Monday, December 26, 2005

Speechless in Singleville

Jane Austen once wrote (and I have recycled this number of times) that It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife (or something to this effect). I don't know if any of her descendents married into desi families, but one of them just might have, because most middle aged women with sons of marriageable age seem to share this sentiment to the last "T". Particularly those Random Conservative Desi Moms (henceforth referred to, as RCDMs) who seem to inhabit the by lanes of Tam land down in the south of India.

The moment their offspring come in possession of a paycheck or two (the aforementioned fortune), their maternal instincts kick in and they plug their antennae into the neighborhood grapevine to look for a Ms. Right for the poor guy. Of course this being the digital age, the Sanskrit phrase Vasudaiva Kutumbakam seems particularly relevant and so this so-called neighborhood extends over the whole of the known world and beyond. By the time the poor guy gets first hand knowledge about the whole thing, there have already been a couple of enquiries in his name in his firm's HR department. [1]

All this while, the guy who is in the dark regarding concerted efforts to get his "legs tied" (Tam translation being Kaal-kattu which is the colloquial Tam term for marriage), finds it strange that the whole of his city has been in involved in activities that involve the term "holy matrimony" in one way or the other. And he finds it strange that his mom seems to have met every friend of his who he hasn't seen or talked to in a long time. What's more, each of these friends seem to be on personal endeavors to rid themselves of their single status, or which is what they seem to talk to the mom about.

It is a well known fact that most RCDMs would be automatic shoo-ins for Republican party membership, with a large percentage of them being "anti pro-choice" advocates. Before you get me wrong, I mean they'd like their sons leave the choice of life partners to them, the moms and the dads. So it is not un-common to see them give their sons the standard talk on the virtues of arranged marriage. I got one myself the other day too and I was totally amused. It's also funny that none of them would participate in any discussion about the "birds and bees" with their sons. The daughters seem to be well educated in these aspects, which is natural, I guess, but the boys get their education from the darkened movie halls in the bylanes where the movies played don't match the posters pasted on the gates of the halls. Personally, an amusing incident was when, on the brink of my departure to the US, a grand-uncle of mine sent me off with the words - Thaniya pora. Thaniya thirumbi va (You are leaving alone. So you come back alone). Sadly, it looks like his words might be prophetic. Anyways I am digressing.

Then there are the soothsayers. To any Random Son of a Random Conservative Desi Mom (henceforth referred as RSRCDM), the talk of the stars and the signs coming from the mouth of his mom are as unclear as the Linda Goodman's words that he had once memorized to impress (rather unsuccessfully, I should add) a few gals. And the really close amatuer star gazers (they do this for fun, it seems, which totally leaves them devoid of any accountability and so you can't catch their collars for predicting that the future wife of the RSRCDM in question would be the heiress of the Hilton fortune), pitch in with a few bits of free advice and a few warnings too, resulting in awkward conversations like the one that I'll detail now.

*RSRCDM is in the middle of a game of 8 ball with a few buddies. Sean Paul and Beyonce are crooning in the background as a few glasses of chilled coke (your mental image is brought you by Pixar and has been touched up by Industrial Light and Magic to remove the ubiquitous smoke and the 500ml bottle of Kingfisher from the frame) sit on a side table. As RSRCDM mentally exclaims "Quarter Ball, matter solved" and contemplates rolling the cue ball off the side wall to angle the 3 ball into the side pocket, his cell phone rings. RSRCDM abandons the shot and picks up the cell phone to find that it is RCDM.

RSRCDM: hello ma.
RCDM: Hey da. What are you doing?
RSRCDM: Playing pool with my friends, ma.
RCDM: Pool? What is that?
RSRCDM: oh, it is like billiards.
RCDM: Oh, so. Why are you playing, this late at night?

*RSRCDM decides that he has a long night ahead of him and hurriedly changes the conversation as he finds 3 other pairs of eyes boring into his face while his friends wait for him to play his shot.

RSRCDM: What are you doing ma?
RCDM: Nothing da. I just thought I will call you.
RSRCDM: Oh, ok.
RCDM: How are you? How was work this week?
RSRCDM: Work was fine ma. I am thankful that it is the long weekend.
RCDM: Oh ok. So what are you doing this weekend?
RSRCDM: I am going to look around for a car ma. I am spending a lot on rental cars. I am buying a used car.
RCDM: Good. What are you going to buy?

*RSRCDM gives RCDM a quick low down on the used car buying methodology. Seeing daggers in eyes of his buddies, he keeps the descriptions really short and tells her that he will be online in half hour once he gets back home. As soon as the game ends, RSRCDM heads back home and as expected his phone rings almost immediately after he walks in. And it is RCDM.

RCDM: Hello. Are you coming online?
RSRCDM: I don't know ma. ItÂ?s already too late. I think I want to go and sleep.
RCDM: oh ok. I wonÂ?t keep you long. I just spoke to this astrologer last month and he had some advice for you.

*Instantly RSRCDM's senses are all heightened and a light goes on inside his head.

RSRCDM: What did he say?
RCDM: Nothing da. I went to him because things seemed to be difficult for you career wise.
RSRCDM: Ohhhhh kkkk?
RCDM: He told me some things that have come true in the past two weeks or so. Now your career prospects are better right?
RSRCDM: Yeah?
RCDM: So then, he told me to pass on some advice to you.
RSRCDM: ok?
RCDM: You are a hardworking boy. And you are earning well.
RSRCDM: So?
RCDM: No. That means you are an eligible bachelor.

*RSRCDM now knows where this is going

RSRCDM: Ma, itÂ?s barely weeks since I started working, so stop!
RCDM: No. No. Just listen. He told me that boys like you are an attractive choice for Indian families in the US looking for a match for a daughter or two.

*RSRCDM decides that this is a conversation that is moving into unknown territory.

RSRCDM: WHAT?
RCDM: No, No.. The man told me that these families might want you to be their son-in-law and try to TRAP you into marrying their daughters.

*When RSRCDM's friends wake up the next morning, they find him on the couch, sitting still, open jawed in shock. Last known, RSRCDM is still trying to recover from the shock of this new angle that seems to have stumped him, mute and defenseless.

So, it turns out that these days, every single desi guy needs to be wary about Entrapment. While the mention of the word conjures up images of Catherine Zeta Jones, a single look in the mirror reminds every RSRCDM that he is no Sean Connery and hence he resigns himself to the inevitable with a sigh and gets back to his life.

*Sigh*

All characters and incidents featured in/on this post are the product of this blogger's imagination, well almost. Any resemblence to actual persons (living or dead) or events, is purely coincidental (well almost, again).

1. In fact there have been so many similar enquiries in IT firms that a few firms seem to have norms in place, governing responses to such enquiries.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Stop Press: Breaking new ground

Well, it is what it is. Stephen Rodger Waugh and Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, move over. The final frontier has been conquered. With one small step for himself, the Gawker has finally gone where no man has ever gone before. And in doing so, he has taken a great leap for all us men-folk.

Wait a minute, he did not actually *GO* in there. You see, we men seem to have our own, non-special place to *GO* that's devoid on any mystery (thanks to the historically accurate descriptions/representations in every form of media). But in the truest fashion of a born explorer, he did go there to find answers to a question which must be on the minds of every man since long long ago (nobody knows how long ago) - What exactly is behind that door?. And from his description, it seems to be a well equipped joint.

So when the history of the human race is written eons from now, will this event shall be given equal footage with Marco Polo's voyage to the Far East, Mahatma Gandhi's walk to Dandi, Livingstone's first sight of the mighty Victoria falls or would it be just a footnote like Saurav Ganguly's childish tantrums in Zimbabwe, Bennifer, Ron Jeremy's hirsute torso and Angelina Jolie's "alleged" bisexuality? Time only shall tell.

But one thing is certain. I should update my blog-roll and find a place in history myself by acknowledging the tenacity of the individual who dared to question what everybody else accepted without reason and enlightened us all with a description that will not be out of place in a wiki. Oh Gawker, I bow to thee....

(brought to you via Saket's edition of the BBM)

(P.S: It dawns on me that I know one other person who is rumored to have been on one such expedition. But sadly he is not a blogger and so the world will probably never know what his eyes saw.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Thalaivar, the Boss...


Ek hi chaand hai, raat ke liye...

Ore oru chandiran dhaan, iravukku ellam..

Ek hi suraj hai, din ke liye...

Ore oru kadhiravan dhaan, pagalukku ellam..

Ek hi thalaivar hai, is jugh ke liye...

Ore oru thalaivar dhaan.... oorukku ellam....

Ore oru thalaivar dhaan.... oorukku ellam....

I must be the only thalaivar fan who did not post anything yesterday. But then, I am humble enough to admit that I cannot be as big a fan as someone who created this and this and this and this and this.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Update to five and six too!

In response to a threatening email (lol...) from a fellow quizzer, the Three Hi-Fives to IMDb.com quiz that I posted on October 18, has been updated with answers. I have no excuse for being late.

Oh well, that takes care of the "update to five" part in the title. Now for the six.

In Thamizh, Aaru refers to the number 6. Saw it last night and found several interesting references in the movie. For one, I found that whenever the camera panned over sections of the slum with the rail tracks in the background of the frame, a train seemed to be going past the slum. This seemed to be in every single scene. I don't know if that was intentional, but if it was, I can give them a 9/10 for effort. Before you ask me, how did I notice such details and whether I do this for all movies, I have to add that, overall Aaru = Bore-u!

Which means that about 15 to 20 minutes into the movie, I was watching for such things such as the badges on the Ford SUVs used in the movie. And for trains in the frame.

But I noticed one reference, which deserves a post by itself, however unintentional it might have been. Probably tonight.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Blurred boundaries

When does a blog become a part of MSM? Or how do you differentiate between a blog and news portal? My definition of a blog is this - A blog is a webpage maintained by a individual or a group solely to disperse information related to the interests of the blogger(s) without any supervision of any sort. The blogger is both the financier, contributor and the editor of the information propagated through the blog.

But today, I read of a "blog portal that will be funded by investor's money"(via Kaps), my thoughts raced to this same definition from above. The entrepreneur has been throwing around terms like "revenue model" and sources close to the venture say that companies like Pepsi and Motorola are going to be sponsors. So what makes this "blog portal" different from, say, a portal like the online edition of TOI? TOI has a revenue model as well and a number of different companies advertise on there as well. If charging anywhere between 50 paise and a rupee for every click on their ads would make this new venture a "blog portal", then what is the USP over any other blog that subscribes to Google's Adsense?

But what is even more glaring is the byline for the blog: .... is the foremost blog representing the thoughts, aspirations, feeling and experiences of Indian youth. Most of the content is written by those in the 16-25 age group, with professional editors mentoring them to ensure professional quality material.

While the emphasis in the above text is mine, I am starting to wonder where the concept of blogs ends and MSM begins? When a similar case (i.e., blurring of boundaries) happens with any other subject, that would be taken as a positive, i.e. an attempt to bridge a gap, but when blogs seem to be the perfect antithesis to MSM, this seems to be a "I too" (grammatical error totally intentional) attempt by whoever is behind this attempt. And this thought comes to mind solely because of the presence of "professional editors" in this exercise. If the focus is to mentor future journos, then a un-monitored blog would be a perfect way to set them on that path! But this attempt seems to be something else. Is this the attempt of a tech-illiterate businessman to earn some money without ever knowing what he is dealing with?

Friday, December 02, 2005

All-rounder – adept cricketer or anachronism?

Time and again, history shows that man has embarked on futile searches for elusive mythical riches. The search for an Indian all-rounder seems have fared no better. And I don’t think that this search is ever going to end, well, not until certain issues are resolved. But far easier would be a simple scope change.

If you ask me, the definition of an all-rounder is all skewed. Ask one the selectors who were in the panel last year to name his favorite all-rounder and I bet I can guess what his answer would be. Oh wait, I was not supposed to write that. But to my defense, I think this mindset is typical of any average Indian, who would define an all-rounder as a batsman who can bowl at least 5 overs a day and keep the batsmen quiet and take wickets from time to time. So, the focus in the sub-continent seems on finding players who would contribute both with the ball and the bat. And there lies the flaw.

Read more here...

This was originally cross posted on the Cricinfo Blog - Different Strokes. I took the original post off here to drive traffic to the Cricinfo Blog which is not majorly promoted at the moment. There are more posters there who are coming out with awesome posts and who deserve your comments much more than just me. So go there and read all of our posts...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Different Strokes

It's finally official! Starting soon, I will be posting from time to time on here too. Thanks to Amit for the invite.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thalaivar punch-ey punch...

Singathe konja mudiyathu...
Sivajiya minja mudiyathu..

Kanna....
Aalu rounda iruntha podhathu..
Aatathula all roundera irukkanum...

Amaidhikku Babaji..
Adidhadikku Sivaji!!

Thanneerai Killa Mudiyuma ?
Sivajiya vella mudiyuma?

Paambey patha padaye nadungum....
Indha Sivajiya paathu... pambe nadungum!

Phone adicha ringu...
Indha Sivaji adicha sangu.

==================================

Don't know if this is the real thing, but thalaivar punch-ey punch!

Amit, you understood just one word, since the rest were all in Tamil! Hmmm...

Since this post seems to have mysteriously cropped up on this week's blog mela (I wonder who nominated it, so will just thank Amit), I have to add, for the benefit of all you non Tam readers, that the above is a set of lines, supposedly from Thalaivar's forthcoming movie, Sivaji.

Again FYI, Rajinikanth (or Thalaivar, as he is fondly called) usually has a number of such punch-lines in his movies. Usually one of them gets repeated throughout the movie like this one from Baasha - Indha Baasha oru dharava sonna, nooru dharava sonna maadhiri (A single word from Baasha is as powerful as a hundred words). Or this one from Padaiyappa - En vazhi thani vazhi (My way is unique). Simple and yet, powerful. And their hundred different hidden meanings are totally lost in translation from Tamil to English.

The Superstar (who gives this blog part of it's URL), along with Mithun da in Hindi and Megastar Chiranjeevi in Telugu, forms the Holy Trinity of Indian cinema. Watch their movies, even if you cannot understand a word of that particular language. I guarantee that you will come out feeling contented that it was money well spent on entertainment.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Kodambakkam on demand...

Sepia Mutiny has this post on the release of 79 desi DVD titles on Netflix. But what really caught my eye in that post are these words -

This comes in the same week that GV Films announced their intent to create a legal Bollywood (and Tamilwood [is that even a word? - ed]) film downloading system

According to a news release that I found on GV Film's website, this translates to almost 6000 movie titles that will delivered to paying customers (who possess a credit card) via two portals - "gvtamilfilms.com" and "telugupictures.com"!

While this is awesome news, I am at a loss trying to figure out how this peice of news passed under the radar for over 2 months (the press release on the GV films site is dated 17th Aug.).

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hmmmmm....

neengadha reengaram naan dhaane,
nenjodu nenjaaga nindrene;
raagangal thaalangal nooru,
raaja un per sollum paaru;
sindhamal nindradum sendhenae,
sangeetham undagum nee paesum pechil dhaan.....

Thursday, November 10, 2005

ABSOLUTELY URGENT: Accommodation wanted

Two posts are long overdue on this blog. I do have to apoloize to Thennavan and also to all those who are waiting for those answers for the IMDB quiz from a few weeks ago. The last few weeks have been very hectic and when I finally found the time to blog a couple of days ago, something made be really mad and I had to post my thoughts on that.

Anyways, it is time for another post. I still don't know if its safe to say this, but I am really in a time crunch and so I thought I will post this "Accommodation wanted" ad right here on my blog.

I am going to be moving to the Parsippany / Roxbury / Rockaway area (I am going to be working in Rockaway) in New Jersey, on a long term assignment and am looking for accommodation. I am looking either for a single bedroom or a studio apartment in that area. Alternatively, I could share an apartment but would love to have a bedroom for myself. So in case you are looking for a housie to live with you, I am the ONE!

If you have a place in mind or if I fit the profile of a prospective housie for you or someone you know, please call me @ 740 274 0340. If I don't pick up, please leave me a message and a number to call you back. Alternatively, leave a message in the comments as well. I need to move in on or after November 14 (Monday).

And ya, I do have a "accommodation wanted" ad posted on both Sulekha and craigslist. Tips and suggestions are awaited and appreciated from the bottom of my heart.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A tragicomedy in 993 words

What can you say about a 993 word tragicomedy? Particularly if it was created using a type face which is probably frowned upon in every educational and business institution including the ones that it intends to hold sway over? I don't know, but certainly it seems like an exercise in anachronistic stupidity. Let my arguments not sway you, but you can find the comedy here and come to your own conclusions.

The document starts by lamenting about the "indifferent attitudes and practices against girl child including their health and well being". But the salient features of this new regulation introduced by the CBSE are these:
  1. 100 percent waiver of tuition and other fees (except for meals and transport) in current affiliated schools from standard 6 onwards for every girl student "who is also the single child of a parent"
  2. "Appreciation" if these schools would consider a 50 percent fee waiver for "every girl student who is one of two daughters who are also the only two children in a family"
  3. In addition to 1. and 2. above, any other fees (i.e. for transport and meals) to be waived at the discretion of the school management.
Before I go on to actually say why I don't like what the CBSE is trying to do, look closely at the language (the highlighted parts specifically) in the second point. Is it just me, or does that line remind you of the old "I have two daughters and both of them are girls" joke that has been attributed to the Physical Education teacher of every school in India (and to the head of a certain educational institution in the outskirts of Chennai)? And if you are one of those who clicked on the link above and downloaded a MS Word doc, did you notice the font in the document?

Jokes apart, this encompasses every single (eligible) girl student regardless of economic conditions. But, if this was to be limited to underprivileged gals alone, then the CBSE board is the wrong place to apply it, since most CBSE schools (a overwhelming majority, I should think) are outside the reach of the average underprivileged kid in India.

I'd have agreed to such a system only under these conditions:
  1. If it was applied, on the basis of economics, i.e. for all those gal kids whose parents fall under a certain income bar.
  2. If it was applied by the government for non-CBSE government schools, where a large percentage of the middle class and a overwhelming majority the lower middle class send their kids to study.
  3. If this scheme's intended results (whatever they may be) were validated by the application of this scheme at the Central government run Kendriya Vidyalayas for a year or two.

But I know the first is next to impossible in India, where tax evasion is rampant and there is no better way to judge someone's economic capacity. Moreover, the rules are to be implemented on the basis of a simple affidavit sworn by the parents who are to "intimate" the school on any changes in the "single status of the girl child/children in the family" (single status???). Will this self regulation help?And the last mentioned won't serve much purpose since the 871 Kendriya Vidyalayas are already subsidized and AFAIK, the are the only government run CBSE schools in the country.

And as Mrs.YGP (for all you readers from outside Chennai, she heads a group of well known schools affiliated to the CBSE in Chennai) says, this will cause just the opposite effect than it is intended, i.e. it will increase discrimination. She raises a valid point that even if there is just one eligible girl student per class in her school(s), her organization can afford to waive the fees for the estimated total of 140 girl students.

Or maybe a school like Padma Seshadri can, but forcing private schools to do something like this which goes against their business model is not the hallmark of a free market economy that our country claims to be. The government is essentially trying to be a welfare state without the money infusion from its side.

But who the CBSE trying to help? The middle and upper middle classes? Are these the target demographic for all the anti-female foeticide propaganda? Is this community group that accounts for majority of female school drop-outs? The answers for the last two questions are definitely "No" which is why the second point that I raised above, i.e about the non-CBSE schools, particularly the ones run by the government itself, is extremely pertinent.

I am sure everybody would love to get something for free, but was this something that was asked for? Is the CBSE trying desperately to prove that there *IS* something called a free lunch, after all?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Earthquake Relief Day

Click hereA couple of weeks ago, on the 8th of October, people in areas comprising parts of Pakistan and the disputed area called Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, were the unfortunate and unwilling receiptant of an act of God (for the non-believer, an earthquake caused by tectonic plate movement).

And this was around the same time when the Indian blogosphere (as the world seems to call us) was standing united behind Rashmi and Gaurav. Caught as we were in the whole maelstorm, it seems that we were unware of the enormity of the ordeals faced by the unfortunates in our own backyard. But soon we realized that we had been unwittingly brought together in time to be used for much bigger causes as well.

There is a line of thought that the world has been hit by so many such disasters in the span of a year (the Tsunami, the hurricanes in the US, the rains in different parts of India and now this earthquake) that people have started feeling what has been termed "disaster fatigue" and that is one more reason why any additional help to pass the message along would be appreciated.

We have been inspired by international blogs like Instapundit that raised a lot of money for Katrina relief efforts. The spark was lit by Anna at Sepia Mutiny who highlighted the contribution to the earthquake victims made by the Tsunami survivors in the Andamans. Ash and Desipundit have taken it forward and have called for today to be observed as Blog Quake Day - a coming together again, this time to raise money for the people affected by the earthquake on the 8th of October. Desipundit has a list of aid organizations that you can donate to. As Ash says, every single dollar contributed, will go a long way in helping these people rebuild their lives.

So today is Blog Quake Day. If you are a blogger, please post a similar message on your blog. If you don't have one, pass the message along over your company bulletin boards or mailing lists. And more importantly, please do contribute to the cause.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Subs with a stranger

Another of those 55 word shorties..

Sitting two seats away in the departure lounge, he felt threatened as she told him, a complete stranger, all about her trip.

Then she mentioned her “husband and two kids”.

At ease, he soon warmed up to her over foot-longs and soda.

He had concluded that a married desi woman would never hit on strangers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Three Hi-Fives to IMDb.com

One of my favorite websites, IMDb turned 15 yesterday (thanx to BB for the pointer). And I can't think of commemorating the 15th birthday of a trivia quizzer's delight with anything other a small trivia quiz. Feel free to use IMDb.com (and NOT Google) to find the answers. That is what it is there for. And since I have disabled comments on this post, do email me the answers if you want to. I shall post the answers anyways in a few days along with your scores too.

Updates: Answers added under each question and comments enabled!


The (Three) Hi-Fives to IMDb.com Trivia Quiz

1. On the 12th of January, 1992, Bret "the Hitman" Hart & The Legion Of Doom defeated The Mountie & The Natural Disasters in a 6-Man Tag-Team Match. Later the same day, Bret "the Hitman" Hart defeated The Mountie to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship. But's thats all WWF trivia and though I hate the WWF/WWE, the trivia was solely included to catch the attention of a certain Tired Mind! This has nothing to do with the actual question, which is - What came to life at a plant in Urbana, Illinois on this very same day, i.e. the 12th of January, 1992?
Ans: HAL, the computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey

2. This actress won her only Oscar so far in the Best Actress Best Supporting Actress category beating the likes of Judy Davis and Vanessa Redgrave, leading to the spread of an urban legend that she was given the award in error after the presenter misread the winner's name on the card. Name this actress who won the Oscar for the Best Actress Best Supporting Actress, playing a car crazy expert witness for the defence in a first degree murder case. (Thanks for the correction George. Dunno how I muffed that one up!)
Ans: Marissa Tomei. My Cousin Vinny, the movie that she won the Oscar was a RIOT!

3. In 1993, the law firm of Masry & Vititoe filed a class-action lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric Company, resulting in a $333 million dollar settlement and after some years, an acclaimed movie. Name the movie.
Ans: Erin Brockovich

4. In 1966, a mongrel named Pickles found the Jules Rimet Trophy that had been stolen earlier. I don't know if Pickles got a lifetime's supply of doggie treats, but Willie Fulgear did get rewards for a similar deed. The 61 year old salvage worker received $50,000, two event tickets and a invitation to a post-event party. So, 34 years after Pickle's discovery, what did Willie Fulgear find?
Ans: He "found" all but 3 of the 55 Oscar statuettes that were stolen from the loading dock of the shipping firm contracted to ship them from Chicago to LA. He later claimed that most the reward was stolen from his apartment!


Source: Matt Slocum/AP
(Source: Matt Slocum/AP, via msnbc.com)

5. In 1977, the man in the picture above had been working as an orderly at London’s King’s College Hospital when he was featured in a newspaper article about men with large feet, which caught the eye of the producer of the movie “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” who cast him for the role of the Minotaur. But just about a year later, he became more famous after playing a 8 foot tall, 200 year-old interplanetary traveller (who later finds refuge in a planet inhabited by 2 foot tall natives). You don't need to name the guy. Just name the character, whose name seems to have been inspired by the Russian word for dog.
Ans: Chewbacca from Star Wars! The guy in the picture is Peter Mayhew. The picture was taken in October when he finally became an American citizen, a few days before this quiz was originally posted.

Friday, October 14, 2005

LMB Watch

Dev is a good friend of mine from undergrad. He's been on my blogroll for a long time now, but its only today that this link on his side bar caught my eye. Unbeknownst to me, he has been maintaining this blog since March and the subject is hilarious.

Ads such as this and this would look familiar to most of us and are the subjects of Dev's Lower My Bills Ad Watch (LMB Ad Watch!). His motivation? Go to the blog. It's definitely worth a few laughs. Is it a coincidence that the only commenters on this blog seem to be the spammers?

Dev, And you thought you were poking fun at them? They get you in the end, man.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Free speech and Lies in Advertising - The IIPM story

Yesterday, one of the inspirations behind this blog, Gaurav Sabnis resigned his position with a blue chip employer after facing pressure from a client of his employer to remove posts from his personal blog.

The employer - Currently irrelevant to the issue

The client - IIPM!

The posts - The fraud that is IIPM, More about IIPM

The inspiration behind the posts - The Truth About IIPM's Tall Claims

Gaurav was originally served legal summons over email from IIPM. The email claimed that it had been "judicially notarized and has been tagged to validate receipt and response". Later, IIPM seemed to indulge in some bit of arm twisting by threatening Gaurav's employers with a public burning of the laptops "provided at IIPM's cost" to its students, if the employer (who manufactures the laptops mentioned) did not convince Gaurav to back down. Gaurav took a very honorable way out and resigned rather than compromise on his beliefs and also to make sure his employer did not have to be a part of this ugliness.

And today, Varna, another blogger who had posted earlier on the free speech angle of this issue was issued with the same identically worded summons.

This matter has been taken up by the desi blogosphere with Desipundit being in the forefront. With all this buzz, Amit Varma's post on the issue was Instapundit-ed yesterday and has been taken international with a opinion piece on Global Voices and on group blogs like Sepia Mutiny.

It has been learnt that at least one overseas office of IIPM (mentioned on their website) could be a sham. And it is also well known that IIPM was taken off at least one B-School ranking study due to probable fudging of data that it made available to the agency that was doing the ranking. As a result, upon a much closer look, the fine print on their ads makes for an interesting read.

Sadly, the MSM seems to have turned a blind eye to this. Are they afraid of taking on the single largest advertiser (at least in academic sector) in the country? An acquaintance who works for a major MSM organization in India tells me that the MSM won't step in unless one of the parties involved approaches them. Essentially they would wanna protect their interests againt a possible "all is well between us and its the media that blew this up" kinda turn around from the parties involved, which would definitely not show the MSM in good light. But if at all the print media does not wanna alienate IIPM, what are the TV channels doing. Already one of them has been dragged into the scene (almost unnoticed, but anyhow). So would we see any action from them?

The least we can do is to goad the MSM into reacting. If you are a blogger and you have little or no knowledge of this issue, please go on to Desipundit and read all about the story that has brought the desi blogosphere together. And post at least a small note about the issue on your own blog. Already "IIPM" has steadily risen to the top of the Technorati search, thanks to the mentions from tens of bloggers, both in India and worldwide. It won't hurt if these numbers swell.

And even if you don't have a blog, pass on the message to everyone around you. This is ultimately an issue of free speech. And as I commented elsewhere, the dance has begun and though the first punch was thrown by IIPM, it remains to be seen if it has the legs to last the distance.

As a blogger, I have to salute Gaurav for standing up to his beliefs. Kudos dude. And kudos are due to the team at Desipundit for taking on the fight and bringing the desi blogosphere together. And Varna, we are with you too. You go gal!

And thanks are due to Rashmi and JAM Mag for throwing some light into otherwise murky waters at IIPM!

Friday, October 07, 2005

The search

My second 55 word shorty. And this one hits pretty close.

"Overqualified"!!

"Experienced candidates only"!!

"No H1s! Citizens & Green Cards only"!!

Such lines soon seemed passe.

Since he was sometimes faking, not even "Lacks communication skills" shocked him.

But "Eager & enthusiastic" ??

This time, he was speechless. Now, he had heard it all!

And at 27, the search for the elusive first paycheck continued....

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Weekend post

Just back after a weekend trip to the New England area - a 6 hour plus drive back to the First State. My buddy from undergrad, G, wanted to move his stuff from here in Delaware to his home base in Quincy, Massachusetts (wow, actually spelt it right in the first try.. well almost, not counting the two extra vowels!). On Wednesday, when he asked me if I could drive down, I agreed almost immediately, but later was in some doubt with some other issues threatening to throw cold water.

But was praying I could go, since a visit to the immediate environs of Boston, threw up some interesting possibilities, including possibly meeting a couple of bloggers (Raapi, I knew you, KSP and Badri in Shanmugha, so meeting you in Chicago did not count as a blogger meet).

And before you start asking, well, the last mentioned did not happen. An ever present worry that the fracas at the George Washington Bridge that extended our Friday night drive by atleast 4 hours would cause similar delays during our return was one major reason. Another reason was the fact that I did not do my usual "I am taking charge now and you do what I say" control freak routine that I do sometimes, particularly when it comes to organizing a trip, moving houses or packing bags! It would not have worked with G ;)

But I got to speak to two of my favorite bloggers - Megha and Gabby! And that definitely amounts to something, if not everything that I wanted to do this weekend.

So, otherwise, G and me actually did nothing. We looked at a couple of apartments for him and walked alongside the shoreline at Quincy in the evening on Saturday. And I got to look at the Boston skyline from afar. Other than that we did nothing, but laze around. Oh, I finally got to watch Cliffhanger, a flick that I have wanted to watch (for no major reason) for years now.

Anyways, we got so worried about the drive back that we decided to get out a couple of hours earlier than planned and that depending on how the drive was going to be during the first hour or so, stop at Providence for lunch and a stroll. And we managed to do just that (the George Washington bridge took just 5 minutes to cross on the return leg) and am now back in Delaware.

And this link is to atone for posting something about nothing this week!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Judgements

The glass – exquisite.
The drink – virgin.

The flashes blind,
clouding your vision.
Welcome to the new page 3,
but hey, that's on page 1.

The glass – sculpted.
The drink – dark.

The murmuring’s senseless,
and their tone’s judgemental.
Their looks are scornful,
but do they even care?

The glass – clear
The drink – cola.

You are the “every person”,
the girl next door.
To them you are nothing,
but an alcoholic par none.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Desi Oscar fever again!

The Oscars are exactly 4 months away and its already Oscar fever in India. This year it's Paheli!. I haven't seen the movie, though loved the soundtrack, at least most of it. MM Kreem's (aka Keeravani aka Maragadhamani) package was a mix of soothing melodies (Dheere Jalna, Khaali Hai) and peppy numbers (Phir Raat Kati), but some told me that at least a couple of numbers were rehashed from his own Telugu soundtracks. But that is not surprising considering that he has been known to do that a lot in the past.

Anyways, coming back to Paheli, it is interesting to see the competition that Paheli beat out to get the nod. Rediff mentions this -

The other films considered for the nomination were Mangal Pandey, Veer-Zaara, Iqbal, Swades, Parineeta, Page 3, Black, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Sachein (Tamil), Anniyan (Telugu), Uttarayan (Marathi), Achuvante Anna (Malayalam), Graham (Telugu), and Kadal (Tamil).

I have a couple of issues. Notice the names in bold. And I saw at least parts of those three movies and it suffices if I say that I pressed "stop" even before 15 minutes were up. And this is not a question of personal preference and Sachein won't figure even in the list of top 10 Tam movies of the year, if you were to ask any random Tam movie watcher. Similarly for Anniyan and Veer Zaara, again no comments. The rest, I have no issues with, since I haven't seen any of those movies, apart from Kadhal. Speaking of Kadhal, it made me cringe and squirm. But I have to agree that it was one of the better movies (in terms of quality and originality) made in Chennai this past year.

And if you want to know who was responsible for Paheli being chosen, read on here... (Hat tip: Amit Varma). My only grouse is that Paheli takes its premise from a novel that Mani Kaul had already adapted for an on-screen version, close to 35 years ago! Not that Amol Palekar does not deserve this, but I'd have preferred that the nomination went to a movie with a fresh screen play.

I will end with a recommendation - The sound track of Achuvinte Amma (Rediff screwed up the name badly) by Ilayaraja. Check it out! Found it last week, when i was looking to listen to some older numbers from Chithram, thanks to the discussion on Lazy's post about Selvaraghavan.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Art Appreciation for Adults

Sauntering into Tim’s room, 14-year-old Ron saw the words “- An art form” on the partially hidden TV-screen. Soon, he was throwing up the sandwich that he had gobbled earlier.
Years and 2000 films later, looking at his hirsute pot-belly, the blond writhing under him with the camera whirring, he realized that pornography WAS art!


Written as part of the 55-word story tag from Dhammo.
Megha "considered it sweet revenge" when she passed it on to Dhammo. But I am not someone prone to vengeance and so I am leaving it up to anyone who wants to attempt it. But I do hope that people like Dumbs, Shwe and Hathirpithi will try. Mebbe the likes of Vindy and Praveen might even do a humorous tale. But I am tagging no one!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Currently Testing - Yahoo Mail Beta



Currently Testing - Yahoo Mail - Beta Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 16, 2005

A new Phoenix?

Another Ashes series has ended. Last time around, the picture that lingered was of Steve Waugh stroking the last ball of the second day at Sydney to the boundary to equal Bradman’s century tally. But two years later, it is the sight of Flintoff slurring and tottering at Trafalgar Square and Vaughan commenting about some of his mate's lack of sleep to Tony Blair, that will stay with me for sometime. The English, by all accounts, are still having a party, four days after their victory. And quite rightly so, for it has been a series of nail biters. Warne’s stunning wicket tally, Hoggard’s cover drive, Simon Jones's reverse swing, Geraint Jones tumbling catch off Kasprowicz, KP’s butter fingers, his towering sixes and last, but the most important of all, Flintoff! What a series!

So did Australia deserve to lose? Yes they did. England was the better team. But, on hindsight, I think all of us had placed Australia in a higher plane than they deserved. Sambit Bal sums it up perfectly when he writes -

The Australians have been hustled by Shoaib Akhtar and Shane Bond before, but they have had easy runs to pick at the other end. With England, there was no getting away. Harmison pinged them; Hoggard kept them tentative; Flintoff challenged them incessantly; and Simon Jones kept them pinned to the crease.

Consider this English bowling attack that showed its mastery of a previously reviled Oriental art, four bowlers all of whom prised out batsmen almost at will and another whose efforts with the ball were overshadowed by his batting! That is something that Australia has not faced in the recent past. Then Bal follows this argument with a comparison that has stayed with Australia through their run of successes these past few years, but this time with a difference.

The big unanswered question during the West Indian reign in the late-'70s and mid-'80s was how great the West Indian batsmen really were. After all they never had to test their skills against their own bowlers. After they have been put through the wringer, we are now able to venture a guess about this Australian batting line-up.

Ok, I think the caliber of at least ONE all time great is being questioned, but nevertheless the question seems to be valid.

But Australia have been barracked unfairly from some quarters too. Another Cricinfo column, this time by Anil Nair talks about the air of invincibility that the Aussies bought with them when they landed in England, but seemed to have left it behind in their hotel rooms when they made it on to the field. However, sample this -

To have had only nine debutants in five years and 68 Tests - contrast it with England's 26 in 75 Tests for roughly the same period - speaks of a set-it-in-stone syndrome at work, at once formulaic complacency and an attempt at myth-making.

As far as I know, this fact, in the past has been thrown around as one of the reasons for Australia’s awesome run. And suddenly the next day it is slammed as shortsightedness? And the same actions that were billed as “motivational” are now being slammed as the necessary rituals of a cricket team bent on creating an aura around itself in the manner of the Chicago Bulls. That is something I don’t understand.

There are usually two ways to categorize the positive result from a contest involving two equally matched participants (this series apparently was, if you consider the margin of the results)
  1. A win resulting out of a team raising its game utterly dominating the otherwise equal team
  2. A win resulting out of one good team playing below potential and imploding in the face of good opposition
We all know which team's results typically gels with the second description. And when it comes to the 2005 Ashes, I think it was the first case all the way, the poor form of some of the Aussies notwithstanding. Hence this is not the end of the road for the Aussies. And I am of the firm opinion that no team can be labeled No.1 unless they play well all the time, or at least most of the time, home or way. Australia has done that consistently these past years and they are still the best team in the world. As for who is the second best, of course it is England.

Last year, just after the Aussie tour of India, I got into an argument with a friend who said that India was the second best team in the world, but I quietly pointed out to him England’s record over the past few years starting from 2001 when they went to Pakistan. Still he did not see eye to eye with me and pointed out that India had drawn the series in Australia. I think we were at a stalemate then with neither of us willing to let go. But now, he will have to change his opinion.

So, IMHO, all that England has to do to become the best team in the world is to play consistently during their sub-continental trips in the next few months and get to Australia and at least draw the series next year. As far as India is concerned, their first priority is to win more than one test match every away series and at least one series outside the subcontinent. Now if that is not stating the obvious, then what is?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Book blogging

First I did not know if I was the only one. So I refrained from mentioning it publicly. Now that I know I AM , DEFINITELY , NOT , THE , ONLY , ONE who was approached (boy, ain't I full of it?), I decided to share this with you all. (Note to myself: DO NOT talk about this blog to that hot gal in the adjoining office for the next few months!!)

Last week, one of the marketing managers from Scribner & Touchstone (part of the Simon & Schuster publishing house) left a comment on this post. In case you do not wanna read the comment, the gist is this. She offered me "review copies" of these two books and asked me to get in touch with her if I was interested. I replied to the comment with a short email and she just asked for my address to send these books, which I did immediately. Couple of days later, there it was, sitting in the lobby, a package with my name on it. Opening the package, I found this letter addressed to "Readers and Bloggers" and contained among others, this line -

Blogs and online magazines have become such a wonderful vehicle for the sharing of ideas and the spreading of culture, and we hold your opinions in very high regard.

It is a fact (and fittingly, a nice bit of trivia too) that the revered English journo E.W. Swanton was denied a chance to cover the 1932 Ashes series because his rival reporters got ahead of him in the line for the only telephone to report that Messrs. Holmes and Sutcliffe had scored 555 runs between them and had broken the world record for an opening stand at Leyton. His story reached late. While chastizing him for this, his newspaper decided that he was probably not the man for it and sent their tennis writer to cover what has since then been known as the Bodyline tour. And it has been said, in hindsight that if Swanton had been in Australia, his reports would have been forceful enough to convince the MCC (or the British government) to act tough with Jardine.

But I think that if Michael Vaughan was to do a Jardine today, Swanton would not be missed (no offense to the likes of Roebuck, Haigh and rest). The likes of Rick Eyre, Jagadish & Ganesh, Scott Wickstein and Will Luke (maybe even me) would do just fine. Wth MSM being what it has become, we bloggers are the new-age freelance journos and the writers. So, in this age of MediaNet and paid news coverage, it is no surprise that a publishing house such as Simon and Schuster (itself a part of the ViaCom media conglomerate, just like MTV, CBS, UPN etc.) has taken bloggers into confidence to pass on the impartial word.

Coming back to the books, I had read about Vikas Swarup's Q&A in The Hindu almost six months ago and being a quizzer myself, I was intrigued by the plot line. I have also had some personal experiences, that enabled me to relate to the subject in a convoluted manner (as you would probably see later). And Untouchables by Narendra Jadhav is coming as an incentive which I gladly accepted. And as Patrix mentions, none of us who has received these books are under any obligation to actually review the two books. Our brief is to just pass the message along, which I'm gladly doing. My thoughts about the books will follow, provided circumstances allow. But that's probably only after I finish my second reading of HP-6!

(P.S. Click on the book covers to see more info about the books!)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The folly of comparison

I found (via this week's Bharateeya Blog Mela post at Harini Calamur's POV) that a number of Indian bloggers have taken offense at the tone of this Boing Boing post titled Katrina: whew, here comes India to save us, at last! and have come out with strongly worded rejoinders. The Boing Boing post essentially mirrors a post titled Thank Goodness, Here Come the Brave and Generous Indians to Rescue Louisiana (check out the "mood" and the "now playing" sections on this post!) which seems to project the classic (anachronistic) stereotype of the brown man and even manages to refer to imagery such as Gunga Din! While Uma and the others who have been driven to rage by the sarcasm of these posts, maybe we should stop to think whether some of us (i.e. Indians) are guilty of the same crime.

The most forwarded email among Indians this past week, seems to be the one that compares the aftermath of the cloudburst in Mumbai last month with that of Hurricane Katrina. It starts by giving you all kinds of numbers about the two disasters and ends with (what seemed to me) a sarcastic take on the customary labels that the media and the people have for long, affixed to the US and India, i.e superpower and third world country! Now, I got the forward twice and instantly relegated it to my Trash folder. But later, someone else at my workplace mentioned the forward and made some statements that mirrored that last sarcastic footnote that I have mentioned. I am not someone who gets my head hot over such things as forwards, but I got into an argument because the insinuations in this one just seemed plain offensive. Or is it just me?

A google search for the exact phrase "New Orleans vs. Mumbai" turns up 95 results, including a few blogs. Is it possible that these American bloggers who have ridiculed India's offer of help were motivated to post this way by these comparisons that we Indians have been making through such forwards? How many of us Indians, particularly the ones who have not seen the imagery from New Orleans 24 hours a day on CNN and MSNBC over these past 10 days, know about the scale of the disaster and the reasons behind those numbers that have been compared? For a description of the effects of Katrina, check out New Orleans resident Maitri V-R's VatulBlog which right now offers Daily updates from and for residents and friends of the Crescent City!

Sure, mistakes were made in Louisiana. The levees in New Orleans were (apparently) designed only hurricanes much less severe than Katrina. And how many of us know that most (if not all) of New Orleans is below sea level, as opposed to certain areas in Mumbai? And that the hurricane caused breaches in the levees and flood the neighborhoods with as much as 12 feet of water?

I am sure people like Amit and Dilip who saw the effects of the tsunami in India would say the same thing about mistakes made by the administration in that situation. But after December 26, the disaster response in India is probably much better now, because the shortcomings have all been pointed out! When disasters happen for the first time, be it the tsunami or the cloudburst or Hurricane Katrina, they HAVE TO BE attributed to that cause that is often termed as an "Act of God", which is NOT a religious stance, but just a term that refers to unknown and unforeseen reasons.

What's key is that we learn from mistakes that we make. Do we gain by pointing fingers and drawing parallels, and that too, seemingly with glee? It is a point to ponder! Accepted that the people in the Western Hemisphere need to get their facts straight about the "mystical" East, but do we have to add fuel to the fire with such comparisons, particularly in these testing times?
So, please stop forwarding such emails and please stop the trash talk about the difference in casualty figures. For some people I know, that seems to be a thing to be proud of. But at this age when borders are disappearing, that mentality is itself inhuman!

(Disclaimer: Some of the numbers quoted with reference to Katrina might be erroneous, but the motivation of this post is to stop comparisons at this time of need!)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The life of a fringe professional cricketer and related news

If you talked cricket with me during the early days of India's 2004 tour of Australia, just before the Test matches, you would have heard/seen me argue tooth and nail for Sadagopan Ramesh's inclusion as India's opener. But by the end of the tour, I had to grudgingly agree that the man who took Ramesh's (then) rightful place at the top of the order was the calm eye to the hurricane that was Virendra Sehwag.

As an opener, I still think he did nothing wrong in Australia, though so many people seemed to criticize him. I maintain that as a classical test opener, he did what was required. If you'd look carefully at the series stats and do some minor math, you would find that, on an average per inning, he played just 6 balls lesser than his partner. And the 20 minute difference in duration in their innings can be explained by the fact that the number three batsman was Dravid who'd have probably hogged some of the strike settling in. So essentially what I am trying to say is just this - he managed to hold one end up while Sehwag went bonkers on the other end, while scoring 40 percent of what Sehwag did and staying for the most part of Sehwag's innings. And in no point of time did you hear that Sehwag got bogged down due to his partner's stonewalling (though I'm not sure we will ever hear that statement about Sehwag, ever!).

I usually back a player (or a team), through thick and thin, but in this case what has happened is that I have had to put Ramesh behind me and that has not happened often. And now when this guy is outside the limelight, I want to do something to highlight what he has been doing.

Akash Chopra is currently in England playing for a minor team in Stoke-on-Trent and has been blogging too, if you'd call his columns (hat tip to Prem Panicker) that! By all accounts these are not ghost written and present a rare insight into a cricketer's mind. As the footnote to one of his early posts reads, he writes about life in England for Indian professionals (cricketers, that is), who have for years made the trips to the Old Blighty make some much needed money, something that they'd find hard to come by when not playing in India. And coming as it does from someone on the fringes of selection, the columns make for interesting reads. I have added his column to my browser favorites and though the summer is fast coming to an end, even in England, I think I will still go back and look at the archives to read about what he has been doing these past few months.

On a slightly related note (adding to my twin posts on May 15th and May 21st of this year), it turns out that Rahul Mehra and Shantanu Sharma have filed yesterday (September 7th) with the Delhi High Court, a set of suggestions for the BCCI to implement for improving cricket in India. Originally, this was scheduled to happen on the 25th of May and though it seems to have been delayed, it is certainly welcome progress in the proceedings that were set rolling more than 5 years ago on April 20, 2000! What will now ideally happen that the Delhi High Court will formally instruct the BCCI to react to this statement and inform the court what it intends to do to act on these suggestions. I am watching this situation with interest. If you are interested, you can read the complete text of Rahul Mehra's email to Prem Panicker here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

310g Day?


I first thought that this was another of those tags. And then, just now I came across this page! So knowing that I technically have 3 2 hours left, I am just gonna go ahead and tell you about 5 bloggers who I read or atleast check everyday to see if they have posted something. As per the norm, I have tried to choose 5 bloggers on my blogroll who haven't had the spotlight shine on them so far today (I think they do deserve much more than just a mention on my blog today). So, without much ado, here goes.


Alpha : The jaunty Queen of the desi blogosphere courtesy her win at the 2003 Indibloggies (Best Humorous Indiblog) . She has been described in the past, as Lalithaji (of the old Surf fame). But she seems to take it in her stride and she actually once called me Ravi beta (but I think made a wisecrack about Surf first). She never fails to bring the house down with her posts and her comments section is always a laugh-riot in the making. Goes on a hiatus atleast once a year (I think she has had two long breaks so far in the 2 years she has blogged) and when this happens, she has every single one of her readers clamoring for her re-appearance. She is currently on an encore and I hope she atleast does a Sholay, if not a Mouse Trap with this one.

Guru Subramanian a.k.a LazyGeek: Twice in a row winner (2003 and 2004) at the Indibloggies (Best Humanities IndiBlog a.ka. Best Media Indiblog) . We seem to share a lot of interests (Thalaivar padams, Maniratnam movies etc.) and his blog seems to be a meeting point and battleground for Tamil movie fans who seem to belong to one camp or the other. Often his readers battle using his comments section, on their own planks, be it Mani Ratnam vs Bala and Rajini vs Kamal and he graciously stands aside, never playing the school master. Curiously ( he denies that it is intentional) almost every single post about Rajini on his blog always follows one about Kamal (and vice versa). And judging by the rate and variety of his posts, he is not the lazy geek he claims to be.

George Thomas: I have mentioned him at least once previously and will do so again. Probably the most under-rated blogger ever and that is because, IMHO, most of his posts would go over people's heads. In short, he is a fellow quizzer, movie buff and die hard RDB groupie who never ceases to amaze me. His blog is one of the reasons this blog exists at all. Probably the most erudite, non-professional (won't insult him by using the term armchair) movie critic that I know. Seems to watch the most unknown (to most of us) movies and his movie reccomendations could be cast in stone. Watch (and listen) on George!

Vinod G a.k.a Vindy: I have met him in Chennai at the QFI and never did I realise that he could express things the way he does on his blog. Funny guy. Again a fellow quizzer and Thalaivar fan (even our Yahoo addy's are similar) who actually had a countdown to the 100th day of Chandramukhi on his blog. His comic takes on the serious-est of things are legendary, and he does ruffle a few feathers along the way. But he does not mind and few wisecracks later, manages to soothe the frayed tempers and he is rolling again. Vinod machi, weight-a kaami!.

Bharath: In a short span of 15 months (much more if you were to count the guest peices on The Hindu, Rediff and other places), this dude has managed to write so much about things that each of us go through in day to day life that I can't express cogently, ever!. Academics, work, movies, name it, he has a stand. He is opinionated, but the reasoning behind the opinion is always in plainview. He's made me THINK lately and that is why I am shouting out to him too. Way to go, Bharath.

I might have chosen to mention only 5 of you bloggers, but the truth is that each entry on my blogroll sees action from the right button of my mouse (*I use Firefox and use the right button to open each link in a new tab*) multiple times every day, be it to read new posts or to exchange comments. So this shout actually goes to each and every one of you on my blogroll and then to some more who don't find places there yet, solely because I am a lazy ass!

So all of you celebrate today. You make my day everyday by telling me something interesting about the world around me and sometimes I wonder about what I used to do before I ever knew that there was something called a Weblog. Spread the love, guys and BLOG ON!

Monday, August 29, 2005

When's Yuvan spinning that shit up for real?

I am currently listening to this (thanks to Nithya's recco for the whole album, which I strongly second). Personally speaking, YSR seems to be good at this genre. Another of his earlier numbers, this one from Raam, was impressive too. For some reason, I listened to Boom Boom only when I watched the movie and it did not stick. But I saw the movie twice on successive days and soon I was humming it all day. Ok, parts of the song did make me cringe - especially the references to Britney Spears, Norah Jones and George Michael, but it helped that the song was picturized very well and that made me react positively.

Nithya says she does not exactly care for Yuvan's voice usually and yeah, I agree to this too. His screeching is definitely cringe worthy (case at point 18 Vayathil in Kadhal Konden, Idhu Kadhala from Thulluvatho Ilamai and the yodelling in Nizhanil Nijamum from Raam). But his voice is unusual and suits these two numbers, possessing Shaggy-esque tonal traits, if you ask (the "inexperienced in hip hop or any other kind of non-Indian music") me.

I remember reading sometime ago (on one of The Hindu's Take Two series of articles?) that he was working on a Tamil hip hop album. Going by these two singles, that album could set trends.

Hey yo, Yuvan, you there? Yeah? Spin that shit up... soon!

Monday, August 22, 2005

China and India - What you need to know now

I was (in some ways, I still am) in the midst of a small blogging hiatus forced by a lot of issues when this caught my eye. Saturday being sort of auspicious, I and a couple of friends decided to drive down to the Siva Vishnu Temple in Maryland. And later in the day, we decided to take a small detour on the way back and explore the sights of the Baltimore Inner Harbor along Pratt Street. Stepping out of ESPNZone, we decided to peek into the adjacent Barnes and Noble and get a cappuchino at the Starbucks inside.

Standing in the queue I came upon a copy of the BusinessWeek and instantly picked it up to read while waiting for my cuppa. The special double issue dated August 22nd, but going by the quality of the copy that I got, seems to have already been well thumbed through and in addition to the copy that i chanced upon at the Starbuck counter, the store had just one more copy. But this issue seems to have gone under the radar as far the desi blogosphere is concerned.

As the cover indicates, the issue is all about the rise of India and China with the tagline - What you need to know now. The issue covers a wide range of subjects that are actually quite well known to anyone in tune with the recent business trends. The coverage seems to be from three different levels – a neutral academic’s outlook, a close look from ground zero (in India and China) and at last from the US’s point of view as the “affected party”.

From the desi standpoint, among the major pieces written from China and India, is a success story from Wipro – a feature on how Wipro’s medical claims BPO has adopted the Toyota Production System (complete with flashing lights to warn managers / supervisors of a potential bottleneck) to great success. The description of this system (which has been so successful in manufacturing) adapted to back office operations might sound straight from an Orwellian scenario of indentured labor, but the system is effective and has proven to increase employee morale and esteem significantly. I had heard of such a system in an insurance company’s operation here in the US, but this was an eye opener. Accompanying this story is a slide-show, a look into a particular Wipro BPO’s employee’s daily life.

Rounding out the issue are a pair of articles, one looking at the whole outsourcing issue from the viewpoint of a laid off Maytag factory worker and another outlining what the US needs to do to cope up with the changing landscape.

Overall this double issue is loaded with feel-good stories with a few cautionary tales (like the one about basic education in India). Compelling to say the least, but the horror stories like those of spiking stress levels among the workers in these new age enterprises, seem to have been brushed under the carpet.

I am still not done with all the articles, so I shall end here. You can check out the rest, here.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Fiddler on the second floor!

I touched a violin again after almost 8 years on yesterday! Last time I remember, we were at CIT for Harmony-97 when I borrowed a friend's violin (who was there to compete in the classical music events) and made a fool of myself by offering to play for the other guys. This time, I had no audience and I let my hair down, well sorta. I should have realised that I was not exactly playing well, when about a minute into the exercise, M excused herself from the hall to get some work done. But my senses were clouded by the exhilaration of playing after a long time.

First, in order to get the tuning right (N, who owned the violin had not played for a couple of years at least), I tried to play Jana Gana Mana and it was not too much trouble. I seemed to have got it right as soon as I was able fix the tuning. Thus emboldened, I tried to play the simple Vara Veena and nailed it (without too much improv) in the 5th try. Next I tried Ra Ra Venu and gave up halfway when my fingers refused to move as fast as my mind willed them too. I thought mebbe the dryness on my finger tips were the cause, but since N was not at home, I did not want to do anything, especially since I was playing without her permission (she did not mind when I told her later). So I tried to play something slower, another geetham - Mandhara Dhara Re and I found that I actually sucked. And try as much as I did, I couldn't get my fingers to move to the tune of Tulasi Dhala! So on the whole, it was a downhill journey.

But the future is not completely dark. I could come to some conclusions pretty easily, once I put the violin down after 15 minutes.
  1. I haven't exactly lost the feel of it, but I am not completely there either..
  2. I should probably start playing again, now that I don't have to choose between the violin and the cricket bat.
  3. My fingers are longer now.
Suddenly I feel the urge to get back and play the violin again. I realise, now that cricket and music are not competing for my time, I might just be able to play without worrying that my friends are having fun without me. This was mainly the case when I learnt it while at school. Usually my classes were scheduled by my mom who wanted to use it as a tool to keep me from getting into trouble (apparently cricket was "trouble") and soon it became a case of me being mentally absent while being physically present! I actually have had the whole story of my violin lessons as a (unfinished) draft for quite sometime now. Maybe one of these days, I will post it.

And I should probably ask my people to take my violin out of storage at home in Chennai and get it serviced or something. My mom would certainly be happy.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pride and Prejudice!

Racial disharmony seems to have been the flavor of the times during these past few months. Sunil Laxman wrote about his personal experiences sometime ago. I wanted to post on it first, saying that in my four years here in the US, I haven't personally experienced anything like this (even at the height of the post 9/11 xenophobia), but for some reason the post did not materialize. However I did forget that I had been living in idyllic Athens for most of these four years.

My views started changing when a couple of weeks ago, Meghna and her roomies were yelled at by a passerby because they were "Indian". She also adds that a few days earlier, someone that she was talking about their used car, hung up the phone on her after she replied in the affirmative to the question - "Are you Indian?"! Apparently he mentioned that he wouldn't sell his car to an Indian. But like Sunil, she feels no anger. She says she just pities such people, perhaps on their misguided thoughts, I think.

And then, last week I joined the club too. Twice, I was subjected to a few choice slurs from people driving by as I was waiting to cross the road! I observed that in both incidents last week the parties dishing out the abuse seemed to be teenagers. Were they drunk? I don't think so, since they occured in the middle of the afternoon. Perhaps, the classic case of the devil inside an idle mind, with schools being still closed for the summer? I don't know..

But it would suffice to say that these has been one of those few moments of my life that I'd would rather forget and hope that in the broader sense, the world's much better than these few people.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Essential ARR collection a.k.a ARR for Dummies

For a long time, I have wondered what I'd do if I met someone (an Indian that is) who did not know who ARR was. Every single time I played pool at the Students Center at univ, I decided that the next time I was there, I'd get a ARR compilation for them to play on the sound system to substitute for the usual hip hop/R&B fare. But that "next time" never came. And then a few months ago, I started making this list, a sort of "ARR for Dummies". It is quite different from what I had in mind earlier. This one is solely for the non ARR camp from a hardcore ARR fan!

For someone like me, a top ten ARR list would never do justice. So I have made this a two disc collection! The list has a lot of usual suspects (if you are Tam) from 1991 to 2004, but mostly the list comprises of all those gems that, according to me, slipped under the radar. To hear these songs, just go on to ARR's page @ Raaga.com (except for the one's from Andhimandharai) and click on the particular movie. So here goes.

The Essential ARR Collection - Disc 1
  1. Parkathe Parkathe - Minmini (Gentleman, 1993) [Check out the catchy whistling / flute / organ]
  2. July Madham Vanthal - SPB, Chitra (Pudhiya Mugam, 1993)
  3. Thee Thee - Carolene (Thiruda Thiruda, 1993) [The picturization of this track rocked, with rapid shots with a moving camera in tune with the song's rhythm!]
  4. Putham Puthu Bhoomi - Mano, Chitra (Thiruda Thiruda, 1993) [Mano's booming voice singing 'Sondha Aagayam Vendum' still raises goose bumps!]
  5. Yedhukku Pondatti - Shahul Hameed, TK. Kala, Sunandha (Kizhakku Cheemayilae, 1993) [I know this is a strange choice, but its a personal favorite, slightly risque lyrics not withstanding!]
  6. Uyirum Neeye - Unni Krishnan (Pavithra, 1994) [Personally, even if someone says Unni Krishnan did not deserve the National Award for Ennavale, he certainly deserves it for this song? The guitar riffs (?) that open this song remind me always of Thamizha Thamizha, but its Unni Krishnan all the way afterward!]
  7. Sevvanam - Mano, Pallavi (Pavithra, 1994)
  8. Markazhi Poove - Shobha (May Madham, 1994) [Always thought it was Anupama? Kavitha Krishnamurthi rocked in the Hindi version of this song from Love you Hamesha.]
  9. Vidu Kathaiya - Hariharan (Muthu, 1995)
  10. Kaiyil Midhakkum Kanava Nee - Srinivas (Ratchagan, 1996) [Srinivas's debut?]
  11. Unnai kanavilai netrodu - SP. Balasubramaniam, OS. Arun, Rafee (Kadhal Desam, 1996) [OS ARUN? The classical singer? But I distinctly remember the inlay card crediting SPB and Aslam Mustafa!]
  12. O Vennila - Unni Krishnan (Kadhal Desam, 1996) [My ragging song! For the most part of my first year at Shanmugha, part of my ragging was to lean on a wall with a outstretched hand and sing this song repeatedly without laughing or smiling while the seniors used to do all kinds of stupid tomfoolery around me. All because one guy explained the lyrics to me (along with an accompanying sob story) that brought tears into my eyes when I heard it first!]
  13. No Problem - Apache Indian, ARR (Love Birds, 1996) [The movie seems to be the inspiration behind Kaho Na Pyar Hai, with the equivalent song being Ek Pal Ka Jeena]
  14. Kappal yeri poyachu - SP. Balasubramaniam, Susheela (Indian, 1996)
  15. Sakhiye Nee Dhan - Unni Krishnan (Andhimandharai, 1996)
  16. Oru Naal - Swarnalatha (Andhimandharai, 1996) [Is it by Swarnalatha? I don't know, but can't find this song on Raaga or Musicindiaonline, which is shame!]

The Essential ARR Collection - Disc 2
  1. Ayirathil Naan Oruvan - Mano (Iruvar, 1996)
  2. Narumugaye - UnniKrishnan, Bombay Jayashree (Iruvar, 1996) [Everytime I hear this song, Satish's the face that I reminded of. Dude, in case you read this, you rock. Jagadish, do pass this on to him, if you read this!]
  3. Oru Poiyavadhu - Srinivas / Hariharan (Jodi, 1999) [Two different versions of this priceless gem that went unnoticed in lieu of the other songs that were repeated from Doli Saja Ke Rakhna]
  4. Theendai Mei Theendai - SPB, Chitra (En Swasa Kaatre, 1999)
  5. Swasame - SP. Balasubramaniam, Sadhana Sargam (Thenali, 2000)
  6. Nenthukitten - Karthik, Chitra Sivaram (Star, 2001)
  7. Azhage Sugama - Srinivas, Sadhana Sargam (Parthale Paravasam, 2001)
  8. Nee Dhan En Desiya Geetham - Balaram (Parthale Paravasam, 2001) [Balaram's Debut! Where is he now? He had another awesome number with Vidyasagar and one with ARR, but seems to have gone missing now]
  9. Vellai Pookal - ARR (Kannathil Muthamittal, 2002)
  10. Vidai Kodu Engal Naadae - Balram, MSV (Kannathil Muthamittal, 2002)
  11. Vaanila - Srinivas, Karthik (Kadhal Virus, 2002)
  12. Pookum Malare - Hariharan (Udaya, 2003) [A beautiful song that went widely unnoticed]
  13. Udaya Udaya - Hariharan, Sadhna Sargam (Udaya, 2003)
  14. Yedho Yedho - Karthik, Gopika Poornima (Enakku 20 Unakku 18, 2003)
  15. Azhagiya Cinderella - Hariharan (Kangalal Kaidhu Sei, 2003)
  16. Thotal Poo Malarum - Hariharan, Harini (New, 2004) [All you non-Tams should hear the original first and then this remix to see what ARR's done. Too bad SJS's attempt to recreate similar magic with Mayilirahe and its Maramkothiye remix did not work!]
(P.S Before all you IR hardliners sharpen your knives, I have to say that such a two disc compilation would be totally impossible for IR, just as a top 10 list cannot do justice to ARR. Mottai rocks, but ARR impresses me in his own way! Peace!)