Sunday, March 30, 2008

How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life - Kaavya Viswanathan

A quick review about a book that I started reading purely on a friend's recommendation and that I was only too happy about reading an e-book version of. For, if I had had bought this book, I would've rued having spent good money on a book so sad.

'How Opal Mehta...' is the story of, well, Opal Mehta and how her entire life spins around getting admission into Harvard. Her parents have drilled into her the idea that the sole reason for her existence is to get into Harvard. They have formulated what they call the HOWGIH (How Opal Will Get Into Harvard) plan which includes cello lessons, welding lessons (these for recreation!!), math camps etc. Problem is, the child has become such a geek that the Dean of Admissions at Harvard asks her to 'go get a life'. How Opal and her parents struggle to find out what 'get a life' means forms the basis of the rest of the book.

Frankly, I liked the way the book began. Opal had nerdy written all over her character (in tense situations, she starts reciting prime numbers in her head so as to calm herself down). Moreover, the contrast between her and the easy-going free spirit Valerie 'call me Val' Marks in the first chapter is brilliantly funny.

Unfortunately, the book loses its sheen thereafter. The military precision with which Opal's parents proceed to try and get her a life is fun, but the idea is repeated too often.

I kept getting a feeling that I was reading the script of a very bad Hollywood teen-college movie where the protagonist is lost and confused about her identity. It was getting way too cliched and I hence, I decided to chuck reading the rest of the book.

Of course, there's the matter of plagiarism against the book, but the book in itself is too immature for me to comment on that issue. I would've overlooked the plagiarism bit if the book would've maintained my interest, but it did not. What ultimately matters to me is whether a book (fiction) entertains or not. Sadly, 'How Opal Mehta...' could not build on the expectations built in the first chapter.

Book Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Enjoy the Pursuit of Excellence

And that's it!! Enjoy yourself, have a great time. Like I recalled a few days ago to a friend, "One day, you're gonna die. What's the point in dying if you've never really lived??" Don't make the mistake of thinking about putting in that extra effort... just let the energy flowing within you take over and make sure you enjoy yourself so much in whatever you do (work, partying, reading a book or simply walking down a road) that the extra 10% beyond the 100% comes in naturally. And make sure you aim for the stars, 'coz life is fun only if you're shooting for the impossible... and enjoying the ride which takes you there. :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Extreme Ways

I've just finished watching "The Bourne Ultimatum", the final film in the Bourne Trilogy. I absolutely loved the series !!! I feel it is films like these (and also films like 'XXX' starring Vin Diesel) that forced the makers of the James Bond films to rethink their script-writing fundamentals. It almost literally forced them to re-invent Bond... and what a wonderful job they did in not only casting the unlikely blonde-haired Daniel Craig as the legendary 007, but also in terms of the script (no flashy dialogues, almost no gadgets, et al.).

Also, I loved the manner in which all the three Bourne films ended. To add to the manner in which a punch-line is delivered by James Bourne, the end credits roll down with Moby's 'Extreme Ways' playing. It is an awesome track, one which you absolutely MUST listen to. :)

"Extreme Ways"

Extreme ways are back again
Extreme places I didn't know
I broke everything new again
Everything that I'd owned
I threw it out the windows, came along
Extreme ways I know move apart
The colors of my sea
Perfect color me

Extreme ways that that help me
Help me out at night
Extreme places I had gone
But never seen any light
Dirty basements, dirty noise
Dirty places coming through
Extreme worlds alone
Did you ever like it then

I would stand in line for this
There's always room in life for this

Oh baby, oh baby
Then it fell apart, it fell apart
Oh baby, oh baby
Then it fell apart, it fell apart
Oh baby, oh baby
Then it fell apart, it fell apart
Oh baby, oh baby
Like it always does, always does

Extreme songs that told me
They helped me down every night
I didn't have much to say
I didn't get above the light
I closed my eyes and closed myself
And closed my world and never opened
Up to anything
That could get me along

I had to close down everything
I had to close down my mind
Too many things to cover me
Too much can make me blind
I've seen so much in so many places
So many heartaches, so many faces
So many dirty things
You couldn't even believe

I would stand in line for this
It's always good in life for this

Oh baby, oh baby
Then it fell apart, it fell apart
Oh baby, oh baby
Then it fell apart, it fell apart
Oh baby, oh baby
Then it fell apart, it fell apart
Oh baby, oh baby
Like it always does, always does

Now playing: Moby - Extreme Ways
via FoxyTunes

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Sunscreen Song

On a day when a hundred questions regarding career and life (in that order) were running through my head, I couldn't thank Motee enough for making me listen to this...

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering
experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will
look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…

Lyrics to "Everybody is free to wear sunscreen" by Baz Luhrman

Have a great trip to Mumbai, Motee. :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

A beautiful weekend

I had a wonderful weekend, owing to some great company provided by Motee and Mistha. To add to the fun, Harsh was here too and it was great to catch up with him after about 3 months or so. Harsh and I visited the Hard Rock Cafe here in Bangalore and I must admit, the place rocks!! The food is great, the alcohol is better and the ambience (along with the music) is among the best that I've ever experienced. Also, the staff is very courteous.

It rained in Bangalore yesterday and today. Left stranded by the downpour yesterday were me, Motee and Mistha. We were on MG Road and decided to step into this bookshop called 'The Bookworm'. Totally loved the smell of old books in this shop. Couldn't tear myself away from buying the following:

1. The Shattered Thigh & Other Plays - Bhasa
2. The Laws of Manu
3. Rudra - The Idea of Shiva - Nilima Chitgopekar
4. The Interpretation of Dreams - Sigmund Freud
5. The Impossible Question - J. Krishnamurti
6. The Future of Competition - C.K.Prahlad; Venkat Ramaswamy

Now playing: ColdPlay - Yellow
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Marriage / Merger Proposal

So I walk into our cabin which seats 4 people and my colleague Kiran tells me, "I've sent you a mail. Please check and reply." So I sigh and settle down into my seat to find the following in my inbox:

From: Kiran RS. Kumar
To: Shekhar Ruparelia
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 5:59 PM
Subject: Fwd: Marriage Proposal

Is she ok for ur marriage

And so, here was the mail that I sent back to him:

From: Shekhar Ruparelia
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 6:34 PM
To: Kiran RS. Kumar
Cc: Gaurav Prakash
Subject: Re: Marriage proposal

Dear Kiran,

First of all, many thanks for the brilliant job done in shortlisting a target for the proposed merger. You've surpassed my expectations and my regards for the same.

The target for the proposed merger seems great... however, prior to final negotiation deals, I would most definitely have to conduct further meetings with the party concerned. This would be required in order to study the compatibility of the mission, vision and values of the two organisations (in order to gauge the cohesiveness of the two cultures) before the proposed merger. Also, I would request you to present the time-frame till the time of proposed merger in a matrix format, with inputs on date, location and duration of meeting with the party concerned.

Please keep in mind that the proposed merger is to be considered only after a span of 2-3 years since I am still not EBITDA positive. This is due to a current trend wherein there is heavy cash outflow post my monthly receipts. These expenditures are primarily made towards our vendors (landlord, newspaper-wallah, eateries, beer-shop owner etc.) and while your eagerness to see the proposed merger happening as soon as possible is much appreciated by me, you must also acknowledge that my commitment towards the vendors is also non-negotiable.

Finally, I would also like to inform you that the proposed merger with the third party shall be subject to approval from my 2-bench Board of Directors (Mom and Dad) currently holding office in Calcutta.

Request you to revert back ASAP since I too am eagerly looking forward to future negotiations with the proposed party.


Shekhar Ruparelia

The One Who Laughs The Loudest...

...isn't the one who's laughing last. It is, sadly, the one who is laughing on the jokes being said by the boss.