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The Yahoo! Scare, Baba Kalyani, Aanachantham & the weekend February 9, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Movies, Pot Pourri.
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Uhmm… It’s another weekend in Muscat and it’s almost over! I went and watched Pokkiri again this afternoon – my dissertation on it is turning out pretty well. 🙂 Have like a ton of clothes to wash, gotta sort that out. Plus there is work I need to crack for tomorrow – a content assignment for a client that deals with pipes and valves for the oil & gas industry. I spent the better part of yesterday evening shopping for a washing machine. Saw some stuff at Bausher LuLu, but couldn’t decide on what I wanted. Have to make a few rounds before I go in for the kill. I went for ‘Baba Kalyani’ on Wednesday at Star. Wasn’t worth a second view, but had some time to kill! That’s the story from here this evening. Let me also post this entry which I had made on Tuesday, 6 Feb, but never ended up posting.

Tuesday, 6 Feb 2006:
Yahoo! really gave me the heebie-jeebies yesterday. I couldn’t access my yahoomail yesterday owing to some ‘technical failure’ from their end. This is what the ‘yahooligans’ had to say when I tried to log-in. I had to retrieve an important email id from my yahoomail and I had to anxiously wait for a few hours till the problem was sorted out. I did send an ‘error notification’ form to yahoomail customer care and sure they did respond back – only thing was that I could see the response only after the mail started working yest. Now, that’s funny right? And this is what they had to say: Thank you for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care. We received your question and the wheels of progress are in motion. A support rep will get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, please visit our online help center (http://help.yahoo.com/), if you have not already done so. You’ll find a lot of good information there. Wheels of progress, huh? I’ve been using yahoomail for over a decade now; I prefer it more than hotmail, and I use my mail to store important stuff – in my line of work, I constantly use yahoomail to be in touch with my clients, I prefer it better than my office outlook address. But since yest, which I hate to admit is the first time it has ever happened to me – I’m kinda wondering – Is it a wise idea to depend a lot on external mail providers to store your vital data? I mean, anything can happen to stuff on the web – technical failures, what not… I don’t know… I guess I need to keep other backups as well. Hmm!
I joined a new group on yahoo yest – railkerala. It’s actually fronted by a bunch of rail enthusiasts who belong to the Kerala chapter of IRFCA. It’s nice to be in the company of some ace rail nuts. I can’t wait to catch up with them – definitely the next time when I’m in India.
If you are from Kerala and wanna join a group of railnuts passionate about trains in Kerala, simply click on – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/railkerala/
I went for Jayaram’s Anachantham at Star Cinema yest. In a theatre that has got room for over 900 people, there were around 10 people. I liked the movie – pretty watchable. Don’t miss it – especially if you have a thing for elephants and want to catch glimpses of rural Kerala. Mohanlal’s Baba Kalyani is back again – might go this weekend – for the second time.

Raves & Rants from Dubai February 2, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Pot Pourri.
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I got to Dubai yesterday evening. Left Muscat at 4.30pm on an ONTC coach. Listened to music throughout the journey. Dozed off once in while. Got to the borders – Wajajah at Oman and Hatta at UAE. Thankfully there was hardly a crowd, and breezed through the visa application formalities in a jiffy. The traffic scene in Dubai was kinda OK, so got to Deira around 10.30pm. Got a cab, whizzed past Dubai, entered Sharjah and reached a dead end in Ajman. Spent close to 2 hours in a traffic gridlock in Ajman, where UAE nationals where celebrating their victory over Oman in the recent Gulf Football Cup Final. It was a crazy scene, with hundred of cars decked in the UAE national flag colours, confetti, flags, spray paint and what not clogging the roads, honking and generally kickin up a storm. Wondered what would be the scene if UAE actually won the FIFA cup. Btw, today the UAE national football team is gonna b given a grand reception by the ruler of Dubai, which includes a ceremonial ride around Dubai Roads before leading them the Global Village at Dubai Shopping Festival. Also, it happens to be the last day of DSF. Got to Ajman where I am staying, a little past midnight. Spent time with my folks and then slept like a log. Woke up in the morning and checked my blog and discovered that Etisalat, the ISP here, had blocked my blog’s Flickr widget, that enables you to see my Flickr album in this blog as a slideshow. Etisalat says: “We apologize the site you are attempting to visit has been blocked due to its content being inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates.” What’s my Flickr photo album with India travel snaps got to do with the religious, cultural, political & moral values of the UAE?????!!!!
Oh yes, if you guys are headed to the Marina Mall at Abu Dhabi today, you can catch a glimpse of the Ferrari F1 drivers – Raikkonen and Massa. Mubadala, a UAE based investment firm, has picked up a piece of Ferrari F1 and they have brought in these guys to the UAE. Neat! When is Mubadala gonna pick up a stake in the Indian cricket team?
Before I log off, let me tell you an interesting thing that happened yest… there is this mag called Thursday that comes with the newspaper Times of Oman. The current issue of Thursday has got a student – a young chappie on its cover… well what’s wrong with that you may ask – the current issue is after all on exams and students – and there’s a serious looking young bloke clutching his pen and deadpanning into the camera surrounded by a heap of tomes… now for the surprise bit – he looks just like me, except for the nose!!!
Found that coincidence pretty intriguing – especially with people asking me – r u the guy on Thursday… lol…
have you ever run into someone who resembles you in looks? Okie dokie, that’s my news from over here, what’s yours?

National Day Holidays – Trip to Marmul December 3, 2006

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Pot Pourri.
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Last weekend, I went on a bus ride to Marmul . For those unaware of Oman’s oil production capabilities, Marmul is a major oil exploration outpost in the Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) concession area. Marmul is 880km from Muscat and a bus ride lasts around 11 hours. I travelled in Happy Line Transport, a leading luxury coach company offering daily services to Marmul and other PDO locations in the deserts of Oman such as Fahud, Yibal, Qarn Alam and Saih Rawl.

We took off from the Ruwi Bus Station at Muscat around 7am. We stopped at Firq Roundabout in Nizwa for breakfast, which is a major halting point for all luxury coaches operating on the Muscat – Salalah Highway. Before and after Adam, we ran into a huge convoy of military vehicles probably making a ‘base move’ which significantly slackened our pace.14km from Haima, we turned left to get into the PDO concession area. The bus stopped at Rima, Nimr and Bahja on its way to Marmul (PDO outposts similar to Marmul).

A rig move between Rima and Nimr had us trailing behind the trailers carrying heavy equipment at a speed of 50kph for over an hour. We finally reached Marmul at around 6pm, 1.5 hours late compared to the normal journey time. The highlight of the down trip to Marmul was witnessing a beautiful sunset in the desert– a gigantic, resplendent orange fireball dropping down into the sands like a fireball from the heavens right ahead of the lonesome desert highway. Sorry, I have no pic… you just have to imagine the sight.

I travelled back to Muscat the same evening by car. A journey on the Muscat – Salalah Highway which is just hitting the gas on a straight road in the middle of the desert for hundreds of kilometres can be a pretty boring experience, but do keep a wary eye for camels that can jump in front of your vehicle, especially in the night. I did encounter a herd in the middle of the night. As always, responsible driving and alertness on the road pays. I also happened to see the mangled wreckage of what was once a Lexus next to the highway – the aftermath of a deadly collision with a truck – it’s left there as a reminder to all motorists that speed thrills, but also kills!

On a parting note, meet Mittu, the affable blue-cheeked bee eater who is always hanging about my flat’s balcony.

Schmoozie says Hi! November 27, 2006

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Pot Pourri.
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Hello…The weather’s been pretty great in Muscat today, with the clouds sailing past my glassy windowscape at work and the sun playing peekaboo. With people in office discussing their holiday plans from 29 Nov to 1 Dec (National Day Hols in Oman when the country goes off to snooze), I chipped in with my travel plans for my vacation. I have got 10 more days to go before I take off for a month to India. One definite thing I’m looking forward to this vacation is to do an ‘India trip on rails’. Being a train freak myself, it’s been a long time dream to travel across India on trains and check out the sights one of the most beautiful lands on Earth has to offer.The IndRail pass offers an excellent way to explore India on rails for a designated period of time. I will have to go one of these days to National Travel & Tours in Muscat to pick up my IndRail pass. http://www.indiatravelite.com/railway/indrailpass.htm

I will be taking a pass for 21 days, which would cost me around US$ 198 which works out to around Rial Omani 76. And this pass entitles me to travel in 2AC, 3AC, Sleeper and General classes in virtually any train in India for 21 days, without paying any reservation or supplementary charges. Works well for me, since I am planning to hop on, hop off trains as I go places…I’ve been taking pointers from friends at work on my Bharat Yatra (Indian Trip)…

Chan, the art director at the agency says that it’s better to travel in AC class during winter… as sleeper compartments will be all covered up and would get very stuffy and uncomfortable to travel in. He highly recommends AC travel… while I know I will really miss awesome rail sights including rumbling trains, idyllic railway stations and picturesque views if I am boarded in a darkened AC compartment…

Shanty, the copy chief at agency and close compatriot was recommending places of interest to visit… he suggests taking off on the breathtaking Konkan Railway Route with stopovers at Mahe, Karwar & Mumbai before taking off for Rajasthan and then coming back to Goa, where he recommends me to spend a few days checking out Goa, Madgaon, Kulem, the babes n beaches till Christmas before coming back to Kerala sometime around New Year…

Will keep you posted on the travel plans… Ciao 4 now!