Saturday, December 27, 2008

I'm Really Back. With Babelgum.

Happy Holidays ! Virtual Poona is still around....
Let's get back to the business of blogging I said to myself
today, fully recharged with a new laptop and an upgrade
to blazing DSL speed. No more excuses and complaints
about lost data and repeated trips to the repair shop, I said.
Then along came the Christmas crunch on my physical
and mental (financial goes without saying) resources and
I was delayed from updating this space yet again. And what
better way to return to you than to share the best of what
I've discovered in the past two months. So look out for the
best of the best in upcoming posts. Like HQ streaming videos
from Babelgum

on a wide range of subjects, many showcasing
absurdly talented artists and musicians.

Note: You will need to download the FREE Babelgum Player
but you will not be sorry for the quality entertainment at
your fingertips.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Don't Worry, Ghee Happy

A few weeks ago I met an American lady who was about as buff as
could be, wearing Yoga pants and a T-shirt with an Indian image on it.
I decided to test her level of commitment but not wanting to belittle her
fitness regime I semi-casually asked if she was a Yoga instructor. No,
she said no, merely a student and lover of Indian culture. She then
correctly responded to my query by identifying the Hindu deity on the front
of her T-shirt as Lord Ganesa. Cool....and I wasn't about to press her with
any more questions because she obviously had genuine knowledge of
Indian 'stuff', and I probably would embarrass myself with my latent
ignorance of Hindu deities and feeble RAM capability.

Later I got to wondering about Tees with Indian motifs and their appeal to
Americans, something I often do since I was once involved in the business
of creating screen-printed T-shirts.

Flickr photo

Those were some great times in my life, and that creative thought
process still often rears its head at strange times and in surprising
places. Then I came across Ghee Happy on the web......
Calling itself 'The little book of Hindu deities' Ghee Happy the book
is at once amusing, informative and entertaining and below are the
sample pages at the Ghee Happy website.

But wait, that's not all. There's more ! Really ? Yes ! It's not only a link to
a book, but an enticing portal to an apparel collection for toddlers and
infants. Full of cute stuff that should appeal to children and parents alike.

Go see for yourself. Don't worry, Ghee Happy !

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Spared by Hurricane Ike

This is dedicated to the ones I love who remembered me before,
during and after Hurricane Ike, when I lost my online services
Thank you all !!

So you may ask if reports of my death are greatly exaggerated and I reply
wearily, yes, they are. I have been away from this Blog before the impending
disaster became a distinct possibility and then turned into grim reality for
thousands of people. Not all of those people were in the direct path of
Hurricane Ike which made landfall as a Category 2 storm but destroyed
lives and property with the intensity of a Category 4 storm. In many places
the damage equaled that of Hurricane Katrina and played out that way
for many of the people affected that I spoke to.

For myself, I was forced to heed the official Evacuation notice by the local
authorities and so two days before the storm I was in a Sugarland Texas,
in a safe place with my niece and nephew and their loved ones. The
invitation for a single person like me with few resources was deeply touching
and reassuring. As it turned out, we spent that Thur. evening and all day
Friday having fun just hanging out chatting, eating and

watching non-stop TV coverage of hurried preparations and Evacuations
of areas as far away as Louisiana, roughly a 6-hour drive. No, I tried to stay
awake till 12:30 a.m. on that fateful day but dozed off and woke at 3:00 a.m.
or so to discover that the lights were gone and it was windy, rainy and warm.

It stayed that way through late afternoon until the sun came out and we
all started cleaning up the branches and leaves,

as if trying to erase the memory of how close we had been to Ike.
A Hurricane had passed through and I had slept through it all ! At the time
I was really disappointed to find nothing serious had happened, little realizing
that miles away the destruction and aftermath had been so catastrophic.
I got back home to find my digs and my car

same as it ever was with the exception of bird droppings, but others a few
feet behind my apartment were not so lucky. At least eight cars were damaged
when a carport smashed into them.

My next-door neighbor's father and his daughters in Hitchcock survived,
had their power restored, lost it again and then lost their house and everything
in a fire that started when a huge power surge occurred a week after the storm.

Another neighbor who is disabled and recovering from a previous motorcycle
accident and has over 200 pins and a steel plate in his leg is alive, but his Ike
troubles have only just begun. His Accident and Medical Insurance will run out
and eventually so will his wife's. She lost her job due to Ike.

The official Search for survivors and the counting of the Missing has been
given up by FEMA and the Police in most places. Military choppers and some
Rescue Boats comb the areas but not for victims. Their mission now is to
ensure the area is safe for residents to return and pick up the pieces.

Here's a link to the ongoing compilation of Press and Amateur
videoclips, many just a few seconds long because they were taken under the
most hazardous and deadly conditions.

Previous Hurricane-related here

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Mad about MAD

I first came across MAD Magazine in Poona, India while in the 5th grade
and a lot of my views regarding the USA were inadvertently shaped on
what was in those pages. Surprise, surprise - I moved to the States at
the age of 26 and discovered that all those parodies of people and places
were not that far from the's the latest MAD cover with
the usual timely take on current events. In this case it's the recent
appearance of Sara Palin as the nominee for America's Vice-President in
the upcoming elections:

For those not interested enough to know about this latest media darling,
it might help to know that she is a former Miss Alaska runner-up and
current Governor of that state who has raised 5 children, two of them
adopted, one of them from an orphanage in Bangladesh run by
Mother Theresa

Ms. Palin calls herself a 'Hockey Mom', loves hunting, fishing, was nicknamed
'Sarah 'Barracuda' by her teammates on the High School Basketball team and
raised tons of money for Alaska so I'm sure John McCain will see some good
returns on his gamble.

On another note, imagine my good fortune to have Dick De Bartolo, the writing
genius (for over 40 years) behind so many great MAD issues, chatting with me
from the back of my Limo in New York ! I was so effusive with my feelings that he
took off the MAD pin from his famous baseball hat and gave it to me, along with
the latest issue of MAD with a personal autographed message. How can I
not be a MAD fan for life ?

Check out a really MAD fan site here

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Major Hurricane Survival Tip

It's almost three years to the day since Katrina swept through
New Orleans and that city has just survived another catastrophe.
Now that Gustav has been downgraded to a Cat 2 and spared the folks
of New Orleans we are now getting ready to handle Hanna, the next
named storm currently moving at 80 mph. But Hanna has someone
Ike on her tail as I just found out a minute ago....

I was looking for related survival tips when I remembered this pic I'd
bookmarked and wanted to delete, but not before sharing it here:
A proven, scientific way to be prepared for the worst and not die
of thirst. Urine luck, Indian-style !

All previous Hurricane-related posts

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Snoop Goes Bollywood in Singh is Kinng

No, I haven't lost it or given in to the ubiquitous Bollywood mash-ups
a.k.a. Masalas being churned out in the media. Even tho' The Big 'B'
and his son and daughter-in-law were accompanied by a spectacular crew
of dancers and other Bollywood celebs here in Houston recently
while on a world tour.

Elsewhere, Aug. 22 was the date for the opening of another blockbuster
which I never heard of but now will probably remember forever because
this one has Rapper/Hip-Hop King Snoop Dogg teamed up with
Kumar for the title track which was composed by U.K Bhangra
band RDB. And because my sister who lives in Long Beach, CA says the
Dogg may be seen walkin' his dog on the beach some evenings since that's
his 'hood. Anyway it seems here Snoop wants to show who's really da King
and turns out that Singh is ' Kinng ' most of the time. Maybe that's why
he's allowed to use more than one 'n' in 'King'. Or maybe it's a nod to the
Dogg who uses 2Gs to spell his moniker, a common practice among artists
in this field. I don't knnoww. Sharing this should make me feel more hip but
so far I'm not feelin' it. I am more than amused though, that this flick has its
own wiki and was filmed in Australia for the most part - since 'Singh' here
refers to an Australian mob boss. Really.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Raj Bhavsar. Tanned, Gets Bronzed

India can barely be mentioned in passing when it comes to the Olympics,
so when a story like this comes along I know it helps alleviate the
deflated egos of the self-styled biggest 'threat to China's World Dominance'.

Raj Bhavsar is that one in a million Indian-American, a gymnast who
successfully Bronzed at Beijing 2008 to put Houston, Texas and the
USA in the news once again. His very athletic Indian father Joe married
Kenyan-Indian Surekha, who attributes her husband's passion for Rowing
in this quote :

‘‘It is all due to my husband and his sporting background,’’
she says, adding, ‘‘He was keen that his sons shouldn’t be
typical Asian nerds but be good in sports too.’’

The last-minute alternate for Golden Gymnast Paul Hamm (who has
a hand injury) saw his road back to confidence complete after being left
out from the team for Athens 2004. As he turns 28 in September, he rightly
deserves the attention and praise he's getting. After you've watched the
YouTube video below,

go beyond the tan of his Gujarati heritage and deep into his mindset with this article

More from Beijing Olympics 2008 at Myxer

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Preview Matt Damon on YouTube for One.Org

Mail from David Lane :

Dear Fred,

I hope you like it.

For more than a year, ONE members have been trailing the presidential
candidates asking them to go on the record with their plans to combat
global poverty. Now we're taking our message to the airways with this
major new TV ad. The ad features Matt Damon with different Americans'
voices - among them Michelle Obama, Cindy McCain and Mayor Bloomberg.

Watch for it on TV and across the Internet starting Sunday, August 24th,
but add your voice and share the online video with your friends now.

After, you can learn more about this ad and movement here.


David Lane,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Pepsi Boys

Aside from the fact that some of the laborers pictured here are underage, the other
thing that's astonishing is how they have to adhere to such low standards of quality
and cleanliness. I got these pics as an e-mail forward and the Getty watermarks make
them quite believable. When abroad, drink more Pepsi, folks. Then go get sick !

Roosevelt Residence Gets Meera's Anglo-Indian Touch

You know that old saying, "Behind every great man there's a great woman".
In this case, there was a great man sitting behind the woman in their classroom
at the Cathedral and John Connon school, Mumbai. He's an Indian, Vikram
i and she's Meera Teresa (Agarwal) Gandhi,

daughter of Irish mother Ellen Mary McCarthy and an Indian father,
Admiral Perbodh Nath Agarwal. That would make her an Anglo-Indian by birth.
The best of two worlds, Indian and Anglo-Saxon.

Now take these two out of out of their Indian upbringing, educate him at Harvard
and her at Boston U., and what you get is Credit Suisse's NY-based Managing
Director and Global Head of their Financial Institutions Group, right alongside
Meera the Humanitarian, Diplomat, Businesswoman, Socialite, Mother of three
and on and on....this lady seems to have plenty of time to be Superwoman not
only in the States but all over the globe. The best of two worlds, Indian and
Anglo-Saxon now gets globalized.

Like the Roosevelts, another power couple before them, these two often play
host to the famous, the wealthy and the power brokers of the world...and do it
in the same building as the Roosevelts. Yes, they purchased the famed Roosevelt
Residence on Manhattan's upper-crusty Upper East Side

for over $4 million, renovated it and now it's up for sale, for close
to $20 million as of Dec. 2007 ! According to her personal website, Meera
'knows every nut, bolt and screw' in the famed residence since she personally
oversaw the entire renovation and redecoration project. Being an avid collector
of Indian Art but highly aware of the society she has evolved into she has given
the place an unique ambiance that you cannot find elsewhere. One of the girls'
rooms has a roomful of assorted percussion instruments, the other girl has her
guitars and amps strewn all over while the son indulges himself in the
World Wrestling Federation and everything in between.

I caught an interview of Meera Gandhi on Pan Desi Prime Time via ColorsTV
but you can view direct YouTube coverage here.

If you want to learn more about the Eleanor Roosevelt Mansion -or buy it-
just visit Brown Harris Stevens Properties and tell them I sent you. I promise
I won't make a cent off the sale :-)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Isaac Hayes and Me. Really !

Imagine the man who made the long black leather jacket famous decades
before 'The Matrix', a musician, actor and towering presence in the world
of Blaxploitation films like 'Shaft'. A 'bad mutha' in my book ever since
I met him one day in the mid-'90s. The late Isaac Hayes.

Now imagine me, driving the streets of New York City with this man in the
back seat of my car (okay, my Limo) and I have the radio set to 'zero' volume
and he still recognizes the song as one of Al Green's. I wait outside on Greenwich
Street for hours as he records some tracks for his new album and then
when he emerges in the evening he introduces me to an additional passenger,
a statuesque Nubian- princess-looking type who is rather nice and friendly to me
and obviously in awe of The Man in the long black jacket. After all, she is
accompanying a legend while in the process of acquiring legendary status herself.
I drive them to the center of Times Square, the heart of NYC and I'm holding that
black jacket for this man, handing him a bottle of water to sip in between takes for
a magazine photoshoot he's doing with the long-legged lady, whom I get to stand
with and make small remarks about the weather (cold). She's 6' plus with the heels
so I literally look up to her from my 5'6'' frame. Throngs of passers- by are busy
taking their own NYC pics and doing their own thing and a few shout out in typical
New Yorker seen-it-all fashion, "Hey Isaac!" "You The Man!" "What's up, my Brother?!"

That was a day and a night to remember because that man was the late Isaac Hayes
and his leather jacket, and the lady posing behind him was Supermodel Roshumba,

most remembered for her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition cover.

I was treated in a friendly and respectful manner by these two and that's what I
took away at the end of a totally awesome day as a Limo driver in New York city.
That and the theme music from Shaft....

Friday, August 15, 2008

Getting Impatient Now

I have tried unsuccessfully for weeks to get into the Dashboard to create new posts and am always faced with a white page with no options to upload anything except type words. I know that Google somehow managed to get thousands of Blogs marked as 'Spam', deleted and then reinstated them. Looks like I'm stuck in between.
I can view my Blog and so can you but the missing functionality is beginning to get to me.
I suppose I'll be back to announce the sad demise of this Blog and the birth of the Son of Virtual Poona. One of these days....

Thursday, August 07, 2008

RealAge Update

RealAge : My online Health advisors are Indian-inspired again

A Spice That’s Nice for Your Pancreas

Wake up your taste buds, and protect your pancreas while you're at it,

with some Indian food this weekend. Or try a Thai dish.

Turmeric -- the spice that gives curry and other Far Eastern fare its

strong, distinctive flavor -- may lower your risk of pancreatic cancer.

So find that takeout number.

It's Good to Be Yellow
Curcumin, the yellow stuff in turmeric, may do in tumor cells. When

researchers added the substance to cancerous pancreas cells, production

practically shut down -- thanks to a clampdown on cytokines, chemicals

linked to tumor growth and cell survival. (Find out why Indian food

after a workout may make you feel a whole lot better.)

Pancreas-Protective Foods
When you want a healthy, happy pancreas, you've got plenty of foods to

choose from. Try these, for instance:

Recipe Corner
This scrumptious EatingWell recipe, Potato Curry with Peas, can
complement your main course or make a satisfying (and heart-healthy)
main meal. Either way, it's sure to please!
RealAge Benefit: Making healthful substitutions when cooking can
make your RealAge 3 to 12 years younger.

3 Feel-Better Postworkout Foods

What's the best snack to grab after a major workout? How about a bowl

of whole-grain cereal, a bite of Indian takeout, or a big nonfat latte.

Each nosh option has a special ingredient that may help your body

recover better and nip postworkout pain in the bud.

The 3 Cs
What, exactly, do these snacks have that others might not?

The three Cs: carbs, curcumin, and caffeine. A carb-rich snack like

cereal can help you overcome fatigue by restoring glycogen -- that

stuff your muscles use for energy. Curcumin, a substance found in the

Indian spice turmeric, may help quell muscle inflammation. And caffeine

from coffee may help block muscle-pain-producing substances.

(Coffee has other health benefits, too. Read about them here.)

More Pain-Free-Exercise Tips

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hindi Urdu Flagship Austin Texas

Texas has long been a favored destination for Indian immigrants seeking to
become Doctors, Nurses, Businessmen, professionals in the fields of
Computer and Internet Technology, etc. And then there are those like

Arun Prakash, a Bellaire, Texas teacher whose labor of love has now come
to being in the form of 'Namaste Ji', the first-ever Hindi textbook for students
in the U.S.

The Houston Chronicle
reports, ' The novice teacher invented his own lessons,
writing them by hand until he got a computer equipped with a Hindi font...
as India becomes a bigger economic power, interest
in its native tongue
is growing and Texas state, with the fourth
largest Hindi-speaking population
in the US, is poised to become
a leader in Hindi instruction....''

Have to admire Arun Prakash for his ingenuity and steadfastness : it took
him eight years to get 'Namaste Ji' into the Hindi Urdu Flagship Program
at the University of Austin Texas, and now all he needs is some financial
momentum and the open hearts and voices of the governing boards.
From the look of things in the current US political climate, diversity of this kind
is not just an election issue but also at the root of a need for a deeper
understanding and knowledge of the world outside, post-9/11 and beyond.

Read the whole
Houston Chronicle article about Prakash here
and also check out the neat 8 min. video below. It gives a brief
glimpse into the University of Austin campus
and its beautiful surroundings,
the Program and the students.

Live and learn, and learn to live. A little at a time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

TNT Mamas via Abduction

Here's a look at the results of the Mozilla Firefox Add-on called
Abduction. I was trying to spread the word about a group of runners
in my area: TNT Mamas.Org

and their noble cause but was stumped about what to say since I had already
blogged about it on MySpace earlier

Plus, I wanted to use some pics to dress up a plain but nonetheless very
serious bit of info about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and
their connection to the Nike Women's Marathon.
Since I had just installed Abduction, no problem - all I had to do was
click on 'File' on the top left of my Browser and pick 'Save Page as Image'
and Voila ! I had not just a screenshot but a fine image saved in the
resolution of my choice. Now I had a pic that could be sent as an image/
attachment via email and the receiver could view it full size by clicking.
Click on the images above and see for yourself. It's more fun than just
sending a plain old link to a web page and your friends will love you for it.

The Official Nike Running Blog - where you can learn more about
running for a cause and other questions related to Blood Cancer.

TNT Mamas.Org
- the Clear Lake, Texas chapter of TNT
(Team In Training)
who need YOUR help to make it to San Francisco
for this year's Marathon.
If you can't donate, show some love and support
by posting a comment. It'll help them go the extra mile !

Natalie Portman-Devendra Banhart Masala

Bollywood claims another victory or victim, depending on your view.
Now it's talented Hollywood star Natalie Portman's

turn to take a stab. I think it's partly her boyfriend's fault she's getting all
mixed up, Bollywood-style in 'Carmensita'. Devendra Banhart is a
Venezuelan-American who first came to prominence in San Francisco, creating
music that perfectly reflected the local artsy mish-mash. From that cultural
stew emerged a sound and style that tangents the Blues, Brazilian pop, Acid
Folk-Rock Punk, Latin, Worldbeat and everything in between. A lot like
Bollywood's crazy-dazey take on life on another plane of consciousness.
Which is what you get in 'Carmensita'.

The way I see it, the result of her collaboration with Dev B. on this music
video has worked wonders for all concerned. By casting Natalie as
an Indian Princess her natural good looks are showcased as never before,
Devendra literally gets the girl (and her star power to boost his music project),
and Bollywood earns more buzz from international media - without being
directly involved in the project. Carmensita is weird and funny and cool and
just the kind of nutsy YouTube video you can expect me to share.

Thursday, July 17, 2008 is MySpace Lite ?

click to enlarge

U.K. member uses Summer Rickshaw for his profile.

Somehow I now find myself a member of more than one social networking
site. I had to join MySpace because my friend Madooo invited me and
I'm always glad to show support for family, friends and musicians. Although
I don't do much there thanks to this Blog, I have made some new and
interesting contacts and also hooked up with some old ones. But now that
I'm a member of I'll say unreservedly it seems somewhat more
sane and cultured than MySpace, which is often overrun with garish and
tacky template designs vying for your (short span) of attention. Blame it on
the vast majority of MySpace members who are 20-somethings and part of
the 'must-have-it-now' generation. Instant trashy webpages included. is an acronym for Where Are You Now and that's mainly what
makes it a different kind of social network : members' past, present and future
locations are pinpointed, tagged and tailored so deeply that you could plan an
entire trip overseas using this site. Let's use the picture above as an example
of (better) Wayn members' activities, like the Rickshaw Run adventure :

'Three wheels, half a horse power and more fun than any other vehicle on
earth the humble Rickshaw is undoubtedly the ultimate long distance,
off road
machine, despite being designed for short distances on road....'

'The Rickshaw Run is all about raising huge amounts of wedge for a great cause
or two, so each team has to raise a measly £1000 for charity....'

Visit The Adventurists where you can join in the 2009 Run which starts in
Pondicherry in South India and winds up in Shillong in the Northern state
of Assam. But first - see what fun they had in 2008.

Oh..... and don't forget to check out if any one of your Contacts is also secretly
a member of the laid-back Surprise them !

Monday, July 14, 2008

Outsourced: The Movie Is Out

Just got wind of this upcoming flick that's creating a buzz of sorts worldwide.
Already out in theaters in Europe and Australia, premiering in the USA on
July 11, but oddly won't reach India (where a major part of it was filmed) till
sometime in August.

the movie directed and co-written by John Jeffcoat
humorously tells about what happens when an American novelty products salesman
is forced to travel to India to train his replacement
after the entire department in his
Seattle, USA company is outsourced.

If you liked this trailer, why not just go to the source of 'Outsourced' now-
it's loaded with more clips and fun stuff like a chance to win a free trip to Goa !

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Elvis At 21 : Unseen Till Now

There are a vast number of pictures of Elvis from his early days, but
none as intimate and revealing as the Black-and-White ones taken by
Alfred Wertheimer as part of an assignment for RCA Records. Seems
they wanted to create a buzz around their new 21-year-old singer but
since Elvis was still a financial risk he didn't merit Color footage. Color
film and processing was very expensive in those days hence the orders
to Wertheimer to shoot in B/W.

The Daily Mail UK ran a bit about that period in Elvis' life, accompanied
by a few choice Wertheimer captures and some great captions to boot.
Here's one of my favorite pics (click to enlarge) from the article :

The accompanying text goes 'All shook up: On his way to a concert in
Richmond, Virginia, Elvis pretends to throttle his date for the night.
Even in these early days he never liked to be alone - an early
Memphis Mafia minder rides in the car with the couple

A great piece by Ray Connolly, worth a look.

Link to the Daily Mail article
Google Search results for Elvis and Wertheimer

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cool Tool 4A Fool

From Daylife - a widget for your Blog or website that tracks
and displays the day's news images as chosen by their editors.
Based on your preference, e.g., I chose India, which is about
as close as I could get to the theme of the Virtual Poona Blog.....and in
order to clear any confusion that may arise, the 'Fool' I speak of in the
title of this post is none other than yours truly.

Being as how even a fool like myself got to use it simply by typing in the
required field. Explore Daylife. It's a new way of looking at the news.

Monday, June 23, 2008

R.I.P. George Carlin (1937-2008)

Sunday, June 23 2008

It seems truly fitting that just before his death Mr. Carlin received the news
that The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts would
present him with its Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Come Nov.,
he will become the first person to receive the honor posthumously.
And deservedly so. His fearless, outrageous, brilliant and exceptional
observations on life educated, entertained, inspired and paved the way for
folks like Bill Maher, Jerry Seinfeld et al. He is sorely missed as may
be witnessed by the back-to-back marathon of his HBO specials now on

I posted some of my favorite George Carlin quotes here back in Nov. 2005 LINK
and suggest you check out the tons of tribute videos available on YouTube
which I can't post here due to the graphic language. And speaking of language,
this was the master : the author, speaker and performer.....a legend.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Father India and My Father

This is a follow-up to Mother India and My Father.
Read it after this post: Please.

Found on Ads of the
'As per the census, there are 958 women for 1000 men.
Because, more than 1 million female foetuses are aborted
every year. Wake up before it's too late.
Ban Sex Determination.'

Agency: Index Advertising
Copywriter: Shoeb Shaikh
Art Director: Shoeb Shaikh & Khalil Shaikh

Think this is a great bit of creative work by Index Advertising
Agency and the two Shaikhs involved ? Ads of the World did,
because their reasoning is, the message gets through
to the target
audience via an iconic image. But consider this : the
iconic artwork is
simply a revamping of an old classic movie poster
which most Indian
moviegoers are familiar with. So : shouldn't the
Artist and/or the
film Producer be credited or thanked in some form ?
In all fairness,
there hasn't been a complete butchering of the work
in this case,
only the word 'Mother' has been changed to 'Father',
in English and in
Hindi. Not too bad, but is the mash-up of a classic
iconic image
something to be reviled ? Does anyone care ?

Apparently not, especially
when almighty Bollywood has been getting
away with wholesale copyright
infringement for decades, thereby setting
the (low) standard for other
media in India. This is something I had been
musing on as a Blog post for
a good while now and so it's only natural
that something like
Indian Blogger Nita's words would set me off :

'One hears of bloggers infringing copyright but have you ever
heard of a major “reputed” publication stealing a blogger’s work?
Well, here is an instance. I got a shock to see that a reputed
newspaper like the
Hindustan Times had stolen a photograph
of mine.'

Nita the newswoman-turned-blogger has neatly ignited folks' ire
against infringement not only nationwide but globally as well,
judging by the comments posted. Read it all here.

Getting back to what I was aiming for. I've decided that I'm as guilty
as most
others are when it comes to Mash-ups, Photoshopping
and the like because
it's a fun process, but I must take a harder
look at whether I want to ignore the
legal and ethical aspects involved.

And now, take a look at
the original poster created by my father,
then read my post about him

Senior Stickers

You know you're getting older when things like this
seem funnier
by the day......

More funny stickers here
(Thanks, Rusty !

Monday, June 16, 2008

POWA and Blank Noise Think Alike

An interesting Ad image for People Opposed to Woman Abuse (POWA) that I
came across while checking the RSS feed for Scary Ideas, website that
tracks unusual media files. (See warning below)

This one

brings to mind my friends at the Blank Noise Project in India,
who bravely fight the daily fight against Violence and Sexual Harassment
of Women in their communities. Notice how in India their call to action by
subtle (Blank Noise) methods parallels the one in South Africa, a country
that's thousands of miles away. Yes, it's a ongoing, worldwide problem
since time immemorial and they need your help in spreading the word that
it's downright wrong, immoral, disrespectful, hateful, demoralizing, immature
and plain stupid.

Be Warned : Scary Ideas can be scary as it contains images that
some may
consider offensive or NSFW !

See all Virtual Poona posts labeled Blank Noise

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flirt at Harrah's Rio

Now this is a marriage made in heaven for Harrah's and Microsoft alike.
Harrah's iBar, located inside the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino is the
second major showcase for the Surface application after AT &T but the
signs are good that this will be the one to beat. Why ? Because while
the usual high-rollers are busy at the gaming tables taking their chances
with Lady Luck, the younger, techie-type 'players' got some real 'game'.
You might say they are virtually upping the ante, and all without the watchful
eye of the dealer. Hey, Lady Luck just might be sitting across the room, and
Mr. Lucky can channel her in real time and see her in person.

Here's a bit from the Surface Blog of June 11, 2008 :
Harrah's 'most ambitious application is “Flirt” which uses strategically
placed video cameras to create an exciting new way to initiate
conversation, flirt and meet new people from one Surface to another.
Additional applications include a series of play-for-fun interactive
games like bowling, a challenging musical memory game, and multi-player
pinball with a twist. There's even a cool mixologist app that lets you
design and order your own drinks. In addition to the applications that Harrah's
created, they are also using the photos and concierge apps that the Surface
team built. Harrah's has taken those apps and customized them to the
Rio/Las Vegas environment with photos, video, maps and attractions info to
help guests plan their stay all within the comfort of the iBar.'

Video: Microsoft Surface at the Rio in Las Vegas

Earlier post about the Surface app - a year ago, actually.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Boing Boing Baby

The Banjo goes plonkity-plonk and the Baby goes Boing ! Boing !
This baby has a natural ear for Music and Dance and who knows what
else. Hope we can follow the progress of this wunderkind through the
eyes of his parents. Many thanks to Mark Frauenfelder at Boing Boing
for the link to this Flickr videoclip !

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hey Kids ! It's Mr. Picassohead !

Are you a budding Picasso ? No ? Well, this is your chance to go
crazy and express yourself in the style of the Master of the Abstract
just by a few drag-and-drop gestures of your mouse. Then....Voila !
You get an e-mail that says :

'A Mr. Picassohead painting has been created for you to view online.'

I tried a self-portrait and it was impressive in a primitive sort of way.
Please visit the link below
to see my painting, cruise

or make your very own Mr. Picassohead.

Plenty of good, clean fun for you - and your kids, and I highly recommend
exploring the Wikipedia page on Pablo Picasso

Mr. Picassohead
was created by Ruder Finn Interactive

Ruder Finn ... Creativity delivers.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Real Age Wants Us to Go Fish

Any health-savvy individual knows that Fish is equally healthy as Veggies *
and the tastiest alternative to Meat. Now a little more research has surfaced
to give us more reason to heartily indulge in our seafood cravings. I gladly share
these findings with you as a subscriber to

Fish Helps You Keep the Beat

In this ever more polluted world, sometimes you just can't avoid a little
bit of particulate matter in your lungs.

So go fish! Eating finny food not only reduces your risk for heart disease
but also may protect your heart from air-pollution-induced arrhythmias.

Taking Heart Against Pollution
Short-term exposure to small airborne particles spewed from cars,
power plants, and other industrial sources may cause an irregular
heart rate. Serious stuff, because it could open the door to heart
arrhythmias and even heart attacks in people who are over 60 or
have heart or lung diseases.
(Find out what the early warning signs of heart disease are.)

Airing Things Out
But fish could help thwart that unhealthy chain of events. A study found
that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may help alleviate those
irregular beats. That's just what happened when people over 60 who
were exposed to particulate matter took a daily fish oil supplement.
Fish oil supplements aren't for everyone, though, and should be
discussed with a doctor first.
Read up on both the benefits and risks of fish oil supplements

But most people can eat a couple servings of fish each week
without worry.

RealAge Benefit: Eating nonfried fish three times a week can make
your RealAge up to 3 years younger.

* Veggies ! Find out more

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rockin' Digital Animation

A Tale of Rock
This wonderful 2007 winner by U.K. animators Stephen Payne and
John Godwin from the
University of Hertfordshire animation expose
left me delighted and amazed, even more than the first time I watched another
British animated short called 'Wallace and Grommit' - fifteen years ago.
The music, the character's emotions and funny expressions - all without the
use of any dialogue - will certainly find a place in every Rock music lover's heart.
The film is a short Short and any attempt at a Synopsis would take away
from the level of craftmanship and Rocker-savvy humor. It requires
repeated watching, in the same spirit as one's Grandma with the kids, happily
watching the 'Shrek' DVD over and over and over again. Enjoy !

Click here for the HD version

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Higher Consciousness, Lower BP

I have high Blood Pressure. Really high B.P. I take no medication for it even
after I first discovered I suffer from this deadly problem several years ago.
I did make a feeble attempt to receive treatment when I saw an advert for a
free check-up that required my participation in some experimental drugs, but
never joined the program due to a conflict with my schedule at a job I was
about to begin. A job I got after many harrowing months of unemployment.
The initial free consultation I got for the program was uplifting in that the
Physician shared her findings with me by saying that although I was on the
high end of the scale with my BP, something strange had occurred within
my body, which made it adjust itself to cope and function fully, undeterred
by what would normally incur an ambulance ride and a stay in the ER.

So I got to thinking, what would make my body behave in this highly desirable,
manner ? What self-preservation mechanisms had kicked in ? I took a longer
and harder than usual look at my lifestyle and discovered a few interesting
facts : I smoke almost a pack of cigarettes and imbibe four or more cups of
Coffee on a daily basis; stretch and bend and take deep breaths about four
times a week, sleep for about six hours nightly, and drink socially, but not as
much as I would like to. Add to this the fact that I have never had a personal
Physician and it all makes me very conscious that a better approach to my
well-being is in order.

Enter RealAge, who recently mailed the following to subscribers
such as myself :
Do This to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Wouldn't it be great if your mind had a superpower that made your blood
pressure behave?

It does! A review of nine major studies says your mind could budge your
blood pressure in a healthy direction if you give it a meditation break.
Regular practice helps lower both systolic (the top number) and diastolic

Breathe In, Breathe Out
Meditation -- that ancient art of focusing on a phrase or mantra, letting your
breath flow in and out, and allowing your thoughts to gently come and go --
is a proven stress reliever. And research now shows that regularly practicing
transcendental meditation may have blood pressure benefits. (Get a head start
on meditation basics by popping in the new YOU: Breathing Easy CD.
It walks you step by step through several refreshing and relaxing meditation
and breathing techniques.)

Need more incentive to meditate? Check out these other areas that it helps improve:

Try this two-step meditation tool.

RealAge Benefit: Keeping your blood pressure at 115/76 mm Hg can make
your RealAge as much as 12 years younger.

Blissful Ignorance

Is Ignorance bliss ? Are Americans really all that dumb ?

I received the video below in an email Forward:Fwd today :


This came from a friend in the U.K.
Think about it....these people likely vote, too !'

The amusing video clip from British Television seeks answers
by asking some General Knowledge questions to average
Americans (from various age/race groups) on the street, and then
leaves it up to us to draw our own conclusions :

O-kay. So it's a funny but not very flattering picture that emerges.
So why is it that even post-9/11 there are so many people wanting
to immigrate there to partake of the 'American Dream' ? Since America is
a land overwhelmingly made up of immigrants, where does all this
awareness come from, Borat ? Definitely not from all the smart-asses
who choose to get paid in US $$. Are there that many non-Americans
who would give up their blissful lives in their own countries to throw
in their lot with 'stupid Americans' ?

Inquiring minds may want to know, but I don't, because I'm blissfully ignorant.

Monday, May 19, 2008

98 In The Shade at Kemah Boardwalk

The Gulf Coast Music scene has some of Texas' hidden treasures who
can strum, drum, fiddle, pick, twang, holler and howl with the likes of
Dr. John, Leon Russell, Big Brother and the Holding Company,
Koko Taylor,
Rick Derringer and many more. Decades of intimate
sessions and friendships have produced musicians who continue to
meld the traditions of Blues, Honky-Tonk, Classic Rock, Bluegrass and
Country into a unique sound that can only be heard on the Texas Gulf Coast.

I caught 98 in the Shade, one of the Gulf Coast legends

at the Kemah Boardwalk last week

where they performed as part of the free Summer concerts called
'Rock The Dock'
and what a stellar performance it was, since they had
vocalist Andra Mitrovich, who is one of the finest Janis Joplin
interpreter/tribute performers around. Unfortunately she is not in the bit
of video footage below but you can see and hear her along with the rest of
98 in the Shade at their website link after this clip. Enjoy !

The tune* was the 1938 Classic 'Orange Blossom Special' and by chance the little train

that takes Boardwalk visitors around the amusement site clattered around
at the same time. Once again, unfortunately, the light was inadequate and so I
can't really convey the great synchronicity of the train and the tune going on.
Dang ! (as they say in these parts) it's mah first video upload, son !

Link to 98 site

Official Kemah Boardwalk site

*Orange Blossom Special mp3