The Strand Book Festival

January 25, 2008

The front page of Wednesday’s HT was adorned with a mediocre ad proclaiming the return of the Strand Book Festival with their standard “up to 80% off” at Sunderbai Hall, near Churchgate Station.

Even though I am an Advertising student and should’ve seen the catch in the phrase “up to 80% off”, I willingly turned a blind eye to the deceiving line due to my undying love of reading and decided to finally catch this time’s book “sale” and actually buy some respectable and readable and worthy books for myself, rather than borrowing them from unsuspecting classmates and friends and forgetting to return them until threatened for my life.

Finally, I got hold of a friend and planned to travel all the way to Churchgate to check out the book sale.

After crisp instructions in English from a paanwalla to find the aforementioned hall and 2 minutes walk, we finally reached the book festival which was nothing but a huge room that reminded me of Hogwarts’ Great Hall with 6 very long tables crumbling under the pressure of tonnes of books (new) dumped on them. But the almost haphazard display of books didn’t prove to be much hindrance and the available of plethora of titles made me forget the fact that just to find one books of Toni Morrison took me close to 2 hours of browsing.

The long tables though divided into some sections don’t really help. But if you have the time and the passion to look for that book you want, a keen eye and diligent digging will prove to be fruitful and if you are an ardent book lover it is a treat to browse through thousands of titles and you never know when you may hit upon an interesting book.

From Leo Tolstoy to Salman Rushdie, The Kite Runner to Lesbian Erotica, Jane Eyre to The Ultimate Break-up Guide, the sale had all the titles you could ask for, well almost all, because I didn’t find the three books that were the ultimate inspiration behind me visiting this sale. Not to mention various Indian authors and I even chanced upon a book on Amitabh Bachchan “The making of a superstar” or something on those lines. All of this at discounted prices!!!

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Leather Bound) available at mere Rs 200.

Few more from titles/authors I saw:
Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.
Bill Bryson books.
PG Wodehouse
Unpublished work of Ayn Rand
Salman Rushdie books
William Dalrymple
Charles Dickens books
Ruskin Bond books
And loads of other ones.

A must visit for anyone who loves books. Make sure you have plenty time to spare and don’t expect to get 80% off on all the books but you will sure find classics at mere Rs. 200 or so.

I plan to pay a second visit to see if they will really add new titles everyday as the ad proclaims and maybe buy some books too this time.

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Lesson from Leno

January 13, 2008

An excerpt from “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”:
Scene: Jay is interviewing Brandon Azziz who they allegedly call an Iraqi actor acting as a double of Osama Bin Laden in the tapes released by Al- Queada.
(I don’t remember most of the interview but the ending has been etched in my brain)

Jay: So, Brandon who gave you this idea to pretend to be the leader?
Brandon: Why? George W Bush, of course!!

Now I know most of you have a feeling where I am headed with this information. Yes, I am wondering if Shekhar Suman or any other host on any show had ever done this and said something even minutely degrading about Man Mohan Singh or better yet, about some BJP leader, what would have happened.

This is what would have happened: Shekhar Suman and the show writers would have been castrated. A curfew would have been called in whole of Maharashtra. The channel would have been banned forever.

I am pretty much certain this is exactly what would have happened. Most of the Indian politicians are a bunch of intolerant good-for-nothings. Yes, face it! We Indians have the lowest threshold for tolerance; the level drops even further down with politicians. Their levels of insecurity are sky high. They won’t get a joke if it bumped into them on the road and smacked them in the face.

And the root cause of all this is Unemployment!

Yes, since the unemployment rates in our country are higher than the Eiffel Towers people have nothing to do. So they resort to inventing problems out of thin air. Any comment on anyone is taken as an offence which is answered by a PIL. So much so, that all the “comedy” based shows and other mediums in our country have therefore now refrained from endorsing and expressing any opinions, good or bad, about anyone who is even remotely related to any politician or has strong political opinions, which has in turn ruined and degraded the element of humour in those shows.

Forget politics, now they can’t joke about anything lest someone would be offended. Humour writers have to live by certain rules in India and hence our comedy shows have lost their charm. I think it’s about time our writers went on a strike and gave the entertainment business a stroke here.


Customer Service On My Fingertips.

January 1, 2008

One of HP’s sleek and chic notebooks found its way in my humble life just as 2007 was to have its farewell. As it happens with all the electronic devices that my dad buys me even this black beauty, as fragile as it is, had to be subjected to gruelling scrutiny by me.
I spent my next few days trying and certifying each and every feature that HP claimed my laptop had. All seemed to work just fine but for a few glitches that were sorted out like ironing the creases by the software engineer who came to install the OS (Windows Vista).
All seemed to work as smoothly as Germany’s train until I had this urge to take a screenshot of my desktop and brag about Windows Vista to my friend. After much peering into all the buttons I found the “Prt Sc” button on the top extreme right of the keypad. Now, as I was taught by a tech-savvy friend on how to use this feature (which I didn’t know till some months ago) I took following the same steps here… but as bad luck would have it, I didn’t seem to be able to copy paste the image on either Paint or Adobe Photoshop.
After several tries I started panicking and raging with fury and started hurling curses at HP at the speed of light for giving me a faulty keypad (or is it still called a keyboard with notebooks?) Finally, I turned to Windows’ trusty Help and Support that has helped and supported me in finding ways to solve Windows’ innumerable never-ending problems for countless years. I tried to find the solution desperately from Help and Support and for the first time ever, it failed me. At this point, I had lost all hope and I tried to convince my shattered self that I would have to live with a faulty keypad (keyboard?) for years to come.
And then, a tiny glimmer of hope appeared taking an angelic form of a hyperlink that said “Connect to chat with an online technician”. It felt like my mouse (yes, I got an optical tiny mouse for my laptop too) was moving on its own when I clicked on that link that lead me to HP’s official website.
To my surprise I did get to chat with a technician online, I don’t care if she was a Bot since she solved my problem. The conversation that followed was like this:

Melisa: Hello Tamanna.
Melisa: Welcome to HP Total Care for Presario Notebooks. My name is Melisa. How may I assist you today?
Tamanna Jaisinghani: hey melisa
Melisa: Looking forward to assist you.
Tamanna Jaisinghani: the thing with my laptop is that i can’t use the Print Screen button
Melisa: Do not worry; I will do my best to assist you.
Melisa: I will help you. Could you please provide me the detailed description of the issue?
Tamanna Jaisinghani: When I press the Print Screen button and then go to paint to paste it, i can’t seem to paste anything there
Tamanna Jaisinghani: well?
Melisa: Thank you for the information.
Tamanna Jaisinghani: What about the solution?
Melisa: Perform these steps to isolate the issue.
Tamanna Jaisinghani: ……
Melisa: Hold Fn key and press print screen to save the data.
Melisa: Perform these steps :
Melisa: We can use Print screen function to take snapshot of the desktop. Here are the instructions to take print screen:
Melisa: 1. Keep the image on the desktop to which you want to take a snapshot (print screen).

2. Press and hold down the Function (fn) key and tap on the Print screen key (prt sc).

3. Click start, Run, type MSPAINT and click on Ok. It will open MSPAINT window.

4. Press and hold down the Ctrl key and tap the ” V ” key to paste the print screen on the MSPAINT.
Melisa: Performing the above steps should resolve the issue.
Tamanna Jaisinghani: hey thanks a lot, it worked
Melisa: You are welcome.
Melisa: Are there any other questions that I can assist you with?
Tamanna Jaisinghani: No, this is it. Thank You so much.
Melisa: Its my pleasure assisting you.
Melisa: Thank you for contacting HP Total Care Real-Time chat support. If you need further assistance, please contact us again at: http://www.hp.com/support/chat. Chat support is available 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.
Melisa: Have a fantastic day! Tamanna.
Melisa: Goodbye.

Needless to say this made me trust the company and the curses that I hurled flew out of my mind!

PS: This is the first time I had seen this online real-time problem solver by any company. So, I couldn’t help but write about it.