Global Desis: Stitching our cultural past with modern lifestyles

Sitting casually in the balcony on a holiday morning, my weary eye leaves the newspaper and the depressing headlines that have been exploding on us 24x7 of late and wanders. Having shifted to a hostel, my time at home presently clocks to just about a fraction of what it was earlier. Add to that the fact that the family moved cities. I notice new things around me!

On courts and castration: Need for speed, rapists unleashed


The rancorous rape that happened has certainly stirred up the mass of India.I can sense the emerging odium in the society against whatever is wrong and movements to improve it.
But again a part of me feels insecure- till when? I presume, that by the day after tomorrow, you know- the 'end of the world', all social networking sites, media, talks will plummet to talks of no significance- we survived, i told you it would never happen, let's party. Only a faction will remain that will remember the never ending horror the rape capital has been facing.


Those who have been to Quora already know how simply awesomeness flows from it. For those who haven’t been on it as yet- you’ll realize it soon. To answer the basic question- What is Quora? I take liberty in getting a cue from an answer well put for one of the questions on Quora itself-  Add 70 IQ points to yahoo answers.
Source- Quora

(Source- Quora)
We all have that little curious child in us- wanting to know more about some specific fields of interest, or explore more subjects unheard of. Quora is the perfect platform for that.

Nature’s Sparkling Brilliance: Fjord Tour, Norway

This, my friend, is a Fjord.
“Fjord tour? What on earth are these Fjords? At least tell me how to pronounce them? Is it F-silent or J-silent?”
That’s how it all began. Four Indian friends on their exchange study programme in France talking about taking a random series of train, ferry and bus rides between two cities of Norway: Oslo and Bergen in the month of October.
Some 10 days later, after a meticulous planning and a long, tiring train journey into the Scandinavian countries, when I took the morning train from Oslo to Myrdal, I asked these questions again to myself.

By this time, I did know the dictionary meaning of the Fjords, but honestly, I still had no clue of what was about to come in this weird sounding day long tour, and that too in friggin’ Norway, of all countries!

A search for the hidden Barfi in us


What can I say about a movie that has a rating of 9 on IMDB, is the official Indian entry to Oscars, is directed by Anurag Basu and boasts of Priyanka-Ranbir in the cast that you haven’t come across already in the newspapers, 3 weeks after its release?

Rotterdam, Netherlands: Where the eye goes post modern.

What does a city do when a crazy guy called Hitler bombards it to ashes? Why, it turns post-modern!!!

Rotterdam. It’s a beautiful city; it is post-modern, and no, I am not making a sweeping statement here. Since Hitler’s bombardment in the 1940s, the city has stopped following any architectural axioms. Challenging the existing rules, questioning the axioms, and erecting contrasting buildings with even more contrasting elements hitting right in your face is what post modernism is about. Things don’t go haywire. Thoughts do.
Let’s see if my lens is able to show you what I felt like while walking in Rotterdam:
 Mind the different types of buildings, standing next to each other in full glory. Mind the different types of buildings, standing next to each other in full glory.

Results: aS photoPreneur- The Nationwide Online Photography Competition

The results of aS photoPreneur are out! The judge, Mr. Devendra Purbiya has chosen the following photographs as the winners:
The ‘PhotoPreneur of the year’ title (1st Prize) goes to Mr. Saheb Santanu for the following entry:
Caption: Change of Duty

aS photoPreneur Judge speaks: tête-à-tête with Devendra Purbiya

purbiya There are few things that catch one’s imagination more than colors, lights and photographs. We, in aS photoPreneur saw hundreds of them flowing in from different corners of the nation, each unique and captivating in their own way.
For the uninitiated, aS photoPreneur is the ongoing nationwide online photography competition, organized by in its ambitious pursuit of connecting enthusiasts with the masters of the art.
They say, interaction is a two way river. The stage has been set, and the enthusiasts have communicated their hearts out with hundreds of beautiful images. In order to complete the dialogue, we thought of bringing none other than the judge, Mr. Devendra Purbiya himself, to share a few thoughts on photography techniques with the enthusiasts.

Gangs of Wasseypur II: The Rampant Romance of Dubious Shadows and Brutal Bloodshed

Two shadows sit on a raised platform on a moony night under the shady sky of Wasseypur. One of them is too complex to be comprehended in their clam talks. In the beautifully blue frame filled with grey smoke of ganja that he had been smoking right from the beginning of the film, you see nothing happening. The tension grows, the soft background music begins to loud the conflict because you know he was there to kill. In the same frame, beautifully blue and grey, he quietly pulls out a knife, attacks and continues cutting the other shadow into pieces brutally until you sweat.
Oh yes! “Teri keh ke loonga!”

…and The Dark Knight Rises in the End

(From left) Blake, Gordon, Batman, Bane and Kyle. This is just what you thought.
You must fear death.
Lovers of Nolan and fans of Batman will, at once, appreciate the beauty of this fair statement which makes Bruce Wayne the Batman of Gotham in this finale of the Batman series. Nolan’s way to translate the past into the present is yet another example of cinematic excellence without juxtaposition of conceptual characters from the film’s prior two parts.

O Womaniya explained (Meaning, Music and Singers behind the gem)

womaniya Gangs of Wasseypur changed many things. One among them was the way songs are written, recorded and sung in the mainstream Bollywood. While we got to listen to many weird gems in Gangs of Wasseypur I (including Hunter and Bhaiyaa -The Musahar of Sundarpur), There was this song which registered itself as an altogether different anthem, by the sheer tune, words and music of it.
O Womaniya.

While we keep waiting eagerly for the release of Gangs of Wasseypur II, I can’t resist myself from digging deep into the way this bubbly song has been written and sung. It incidentally is the first song review at aS.

A Cocktail of Orthodox Ideologies!

Mix a Parwati bhabhi, a Pallavi and a nagging mother in law as good as Savita bahu with a topping of son Mihir Viraani and you would shake a perfect Cocktail! Raising a toast, I wonder what the director would have called it, had the scriptwriter added an immortal Baa to the worthless drama! A Mock Tale? No seriously, I was taken back to the Ekta era of never ending soap operas, scene after scene, as the film refused to progress at all! The only good thing about the film is Dimple Kapadia  who continues to take your breath away with her flawless acting.

The Majestic Himalayas and Serene Ladakh

It takes either an adventurous mind or a crazy mind to go to the Himalayas, to an elevation of 18ooo ft and almost touch the China as well as Pakistan borders. All in one week. But yes, it was decided and before I knew it, I landed in Leh -- the capital of India's Cold Desert.
The first two days went in resting. Very crucial, mind you, since the low oxygen levels in the air can take a toll by the following day and you can be immediately deported! All you can do is to admire the wooden insulated ceiling of your hotel room.

Qatar diaries: “Wait, of all the places to visit, Doha???”

“Of all the places, Doha???” was what I got as a comment when I innocently posted, “What’s there to visit in Doha?” on a highly frequented travel website.
“Of all the places, Doha???”
Interesting question. Well, I didn’t have much of a choice. The CEO of my company wanted us interns to visit either Qatar, Oman, Bahrain or Kuwait.
I liked the name ‘Doha’. I reminded me of some Rahims and Kabirs. Some two weeks later, I was lying on a cushioned bed in a three star hotel in Ad-Dwahah, Qatar.
Names. Always deceive.
Now, as I was already in a place which was not supposed to be in the list “of all the places”, I decided to make the most of it. 10 days in the capital city of a country I would have never even dreamt of visiting.
I opened some travel sites. BBC travel and lonelyplanet came to rescue. I made an itinerary for the 10 days and went ahead. Thankfully I had brought my old faithful Sony H55.
That old bastard friend of mine which refuses to leave my hands. Here’s what both of us captured in Qatar:
Restaurant Deja Vu: May be in some vague dreamy vision, I had been to this place before.  Restaurant Deja Vu: May be in some vague dreamy vision, I had been to this place before.

The Indianness of Indians.


Photo By: Vishesh Gupta
I was dazed when I heard that a guy no longer wanted to prepare for the IAS because he foresaw lower corruption rate in India in the coming years owing to all the ongoing movements. I was enmeshed in abysmal thoughts for a week!

Know the difference.


What do you say to a know-it-all lady with anger management issues?


You make an easily understandable no-nonsense poster for her.

In your face, Ms. Dictator!


The unsolved mathematics behind replacing JEE and AIEEE with ISEET

IIT Kharagpur
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Photo By: Mohi Narayan
Scrapping JEE and AIEEE is no joke. To what extent is it justified? One needs to ponder over it. What necessitates replacement of JEE with ISEET? And, why is this proposal being pushed in such a hurry?
Ministry of HRD has grievances – much to state the unexplainable stress management – against the pattern of JEE. There, Kapil Sibbal poses, in volumes, about (ISEET) Indian Science Engineering Eligibility Test. This new entrance exam, based on the lines of SAT, aims to unify multiple entrance examinations – not counting private engineering colleges which have yet not joined the “cause” as maintained by the minister – putting forth a question that how this step unifies the already hassle free AIEEE and JEE leaving aside hundreds of other entrance exams of different private institutes with a pair of ‘E’ at the end of their spellings.

Avengers. IMAX 3D Dubai. Shit just got Real!

And before I begin, let me give a humble advice to all. If you want to try the IMAX 3D experience, choose superhero movies. Or better choose superheroes’ movie.
Or best, choose The Avengers.
I have seen quite a lot of 3D movies before, and more often than not, have returned home either with a ringing headache or a thoroughly unsatisfied experience, thanks to the blurry flimsy 3D glasses that apologize for having sat on your nose.
But this movie in IMAX 3D, as Captain America says for Loki, “grows on you.”
They're here!

What’s the connection between the Arab culture and a disposable razor?

Khanzar. So the other day, I was working in my office, trying to ponder over why disposable razors are not a craze in India (we prefer system razors with spare cartridges refills), while in arab countries, they sell like hot cakes.
And then, like any other post-lunch-yawn-filled office hour, my train of thoughts led me to think about the way people behave in UAE in general and Dubai in particular, and compare it with the rest of the world. And I reached a dilemma. But we’ll get back to it later.
For now, the only word that comes in my mind when I think of the Arab culture is…
“Conservative”. Yeah, I know you had already guessed it.

Google’s Project Glass: Are we ready for it?

Does anybody remember Alex James Murphy, the cyborg police officer of Detroit? Our very own RoboCop? Google’s augmented reality glass reminds me of him. Especially, when a virtual overlay map starts giving you directions on the road, you video talk to your boss on the go, you reply to emails in the middle of a meeting, you click pictures by blinking your eye while passing by a hill, you fill an empty plot with a virtual image of your dream house and what not, without any obtrusive headgear. As a matter of fact, you do so without holding a single device like those of smartphones and tabs in your hands.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The-Reluctant-Fundamentalist As I read the name out loud, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, I did realize that this book has something deep attached to it, an emotion unexpressed. Plus, the CROSSWORD Recommends sticker on it and a piece of information that it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007, made me take the book to the cashier, and back to my pad.
Most of the scripts and storylines post 9/11 had a typical ink scent that made them cliché after a time.
Mohsin Hamid looks at it in an entirely refreshing way.
First, the writing style of the book is right from the author’s pen. The first person monologue intrigues you more than any multilingual dialogue would be able to.
The Pakistani stranger ,Changez ,talks to an American Tourist at a Lahore Café, unfolding his entire biography about the time spent in the States. How he graduated Princeton with the best of grades, was hired by a top notch company Underwood Samson, and how he fell into the rat trap of the world; how he gradually got in love with Erica, and what led further to a tragic end of a realistic love story.

Of Belly Dances in Arabian Nights: The Dubai Desert Safari

That random summer placement procedure had once decided that I was going to do my summer internship in Dubai.
And some six months later, I was actually in a desert near Dubai, reclining back on a muslin cushion, watching live performance of a Belly Dancer, who was shaking her hips on wavy arabian tunes, while my friends were busy filling their memory cards with the images and videos.
I came back to my senses, and took out my faithful SONY H55.
It made a whirring sound as the lens opened its eyes. I could not take off my eyes from the belly dance, hence shot the video without even looking at the screen!
Here’s the youtube link to a 3 minute long recording. Pardon the occasional camera swings!

Now, Were you a Dennis or Calvin when it came to School ?

My heart beaming with pride, let me declare my latest  possession : a T-Shirt with its tag line screaming bold and clear to everyone who cares: Growing old is mandatory , growing up is NOT. [ \m/ ]
I want to go back to where it all started. For all of us. In a school. Unlike the more stressed kids of today, I’m guessing you directly went to Kindergarten, not pre-nursery or pre-pre-nursery. LKG and UKG, it was. Colourful clothes with a  hanky carefully folded diagonally and pinned to the left pocket of the shirt/frock. Waterbottles dangling around the neck as we hopped along to school, gingerly holding the hand of our darling caretaker. And tiny bags having even tinier lunch boxes!

Is UPSC ‘killing’ talents? Or corrupting them? Think about it.

UPSC IAS IPS arbit Speculations Legend has it, becoming an IAS or IPS officer is the ultimate gift a talented young person can give to his/her family. You might not want to agree, but the truth remains that many of us have been at one point of time in life, ‘inspired’ ( or were tried to be inspired) by our fathers and uncles and grandfathers to study hard to be an IAS/ IPS officer.
Legend also has it that there is no power and status compared to an IAS/IPS in the administrative circle. Even the politicians can only transfer you, but they can’t fire you. You roam in ‘laal batti’ cars, and make decisions that matter, and you know that you are among the very few capable and deserving of making such decisions.

Egypt: The sandy land of the Mummies and the Pyramids

The obelisk stands tallOur annual family trip plan meandered through various options until it finally reached in the ‘desert’ed ,(yet brimming with tourists ) land of the pharaohs, the mummies and the great pyramids!
My heart was filled with an ecstasy which can’t be explained in just a few synonyms. So, we set off through the Qatar Airways, and as we neared Cairo, I kept peeking out of my window to get a glimpse of the pyramids (impatience was never a sin). Me and my misfortune landed on the grey ribbon of runway laid on the huge cloth of sand.
The Cairo Airport was unwelcoming, so was the city traffic. We used to snail through the traffic jams while looking onto the pedestrians crossing us.

A Nobel Laureate, An Astronaut and Naseeruddin Shah –Too Much for an Old Mic like me.

Namasgaram , I am myself, Mr. Mic-Swamy. I belong to this place called the IIT
of Kharagpur; It is the Indian US of A. When I was very small, one toddler you can say, my parents, the good old Gramophones of yesteryears [ God Bless Them ] had high dreams for me like every decent Indian parent. Of course, they noted from our own superstar films that you can become an engineer by studying in an Engineering College but cannot become the president by studying in Madras Presidency College. One big bummer in the path of their dreams for my future. So, they chose the former and sent me here.

Agneepath 2012: A fitting remake with Sporadic Sparkles.

Agneepath, Release date: January 26th 2012
Remakes, they are strange. People have sky-high expectations and nostalgia ruling their minds all the time, while they are busy judging the new flick against the old classic.
You can not copy the original. Neither can you miss the essence. Especially when the legendary original one itself has been inspired by a movie as raw and as brilliant as Scarface and features Amitabh Bachchan introducing himself as one Vijay Deenanath Chauhan.

To the ‘Republic’ of India

Will she be able to maintain it or will she lose it again

Mr. B.R. Ambedkar on the Constituent Assembly:
(From the Constituent Assembly debates volume 11)
“I feel, however good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot.

aS featured: On the Other Side

One who reads, writes. More so, if he/she is an aS reader. (Oh yes!) This new year we bring to you 'aS featured' where we will publish selected arbit creations submitted by the readers to us.

'aS featured' takes off with the wings of poetry. We sincerely thank all the participants for sending their entries. Judging all those poems was difficult. Or may be not.
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting to you, the first winner of aS featured!!!
Akhilesh Prasad – IIT Kharagpur