Saturday, August 30, 2008

Simple graphics for classroom use

I like many other fellow trainers, have at some point of time believed, "I cant draw even if my life depended on it." As it turns out, the job demands that at on occasions I demonstrate my limited artistic ability when creating flipcharts, explaining concepts, etc. I usually end up drawing stick figures or extremely simple drawings when I do this and generally they turn out to be quite effective.

I spent some time this evening trying to create some simple pictures that trainers can use in class when the need comes by. You can see above the result of the exercise. This didnt take me much time and while I know that the above set doesnt represent a complete toolkit in anyway, I found that making this brought out the child in me. I hope even practicing such simple sketches will help some of my fellow trainers feel more competent when drawing to teach.

Disclaimer: I havent labelled the pictures in the belief that "a picture speaks a thousand words"; though this could be a result of my undeserved faith in my own artistic ability (or the lack of it).

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Marketeer in Arabia

When teaching a new session yesterday, I had to run an exercise that would bring out the Platinum Rule. I somehow got the feeling that it might be difficult to bring that learning out. I decided to keep a trick up my sleeve, which I eventually used. It was this story that I told of a marketeer who was to design an ad campaign for a soft drink in an Arabian country. He decided to design the ad campaign as a story he told in pictures. See below:

Arab and his camel, walking tired in the desertArab and his camel drinking the colaArab, camel and sun happy and now at an oasis

Now, the marketeer was obviously pleased with his brilliant effort and expected his sales to treble. So he waited for the figures to come in and to his utter dismay his sales had reduced by half.

What had gone wrong?
Arabians read from right to left!! (Try seeing what that does!)

Whats the moral of the story?

The meaning of your communication is the response you get!
Platinum Rule: Communicate with others as they would like you to communicate with them! :-D

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Lotus Notes 8.5 beta

Aah! While I still dont enjoy using Notes, I dont mind it as much. The new interface is pretty enough and far more usable than the previous one.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

An absurd Kinng

Is Akshay Kumar Bollywood's most sale-able star? Yes! Is Katrina Kaif really the most beautiful woman alive?Absolutely! Is Singh is Kinng a great movie? Hell no!

I'd read some really great reviews of Singh is Kinng and now I think to myself -- what were the reviewers smoking? Now, don't get me wrong; Singh is Kinng has its moments of fun and if anything Akshay Kumar stands out with his comic timing and screen presence. This said, its nothing different from other Vipul Shah flicks that draw their laughs from absolute absurdity and nothing else. In that, every movie that Vipul Shah has produced after the Amitabh-Rampal-Akshay-Rawal-Sush starrer Aankhein has disappointed me not because they haven't been funny, but because they might have as well been animated movies with the kind of absurd situations they used to create humour.

So well, Singh is Kinng is the strange tale of a bumbling Sikh, Happy Singh (Akshay Kumar) who travels to Australia to bring back to his village, Lucky Singh (Sonu Sood) who incidentally is the self styled "Kinng" of the crime world in Australia. As in most Hindi comedies, this is where the director creates pandemonium by inserting situations that are unrealistic, to say the least. I'll save myself the torture of going through the script here.

I dont have much to write home about with this movie. Watch it if you have few hours to while away. I must say you wont be bored in that time, though I will suggest better use of your time anyway!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Best Superhero movie ever? - oh yeah!

Someone told me that "The Dark Knight" is the best superhero movie ever. I believe him. Christopher Nolan pulls off an incredible tale that just ups the ante for forthcoming movies about men in tights. I've rarely liked Batman movies especially because of the silly portrayal of the villains and lack of credibility. Batman Forever and Batman and Robin were those that I especially detested. Christopher Nolan, however has changed the face of Batman to be meaningful, gripping cinema.

You dont find it strange that Batman is tired of playing vigilante; you dont find it strange that he wants to hand over the mantle to a hero with a face; you dont find it strange that he is upset about losing his lady love; you dont find it strange that the Joker doesnt wish to kill Batman since he completes him; it isnt strange the way Harvey Dent discovers his split personality; it isnt strange that he wishes to decide things at the flip of a coin. The movie is lifelike and flawless and I could keep going on with the examples.

Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart all excel in whats the most gripping bat-tale ever (at least for me). I was almost embarrassed I hadnt watched this movie yet. If you havent you must.

Bachna ae Haseeno is definitely watchable

(I am watching 3 movies over this long Independence Day weekend so dont be surprised if this starts to look like a movie blog!)
If I said I was being forced by my wife to watch Bachna Ae Haseeno, I must apologize to her. While she did insist on watching this movie, her insistence was well deserved. Now all of you movie connosieurs shouldnt get me wrong. The movie isn't and will never be the critics' favorite. This said, if you've never watched a Bollywood movie before and you wish to know how it usually is -- watch this one!.

In very few words, Bachna Ae Haseeno is a movie about a guy called Raj who meets three girls at three separate stages of his life -- dumps two and is dumped by the third, and realizes how it hurts when you're heartbroken. He promptly sets about on a tour across Amritsar, Delhi, Mumbai, Capri and Rome to seek forgiveness from the damsels he'd dumped. And when he successfully returns to Sydney, he's in for a great surprise!

Now that isn't a great story, but when did Yash Raj Films ever do meaningful cinema? Watch this movie if you want 75 minutes of wacky humor, followed by another 75 minutes of Yash Raj chocalaty-cheesiness! Now at this point I must make a special mention of Ranbir Kapoor. Move over Shahrukh -- here's our new chocolate boy. Bachna Ae Haseeno is Ranbir's movie through and through. He displays tremendous screen presence, a remarkable dancing style, incredible comic timing and the ability to ham which is invaluable if you want to survive in Bollywood. Rarely have I seen a newcomer display such amazing Bollywood traits in just his second movie. And how can I forget the girls -- Bipasha Basu (wooh baby.... sluuurp) is very bit the diva we've made her out to be. If there's a stand out lady in the movie, its her! I must say the other girls did a reasonable job, though I thought Deepika's performances seemed extremely rigid and rehearsed. But who cares? She has just 15-20 minutes of the movie!

All in all, I'll say that you must watch Bachna Ae Haseeno for the pure cheesiness and the bubblegummy nature of the movie. Its meaningless fun, but its fun all the same. Its 150 minutes of great entertainment and I while I guess you wont rave about the movie, you wont regret buying the ticket either.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cooking Meen Moily

I love cooking on weekends. I tried my hand at Meen Moily today. Its an incredible dish of a million contradictions, subtly flavored to suit most palates. Let me tell you how this is made.


  • 1 tsp mustard seeds;
  • 1 onion - thinly sliced;
  • 1 tbsp ginger slices;
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste;
  • 1 tomato, chopped into large pieces;
  • 4 slit green chillies;
  • a dozen curry leaves;
  • coconut milk - a cup of thin extract and another cup of a thick extract;
  • 250 gms of seer/ pomfret/ mackrel/ tilapia/ snapper fish;
  • juice of half a lemon;
  • 2 tbsp of turmeric

The history of the Fish Moily as I know it, is extremely interesting. As most people would know, the cuisine of Kerala is very rich in spices and extremely hot! Many years back when the Portugese came to God's own country, they were served an extremely spicy dish that they found too hot to handle. This is when Moily, a local lady added coconut milk to the dish to make the dish palatable for the foreigners. There started the legend of Meen (Fish) Moily.

Cooking Instructions:

Coming back to recipe, the first step is to marinate the fish. This is extremely simple - apply a tbsp of turmeric, the lemon juice and some salt to the fish and put it away for 30 minutes. Remember to create incisions if you're using whole fish, so that the marinade and later the curry seeps in.

Once you're ready to start cooking, heat a tbsp of oil and crackle the mustard seeds and the chillies. Follow this up with the ginger, garlic and curry leaves and finally the onions. As soon as the onions start to become translucent add a tbsp of turmeric and let the color sink into the masala. This is the base for your curry. Wait until the onions gets translucent and add the thin extract of coconut milk. Its important that the thin extract goes first, since coconut milk has a tendency to curdle and the thinner the extract, the better. Drop the fish into this curry and ensure that the curry gets into the incisions you'd made earlier. Place a lid on the pan and let the curry simmer for about 5-7 mins, so that fish can cook. Remember fish is a bit of a sweet meat so its important that you don't overcook it. Once the fish is cooked, add the thick extract of coconut milk, stir for a few seconds and top up the curry with the tomatoes. Leave the curry to simmer for just one more minute, before you get it off the flame. Fish Moily is best enjoyed with rice, Appams, or home made dosas. As you will notice this is a really simple dish to cook (as are most Indian dishes) and takes no time to get to the table. An ideal recipe to impress the wife and to take credit for what will be a sumptuous meal!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

TWU Bangalore Tour

Pictures from the TWU Monsoon 2008 Bangalore Tour are up here ->
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