ULCRA Repealed

After a long wait and a lot of promises the Ulcra has finally been repealed in Maharashtrs winter assembly at Nagpur.

What will it mean ?

The scrapping of the Act by March 2008 means funding under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. It is expected to free up around 36,000 hectares in the state for development, including some 5,200 hectares in Mumbai.

Increase of rent in chawls and flats which payed abysmally low rents, where rents were capped at 1970s rates.

Increase of stock of land for builders and developers, especially people like Godrej and Wadias who have a huge land bank in Mumbai and indirectly translate in more funds for politicians from the builder lobby.

from mid-day:

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will be biggest gainer of the repeal of the Urban Land Ceiling Act. Of the 36,000 hectares of the land that will be freed in the state after the repeal, about 22,000 hectares is going to be released in Pune district alone, which is a stronghold of Sharad Pawar-led NCP.

“The builders’ lobby in this district is controlled by NCP and considering the emergence of Pune as the IT capital of Maharashtra, the real estate market in Pune is hotting up every day. About 9,500 hectares Pune-land falls in Development Zone and over 10,000 hectares fall in No Development Zone.

Lastly it also means early general elections

There are chances that midterm general elections will be held and the party requires funds for polls. Repeal of the ULCA in Maharashtra is an indication that the elections are likely,” said a senior bureaucrat.

So what about the aam admi who is faced with a so called housing price boom due low interest rate housing loan resulting in a quantum jump in valuation in suburbs sometimes exceeding 50 to 100 % escalation a yr, very much similar to what us experienced (10% yrly growth rate ) since 2001 ?

Well he wont still get his house at an affordable rate anytime soon, as builders who buy land will develop land in parts and release flats at a much lower rate so as to control prices.

Though Mumbai is saturated and prices will change little, I expect prices to fall in the next 6 mths in tier 2 cities like pune and nasik and suburbs like thane where the psf rate has escalated from a mere Rs 2000 to 6000 in some cases in lst 3 yr, if things are not stage managed by the politicians – builders nexus.


Om Shanti Om Review


This movie directed by Farah Khan may just have made a record of casting the largest number of Bollywood heroes, heroines and character actors including actors from yester years, theatre, Hindi and Marathi serials. The movie is a 100% unadulterated bollywood masala flick and with it Farah has come of age and taken over the mantle from David Dhawan, the king of mindless time pass entertainers.

It starts with credits to an unending list of actors’ actresses and brands.The movie revolves around SRK who doubles up as the junior artist Om Prakash Makheeja and in second life the darde disco 6 pack hero OK, Deepika doubling up as Shanti Priya , Super Estar love interest and later the chewing gum eating model, Bindu as as herself and the typical heroine’s mother. His overacting ex – film extra mom played by Kiron Kher, his buddy Pappu, played by Shreyas Talpade and lastly the villain played by Arjun Rampal as Mukesh Mehra the director.

The film is a a typical copy paste bhelpuri loosely based on the movie Karz and Trishul, and has the much abused theme of greed, rebirth and retribution along with a wholesome dose of on purpose overacting by all except the very pretty Deepika Paukone, and SRK (to whom it comes naturally). Of cource she has plagiarized bollywood names, situations n scenes from various movies and even you tube.

It starts with the song om shanti om from the reincarnation movie Karz, then goes on to the famous fire scene from Mother India resulting in friendship and one sided love, a few funny scenes including SRK as b grade south film hero Quick gun Murugan– Mind it ! Then comes the sudden villainous twist, showing the dirty truth of her being pregnant and secretly married with the villain Arjun being revealed to SRK, and his plans to wed a rich financiers daughter, resulting in sets being burnt in a fire resulting in their deaths. Reborn SRK is Ok or Om Kapoor, the new age ok hero, son of a super hero Rajesh Kapoor (parody of R Khanna). He is a man who mysteriously fears fire, suddenly lands up at the old burnt out set and getting a flashback resulting in him attempting to improve his acting skills and seeking to take revenge on the Nri return Mike Mehra. The detailed plot here.
What u get to see:

1. On and off screen Bollywood parody with lots of overacting, melodrama and typical dialogues with a rather cliche story.

2. Costume parade featuring the 70s/80s look – hairstyles buns and costumes et all and the new mod look of the new millennium.

3. The very pretty Deepika Padukone who (along with Isha Koppikar has ushered in the new wave of saraswat heroines) has acted really well in her first film.

4. Skinny SRK topless for the fairer sex and lots of cleavage for the male audience.

5. Goof up scenes like Deepika who, in the studio burning death scene is seen without a chandelier earring comes back as the ghost who avenges her own death with both earrings intact! Plus both kiron and deepika showing SRK the finger.

So if u really rs into tp flicks, go see the movie but if u really want to enjoy it make sure see it with a bunch of friends. my rating ** of 5









VOIP Calling cards

In a country like India where telecom is regulated, and using calling cards is illegal, Voip with Gtalk, Skype, Msn and Yahoo are quite popular for pc to pc chat. But for calling a phone say in the Us or Uk or Europe these Pc to Phone calling cards come handy as per minute costs are a mere Rs 2 to 3 sometimes even Rs 1.

The popularity of pc to pc chat has dried up the mkt for calling cards and a few operators still exist. u can literally count them on ur fingertips. There is cybercafe based cos like Sify Iways, and there are others like Anyuser India or India2world.

I generally use Anyuser India that after dialpad shut shop.

Yesterday i tried out the India2world card based on the mediaringtalk network. From first hand experience, id recommend u never ever to purchase the India2world cards as they are both more expensive per call and give a truly pathetic experience. Infact all i could listen to was the opposite party speaking at chipmunk speed, and the person literally h a d t o s p e a k real S L O W for me to make sense of anything she said.

Goodbye Pramod Navalkar

Senior Shiv Sena leader and former minister Pramod Navalkar died on Tuesday following a heart attack at age 75. Navalkar was diabetic. He underwent a bypass surgery in 1995. He had stopped appearance at public functions two years ago due to ill health.

Other than being a prominent Shiv Sena Leader, he was a veteran journalist and columnist and had written nearly 50 books. He was a member of the Senas old guard and one of the few Sena leaders that had the stature similar to Thackarey.

Victorian he might have been with his eccentric moral policing ideals, but he was certainly one of the few politicians that truly loved his Khetwadi constituency, and Mumbai City in general.  He was a simple humble man, with a very clean image . A man who had no problems mingling with the common people.

He did a world of good to the common Mumbaikar with many of his projects like the cleanup of Girgaum Chowpatty, and Nana Nani park, ideas which were later emulated in juhu and many other places.

The Amazing Gowdas!

I had been commenting on the political affairs of Karnataka. I dont know how to describe them but the whole Gowda bunch are simply Amazing!

gowda gowda

From the day Mr Deve Gowda became the surprise sleeping Pm of the country to the day he got his son H D Kumaraswamy the post of Karnataka CM, their theatrics and melodrama and Gowda’s expert tactful bargaining abilities are more interesting than most soap operas like the Bold and the beautiful , young and restless and at home the kasauti or kahani or the latest in soap on star, sony or zee tv. Being the humble farmers son, this man has the ability to bargain and negotiate better than any IIM or Management graduate in this country. The family has never missed an opportunity to amuse and amaze me with their antics and their open and loud public family squabbles.

After so many betrayals and repeat betrayals with both the leading parties the Bjp and the Congress, It seemed like the dream of somehow holding on to the CMs Chair was all but over, Thanks to the Madam at the Centre, who deciding Aab Bahuuut hor Gaya! Eets time for Thakurr to take over and declared Presidents rule and planned for Elections.

But wait Its still not over, now Disenchanted with his father Deve Gowda and his JD (S) party, the former CM HD says he is floating a new party. Lets see maybe the Father and Son duo will hug and make up after the next elections.

* images from tribune and rediff.

Mumbai Roads and Marathons

I was stuck in a jam a few days back and will blog about once i get my mobile dongle and upload the pics. Jams are part and parcel of a Mumbaikars life, but the time taken to clear them out is increasing day by day.

Recently I read that the fifth Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, to be run on the western side streets of the metropolis on January 20, has enhanced its prize money to USD 2.4 lakh and has attracted 40 of the world’s top 100 marathoners.

The prize money is a cool Rs 96,00,000! that too for a sport most Mumbaikars are remotely interested in. Yes, the whole event is positive and helps by donating to NGOs and Charity, and also due to public participation however minuscule it may be in statistical terms.

But im quite unimpressed about the whole affair and find it a wastage of resources and a big corporate add event. why?

First because some foreigner gets to come and take away the booty, while already poorly sponsored local talent gets peanuts.

Secondly the whole media glare and focus is on the Filmstars and Celebrities and not on either the world champ runners or the mumbaikar who should also be given some coverage.

Thirdly because i find it quite fake and not truly portraying the true, real Mumbai . This is mainly because the roads used for the marathon are Showcase roads and real roads and bylanes in Mumbai are so badly maintained, that people using them get a range of problems and sicknesses ranging from minor sprains muscle pulls etc to the more serious fractures, neck, lumbar and back problems and complications from those problems.

It would be better to structure the race in such a manner that the roads chosen are the ones that portray the true Mumbai including roads that are uncared for or badly kept so that the administration is embarrassed into doing something about their upkeep.

Are Indians living beyond their means?

At least this article in the TOI says so..

Indians are always thought to be a conservative society thanks to our high saving rate and a burgeoning middle class with conservative approach.

Things have certainly changed in the last few yrs with the call centre western imported culture, the discount malls culture and creeping consumerism that the opening up of the economy and the booming stock markets have brought about. Ive seen friends almost getting bankrupt with easy credit card debt too, but they arnt that many in statistical terms.

So are we now changing into a debt oriented society throwing savings to the wind? Are we heading the American way of purchasing a house on mortgage and having credit card debt being standard norm, rather than the an aberration?

yes the INR is going up against the Dollar but not against other currencies like the Euro.

The stock markets are either irrationally exuberant or we are aping the big sustained bull rally that happened in the west after the great depression, as the fiis are pumping in big money betting on India.

The housing problem in India is acute, population is growing and people are desperate. Worse, we are having a housing mkt/asset price bubble caused by a nexus of Builder Slumlord/Goon and Politician lobby. We might even be heading the american way with a urban housing loan delinquency type of crices in next 2 yrs if interest rates rise further.

Yes more people are living beyond their means in cities, but can we really generalise when rural folks constitute 60%+ population?

More importantly is the Government living beyond its means with bloated expenditure on questionable poverty alleviation programs and an ever increasing subsidy bill and a fiscal deficit?

On Conjoined twins and AmberDhara

I hardly ever see any serials, especially not the soap operas and k serials that run on sony zee or star. Recently when at my friends house i caught a glimpse of this serial on Sony- Ambar Dhara. It is based on Conjoined twins.

Most twins are conjoined at the head or at the waist or at the chest or the bottom area but nooooooo they are conjoined just around 3 inches above their elbow.

Now most conjoined twins would always wish to be separated, and would even risk their life in complicated surgeries. But this story is something else. By the look of it they can be separated even by me if not by our very busy and humorous Rambodoc…..but nooooooo

My friend told me that she couldnt quite figure out how such stuff does ever get an audience, that too when they make it so obvious that they are faking it – with all those full hand salwar kameez and other clothes they sometimes wear… pic

Recently on more deeper study , and after reading the  wiki it seems they are conjoined by the hip, 20% of the liver is a part of Amber’s body and the remaining 80% , a part of Dhara’s body this is the funniest conjuring by the scriptwriter in tv history i suppose, that too when they dont remotely look alike.

Recently the newspapers and the news channels were abuzz with the news of the successful operation of Lakshmi from her Parasitic twin .

Coming to the point when will there be some sensible programming on cable tv? how long do we bear with Crappy Sob operas and k serials like this?


Mumbai Indian railways ATVMs

There has been a lot of talk about modernising Mumbai Suburban rail network. Much of it has remained just that — Lots of talk but no or little action.

The Ministry of Railways in collaboration with Maharashtra government has taken steps to revamp the Mumbai Suburban Railway System through implementation of Multi-modal Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP).MUTP phase-1 was sanctioned at a cost of Rs 3125.20 crores.

The new trains are coming but god alone knows when.

They are renovating the ticket counters but staff is still the same and the counters that are supposed to be open are never open most of the time and there is always rush here be it 8am or 9pm.

The railways has started with automatic ticket vending machines or ATVMs.


They are machines which automate ticket purchase using a prepaid card available at rail counters. I just got one and it kills the time wasted in lines for infrequent travelers, and the best thing about it is that it is transferable to anyone. The cost 50 rs deposit and recharge of 52, 100 etc for the card, recharges are valid upto 6 mths.