Sunday, August 31, 2008

Killer Hurricane Gustav to Hit US Coast today

Three years after hurricane Katrina now comes the mother of all storms “Hurricane Gustav”. The Category Three storm is due to make landfall soon from the Gulf of Mexico

Maps of Gustav's path show that it could strike southern Louisiana and other areas battered by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Katrina, a Category 3 storm, flooded most of New Orleans, flattened beach towns in Mississippi and killed more than 1,800 people.

The exodus of an estimated 1.9 million people from the Louisiana coast is said to be the largest evacuation in state history. An estimated 95 percent of Louisiana's 2 million coastal residents had fled ahead of Hurricane Gustav by Sunday evening in the largest evacuation in state history, Louisiana's governor said.

Roads out of New Orleans - much of which lies below sea level - were crammed with traffic throughout Sunday.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal appealed to residents: "If you're hearing this, seeing this, if you've not evacuated, please do so. There's still a few hours left."

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told local TV only about 10,000 residents remained in the city, where rain began falling at sunset on Sunday.

A dusk-to-dawn curfew is in force in New Orleans, which is described as being like a ghost town. The mayor has warned looters will be sent to jail.

Crime was a major problem in the New Orleans area in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the city three years ago, causing disastrous floods.

He said the first storm winds could hit New Orleans at daybreak on Monday and Hurricane Gustav could reach Category Four strength.

Dangerous storm surges of 10 to 14 feet above normal tides are expected near and to the east of Hurricane Gustav's center, forecasters said. Rain accumulations between 6 to 12 inches are possible over parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, with isolated amounts of up to 20 inches, through Wednesday morning, according to forecasters.

Gustav killed at least 51 people in southwestern Haiti and eight in the neighboring Dominican Republic last week before moving to Cuba. It was in the Caribbean on Friday and intensified just before it hit Cuba.

The US Republican party's convention has been scaled back as nearly 2m people flee Hurricane Gustav, which is now nearing New Orleans.

Senator John McCain, due to accept his party's nomination for president, said it was no time for party politics.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Do emails Stress you out?

Have you checked your email today? Do you check email every few minutes? What is your response time to emails in your in box? Do emails in your in box stress you out?

The speed at which you reply to an email could reveal whether you're stressed, driven or relaxed, say researchers.

The familiar "ding" of an email landing in a colleague's inbox has become as common a sound in offices today as the ring of the telephone.

But, according to researchers, the speed at which workers respond to a new message provides a fascinating insight into their character.

In a recent survey, experts discovered that email users fall into three categories: relaxed, driven and stressed.

Dr Karen Renaud, a lecturer at the University of Glasgow, who carried out the research, said that while some people were happy to respond to emails in their own time, others felt compelled into reacting as soon as they arrived and became stressed if they had too many to deal with or were delayed in responding.

Women, in particular, felt more pressure to respond quickly to a new email than men, she said.

"The relaxed group don't let email exert any pressure on their lives," The Daily Telegraph quoted her, as saying.

"They treat it exactly the way that one would treat the mail: 'I'll fetch it, I'll deal with it in my own time.'

"The second group felt driven to keep on top of email, but also felt that they could cope with it. The third group, however, reacted negatively to the pressure of email," she added.

To reach the conclusion, researchers found 34 per cent of workers, who fell into the "stressed" category, felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of emails they received each day and obliged to respond quickly to meet the expectation of the sender.

A further 28 per cent were "driven" email users because they saw them as a source of pressure, while around 38 per cent were "relaxed" because they felt comfortable not replying until up to a week later.

So, Chill out dude. There will be time enough to reply to that email or better still "hit delete" and exhale.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Gabriel Garcia Marquez, famous writer from Colombia, and Nobel Peace Prize winner for literature, has retired from public life for reasons of health. He has a form of cancer, which is terminal. He has sent a farewell letter to his friends.

It is recommended reading because it is moving to see how one of the best and most brilliant of writers expresses himself & with sorrow. (Even as I'm SURE this would have sounded TWICE as good in Spanish, let us enjoy the English version nonetheless....)

He says:

If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.

I wouldn't, possibly, say everything that is in my mind, but I would be more thoughtful of all I say. I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express.

I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.

I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.

If God would give me a little bit more of life, I would dress in a simple manner, I would place myself in front of the sun, leaving not only my body, but my soul naked at its mercy.

To all men, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.

I would give wings to children, but I would leave it to them to learn how to fly by themselves.

To old people I would say that death doesn't arrive when they grow old, but with forgetfulness.

I have learned so much with you all, I have learned that everybody wants to live on top of the mountain, without knowing that true happiness is obtained in the journey taken & the form used to reach the top of the hill.

I have learned that when a newborn baby holds, with its little hand, his father's finger, it has trapped him for the rest of his life.

I have learned that a man has the right and obligation to look down at another man, only when that man needs help to get up from the ground.

Say always what you feel, not what you think. If I knew that today is the last time that that I am going to see you asleep, I would hug you with all my strength and I would pray to the Lord to let me be the guardian angel of your soul.

If I knew that these are the last moments to see you, I would say 'I love you'.

There is always tomorrow, and life gives us another opportunity to do things right, but in case I am wrong, and today is all that is left to me, I would love to tell you how much I love you & that I will never forget you.

Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or old.

Today could be the last time to see your loved ones, which is why you mustn't wait; do it today, in case tomorrow never arrives. I am sure you will be sorry you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a hug, a kiss, and that you were too busy to grant them their last wish.

Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears and to their faces how much you need them and love them. Love them and treat them well; take your time to tell them 'I am sorry';' forgive me',' please' 'thank you', and all those loving words you know.

Nobody will know you for your secret thought. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength to express them.

Show your friends and loved ones how important they are to you.

Send this letter to those you love. If you don't do it today...tomorrow will be like yesterday, and if you never do it, it doesn't matter either, the moment to do it is now.

For you,
With much love,
Your Friend,

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shilpa Shetty to marry Raj Kundra

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, who became an international celeb following her success in the UK-based reality show Big Brother, has revealed that she plans to marry her year-long boyfriend Raj Kundra in another year and a half.

Asked to comment on her relationship and whether marriage is on the cards, Shilpa told The LondonNews, "I normally don't talk about my personal life, but his name is Raj Kundra. We met a year ago."

"For the next 18 months, I've got my hands full with work, so I can't really think of marriage yet but, after that, I definitely want it to culminate in marriage. And, of course, I'm dying to have a family - at least two children," she said.

Earlier Shilpa had been spotted with Raj a number of times and it was rumoured that she is responsible for the divorce between Raj and his former wife. Shilpa’s publicist, on the other hand has denied any reports of any kind of a romance brewing between the couple as he says that they are just “good friends”.

Now it seems that the cat is out of the bag with Shilpa herself admitting the marriage plans.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hillary Clinton Speech

Hillary Clinton sent out a strong and clear message in her speech at the Democratic National Convention that she was fully behind the presidential nominee.

Sen. Hillary Clinton introduced herself as a "proud supporter of Barack Obama" at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday as she called on her party to rally behind her former rival.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, with daughter Chelsea Clinton, received a standing ovation from the Democratic delegates.

"Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines. This is a fight for the future. And it's a fight we must win together," she said.

Leading up to her address, there was a lot of speculation about what she would say and whether she would make a strong enough call for unity. But she made a very strident case for Obama's candidacy.

"No way. No how. No McCain. Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our president," Clinton said. Her speech, which was the last of the night, followed a line up of other Democrats who used their time at the podium to attack President Bush's record and McCain's policies.

Appearing strong and energized, Clinton thanked her voters for supporting her historic campaign as a female candidate and reached out to those wary of Obama by telling them they weren't in this for her, but for her cause. That cause, she said, is the same thing that Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party are fighting for.

Monday, August 25, 2008

How the iPhone will raise your phone bill by 30 percent

The long wait for iPhone fans is over now. The much sought after iPhone is finally available in India, though for a steep price. (There is no subsidy on iPhone in India unlike USA where the price is subsidized by the telcos)

Many agree that the iPhone is a touch above the rest, what many do not know is that this touch-screen handset from Apple Inc is also expected to raise its users' monthly bills far more than other hi-end mobiles in the market.

In fact, according to telecom industry experts , an iPhone might increase billing charges by up to 25-30 per cent. And that's where Vodafone and Bharti Airtel - the two service providers who launched the gizmo in India on Friday - would make the killing.

Both telecos have come up with special iPhone-specific data plans that are basically aimed at promoting net-surfing on their networks.

While Vodafone is giving 250 MB and 600 MB data usage free per month on a plan of Rs 799 and Rs 999, respectively, Bharti Airtel is offering free 500 MB per month on iPhone-specific plans that will have a basic rent of Rs 600 per month.

You will need to change your current plan.

But telecom analysts feel that these plans are not economical enough, as the iPhone will encourage users to spend more through its value added services (VAS) and bundling stratergies.

"iPhone will increase its owners' bills by more than 25-30 per cent of what they used to pay earlier, especially if he uses all the functions that the phone offers in the country ," said Romal Shetty, Executive Director of the research firm KPMG.

He further pointed out that this latest gizmo, even otherwise , is too expensive, putting it out of the reach of most Indians. For Manoj Mohta, head of another analysis firm CRISIL Research, it's the lack of 3G services that makes the iPhone too expensive for too little in return. "Only after 3G comes in will the service providers launch more of data-oriented plans. But until then it will remain an expensive proposition," said Mohta.

He even hinted that this may actually disappoint iPhone owners, especially when there is also not sufficient Indian-specific content available for such a phone.

Also, iPhone users will need to repeatedly use iTunes (the copyrighted software created by Apple for its products and which has to be paid for) to download content. This is because the iPhone does not have any Bluetooth services that can transfer or get music from another phone.

Sanjay Gupta, chief marketing officer for mobile services at Bharti Airtel , told Mumbai Mirror that 98 per cent of people who use the iPhone globally have heavy data usage.

"Our aim will be to promote that data usage here too. The iPhone is already known for its VAS like GPRS, maps and iTunes," said Gupta.

So if you finally managed to acquire the gizmo be ready to part with cash every month for its upkeep. Sounds like marriage, where upkeep is higher than the acquisition cost.

US Open Tennis

Top Tennis players have arrived for the US Open and are looking forward to the fourth Grand Slam tournament of the year (Other three being the Australian Open , French Open and Wimbeldon).

Rafael Nadal, the new world No. 1 and Olympic gold medalist, arrived in New York on Monday from Beijing and has been enjoying some off-court activities since he arrived, including seeing "Phantom of the Opera" one night and visiting Central Park.

“All tournaments are very important. Here is the last Grand Slam of the season, so it is going to be important, very important for everybody,” he said of the US Open. “If I play a good tournament here, I am going to have chances to continue to be No. 1 for more time. For sure, New York is an important city and one of my favorite cities. To be here is a pleasure, (and) New York is big motivation.”

The 2008 US Open is Nadal’s first Grand Slam with the No. 1 world ranking and the No. 1 seed, but it has not changed the Spaniard’s preparation or focus entering the tournament, where he plays qualifier Bjorn Phau in the first round.

This year, Roger Federer, the four-time defending champion, is the No. 2 seed after a tough year for the Swiss. He lost to Nadal in the finals of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

“Maybe it's nice to go into a Grand Slam for a change maybe not having No. 1 next to me, and it should be interesting,” he said.

The Americans, Andy Roddick and James Blake, could not agree more about how special the US Open is. Roddick, the 2003 US Open champion, has battled a shoulder injury since the spring, but he said it is feeling much better now, and after playing a few tournaments in the Olympus US Open Series the past few weeks, feels like he is getting back into match shape after not playing much since Wimbledon.

Roddick faces 35-year-old Fabrice Santoro in the first round – not any easy opening match – who lost a tight five-set match to Blake last year in the second round.

Blake, who is originally from nearby Yonkers, N.Y., and grew up in Fairfield, Conn., is entering the 2008 US Open with a lot of confidence after defeating Federer for the first time in his career at the Olympics last week, where he lost to Novak Djokovic in the bronze-medal match.
Djokovic, who lost to Federer in the 2007 US Open final, enters the tournament this year now as a Grand Slam champion, having won his first major at the 2008 Australian Open.

And as far as Djokovic bringing the entertainment this year with his famous impressions of fellow players – stay tuned – if he does them, it is a spontaneous decision.

Serena and Venus found themselves in the same section of the draw when it was released on Thursday, meaning they could meet as early as the quarterfinals.

In the first round, Venus plays Samantha Stosur, and Serena plays Kateryna Bondarenko. The two feel like they are playing great, with Venus winning her fifth Wimbledon title in July – defeating Serena in the final – and winning the doubles gold medal at the Olympics.

Dinara Safina has had one of the best seasons on the WTA Tour, including winning the Olympus US Open Series and winning 15 of her last 16 matches. She reached her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros and is now looking to win her first at the US Open, where her older brother Marat Safin won the men’s title in 2000.

She will play a qualifier in the first round and is in the same section of the draw as Ana Ivanovic, to whom she lost in the Roland Garros final. But Safina is playing the best tennis of her career this year, and the turning point for her was capturing the title in Berlin in the spring.

For Jelena Jankovic, who reached the No. 1 ranking for the first time in her career recently but is now No. 2, battling jet lag was an issue after the Olympics, and she went home to Serbia after to see her doctors about a calf injury she struggled with in Beijing. She has battled several injuries this season but is feeling better now and doing her best to train as usual as she pursues her first Grand Slam title.

US Open begins on August 25 and finishes on September 7. players are competing for a prize money of US $ 2.5 million-the largest in the tennis history.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rita Rudner Quotes

Some of the more famous quotes from Rita Rudner.

A man will go to war, fight and die for his country. But he won't get a bikini wax.
Rita Rudner

Before I met my husband, I'd never fallen in love. I'd stepped in it a few times.
Rita Rudner

I don't plan to grow old gracefully. I plan to have face-lifts until my ears meet.
Rita Rudner

I got kicked out of ballet class because I pulled a groin muscle. It wasn't mine.
Rita Rudner

I know I want to have children while my parents are still young enough to take care of them.
Rita Rudner

I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.
Rita Rudner

I love to shop after a bad relationship. I don't know. I buy a new outfit and it makes me feel better. It just does. Sometimes I see a really great outfit, I'll break up with someone on purpose.
Rita Rudner

I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewelry.
Rita Rudner

I want to have children, but my friends scare me. One of my friends told me she was in labor for 36 hours. I don't even want to do anything that feels good for 36 hours.
Rita Rudner

I was a vegetarian until I started leaning toward the sunlight.
Rita Rudner

I was going to have cosmetic surgery until I noticed that the doctor's office was full of portraits by Picasso.
Rita Rudner

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.
Rita Rudner

In Hollywood a marriage is a success if it outlasts milk.
Rita Rudner

It wasn't that no one asked me to the prom, it was that no one would tell me where it was.
Rita Rudner

It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.
Rita Rudner

Marriages don't last. When I meet a guy, the first question I ask myself is: is this the man I want my children to spend their weekends with?
Rita Rudner

Men reach their sexual peak at eighteen. Women reach theirs at thirty-five. Do you get the feeling that God is playing a practical joke?
Rita Rudner

Men who consistently leave the toilet seat up secretly want women to get up to go the bathroom in the middle of the night and fall in.
Rita Rudner

Men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage - they've experienced pain and bought jewelry.
Rita Rudner

Most turkeys taste better the day after, my mother's tasted better the day before.
Rita Rudner

My boyfriend and I broke up. He wanted to get married and I didn't want him to.
Rita Rudner

My grandmother was a very tough woman. She buried three husbands and two of them were just napping.
Rita Rudner

My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can't decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives.
Rita Rudner

My husband gave me a necklace. It's fake. I requested fake. Maybe I'm paranoid, but in this day and age, I don't want something around my neck that's worth more than my head.
Rita Rudner

My mother buried three husbands - and two of them were only napping.
Rita Rudner

Neurotics build castles in the air, psychotics live in them. My mother cleans them.
Rita Rudner

Some people think having large breasts makes a woman stupid. Actually, it's quite the opposite: a woman having large breasts makes men stupid.
Rita Rudner

Some women hold up dresses that are so ugly and they always say the same thing: 'This looks much better on.' On what? On fire?
Rita Rudner

Someday I want to be rich. Some people get so rich they lose all respect for humanity. That's how rich I want to be.
Rita Rudner

The time you spend grieving over a man should never exceed the amount of time you actually spent with him.
Rita Rudner

The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping up and down.
Rita Rudner

They usually have two tellers in my local bank, except when it's very busy, when they have one.
Rita Rudner

To attract men, I wear a perfume called "New Car Interior."

We've begun to long for the pitter-patter of little feet - so we bought a dog. Well, it's cheaper, and you get more feet.

When I eventually met Mr. Right I had no idea that his first name was Always.

Whenever I date a guy, I think, 'Is this the man I want my children to spend their weekends with?'
Rita Rudner

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sherlyn Chopra in Big Boss

The Big Boss TV show has suffered a set back with the exit of Jane Goody but it might recoup its ratings through the entry of sexy Sherlyn Chopra.

With Jade Goody on her way back to Britain from Indian reality show Bigg Boss after she was diagnosed with cancer, speculations are rife that item girl Sherlyn Chopra will take her place.

"For Sherlyn to say 'yes' to Bigg Boss, she needs a great incentive," her publicist Dale Bhagwagar said in an official release. "She will agree to be on the show only if she gets what she deserves to be away for a full three months from the promotions of her latest musical success Dard-e-Sherlyn," he added.

Sherlyn was earlier approached for the show, but she was dropped because she had asked Endemol India, the production house, to pay her Rs 30 million for her stay in the Bigg Boss house.

She had even asked the production house to allow cameras to be installed in the bathrooms of the house so that she could flaunt her vast collection of colourful bikinis and inner wear while bathing.

To this, Bhagwagar said: "With her characteristic boldness and flamboyance, she is capable of making the Television Rating Points (TRPs) of any TV programme hit the roof." The publicist, however, made it clear that "Sherlyn won't be interested in the show without the perks."

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, who won the Celebrity Big Brother in Britain, is hosting the show. The show is facing protests from conservative sections of the society with some political leaders gaining cheap mileage by inciting people.

It might boomrang on them as it is bringing more publicity for the Big Boss.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Abhinav Bindra wins Gold for India

World champion Abhinav Bindra created history today by winning the Gold Medal at Beijing olympic.

The 24 year old won a gold medal for India and ended a 28 year drought. India last got a hockey gold in 1988. This is a great individual effort and makes the entire nation proud.

Abhinav Bindra ended the poor run of Indian shooters at the Beijing Olympics by qualifying for the men's 10m air rifle event finals here today and finally winning the gold medal for the event.

Bindra's final score was 700.5 and the seilver medalist had 699.7.

This gold medal by Bindra is a proud moment for the entire nation which had been starved of any medal leave aside gold medal. This is a proud and happy moment for the entire nation.

Bindra, a Khel Ratna awardee, finished the qualifying event joint fourth with Romania's George Alin Moldoveanu after the duo shot a score of 596/600.

The bespectacled shooter managed a series of 100,99,100,98,100 and 99.

Meanwhile, Finland's Henri Hakkinen qualified first for the event with a score of 598/600 after shooting a series of 100,100,99,100,100 and 99.

China's Qinan Zhu was a point adrift of Hakkinen with a series of 100,100,100,100,99 and 98.

Congratulations to Abhinav Bindra, his family and the nation for winning the first gold medal at Beijing Olympics. This is a proud moment for the nation as we get our first individual gold medal at Olympics.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

J.K. Rowling at Harvard

We all know that J.K. Rowling the author of the famed Harry Potter series has a vivid imagination which helped her create her master pieces. Many of you might be aware of the Rowlings life story from rags to riches before and after Harry Potter publications.

This lecture she delivered at Harvard describes in her own words how these factors; "imagination and failure in life" contributed to make her what she is today; a rich world famous writer of unparalleled genius. A must read for everyone who is dealing with life (that includes you too dude)


President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates,

The first thing I would like to say is 'thank you.' Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I've experienced at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and fool myself into believing I am at the world's best-educated Harry Potter convention.

Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can't remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.

You see? If all you remember in years to come is the 'gay wizard' joke, I've still come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step towards personal improvement.

Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that has expired between that day and this.

I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called 'real life', I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

These might seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.

Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.

I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension. They had hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents' car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor. I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.

What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience.

Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.

What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.

At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person's idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my eduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain , without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea.

And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.

Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never suffered.

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in the research department at Amnesty International's headquarters in London . There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to think independently of their government. Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had been forced to leave behind. I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just given him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country's regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares about some of the things I saw, heard and read. And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before. Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people's minds, imagine themselves into other people's places. Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise. And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid. What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people's lives simply by existing.

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people's lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world's only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders.

That is your privilege, and your burden. If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better.

We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children's godparents, the people to whom I've been able to turn in times of trouble, friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I've used their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.

So today, I can wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

I wish you all very good lives.

Thank you very much.

If you would like to watch this go to this link:

Friday, August 1, 2008

World's most expensive and amazing ad

This is the world's costliest Advertisement and the winner of this year's best Ad of the world.

It took 606 takes and re-takes to make this commercial and the total cost was $ 6.2 million( Rs.26 crore) for this 90 second commercial.

You could probably make a movie for that kind of money (In India at least) !

Everything is real with no graphics used and still look at the precision. The team that made this commercial won many awards.

The precision is mind boggling and the engineering and technical skill needed to make this advertisement is awesome.