Monday, July 30, 2007

Fun in Fundustan!

We were in Hyderabad last week and finally made it out to Ramoji Film City. This has been on our list of places to visit for quite a few years and this time we were determined to make it part of our visit. Film City is the Universal Studio of India and has the credit (according to the Guinness Book of world records ... don't believe me? Check it out here.) of being the largest film studio in the entire world.

We did not know what to expect but were pleasantly surprised. Film City is spread out over 1.5 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and is an attractive tourist destination as well as a successful studio for movie and television production. Indianized versions of popular Universal Studio attractions (stunt show, behind the scenes, tour through movie sets etc.) are combined with themed attractions such as a haunted house and a ride similar to It's a Small World!

No tour is complete without good food and this was no different. Our tour package included lunch at the 5-star hotel Sitara located on the grounds. All I can say about the food is ... YUM!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Potter mania hits Bangalore

Harry Potter is no less a sensation here in Bangalore than any other place in the world. The release of book 7 - Deathly Hallows was as heavily anticipated here as in any other major city around the globe. There was plenty of pre-release media buzz and Indian children were anxiously wondering the fate of the wizard boy - who would die and who would survive?

We had the book reserved at Landmark several days prior to the day of the launch. Saturday morning (D-Day) we set out to buy the book. Fortunately, there were no long lines and crazy crowds at the bookstore. There appeared to be an adequate number of copies for all. Aanish was determined to start reading the book at 7PM. I suggested that he wait until 8:17PM (77 minutes past 7PM). He started reading it the minute we landed at home with a plan to read about 100 pages/day. He finished it the following day!

The Hindu reported a sale of 20,000 copies in Bangalore on the first day! Clearly a global phenomenon.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Live Earth!

If you were at the Live Earth concert last week (7/7/7), we were there with you! We watched quite a bit of the 24 hour marathon concert held in over a hundred countries to focus attention on the climate crisis. One of the major highlights for me personally was to see a holographic image of Al Gore opening the event in Tokyo. Cool! It was fun to see the coming together of Genesis and Police, see Bon Jovi in New York and Shakira in Germany.

While we feel pretty good about our contribution to help solve this problem (significantly less trash, reduced power consumption, high degree of recycling etc.), we came up with an action plan to do even more. Aanish has the responsibility of turning off appliances that are not in use while Ayaana has promised to take shorter showers. I took an oath to reduce the usage of air conditioning in the office and Mona is already doing more than her fair share of this.

If you have not had the chance to see any part of this event, check it out online (YouTube, MSN etc.) and help save the planet!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Partying - Indian Isshtyle!!

The Mantri Sarover (building where we stay at) home owner association planned a big bash last weekend to celebrate the onset of the monsoon season and to welcome new residents who have moved in over the past few months. They promised an evening of fun, games, music and good food. We decided to give it a try and am glad we did!

The party was organized on the tennis court. There were probably over a 100 people (40 of them young children under the age of 10). While the kids were busy playing Treasure Hunt and Bomb the City, the adults were enjoying beer and appetizers (hot potato tikkis, chilli paneer ... yummm!). It was funny watching Aanish join the fun and play these games with 5-year olds! But heck, you can never stop being a child. Actually, he was not very keen on coming but his opinion changed when he won Rs. 500/- in a game of Tombola (also known as Housie or Bingo in other parts of the world). Ayaana enjoyed herself thoroughly and stayed back late even after we had gone back home.

The company was good. We met a lot of new and interesting people. Food was delicious. Music was a bit loud but you can't listen to Bollywood any other way.

Great party and we are looking forward to the next one.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A new Dawn of the Brain Gain era

In the 80's and early 90's, India was suffering from a massive Brain Drain. Talented and highly educated university students and professionals were moving to the US, UK and Middle East in hordes to create a better future for themselves. The India Boom has reversed this trend and the country is now experiencing a Brain Gain as many of these professionals are moving back in equally large numbers. These folks are bringing back world class expertise, overseas professional experience and higher education from reputed universities and helping to accelerate the growth of India Inc.

I recently met with Asif Noorani, who is a reputable journalist with a Pakistani newspaper, Dawn. He was fascinated with this phenomenon of returning expatriates and has written a piece in the newspaper. I get a mention in his piece as well! You can read all about it here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Monsoon Landing

From the hot and dry climate of Los Angeles (90 degrees+) to torrential rains of Mumbai!

I have never been in Bombay during the monsoons so it was quite an experience for me. Mona sent me an SMS while I was at the Kualalumpur airport indicating that the Bombay airport may shut down because of the monsoons. All passengers had their fingers crossed as the flight to Bombay took off from KL. Fortunately for all, there was a brief respite from the rain when the plane arrived in Bombay.

Over the next couple of days, the rain was non-stop and the downpour brought over 10cm of rain just on Saturday. City services were crippled and streets were deserted. Over 40 people have died as a result of this year's monsoons. But spirits are still high and Mumbaikars are getting on with life despite the rains. Bombay has seen worse in past years! The drainage system is going through an upgrade to deal with the heavy monsoons but the project is not scheduled to be completed until 2011.