2017 promises to offer non-stop entertainment from a geo-political perspective. I believe it will be a great year with new surprises being sprung upon a rather unsuspecting (is that correct anymore?) proletariat almost every other week. Fabulous, to say the least. All over the world, people are probably gearing up for revolutionary thinking and changes in political and social ideologies, don’t you think so?
Unless you have lived in Mars for the past few months, you will tend to believe what I am saying now – the world is being turned topsy turvy and most people who matter (meaning those who are less than 30 years of age) are cheering, they may not have assessed the outcomes carefully however!!!
2017 brings along a variety of new topics to the table – whether that table is at whichever country around the world, these topics are going to matter. The foremost topic will be the demeanour and behaviour of the new President of the United States, arguably the most important country in the world (China begs to differ, however!). President Donald Trump is already shaking up (though he is only a “President-Elect” as of now) established norms of diplomacy and economic fundamentals, and as usual, is using his Twitter account to deliver policy prescriptions and comments on world affairs and the people that he either likes or dislikes.
The other major thing in world politics and economics is Britain’s Brexit phenomenon, which is shaking up the European Union (EU). British Citizens voted to get out of the EU, but still would like to retain some major benefits of staying in the Union. The British Government is going around saying that it would win major concessions from the EU, which are not going to be granted given the dismay that the other major countries have over Britain’s exit from the EU.
Of course, European coverage will be deficit if we do not mention the aspirations of Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, who retained his title as the “mover and shaker” of geo-politics. He grabbed Crimea, ensured the defeat of the rebels opposed to President Assad of Syria, and allegedly helped Donald Trump win the U.S. Presidential Elections (according to the CIA and the FBI, as well as President Obama) by hacking and leaking out thousands of emails and documents detrimental to the Democratic Party of the U.S. Who can beat that record?
On the Asian side of world affairs, we would be remiss if we do not mention the North Korean exploits with launching missiles and threatening to explode yet another atomic device very soon. Kim Jong Un is excellent in annoying even his best supporter, which happens to be China. Since he is totally unpredictable, one can only wonder what he has in store for the New Year (should we send him an e-greeting at least?). He does not like any other country in the world, especially the U.S., South Korea and Japan, and is going to continue pushing the limit of intolerable behaviour.
That brings us finally to China, which has proved to be a conundrum as it is struggling to emerge as a well-accepted global military and economic power, much like the U.S. But, China is failing miserably in its efforts to do so. It is doing all the wrong things on its way to super power and market economy status. China needs to understand that people around the world do not care about hard power anymore. The U.S. and Russia have been the world’s super powers for the past six decades, and that is not going to change much in the coming decade. China needs to work on developing its soft power and project its influence in a positive manner around the world, instead of threatening every nation around the South China Sea, moving military equipment and missiles to disputed reefs, and illegally enter the exclusive economic zones of the maritime countries around in the guise of its claim over the sovereignty of the South China Sea. It is losing its image on the world scene.
Nevertheless, the global citizens can enjoy the antics ot the President of the Philippines, who has kept the global media entertained over the past six months or so. He is no friend of the U.S. or the UN. His people seem to like him, and that’s all he cares about – a very unique character who appears to have no respect for justice or rule of law. But then, what can ASEAN countries do? Nothing whatsoever.
Given the situation around the world, the one country which seems to be going about doing its business purposefully is India, right? The Prime Minister of India has gone after black money and corruption in a big way what with his demonetization of large currency notes which was a very brave move. The rural population have suffered heavily over the past seven weeks due to lack of cash, as rural India is largely a cash-based economy. Corruption is still prevalent in most places in India (can you register a property in India without such help?), and it will now shift to the new currency notes. It has been a tough time for over a billion Indian citizens in India, but the Prime Minister thinks that this could be a great way to move India to a digital economy with cashless transactions driving it. Great idea but infrastructure is simply not there to ensure a cashless economy does indeed come into operation in short order – it is going to take at least two to three years before things work out in the way the Prime Minister has envisioned.
No shortage of entertainment, right? There are many other things happening around the world, and one has to just keep in touch with the fast moving media coverage. I hope you are all doing that.
In the meanwhile, here’s Wishing all of you and your families a Wonderful New Year ahead in 2017.
1st January 2017
I started seeing this CBS TV Serial some 3 months ago only.
Now I am kind of addicted for those 30 minutes.
This is easily the best TV sitcom that I have ever seen (that’s not to say much though !), which sees me asking for more. The cast of the serial is just amazing, there is a lot to be said about the extremely careful selection process. All the main characters – Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, Raj, Penny, Bernadette and Amy – keep delivering outstanding performances.
The best things that I like about The Big Bang Theory are its scientific, mathematical and physics orientation (which is a rarity in TV serials), combined with amazing interpolation of quick-hitting catch-phrases and sentences from the main characters (with a hint of mischievous humour on most occasions). One has to be really fast to follow the dialogues as sometimes these dialogues are tainted with some heavy physics or mathematical analogies. Not that one is going to learn anything about physics or advanced mathematics, but the feel of the show is that the four guys are real nerds working for one of the most advanced institutes in the world (Caltech, I guess).
I keep laughing continuously especially with the quick repartees from Sheldon, and the quaint, surprised look which comes often in the face of Leonard.
The female participation has been well leveraged, but I regret the exit of the character Leslie (who is almost a better physicist than Sheldon and often challenges him) from the series. Amy, while a good nerdy match to Sheldon, is not able to compete with Sheldon on actual physics theories !
All in all, The Big Bang Theory is easily the best TV sitcom out there that is continuously entertaining and thought-provoking in a silly manner. The cast is probably the best one can assemble for such a serial, and they seem to be keeping the flame burning bright as the serial proceeds through the current season (which is Season 5 in India). I think that this is eminently relaxing and entertaining, though sometimes I feel a bit awkward having my son watching it along with me !
Try seeing this serial and you will see what I mean apart from the scientific impact !!
4th August 2012
Last evening (Sunday 6th May), I went to see the IPL (Indian Premier League) Cricket Match between the teams of Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Both my son and myself were mighty thrilled to be able to first get couple of tickets to the event and then make it to the Stadium well in advance of the huge crowds thronging the place.
Disclosure: My son is a supporter of CSK (Chennai Super Kings) team and I am a supporter of MI (Mumbai Indians) team !!
Going to the Stadium, identifying which gate to enter, and finding a parking space nearby – all was adventure for us. It took one hour and 10 minutes for us to drive from the Western suburb of Andheri West to the Churchgate station in South Mumbai, via the Bandra-Worli Sea Link (which is incidentally a pleasure to drive across). It took us some time to identify the Gate assigned on our ticket on the side of the Churchgate station, and then once we did that, we found a parking slot right across from the Gate in a quiet leafy road (one had to pay of course, as almost all South Mumbai roads seem to have a parking attendant who materializes suddenly when either you are trying to park the car, or when you are trying to leave the place !).
The thrill of actually going to the match (rather than just watching it even on a big TV screen) is just great – the crowds, the shouting, the cheering, the flag-waving, etc., etc., We thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of being part of the whole scene. The security was very tight – I was surprised when they told us to throw the granola bars we had or eat the same right then and there, as food articles were not allowed. No water bottles, and no cameras……..thorough frisking first when you go to the staircase leading up to the stadium, followed by metal detector stations…….and then at every turn, they kept checking our tickets. I was wondering – what happens if the usual railway track crossers jump into the Stadium: Mumbai, as you might know, have scores of these people crossing rail tracks rather than climbing up the bridge to the other side. But I did not see anyone like that !
It was scorching hot inside the stadium – may be around 34 or 35 deg C. But since it was the first time we went for such a match at the Wankhede Stadium (earlier we had gone to the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai a couple of years ago), we reached much earlier than the start time of the match.
It was an amazingly thrilling match yesterday. Without going through a commentary, I want to say that when the match reached its last couple of overs, my son was almost celebrating – the CSK team was on the verge of winning the match. When the last over arrived, the MI team had to get 15 runs to win the match, and with tail enders batting, the Stadium was eerily silent. Of course, it was Mumbai and 90% of the crowd was from Mumbai and heavy supporters of the MI team.
But then, no body anticipated that Dwayne Smith would hit such wonderful knocks – he hit a six and a four, followed by another four. The other batsman had taken a single, so Mumbai Indians so unexpectedly won the match yesterday. It was such a thrilling close to a hard fought match, that was the reason why most of the cricket lovers love this game……..the feeling is simply to be felt to be described.
Finally, there was a feeling of deja vu…………both sides were highly capable with excellent batsmen. They must have been thinking – Oh, what a match it was, always to be remembered !
So, that’s how I saw my first cricket match at the Wankhede Stadium at Mumbai !
6th May 2012
Yes, it is probably the biggest such retail development in the country.
The Phoenix Market City in Kurla West region of Mumbai is a huge mall, which we (family and me) visited today (Saturday). I could not believe my eyes !
Such a huge mall in the middle of the greater city of Mumbai, very close to the financial centre at BKC (Bandra Kurla Complex). How come this came up almost unannounced ?
Please see “Phoenix Market City”
Simply outstanding in terms of construction and space. For example, the parking space was so huge I could not believe I was in India. Similarly, the atrium concept was new and constructed in a huge manner – so big, that there was hardly any crowd to be seen !
We went in around 4:30 PM on a Saturday evening, and my guess is that the number of visitors inside the huge mall was a miniscule portion of what would have been expected on a weekend day.
I think the place would become very popular in the coming weeks and months, and it would easily attract some 50,000 visitors over the weekends…….it is going to be a great place. Apart from the regular brands one gets to see in upmarket malls, this mall also had some unusual brands represented in its vast expanse of space.
We walked around quite a bit and we were impressed. The “Crocs” shop for advanced footwear was impressive, but the prices were not. We were looking for anti-slip footwear, and the cost was upwards of USD 50, which I think is unaffordable for most people in India, even for the affluent. We saw some pretty good anti-slip footwear next door at the friendly Bata showroom and so picked up the necessary footwear at prices of some USD 8 and USD 5 for couple of pairs for my wife and son.
Yes, the Indian shopping crowd today is enamoured of high-end brands, but it will soon enough discover that the prices are way too high for its satisfaction.
I am recommending that you visit Phoenix Market City in the near future to get impressed. It is a great place to visit. Shops are still getting built, but the place is ready for action and ready for visitors. They have to simply make some attractive shows to draw the young and the mighty to spend at the mall.
17th March 2012
The family decided to take a journey to the small strip of island called Manori off Mumbai with the primary purpose of checking out “Juice Adventures”, which is an adventure park located on Manori island.
The website of Juice Adventures was interesting and I had received an offer from someone couple of months ago to see the place. So, I was inclined to go. We called the place and the person who attended to us spoke very good English – I am always partial to any stranger conversing in good English and that too, a person in a remote corner of Mumbai who is expected to speak only in Marathi or Hindi.
So, the expectation was that this is kind of a well-known, cosmopolitan kind of place, serving the well-heeled folks from Mumbai.
I will come to that point soon. But before that, it is interesting to see how Mumbai manages its nice coastlines. We took a car ride of almost an hour for a distance of some 15 Kms, which is not unusual in Mumbai. Once we reached the Malad-Mudh Ferry point, there was confusion – the only respectable ferry ticket booth loudly proclaimed that they issue tickets only for the Essel World (which is a large amusement park), and when we asked them about Manori, they directed us to check with the ferry operator in another side of the beach.
The beach itself was dirty, jammed with taxis, auto-rickshaws, peddlers, tourists, hawkers, and what not……..the point was that there was no organized way in which the ferry terminal was established to serve any kind of customer who wanted to spend a day off. No body really cared, and there was no single agency monitoring the whole place and servicing the people. The place was crowded, noisy, and like any other tourist location in India was dominated by touts. I don’t see why such practices should continue in what is one of the best locations in India for a scenic ride in the sea.
In any case, we found our way to the ferry which takes all of 7 minutes to cross a narrow patch of sea for INR 14 per person (I thought we could even cross it on foot ! Ha Ha Ha !!). The ferry had no safety provisions, no lifeboats, no life jackets, and no guards. Does that sound unique or strange ? No, it doesn’t in India, unless you own your own yacht or speedboat.
The funny part is that the operator of the ferry loaded anyone who can pay – he even had several horses in the ferry and many motor bikes. It was India and its unique way of operation in all its essence. One cannot complain, just take the ride if you wish and pray that nothing untoward would happen.
So, there we landed at Manori. Juice Adventures was located within 3 minutes from the ferry terminal. There was a good reception for us, as we had made enquiries at the reception by calling beforehand. The person in-charge of the reception gave a good explanation of the facilities, and we were convinced it was worth the trouble of the car + ferry ride with all the attendant experiences.
My son enjoyed the rope exercises, the ATV ride, the Sumo fight, the archery, and especially the zorbing (which I thought was not like the one in NZ on the hills). We liked the place though it was not fully operational with all the games that were mentioned on the brochure. They opened only 3 months ago, and I think it would be better to wait for another 3 months before a visit which can derive full benefits from Juice Adventures.
The thing that I could not fail to notice is that there were no other visitors except us on a Saturday mid-morning, which was rather surprising. There is hardly any such adventure place in Mumbai, apart from the well-established Essel World which does not have some of the adventures featured here in Juice Adventures.
Overall, we enjoyed the place, but instead of the 5 to 6 hours we had allocated, the visit to Juice Adventures was over in about 2 hours. That is bad business given that we would not stay for lunch at their place !
Well, my suggestion would be to wait till about June and then make a visit to Juice Adventures.
11th March 2012
Bollywood specializes in “content-free” movies.
But Bollywood has a billion followers, so cannot be ignored, right ?
Even intellectuals see Bollywood movies in India, as there is not much one can do in a busy city, so one ends up seeing some movie or the other.
Since good Hollywood movies are usually sold out (the new releases) and run only for a week or two, one ends up with a stark choice: which one of the useless Bollywood movies that one can see, given the fact that one has to kill some time.
So, killing time usually leads one to a content-free movie.
This happens to me in flights.
I would have seen most of the good movies, and so now I have to flip through the useless ones before I settle on something. I spend more time on channel surfing rather than actually enjoying a movie, but this time I decided let me see the first one.
So, that’s how I ended up with “Bodyguard”.
Completely content-free, Bodyguard is about a bodyguard for a rich girl from a rather rich family, who is stubborn about protecting the girl at all costs, and against all odds. The girl falls in love with him, but he is oblivious to it. The girl simulates a potential lover of the bodyguard, and he chases her not knowing that the girl is actually the rich girl. Sounds familiar ? All Bollywood movies somewhat sound similar or rather simple. There is no complexity, and nothing to contend with. Sometimes emotional, sometimes villainous, always melodramatic, etc.,
At the end of this movie, I did not know what to think of it. The actors were famous characters, and they did their part. Since movie goers in India are a rather affected lot with emotional strings attached to their famous characters, it sometimes becomes difficult to criticize any Bollywood movie. But then the reality sinks in. The movie is not meant for me ! I am not the target for such movies.
Ha Ha Ha !!!
4th March 2012
Sometimes it is amusing to note that none of the entertainment progeny (descendants of entertainers) have made it big in a non-entertainment field. Not anyone that I have come across so far. I am referring here to actors and actresses in the film world.
Why is that the second generation of Bollywood actors mostly hail from filmy families ? There are others who have sprouted from nowhere, and are trying to establish themselves with no roots and no background, but they are a minority.
It appears that the Bollywood regalia is just like the major political party of India – it believes in sustenance of its future by virtue of the children coming up from the previous generation of actors. It is no wonder that acting quality has declined due to the heavy dependence on past glory of a “daddy” actor. There are many examples one can cite, but for want of decency I am not going to name anyone.
I see very few Bollywood movies, but save one or two exceptions, I find that brand new actors without any pedigree tend to do well. May be there is the heavy pressure on them to prove their acting capability and establish themselves as actors, bereft of any support that could come from established actors and channels. There are some very fresh faces on their own, which is a pleasant sight ! I like to see independent actors make it to the limelight and not be stymied in their attempts to make it big in Bollywood.
The curious thing is that there seems to be no gene in the actors’ progeny that makes them an engineer, or a doctor, or a chartered accountant. I cannot understand why, except to surmise that the parental and environmental pressures are too high to deviate from the “chosen” field of acting. There is always the “beauty” factor, the progeny always look good, or better than their daddy or mommy. Many such factors could be at play, the most inevitable being that which forces the kid to conform to a pattern that is already well set.
So, there has to be a clash between the progeny and the independent fresh faces, right ?
Surprisingly, there is none whatsoever. There is competition and insidious forces could be at work. However, it is the public who make the right choices. If they like an actor, they are going to vote with their feet at the theatres. The selection is made in the minds of the teeming youngsters who make up the bulk of the mall/cineplex/movie population these days.
There have been many a flop at the box office last year where the action was from the progeny, and similarly there have been several box office successes coming from the independent actors.
It is puzzling to think about why the top actors did not produce an outstanding surgeon, or an IAS (Indian Administrative Service bureaucrat) Officer, or an entrepreneur ?
12th February 2012