Friday, June 23, 2006

What a wild swing

I am not talking about the elegant backhand crosscourt winner from Federer's racquet. I am talking about the discussion I had with a bunch of guys here. It all started over a plate of bhel puri and pani puri. We started with the serials - Ramayana and Mahabharata about how the country used to come to a standstill during these episodes. There were other serials that caught our attention - Chandrakanta, Mungeri Lal, He-Man(Remember! Masters of the Universe), Reporter, Superhit Muqabala (DD Metro) and others. We also wondered how DD Metro was launched amidst a lot of fanfare. At a time when we were living with only one channel, it was a great relief to get another one. We then went on to the advertisements - Nirma, Pepsi, Coke, Wheel, Zandu Balm, fevicol and so on. The Pepsi advertisement taken in a rustic outlook with street children playing cricket and drinking pepsi from the cyclewalah selling pepsi, and wearing Sachin masks was voted as the best pepsi advertisement till date. I also remember when I saw the advertisement for the first time, as the children were removing the masks, at one point of time, Sachin reveals his identity by removing the mask. That got me out of the chair. It was superbly done with fantastic song rendition by Raghuvir Yadav. This then took us on to the state of affairs of the Indian cricket team, with discussions on Tendulkar's current form. Is Tendulkar a match winner or not? Why he could not be a good captain? Whether Rahul Dravid had got the credit he deserves? Ganguly's sad position today though he was the best leader at one point of time was discussed. Why we have Yuvraj, Kaif and Bhajji in the team? Obviously, Thanks to Ganguly! Then it went on to movies, and how Lagaan was truly an entertaining movie thanks to the cricket in the movie. We then decided that we would watch Lagaan and then wind up for the night!

So, the bottomline is that if you sit back for a discussion, you just have no idea where it starts and how it ends!

Friday, June 16, 2006

"Grow" up in fear

As Ramu gave a sulky look to his father and went back to his room, he had a hundred and one emotions flooding his head. He wished that his father was on one of those long tours that he undertook so often. He also felt miserable since his mother was not supporting him, and could not understand what he was going through. It was the 1996 World Cup cricket league match between India and Australia. India was batting and his favourite player Sachin Tendulkar was going hammer and tongs belting the Aussie bowling attack in sheer disdain. But, Ramu had to go get locked up in the room and work out the exercise problems from the Maths text book for the next day's test.

Ramu sat for long hours before the Maths text book and not a word went to his head. He knew he was not made to read these things. His family wanted him to become an engineer or a doctor when he grew up. But, Ramu was never inclined to the conventional mode of living enforced upon the present day kids by their parents. He always had a clear idea of what he wanted to become and that was to be a bus driver. This job fascinated him a lot, and he was always filled with awe and wonder to see the driver taking turns on deep winding curves. He felt that was more challenging than sitting in front of the computer and writing unwanted lines of code. He also wondered about the status of his friend Senthil, who was also a cricket buff like him. He knew about his father too, and how he unnecessarily put pressure on his friend in his studies. He was beginning to get an aversion towards such people who were interfering with the lives of growing children. In the meanwhile, he was concerned with the Indian batting and he hoped them to do well.

Again his mind wandered and this time he was touching the biological aspect of life. These days, everyone in his locality were complimenting him on his growing height. He was happy to get the compliment but at the same time he was filled with anxiety. What would happen to him if he keeps on growing tall at such a rate. He might touch the ceiling of his house one day and he might be driven out of the house. But, what would happen if he outgrows the trees and tall buildings in the city to reach the skies. That was something unimaginable and scary. He likened it to Atlas supporting the skies on his shoulders. Now, he was beginning to feel the heat. He was sure that he would be thrown out of the house in a few days. He felt that the first thing he had to do was to ask his father and explain to him about his growing anxiety. He almost made up his mind to go to the hall and ask his father, when he realised that his father might feel that he was coming here on a pretext just to see the match. He felt it was all his ill luck that was creating havoc. It was maybe because he did not return the "rubber" he had borrowed from Senthil, or maybe because he was not being fair in the game of cricket with his friends. He kept pacing up and down in his room when he heard the door open and his father peep in. He was about to ask him the question to his father, when his father seeing his plight told him to come and watch the cricket match. That was all that he needed to get himself to spring back to action. He leapt in joy and ran towards the hall. He no longer cared about his growing stature. His father had told him to think while solving the problems and his thoughts really made the day for him.

He entered the hall, and was relieved to hear the commentators applauding yet another four from Tendulkar's blade. He also saw the neighbour mami talking to his mother, and as soon as she saw Ramu came up with a comment These days you are certainly growing tall Ramu!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My favourites!

I was just listening to some of my all time favourite numbers in Tamil and Hindi. Here goes the list and the songs are not in any order of preference. The time period of these songs is from the late eighties upto the current time.

  1. Chinna Chinna Aasai (Album: Roja, Artist: AR Rahman)
  2. Pudhu Vellai Mazhai (Album: Roja, Artist: AR Rahman)
  3. Vellai Pookal (Album: Kannathil Muthamittal, Artist: AR Rahman)
  4. Minnalae (Album: May Madham, Artist: AR Rahman)
  5. Mandram Vandha Thendralukku (Album: Mouna Raagam, Artist: Ilayaraja)
  6. Ninnukori Varanam (Album: Agni Natchathiram, Artist: Ilayaraja)
  7. Endhan Nenjil Neengadha (Album: Kalaignan, Artist: Ilayaraja)
  8. Anbe Sugama (Album: Parthalae Paravasam, Artist: AR Rahman)
  9. Nila Kaigiradhu (Album: Indira, Artist: AR Rahman)
  10. Anbe Sivam (Album: Anbe Sivam, Artist: Vidyasagar)
  11. Chandralekha (Album: Thiruda Thiruda, Artist: AR Rahman)
  12. Ennuyir Thozhi (Album: Kangalal Kaidhu Sei, Artist: AR Rahman)
  13. Bombay Theme Music (Album: Bombay, Artist: AR Rahman)
  14. Vaanam Thottu Pona (Album: Thevar Magan, Artist: Ilayaraja)
  15. Kanmani Anboda Kadalan (Album: Guna, Artist: Ilayaraja)
  16. Raakamma Kaiyya Thattu (Album: Dhalapathy, Artist: Ilayaraja)
  17. Uyiren Uyire (Album: Khaaka Khaaka, Artist: Harris Jeyaraj)
  18. Pulveli Pulveli (Album: Aasai, Artist: Deva)
  19. Malai en vethanai (Album: Sethu, Artist: Ilayaraja)
  20. Oru Nanban Irundhal (Album: Enakku 20 Unakku 18, Artist: AR Rahman)
  1. Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera (Album: Swades, Artist: AR Rahman)
  2. Pehla Nasha (Album: Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Artist: Jatin Lalit)
  3. Lukka Chuppi (Album: Rang De Basanti, Artist: AR Rahman)
  4. Dil Se (Album: Dil Se, Artist: AR Rahman)
  5. Dil Chahta Hai (Album: Dil Chahta Hai, Artist: Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
  6. Yeh Jo Zindagi Hain (Album: 1947 Earth, Artist: AR Rahman)
  7. Nahin Samne (Album: Taal, Artist: AR Rahman)
  8. Tanha Tanha (Album: Rangeela, Artist: AR Rahman)
  9. Baazigar (Album: Baazigar, Artist: Anu Malik)
  10. Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain (Album: Pardes, Artist: Nadeem Shravan)
  11. Pehli Baar Mile Hain (Album: Saajan, Artist: Nadeem Shravan)
  12. Mujhe Neend na aaye (Album: Dil, Artist: Anand Milind)
  13. Dheere Dheere (Album: Aashiqui, Artist: Nadeem Shravan)
  14. Akele Hain (Album: QSQT, Artist: Anand Milind)
  15. Chaiyya Chaiyya (Album: Dil Se, Artist: AR Rahman)
  16. Kuch Na kaho (Album: 1942 A Love Story, Artist: RD Burman)
Obviously there are a number of other songs that can easily fit into this list. The end to good music is just not there. It is also easy to see from the list that ARR is my favourite.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

India v/s Brazil

As the soccer fever is gripping the world, the obvious question to us is Why is India not able to make it to the World Cup Finals? Instead of finding fault with others, let us sit back and analyse the system that is prevailing in our country. That is exactly what myself and Karthik Chandramouli did. As a young kid, one has a lot of aspirations to make it big in something other than academics. But is he really able to pursue what he wants? There is a notion among the elders that their children can come up only in the conventional way. Score good marks right from first grade to engineering, get placed in a good software company and earn good money for the rest of the career. Why can't our thoughts progress beyond this? Why can't we deviate from the normal and try to seek a career by pursuing our interests rather than the beaten path?

Coming back to football, how many schools in India support a good extracurricular system? I come from a school where let alone a football field, we did not even have sufficient space to play running and catching (remember?). We were always infused with academics right from the start. We are forced to believe that that is the only path to assured success. How in such a situation can we produce world class sportsmen? A handful of them play cricket and that too against a backdrop of tremendous peer pressure to concentrate on academics. How many of us were involved in athletics, football, cricket, tennis or even table tennis? So, there is no point in hurling an accusing finger at one another at the state of affairs of the Indian sports system. It is not just a few changes, but a major overhaul is required at the grassroot level to take Indian sports to a new level. I hope to see the light of the day when India might be playing Brazil in the finals. What a dream come true that would be!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Kansas City

A trip to Kansas City was a must considering the number of guys who have fixed up their base there. But it was only after Yadu went there, we knew for sure we had to go and meet him. Rama wanted to go before the classes started and just as all trips are undertaken, we decided to go just a day prior to the actual departure. So, way to Kansas City on Friday afternoon. We hired the car from Denny and Ford Focus it was. Originally only the three of us were scheduled to travel (myself, Rama and Vimal), but at the last minute we had a surprise visitor in the form of KC (Karthik Chandramouli), who for no reason was later rechristened to KFC (just added a fraud for F). We left Rolla at about four in the evening, and found our way through Highway 63S.

We drove through the plush green of the state. As such, MO (Missouri) is known for its greenery and we weren't disappointed. Home made onion pakodas, french fries, and rava idlies were neatly packed and they were finding their way slowly and steadily into our stomach. In a way, it was like a neat Indian journey through the villages.

We reached Kansas City at 8 in the evening, and the daylight was seeping in without any problem. It was more like the four-ish Bangalore time. We met Yadu in his apartment front gate, and all of us went to KormaSutra, one of the three Indian restaurants we visited. The Garmin GPS system guided us from the apartment to the hotel. Ashwin did not join us for dinner as he had already made some plans to be away from us!! We had a great North Indian treat - pakodas, samosas, vegetable patties, paneer pakodas, naans, kulchas, parathas, vegetable korma, paneer dishes, bhaingan bartha and kulfis. We were well treated from Yadu's pocket, and the food was highly delicious. All of us then went to Ashwin's apartment, who as usual left us in the lurch. We were waiting for him in front of his apartment as he was still not back from dinner. After a brief wait, we were lucky to meet the great man himself. We chatted in his place for a long time, and we were very well entertained thanks to his friends, Paresh and Abhishek. We spent some quality time in Ashwin's place, and headed back to Yadu's place for the night. We made plans to go to The Worlds of Fun the next day. This is an amusement park with a lot of fun rides. All of them retired for the night except for myself and Karthik, as both of us ended up watching Meendum Kokilla upto 2:30 am.

The next day, all of us got up lethargically, even as Ashwin was frantically trying to wake us up by calling each one of us on our mobile phones. By the way, Ashwin did not sleep in Yadu's place for the night. We refreshed ourselves, and got ready to leave the house by about 10 am. We picked up Ashwin on the way and then headed to The Worlds of Fun. Yadu had two two free tickets sponsored by Garmin. We were joined by Yadu's colleague, Carl at the amusement park.

We first tried the Dragon ride (Not sure of its exact name though). It is a small cart that holds four people and goes in all trajectories at varying speeds. I still remember the expression on Yadu's face as he got on to the ride. He was like I am not getting into any more rides. Never!!! Karthik too joined suit to miss out on the other rides.

We came out of this spiral fun to try out The Patriot. This is a mini train, taking inverted turns at certain points, scurrying in dizzying fashion. Ashwin, Carl and I tried this out, as Vimal and Rama were getting ready for Bungee Jumping. This was the highlight of the day, as they were let off from a height of 200 feet, suspended by a thick cord. They waded through like a pendulum swinging to and fro. I wanted to try this out, but backed out in the last minute, as I felt my heart was not strong enough to carry out this pulsating exercise. I was happy with the joy rides. We then tried out The Mamba, the boomerang, detonator and the fury of Nile. All of them were thrilling in their own right. But the best part of the day was with The ThunderHawk. It was a boat supporting forty people, going up and down, inverting us at every other second. At one point, we felt we were about thirty feet above the ground before we realised that we were at ground level. After all the fun for the day, we left the place at about 6PM to India Cafe to help ourselves with chats - Bhel Puri, Papdi Chat, Dahi batata puri, Aloo tikki and idly sambar. We were planning to have curd rice back home but dropped the idea after we really filled our stomach to the brim. This was sponsored by Ashwin (Why?). We spent the evening in the bowling alley upto 1230 am and then hit the sack after what was really a tiring day.

The next day, all of us got up very late. We prepared to go to the last of the Indian Restaurants for the trip, Ruchi's. We went for a superb lunch buffet and we ate like as if we had never eaten for many days. The menu comprised of - idlies, masala vadas, crisp dosas, pooris, three different types of chutney, sambar, mango juice, vegetable biriyani, raitha, dal, kofta, palak paneer, pakoras, paysam. I am not sure whether I have missed out any and it had many to remember. There were a lot of non-vegetarian dishes too, which atleast many of us were not concerned of.

After all this, it was time for a little shopping in the Indian stores. We were then back on our way heading back to Rolla for the routine week to start. It was time for Yadu to stick back to his original schedule, and we could see the relief on his face when we had gone there for the weekend. But I guess, now it is a different ball game for Yadu, with new found "company".

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sans media hype

It is really baffling to see the media hype so much on the Indian "teen sensation" Sania Mirza. It can really get anyone on his nerves to see a lot of reports on what she does everyday. Yes, she made a good start and got into the top 50 in ATP rankings, but that does not merit unwanted praise from everyone. Definitely her achievement is noteworthy, for no Indian girl had achieved so much in tennis. She played some good matches to lose against top players, winning a few in the process. Why in the world should anyone give importance to her comments? Who cares about her views on premarital sex? Is she the only girl who is representing the Islam community? What difference does it make if she is eating pizzas or pastas for lunch? People are giving her too much importance just because she is making grand slam entries. The media should realise that there is no point in oodling Sania so much and that too with her not having done anything extravagant till now. Sania's serve is pathetic but nobody seems to write that in the papers. Her groundstrokes are good, but her overall game requires a lot of patch up. If you have to compete with the best, one has to do less talking and display more on court. The worst part about her is that she is too arrogant for her age. Some of her press match conferences are forgettable and detestable. After one of the matches, when it was pointed out that are ground strokes were getting long in the game, she retorted back with Yeah, that's how I play the game. You must be ready to accept that with me. What sort of a reply is that? Does she think that she can take in only goody goody reports? I still admire the humility of Steffi Graf, who inspite of raking in 18 grand slams did the talking only on the court and never got caught in off-court celeb status. That's what champions are made of and the way it is going, it seems that Sania does not fit in the scheme of things.

As an Indian, I definitely want Sania to win a grand slam, but at this point it looks like she is happy with what she has achieved. We are in an age where everyone wants to see results, because at the end of the day, it is not how much effort you have put in that matters, it is the output that matters. Sania, hopefully, does not want to be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ping-Pong: Not all that easy

As we spent our time waiting in long queues in the amusement park in Kansas City, Ashwin came up with an interesting game. It is called as ping-pong. The name can be quite misleading as it does not involve ping pong balls and racquets. The game play is as follows. All of them form a circle, and each of them choses a country of his choice. One person starts with a ping, the next one follows with a pong, and the third one has to call out a country chosen by anyone in the group other than his own. The next "ping" is called out by the person who has the name of the country previously called out. Any deviations from the above pattern results in the person being out of the game.

This might sound too simple but I assure you that it is not at all the case. Last night in a dinner party, we played this game, and as I explained the rules to the people present, there was this feeling What's so tough about this? But as we started to play the game, everyone realised that it is a lot of fun with unthinkable mistakes from the participants.

A neat party game and if you are in a big group waiting in a line, go for it and have fun!