Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ties and Knots

A day prior to the career fair, we had to get our bearings right. This was our only exposure to the industry world through the school. So, off we went to JC Penney to buy formal trousers and neckties. I somehow have this fancy for ties. They look so colourful with a tinge of cushion protruding at the end. Myself, Samarsen and Karthik Sadanandam took a cab and we expected to come back in about an hour's time. Samar and I had a tough time selecting our trousers. Trousers that suit our waist size along with perfect length was tough to find. There was not many a choice to make the selection. We roamed around the store for quite sometime trying out various combinations to select the best fit. After a great difficulty, both of us ended up getting the right colours and the right fit. Then, we had to go to the ties. When I saw the ties from a distance, I thought that it shouldn't be all that difficult to get the right tie. But only after I started seeing the ties did I realise how difficult it is going to be to chose the right one. Samar and I explored various available ties and trashed everything with some explanation or the other. Oh! This is too dark. No, this is too light! Come on, the pattern on that tie doesn't look too good! This has no stripes! Oh! That has too many stripes! It has stars! This is good but it wouldn't go well with the shirt! It has this and that and what not! Karthik was a silent spectator to this mental onslaught. We had to make the decision and it had to be quick. Finally, both Samar and I picked up ties of our choice. We were still not sure. Is this better or that stayed in our minds for quite some time.

At the end of it all, we were fed up with our selection policy, and headed back with what we thought were the best ties that could be picked up from the store. I never realised that shopping could be such a nightmare. Thank God my mother did the shopping for me when I was in India!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Natiya Peroli Padmini

One of the greatest artists of the seventies, Natiya Peroli Padmini was in an altogether different league by herself as far as her dancing skills were concerned. She was undoubtedly one of the best in her era or maybe one of the best ever. Dance is a vital component of mainstream cinema, and Padmini, in the yesteryears, played a decisive part in popularising the art, thanks to her inimitable style. The flair and grace associated with her dance found her many fans amidst a lot of movie goers.

Tamil industry will never be the same again without this talented actress. Those were the times - Savitri, Vyjayanthi Mala, Padmini, Devika, Saroja Devi and KR Vijaya had created a niche in Tamil cinema, playing the leading ladies to two of the most popular actors - the late MGR and the late Sivaji Ganesan. Padmini had a lot of films to her credit, and some of them were phenomenal and treasured in the history of Tamil cinema. Chiththi had Padmini playing second wife to M.R. Radha (another versatile actor of Tamil cinema). The poise and composure she displays in the movie can move anybody to tears in this wonderfully crafted drama. Vanjikottai Vaaliban had two of the tamil beauties - Vyjayanthi Mala (one of my all time favourites) and Padmini featuring in a mind-blowing dance. This dance will definitely be embedded in the minds of her fans, as it featured terrific movements from both the danseurs in a glittering performance. Who can forget Vietnam Veedu? If you notice the title, it is strange for a Tamil movie to have a Vietnam in it, but then once you see the movie, you realise why it is kept that way. This had Sivaji at his best in a tear jerking drama ably supported by Padmini. She also featured in a good number of Hindi movies with Raj Kapoor.

Padmini's sad demise is a loss of a great artist and one whose void is truly irreplacable. The Thillana Mohanambal, has captured many a hearts on the way and she will definitely linger in the hearts and minds of her fans for a long long time. There can be none who will be more enthusiastic about dance as this veteran. She lived and breathed dance all the way through her life. Though Padmini has found her way to the heavenly abode, the great timeline of movies left by her will all along remain unforgettable for ages to come.

Monday, September 25, 2006

All that glitters is white

This forms the main ingredient of my sunday once in two weeks. Taking my laundry bag and walking upto a mile to wash my clothes at MOBIL is undoubtedly the most painful experience of the fortnight. Imagine doing this on a wintry afternoon at sub-zero temperatures. The pain would start two days before actually doing the laundry. The most common feeling would be - Oh No! Not again! The next obvious question would prop up almost at the next nano second - How I wish I had a car! Sadly though, student life does not yield handsome income, and we have to make do with what we have. But, this is definitely a much better situation to be in than washing it on your own. That would have been even more frustrating. No wonder I can imagine most of the hostel guys to wear the same old clothes for a long period of time. The colour fades to different shades, the original colour is lost by not washing it at all, and the brown tinge adds a totally new stinking sensation to your clothes. Most of them would dread to go near the hostel guy fearing a bad outcome. No wonder, fellow hostel guys flock together, and only a hostel guy can understand a fellow hostel guy's situation. Thankfully, here, all these things can be avoided.

The machines at MOBIL are just great. Pop in 2$ in quarters, come back in half an hour, and your clothes are washed to a nicety. I get reminded of the Rin advertisement back in India, where a beautiful lady is draped in a lightning white saree. The freshness associated with the clothes, thanks to the softener, brings a nice feeling to the senses. After this, the dryer is filled with the washed clothes, and post heavy turbulence for about 25 minutes, out emerges the clothes, as if it was hanging in your courtyard the whole day. I am ready to bask in the glory of washed clothes for two weeks.

Two weeks later...

Saturday, September 23, 2006


! What the hell is that? I think the best way to release your pent up emotions is to blast your way through a short writeup on undoubtedly the worst movie of the season. Last night, my friends and I caught up with a one hour viewing of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (KANK). I don't know whether it is a Naa or a Na, since you see Karan Johar is pretty superstitious about these silly things. To top it all, the media gets excited when Karan Johar changes the title from some silly name to another equally silly name. Obviously it has to be, since only a single letter gets edited in his new title.

Now, let me add some adjectives to this movie: silly, idiotic, stupid, outrageous, maddening, foolish, nerve wrecking, head breaking (not path breaking please as KJ claims), goofed up to the core, foolhardy, reckless, unwise, pathetic, nauseating, wretched, pitiable, dismal, sad, deplorable, useless and above all disgraceful. I wish I had more time to look for worse adjectives in any online dictionary. I can go on and on and rant about this totally mindless and time wasting drama, which makes absolutely no sense at all. I just cannot fathom what triggered a debate after the people saw this movie. All that I could think of was fleeing from the hall and getting back to bed with about a dozen painkillers. KJ is too happy to talk about his movie in his interviews. I am happy that my movie has triggered a debate. Even I would agree to that, but not about the movie, but whether a Karan Johar movie should be watched in the future or not. As such, we started seeing the movie after one hour from the start and got out in 45 mins. We were not even in a position to make fun of the movie, as we could not decipher what the hell was happening on the screen. Just because your marriage is not working out doesn't mean you end up in bed with somebody else. The best part is, the side relationship goes on with the main relationship. Now, don't get me wrong. I am getting the KJ effect. What I mean is, even though you are not happy with the relationship, stick on with your wife and go to bed with somebody else forms the theme of the 45 mins which I saw.

Amitabh Bachchan has made a complete mockery out of himself with his role in the movie. It looks so put on and hopeless. Shahrukh Khan is forgettable in the movie. His acting is so plain and totally lacking in strength. He gets perturbed by all the idiosynchracies happening around him. Abhishek Bachchan has atleast demonstrated good acting abilities, but since the script is so weak and tortuous (obviously, that's what I felt since every scene was rounding up on the same points), he had nothing much to do. He shouts at his wife(Rani Mukherji) for not satisfying his sexual whims and fancies. The best part is Shahrukh shouts at Rani for maintaining an intimate relationship with Abhishek. So, Rani is at the receiving end from two people at the same time. By this time, I was driven to madness and my friends and I dashed to the exit before more pitfalls could catch our attention. But, Rani and Preity Zinta are amazing in the movie. They are ravishing. But then, how long can one look at the beautiful ladies if the plot is maddening.

At the end of it all, we had to come to this conclusion. KKJMND. Still not sure? Kabhi Karan Johar Movie Naa Dekhna!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Back and Forth

Whistling back to the glorious days of yesteryears,
I saw myself standing at the threshold of yore,
But, Why? The past just comes to the fore,
I wondered, wondered and wondered alone!

Standing at the corner of every street,
Waiting all along for every other treat,
Absolutely no reasons to celebrate,
But, we always found one not to retreat!

Life is a profound mystery,
You were worried, "When can I go out?",
Today, questions take a new turn
You are worried, "Am I going out?"

As your gaze falls on the pixels in front,
Thoughts flood and fill you in doubt,
The program runs out of memory,
Enough to bring old memories back!

You were waiting for this,
Total recall of the past,
Endless events appear and reappear,
You wish it just would disappear!

You have solved the problem,
Your program no longer runs out of memory,
Back to star gazing, now a new program,
Thoughts churn out again in a flurry,
Frantically hoping to clear the memory,
The pixels fade, you have turned it off!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The turnaround

After the results of the last Lok Sabha elections, I was sure about one thing. The Indian railways is going to go to dogs. I am sure many of you would have seconded me on this. That, coupled with a possibility of a non-Indian donning the Prime Minister role, was giving almost everyone around a lot of heart aches. All felt that it was one of the darkest periods of Indian history. Nobody had a clear idea of how things would shape up in the future. Laloo Prasad Yadav, the Hon'ble Railway Minister did not sound too good on the Indian resume. We needed people with dynamic skills and definitely Laloo's name did not hit the right chord with the masses.

Times have changed now. The wrong judgement passed on Laloo had to be reconsidered. Reconsidered? It was thrown out without ado. What with the Indian Railways having a cushion of Rs. 11000 crore, who can blame Laloo now? He has passed the acid test that was set upon him a couple of years back, and has really taken the bull by the horns. Laloo, in a period of two years has brought in a revivial within the railways. People are stunned by the figures. How could Laloo achieve this, when so many others had failed miserably. Railways was running at a loss without a sense of direction. Laloo not only has given the Railways direction, but also has propelled it intelligently. Now everyone from Harvard and IIMs to the local B-schools have only one name in their mind. Everyone wants Laloo to give presentations and seminars explaining the turnaround that he has brought about. Even GE was considerably interested in Laloo's ideas and the Chairman of GE had evinced interest in learning how Laloo did the unthinkable. The best part about the cash reserves wasn't observed by hiking the passenger fares, but by careful planning and perfect execution. He realised that Goods carrier was the major way that Railways can make money. He increased the bogies for the goods trains, thus increasing the freight in these trains. More freight meant more money, and the rest just fell in place beautifully. The passengers are happy, the railways is smiling and obviously, Laloo is beaming.

Laloo has turned the tables with very simple ideas, and now the opposition has no way to target the Railway Ministry. What with 11000 crores in the kitty, who can blame the most popular person in the country!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Google "Reality"

Google has been one company that started off incognito in the Stanford dorm to emerge as a leading search engine in the 21st century. It has beaten hands down any hint of competition from Altavista, Excite, MSN, Yahoo or in fact any other. Larry Page and Sergey Brinn created history of sorts, when they sat back to decipher, or rather invent the Back Link Algorithm. Imagine downloading the entire web content on your desktop. Well, that was the idea that propped into Page's head before hitting it off with what one can hail as one of the greatest turning points in the internet world with a sleek, usable and simple search engine that caught on easily with the masses.

I came to know some time back of The Google Story written by David Vise and Mark Malseed. I was hunting for this book for quite some time in various libraries, and obviously there are a lot of readers who have made a beeline in the waiting list for this book. Thankfully, after a long time did I realise that the University library had the digital rights for the book, and as I sat back to read this book, I found it really engrossing. The book opens with a presentation by the Google founders at an Israeli school, taking questions at ease from some really bright and intellectual kids. The authors have done a good job in capturing the essence of Google. The way Larry and Sergey get the initial funding to kick off the Google project is exciting to read. Why is it Google and not Googol? What did they do at Stanford? What were the issues in getting funded from a Venture Capitalist? It is also exciting to note how they did not partake any information though they get funded from a venture capitalist. That is not possible and is never heard off being done by any other company. An exciting round up of Googleplex is provided with good insight into Charlie's Corner. The recruitment of Eric Schmidt as the CEO of Google is an interesting read. The best part of this was that neither of them was ready to get into the other's fold. The way Google went public is covered in good detail. The hiccups, the speedbreakers, the agony, the anxiety and everything else is finally overcome by some steady progress that can stimulate anyone in achieving something in life. Overall, Google with its wide array of products has forayed into almost every aspect of internet, without any compromise on quality.

This book is a must read for Google fans. Though the authors at many times have stressed that Google derives its inspiration from technology and not for money, it is difficult to fathom. At the end of the day, money does matter, but it really does not matter to give this book atleast a one time read.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Vande Mataram

The last thing in the world that I thought could generate a controversy was India's National song Vande Mataram that has seen several generations sing this wonderful composition epitomizing the glory of the motherland. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee rendered a brilliant verse that was so easy for the Indian nationalists to identify with. It generated within a sense of patriotic feeling towards the land. The reverence and respect associated with the song was laced with magnificient description of nature. The verse stirs the souls of the countrymen and instills within an unexplainable feeling.

The centenary of the national song happens to fall on September 7th, and initially, the Government had made it mandatory to sing the song in educational institutions. But, later the Govt. had to mend its stance, thanks to the secular nature of the country. Obviously, certain sections of the society had to be appeased, who were adding a communal and political string to the national song. A song that depicts so much about the motherland is drawing flak for all the wrong reasons. People should first of all realise that it is a secular country, and the larger interests of the country comes first before anything. Surely, no religion goes against peace, but the way the Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari has been making statements does not augur well for the land. As such, there are a lot of vested interests in the country vying for political mileage, and an issue which should have been handled in a better way has been blown out of proportion by all concerned, creating a deep split among different sections of the society.

Issuing a fatwa against the country's national song - unheard of, but then India is a secular country!

Ganesha Habba

The time of the year when India forgets its internal squabbles, finds time to get together on a common platform to celebrate the most popular Hindu festival - Ganesha Habba (Festival). The idol of Ganesha exhibits a persona that can lift any person from gloom. It takes him to a new level of happiness and a sense of prosperity creeps in slowly and steadily. People gear up for the festival amidst hectic schedules, but the love and affection for Ganesha never diminishes. This may not be the ideal time for a festival, what with the end of summer and a long work session commencing. But, time and again we observe that the festival takes people to a new plane of unexplainable bliss.

In India, the festive parade hits off with a frenzy, what with all the important bazaars, markets, shopping malls, small and large shops alike, packed beyond limits. The shopping extravaganza starts well before the start of the festival, and the spree extends well after the festival has ended. In a way, Ganesha brings fortune to all. The scene in Malleswaram 8th cross is worth putting in words. The road is jam packed with people from the area shopping for various things. Importantly, flowers, and clay idols of Ganesha, fill the street. On an average, the shopkeeper has to trade with more than ten people at a time. Marking this important occasion, the street is lined up with barricades at the entrance to prevent two wheelers and four wheelers from swamping the already swamped area. It is generally a fascinating sight to see the contest between the vendors and the ladies. The bargaining power of the customer is tested to no end, as each of them fight for every penny. At the end, somehow, both of them come to a deal which leaves both sides satisfied. Truly, a stockmarket phenomenon, and of course without the big bucks. Flowers and other important ingredients required for the puja have their prices escalated more than double that of normal days. The battle for mallige hua (jasmine flowers) is always nice to watch.

Shopkeeper: Ondhu mola haththu rupai (One cubit: 10 rupees)
Customer: Illa, aidhu rupai (5 rupees)
Shopkeeper: Aayithu Final rate elu rupai (Ok final rate: 7 rupees)
Customer: Seri, eradu mola kodu (Ok, give me two cubit)

And when the shopkeer is measuring the cubit, the customer invariably comes up with Your hand is not long enough, add extra flowers!!! The bargaining for extra flowers goes on for a few seconds, and finally, the vendor would add in one or two flowers for namesake that would leave the customer with a small tinge of satisfaction that would be concealed in murmers and grumbles.

A day of shopping during the festive season can be totally fulfilling as well as exhausting. It is no joke to push your way through the sea of enthusiastic shoppers, and find the shop of your choice. But, one thing is for sure. The crowd never ceases to disappear. Year after year, amidst all the wrong things happening in the country, amidst security threats, amidst social and economic problems, amidst harrowing family problems, amidst uncertainities, the thick blanket of certainity that engulfs the nation is our very special Ganesha Habba!!!