Visit to Lacock Abbey & Village

May 4th, 2009

I visited the Lacock Abbey this weekend.

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It is popular sight for Harry  Potter movies. Other popular movies shot here includes Pride and Prejudice, Cranford and Wolfman. It was quite a pleasant visit and here are a few pictures of the place. 

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Lacock Abbey


Gothic Arch – Lacock Abbey






Entrance to Cloisters


 Behind the Abbey


Church in the village


 In the woods …


Spring time photo shoot…

May 2nd, 2009

 Lets chat over a coffee


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Relaxing on a sunny spring day


Tulips from a different angle


 Looking up and rising high towards the sky


Sarkar Raj – Review

June 8th, 2008

Ram Gopal Verma has brought in a good continuation to ‘Sarkar’ in this movie. The movie starts off very well but takes some time to plot the story. The movie demonstrates the intricacies of how everything is connected in politics and how doing anything good effects various parties and their interests. It surly shows the power hunger and greed of people at various levels.

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The story does make an impact and until Amitabh Bachchan(as Subhash Nagre a.k.a Sarkar) narrates it all at the end to Aishwarya you cannot guess the main person responsible for all the mess. Talking about Aishwarya (as Anita), she again has done a great job after Jodha Akbar in this movie as a person belonging to the corporate world. For a change, she played a little strong character in this movie. Abhishek Bachchan (as Shankar Nagre) has also played his role well but there was something missing, not sure what. Other strong characters played were Dilip Prabhawalkar (Rao Sahab), Somji (grand-son of Rao sahab) and Chandar (the right hand man of Sarkar). Amitabh was super and has done 100% justice to the role.

Perfect cinematography and a good 2 hour 10 minutes movie. The background music of ‘govinda govinda’ sets the perfect mood for the scenes.

This is a serious film and to be seen with both brain and heart. Given that its a Ram Gopal Verma film, it should be clear that it is not for children.

The film overall is woven around a political plot of a big power plant project in Maharashtra at Thakarwadi (a village). A London based company is willing to invest £ 2 billion on this project and this project is expected to solve all the power issues of Maharashtra. When Anita and Shinde (the CM of Maharashtra) presents the project report of Sarkar (Amitabh), he refuses it as this project’s site is Thakarwadi where 40,000 villagers live and is also the place of living of Rao Sahab. While Abhishek is convinced that this project should happen, Amitabh is not fully convinced and lurks in doubts around the intend of people involved. Till the interval the movie is about plotting this story on how, why and who are involved. From a few seconds before the interval and all the way in the second half is more of fact finding and shocks. To find out more you need to see the movie as I don’t want to reveal the suspense and kill your fun.

And for a change, this is not a typical ‘happy go lucky’ and ‘happy ending’ movie where the hero solves all the problems with his heroine and they ‘happily live ever after…’

After a while, I have seen a good bollywood movie. I am sure this movie would be a hit in the box office. Overall, if you liked Sarkar then you would also like this one. I would give a 4 out of 5 to this movie and would recommend you to see it.

 Some of the scenes I liked in the movie are:
1. When Abhishek tells Amitabh that Power plant is justified and Amitabh needs to convince Rao Sahab.
2. Abhishek trying to touch the feet of Rao Sahab
3. Aishwarya Rai’s scene in the hospital.
4. The scene just before the interval.
5. The scene after Abhishek places his hands on Aishwarya’s hands.
6. The scene towards the end when Amitabh meets Rao sahab at his house.
7. The last scene when Aishwarya asks for tea.
8. When Aishwarya comes to meet Amitabh and Abhishek for the first time at their house and Amitabh asks her to come to the point.
9. When Aishwarya asks Abhishek about the most difficult decision in his life.

Which DSLR to buy ?

June 6th, 2008

Off late I have received many emails asking to advice on a DSLR. Having gone through a phase of evaluating the options in the recent past, I have decided to buy a Nikon D80 for myself after using Nikon N80 film camera for 4 years.

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Well, it’s a big world out there and some of the well known brands in the market are:

1. Cannon
2. Nikon
3. Olympus
4. Pentax
5. Sony

You probably would not go very wrong with any of the above brands. All of them are good with Cannon and Nikon being mostly preferred by people and DSLR market leaders.

Here are a few basic questions you need to answer to yourself before making a decision

1. What is my budget ?
If you are looking at a DSLR then be prepared to spend at least $500 for a new camera body with a basic lens. The higher the budget, the wider are your choices. Nikon D40x is a good choice for the budget range or you can opt for D80 if you are prepared to shell-out a little more from your pocket.

2.  What brand / make am I comfortable with ?
Few like Nikon others prefer Cannon and many like Pentax. Well, it really depends on what you are comfortable with. For me nothing beats Nikon but my close friend is a pure Cannon supporter. If you have never used an SLR then go to the store and hold a few DSLRs in your hand, the one you feel comfortable shooting is the camera for you.

3. Do I already have a film SLR?
If you said ‘Yes I do’ then consider the DSLR where you can utilize your existing lens. Also try-out the DSLR at the retail store of the same manufacturer. If you have been using a Cannon film SLR then it is likely that you would be more comfortable using a Cannon DSLR.

4. Is Nikon better or Cannon ?
Many are caught in this great question and really I would say that there is no clear answer. Both are great companies and make fantastic equipments and a wide variety of products to offer in DSLR space. It all boils down to what you are more comfortable using.  I have always loved Nikon camera and I am most comfortable with it.

5. Key items I should look for ?

I can suggest the following key points about the equipment you wish you buy.
– Image Stabilization
– Lens compatibility with other camera models of the same manufacturer.
– Sensor size and type
– Lens quality
– ISO noise

Here are a few good sites you can use to read reviews of your camera. – for a general idea, does not gives an in-depth review

All said and done, its *YOU* who would decide what makes a good photo and what does not. DSLR is just a tool to realize and sharpen your photography skills. You would still need to be good with your concepts and practice of basic skills around frame composition, aperture, shutter speed, light conditions and ISO to be used.

Jodha Akbar – Review

February 25th, 2008

Ashutosh Gowariker is indeed innovative and you actually travel back in time to 1500 AD. The sets, costumes, dialogues, sound effects and overall set-up are magnificent. Would strongly suggest seeing this movie at a cinema hall or on a wide screen home theater system. About 70% of this 3 hours 20 minutes movie’s focus remains Jodha (actual name was Hira Kunwari) and how Akbar falls in love with her after marriage. The love story is the imagination of writers as there is no evidence in history about the matter. But it has been well packaged and very well presented to the audience. I enjoyed 2 out of the 5 songs in the movie (In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein by Sonu Nigam & Madhushree and Jashn-e-bahaara by Javed Ali).

Before entering the cinema hall, I had doubts if Hrithik Roshan would be able to do justice to the role of Akbar (remembering the solid voice of Pritviraj Kapoor) but after the movie I felt that no one else in bollywood could have doen the role better. Aishwariya looked like true princess and have played the role very well.

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A good attempt has been made to show the battle of Panipat and the internal political scenarios of Mughal rule in India. Ashutosh has tried to portray the character of Akbar and have touched a small extract of Akbar’s entire rule.

Akbar was one of the rather successful rulers in the Mughal Dynasty as he realized that wining battle and ruling people are different. Today he is referred as Akbar The Great. Akbar’s view towards religion, culture, art and people were very different from predecessors Humayun and Babur which was also the reason of his success.

Although a long movie of more than 3 hours, it’s very well made and delivered. I would give 4 out of 5 to this movie.


  • Mariam-uz-Zamani ( Hira Kunwari – born October 1, 1542), was a Rajput princess and was the eldest daughter of Raja BharMal, Raja of Amer. For the purpose of marrying Akbar she was converted to Islam and was rechristened Mariam-uz-Zamani after marriage. The Mosque of Mariyam Zamani Begum in Lahore, Pakistan was built in her honour. She has been also referred to as “Jodha Bai” in modern times, although she was never actually known as Jodha Bai during her lifetime.

This fact is manipulated in the movie and has been shown that she was never forced to convert to Islam and Akbar accepted her as Hindu. Also there is no reference to Hira Kunwari, the princess has been refered as ‘Jodha’ right from the begining.

  • Hira Kunwari aka Jodha Bai, was Akbar’s third wife and one of his three chief queens. She was 22 days elder than Akbar. Akbar’s first queen was the childless Ruqaiyya Begum, and his second wife was Salima Sultan, the widow of his most trusted general, Bairam Khan.

This is also manipulated as this movie shows Jodha Bai as Akbar’s first wife. No mention of age has been made in the movie.

Although the accuracy of this movie is disputed overall due to the way Jodha Bai has been potrayed, but the following facts shown are correct:

  1. Akbar was only 13 when he became emperor (after Humayun’s sudden death).
  2. Akbar was the son of Humayun and Hamida Banu Begum, but Maham Anga ( Akbar’s aunt, chief nurse and mother of his foster brother, Adham Khan) nurtured him while he grew up. Maham Anga was both shrewd and manipulative
  3. Although Abkar did not know how to read and write, he matured into a well-informed ruler, with refined tastes in the arts, architecture and music, a love for literature, and a breadth of vision that tolerated other opinions.
  4. Bairam Khan was a military genius, he had seen the Mughals regain their lands in India, served both Humayun and Akbar loyally, and laid the foundation for a strong empire while Akbar was growing up.
  5. At the Second Battle of Panipat, Mughal defeated the Hindu king Samrat Hem Chander Vikramaditya , also called Hemu. When Bairam Khan asked Akbar to execute Hemu, Akbar refused – so Bairam instead seized his sword and decapitated Hemu himself.
  6. Bairam was dismissed upon Akbar’s coming-of-age in 1560. He then left upon a hajj to Mecca
  7. Adham Khan (son of Maham Anga) stabbed Akbar’s prime minister Atkah Khan and then tried to storm the Harem of Akbar. Seeing his Prime Minister stabbed, Akbar thought he had had enough of Adham and ordered that Adham be thrown from a height, over a parapet. When this failed to kill him, Akbar ensured that the second attempt succeed by ordering that he be dropped head first. Akbar later went straight to Maham Anga and informed her that her son was dead. With this act, the 19-year-old Akbar assumed complete control over the Mughal empire.
  8. Akbar abolished pilgrimage tax on Muslims and jizya tax on hindus (who did not accept islam but were willing to live under the protection of Mughals).
  9. Akbar was tolerant to other’s opinion and use to visit the market place as a common man (not as a king) to see if his orders and rules have been implemented. This also helped him to understand the issues at the ground level.

All said and done, if you happen to visit Fatehpur Sikri near Agra, the guides even today show ‘Jodha bai ka mahal’ when you visit the fort at Fatehpur and you can also visit Akbar’s Dargah at Sikri.

Here is a quick guide to the top 6 Mughal dynasty rulers.

  1. Zāhir ud-Dīn Mohammad (known as Babur)  – Founder of Mughal Dynasty ruled between 1526-1530
  2. Nasiruddin Mohammed Humayun (known as Humayun) – Son of Babur, ruled 1530–1539 and after restoration 1555–1556
  3. Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar (Akbar) – Son of Humayun, ruled between 1556–1605
  4. Nuruddin Salim Jahangir (later known as Jahangir) – Son of Akbar, ruled between 1605–1627
  5. Shabuddin Mohammed Shah Jahan (known as Shah Jahan) – Son of Jahangir, ruled between 1628–1658
  6. Abu Muzaffar Muhiuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir (known as Aurangzeb) – Son of Shah Jahan between 1659–1707

Are we heading towards recession?

February 22nd, 2008

The face of Indian economy has changed significantly in the past 10 years. Industries like Telecom, Construction, Banking & Finance Services, Travel & Hospitality, Aviation, Automobile, Entertainment, Retail, IT, ITES and many more have had significant change and maturity in them. We have definitely progressed as an economy and are progressing every day. The bigger question is “are we able to sustain and handle this growth?”, if the answer is no then we are moving towards recession.

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Do we have the infrastructure to sustain this growth? A few months back Bangalore airport announced that it cannot handle any more additional flights. The roads still needs a lot of improvement for the goods to move from one part of the country to another. A few years back golden quadrilateral project was launched to build express way across the country but then it did not go anywhere.How many cities have an efficient and comfortable public transport system? Why can’t we implement metro rail in all the large cities? Almost all the cities face traffic jams and roads are still not wide enough to handle the traffic.  All of these problems were faced by the developed countries as well, however they all have built a sustainable infrastructure which can meet the demands of the economy. The BART in San Francisco, Tube in London, Trams, Trains and buses in Switzerland and other parts of Europe are able to meet people’s demand to commute and provide sufficient transportation opportunities to the companies to grow. The bigger argument is “Fine, we don’t have the infrastructure, but are there immediate plans to build it?”. Probably not at the required pace.

We have a large population which actually should be our strength but we have skilled people with no job and also large part of the population is illiterate. This is a big problem as this leads to problem of unproductive manpower and forces the educated/skilled unemployed to go for anti-social or unproductive or rather destructive paths. Even developed countries have illiteracy but the level is low and the mass is able to get a job and lead a decent quality of life.

We do have a well defined law but the implementation is weak. People can play around with it very easily and get away even if someone is guilty. Law and order is important for the economy  to provide a firm ground for the companies to invest and develop; and also for people to live a decent standard of life. There are also good thing like mega townships of Navi Mumbai and Dwaka, but why only in Mumbai and Delhi. The entire process and decision making is too politically guided and slow to expand into other parts of the country.

Today’s companies wants to mobilize their employees and expand in new cities. The main issues are the basic requirements of infrastructure, law & order and productive population. Gone are the days when a large company would invest in creating a township and staff quarters around the main plant/unit. Today companies have grown far ahead. Cognizant Technology Solutions today employs more than 55,000 employees, TCS has a work force of more then 80,000 and Infosys has a similar number. They all need the basic requirements to grow and retain employees.

The base for development comes from solid infrastructure, productive population and strong law & order. We are very weak on these fronts and our speed of catching up on these fronts is also very slow and we WILL surly have a recession which will pull us back.

Thoughts and Mindsets

February 20th, 2008

Thought it would be worth to pen down my views on what are the normal thoughts that goes in a person’s mind when he/she plays the following roles in the IT consulting industry.

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Each one of us have strengths and are capable individuals, however in the past 8 years I have seen  people who go through these thoughts and it is very surprising. It is sometimes very helpful to understand the ‘why’ behind the person’s behaviour. Have you come across these ?

Technical/Delivery mindset

  • Technology is my life but I also want to move towards management front in the long run.
  • I enjoy design and coding. Thats what I would want to do all my life, dont want to get into Managerment
  • How will I deliver this project/work with such un-skilled team members?
  • Anyone with no technical skills is a useless person.
  • Sales team is no good, getting a new account is no big deal, the real challenge is in delivering it which we do and that gives more business.
  • Sales team sell anything without any knowledge of the technology.
  • Nothing works on relationships, everything is task based and should be clearly defined.
  • We get the job done and deliver to the client, recruitment is never able to get good talent on time and we are left to struggle all the time.
  • The HR is hopeless; we do not get any support from them.

Sales mindset

  • To meet my target, how does my pipeline look like?
  • How can I make more money on commissions?
  • How to package and position the product/service that I am selling?
  • I need to find-out the decision maker in customer’s management for this deal ASAP and create a good relationship with him/her.
  • Is this person of any use to me for this deal?
  • What extra can I show as a value to the customer, does competition has an edge ?
  • Who should I be influencing internally in my company to help me get this deal?
  • Recruitment takes a lot of time to get people on-board. This is a pain
  • Why cant delivery folks understand the sales situation ?

Recruitment mindset

  • Sales team is crazy and sells anything, how on earth am I suppose to find people with this kind of skills?
  • The job specs defined is unrealistic. Seems they need god and not a person.
  • Our compensation structure is not correct, compared to the industry and that’s why people don’t join.
  • I have candidates, but who will take the technical interview. Chasing delivery folks is a pain.
  • This candidate already has another offer, would he/she join us?
  • I have already exhausted all the job sites, where do I get the resumes from ?
  • Resumes from placement agencies are mostly repeat of what we already have. Also the quality of resumes/profiles provided is not good.
  • The internal referral system is not good, has so much limitations, how do I search for suitable profiles?
  • I have submitted 9 resumes for this position, all got rejected in technical round, what are they looking for? Is the interviewer’s expectation too high ?

Admin/Support mindset

  • Why everybody shouts at us? Are we expected to do magic?
  • As per the SLA, I have 4 days to work on this ticket and I am not going to work on it today as I have other higher priority things to complete.
  • I have done most of my work, how long am I supposed to wait for an update from the customer? I am closing this ticket.
  • The SLA/expectation is unrealistic. I am a person not a machine.

Do share your views and experience using the comments link below this post (on the right hand side, the link would say ‘No comments’ or ‘x comments’).

Optical illusion on Lake Geneva

January 25th, 2008

This is the world famous fountain jet on lake Geneva. After I clicked this photo in Oct 2007 at Geneva, I realized that it also offers an optical illusion.


If you have not already found it, then let me guide you through. Just before the water falls back on the lake, look at the circular area that the water forms. Do you see a shadow or shape of a standing person in there with both hands up on the left hand side as if dancing or about to hit golf shot. Isn’t it amazing to see how nature plays with you sometimes?

Do share your views and experience using the comments link below this post (on the right hand side, the link would say ‘No comments’ or ‘x comments’).

Travel to Switzerland

January 23rd, 2008

Since childhood Switzerland has been one of my dream holiday destination and in Oct 2007, I happen to go for a 4 day holiday with my wife. Needless to say that the place is amazing and full of natural beauty. Although you can spend even 3 to 4 weeks at Switzerland, I have put together this 5 day itinerary based on my experience and the experience of a few friends of mine.

This itinerary is suitable for a couple with no kids. If you have kids or elderly people travelling with you then you need to provide extra time and adjust the plan accordingly to make it a 6 or 7 day trip. We had made Interlaken our base location as it is centrally located and well connected but you can also opt for Lucerne or Bern as suitable to you.

This itinerary covers the main attractions of Switzerland as we have experienced it. You may find other options which are more suitable to you based on your taste and past experiences. I would suggest not engaging a travel agent to plan your trip; they offer limited options and always come with fine prints.

I hope this is useful to all of you who want to plan a trip to Switzerland. Click here and download the itinerary.

Do share your views and experience using the comments link below this post (on the right hand side, the link would say ‘No comments’ or ‘x comments’).

I am a legend – review

January 22nd, 2008

The entire set-up of the movie and the very beginning is a bit of an enigma. The story does try to bring out the plight of an individual who is all alone on the earth and shows how challenging and sometimes fun it could be. The entire episode of virus outbreak, thirst of human blood, people being infected and unable to stand the sunlight is a bit bizarre. The infected population has been portrayed like a killing machine and looks very ugly. Also the ending is a bit of a contradiction to the base premise of the movie that no humans are left on earth.


Hollywood has presented many such ‘save the world’ science fiction in the past and multiple stories in similar lines with a little change of flavour here and there. This is not a movie to be seen with family and kids because of the violence, flesh and cruality shown.


Will Smith has surly done a great job in the movie and have played the character very well. It is thrilling to see the scene they have created for New York city.


Overall I would rate this movie as 1 on a scale of 1 to 5 and would not recommend to my friends.


Do share your views and experience with others using the comments link below this post (on the right hand side, the link would say ‘No comments’ or ‘x comments’).