Thursday, December 31, 2009

Movie Review: Venkata in Sankata

Laughter all the way
Cast: Ramesh Arvind, Mukhyamantri Chandru, Umashree and others;
Director: Ramesh Arvind

All through my college days I would hear about the loss of quality in the Kannada cinema. I was never a big time movie watcher and hence it didn't do much to change my opinion. Now after coming to the US I actually started watching movies of all types, primarily out of boredom. Being a poor student I can't afford to do many of the cool things such as bowling, going to the movies, eating out, etc. So what is the best form of entertainment. Yes watching movies on youtube. As I watched English, and Hindi movies I decided to look for recent Kannada movies and watch them.

Yesterday I watched this notoriously hilarious Kannada movie Venkata in Sankata. Out of the 2 hr 21 minutes, if I said I laughed for 2 hrs it would not be false. The movie is completely funny and every scene has a bit of humor. Ramesh is a great actor and he has proved that he is a great director too.

The movie traces the professional life and adventures of police sub inspector Venkata whose fate always seems to be against him. His colleague somehow always seems to take credit for his actions and a frustrated Venkata is yearning to do something about it.

There is a terrorist attack in the city and Venkata is assigned the case. The way he goes about doing it and win forms the gist of the story. In between there is the heroine and few songs which add the necessary "oomph" factor to the movie. Even without these added gimmicks the movie is a good entertainer.

If you have lost hope about Kannada Cinema, watch this and I am sure you will change your opinion.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post Christmas Slump

Yesterday was Christmas with lots of snow and ice and most shops were closed after heavy festival sales. One would naturally expect the sales to continue through new year. But today's shoppers got a rude surprise when they hit the stores... the prices were back to their highs and only the clearance items were cheap and low priced. American retailers sure know how to get customers into their stores and make them spend more than they expected to.
At least it is good for the economy, someone is making money.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Snow

This is the first snowy Christmas in the past 3 years that I have been here. It started off as a mild rain yesterday morning and soon turned into a snowfall and by nightfall it was a full blown snow fall. The roads were covered with a carpet of snow and it was dangerous to drive.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Online Knowledgebase

The internet is a huge repository of information. How much of it can be considered knowledge is a big question. General searches will throw up millions of websites that contain related data. It is very difficult to find authentic, relevant and correct information/ data/ knowledge on the subjects we are searching for. Looking at this chaos entrepreneurs have come up with their solutions. One of the recent developments is the springing up for websites which contain articles on various subjects.

For example a search on Health Weight Loss would yield thousands of responses on a search engine. But by visiting this dedicated site which contains articles by experts on the related subject it would be lot easier to find the information we are looking for.

One might argue that there are so many websites that contain articles on all subjects, what is the big deal about another one that is joining the web. Well I agree that there are several websites that features articles on various subjects but how many of them feature articles that are written by experts? How many feature articles with references and further reading on the research?

These are some of the things one needs to look for while looking up for an article base on the internet.

Vistas of Meteor Crater

Yesterday I blogged about our visit to Meteor Crater and how the private owners have created a swank shopping and educative space in the desert. This is a very successful business model which benefits the individual, visitors and the government. The individual owner of the property preserves, maintains, and promotes the place. Visitors get the opportunity to learn about meteors and other space phenomena and the government gets its taxes. It is a win-all situation from all aspects.
Here are some more pictures of the Meteor Crater. I wish they would allow visitors to go down into the depths of the crater, but since they have done some mining in the past looking for precious metals at the site of the meteor fall, they are little wary of letting people inside the crater. For now visitors have to content themselves looking over the rim of the crater and the museum does offer some guided hiking tours which take visitors half-way round the crater.
Meteor Crater, Arizona Meteor Crater, Arizona - View of the left side of the crater wall Meteor Crater View

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Meteor Crater, Arizona

Meteor Crater in Arizona is one of the largest craters in the world formed as a result of impact of meteor showers. Surprisingly this crater is not a government owned national monument, but a privately held museum which offers tours, and allows visitors to look around for a fee. One good thing though is that the private owners of this crater have not modified it or exploited the land for commercial purposes. The location continues to be one huge crater located amidst the rugged desert/ arid state of Arizona in the US. This location has been used by the NASA to train astronauts in the past. There have been allegations that the original moon landing by Neil Armstrong, et al was a hoax and that it was filmed here. I don't know about those conspiracy theories, all I know is that I visited this huge crater and stood on its periphery. The attached exhibition is a great place to learn about space explorations, meteors and comets. It would be a great place to take kids to educate them in a fun filled way about space.
External administrative building of the Meteor Crater, Arizona Meteor Crater

Holidays are here, are you ready to make tantalizing Gravy?

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Club House. All opinions are 100% mine.



Every year during Christmas season many women and men get stressed out on a seemingly inconspicuous part of the festivities. These people are worried about making good gravy which is a very integral and tasty part of the traditional Christmas meal. What is the big deal about making Gravy? It is a big deal because making gravy from a scratch is a very time consuming and tedious process. Sourcing the right quality ingredients in the correct quantity can be quite stressful.

I was watching a gravy tips video which provides amazing hints about how to save time and still make the best possible gravy for this festival season. For all those who are worried about their Christmas feast I recommend you watch this educative and entertaining video before you start your cooking. I am sure you will feel relieved at the end of it.

When there is a problem, there is bound to be a solution. The solution in this case is to use some readily available raw materials to prepare gravy. I am talking about the Club House Gravy mix which gives the option to add roast drippings and make great gravy. This is one of the most dependable mix with which you can make wonderful gravy which will be cherished the memories of your family and friends.

This year there will be no tension about preparing the Christmas meal because Club House Gravy mix is here and your cooking time will be greatly reduced. Club House Gravy products bring out their periodical newsletter which offers tips to culinary enthusiasts on cooking and also a contest has been announced on their website. Winners get fabulous prizes, so don't wait just log on and visit the newsletter sign-up and contest entry page. You never know, your lucky day might be just here.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Walnut Canyon: The Grand Finale

I have posted three blogs about Walnut Canyon and I am pretty sure some of you may be quite irritated about it. Anyway here are the final set of pictures I would like to share with you all about Walnut Canyon, next we will talk about Meteor Crater in Arizona, which is famous among many "Moon Landing Fake Theorists" as the location where the entire moon landing was filmed. Anyway that will come later, for now let us look at few more pictures of Walnut Canyon.
Forested Slopes of Walnut Canyon

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Walnut Canyon continued....

The ancient peoples that lived in Walnut Canyon continue to haunt me and I would like to write a little more about them. Looking at their homes, and the surroundings I would conclude that they lived in perilous, hostile and rough areas. The Canyon was surrounded by wilderness and they pretty much built homes on the steep slopes of the canyon. Far below in the valley bed is the flowing river which is the only source of water for these people. To get their regular meal they had to struggle and work hard cultivating corn and hunting in the wilderness. Water had to hauled up from the stream below. I am sure the community lost some of its members because of accidents, they would have just fallen off the path into the ravine and gotten washed away in the river.
Anyway coming back to this post I would like to present some pictures of the steep slopes where the homes were built. A cursory look at the image would not reveal any dwelling/ construction. This I guess provided them a natural camouflage. Look at the pictures and see if you can identify any of the ancient homes.
Steep slopes of Walnut Canyon
Walnut Canyon slopes where native americans lived
Rocky edifices of Walnut Canyon
See the Home in the slope!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Views of Walnut Canyon, Arizona

I introduced Walnut Canyon in my previous post and how it was a thriving settlement of Native Americans during the 1200s. In this post I would like to present images of the buildings in which these early peoples lived. The way they innovated and used natural rock surfaces as walls and roofs and built just one wall to create a home amidst the most hostile and precarious surroundings. Here are a few examples of the homes and dwellings of Native Americans in the Walnut Canyon of Arizona.
Wall of a ruined home in Walnut Canyon
Remains of a home in Walnut Canyon
Home remains in Walnut Canyon

Friday, December 18, 2009

Arizona's Walnut Canyon

When I was in India America/ US meant couple of things such as New York, Los Angeles, Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, etc. Till the time I landed here I hadn't known that there exist several natural, historical and heritage locations in this country. I got first hand knowledge about this conglomerate of states when I first traveled from Los Angeles to Dallas stopping at several interesting locations enroute.

One of the locations we stopped at was Walnut Canyon, a narrow and deep gorge like valley in the middle of Arizona. This was the site of large native American settlement as recently as 1200 CE. These native Americans were either killed or forced out of their location by invading immigrant Europeans, let us not get into that for now. Today Walnut Canyon is a national park and preserved location. The pre-historic dwellings, artifacts and other heritage items have been protected and signage installed to educate visitors about the location. Here are a few pictures of the Walnut Canyon and the ruins found there.
Walnut Canyon Facade
Walnut Canyon: Another view of the valley/ gorge
A view of the valley where native Americans lived in Walnut Creek/ Canyon

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Visual Travel Guides!!!

Travel guides traditionally have been books, then came the era of VHS, then CDs and the internet. PDF downloadable guide books were next and then there are Blogs, websites, promotional webpages etc hit the market in a big way. But now the latest product to hit the market is Visual travel guides from Magellan. The USP of these guides is that travelers can get the real feel of a place before they decide to go there. If after seeing the Visual Travel guides don't appeal to anybody they will not visit that destination. These guides come at a price though, for $20 you could visit a popular city like San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and many other places. This may well be the next wave of travel publications.

Painted Desert and Petrified Forest

Arizona in the US is quite similar in terrain to the cold Himalayan desert region of Ladakh in India. One national park I particularly liked in Arizona is the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest national park. This is one place where nature's beauty and power of transformation along with the human destruction can be seen vividly. The park features colorful hills formed by flooding, then we can see trees turned into stone of myriad colors and textures. Then lastly we can also see how humans have destroyed several of the natural heritage by cutting them and carting them off for private and commercial uses.
Colorful hills in the Painted desert

Colorful hills in the Painted desert


Cross section of a petrified wood block

Cross section of a petrified wood block

Blocks of petrified wood strewn around in the desert

Blocks of petrified wood strewn around in the desert

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cold, boring but hectic winter days

The best thing about blogs, they just keep going. Hence I continue to blog about what's happening in my life even if it is most boring even for me to write about. I have been raving and ranting about winter and how the cold windy weather is preventing me from getting outdoors and doing something. Something good about winter though is that there is a lot of part time/ temp jobs available... so I am at least able to make some money during the holiday season... I hope the job streak continues into spring and summer....

Friday, December 11, 2009

World's Friendliest Countries: A Rigged Survey???

I found this news article on MSNBC. I must say that I am quite sure that this survey doesn't reflect the ground reality of the state of nations across the world. I say this because I have several questions about the survey. The study was conducted with only 3,100 respondents, in a world of 6 billion people, and several million living as expatriates in various countries this number is just too small to be of consideration. Second even among the nations studied the number of respondents differed. For example only 35 respondents were surveyed in Bahrain (ranked 1), while more than 450 people were surveyed in UK.

The media is calling the results surprising, but I call it fixed for one of the two reasons. Either HSBC has some vested interest in promoting Bahrain as a great country for expatriates or someone among the researchers want to aggressively market Universal Healthcare proposed by Obama Administration. Most of the respondents from Bahrain praised the public healthcare system highly.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Save on Name Brand products!!!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Bidazzled. All opinions are 100% mine.



The festival-holiday season is coming up. Are you wondering about how to buy all the name brand stuff for your kids, loved ones, and family? The economy is down and money is tight, but there are opportunities to save and celebrate well. There is a new auction site Bidazzled, where one can buy name brand products for 80% off of the retail price.

The unique features of this website is that there are no winners and losers in this auction. If you lose the auction you get a 50 bonus bids as a note of thanks. If you don't have the patience to bid and wait for the auction to get over you can purchase the items for lesser price also. In case you win and decide that you don't want the product, Bidazzled will make an offer to buy it back for cash (paypal or check). Last month two participants won Nintendo Wii's with just 5 free bids.

Still unsure how this whole auction thing works? Let me do something for you I will give you 15 Additional Bids, until January 15. All you need to do is to enter this code (BBP1202A) on the registration page, there is no obligation or cost of any kind.

Apart from all this to encourage you to spread the word among your friends Bidazzled has started a lucrative Viral Referral program too. Here is how it works
*A refers B. A receives 5 Bonus Bids
*B refers C. A receives 4 Bonus Bids
*C refers D. A receives 3 Bonus Bids
*D refers E. A receives 2 Bonus Bids
*E refers F. A receives 1 Bonus Bid.

Are you all excited? Just go to Bidazzled and get your stuff for the holiday season. Hurry you might miss some great goodies if you delay.

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Fall and Winter chills!!!

Quercus garryana (Garry Oak)Image by brewbooks via Flickr

It is that time of the year when I regret being in Dallas. It doesn't snow and transform the surroundings to milky white complexion, the sun never shines through the misty, foggy and cloudy atmosphere. The trees shorn of leaves and brown grass make the already bleak scenery appear duller. There is nothing one could do during the fall other than go out and eat. Winters in Dallas are punishment for outdoor lovers like me. Three more months of pain before I can go out and enjoy activities... unless there is a sudden miraculous burst of sunshine, which can happen in Dallas.
Most outdoors people in Dallas survive the winter with this hope that there will be some days in between which are warm and sunny...

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Online Education - The Way Forward

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of USC. All opinions are 100% mine.



To remain ahead in our career it is important that we get trained and retrained so that we keep abreast of the latest happenings in the job marketplace. Often times it is necessary to go back to school and take some classes to equip ourselves with new skills to advance our career at the work place. With a full time job and family most people find it difficult to go to school. The best solution for these people is online education.

I recently came across this superbly interactive online education course which combines theoretical knowledge with on-the-job experiences. The program information says that it is being offered by the USC Rossier School of Education. The school's MAT@USC is a great place for teachers offers both current and aspiring to earn a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree. The best part of this offer is that one can set their own schedules for classes and study, because the entire program is online.

There are several perks of studying online at USC, the first thing being the program being online and accelerated so what would take 2 years in a traditional brick and mortar classroom setting, you will complete in just 12 months. They have a tuition reimbursement program to help you to pay for college.

Well what is so great about USC you might ask. For starters what does the fact that USC has been ranked #22 in the US and #9 among private universities by the US News and World Report? Impressive! The school has been teaching teachers since the past century. The school is extending all the benefits and status of regular full time students to its online students also, including free lifetime Alumni Association memberships.

I would say this is a great opportunity for anyone who wishes to become a teacher. Explore the unlimited learning opportunities at USC and advance your career.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Snow and Ice Heralds Winter in DFW

The weather in Dallas is quite similar to Delhi, searing hot summers and freezing cold winters. It rarely snows and usually towards the end of winter sometime in January/ February. This year was an aberration, it snowed this morning. I woke up to see the roofs and lawns of our apartment swathed in white powdery snow. The cold and white brought memories of my stint in the Himalayas rushing back to my mind. I smiled as I thought of those footloose days when I would just quit the job and head off to enjoy the unending mystic of the snow capped Mountains. It was so easy to land a job those days. Today the picture is quite different... almost a decade older, with lot more responsibilities... my life has certainly changed....

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Not-so-Happy Thanksgiving

This is the festival season in the US and this year the cheer has not been very high. Yesterday was Thanksgiving day and today is the much acclaimed Black Friday. Retailers and corporations across the country gear up for this one day of extensive shopping by consumers. A phenomenon which did not happen today, at least not as much as it happened last year or the year before.

The economic downturn which resulted in massive job losses is starting to show its effect on retail industry as well. People simply can't afford to buy as they used to in the past. I wonder whether the US as a nation and the people will learn from this economic downturn and save. It would be interesting to see where America heads in the next half-century. With so many threats looming for this "immigrant nation" including that of home grown Islamic terrorism (the Fort Hood Shootout is a classic example) and the Iraq and Afghanistan war, it is definitely the stage where the world's drama will be played out.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Charter's Smashing End-of-the-year offers!!!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Charter Communication. All opinions are 100% mine.



Chartercom_black_friday__234x134 One of things I love about Charter communications is their creativity in coming up with new and innovative deals and offerings. Since the past two years Charter has been one company which has been giving away fantastic gifts such as a HDTV every day, a brand new eco-friendly Toyota Prius for greenhorns and a fancy 2010 Chevy Camaro 2SS for the speedsters, for the gaming aficionados Charter gave away Xbox 360s. It is a wonder that this company gave away expensive prizes even in this economy.

As the year comes to an end Charter has decided to make one big bang before the year comes to a close. There are two easy ways to win great deals on charter cable, internet and phone services. There are gift cards and special deals which would enable you to win really cool prizes.

Check out this snazzy Thanksgiving offer, starting Black Friday and going on through Cyber Monday, Charter is offering $200 gift cards for those who sign up for their special online deals. The gift cards are from major retailers, clothing, home, accessories, electronics and even restaurants. This would save you money during the festivities.

The specials don't end on Monday, they are just beginning and will continue through the next 38 days. Every single special deals and prizes and great gifts will be given away to Charter customers. So if you want prizes you need to check out Charter’s Daily Deal Web Site
more often. Prizes and gifts include iPods, camcorders, TVs, GPS units, webcams, photo frames and lots more. There are lots of Big Love and Entourage box-sets too.

If you think that visiting their website everyday is a hassle then just become a fan of Charter on Facebook and you will be kept updated of all the new deals, offers and gifts. Now is this enough reason to celebrate or are you still waiting for something magical from Charter???

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Volunteer and help Exotic Cats in Texas!!!

I had blogged about Insync Exotics, a non-profit organization based out of Wylie, Tx which is working towards providing safe, decent, and healthy homes to abandoned, ill treated and diseased exotic cats. I volunteered at this place on two occasions and though I would like to do more the paucity of time has prevented me from spending more time working with these regal cats. I do hope that sometime soon I will be able to make the time to volunteer at the shelter.

Anyway yesterday I got an e-mail from the volunteer coordinator which I would like to append for all my readers so if any of you are free you could help out.








VOLUNTEERS WANTED!

NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!!



In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue and care of abused and neglected exotic cats. We are building three new enclosures for several of our cats and need people willing to help with construction. All materials and equipment are supplied; you only need to bring yourself - and any willing friends! This is a great opportunity for service groups or individuals looking to meet community service requirements or simply wanting to be involved in something great!

For more information about volunteering or to make a donation, feel free to “take a tab” and give us a call or visit our website at http://www.insyncexotics.com or call on 972–442-6888

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fantastic iPod/ iPhone Acessory

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Yamaha. All opinions are 100% mine.



Ever since I bought the iPhone I have fallen in love with the gleaming electronic gadget which offers a world of possibilities. Prior to getting the iPhone I was of the firm belief that phones are for talking and there is no need for other features. All this changed after I set my eyes on the iPhone. When I first handled a friends iPhone I was totally impressed by its games, movies, internet, and other facilities.

In a matter of few days I bought one for myself and now me and my iPhone are simply inseparable. I use the iPhone for everything, talking, e-mail, internet browsing, games, videos, listening to music, radio, etc. The possibilities are simply endless. If at all I want something more from the iPhone, it would be greater volume for its sound applications.

This gap is effectively being filled up by the Yamaha PDX-60 Speaker Dock, which comes equipped with he yAired (tm) wireless technology. According to what I read about this new gadget, it connects with the iPhone/ iPod seamlessly and instantly. There will be no buffering or delay in the sounds and the quality will be the same deep, rich bass. Another great feature is its dual charging facility which means that both iPhone and iPod or two iPhones can be charged at the same time.

I am simply enamored by the brand new Yamaha PDX-60 and definitely look forward to check it out soon.

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Book Review: Wanna Study in the U.S. 101 Tips to get you there!

Guide to US-bound students
Wanna Study in the U.S.? 101 Tips to get you there! by Natasha Pratap; Rupa & Co, Price: Rs.395; 302 pp

According to recently published US student enrollment statistics, India has surpassed
China as the No.1 country of origin for foreign students in American universities. Last year (2000-09) the aggregate Indian student population enrolled in institutions of higher education (95,000) topped the Chinese total. With a large and growing number of Indian students hell-bent on pursuing at least a part of their education in the US, this aggregate number is expected to grow by 20-25 percent annually. But making it into the US of A for higher study is easier said than done. With half the third world’s population fleeing communism, socialism, dictatorship and plain socio-economic mismanagement, aspiring to enter this fabled land of opportunity, the US immigration and naturalisation service is working overtime to keep out the scrambling hordes – especially after 9/11. Unsurprisingly the admission process is tedious and difficult questions are raised about adequacy of funding. Visa procedures too have become complicated.

For the swelling number of hopefuls fleeing India’s dumbed down institutions of higher education, Natasha Pratap’s maiden book Wanna Study in the US? 101 Tips To Get You There! is a boon. This easy-to-read volume written in simple English is a comprehensive compendium of accurate information and useful guidelines to students and professionals on ways and means of accessing American universities and institutions of higher education. “There is so much to be gained from a US education, that I continue to be grateful for it every day. Studying in the US is about pushing your boundaries: academically, intellectually, geographically and emotionally. The best thing is fearlessness and confidence I developed from my own experience. Choose to study in the US because it is better. Go because you will be the better for it,” writes Pratap an alumna of the blue chip Cambridge (UK), Stanford and Boston universities.

The merits of this chatty and unapologetically how-to book apart, a striking achievement is that she has persuaded Mukesh Ambani, chairman & managing director of the telecom, textile, petroleum and IT behemoth, Reliance Industries Ltd to write the foreword. “All these years, information on studying in the US was limited to a privileged class of Indian students, by virtue of their advantaged school, teacher and peer group environments. This book would democratise this advantage to a much wider cross section of Indian students,” says Ambani, himself a Stanford alumnus.

Though the information, data and procedural guidelines provided in this deliberately casually titled book is by no means novel, the fact that it has been collated, sorted and compiled into a one-point, well-laid out compendium is its unique selling proposition. “When friends asked me questions on their applications or essays I realised that what seemed obvious to me was not to others. Book stores in Mumbai had little information on the application procedure, and even prospectuses of colleges say little. The internet is too vast and some information is misleading. Since I had experienced the system first hand I decided to write this book,” says Pratap explaining her motivation to write this valuable guide.

Though the author claims to have completed this comprehensive volume in just seven weeks, this 302-page compendium is well organised into 11 main chapters each offering valuable nuggets of information and advice. The main chapters are: top 10 reasons to study in the US; 101 tips on the application process; scholarships from Indian sources; visa Q&A in consultation with the US Consulate, Mumbai; interviews with Stanford and Harvard university heads; application datelines; a special section for parents titled ‘heart to heart with indian parents’ among others.

Particularly useful is the chapter which includes the essays (SoPs) of Indian students which dazzled admission evaluators of blue-chip universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale and Columbia. The essays are discussed and dissected with the plus and minus points highlighted. “Many applicants tend to borrow SoPs from others and then modify it (sic). You may not be exposed to the kind of introspection and writing that applications to US universities demand. For many, the idea of writing itself is overwhelming and the nature of the questions makes them apprehensive. By including the essays of people who have gone through the process and written everything themselves, I want to illustrate that the task at hand may be different, but is not incredibly difficult,” explains the author, no mean correspondent herself who has written for publications such as The Asian Wall Street Journal, The Economic Times, The Times of India, The Indian Express, Mid-day, Verve, Man’s World and Elle.

The overwhelmingly major preoccupation of Indian students aspiring to education abroad – scholarships and bursaries – is also addressed. There seems little awareness that the natural instinct of institutions of higher education in the industrialised nations is to levy higher tuition fees on foreign students than payable by natives. Nevertheless there is widespread belief that scholarships are available in plenty. Wanna Study provides a list of trusts and foundation which offer (usually grudging) scholarships and bursaries to merit students.

Though a useful guide to the growing number of students driven to foreign universities by the abysmal and declining Indian institutions of higher education being relentlessly dumbed down by politicians and educrats, the publication and reportedly enthusiastic reception to Wanna Study is a wake-up call to Indian academia. That a rising number of Indian students are ready to pay relatively huge tuition and residential costs abroad and endure the rigours of incrementally humiliating visa and admission processes is a severe indictment of India’s higher education system. Quite evidently Indian educationists and academics need to get their act together and canalise the huge annual outflow of hard currencies into their own cash-starved institutions. But this requires the practice rather than mere preaching of excellence in Indian academia.



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Canadians: $20,000 Kitchen Makeover can be yours!!!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Dr. Oetker. All opinions are 100% mine.



How would you like to win a $20,000 Kitchen Makeover??? Imagine what all you could add to jazz up your kitchen with $20,000. It is easy to enter this contest, there is not entry fees or forms to fill in. All you have to do is to pick up a PIN from specially marked packages of Cass Di Mama Pizza and enter it in the website. Lo you will be automatically entered into the Dr. Oetker Kitchen Makeover Contest, the best thing about the contest is that there is no limit to the number of PINs you could enter. The more you enter the higher your chances of winning are.

Don't worry if you don't win the $20,000 grand prize you could walk away with one of the eight second prizes which include Whirlpool appliances: a fridge/ freezer, freestanding electric range, dishwasher and microwave. Then there are 2,000 consolation prizes which is a Cass di Mama Pizza or a pizza cutter. Like all other good things this contest too has some limitations. The first is that it ends on January 4, 2010. Secondly it is open only to Canadians.

While entering the contest it would be a great idea to become a member of Savoury Moments. The membership will entitle you a periodical newsletter full of fun information, more contests, tips and great savings.

Personally speaking the first thing I'd do with the $20,000 kitchen makeover would be to install fancy new counter tops, appliances and of course a large new refrigerator. This would give my kitchen a new look and also help me cook faster and better.

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Movie Review: Mandinga

Slavery, Sexploitation and Incest

I would never have come across this flic if not for youtube's new movie channel. This a movie about the slavery era of United States of America, when being a white man was the most privileged status one could aspire for. The movie starts off with the arrival of the sister-in-law of a plantation owner from England. The guest's sister had died mysteriously and she pretty much comes to take her place in the plantation. The plantation owner as like every other white man lusts after the female slaves, though black and considered beneath animals.

One such slave girl is the virgin daughter of the chief of Mandinga tribe. A group of hardy, strong and supposedly exotic black people. She is raped by the plantation owner and predictably becomes pregnant and delivers a baby. The infant is hidden away by the other slaves who fear that the owner might kill it. Despite a long winded search the owner is unable to find the baby.

Meanwhile the white woman is lusting after slave men to satisfy her carnal cravings. A few years pass and the only son of plantation owner, Clarence, returns from England after completing his education. The white woman immediately latches on to him and starts a torrid affair with him. Clarence while at the market meets the daughter of the pastor and promptly falls in love with her and decides to get married. A fact detested by his aunt and paramour, who is awaiting for revenge.

The newly wedded bride gets pregnant and delivers a bonny baby boy but the infant is black and not white. This confounds everyone and they all decide that she has indeed cheated on her husband and hence a black child was born. Clarence returns and what takes place forms the crux of the story. If you can digest watching the gory sex scenes and sights of a woman forcing herself on a imprisoned man you will get to the part when the plot is revealed.

The movie is one of the several C grade flics churned out from Hollywood and clearly exposes the desire of white people to show off their superiority. Even the slave girl who is raped is supposed to be the daughter of a chief, a princess in short. Why? an ordinary slave girl couldn't have gotten pregnant from the rapacious owners??? Or is the director attempting to show that even when slaves were raped their social class was considered???

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Affordable Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico

One of the biggest obsessions, especially of women, in America is to look young, beautiful/ sexy and desirable for as long as one lives. There is nothing wrong with the desire to look good and feel beautiful. In fact this entire culture of wanting to look young and beautiful has spawned a whole new industry in the healthcare field: surgical weight loss and body enhancing programs. The exorbitant cost of these surgeries have kept people away from them. There is hope now with clinics in Mexico offering low cost of lap band surgery.

This is a great opportunity for those wanting to lose weight but who don't have the time to exercise or the inclination to diet. The cost of a lap band surgery in Mexico is now affordable and easily accessible. In the US it costs around $14,000-25,000 for a lapband surgery. The same procedure would cost less than half the price in Mexico and other countries. Surgery prices start from $5,000-$7,000 and this is all inclusive.

I would say this is a great opportunity with several benefits. You could travel to Mexico, get a surgery done and with the money saved you could take a relaxing holiday and come back home feeling completely rejuvenated. That would be a great holiday gift for yourself wouldn't it?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Shocking Reality of America

To date it is rare to see a news report, movie, radio show, or even people talking about poverty or the poor in the US. Even if they speak about poor people it is spoken in comparison with poorer countries like India. Several months ago I read an article about an individual who went to Bangalore to get an heart bypass surgery done, because he couldn't afford it in the US. The writer of the article had given such a twist that it showed India as a nation without any healthcare facilities for poor people.

Anyway coming back to this instance of blogging I was reading about Lawrie Covey, who lost her job two years ago and has been living on unemployment benefits. She is 58 and she is struggling to make ends meet. She is selling her blood plasma twice a week for a paltry $50. This is the reality of the poor in the US... not much different from the poor in India on the surface. But there is a difference... a huge difference, created by the government.

This woman owns a car (old and beat up), lives in a proper home (rented), enjoys central heating, cooling, and has internet access. This is the difference that the Indian government could make in the lives of its people, provide the infrastructure facilities such as clean running water, electricity, internet, roads, and most importantly quality education for all.

Poverty has been, is now and will continue to be an integral part of any country's population. There simply cannot be a country, society, or region of the world without disparity in financial strength of its people. And when people get desperate for money, be it in India or in the US they will be willing to sell anything... including their own blood to make ends meet....

That is the irony of life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Make Money on Twitter!!!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Sponsored Tweets. All opinions are 100% mine.


The growth of social media is providing immensely large number of earning opportunities to enterprising individuals. I personally have been affected in a positive way by social media. My first exposure to social marketing was through payperpost, then it was social spark, and now the latest buzz in the social media marketing arena is twitter. The pioneers in social media IZEA Inc is offering a grand opportunity to make money on Twitter. You could simply sign up for sponsored tweets and start earning off of your twitter account.

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Hitherto it was mainly social entrepreneurs signing up to earn a few dollars more. But with IZEA's entry into Twitter, several celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Bob Vila, Sister Hazel and Leann Rimes have jumped onto the bandwagon and are making money tweeting.

Getting sponsored tweets is not difficult, all you need to do is sign up for a twitter account and register the same with Izea. Advertisers will contact you with offers to tweet their message across your networks, you can set your own price for tweets and also for clicks. Moreover you have the choice whether or not to accept an advertiser's offer. If you are not interested in the offer you can simply refuse to tweet the message.

The more popular you are online the better this scheme works for you. So gather up all your friend's e-mail ids and invite them to follow you on twitter. The larger your followers circle, the more money you stand to make.

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Wondering What to Blog about???

I have been pretty lax about blogging of late. Truth is nothing exciting is happening in my life and with school, part time jobs, and job hunting I hardly get any time to spend in front of this 'intelligent box'. Yep I called the laptop computer 'intelligent box' because the TV has been called the 'idiot box' for a long long time... I call the PC an intelligent box because this makes one think and attempt to create something. More often than not while working on the PC the mind gets stimulated, while the same doesn't happen while watching TV.

Coming back to my life in the Big D, within Big T, which is within the Big A has remained pretty much the same over the past two years. We moved from one city to another within 9 miles distance. The job market is as bad as it was when I landed here... probably a little worse. All my life in India I never had to struggle to find a job. In fact I always had couple of offers on hand. I have never felt so worthless in my life than here in the US looking for the elusive job.

I wonder when I will land a proper full-time job in this country. Sometimes I wonder whether I will ever get a job, sometimes I feel hopeful that I will get a particular job when I apply but it soon fizzles out like a damp squib. Life is such that one has to keep doing something to make a living and that is what I am doing. Trying to make a living... it is difficult but I am trying... and will continue to keep trying.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Seeking a career in Culinary Arts???

The economic downturn has seen thousands seeking out schools in the quest for a career switch. One of the careers that will never go out of fashion is in the food and beverage industry. Popularly known as culinary arts, this will remain in trend till people are eating and drinking. To make it big in this glamorous industry one has to attend a good culinary institute.

One of the highly regarded schools in this field would be the Northwest Culinary Institute, a division of International Air and Hospitality Academy, Vancouver, Washington. The 15,000 sq ft facility recruits 20 new students every quarter and the best part about it is that they offer culinary scholarships, financial aid and housing to all their students. An education at Northwest Culinary Institute is a sureshot passport to a successful career in the hospitality industry.

Weird News: Whiskey Hunt in Antartica!!!

When I read this news item on MSN, my first reaction was something like "Can people get any crazier?" Apparently in 1909 a few cases whiskey that were sent for an expedition to the South Pole. Now after a century a New Zealand based beverage company has suddenly woken up and recruited a drilling company to bore through the ice and find the "vintage" whiskey.

Why do they want to dig up this whiskey from the depths of Antartic ice caps? They want to explore the possibility of relaunching the brand again. I wonder if they had forgotten to document the recipie and manufacturing methodology a century ago or whether there is something more interesting in the Whiskey.

Whatever it is the bottom line is that this probably would be the most expensive case of whiskey. The price will not be paid just by the beverage company that is drilling for the drink or the consumers who will get to drink this "stored in south pole" whiskey, but by the rest of the world who will probably suffer the after effects for centuries to come.

For those who think global warming and environmental destruction is a hoax, it is "cheers" all the way...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Attn: Film Makers! Here is your chance to win $5,000

The internet has really changed the way advertising works. This is specially the case in the US where everyone's life is so dependent on the internet. In a bit to capitalizing on the power of the world wide web, Abbott Medical Optics Inc. (AMO), has launched the “You Gotta See This” Video Contest. AMO is a global leader in laser vision correction aka Lasik.

This video contest is primarily aimed at popularizing the benefits of Lasik surgery and as such another name for the mega competition is iLASIK Video Contest. AMO hopes to show to the world how better vision can improve the quality of life of individuals. The contest invited users to produce a video showing how better vision has improved their life. Entries can include original music videos, sporting videos, or simply visions of improvements in daily life with better vision.

The most important part of any contest are the prizes. AMO has pulled out all stops to ensure that winners are rewarded suitably. Hence there is a grand prize of $5,000; One first prize in each category which is a HDTV package of $2,500 value; one Second prize, The Flip UltraHD™ camcorder of $199.99 value.

All you need to do is to submit a video in one of three categories:
• “My contacts are getting in the way of my good time”
• “My favorite sport or activity would be so much cooler with better vision”
• “You should see life after the iLASIK® Procedure”

Once the video is submitted you could either wait and watch for visitors to vote for your video or ask all your friends and family to log in and vote. The more votes the better chance you have at winning that grand prize of $5,000. What are you waiting for, just pick up that camera from the closet and start shooting the video.


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Movie Review: Mojave Moon

Only For Die Hard Fans of Angelina Jolie
I wouldn't have watched this movie if it were not freely available on Youtube and if I didn't have a few hours to kill and was feeling too lazy to go out and do something productive. Anyway the highlight of this movie is the surgeon's masterpiece Angelina Jolie, in her pre-famous avatar.

The movie starts with Al McCord, a divorced used-car dealer from New York, who is trying to make a new life in Los Angeles. When he is hanging out at his favorite restaurant with friends and gawking at the beautiful girls passing by. In comes the the thick-lipped and big-busted Ellie (Angelina Jolie) and starts talking to him. She convinces him to go with her to Mohave Desert, to visit her mother.

The road trip completely transforms Al's life, Ellie falls in love with him, he falls in love with her mother. Then there is her mother's jealous, violent and drunk boyfriend who is ultra-possessive not only of the mother but also about daughter. Al meets with Jolie's mother and spends some time with her and heads back to LA only to find a half-dead man in his trunk. Al gets back to LA and starts wondering what to do about the body and his car gets stolen. The rest of the movie is how they escape from Jolie's mother's boyfriend and how Al and the latter hook up.

This movie is completely passable, and only Jolie's fans could probably watch this movie without getting exasperated. There are some scenes where Jolie reveals her surgeon-sculpted body. There is absolutely no storyline at all. Take my advise don't watch it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mobile Advertising for Revenue Enhancement

How would you like to beam your product/ service advertisement to everybody with a mobile phone? Imagine how many more people you could reach this way when compared with TV, Radio or Newspapers? With expansion of digital communications technology this has been made possible by Smaato, the pioneering mobile advertising company.

Smaato's new advertising program SOMA (Smaato Open Mobile Advertising) is free and easy to sign up for. It is useful for mobile publishers, developers, advertising agencies and for mobile operators. This is a way to advertise globally and target it to specific regions. Moreover with Smaato's expertise in advertising and its associations with organizations such as German Digital Media Association BVDW, Mobile Marketing Association, the dot.mobi Advisory Group etc you can be assured that your campaign will produce much greater results.

Based in California, Smaato is all set to launch your products into the world of mobile phones.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sporadic Blogging

I have been quite irregular blogging during the past fortnight or so. There are couple of reasons including starting of a new (part-time/ contract) job which keeps me quite busy and in my car. My new job takes me all the way to nearly downtown Dallas from the far North Dallas where I live.

I listen to lot of NPR and a new conservative talk radio station 570 KLIF which I recently stumbled upon. Both places are abuzz with the latest news while the former is slightly liberal the latter is extremely conservative. Several show hosts and speakers on both stations are of the view that the recent massacre of 13 soldiers by a Muslim major of the US Army is an act of Jihadi terrorism but not necessarily related to or funded or managed by the Al Qaeda. The government and popular media including newspapers seem to be vehemently disputing this fact. Everyone seems to say that he was a mentally disturbed man who snapped at the prospect of having to deploy to Afghanistan or Iraq. I mention both Afghanistan and Iraq because I am not quite clear by the news reports as to where he was scheduled to go.

My only question is if he were mentally disturbed and didn't want to go he should have either quit the army or committed suicide. Only a cold blooded terrorist-like individual would do what he did, kill others who were headed to Iraq and Afghanistan. I sometimes wonder if the American establishment is becoming weak and complaisant. They are ignoring threats of radical terrorist ideology and dismissing these as stray incidents while they can all be run up to a bigger terrorist problem.

Two decades ago the same thing happened in India and they were ignored by the media, politicians and the government. Though the few right wing politicians did scream foul and asked for stricter law enforcement against terrorists and those who collude with them. It never happened and since then India has lost more lives to terrorism than any other country in the past decade. I sure hope that someone in the US establishment wakes up and recognizes the real threat and takes action. That someone should be able to sway the government, the people and the media. Is there someone like that?

We will wait and watch... meanwhile I hope this cartoon can bring a smile on your faces.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Out of Sight but Heart is fully at Home

It is generally assumed by people who stay back in India that those of us who migrated to other nations, especially to the richer western nations forget their roots. This is not true, given the fact that several non-profit organizations have been promoted by non-resident Indians and these organizations are playing a big role in the nation building efforts. Even though these professionals are thousands of miles away from home their hearts are thinking of India. Here is an example in the form of EKAL VIDYALAYA, DALLAS CHAPTER. They have promoted schools in remote, far flung villages in India to provide education to the poor and underprivileged.

Their next event in Dallas is a Dance, Cultural, and Bollywood Music extravaganza which has been dubbed as "A Donor Appreciation event". The event is being held at Eisemann Center, Richardson on Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 5:00pm

$20 & $50 tickets available at Eisemann Center Box Office $5 discount available to students.

The catch line is that an individual can support an entire school for less than the cost of coffee a day ($365 a year). An amount which will not even be enough to pay rent in this country.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Place for Gadget Lovers

I know several of my friends and cousins who love to own the latest electronic products. Mobile phones, gps units, ear-bone mics, radio communications, music systems, etc, they want it before it is formally launched. Most of the time some of them would succeed too. I would wonder how these people are getting their hands on such amazing gadgetry and that too at such competitive prices. It was then I came to know that there are online stores that sell these products at prices much lower than the market. I visited one such site and was surprised by the simplicity and elegance of the page design and the ease with which I could identify and reach the product pages. I am going to be patronising this website for all my communication equipment needs.

Movie Review: The Mini Skirt Mob

Story of a Manipulative Woman and Gullible Men

If you want to see to what extent a spurned female would go to take revenge on her former lover and his present partner then this movie is a much watch. The movie tells the story of Shayne, a glamorous, manipulative and sexy woman, who is head of a female motorcycle gang known as The Mini Skirt Mob. Shane and Jeff, a rodeo champion are former lovers. Trouble starts when Jeff decides to retire from rodeo, get married and settle down as a rancher.

Though outwardly Shane says that it is all over between her and Jeff, inside she is one angry and jealous woman. She wants to make life for Jeff and his new bride miserable and hence gathers up her motorcycle gang which includes former friends of Jeff, Lon and Edie (Shayne's sister), LG and others and follows Jeff's trailer as he tries to get out and spend a quiet moment with his wife.

What follows is 80 minutes of terror for the newly married couple and merriment for the viewers. The stand off ends with the death of every one of them except Jeff and his wife. It is surprising to note that the Hero (Jeff played by Jeremy Slate) has pretty much no role. He is portrayed as a gutless coward who seems to always try to avoid confrontation with his former girlfriend and her mob. I would say the movie is all about how Shayne plots trouble and manipulates the men in her gang like Lon to do her dirty work. It is worth watching once if you don't have anything to do... oh! yes it is available free on Youtube... I wouldn't pay to watch this movie....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Planning an Asian Holiday? Get Amazing Room Rates Here!!!

It is every American's dream to travel the world, especially the culture-rich Asia-pacific region. The past few years due to the global economic downturn many of us have had to cut back on our vacations. But now there is this great opportunity, thanks to Accor group of hotels. They are offering a blowout sale of over 1 million hotel rooms across the Asia Pacific Region. Luxury rooms are available ranging from $30 onwards in exotic locations such as Laos, Viet Nam Bali, China, Fiji, Hong Kong, Australia, India, etc.

Like all great bargains don't last long, the Accor Hotels 3-Day Super Sale Asia Pacific holds good only from October 27-30, 2009. So if you are planning a holiday or if you have always wanted to visit the exotic east, this is your chance to book your hotel rooms at super sale prices.

Sofitel Metropole Hanoi - Vietnam


Of course it is quite natural also to be skeptical about these kind of sales and wondering whether the deal will be good or not. Well I took a look at pictures of some of the hotels and I am totally convinced that this offer is as good as it can get. I don't think there is any other hospitality group which is offering such great prices. This is a chance to get what we want and at the price that is way below what we would otherwise have to pay.

Plan your vacations and book your rooms NOW!!!

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