Sunday, December 9, 2012

BOOK REVIEW : Imperial Life in the Emerald City

Yesterday I got a chance to spend some down time at the library and picked a few iraq war themed books. The book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone [DECKLE EDGE] (Hardcover) published in 2006 had been on my mind for a long time. I admired Washington Post's Rajeev Chandrasekaran and his coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. From the book it would seem that the reconstruction of IRAQ could have been planned safely in the US rather than in Baghdad as it was virtually isolated from the reality of Baghdad. The split in the Bush cabinet and its effect on this war is evident. The Army comes out good here as they were in the forefront and mingled with the citizens of IRAQ. A doctorine that may have salvaged the US efforts in the period after Rajiv's book.
Saturday reading
Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone [DECKLE EDGE] (Hardcover)

After reading the book I feel like a lot of is in America have watched the war with the eye of a indifferent bystander. Rajiv points to the mistakes that were made during the "reconstruction", not preparing for what would happen after the war was won. I always assumed that we had a great number of folks war gaming difference scenarios. From the book it seems the US had asked the Iraqis to stay home and after the hostilities ended they were waiting for a call back which never happened and the looters took advantage of this.
See this part of the book - courtesy of Google Books

I can't wait to read Rajiv Chandrasekar's second book Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan
Reading the book also intrigued me and I will try to watch this movie Green Zone.
Here is a great slideshow on Flickr "Minister of Goodwill" with pictures of the Green Zone and other scenes that you can associate with the book

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bollywood Movie Review : Jab Tak Hai Jaan : 5 things that stood out

I watched the movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan today (Sunday Nov 25th, 2012) at the AMC Loews Rio Theatres in Gaithersburg, MD. In the Washington DC area AMC Lowes Rio, Gaithersburg has regular shows of Bollywood movies and it is a pleasure to be able to see Bollywood movies on the big screen and I am thrilled that a few days after the film's release in India I could see it on the big screen here. Globalization FTW.

This was the last movie that Director Yash Raj Chopra made before his death almost a month ago and this year marks the 50th anniversary of his career in Bollywood.

5 Thoughts on Jab Tak Hai Jaan:

  1.  Homage to Yash Chopra:  If you are a Yassh Chopra fan wait to see the bloopers from the movie at the end and you will see Yash Chopra in action One of the best things that Yash Chopra has done fo Bollywood movies is to shatter the image that only movies with violence will succeed. No wonder he is called the "King of Romance"
  2. Age of the Product placement: I was thriled to see that Anushka Sharma using an Android phone early in the movie and then at least two times seeing "Ultrabook by Intel". Silver Spring based Discovery Communications features as part of the film as Anushka Sharma is a intern there. National Geographic are you next in Bollywood films ?
  3. Kartina Kaif and Shah Rukh Khan : I was surprised that this is the first film starring Katrina Kaif and Shah Rukh Khan together. I like the chemistry here and of course Katrina fulfills the role of a beautiful rich girl well( Check Katrina out, she is amazing ) . I love that the Indian Film censor Board  has become very liberal in overlooking kissing scenes which was not the case decades agi when I was living in India. They did a great job in the scene for the Ishq Dance.
  4. Songs and Music : A R Rahman shows his magic and Gulzar his lyrical excellence  in the songs in Jab Tak Hai Jaan that I have been listening to on Saavn and  Dhingana even before I saw this movie. Rabbi Shergill's Challa song  \is likely to stay in your head for a long time.
  5. Scenes and location : If you have not visited London before, then watching the movie may incent you to visit. I am also happy that Kashmir's beauty shows up in many scenes.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan is worth watching if you are a fan of Bollywood movies. Movie has  subtitles in US theater even though you may not need it if you understand the language of love.

This is a picture from my visit to London in 2007 and that is why many of the scenes looked familiar.
London Bridge
Did you watch the movie ? What did you think ?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Washington DC now closer to Asia with new flights to the Middle East

A decade or so ago when travellers from India came to Washington DC they had to choose a European stopover and mostly an itinerary that included at least 3 flight segments- Either New York or an additional flight to Bombay or New Delhi. On my first flight to the US I flew Air France.

In the past few years Washington DC flying to Asia specially the Washington Dulles Airport has become more convenient. This month on September 12th Emirates is beginning a daily flight from Washington Dulles to Dubai. United Airlines already has a direct flight to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) , Kuwait, Manama( Bahrain) with a stopover in Kuwait and Doha (Qatar) with a stopover in Dubai. Qatar also has a daily flight from Washington Dulles to Doha and Etihad is starting a daily flight from Washington DC to Abu Dhabi from March 2013.  Saudia has a flight to Riyadh from Washington DC. Air India had started flights to Washington DC connecting in New York but these were discontinued after a few months.

According to Michael Neibauer writing in the Washington Business Journal :

" on March 31, 2013, Dulles will finally have one up on JFK: daily flights to the Middle East."
"There are currently 25 weekly departures out of Dulles to the Middle East, compared with 38 at JFK. By September, Dulles will have 34 to JFK’s 42. With the addition of Etihad’s service next year, JFK is slated to have 40 weekly departures to Dulles’ 41."
In the past few years that I have flown through Dubai i have come across a myriad of co-passengers - Indian Expats/ American Indian citizens heading to India for vacation, Grand parents heading home after seeing their grand kids, members of the US defence personnel heading back to Iraq or Afghanistan, State Department folks, Defence contractors, tourists. MAny iof my fellow passengers were headed to other asian cities from Dubai. Of course a new category of passengers are businesses in the Washington DC area that are expanding to the Middle East. Georgetown University where I teach has the School of Foreign Service  in Qatar. The Washington Business Journal says "The Carlyle Group LP, Hilton Worldwide, Lockheed Martin Corp. and the Children’s National Medical Center " have strong ties to business in the Middle East.

Dubai airport is also a good airport , I remember that just outside the jet bridge as soon as you deplane are strollers for kids that you can use for free. Large amount of shopping and  of course a in terminal hotel. 

I am happy - instead of the 3 leg journey I made this summer from DC to Hyderabad India ( Via Zurich and Bombay) competition and more airlines will give us passengers a better deal to get to Asia.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Smile like a Million Dollars : Rules for a half smile

I smile a lot and think it is very healthy. In fact it might have been Dale Carnegie's book " How to win friends and influence people" that may have inspired me to smile even under pressure.

The topic I want to talk about is a half smile. At first I was offended when people gave me a half smile and abruptly wiped the smile off while you were looking. Now I think there are some secret rules that I am not privy to about the situations where a half smile is warranted. Here is my guess about what the rules for a half smile are :

  1. When a stranger is smiling at you. 
  2. You think you know this person but you are not sure you will get a smile back
  3. If you don't smile the situation can get nasty
  4. It's polite to give a half smile 
  5. I want to acknowledge the person but do not want to show familiarity

 In my humble opinion if there is a situation where a half smile is warranted then a full smile is better. What do you think are the situations where half smiles are recommended. What are the downsides of a full smile?

As a reward for reading this post here is a slideshow of all the half-smile pics on Flickr ( see at your own risk )

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong - The First Man on the Moon Passes Away

From NPR :
Former astronaut Neil Armstrong, known for his words "that's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind," has died. He was 82. Armstrong had cardiac bypass surgery earlier this month, as Mark wrote, and at the time, his wife said he was "doing great." Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin tweeted that he planned on joining Armstrong at the 50th anniversary of the famous Apollo 11 mission in 2019

Source: via Shashi on Pinterest

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Is there a New Sheriff in Town? Hyderabad Traffic is getting better

Ameerpet X Roads Hyderabad India
 It has been a year since my last visit to Hyderabad and the difference in the traffic this visit is noticeable. The ride from the airport was smooth with the PV Narasimha Rao Expressway and I stay in the Ameerpet area and last year the area was always jam packed  and the difference was noticeable. The traffic peak hours in areas like Hyderguda, Somajigud, Begumpet , Tarnaka was more orderly and travel time was reasonable.
I am impressed with the way the Hyderabad Traffic Police is using technology and tools to make traffic better.

 5 Things that stand out in making Hyderabad Traffic better
  1. Cameras to catch red light runners and those abusing one way traffic rules.
  2. Savvy use of social media. HTP ( Hyderabad Traffic Police) has a Facebook page that is run well and uses media to spread awareness and attract attention. They also integrate Facebook on their website
  3. Traffic Policemen themselves : Standing in the heat, dust and noise, I find more of the Traffic Policemen at choke points and actually standing and directing traffic and there seem to be more than one at each major intersection.
  4. It appears that one way streets and traffic medians are intact. I would have expected a break in the medians and influenced  by political and regional influences.
  5. Improved e-challan system -  Jay Mehta writing in says that that e-challan system has been improved in 2012.

From India Trip 2012
It also seems that the local "feet on the ground" police personnel seem to be more empowered to increase lane direction when necessary. The enforcement and increasing awareness of the evils of drunking and driving is also commendable. Rightfully the Hyderabad Traffic Police is  focusing on Facebook over Twitter( matches the pattern of the usage of Facebook more in India. 

Kudos to the new sheriff in town who is behind the enforcement of rules to make the traffic better in Hyderabad. I have no clue who it is . Do you know?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Dream Generation :

The Washington Post's  Outlook section has an article Five myths about the Dream generation that gives you a good picture about who is affected. I heard about the DREAM act not from the press or social media but from a friend. He is a legal immigrant and has applied for his green card. An application is never a guarantee for approval and the green card process in the US is long and involves several years of waiting. His kids are in high school and looking forward to college. His options are:

a) Assume the best about his green card application and put his kids in college here and live happily ever after.
b) For whatever reason the green card application gets rejected and then his kids who will be in college will lose their legal status and have to leave college a risk any parent may hesitate to take
c) Choose to migrate to Canada where he can get permanent residency and citizenship if they live for 3 years in Canada

If the DREAM Act has been passed, even if his green card application was not successful, his children would have been able to stay on and complete college in the US. 

Just like millions of Americans and their parents came to this country to seek a new life in the centuries past, many continue to do so. I think a very rational evaluation is called for about the DREAM Act that crosses party lines.
Photo Credit: Flickr 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Flirting 101 with Rachel DeAlto: Relationship Expert Reiterates the 5 Essential yet Forgotten Flirting Rules

"Flirting is all about making someone smile - do it right and they'll come back for more!"

Here are her tips on flirting and how women should follow:

- IT'S ALL IN A SMILE: It's the oldest advice ever - smile! You have no idea how it even changes the way you talk!

- ENGAGED MUCH? At least pretend like you are listening. Everyone wants to feel like someone is paying attention to them.

- WOLFPACK WOES: Break away from the pack - most people feel intimidating approaching a group to talk to someone.

 - HUMOR IS HOT!: Don't take yourself too seriously.  

THEIR BIGGEST FAN?: Leave his friends alone - if you start flirting with his wingman, he wont think you are into him (or worse)!

And when all of the above can't allow you to muster up the strength to be as present as you'd like…pick up Rachel's FlipMe!  
FlipMe Revolutionizes "How to Date" Rules & the Online Dating Scene

Popular Flirting Tool Empowers Women to Channel their Inner Coquette & Make the First Move

  • Give a prospective love interest a card with a sweet, sassy or sexy statement
  • Log into your profile to see if he has responded
  • Upon a response, connect and become intrigued with the new form of flirting

About FlipMe:
What FlipMe really is, is a philosophy. It’s here to say – let’s have fun again, and be confident. Get out there, meet people and make a connection! It’s breaking the ice made easy. You take charge of your dating life by giving your sassy, flirtatious side the perfect sidekick. FlipMe brings a casual confidence to meeting newpeople by offering a clever way to say “hi.” This stylish accessory is a simple and intriguing way to break the ice and let someone know you’re interested without divulging your personal details. When you purchase a pack, you get 30 cards, each with a unique code that lets the luck recipient view your profile and send you messages. No one gets access unless you give them a card, and no one gets to see your personal information. It’s a safe, secure way to put the fun back in flirting.