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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Why is it that we celebrate anniversaries? Just because the Earth completed yet another revolution around its mother star and since we are always looking for excuses to celebrate, let this be another. Right and there's nothing wrong with it. Because life is to celebrate and be happy (and also make others happy). Here's my reason for celebration, this blog that you're reading, earlier known by a newbie-blogger type of name, Mindless Musings of an Unmindful Mind, and later metamorphosed into the existing pretentious avatar - Cutting the Chai.

Well things have been good, though the comments have drastically dropped (maybe as a result of reciprocity at my end or the ever deteriorating quality of content) and Adsense doesn't make much monetary sense. More people from more parts of the world drop in leaving their footprints behind on my stat trackers, even spammers find this blog attractive. Yesterday someone posted an 8,861-word long seemingly meaningless comment and ended with a threat that there was another 100,000 character comment coming my way. Therefore the word verification in the comments page. Though it doesn't always help, some deterrent is better than none.

What have I achieved in two years of occasional (and occasionally intensive) blogging? I had written about it in a post titled 'Why am I doing this?' The answer to the why fits into one line, "It feels good." And then that feel-good factor can be elaborated upon in hundreds of lines more. When someone says that they started blogging seeing me doing that, it feels good. When some researcher from another corner of the planet emails to express gratitude towards the blog for taking their thesis forward, it feels better. When a deadline-stressed mass communication student writes to seek help for their advertising assignment, I feel like David Ogilvy. But then there are many more who use the critical pin to take out all the hot air inside my head, it feels the best.

Pity the anniversary falls on a work day, or it could've been cutting chai laced with vodka. Never tried it, but am planning to. Though coffee with a teaspoon of brandy is wonderful during the winters.

And a Cutting Chai tip for those who came in late (it was passed on to me by my ever-so-knowingly elder brother). To prevent the beer from a bottle from fizzing out, gently tickle the bottom of the bottle (the punt) while taking off the crown. I don't know the logic behind this, but it works (many others will vouch). Though don't try this to pacify anything animate. You might land with multiple fractures on your arm as a friend of mine deservedly did.

By the way, shouldn't Cutting the Chai be about tea? Maybe I've subconsciously expanded the definition of the chai to incorporate all beverages. No foreseen harm in that, unless prohibition strikes. But given the influence liquor barons exercise over men who matter in the government that seems very unlikely. Continue enjoying Cutting the Peg ...oops Chai.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Painted Dreams

One of the little excitements during our school days was to gaze at the film posters - on the walls of the Shillong Civil Hospital - as our rickety school bus brattled by. The posters usually changed every Wednesday or Thursday and had a rectangular piece of printed paper pasted atop providing details about the name of the cinema hall and the show timings. There were only a handful of cinema halls - Bijou, Payal, Dreamland, Mini Dreamland (below Dreamland and popular for B-grade stuff) and Anjalee (for all the foreign flicks). There was a Kelvin too (very popular with my parents as it showed Bengali movies), but then it burned down one night, and Singhania Talkies which the Ramakrishna Mission took over and turned it into a library. Besides there were the military run theatres (Rhino, Soltee and the like).

After Kelvin turned into ashes, I hardly ventured into the dark environs of the theatre and by that time the VHS revolution had begun. We pooled money and rented video cassettes and the VCP. It was a regular affair every week (sometimes on all days of the week) and there was hardly a film from that era that we would've missed (only the ones with 'scenes' in them, as it was more of a family show). Come back from school, change fast, gobble something and rush to the neighbour's drawing room which served as our theatre for many years. But we didn't like to miss the posters on the walls of the Civil Hospital. Usually printed versions of hand-painted posters, where often an untrained hand gave the hero a villanish tinge or add some unwanted kilos (at the wrong places) on the heroine.

The artists took extra care in accentuating the muscles of the hero and the bust of the female lead. The vamp gave them more liberty. With the popularity of photographic images on film posters, the look might have gotten better, but the feel is amiss. Every poster painter (even MF Hussain was one) had his unique take. I watched in awe as a giant Amitabh, Govinda. Anil Kapoor or Mithun towered over me from the top of Dreamland Talkies. Red with anger or pink in love, the blue of the evil, the brushstrokes said it all. Now missing from the walls these hand-painted movie posters are found inside art galleries ready to be the prized possession of the highest bidder.

Another source for film posters for me was Screen (bought every week by my brother), it didn't (then) have any of the movie industry masala that the other magazines carried. It was more about the business of making movies and selling them. For me the full page broadsheet posters were a big bonus. After my brother lost interest, I started getting the copies on my own. If I remember right, it cost me Rs 5. Then I too ventured off the filmi fare. Years later, I couldn't find it on the vendor's display, only to realise later that the look had changed (like so many of the newspapers and magazines).

The film poster as a medium of advertising is intriguing. At a time when there was no television (or the internet), it was the posters which let the public know about the forthcoming releases. Newspapers also carried miniature posters where they announced the show timings. Even Chitrahaar (that great favourite on Wednesday and Friday nights) displayed the poster of the film before playing the song.

Historically the poster has been important as a travelling form that moves from city walls to lavatories, from pan shops to huts. Used as a decorative form in dhabas and small hotels as well as to promote film culture, the poster is both an advertisement as well as a cultural icon. Posters have circulated within urban centres for many years. Their presence outside cinema theatres and on city walls has been a prominent visual aspect of most cities of the country.
Here's a little tribute to the almost extinct art of hand-painted film posters, featuring ten milestone Hindi films (I like the term Hindustani over Hindi as an adjective for Bollywood movies):

[Click on the images for a larger view]

Aawara (1951)

Do Bigha Zameen (1953)

Mother India (1957)

Pyaasa (1957)

Kaagaz ke Phool (1959)

Mughal-e-Azam (1960)

Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (1962)

Guide ( 1965)

Deewar (1975)

Sholay (1975)

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Indemnity and Longevity

Whenever someone not-so-efficient (or pretending to be) takes control of the steering wheel, he/she invariably asks, "Hope you have life insurance?" "Life insurance wouldn't save my life, a seat belt might," comes a rational thought into my mind. Insurance is not seat belt, it is the bandage.

This ad from ICICI Prudential Life Insurance points towards a direct relation between life insurance and longevity. Colleagues whom I showed this ad called it "cute." It is.

Download video [WMV 1.86 MB 320x240 335kbps 00:00:48]

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Isspecial Cutting Chai - April 2007

One of the great benefits of blogging is that I have known a few people from all across the third rock from the Sun. Though some opinions hold that chatting and social networking lets you meet more people and make 'friends' more effectively. But my hobby isn't what many mention in their profiles - "making friends." I believe that you don't make friends, friends just happen (no similitude to 'shit happens' here).

Online chatting and the current hysteria called 'scrapping' is necessarily (in most cases) a two-way communication. This is the advantage of blogging - though this phenomenon is very different in nature and practice from the other two mentioned above - you can't just write (post) or just read (listen, watch). Or do both. The choice is yours. It is more democratic. Though democracy is not perfect, it is the best thing that we have now.

One of the bloggers from beyond India's 22,716.6 kilometres of sea and land frontiers that I came to know since my early blogging days is Abaniko. He is from the Phillipines. My earliest recollection of this island nation is related to shoes, that of the former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos.

I came to know much about the archipelago and especially the people who inhabit it, through Abaniko's posts. Though the world may be culturally and economically varied, there's often more than one connecting thread. One would be the general antipathy towards politics and the people who run the game (or business). In a recent post Abaniko writes:

Simple. We're not voting. Call us irresponsible, we don't care. Voting is of no significance to us. Okay, I cannot speak for them but as for me, I don't give a rat's ass about elections. I admit I have become apathetic. And I won't even apologize for it. I got tired of politics a long time ago. Did anything significant happen after the time of Marcos? Hmm?

For opening up a whole new world to me, the thirteenth Isspecial Cutting Chai (April 2007) is offered to Abaniko of Ang Anino ni Abaniko aka The Shadow of Abaniko.

I still remember his first comment on this blog, when it was known by some other name, on a post about the kurta and my liking for it.

Previous sipper Beth Loves Bollywood (March 2007)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

An Afternoon at the Taj

[Click on image for a larger view / download options]

A few photographs from my visit to the Taj at the last puff of 2006.

From the Archaeological Survey of India plaque outside the monument:

The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (reign 1628-1658 AD), grandson of Akbar, the Great, in memory of his queen Arjumand Bano Begum, entitled 'Mumtaz Mahal.' She was niece of Empress Nur Jahan and grand-daughter of Mirza Ghias Beg "I'timad-ud-Daulah" Vazir of Emperor Jehangir. She was born in 1593 and was married to Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan) in 1612. She died in 1631 on the birth of her 14th child, at Burhanpur where she was temporarily buried. Six months later the body was transferred to Agra and finally enshrined in the crypt of the main tomb. Shah Jahan who died in 1666 was also buried here. The Taj Mahal is the mausoleum of both Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan. Originally styled as 'Pauza-i-Munavvara' and 'Rauza-i-Mumtaz Mahal,' gradually it became famous as Taj Mahal and Taj-Bibi-ka-Rauza (the Garden Tomb of the Taj Queen).
It is sited at the right bank of the river Jamuna at a point where it takes a sharp turn and flows eastward. The location has a correct orientation for the adjunct-mosque, minimum thrust of water, and above all, a large natural lake to provide it with a continuous protective cover of moisture. The river with 30 feet deep clean water was thus a constituent of its original design.

Originally the land where the Taj Mahal stands belonged to the Kachhwahas of Amer (Jaipur) and was acquired from them in lieu of four havelis. The construction began from the foundations. A network of wells was laid in the sub-structure to support the huge building. Masons, stonecutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome-builders and other artisans were requisitioned from the whole of the Empire and from Central Asia and Iran. While bricks for internal skeleton were locally made, white marble for external surfaces was obtained from Makrana. Semi-precious stones for inlay ornamentation were brought from distant regions of India, Ceylon and Afghanistan. It was completed in 1648 in 17 years, at the cost of Rupees four crore (40 million) when gold was sold at Rs 15 per tola (11.66 grams).

In all, it covers an area of 60 bhigas. As terrain gradually sloped from south to north, towards the river, it is laid out in descending terraces. At the southern point is the forecourt with the main gate in the front and tombs of Akbarabadi Begum and Fatehpuri Begum, two other queens of Shah Jahan, on its south-east and south-west corners, respectively. On the second terrace is a spacious char-bagh garden divided into four quarters by broad shallow canals, with wide walkways and cypress avenues on the sides. They are studded with fountains which were fed by overhead water tanks situated in the adjoining Bagh Khan-i-'Alam.

The main tomb is placed at the northern edge of this garden, to tower majestically on the river. It integrated the Taj with the blue sky, and provided it with a beautiful natural background, which was constantly changing from sunrise to midnight. The changing colours of the sky descended softly on its white marble and it looked ever new at every moment. This newness is the secret of its beauty.

The main tomb was designed under the guidance of the Emperor himself. It marks the perfect moment in the evolution of Mughal tomb-architecture and only its composition is novel. Thus the minarets are detached and placed to face the chamfered angles (corners) of the main tomb. Its perfect proportions were evolved in wooden models and, though it is such a gigantic building, rising to 285 feet from the river level with 187 feet width (of the main tomb), it looks in fact like a small model. Its geometrical symmetry is also unique. On its sides are red sandstone Mosque and Jam'at-Khana, architecturally for a contrast.

Though it has some wonderful specimens of polychrome inlay art, in the interior: on the dados, on cenotaphs and on the marble jhajjari (jali-screen) around them, and on the exterior on the spandrels of the arches, this ornament is sparce and minimal, and it does not play any role in the total aesthetic effect of the building, which is totally architectonic.

It was efficiently maintained by expert architects and engineers with the help of skilled masons, gardeners, and other workers, until it fell on bad days, in the 18th century AD [Portion of text whitened out. Probably refers to vandalism by the colonial powers. A mention which perhaps wasn't to the liking of some]. The British replaced the original gold kalash finial in 1810 and, the Taj was once - during the regime of William Bentinck - put to auction only for the value of its marble. Fortunately this sacrilege was averted. The Taj survived, although in bare skeletal form without the imperial coverings. Since the Archeological Survey of India was established in 1861, it is properly maintained and conserved.

One of the most beautiful creations of man on earth, it is variously admired: as a 'Materialised vision of Loveliness,' a 'Dream in Marble,' a 'Nobel Tribute to the Grace of Indian Womanhood' and a 'Resplendent Immortal Tear Drop on the Cheek of Time.' It symbolises India's composite culture. It is reckoned among the wonders of the world and is inscribed as a WORLD HERITAGE SITE by UNESCO.

According to a rough calculation based on the figures mentioned above, the cost of construction of the Taj Mahal in today's currency would be around Rs 2,604 crores (Rs 26.04 billion), the US currency equivalent would be approximately $651 million.

In comparison Delhi's ostentatious Akshardham Temple took Rs 200 crores to build.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

When Bottles Dance

Read this in one of Khushwant Singh's joke books many many years ago. Quoting from (my not so good) memory:

Agar dum hain dua mein Maulvi,
to is bottle ko hila ke dikha.
Agar nahin, to do ghoonth pe,
Aur bottle ko jhoomta dekh.

(If there's power in your prayers,
make this bottle move.
If not, take two sips,
And watch the bottle dance.)

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Awry Planets

I usually don't subscribe to magazines and prefer to get them from the pavement vendors. Primarily because I'm quite prone to shifting residences. It is only the newspapers that I like to be home delivered, as I don't fancy a kilometre long walk every morning just to get the papers. But the Swiss Knife which Outlook was offering along with a one-year subscription made me change my long standing practice. But I wasn't too happy, no the knife is good and quite handy; it is the delivery of the magazines. A few copies, then a long pause, I write an email and then they again start arriving.

But when the magazines arrive, the first thing I read is the last page (the usual practice of reading magazines) - the Diary - which usually features interesting notes by interesting people (though a description of the author in some cases would go a lot of good for a clueless reader like me). This time it was Rahul Singh, former editor with Reader's Digest, The Times of India and The Indian Express. Being the son of Khushwant Singh, he has inherited his father's quality of not mincing words when it comes to things which irk him. And I couldn't agree more with Rahul when he writes this:

1+1 = 11

If you wanted further proof that astrology is perhaps the biggest hoax perpetrated on the Indian public, take a look at some of the predictions made about the cricket World Cup. Not a single Bombay astrologer predicted that India would crash out before reaching the Super Eights. That charming fraud, Bejan Daruwala, said India had a "strong chance" of winning the World Cup and that either Rahul Dravid or Munaf Patel would be "player of the tournament". Who would score the maximum runs, Ma Prem Rithambara was asked. Dhoni or Tendulkar, she replied. And take the most wickets? Irfan Pathan. Sanjay Jumaani, who calls himself a numerologist, after giving some mumbo jumbo on how 2007 adds up to the number 9 - which represents Mars and hence is the "best" number for India - concluded that the man who will score the most runs is Robin Uthappa! When will we stop taking these charlatans seriously?
[Rahul Singh. "Mumbai Diary." Outlook Volume XLVII, No. 21. May 15-21: 112]

I too had during my school days an interest in astrology and palmistry - I didn't believe in it - because I wanted to know things better so that I could counter them better. Later a teacher who saw a female classmate asking me with a stretched palm, "When shall I get married?" came to a more appropriate conclusion. "I know you don't believe in any of the stuff, it's just an excuse to get closer to the girls." Not way off the mark, but not entirely true either.

It's pity that so many able people show more faith in the stars than in themselves.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Essential Free Software for Your PC

A friend asked me for a list of software which he could install on his PC for a worthwhile digital experience. There are so many of them out there and some cost a bomb, but thankfully free is not always a malicious word in cyberia - mind the 'not always' part.

Though it is obvious that I'm no Amit Agarwal, yet I attempted to put together a list of freely downloadable software which I personally use (plus a few more which I would recommend). Here's an incomprehensive list:

1. AVG Anti-Virus: A must unless you wish to pay for the paid anti-virus software, which in some cases may provide you with better protection. There are other free anti-virus software available, but I personally rely on AVG.

2. Ad-Aware SE Personal: A reliable anti-spyware tool.

3. Firefox: A reliable, fast and secure web browser with a lot of features and tonnes of add-ons and themes. A must download. Highly recommended.

4. Google Talk: Suddenly I find other instant messaging systems losing their popularity. Though it is not necessary to install GTalk to be able to chat via Google, some people prefer it that way (as it has a few additional features).

5. OpenOffice: An open source alternative to Microsoft Office.

6. NoteTab Light: A free replacement for Notepad and a handy HTML editor with a tabbed interface.

7. PDFCreator: Lets you create PDFs.

8. Foxit Reader: A lightweight and fast PDF reader. Though Adobe Reader is also free, I prefer Foxit.

9. WordWeb: A wonderful and handy dictionary cum thesaurus to have on your PC. A personal favourite. Highly recommended.

10. 7-Zip: A free compression and decompression software. Alternative to WinZip and WinRAR. But 7-Zip can only unpack RAR files and cannot create them.

11. Winamp: Though basic but bloated versions Real Player, QuickTime and iTunes can be had for free, I like to listen to my music and watch some movies on Winamp. It's better.

12. Democracy Media Player: It plays almost every kind of video formats and also subscribes to video channels through RSS feeds (and lets you download them too).

13. Picasa: That wonderful software from Google which lets you organise, share and also edit your photos.

14. IrfanView: A light and fast image viewer with some extra features which Windows Picture and Fax Viewer can't boast of.

15. GIMP: Will perform the tasks that you usually would like to use Adobe Photoshop for.

16. Audacity: An audacious software that takes on the likes of Sound Forge.

17. Avid Free DV: A free basic video editing tool.

18. SUPER: It justifies its name (an acronym for Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer). Basically the best conversion software around and that too for free. Try beating that.

19. Download Accelerator Plus: This is very handy especially with the internet bandwidth that we have access to in this country. The downloads are much, much faster. There are a few other features that might just interest you.

20. FileZilla: A fast FTPclient.

21. LimeWire: A fast and popular P2P file sharing program. The basic version is free and usually satisfies the basic needs.

22. DVD Shrink: Shrink those huge DVD files to suit your size.

23. CDBurnerXP Pro: Burn CDs and DVDs. More features coming in the next version.

24. ScreenHunter: How often we have to take a screen shot and the friendly Prt Scr button on the keyboard doesn't always suffice. ScreenHunter is hassle free and also non-frilly.

25. Ubuntu: In case you are fed up with Windows OS itself there's Ubuntu, Linux for humans, for you.

Note: All of the 'free' software listed above may not be free in the truest sense of the term. Some of the above mentioned items may not be the best free software to download and install on your PC, there might just be better stuff around about which I'm unaware of.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

On the Great Revolt and More

It's been a hectic and exhausting last week. Therefore no posts. Tonight as I sit on my newly formatted PC (a real pain to format and install all those programs big and small that you seemingly can't do without).

I attempt recall all those ideas and observations that I tried hard to keep in an easily retrievable portion of my brain. But like in the computer hard disk, there are things which refuse to reveal themselves even with the help of wildcards.

Last week marked the 150th anniversary of a momentous event, the Mutiny of 1857 or the First War for India's Independence, depending on how you wish to look at it. With my limited sense of history and irrespective of what a few MPs feel, I would go with Veer Savarkar's interpretation. All the previous battles were with a motive to regain or retain territorial sovereignty and had an impact within a specified geographical domain and the participants had a greater degree of homogeneity. But 1857 was different.

My first contact with the turmoil of san sattawan was through Subhadra Kumari Chauhan's eulogy of the Queen of Jhansi - Rani Laxmi Bai, which formed a part of my primary school Hindi text.

सिंहासन हिल उठे राजवंशों ने भृकुटी तानी थी
बूढ़े भारत में आई फिर से नयी जवानी थी
गुमी हुई आज़ादी की कीमत सबने पहचानी थी
दूर फिरंगी को करने की सबने मन में ठानी थी

चमक उठी सन सत्तावन में, वह तलवार पुरानी थी
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झांसी वाली रानी थी
[Complete text of the above poem can be found here. For the poem in Roman script along with an English translation click here]

The intermittent years between Subhadra Kumari and the higher class history text were filled by tales of valour and horror fed to me by my ever eager elder brother.

Pity the celebrations had to coincide with the Uttar Pradesh election results and all the celebratory joy was drowned by a greater din of a socially-engineered election victory. It was clearly obvious even before the elections that Maya would successfully cast her spell on the most populous Indian state and yet again psephologists were way off the mark, the only thing that they got right was that the BSP would be the single largest party, but got the figures all awry. It is time that the 'electoral pundits' are relegated to a small box or a ticker scrolling across the screen and spare us from their gaseous pontifications.

Coming back to 1857, it was a year which neither literature nor cinema could make the best of. There would've been so many tales to tell which just remained a part of the folklore, ever more distorted by each passing generation. Even my village has an 1857 connection - some mutineers had stayed overnight there (or something similar that I was told during my younger years). I can hardly recollect any notable Hindi films based on the life and times of the Great Revolt other than Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Junoon and Mangal Pandey.

Even the media did little justice to the epic event. The Election Commission should've taken note and adjusted the dates accordingly. Talking about the Election Commission, do read the transcript of the Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami's interview with Shekhar Gupta on NDTV 24x7s Walk the Talk. The problem is that the sense that the Election Commission talks incites fear within the political class and therefore they are hardly implemented as many of them would require modification to the current set of laws. Anyway, I get to meet the CEC in person tomorrow (unless the boss thinks otherwise).

Map courtesy: William Carey University

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

USB Powered Mini Vacuum for Computers

A few days ago the boss asked me to get a wireless keyboard and mouse for him (I'm the unofficial ITwallah for colleagues and friends). My friendly neighbourhood dealer (Bajaj Sales Corporation, 43 Veer Savarkar Block, Shakarpur Extention, Delhi 110 092) didn't have the model required in stock and while he ordered it from another dealer, I browsed through his store and eyed a USB powered mini vaccum. Since it is a real pain to get the dust out of the keyboard and with earlier misadventures with the keyboard cleaning process I decided to get one for me.

I enquired about the price and one of the brothers manning the store replied "Rs 1800," and after a pause added "a dozen." Quick mental mathematics put it at Rs 150 a piece. Not a bad deal.

The model looking very China made, I eyed it with suspicion. The packaging was ordinary and nor were the colours available to my linking. Nevertheless, I brought one home and plugged it to my USB extension cable. It didn't have the power that I expected, then I connected it directly to the USB port on my PC. A slight increase in suction, it seemed. Maybe I was just imagining. But the cord with the vacuum is too short (about a metre) if you keep the computer cabinet below the level of your keyboard and monitor (the front USB ports on my PC don't work).

Then I thought of giving it a test, a mild one - cleaning the cigarette ash from the ashtray - and it worked wonderfully. Hoping that the dust hidden behind the keys would also respond accordingly, I gave up the idea of returning the piece to the dealer. Though not a 'powerful' vacuum cleaner, it should meet minor needs which a dusting cloth or a brush might not perform to satisfaction.

Here are more details from the packaging (there's no make or manufacturer's name mentioned):

1. Simply connect the vacuum to the USB port of your laptop or computer

2. Two vacuum cleaning attachments included - one bristle brush attachment and one flexible rubber, computer keyboard tool attachment.

3. Two switch levels slide. The switch to the first level to turn on the LED light. Slide the switch to the second level to turn on the vacuum cleaner.

4. Press the 'High Power' button to increase suction power, for vacumming heavier dirt and dust.

5. Use the keyboard attachment rubber to vaccum the dust and other dirt particles trapped underneath the keyboard keys by sliding the squeezable tube between keys.

6. Use the brush and suction tube attachment for general cleaning of air vents (fan), monitor and computer areas, or dust on your desktop.

7. Requires no external power source, plugs straight into any USB port.

I checked for prices for similar products on online shopping sites and they were at least Rs 50 more plus Rs 100 as handling and delivery charges. A phenomenon that I had noted in an earlier post.

By the way the wireless keyboard and mouse (Microsoft) cost Rs 1500.

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Chandigarh gets a Rubber Bar

In this age of AIDS (and also unwanted pregnancies), it is good to see a condom bar coming up in Chandigarh. Le Corbusier might not have thought of it, but that adds another reason for me to hasten my much delayed visit to the city.

A nightclub in India which says that it is the first to offer condoms as its unique theme has opened in the northern city of Chandigarh.

The "condom disco" is certain to raise eyebrows among more orthodox residents.

Backers say there is a serious purpose behind the disco as the aim is to promote HIV and Aids awareness among young sexually active people.

The new bar was, appropriately, inaugurated by the president of a counselling group for Aids sufferers.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Cutting the Chai Calendar 2007

A calendar for the year when it is already four months down the calendar of the year?

Had originally intended to release one at the beginning of the year, but that coincided with a new job. And a new job, initially, means no time (as reflected in the erratic blog posts). Thanks to being disconnected from the internet at home for the last few days, I did a lot of things which I otherwise wouldn't as I'd be wilfing away in the virtual universe.

Presenting the Cutting the Chai Calendar 2007 - and if anybody wants one for herself/himself (a faint possibility anyway) you can download a printable version from here [PDF 900KB]. The printable calendar is in A4 size (landscape) and includes prominent Indian holidays and festivals, given that a vast majority of visitors to this blog have an India connection.

No, it doesn't feature any females (or males) in miniature clothing. I would've put some, but then no one would like to pose for my already obsolete point-and-shoot digital camera and moreover I don't make that kind of money to hire someone.

A decent and lightweight PDF reader (Foxit Reader) can be downloaded for free from here.

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War of the Hoardings and GoAir Wins It

Weird Things Around The World has this mazedar post with three images. The first features a hoarding/billboard put up by Jet Airways, then Kingfisher Airlines comes with another atop that, but GoAir has the last laugh. Click here to see it for yourself

(Though I have some doubts about the GoAir hording, it looks a little out of place. Photoshopped?)

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