Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

June Hollywood releases of desi interest (Update)

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I can’t remember the last time Hollywood released back-to-back summer blockbuster movies with such high desi quotients. [Detroit Free Press blogs]

1. The Happening by M. Night Shyamalan: Another thriller flick by Shyamalan, this one has an apocalyptic storyline, ala Shyamalan’s 2002 flick, Signs.Unfortunately, after bursting onto big-time Hollywood, with The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan’s movies have been largely criticized for lacking variety. Shyamlan contends this is because movie marketers try to recapture his Sixth Sense feel to movies, even if his movies were based on different concepts [NYT]. Unfortunately for Shyamalan, this movie comes out the same weekend as The Hulk. Will it rise above the Hulk or get crushed by it? Stay tuned. Desi quotient: 2.5 out of 5

2. The Love Guru: We’ve extensively discussed the pros and cons of the Love Guru on this blog. The Love Guru features Mike Myers as a guru brought up in an Indian ashram dispensing love advice. Besides the obvious Hindu angle, this movie features numerous desis – Manu Narayan, Sachin Bhatt, Ravi Patel, Suresh John and above all, Ben Kingsley as Guru Tugginmypudha. Desi quotient: 5 out of 5

3. Get Smart: Featuring Steve Carell as a secret agent, this movie also has Dalip Singh a.k.a The Great Khali. Desi quotient: 0.5 out of 5

4. The Fall: Desigooner also reminds us of Tarsem Singh’s “The Fall”. Tarsem Singh is well known for his 2000 psycho thriller, The Cell. “The Fall” also features desi actor Jeetu Verma among the lead 5.
Desi quotient: 4 out of 5

Desis in liquor ads – Part 2- Grin and Beer it

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In a continuation of our series of liquor ads that feature desis (See the last one here) , UD presents the Carlos Menica Superbowl ad that debuted last Superbowl. Reminiscent of the old “Mind your language” British series (Remade badly in Hindi as Zabaan Sambhal ke) , the ad features Mencia teaching an English as second language class to an assorted bunch of guys. I found this ad funny even though it relies on the tired device of supposedly “funny ” accents. The ad ends with a desi looking character who just can’t say “Bud lite” !( Other versions of this ad show him getting the girl so it can’t be all bad !!)

Talk to the hand

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The popular term from the 90s appears to be making a comeback, albeit in a different incarnation, courtesy a team of four students at Carnegie Mellon, two of whom are, you guessed it, desis. [Pittsburgh Post Gazette] (tip Karthik via email)

Talking hand
img: via Post Gazette

It is a sensor-equipped glove, known as HandTalk , that can translate gestures into spoken words on a cell phone. It was developed by students at Carnegie Mellon University as part of a class research project.

Three of the four team members, senior computer engineering students Bhargav Bhat, Hemant Sikaria and Jorge L. Meza , demonstrated the prototype yesterday at Carnegie Mellon’s “Meeting of the Minds” expo of undergraduate research projects.

It’s all in a noble cause, to help the deaf communicate with people who are not familiar with the American Sign Language.

The technology is pretty simple (not really) and cheap – desi ishtyle (really).

Underneath the hood of this system are several relatively inexpensive pieces of technology.

Along each finger and the thumb of the glove are flexor strips, which change their electrical resistance, depending on how much the digits are curled. The positions of the fingers are read by a chip and transmitted wirelessly to a cell phone, which is loaded with a vocabulary that corresponds to the gestures.

The cell phone then types the words as text messages, and an off-the-shelf program translates them into speech.

The prototype currently can only recognize 15 of 26 American Sign Language alphabets and need major upgrades, but the team is optimistic of testing the gloves with hearing-impaired people in a few months. But wait, the desi connection doesn’t end with the team of students.

The HandTalk project is one of several created this year in Dr. Narasimhan’s Embedded System Design course, in which teams of four have to develop a product prototype in 15 weeks.

Among the other projects this term is a lighted jump rope that changes colors the faster someone skips and can deliver digital messages on how many calories are being burned, and a cell phone system that allows students sitting “in the nosebleed section” of a hockey game to tap into any video camera feed within the building and see it on their phone screens.

One project from last year’s class already has resulted in a local spin-off company, Dr. Narasimhan said. The students developed a bar code reader for blind people that gets product and price information from the Web and reads it back to the shopper.

All in a day’s work at this class in Carnegie Mellon.

Four desis in top 20 billionaires

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KP Singh of the Delhi based real estate company DLF joins Mittal and the two Ambanis. Bill Gates falls from top spot and is overtaken by Warren Buffet and Carlos Slim. [link]

This Day in History: 1991

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The Persian Gulf War begins. A U.S. led international coalition launched the First Gulf War a.k.a Operation Desert Storm primarily to remove Saddam Hussain’s invading forces from oil-rich Kuwait. The war ended in abject defeat for Saddam’s forces.
The Kuwait invasion mattered at that time because a number of Indian and South Asian expatriates suffered as a result of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. [link]

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