Showing posts from 2011

Seven Eight Nine - The Thirty Week Project

These three weeks included nine days of a very hectic India trip during which not much reading happened. I was able to get through two books over this period partly because I was determined to and partly because the books that I chose for these weeks were so damn funny.
I am talking about the first two books in the planned Dork trilogy by Sidin Vadukut.

You can find out more about the books here. The author's blog, and his twitter feed can also serve as a constant source of funnies alternating with insights (sometimes both clubbed into one).
The books follow the adventures of Robert Einstein Verghese through his life immediately after he completes his MBA (book 1) and then when he's on an assignment in London (book 2). All through this, he remains one of the most unlikeable fellows you can find, and keeping us interested in knowing more about someone like him is a great achievement on the author's part. The books are in the form of a diary, complete with dates and times, and s…


juuuuummmp, a photo by ☼ Helder on Flickr. The folks over at flickr are taking submissions for your best shot of 2011. Even if you don't want to submit anything I would recommend spending some time with the submissions, here.
The pic here is just one of many interesting ones.

Five Six - The 30 week project

Just because I wasn't able to post here doesn't mean I wasn't true to my self-assigned project :-)
For week five I picked up the much recommended Google Hacks by Rael Dornfest. It ended up being my book for week six too since getting through the book involved some do-it-yourself stuff on the laptop as well.

Before getting this book from my library I wasn't aware of it being closer to a reference book. Nevertheless, I had fun reading this one and would say it's a good one to keep next to your computer (if you're one of those who still has a desktop at home) so that you can try the self-contained hacks when you have time. Also, hack here means a neat or clever trick as opposed to a dirty trick, and it's meant to act as a tool to help you get the most out of Google (or to get you out of those situations when even google can't rescue you). There is also some space devoted to tricks that would help you amuse/fool your friends, but I think that would work mostl…

The 30 Week Project - Week 4

So on with my book for this week, the promisingly titled Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff out of Your Head, Find It When You Need It, and Get It Done Right by Douglas Merrill (former CIO of Google) and James Martin.
I have a self-imposed rule of not giving too much importance to self-help books. This one made it through my filters since it was a) heavily recommended and b) the premise appeared to be a bit different than your typical self-help literature. The author being a former CIO at Google definitely helped matters. In the end, it proved to be a bit of damp squib for me, but not necessarily because of the being particularly unreadable. I was more shocked than disappointed since I already practice most of the stuff suggested in the book, and I would definitely not describe myself as organized :-) But I guess I would have been a lot worse were it not for my judicious (hey I have to call it that, even the former CIO of Google recommends it :p) use of the various to…

cloudy with a chance of rain

cloudy with a chance of rain, a photo by urmilesh on Flickr. Nice :-)

The beauty and the beast, in one

Untitled, a photo by SeenyaRita on Flickr. Don't miss the one hiding behind the owner.

The 30 Week Project - (2 week long) Week 3

Thanks to work, and preparations for Deepawali, the second week of my project lasted a couple of days longer than two weeks. But through it all I'm happy that I was able to stick to my rule of devoting only the non-productive time to the book at hand.
The book that I'm done with now is "Gandhi An Autobiography - The story of my experiments with truth", which, as I know now, was written in Gujarati originally. The style of the book is very simple and conversational, which makes it an easy read. The author didn't write it in one go, or take too much time out from his daily schedule to pen this. Instead, he tried to complete a chapter or two each week, which makes it easy for the reader to have breaks between chapters (and suited my reading pattern just fine).
The author is one of those people who bring out deeply polarizing opinions in people. I am yet to meet someone who looks at him objectively, he is either the Mahatma or the selfish politician who played favourit…


Deepawali, a set on Flickr. some clicks from Deepawali in 2011.

Happy Deepawali :-)

Happy Deepawali :-), a photo by urmilesh on Flickr. I wish you a very Happy Deepawali. May you get to enjoy it the way you like it.

my screensaver

my screensaver, a photo by urmilesh on Flickr. looks real nice when it's dark, one more reason for me to try and have album art for all my music.

luxury across the fence

luxury across the fence, a photo by urmilesh on Flickr. stumbled across this old pic, taken at the Pondicherry coast

The 30 Week Project - still week 3

I have been totally swamped at work since I started Week 3, and so I've not made as much progress as I would've liked on the book. Actually, read that as no progress at all.
But I am not complaining, since I am enjoying this time at work, nice and interesting. Hopefully I will be back on Sunday with my view on the current book and my pick for the next week.

The 30 week project - week 3

Week 3 of The 30 Week Project beckons, and it is this week that will test my resolve for the first time for I am totally inundated with work. Nevertheless, I will try to stick to it, and hopefully will be successful.
Week 3 started on October 2nd, the birthday of one of the most well known Indians. So I decided it would be the right time to get to a book that has been on mylist for some time now. The book is "Gandhi An Autobiography - The story of my experiments with truth".
I have read parts of this book in Hindi a few years ago. Since then I've wanted to give it a complete reading but something or the other kept popping up. But now the stars have aligned in the form of my 30 week project, and my wife randomly buying this book, so I shall make full use of it. I went through the first few chapters this morning on the way to office and what stuck out for me from the introduction were the bits where he asks the readers to not take like/hate any idea because he does so, but to…

The 30 week project - week 2 conclusion

It wasn't too much of a reading week since I finished the book in a couple of days flat. Turns out that was for the best since I haven't had any time to spare from work since then.
As I'd mentioned, I'd taken up Lee Goldberg's "Mr Monk is miserable" last Sunday. It was a fun breezy read and for the most part it kept true to the portrayal that we have seen on TV. It was a good idea on the author's part to stick to Natalie's first person account of the events. She has the best view of Monk and the mystery at hand, and provides the much needed saner voice when Monk is going berserk in his own way. As is common with Monk, investigating is something that comes as second nature to him and it isn't really the centre-piece of the tale so to say. That honour goes to Monk being Monk  when experiencing Paris, trying to find order in chaos, trying to arrange all human skeletons by type in a Catacomb, trying to single-handedly clean up the streets of Paris, …

The 30 Week Project - Week 2

I am assuming you know about the 30 week project that I am on right now. Week 1 was a success and now I am on to week 2. I'd this vague idea that I'll try and mix up the kind of books that I read, to prevent boredom from setting in. And so the book that I have started in week 2 is Lee Goldberg's "Mr Monk is miserable".

Monk is one of my favourite TV characters, and one of quirkiest detectives that you will ever see. His cases are always a mix of good fun (for the viewer) and great detective work. As I have discovered after buying it, this book is not the first but the seventh in the series of Monk mystery books, so I assume they have had some success, thus patting my own back for this impulse buy being a good one. I have seen a lot of characters make their way from books to TV and cinema screen, this is the first time I will be following someone the other way round (full disclosure, I started on Sunday and I am already pretty deep into it). It looks like fun.

The 30 week project - week 1 conclusion

So week 1 of The 30 Week Project was successful, partly because I stuck to public transport, mostly because the book that I was reading held my interest.
I had no idea who Rob Lowe is till I'd seen Sam Seaborn. Without having seen too much of his work, I can say with certainty that Rob Lowe would be hard pressed to not put Sam's name forward were he asked to present just one of his roles to showcase his work. As I often tend to do when I like something, I read more about The West Wing and that was when I came to know of his unceremonious exit from the show, the controversies surrounding his video-tape, the early fame and the late blossoming as a dependable and sellable TV star. The stuff that I read was interesting enough to get this book on my reading list when it came out, and I am glad that it did.
What I like best about the book is that it is in first person throughout. It is not an adult Rob telling you what a 10 year old Rob did, it is the 10 year old Rob who navigates you…

मैं यह सोच कर उस के दर से उठा था...

मैं ये सोच कर उस के दर से उठा था  कि वो रोक लेगी मना लेगी मुझको  हवाओं में लहराता आता था दामन  कि दामन पकड़ के बिठा लेगी मुझको  क़दम ऐसे अंदाज़ से उठ रहे थे  की आवाज़ दे कर बुला लेगी मुझको 
मगर उसने रोका ना उसने मनाया  ना दामन ही पकड़ा ना मुझको बिठाया  ना आवाज़ ही दी ना वापस बुलाया  मैं आहिस्ता आहिस्ता बढ़ता ही आया  यहाँ तक कि उससे जुदा हो गया मैं  यहाँ तक कि उससे जुदा हो गया मैं 
- कैफ़ी आज़मी

The 30 week project - week 1

Starting today, for the next 30 weeks, I will be trying to finish one book each week. By trying I mean that I will be putting all my non-productive time into reading (mostly commute time), without actually going out of my way to meet this imaginary deadline that I am creating. Why am I doing this? Because I want to. Everything doesn't have to have a rock solid, well thought out reason :-) It's just one of those things I have decided to do on a hunch, and I plan to stick to it.
I started today with Rob Lowe's "Stories I Only Tell My Friends". I don't see too much of a problem in finishing this one on time :-)

Of Male Vulnerability

Pyar ka Punchnama’ is a movie that I’d been hearing a lot about over the past few weeks, and that scene (rant) from it is one of those that has been shared the most across the time-sink that is my Facebook and Twitter timeline. All that had given me an impression of it being one of the many forgettable comedies that the Hindi film industry keeps churning out, albeit one with a few laughs.
I was happy to be proven wrong when I realized that I was laughing harder than I had for a long time (in a Hindi movie), that I was not inclined to be updated on Twitter/Facebook while watching it (as I am prone to do when I am watching something at home that doesn’t have my complete attention). The movie has more than a few laughs, is very close to reality when depicting how guys in general and engineering grads in particular talk amongst each other (unlike for example the fruity exchanges shown in 3 Idiots) - and this depiction does not come with the impression that the director is trying too hard …

Of reading Hindi

I read a Hindi book last week. It was after a long time that I'd picked up a Hindi book to read and I was not sure that I will go on to finish it, so completing it was a pleasant surprise for me. 
I've always considered my Hindi to be good, and though I never actively kept up with any Hindi literature, I was pretty sure that any reading material would not be beyond me. I was slightly taken aback to notice that it took some effort on my part to finish a relatively small sized book. I was not able to pin-point the meaning of many words (thank you internet, though I did have to look around hard in a few cases), I was not sure what exactly some phrases meant to convey (though I got the gist in most cases), and I was totally out of touch with most figures of speech. Thankfully, I kept at it and kept getting better at making sense of what the author was trying to say, until finally I was able to finish the book.
This made me realize that I cannot take my knowledge of Hindi for granted…

A towel a day

As lame as it may sound, one of my best experiences in life has been reading a book. It was a book awesome to such levels that even Barney Stinson would concede that it is way awesome-r than he is. And that book is 'The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy'.

Now I can go on and on about why I love that book and what it means to me, but that would not matter to those who love/worship it like me, and would appear to be pointless rambling to those who (still) haven't experienced it. Being coherent is the last thing I would be able to do when talking about The Guide.

So why am I writing this post then you ask? Fair question. And the answer is that today is Towel Day, and I just wanted to do something to get that out to you. In the universe of The Guide, a towel is next to irreplaceable. In the words of the man himself:
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for…

The songs of Raghu Dixit

Have been hearing a lot of Raghu Dixit lately. Just putting a small post here to let you know that I like what I heard.

You should get a listen at and judge for yourself.

The Silent Indian National Anthem

This might have been done to exploit emotions, this might be a marketing ploy. But there is something special about this video.
I couldn't work for sometime after watching this.

Dhobi Ghaat (Mumbai Diaries)

I am not sure if Dhobi Ghaat is an apt title for this movie, just 'Mumbai Diaries' would have worked better for me. Or maybe 'Bombay Diaries' since no one in the movie refers to the city as Mumbai anyway, not that I am complaining.

Most of our movie experiences depend on two factors - our expectations from the movie and our mood while watching it. This is one movie where these factors become crucial, really crucial. Most of the people watching the movie with me (not just my gang, the entire hall) did not like the movie and were pretty vocal about it (sadly during the movie also), I enjoyed it. This is one movie which wants you to let it be, had no pretensions of being conventionally engaging, does not offer any sort of  closure for any of the lead characters, does not have any larger than life characters and does not have any item song (shudder!!!).

Yet it is engaging and interesting, makes you think enough for it to be called smart, and is funny and endearing in enough …

Road To Sangam

'Road to Sangam' is a movie that was on my watch-list for a long time now, but somehow I never got a chance to see it, not least because it did not get a major release. Thanks to the Fremont Main Library that had a DVD, and to the lazy Saturday morning, I finally got to see it.

I have been watching a lot of movies that I could not catch up on when they released, and quite a few of the recently watched ones had Paresh Rawal in them - and I am in awe of the man now. I will do a separate Paresh Rawal post soon and so here I will keep my awe in check :)

'Road to Sangam' is the story of a simple man who is caught between the turmoil of his times. How he chooses to fight being a part of the herd and follow his heart, is what the film tries to depict, and it does a very good job of it

Paresh Rawal is Hasmat Bhai, the most well-written character and the protagonist of the movie, an expert motor-mechanic and a devout muslim. He lives a non-confrontational life and goes about his j…