Category Archives: lifestyle

Friends: The Reunion (2021): A Candyfloss Get-together

This was first published on MadAboutMoviez: Friends Reunion

It has been 20 years since I graduated from high school. We wanted to have a reunion of few close buddies who are still in touch. The last such reunion we had was in 2019, when a pal from Canada and another from Australia were visiting India during the year-end holiday. Of course, soon Corona virus hit us and we all were trapped in our homes.

Anyways, its not easy to plan reunions, especially if they are not milestone based like decade or score or silver jubilee. And given the current pandemic, it becomes all the more tough. But someone managed to pull the strings and gather the six main stars of the series Friends, in the middle of such a situation, to mark 17 years since airing of the last episode of Friends. Yes, its been 17 long years since Friends went off air during prime time. Although, the re-runs are still happening in half the globe.

The short documentary styled get-together opens with all the cast members visiting the sets of their apartment. We immediately notice that men have aged and put on weight without any qualms and become a soccer-dad, if you will. Matt LeBlanc was already on the ageing process, as we witnessed in Man with a Plan series, playing father roles. David Schwimmer has kept himself fit, and I suspect that’s more to do with his regular fitness regime. Even during the Friends telecast, he showed the least physical variation. Mathew Perry was also seen sporting a white five o’ clock shadow, and a pot belly.

But the same cannot be said for the ladies. Lisa Kudrow and Jennifer Aniston have probably been on a diet regime, but Courteney Cox has shown the most amount of facial variation. Not sure if it’s the botox or she went under a knife, but she has lost that charm and appeal. Not being judgemental here, merely observing!

Among the highlights of the 100+ minute encounter was a short ramp walk towards the end, with a whole lot of celebrities prancing around in some popular costumes worn by the characters in the TV series. And talking about celebrities, we also get to see soccer stars and Nobel prize winners endorse the series. It has been their go-to show when they were on tours or feeling low, as per their own admission.

One of the most interesting part of the documentary style interaction, was the casting. The writers took us through the casting process and what they were looking for, in each of the characters and how they found their six main characters. Another remarkable segment was about how iconic the show Friends has been; the way it has helped people get through tough times like sadness and depression, how it has helped people in certain part of the globe to learn English, and the manner in which it brought camaraderie to the forefront and taught people to love and support their friends and how it has helped to break cultural barriers.

Coming to the interview itself, which was shot next to the fountain of the theme song, was one of the most uninteresting interviews ever. James Corden asked the regular questions about most and least favourite episodes, what was it like working together etc. Some histrionics from the show was replayed and some characters of the show like Gunther and Mr. Heckles made brief blink-and-you-miss appearances. Yes, it was quite sad that they did not even have two minutes to acknowledge them. And among the honorable misses were Paul Rudd, Giovanni Ribisi, Jon Favreau and many more such fantastic actors who were present in more than a few episodes; sometimes entire season.

What I would have liked to know, through James, was how the rest of the five reacted when they got to know that a TV series Joey was being made with the spin-off character from Friends. Were they fine with it, or jealous, or did they demand spin-offs of their own like Ross & Rachel or The Bings with Chandler, Monica and their kids or Buffay Babes with Phoebe and her twin sister! James should have asked about the pay disparity and how Ross fought for equal remuneration and in last two seasons, everyone got paid a million dollar per episode, largely due to his efforts. Maybe, James could have broached some controversial topic to have their reaction when they got to know of the lawsuit regarding the writers room talks brought out by the assistant writer of the show. Yes, some uncomfortable questions should have been asked.

However, even without the above, it’s a must watch for the fans of the show. There are some lump-in-the-throat moments and fun trivia too. The warmth they share is infectious and the closeness of Ross & Rachel will bring a tear to the eyes, as Jennifer & David talk about their proximity towards each other. Lots of ROFL moments, as they take us down memory lane with snippets from the show and few bloopers.

Anyways, the reunion wasn’t meant to reload hysteria. It was probably just a PR event to remind us of the hysteria, as people’s taste changes with time and they tend to like the newer shows like How I Met Your Mother or Big Bang Theory. This reunion was a reminder that, before these hit shows, there was Friends and that nostalgia should remain intact!

As for our reunion, I don’t see that happening. We will have to probably contend ourselves with reliving some of the moments from Friends show, and feel good about it. Or maybe, plan an online reunion over zoom, as that’s the new normal. We cannot afford to fly out and sit on a couch with coffee in our hands at Central Perk.

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Posted by on June 18, 2021 in hollywood, lifestyle, movie review


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Investing in NFO

ImageNFO [New Fund Offer] is always deemed as a risk. Everyone advises you to go for an existing MF, rather than invest in a NFO. One of the reasons being that, the existing funds have performance and past results to go by. But in case of NFO, its a big risk.

But then, investment itself is a risk. Even MFs can turn non-profitable if fund managers don’t do their job well. The kind of analysis we do before buying a MF, we can do a similar analysis of the AMC before investing in the NFO.

I have invested in quite a few NFOs, based on the past performance of the AMC who have managed successful MFs. Also, the asset allocation makes a difference too. As in the case of Sundaram Equity Plus fund where 35% was allocated to gold and rest 65% to equity. That made it an interesting assortment and I leapt towards that NFO. It perfromed pretty well and even touched a high of 11.02, which was a real positive.

Another NFO which turned out well for me was SBI Bluechip Fund [D]. It oaid great dividends in its first few years before the slow down. But then I burnt my finger in SBI PSU Fund.

Another point to note is the timing of the NFO. When you invest in a NFO while the market is bearish, then you will earn profits during bull run. But when you invest in a NFO which is launched during a bull run, taking advantage of rising sensex, then its a sham. It takes away the hard earned money as soon as the bull run dies down. This happened to me with Reliance Small Cap Fund [G]. I got the timing totally wrong.

Anyways, that has not deterred me. Just a few days back I went ahead and invested in two more NFOs. One was the IDBI India Top 100 Equity Fund and the other was Taurus Banking & Financial Services Fund.

The simple reason for this step was to take advantage of the situation where banking stocks have been beaten down and with falling sensex I can look to gain during a bull run. I could have also go in for a Banking Fund from any of the AMCs, but the NAV was quite high. For each unit purchased from existing MF, I can have 5 units here. And then, the %gain would be more or less the same, if they invest in similar banking stocks.

All I can say is, do not stay away from NFOs. The NFOs give us a chance to enter the market at a lower cost and more number of units. But do check on the market status since timing is everything.

This post was also published on Yahoo Network


Posted by on May 11, 2012 in lifestyle, mutual fund, nfo, personal finance


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Downside Of Investing In Gold

A rush of gold funds and consistent rise in the price of gold has led people to believe that gold is a great investment tool. But there is a downside to gold investment too. And this downside is with reference to physical gold purchase.

Lots of people buy physical gold in the form of ornaments. Their main purpose of buying jewellery, apart from the social need for displaying it, is that it should provide security at times of crisis. And gold loan is a new fad. But what many people don’t consider is that, not many jewellers or goldsmiths buy back jewellery. And that’s a big negative. So, that kills the liquidity factor.

Even if we have a proper certificate or even if the jewellery is purchased from a branded store or a well known jeweller, people refuse to buy it. Small time jewellers just don’t want to touch and pawn brokers downgrade it and give a very low value for it.

So now, what does one do? At times of crisis, you run from pillar to post but no one buys back the jewellery from you, then where’s the security in buying gold?

Investing in gold is a good thing, but make sure that you buy gold coins. Its much easier to sell away a coin than a jewellery piece. The reason for this is, the ornament sold may not be a design that’s in vogue. The goldsmith may have to melt the jewellery and make different ornaments out of it, so that leads to wastage. Hence, gold coin is preferred.

Gold fund is another option. Since its a fund, you can sell it anytime and get back cash. Even if you sell it within 12 months of purchasing it, you will only suffer an exit load of 1-2%, but at least the liquidity factor remains.

The last option is of course gold loan, in case you want that piece of jewellery back! But if you need that jewellery and love it so much, you would not pawn it in the first place.

Any how, gold investment should be only 10-15% of the portfolio. So, invest wisely in gold.


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Micromax A75 … Impressive !

ImageI was just looking around for Android phones, in general, and Samsung Galaxy Y in particular; that’s when I chanced upon Micromax A75. And I must tell you that I was mighty impressed by it.

It runs on Android 2.3 [Gingerbread], and gives you a whole lot of features. But that’s to the credit of the OS. The phone itself was of fine build quality. And the feel of the phone in the hands was pretty good. The capacitative touch-screen worked very smoothly with a single swipe of the finger. I did not have to repeat my thumb or index finger actions at any point of time.

Browsing through the photo albums was a nice breeze. Then I turned on the GPS and much to my surprise, it was great. The manner in which the maps loaded, and the smooth transition of moving north-south-east-west and all directions, left me wanting for more. The dual-touch zooming-in and zooming-out on the maps was very good. This also proved that the phone did not lose connectivity at any point of time. And it loaded the data and maps pretty fast.

The phone has a G-sensor too. The video quality was pretty nice. It has a limitation though, you cannot install any other media player. It only uses the default inbuilt media player.

Among other notable features is the front-facing camera which comes in handy for making video calls or video chat. And the screen size is good enough to browse the net and even to read a book.

Overall, a ‘superfone’ as they call it. I did not expect Micromax to catch-up with Samsung and HTC, in quality, this quickly. And that has left me impressed. I may never buy this phone or any other Micromax smartphones, but I do like the technical advancement they have made. They are no more a small brand which makes cheap phones. They are a small brand that is capable of making quality phones and would soon be giving the smaller players in Indian market, like Motorola & Sony Ericcson, a run for their money. Way to go guys!

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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in business, general, lifestyle


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LIC Jeevan Vriddhi

I was just looking out for some insurance plans, Term Policies to be more specific. And then, I came across this new plan from LIC called Jeevan Vriddhi.

Term plans usually don’t come with return benefits, but this plan does. And that’s what struck me about it.

Salient features of this policy are:
a. its a single premium policy wherein the minimum amount is Rs.30,000.00 and no limit on maximum amount
b. sum assured is 5 times the premium
c. the term is fixed at 10 years
d. age of entry is between 8 & 50
e. policy can be surrendered after 1 year

Other benefits:
a. minimum return is almost 90% of the premium amount, if surrendered after a year
b. between premium amount of Rs.50,000.00 and Rs.99,000.00; there is an increase in guaranteed sum assured by 1.25%
c. beyond premium amount of Rs.1,00,000.00; there is an increase in guaranteed sum assured by 3%
d. policy ie eligible for section 80c exemptions in IT
e. you can avail loans at 10.25% against this policy

There are very few policies that give return benefit and sum assured. Its specially beneficial for someone in their late 40’s who want to take an insurance policy with minimum fuss and maximum gains. Even for people in their 30’s, this is a good enough plan where return of interest is about 7-8%. We can get the benefit of protected investment as well as life insurance. And since its single premium, there is no need to bother about tracking the due dates!

Update 1 on 22-Mar: I just called my insurance agent and have created a proposal for a single premium of Rs.60,000/-. So, the SA is about Rs.3,00,000/-. That’s when it struck me that the premium was much lesser than what I was paying for a Jeevan Saral plan [yearly premium of more than Rs.6,000/- for 10 years and SA of Rs.1,50,000.00], and the SA was twice that of Jeevan Saral.


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iGod : Steve Jobs’ New Project


The only modest Steve Job’s creation that I have possessed until this day is the iPod. But when I held that 8gb digital audio player, way back in 2006, I knew it was something awesome. The feeling gave me a rush of blood. After having used some cheap audio  players, the feel of this was heavenly.

And iPod was just the beginning of a digital revolution that Jobs embarked upon. When the phrase ‘music to the ears’ was coined, no one had envisaged that iPod would make it literally come true. Honestly speaking, some models of Creative and iRiver have better sound quality than iPod. But the very fact that iPod was the reason why Creative and iRiver was created, in itself is a tribute to Jobs. He was a voyager in search of new technology and finding new digital avenues to re-create or polish.

Alexander Graham Bell may have invented the phone, but Jobs made it desirable to possess one in the form of iPhone. This gadget was talk of the town and people of all age groups, especially 15-35, were trying their hardest to get their hands on this. The iPhone became an equivalent of a vibrator that everybody wanted to hold and jack-off to digital orgasm. The option of the numerous games and apps, the call quality, the features of phonebook and calendar everything bundled into one slick handheld device that helped people stay connected, made every mortal feel empowered.

Had it been any other man, he would have happily retired and gone fishing by the Missouri for rest of their lives. But not Jobs. He followed up the iPhone with another electronic device called iPad.

This time, he combined an ebook reader with a web browser and sprinkled in all the  essential apps of a laptop; thereby making desktop and all library books redundant in just one go. The iPad became another object of desire. And credit must goto Jobs for paving the way for this.

All creations of nature is attributed to the supreme power up there, God. And closely looking into Jobs profile, we notice a similar trait. He created stuff out of nothing. He made paths were none existed and ventured into the less trodden digital wilderness. He shall be a guiding light for all of us. And his creations will entrall and continue to entertain us. And we will be appreciating his creations forever because he touched so many lives with technology in this digitised world. Just heard the news this morning, that Steve Jobs is on his new project called iGod.

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in general, lifestyle


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First Time in London

London is not a city that you would want to visit in a hurry, believe me. This city has an amazing past as well as a fine modern history. It has witnessed French inquisition, Spanish conquests, Scottish rebellion as well as the modern artillery of the World Wars. The city is a chapter on history, from times immemorial to this day, it has a record of everything. The city has eveolved from being Londonium to being called London. So, a few days time is just not good enough to do justice to London.

But being a first time visitor, especially a tourist, can be tough. Its a tight schedule that you have to adhere to, as well as make most of the situation. So, let me just begin with the must-do things in London:

a. London Eye: This is a shining example of a modern marvel, jxtaposed with ancient historical monuments. Just 2 miles away from the Victoria Coach Station is the London Eye. It looks like a huge giant wheel, where people hop-in and hop-out. The cabin revolves to take you to a height of more than 100 metres from where you get a panaromic view of the city, and then brings you down in about close to 20 mins of fun ride. Its quite close to Waterloo station, for people using tubes.

b. The aquarium, Thames Boat Ride and Madame Tussauds: If you do visit the London Eye, then you can cover these 3 as well. The aquarium is fantastic with an added attraction of penguins and sharks, all in their artificially created habitat. Taking a ride on the Thames river is another important activity. This boat ride will take you close to the famed London bridge, and you can have a great pciture in the boat with the London Bridge forming a frame-like background. And if you haven’t seen Madam Tussauds in New York or any other place, then don’t miss this. Get photographed while rubbing shoulders with who’s who of thw world.

c. Towers of London: These towers are engraved with history. See the tower where Sir Walter Raleigh spent 19 years as a prisoner or the Bloody tower where Queen Mary Anne was kept captive. Also, these towers house the Crwon Jewels. You can see the Kohinoor jewel that was gifted by an Indian maharaja or the awesome cullinan from South Africa. From golden crowns to precious stone studded sceptre, its all kept here.

d. St.Paul’s Cathedral: When your cabin reaches the highest point in London Eye, you can see a huge round domed structure which you can easily mistake for Buckingham Palace or any other castle. But that marvellous structure is the St.Paul’s Cathedral. The Cathedral withstood the greta fire in 1666 as well as the bomb-shells during World War, and it still stands majestic. Its a beautiful piece of architecture which also serves as a mausoleum for many of the famous deads.

e. Buckingham Palace: Of course, you have come to London only for this. But the problem is, you don’t get tickets easily; especially for viewing the State Apartments. Most of the times, it requires advance booking or maybe a tour operator can obtain it for you. Nothing to be said about this, its that important.

f. Windsor Castle: Its not widely known that when the Queen is not housed in Buckingham Palace, then its here that the Queen resides. This is her home-away-from-home. Its a beautiful castle which located in Windsor, and the queue to see this can be really long. The castle also has a miniature London Eye and a few other miniature of other world famous structures. You can see the ‘change of guards’, then visit the Dolls’ House made by Queen Mary, checkout the royal State Apartments and visit St.George’s Chapel. You can easily spend more than half a day here, and find yourself lost in this huge castle.

g. Stonehenge: This isn’t very popular among people who don’t have any interest in how civilization evolved. This world heritage site has huge 40 ton stones that were dragged from miles and mysteriously placed here. Is it a sundial or an ancient burial site? Visit it to know more about this enigmatic structure.

h. Leeds Castle: Another beautiful castle but distinctly different because of the fact that it can be rented out for weddings or pompous birthday celebrations. Its a fine castle standing by a green water body. Its built over two very tiny islands which are separated by small stretch of water. Nonetheless, it has a majestic charm. The rental can go upto half a million pounds where you can use the dining and sitting area for solemnising weddings or throwing magnanimous parties.

i. Canterbury Cathedral: This medieval city is where English christianity originated. In the 12th century, the Arcbishop was murdered inside the cathedral as an act of contempt against the Pope, and the cathedral was plundered. It was then rebuilt into this fine structure what it now is. At the spot of the murder, a candle still flickers there. It has beautiful stained glass work, something to admire.

j. Oxford: Don’t miss out on the centre of academic excellence for over 900 years. This university town has become the model structure for every university that was built in the last 200 years. Sprawling gardens, separate blocks for each department, fantastic pathways and the captivating courtyards makes you feel like you are in a garden rather than a college. Checkout the library that houses over a million books from all over the world. Walk in the corridors where the famous of yesteryears have been.

What I have written is just being minimalistic. I have not even mentioned about the museums which are free for viewing, over a dozen other castles, Greenwich village and Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford. This city is filled with unexplored places that find a mention in many chapters of history or a passing mention in great novels of English literature. London for a first timer is always a treat, welcomes you with open arms.

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in lifestyle, travelogue


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G-String is OUT, C-String is IN

 This newest form of ‘underwear’ (if you can call it that) hardly needs to be worn — it has no straps and strings to speak of.

The C-string consists of the front part of a thong, which curves into the back with the help of a bit of wire that holds it up and and it’s supposed to stay in place thanks to its unique ‘C’ shape.

The idea behind this little innovation is that it’s the next best thing to going sans any innerwear — no lines, no strings peeking through.

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Posted by on July 23, 2011 in lifestyle


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TGIF in Cinepolis [Bannerghatta], Bangalore

Couple of weeks back we ventured into Meenaxi Mall in Bannerghatta to watch Kungfu Panda 2 in Cinepolis. After the movie got over, we ambled into TGIF. The ambience was beautifully vibrant. At the entrance was a model of Harley-Davidson, the American synbol of a good life. The walls of the restaurant was covered with posters of Marilyn Monroe, Beatles, Elvis and other hollywood figures. Then there were some sporting paraphernalia, out on display.  

Here are more details:

Location : On Bannerghatta Road, a little ahead of IIM – Bangalore.

Ambience: Most tables were 2 or 4 seaters, just as they are in the US. And just a few tables of 6/8 that are dedicated to friends and family. All seating in red, typical TGIF.

Cuisine : American/Mexican

Menu : While I cannot list the entire menu, all I can say is that the menu is very identical to the one in US. They have the same potato skins, chicken ranchero, chicken fajita, quesedilia, chicken wings, etc. The drinks are different, where we have good options of wine, scotch, rum, gin etc. Any imported beer costs Rs.350+

Cost : A meal for two will cost about Rs.900/- [minus drinks].

We ordered fish and chips, chicken fajita and baked beans and a chicken ranchero. The grilled fish was mouth-watering and the fajita was very tasty. Adding coke to the food is always a good idea, helps digest faster.

Waiting time is a little high as the staff is inexperienced. Also, you cannot have such unhealthy food frequently; just binge once in a while.

The multiplex has a lot of options like Oye Amritsar and the huge food court which houses cuisines of all sorts. TGIF will have to work on their price if they wish to make a dent in the sales of othet eat-outs. All said and done, I will definitely visit them every now and then.

This post was also published on Yahoo Network

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Posted by on June 17, 2011 in lifestyle


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Copper Chimney in Indiranagar, Bangalore

On Sunday, 8th May, we dined out in Copper Chimney, that was inaugrated the same day, in Indiranagar. It was a good dinner and lived upto my expectations. We were on the lookout for a classy family place which serves


 drinks, good non-veg and has a nice ambience. And we found CC. Here are more details:

Location : On 100 Ft Road in Indiranagar, almost at the foot of the flyover which leads to Koramangala.

Ambience: The seating arrangement was good, nice chairs and tables. The tables close to the walls had a sofa attached. All tables had a small candle holder of copper and lighting the candle gave it a nice touch. Good quiet place, and I don’t think they played music of any sort.

Cuisine : North-Indian/Punjabi food [veg and non-veg], drinks are served too.

Menu : While I cannot list the entire menu, all I can say is that it has the regular regular chicken items like Chicken Rarha, Chicken Kadhai, Murg Mussallam and starters like Chakori Kabab, Reshmi Kabab, Chicken Tikka etc. Desserts were also good, say Rabri, Gulab Jamun, Phirni, Kulfi, Halwa etc

Cost : A meal for two will cost about Rs.900/- [minus drinks].

We started out with the regular non-veg starters like kababs and tikka. The preparation was really good, enjoyed it. We then moved onto the main course of chicken kadhai and tandoori roti. We usually avoid rice at dinner, but they did have Pulao & Biriyani. We initially ordered Murg Mussallam, but the waiter was kind enough to inform us that the chicken morsels would be placed on puff of rice. So, we cancelled that.

The only problem was waiting time, it took a little long. The reason could be that since it was inaugrated the same day, things weren’t in place etc. Anyways, after the excellent meal we decided to go for Rabri. Now, sometimes the over-sweetness can kill the dessert and I was hoping that this doesn’t happen. And thankfully it didn’t. The rabri was awesome.

Indiranagar has a lot of eat-outs, but this will surely give a competition to all of them. Although its priced a little high, its worth it. I am sure I will visit this more often.
This post was first published on Yahoo Network

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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in lifestyle


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