Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Taare Zameen Pe

A contemporary movie that is a touching account of a dyslexic child who faces the rat race of growing up in a world that does not understand him.

Darsheel Safary the child actor has performed brilliantly. After watching the movie, I imagined him to be a highly mature actor in the lines of Halley Joel Osment from the 'Sixth Sense' fame. On the contrary, he looked a playful naughty normal child during an interview by a CNN-IBN host. The music is simple and soothing. I just love Shankar Mahadevan and his slow numbers. Aamir Khan performed his role well as an actor/director. Considering the brilliant artist he is, he lived upto those expectations.

I watched this movie during a late night second show starting 9:45 PM after a long tiring day driving 200KM+ through traffic from Pune-Mumbai. I have very little patience to sit through long movies but this was an exception and was wide awake when it got over at 1:00 AM.

I would say that it was time well borrowed from my precious sleep.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Microsoft bots

Microsoft has a very broad base of worker personal computers spread across the Internet. The operating brain of these computers were written by the masters at Microsoft. They have made sure to not lose complete control over their prodigies.

I come to office after setting up background jobs yesterday ready to work on a carefully drafted environment only to find an annoying dialog box that tells me that the computer will be automatically restarted in 5 minutes. There are two buttons "Restart now" and "Restart later". I hit the obvious and continue working only to get the box again in 2 minutes telling me that the computer will be restarted in 5 minutes. After two/three tries, I give up and killed all my tasks/environment to restart the computer.

After the restart, I get a message that a critical update needs to be installed. I check the details and it happens to be Microsoft's genuine software verification tool to prevent piracy! Tell me how critical it is to force me to break my work. If they had issues with their previous tool, they should install it with little collateral damage.

After the install, it automatically takes you to a page that rants about the benefits of using genuine Microsoft software. Yeah the masters do not want to lose control and I get the picture!

Friday, December 07, 2007

First long distance race

I do not know what exactly were the sequence of events but I had registered for the Pune marathon held last Sunday.

Same time last year, my office was abuzz with talk about the marathon. A large contingent took part in the 4.5 Km dream run. They said that it was fun with crowds cheering and bands performing all the way. It was a very hectic period for me and my fiance then with just a couple of months to our marriage. But this time there was no excuse. This was something to be experienced. I opted for the 10 km run. Being a regular at the gym for half a year now, I felt that I was reasonably fit to run that distance with proper training. Me and a couple of colleagues from office ran for a week averaging 3 km a day. It was very hard for me to run beyond that without adequate rest. I felt that I was over enthusiastic to register for the long run. But I was determined to complete it without taking rest in between.

Race day comes and its a chilly December morning around 6 AM when I take my bike and travel 15 km to the location. A friend of mine joined me and we went searching for the start point of our category amidst hoardes of people spanning race, gender and age. We apparently had to submit a form and stamp our number card pinned to our t-shirt. Believe me, it was chaotic. Around 12000 participant had turned up and there was hardly room on the road to stand! We somehow made it to the 3rd row of the start line and finished our formalities only to wait for an hour to hear speeches by the organizers and celebrities who had come to flag the race. The crowd went berserk when Salman Khan stood up the podium. Sunil Gavaskar flagged off our race and we tried to go past the crowd of people who were still awestruck with the celebrities.

After the initial shoving and pushing, I started a slow run and with distance the crowd gradually spread. Within 2 km I started to pant and had serious doubts on completing the race. Around the 3km mark, I was pepped by drummers and people on the streets cheering. The initial part of the race was slightly uphill and tough. It only got easier later. I kept running and lo behold, it was the 9km mark! I did not even realize that I had run this far. My hearbeat increased with anticipation which only made me more physically exhausted. Then did I see the beautiful arch that said finish point for the mens 10km. I crossed it and stopped but my legs wanted to run more. Running had almost become an involuntary action by then and I had to force myself to sanity!

It was my first and a race to remember!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Gymming in Chennai

After a long break from physical activity and no break from slumber, I decided to hit the gym one evening. Having paid around 10 grand for a year, I felt guilty of utilizing less than a third of it. The out of shape look did not thrill me either. This was around 6 months back and I have been pretty regular since then.

Recently, I had tried out some of the popular gyms in Chennai a day at a time over a period of a week.

The mecca of body building Gold's gym had a center close to my house in Chennai. The movie Pumping Iron starring Arnold featured Gold's gym prominently and was sure worth an experience. I was greeted by a friendly receptionist and the ambience looked promising. They charged me Rs 233/day and had a yearly rate of Rs. 15000. The workout area was on the ground floor with a locker room upstairs. The instruments were from Precor and in good working condition. The coaches let you work on your own if you knew what you were doing! I found the open floor space for stretching/abs pretty less.

Fitness One was bigger and costlier. It has a reputation in Chennai to adhere to the high income super rich class. They charged me Rs. 333/day and had a 3 month rate of Rs. 9000! I did my warmup and stretching on the first floor which had a poor air conditioner. The basement had all the weights and a separate room for aerobics. Half way through my workout, there came a model posing with instruments and a photographer with a lights guy clicking away. I have heard about their strong marketting!

Blue gym was much smaller and charged me Rs. 200/day. They have a monthly package of Rs. 1700. Surprisingly their yearly rate was 1700 * 12 without any discount! One thing that stands out here were the instructors. They were very friendly inspite of me being there just for a day. They corrected me when I was not lifting correctly. Overall I had a very nice and relaxed workout. It did not have some of the instruments that were a part of my schedule though.

Dimension was undergoing some repair work and had a makeshift place with a lot of instruments crammed together. They charged me Rs. 200/hour and had an annual rate of around Rs 12000. They offered me some deals if I was going to enroll with the next one week. I found the place the smallest and most in dearth of dumbells and other instruments. I went on a Sunday morning and so had to wait 15 minutes to just get to a cycle. The instruments were old and needed oiling.

Compared to my ABS gym in Pune, I found the Chennai gyms costlier and smaller. I see that gymming in Chennai has not really reached out to the middle class or it could just be that the cost of living in Chennai is far higher when compared to Pune!