Monday, July 25, 2005

Ozzfest mania - an Ozzfest experience in Washington DC.

My buddy Raoul has just sent a mail detailing his experiences at the Ozzfest in Washington DC. It was so well written that it screamed out to be blogged;) People who know Iron Maiden and/or Black Sabbath will find the following mail quite interesting. For the others, well - read at your own risk;)
Disclaimer: Raoul is known to be very heavily partial to Iron Maiden. Cannot really blame that guy - Maiden does ROCK!!!

So here goes:

"... and so it dawned. The day I've been waiting for, fantasizing about for the last 10 years. The day I got to attend an Iron Maiden concert (and as a bonus, I got to see Black Sabbath live as well). The day that Ozzfest came to town. It started off as any other Sunday. England lost an Ashes test to Australia, Kimi Raikonnen's McLaren had an engine failure, I had cereal for breakfast. Nothing out of the ordinary. But through it all, there was an ominous feel to the morning (all right, mid-afternoon); a buzz in the air; a prescience of the fulfillment of a long herished dream. After making a meal of rather copious quantities of lamb kebabs and vegetable biryani, we (my friends Sundar and Karan and I) made our journey to the holy grounds at the Nissan pavilion in Bristow, just south of Washington. Not leaving anything to chance, we got there well in advance. In time in fact to catch one of the opening bands, Mudvayne perform. I wasn't familiar with much of their work, and after listening to their performance, was glad for it. To put it mildly, I was not impressed.
Still, I waited patiently for 8:00 pm. The hour of reckoning; when Maiden took centre stage. As the hour approached, Mudvayne retired to their quarters, and ut-outs of Eddie from the early Maiden albums started appearing on stage. The band had already declared on their website that they would be playing songs from their first four albums, as a promotion for the 'early days' DVD set. To whet our appetite, 'Doctor Doctor' a B-side from Fear of the Dark was played in the background while the crew set the stage.
Then the lights went out. And then it began...'The Ides of March' is a very short but immensely intricate piece, and has always been one of my favourite instrumentals. As the beats from the song echoed from a dark and seemingly empty stage, I literally jumped with joy and almost fell head first into the seats in front of me. Luckily, I
regained my balance just in time to catch a glimpse of Bruce running across the stage with a streak of lighting behind him, breaking into a power packed rendition of 'Wrathchild'. For the next hour or so, I was held spellbound as if in a trance. Completely oblivious to everything but the music, in this state of stupor, I could finally comprehend the blissful ecstasy that Keats wrote about when addressing the immortal bird. Of course through it all, I was jumping like a jellybean on prozac and shrieking at the top of my voice in a vain attempt to match Bruce. Wrathchild was followed by 'The Trooper', a song based on Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem 'The charge of the light brigade'. As expected, out came the Union jack, waved by Bruce (a la Eddie on the cover of the single). Trooper's always been a crowd favourite, but 'Revelations', the song that came next, is much more profound, with roots in Christian mythology and Hindu philosophy. I was a bit surprised to hear it being played live, but was I ever glad that they did. Dave Murray excelled with an extended solo. As the crowd took a breather, Bruce talked about when he first heard of Maiden. Apparently, there was one song in particular that had totally blown
him off, and made him want to audition for them. The song was 'The Phantom of the Opera'. I almost cried out with joy as Adrian Smith and Dave Murray played their medley halfway through the song. There are no words I have to describe this classic; it just has to be heard to be believed. I have read the book by Gaston Leroux (on which the song is based), seen the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical on Broadway, watched the 1925 classic movie featuring Lon Chaney, but this song is simply on another
level. Let it suffice to say that it is now my all time favourite song usurping greats like 'Child in Time' and Diamondhead's 'Am I Evil'. The Phantom was followed by eternal favourites 'Run to the Hills' and 'The Number of the Beast'. Always popular with the crowds, it was great to be part of the chanting hordes singing "Six, six, six, the number of the beast... Six, six, six, the one for you and me". It was even more satisfying to sing along to an almost perfect rendition of 'Hallowed be Thy
Name' that followed. Maiden's most popular song by far, it has the trademark Murray-Smith guitar medley and some of the best lyrics I've heard outside of Pink Floyd. They wrapped up with the song 'Iron Maiden' from their self titled debut album. One of their earliest numbers, it boasts of some rather frivolous lyrics, making it quite an atypical Maiden song. But it is unbelievably catchy, and for some reason one of my favourite songs from the album. Needless to say, I screamed aloud through all of it. As the band walked off stage, the audience refused to move. All of us just stood there clapping our already sore hands for the better part of five
minutes, with occasional chants of 'Iron Maiden' and the perennial requests for 'one more'. Lo and behold, the gods smiled upon us, and returned for not one but two more songs. The first of them, 'Running Free' is another crowd pleaser, and gave Bruce the opportunity to indulge the crowd in singing along with him. The second was an extended version of 'Sanctuary', a song about a man falsely accused of murder and on the run from the law, based on Edgar Allen Poe's famous story 'Murders in the Rue Morgue'. No extended guitar solos in this though, but it found Bruce on the top of his form again. As for me, sanctuary indeed had been found.As I sat there feeling every bit euphoric as a hajj pilgrim on the gates of Mecca, and trying to find my voice again, I felt sure that nothing could match that performance. I had not reckoned however, for the metal powerhouse that is Black Sabbath. And to be perfectly honest, they came as close as is humanly possible to match Maiden (some would say they were better on the day, but as far as I'm concerned, Maiden are still the best). When I say Black Sabbath, I really mean Tony Iommi. He single-handedly and quite nonchalantly stole the spotlight with a performance that could only be
described as phenomenal. While Ozzy lived up to his new found reputation of being a confused old stuttering goofball, messing up the lyrics, and sounding a decade older than his 56 years, Bill Ward looking like a long lost cousin of Syd Barret with his potbelly and receding hairline, and Geezer Butler a pale shadow of his old self, Iommi shouldered the responsibility of leading from the front and quite simply stole the show doing it. With his trademark luciferous leads and magical flying fingers he
proved yet again that he is in the same revered league of extraordinary gentlemen as Ritchie Blackmore, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. For anyone who has not seen this great artist perform, please do so as soon as possible, before Sabbath stop touring altogether.
The flip sides of the day:
1. Slipknot
2. Ozzy Osbourne mooning the crowd. *Not* a pretty sight, to be sure.
3. Iron Maiden being given just an hour for their performance. They deserved much more just to go through their first four albums (I know I could have done with a couple more hours of Maiden). Also, the equipment provided to Maiden and the other bands was clearly inferior to that used by Sabbath (including the light shows and sound amplifiers).
I think Bruce was a bit unhappy about this, and there have been a few grumblings on the Iron Maiden message board about it as well, but I don't think much will be made of the issue.
It is now well past midnight, and I have a busy day of work in the morning.
I shall therefore end this narrative here. Hope you enjoyed reading it half
as much as I did writing it. If not... oh well...


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Harry Potter - 6 - The Review

Ok folks, It is done - I have finished reading book 6.

When I started reading this morning I had visions of writing a kewl review for all of you. However now I realize that it would be impossible to do that without divulging stuff and this book really really needs to be read without any pre-knowledge of what's in it.(Thanks Ojas for giving me a first look - the experience was truly extraordinary)

So please forgive a lame attempt.

1. Size of the book.

I take back the complaint about the size of the book. It is a tad small for my taste - took around 8 hrs for me to finish it - but it is full of stuff. So it will surely keep you entertained - especially as it builds to the climax.

2. Characters.

Characters have matured and it shows. Harry gets frustrated but has stopped whining about it:) I personally have liked the character development.

3. Plot.

The plot has come back to the main track. Most of book 4 and 5 were used in giving lots of details of branches to the story, which was supposed to help us get a feel for why things are the way they are. However I felt that after reading the two tomes I had hardly moved ahead in the story. Well this book takes you ahead, real quickly.

4. Suitability for Children:

Parents be warned. Just like the last book this book is quite dark in patches. Add to that the fact that everyone is in their teens and hence when the atmospere is not dark everyone seems to be snogging(n : (British informal) cuddle and kiss) all around:)
My personal take is that the book is quite suitable for children provided the parents read it first and make the decision about themselves.
{I repeat that the climax is strong. It is taking all my effort to not be bawling.}

So all in all a must read. Please avoid all Harry Potter sites till you read it. Will not be half as fun if you come to learn the plot.

The only minus point:
Have to wait some time before the next Harry Potter book will be out.

Happy Reading:)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Got HP: The Half-Blood Prince!!!

Yup!!! Got it first day first show!!!(in other words I was one of the first persons to pick up a copy at 8am)
First impressions:

1. Don't like the cover that much. Normally all of the HP(Harry Potter) books have two kinds of ocovers. A children version and a more adultish version with the children version being much more colorful and simpler than the adult version. The cover I got was the children version according to me.
HP6 - Children's version
Unluckily I have no idea whether there is any other version for this specific volume.I checked at Amazon - there is indeed a more sedate cover which I like better:)
HP6 - Adult version

In fact there is a third cover too which I like the BESTest.
HP6 - Adult version -UK

2. The book is not that long. Close to 600 pages.

3. The story still has the same vintage. I am the half-point mark and like this one as much as my fav volume - The Prisoner Of Azbakan. Will try to put up a review by tomorrow.

4. The price sucks! INR 895/- is quite a lot. I think it is even more costly abroad!!! The problem is that with such a high price it will not take too long for people to prefer buying the pirated versions, which I am sure are under production as we speak.
{Luckily for me I had a deal with a friend of mine. I pick up her advance copy and I get first rights to read the story;)}

Anyways, apart from meeting Nitin Madan (great fun!!!), this was the only other major news for the day.

Have fun - try not to buy the pirated versions. Wait for the paperbacks instead.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"Batman Begins"

All debates end!
Simply fantastic.

No radioactive power.
No responsibility talk.
Only angst and action.
Gritty like the Dark Knight should be.

Watch it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Star Wars - Revenge Of The Sith

The short review:
Why, young Padawan, lack of patience you have! Still if know you must what to do then let me advise you. See the movie, you must. A great event, it is. Now go your way, you can. May the force be with you!

The "fan in me" version:
Go, go to your theatres immediately. Watch the movie make Lucas richer. The movie is great, in fact it is stupendous in its scope of the Star Wars Universe. Well worth the watch. Well worth buying the DVD. So what are you waiting for!!!

The long version:

Well no great surprises here! The story is exactly as we expect it to be. However there is one problem. At times it feels that the movie could easily have become two movies. Many parts of the movie seem to have been rushed through. Maybe some of it should have been put into Attack Of The Clones. Well! Whatever! The end result is that the story sticks to the canon, is not overtly complicated and is as expected. So it gets a 5/10. {After seeing all the parts I think storywise the best movie seems to be The Empire Strikes Back - especially with it's "I Am Your Father" twist in the tail.}

This is where the movie really shines. Were you amazed by Coruscant, the Kamiya system and the Gungans underwater city in the last version? You have not seen anything yet. This time around Coruscant really comes to life. The buildings, the vehicles, the space battles, the opera everything is at a completely different scale this time around. Not to mention the details in which other planets have been rendered. This one factor is the main reason you want to watch the DVD version. Believe me you will never catch all the details without having the ability to playback:) Well done Mr. Lucas, well done. I give this a score of 9/10

As expected the sound is Superlative. The background score is rich as ever. Add to that the climatic sounds and you have a winner. One of the best parts is when Anakin slowly moves to the dark side and you hear the heavy breathing of Vader in the background. Really really spooky. This gets an easy 8/10

The space battle scenes are very well detailed and executed. Please watch out for the cannons firing on the battleships, reminds you of pirate movies. All the action sequences is a pleasure to watch. Many of the clone squads remind you of the SWAT or the Navy Seal movies. Actionwise I would give it an 8/10

Lightsaber action:
Action scenes of lightsaber duels deserve a rating of its own in any SW movie. This movie has some of the best one-one action sequences. Some of the highlights are the Jedi fights with Count Dooku, Capt. Grievous and Palpatine.
Again one more reason to get the DVD when it comes out as the action is so intense that there is no chance of getting it all in on the first try. Easily takes the rating of 9/10

Not the greatest! There are some cool lines for Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi has some humorous stuff but on the whole not the best of scripts. I give it a tepid 5/10.


I cringe to write about this. Yoda is cool and Palapatine is great. But that about 90% of the acting right there. Surprising really considering that Lucas had Samuel L Jackson, Ewan McGregor and Jimmy Smits to work with. Granted Ewan has his moments, some of them really funny but he has largely been reduced to an action figure. {The ladies might say that he makes quite the sexy action figure but that is another story. Aside: All the ladies were rooting for Obi Wan Kenobi throughout the movie;)} Also granted that Jimmy Smits really did not have much screen time but what happened to Samuel L Jackson. The only time he seemed to have some life was when he went into his Shaft overdrive to whoop some Sith Ass. Mace Windu's character was a disappointment to me.
However all of the above were still acting. Which brings us to people who weren't? Spot Quiz: What is more boring then watching grass grow? Answer: Watching Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman "act"!!! They were appalling. And considering that the whole movie revolved around them it is a wonder that Lucas managed to captivate us inspite of this. Bad acting by Hayden and the hurried script did cause the move of Anakin to the dark side quite unbelievable to the new entrants to this universe. It took my full mastery of the Force to convince them of the logic behind it all .... I don't think they bought it all. Damn you Anakin and Amidala! Damn you! {Aside: Hayden was quite OK as an action hero and looked positively evil after embracing the dark side}
Of course all is not bad. R2-D2 and C3PO are excellent as always. I must say I have sorely missed a figure like Han Solo in the prequels.

Please check out point 2 in my review of Clone Wars to get a persepctive about the acting.
So for overall acting the movie gets 5/10 thanks largely to the animators of Yoda and to Ian McDermid as Palaptine..

Despite the bad acting and the hasty script the movie still rocks. As a Star Wars fan(atic) I really love this movie. The defects I point out above does not take away from what the movie is - if it were not there the movie would just have been that much better. If you like Star Wars, if you like Indiana Jones and if you hate George Bush(;)) you will love this movie.

For those of you who are not Star Wars fans, I will still recommend watching the movie. Just make sure you do see it in a good theatre and don't buy tickets in black. Approach it as an action movie and you will not be disappointed.

Now having taken a very measured look as a normal person I can now revert back to the fanatic that I am. How to convince my better half to see the movie once again? Any advices:)

P.S: Don't miss the Harry Potter shot at the end:)

Star Wars: Clone Wars

I love Star Wars and I love the cartooning style of Genndy Tartakovsky(The creator of Samurai Jack). However an amalgamation of the two! I was not sure of that one. In fact, to be completely frank, I was quite apprehensive about it. Anyways rest assured true believers - the result is worthy!!!

The short review - The Clone Wars is a must watch. It is FANTABULOUS. Now go on surf away;)

The longer version.

Before I go into the review itself I thought I would first take on the people who have issues with watching their favourite stuff as cartoons. After all Clone Wars was shown on Cartoon Networks and the general attitude is that no, I repeat no, adult watches Cartoon Network unless it is to give company to a youngling. Furthermore even Cartoon Network India officials think the same due to which they kept this series at 6pm rather than a more accessible slot of 8 -10 pm. I strongly oppose this attitude. None of this ignoramuses seem to know about how much progress ahs happened in animation from the days of Hanna-Barbera and Early Disney work. Serious characterizations, gripping stories, emotional depth - all of this can be found in today's animation. You want proof - check out any episode of "Batman - the Animated Series" or "Samurai X". Check out one of the most fantastic and underrated material connected to the Matrix - "Animatrix" (Material so good that many Matrix fanatics believe that this is the only material, alongwith the first movie, which should have ever existed. I personally like all the Matrix movies but that is another story.)

Anyways the point is that the cartoon medium is as legitimate a medium as 70 mm cinema and the work done in this medium is of equal calibre. So please, please do not go around slagging it!!! It is best put by Kamal Hassan in an old interview. He said that he sees himself as a storyteller and in today's world a storyteller cannot be narrow and see only cinema as a medium. The storytellers medium is the whole Audio-Visual space and he has to play with it seeing what fits best.

Now let us come to the matter at hand - The Clone Wars!

This series has been given the treatment and styling of the Samurai Jack series. The treatment is an amalgamation of the manga style of the east and the more fluider cartooning of the west. The key point is that it works. It worked for Samurai Jack and boy, does it work for Clone wars. I saw it in one go and it was a gripping tale one, one with the same underlying theme, tone and treatment expected of any Star Wars story. It has managed to capture a war of galactic proportions beautifully. Yes, it is true - I was well and truly bowled over.

It is a must see. The reasons follow:

1. It is canonical. In layman terms it connects the movie "Attack of the Clones" to "Revenge of the Sith". We left AOTC with the beginning of the Clone wars and enter ROTS with the climax of the war coming up. What happened in the interim - the answer is in the Clone Wars. Hence to completely appreciate the cinematic saga that is Star Wars, one HAS to see Clone Wars.

2. It is a very well made piece of work in it's own right. Well written, well drawn and well acted. The characterizations are strong with lots of emotional depth. Especially noticeably (a plus point of using this style of cartooning) is the great emotions shown by simple gestures and facial expressions. I repeat - the expressions are so great that in many places dialogues are unimportant. In other words the acting by the cartoon characters is superlative. Why am I labouring this point? Come back after you read my next review to fully appreciate this point.

3. The lightsaber action is out of this world. Beautifully fluid and operatic. It is so accurate that we even come to know the different styles used. I am already salivating over the fact that once the DVD comes out I will be able to see it in slow motion.

4. The depiction of the squad-based movements of the Clone Troopers were out of this world. Reminds of cool SWAT games and Navy Seal movies. Too Cool!!!
So all - in- all I give Clone Wars 9/10 {My English teacher always used to say that one can never give an artistic piece 10/10 :)}

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Old books bloom in Blossoms

Had heard about Blossoms from two or three different places. For example in his blog Deepak has spoken about Blossoms while discussing second-hand books in Bangalore(I don't agree with him about the smell. i hate the new print smell and absolutely love the musky smell of old books.). My curiosity got further piqued when in the Amazon(India) Blog Rupa points out that old Indrajal comics were also available there.

Since I was in Bangalore this weekend I just could not resist going to Blossoms. It is on Church Street (which is parallel to M.G.Road and perpendicular to Brigade Road (in case you do not know Bangalore:))). A good map of Bangalore I found was here. It only worked with IE. For MG Road use the magnifying glass on E5 section.

I liked the shop immediately. Unluckily I was in a hurry and hence could not spend much time with the comics. Nonetheless I did end up buying close to 12 books in just under a hour:) Most of them were fiction but they had this one more floor that I came to know about later and could not really explore.

One of the books I got there was the BattleStar Galactica. Unluckily for me, Sujith claimed the right to read it first:) (Hurry up Sujith!!!) Another one I got was based on the video game Crimson Skies. All about piracy in the high skies:) Real fun stuff.

Anyways for all you lazy bones in Bangalore get your butts out to this shop at least once. It is right opposite Amoeba on Church Street.

For the rest of you who do not stay in Bangalore and have never been there, get there before the old Bangalore is lost forever!!!

njoy maadi;)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The suits want more buck moolah for a song!!!

I was reading this month’s digit and there was this article titled “Music Download Prices Set To Rise�. Supposedly the market for downloaded music is strong enough to take a price rise, according to most major music labels in Europe and the US. Ya, sure!!! And the moon is made of cheese!!!! I hope this is an April Fool’s joke. Here we are saying that there are too many middlemen, as a result of which the prices are too high as it is and instead of cutting the fat these jerks want to increase the price further. Time to download a P2P application, methinks!!!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pope John Paul II, 1920-2005

One of the most prolific and influential leader of this world is dead!

Pope John Paul II has had a long innings and he has played it out in exemplary style and substance. He was the only Pope I ever knew (or can remember knowing). In my early years I liked him because he just seemed a jolly old man doing God's work on earth.

Of course I am not a Christian; yet I have had all my formative years studying in catholic institutions so it was obvious that I held the Pope in awe and reverence. Over time, as I grew up, I have questioned a lot of decisions and policies of the Catholic Church, and of his decisions as its mortal head. Of course this has also been the period of my frustration of the whole organised religion issue, irrespective of religion. It was only when I started reading more and more books that I realised what a sea change he had brought to the perception of the church.

When we compare Pope John Paul II to the papal history of the church we realise what a benevolent and progressive man he was. Now the Catholic Church has a tough act to follow and as of now this election process neither interests me nor affect me(except mildly that the next Pope might not be European and may even be an Indian). However as long as I live the picture I will have in my heart on hearing ‘Pope’ or ‘the Vatican’ will always be the smiling face of Pope John Paul II.

He has been recalled to God's heavenly Paradise, a just reward for a life well spent in the service of his flock. Nonetheless his loss will be strongly felt.

Like this specific article says:
"His death does not leave the world surprised, because it's been expected for a long time. But it does leave a moral void on the global stage that will take a strong man to fill. Because in this world, friends and foes agree, John Paul II was a superstar."

Yes he was a super-star. May his soul rest in peace!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Shakti Kapoor! Bad Man!!!

What a hoolaboo!!! Lots more articles about how a pathetic old man tried to solicit sex for a role. Common enough story, don't you think? Lots of questions creep up in my head.

One, India TV actually felt it important enought to check out this story only for the good of the industry? I don't think so:) I think there are enough stories out there to catch if you are talking of investigative journalism. how about finding the people who Killed Dubey in Bihar? Too difficult for you to do. Here is another one, expose the politicians who pay money to create riots? Too risky. Well try exposes like Indian Express does. Do kids in cholls get their daily meals? Is there a cable operator mafia operating in Mumbai suburbs? Are kewl upper class kids realing selling dope? Do something useful for goodness case! I really am not interested in people who are ready to pimp themselves or solicit others to get into the glamour industry.

Two, What is the controversy anyways? The only decent way is for the person who was solicited to go to court and file for sexual harrasement. However she cannot do that as she was playing aling the whole time. The minus point - entrapment basically has resulted in a person who can never prove his innocence beacuse he will never get a chance. he will be lyched due to suspicion alone.

Three, How is this different from the Tehelka cases. Well defence secrets leaked, judges making arrest warrants against the President are surely in a different league. Even a sexual scandal is in a different league becuase there the favours ahnded over are whole constituencies not mere films.

Four, wy the f%$k should we have problems with two adults sleeping together? Why do we need to moralize at the drop of a hat?

Five, the biggest hypocrites are the Producer's Guild. it is almost like a Panchayat in the old movies. A suspicion is raised and they say "Bahar karo" The reason is even more laughable. They have not banned him for the deed, rather for speaking about Preety, Rani and Karan. Hey!!! dudes I don't care if the three of them have an orgy (though Karan does seem to have other inclinations) from time to time. They are only interesting to me in their work. If I like I watch, if not I don't. In fact thinking a little more it looks like all the producers have a guilty secret and that is the reason they have acted in such a haste:)

Well that's it! Got it out of my system. Now to clean the system completely by watching Black over the weekend.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Back ...

...from the IT city. Lots of news and views to share. However it will take some time as it has been a hectic trip and I have yet to recover. Next week will be predominantly bangalore news, methinks. Anyway, this post was just to inform one and all that I am back. Will get back on the beat from tomorrow.

P.S: hey \n, sorry dude, missed calling you. I was gonna speak to you but then you were discussing something important with Suji and I kinda ran out of time (had to catch my train) Will try to catch you again some time.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Be Right Back... a week's time. Making a trip down south to Bangalore, the software capitol of India. Meeting up with a close friend. Should be fun. Maybe a visit to Shiok. So see ya all in a while!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Taxman plays a sweet and sour tune!

Chidambaram (Mr. P. Chidambaram, the honorable Finance Minister Of India, not be confues with Chidambaram, the town) does it again. Unveils a budget which has created a lot of discussion. What is the interesting thing about his budgets? You cannot generally fight over them! You may like a few points and dislike some others but by and large the chunk of his budgets seems to be logical (and keeps the voters happy - which is quite a happy balance as far as the government is concerned.)

I haven’t gone through the whole budget, and lets face it I wouldn't understand half of it:) Nonetheless even I could not escape one or two points glaring out of me.

1. Abolishing section 88. Bad news for me...I had just started investing in a pension scheme. However I am not very sad, as those investments are not bad in the long run. And I am not a very big proponent of saving only for saving tax.

2. Standard deduction is out too. However it is compensated in another manner. A consolidated savings of 1 lakh can be removed from your income before tax. This is really good according to me rather than the old 20% gig.

3. In conjunction with the exemption level of 1.25 lakhs it seems to me that what they are saying is that if I earn 4 lakhs and save 1 lakh then my taxable income is 4 - 1 - 1.25 = 1.75 lakhs. Of course I will not wager my reputation on my understanding of this calculation. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

4. The limit of 5 lakhs beyond which you could not get a tax break has been remove and there is no limit for tax-break based savings.

5. Surcharge still exists but only for an annual income of 10 lakhs and above. I guess this is fair.

6. A "fringe" tax of 0.1 % on withdrawal on "large" sums of money. Problem here is that the decided large sum is a paltry INR10,000. Supposedly it will help curb the black marketers. My take, simple harassment is sure to follow. People better than me have spoken about this at the MadMan's shack and Anon's adobe. It almost feels like one of the things that us sure to get repealed. In fact it seems that even Chidambaram is not very keen to support his stand

So all in all it seems a more sweet rather than a sour tune.

Well, that's my two annas worth of views. I will update the post once I know more. Please feel free to correct me if I any of the stuff I have written above seems wrong. Also feel free to post your thoughts on the budget here. One good site for Indian finance is I am adding the specific links to various articles about the budget on my links site too.

Deviation: I was happy to see my salary this week. The sum of the fact that I was allowing my tax to be deducted at source throughout the year and the fact that I did manage to save a wee bit has helped me get a salary this month without a tax cut. I think this is the first time I have got a salary in February which was in 5 digits. Thanks to my darling for forcing me to save!!! Of course she ain't too happy I am spending it all again!!!

UPDATE: one more link, this time from MDI

UPDATE 2: Lots of updates on basis of useful comments to the blogs.
First Prateek informs me that the exemptable income is INR 1 lakhs and not 1.25 lakhs. My Bad!!!

Two, Madman clears my confusion over the calculation of the tax. I quote his comment
" If you earn Rs. 4 Lakhs and manage to put away Rs. 1 Lakh in instruments, your taxable income is Rs. 3 Lakhs.

Out of this, the first Rs. 1 Lakh is exempt from tax. One the balance, you pay tax as follows:

Rs. 1-1.5 L - 10% = 5000
Rs. 1.5-2.5 L - 20% = 20000
Balance Rs. 50000 - 30% = 15000

So your total tax = Rs. 40000"

So again I stand corrected.

Lastly Anon seems to be suggesting that even investment into MG and equities would be counted into savings. That I think is good news.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Changes in Blogger Comments(for the better)

Folks, it seems like the Blogger guys have changed their comments strategy. Now anyone can comment with their own names/nicks without having to be a part of Blogger. So no more anaonymous nonsense. Hopefully it will not result in spam comments. I have a humble request to all of you. Please try this scheme by posting a comment or two as a test for this blog. I am specifically looking for non Blogger-member's comments.

While we are riding the comment trail it would be very gratifying if people who read me on news aggregators pop over once in a while to comment. just feels nice to actually know what goes through you mind when you read my posts (Note To Self : do unto other what you would want others to do unto you:))

Friday, February 11, 2005

My New 'Watering Hole'!!!

Hey folks, as you can see my entries here have been intermittent. One reason is that I have not anticipated the way this blog has taken shape. I had expected to put any crap here. However I seem to find myself trying real hard to be informative/interesting. In a way this has become what Robert Scoble calls a commentary blog.

Though unanticipated I like this new form. This is a place where I try to put up essays. A place where I can polish what little skills I have in writing, English, rhetoric and imagination - not necessarily in that order.

Nonetheless I still want to blog every other day pointing out some cool site I have visited, a cool gadget I know of, some one-liner comments on people's blogs etc. I would not like to crowd this blog with such postings. So I have started a new blog called Brij's Watering Hole.

This will be where I put arbitrary stuff. Check it out and enjoy it!!!
I do need to stock it up with feeds, permanent links etc. Should be ready by 14th Feb.

Thank you for your time:)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Late Winter; Drifting fog, The Lake is clouded.

I have been researching a lot into Zen in the last few days. I have always seen and felt the D.T.Suzuki side of Zen. You know - the part of Zen that immediately connects to you. The part of you which speaks of instant action, instant nirvana, of freedom of the senses and actions. Yup, the part that feels like hippism. Well a lot of it connects to me too. I romanticise about the discipline of Zen way of life; about the ideas that are so powerful that they cannot be spoken for speech destroys the very ideas it tries to explain.

Anyways, this last month I decided that it is time to take a critical look into the whole Zen religion and how it is spreading in the West. What I have ended with is a lot more confusion than I started with. I realised that I was too naive to think that just because the root idea of Zen might be desirable the whole religion itself would be sacrosanct and above reproach, for after all the disciples do make the religion. More importantly I was faced with a question on what is really so attractive about Zen to me?

This question is important because I do not feel attracted to Buddhism the same way I feel attracted to Zen. My normal answer to this question was that Zen is a religion rooted in everyday life. A religion where you practice it, not by some fancy mumbo-jumbo (or so I thought), but by living life everyday doing one's karma. However in time (and after reading a lot of essays - which is supposedly very not Zen) I feel that maybe it is my attraction to Japanese history that makes me like Zen.

I like the whole samurai honour thing - even though I have a lot of reservations about the caste system itself. Maybe it's the Indian history in me where honour and pride took highest place. Whatever it be I am always enamoured by all the different ceremonies and the different arts of Japan. The only issue is the question whether I am only attracted to the saccharine version (the romantic version in the books and the movies)?

How does all this tie in with Zen? The thread I follow with Japan is the same thread I follow with Zen. Without knowing the people practising it, without actually seeing the religion in action I am attracted to it. So what I am really attracted to? The image of Zen that I think is right? If so would it be a religion? Would it not be just a philosophy? How does a religion whose roots exist in Buddhism make sense of the samurai code? How does it support war and Anti-Semitism (as happened in WWII)?

Lots of questions with no answer. Even more so because for answers you need to look towards books or "gurus". How do we know they are right? How do know that the "Wise Man" is not just another car salesman telling you exactly what you want to hear? Paranoia?

I am still looking up the material so I might indeed have some answers soon...or not.

One more monologue, one that is basically scattered all over the place. Very Un-Zen-like. And I have more to say about mentors, gurus and babas. I guess it can wait.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The water ripples; with a flash of Zen Posted by Hello