Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rekindling the good old times!

Finally, we decided to meet up at Washington DC after quite a lot of convincing on Prasad and MAK's part to get me here from Rolla. As usual I was confused and indecisive in coming to a conclusion - whether to go or not! So, at 1:30 in the morning of Monday, I booked the tickets on Southwest Airlines and headed to the St. Louis airport on Monday exactly twelve hours later. People may think that it was a quick decision, but things are not exactly like what they seem. It is easy to travel anywhere within the world, but to get a ride from Rolla to STL is one of the most complicated things in the world. All travel plans are structured based on the availability of ride between these two places.

As I got out of the DC airport, I waited for these two great guys to pick me up. One of them was the usual "giving out opinion" type talking about anything and everything with ease. The other was the chess master discussing hazardous moves and with a totally vanishing hairline (Of course it was not as bad as what that wise guy M told me). As we sat discussing about the good old days of yore, we came to a conclusion - come what may, nobody in the world can change our opinions, atleast ask Prasad. We just had to discuss some issues, and he would be reeling out adjectives - That $&&$^%*$*$ (please don't even try to figure out what in the world this stands for) did not know a damn thing! He is one %$^$^$&#. We know what he is worth!!! Obviously, the members of the G gang knew exactly what to expect from this superfluous guy. He hasn't changed a bit for the better or worse. MAK is one guy in the world who can make all sort of statements talking like an idealist. He would agree for almost everything that is ideal, but ask him to get to the practical aspect, he would have no answer. I was almost fooled into thinking that he had a Russian girlfriend, and then knowing MAK's penchant for chess, it was not a big deal for him to come out with a Russian name.

How can I forget the whiz tour of the city. The monuments tour was a great hit with Prasad. He sat in the bus cursing the entire trip. I had the pleasure of listening to Prasad more than the guide. His outrageous comments evoked laughter and more laughter from me. Every memmorial would be followed by thousands of comments. But, anyway that tour didn't mean much to us, as we already had a good idea of all these places before taking the tour itself.

The G gang got together minus some members on a telephonic chat. It was a one hour talk with Anand M, Kanna, myself, Prasad and MAK. It was great to get the conference going with each of us pulling the other's leg on a wide array of subjects. The conversation meandered endlessly for a long time before the card ran out of time.

The three of us were discussing about the lecturers in college and we were counting the lecturers who had kicked us out of the class. Not surprisingly, we had been kicked out of every lecturer in every semester. The best part is there was this particular lecturer who had taken our class three times during our stay, and every member of the gang has been driven out in her class. No prize for guessing her name guys!!!

Marriage talks cannot get any interesting without Prasad's comments. He has his own way of coming up with weird quotes and ideas. As usual, MAK was talking as if he was ready to get married the next moment if he found the right girl. We were wondering, what will happen to MAK-D? She was obviously the major topic of discussion. By the way, we fixed Prasad's partner thanks to his acceptance. No discussion can get complete without talking about the dynamic duo of our class - AT Rajesh and Ramesh Kumar Yadav. These guys have made our stay at PESIT totally memorable with some out of the world comedy situations. His "game of death" is a legend with the gang members and Kaun Banega Crorepathi just got bigger thanks to Amitabh Bachchan's voice being rendered by AT. AT's antics can not be compiled even in multiple volumes. AT's masterpiece "Everything is OK but What is the yellow?" is an alltime favourite quote coined in the ITC class! Again, no prizes for guessing who was taking that class.

I will be getting back to Rolla with absolutely no intention of eating a complete Indian meal at St. Louis. I have had Indian lunch and dinner in almost every restaurant here. I am at a stage where I just cannot handle any more Indian food for some time in the hotels. If somebody asks me what I saw in DC, I can tell you about every Indian restaurant and Prasad's guided tour of the city. Truly a wonderful experience with talks dating back to the good old times.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Pencils and Rubbers

It is easy to wax eloquent about those simple things in life that give you complete happiness. As a part of childhood, there are certain things that give you maximum bliss that would have no effect on others. I had this craze for good pens, pencils and rubbers (that's what I call it even though you have a better term in erasers!). That fanciful thought of buying new things came to me as and when I saw a new pen or pencil in the store. This theory worked for books too! The greatest aspect of my growing up can be attributed to buying the latest copies of Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha, Champak and Chandamama from the local stores, as well as getting them from the library.

On a more materialistic note, I used to envy my class mates who used to carry those sleek fountain pens and the so called jazzy pen-pencil (yes, that's what I call them. It was more like a pen, with a push pull projection at the back that could control the amount of lead coming to the fore). I am sure almost every one of us would have started our student life with the traditional Natraj pencils from the nearby stationary vendor. These pencils have the characteristic red and black lines bolting across the length of the pencil giving them a simple look. There was not a touch of sophistication associated with these pencils. They served the actual purpose. As you put down pencil on paper, the ease with which it raced across the paper added to my thrill. I always thought pencils to be of miraculous invention that had the best way of translating thoughts to words. As and when you make a mistake, you had the Apsara rubbers to wipe out the error in an equally neat way. I somehow never liked the Natraj rubbers for some reason. It could never get the paper to be spick and span after a mistake. Apart from Natraj pencils, I loved the Camlin(or Camel, I don't remember) pencils. They were white in colour and the pencil was filled with purple flowery structures. Later with time, these pencils went on to become my favourite as it had a quality that was completely different from the other pencils in the market. Sharpeners were another aspect altogether. They are so critical to refine your pencil quality. It was always a challenge to have a good sharpener and win the argument with your friends proclaiming your pencil to have a better streak of sharpness as compared to others. If you can win an argument at that age with your class mates, you can be sure of one thing - you are good at winning arguments or your product is really really good. As the wooden coating slipped out of the sharpener, the waste could either get into the waste paper basket or they would slither into the middle of your book. As a school kid, it was a fancy to see if there was any development associated with the flowery kind of wooden coating emerge out of the pencil waste. As the flowers got embedded in a fat book, it was mandatory to see the state of the development every once in a few days. Invariably, due to the thickness of the book, the flowers would have got hardened, and I would be gloating in excitement on the thoughts of having discovered a new process in the path of evolution. It was crazy stuff but the joy was very much there.

Though the advent of computers and PDAs have lightened up the process of writing huge pages of notes, the joy of writing with that wooden piece is truly incomparable. Even today, when I see a new pencil or pen, the joy I get in using it for the first time is unmatched by anything else. That look of gleam and happiness one feels when writing a sentence on a piece of paper with the pen or pencil you like can come nowhere close to the hundreds of text editing tools today.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The greatest of the era

There are certain things in life which will stick on with you for a lifetime. Be it something personal or something not related to you at all but there are some mesmerizing things which cannot be wiped out from the gray matter. The greatest thing in life is to live for something you cherished throughout. Growing up in a cricket crazy nation, learning ball by ball facts of each and every game being played, watching repeat telecasts of some of the greatest matches, glossing over the statistics of even the obscure of players, remembering the titans of the game are some of the things that will remain with me, as I still continue with the growing up process. I was never in an era to witness the Don play out thousands of deliveries in gay abandon. I have never witnessed the charm of Barry Richards or the angry glare of Michael Holding or Joel Garner. They may be some of the best players missed out but luckily I had the opportunity to see the greatest legspinner of all times, Shane Warne, bamboozle the greatest of batsmen with some outstanding out of the box deliveries. Literally, it means out of the box balls (no pun intended!). Warney, as he is popularly known, announced his retirement from all forms of cricket with the end of the Ashes series at Sydney. Australia demoralised, destroyed any confidence, killed any kind of fight in the English players in what could be hailed as yet another one sided Ashes contest of the century. Come on! Whatever happened last year happens once in a hundred years with this current Australian side. It was all the more expected to see Australia strike top notch from with a flagging English side. People were actually saying that this Australian side is getting old. Why not? Warney is hitting 37, but seriously the English would have been happy with Warne retiring early!!

When you talk about a bowler, it is common to say "Wow, that was a great spell!", "That delivery to get rid of so and so was brilliant", "He changed the match with that wicket". But with Warne, it is quite different. The adjectives would have to flow out as he has repeatedly produced some amazing spells, got brilliant batsmen out with brilliant deliveries, and has changed the match many a time by taking crucial wickets at crucial junctures. How many times have we seen Warne spoiling the party of the opposition with his flippers, googlies, straight ones and those legspinners which pitch way outside that strip in the middle, beats the batsmen by another twenty inches, and from nowhere in the world clips that off stump with an angle that no mortal can fathom. Ooof!! Sensational! Absolutely sensational! No words to describe the deliveries that get the batsmen out from improbable angles and at seemingly impossible situations. We have seen it all from the great man! Ask Mike Gatting, Basit Ali, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Strauss and a host of Warne bunnies who will scream in glee on hearing the great man flee!

He might have had a lot of off-field controversies and some on-field controversies. But one should remember that what he has contributed to the art of leg spin is immense and huge. The game has received a huge facelift due to players like him. It was always a sight to see him comeback and deliver the goods to his captain. He was one person when as long as he was there on the field, the match was totally imbalanced. Obviously, in favour of Australia! He could come in and in a space of a few deliveries create panic in the opposition. Before anybody could realise, Australia would walk away with the honours.

Talking about Warne, how can one leave out the accuracy machine - Glenn McGrath. The best fast bowler of the modern era, and one who could bowl in that corridor of uncertainity a 100 per cent. He was a captain's delight as he would get top order wickets in a heap. The best part about McGrath was that he knew how to target some of the best batsmen in the world and take their wickets also regularly. He had made bunnies out of some of the English players in various Ashes over the years. Ask Atherton, and he can certainly not hide. Though Lara has played some great innings against Australia, he knows what it is to face McGrath. Tendulkar nowadays maybe getting out to every Tom, Dick and Harry, but at one point of time, at his prime had encountered some brilliant duels with McGrath. He has single handedly won many many matches for Australia within the first hour in Test cricket. That is something sensational! It is definitely a shock to see these two great men - McGrath and Warne hanging up their boots at Sydney. The world will miss these two brilliant Australians who have contributed so much to the cricketing fraternity.

One should actually appreciate the timing of these two great players. I remember Kapil Dev who was a dying horse at the fag end of his playing years. He just wanted to continue simply because he wanted to break Sir. Richard Hadlee's record. He frustrated every Indian supporter by playing even when he was well past his playing days. I remember that period when he took almost two years to go from 400 wickets to 434 wickets. Certainly, one of the worst period of Indian cricket. Even Sachin Tendulkar should take a clue from these two players and retire before he makes a complete mess out of himself. Sunil Gavaskar, who is obsessed with Indian records, might force Tendulkar to stick to cricket and break all the records. At the end of the day, nobody cares as to what record he holds.

But now, let us just enjoy the contribution of Warne and McGrath to World cricket and surely these men receive a fitting farewell.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Call this sheer coincidence?

I have this habit of checking up periodic updates on RK Narayan on the internet. Last night when I googled RK Narayan after a long time, I stumbled upon an article written by N. Ram, the editor of The Hindu, titled Reluctant centenarian. There was a sentence in the first paragraph that really caught my attention, and as I read that sentence, I went back to this link to verify from where it was taken. I was truly surprised. Just read the first paragraph of both the links and check out the similarity.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Quote me right

As I have always reiterated, meaningful quotes have had a huge impact in my life. When you read a sentence, something strikes you so much in it that you go back to ascertain the hidden nuances in the words. Many a time, you are left wondering at the simplicity of the sentence. The profundity in the meaning is taken to new heights and all this with very simple usage of words. Reading books sure does lend a lot of much needed wisdom and gets you to the point of striking the perfect balance in life. Some of the movies have come up with unbelievable quotes that they just remain embedded in you for life. I was watching The Shawshank Redemption for the nth time and it just keeps getting better with every viewing. Strange are the ways of life that you still anticipate for certain things when you know what to expect(Looks like I just created a quote! Wow). Remember Red, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies! is certainly one of my all time favourite cinematic quotes (courtesy: Stephen King). Hope cannot be expressed in a much better and complete sense. I take this quote whenever am in a sobre mood and this quote just keeps getting better and better with time. Get busy living or get busy dying! from the same movie is another beautiful way of looking forward to the good things in life.

Peace isn't merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice. One just has to read this quote and gasp in silence(AirForce I). You can't help wondering how true it is! Talking about life, Forrest Gump immediately springs to mind Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. It gets interesting to see Tom Hanks come up with dialogues with such an innate expression Why don't you love me, Jenny? I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is. In the same vein, one can hear him say with ease Mama always said, dying was a part of life. Now, how can one ask for more simplicity from these great Hollywood flicks.

A good sentence is like a good meal. It can be cherished for a lifetime. I don't think anything in the world can give me more pleasure than a couple of words here and there fitted to a nicety in a sentence. Be it in books or movies, good quotes have a way of attracting your attention. I remember the times when my father and I used to sit back and relive some of the good quotations of all times. He, an avid reader, used to pick quotations out of thin air and remember them as if he is about to write an exam in the next couple of hours. I would wonder who is getting old;him or me, for I can't remember all the quotes unlike him. Literature, according to me is the greatest gift to mankind, and with a cornucopia of books, I can spend all my time in the world in the most desolate of places. How I wish I can come up with literary quotes to influence people and write my name in history!!!