For the heck of it

Monday, September 25, 2006

Getting Around Barcelona

Since I had nothing better to do the whole of 19th, I visited the nearby Diagonal Mar Mall. I window shopped for a while, before having my lunch there. After lunch I returned to the hotel and asked the conceirge about city tours. I was told that a service called Barcelona Bus Turistic takes care of city tours - they operate double deckered busses with open tops, for a ride around the town. The attendant at the reception told me that the bus leaves every 15 minutes from the hotel.

The ticket cost me 18 euros - the cost includes ride on three different tourist routes around the city for the price of one. I jumped for the offer. I left the hotel on the bus at around 1:45 pm and toured the entire city on the bus, until 8 pm! The best thing about the Bus Turistic Service is that the service has stops all over Barcelona.

If you want to have a closer look at the place you are visiting, you can always get off the bus at any stop and explore the area. Once you are done, return to the bus stop and hop onto the next Bus Turistic bus as per your convenience. I think the idea is awesome - since you pay just a flat fee and use the service as many times as possible the whole day. The service runs on three different routes - the Northern route and the Southern Route are two hours long, while the Forum route is 40 minutes long.

You can get into any route from any Bus Turistic point in the city. Here's a collection of pictures of a few places I visited on the city tour:

The images include some pics taken from my hotel's elevator, some interesting buildings - one of which Spaniards claim looks like sea waves of the Mediterranean sea, while the balcony represent the sea weeds. One building looks like a castle too.

Then there's a set of pictures of the Sagrada Familia Church, which is under construction. It is famous because of its unique architecture. Then there's La Rotonda building - I don't know what it is for, but that's what the building says:P Then there's one more old church building. There is also the stadium of the Football Club Barcelona. And finally, the Olympics torch, which is a part of the Olympics Village built for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reached Barcelona

Reached Barcelona (Spain) yesterday at around 9:00 am. Have come here to attend HP's Preffered Partners Conference. I had left for Dubai airport at 10:30 pm on September 18th 2006. My flight was at an ungodly hour of 1:45 am. But now I think the timing couldnt have been better because I got the whole of yesterday as off, because the conference only starts today after lunch time.

I took a Swiss International Airlines flight from Dubai to Zurich, which took about 6 hours and then a connecting flight from Zurich to Barcelona, which took another 1.5 hours. The flight was nice and I was asleep the whole flight. People from HP were present at the airport to receive us and hotel transfer coaches took us to our respective hotels.

I was put up at Hotel Barcelona Princess. I checked into the hotel and I was shown my room (no: 712) on the seventh floor. The room was amazing, and it had an awesome view of the conference halls below, alongside the shoreline. Here are a few pics of the room:

Sunday, September 10, 2006

India Inc helped Uncle Sam

An interesting read on Mumbai Mirror.

Study finds that Indian cos pumped more than $2 bn into the US during 1995-05; helped sick firms, created jobs

India Inc is no longer just an outsourcing partner for the US business community.

In fact, according to a report, Indian companies’ presence in general and their contribution in particular to US firms as competent business associates is becoming increasingly significant.

So much so that American firms don’t mind an Indian connection at all.

It’s no wonder then that American companies have emerged as India Inc’s largest business partners, with USA alone receiving the highest amount of RBI-approved investment at $225 million between April 2005 and January 2006.

In the decade leading up to 2005, the US attracted the highest share of Indian direct investments approvals ($2,159 million) followed by Russia ($1,763 million), Mauritius ($1,038 million) and Sudan ($964 million), says a FICCI-Ernst & Young report.

The report – ‘Direct investments in the US by Indian enterprise’ – notes that the software/BPO sector accounted for the largest share (58 per cent) in terms of the number of deals into the US during 2004-06.

Healthcare accounted for 17 per cent while the remaining 25 per cent deals were in other sectors such as telecom, textile, automotive and financial services.

Talent projected India Inc well

High levels of technological expertise and knowledge along with entrepreneurial development and management skills helped Indian companies emerge as competent business partners.

Additionally, India Inc learnt a lot as service providers looking for outsourced IT/BPO work from the developed-countries. This imparted the knowledge to conduct international business, and induced outbound investments through demonstration and spill-over effects.

Indian firms are actually helping America

FICCI-Ernst & Young further observed that not only are Indian companies creating new jobs and boosting wages, investments from India are strengthening US manufacturing and contributing to rising productivity.

Indian companies have acquired several units in the US that had filed for bankruptcy and also set up manufacturing facilities in the US.

Indians are successfully handling the restructuring process of sick units and are increasingly gaining over their American rivals in cost and efficiency.

Outbound investments from India help US companies penetrate foreign markets, and increase exports and provides a global platform to smaller and mid-sized companies.

More on the way...

The report stated that outbound investments and acquisitions in the US by Indian companies are likely to witness a further increase.

The new found confidence in the Indian buyers, supported by strong economic fundamentals is expected to foster this growth trend.

Acquisition of manufacturing companies is likely to be gain momentum as there is a scope for significant value creation for Indian buyers to acquire manufacturing companies in developed markets and then restructure the manufacturing model by either offshoring some or all of the production activities to India.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lage Raho Munnabhai!

Plot spoiler warning: You might want to watch the movie, before you read this post

Munnabhai is back and he is not alone! I watched this sequel to the hugely popular Munnabhai MBBS at Lamcy Cinema and I was amazed. This is definitely one of the few movies, where the sequel scores much more than the original. Lage Raho Munnabhai is surely one slot higher than Munnabhai MBBS.

In the sequel, Munna (Sanjay Dutt) and his quintessential henchman Circuit (Arshad Warsi) try to recreate magic of Munnabhai MBBS and they succeed. From start till the end of the movie each person in the theatre was in splits. This time around, Munna is in love with a radio jockey called Jhanvi (Vidya Balan). Boman Irani meanwhile plays Lakhbir Singh aka Lucky - a greedy businessman.

Munna falls in love with voice of the Radio Jockey Jahnvi . He is finally given the chance to meet her when the radio station announces a trivia contest concerning the life and beliefs of Mahatma Gandhi. He formulates a clever scheme and wins the contest. However, in the process Jahnvi is led to believe that Munna Bhai is a professor of history and subsequently asks him to present a lecture on Gandhi to the community of senior citizens which she takes care of at her home, Second Innings.

Munna decides that the only way out of this situation is to use the days prior to the lecture to learn as much as he can about the Mahatma. He puts himself through an intensive period of study in a library devoted to the life and works of Gandhi. It is during this period of study that the image of Gandhi begins to appear to Munna Bhai. With Gandhi on his side, Munna not only wins Jhanvi's heart, but through a radio show also teaches others how to solve their problems using Gandhi's principles. Soon, however, Munna finds his own life falling apart until he learns to practice what he preaches. The problems he faces lead him to cultivate a new life based upon Gandhism, particularly non-violence and telling the truth.

Director Raj Kumar Hirani has once again proved his mettle with the sequel. He presents a humorous and enlightening bouquet full of drama, emotions, earthly simplicity, romance, real life portrayals. Definitely one step ahead of the original. Some film critics might compare Lage Raho Munnabhai to Woody Allen's Play It Again Sam. However, I feel this comparison is utterly rubbish! Where did the film critic get such a foolish idea? The plot of Lage Raho Munnibhai is as original as it can get - you will believe it, when you watch it.

Raaghavaaaaan... Good Cop!

Saw Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu yesterday at Galleria Cineplex. Stepped into the theatre with lots of expecatations, and I have to admit that I wasn't dissappointed.

Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu stars Dr. Kamal Haasan, Jyothika, Kamalinee Mukherjee, Prakash Raj and the music composed by Harris Jayaraj. The film is directed by Gautham Menon. The story revolves around an honest cop in Tamil Nadu called Raghavan(Kamal Haasan).

Raghavan is deputed into an investigation of his colleague Arockiaraj's (Prakash Raj) daughter's murder case. After a few months Arockiaraj and his wife move to New York, to get away from the bitter memories after their daughter's murder. However, both Arockiaraj and his wife are found executed at their residence in New York.

Raghavan then goes to New York to investigate the cae. The investiagtion leads him to a series of corpses in New York at an abandoned fort. The rest of the story is all about how Raghavan finds out the culprit.

Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu is an awesome movie - nice direction, brilliant camerawork, cool story, and awesome performance and music. However, compared to Kaaka Kaaka, Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu does fall short of praises.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Croc Hunter's Dead

Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and environmentalist known as the ‘Crocodile Hunter’, was killed on Monday by a stingray while filming on the Great Barrier Reef. He was 44.

Irwin was in the water at Batt Reef, off the remote coast of north-eastern Queensland state, shooting a segment for a series called Ocean’s Deadliest when he swam too close to one of the animals, which have a poisonous barb on their tails, said John Stainton, a friend and colleague.

“He came on top of the stingray and the stingray’s barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart,” said Stainton, who was on board Irwin’s boat at the time.

Crew members aboard the boat, Croc One, called emergency services in the nearest city, Cairns, and administered CPR as they rushed the boat to nearby Low Isle to meet a rescue helicopter. Medical staff pronounced Irwin dead when they arrived a short time later, Stainton said.

Irwin was famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchword ‘Crikey!’ in his television programme Crocodile Hunter, which was first broadcast in Australia in 1992 before it was picked up by the Discovery network, catapulting him to international celebrity.

He rode his image into a feature film, 2002’s The Crocodile Hunters: Collision Course and developed the wildlife park that his parents opened, Australia Zoo, into a major tourist attraction.

“The world has lost a great wildlife icon, a passionate conservationist and one of the proudest dads on the planet,” Stainton told reporters in Cairns.

“He died doing what he loved best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. He would have said, Crocs Rule!”

Prime Minister John Howard, who hand-picked Irwin to attend a gala barbecue to honour US President George W. Bush when he visited in 2003, said he was “shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin’s sudden, untimely and freakish death”.

At Australia Zoo in Queensland, flowers were dropped at the entrance; drivers honked their horns as they passed.

Via Mumbai Mirror