather been set in Hillbrow or Mamelodi or Diepsloot or, or, or... the list is rather large. These suburbs in and around Joburg have the notorious image of the highest crime rates (in the world). I've never been to Hillbrow though its about 10kms from where I consult to. Driving through the streets of Hillbrow is apparantly a huge adrenalin rush, 'cause you'd never know what to expect.

The joke is that contestants should be placed around Hillbrow with cameras focused on them, and entertainment would be provided through their 'survival' techniques. Instead of alliances between contestants, it would rather be with the local gang leaders or the corrupt police official. The little Survivor challenges should include 'dodge the bullet' or 'falling TVs' or 'sell the most drugs'. The Immunity idol would be a personal bodyguard. Examples of rewards would include bullet-proof vests, pepper-sprays, or security fences.

Perhaps Mark Burnett should consider this form of reality TV...? Should lead to some rather interesting dinner topics.

I found this interesting site on a day in the life of a crime fighter in Joburg.

Sep 14, 2006

Movie of the week - The Rock

Director Michael Bay has been credited for being the youngest billionare director in Hollywood. His collaboration with the genius (and extremely wealthy) producer Jerry Bruckheimer has seen many hits such as Bad Boys I & II, Armageddon and Pearl Harbour. He has been widely acclaimed for his control of action-packed movies such as the ones mentioned before. I've always been a big fan of his use of the camera on characters, as well as his fast editing sequences.

The Rock is still one of my favourite English movies. It had a 'different' plot, controlled acting, punchy dialogues, fast-paced action and creative cinematography. The shot of the F18s whizzing past a kneeling Nicholas Cage with Hans Zimmer's climatic music still creates one of my classic climaxes of all movies so far.

Credit should to to the director for setting the pace of the movie while giving time to the established actors to get their characters into motion. Hans Zimmer is one of Hollywood's better composers whose accomplishments include The Lion King and Gladiator. The theme to Black Hawk Down is still one of my beloved themes. I've always been a huge admirer of his compositions, and the background score to The Rock does not fail to impress.

The highlight of Michael Bay's movie is the use of the cameras and fast editing to create an atmosphere of action and pace during the action scenes. His use of slow-motions and dolce orchestral music during these sequences show some of his really innovative film-making techniques that I've hardly ever seen before in another director's movie.

Some of the 'easter eggs' that are characteristic of a Michael Bay movie include the slow-motion high angle spiral shot of an actor (usually the main character) as he/she picks himself off the ground. Look out for it - its... different.

Sep 12, 2006

I don't like cricket... I luv it!

Cricket season is upon us again... yeah! The washed-out tournament between India, SL & SA had high expectations but failed due to the persistent bad weather. What a disappointment? I was really looking forward to some action between 3 formidable teams for the next world cup.

My current predictions for the best 4 performing teams in next year's WC are Sri Lanka, India, South Africa & Australia (I tried hard not to put the last one, but reality is, in effect, a percentage game).

SL are my current 'stars' of cricket. What a performance against the English a couple of months ago? I've always been a keen observer of Mahela Jayawardene, the last few months have been a real revelation. He was never the sublime player; an odd couple of 50s in ODIs before the SL captaincy was handed over to him. He's really taken on the role superbly, playing out of his normal game while displaying some polished leadership skills on the field (totally against the modern trend where captaincy equals loss of form). My players to watch out for are Mahela, Dilshan & Sangakkara.

My patriotism to Indian cricket still continues. Rahul 'the wall' Dravid is still my favourite cricketer. I've not seen sparks of genious from his leadership, but his consistent form and dogmatic attitude should be interesting to watch. Looking forward to some innovative moves (that brings out positive results!). Sachin's back for his last WC - the player of the tournament in the last WC has the uncanny ability to bring about form when required. I have my sights set on all players in the team. Looking forward to seeing them raise the WC next year :)

I was never a big fan of SA cricket. I have always been a fan of Herchelle Gibbs, and this was cemented in the incredible 438 in that last Aus-SA match in the Wanderers. What a brilliant match?! I've got a highlights copy of the game and have watched it often, but it still stuns me how well the run chase was orchestrated. Captain Greame Smith and the enegmatic Andre Nel will be players to look out for this season.

The Aussies will surely be the team that other nations will benchmark themselves against. A popular saying around here among cricket commentators is that the best way to check if you as a player are in form is to determine whether you can make the Aussie ODI team. It will be interesting to see which teams will dethrone the current champions. I get the feeling Pakistan's the most likely to do this... if everything comes together.

This season's gonna be a rocker! Can't wait for the WC. And there's a faint chance I could make some of the matches of the WC in the Carribean ('touch wood'). "Eeee maan.. toss me dat bottla Jamaikan rum".

Sep 8, 2006

I'm 25!

Its been a rather nostalgic day. I'm 25 yrs today but don't feel very happy about it. A quarter century shouldn't mean anything, but in terms of time frames and the average age, third of my life is gone.

I'm still not sure how to deal with this day... Was looking forward to it a few days ago, but now it feels like a deja vu. Maybe its a mood thing.

To the next 25 years...

Sep 5, 2006


Hearty onam greetings to all of you!

I received this SMS early this morning. Really cool! Here it goes - "Niraparayum... Nilavilakum... pinne orupidi thumpapoovum manasil nirachu orupadu snehavumayi... orayirum ONASAMSAKAL..." This really made my day.

Hope you have a splendid one too...

Sep 1, 2006

Movie of the week - Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna

Work was chillaxed on Wednesday, so I decided to take the afternoon off and go watch the much publicised KANK at one of the only two theatres that show Hindi movies in Johannesburg. Before this I had heard (after futile attempts to block opinions on a film) that the movie generated a lot of controversy through its positive protrayal of extra-marital relationships. There was also comments on the local Indian radio channel that the movie is adult-oriented and should not be viewed by children, and that someone from Mumbai had murdered his wife after watching the movie. Blah blah...

There have been a few really good movies on extra-marital relationships. The Malayalam movie Meghamalhar is an excellent example on how such a topic is handled. The director took great care in creating a story on film without placing an opinion on whether embarking on such a path is good or bad. A little thread was left at the end of the film from which the viewer is left to hang on to, to decide for themselves whether the path taken by the main characters was good or bad. This movie was a classic example of the quality of scripting and movie-making by the Malayalam film industry (not being biased - watch it and decide for yourself!).

I thought the Karan Johar crew was brave to venture into unchartered territory in an attempt to explore this theme. The movie is littered with little sub-plots (as is characteristic of a Karan Johar movie) with loose ends (like Dev's mother and son, or Rishi's life, or (sic) Black Beast), but the story around Shah Rukh Khan & Rani Mukherjis' characters was handled well, I thought. In my opinion, the movie was handled well. The theme may not be everyone's cup of tea, but that should not lead to any blindfolding just because its considered 'wrong'.

The plot gets my thumbs-up. The acting was pretty good. Abhishek Bachchan was stylish and funny (a marked improvement). Priety Zinta was glamorous as ever. Rani Mukherji carried on from her excellent acting in Black. King Khan and the Big B flowed in their characters.

The music and cinematography were my 'stars' from the movie. The songs (esp. 'Mitwa') were melodious and were coupled effectively with the visuals. Almost every frame seemed picture-perfect. I forgot to mention the artwork and the detail given to the costumes and sets - dazzling.

Direction was as good as ever. The slick editing between the tension-filled scenes played a large part in getting the story going.

The length of the film though was real big let down. Ok, so its value for money in theatres in India, but really! I thought a shorter version would have helped the slow pace in the 2nd half.

I don't think the film should be shot down because of its theme. That just shoots down the reason films are popular. Another medium of art to express one's opinions. Us viewers should be educated enough to take in the maker's understanding of a topic, and be able to make a judgement on its affects (I liken this to the Da Vinci code). In the end, we should be able to realise that the movie was... different. A change from the masalas that get churned out on such regular basis.