Dec 9, 2007

From being a student to an alumnus..

Today I received my M.S. degree and became an alumnus of The Ohio State University. It was raining lightly as we went to St.Johns Arena for the commencement. There were thousands of people in the Arena of which about 2000 were getting the degrees.
During the rehearsal yesterday, we were cautioned that some might get the degrees of some other person in case of a mix-up in the order or some people's degrees might not be there and in such cases a blank card would be within the folder given by the dean to the student. I assumed that my bad luck in such cases would result in me facing one of these situations, but luckily it did not happen. The moment the dean saw the folder and asked said my name, my heart leapt with joy. I got my degree alright! And with no spelling mistakes too. So thats it. Two years and a quarter of student life at The Ohio State University is over. A proud moment tinged with a bit of sadness.


Dec 2, 2007

The best and the worst: All in a few days

Graduating as a Buckeye
My sojourn at Ohio State is coming to an end. With the Masters defense done and the thesis turned in, all the formalities are over. And with the commencement just a week away, officially my student life is coming to an end. Last month was very hectic due to thesis work, subsequent corrections from advisers and meeting the deadlines. Now that its all over suddenly I find myself with nothing to do. Well, almost.

I am experiencing the feeling of having something really heavy lifted off the mind and at the same time flying carefree in the skies. Its a feeling I get every time the semester exams get over. Only difference is that I did not used to work much for the exams then, though I worked significantly more for the thesis and defense. But the resultant exuberance is the same. Now I have loads of time in front of me and no solid plans for it unless I get that OPT, which is evading me as of now. At least I am hoping that a few travel plans would materialize.

Worst Movie
I went to the movie, "The Darjeeling Limited" yesterday. I wanted to see the movie from the day it was released, because the trailer was 'cunningly' packaged to entice the viewers to believe that its a roller coaster ride sort of movie shot in some exotic locales. Halfway through the movie (a bit earlier than that in fact) I was praying for it to end. In my list of worst movie experiences, it occupies a spot just a tad below "Sideways" (Now, that is one movie experience that will be etched in my memory for ever. There were about 12 of us seeing the movie on a DVD. Four were pretending that movie was good, while the rest of us were staring blankly at the screen. It was only when I got a prank phone call from a person sitting next to me, I realized that everyone was in the same boat! It was a hilarious ride from then onwards, no thanks to the movie though). I had no idea what the director is wishing to convey. Is it a movie to portray an exotic country? Well, every single depiction of India was as stereotyped as it could ever get, except for the female attendant in the train whose promiscuity was as obscure as the movie itself. And the background music for the first half of the movie was a 'veena' being strummed continuously which was disturbing to say the least. And of course, I did not have to mention that the guys never end up going to Darjeeling. Towards the end of the movie, the director teases the viewer with the promise of a man eating tiger which never showed up just like we should not have for the movie.

No 'Sooner' said than done
Once again the Buckeyes are in the BCS national championship game (They should be once the final rankings are out). When the game against Illinois was lost, it was unanimous (at least according to the pundits of ESPN) that we threw away the opportunity and will be lucky to get to a bowl game. But the craziest season of college football has ensured that we gained a back-door entry to the final game on Jan.7, 2008 at New Orleans. Most likely the opponents are going to be the LSU tigers. There is a famous saying for the Indian cricket team, "They are just one defeat away from victory". When the team is rolling by easily defeating all opponents, we end up losing the finals. This is what happened to the Buckeye nation last year against you-know-who. This time caution would surely be a watch word and hopefully we are better prepared and crush the tigers (or whoever the BCS matches against us) and prove that Big Ten and most of all the Buckeyes are as good as we are touted to be.


Nov 11, 2007

Ignorance is bliss

47 percent of Americans cannot locate India on the world map. A fifth of the Americans cannot locate their own country on the world map while the relatively bright ones wonder why. And a section believes Musharaff to be reasonable and rational!


Oct 30, 2007

A Remarkable Man

Any average television viewer would recognize the face of this man. He has survived extremes of temperatures, stood in hostile environments, followed almost all the animal species in the world and talked about almost everything that constitutes life in the ecosystem. Sir David Attenborough, the eminent naturalist and popular television personality exudes a boyish enthusiasm that quickly captures the attention of the viewers, as he takes them on a journey that reveals many fascinating and unknown aspects of the natural world.
He was awarded the Special Recognition Award on October 2006 at the National Television Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall in London, UK. The video shows clippings from some of his works and has a few personalities talking about his commitment and interest in the field.

His works are spectacular not only in their videography but also in the way it showcases the life on earth in a new dimension that commands respects for it from the viewers. The main reason he captures the interest of the viewers is due to his realistic presentation. Unlike the stoic narrations found in most of the wildlife videos in which the narrator just lends his voice from behind the camera in an impassive way, Sir Attenborough explores the natural world with a boyish enthusiasm that any other person would feel when witnessing a marvel of the natural world, thus making himself endeared to the viewer.
Update: If the above video captures your interest, do see the second part of the Awards and this magnificent moment from one of his episodes, rated as one of his all time best moments.


Oct 28, 2007

Why does the media waste time 'reporting' these clichés.
I seriously doubt that any level-headed Indian bothers about the media reporting this or not, as everyone knows for sure the veracity of these claims by our 'beloved' neighbors. I think the same story has been reported zillion times till today, only difference being that the different permutations and combinations in the coining of words each time.
So why waste resources and time? Instead, the page could have been given up for some advertisement. At least they will make some money out of it.


Oct 6, 2007

Why Shankar should be kicked..

He had the project of a lifetime on his hands for which he took one full year. Yet Shankar managed to make a mess out of it.

I have seen Sivaji atleast 5 times so far, good enough to 'analyze' the movie scene by scene. I spotted many discontinuities and plain mistakes. I chose to show this one, as it is really funny. The picture on the left is the Green Card shown by Rajini to prove that he is MGR. It says "Residence since: 21/05/10". First lapse is the grammar, which has gone for a six. Rajini is supposedly a US resident from 2010, which makes no sense at all. Moreover, it says the card expires on 21/05/07 which makes it all the more crazier. And finally, US follows the month/date/year format and not the day/month/year as shown in the card (an error which is negligible considering the magnitude of the other two).

The second photo is that of the credit card shown by Rajini. The card has only three important fields: 'Name', 'valid since' and 'valid thru'. Shankar obviously thought that Rajini being the macho guy he is, can wield even outdated cards (2002 expiry date in this case) and get away with it.

Our TN police commissioner (or whoever he is) to whom Rajini shows these cards, does not possess the basic education to verify the print on these cards. Shankar probably thought that die-hard fans of Rajini would be as dumb as the man who plays the commissioner and will just close their eyes to everything else but Rajini in all the frames. These cards are just flashed across the screen during the movie and not even shown for a second. But seriously did Shankar think because of this nobody would spot it? Maybe he has not heard of an option called 'pause'.

Pathetic. Maybe he could try really 'directing' a few films instead of focusing on grandiose sets and song sequences. I have a spotted a dozen such lapses in the movie which I can attribute to no one else but Shankar and the editing team. If I could spot so many lapses, surely he should be. Either he is incompetent or he is callous enough to assume that Tamil Cinema audience do not focus on the subtleties in a movie.

AVM should seriously consider asking Shankar to return half of the pay he got for this project. And as we say in Tamil, "Shankar'a thonga vittu adikanum"!


Sep 27, 2007

Victory and its aftermath

How can someone be made to feel surfeited about a hard earned and much yearned victory? But the BCCI, the obnoxious State Governments and the media (which just needs a bandwagon to always jump into) have proved it is possible.

So for once we had a good team that won. What if we had lost. I am sure there would have been excuses like 'new format', 'inexperienced', and more. Do not those terms still apply? For all the great win the team fashioned, it is after all a new format of game for which none of the teams have special strategies for. And they are inexperienced! To have an entire nation go crazy because the team won 4 matches in a row is ridiculous. Had the team been through several months of high quality performances, its members deserve honors. Praising the team and awarding them for every series win and then stoning the player's homes for every loss is happening much too frequently nowadays, so much so that people and the BCCI have lost a sense of proportion.

Praise them, yes. But do not flood them. After the World Cup debacle, the Advertisement value of the Indian team reached a nadir and subsequent good performances in England did not increase the face value much. The BCCI, which can easily fund two African nations even if no cricket matches were staged for the next two years, were obviously not happy with the reduced inflow to their coffers. And they saw in this victory the right moment to rekindle the interests of the public in Indian cricket and increase the team's revenue potential. Needless to say, this entailed reactions like 30km rally, felicitations at the Wankhede Stadium, $2million prize money, a crore and a 911 porsche to Yuvraj Singh from the BCCI. And the tax payers of Haryana want Joginder to be gifted Rs.21 lakhs because he took one crucial wicket.

Instead of making any socialistic statements on how these and much more ill spent money from the exchequers of the Government and the BCCI could have been rerouted for more 'noble' purposes, I will just say that these reactions make me feel blasé towards the game itself.


Sep 22, 2007

Proving the mettle

What a day for Indian cricket! I have always been a big fan of Dhoni, but his performance in this T20 World cup as a captain has been amazing. He has been so cool about everything. Even when the bowler is jumping up and down after a wicket, Dhoni walks smiling as if its just the end of an over. He has proven enough as of now that is not just a stop-gap arrangement for captaincy. See this interview to get a glimpse of his thinking.

Sachin, Ganguly and Dravid are going to have a hell of a time once they are back in the ODI squad with every single failure of theirs causing people to bay for their blood as Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Karthik will be in the sidelines.


Sep 1, 2007

Of believing and discerning

A sudden bout of spiritualism forced me to go to the temple yesterday and it coincided with Sankatahara Chathurthi. The very thought of going to the temple on this day filled me with a sense of fulfillment that I had done something good after a long time, though I had no idea of what the occasion means. An effort at 'googling' for the explanation did not make me any the wiser except for the fact that its a monthly event. So I stuck to the ritualistic praying for well-being.

I was wondering about the meaning of some mantras and it set me off on a tangent that eventually ended with me questioning about the rationality in believing the existence of God. All the slokams and mantras I know unequivocally praise the God. If God does exist, does He wish to us to spend a considerable part of our time praising Him? (or Her, lest I am branded as a male chauvinist) I mean if He really is God what is the point in Him expecting us to praise Him.

If the above line of thought is considered blasphemy, then one would succumb to the ideas of living in Kali Yuga wherein the human race is supposed to be most distanced from God. Atleast the scriptures say so! But then how much veracity can one attach to the scriptures. To be fair, its difficult to believe in miracles. And to believe something that has been written and passed over generations, describing incidents that happened hundreds of years ago as to the deeds of the Gods is tough. After all truth distorts over time and historians were not in much abundance in the earlier days so as to give an accurate recounting of things that happen. For example, what if they all started off as eulogistic narrations of the deeds of Kings and then got modified over generations, with the subsequent additions of unearthly powers to the deities. It is possible.

When one goes to some places that have spiritual connections it makes us feel exhilarated. Is that because one truly feels the divine power or is it the subconscious mind that tells us we are in a place that has some spiritual significance and makes us feel something inexplicable? I visited many South Indian temples last year and I started off by thinking that it should be interesting as I would see new places. But when I went to places like the Thanjavur Kovil, the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Kovil or the Chidambaram Kovil, I felt a heaviness which overwhelmed my senses. They mad(k)e me believe that there is an aura about these places that have reasons beyond plain architecture and massiveness. I suppose same should be the case with Kailash and places like Badrinath, Kasi etc.,

But, sometimes I tend to believe that the concept of Religions were created to bring about a sense of orderliness in man's life. Being the only creature endowed with the power to think, we have spent a lot of our time in trying to find out the reason for our existence. Some people answer that spiritually and attribute man's existence to God and some answer that scientifically citing evolution, the primordial soup, etc., I suppose our ancestors predominantly would have belonged to the former group. The fact that misdoings and improper conduct would invoke the wrath of some supernatural power would serve as a deterrent to many people from straying in their lives. And over a period of years, these would have coalesced into a coherent set of stories that gave way to the myths (or the epics as we would have it). One need not be astute to perceive the regional based differences in the stories of Gods. Even epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana have parts that are narrated in different ways in different places. And same is the case with the Old and the New Testaments. When someone like Mother Teresa who has been an embodiment of devout worshipers, says that her life has been devoid of the influence of God, then 'lesser' beings are bound to relapse into self doubts.

Having said all this, it leaves me in a confused state of mind. To believe in the existence of God and devote a part of my time to prayers or to be a heretic. As the questions remain unanswered, I guess I have no other option but to tread the path of several skeptic-believers and continue to believe in God with the occasional doubts rearing its head. After all as many people say, it is better to err on the side of safety.


Aug 21, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Its Madras day! Madras was found on August 22, 1639. That makes this the 368th year.
Talk about history!


Aug 5, 2007

Noble Performances

I chanced upon this video last night in YouTube. Looks like Rihanna has performed in the Noble Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway on December 11, 2006.

It was damn funny imagining the Noble peace prize Awardee sitting with fellow nominees and hearing (and seeing) Rihanna perform her two 'jewels', especially the Unfaithful song. Those people sit at the concert after they have been commended for striving for peace. This female comes along singing about how she ditched her lover, is now going out with someone, how her lover feels sad about this and how she is sympathizing for her lover and would rather kill him than put him through his sorrows! Perfect setting to sing this if you ask me. It is a good thing Mother Teresa got her award long back and did not have to sit through such nonsense.
I am not complaining about the song per se but the selection of the songs for the occasion. In the first place are such extravaganzas needed? I am sure Alfred Nobel must be turning in his grave.

On an off note do take a look at this 'exquisite' performance by Rihanna. Her expressions (squirming and twisting) as she sings the song with 'emotion' is enjoyable to say the least.


Jul 13, 2007

Dark thoughts

He was day dreaming again. The voice of his friends were distant as he began staring at an imaginary point in space. He was going through another bout of depression. The weather was not doing anything to alleviate the mood. It was a beautiful day though. It had rained a bit and the temperature was bordering on the comfortable. But it was overcast just like his mind was. His friends were discussing the virtues of the chocolate cake. When under a spell of depression his mind shuts out all conversations irrespective of whether he is a part of it or not. At times like these he lends the speaker what they think is a patient hearing, though not a word of what they say registers in his mind.

The coffee was warm and he liked it that way. He took his first sip of it. Out of the corner of his eyes he spotted a couple walking towards them and occupying the table to his right side. He did not look at them directly. But he had gathered enough during the disinterested sideways glance that it was an Indian guy with an American girlfriend and the girlfriend was latched onto the arms of the guy. Personally he does not hold out anything against Indian males having American girlfriends. All these American born Indians do tend to have a number of them.

Opinions are not formed very easily when one is in a pensive mood. But when is disturbed during one of those preoccupations, then opinions form of their own and often tend to be jaundiced against the one who halts the train of thoughts. This was how he began to detest the new entrant. The voices of his friends were interrupted by the new comer who posed a rather intriguing question to them. "Are you guys Indians?". The pensive mood to which I have alluded before, tends to view such interruptions under poor light. Especially interruptions bordering on absurdity. It is absurd enough to be queried by a fellow Indian as to one's nationality. It is even more absurd when the query is made with an American accent. He can understand the difficulty faced by an American in differentiating between an Indian and an Indonesian. But it is far fetched to say that one cannot recognize his own countrymen. He decided it was to impress his Girlfriend who probably has seen as much Indians in her life as one gets to see Dodos. He did not bother turning around to answer the question though. His enthusiastic friends already affirmed in unison as to their true nationality. The new comer having been convinced that he is not addressing a set of Russians passing under the guise of Indians came up with another question as to the parts of India they were from. One friend took it upon himself to list out the different states which each represented.

When a stranger barges in during a conversation quite unexpectedly, the outcome will be a silence on the part of the conversationists, as each will debate within themselves as to whether they should get back to the topic of interest or exhibit courtesy by questioning the stranger in return. The group was in such a stage when the new comer posed another question as to the Departments and the Degrees they were pursuing. One of his friends replied quite earnestly to that. Her eyes displayed great emotion while answering. The new comer was excited at this and said that it is great. For him this was the last straw. He was convinced that this American turned Indian was looking at them as if they were objects of interest and something that he has never come upon in his life before. After all you get to see thousands of Indians in the US. What is the fascination in seeing four Indians from different states sitting together.

During all this, he did not even bother to turn around and the new comer probably sensed the the intrusion has not found favour with all the members of the group and so he began the customary concluding remarks. The new comer stated his happiness on having met them and also added that they were the first Indians he was conversing to in months.

He lost his equanimity and turned around to look at the guy fully in face for the first time. The only visible portions of the new comers face were his rather flashy sunglasses and a wide, stupid grin. His glare at the new comer did not seem to unnerve him. Rather it made him extend his grin. His girlfriend was looking at them with a grin too. Condescending looks, he thought.

The new comer stood up and said it was a pleasure talking to them and turned around. In the process he hit his knee on a chair next to him. He did not bother to look down and felt its back rest and pushed it out of his way. The girlfriend immediately rushed up to him and got hold of his extended hands and started leading him out of the cafe. The new comer reached out into his pockets and brought out a stick and with a wave of his hands made it unfold to thrice its original length. He went with the girl leading him by the hand and tapping the stick on the floor.

The warm coffee tasted rather bland and his preoccupation deepened as it began to rain outside.


Jul 1, 2007

Hocking Hills

I went with friends to Hocking Hills on June 30, 2007. Its a huge forest reserve in Hocking county with lots of tourist attractions like lakes, river, caves and waterfalls. It is a very famous camping spot too.
We first went to the Old Man's Cave. The cave is formed by a monstrous rock overhanging from a cliff. There were a couple of waterfalls and some streams. Tunnels were carved through some rocks to provide passage. The fresh air coupled with the greenery was exhilarating.We next stopped at Nelsonville, a small town. We went on a tourist train which took us 11 miles to the north of Nelsonville and then turned back and took us to a recreated village called Robbins Crossing, a few miles south of Nelsonville. People were indulging in activities like real villagers did back in the 1800s.
Our final halt for the day was for canoeing. If someone asks me what is the wildest thing I have done so far, this is it. I agree this is nothing compared to a white water ride or bungee jumping, but this has been my first experience in the realms of adventure sport. I went in a canoe with 1 guy. 3 were in another canoe. We started at about 8 PM. The water was on an average 2 feet deep in the river and on some stretches were 4 to 5 feet deep, but no more than that. We were first going in circles unable to control the canoe. Often we ran aground on the banks or rammed onto protruding rocks or fallen trees. After half an hour we got the hang of it.
Soon we were paddling past many people, most of whom were couples enjoying the moonlight. No such luck for me though. Soon it was pitch dark and we were not able to see anything and we were a bit afraid but soon got over it. After rowing for 5 miles we reached our final post. The canoe owners had lit a bonfire and served us marshmallows and different wines.
It was a memorable experience on the whole.


Warning: India Ahead

I wonder if any American would travel to India after reading this piece of 'Information' supplied by the Department of State. Especially, do not miss the info about Traffic Safety & Road Conditions.
Though I was incensed on reading it, on second thoughts I had to admit that it is an objective description of the true state of affairs.


Jun 27, 2007

Assistant Electoral Enumeration officers from the Election Commission of India

Great comedy by Rajini and Vivek. Superb entry by Livingstone at the end.


Jun 26, 2007

The 'Sivaji' Experience

The long wait was finally over after I saw Sivaji on 24th. It was a thrilling roller coaster ride for about 3 hours during the course of which we shouted ourselves hoarse. Columbus Tamil Sangam gave each of us two coloured sheets that basically told us not to throw confetti in the theater and other such stuff. Talk about devilish minds: we did not have confetti with us but we tore into pieces the coloured sheets we got and used them as confetti. The first few rows were occupied by fans wearing specially designed Sivaji T-Shirts. Before the movie began, one of my friends warned a family sitting right behind us "we will be shouting a lot so please excuse us and if you prefer not to be disturbed please relocate yourselves" Before the man could reply, his wife told us "Oh thats great. We also want some company to shout with us, so no problems". And so it began. We shouted at Rajini's intro, threw the papers and basically rocked the theater with ample suport from the rest of the audience. Our slogans of "Panamarathula Vauvaala, thalaivarukae savalaa" and "Adho paaru lightu, thalivarudhaan weightu" rocked the theater. The first half was a laugh riot. I would not say that this is one of the best efforts by Vivek. But the synergy of his teaming up with Rajini proved to be a dyamite.

Before going to the movie I had read a lot of reviews: ranging from ones that eulogized even the appearance of Rajini's name in the titles to ones that pronounced the entire effort as shabby. The negative reviews subconsciously made me to be more critical of the movie then I would have been otherwise. So I found myself looking out for glitches and idiosyncrasies in the movie, and I am glad to say that I did not find much. The movie has been shot with a high resolution camera and the pictures are quite vivid. The Balaelakka song was very colourful.

The storyline is a concoction of Rajini's time tested themes of 'rags-to-riches' and Shankar's patented 'anti-corruption'. Looks like Shankar wanted Rajini's fans to enjoy everything that Rajini has to offer; from comedies to punch dialogues to action scenes and at the same time wanted his protagonist to fight against corruption at all levels. And there had to be the mandatory 6 songs: 3 in either half of the movie. The result is a movie lasting 3 hours packed with scenes, the transitions between which were at times too rapid and discontinuous.

Rajini's usual intro-scene in all his recent movies were through a song with only Chandramukhi breaking the mould with a fight. Shankar has gone one step ahead and made all the fans have goosebumps by showing Rajni behind bars in the first scene. A very novel idea that, but unfortunately he wanted to include a pseudo-intro song (as in Chandarmukhi) but could not quite come up with a reasonable situation for that. Rajini says in the middle of a party that he wants a traditional tamil girl and the next second we find him dancing with Nayanthara (and she was gorgeous to say the least!!!) in a rural setting. These jumps in scenarios will jingle the nerves of purists, irrespective of their fanaticism for Rajini.

Thalaivar looked old in the first half (irrespective of the 'murattu kaalai' looks). In the second half his looks transform almost to that of 'Thalabathi' movie.The second half was mind blowing. The 'tea kadai' scene will go down as one of Rajini's best performances. His coin tossing scenes were a treat to watch. And I guess soon farmers in thanjavur will be saying 'coooolll' every time it rains. As far as I can remember, I dont know of any movie in which Rajini attempts suicide and it was a surprise to see him do that. And the fights sequences were good. Especially the one after he collects money from Adiseshan (shot in Binny Mills). Rajini in keeping up with his image bashes up lots of baddies. But he does that while he is running away from them. That was a deft touch in portraying reality bordering on the impossible.
The fight scene at the musical shop and the one with cars were a bit too long for comfort. 'Mottai Boss' is out of the world. Chandramukhi in a way has influenced the movie making in lots of ways. Be it the 'Raa Raa' song to which shreya dances, Rajini's hair style in 'Vaaji' song (the sets for which were stunning), or the way Rajini blows a kiss at a corrupt official.

Even though
Shankar was nowhere near his best , I observed that most of the negative reviews were due to half-baked understanding of the movie. The scene of shreya saving Rajini from the train is a comedy track and not to be taken seriously. Some people have been insisting on more heroics from Rajini. Already Shankar has given an overdose of action and Matrix style fights. And Rajini flips the coin the way nobody would have ever done. To ask for more is stretching the limits which Shankar had recognized thankfully.

Rahman's songs for the movie were a treat per se and he has not failed to deliver with the BGM for the movie which was great. There were touches of Baba's theme song (both the melodious tune and the B-A-B-A one) but it was unique. But he should refrain from lending his voice in one way or the other to almost every song of his, either as the main singer or the background humming and shouting. It is not irritating as of now but it soon will be as it will become too drabbing like Harris Jeyaraj's usage of Bombay Jayashree.

Thalai's imitation of Vadivelu by saying " Enna vechu edhuvum comedy, keemadi panalaye" was awesome. The projector in the theater went off for a few minutes and did not come on even after 3 minutes or so. Me and Deepak spontaneously shouted that dialog and everyone in the theater burst out laughing. That was a good moment.

As I came out of the theater I knew that the experience was a 'once in a lifetime' one. When I saw Chandramukhi in Sathyam, the majority of the audience was composed of families who kept mum except for the comedy tracks. But this movie was different. The audience kept up with the pace of the movie. So when Vyas asked me if I am interested in seeing the movie again tomorrow, I said yes without a moment of hesitation and we immediately bought the tickets for the next day's show (as its the last in Columbus). So here I am, going once again to see The Boss for second time on consecutive days, hoping to relive every moments of the first show.


Jun 22, 2007

Of politics, power plays and the people's choice

Its no secret that among the Indian populace Dr.Kalam is well respected and liked by all. Be it for his down to earth character, love for children, or the eagerness to make a difference in the society (irrespective of the fact that some people are bored to death by his overzealous ways of either asking the reporters to repeat after him or egging the youth to take oaths to serve the society). He is been the most easily accessible of the lot and the most pleasant to interact with.

If there is any semblance of pride and honesty left in the current Indian Government set up it is not because of any of the politicians but rather due to the presence of stalwarts like Kalam.When such a man is made President, one should understand that the Honour is not only for the incumbent but also for the office. He is not a politician who mongers for votes and fights for power. He accepted Presidency as a Honorary post (which it is anyways). The common man would prefer him to have a second term because he represents the ideal persona that every Indian would like to have in the Goverment: friendly, sincere and most importantly incorrupt. He is somewhat like a brand image.

Consider the scenario in which he was made a President. Kalam did say he will take over as President provided there is a consensus. And unlike the fickle politicians he has not changed his stance today and has reiterated the same thing. I think he is being professional about it. The position in question is not that of a Prime Minister or Party Chief, the powers of which tempts many people to fight for it. Its about being the President of India, a position equivalent to that of a bird with clipped wings. He said he is willing to be the President for a second term as long as there is no squabbling among parties. Meaning: if everyone likes him to stay he will, else he will vacate the office.What he implies is that he does not wish to stand for an election as if he is personally interested in occupying a position of power. For people like Pawar who fish in the troubled waters of politics its fine to stand in elections and to be amidst controversies. But for a person like Kalam who represents the timid, educated section of the populace, it is awkward and embarrassing to say the least.

Under these circumstances, Pawar has resorted to rhetorics against Kalam when he made public his decision for the second term. Pawar has said:"The game is over for Kalam. He is no longer in the team....". And the I&B Minister has said that the statements are "unfortunate, uncalled for and unexpected". It is despicable that Kalam has been relegated to a level where people like Pawar and Dasmunsi make comments about how he should behave.

The elections for Presidency is not as Democratic as Pawar makes it out to be. When Congress decides upon a candidate, the party head is going to instruct all its voting members to vote for that candidate. There is going to be no room for individual reasoning and voting. Same is the case with the other parties. It finally boils down to what the heads of the main parties think. So when Kalam means there should be a consensus he just wants to know that he has the support of the main party heads. Its not like candidates contest and after an uncertain period of vote counting, the results will be known after a week. Once each party puts forth their candidates, the winner is going to be obviously decided by parties having the majority share. So there is no blatant breach of Democracy by Kalam as portrayed by the politicians. It is really funny, this case of the pot calling the kettle black. Though in this case the kettle is nowhere as black as the pot is.


Jun 17, 2007

Rahman Concert in Chicago

I went to Chicago for A.R.Rahman's concert on June 9th. To be frank I did not have very high expectations but the concert surpassed whatever I had. The acoustics of the Arena was good though a bit too loud at times. The music was flawless almost replicating the original versions. The singers were great too. Chithra was accorded a grand ovation with shouts of 'thamizhkuyil' piercing the air. Madhushree, who I hated for her North Indianized rendering of tamil songs especially the Vaaji song, redeemed herself with a great performance supported by her sweet dance steps and facial expressions while singing. Hariharan was great except for the Venilave song which he sung as if Udit Narayanan was singing it. No idea why he did that. Most of the singers were gyrating while singing except for chithra who was calmness personified as she has been from time immemorial.

Adhiradee and The Boss rocked the show. We were all shouting 'sivaji, sivaji' non stop and soon even non-tamilians picked up the cue and started chanting with us. That per se is a moral victory for us 'rajni fans'. After that there were lots of high octane songs including Paatshala,Secret of Success (Boys), etc., When Chaiyya Chaiyya was performed we shed all our inhibitions (the remnants of it rather) and went to dance in the aisle. Rahman's rendition of Humma Humma from Bombay even had timid looking, saree clad women coaxing their equally shy husbands to get up and dance with them to the tunes. I should say that SPB was badly missed by us. He would have sung a few songs from thalaivar's movies.
On the whole it was a memorable event.


Jun 14, 2007


When the whole world conspires against me, what happens is Sivaji gets released in Columbus nearly 10 days after all its premiere in other US cities. If the 'conspirers' feel that is not enough, what they do is release the Telugu version before Tamil.
Already the hype by the press is killing. Adding to this is the constant taunts of friends who are lucky enough for the movie to be screened in their cities on the D-Day!
Woe is me!


Jun 2, 2007

At last

Finally the State Governments are discerning the difference between a rule and an option. The Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act (which was passed quite a long time back) mandated the wearing of helmets by all motorcyclists. But subsequent amendments gave the State Governments the right to declare it as an option.
But increasing two wheeler accidents and widespread awareness have resulted in widespread support for making the Act mandatory. As a result, many State Governments have passed a rule that declares Helmets mandatory for two wheelers. Also front seat riders in car are required to wear seat belts. In Chennai these two rules came are in effect from June 1, 2007. It will be interesting to see the seriousness with which the Chennai City Traffic Police (CCTP) follows it up, especially the seat belt rule.


May 29, 2007

Wonder of wonders

Should not the wonders of the world be obvious to all? Is a worldwide 'election' needed to decide which are the best of the lot?
And why should there be just seven? Just because there were seven ancient wonders, should the present day have exactly the same number? Not one more or less?
And since the Pyramids at Giza were considered a part of the Ancient wonders and they are still standing tall, are they one of the seven by default and the competition only for the other six slots?
What a waste of time and money! And Rahman has to promote the Taj Mahal's candidacy by composing an 'anthem' for the occasion. So now that rahman has composed a song for it,the Taj Mahal merits an automatic inclusion into the list. Anyways, overzealous Indians who occupy the globe in millions are bound to vote for the Taj Mahal, making its inclusion a foregone conclusion.

P.S: I found two interesting inclusions amongst the 'finalists'. The statue of liberty and Timbuktu. I do not think there is anything grandiose attached to either of them for them to be deemed as Wonders of the world along the ranks of the Pyramids at Giza, Acropolis, and the Machu Picchu.


May 23, 2007

Evolution and the role of Humans as initiators

In his book titled 'Prey', Michael Crichton talks about evolution in organisms initiated by the pressures of survival. He has elaborated more on this topic in his more famous book, 'The Lost World'. The Darwinian theory of life evolving to adjust to the environment has been studied at large, with the implications of behavioural changes now emerging as a major cause of evolution. Peer pressure has been acknowledged to majorly contribute to the changes a species undergoes.

A scientific report of an isolated female shark giving birth at a zoo in Nebraska has been filed recently. The report cites the case of a female Hammerhead shark which came to the zoo as a baby and been grown ever since in isolation from male sharks. This report gains significance as it is the first recorded event of its kind. But the phenomenon could be more common in the natural world. Pressures induced by humans coupled with natural threats could result in many such changes occurring in the ecological system. The deprivation of a male partner or the rapid dwindling of a population might mount pressure on the females of a species, forcing it to evolve an ability that enables it to reproduce on its own. Scientists feel that such evolutionary actions to sustain life could be against the principle of natural selection, which emphasizes the concept of the survival of the fittest. In an environment where natural order prevails, the passing on of genes to the next generation is reserved for the mightiest of the lot. It is a well documented fact that males compete with one another to establish dominance. Females mate more frequently with dominant males than the others. These natural orders ensure that during the course of evolution, the genes of animals that are most healthy and most adapted to conditions, are passed on more frequently than that of animals that are not. Thus over a period of several generations the dominant genes take over from the lesser ones and this also allows the species to have a natural tendency to adapt to the surroundings as they have acquired the dominant genes.

But artificial pressures created by factors such as humans increase the survival pressure on every species, leading to such instances of 'parthenogenesis'. Hermaphroditism is not uncommon in nature. But it is not widely prevalent either. Suppression of life could force characteristics like hermaphroditism to surface. This reminds me of the classic scene in Jurassic Park, where Alan Grant (Sam Neill) states that 'Life finds a way', when they discover that some of the female Dinosaurs released from captivity begin to change sex and starts to reproduce.

Genetic studies have shown that the difference between the genes of many animals are so few. So the question of how two widely different species could share as much as 90% of genes (if not more) is largely unanswered. It is reasonable to suppose that between species that share genes, differences in characteristics and behaviour are influenced a lot by the living environment. So a radical change in the environment could activate the hitherto inactive genetic characteristics bringing about an evolution in the species.

A conception that Crichton seeks to remove in 'Next' is the common understanding of the time period of evolution. Contrary to popular beliefs of evolution occurring over a period of million years, he states that evolution is continuous. Life continuously evolves in tune with dynamic changes of its environment, which is true.

Humans have altered the environment in a large way. Rainforests have been destroyed, water bodies polluted, air composition being changed. Many species have become extinct or are on the brink of it, thanks largely to mass killings by humans for reasons of profit and the likes. We have been altering the face of the earth and changes have been happening right before our eyes. An interesting outcome of the behavioural theory is that the changes in the behaviour of one species will alter that of every species that interacts with it. Thus no change is isolated and behavioural alterations are bound to have worldwide repercussions. Maybe its the turn of the humans to bring about another major shuffling of the Earth's biosphere.


May 14, 2007

Proud Possessions

I came across a news item that mentioned two special stamps: The Forever stamp and a commemorative triangular stamp. The sight of the triangular stamp brought back some memories of the times when I was in school.

Collecting coins, currencies and especially stamps were a huge craze amongst my school mates and this nurtured my interest in those hobbies. My parents used to get mails from different countries in their office and I used to bug the life out of them to get me those stamps after tearing them from their envelopes. I guess this would have caused many mails to go with an envelope having a hole on it. I vividly remember the values with which we treated stamps from different countries. For example, England was so common that many would not even want to have it in their collection. Stamps from countries like Botswana, Egypt were considered to be 'rare'. I did not consider anything as redundant or useless and discarded it. So that explains the countless numbers of stamps of the same country, which I proudly mounted on stamp albums which during the pinnacle of my passionate involvement totaled to three. As for coins and currencies, I had a good share of them too. Unfortunately this avarice extended to my books collection too (novels and comics that is) and more than 200 books accumulated in my room (I am not exaggerating) until there was room for no more and many of the books were confined to a gunny bag due to lack of space. Recently when my parents shifted residence, the movers openly were amazed at the number of books and supposedly told them they have never seen so many books in a house before.

There is no point in just accumulating wealth if you do not flaunt it. So often we bring our prized possessions to school and look at everyone's collections. There were also frequent exchanges of the collectibles. Now this is most important for a budding philatelist/numismatist! If I am in need of an item a 'Fellow Collector' has and I have something which the FC is in need of, then we can exchange the items. But this is more complicated than FOREX. There is a value for each item and when we exchange it we should get something equal in value for return. Worthiness is decided by many factors: general availability of the item amongst FCs, special issues like commemorative stamps, special shapes like triangle, semi-circle,etc,. The trading policies are also complex. A stamp may not be valuable in its general format but a triangular edition of it is considered worthier. If we cannot offer a single item of equal value in exchange, the transaction can be made possible by offering more than one item, the sum total of which be deemed equal in value to the offered item. So we always need to have a sharp look out for clever and slick operators from whom we could end up getting a lemon. Since there is no benchmark values for the items, opinions as to the worthiness of the collectibles vary among collectors, often leading to bitter quarrel at times of transactions.

Many a times we used to get caught by our teachers who often interrupt us in the midst of a crucial trading period. We then get reprimanded for carrying out such 'nefarious' activities in school. Education in school is a humbug!! I think that my stamp and coin collections have taught me lot more history and geography than 8 years of textbooks ever could. I challenge my Geography teacher to locate Swaziland on the map. I am sure she does not know about the tools used by the African aborigines for hunting. Nor would she ever know how the Sultan of Brunei looks like or the dressing sense of Saudi Arabians or the Aquatic wildlife in Zaire for that matter.

Those were days!! There was time to be totally involved in hobbies. Now work takes up most of the time. But this Jamestown Settlement commemorative stamp issued by USPS has rekindled my interests. I am not sure how long this is going to last or if I will ever find time to gloat over my collections in the future. (I have sealed them within layers of plastic covers away from the probing termites and other pests and it nows rests peacefully back home in India). But its worth a try. Hope the USPS sells single stamps. If not, maybe I can tempt the sales clerk to exchange one for a special edition Burundi stamp I have......


May 2, 2007

In pursuit of happyness

"And it was at that time that I thought about Thomas Jefferson writing that Declaration of Independence. Him saying that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I thought about how he knew to put the 'pursuit' in there, like no one can actually have happiness. We can only pursue it."
The above lines do not seem to carry much meaning without a context. But when Will Smith said that in his portrayal of the real life character Christopher Gardner, it put so many things in life in perspective for me.
I just came back from a screening of the movie 'The Pursuit of Happyness' [sic] at my university, and it is weighing down so much on me that I coud not desist myself from writing about it. Not many movies have touched my soul and evoked my senses as this movie has. I have seen Will smith (whom I liked anyway) in movies like MIB, I-Robot which are a different genre of movies altogether and I was under the impression that he is a bit stereotyped. But when I saw this movie I was proven wrong. To say that this is one of the best performance I have ever seen in a movie is not an overstatement. I wonder if the performance of Forest Whitaker was so exceptional in the movie 'The Last King of Scotland', so as to have denied the Best Actor Award to Will Smith.

The movie depicts the life of Chris Gardner who is married and has a son. Chris is a salesman who has very poor success in his job of selling Bone density scanners to hospitals. His wife leaves him and Chris looks after his son. His travails as he struggles to make both ends meet and study at the same time while doing an internship as a stockbroker are quite absorbing. He fights everything bravely. He gets imprisoned, gets fined, is thrown out of the house by the landlord and everything that could possibly go wrong does go wrong. He puts up a brave face and fights it out. But things go too much out of his hand and when one day he has to take refuge in a Railway station restroom for the night with his son, he eventually breaks down and cries but does so mutedly lest his sleeping son wakes up. Thats an amazing scene and is bound to touch the soul of anyone. Will Smith's performance is beyond words.If he grabbed our hearts in this scene, then he melts them in the final scene, with the way he reacts when he gets the job he wanted: a mix of happiness, disbelief, and relief that his years of struggle have finally come to an end.

When I walked out of the theater, I saw life in a different perspective. Things could have been different. Things could have been worse. We are lucky to have a comfortable shelter, food to eat everyday, and a sense of belonging. Yet we are discontent. Things we had taken for granted are out of reach for many people in the world. Not being rich is one thing. But not being in a position to even eat a morsel of food is something else. It made me realize things that I had been discontent with in my life are all non-issues. Purely materialistic. Being happy is just our perspective of life. We are never content with what we have and always yearn for something more which we feel we need in our lives. The movie had left a lot of posers to me. But it has clearly answered one: Whatever we have and do not have, we cannot have happyness. We can only pursue it.


Apr 26, 2007

Saving Lives

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (a part of the US Department of Transportation) recently mandated Electronic Stability Control systems in all passennger vehicles. The move, which is touted to be a landmark ruling along with the likes of mandatory seat belts and Anti-Lock Braking systems in vehicles, has the potential to save thousands of lives every year.
This is in stark contrast to India, where not much mandates (In fact I hardly know of any) are passed to ensure that automobile manufacturers build vehicles with passenger safety utmost in their minds. Passing a mandate is one story, but enforcing it is another.

Today I was thinking that the American vehicle manfacturers have left no stones unturned on the safety aspect, when two 'trivial' things, which have bothered me in the past, came up. One was the turning indicators. I have observed that predominantly in all American cars, both the braking lights and the turinng indicator lights are of the same colour - Red. Imagine that you are driving on a highway (or any other road for that matter) for more than an hour. Naturallyyou are bound to be fatigued (especially at night because of the shrouding darkness). Lets assume that a vehicle in front of you is about to take a turn and the driver turns on the indicator lights and slows down or maybe even halts. The braking lights will be glowing bright and the indicator lights will be blinking. There is zero contrast between the two, other than a blinking section of the lights.Probably you would have noticed that under such conditions you react a bit more late than you ever normally do. I believe this is due to both braking and indicator lights being of the same color. As far as I can recollect, in Indian cars the indicator lights are yellow in color (inspired by the Japanese cars I guess). In an accident, where even milli seconds count, these small things could be crucial.

I have also noticed that none of the American cars have the rubber 'mud flaps' that dangle freely behind the rear wheels on all Indian cars (Trucks have these though). Today I was driving in the highway and all cars in front of me generously spewed rain water from the roads onto my car's windwshield, making it quite difficult to see the road. This is more pronounced when you are quite close to the car in front. This might prevent us from seeing the traffic slowing down in front of us in time, or we might fail to notice something lying on the road.
These are just small things but could be having a huge bearing on traffic safety considering the high speeds of driving in the US. I wonder how many lives could have been saved by having yellow colored indicator lights and rubber pads behind rear wheels.


Apr 19, 2007

Reporting to fame..

The recent Virginia Tech shootout had left people the world over a witness to some of the most gruesome scenes ever in an education campus. And predictably the media fell on top of each other to get 'exclusive' coverage of the incident. One thing that got my attention was the i-Report feature in CNN.
People who happen to be a witness to any unfolding 'news item' can send their descriptions, videos or photos of the 'developing story' to this section, and CNN will 'prominently' showcase this on their web page and depending upon the commercial value, will also allot time slots in their news channel as well. Needless to say, people in their quest for a few minutes of fame, will be vying for a recording of all events which they deem are fit to be featured on a news channel.

CNN has struck a goldmine with this. They cannot possibly be in all places where a news 'breaks out'. But with i-Report, people who had a ring side view of events can send in their reports in exchange for their share of an ephemeral fame. So every time there is a hurricane, flood, or a raging lunatic with gun, people instead of scurrying for cover get more closer to the danger to record it on their cam. Jon Stewart had a dig at this some time back. If anyone gets caught up in an enthusiasm for 'covering the event' and something untoward happens, CNN (or any news channels for that matter) is not going to compensate them for sure. It was the person's risk and he/she paid for it. I wonder how many people have lost their lives, or have met with some accident in their eagerness...


Apr 13, 2007

Its the logic that beats me

Roughly an year back, the Aviation Ministry decided to rename Indian Airlines as 'Indian'. I always wondered what could have initiated this move. One can understand the need IA felt to go for a major revamp, considering their pathetic services, decades old flights, and rather poor customer service.
Had IA felt the need to get rid of this poor image, then they should be focusing more on improving its services on those aspects. Instead, choosing to rename Indian Airlines as 'Indian' and changing the colours will not be taking it anywhere. Whats the logic behind dropping the 'Airlines' tag from its name anyway? Probably the higher echelons of IA felt that the services they offered are way below that of what a national carrier should be offering, so much so that they do not even deserved to be called an Airlines and therefore decided to correct the anomaly in its name by dropping the 'Airlines' tag?
Moreover, imagine the situation whenever the carrier is mentioned. Cant get stranger than this!

P.S.: Read this post by Raj about the 'Indian'isation of the Indian Airlines. Amazingly humourous!!
Added May 02, 2007


Apr 2, 2007


It surely is. AR Rahman has once again precisely handpicked the song for rendering his voice. Vaali has penned the lyrics for the song.

But what has made me addicted to this song is the Guitar piece from 1:45 to 2:00 and this repeats at 3:40 and at 5:15. It has shrouded the entire song with a retro surrealism. I am dying to see how the song has shaped up in the movie. Already stills from the song have made anticipations soar.


Mar 30, 2007

State sponsored Bandh?

'State sponsored terrorism' is one blithely used term in the media. Joining its ranks now is the term 'State sponsored bandh' which is becoming very frequent in India.One such instance is the declaration of a bandh on March 31 by the Tamil Nadu Government (read as DMK and its allies). The bandh is supposed to be a protest against the Supreme Court's order staying 27 percent reservation in Higher education Institutions.

There are two disturbing aspects to this issue. Firstly, if the Supreme court is the highest authority in India, then its rulings are to be respected. Every time the decision goes against the personal whims of a particular party, their subsequent indulgence in public protests of this order tantamounts to disrespecting the authority of the court and its decisions. Sharad Yadav of Janata Dal has declared the Supreme Court's order to be 'unconstitutional' and asked the Government to 'ignore' it. So ignoring the court's order is a constitutional act, while what the court says is not!

Parties would (and should) have put forth any supporting arguments for their cases when it was sub judice. So the final ruling is made only after the consideration of all the arguments. If the parties still think their views are correct and they have been handed out an unfair deal, they should react as a party to have their views heard. This brings us to the second aspect of the issue. In this case, the DMK led allies have declared a bandh bringing things to a standstill in the state. They have announced that 31st will be a state holiday and state run buses will not be operated. They have also requested the Central Government to suspend train and Air services. They are striving to portray their parties' wishes as the state's voice by these actions. If they want their opinions to be heard they should convene a meeting among themselves and contact the centre and decide how they should go forth on the issue. Instead declaring a bandh and unnecessarily suspending essential transport services for a day is a blatant misuse of power. Just because they suspend services for a day in one state does not mean their argument is valid or the Supreme court would keep in mind the bandh when they pass the judgement in the future. The parties are only publicizing their views on such sensitive issues so as to retain political mileage and gain the trust of certain sections in the society. For this selfish reason of the party, indulging the machinery of one complete state Government is highly condemnable and there must be some rule that prohibits Governments from declaring such bandhs in the future.


Mar 18, 2007

Is it just a game?

The last 48 hours has probably been the most mind blowing in cricket history ever! India lost to Bangladesh. The Irish have sent Pakistan packing home. Bob Woolmer found dead and Inzi retiring from ODIs. Is cricket being played just as a game anymore or has it been taken over by the media and commercialized to a larger than life image? Recent incidents suggest that the latter is more closer to the truth.

Seeing 'minnows' (If I am still allowed to use that word after the performance of those teams in this world cup) play their games with a spirit and enjoyment, brought a refreshing change to this world cup, or atleast I felt so. After all its a game! Why attach so much importance to it that it boils down to life or death. Predictably, Indian fans have stoned Dhoni's house and burned effigies. The media in its quest for readership and viewers have over the years sailed on the popularity of the game. Everytime there is a match or a team selection or a poor performance, there are TV shows with a 'panel of elite members' discussing about what went right and what didnt. These people assume that they know better than the captain who has to take decisions on the field. What has Mandira Bedi got to do with a cricket match? Does she even know the difference between an off side and the leg side? And the Indian parliamentarians have no business other than either commending or condemning the team for its performances.

There is no arguing the fact that Indian cricket is a money spinner like no other nation. Mass commercialization has ensured that cricket is no longer just a game but a business. But atleast shocking incidents of the last 24 hours should pull everyone back to the ground, and treat the game as what it just actually is - A Game.


Mar 12, 2007

DD Rocks!

Doordarshan, inspite of all its primitive technologies and outdated broadcasting techniques, has to be acknowledged as the pioneer in Indian television. Cartoons being shown currently in many channels inluding Cartoon Network were telecast in DD long back. One of the best ever dramas in Indian television to date is R.K.Narayan's Malgudi days on DD. Amul Surabhi, hosted by Renuka Sahane and Siddharta Kak, is probably one of the best shows ever. Being a Government controlled enterprise, it is natural that DD focussed on contents targeted at promoting values like national integrity, unity, etc.,
Ek Chidiya is one such animated video that was telecast many times in DD. I chanced upon this video today and it was a trip down memory lane. I particularly used to like the innocent looking depiction of the moon, and used to watch this video whenever it comes just to see the moon! The child's voice is so soothing,and I was surprised to know that the voice of the girl is that of Sadhana Sargam! Another one is the timeless Mile sur mera tumhara.

In those years, when commercialization was yet to touch Indian Television, Doordarshan did provide wholesome entertainment. Though DD did not have much to offer for regional viewers, its contents will be remembered much more, compared to the mindless entertainment we see on channels today.


Mar 10, 2007

Sangeedha Megam.....

Yet another magnum opus from the Maestro. Ilaiyaraja is probably one of the best things that has happened to Tamil cinema!! This song has been running in my head the full day. One of the best Preludes I have ever heard in a tamil song.

பாடல்: சங்கீத மேகம்
படம்: உதய கீதம்
பாடியவர்: எஸ்.பி.பாலசுப்பிரமணியம்
இசை: இளையராஜா

சங்கீத மேகம் தேன் சிந்தும் நேரம்
ஆகாயம் பூக்கள் தூவும் காலம்
நாளை என் கீதமே, எங்கும் உலாவுமே(2)
என்றும் விழாவே என் வாழ்விலே

போகும் பாதை தூரமே, வாழும் காலம் கொஞ்சமே,
ஜீவ சுகம் பெற‌ ராக நதியினில் நீ நீந்தவா,
இந்த தேகம் மறைந்தாலும், இசையாய் மலர்வேன்(2)
கேள‌ாய் பூ மனமே..

உள்ளம் என்னும் ஊரிலே, பாடல் என்னும் தேரிலே,
நாளும் கனவுகள் ராக பவனிகள் போகின்றதே,
எந்தன் மூச்சும், இந்தப் பாட்டும் அனையா விள‌க்கே(2)
கேளாய் பூ மனமே.....

என்னதான் சமிப கால இசையமைப்பாள‌ர்கள் முயற்ச்சி் செய்தாலும், இளையராஜாவின் பாடல்களுக்கு ஈடு கொடுக்க முடியாது என்பதுதான் உண்மை.


Mar 4, 2007

Drat! Missed again!!

Why is it that I never get to see the natural spectacles? Chennai is probably one of the dullest places to be if you want to see any natural event like an eclipse. Well, chennai has the Birla planetarium. But inspite of all my purported interest in astronomy, I have never took the pains of going there to witness a celestial event. And there were many, namely the crashing of shoemaker levy onto Jupiter, Mercury appearing against the sun, etc., for which the planetarium made special arrangements for viewing. But for some reason, total eclipses have always eluded chennai. Especially, a few years back I was very dissapointed, when a total solar eclipse was visible in north India, but not in the south. I guess being closer to the tropics puts it a disadvantage for viewing total eclipses(the very reason that makes Sriharikota an ideal place to launch rockets).

So it was with glee I heard today(March 3) that Eastern US will be witnessing a lunar eclipse, a total one at that. I happened to chance upon a picture taken of the eclipse a few minutes back, and immediately ran out to see the spectacle, unmindful of the subzero temperature. The sky was reddish as the description said. But the moon was nowhere to be seen. I guess it was near the horizon. The surrounding buildings were awkwardly tall and blocked the view. And my house was not tall enough to offer me a view over other buildings. In the end, I missed out another total eclipse.
Dont know why, but eclipses always miss me. Rather, the other way around.
Sigh!!! Anyways, I hope to have better luck on August 28.


Mar 2, 2007

Dada's nemesis

Oh No!! Just when dada is getting back in groove for his swan song in World cups, his nemesis has returned. Asoka de silva is among the panel of umpires for the world cup. There have been instances in the past, when all dada has to do was come and stand in the crease and De Silva declares him out. I am sure if someone asks Ganguly to name the people he fears the most in cricket, De Silva will be there right at the top along with Wasim Akram and others. Hope he doesnt officiate in any of India matches.


Feb 24, 2007


While slogging to finish yet another set of homeworks that never cease to come, I suddenly remembered my college days. Troublefree and worriless. Never bothering to study for the college's cycle tests. Even the minimum of efforts I (we) bothered to put in, were just an hour before the tests. We (myself, sriram, vijayaraghavan, prashanth, abhiram, thyagu, maadu, venkat, sashi, vedik, etc.,) used to gather around a desk. And amidst discussions about cricket matches, latest episodes of Justice League (included after sriram reminded me of what I and abhiram talked mostly about) and other more earthly things in life, we would study a bit for the test. Semester exams were no better. Abhiram will get the textbooks (the much touted 'local authors') photocopied a couple of weeks before the exams and we will take copies of the copy from him. And on the exam days, abhiram would write down all important points on one notebook, and we would do last minute studyings and revisions. Life was easy.

How much I yearn to be back in those days, back in madras. Walking on the GST road at 45 deg C beats trudging through 6 inches of snow at -10 C by a far call. And yes. I liked the chaos.
I know I am sounding like a frog within a well, feeling content with its mere existence, but thats me. After all it takes all sorts to make the world.


Feb 14, 2007


I have been so captivated by this song for some reason (I dont know why!!) and been listening to it many times a day, I thought I would post it here.

Needless to say, Ilayaraja at his best. His baroque selection of instrumental music comes to the fore in this piece.


Feb 8, 2007

High hopes...

Just like any other 'Madrasi' who can read a word or two in english, my morning has never begun without a cup of coffee and The Hindu (delivered promptly by the hyperactive 'newspaper boys' at 5 A.M).

After coming to the U.S., I managed to substitute traditional coffee with (and adapt to) the Instant version. But The Hindu I could not. The online edition of the paper is pathetic and it depressed me further with the never ending pop ups (something akin to the numerous advertisement slips inserted into the newspaper by the delivery agent, which keeps falling on me as I open each page). When the epaper of The Hindu was introduced, I was more than happy. It gave as close a feeling of reading the real paper as it ever can. It did come with a rider, that its free only for a trial period. I was thinking that after it goes the paid way, I will purchase its subscription.

But I was shocked to see the subscription rate: 10 dollars per month or 100 per year!! It is almost the cost of the local paper's subscription here in the US. Whats the idea charging 100 dollars for an epaper? I am sure to get responses like "If you like it pay the price or else settle for the free online edition", and "cost of devoloping an electronic edition is high (really??!)".

I am sure only a miniscule of The Hindu's loyal readers back home resort to the online edition. So a free epaper is not going to bite into its subscription base. But I am not expecting it to be free either. People outside India will be happy to pay a nominal amount. But not $100 or Rs 4000 per year as The Hindu puts it.

So it was with dire consternation that I clicked the Log In button with a thin ray of hope, that some bug in the server will allow me to access the epaper. It didnt. But what I saw made me laugh my heart out. Here is a National newspaper, trying to sell its epaper at 4 times the cost of its print edition, and this is what they have to say to the 'unsubscribed' readers:

My subscription "has been expired"? I should renewal my subscription?
High hopes indeed for The Hindu.

Update: Looks like someone had pointed out the mistake and so the message now states
"You now need a subscription to access the epaper."
Still having high hopes, arent they?


Truly an Endurance test!!

Surely this situation would not have been considered during the vehicle's design. Approximately taking each person to be 50 kg, and I see atleast 25 people standing on the top, it amounts to more than a tonne. I am sure the roof was designed to offer only structual stability and not to bear loads. AL has the right to be proud!!

Picture Courtesy: The Hindu, Feb 7, 2007


Feb 3, 2007

Chennai: Changing skyline

When I went to Chennai on August 2006, I found a lot of differences. The trademark congestions, traffic jams, and strewn garbage were still there, but the rate at which new things had come up was just too amazing. Living in Chennai all my life, the changes seemed normal. But seeing it after an year, I was struck down by the changes. It was a surrealistic feeling, as the old familiar places blended in with their new foregrounds: new buildings, roadways, etc., It looked as if Chennai received a huge facelift in an year.

New flyovers are being constructed at the Cathipara, Koyembedu, and Padi junctions. A six lane IT Highway (formerly the Old Mahabalipuram Road) is coming up. The 'MIT' flyover at Chromepet, which never looked like being completed when I left in September 2005, was fully functional. A series of new malls. Hordes of Toyota Innovas, which is just unbelievable, considering the fact that they were not even in the market in Sept 05, and in Aug 06 one in every 3 cars in Chennai seemed to be an Innova. GST Road (NH 45), connecting Chennai to the southern cities, sported a completely new look (seen on the picture ).

A project in the pipeline for Chennai, which if it comes up will change its face forever, is the proposed Metro train. Estimated at a whopping budget of Rs.7129 crores, the Metro train would be a unique addition to Chennai, as it is planned to be a partly elevated and partly underground service.

These and many more changes being ushered in, is truly putting Chennai on the World map. No wonder major Automobile manufacturers and companies like Samsung are competing for space to set up their plants in Chennai!


Jan 7, 2007

Pooled into Addiction

For the last 4 months or so I have been playing the game of Pool so many times, that sometimes I see cue sticks and the board in my dreams. I have been regularly going to the Recreational & Physical Activity Center (RPAC) of the university, with m(w)e spending atleast 2 hours at the pool table on every visit.

After sami went to California, I thought my frequency of pool games would be reduced a lot. But Guru has ensured that sami's legacy is continued without any disruptions (by the way, yet another legacy left by sami: frequent hang outs at Buckeye Donuts, is in danger of being disrupted). As for Guru, he doesn not seem to care about any work we (read as I) might have pending. I am always dragged away by his constant "dei, vaada pool aada polaam"s.

I am sure by this time, every one at RPAC ( be it the workers or the users) would immediately recognize us as the "guys who occupy the pool table forever". And if the trend continues, RPAC might even go one step ahead and perennially reserve a table for us!!

Long live sami and his Legacies!!

P.S: RPAC is probably one of the best facilities,one might see in their life. Check it out


Jan 6, 2007

Sachin's Miseries and Dada's return

Same old story. Great promises but none delivered. But what is more bitter than India losing the Test series was the sight of sachin's batting. Pollock and co. may form a good attack. But seeing a player of the calibre of sachin grovel, scratch and shuffle at the crease was an eye sore to say the least. And that too at a time when India needed to score some quick runs!! After this series his very committment to the team's cause would be under scrutiny. I am not accusing sachin of not giving his best for the team. But to bat like the way he did, more so at that critical juncture of play does raises one's eyebrows. The fact that the pitch was no devil was proved by the likes of Dinesh Karthick and Ganguly.

Another highly questionable act was that of Dravid. It was true that the seamers were the major prescence in the team. But in a pitch that was tailor made for the Indian team, persisting with the pace bowlers even after they bowled their hearts out and were going out one by one with injury was a very poor call. Especially with the pitch offering good turn to even Kumble, the wisest thing to do would be to give more overs to sehwag and sachin. Instead we saw Kumble mostly bowling in tandem with pace bowlers. Probably dravid got fixated too much on the success of the pace bowlers, especially sreesanth, and thought the match could be won by their previous successes rather than utilizing the conditions at hand. This is in stark contrast to the Ganguly era. Ganguly as the captain, did a great job in rotating between bowlers. Especially in spin friendly tracks. There was this one instance in the home test against Australia, ganguly recognized that India's strength at such a track was spin, and went ahead with just one seamer in the team. What sachin later did with the ball is now a legend. The least Dravid could have done is acknowledge the strength India had in this pitch.

Talking about Ganguly, it was pleasing to see him play without any inhibitions. He offered glimpses of the glorious past. I would not say he was back 100 percent. As a very big fan of Ganguly, I can say with some confidence that I have observed every single move of his. I could see that the pressure of adding runs to his name did pull his weight down from playing his natural game. He did not make enough effort to protect the tail enders on more than a couple of occasions. But its good to have Dada back in the team, especially in view of the current bad patch that sehwag and sachin are going through. Hope the selectors realize his importance to the Team, especially in the ODIs and select him for the future ODIs.


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