Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From where I source my books?

I have been an avid reader all my life. I still find it difficult to eat my lunch/dinner without any book in front of me. Bad habit I know. During my school days, I remember going through the same article of ‘Cricket Samrat’ umpteen number of time because of paucity of new magazines or books at home. I and my brother used to have a daily scuffle on who would read the newspaper first. Sharing its pages was a complete no no.

My taste of books has undergone sea of change if you compare it with those cricket samrat days but this post is not about my reading taste. It’s about where do I source my books from?

Beg, Borrow or Steal:
This was the mantra till I finished my engineering. Quite late I know. And the steal part is a bit exaggeration. As steal part didn’t materialize, I never really owned any books till I finished my college. Begged and borrowed ones had to be returned to the kings and the Queens who owned them.

Roadside vendors:
I discovered them during my stint in Bombay and boy more than me, my wallet loved them. Pirated books were every where. Next to VT station, Fort, Fashion Street, near CST, Bandra, Andheri. 3 books for 150 bucks! And when they came that cheap, I never really bothered about 4-5 missing pages after every 50 pages!

When you have means, you always tend to find ways to put an end to it (whatever it means). I started earning sometime in 2003 and suddenly I was seeing Crossroads, Landmarks and Odysseys all around me. I started spending a fortune there. Huge business they got from me! And then the online thing happened.

One of my friends pointed me to Indiaplaza where you could find anything and everything under the sun at great discounts. How true it was. He never told me though how pathetic they were in delivering those goods. As they say, always try to learn from other’s experience rather than making your own mistakes. (One good thing about me, I remember these quotes I just don’t implement them) I ordered my books from Indiaplaza and used to wait till eternity for delivery after numerous calls. I am sure my cell phone bills must have superseded the price of the book. Anyways, I repeated the process quite a few times before Flipkart happened.

Anyone with some business sense would have realized that the market for online book shopping was up for grabs. It took two guys from IIT-D to execute it to perfection. What a dream run it has been for the company since its inception three years ago.I must have ordered around 30 books from them till now and yet to see a delayed delivery. Their prompt delivery service is what sets them apart. Till the time they are here, I don’t see a reason to buy books from any other store or website. Their nearest competition? Apparently Indiaplaza (really?).


Monday, August 30, 2010

Commonwealth Games Bulletin

25th September 2010:

It was a busy day for all the people involved in the preparation of Commonwealth Games (CWG). Sheila Dixit assured the nation today that God willing, we will have the best Commonwealth Games ever. Final patch work is underway at a frantic pace at Jawaharlal Nehru and Talkatora Stadium while specialists from England are working round the clock to fix the leakages at Siri Fort Sports complex. These have just missed 7th final deadline. This morning Sheila told the waiting reporters that the deadline has been extended for one final time by 15 days. Reporters reminded her that mathematically it cannot be extended by more than 7 days as we are scheduled to hold opening ceremony on 3rd Oct. She settled for 7 days.

Another CWG scam broke out in electronic media today. It seems that Organising Committee (OC) decided to import pigeons for the opening ceremony from Australia instead of using home grown pigeons and the contract was given to a company owned by Michael Fennell’s son’s friend’s wife’s uncle. Rs 5, 00,000 for each bird were paid in advance for 1000 such pigeons. Kalmadi has rejected the allegation terming it as baseless and said he is ready for any enquiry. He said that the contract was given after employing a transparent process. He added that these pigeons are not normal Indian pigeons but well trained ones capable of handing over any letter anywhere in the world. To substantiate his claim, he told the reporters that the pigeon used in 1989 Hindi blockbuster ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ was also provided by the same firm and reminded them that he successfully delivered the letter to Salman Khan. Meanwhile, Menaka Gandhi slammed this entire practice of keeping the pigeons under the cage and termed it as cruelty against birds.

27th September 2010:

Today it was decided that Jawaharlal Nehru, Talkatora Stadium and Siri Fort Sports Complex will not be handed over to CWG OC as there is no time to actually do a formal handover. These will now be handed over directly to the athletes in whatever state they will be on 3rd of October. Final patchwork is on target i.e. on 8th revised target. A decision has also been taken to wrap the entire Connaught place with thick white cloth to cover up the debris and the unfinished work. Apparently, project was on time but when it was about to complete, MTNL decided to dig the entire place to run telephone lines. It was done again but this time MCD decided to dig the same for laying cables. When it was done for the final time, NDMC workers dug all of it as protest because they were not paid their last month wages. CPM welcomed this approach of workers and called for a 3 day bandh in Kolkata. Sitaram Yechury asked for Sheila Dixit’s resignation. Sheila Dixit visited Akshardham temple today after a quick visit to all stadiums and was seen praying silently next to Lord Indra’s statue.

Jawaharlal Nehru, Talkatora Stadium and Siri Fort Sports Complex will have Athletics, Boxing and badminton competition respectively from 4th to 9th October. Final patchwork is in final stages now while landscaping has been abandoned for good. It has been decided that the athletes competing at these venues will be given a greeting card with only 3 words carved inside it, All Izz Well, suggesting the state of the stadium roofs. Till this afternoon, catering for the games was still not in place but Mr. Lalit Bhanot pulled a coup. He managed to get the agreement from Haldiram’s and Bikanerwala, in the interest of the nation, to take care of games catering in makeshift tents, stores and restaurants outside stadiums and CWG village. Prime Minister lauded this effort of Mr Bhanot and has forwarded his name for next year ‘Padma Awards’.

The day ended with Gauri the Cow, India’s answer to Paul the Octopus predicting that India will top the medals tally in these games. This has sent shock waves among the Indian athletes. Kalmadi has termed the allegation as baseless while Meneka Gandhi has protested the use of holy cow for such practices and termed it as cruelty against animals.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh Randiv! The Sehwag-No Ball Controversy

Randiv has apologised. So has Sri Lanka Cricket. Are we still making too much out it? I surely don’t think so. There is no doubt about the fact that Randiv’s ‘no ball’ was deliberate to deny Sehwag a century. His apology to Sehwag has put it beyond just accusation.

More revealing was the fact that stump microphone actually caught captain Sangakkara reminding Randiv ‘if Sehwag touches the ball, he will get a century’. Let me be clear. It’s not about the laws. Both Sangakkara and Randiv are well within laws to bowl a ‘no ball’ even if it’s a deliberate one. People are questioning the spirit under which the cricket was played. Sri Lanka was nowhere close to winning the match and hence the sole purpose was to deny Sehwag a well deserved century. As per the rules, captain is supposed to ensure fair play on the field and here Randiv, who is barely 2 test matches old, was urged by none other than his skipper to bowl a ‘no ball’!

As one of my dear friend suggested, ‘what if the last Indian pair (Ojha and Ishant) batting in Murali's last test match had denied Murali his 800th test victim by running themselves out?’ Fair point. They would have been well within the rules then!

In defence of Randiv, I must say there have been similar instances where the line of fair play was blurred. Even by Sehwag. In one of the recent test matches against South Africa, Amla and Morkel were at the crease when one of the strokes was deliberately put beyond the boundary ropes when Sehwag kicked the ball. This was to stop Amla from retaining the strike. Atleast in this instance, Indians were in sight of a victory with the last pair on the crease. This wasn’t an act of deliberately stopping someone from a deserved personal milestone as it was in this case or it would have been in Murali’s case. Though in no way I am supporting the act of Sehwag here.

If Sangakkara is guilty, then it’s a blot on his career however illustrious it may have been. Like the one that Greg Chappell will always carry on his shoulders (though not of the same proportion). So where are we going from here. In all wrong directions. As I write this, Sangakkara has denied that he played any role in this incident and Sri Lankan Board has asked for a thorough report from the manager. It would have been better if Sangakkara would have acknowledged his brain freeze and apologised as Randiv did. Match referee could have played a role too and the matter could have been buried under the archives of cricinfo.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Movie Review : Peepli [LIVE]

Let me set the tone of this review. Peepli [Live] is not a 'must watch'. It’s a good and different movie which you don’t see often in Hindi cinema. A commendable effort by Aamir Khan Productions and Anusha Rizvi, the debutante director. Anyways, if you watch only 'must watch' these days, you will end up seeing only a couple of movies or worse, none in entire year!

The movie is a slapstick drama set in a sleepy village called Peepli where Natha, a destitute farmer who is about to lose his land, decides (or rather coaxed by his brother) to commit suicide in anticipation of handsome compensation from government. The film depicts how the plight of a poor farmer become the TRP catching fodder for media and a tool to go one up among politicians.

Natha is played by one Omkar Das Manikpuri an outsider to anything remotely related to Bollywood. He fits the character to perfection. He may have very little dialogues but he brilliantly portrays a simple man who is just overawed by the occasion and the attention he gets from everyone ranging from media and local touts to national politicians. On the flip side, Rizvi never tried to explore the psyche of a man who was hounded by thousands just to capture his suicide, live.

Three characters stand out in the movie. Shalini Vatsa as Natha’s wife Dhaniya, Farrukh Jaffer as foul mouthed amma, and Vishal Sharma as television reporter Kumar Deepak (a cloned Deepak Chaurasia). Raghubir Yadav has done full justice to his part but a seasoned actor like him could have sleepwalked through a role which is his forte. All other characters fit the bill too and looked lively on the screen, be it TV reporter Nandita (Malaika Shenoy) or the local Journalist Rakesh (Nawazuddin). Almost entire cast has theatre background and you should not be amazed by their acting prowess. Such is the bar theatre people have set for themselves on big screen.

Though director has tried to keep the movie short (a little under 100 min) as per the script requirement, squabble among the journalists for a byte becomes a bit repetitive after the first half. Dialogues are crisp and the local dialect and accent makes them even more interesting. Rizvi has brilliantly captured the mood of a village and superbly portrayed the TRP hungry media houses. On music front, you will surely enjoy ‘Mehengai Dayan’ sung by Raghubir Yadav in his rustic base voice.

Films like Peepli [Live] come few and far between as the producers today simply don’t see any commercial viability in subjects like farmer suicide. It’s a film which has shades of black humour. You surely won’t be disappointed if you decide to visit a theatre near you to watch it.

Monday, August 09, 2010

MNS cleanup operation

The self proclaimed messiah of Marathi Manoos opened his mouth again yesterday. Interestingly, he didn’t spit out some more garbage. Instead he chose to talk about cleaning it!

I would really love to see a follow up story on this one...

Friday, August 06, 2010


...Sadly no one is talking about the athletes, their preparation and their upcoming performances!

Sad state of affairs indeed.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

The power of Shivaji

There is so much to write these days but then these statues keep popping from everywhere. I was just done with Mayawati's concrete avatar and now there is already competition to her. I wrote about him two years back. If it would have been a plan to do something good for the people, impacting them directly and adding some value to their lives, it would have surely been long forgotten. But then how can you forget Shivaji? Specially when elections are fast approaching. So the plan was taken out of the dust, file was cleaned and now they have taken the decision (Though a formal government's approval is still pending). It seems whenever a state grapples with fears of drought, they tackle it by planning the statues. First UP and now Maharashtra.

The entire project of putting Shivaji Maharaj in sea complete with plush gardens would cost the exchequer a cool 350 crores. Those who are not too fond of Shivaji can enjoy books at the library, if you are not too much of a 'sea' person you can visit the museum and the foodcourts there or if you are not into statues there would be a 200 seater amphitheatre.

What a monumental waste of money!