October 05, 2008

Updates coming...

I owe all my readers a mega load of posts about my travels. Been writing it down in a physical blog, so will surely upload it all soon (a blog redesign is also on the cards), with photos! Salud, desde Quito!

Appreciating Andean music

August 12, 2008

The Art of Forgetting Things

Woke up pretty late this afternoon – perhaps from the accumulated fatigue and not sleeping properly on the couch last night – Almost 11 a.m. Missed the breakfast again, and I had a bucket load of clothes to wash. Used the fabric detergent Paul gifted me and put the clothes to dry in the hostel verandah.

Karima came along all excited to start the day and asked me to hurry up. We were going to MASP (Museu de Arte, São Paulo) and later to the Ibirapuera Park. After Tori changed some cash (we walked through the Carimaru market first) and Karima helped me activate my SIM card, we took the metro to Trianon MASP. Plans to meet up with Bebeto didn’t materialize.

MASP was a very pleasant surprise for me – firstly, entry was waived off on Tuesdays, so we got in for free – but what I pre-conceived as a boring museum, in fact turned out to be an incredible experience with some of the most exquisite, detailed and breathtaking art I’ve ever seen.

Half way through the museum visit, got a SMS from Bebeto around 1:30 pm “Man, your flight is at 6 pm, not 10! You need to be at the airport by 4!”

Whoa – what a lifesaver! Did my quick goodbyes to Karima, Tori and Paul and dashed off to the hostel. 2:15 pm. Gulped down a Guarana, packed my bags, bid adieu to Tarcisio, Ana, Juliana and my dear friend Husam – and rushed out at 3 pm. Reached Tatuape station at 3:40 pm. Doing fine – and finally reached the airport at 4:15 pm! Not bad :)

Checked in, cleared formalities and flirted with the TACA stewardess.

Had a cappuccino and a delicious sanduiche de frango (chicken sandwich) and was on my way to… Ecuador.

Writing this while having a nice meal of chicken rice with Inca Cola (from Peru) and Johnny Walker Scotch Whiskey. Viva Ecuador!

August 08, 2008

Forro Night

Woke up after catching three hours of sleep, at around 9ish this morning. It’s raining outside, so I did some quick web surfing, took a shower, did a Skype video call with my family back home while watching the Opening Ceremony to the Olympics. My friend Bebeto gifted me a cool ‘Petrobras’ jacket to keep warm and off we headed to Avenida Paulista for lunch.

Shopping Center 3 – the place was packed with lunch hour rush. Note to self: Next time, come a couple hours later to skip this rush.

While Bebeto shopped for some caipirinha mixer kits, I was busy chatting up the cute chick at the t-shirt store with my broken Portuguese and some hand gestures thrown in. My first inspiration to learn the language well enough to converse with such ivory statues in the future.

Back at the Praca da Arvore Hostel, Ana informed me about Samba/Salsa nite so I stayed in. A tall, dusky, demure woman – Mara Santos taught us our first samba, salsa moves. At the end of it, she threw in a surprise – why not head out for the night and go to a real forro club!

Meanwhile, got an SMS from Bebeto about another party happening at Blue Pub with the CS gang. So I headed there first, met up a bunch of Paulistanos as well as gringos over some great Skol beers.

After about an hour, I joined the hostel gang again and we headed to the forro club – Canto de Ema. What a spectacular experience!

Forro is different from other forms of salsa/samba, in that it uses the ‘symphonie’ instrument and has easier steps. The passion in the dance form is simply beautiful. Met two beautiful girls, one Brasilian and the other Portuguese – both of them spoke perfect English.

While taking a beer break outside, this guy walked in to our group and introduced himself as Roberto – making friends is so easy here! We managed to converse in broken Portuguese and English respectively, but it was good fun. Some more girls joined in. Later I watched Roberto and his girlfriend dancing, and I could bet my bottom dollar, they were the best damn couple, swinging and swirling to the forro music with the most amazing grace I had seen. Ana taught me some dance moves and surprisingly I managed to pick it up pretty well.

The final stop of the night was of course, food! Stopped by an Arabic joint called Habib’s – the best darn cheese and chicken esfihas (think mini, soft pizzas)! Retired at around 5:30 in the morn. What a day!

August 06, 2008

Day One in Brasil

Reached Brasil (São Paulo) last evening around 6 pm, roamed the airport for info - yellow fever vaccine info and mobile prepaid card. Didn't manage much (not knowing Portuguese sucks!)

I had options of taking a cab to my hostel (R$ 110) or a bus and metro (this was tougher and i would get to learn more, so i took this option) ;) spent just R$30 with this option. And got to see the way locals travel. Nice.

Reached the hotel around 10 pm, checked in, freshened up and made some friends. This hostel was the best decision - beats staying in a hotel any time! Full of young ppl from around the world in dorms (mine is a 10 bed dorm with just 2 more guys) - the other one is full!

So anyways... one of the guys said they were going to the karaoke place nearby (around midnight)...so I went there and joined the ´gang´. Grreat fun! People singing, dancing, drinking (beer is just R$ 2.50 or Rs.70!!!!) and celebrating the birthday of a random girl (everyone here is super friendly).

Today (August 6) is technically Day 1 for me - woke up at 10 (i was one of the earliest ppl to wake up!), showered, ate breakfast (R$3 bcoz i missed the free breakfast... hehe), and I went out in the market to check out things. Bought a phone card for R$5.50 but again, not knowing Portuguese got in the way of trying to get other things done. So I need to brush up on this some more. Much more. With time it´ll get easier.

Now I'm making plans for exploring São Paulo - right now, I'm online to check out flights to Ecuador.

Over and out for now....

August 05, 2008

Celebrating my 28th Birthday – Viva Brasil!

Sitting at the lounge at the Mumbai International Airport sipping on some white wine, I toast to myself on my 28th birthday – I was actually doing this – going to Brasil and Ecuador – South America ahoy!

As the land of sun, sand, exotica and wilderness beckons me, I am reminded of Paulo Coelho’s character in The Alchemist. This was meant to be.

Next Update: From Brasil!

June 03, 2008

New kid on the blog!

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the new kid on the blogosphere - my little brother Sagar Karkhanis!

Sagar just finished his C.A. Final exams and loves studying and following world markets. Through his blog, he wants to 'demystify' investing and stock markets to help the common man understand the basics and professionals with some super exclusive personal analysis.

My old readers would reckon that he was selected by DNA to interview his icon, super broker Rakesh Jhunjhunwala 2 years back!

So head on over to Sagar's brand spanking new blog, and gain from his passion and expertise!

May 23, 2008

Cosmological Thoughts on turning 29 [Repost]

No, I didn't skip an year. Just thought I'd share an amazing post by a friend, Vineet Gupta, ex-colleague from Microsoft and one of the coolest, smartest people I know.

Even though I didn't get to know him too well when we worked in the same team, I was pleasantly surprised at reading his 'cosmological' post - because I could relate to his thinking so much! Cosmology and studying and marveling in the universe has always been something close to heart for me... Leave me alone on a starry night on a hilltop with a clear view, and I'm a happy man!

Over to Vineet.

Speaking of astronomy/cosmology, I just learned of a sky watching club in Mumbai which I'm glad about. But for most of us who never find the time to even look up in the sky for 5 minutes sometimes, here's something incredible, incidentally by Microsoft - The WorldWide Telescope. Think Live Earth or Google Earth, then zoom out into the universe - that's WWT. Yep, they've freakin' mapped the universe, and I can't stop raving and unraveling in it. A MUST see, literally out of this world experience!!

Microsoft WorldWideTelescope

May 08, 2008

Yahoo! India launches 'Glue' at WebInnovation Summit

Yahoo! India R&D launched a brand new avatar of their search today at the Web Innovation Summit'08, codenamed 'Glue'. Kicked off only in India as a test market, it combines traditional search with visual and relevant data from the web collated from multiple sources in a very intuitive manner.

Intuitive because it has smart algorithms which figure out what you're looking for - so if you search for 'Sachin Tendulkar', you are thrown up his player profile from Cricinfo, stats etc. Search for 'Maldives' and you'll see photos from the honeymoon destination, a map and other relevant data. Similarly, an entry for 'Infosys' gives you stock quotes, company info and such. Very clever.

Wikipedia and recently Mahalo have been doing pretty much the same, but both have a different model which follow more of a wiki model with human editors around the world. Yahoo! India Search 'Glue' takes a different route in that, it mashes up data from various web sources and serves it up on the fly.

I spoke to Tejasvi, a Yahoo! employee at the booth and asked him a couple of questions.

The most interesting thing he told me was that they will be opening up the modules to third parties, so you can add/remove custom modules. I'll wait for that - sure sounds like a great way to search and surely a step in the right direction!

April 29, 2008

IndiBlogger Meet Mumbai Q2-08

This Sunday I went for my first IndiBlogger meet. IndiBlogger is an Indian blog directory and I had never registered on it, so it was a good excuse to do so, too!

The planning and agenda seemed very professional, and the venue was the Kohinoor Hall opposite Siddhivinayak temple - also a good thing, so the line-up looked very impressive. I didn't know what to expect, but was looking forward to some fun, meeting interesting new people, pimping my blog and not sleeping through my Sunday :)

After the formalities and intros, it got more participative. I like meets to be participative - its boring to listen to one person all the time, even if that person is me (hell I'm a Leo, I'm supposed to love the limelight!). Everyone had a one minute of fame and folks were out-funning and out-performing each other with their stories. Noteworthy mentions:

"I write about good parenting.... no I'm not a parent" - 24 yr old Ronak, who looked younger than 20.
"I started blogging when I was feeling lonely. It's helped a lot. Blogging is a very emotional thing for me!" - Anjuli
"Hurr hurr!" - Abhishek
"I think I should start a sex blog" - Clement

Then came the skit. I found this a nice little addition - the story was simple, but the team did a great job putting it together and playing it out to us. Kudos, team IndiBlogger!

After a pav bhaji and ice-cream break, there was a talk by Microsoft on Windows Live Writer for bloggers, SMSGupshup.com and Ronak on professional blogging.

All in all, it was a good mix of planned stuff, impromptu stuff and fun stuff - while getting to meet a bunch of interesting peeps. What else do you expect from a blogger meet?! See you guys next time!

March 30, 2008

Hey, Taxi!

Sometimes I wonder if I'm a compulsive chaser - you know, running behind cabs, buses, trains, girls, deadlines... blah. My friends who know the stories don't find these things funny anymore. It's a seamless part of my personality for them. Forget the personality anal-ysis. Let's cut to the chase, quite literally.

Yesterday evening, I got out of my building in a hurry and waved to a cab. I was on the wrong side of the road, (the driver's side of the cab), so I opened the door, shoved my bag inside, and noticed that he looked bruised on his left eye - a recent wound, perhaps from a street fight... next, I walked around the cab to get in from the other side (the one by the pavement - the correct side).

Just when I was about to open the door, the cabbie just took off! I was like - wt@^#$%? For a moment I thought he was just warming up the cab, so I just stood there hoping he'd figure out I had not got in yet... but the more I stood there, the cab just sped away. I do a few quick checks - red light, check. No valuables in the bag except a nice perfume, check. By now the cab is already at the next signal, and I'm still standing where I was supposed to board it. Wait a minute, red light?! Dimaag ki batti jalao, apni akal ladao!

People standing around and the cabbie behind noticed what happened, and before I knew it - this was the scene... my cab has sped away to the next signal, I'm running to catch it, the cabbie behind me is honking away to stop that guy and has started chasing him in his cab, and onlookers are shouting to stop him. Filmi, no? ;)

Just when the signal turns orange, I reach, open the door and said to him laughingly "boss, sirf bag leke jaoge kya Lower Parel?!" His expression was priceless. He was confused, embarrassed and very apologetic. He had thought I got in from the other side when I had just dumped my bag in it! Throughout the ride, he kept saying sorry, and I kept laughing at him and telling him it's alright and all fun!

I love Mumbai cabs and talking to the cabbies - they always have some interesting stories and insights on life. This guy now started telling me how his day started off all wrong, how he got beaten up by some people a few days back because he was not a local and such. We had a good discussion on the state of things, how narrow minded people have become, etc. What really moved me was his take on things, in spite of what life had given him in the last few days. He was still positive, a sheen in his eye, accentuated by the black and blue bruise under his eye... and most importantly, a vision for a nation united... India as a winner in multiple disciplines. Putting the bag chase incident behind me, I marveled in his beautiful vision and a mind focused on putting mind over matter, in spite of the atrocities he was subjected to.

I got down and wished him a great day ahead.

In hindsight, chasing the cab was a good warm up for my workout :) I was headed to the gym, Day 2!

February 26, 2008

Sex on a plane

Writing this blog post in the middle of watching a movie...

My grandma is sitting behind, knitting a sweater or something, and pauses to ask me what movie I'm watching, hearing all the dramatic noise.

"Sssnakes on a Plane" - I speak too fast usually, so I make sure I am audible and clear

Granny mumbles something and asks me back - "Snakes or Sex?"

I skip a heartbeat. "Snakes, snakes!"

February 23, 2008

A new perspective to photos

I recently installed this Firefox plugin called PicLens and I'm simply loving it!

What it does sound pretty simple, but looks pretty amazing - click on the bottom left corner of any photo in a photostream on Flickr or Facebook (or any other photo page) and the next instant you see a 3D carousel view of the same!

Yeah you've probably seen it earlier, but the great thing here is it activates it for any darn web view and I don't surf Flickr without PicLens anymore!

Give it a shot - and watch it pimp it up! Also available for IE, Safari and desktop view.