March 22, 2008

Armageddon! (From my blog)

A couple of weeks ago I was watching television when I came across the news that an asteroid is posing possible collision danger to the earth. The asteroid was passing by around 27th January, and was thought to be a danger, till research confirmed that it will just pass by very closely, but not collide. Another asteroid, which was not in the way of earth, became a cause of concern, as there were chances that it would hit Mars on January 28th, and then be deflected towards us. Thankfully even that did not happen.

Sitting there watching this on TV suddenly made me realize that life is so short. One moment you are somewhere, doing something, and the next moment… an asteroid collides with the earth and all is over in a second. I immediately called up my mother and told her that I was disturbed by these possibilities of life coming to an end just like that. I did not want to die already, abhi toh maine apni zindagi shuru hi ki hai!!

And then I realized… we really take life for granted. We all have assumed that we will live till a ripe old age, and have all the time in the world to do and say things that are important. There is no hurry. But that is not true. Life is unpredictable. You never know which day is your last. I know all this is bookish, but I really felt that it is really important to live each day to the fullest, say and do everything that your heart desires, kya pata kal ho na ho!

And since then, I have tried to do and say everything now, to not fight or keep grudges… you never know, when you fight, those words may be the last the person hears from you. I wont say that I have managed to fulfill the destiny of each day that I have lived, but I try.

I was thinking, what would I do, if I came to know that in a while, the earth will come to an end??

If I had a week, I would pool in all my savings and go for a vacation to my dream destination with my near and dear ones.

If I had a day, I would try to go to Delhi and spend the day with my family and friends.

If I had an hour, I would spend it calling all my near and dear ones to say I love you, and eat lots of my favorite food!

And if I had only a minute, I would spend it in Rohit's arms… I want that lovely feeling to be my last living memory before I say goodbye!

What would you do?

August 10, 2007

Breakfast brainwave!

(cross posted from my blog)
These days, i have breakfast usually in a hotel called "Hare Rama Hare Krishna" with my room mate Arvind Rayappa, and we have commoditized the process(!).
We have a standard order that just orders itself these days..
1 plate idly sambar (2 idlys)
1 plate vada sambar (2 vadas)
1 plate idly vada (1 apiece).

Here is the insight.

2 idlis cost 16 bucks.
2 vadas cost 18 bucks (probably because of the incremental oil content, and the aesthetically superior design coupled with the "crispier, crunchier" blah blah)

1 idly and 1 vada though, which should logically cost 17 bucks, actually costs Rs.18!!

Now what should that tell a tambram management grad?

Yeah... that there exist SIGNIFICANT SYNERGIES in the idly-vada merger!!

There! and i never expected to apply my MACR concepts to real life, in all lives of mine, present and future!

More soon... (yeah i mean the vadas!)

September 30, 2006

And I did it...

As I promised before...

If you remember my last post but one,I had expressed a desire to drive along the expressway (nay...speed along it) and take some snaps in the bargain...Did quite that this weekend...

Starting in a rain that left most of the road to imagination (really...the visibility was around 20 feet and the passing trucks threw puddle waves OVER the car) was a major risk in itself...But what's life without some?? Achhan and amma don't know it and actually wasn't planning on telling either...But wanted to brag...Now there's something about the risk that appeals to all humans (not just those below thirty as is the popular notion). This was perfect in that respect...:)

My companion on the "long" trip was my carton of juice, my collection of CDs (don't be mislead...Just three that I can play on my car's MP3 player) and my camera. Befittingly, they occupied the passenger seat, right next to me. The carton of juice was a godsent for someone who is entitled to only double- or triple-purified water or the afore-mentioned. But the object that I appreciated most was the camera. Had to be kinda surreptitious in clicking since it is prohibited at some sections on the expressway.

The ride itself was a mixture of adrenaline, expectations, slight anxiety and some healthy competition (come on...what am I to do but speed when a measely Maruti 800 tries to overtake my majestic 1.1L 63 BHP Santro?). This is one place where speed rules and hence everyone knows his/her car's place in the food chain. Sedans rule, with the D and C segment leaving a steamy wake, mostly on smaller wannabe sedans like the Indigo and Esteem, since they are the closest. Then come the hatchbacks and the Santros of the world who leave their not-so-steamy wake on the Maruti 800s and the trucks. Then there are some people who like bats (the bird/mammal, not the sports accesory), don't know where they belong. Swifts that try to outrun the Octavias and end up submitting to the superior horses under the hood. You gotta know your numbers here.

The locales...Oh my god, the locales...When people say that green is the most soothing colour to the eye, they aren't lying...I know I am gonna be like that, coming from Kerala and all (I mean the natural beauty, not the Muslim League in Malabar), but the shrubs-covered hillocks and the moss-covered rocks are probably the most beautiful things you can see in nature. Unfortunately, it doesn't come out too well in snaps...Atleast on my cam...Will put out the test results on Flickr soon...

And the tunnels...The tunnels are a piece of art...The darkness, even with the halogens inside...The change in the engine sound as you go through them...And the occasional shower through the rocks inside the tunnel...All together, an awesome experience. Wanted to take a low-shutterspeed, high-speed pic inside the tunnel. But Gattu the speedster took control over Gattu the snapster inside the tunnel. And anyways, it needed a lot of preparation...Maybe next time...

Don't know when I am gonna go to Mumbai before the review (which is finally on 13th of Oct), but definitely looking forward to another drive down. And everybody is welcome...:)

Of transitions, irony and beauty…

Pretty old...Coming from my blog...But continues into the next newer one...:)

How many transitions does a human being, or any organism for that matter, go through or experience in the course of its life? Millions, maybe billions, right? However, what’s the one transition that happens to every organism, every day of its life?

I was traveling to Mumbai from Pune today. Started around 5:30 in the evening and thanks to a slowpokes of a driver, we were still far away from Lonavala by around 6:45. And then I saw it. The sun was setting across a lone mountain, where we stopped for a snack and a loo break. Just minutes before, the sky was bright, the sun was still yellow and the face of the mountain facing me was still visible. Within minutes, the sun was orange, as was the sky and the mountain face was black, almost smooth in its invisibility. And swiftly, I felt my mood change from the joy of traveling to the sad melancholy I feel every time I am traveling in twilight. This is not to say that the sight was not pretty. The silhouette of the mountain was still impressive and as enigmatic as before, but the feeling it evoked in me was not the same. And in those few moments, without wishing it, without changing anything myself and without an option, I went through a transition.

What do you feel when you face a rock wall around 5 stories high, looming in front of you? Don’t know about you, but to me, at best it is an exercise and at worst, it is a “Mission: Impossible” kind of a challenge. But try looking at the same cliff at night. Thinking about surmounting it would probably be the last thought that would cross your mind. That was precisely how I felt- intimidated, awed and a little perturbed.

OK…Enough of the twilight zone…now for the irony part. Soon after sunset, the un-illuminated expressway didn’t think twice before turning into a black serpentine specter with the occasional (OK…More than occasional) shimmering. And as I was wondering what shortsightedness of the developers cost the highway lights, we entered a tunnel. And lo and behold, it was almost as bright as day inside. The fact that the tunnel was brighter than the open, albeit during the evening, made me conjure up the irony part in the title. Not as impressive as when I thought of it in the bus, but anyways, here it is.

Now, there are hardly any prettier sights in the world as watching down a valley filled with lights on a dark night. No photo, video or painting I have seen has ever depicted the sight in its true beauty. And that’s what I saw, thanks to the driver’s frustrating care to keep a safe margin from the speed limit. At Lonavala, the expressway winds over the valley, through horseshoe- shaped mountain ranges, while the town shimmers in the valley. Truly a sight for the gods. Unfortunately, along with the traditional feeling sad while traveling in twilight, this particular sight of the lights in the valley made me remember the D’Shala days again, especially the trip back. Not going into that again here…But the sight is one that should not be missed.

All said and done, I had one overwhelming thought in my mind pretty much all throughout my trip…I want a car of my own so that I can drive along the expressway, stop at my whim and take snaps or maybe just enjoy the view. Wish me luck…

Over and out…

January 15, 2006

Deifying the Do-gooder, plus a digression

(cross posted from my blog...)

He is a good man. Totally.

Before you know it, he gleans all the rot in you.
Spare the evil forces, he does not.
And he is not a violent man, either. Gentle on his foes, and a friend to the needy.
I am not talking about Rajnikanth's next film, nor am i tryin to convince you about the administrative prowess of my friend who wants to run for student president.
I am here to give his share of justice to one of mankind's recent friends, the one who stands by you in the loneliest of times, giving his life and breath to save the life and breath of his breathren...
Put your hands together for Mr. Toilet-Nozzle....
(i wanted to call this entry 'An ode to the toilet nozzle', but that would have meant losing the suspense factor...)
The man who thought up this innovation has to be a genius. One of the most-overlooked-though-integral needs of the human race, and it took us 2000 years to invent him! How dumb are we...
Back to the creation himself, i can tell you from everyday experience about how much better he is as compared to the 'traditional' methods of cleanin yourself after a p/pee, and how good he makes one feel as a worthy substitute for tissues or "hands"(dont go 'yuck' yet... hands were/still are the way of life for god knows how long..)
I dont know if my frequent exposure to the lukewarm squirts from the toilet nozzle hav created this illusion of being clean on the underside, but it might just hav had an impact on my fast dwindling bathing frequencies... ah, every invention comes with a side-effect?
In some sense, he makes you feel like Jesus christ.. Show him one cheek, and you end up showing him the other too... and sometimes u forget yourself, coz he makes it so easy for you to do other stuff wen u r at it... like reading the ahmedabad times(which,btw, has to be the world's second worst newspaper after the Mumbai Mid day) or the Khalil Gibran, which i was reading today...
----------
Digression: (excerpt of a short story from the Khalil Gibran.. verbatim)
Once i said to a scarecrow, "You must be tired of standing in this lonely field".
And he said, "The joy of scaring is a deep and lasting one, i never tire of it".
Said I, "Its true. For i too have known that joy".
Said he, "Only those who are stuffed with straw can know it".
Then i left him, confused, and came back a year later, when i saw two crows building a nest under his hat.

Now, what kind of psycho wrote THAT?
---------------
Well anyway, i beseech all of you.
Pray spread the message.
Make this a movement.
Make India a better place to live in.(even NUS and MIT didn't have such technology!!)
Say no to tissue paper. Believe in toilet nozzles. They rock.

November 28, 2005

Ye long movie review...


DISCLAIMER: Returning to blogging after a loooong gap…So might be a bit rusty...Also, this is a very looooong blog. So please bear with me if you lose interest in the middle (or even at the beginning, for that matter).

Almost half a year back, around a dozen of my section-mates and me went to watch a movie that I was most eager to watch. In fact, so eager was I that we went on the first day of its release. Although I knew this is not the typical box office blaster, I was surprised that only I and another friend liked the movie. I might go as far as to add that I loved the movie.

Today, after I completed watching the movie for the second time, I can say that this movie moved me as much, if not more, as it did the first time. And this time, I can better appreciate its haunting quality because rather than watching it with around 12 bored peers, I was watching it alone.

I am talking about Swades – We, the People. Directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar, it stars SRK, then newcomer Gayatri Joshi and others. The stellar and haunting score is by A R Rahman and the lyrics are by Javed Akhtar.

Theme:
The theme is about a NRI scientist returning to India to meet his childhood ayah and to take her back to the US. He follows her trail till a quaint little village which, like most villages in India, has its share of societal, political and infrastructural hurdles. The movie is about how he tries to influence life in the village and how, in turn, his life is influenced.

The societal hurdles include casteism, hegemony of the Panchayats, societal norms and general apathy to the disparities in the village and the infrastructural hurdles include lack of a steady supply of electricity, as a solution for which the scientist encourages and directs the villagers to build a small turbine from a mountain brook. While people may assume that this movie is about that small triumph of the people (which is by the way, inspired from a true incident), that would be WAY OFF MARK.

The theme of the movie is the underdevelopment of India’s rural areas, the problems faced by them and the general apathy of the Government as well as the people themselves towards such issues. The theme is about a person who is affected by all this to the extent that he comes back to his country to do something about it. The theme, while appearing to be too simplistic, actually moves the audience in the actual execution. As SRK mentions to his friend while explaining why he has to leave, “Now this is not about Kaveri Amma or Geeta, it is about the people”, the movie is about making things change for better.

Execution:
OK, the theme is noble. Very nice of Mohan Bhargava (SRK’s character) and so on…But where this movie scores is in the execution.

Not that I know much about direction and all, but on the whole, I enjoyed every moment of the movie, from the most poignant scenes of the misery of the rural-folk to the weepy goodbyes. The treatment of the topic might feel childish at times in the sense that things seem to move for the better almost at the slightest effort of the protagonist. For example, in a public screening of a movie, the lower-caste is seated on the wrong side of the screen so as to not “pollute” the higher-caste members. In a song-and-dance sequence, SRK ends up tearing the demarcation and marginally unite both parties.

But the strengths of the movie are its very poignant scenes. Some are

  • SRK goes to collect the rent for land from a weaver-turned-farmer, who lost the support of the village elders when he shifted his profession to survive. The plight of the family moves SRK to the point where the only thing he can manage to say is “Yeh to theek nahi hai” and can do is to give the family some money.
  • SRK, on his way back to the village, sees a kid selling tumblers of water for 25p each at Ajite station. The music, the situation and most of all, surprisingly, SRK’s acting made sure both times that my eyes were moist.

It’s actually on the return trip that you can see SRK acting, for a change. No dialogs, just full shots of SRK in the melee. He is at his best in this movie (Personal opinion disclaimer applies). All in all, these parts are very touching.

It is after these experiences that SRK’s character starts feeling uneasy in the current state and starts to itch to bring about some change. Then it is a bit like Lagaan, where the protagonist faces a lot of cynicism, mistrust and opposition but finally manages to overcome all to win, in this case, to bring electricity generation into the village. That’s all fine.

But the end is about the pulls that try to stop SRK from leaving his village and country. There’s a love angle between Geeta and SRK, there’s Kaveri Amma who doesn’t want to uproot and re-plant in USA at that age.

Finally after SRK leaves for USA and is working on the second phase of his project, he starts missing his life back in the village. Now this is the part where the classic “Yeh jo des hai tera” starts playing in the background. In these parts, he sees the village in intermittent unconnected visions while he is doing his work. Now it is either the music, or SRK’s acting, or the fact that I had these visions about me and my friends having a good time back home during meetings, classes etc. but controlling the waterworks when I reach this part is damn tough (Not that I try very hard).

And….he finally comes back. The last scene is him cleaning himself after a wrestling match by the river and the camera zooming out, to cover the entire village. It’s quite a simple, but grand and symbolic end.

Music and lyrics:
I really have no words to describe the music in this movie (Beemer, another ardent ARR fan, first told me that the music was on campus…Eternally grateful for that, dude). Needless to say, my first favourite was “Yuhi chala”. But after I saw the movie, I am unable to decide between “Swades”, “Dekho na” or “Yuhi Chala”. “Dekho na” is a very soft love song that has a very playful base.

Lyrics-wise, I can’t forget “Pal Pal”, especially the last few lines. It goes like

Ram hi to karunamay hai, shanti mein Ram hai,
Ram hi to ekta mein, prakruti mein Ram hai.
Ram bas bhakton nahi shatru ki bhi chintan mein hai.
Dekh tyajke paap Raavan, Ram tere man mein hai.
Man se Raavan jo nikaale Ram uske man mein hai.

The last two lines draw such a parallel of pure good and evil, indicating what I always believe, that the absence of malice is goodness.

Overall, the movie is a brilliant amalgamation of haunting music, superb acting, very good dialogues and cinematography and direction. Though you might disagree with the trivialization of the situation and problems and some amount of standard clich├ęs in the movie, this is one movie you cannot miss, and nor is this one that you are likely to forget for a long time.

Over and out...

PS: There’s another reason why I love this movie. The camera that SRK uses to click snaps around the village is the same model as the one yours truly uses to click almost whatever he can see.

November 19, 2005

An IIM A exclusive - Straight from the horse’s mouth

A collective decision by the IIMs to shun B school ranking polls had come as a real dampener for all these market research agencies, not to mention the magazines-for whom that particular issue has always been a sure-shot best seller. But we at IIMA, being the kind souls we are, present some never-seen-not-heard-before news - the result of a thorough analysis of the frequency patterns of our most recurrent activity – TALKING - and it’s dope straight from the horse’s mouth

And, here are the results

“Arbit” is the most used word in IIM A. It thrashed competitors like RG, mugging, F.R.I.E.N.D.S and MMS by a mile. Interestingly enough, the words sleep, bath and deodorant came last.
“We have been vindicated. This is the result of 2 years of responding arbitly to all arbit things in all arbit situations ”, chorused ****** and ##@@##, a couple of second year students taking a break to exercise their forefingers after playing NFS for 33 hours continuously. (Editor’s Note: Their nick-names have been blocked out as this a PG-13 blog).

“The beauty of arbit is that it is a noun, adjective and an adverb, is totally context independent, and can be substituted for any word having a negative meaning. For example, classmates can be described as arbit, cases yeah, and HR courses definitely.” said Rahul Sabarwal, a dyed-in-the-wool arbit addict who went into a state of epiphanic bliss after the victory.

It was found out that the usage spread, much like viruses, through internal online discussion boards. We questioned Dr. Mayur Chauhan, behavioral psychologist (and a computer geek to boot!) and this is what he had to say
“You should understand the time pressure these people are under. They have so many messages to respond to that it is not feasible to comment in detail.” And they may not be far from the mark-a sample study done a year ago revealed that arbit was an apt description for 97.345 % of all message posts (It was 101.021 % for posts by second year students).
“Part of the reason for its popularity can be explained by the fact that the mean distance between its various letters (that is A-R-B-I-T, for the mentally challenged) in the keyboard is only 1.03 cm - among the lowest ever - enabling the person to type out the word very fast”, he continued. (The only word which has a lower mean key distance than arbit is TT - short for table tennis - for which it is zero).

However, there was a cross section of the populace which openly expressed dissent.
“It was sooo fixed. I demand a recount, dude. This is all the handiwork of that Osama dude. Man, arbit is sooo out, dude!” opined
Naradude”Hari, who, not surprisingly, was hoping that the word dude might come out on top. It was learnt from reliable sources that “dude” was the odds-on favourite till a fateful scrabble game month ago when a near riot broke out over an argument about how to spell it -dude or dood. The “dood’ faction, which commanded a significant following, walked out as they believed that the “oo” in the middle was intrinsic to their “dood-ness” as it captured their essence to a T (or an O, if you may).

The president of the students’ council - whom we shall call arbit rabri for lack of a better name - has already forwarded the details to the publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary for consideration. Here’s a portion of that transcript.

arbit

/aarbit

The ninth wonder of the world, after M S Dhoni. Its usage is not constrained by context, accent, vocabulary or a bad attack of the flu.

Usage

Adjective: The giloda masala served in the mess today was very arbit.

Adverb: The professor was talking very arbitly in class today.

Noun: When is arbit coming back from his vacation?

_______________________________________________________

Also cross posted on my blog

November 15, 2005

Time for an update

This is a blog written by our very own LSD coord. and to my mind, represents, some of the best writing I have ever seen...

Strongly urge all to read it...

Ranga

PS: I will be posting something of my own on WIMWIwocky soon :-)