Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Its architecture, driven by tax laws at the time, dates back to the seventeenth century. An ode to a rough policy (no offence): since they were taxed based on frontal footage of their houses, homeowners stumbled upon distinctive architecture. They built their townhouses deep and tall; what they couldn't afford in lavish measurements, they made up for with almost vertically-placed staircases. Up, up and up we go, the streams running gently down below. Yes! That part about the step-sibling, Venice. Amsterdam, too, has got its water, weaving an intense web of mud-coloured canals. Like its big sister, cars aren't that popular in the city. While boats and gondolas remain the face of the Italian princess, the Dutch-ess is an impressive rival with its exuberance for bicycles and trams.
We were, admittedly a bit iffy on the accomodation. Amsterdam is quite straining on the pocket, especially if you're a budget traveller, who wants to stay in the centre of town, steps away from the station, and because you plan to abuse your Eurail Pass as often as you want to.
While I'm writing short of recommendations for tourists (I might mull a travelogue to delve deeper), my point is: Amsterdam is unique, it is vibrant and electric (some would say, not children-friendly), young but every-inch European, and in my experience, a most underrated destination.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
- Our GDP per capita, according to the CIA, was US$2400 in 2007.
- Income disparity is very, very high.
- The typical one year's Masters fee at Harvard costs around US$35,000, and this does not include registration, material, boarding and lodging expenses.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Oh no, wait! I think it makes sense that its not me I'm talking about. If I had such a fat bank balance, people would actually be listening to me, and my blog would be getting a lot more hits than it currently does. But now that you are here, there's no reason to be disappointed either. A few days back, I came across this blog by Singapore's youngest millionaire, Adam Khoo (readers who speak urdu are request not to chuckle, because I did!), and I thought it worth sharing with you all here.
While I do not endorse miserliness, I believe we should not be driven to utter madness simply by varying M in the equation. Money is not the end. It is simply the means to our livelihood. It is only human to spoil ourselves every once in a while, but beyond that, it makes no sense to spend just for the sake of spending, and just because we can.
Also, if you succeed in ways Adam Khoo has, there is no reason to be afraid of a progressive system of taxation. The glass should always be half full. It is not wise to focus on more money going to taxation or the poor; rather, it is much more important to ask 'why'? Answer: Because you've got more!
Copyright (c) 2008 Saadia Malik
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
One knows for a fact that little kids are impressionable. Very much so. Then, one day, they grow up. Or do they?
Going by the mind-boggling figures companies spend on celebrity endorsements, the answer is: No. Indian movie stars take upto (and more than) Rs. 3 crores per endorsement. Big companies and big banners are - well - big because they're not stupid, and if their research tells them that attaching a face to their brand boosts their sales, then they must. But one wonders why that is. Are we, adults, not intelligent enough to recognize the good and dependable attributes of a product, that we need the great walk of fame to take us to the right thing! Or are we not cultured and creative enough to realise our own aesthetics?
I am willing to give to the idea of celebrity endorsements only in so much as product recall is concerned, but no more. What about you?
Copyright (c) 2008 Saadia Malik
Monday, November 3, 2008
...financial regulation has to be approached with a completely different mindsetfrom that for the rest of the economy. Elsewhere, competition can be asubstitute for regulation. In banking, the opposite applies: the greater thecompetition, the greater the need for regulation and/or supervision. (Guardian, UK)
A $2500 Mac Book- even if the aesthetics are "whoa!";
A $7000 Laser-Powered HDTV - even if it has the widest color gamut;
And wait for this: a $5000 toilet - even if it plays music, flashes light and yes, even if it wards off bad smell while you're on the pot!
Copyright (c) 2008 Saadia Malik
Ah, creativity! Why have we forgotten the art of reading, let alone writing. I don't recall how, when and why, but I too fell victim to this act of juggling we call living. The electronic waves took over the printed word, and I saw myself recommending Hollywood flicks to friends. My childhood buddies - Enid Blyton, Charles Dickens, Franklin W. Dixon and company - had left the building, or perhaps, I had shown them the way out.
It was not until recently, that the avid reader in me was revived, thanks to - ironically - technology. Let's face it. The television and the world wide web, since long ago, have become an inseparable part of our being. The Google Reader caught my fancy, and a month later, I've recommended about 50 odd readings to several friends of mine. I had forgotten what a thrill it was to read and grow - in thought, understanding and creativity - simultaneously. What the Google Reader does, like many other RSS Feed portals/sites, is to bring all your readings of interest over the net, on one page. It highlights the new and updated, every time you log in. Things are so mad that without organization in our lives, we are as good with resources at hand, as we would be, without them. I would shirk from opening up websites of interest (except obsessive logins to facebook and gmail) simply because I'd find it hard to recall and then visit all of them regularly. And in a matter of days, I'd have such a backlog to look into, that I'd choose to stay away altogether. The Google Reader organized this for me. Now, all I need to do is to point my browser to one page; the rest is all done for me. And I'm not even being charged for it, so no possibility of a personal credit crunch either!