Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why the tab trumps the pad

I'm not really a gadget-freak. In fact I'm far from being one. Since the only gadget that features in my life and without which I feel like a part of me is missing, is my Android phone - a humble but immensely useful Samsung Galaxy 551 at that.
Ever since I made the wise decision of acquiring an Android phone instead of a Blackberry or any other smartphone, my life hasn't been the same. Now almost everything is available at my finger tips and I don't even need to approach my desktop to surf the net. Hundreds of apps on the Android market make life easier for me- whether it's a word I want to look up in a dictionary or a new song I want to download or a Google search I want to run or a chat on gtalk I want to have, the centre of my being and all that I need fits in the small of my palm. But there are times when I feel a device with a larger screen like a tablet pc might have helped me better since I don't have a laptop. Especially when I'm reading e-books (that too on the miniature phone screen) or searching for information while studying on my bed or at times when typing on the minuscule touch screen becomes a bit tiring.
And naturally since I'm already an Android user, I'm likely to be in favor of any Android tablet.
This is where my lusting after a Samsung Galaxy Tab -750 comes into play.
But before I begin explaining what's so great about the Samsung Galaxy tab let me ask you....

......who wouldn't want this baby in their right minds?

  1. Lighter and Slimmer :- At a mere 565 grams and 8.6 mm depth, the Galaxy tab is the lightest and the thinnest of them all, tablet pcs I mean. Not only will it be extremely easy to carry it around with you on the go but it could easily fit in your bag and not add significantly to the weight. It beats the iPad in the weight and depth department, which comes at a 601-607 grams and a depth of 8.8 mms.
  2. Processing speed:- It has a 1 Ghz Dual Core processor which means you can effectively multi-task without any risk of your Android OS acting up or applications freezing all of a sudden. It will also be possible to switch between various windows without halting any of the processes running in the background. Convenient eh? Now there's a higher chance for you to reach the next level of the game you were so engrossed in, without your device hanging up.
  3. Multimedia:- A lot of websites we browse are enabled with multimedia content. Galaxy tab includes the very important Adobe flash player support which helps you to view such content without a glitch. Point to be noted is this kickass feature is missing in the iPad. 
  4. Brilliant display:- The Galaxy tab so far boasts of the biggest screen yet for a tablet pc. At a length of 10.1 inches it surpasses iPad2's 9.7 inches. With a 1280x800 WXGA display and a pixel density of 149 PPI(pixels per inch) it again trumps the Apple iPad's 1024x768 pixel resolution at 132 PPI. This effectively translates into the fact that the Galaxy tab will give you a flawless visual much better than the iPad. Further reason to ditch the iPad in favor of the Galaxy tab right?
  5. Camera:-The Galaxy tab has a 2 MP front-facing camera while the iPad possesses a 0.3 MP VGA one. The rear camera of the Galaxy tab is of 3 MP, has an auto-focus with LED flash(720p) while the iPad lacks in this department with a 0.7 MP Fixed-Focus one. 
  6. Storage and memory:- Both the Galaxy tab and the iPad come in 16/32/64 GBs storage capacities. But only the Galaxy tab boasts of a micro SD card slot which can increase your storage by another 32 GBs. This nifty feature is conspicuously absent in the iPad. Further the Galaxy tab offers you a 1 GB RAM storage whereas iPad2 possesses a mere 500 MB RAM.
  7. Battery life:-In terms of battery power and back-up too, the Galaxy tab beats the iPad2 hands down. While the Galaxy tab has a 7000 mAh inbuilt battery, the iPad has a 6750 mAh one. The Galaxy tab gives you a stand-by time of a whopping 2120 Hr(2G) and 1840 Hr(3G) to boot.
  8. Connectivity:-Both the Galaxy tab and iPad2 boast of 2G, 3G and Wifi connectivity but while Galaxy tab gives you HSDPA @ 21 Mbps and HSUPA @ 5.76 Mbps, iPad2 only manages a HSDPA @ 14.4 Mbps and HSUPA @ 2.0 Mbps.
So the gist of the matter of is, the Galaxy tab is giving you a better worth for your money than the iPad2. It is lighter, thinner with a larger and impeccable display, better battery back-up, better storage capacities and better connectivity.
If I could, I would no doubt choose the new Galaxy tab over iPad2. Gosh even the anticipation of being able to read e-books, blog on the move or keep up with my daily quota of news on the 10.1 inch screen is getting me excited. What about you?

Check this video below of the Galaxy tab 750 launch in India.

P.S:- This post has been written for Indiblogger's It's time to TAB! contest. Click here to know more about the other specifications of the Tab.
P.P.S:- Another annoying last request. Do put in a vote here if you feel this post deserves one.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ban-Anna Republic?

So our system sucks. All politicians are corrupt bastards who abuse power and have their loot conveniently stashed away in Swiss bank accounts. Kasab is still surviving on tax-payer's money. Bombs keep going off across the country now and then as if it's Diwali, only difference being these bombs trigger casualties and deaths while Diwali does NOT.
And now Anna Hazare has been arrested and sent to Tihar Jail for organizing a peaceful protest where he threatened to fast unto death unless the Government accepted his demands (legitimate or not).
Now as a responsible citizen of the world's largest democracy, I'm supposed to be taking a stand - either against the people running the government who are acting like a group of autocrats or against the civil society in which case I'm running the risk of being labelled unpatriotic and stoned to death in turn.
But I'm a bit confused here. Really.

First things first. Detention of a man even before he did something to violate the law, in this case, section 144 of the Constitution, is highly imbecilic behavior exhibited by a government. Deciding to send him to Tihar Jail for 7 days and then scrapping that plan by the evening and negotiating with him the terms and conditions of his own release, is again further proof of the fact that you screwed up. Big time.
As per my knowledge of the Constitution, nothing gives you the right to actually specify the terms and conditions for someone's peaceful protest, how many people it should involve, for how long it should continue. That's just absurd.

But blowing things out of proportion to the point of comparing the situation with the Emergency (when all democratic liberties were snatched away from the public) or Jallianwalah Bagh massacre, is even absurder.

Image courtesy : Deccan Chronicle
Every time I witness a bevy of supporters with their faces painted in the colors of the flag, singing patriotic songs completely off-key or waving the tricolor with more than necessary vigor, on BBC or CNN with captions along the lines of "India gets its own Arab revolution" or "Anna Hazare kickstarts second independence movement" I am seized by the desire to literally facepalm to the ludicrousness of it all. Partly because the whole scenario is deeply reminiscent of the flurry of activity right before an Indo-Pakistan cricket match rather than a revolution. And partly because I am forced to wonder how many of those very vocal supporters of Anna actually know the salient differences between Lokpal and Janlokpal bills.

Isn't our penchant for high-powered drama getting the better of our rationale?
The ruling party has so far done a fabulous job of misappropriating public money and aggravating the people who voted it to power in the first place.
But are we an oxymoronic one-party democracy, like China? No. Is our government in cahoots with terror outfits like our illustrious neighbor? No. Is our PM a douchebag megalomaniac like Kim Jong Il? No.
Last but not the least, are we faced with a mammoth debt of 14.3 trillion dollars and teetering on the verge of an economic meltdown? Hell no.
Then isn't all of this a bit of an exaggerated reaction to the actual problems at hand?

I'm as fed up of bribing government officials as you are. And the very thought of coughing up cash for the sake of getting a simple signature on a piece of document is downright disconcerting.
But I'm not sure whether Janlokpal is really going to help reverse the situation drastically. It is a step in the right direction, but it's fraught with too many inner contradictions and impracticality.
Besides corruption is a deep-rooted evil which has already spread across all levels of our entire democratic hierarchy like a malaise. As long as we continue to flout traffic rules thinking that bribing a cop is as natural as the setting of the sun, nothing will change. As long as the monster of corruption within each and every one of us continues to thrive, a piece of legislation will be able to achieve nothing.

I do support Kisan Baburao, aka Padma Bhushan awardee Anna Hazare, and his lifelong crusade against corruption and other social evils. I do support his version of the Janlokpal bill.
But I do not support what seems like his earnest desire to do a Gandhi. I do not support the media glorifying him as a savior of the nation or comparing this agitation to the Quit India movement. Because frankly speaking, threatening to go on a fast unto death, every time there's a disagreement between you and a democratically-elected government, is a far-cry from the actions of the man who was a brilliant strategist and diplomat to the core. And a social activist who waves at and poses for television cameras every opportunity he gets and reeks of new-found arrogance and pompousness, cannot be compared to the the frail and selfless old man who earned us our ticket to freedom from the British Raj.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The ingenious masterminds

Chanakya's Chant is not one novel, but two different novels, spanning across alternating timelines, combined into one thrilling roller-coaster ride that you are bound to enjoy throughout.

The first story follows the machinations of the ingenious Brahmin Chanakya, who mentors a young Chandragupta Maurya, right from childhood into finally ascending the throne of Magadh, the most powerful kingdom in ancient India. The latter one deals with Gangasagar Mishra, a Chanakya-like character, who plays kingmaker in modern India.
The book begins on an eerie note as we are introduced to an ailing Gangasagar Mishra, awaiting his imminent death in a hospital ward, while he watches his protege of years, Chandini Gupta, get shot while taking oath as the eighteenth Prime Minister of India on television.

Soon after this we find ourselves plunging headlong into the core of the story - the early life of Gangasagar Mishra, his discovery of Chandini in a slum of Kanpur and his subsequent foray into politics. Alternately the story switches back 2300 years into the past, to the era of Dhanananda's misrule and we're shown a young Chanakya vowing to avenge the death of his father Chanak by bringing about the downfall of the oppressive king of Magadh.

Chanakya's Chant may put you off politics for good (that is, if the unending series of scams and scandals and dumbass politicians of this country haven't done that already). For it repeatedly stresses on the importance of forsaking moral values or ethical considerations, to reach your goal. Both Chanakya and his modern-day avatar, Gangasagar, are depicted as wickedly shrewd, ruthless men, who are hell-bent on achieving success at any cost, allowing nothing to stand in their way.
And by the time you reach the end of the book, you will find yourself despising them with a passion as most of their political strategies and decisions, border more on the criminal side rather than just immoral. But then again you will also begrudgingly marvel at the cunning plans they devise.

Having read Ashwin Sanghi's The Rozabal Line quite a few months back, I was aware of his writing style. But when I took up Chanakya's Chant, all thanks to the grace of the Blogadda book-reviews program, I must say I was pleasantly surprised.
Unlike The Rozabal Line, this book focuses on weaving a tale of political intrigue without meandering into various subplots or a series of seemingly unconnected stories. Here the plot and events are the key driving factors while detailing and characters become secondary. Although this much is evident that a painstaking amount of research has been put into gathering facts about Chanakya's life and the political environment of our country.
The book will bring back memories of history lessons in school when you were taught tales of valor of historical figures like Paurus or Alexander or even Chandragupta Maurya. Although it may also plant the seeds of a nagging suspicion that not all their actions may have been as glorious or awe-inspiring as our history text books suggest.

The narration switches back and forth between the two different eras, ending every arc of each story at a point which just heightens the suspense. And one is compelled to read on to find out what happens next.
The book can't exactly be called un-put-down-able till the end, but it packs in enough punch to make you want to reach the end as quickly as possible nevertheless.

Coming to the negatives, both Chanakya and Gangasagar are portrayed as almost invincible men and their plans are seldom or never thwarted. Not much attention is given to fleshing out the characters of Chandragupta or Chandini. And at the end, you are faced with the bitter realization, that they were perhaps nothing more than mere puppets at the hands of their respective mentors. Cliches, such as pregnancy out of wedlock or sacrificing love in order to realize bigger ambitions, abound. Dialogues are somewhat weak as well and there are hardly any quotes worth remembering. Certain incidents such as the honorable home minister of India, shooting a civilian with his own hands, without batting an eyelid, seemed incredulous to me.
And what's most regrettable of all, none of the characters leave a lasting impression on you.

But even so, Chanakya's Chant, remains a must read political thriller. I give it a 3 1/2 stars out of 5 more 'cause of the fact that it successfully kept me hooked from the beginning to the end.

P.S: Hope the Bollywood adaptation doesn't end up ruining the original flavor of the book.
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books! 


Thursday, August 04, 2011

From the diary of a chronic shopper

This place is your get-away from the microscopic dust particles, heat, sweat, ultraviolet rays and the dullness of everyday scheduled life. This place offers you retail therapy in its most alluring form by bringing together all your favorite brands right from Dior, Vuitton, Catwalk,  FCUK, Vero Moda,  to Latin Quarters, Chemistry, Mango, Deborah Milano, Marks & Spencer, Hidesign conveniently all under one roof.
Remember those times when you would feel jealous to the power infinity while watching Samantha, Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte go on a wild shopping spree, splurging on another pair of Louboutin heels, and wished you were in New York? Well that was all in the past. For the age of mall culture has invaded your city with a vengeance and boy are you hooked?! You can now shop till you drop (more so during the end-of-year or mid-year sales) and also choose from a variety of lip-smacking delicacies belonging to different cuisines to please your ever-growling tummy. And what's more interesting, you can also amuse yourself by indulging in some people-watching while you're at it. (or maybe that's just me)
So let me sort all kinds of mall-goers into a few categories for your entertainment. :-P

The window shoppers :- Mostly human females fall under this category with few notable exceptions where men are coerced by their girlfriends, wives and daughters into tagging along with them on this pointless mission. You can identify them from the casual way they walk about, not spending more than 5 minutes at each store, gushing about how "this shirt will go so well with my skinny jeans" to fellow girlfriends. (Although at this juncture you're forced to wonder which brand manufactures "skinny jeans" for waist size 40). They will whirl the circular clothing rack in one fluid motion, picking up one or two pieces for further inspection, add an expert comment regarding the fabric or the cut, put it back to where it belonged and move on.

The time-killers :- Okay I know this title sounds lame, but no other way to describe them, for they are basically here to kill time. They can be all kinds of people- from a young couple waiting it out for a particular movie show at Fame or Inox by traipsing from one floor to another, to a group of giggly school/college kids who basically seem to be having a time of their lives wandering about aimlessly, possibly due to the thrill of having bunked classes (been there done that).

The PDA-ing couples:- Now they are the most interesting of all subjects. One look at them, and you'll know that this pair has only stepped inside the confines of this humongous building for getting touchy-feely with each other in an air-conditioned environment without wasting a single buck. You'll notice the lovebirds giggling away standing side by side leaning dangerously over the railing, unable to keep their hands off each other, probably whispering sweet-nothings(ugh!) into each others' ears, treating the escalators as a sort of free ride in some amusement park by going up and down and up again.

The fashion faux-pas makers:- Ahem! You may accuse me of voyeurism for this and I'd counter with "guilty as charged". But I just can't help looking at what people are wearing when I am seated at a table after a meal, sipping on my can of Coke, with little else to do. Now mind it, this group of people usually think they are the best-dressed of all and hence they'd care to slow down their pace of walking for the crowd to take it in and applaud mentally. I also seem to think they are of the opinion, a mall is the most likely place for them to flaunt the newest additions to their wardrobe. Now sample these : An otherwise good-looking woman in a floral-printed, knee-length strapless dress in loud colors paired with rainbow-hued chandelier earrings, white leather boots and a white tote. I kid you NOT! 
A size-14 woman sporting a pair of ultra short denim hot-pants(ones which cling to both of your butt-cheeks in the most obscene manner possible) and noodle straps, horribly blonde hair billowing out around her football-sized head. Or a young mom, steering her 8-year old towards the best spot in the food court, wearing the worst cleavage-revealing thing ever invented since the bra top (which looks like a bizarre cross between a halter neck top and a vest with criss-cross straps at the back) with a huge dragon tattooed across her partially bare back. Some day that 8-year old little guy is going to grow up and hide his face in shame or disgust at mom's choice of apparel, if he grows up to acquire any taste that is. I could possibly give about a hundred more examples but this is where I must reign in temptation and not get carried away.

Image courtesy :

The real purchasers:- Armed with their credit/debit cards, a condescending know-it-all expression plastered permanently on their faces, they hop from one store to another, trying out 10 outfits before buying one, bombarding the attendants with questions about the size, shape, elasticity, texture of fabric, longevity, history, date of release of the garment in question. And the store-keepers, recognizing the symptoms exhibited by actual buyers, help them out enthusiastically, hoping against hope, that this time around they'll get to hear the cash-register making that intensely welcome sound. 

The useless seat-occupiers:- They're the ones who occupy a table at the food-court, for minimum 2 hours at a stretch, chatting amongst themselves about God knows what, possibly exchanging tales from the time when their grand-dads were in their diapers or something. They'd sit at a table for hours on end, still thumbing the edges of the empty styrofoam-glasses which had contained their soft drinks centuries ago. You would spend agonizing minutes locating an empty table, sit down with a sigh of relief, order your food, wait for it to be prepared, fetch it from the stall, finish it at a leisurely pace while texting someone back or talking to the one accompanying you. And when you finally get up to leave after an hour or two, you will find them STILL deeply engaged in conversation with no visible signs of getting up any time soon.

The shameless gawkers:- They are also a sub-group of the seat occupiers, key difference being they're ALL male. They plant their asses firmly on the empty benches placed around corners of every floor and NEVER seem to get up. From their vantage point, they keep a look-out for pretty females, and on spotting a specimen of this highly sought-after species, they keep gaping at her till drool oozes out from the side of their not-so-pretty mouths. Sometimes they would exchange notes with fellow shameless gawker friends, seated beside them, about the hotness or do-ableness quotient of a particular female in question, who is blissfully unaware of their existence on this planet. These hapless chaps have even invented a name for this routine which is "bird-watching". 

So there. I can possibly make a few more categories, but then again I think I've mentioned the more obvious ones. 
Although feel free to incorporate your own into the list.


Monday, August 01, 2011

Things I learnt from Asian dramas

So I love Asian dramas. No, not the devoid-of-a-story-but-fraught-with-mindless-cliches, saas-bahu, angsty romance bullshit airing 24*7 on Indian channels. But the exquisitely shot, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese/Mainland dramas wherein actors actually act without appearing like bumbling morons and production houses do not sign agreements with the glycerin industry to rake in TRPs.
Now even though these dramas are mostly awesome enough to hold your attention to the very end without being too lengthy(mostly consisting of 16-20 episodes) or annoying in parts they are not free of some typical cliches. Especially the dramas of the romance genre.
So here's a list of sorts:-

1.)The lead actress is always inevitably a scatterbrain who doesn't bother to dress well or try to look presentable. She is either a poor homeless woman trying to survive the harshness of life, a headstrong lass orphaned in childhood, a bit dumb or downright innocent. Although it turns out she does look quite hot with the requisite fashionable clothing and some make-up. (courtesy : Oh My Lady!, My Princess, Shining Inheritance)

Go Eun Sung, from Shining Inheritance
2.)Occasionally the female protagonist will be faced with a downright incredulous situation which requires her to bandage her breasts, cut her hair short, wear men's clothing and transform into her twin brother in an effort to join a boy-band or an all boys' school or for other similar lame reasons. (courtesy : Hana Kimi,  Coffee Prince, You're Beautiful ) And despite how obvious her disguise is, nobody, yes nobody, sees through her true identity....until of course at the very end where the male protagonist needs to know that the HE he likes is actually a SHE and hence he is not gay. Fun no?

Go Mi Nam from You're Beautiful. Did you for a second think this person is a HE?
3.)Apparently in Japan and Korea, it is the men who are stalked by psychotic women and not the other way round (usually). Even if the male protagonist has declared his undying love for the less-hot girl and spurned more than a million advances of the more-hot girl, she will continue to act like a bitch and pursue him relentlessly. She will also devise the most inane strategies ever (like creating silly misunderstandings) to ruin the credibility of the less-hot girl, come close to achieving success in that venture and then fail miserably in the end. Even though she should be slapped right out or beaten black and blue for all her misdeeds, the heroine is actually kind enough to understand her "heart" and show mercy in the end.

Oh Yoon Joo from My Princess, who made me want to wear 6-inch heels and land a  might kick on her annoying mug
Yoo He Yi from You're Beautiful, who deserved to be dropped in a water-body brimming with hungry sharks
4.)The male protagonists range from a rich chaebol (heir to a business empire), a resourceful lawyer, assassin in disguise, a dashing young man hell-bent on vengeance to a narcissistic actor/pop-idol who throws his weight around a bit too much to be taken for real. But irrespective of everything he MUST be hot. As in HOT with 6-pack abs, a perfect face, a complexion which gives rise to the suspicion he must get a facial done every 2 hours, over 6 feet tall always dressed impeccably in designer suits, sunglasses and accessories. His hotness must be enough to hypnotize any woman or gay man on earth. 
Believe me this is my most favorite cliche.

Park Hae Young from My Princess *DROOL*

Domyouji Tsukasa from Hana Yori Dango. *GOD that hair*

But occasionally he is also a bit of a goofball, like

Cha Dae Woong from My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
But since he is a cute goofball, I'll let it slide...

5.)Even if the guy who plays second lead, is waaay hotter than the main lead and treats the far-less-hot girl, with more compassion and sensitivity, she will ALWAYS ignore his gestures and continue to drool over the jerk who doesn't treat her well. He will try do everything to win her heart, be so sweet and nice, that watching him will make your heart break. But STILL she won't fall for him. Hah!

Kang Shin Woo from You're Beautiful. Do you fancy turning a blind eye to this man's advances? Sigh!
6.)Crazy fangirls mean life and death for our boy-bands and pop idols. Winning their approval for your girlfriend is more important that winning the approval of your family. Otherwise dude, you can kiss all that stardom goodbye. And it's anyone's guess how supportive they are of their love lives which,of course, doesn't involve them in any way.

7.)There will always be a crass and loud grandpa or grandma, to make life hell for you or your girlfriend/boyfriend. They will scream into your ears to make you see 'sense' even in the face of all hostilities. They'll fix your marriage to some girl you have never seen before, who is a complete bitch, to boot. And they will NOT back off even when told to do so repeatedly. They will nose into your business with a passion rivaling someone's who is about to give up his life for his motherland. Yes!

Grandma to Han Kyul in Coffee Prince. See what I mean?

8.)Something or the other has to go wrong in the last or the second-last episode of all dramas. Even if there have been enough conflicts already, which threaten to separate our lovey-dovey lead couple from the prospect of a hunky-dory, happily-ever-after-until-breakup ending, the last episode must in some way create a life-threatening one. Sometimes one character will be killed off quite unnecessarily in order to inflict mental anguish on the viewers. *sob sob*


Most of you must already be acquainted with Japanese movies like Ringu (The Ring), Ju-on (The Grudge movies), Chakushin Ari (One Missed Call) and Korean movies like My Sassy Girl, Old Boy, The Chaser, A Tale of Two Sisters and so on. For many of these have been remade into Hollywood blockbusters over the years. But I'm sure you are blissfully unaware of these dramas, most of which in my opinion, are even better than the movies. Not only are these dramas shot in beautiful locales, but the characterizations, story, plot and acting are top-notch as well. And the best part is they recount a story and don't stretch the plot beyond the point of tolerance like our desi serials do.

So don't let this post discourage you in any way. Believe me, when you do start watching them, you'll know what you were missing out on all this time.

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