You are here – by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

You are here… or… so you think !

What do a couple of college friends do when they are reunited after a long time ? Think about the good old days ? Especially if you are one of the lucky few who have had an entertaining & adventurous Teenage to Twenties. That was the feeling I got while reading ‘you are here’.

It looks like Ms. Compulsive Confessor has had some good times, some not so good, some difficult (which every 20 year old has) decisions to make and has met some interesting people. Except … that is all it is.

Half way through the book I stopped to think “hmm… Where is the story going ?” and then it dawned upon me… there is no story, no plot, no event, no climax, no nothing. Just a peak into the life of Arshi.

And who is Arshi ? She’s twenty five, works in a PR agency in Delh, comes from a broken family, lives with her room-mate who can’t decide if she is Ms-goody-two-shoes or anything-for-love types… who’s boss is a slave driver… has a boyfriend who for bizarre reasons blows hot or cold… Sounds like Bridget Jones (oh! Come on… at least a lil bit) However, the humor is used pretty well, and several passages will have you smiling at the images created, metaphors used, almost like Carrie from SITC.

If you have read/like her blog “The Compulsive Confessor” you may enjoy the book, otherwise it will be a bit of a drab. So pick up the book if you have nothing better to do.

A bit about the Autor: Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan studied English Literature at Lady Shri Ram College at the Delhi University and has been a journalist for many years. She writes the popular blog The Compulsive Confessor where she talks about her experiences as a young, single woman in urban India. You are Here published by Penguin, is her first novel.

2 Gmail Labs features that make Gmail rock even more

I love Gmail … There … I said it. And I love the Gmail Labs feature even more. I’ve written an article on some of my favourite extensions earlier on MakeUseOf.com, And this post will talk about two more awesome extensions that I have been using for some time now.

The team at Google has slowly but surely been picking up steam with their plans of world domination as is evident from the two new Labs gadgets they’ve released, Google Calender and Google Docs.

Google Calender has long been the online Calender of choice for a lot of us, including yours truly and I, for one, love it as much for its simplicity as for the features offered at the price point, i.e. Free ! Now, who can argue with Free ! No seriously, I use Google Calender all the time and features such as SMS notification of events absolutely rock my world.

It is disappointing that Google Calender hasn’t been integrated even more with Gmail. Well, guess what ! Google has been listening and Google Calender is now available as a Labs gadget and can be integrated into the Gmail user interface. It isn’t perfect but, hey, its a start.

Now, that’s one tab less in your browser. The calender entries are displayed in a nice and compact interface which feels just right and integrates well with the Gmail UI. This extension definitely brings Gmail one step closer to competing with desktop email clients like Outlook/Thunderbird.

Another great Google product is Google Docs. I use it for colaborating with my collegues, for planning my next himalayan trip and for almost everything that, well, an office suite can be used for.

The latest addition to Gmail is the Google Docs gadget. With this gadget enabled, you can see a list of the documents that you have created in Google Docs and work on them from inside Gmail.

Well, not really but it is close. Clicking on any document name will open a new browser window and take you to the Google Docs homepage with the said document ready to be edited/viewed.

The Google docs gadget is functional, useful and is a nice way to keep your most used documents in sight.

Google regularly updates Gmail with new Labs gadgets and if you use or know of any other useful gadgets, let me know in the comments.

Copper Chimney, Bangalore

Copper Chimney at the Central Mall (MG Road) is an upmarket restaurant which serves Mughlai and North Indian cuisine.

My wife and I were at Central today and decided to check out the place … once more. I’ve been there a couple of times earlier and unlike most North Indian restaurants in Bangalore, I actually like the food at this one.

The ambiance is quite nice … classy, uncluttered and soothing. The only problem I had with the decor were the television sets. No, they’re not loud, but they just intrude in the place and stand out. A place like copper chimney would do well with nice, soft music in the background which actually facilitates conversation unlike the television sets which are only distracting, to say the least.

On to the food – The have a kabab festival going on right now. Rs 500 will get you unlimited kababs (they have a variety of 5 vegetarian and non-vegetarian kababs), veg or non-veg gravy, nans or rotis and dessert. All unlimited. Which for a place like Copper chimney is quite good value for money and I’d recommend going for the buffet if you’re in a group (and you’re really hungry 🙂 )

We, unfortunately, weren’t in the mood for the buffet and ordered ‘La carte. Our order was a plate of Chicken Chelo Kababs (Rs. 290) (Chicken kababs served with buttered rice), a plate of Rarra Chicken (Rs. 250) (Chicken cooked with a spicy tomato based gravy) and nans (Rs. 40 each).

I’m a big fan of Chelo kababs btw, but the ones that we got here were unlike the chelos I’ve eaten anywhere else. This definitely wasn’t the kababs I’m used to. What we got was basically a rice risotto like dish with chicken kababs mixed with the rice. The rice was basically cooked in butter and was gooey and sticky. The kababs were excellent though and that was the only nice thing about the dish.

The Rarra chicken was decent enough although it could have been a little spicier (and could do with a little less tomato ).

They serve alcohol and have a decent range of cocktails and wines also. I had a pint of budweiser (Rs. 145), btw.

I’d recommend this place and would definitely be visiting again myself.

The theory of Multiple Intelligence

Multiple Intelligences

My kid doesn’t get good grades … All she is interested in is music and games… Why don’t you get a REAL Job ?  He’s such an idiot ! Flunked math again !

Here is some food for thought … Can intelligence be measured by just an IQ test, which is common for all? Is there only one kind of intelligence?

The other day, while channel surfing, I chanced upon a program on T.V. discussing Frames of Mind – The theory of multiple intelligences by Howard Earl Gardner (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences)

Gardner has different view point on the kinds of intelligence that exist. KINDS – yup ! He has a theory of multiple Intelligences. According to him – intelligence is ‘the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting‘.

The list of 8 intelligences that he speaks about include some that we commonly think of as logical and educational and some that deal with art and literature. See for your self:

Intel 1

  1. Linguistic intelligence: Understanding spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals. Someone with strong Linguistic Intelligence will be able to remember great deal of info & have the ability to effectively use language to express themselves. Like – Russell Peters, Writers, lawyers, and speakers.MA shoe
  2. Logical-mathematical intelligence: Having the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically. Essentially, detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. Like– Vishwanathan Anand, Software programmers, Analysts.
  3. Musical intelligence: Having performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. Like- AR Rehman, DJ’s, Singers etc.
  4. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence: Utilizing one’s whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. Having remarkable Mind–Body co-ordination. Like- Dancers, Gymnasts, Drummers, Sports person, even the kids who are good on PS2.
  5. Spatial intelligence: Having an ability to discern similarities across diverse domains. Visual-thinkers. Like- Manish Arora, Painters, Architect, Engineers, Designers, Bartenders
  6. Interpersonal intelligence: Having the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people. Potential to work effectively with others. Like- Mother Teresa, Salespeople, religious and political leaders.intel 2
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence: entails the capacity to un derstand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations. Self-Understanding. Like- Osho, Spiritual Teachers.
  8. Naturalistic Intelligence: Having ability to understand and work effectively in the natural world. Like- Steve Irwin, Biologists and Zoologists.

Obviously, all the 8 are present in everyone and they rarely operate independently. It’s just that some people have Special Abilities or Intelligence (skewed towards one of the 8) which is what makes them brilliant.

Well ! After all this I have only one thing to declare – my genius 😉

Review of Fashion … and … when will it finish

So … I just finished seeing the movie Fashion and I have only one thing to say to Madhur Bhandarkar … that was one loooonnnggg movie dude ! Oh and I also think it was a very boring movie.

I mean I get the idea of realistic cinema and and all that and I’d probably have been fine if this movie had gotten over in about 1-1/2 hours instead of the 2-1/2 hours it took, but the whole look and concept of Fashion just didn’t work for me.

The movie is about a small town girl who comes to the big city to become a model. Her struggling days, her success, the arrogance and her downfall have all been depicted convincingly. Priyanka’s role is pretty good and her acting commendable, and that is just about the only thing that I liked about the movie.

I just feel that the movie took a long time in getting the message across and that made it slow and almost tortuous. I don’t remember seeing a movie, in the recent past, which I wish would have ended sooner.

Another thing which doesn’t work for me is that Madhur’s movies for some reason look like they’ve all been made on second hand reels which he found while lurking in the back alleys of the entertainment industry.

And no by second hand reels, I don’t mean that the concept is old. Kudos to Madhur for daring to make a film which actually shows the reality of the industry like it is. But, he could have atleast used better lighting ! Or a better camera-man !

Well, I agree that I don’t understand the movie biz very well and how expensive it is to make movies … but I really wish I hadn’t paid so much money to see this movie.

Oh, btw, Madhur … taking a dig at real life and packaging it in a movie is not realistic cinema. Show us something we haven’t seen. I mean we’ve all seen the gay fashion designers and their socialite trophy wives and the drug addict models … ‘Nuff said !

Dostana Review … and … Apple product placement

I saw Dostana last Saturday and kinda liked the movie. I mean I have no idea that John Abraham had so many fans in Bangalore. I mean fans of the male kind ! The kind who would whistle looking at John coming out of the Miami Ocean in his Undies … a ‘La Ursula Andress. Well, not really, but you get the drift !

Anyway, the movie was fun and mostly harmless clean comedy. I know some people were disappointed with the movie because … you know … they actually thought that Abhishek Bachhan and John Abraham would be playing a couple in the movie !

So, anyway the movie is about two random guys who are looking for a place to stay in Miami and end up being interested in the same apartment. The hitch is that the apartment is only for girls and so the duo decide to act as a couple and the rest, as they say, is history 🙂 Well, not really, but you know how these things go … I’m not supposed to spoil the fun and all that jazz.

All in all, I’d say its a nice and fun movie … Oh wait .. I already said that. Well, go watch the movie then.

The other thing that I wanted to talk about is product placement in movies. Specifically, Apple product placement. And when does it really start to get irritating.

I mean, I’m all for the producers making an extra buck by making the actors pose with nice and sexy gadgets, but there definitely has to be a limit to this. Or if there isn’t … a limit should be set soon … like now !

The makers of Dostana must have really got a nice bundle from Apple for promoting Macbooks, iPods, and iPhones in the movie. The movie features all those gadgets in multiple scenes and in places where they were absoltely avoidable. In fact, Karan Johar went a step ahead and started with promoting Apple products outside the movie too by gifting John a (new shiny white) Macbook on a chat show he was hosting for, of course, promoting the movie.

Microsoft SkyDrive now at 25GB

windowsliveskydrive

It seems like Microsoft is quite serious about making their Live SkyDrive a serious contender in the online storage business. They launched the service about an year back with 500MB of space, hardly enough for … well anything … increasing it to 5GB in February and surprised everyone last week by announcing that SkyDrive will now come with 25GBs of free online space. Wow !

Microsoft’s competitors in the Online storage space are Box.net, Wuala, Xdrive, Mozy (an EMC subsidiary) , Adrive and countless others. Granted that this space is already crowded, Microsoft’s decision might come in as a surprise to some. I, on the other hand, feel that this is just another attempt by Microsoft to establish a presence in the online space. Wonder how long before Google joins the party.

Adrive offers 50GB of free space, and in terms of free space, looks to be the only real competitor in the space. The rest of them all offer anywhere from 1-5GBs free and while that is enough to get a reviewer started with the service, a real long term user would definitely be looking for more than that. I know I do.

I’m sure with this latest update (and Microsoft’s massive Marketing machinery) Skydrive will definitely gain a lot of new users. How long can they maintain the momemtum and all the good press that Live (and Windows 7) has been getting is anyone’s guess.

Friday Linkfest

Been a while since the Linkfest … well, I’ve been travelling and have been kinda busy. Here is the collection of links from what I’ve been reading this week.

Business

Scobleizer.com: Rober Scoble has been travelling in China this week and he’s amazed by the speed of development in there and the way business is conducted in that country. He posted about it earlier this week.

China makes, the world takes: The Atlantic’s excellent article on China.

Humour

I’m a Mac, I’m a PC

And I’m Linux, losers

Technology

Build your own Wall-E: This dude is awesome !

Yahoo officially introduces their new Open Strategy

The Best way to tether your iPhone to your laptop … for free – Unlike AT & T, which is going to charge $30/month for this basic facility. Boooo AT & T !!

The Drinks are on me !


This post is what, in web-jargon these days, is called a mind-dump.

As I sit in the office on a nice breezy (and slow) afternoon, wishing is all I can do and here are some of my favorite drinks that I’m wishing for …. right now !

Nothing extraordinary … out of  the box … but like they say – if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it !!

LIITE (Long Island Iced Tea)Djins @ Hyaat-Delhi, that’s where I first had LITE. The best part is that you need just one to get you into high spirits. One look at the ingredients and you’ll know why !

You need ½ a shot each  of Gin, White Rum, Tequila , Triple Sec & Vodka . Some Coke for the color & some lemon juice.

Shake all the ingredients except the coke with ice and strain into a highball. Then pour the coke on the top. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Rum Cola – Simple and effective.  Also known as ‘dhoka-cola’ , All fauji kids would vouch for this one. Most people like it with Bacardi or Old Monk but I prefer Capt Morgan’s. The spicy vanilla after taste is splendid.

You’ll need 1 shot Captain Morgan’s spiced rum, Coke. I also add ½ a lime.

In a tall glass pour in the rum & top the glass with ice. Add the coke & drop in some lime slices.

Center Shock – a good friend of mine once made this for me by accident. It’s something many people will not like, but I do.

You’ll need tender coconut in the shell, one shot of vodka and a straw.

Just make an opening in the coconut and remove about a sip or two from it. Fill in the vodka and keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Serve with a straw.

Mojito – It just looks so good that you have to have it !

You’ll need 1.5 oz White Rum, 10-12 fresh mint leaves,1/2 lime, 7 oz club soda & 3 tsp. sugar syrup.

Crush mint leaves and lightly squeeze lime in a cool tall glass. Pour sweet syrup to cover and fill glass with ice. Add the Rum, club soda, and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and a few sprigs of mint.

And of course Draught Beer (to keep my husband happy) – You need a can of chilled beer. Just open and drink.

I just have one request, when ever you serve a drink, please do it in the right glass. And although my husband says ‘a drink tastes the same in any glass’, I firmly believe that without proper presentation… the drink loses its ATTITUDE ; )

Do you guys have a favorite drink … let me know the recipe in the comments and I promise I’ll try them 🙂

5 Must Do's while in Pune

1ne : MARZ – O – RIN

Self Service/ No Smoking/ Veg, Non-Veg – that’s what Marz-o-rin’s menu card reads. One of Pune’s most loved & known café, situated right on MG road opposite Buddhani wafers – Marz-o-rin is a must visit when in Pune.

Still maintaining the old world charm of the British, the cozy little balcony upstairs is ideal for a coffee and sandwich break. The place is a favorite with the oldies (the regulars, who come to discuss the hot topic of the day) as well as the teenage crowd out on a (low budget) date.

Famous for the Chicken Sandwiches and Milkshakes, they also serve – Burgers, Rolls, Bakes, Salads, cakes, pastries and a variety of beverages. It’s not like a regular CCD or Barista – the food is good, service is quick and the prices are still very affordable. For example, the chocolate shake at Marz-o-rin costs a mere Rs. 30 !

The beverage menu is widespread with fresh juices, hot coffee, chillers, milkshakes and falooda. The sandwiches, pizza and hot bakes are available in white and brown bread options. I had the chicken sandwich with creamy spicy mayo (best enjoyed grilled with extra mayo), chocolate milk shake (which was sweeter than what I usually have), followed by a brownie. Everything on the menu is for Rs. 30-50. Yes! Seriously. I recommend sitting on the 1st floor balcony, and spending time gazing at the passers-by on MG Road.

T2o: Burger King

Not the ‘multi-million-dollar-Burger-King’… this is Pune’s most famous Burger join … the undisputed champ of the biggest-heaviest-Juiciest- Burgers and all well within a price range of Rs. 30 to Rs. 75.

It’s a dream world for non-vegetarians with chicken burger, mutton roll, sausage surprise and the ever popular King Burger (the King Burger is a humongous steak burger). On the menu you’ll find Jumbo burgers which are of the size of a quarter-plate, dripping with mayonnaise, and I’ll bet you can’t finish one.

The place is always crowded, the service is slow, and there is no parking available near the Camp outlet… but no one seems to mind ! If you have time, little money and you are hungry… this is the cheapest and tastiest option available.

Th3ee: The German Bakery

To some the German Bakery is a ‘maybe’ in Pune, for others it’s a daily ritual, but certainly if you have been there once you’ll go there again. Frequented by travellers, Osho followers, college kids, artists, hippies, trouble-makers and everyone in between, TGB is more than just an old wooden shack in Koregaon Park.

On the menu is fresh carrot juice, cake slices, Banana Lassi, Cold coffee, Masala Chai, Fruit Cream, herb Bread and some healthy options too. The prices range from Rs. 20 to Rs 90.

Its all about great food and superb coffee, but most of all, a fabulous experience. Making friends with random people, just observing or daydreaming … it’s a place to do whatever you wanna do !

F4ur: Osho Chappals

Comfortable, Economical, Cool and Colourful, you just HAVE to pick up Osho’s while in Pune. Available in all sizes, for men & women, starting at Rs. 50/- , yup you read it right Rs. 50/-

The original osho chappals have a sole made of certain ‘chatai’ type material and has a thick velvety V shaped straps, the original color was the osho red. Now one can match every outfit with the colors available. I picked up the metallic gold & silver this time.

They don’t last very long, but you certainly won’t be wearing a 50 bucks chappal for a marathon !

Fi5e: Budani Wafers & Kayani Bakery

How can one talk about Pune and not about Chivda from Budani and the Shrewsbury buscuits from Kayani!!

They are a must buy. Budani Wafers at MG road is famous for the potato chivda (starts at Rs. 140 per kg) and cheese wafers.

And everyone knows about Pune’s most sought-after Shrewsbury biscuits from Kayani Bakery on East Street. The bakery has been a landmark since it was established by brothers Hormuz and Khodayar Irani in 1955. The Shrewsbury biscuit, which is Kayani’s flagship product, is possibly the most delicious biscuit you will ever eat. I also love there crisp wine biscuits.

The biscuits are often sold-out and both the joints have a siesta time from 2pm to 5 pm… so get in line as early as possible.