Showing posts from July, 2016

Driving on the Wall

Top 10 Things that can drive me up a wall- next time you see me up there, you know why I am..

1. Seepage through the wall- I am yet to see a house in India (or a building) that does not have water seepage. The size of the painting on the wall varies, but it's there. Makes me wonder if the same civil engineers are building our bridges- we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Other pet peeves for now-

2. People who call, and don't message/text after or before when the call is unsuccessful. It is common sense, if not good etiquette.

3. Rudeness of many kinds. Not caring what you may be doing to someone, something- there are too many manifestations of this to list here. Unless your name is Rudy, you have no right...

4. Customer service of most companies in India today. This phrase is actually an oxymoron, and most people in it are morons..sorry guys, you just have to improve.. a lot.

5. Corporate jargon. I try to figure out what it means, and fail each time.

6. Change-the…

Past Life Predictions

People predict the future, but that is so not cool. I am attempting to predict people''s past- no, not that kind of past. But what people were in their past life- you didn't think this was the only life you had, did you? My predictions (or post-dictions, maybe)-

1. O.P. Nayyar was a tangewala in his past life. That's how he was able to generate those awesome tunes in this one..

2. Himesh Reshammiya was the fairy tale character with a long nose..Pinocchio? He poked his nose in everything, and was thus blessed with a nosey voice in his next.

3. Arijit Singh was a sad singer (Mukesh?) in his past life, and continues singing in a melancholy tone in this one..

4. RaGa was a schoolboy who skipped lot of classes, and his punishment in this life is to attend boring Parliament sessions- but he copes by sleeping through them!

5. Modi was Japanese. He continues to be a workaholic even today.

6. Donald Trump was a witch who cursed a lot of people. Now he is cursed to be the butt …

Double Review- Madaari and Kabali

The two films couldn't be more different. But both are very watchable.

Madaari is actually a plot that could have gone awry, without careful handling. That it doesn't owes itself to Nishikant Kamat (the director), and the two major actors-Irrfan and the kid he kidnaps (unintended!). The unravelling of the reason for the kidnap (cinematically speaking) takes a little too long in my view, but the climax is worth it. A sort of "A Wednesday" feeling, another film that had superb performances from Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher. Here, the Jimmy Shergill (cop) part is done competently, if not excellently. If you are an Irrfan Khan fan, it is a must-watch.

Kabali. What can one say? The Rajni legend lives, and how! Even the most ordinary scene is lit up by his presence- you remain riveted in a series of action sequences, from Malaysia to Pondicherry. His style in some scenes is still awesome, and he is playing his age most of the time. Explaining the phenomenon that he is…

What Makes People Boring (!)

I am going to present you with a deliciously ironic post- it's about boredom, but it's very interesting.

The source is a book by Sandi Mann, titled The Upside of Downtime. She has researched boredom (!) and the book has a lot of it, including some on bored students, and bored workers; but I will take that up some other time. This time, it's about what makes people boring.

She has listed 30 points, but (so as not to bore you) I will concentrate on those that strike a chord. Here goes-

1. They ARE boring, as in nothing interesting is happening in their lives.

2. They are serious at all times- humourless is the word.

3. They avoid eye contact- look down, look away, but not look at you. I don't recommend staring at someone as an antidote. And looking into someone's eyes is reserved for, well, special people. But, you get what I mean.

4. They are ingratiating. Flattering beyond the normal, acceptable limits. It's one thing to say, "You are looking nice" s…

Trump Presidency- A Look Ahead

Peeping into the future, around 2017, this is what I predict for the US of A and consequently, all of us-
The game of Bridge- No Trump bids will no longer be allowed.Immigration- You are either in before November 2016, or out!Muslims- You are out, no matter when you were in.Mexicans- Go fruit-picking in Mexico, no more cherry-picking in the US. Wig-makers- will get an incentive to make strange-looking wigs. The new normal!Speech-writers will get free access to all speeches ever made worldwide, no charges of plagiarism will be entertained against them. "I have a dream, too.."The Apprentice (hope that's the show he starred in) will be compulsory screening on all TV channels at primetime.Trump Tower will have to be the biggest one in any town he builds one in, and others will be cut to size if they are taller.Taj Mahal will have to be rebuilt to look like like The Taj Mahal Casino built by him.The statue of Liberty will be replaced with the Trump statue-that'll teach th…

The World of Hrishikesh Mukherjee- Book Review

I thought I knew everything about him. But this book was revealing, to say the least. Many of his movies I have seen, but many others I came to know about. Musafir, Biwi aur Makaan (delightful comedy available on Youtube), Anuradha (starred Leela Naidu and Balraj Sahni), Anupama (this has my favourite song- Dheere dheere machal aye dil-e-beqaraar), and many more.

Dharmendra plays hero in his Satyakam, a story of an idealistic man who will not compromise on his values, and suffers in a world of corruption and compromise. The same Dharmendra plays a comic role (role of his life?) in Chupke Chupke, an all-time favourite film of mine.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee appeals to me for one more reason. He was a GREAT editor. His movies have an economy of shots that you rarely see in Hindi films. Many films are classics, and can be watched multiple times, such as Bawarchi, Gol Maal, Naram Garam, Khubsoorat.

The author brings out many little things about his films and working style- David playing sutra…

Singapore- Observations

Small, little things about Singapore.

Mustafa, the 24/7 retail store is an institution. Huge and chaotic, but product assortment is amazing.

In the public transport system, everyone (error margin of 3 percent) is staring into their mobile phones. Rarely is any conversation heard. (Maybe tourists are an exception, because their mobiles are not working everywhere?).

Announcements on the metro include something that sounds like Haapy Haapy, (in Malay?) and some in Tamil, in addition to English. Also an admonition to passengers that sounds like Chen Wong thoo, or some such (which language, I have no idea).

All the neighbourhoods are clean, including Chinatown. Little India, a little less. Obvious?

Ordering Kopi (Coffee) is easy, if you know the difference between Kopi C and Kopi O. The former is what most Indians want, with milk and sugar.

The attractions that are free to enter are pretty, and pretty good. Botanic Gardens, Haw Par Villa, outside areas of the Gardens by the Bay, includi…

Innovative Solutions to Violence

Violent acts, mostly of terrorist type, have been happening in the past months with clockwork regularity. Regular solutions don't seem to work. Here are some we can try out.

Post Bruce Willis in every place which has any chance of being attacked. He dies hard.

He can't be everywhere. So, post Salman Khan and his six packs in other places.

After him, Sunny Deol with his two and a half (dhai) kilo fist should do the trick.

All the miracle-monger babas should be asked to forecast where the next attack will happen. And put them there, to see them happen (or not). Both ways, society would gain.

Put a Section 144 or equivalent everywhere. If more than four people can't gather anywhere, the casualties will be minimal even if there is an attack. But yes, the Retailing industry will have to take a hit.

Book any terrorist passengers on those airlines which regularly dump their planes in the sea..rings a bell?

Aligarh- Film Review

Watched this moving film (based on a real incident) on a plane- coming back from Singapore. Manoj Bajpai excels, and the portrait that emerges of the man (a prof. at AMU) is endearing. A much misunderstood, lonely, but competent and respected professor (and poet) at AMU becomes the victim of some rivals' shenanigans, and they invade his privacy and take pictures in his bedroom without permission. And he is victimised, not the invaders.

A journalist takes up the story, and exposes the plot, and suppports the prof. through his trials (literally- he is fighting a case to get his unjust suspension from the job revoked). Played well by Rajkumar Rao.

A minimalistic film, thought-provoking. It's about homosexuality, but it's also about a lot more than that. Dignity, privacy, politics in academics, for instance.

Atlas ti Software for Qualitative Data Analysis

At the National University of Singapore (where I am attending a course on Quantitative Text Analysis), we had a session on Atlas.ti, a software package that does some qualitative analysis. It is quite neat! Hope to use it in future (sometime soon).

The most interesting thing is, you can use multimedia documents- text, including PDF files, audio, video or photographs and analyse them after coding them into known or experimental categories- deductively or inductively. There is also an Auto-code feature that lets you do coding from the data by scanning the documents, without your specifying the code. You can use the software for focus group data (video), or transcribed data from depth interviews.

That makes it versatile and useful for any kind of input, and outputs can be counts of words or how often each occurs in each document (in the form of an EXCEL file), or plots, etc.. not fully explored all the options yet.

But a good thing to have, for mixed methods or purely qualitative resear…

Singapore, Architecture and More

Waiting for a university shuttle.
 Metro station
 University Food court- Steven Riady Centre
 Ventilation at the food court. Notice the angled glass windows.
Two above 1. Another view of the University..Nice, modern architecture. 2. Marina Bay Hotel, with the boat-shaped top.

Below, a hotel frontage in Little India and large classroom with video-conferencing.

Learning in Singapore

Just a short reminder to myself that it's nice to be on the other side of a class. It builds empathy for poor students that we subject to so much in a a Quantitative Text Analysis course in the National University of Singapore, or NUS..the prof. (Inaki) is from Texas Tech, Lubbock..I also got reminded of how much I hate programming and love packages of software. We are using R, a programmable software out here. I am with a group of students from the US, Germany, and Singapore, and they are mostly half my age..the class itself has more from other nationalities/places and speakers of languages from there. Many are doing a doctorate in political science, economics, etc.

Large masses of text can be analysed using the methods we are learning. Political speeches, press releases, tweets, Facebook posts/comments, and what not, can be analysed in different ways, for word frequencies, co-occurrence of words, and even sentiment behind the words in some ways.

Amazing what a dumb comp…