Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best Movie I Saw in 2007

Well, there are many fantastic movies I saw this year. Its difficult to remember, but to name a few - City of Gods, Die Hard 4, No Smoking, The Sound of Music, Indiana Jones Trilogy etc.

But the best one I saw is Pan's Labyrinth or El Laberinto del Fauno ( 2006 ) . Its the most captivating, spell-binding movie you will get to see, after Lord of the Rings. Actually, it should be put in the leagues of LOTR. Guillermo Del Tero does a top-notch job in story-telling. This is a must-see for all the fantasy lovers. The enchanting background score does justice to the screenplay. The actors have done a wonderful performance, specially Ivana Baquero , who plays the main character - Ofelia , a little girl who believes in fables. Sergi Lopez plays the evil Captain Vidal, whom you fear and hate so much. Not all the effects in the movie are animated or CGI. The director has used puppetry, traditional prosthetics to give a realistic effect to the makeup and costume.

Btw, the movie is in Spanish language and has a running length of 120 minutes.It is rated R for graphical violence. ( Many parents in Mexico took their kids to theaters without knowing this ) .
Its too bad that movies like these are not taken up by any distributor in India. ( As they know the number of the crowd that will turn up ! )

If this is not compelling enough for you to watch it, then read this :

  • It won 3 Oscars for - Best Achievement in Art Direction, Cinematography and Makeup.
  • It was nominated for 3 other Oscars - Best Achievement in Original Score, Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film .
  • It won the BAFTA award for - Best Foreign Language Film , Makeup, and Costume Design
  • It was nominated for the coveted Golden Palm award of Cannes Film Festival. After the show, it received 22 minutes of applause at the Cannes Film Festival !!!
This is the last blog from me this year. And my last recommendation for this year will be to grab a copy of this movie and watch it, in case you haven't.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mobile Phone Etiquettes

Mobile phones have become an integral part of our lives. I am sure everyone who is reading my blog has a cell phone with him. Following are some rules/commandments of using a cell phone :

1) Every call on your cell is important. Be it from your wife,children,parents, colleague, boss, shop-keeper, gym instructor, driver, plumber, pimp, pet, etc. This is the primary rule based on which other rules are formed.
2) You should never put your cell phone on silent mode, specially when you are requested at places like meetings, cinemas, temples, mosques, churches, etc.
3) Always, and always, pick up a call when you are driving. It should not matter that you are hurtling down the road at 100 miles per hour or driving down a busy street with vehicles behind you. Your sudden lapse in concentration and erratic driving does not matter to vehicles around you ( even though they give you a disgusting look ) .
4) Wear a blue tooth headset 24/7. This way its easier to pick up the phone while in the toilet.
5) Shout on the receiver - its good for your health. It compensates for all the harmful effects on your body of using a cell phone.
5) You should always use your cell phone to click photos at public places, even though the photos mean nothing to you. You may never know when that 1000 * 800 pixel photo might get picked as stock photography earning you big bucks.

Grrrrrrrr.......

Monday, December 17, 2007

Review of The Kite Runner ( the book , not the movie )

My friends gave me The Kite Runner as a birthday gift ( after checking my 'to-read' list on Goodreads :-) ) . As this book was shorter than Shantaram, I decided to go with it first.

The book was a refreshing change from the books I have been reading lately - Rich Dad Poor Dad , Cashflow Quadrant. The last book I read which made me forget my daily activities and stick to reading was Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, when it was released. And now, The Kite Runner.


In one word, this book is - touching. Emotional. Not to mention a bit depressing in between.Actually, it is a emotional ride set in the backdrop of Afghanistan and the political events in the region which altered lives of Afghanis who were living in as well as out of Afghanistan. You might have traveled the world in Dan Brown series, but this book takes you to never-seen-before Afghanistan, and you will love the picture painted by the author. Just makes me imagine what Afghanistan must have been back then in 1975.Khaled Hosseini is the first English author from Afghanistan and gives a true picture of the country, right from 1975 to the post-9/11 attacks.The book brings out the true nature of Afghanis , something which I have not seen or read before anywhere.

The book is about two boys in Afghanistan, enjoying their innocent childhood. Amir loves his father and wants to gain his attention.And Hassan, his friend, has always been loyal to him. Then tragedy strikes,and things fall apart. Afghanistan is raided by outsiders and people flee.But the past still haunts them. It always does.The choices we make always come back.There is a way to be good again.

There are many cliches in the book ;- the story and events become predictable ( just like in a Hindi movie ). But that is all accepted for the simplistic writing.Do read this book. Atleast before you watch the film version of it , which I guess is released in US this week. It is directed by Marc Foster - director of Finding Neverland - so eagerly waiting to watch it.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Activeciti Beta Released

After 4 months of hard work, I am happy to announce that Activeciti Beta version has been released.

For those of you who don't know, ActiveCiti is a web application specializing in planning and organising of events.
It simplifies the life of people by taking care of their mundane and laborious tasks, which are mandatory to successfully organizing the event. So, you can use Activeciti to plan a get-together at a coffee shop / movie, or you can use it to arrange a party at your place. It also allows people to create public events that are happening around the world. It also sports very easy-to-use RSVP. There are tonnes of features to assist you, like Polls - to take suggestions from your invitees, discussion forums etc.

This is my first product from my first start-up ThinkingSpace Technologies . Hence, you can imagine the thrill and excitement as well as the satisfaction of launching a product which in due course will be used by people worldwide. Now the next step is to increase the user base of the site and hope that Activeciti solves the purpose what it was built for.

Well, I hope you sign -up and like the site. Till then, this is me signing off, to relax on a Sunday afternoon :)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bank of India

This blog is dedicated to the hospitality shown by the Bank Of India.

As I have started my new venture with two friends of mine, we thought of going to banks and enquiring about the process and details for opening a Current Account.We went to IDBI, ICICI and till then the representatives of these banks answered most of our queries and cleared our doubts ( as there is lot of paperwork involved in opening an account ) . Plus , as usual, these banks were quiet eager to take a new customer.

Then we went to Bank Of India. Before I write down today's experience , let me mention about my past experiences with this Bank : I had a Savings A/c with this bank. Twice I went to them for a DD and both times I had to wait for 2 hrs to get it done. And the previous time I had visited the bank to remove money, ( I was still in college ) they started asking me questions as though I looked like a conman to them. Well, I dont blame them,with so much fraud happening , and people being prejudiced, they had their reasons.

Anyways, today I went there hoping things have changed. I went inside, asked a person about where to enquire for opening a Current A/c. She directed me to a lady sitting in a corner. My friend and I went to that lady, and this is what happened :

Me : Hello,Me and my friends have just started a firm. We want to open a Current A/c.

( Lady looks at us with a suspicious glare, and tells us to wait. Not to mention, she didnt offer us to sit. After 5 minutes... )

Lady : What proof do you have to open a Current A/c. ( Again, with a very cross look , as if examining us or interrogating us in a court trial . I think she believed we were strolling outside, and came inside this bank just to pass away our time )

Me : The Agreement made between us friends, for the firm.

Lady : And address proof ? ( No, we dont have that as we are running our business from M G Road footpath !!!! )

Me : That will be procured.

Lady ( Not looking satisfied ) : Where is your office ?

Me : Vishrantwadi. ( Its a remote area , kind of a suburb )

Lady : So why dont you go to so many banks in Yerwada ? ( Yerwada houses lot of banks, mostly Co-op Banks. Its a very shady kind of place where it is quite risky to open a Current A/c )

Lady : Plus, the minimum balance in this bank is very high.

Me : How much ?

Lady : It is Rs. 25,000 .

( She was waiting for a look of depression or shock on our face at these words )

Me : Thats ok.

Lady : But how will you operate from Vishrantwadi? You will have to come here everyday.

Me ( ignoring her ) : And what about Outstation cheques/At Par cheque facility ?

Lady : That is available, but no OD ( over draft) will be given initially.

Me : For how long ? For how many months ?

Lady : Atleast 6 months, or longer than that.

Me ( wanting to close the discussion ) : Ok, but the minimum balance is 25K ?

Lady ( sternly ) : Yeah .

( I soon realized it is useless getting more details from her , and we walked out from there )

I had many terrible experiences before - with SBI, BoI , but that was all because of huge queue, inability of staff to handle operations, inefficient working of the Bank's infrastructure. But this experience was the worst. Its because the Bank ( represented by the Lady ) was not keen to get a new customer. We were not keen to open an account in BoI. We went there for details. If the details would have suited us, we would have gone ahead with opening the a/c. But they actually wanted to avoid us opening a account in their bank.Nothing can be worse than this. I have never seen a vendor/establishment/institution trying to push away probable customers.

Maybe it was the Lady's prejudice that led us to this experience. But that is not how businesses are run. Maybe if we had interacted with some other employee, the experience would have been different. But that doesnt matter.In a corporation/institution, each and every employee - right from the receptionist to the Manager - represent their organization and the values that the organization stands for. People associate the organization with the employees they interact with. Each and every employee should be trained and should act accordingly.

We went to HDFC after that, where the lady at the help desk was very friendly. She first asked us what is our Business into, and what type of transactions are we looking for. She then explained all the details that were required. I am actually considering going for HDFC , even though they are not providing many Outstation Cheque facilities which are being provided by other banks for the same Minimum Average Quaterly Balance.

Organizations need to build a relationship with their customers. There needs to be a sense of trust between the vendor and customer. It is very important , atleast in this fast-pace world to offer more than just services. Providing services alone is not enough.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Entrepreneurship in India

Its been almost 2 months since I took my first step in my dream to become a successful entrepreneur. I knew it was coming, I knew I had to take the step at some time, but it just got catalyzed thanks to the same dream shared by two friends of mine from college. Everything is steady now, and I will keep everyone updated about our venture from time to time.

This is my theory for future of entrepreneurship in India. ( Yes, now I have changed my specialization from writing on 'philisophy' to 'entrepreneurship' . Or actually , now its both ! ) I think with increase in job opportunities in India, more and more people will be inclined to take the path of becoming an entrepreneur .Kind of paradox , isn't it ?

Let me explain ... First of All, the main ingredient for becoming an entrepreneur is your risk-taking ability. It all comes down to how ready are you to take a risk - calculated risk or not.Your every step and decision in your entrepreneurial life will be associated with risk, which will have an impact not only on yourself, but many other people that are associated with your venture.

So, my theory is , when people have more job opportunities, and when they see that situation is not going to be that bad in future , in terms of getting a job, people ( I mean students and population under 30 ) will be ready to take risk and opt for becoming an entrepreneur. I mean at least those who wanted to do this from a long time, or who wanted to take a bit of risk, might start doing it now. Because they know that even if the venture fails or if they don't succeed, they still have the safer option of doing a job in future.

When people don't have jobs , they start feeling insecure. There is tremendous pressure , specially on students from lower and upper middle-class families, to get a job and sustain the family.Hence people stop taking risks. They start looking for alternatives, like doing post-graduation , just so that they can get a job after doing post-grad. They feel more pressurized to take up a job.

The other day , I met one senior from our college, who is about to start his MBA this June 2007 .After talking to him for sometime, he expressed his ambition to start a venture, but as he got into a good college , he postponed his step , and might do it after doing MBA.

Recently , more and more IIM-A ad IIM-B students are opting for starting their own venture. Many of the students are not even sitting for campus placements. They know that this is the time to take the step. They are sure that even if it doesn't work, the job situation in India is getting better, and will improve for some years down the lane.

Everyone have their own reasons to take the step. Some have a burning passion to do it, some want to just try it , and others do it for necessity. But I feel this is the right time to take the step. So why not take the risk, won't it be worth trying ?

Anyways, this is my theory, and criticism is always welcome. More blogs on entrepreneurship coming soon !

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Yearn to Learn

While chatting with a friend about his brother's future ( who has just given his 12th exams and needs to decide his future course of action ) , I got a chance to reflect back on my past.

I will describe in brief my path till now...

I did 12th ( HSC ) from the 'Fergi' college of Pune in 2002 . Then did Computer Engineering from Pune University ( from not so well known but decent college - MESCOE aka Wadia Engg College ) and got my BE degree in 2006. Till 11th grade, I had a dream of becoming an architect. Due to some consultancy and research, I dropped that idea. And, as the only thing that every guy in FC wanted to pursue, I chose the path of Engineering. I still didn't have a clue as to which branch I am apt for, but had a bit of interest in Computers and Automobiles.

After 12th grade results, I got into Computer Engineering and that too in the college which I had dreamt of ( yeah, right ! ) . The only good thing about the college was it was close to my place and ofcourse, the people I met there. My Engineering life was pretty good, I fared above my expectations , got decent marks and secured a job in a decent company ( thanks to the recent spurt in IT industry )

Well, back to present.... Are you with me now ?

So, while chatting with my friend, I told him that I am happy I did Engg, rather than Architecture. He responded by saying that it doesn't even matter. But I feel it did matter. It did matter that I chose Engg, it did matter that I chose Computer branch, and to top it all, it did matter that I got into Wadia college.

Let me explain. Everyone gets a job. Everyone accomplishes his goal, his dream, sooner or later. If I wasn't in Wadia, but some other remote college in some remote district, then maybe I would have got a job after doing MBA. Maybe if I was in a better college than Wadia, then I might be writing this blog sitting at a better company than I am in now. Same would have been the case if I had taken a different engg. stream , or a different career path altogether.

What I liked about my engg. life is the things I learnt, apart from the technical curriculum. I learnt a lot from my friends in that college.Many of us friends shared the same vision. Many of us had similar interests. All these people did contribute to my thought process.My interaction with them did evolve my thinking, and I guess that if I had been in a different college, my thoughts, views, ideas would have been different. Which , in the end, might have led me to somewhere else in my life.I learnt the good habits of people, which mistakes can one avoid, whom to trust , whom to distrust and so on....

Well, education is all about this. Education is not a mean to earn money.You get a chance to interact with thousands of new people when you study further . Take that opportunity. Do whatever you want, whatever field you choose, but keep learning - as in learning stuff outside the curriculum. I am not saying that you should not fix up on some particular branch or career. Its good that you know what you want. But its always better if you keep an eye for things and keep learning, keep evolving your thought process, at the same time, fixing your mind on your goal.

In the end, it all matters on your daily decisions. Small decisions or major ones, your life's course depends on your choice. And those choices ultimately depends on what you have learned, what you feel is right, what you have experienced. It depends how flexible your mind is, how flexible
you are to opt for new thoughts, how you adapt to different situations.

Actually, this learning process doesnt end at our graduation or post-grad. We are students all our life, and so should our mind be.