Oct 31, 2010

So, about the foul-mouthed wedding ceremony video ...


It is all over the internet. I am sure you would have already seen the amateur video of the foul-mouthed wedding ceremony by now. The video shows celebrants of a muslim wedding ceremony reading some nasty stuff in local language in a prayer like fashion to the unsuspecting foreign couple in a tourist resort. Foreigners cannot get officially married
in the Maldives, this was a celebration to renew vows. Nevertheless, it was a shameful and a derogatory act by the celebrants. It should not have happened.

A lot have happened in the week following the release of the amateur video on YouTube. The celebrants of the ceremony have been taken in to police custody for further investigation. Government authorities have issued official apologies. The tourist couple have been identified and promised full compensation. I am also of the opinion that the management of the tourist facility should also be investigated for lack of proper care to their clients.

I was shocked and deeply saddened that something like this happened in my country. A country which relies heavily on tourism, where the market for foreign "weddings" is on the rise. Articles on local blogs and social networks show that most Maldivian share my sentiments. I was equally shocked and flabbergasted that an incident like this was reported in a local English language newspapers, with word to word translation of the reading at the ceremony, ensuing which, the story
was picked up and reproduced in several major international newspapers.

It is a fact that a free media is important to a democracy. The media plays a crucial role in todays world. It is the conscious keeper, watching over the functionaries of society and it attempts to attend to the wrongs in our system by bringing them to the knowledge of general public, hoping for rectification.

But there is an often neglected but an important aspect to media, it is called responsible journalism. No content should be published in the sole intention of expanding readership. The editors of online newspapers know well that regional readership is a thing of the past and anything that they publish on their website can and will be viewed globally. If the media aspires to become a respected institution, it should make a genuine effort to strike the precarious balance between engaging content, entertaining the reader, and possible consequences of their reportage with national interest at heart. There are certain domestic issues that do not need to be broadcast world over.

This particular incident happened in a secluded tourist resort, and could have been handled without it being reported on BBC, CNN, The Telegraph, The Independent, China News and all big name news outlets of the world. Just because an article can attract traffic to a website does not justify its publication. It is quite evident, the approach of some branches of the media to this story was not only irresponsible but also positively damaging to the dream destination image of this

I also found it hard to believe that heads of government offices were giving out interviews about the incident to foreign media. I thought the government would be doing everything that they possibly could to contain the problem and mitigate the damages. Top level government officials answering questions by foreign media in the hope of lessening the impact may have just attracted more attention to the event.

I hope this is the last incident of this kind to ever happen in this country. We need to make people more aware that tourism is no fair game, but each and every tourist should be treated with care and respect. It is the money that they spend here, that drives our economy. It is the revenue from the tourism industry that help us survive as a nation and as a country.

One more thing. I got married a few years back, and like all Maldivians, I had a muslim wedding ceremony. A good share of the
ceremony was conducted in Arabic, and like most Maldivians, I have absolutely no clue what they said. Hmmm.


Oct 30, 2010

Building Hulhumalé ...


A building construction site at Hulhumalé. A planned city starts to take shape. Lots of building coming up now. The whole islands seems like its under construction. Nice to see that basic services are already available in here.
Hulhumalé is under rated, I think it holds a lot of promise. Time will tell.

Hulhumalé, Maldives.

Oct 27, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo …


Months ago, I read a book called The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and weeks later managed to watch the movie based on the book. The book was really good. The movie was okay. The novel is a few years old and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the book has now become an international phenomenon and has climbed to the top of most best-seller lists in the world.

The book starts with two story lines, going back and forth, one about Mikael Blomkvist and the other about Lisbeth Salander. Both are struggling with personal demons, both wants the truth, both wants justice, but one wants revenge!

Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist falsely convicted of using forged evidence to libel a businessman is sentenced to three months in jail and forced to resign from Millennium, the magazine he founded with his friend and occasional lover, Erika Berger.

Blomkvist has six months before he serves his sentence and in the meantime  he is hired by a wealthy magnate Henrik Vanger, who wants to get to know more about the forty-year-old disappearance and possible murder of his niece Harriet. The Vanger family is full of dark secrets, and Henrik thinks one of them is responsible.

Young, pierced and tattooed, Lisbeth Salander is an interesting character and a brilliant computer hacker. She is fierce, antisocial, and very direct. She does not trust many people, and there appears to be trauma in her past.

Lisbeth is first hired to investigate Blomkvist, but ends up helping him with his case instead.

I enjoyed reading the book very much. A girl murdered, unspeakable family secrets, contractual obligations, corporate warfare. What's not to like, right? It was suspenseful, intense, violent and sometimes very graphic, I zipped through the pages in no time.

The book has been criticized for violence against women. I do not think that is the case here. Generational statement on sexual violence against women and society's acceptance was tackled realistically and in the end "justice" served.

This is the first book of a trilogy often known as the Millennium Trilogy and was written by the Swedish Author Stieg Larsson. The second book is The Girl Who Played With Fire, which I am reading now (kindle version) after watching the movie few days back. The third is The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest.

Stieg Larsson was a journalist and a politician, and wrote the novels in his spare time. Some say he never planned to publish the novels but later changed his mind. We would never know, as Larsson passed away a year after this book was published. He never saw his other books published, nor did he see any of his books taking the world by storm.

It is worth noting that, Stieg Larsson also became the first author to sell more than a million e-books on

It seems Hollywood is making a remake of these Swedish movies, and Daniel Craig has been cast in the role of Mikael Blomkvist. Some people are not comfortable with this, as Hollywood has a tendency to mess up remakes. Time will tell.

If you like contained murder mysteries, you will definitely enjoy this book. Highly recommended.


Canon shooter ...


Canon or Nikon?
The never ending arguments and discussions about which brand is better. I don't know whats better, but I shooting Canon right now.
But I have been thinking, accessories for Canon cameras are lot more expensive then accessories for Nikon. May be the next camera I get, If I get around to getting one, would be a Nikon. I know there will be people who will disagree with me. Haters gonna hate! Always.

Malé, Maldives.

Oct 24, 2010

Malé: Traffic problem solved! Well, almost.


For years, if not decades, we have been talking about the population and traffic congestion problems in Malé and government authorities have been brainstorming about a suitable public transport system to ease the traffic condition on our narrow roads.

Lack of public transport in the city and availability of motor vehicles for monthly installment has made the number of vehicles on the road intolerable, resulting in all arterial roads becoming almost dysfunctional. Riding a motor bike in Malé is not easy. Driving a car is a nightmare. Parking is impossible!

Recently, there were newspaper articles and TV interviews about introduction of buses in the city to combat the current traffic crisis. The news was well received by the public who is in dire need of any public transport system, not so well by taxi drivers. However, some people are pessimistic if the current road condition can accommodate the introduction of these large vehicles.

Turns out, there is a cheaper, greener and faster alternative. Introducing the somewhat weirdly named, Straddle Bus. This is no ordinary street bus, this transit bus travels along an elevated plane, straddling on street level tracks on either side of the road, leaving ample room for vehicular traffic to pass clean underneath. Cool concept, right?

The project was exhibited in May this year at the Beijing International High-Tech Expo by the Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co Ltd.

Its creators claim this bus could reduce traffic jams significantly, by moving along on top with the normal street traffic underneath it, rather than being one more vehicle on the road. They also claim these buses would require much less infrastructure investment than digging a subway tunnel or a dedicated rapid-transit lane. This would enable existing roads to transport more people while adding little if any to traffic congestion.

While I appreciate the out of the box thinking and this transportation ingenuity, adopting this futuristic concept in our small city may give rise to its own set of problems. But this is expected when adopting any new technology anywhere. There are no perfect technologies or ideas which can be rolled out everywhere without adaptation or modification. Localization is necessary.

How will people board these buses? Passengers can wait for the bus on elevated platforms constructed at bus stops. This will minimize bus stoppage time and help in maintaining the schedule.

Can we trust the current drivers on the road to navigate through? While I trust my skill set to safely drive and negotiate a traffic jam, I do not know how I will react to a huge vehicle overtaking me few feet above my head. Given the current attitude of drivers on our roads, I expect a few exquisite catastrophes.

Here is the link to the original article. Here is a youtube video demonstration in english.

I do not know if the positive attributes of this concept are enough to warrant we dedicate our resources to building this system, but I know for sure, it is worth a look.

One has already decided. Beijing’s Mentougou District will see construction before the end of the year. A route of 186 kilometers have been mapped out for the pilot project.


Pink on Pink ...


A girl rides her pink bike. Roads look peaceful. Hulhumalé does not have heavy traffic, yet.
I don't know if she knows she is quite lucky. In the capital city, hundreds of kids are forced to ride their bikes in small lanes with heavy traffic. I have seen kids trying to learn how to ride a bike inside their small apartments. Its sad.
Really contrasting, don't you think?

Hulhumalé, Maldives.

Oct 20, 2010

Resident Evil: Afterlife ... the movie sucks !!!


Most guys would love the scantily clad girl shooting double-guns or doing the twin-sword thing. I was a fan of sexy Milla Jovovich shooting zombies all around while doing impossible acrobatics. I thought she was real badass! I was a fan till the end of the second movie, if you think about it now, it may have been one movie too long!

The direct sequel to Resident Evil was Resident Evil: Apocalypse. The third movie was Resident Evil: Extinction. Now comes Resident Evil: Afterlife. I was not expecting this movie to be made, as Resident Evil: Extinction was a total waste of time.

In all these movies, Alice, is infected with T-virus which was manufactured by the evil Umbrella corporation. Apparently she is the only one who has successfully bonded with this T-virus, giving her superhuman abilities. She fights to avoid capture, fights to survive, fights to rescue others, fights to kill zombies and fights to stop evil in general. Did I mention she fights?

I did not enjoy this movie, it sucked! Thinest plot ever. You are here, you go there, shoot zombies on the way, kill the boss, twice! Credits roll. Also, zombies have become more of a petty nuisance rather than scary walking dead. There were no edge of the seat sequences and no jump scares. Every zombie movie has jump scares, right? No, not this one. It seems this movie is less about character or story and more about how many CG effects you can incorporate in every scene. CG effects were nice, though.

Ali Larter (Niki Sanders from Heroes) and Wentworth Miller (Michael Scofield from Prison Break) was around as well. Did zilch for the movie.

One thing you would undoubtedly notice is the abundance of slow motion in the movie. It was not badly done, just unnecessary and futile. It felt like 3/4 of the whole movie was in slow motion. I think you can watch the movie in half hour if you watch it at regular speed. Yes, it was that bad!

May be the movie was made to be watched in 3D only, because the the regular version I watched was a total let down. I think exploding brains inches from your face might have its uncanny appeal. Anyone, who has watched it in 3D please feel free to tell me I am wrong. I actually would like to be wrong this time.

I think the title of this movie, Resident Evil: Afterlife, is quite appropriate, mostly because Resident Evil franchise has been long dead.


Oct 16, 2010

A month with the Apple iPad ...


I got the iPad as a birthday present about a month ago. I have been using it since and I want to share my experience with you.

You would have definitely heard about or seen the iPad by now, some of you may own one too. It is a portable device sold by Apple Computers to bridge the gap between a smart phone and a computer, negating the need for a netbook.

The package contained a USB chord, a printed user manual with the iPad sitting on top. I thought it would at least come with some kind of a usable cover. It did not. You have to buy it separately, and with so much choice online, I have yet to decide on a purchase.

Unlike a computer, there is no boot up process, it is ready when you are. The iPad feels solid and sturdy and once fired up, it is easy to start using all the apps. You just know what to do, especially if you have used an iPhone before. The software is really fast and very intuitive.  The apps are what makes the iPad experience so enjoyable.

The screen is gorgeous and big enough to surf the internet like with a real computer, without going to mobile version of the websites. I like the fact that, some websites, like Gmail, give you an optimized layout for iPad users.

I mainly use the iPad to surf the net, tweet, check email, read PDFs and catch up on google reader. Here is a list of apps on my iPad. It is pretty limited, so feel free to add anything you think I should check out.

iBooks - I guess this is must if you want to read books and PDF.
iDhivehiSites -  To read websites in dhivehi, like Haveeru.
TweetDeck and Twitterrefic - TweetDeck keeps crashing on me, almost everyday.
GoodReader - Another PDF reader, but this app can read PDF on your computer via WiFi.
Marvel, DC Comics, and Comics - Comics has most of the free comics on Marvel and DC.
IMDB - An app to easily check Internet Movie Database.
Wikipanion - An app to easily read Wikipedia.
Dropbox - Store, edit and sync files in he cloud. See my post about dropbox here.
Evernote -  A note taking app with sync functionality. Very useful.
Flipboard - A visual social media links aggregator. I just installed it.

The battery life is impressive. I have not used it extendedly, but with about 3-4 hours daily, it last 3 days. Not bad at all.

That being said, the iPad is not perfect. Let me tell you my gripes.

It is a bit heavy for extensive use, your hands get tired soon, maybe because the primary purpose of the iPad is not extended narrative reading. The iPad is not as good in sunlight as the Kindle, not even close, you need some kind of shade to be able to use it. If your want to read books, I suggest you get a Kindle.

The iPad has an OKish on-screen keyboard, but if you want to do any serious writing, forget it. You cannot type like how they do in the ads. It is good to write a few sentences at most, if you want to write more, you will have to get the external bluetooth keyboard.

Some people say that the iPad is plagued by WiFi dropout problems. I have not had a single dropout yet, may be the latest software update had it fixed.

I have to admit, when the iPad first came out, I was extremely skeptical. I could not think of a reason to get one or anticipate how it would fit in to my daily life. However, now that I have been playing with it for a while, I can tell you that iPad is an extremely versatile device and a sheer joy to use.

While I have friends who are exited about the gaming ability of the iPad, I know people who use it essentially for email. I have seen photographers using it as a proofing device and I have heard about parents using the iPad to make learning fun for kids. This is not only a device, its a platform, and I think that is what makes it revolutionary.


Parents playing games ...


Parents enjoying some kind of card game while watching their children playing nearby.
One of the many perks of living in a suburban area.
You wouldn't even think of taking your eyes off your kids for a millisecond if you were to take your kid(s) out for a stroll in the capital city, let alone playing in the few small parks we have.
We could use a few children friendly open spaces in the concrete capital city, don't you think?

Villingili, Maldives.

Watered leaves ...


My indoor plants at my rented apartment.
I actually have to move them everyday, just to give them some sunlight. Living in a concrete city, seeing a tree close-by is considered almost a privilege. Most try and compensate with small rooftop/balcony gardens.
One day I will have a proper garden, albeit small, a proper one. I hope.

Malé, Maldives.

Oct 13, 2010

Young Devils ...


A well marked door in a house at Villingili.
Why do I feel that the "S" is after thought?
The devil might have started out alone, but not long after, he somehow managed to recruit some young ones on to his side.
Hence, he had to pluralize!

Villingili, Maldives

Monetizing a Maldivian's personal blog …



The title pretty much sums up this post. This is probably not a good idea, but it is worth a shot.

Inspired by some bloggers writing about how they are making a decent living off career blogging, and false hope garnered by seeing numerous "get rich quick blogging" websites, I have decided to monetize this blog and signed-up for Google AdSense and Amazon's Associate Program.

I read that most bloggers want, first, to try and cover their hosting and ISP costs with revenue from their blog. Since I moved to Blogger, I have no hosting cost. It is free. So the only cost I incur for this blog is for the domain name. Thats USD 10/- I need to generate a year. Talk about low standards!

Its not like I want to slap some ads on the blog, step back, and expect to get a steady unattended revenue stream. I know, it does not work like that. On the other hand, the internet is teeming with articles and websites on how to make easy money using AdSense and other channels of ad providers. So at this stage, this is going to be purely experimental. I have my fingers crossed, but am not holding my breath on this one!

Google AdSense is a content-targeted advertising program. Google analyses what my posts are about and display the most relevant ads to my readers. As this is my personal blog, it does not cater to a niche or a specific product range, I essentially write anything and everything here, so I wonder what kind of ads you will see along side my posts.

Are you on google AdSense? Have you explored other forms of monetizing a blog? How have you fared so far? Tips welcome!


Oct 10, 2010

The self-acclaimed queen of the ferry ...



/Rant mode ON.

In the past I hop on to a ferry twice daily, now I go to Villingili once a week and Hulhumlalé about once a month or so. As everyone else, I get bored on the ferry, I observe, and I start noticing things. Pretty soon, patterns emerge and you develop the ability to predict certain things.

For example, if you climb on to a ferry that is almost full, and try hunting for a good seat, you will no doubt see a girl sitting alone in an aisle seat blocking the whole row of seats between her and the window seat. Naturally, you would want a good seat, but if you walk towards her thinking you will take the window seat, things are not going to go favorably.

This girl will either be seated legs crossed, back straight, arms folded across her chest, wearing shades covering most of her face, or she will be sitting with her handbag on her lap, white headphones wires going up from inside her bag in to her ears, and thumb typing the life out of her cell phone while appearing engrossed and distracted.

You approach her to ask if she could let you pass so you can get to the seat. This is going to be tougher than you think. You might have to say "excuse me" at least thrice with increasing loudness before she will grace you with the slightest acknowledgment. She might slide up the seat the necessary two inches without looking at you but she would definitely make sure you know she is annoyed. If she does look at you, she will give you the "why the hell do you want to sit here, can't you find another darn seat" look.

You pass her and take your seat, wondering what you could have possibly done that warranted such a stern response. You wait for the ferry to reach your destination thinking it is over. It is not.

When the ferry slows down, everyone stands up to disembark, you do the same, until you notice that the girl has not stood up and is not going anywhere soon. She just stays put on her seat. You think, she is being a lady and waiting for everyone to get off the ferry so she can climb down in peace without being squished in the outgoing human traffic through the narrow doorway. Understandable, but what do you do now? You have no alternative route out, do you want to repeat the process again and ask her to move and let you pass letting her think that you are doing it deliberately for a chance of physical contact, or do you wait it out and start walking when the girl is halfway down the aisle letting her think you are stalking her? You choose the latter, as you have already unpleasantly experienced the former.

You climb down the ferry and walk out the terminal confused about what just happened, and thinking if you could have done anything differently. You let this one slide, and next time see a girl sitting in an isle seat on the ferry, you avoid her, keep walking, and take a seat at the very back, right on top of the engine room to suffer the noise and the annoying vibrations your whole ride. When you walk past her, the corners of her mouth curl up just slightly, an (evil) sardonic smirk. She has taught you a lesson, you will leave her alone in peace now.

If that girl is reading this blog (not many people do, but a guy can hope) I have something to say to you. You need to learn some public transport etiquettes. Hell, you need to learn some manners! Let me give you some advice, it is free. Take it.

Do not take an aisle seat when people are coming on to the ferry. It is rude. If you want to be left alone, take a scenic window seat.

You are not fooling anyone faking to be preoccupied and abstracted while tapping on your phone, we know you are not typing out your dissertation on it, you are probably texting someone to come get you from the terminal, so drop the act.

Got an iPod? Great! By all means, enjoy your music, rock it if you have to, but do not be completely oblivious to your immediate surroundings and people around you. Repetitive requests in the hope of catching you in the gap between songs has a tendency to create a scene with some mild profanity. Trust me, you do not want that.

Yes, we know, your personal space should not be violated, but you are on a boat with limited space. Be just a tad more flexible about your space. Be a bit considerate.

Girl, you seem decent enough, but if you think you are extra special, you are wrong. You are just a passenger on public transport, just like everybody else on the ferry boat. Show some common courtesy and we will afford you the respect you deserve. Simple as that.

I hate being judgmental, but this is a rant, I can be horribly judgmental when necessary.

/Rant mode OFF.


Oct 9, 2010

Guy at the beach ...


One of the many Arab speaking guys I met at Artificial Beach. I wonder who they are, expatriate teachers? Businessmen?
I might be labelled racist or judgmental for saying this but I wish they do not in anyway disrupt the religious unity of the country.
We are from different parts of the world, and though we may be of the same religion, our culture is quite a bit different from that of our brethren in Arab countries.
I hope the middle eastern Arabs who come to work in my country do not bring in any religious fundamentalism with them.
We have enough of that of our own here already.

Malé, Maldives.

Oct 3, 2010

Dropbox: Syncing your files everywhere ...


Do you need a simple way to share files? Do you want to access your files on multiple machines running different operating systems at different locations? Including mobile devices? Do you want your information available when and where you neet it? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you should checkout Dropbox.

I use a Mac at home, Windows at work. I have an iPad and I use a smart phone (thinking about getting an Android maybe). So. my answer is yes to all these questions, so naturally, I have been researching a simple an easy way to store, sync and share files over the internet. I found Dropbox be my best bet. It is easy, reliable, and has a very clean user interface. Dropbox gives 2GB of free space to begin with.

I have used various online storage and sync services before. I still use a few, including Google docs and Evernote. I wrote here earlier about Upload Robots. Upload Robots is good and gives you double the free space of Dropbox - 4GB, but has frustrating restrictions like file size limitations. I found Dropbox to be simple and fast with no restrictions or limitations and it has apps for for iPhone, iPad and Android. Nice.

After installing Dropbox, you can drag and drop anything you want to the Dropbox folder on your computer and these files will be available on all your computers, mobile devices and on the web. All files stay synced over the internet in the background. Also, you can publicly share a file or a folder effortlessly. Pretty neat.

Dropbox is a great service and if you want to check it out, please use my referral link. It will give me and you extra 250MB of space.

Tip: When logged into your account, go to "getting Started" tab and click “Take the Dropbox tour”. Complete the tour to earn yourself an additional 250MB of space.

Evernote is another cool service that I use regularly. I probably should blog about it later in another post.