Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Deepavali in Andhra Pradesh

I personally feel that the "festival of lights" Diwali is celebrated in a Great way in Hyderabad City and the state of Andhra Pradesh in India than anywhere else. Might be everywhere else also feels about their home-town.
Andhra Pardesh is one of the oldest state of India a nd wa s created by combining the old princely state of Hyderabad with the Telgu-speaking portions of the former state of Madras. Andhra Pradesh has traditional way of celebrating Diwali that is organized and celebrated throughout the state. The festival of light is celebrated in Andhra Pradesh together with other places of the country. It is a festival that revolves around Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. During the festiv al the whole country explodes into color and noise.Whereas in the North, Diwali is celebrated in the evening with crackers and diyas, in Andhra Pradesh, the festival starts early in the morning. People of Andhra Pradesh celebrate the Diwali festival by visiting temples and offering poojas. Night skies are filled with fire scintillations and homes are decorated with lamps and joy filled the faces of people as they enjoy fireworks. In Hydrabad, there is a tradition of giving bath to the buffaloes, on the day of Diwali. There is also a custom of decorating paper figures.
Festivities cut across boundaries to move on from small villages to the big towns, for almost a month before Deepawali. Sales of expensive silk saris, jewelery and ornaments, household goods go up. From the poor to the rich, everyone indulges in shopping for the biggest shopping spree of the year. Sweets, which are an integral part of any festival in Andhra Pradesh, are prepared in homes as well as bought from shops for exchange. This festival is full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships or ancient traditions.

First Day:

Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi: Observed two days before Diwali, Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi signifies the importance of money in our life. We cannot move not even inch without money. Everybody knows that without money, it is very difficult to survive. Thus for attaining money, people to pray Lord Kubera on the day of Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi. This day is also known as Dhana Trayodasi or Dhanteras.The Lord of finance is Kubera. Thus, if devotees pray sincerely on the Dhana Trayodasi with utmost faith, one need not worry for finance. The Kubera Mantra is recited on this day. The mantra is:

"Om Yakshaya, Kuberaya, Vysravanaya, Dhanadanyathipatiye, Dhana Dhanya Samruthideye, Dehi Dapaya Swaha"

On the day of Asweyuja Bahula Trayodasi, the devotee has to place the Kubera Yantra or Photo in the Pooja room. At the outset, one has to pray the Lord Vigneswara and then start performing pooja to the Lord Kubera and seek his blessings. One has to place Honey, Jaggery and Dry dates before the photo or Yantra and light the lamp with pure ghee.

On Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi, all businesspersons whitewash their shops and close their accounts. They worship goddess Lakshmi and the accounting books with coins. Some organise a doll show also. Lamps are lighted and placed at the entrance after dusk in order to combat untimely death.

Dhanatrayodashi: Dhan means wealth and trayodashi is the 13th day of the weaning moon in the month of Ashwin. Thus, on the day of Dhanatrayodashi all the sources of wealth are worshipped. Apart from this, Dhanatrayodashi is taken as a day to learn from the experience of one's past deeds and pay homage to memory of ancestors from whom one inherits these traditions.

The farmers worship their cattle and their weapons. Women buy something in metal especialy silver, good for the house. On this day, doorways are hung with torans, garland made of mango leaves and marigolds and decorated with Rangolis drawn to welcome guests.

On this day, Dhanvantari, the God of health and welfare is worshipped by performing acts such as cleaning the entire house, buying new clothes, new vessels etc. Shri Dhanvantari is worshipped on this day because this is the day that he arose from the ocean during the famous Samudra Manthan. The God of Health is worshiped first because Hinduism gives tremendous importance to physical well being.

Yamadeepdaan: Dhanteras is also known as Yamadeepdaan and lamps are kept burning through the night in reverential adoration to Yama - and prayers offered to him to keep away death and despair. A very interesting story about this day is attached to the sixteen year old son of King Hima. As per his horoscope he was doomed to die by a snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage.

On that fateful fourth day of his marriage his young wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid all the ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of her husband's palatial room and lighted infinite numbers of lamps all over the place. After all these, she went on telling stories and singing songs so that her husband is not able to sleep.

When Yam, the god of Death arrived there appearing in form of a Serpent his eyes got blinded by the dazzle of those brilliant lights and he could not enter the Prince's chamber. So he climbed on top of the heap of the ornaments and coins and sat there whole night listening to the melodious songs. In the morning he quietly went away.

Thus the young wife saved her husband from the clutches of death. Since then this day of Dhanteras came to be known as the day of "Yamadeepdaan" and lamps are kept burning throughout the night in remembering Yam, the god of Death.

Thirteen lamps made of wheat flour and lit with oil are placed outside the house, facing southwards (direction of Lord Yama), in the evening. A lamp is never kept facing southwards except on this day. Then, reciting the following mantra one should offer obeisance: "I offer these thirteen lamps to the son (Lord Yama) of the Sun deity (Surya), so that He liberates me from the clutches of death and bestows His blessings."

Second Day:

Narkachaturdashi: Celebrated as the second of the auspicious Deepavali days, Narkachaturdashi originates from days of Lord Krishna. God Yama is also worshiped on this day to get over the fear of demon Narakasura. Lamps with four wicks are lighted at various places. People make an effigy of Narakasura, carry it to the outskirts, and burn it. Later, they take bath and burst crackers. This is the day of Narakasura's death and hence a celebration for all.

There are many popular stories associated with this day, but the most widely accepted one is that of Satyabhama (Krishna's wife) and Narakasura. Narakasur was a demon king, ruling Pragjothishyapur, a southern province in the present day Nepal. He gained a boon from Brahma that he shall die only in the hands of a woman. Armed with the boon, he became a cruel king. Narakasura was infamous for his wicked ruling and high disregard for gods and women.

Addicted to power, he defeated Lord Indra (king of gods) and stole the earrings of Aditi (the heavenly mother goddess). Aditi was a relative of Satyabhama. When she heard of the injustice being done to women in general by Narakasura and his behaviour with Aditi, she was enraged. Satyabhama went to ask Lord Krishna, permission to wage a war against Narakasura, Krishna not only agreed, but also offered to drive her chariot in the Warfield.

On the day of the war, both the armies fought bravely and the war continued for some time. Satyabhama fought Narakasura bravely, but she was no match to his trained war wisdom. After some days, when Narakasura got a chance, he took an aim at Krishna, hurting him lightly. Krishna fainted and made Satyabhama furious. She doubled her attack on the demon king and killed him finally. Her victory on Narakasura translated into freedom for all his prisoners and honoring of Aditi.

To announce the death of Narakasura, Krishna smeared the demon's blood on his forehead and returned the very next day along with Satyabhama to his kingdom. On their arrival, preparations were made to cleanse Krishna of the demon's blood. At dusk, the whole city was lit with lamps and fireworks were displayed to rejoice in peace after the death of the demon king. Thus, came Narakachathurthasi as a celebration of the death of the evil king.

Third Day

Kaumudi Mahostavam: In the olden days of South India, Deepavali was once called as 'Kaumudi Mahostavam'. In those times the kings used to supervise the festivities of Diwali during the nights. The rituals and customs of those days are still followed such as black gram leaves are eaten even today. Lamps are distributed. Late in the night, women bring out their household weapons like dustpans, mops, etc, to drive away 'Jyesthadevi', the Goddess of penury.

It is believed that on Amavasya (no moon day), Goddess Lakshmi is present in sesame oil, and Gangadevi is present in all wells, lakes, and ponds. Sesame oil is used for taking bath. Plants like Uttarani, Anapa and Prapunnatamu are circled around the head before taking bath. Yama is worshiped facing South. It is believed that this helps in combating untimely death and in giving peace to the departed souls. In the evening, lamps are lightened almost everywhere in the town including the temples, hills, graveyards, etc.

Fourth Day

Bali Padyam / Bali Pratipada: Balipadyami or Bali Pratipada is the day on which 'Bali' is worshiped. Following Deepavali, there is a story behind celebrating this festival. When Vishnu was born as vamana (the dwarf), he crushed Bali into the under world. Then Prahlada, the grandfather of Bali pleaded Vishnu to pardon Bali. Then Bali was made the king of the under world. On Bali's request, Vishnu granted a boon that people on earth would remember him and would worship him. That is the reason for Balipadyami. On that day also people burst crackers and celebrate in the name of Bali.

There is also a story to tell that on Balipadyami 'Gambling' (Judam) should be played. Once on this padyami day, Shiva and Parvathi played the dice game. Shiva lost to Parvathi. Kumaraswami then played dice with Parvathi and won. Then Lord Ganesh played with Lord Kumaraswami and won. Since then, it has been customary for the family to be involved in gambling on this day. Farmers celebrate this day in a different way. They perform puja to cow, and is known as Gouramma puja.

Fifth Day:

Divvela Panduga / Divili Panduga: Divvela Panduga, the Festival of Lights is a very popular festival and is celebrated throughout the Indian Continent. In Andhra Pradesh this festival is celebrated to commemorate the victory of good over evil when Lord Krishna, with the help of his wife Satyabhama, destroyed Narakaasura, a demon king, and established his rule, the law and order and saved women from the Narakaasura's custody.

Divvela panduga is also known as Naraka Chaturdasi, because that was the Chaturdasi (fourteenth day) of the fortnight that ends with Amavasya (New Moon Day). All through this fortnight, people decorate their homes with oil lamps and on the dark night of Amavasya is celebrated with fire works. The dark night becomes a brightly-lit night with rows of lights everywhere and fire works.

On the day of Divili Panduga, religious Telugus wake up early in the morning and take special ritual showers. They wear new clothes on this day and parents invite their daughters and sons-in-law to their home and present them new clothes. For merchants and business communities of Andhra Pradesh, Divvela panduga is worship of Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, and is the beginning of a New Year.

Diwali - Festival of Lights

One of the biggest festivals of Hindus, Deepawali or Diwali in India is celebrated with lots of enthusiasm and happiness. This festival is celebrated for five continuous days, with the third day being celebrated as the main Diwali or as 'Festival of Lights' a more appropriate significance is "the new year of luck and wealth". Fireworks are always associated with this festival. The day is celebrated with people lighting diyas, candles all around their house. Lakshmi Puja is performed in the evening to seek divine blessings of Goddess of Wealth. Diwali gifts are exchanged among all near and dear ones.

The auspicious day of Diwali is decided by the moon position & according to the Hindu calendar, Amavasya or the "no moon day" is considered the perfect day for Diwali. The dark night comes after every fortnight & in the Hindu month of Kartik (October/November), it marks the festive occasion. The Diwali date holds an imperative meaning among the Hindus, since, the day is reckoned with Lord Rama's coronation ceremony as the King of Ayodhya after his return to the kingdom from 14 years of exile along with his wife Sita & brother Laxman after killing the demon, King Ravana.

Jainism marks Diwali as the nirvana of Lord Mahavira, which occurred on 15 October, 527 BCE.

Among the Sikhs, Diwali came to have special significance from the day the town of Amritsar was illuminated on the return to it of Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) who had been held captive in the Fort at Gwalior under the orders of the Mughal emperor, Jahangir (1570-1627). As the sixth Guru (teacher) of Sikhism, Guru Hargobind Ji, was freed from imprisonment - along with 53 Hindu Kings (who were held as political prisoners) whom the Guru had arranged to be released as well. After his release he went to the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) in the holy city of Amritsar, where he was welcomed in happiness by the people who lit candles and diyas to greet the Guru. Because of this, Sikhs often refer to Diwali also as Bandi Chhorh Divas - "the day of release of detainees."

We Hindus have several significant events associated with it:

  • Return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya: Diwali also celebrates the return of Lord Ram, King of Ayodhya, with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana to Ayodhya after a 14 year exile, and a war in which he killed the evil and demonic king Ravan. It is believed that the people of Ayodhya lit ghee lamps along the way to light their path in the darkness. Since Lord Ram traveled from South India to his kingdom in North India, he passed through the south earlier. This is the reason why the festival is celebrated a day earlier in South India.
  • The Killing of Narakasura: Celebrated as Naraka Chaturdasi, two days before Diwali day, it commemorates the killing of Narakasura, an evil demon who created havoc, by Lord Krishna's wife Satyabhama. This happened in the Dwapar Yuga during this time of Lord Krishna's avatar. In another version, the demon was killed by Lord Krishna (Lord krishna provokes his wife Satyabhama to kill Narakasura by pretending to be injured by the demon. Narakasura can only be killed by a woman) himself.Before Narakasura's death, he requested a boon from Satyabhama (believed to be an Avatar of Bhudevi), that everyone should celebrate his death with colorful light.
  • Austerities of Shakti: According to the Skanda Purana, the goddess Shakti observed 21 days of austerity starting from ashtami of shukla paksha (eighth day of the waxing period of moon) to get half of the body of Lord Shiva. This vrata (austerity) is known as kedhara vrata. Deepavali is the completion day of this austerity. This is the day Lord Shiva accepted Shakti into the left half of the form and appeared as Ardhanarishvara. The ardent devotees observe this 21 days vrata by making a kalasha with 21 threads on it and 21 types of offerings for 35 days. The final day is celebrated as kedhara gauri vrata.
  • Birth of Goddess Lakshmi: According to the Puranas, the goddess of Wealth, Prosperity and Luck Lakshmi was born from the churning of the Milk Ocean, along with other magical beings and objects including Amrit, Kamadhenu,Chintamani, Halahal aka Poison, etc. She was sought by both the Devas(Gods) and Danavas(Demons) but she chose Vishnu as her husband.
  • Krishna defeating Indra: Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Diwali. It is the day Lord Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. As per the story, Krishna saw huge preparations for the annual offering to Lord Indra and questions his father Nanda about it. He debated with the villagers about what their 'dharma' truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He continued to say that all human beings should merely do their 'karma', to the best of their ability and not pray for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna then lifted Mt Govardhan and held it up as protection to his people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. This aspect of Krishna's life is mostly glossed over but it set up the basis of the 'karma' philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavat Gita.

People celebrated this occasion by lighting diyas to drive away the darkness of amavasya.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Love - In detail

Researchers (Hatfield & Rapson, 1995) have broken up love into two main types:

* Passionate love which involves continuously thinking about the loved one and also involves warm sexual feelings and powerful emotional reactions.
* Companionate love is having trusting and tender feelings for someone who is close to you.

Now one of the best known theories of love (which means an educated guess that isn't proven fact) is Robert Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love.

The three components of the Triangular Theory of Love are:

Passion, the feeling physically aroused and attracted to someone.

Passion is what makes you feel "in love" and is the feeling most associated with love. It also rises quickly and strongly influences and biases your judgment.

Intimacy, the feeling close and connected to someone (developed through sharing and very good communications over time).

Intimacy is what makes you want to share and offer emotional and material support to each other.

Commitment, pledging to your self and each other to strengthen the feelings of love and to actively maintain the relationship.

Commitment is what makes you want to be serious, have a serious relationship and promise to be there for the other person if things get tough.

Now Sternberg also uses his Triangular Theory of Love to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about love:

Is there love at first sight?

This is when we are overwhelmed by passion, without any intimacy or commitment (both of which take time). Sternberg calls this infatuated love, Because there is not intimacy or commitment, infatuated love is fated to fade away.

Why do some people get married after being in love for a very short time?

This is a combination of passion and commitment, but without any intimacy. Sternberg calls this Hollywood love. This is where two people make a commitment to each other based on their passion. Unless intimacy develops over time, this relationship most likely will end.

Can their be love without sex?

Ah yes, companionate love, where intimacy and commitment are present without any sexual passion.

Why doesn't romantic love last?

Passion and intimacy without commitment is Romantic love. When the passion fades, and the intimacy wanes, the relationship ends.

This a close friend sent me e-mail:

Infatuation vs. Love

Infatuation is instant desire - one set of glands calling to another.

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It takes root and grows, one day at a time.

Infatuation is marked by a feeling of insecurity. You are excited and eager, but not genuinely happy. There are nagging doubts, unanswered questions, little bits and pieces about your beloved that you would just as soon not examine too closely. It might spoil the dream.

Love is the quiet understanding and mature acceptance of imperfection. It is real. It gives you strength and grows beyond you - to bolster your beloved. You are warmed by their presence, even when they are away. Miles do not separate you. You have so many wonderful little films in your head that you keep replaying. But near or far, you know they are yours, and you can wait.

Infatuation says, "We must get married right away. I can't risk losing them."

Love says, "Be patient. Don't panic. Plan your future with confidence."

Infatuation has an element of sexual excitement. Whenever you are together, you hope it will end in intimacy.

Love is not based on sex. It is the maturation of friendship, which makes sex so much sweeter. You must be friends before you can be lovers.

Infatuation lacks confidence. When they're away, you wonder if they're cheating. Sometimes, you check.

Love means trust. You are calm, secure and unthreatened. They feel your trust, and it makes them even more trustworthy.

Infatuation might lead you to do things you will regret, but love never steers you in the wrong direction.

Love is an upper. It makes you feel whole. It completes the circle. It fills the empty space in your heart. Love is elevating. It lifts you up. It makes you look up. It makes you think up. It makes you a better person than you were before. If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you don't have. If there is no love in your life, whatever else there is has a lot less meaning.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kidnap Movie Review

When you carry the baggage of super-successful films like DHOOM and DHOOM 2, the expectations from your subsequent outing is bound to be gargantuan. Unfortunately, KIDNAP falls short of expectations. You expect a seven course meal, but you're served mere crumbs.

Let's introspect. Where does it falter? The boy versus man concept holds tremendous scope and writer Shibani Bathija could've come up with an enthralling revenge drama. But KIDNAP fumbles, stumbles and falls on its face. The cat-n-mouse game is hardly enticing and that is its biggest drawback.

KIDNAP comes close to ZINDA in terms of plotline. There're similarities between the two films. But KIDNAP isn't as dark and gruesome as ZINDA. Also, KIDNAP loses focus after a promising start.

The hallmark of any revenge fare is the suspense quotient. In this case, there's a motive behind what Imran does. And money is definitely not the motive here. So far, so good. But the purpose of kidnapping the billionaire's only daughter as also the chain of events that lead to the culmination is such a put-off. Things keep deteriorating as they reach the finale.

The culprit? Obviously, the writer of this lifeless, unexciting and tedious drama. Shibani seems to think that the audience is pea-brained.

Silver lining or just dark clouds? Imran Khan's splendid act acts as a soothing balm, but if the pudding is tasteless, no amount of dressing can salvage the situation, right?

When Dr. Mallika [Vidya Malvade] asks her daughter Sonia [Minissha Lamba] what she wants for her 18th birthday, Sonia tells her she wants to meet her dad, Vikrant Raina [Sanjay Dutt]. The mother and father of this kid have separated, we're explained at the very outset. After a spat between the mother and daughter, Sonia walks off in a huff and doesn't return.

Mallika panics when she gets a call from a stranger that he has kidnapped Sonia. The kidnapper, Kabir [Imran Khan], has only one demand -- he will negotiate with nobody but Sonia's father, Vikrant.

Reluctantly Mallika brings Vikrant back into their lives to save Sonia. But Vikrant chokes at the thought of taking orders from a criminal. But Kabir holds the trump card -- he holds Sonia -- and Vikrant knows he has no option but to toe the line.

Kabir tells him they are going to play a game -- just the two of them. Vikrant has to play by the rules set by Kabir and he has to play alone. He has to play to save his daughter. If he even utters the words 'Hello Police', it will be Bye Bye for Sonia!

Because his daughter's life is at stake, a reluctant Vikrant agrees to obey Kabir's orders…

Never judge a book by its cover. This adage suits KIDNAP to the T. One look at its promos and you know what the story is, but the screenplay is so amateurish, even lifeless at times, that you scream, no, no, no, no, no!

Gadhvi and Shibani open the cards at the very outset. The sketches at the very beginning as also Minissha's kidnap within 10 minutes of the start compels you to think that the follow up should be equally exhilarating. But things start going wrong from this part onwards.

Imran's clues for Sanju, the first in a train and later at an engagement ceremony, make no sense. Later, Sanju and Vidya Malvade's entry in the jail is bizarre. This part takes you back to the cinema of 1970s and 1980s, when nonsense dominated. Later, when Sanju refuses to take Imran's call, Imran lands up at his house. Which kidnapper, in his right senses, would ever do that? Even the flashback -- Imran's childhood portions -- are just not impactful. Ditto for the climax. The shootout at the New Year party is ridiculous. Seriously, the writing is pathetic!

Sanjay Gadhvi is letdown by a script that easily ranks amongst the worst of 2008. Pritam's music is another sore point. Barring the 'Mit Jaaye' track, the remaining songs are lacklustre. Bobby Singh's camerawork is first-rate.

KIDNAP belongs to Imran Khan. Watch this youngster take giant strides and you know that he has arrived. He carries the cold look effortlessly. Sanjay Dutt looks disinterested, as if he is about to break into a yawn. Minissha Lamba is miscast. She doesn't look like a 17-year-old in the first place. Also, the generous dose of skin show doesn't gel with someone who's held captive. Vidya Malvade is efficient. Reema Lagoo is a mere prop. Rahul Dev's character looks forced.

On the whole, KIDNAP fails to grip you and that is its biggest flaw. At the box-office, KIDNAP being teen sensation Imran Khan's immediate release after the blockbuster hit JAANE TU… YA JAANE NA would ensure a strong opening weekend, but the poor merits are sure to take a toll once the initial euphoria subsides. Disappointing!

Friday, September 26, 2008

A wednesday: Movie review

It's been a long time since I watched a nice Hindi movie."A Wednesday" simply rocks! It was better than much-hyped Rock On! With no songs, no old love stories, “A Wednesday" matches my taste!

"A Wednesday" is a movie about terrorism and common man. How common man innovates an idea of dealing with the terrorism when Our Government fails. It’s a great movie, with lots of twists. But, i didn't like the ending of the movie. Why the hell, every bollywood movie should have a happy ending? Though the director gave a reason for that


The story is a simple one. There are bombs, five of them…and this we find that out pretty early on in the movie. One bomb is planted at the police station itself…and as for the other bombs, well that is for the police to find out. And as is common with all terrorists, the person who has planted the bombs wants something in exchange…There is suspense even though we know that the police commissioner (who is the narrator) is alive and well…as we don’t know what is going to
happen to the other characters.

The twist in the tale is what makes the movie worth it. It’s a very satisfying movie although until the last twenty minutes of the movie things seem to be going on in a predictable manner.

Here goes the complete story:

Movie starts with "dialogues" of Anupam Kher who is playing his role as top cop in Mumbai police. He gets a call from a person (Naseeruddin Shah) about planting of 5 bombs in all parts of the city. It should be noted that the name of Naseeruddin Shah is never spoken in the whole movie. The reason for this, as given in the movie, was that people recognize a person with his name. If he is Muslim, then people all think him as a terrorist.

Now, Naseeruddin Shah, who is pretends as a terrorist, asks for freeing the top 4 terrorists from various jails of Mumbai. This was the deal between Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher. If police releases all 4 terrorists then Naseeruddin Shah would tell the police about the locations where he has planted the bombs.

Police obeys him and releases all 4 terrorists. Police take all 4 terrorists to a pre-specified place, as Anupam Kher asks for the location of the bombs as per the deal.

Here comes the twist, instead of taking all terrorists with him, Naseeruddin Shah blows all of them except one terrorist.

Now, for how this happens, you must watch the movie. The long dialogue of Naseeruddin Shah in the end of movie is boring...Except it,” A Wednesday” rocks!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Happening

Writer-Director M. Night Shyamalan's New Film Starring Mark Wahlberg

-Movie review of the movie I last saw
(The Happening is happening)

The knives had been out and sharpened long before M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie, “The Happening,” opened on Friday. A fine craftsman with aspirations to the canon, this would-be auteur has, in the last few years, experienced a sensational fall from critical and commercial grace, partly through his own doing — by making bad movies and then, even after those movies failed, by continuing to feed his ego publicly — and partly through the entertainment media that, once they smell weakness, will always bite the hand they once slathered in drool.

Something is happening in the American Northeast. A strange toxin is making people do horrible things. What could be causing these strange events in The Happening?

Since the release of The Sixth Sense, Writer-Director M. Night Shyamalan has developed a knack for delivering warped, original films that get people talking. His trademark plot twists have both angered and delighted audiences.

While his last film Lady in the Water sank like a lead weight, his new film The Happening shows a director on the creative rebound. Love it or hate it, The Happening doesn’t leave room for indifference.

The Happening in Central Park-- The Happening stars Mark Wahlberg as nerdy science teacher Elliot Moore who, along with his quirky wife Alma Moore (Zooey Deschanel), who has been having dessert dates with an unseen co-worker named Joey, is forced to flee New York or face imminent death.

A strange toxin spreads throughout New England, stemming from New York’s Central Park. First deemed an act of terrorism, the gas, or whatever has been unleashed, causes disorientation in its first stage, immediate death follows. The oddest thing about this poisonous gas is that it makes people kill themselves.

From the first graphic scenes, it becomes clear that The Happening differs from the rest of M. Night Shyamalan’s films. While he continues to use the element of surprise effectively, the images shown in this movie become increasingly interesting and make you to stick to your seats.

The movie has a boosting moment when it is revealed (or at least speculated upon) that the cause of the mysterious killer gas doesn’t come from a terrorist organization at all but rather plants and nature. These aren’t the kind of killer plants found in The Ruins, but regular trees and grass and dandelions that have decided that humans are a threat to their survival and have ‘communicated’ with one another to bond and exterminate the human race.

The Happening becomes more gripping with its overuse of scenes depicting wind flowing through trees, meant to show how the toxins are being spread .

The movie gets a jolt of bizarreness when Elliot and Alma find solace in an abandoned cabin inhabited by a crazy lady who invites them in, then begrudges their staying, accusing them of wanting to steal her stuff. From this point the movie turns into a mini, yet fascinating, haunted house story that ends all too quickly, as does the rest of the movie.

Trapped in the house as the killer wind blows through, Elliot and Alma come to grips with their mortality and reunite to die as a couple. The wind dies down and nothing happens.

Fast forward three months and Alma is pregnant. A television in the background warns that the events three months prior are the first signs that the planet is rejecting the human species. The host disagrees, saying that if this theory were true, events such as the ones experienced in the American Northeast would be occurring elsewhere.

Cut to Paris, France…Many movie goers will grumble about the lack of a twist at the end of this movie, others will roll their eyes at the killer being nature. But in the end, this movie is fascinating to watch, evenly passed, both dramatic and humorous with some wonderful and over-the-top-effects.

--A Must Watch (One of the best movies of recent times)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Are Your Employees Well Enough Trained?

No matter how well the IT infrastructure in your company is designed, you cannot avoid the basic truth that people still play a major role within your organisation.

Every single time the computer system is upgraded – whether it’s a small change to make customer ordering easier or the installation of a whole new system – it’s necessary to follow this by letting all the relevant staff members know of the changes that have been made.

How this process is done can make a big difference to how successfully your staff cope with the changes. Given the basic truth that many people do not like the idea of change, it’s a good idea to give your staff adequate notice of any forthcoming work on the computer system – as much as is humanly possible under the circumstances.

Not only will this give them time to prepare mentally, it will also ensure they have enough time to put in place any other measures or contingency plans that may be necessary to allow business to continue as normal while the IT work is carried out.

But training isn’t just required in times of change. IT training should be a regular part of life at any company if maximum efficiency is to be achieved.

Terms such as multi-tasking and multi-skilled are becoming a part of more and more workplaces, and with downsizing being another area of concern in many companies it is necessary and advisable to make sure that as many staff members as possible are trained to perform the roles of their colleagues. Not only does this lead to a better all round service for the client or customer, but it also lends a greater appreciation for all roles within the company.

The level of IT knowledge required by any single staff member will depend on their job role. Some people will naturally acquire more knowledge in addition to this, while others will be hesitant to learn anything new – even if it would benefit them in their day to day work.

To this end, regular and more informal advice and assistance on improving computer skills would be beneficial to most companies, giving people the opportunity to increase their knowledge without any pressure. Combined with more formal training sessions whenever required to inform and educate the staff about new updates to the IT system this can be an encouraging combination.

In an ideal world every employee would know what skills they are lacking when it comes to using computers in a working environment. But in reality things are not so simple.

That is why it’s advisable to monitor the performance of each employee periodically, so that additional training can be offered when it is deemed necessary.

A History Into Microsoft Products

Microsoft Windows is the name of several families of software operating systems by Microsoft. Microsoft first introduced an operating environment named Windows in November 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces (GUIs). The most recent client version of Windows is Windows Vista. The current server version of Windows is Windows Server 2008.

Windows 1.0 (1985)

The first version of Windows provided a new software environment for developing and running applications that use bitmap displays and mouse pointing devices. Before Windows, PC users relied on the MS-DOS® method of typing commands at the C prompt (C:\). With Windows, users moved a mouse to point and click their way through tasks, such as starting applications.

In addition, Windows users could switch among several concurrently running applications. The product included a set of desktop applications, including the MS-DOS file management program, a calendar, card file, notepad, calculator, clock, and telecommunications programs, which helped users, manage day-to-day activities.

Windows 2.0 (1987)

Windows 2.0 took advantage of the improved processing speed of the Intel 286 processor, expanded memory, and inter-application communication capabilities made possible through Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE). With improved graphics support, users could now overlap windows, control screen layout, and use keyboard combinations to move rapidly through Windows operations. Many developers wrote their first Windows–based applications for this release.

Windows 3.0 (1990)

The third major release of the Windows platform from Microsoft offered improved performance, advanced graphics with 16 colors, and full support of the more powerful Intel 386 processor. A new wave of 386 PCs helped drive the popularity of Windows 3.0, which offered a wide range of useful features and capabilities, including:

Program Manager, File Manager, and Print Manager.

A completely rewritten application development environment.

An improved set of Windows icons.

Windows NT 3.1 (1993)

When Microsoft Windows NT® was released to manufacturing on July 27, 1993, Microsoft met an important milestone: the completion of a project begun in the late 1980s to build an advanced new operating system from scratch.

Windows NT was the first Windows operating system to combine support for high-end, client/server business applications with the industry's leading personal productivity applications.

Windows for Workgroups 3.11 (1993)

A superset of Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups 3.11 added peer-to-peer workgroup and domain networking support. For the first time, Windows–based PCs were network-aware and became an integral part of the emerging client/server computing evolution.

Windows for Workgroups was used in local area networks (LANs) and on standalone PCs and laptop computers. It added features of special interest to corporate users, such as centralized configuration and security, significantly improved support for Novell NetWare networks, and remote access service (RAS)

Windows NT Workstation 3.5 (1994)

The Windows NT Workstation 3.5 release provided the highest degree of protection yet for critical business applications and data. With support for the OpenGL graphics standard, this operating system helped power high-end applications for software development, engineering, financial analysis, scientific, and business-critical tasks.

Windows 95 (1995)

Windows 95 was the successor to the three existing general-purpose desktop operating systems from Microsoft—Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, and MS-DOS. Windows 95 integrated a 32-bit TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) stack for built-in Internet support, dial-up networking, and new Plug and Play capabilities that made it easy for users to install hardware and software.

The 32-bit operating system also offered enhanced multimedia capabilities, more powerful features for mobile computing, and integrated networking.

Windows NT Workstation 4.0 (1996)

This upgrade to the Microsoft business desktop operating system brought increased ease of use and simplified management, higher network throughput, and tools for developing and managing intranets. Windows NT Workstation 4.0 included the popular Windows 95 user interface yet provided improved networking support for easier and more secure access to the Internet and corporate intranets.

Windows 98 (1998)

Windows 98 was the upgrade from Windows 95. Described as an operating system that "Works Better, Plays Better," Windows 98 was the first version of Windows designed specifically for consumers.

With Windows 98, users could find information more easily on their PCs as well as the Internet. Other ease-of-use improvements included the ability to open and close applications more quickly, support for reading DVD discs, and support for universal serial bus (USB) devices

Windows 98 Second Edition (1999)

Windows 98 SE, as it was often abbreviated, was an incremental update to Windows 98. It offered consumers a variety of new and enhanced hardware compatibility and Internet-related features.

Windows 98 SE helped improve users' online experience with the Internet Explorer 5.0 browser technology and Microsoft Windows NetMeeting® 3.0 conferencing software. It also included Microsoft DirectX® API 6.1, which provided improved support for Windows multimedia, and offered home networking capabilities through Internet connection sharing (ICS)

Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me) (2000)

Designed for home computer users, Windows Me offered consumers numerous music, video, and home networking enhancements and reliability improvements.

Windows Me was the last Microsoft operating system to be based on the Windows 95 code base. Microsoft announced that all future operating system products would be based on the Windows NT and Windows 2000 kernel.

Windows 2000 Professional (2000)

Windows 2000 added major improvements in reliability, ease of use, Internet compatibility, and support for mobile computing.

Among other improvements, Windows 2000 Professional simplified hardware installation by adding support for a wide variety of new Plug and Play hardware, including advanced networking and wireless products, USB devices, IEEE 1394 devices, and infrared devices.

Windows XP (2001)

With the release of Windows XP in October 2001, Microsoft merged its two Windows operating system lines for consumers and businesses, uniting them around the Windows 2000 code base.

With Windows XP, home users can work with and enjoy music, movies, messaging, and photos with their computer, while business users can work smarter and faster, thanks to new technical-support technology, a fresh user interface, and many other improvements that make it easier to use for a wide range of tasks

Windows VISTA

Windows Vista is a line of operating systems developed by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, Tablet PCs, and media centers.

Windows Vista contains many changes and new features, including an updated graphical user interface and visual style dubbed Windows Aero, improved searching features, new multimedia creation tools such as Windows DVD Maker, and redesigned networking, audio, print, and display sub-systems

Pinging Tricks

You’re a blogger and are constantly hearing about pinging. The thing is, you don't know what it is and what it can do for your blog. Well that's fine because a lot of bloggers don't quite understand pinging. In this newsletter, we will explain what pinging is, how it helps your blog, and what the best pinging services are. After you've read this newsletter, you'll know exactly how to use pinging to make your blog popular.

What is pinging?

When a blog is pinged, it essentially tells a web blog tracking system that the blog has been updated. Thus, pinging is the process of telling tracking services that a site has been updated.

So how does pinging work? Well, a ping service scans regularly blogs for updates. Whenever there is a new update for a particular blog, that is reported back to the pinging service’s site. You can almost think of ping services being just like search engine spiders—both scan sites looking for information, and both report that information back to their specific site. The difference is, a ping service only reports back new blog posts.

Why is pinging useful for my blog?

Pinging, in effect, tells people that there is a new blog posting available. Those who are loyal followers of your blog will see the ping and want to visit your blog. Those who haven’t read your blog before will see the ping and perhaps think “hey, there’s a new blog I haven’t been to before, I think I’ll check it out”. Pinging helps to increase your traffic because it tells people when your blog is updated. Those who visit sites with pinging services will see this information in the form of a scroll on the left or right side, or top of the page. The scroll is usually in XML format and typically includes the title and URL of your blog, as well as the date and time of the update.

OK, so now I know what pinging is. Who offers pinging?

The answer is, there are several pinging services available which you can use to have your blog pinged. We’ll go over some of them right now. is probably the most well-known pinging service. monitors sites for updates and then pings whenever there is an update to report. Virtually every blog software is available to use Weblogs.


Another popular pinging service. This one is offered by Yahoo and has a built-in integration with movable type and other tools. One cool thing about this service is that it offers the ability to give out updates via Instant Messenging services like AOL and ICQ. It is a direct pinging service, so those who sign up for subscriptions to your blog will be sent an email anytime your blog is updated.

Blogrolling allows its bloggers to manage their blogrolls (updates) through a web-based interface. Recently updated blogs are also highlighted on Blogrolling’s web site. Data is automatically retrieved from other sites like and every 5 minutes. Often times your blog is already being pinged by Blogrolling, so you might not have to sign up for it. Search on the site first for your URL before signing it up.


Available at, Technorati is another service that pings blogs. It gets its data from a variety of places and is definitely a site you should go to for blog pinging.

These are just 4 of the many different blog pinging services available. A quick search on Yahoo or Google will reveal many other possible blog pinging services to use for your blog. It is best to sign up for as many as you possibly can to ensure that your blog is well-pinged. A well-pinged blog will definitely help your blog attract more visitors. So sign up for as many as possible and watch your blog traffic increase.

Pinging tells people when your blog is updated. It is an incredibly useful, and easy to sign up for service, so be sure to sign your blog up for pinging!

Why Is My Computer Slow?

Buying the most up to date gadgets and computing hardware may seem like a good idea, but at the end of the day are we wasting our hard earned cash?

Technology geeks (I can say that because I am one myself) go out and buy the latest gadgets at the highest prices because they all have some new fangled function or a re sporting the latest colors or designs when they haven't really used all the functionality of the one they already own.

When it comes to the family Pc however I think the technology giants like Intel, AMD, Hp and Dell for example are all missing the point when it comes to your average consumer.

A majority of computer users do not play games on their computers (they probably have a play station or a Wii), nor do they use massively processor hungry applications like computer aided design packages or finite element (fea) calculation packages.

If we listen to all the advertising blurb that computer vendors and suppliers seem happy to ply us with, we would all believe we need multiple core machines , but reality couldn't be further from the truth.

And if the processor manufacturers were entirely, open they would also tell you that there are still today very few programs that can even take advantage of the multithreaded capability of today's breed of processors.

The truth of the matter is that Pc technology and power is far outreaching the users real needs, lets face it, you probably have more raw processing capability sat in the average home than they had to send man into space in the early days!

One fact that is undeniable though is that when you go and buy your next Pc with all its raw computing power you will probably still need to by something extra to make it work efficiently within a short space of time.

A well rounded and efficient computer or laptop isn't just about the processor speed, granted that does help but only up to a point. A good analogy would be why buy a sports car that is capable of over a hundred and fifty miles and hour when the most you will ever do is 90?

Equally , with your average car a good all round performer will be the sum of all its components , tires, suspension etc. not just the power of the engine. But what good is a 150 mph engine if the tires are only rated for 70mph.

The same thing will apply to the common Pc, but where there are consumer laws governing the sale of automobiles the same level of strictness does not apply to computers . And quite often what you buy may not be quite up to the job.

Of course, what we are referring to is the amount of computer memory in your laptop or Pc.

As Pc power increases programs get more complex, and as they get more complex they use more computer memory.

The more programs you install even if only working in the background i.e. anti virus programs, music programs and system utilities the more memory is used and so on.

Simply put the more memory the programs have to access, the faster and more efficiently the Pc will work.

This is all well and good but the problem occurs when your computer runs out of memory and has to start using the hard drive as extended memory instead.

This is magnitudes slower performance wise than the system memory and will not stop your Pc from working but will certainly slow it down, sometimes to the point of almost stopping.

It's a bit like putting a block of wood under your cars gas pedal, it will still accelerate but just not as quickly as it is really capable of.

Budget driven customers often rely on the advice of the Pc reseller but quite often they are more interested in making a quick sale than giving sound advice.

After all lets face it, a little additional memory should not cost more than Rs.1500 - Rs.3000 extra and is a worthy investment if you plan to keep your hardware for more than a year, or have more than a handful of programs you want to load up.

Are computer resellers all to blame though? Expert opinion would say not , the computer manufactures should set a minimum level of memory in new systems given that they are well aware that budget machines memory levels are arguably barely adequate.

The positive side to all this is of course that there is a massive market in after sales computer memory which seems to grow ever stronger because of the need for more memory in a machine.

Computer memory upgrades are easily obtainable fortunately and something which you can do yourself. You can do an online memory scan to ensure and guarantee that the memory is indeed correct for your system and fit it yourself when it arrives a few days later if ordered on line.

Or you can contact you local computer repair professional who can also perform this inexpensive task if you have already purchased a new Pc or if your existing system is running slowly.

If you are thinking of purchasing new hardware then do yourself a favor and make sure you get a memory upgrade if you are purchasing a budget machine. If the salesperson does not give you the option ask for it. You will be the person that benefits in the long run.

Life is great with modern day cheap laptops

The modern day computer market is a completely different place to shop than what it was some decades ago. In the current market, the bulky and traditional computers find no place and are effectively replaced by smart, sleek and performance-oriented laptops.

A laptop is an integral part for many of us for some reason or the other. While the office executives make use of it for performing their duties even while on the move, the housewives and students make use of it to search the Internet or valuable information for miscellaneous purposes.

Let us study some of the numerous benefits of a laptop over the traditional desktop computers. A laptop offers higher levels of portability, flexibility, reliability and is space-conscious. The emergence of new market players, intense competition, falling price, higher levels of customer satisfaction and favorable market trends have all contributed to the growth of the laptop market in the recent years.

The modern day cheap laptops offer exceptional solutions when it comes to complex needs, high-quality image resolution, viewing angle and contrast ratio. Most of the latest laptops score heavily when it comes to satisfying the ever-growing needs of their users.

If you are planning to buy a fresh or second-hand laptop, you must consider some critical factors such as performance, price, substitute products, prevailing market trends, customer service and brand awareness. You must demand the original bill and warranty documents from the vendor and stay away from the grey market. It is of no use to buy the cheap laptops and regret at a later stage. Do not get lured by false promises and tall claims of profit-motivated vendors who leave no stone unturned to get easy and innocent customers.

Some of the leading names in the world of cheap laptops are Acer, HCL and Compaq. The advanced and stylish Acer Laptops as the Acer Aspire 5583WXMi, Acer TravelMate 4233WLMi, Acer TM 6292 and Acer Ferrari 1005WTMi offer complete value for your money. These highly elegant and power-packed Acer laptops will never let you down with sub-standard performance and will reduce your burden with some exceptional quality and performance on a consistent basis.

Thus, it can be easily concluded that the present day Cheap Laptops are great assets for each one of us. The only thing we need to remember is that it' s better to wait for a purchase than to buy a low quality laptop.

IT Project Managers and Their Need To Make Projects Succeed

The reality in the IT working world is that most IT projects fall flat on their faces. A startling statistic of 80% (and possibly higher) reveals the majority of IT projects, despite being well-formed and planned, still end up not meeting outlined project goals throughout their planned course, both in terms of keeping with time and budgeting available money. IT Projects themselves constitute particular IT endeavors that are carried out to create a fresh technological product and/or service with intent to spur, and hopefully, continue a sense of beneficial IT change.

But, Just Who Is Pushing For Change and Managing IT Projects?

Simply, the wrong people. Sometimes, having such change-worthy aspirations to drive these types of projects forward are undertaken by those who least know how to manage and properly conduct IT projects. And with these types of lacking-individuals what's clear for them is their target; it's just that their aim is far from accurate.

With Precise IT Project Aims: IT Project Managers

But, now - and needed more than ever for purposes of actually accomplishing IT projects and their attached goals - there are specific people out there who can stop IT projects from stumbling and falling on their faces. These individuals are called IT Project Managers. Currently, their need in the industry is dire. With the constant increase of IT projects popping up throughout IT companies and organizations worldwide, the call for IT Project Managers is being bellowed from far and wide.

The need for IT Project Managers who have accredited certification are even more popularly sought after. For with certification in IT project management IT professionals and prospective employers will know you have what it takes to make projects structured, operational and successful. Having certification in IT project management tells others you can use the best possible practices, proven techniques and tested methodologies to perfectly complete a provided project, both in a timely manner and within budget parameters.

Certification Options for IT Project Managers

If you feel you'd do well at being an IT Project Manager then know that you have certification options to choose from, two in total. There is the Project+ certification and the PMP certification.

The Project+ certification is affiliated with Comp TIA. And with this certification you will gain all fundamental project management skills being able to take a project from conception to adulthood. You will be able to take projects through planning phases, execution actions, support efforts and end result finalization.

The Project Management Professional certification is derived from the highly respected PMI, Project Management Institute. This certification is the most reputable in the world. The application process for gaining acceptance to achieve PMP certification is quite involved. It requires having a university degree, 4,500 built up hours of professional project management experience and an additional 35 hours project management education.

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