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Friday, January 28, 2005

Our Home Buying

We bought a new Home ! - it is a 4 year old townhome in Milpitas, CA and boy! - it does feel good to own a house. The house is 1353 sq feet, 3 stories with 2 car garages and the lot size is 1742 sq feet, which includes the back yard. I don't want this to sound like a home specification report - so, you can find out more about the house (including pictures and virtual tour) out here. Oh yes, it cost us 560K for the house - if this was any other part of USA, then we could get a palatial house for that price, but this is Bay Area - things are a little 'hut key' out here !

Home buying was indeed a very very interesting, eye-opening and tiring experience for us. Actually, we spent literally 3 weeks shopping for our home. If you think that that is too long, then you will be surprised when you see people visiting open-homes weekends after weekends. We did not want to spend too much of time on this, primarily because we did not have time and also because the prices of the homes were going up with each passing weekend :) !. Anyway, hopefully, this home will prove as lucky to us as it was to its seller (my real estate agent himself).

It was not love at first sight for us for this home. The home that we liked was actually different - it was a lot bigger but its location was not so great. But it had a wonderful floor plan. The asking price for that house was 585K and we offered 600K, but we STILL did not get it ! - the market is so damn crazy. After that, our present house seemed really very very attractive. Its asking price was 545K but we managed to win this by bidding at 560K. Of course, looking at it now, I think we made the right decision. Its location is fantastic, close to both our offices, close to a Jain temple (so parents need not worry), part of a community and close to a huge shopping mall (Great Mall).

We got the loan approval yesterday and so we should be moving in sometime during the end of February. It feels good to finally wrap this up - it had been playing in our heads for a long time. It got activated quite furiously during the New Year's party at a friend's house when we heard that most of our friends have started buying houses :). In any case, it turned out postive for us and here we are - proud owners of a home in the US of A.

Till then,
Thyaga




Thursday, January 27, 2005

Interesting movies

Normally, my luck with movies is not great, especially when I recommend it to my wife. Many of the times, the movies that I recommend tend to be "too macho", "too much nonsense", "too much _any_thing" - it is always difficult to get it right. It is not that I have not been lucky - it's just that my luck does not extend for too long :).

So, it was quite surprising that the last 3 movies have all proved to be quite good and most importantly, my wife has enjoyed it. Here is a brief summary of each:

  1. Kisna - Directed by Subhash Ghai, this is a period movie, which deals with a love story with India's Independence struggle, partition, Hindu-Muslim riots in the background. Although quite a few movies have been made in this genre, what makes this movie unique is its cinematography, direction and above all, the heartening performance of Antonia Bernath, who plays the role of Katherine Beckett smitten in love with our Desi hero Kisna, played by Vivek Oberoi. Then, there is Isha Sherwani as Luxmi, to entertain you with some heart-stopping dance movements.

  2. Raincoat - Directed by Rituparna Ghosh, this low-budget film is fantastically done. Ajay Devgan (in a very sincere performance) and Aishwariya Rai (in a good performance) play 2 ex-lovers Manu and Neeru respectively, who meet after 15 years. Lot has changed in each other's lives but the love for each other has remained the same. Manu is in need of money to start a new business while Neeru is in need of money to maintain her home. However, neither makes that confession to each other. I don't want to reveal the end, since it will diminish the pleasure of the movie - if you have read "The Gift of the Magi" by O'Henry, then you will find some similarities to it.

  3. Bourne Supremacy - This is the sequel to the extremely successful Bourne Identity. Normally sequels don't match up to the originals, but I think this one outshines the original. A really fast-paced film with heart-stopping actions, stunts and thrills. It is difficult to stop the movie in the middle - it is so gripping.


Check out the movies whenever you can.

Cheers !

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Bollywood's loss

The last couple of weeks have been bad for Bollywood, the Hindi film industry. On the 12th of January, veteran actor Amrish Puri passed away of a blood clot in his brain. Amrish Puri for me was the ONLY villian who really could send a shudder down the heart just by means of his terrific screen presence, booming eyes and the sharp and penetrating eyes. Whether it be Mogambo of Mr. India, Bhujang of Tridev or Choudhury Baldev Singh of DDLJ, Amrish Puri would always add so much of credibility and substance to his character that one would remember it forever. Indeed, it is a great loss of a wonderful talent.

Another loss was that of Parveen Babi, the yesteryear actress who was found dead in her residence on the 22nd of January. This wonderful and beautiful actress will be best remembered for her roles in Deewar and Namak Halal, where she stood her own against stalwarts such as Big B and Shashi Kapoor. Then she suddenly disappeared in the mid-80s only to resurface around 5 years ago. She had put on lots of weight, was hardly recognizable and in a surprise move, she filed a petition against some of her peers such as Big B, that they tried to kill her. Needless to say, the case did not go far. Whatever may be the actual issue, this loss is indeed quite sad because it is difficult for anyone to seduce a nation like she did in "Jawaani Jaaneman Haseene Dilrooba ..."

-- Thyaga

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

JibJab

There were a lot of people who became famous during the course of the US November elections last year - some of them became so because they were directly involved in the political fight and some because they stood outside the arena and made fun of the whole election and were satarical of the whole process. The most famous among the second group of people were the "JibJab" brothers. They composed small and hilariously funny videos and put them up on the Internet. In fact, I saw them on one of the early morning show on television today - so, that clearly shows that their popularity is indeed growing.

Check out some of their short videos at - http://www.jibjab.com ("My Land" is my favorite). Enjoy the videos - they should give us something to laugh about !

Keep smiling !
Thyaga

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Video Blogs - vlogs

The popularity of Blogs is growing unabated. I had already mentioned in one of my earlier postings that the word "Blog" had topped Dictionary's words of the year 2004. Now comes the news that Video Blogs, commonly known as vlogs, seems to carry on from where Blog left off. This is similar to Blogs excepting that you can post whatever you want through Videos. Stretching this even further, one can have his/her own private news channel, music channel etc and so, the opportunities are just unbelievable.

Read more about this and well ... start BLOGGING :) !

Cheers !

Friday, January 07, 2005

7 Summits in 7 Continents

Yesterday, Sima and Nishant had come to our home and they mentioned about a friend of theirs who is attempting to be the 1st Indian to climb the highest peaks of all 7 continents. Interestingly, he graduated from IIT KGP, IIM Calcutta and then worked at Satyam Computers. The website
http://www.1stindian7summits.com provides more details, including details of where / how to contribute towards his effort.

Things like these really are inspiring ! - makes me wonder what am I doing with my life ;-) !

Something to think about, eh ?

-- Thyaga

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Welcoming the New Year

We had a great New Year's eve party last weekend at Abhijit's house. Paro, Sujata, Abhijit and Rupam had done a terrific job of organizing the party. Surprisingly, there were quite a few people and it was good to catch up many of them, most of whom we haven't met in ages. I guess, that is one of the advantages of these types of parties. We played some games and then danced away till the wee hours and welcomed the New Year. Here are some of the snaps from that party (courtesty of Paro)

We did something really "sacred" the next day (New Year's day). We went on a guided tour of the Stanford University campus, where Anu and Jeetu were our guides. I also believe that if you do something good on the 1st day of the year, you will do that for the rest of the year too. Nothing can be more "halo" than visiting such a great university :). It was great to go inside the Computer Science Department and see the places where some of the great stalwarts worked. We also went into the Earth Sciences building (Anu and Jeetu's Department) and into Anu's office. Anu & Jeetu took time to explain about earthquakes and so, the tour was educational too ! As usual, here are some snaps.

Hope everyone of you has a great year ahead !

Signing off !
Thyaga

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Business School - Winter Quarter, 2005

The Winter Quarter in our Business school started off this week and well, it just means end of our holidays and back to the grind :(. This quarter, we signed up for 2 courses - Marketing Management and Statistics. We could have got the latter waived (probably), but for some reason, we were not too confident on our previous knowledge ;-).

Statistics for Business Decisions, by Steven Nahmias - this one is a basic Statistics course, which will help you to refresh your theories on probabilities, charts, curves, hypothesis etc. I don't expect this to be too tough, but one thing that is a matter of concern is that the professor gives a lot of homeworks and is very particular that we do it ;-). One thing that I have noted is that he is really a hi-tech guy, writes his notes on a Tablet PC and then uploads them in journal /HTML format so that we can view them later on - the effects of the Valley are clearly visible in him.

Marketing Management by Stephen Corio - this is a Marketing primer course, teaching you the ins and outs of marketing and it is really useful if you are coming from a totally technical background such as us. He is a flamboyant teacher, great speaker, has a great sense of humor and more importantly, has a great grasp on the subject. Added to this is the fact that he doesn't believe in too much assignments and homeworks (YAHOO!). He is an IBM veteran and obviously has tons of experience and so that makes the class even more interesting.

Let's hope that this Quarter goes fine.

Till then,
Thyaga

Leavey Lecture - Arun Chandra

Yesterday, there was a Leavey Lecture by Arun Chandra, a former HP veteran and currently the CEO of iPolicy Networks. The topic of the lecture was "Marketing under Siege - Doing More with Less".

I was quite surprised to find an almost packed house at the Mayer Hall in SCU. Arun didn't disappoint - it was a well presented lecture and it was apparent that he was confident of what he was speaking. He explained how companies are cutting short the marketing budget because marketing contains the most 'discretionary $$s' and hence, the marketeers of today have to do MORE with LESS. He also gave tips of how to do that - some of the ways were to bring "discipline" into the marketing team and combine it with the already present "creative" energy, having a good ROI for the marketing team, making the marketing team more aligned with the visions of the CEO. He also made the presentation quite colorful by showing some videos of the latest HP campaign (digital camera, Starbucks).

In the end, he opened the stage for questions from the audience, which in most cases, is probably the most interesting part. There were some interesting questions such as - how do his tips apply for startups, how do startups go about building their brand, his personal marketing experiences etc. I thought, he answered them quite well without getting troubled. He also shared his experience of doing his MBA at SCU (along with his wife) and how it had helped him in his career.

Cheers and Happy New Year !
Thyaga