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Showing posts from March, 2009

The Vagina Monologues

IT IS NOT A BAD WORD. And contrary to popular belief, it's not even a cuss word. Infact, as per the fantastic cast and crew of the phenomenal play 'The Vagina Monologues', whose 200th show I caught up with at the NCPA Mumbai, it's not even something that women should feel shy of looking at and even admiring it. That's Vagina we're talking about. But why you ask? Because it's there, stupid. It's a reality. More importantly, it's a body part and it's nature. It's a biological organ. That Vagina- or as the play also claims is called kunt, coochie-schnooker, honky-tonky, sugar-box- is a body part that women should be proud of, and what goes in there- or comes out from it- is also a woman's decision, and not anyone else's is the underlying and powerful message that this play seeks to spread.
The 200th show had special appearances by Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhar who read out a beautiful poem called 'Boys are all that matter and Girls ar…

A Dose of Parsipanu

A day after celebrating Navroz (if I can call that celebrating in the first place; but I'm not sure), I finally caught up with Little Zizou. I just realised that the seating at Sterling Cineplex isn't all that great if you catch a movie in Screens 2 and 3. Screen 1 is the best and the biggest. But for the price of Rs 120, I think it's a steal and one of the best options in South Bombay. And the foodcourt downstairs is an added attraction. Besides Sterling has been one of my old favourites, so I'll continue to visit there. But if you happen to watch movies in screens 2 and 3, and find that the seats are too low and you can't watch the screen properly, do always ask for a pillow. Place it on your seat and then sit on top of it. The management has been very forward-looking I guess and may have well anticipated this problem when they modified the erstwhile single-screen theatre. Such prompt action from the management can turn a disadvantage into a great service opportu…

Freedom of Choice

This is a column I recently wrote in Outlook Money 
Freedom of Choice
Variable loads will give MF investors more say, but it might be too much too soonThere’s a perennial joke I share with my neighbours, the Batliwalas, that whenever I advise them on mutual fund (MF) schemes, I don’t get any commission. Their agent gets it, the entire 2.25 per cent entry load that MFs pass on to agents as commission. And all for just providing them with the forms, or, at best, giving some advice that may not always be in their best interest. I may not get any commission, but thanks to a new proposal by the markets regulator, investors like the Batliwalas will now be able to decide how much commission their agent should get. After abolishing entry loads on direct investments in MFs in January 2008, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) now wants to introduce variable entry loads. This means that investors will now decide the how much fees (0-6 per cent) they want to pay to their agents. Sebi …

ARE STAR FUND MANAGERS A MYTH?

A recent exit of a star fund manager rekindles the old debate:to trust the fund managers or the pedigreed fund houses?Just when we thought that it could be a good idea to follow fund managers instead of fund houses, on the back of the stupendous market rise that saw some fund managers outshine their peers, comes the news of star fund manager Sandip Sabharwal and JM Financial Mutual Fund (MF) parting ways. Although both denied the presence of any significant rift, markets are abuzz with rumours that JM Financial—the fund house’s sponsor—had serious differences with the star fund manager’s aggressive style and the severe underperformance of the fund’s equity schemes.THE GOOD TIMES...When Sabharwal joined JM MF in November 2006, the fund house’s equity funds were in the dumps. But after his entry, things changed for the better. For instance, in 2007, out of 241 equity schemes, only four schemes gave more than 100 per cent returns; JM Basic Fund (JBF; 110.6 per cent returns), an infrastru…

The Reader

Yesterday was a much-needed break from work. So I decided to try out the newly-opened PVR multiplex at Big Bazaar-Phoenix Mills to watch 'The Reader'. (Nice multiplex, good seating, but quite expensive for the evening shows, though I am told their morning shows are a steal. don't know exactly, but if so then worth trying it out, wat say?) 
As the events of the movie unfolded, I watched it in stunned silence. It is a beautiful love story in the backdrop of war crime. Set in war-torn, pre and post-Hitler era of Germany, Kate Winslet, a single 35-year old tram operator, finds a young, but sick, 15-year old (David Kross) on the tram one day and brings her home to take care of her. The two take a liking for each other and get into a passionate relationship and a throbbing affair. Till one day, Kate leaves town suddenly and quietly, leaving the kid heart-broken. 
A few years later, the kid goes to law school and, as part of an internship training program, attends a high-profile co…

Pay Credit Card Bills Through ATMs

Tired of being ignored by ICICI Bank credit cards by being left out of their premium services despite being a loyal customer, I got myself a new credit card by HDFC Bank. It's another thing that HDFC Bank promised me a gold card with a higher spending limit, but then threatened to give me a silver card. When I strongly protested to their ways, they issued me a gold card, but with a much-lower-than-promised spending limit. I think the credit card companies ought to be made more accountable through stricter laws that are widely publicised (I recently read an RBI advertisement in the paper that if a credit card company rejects your application for a credit card, it has to give the reasons in writing; I never knew that!!!) and ought to made to pay for promising one thing, but delivering something totally different. SBI Cards too chased me for a month last year and promised to give me a platinum card with a high spending limit. What I finally got was a much-watered down Gold Card with …

Faulty meters of the New-age (black & yellow) taxis

You may enjoy the ride in one of several new-age taxis (black & yellow) on the roads of Bombay, but the ride may cost you more than the old Fiat taxis. And this extra cost may be because of a faulty meter. Ever since the state government's order of replacement of 25-year old taxis to control pollution, some of these old taxis have now been replaced by newer, more energy-efficient, models such as Hyundia Santro, Tata Indica, Maturi Omni Vans, etc. However, these new models do not come with the age-old meters, which by the way, I liked and are in some ways a part of Bombay's heritage, much like the tring-tring bell of the BEST bus but could also be forged. These new taxis come with new-age electronic meters. 
Much to my dismay, I have observed that some of these electronic meters are tampered. On a recent trip from one area to my office that I took in one of these new-age taxis (Hyundai Santro), I ended up paying Rs 58/-, instead of the usual fare on this sector of around Rs …

Eating out at Nariman Point

Upto a few months back, it wasn't easy for a non-vegetarian to survive at Nariman Point. There are ample of vegetarian joints out here, but hardly anything for carnivors. How and why Mumbai's busiest business district did not have decent non-vej outlets, I never understood. Moti-Mahal in Inox complex is very good, but also very expensive. You could go there once in a while, to indulge or to entertain your guests or friends who you are meeting after a long time, or in my case when my office lunch partner Veena visits the town, but not daily. 
Two options have now come up, one of which was already there, but I discovered it last year only. The food court in Inox recently opened after almost a 2-year delay. A large hall with a vast seating area is interspersed with several stalls serving a wide variety of cuisine like Tandoori, Lebanese, Chinese, Indian, etc. Food is nice and is served hot. You buy a food card (plastic card like a debit/ATM/credit card), minimum Rs 200 (out of whi…