Knowing Alex Mandel

•April 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Jewish Explorer

Indianized American

Imitation is the best form of flattery
I was flattered by the Indianized look of Alex, who has worked hard blending into the Indian city of Hyderabad and educating the under privileged on essential and soft skills. Our discussion took us all the way from differences in Israeli and Indian culture, the commonalities of Judaism and Hinduism to the lifestyles of San francisco and Philly.

Israelis are in general crass. They do not tend to cushion their opinions and are very fast. That is one of the reasons I took the discussions with Alex who is half Israeli, at the face value. Israelis are extremely friendly at heart. Indians are indirect and would never say no. Just like in Chennai, Israelis are not conscious of following the religion and the emigrants put effort to adhere to culture.

Jews are in general a closed group and do not promote conversion. There are orthodox, conservative and reformed types of Jews. Mostly Israelis are either orthodox or secular. They focus on education a lot. The religion has been a predecessor to other religions. These are all very similar to Hinduism. They have a marriage contract in the form of art called Ketubah (Jewish prenuptial agreement). There are also well defined rules for divorce. These are different from Hinduism. Also unique is a movement called Chabad, whose main mission is to run educational institutions by Jews local to a given location. The Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah is an important event for a Jew, since the child has to recite/read ancient Hebrew holy text that lasts about an hour. It coincides with thirteenth birthday for boy or twelfth birthday for girl.

Alex would like to explore India more perhaps towards the north. Her open mindedness is going to put her in a position to do greater good and make positive changes in the life of others. I wish her best of luck to carry on the great work.

Air India flight 191 BOM-EWR.


The Confesssion – John Grisham

•November 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“The Confession” is John Grisham’s third stab at the issue of death penalty. The first two being The Chamber (fiction) and The Innocent Man (non-fiction). The trademark of a good story-teller lies in the situations that he brings forth and how it weaves into the overall objective of the tale. Over the years, John Grisham has excelled repeatedly and consistently in both aspects. However, even for someone as skillful as John, to write about a heavy subject such as this and still captivate the reader in something incredible. Since this is an attempt to review the book, I would highly recommend that you skip the italic sections in case you plan to read the book.

The story includes a sequence of events that go right and then a sequence of events that go wrong for Donte Drumm and weighs on the effects and the aftermath. It dwells on all streams of thoughts and opinions on capital punishment and comes out with a clear verdict. It highlights the loopholes in the system that needs to be perfected in order to ensure that the wrong person is not punished. It focuses on the fact that the capital punishment is a point of no return and cannot be corrected or reversed.

I inherently assumed that the hero was Donte which made me sad after “The Punishment”. However, when I looked as Robbie the Attorney/Litigator as the real hero of this story, it no longer looked like a tragedy to me. So the story in brief is about the death penalty of 18 yr old black football player Donte. Donte is wrongly convicted for murder of a white cheerleader and put to death. His lawyer Robbie needs to exonerate him after his death. The real murderer gets his act together late in the game but tries desperately to save Donte by owning up his despicable act. He fails badly. The fact that the key officials are good-for-nothing does not help the case either.

Some men are passionate about  what that they stand for. When the passion mixes with immense talent you might get a work like “The Confession”. This review is a salutation to this great man John Grisham, who stands for a greater cause against death penalty. It is a tribute to life, which mankind has no right to take away irrespective of the justification, including the sins a person might have committed.

Endhiran – A Revolution

•October 18, 2010 • 2 Comments

Endhiran is a unique Indian movie in several ways. I watched the 6:10 PM EDT show on October 16, 2010 at Aurora Cine Plex. After watching the movie these are my thoughts without revealing details from the movie.

Endhiran is a Tamil movie with a budget of $38 million. Over half of this was retrieved in the very first week of release. While I still feel Rajni lacks acting skills, there are several characteristics in him which contribute to his great success. In the entire acting community, only Rajni can:

1.  Get this kind of budget

2.  Pool in such talent as

a.  Director Sankar

b.  Great make-up artists

c.  Excellent costumes

d.  Visual and audio effects

e.  Truly multi-national team

f.  Aishwarya Rai

3.  Create all over India marketing (used Amitabh Bachan, Bal Thackeray among others)

In short, acting skill is a commonly available commodity worldwide, thanks to acting and drama schools, stage acting et al. Some skills are almost impossible to get. It takes great humility to be the biggest star ever and still be able to work with so many young and talented people. It takes a lot to adapt to the new generation and yet deliver a performance to win their hearts.

Some other reasons why you should watch this movie:

1.  Dance was good and Aishwarya was a good fit.

2.  Double-acting scope has changed from twin brother to clones and robots

3.  Applications of robot in Indian scenario can be seen

4.  Dangers of robots being misused have been highlighted

5.  Mistakes that intelligent robots could commit are shown

There are numerous science fiction movies. This one reaches to Indian audience. This movie can set your thoughts in several directions that few movies would have explored.

  • Smart robots that can work efficiently, intelligent robots that can take their own decisions and robots with feelings
  • Robots ability to create and destroy in large scale. Here destruction includes both humans and Robots
  • Ability to mass-change Robots from good to bad and vice-versa very fast
  • Concept of peace and war and peace for human survival rather than between countries
  • A robot can be compared to an innocent baby and learns good and bad from people. That’s what makes it dangerous.

Rajni’s acting was okay at the best. The negative role and other facial expressions were off the mark. Touch of reality that you might get from Mani Rathnam was missing. Some scenes that were very progressive and suggestive could easily have been avoided. Hairstyle copied from Rihanna and costumes shamelessly copied from western pop stars. For the money that was thrown in, a touch of originality would have been appreciated. Thunder and lightning scene not needed. Comedy could have been better from Santhanam.

Although I have not been a great fan of Rajinikanth, I have accept him as the #1 superstar worldwide. This is not a small achievement since the praise is coming from yours truly, a Kamal Hasan fan. Like a colossus, Rajni stood the test of time. He has used his name to draw a huge budget and used to his advantage the best skills that money could buy. He worked with a team of professionals to explore unchartered waters and succeeded in delivering a stupendous success. The marketing and promotion was backed up by amazing delivery from a great team. The story line is very good and that makes it a must watch movie.


SAD for AD

•September 15, 2010 • 1 Comment

Two guys join the same start-up company with strength less than 10 people, AD and yours truly. Both have just moved out of the same company with over 10,000 employees (over 100000 now!) but do not know each other yet.

It has been a great experience working with AD and I would like to pen down the grief that his unexpected death at such an early age has brought to me and the entire world. I learned about his tragic death just last week and my heart goes out to his dear family and friends. Although it might be difficult for me to discuss the sorrow that this news has brought to me, it would be appropriate to say that since the time I have heard the news, I have not been able to do much of my regular work including writing blog.


A good friend

Amibabh will always be remembered as a friendly, fun loving and jovial guy who won everyone’s heart. He had this great ability to remain cool in all situations and made everybody around him loose their boredom and unhappiness. His voice message used to be “Hi you have reached Amitabh Das. Please leave a message. For emergency call 9-1-1”. That’s the kind of person he was. Very intelligent and detail-oriented at work. He had some real hobbies like investing is stocks. He was the guy who pointed out to me that I could have been a lot more richer if only I had accepted the 100% vested stocks that I was offered and had rejected. I wish I had a friend like him much before. Although he was younger to me, he made me feel his age at heart and not a single day older.

My wife and me are such contrasting personalities that I would often wonder if we would ever have a common friend. AD was a close friend of both. “Cartoon” as he would often call her, enjoyed the company of friends as we went for several lunches together. Khasiyat was our favorite joint and we invariably ate Special Lunch Platter. We had pretty much eaten at all restaurants on Oak tree road.

I had joined a month before AD and had worked diligently worked with SR and RK to build this new competency. We were loosing steam as there were times we would feel that there was no ray of hope as requirements were low in number. Then AD joined us to bring in a new wave on enthusiasm to the entire team. We then took up certification exams and passed in flying colors. We three did very good but AD made a mockery of the exam by scoring 98%. We were all very happy and this gave us lot of confidence. We joined different clients as consultants and set out on the same day. AD dropped me at the Newark airport and dropped SR for first day at his client before driving to his client location. Later, three of AD’s high school friends would join the same company. AD was so motivated that he would conduct trainings long after we were placed in client projects. I know atleast one girl who was a big “fan” of his. AD was so busy with so many friends that he never had time for “fans”. We always kept in touch and talked last on April 26th, 2010.

Amitabh Das

You will be missed by all

Amitabh Das died on August 7th, 2010 in a bike accident. He will be missed by family and friends. He was 31 years old. I have to say at this point that it is too early for anybody. Inspite of all words, only those who knew Amiabh would understand and appreciate what a great guy he was. Amitabh you are the best.

It is my educated guess that even if all the people who loved him were to give a day of their life to him, he would have easily crossed 80 years. I wish something like that could be done. Will we ever get a friend like AD? I wish the answer were yes, but we all know reality only too well.