Sunday, December 30, 2012

Movie: Borat - Disgusting and Hilarious

A movie to be watched with spouse and kids - an all time family entertainer - .... Just kidding - Dont make the mistake - watch it alone.

This movie is GROSS and hilarious. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) on IMDb

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Read: The Four Agreements

ok book.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary : Part 2 : What do you get to see?

I have split this travelogue to Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary into 2 parts - Part 1 : Getting there and Part 2: What you can see there. This is Part 2

Part 2: What you can see there

The bird sanctuary is essentially a large lake (about 30 acres) with trees (mangrove type). The best season to visit is Nov - Mar . I went in Dec 26th and there were thousands of birds. (How to get to Vedanthangal bird sanctuary: Part 1)

 Essentially, you get to be in a long walkway around the lake (around 2~3 kms on either side of the entrance).

The birds are around 200 ~500 m away and on a clear day you wont have trouble seeing them. It is preferable to carry your telephoto lens or binoculars if you are keen on having a closer look.

There are two watch towers too from where you get to see the birds and the view is very scenic from there.

Water spout in the form of a bird (and when I captured it - looked like it was catching the man!!!)

Link to part 1 : How to get to Vedanthangal bird sanctuary

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary : Part 1 : A road trip guide with tips for those travelling from Chennai to Vedanthagal

I have split this travelogue to Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary into 2 parts - Part 1 : Getting there and Part 2: What you can see there

Part 1: A road trip guide with tips for those travelling from Chennai to Vedanthangal

The trip to Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is as interesting as the sanctuary itself. In this part I will cover 2 key parts - A)How to get there B) FOOD, Scheduling your visit and Logistics

A) How to get to Vedanthangal by road?

Distance from RA Puram (Generally considered 0 milestone as it is the center of the universe) to Vedanthangal - 75 kms

Take the GST road via Thambaram - Chingleput and when you are about 12-14 kms from Maduranthagam, you will see lots of boards pointing to Vedanthagal). Take a right and the road off the highway is pretty well paved too. Just so you know you are on the right track, I have excerpted the key boards and buildings close to the right turn - so you dont miss it.

About 12 kms from Maduranthagam - For those who do not know tamil prev board has English

Take right turn here
Well paved road throughout till Vedanthangal

You have arrived! if you see this board! - Go on for 2 kms

B)Timing your visit, FOOD and logistics:
If you leave early morning on a holiday (like 8 or 9 AM) you may want to do a "heavy" breakfast at Ananda Bhavan in Pallavaram or Balajee Bhavan in Chromepet (Both before Tambaram)

You will need about an hour or hour-and-a-half at the sanctuary (if you are not a avid bird (feathered type) watcher) - excluding Bajjee eating and Panan Kazhangu (Avicha or steamed and Raw)
The vertical stacks are panam kazhangu (Palm seeds steamed)

Then on your return , you can eat at the Mahindra City food plaza that has Archana and Dhaba express around 2 PM. There are no restraunts at Vedanthangal , just a few roadside shops.

The best season to visit Nov-Mar and the place is open 6 am to 6 pm.
More pics here

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Experiment: Setting up a web shop for our farm produce

I am setting up a web shop for organic produce from our farm!

There is no business model or business case for this new experiment of setting up a shop for the organic produce.  I find that farming (atleast my amateur farming) has been a loss making venture (farming in general unless subsidized heavily is low margin business)

What troubles me is waste - The little we grow goes waste due to unavailability of buyers and several times even takers(for FOOD in a place where there is starvation probably in the same village!) While we have always read about middle men, information arbitrage, poor food processing and transport facilities, experiencing it first hand and feeling helpless is painful and profound at the same time.

If you are interested keep a tab on this link (book mark it) to know whats available fresh - Padmavathi Organic Foods (thats my granmothers name:-))

For those interested in Organic Farming, I have setup a blog too and will be posting my notes/pictures, relative costs, guidance etc. Please feel free to contribute if you have a farm here.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book review: Secret of the Nagas

Contrary to what I read, this book does not get boring (which is usual of Part 2s - This is a sequel to the Immortals of Meluha). I found that he had taken it quite nicely to a closure. Overall a worthy read (especially for a person reading it a long time)

I am eager to complete the Shiva Trilogy with the third book by Amish Tripathi

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Movies: My review: English Vinglish

Good movie - worth watching in the theatre, maybe even twice.

  English Vinglish (2012) on IMDb

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book review: The immortals of Meluha

Immortals of Meluha is a nice historical concept book - Woven Indian history and fiction . Gripping and worth a read.
This is my second ebook. Have a strange feeling with better ink, lower backlight I will switch to digital books.

Could have built a more complex web of characters and story - rather shallow and unable to sustain the next book (like Asterix or Hobbit)

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

ipad 2 glass replacement in Chennai India: cost and my experience

I have had an Apple 2 iPad 64GB (Wi-Fi + 3G) for about a year. Last week I was juggling between doodle jump and a haircut and dropped the ipad on my foot and then the floor :-(

The glass cracked though thanks to the screen protector there were no fragments fallen off and the whole piece continued to work as normal.

After 1 week of staring at a bad screen, I pulled myself to call the iStore and asked them if they will repair. On the phone, they said it would cost around 12K but when I visited, they said a phone replacement was 12K and an ipad was 20K and 1 week.

In fact the service engineer suggested its better I buy a new one.

I decided to call on crescent cell city (on TTK road, Alwarpet, Chennai) and he told me it would cost be about 6K and would be ready in 3 hrs. He checked the ipad model (and it seems the glass varies as per memory or atleast thats what he told me - maybe the thickness did - he gets it from a Bangalore vendor and does the fixing himself)

Not wanting to wipe off the emails and photos, I decided to go for the 6K option. Voila, in 3 hrs the screen was as good as new!

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Bose Bluetooth Headset 2 : Review - Music into my life again

For last 3 years I have been using various bluetooth and wired headphones for music and phone and almost never used them consistently. In fact, I have started music only during my exercise and mostly on shuffle and bluetooth for the phone while driving. I wanted to bring music back and also not carry an extra pair of phone accessories.

I realised that the following were my needs
1. Should be able to listen to music and voice
2. Should not be in 2 ears - looks awkward and also in an office setting you want to be able to listen to/be approachable to others
3. Should stay in the ear - even while running
4. Should not shut off noise and cause ear irritation like several in-ear phones
5. Should not be heavy
6. Should provide unobtrusive good voice clarity - the other person should not ask " Are you driving or am in on the speakerphone?"

I have tried the Nokia BH-505, Philips SB9000, Motorola, , Sony in-ear wired phones and the Bose Bluetooth Headset 2. I compared with the Stone2 (Jabra) and the Plantronics M100

I am glad that I took the Right ear version of the Bose Bluetooth headset 2 (Bose offers it in 2 different versions) and it seems to be just perfect

The music is clear and great (it is a BOSE - atleast the price tag of Rs. 8.8K confirms it! - it is expensive). No one has asked me to repeat myself or whether I am in a car. The set is just too light (i think some sub 20 g) and I had fogotten I was wearing it. The StayHear (TM) stuff is great and I have listened to atleast 6 albums in the last 1 week on this set.

It pairs easily and detects far better than the other sets I have had. Only issue is that you may have to charge it almost daily if you are a heavy user of headsets.


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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Saw: Fight club: Movie

Good movie - wierd theme but very well executed. Its in the top 500 in IMDB!

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Read: Angels and Demons: My review

The first book (or rather 2nd) by Dan Brown book Davinci Code was great. Angels and Demons was good to start with but became cliche and somewhere down the book , he did not know how to end the story.
Also, I feel that his SEO guru must have told him to start a controversy so that people will buy the book - he brings in vatican and exploits key people to get some publicity (but ahem.... it fizzles out). Acceptable except for the last few chapters. from ALL of Hollywood's Hottest Movies!  125x125 banner

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Movies: Saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Saw butch Cassidy and the sundance kid After all the hoo ha, the movie seemed just about average as it did not quite stand the test of time.

All the same imdb puts it at 8.2 and is in the top 5000!

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Interesting performance - Must see in Cochin - Kathakali Dance Centre

The Cochin Cultural Centre - Kathakali Centre is centrally located in Cochin(Kochi) and in Ernakulam and is a popular destination. You need to generally pre-book to get assured seats for the 5 PM Lecture Demonstration

I am not the dance-seeing type (ahem...), and resisted going to this show. However, since we had an evening to spare I went with my family. The show was amazing and for a person like me who did not know (or care) anything about dance, the color music beat and speed was captivating.

The make up (a very important part of the show) starts early and please dont miss it. Also the proceeds from the centre support Kathakali - a dying art form

We saw it in the one located off MG Road.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cochin - ferry ride and Photographs: A trip to Kerala

For Rs 50 / person this ferry ride for about 2 hrs is one of the best ways to see the city scape of Cochin

The best time to go is around 5-6 PM and watch the sunset and the lights appear (a tip from our tourist taxi operator which was very useful)

They play nice music too on the ferry!

They show you the Cochin shipyard too. The ferry begins off MG Road.

Here are some photos (and some tips on taking night city scapes)

To photograph night city scapes - under expose your photos by 2~3 notches (I learnt it at Cochin!)

A Barge that we overtook

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Movies: Saw: Oru Kal Oru Kanndadi (OKOK)

As the movie name - the movie is just about okok.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Movies: Saw: Kadhal Sodhappuvadhu Eppadi

The movie starts of as a documentary and a little boring but is interesting towards the later half. Nice movie. Refreshingly simple heroine

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Moments of awareness: Taking photographs of water - especially water falls

Photography tip:
I found that several times its important to give the feeling of flow. This can be achieved by increasing exposure a notch more than whats required giving the "flow" effect to water.Here is running water at three different exposures

One a more pensive note - its the same with life , giving things more time lets you see more things in flow :-)-

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Madurai to Munnar by road : A travelogue and some tips

This is a scenic 180 kms ride. The typical route is Madurai-Theni-Bodi-Pooparai-Munnar (via Madurai Kamaraj University) ,however since the tourist taxi did not have RTO permit we had to take the Theni-Kumuli-Thekkady-pooparai-munnar route adding approximately 70 kms of Ghat section - we did not mind since the route is very scenic. (Tip: Please ask a tourist operator to get the permit earlier to go via Bodi - a shorter route)
From Munnar

From Munnar
The route is reasonably laid out with only the last stretch of 25 kms from pooparai to Munnar being a single lane damaged road. Several places you have to negotiate turns with oncoming traffic. The route is very scenic and dominated by estates of Tata Global Beverages (Kannan Devan Tea aka Tata Tea)

Kumuli is a good place to eat on the way. (Travel tip - If you plan to leave Madurai early morning you can do a short Thekkady trip too and still reach munnar before night. (We could not as we do not know what early morning on a holiday))

From Munnar
The last stretch of the route Pooparai to Munnar , about 30 kms, is a single lane with poor roads and oncoming traffic makes it precarious - If you are self driving.... all the best.
From Munnar


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Monday, July 9, 2012

What to see in Madurai: Thirumalai Rayar Palace, Famous Jigarthanda and Madurai Meenakshi temple and Mariamman tank (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of 2 of the trip to Madurai - Link to Earlier post (Part 1)

The evening visit to Mariamman tank was pleasant - actually that is the Chennai beach equivalent in Madurai. People generally land up at the tank to relax.
From Madurai_Palace_JigarThanda_Temple
There is a avicha kazhangu there - tasted quite nice.
From Madurai_Palace_JigarThanda_Temple

Finally the next morning e visited "THE" Madurai Meenakshi Temple. A quick tip - take the Rs 100 ticket - thats a no brainer but more important is that most people dont know that the ticket is valid for both Sivan and Meenakshi sannathis. That makes it really worthwhile and fast.Also there is a parking lot near the main entrance to walk down to the gopuram via a side street (The now famous HC case!)
From Madurai_Palace_JigarThanda_Temple

1000 pillar hall
From Madurai_Palace_JigarThanda_Temple
Some sculptures...
From Madurai_Palace_JigarThanda_Temple
From Madurai_Palace_JigarThanda_Temple

This is Part 2 of the trip to Madurai - Link to Earlier post (Part 1)

As I started this post Madurai got famous for all the wrong reasons for its Mutt/Adheenam ;-)

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Read: Predictably irrational by Dan Ariely: Behavioral Economics

Nice book - I find that the experiments were interesting and a lot of predictable irrational human behavior is explained. However, the ending was rather abrupt and even the summary hurried and unlinked - I am left feeling a little directionless with all the facts and figures. Dan Ariely is a trained economist and the linking up economics and behaviour is coming up pretty well. I heard theres a book by Kahnemanthats similar too.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tall trees is a great place - review and photos

Where to stay in Munnar ?  I stayed at Tall trees and found it to be a great place

This is a very nice place. Nestled inside a near 70 acre forest greenery and a little away from the Munnar town (approx 4 km) 

They offer beautiful cottages that overlook a green forested hill side. The campus is tastefully done and the staff is helpful. Its very peaceful..... note that I did not say silent - the cicadas and birds and frogs go all day long but I am sure you dont mind it ;-). The cottages are well done and furnished / maintained well.

 They have a small shop that sells knick-knacks too - chips, ceigarettes et al.
 The  way to the restaurant
 Brooks inside the campus....
 Glass roof dining at the restraunt .... very nice ambience and very friendly staff

They have a restaurant "Hill spice" that served Buffet Dinner and Breakfast. Very unique setting with glass ceilings. The only downside is that you need to walk up a hill (by city people standards) about 300-600 m to reach the restaurant .... well it builds up an apetite

There are lots of things for the children to do too - TT/Carrom/Rock Climbing/Play area/Shuttle and for some grown up types too - Ayurveda , Fitness walk

They help you hire an auto or a car to to to town or sight seeing in Munnar respectively.

(PS: I even heard Edavapathi movie is being shot in Munnar when we were there. Wonder what the movie name means!)

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