Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Macha/Maga/Dude/Yaar, whoever you are - "Blogger is improving!!!"

One particular feature of Wordpress which I wanted to see in Blogger was the way by which anyone could leave behind their site/blog URL while commenting.

Finally, my prayers have been answered.

Thanks to the Blogger team.

Those coming in from Wordpress/Livejournal, please try the feature by commenting.

Educating Amit Varma

Amit Varma, in this blog-entry links to a ToI photo where the deputy CM of Maharashtra is being weighed against books at a function in Pune.

Well, the picture looks funny with everyone in the best of spirits, specially with Mr.Patil's staff/stooges trying to balance their leader, who is trying to balance books on the other pan. (digressing, does this make Mr. Patil an accountant, since he is balancing his books?)

Amit goes on to say

No, do not ask me what Mr Patil is up to. I don’t know, and never wish to
find out


I shall deliberately ignore the 'never wish to find out' phrase and do my best to educate him -

The act that Mr. Patil is indulging in is called Tulabharam, which translates ino English as weighing by scale. It generally is carried out as an act of charity usually at temples and socio-public functions. There is an interesting story concerning Tulabharam involving Rukmini, Krishna and Satyabhama.

Mr.Patil's reasons behind this Tulabharam may be debatable, but the one important question that needs to be asked is, "Why the heck are books being weighed against Mr.Patil? Is this how the Ministry of Education (hopefully those are books for school kids) "functions" in disbursing books?"

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

England, stay at home

Yes!!! I'm so happy. England are out of Euro 2008. In my opinion this is something which they needed, something similar to India exiting out of Cricket World Cup 2007.

Both the teams are similar, lots of hype and reputation, but when it comes to actual performance where a fight is expected they are zilch.

The exit turned out to be good for India in terms of the new team being built, certain players having to regain their form, will England go the same way?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's 0400 hrs but we still follow the Queue

Discipline is the key to success -this might have been drilled into our heads since time immemorial. Why we do certain things and don't do certain things depending on whether there's someone to supervise us or not?

Whatever may be the answer to that question, the following incident should clear one doubt - following a system irrespective of the hour of the day, or the presence of a monitoring person saves a lot of time and effort.

A couple of my friends had to catch an early morning flight, and despite my best assurances regarding their timely reaching at the airport thanks to Bombay's round the clock available transport facility, they wanted to book a cab. Unfortunately, the cab service had all its vehicles booked upto the afternoon. That left us with no option but to rely on the regular autos/taxis.

It was about 4 in the morning when we exited my apartment complex. True to my prediction, there was a queue of autos at the auto stand. But, all the drivers were asleep. Not wanting to disturb them and having observed movement of autos and taxis on the road, we decided to flag one down. All that we got for a good 10 minute wait in the morning chill was a few full autos and a Maruti Esteem which flew over a speed-breaker at about 80-90 kmph.

We then decided to wake the first driver in the queue. He got up without fuss, got ready and before leaving woke the next guy in the line and asked him to take his due place at the head of the queue. He then drove away.

As I went back to my apartment, I saw Driver #2 pushing his vehicle to the head of the queue and then walking back to wake driver #3.

Neat isn't it? I don't think this would happen in any other place in India.

There were also a few questions in my mind:

1. Do I doff my hat to the work culture of this place?

OR

2. Do I doff my hat to the fact that Driver #1 considered it his responsibility to intimate his sleeping colleague that the numero uno position was vacant and had to be occupied?

OR

3. Do I doff my hat to the chain reaction that set in among all the drivers?

OR

4. Do I doff my hat to the fact that no one else would have occupied the vacated spot even if the other drivers had not woken up to push their vehicles?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nuvvu Nuvvu



This is the video of one of the most romantic and sweetest songs in Telugu.

What do I like about it? Well, Sonali Bendre and the surroundings. Wish I was her partner. Do you wanna partner, Sonali?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Marriage Registration in India

The Supreme Court of India, on 25th October 2007, came out with a landmark judgement that all marriages, irrespective of religion must be registered. The IBN Live report whose text version is on yahoo news, says:

Marriages may be made in heaven but they will have to be registered right
here on earth says the Supreme Court and your religion does not matter.

The court has also asked states to notify the procedure for registration of
marriage as well as appoint an officer to register all marriages in that state.

Lawyer Wasim Qadri says, “There is problem in society that people have
denied their marriages when in litigation.”


This is exactly the problem that can arise if a marriage is not registered. Evidence like photographs, marriage videos, people present at the wedding cannot be airtight proof that the wedding has taken place. If that be the case, every couple married on television had better be declared as husband and wife.

As far as cases related to the 'married couple' moving to a distant place are concerned, there have been/could be instances where the woman (in most of the cases) is harassed, or in worst cases are put through trials and tribulations that Arathi undergoes in the movie Nagarahaavu.

In effect, the registration process just does this - it legally safeguards the union and prevents exploitation. Why do you think property is registered? Why are patents filed - to register an invention isn't it?

But, trust the great-ones to oppose it.

“We think they should not be made compulsory because they are a religious affair
as far as Muslim personal law is concerned and to say that marriages not
registered are null and void is against the very concept of Muslim personal law.
Our appeal to the honorary court to the state and central government the
registration should not be made compulsory.”


If one were to visit the website of this organisation, the introduction section provides an insight behind the raison d'ĂȘtre for such opposition -

All India Muslim Personal Law Board was established at a time when then
Government of India was trying to subvert Shariah law applicable to Indian
Muslims through parallel legislation.Adoption Bill had been tabled in the
Parliament. Mr. H.R.Gokhle, then Union Law Minister had termed this Bill as the
first step towards Uniform Civil Code. Ulema, leaders and various Muslim
organisations successfully convinced the Indian Muslim community that the risk
of losing applicability of Shariah laws was real and concerted move by the
community was needed to defeat the conspiracy.


Their aims and objects (sic) section also rants about the primary aim being the promotion of Muslim personal law.

Fine, as an individual, every Muslim everyone has a right to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution, the right to follow Islamic customs, marry as per the customs prevalent in Islam etc.

But, one must remember that rights are always accompanied by duties. And one such duty is to obey the rule of the land. In addition, the law is not infringing on the rights of the Muslims at all. All that it asks for is to comply with a national ruling for the betterment of society. And may I remind the members of the AIMPLB that Muslims too are part of Indian society?

So, kindly stop such nakra-naatak-baazi and please start promoting the concept of marriage registrations.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

India:Australia::Pallavas:Chalukyas?

The Chalukyas of Vatapi (Badami) and the Pallavas were two of some 'N' dynasties to rule the Indian sub-continent upto say, 1857; which I consider to be the period of the beginning of single-entity rule in India.

The Chalukyan king Pulikesi II, during my school days, was a sort of hated figure for me, for the simple reason that he stopped Harshavardhana's (whose name sounds infinitely sexier than Pulikesi) advance on the banks of the Narmada. But Immadi Pulikeshi by himself is the greatest ruler of the Chalukyan empire. Imagine, fighting a civil war to regain the throne, annexing territories, building up a vast army, laying siege to the city of Kanchipuram and at the end of it all having an empire stretching from the Narmada to the Kaveri is no mean achievement.

The Pallavas too had their heroes. King Mahendra Varman, his son Mamallan (of the Mahabalipuram fame) and of course their star commander Paranjothi.

The see saw cross generation battles between the two dynasties have been very well documented. Supposedly, the best literature in this area can be found in Kalki Krishnamurthi's Sivakamiyin Sapatham. Of course, the book is in Tamil, but you can find a partial English translation here. And just to clarify, the book is written from the Pallavan point of view. There is no doubting who the villains of the novel are - the Chalukyas. I would love to find a book written from the Chalukyan point of view.

Is there any parallel to this rivalry? I think so: the Indo-Australian battle for cricket supremacy is one such. Let me trace a chronology -

1. Allan Border led Australia kick Azhar led India's a*%& during the 1992 tour of Australia.

2. Sachin Tendulkar led India beat Mark Taylor led Australia in a one off test and knock them out of the Titan Cup.

3. Mohammad Azharuddin led India beat Mark Taylor led Australia in a 1997-98 3 test series in India

4. Steve Waugh led Australia blank Sachin Tendulkar led India in the 1999 down-under series

5. Saurav Ganguly led India stop the Steve Waugh led Australian juggernaut in the 'VVS Laxman-Matthew Hayden-Harbhajan Singh' series in 2001

6. Ganguly led India draw a hard fought series against Steve Waugh's Australia - in Australia.

7. Gilchrist-Ponting led Australia win back the Border Gavaskar trophy against a Ganguly-Dravid led India.

8. Ponting led Australia demolish Mahendra Dhoni led India 4-2 in a one day series.

The next series is India's tour of Australia in December. Is this the time for Dhoni to don the mantle of a Narasimha Pallavan?

Hopefully he should. But I feel for Dravid, he has never got a complete series against the Australians. Time to reconsider resignation from the test captaincy?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Paradigm shift anyone?

I'm currently reading this book called "The Tyranny of Numbers" by David Boyle. This book is a delight for a qualitative person like me who doesn't like the way numbers are being abused. Collecting data, furiously searching for patterns in them, drawing conclusions from the data are exercises which I generally take up when there is no other option to put my word across.

I am more of someone who argues based on emotions, abstracts, gut feeling, sixth sense etc. It may sound out of place in this world, but data is what I do not like, give me date anytime over that!!! :-)

Mr.Quantitative, will surely disagree with me on this!! Check this, this, this and this.

I also do understand the limitations of my approach with the growing size of organisations, parameters, inputs, viewpoints etc. Hence numbers are a way of life; no escape. Period.

Anyway, the book had a couple of superb points which I am just scribbling over here.

1.
The best recruitment policy focuses on the individual job and the individual
applicant and the best educational policy focuses on the individual student.


My view: Yes. But as the size of the organisation grows is there enough time and enough patience to run through things qualitatively? How would for instance a company like TCS with such a large workforce try to see if every individual fits in with their system? They certainly are justified in sticking to their policy of looking at a particular set of people rather than how each individual in that set should be.

2. This is a lovely statement because there has been an incident wherein the mechanisms of my class election were supposed to work in the manner described below. Let me clarify very clearly that what is said about John Vasconcellos DOES NOT REFLECT ON THE GUYS INVOLVED IN THE COLLEGE INCIDENT. Both are good friends of mine and are great chaps in their own right. Clarification provided, see the statement.

"In fact, he had such low self-esteem, that he lost the first election he ever
fought, for eighth grade president, by one vote. His own"


Touché.....................

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Glenn Mcgrath strikes again....

.... or rather the entities from whom he derives his nick-name, the pigeons strike again. They are a real pest, let me tell you. Upto last month they were good neighbours; I let them roost and they never crossed the boundaries of my window.

The last week was an exercise in detection. Every evening, my toilet kit, deo and vicks bottle used to lie on the floor. I used to blame the easterlies, the westerlies and what not for their toppling over. I have even spent hours trying to analyse how the wind could have come in at such a bent angle and still manage to topple over stuff which is kept quite far away from the edge of the shelf.

Monday proved to be the 'eureka' day. It was early in the morning and I was about to leave for my gym, and I accidentaly managed to peek into my bedroom to look for a pair of socks when I had the shock of my life. Two bloody pigeons were hovering dangerously close to my after-shave bottle. The bastards had come in so silently; the sort of silence that would make stealth fighters proud.

My life has turned topsy-turvy. I was the proud advocate of not sealing off the space meant for the air conditioning unit in the name of fresh air. These bloody birds have made me seal the space with newspapers!!! Cheap as it may sound, this is a temporary measure until I get a screen window installed.

Bhagyashree might have sung

"Kabootar ja ja ja, Kabootar ja ja ja
Pehli pyaar ki pehli chitti, saajan ko de aa"


But my song is
"Kabootar ja ja ja, kabootar ja ja ja
Chitti to chodo, Pyaar karne waali bhi nahin
Bas mere ghar khaali kar ke chala ja"

Anyone with ideas on how to drive away pigeons please leave your suggestions in the comments section.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Chatpat Churumuri

Churumuri is a lovely blog with a Mysore connection. If you are wondering what Churumuri exactly means, check this out. Satiated your stomach? Now, read this to know what the online Churumuri is.

The way the blogs are written here are simply superb!! I love to just keep going through this blog again and again. I would suggest that you read the entries in this series of articles and in case you are able to make out who is being referred to, just smile and keep the name to yourself. Why would you want to point out someone directly when the folks at Churumuri are doing it in a subtle manner!!

This recent entry on the recent political crisis in Karnataka is a gem. Just imagine the creativity in linking this crisis to the morning-after crisis. And also observe the way the original advertisement is tweaked to give us the "maa-ji" CM's face. Awesome fun!!!

Talking about i-pills, check out this article by Rashmi. She sums up the potential misuse of this pill by the following phrase:

It would be terrible if young people decide to adopt the convenient route: Condom nahi hai? Koi baat nahin - you can always use the i-Pill. So let's go
ahead anyways
.

Hopefully the young people being referred to should realise that i-pill does not protect against AIDS, syphilis etc

Back to Kannada naadu now. This sort of KLPD is happening for the second time with the BJP. The earlier KLPD giver was Behenji Mayawati!! Irrespective of how crooked politicians are, this sort of cheating takes the cake. And such instances can be summarised by some phrases like:

1. Suryange torchaa (Shine a torch to the sun?)

2. Neenu chaape kelage tooridare naanu rangoli kelage toortini (if you can slip under the carpet, i can slip under the 'rangoli'; now, beat that!!)

The BJP bufoons should have documented this formula of power sharing before the government formation and got it SIGNED in PUBLIC. There is nothing to substitute the legal validity of the written word. I just fail to understand how such simple formalities can escape notice in the mad thirst for power.

In case they end up in a similar situation the next time, they should sign the agreement; then maybe take up the first chance themselves and then when their turn comes to hand-over, they should hand over power WITHOUT fail. Not only would this showcase them as meticulous and street smart, but would also give them the tag of honesty, something which is not in the possession of any party.

Deve Gowda might be smirking now; but I wish from the blackest portions of my heart (and in case there are none I shall paint a large portion with that colour) that the Janata Dal ('Secular') is thrashed in the hustings, even in Gowda's home territory. People of Karnataka, we need more Tejaswini Srirameshs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For the Kannada speaking AND the Electrically inclined

AND being the operative word, these phrases would mean greater fun if your logical output for the above condition is 1; else you may have to request translation which would rob you of the fun part.

1. Shunta = Shaata connected in shunt

2. Sirisha = Shaata connected in series

3. Shatki Diode = A diode made by the principle of shaata tunneling

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Oscar Gaffe

The choice of Ekalavya: The Royal Guard as India's nominee for the Oscars is pathetic to say the least. The selection committee has lost the match for the country before it starts. Why do I say so?

1. There was atleast one superb movie - Gandhi my Father comes to my mind. There may be many such hidden gems in regional movies.

2. From my empirical observation, I feel that the jury looks for meaningful cinema which is novel at the same time. Ekalavya may be a superbly shot movie; may have the old-world charm to it, but does it come close to Gandhi My Father? No, Sir!!!

Every year the selection committee makes the same mistakes. They just go by the names of the big stars and try to cash in on them.

When will these buffoons realise that popularity among desis doesn't mean that the whole world takes notice?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Photos from Bombay

This was taken just outside the domestic airport, Santa Cruz, Bombay. The auto driver had stopped to buy some pan-paraag. The kids in the picture had stopped to see the fate of a bottle that had been throen out of a moving car by some arsehole. The kid in the red vest was telling the others that the bottle would be crushed at any moment. And when it happened, this was the "Aha!! I told you so" moment
This picture was taken near Dharavi, Bombay during heavy rains. Heavy is a relative term; people here would classify it as a "trailer-baarish" as compared to 26 July 2005!!!


I was appalled to see this advertisement in the Times of India. Is this a way to sell an anti-virus? Or is there some hidden link connecting Krrish, Don and Symantec/Norton?


When Fear Strikes

Rush Hour on the local-train
Left me with no time
To reflect on the moment
The date and even the day

The sea of humanity at CST
All impervious to each other
Rushing to office/college
Or who knows, maybe even a leisurely stroll

All went well
Until I reached my destination
Which was on the 13th floor
Of the World Trade Centre

A look out of the window
The sea seemed shallow
And the fishermen's boats
Anchored like picture perfect

"Was that a plane?" said my mind
"Oh you fool its your imagination"
Said my heart kind;
September the 11th it is my boy
But New York it sure isn't, but think of them all the same
Those who died for Bin-Laden's joy

PS: A tribute to the 9/11 victims; this came about because of the fear momentarily generated in my heart while on the 13th floor of the World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade, Bombay

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Age of Uncertainty

Once in a while everyone tends to have the good fortune to find a great book in the library; once in a while everyone has the good sense to retain this book at the expense of others given the limit on borrowings and once in a while everyone keeps themselves keyed up and reads the book word to word without losing interest even once.

Such a book is "The Age of Uncertainty" by John Kenneth Galbraith, economist and ex-USA ambassador to India.

This book is ideal for someone who is interested in a historical narration of the development of economic thought process. In this context Sharath Rao immediately comes to mind. The book provides an unbiased narrative, shows an understanding of the times that the theorists lived; and also touches upon the geographical aspects of the places where the theorists grew up in.

Adam Smith, Karl Marx, lenin, colonialism, the history of money are some of the topics touched upon. Beautifully written; engrossing, a must read for students of economics, history and economic-history/historical-economics.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Cities and the people who love them

Sample this extract from Orhan Pamuk's 'Istanbul: memories of a City'

In the Return of the Flaneur, Walter Benjamin introduces Franz Hessel's
Berlin Walks by saying that "If we were to divide all the existing description
of cities into two groups according to the birthplace of authors, we would
certainly find that those written by the natives of the cities concerned are
greatly in the minority." According to Benjamin, the enthusiasm for seeing a
city from the outside is exotic or picturesque. For natives of a city, the
connection is always mediated by memories.


Beautiful!!! Wonder where such culture has disappeared when I hear bad remarks about Bangalore, Bombay, Delhi, Madras, Calcutta and Nagpur from the non-natives.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Some Observations

1. How do you rate 'Transformers'?

Been asked this question? Floundered, irrespective of whether you liked it or not? Been at a loss for words? Are awesome, mind-blowing on the one hand and shitty, yucky on the other are the only words that come to your mind and by propogation to your mouth?

Fear not ye mortals, here are two phrases that will exhibit your scientific temper, your appreciation of the movie, your presence of mind "Phalaana Dimaaka" (Slang Hindi for etc etc etc)

Transformers = Artificial Intelligence+Smart Materials


2. How do you ensure that the economy is flush with sufficient loose change?

Ever whipped out a deci-k (read as hundred) or k (thousand) note and been stared at and told "Sorry saab, khulla/chutta/change nahin hain?" The answer is simple:

One in a while ditch going to the ATM and take the pains to withdraw cash
in your desired denomination from your nearby branch.

Words from Istanbul

I'm currently immersed in Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul: Memories and the City.

Found this word which i loved instantly:

chiaroscuro

A monochrome picture made by using several shades of the same colour


Is this to me as what serendipity was for Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

An "I give up" post

To all the readers of this blog, I only have to say this:

"
I am absolutely fed up of trying to format my entries on blogger. So, the
articles that you read will generally be pathetically formatted for no fault of
mine. There are the odd articles which appear neat - that is because i would not
have used the italics or block quote formatting. I try to lay emphasis on the
content; leaving formatting in the hands of God and Blogger. I am broken,
frustrated and defeated by formatting... Hence I shall not try to make my
articles visibly pleasing
."

The Tata Power AGM

For the first time in my life, I attended an Annual General Meeting (AGM); the one of Tata Power on 8th August, 2007. The jugglery of mathematics was quite interesting – the 88th AGM was being held on the 8th day of the 8th month of the year.

The AGM was held at the Birla Matoshree Sabhangan (Birla Auditorium) on Sir Vithaldas Thackersey Marg running parallel to Queen’s Road (Maharshi Karve marg), the road running adjacent to Churchgate terminus. SVT Marg happened to be a quiet rain drenched street, something which roars to life during lunch breaks and begin & end time of institutes; and is deadly silent otherwise. Interestingly this road houses the Anti Dowry Guidance Cell.

The entrance at the Birla auditorium was chaotic, and instead of the usual rude, pushy, unruly crowds of youngsters, this was a noisy complaining crowd of senior citizens. My first reaction was to panic – “What am I doing here? Let me get the hell out of here!!” Better sense prevailed over me, telling me to wait and watch.

Observing children and senior citizens is a nice pastime. They generally carry on with their activities with nay a care in the world, but if they know that someone is watching over them or if they are among their peers, the extra energy to make oneself noticed comes out of nowhere. But they are a lovely set of people to be with, if you have the patience to listen, observe and be like a sponge absorbing their mostly harmless rants.

The AGM started in the usual manner with the resolutions to be adopted being put up for approval, customary addresses by the chairman Mr. Ratan Tata and the MD Mr. Prasad Menon. Hearing these two guys speak, even though there was no hormone pumping message usually seen during convocations was inspiring. Specially the way Mr.Tata has handled a vast group and the effortless transition Mr. Menon has made from heading Tata Chemicals to Tata Power.

The interesting part followed – the session for questions from shareholders. Many speakers put forth their views on the annual report. Some of the views were redundant, considering that they wee already in the report. There were a few moments of humor, like when this lady rattled off Shayaris (poems) in honor of Mr. Tata. Something on the lines of “Tata group ke Shehanshah; Agle saal bhi aap dividend issue karenge, yeh umeed hai mujhe” types.

What amazed me was the detailed study some of the questioners had made over the report. Most of the questions concerned the issue of dividend, perceived unnecessary spending etc. Most of these worries were also coupled with the promise of security of power supply to the country. This is the right attitude to have, in my opinion, “Ask what the company has done for you and your country”.

Considering that TPC is 8 decades old, it is not surprising that most of its shareholders are senior citizens. They represent a breed of careful investors unlike today’s short term, short sighted, lusting after quick money investors. The joy on their faces on hearing about the declaration of higher dividend should have been seen to be believed.

I believe that they have reason to feel more joy in the years to come – TPC certainly looks to be a giant in the Indian power sector. Vriddhashrama vaasis certainly can be assured of that.

As I was walking out in the middle of the long and seemingly never ending Q&A session, the following conversation rang in my ears for the rest of the day:

Old Parsi shareholder: "During your father's time, Chairman Sir, there were advertisements asking Bombayites to consume more and more electricity. It is an irony that now, we are being asked to use as less as possible."

Ratan Tata: "Yes, it certainly is an irony. But hopefully our vision is that we should get back to the good old days in the future. Till then, every switch that you put off is a blessing."

For India's sake I hope the vision works out well!!!!

The Gulag Archipelago

Aleksandr I Solzhenitsyn’s riveting account of the system of persecution prevalent in Russia under Stalin certainly makes for moving reading. It shows the extremities to which mankind can go to safeguard their position, power and authority in the light of hallucinations experienced by leaders; and by all accounts, mystery leaders such as Stalin would certainly would have had reasons to be hallucinated.
Credit must also go to Thomas P Whitney for the excellent translation. The irony, the mockery, the joy and the sorrow that Solzhenitsyn must have experienced have been brought out in great detail. The supplementary explanatory title “An Experiment in Literary Investigation” is certainly an apt description of the intention of the book – investigating and exposing the Communist anarchy.
The book starts with a chapter on arrests. Aleksandr beautifully describes an arrest as follows: “It’s a blinding flash and a blow which shifts the present instantly into the past and the impossible into omnipotent actuality”. How many arrests have we seen? The dignified Sanjay Dutt, the bawling Karunanidhi, the unrepentant Alistair Pereira. But all of them constitute high profile cases and they had/have a way out either by way of position, authority or money respectively. How many arrests of ordinary people have we seen? Nil. That is because most ordinary folks do not have the money, position or authority to commit crimes to get arrested. But more important is the reason that we are in a thankfully tolerant regime which does not get into imagined fears about its very roots getting torn out. There might be instances of false cases being foisted upon innocent people, but I do not think the justice system would have clogged the “sewage disposal system” (as Solzhenitsyn says) with so many prisoners.
The second chapter deals with the history of the mass imprisonments, public trials, tortures and all those parts which make up that whole called a repressive regime. In fact, one gets to see that the seeds for this system are sown by V. I. Lenin, the first leader of the Russian Soviet. Sample this extract from the book:
And even though V. I. Lenin at the end of 1917, in order to establish ‘strictly
revolutionary order’ demanded ‘merciless suppression of attempts at anarchy on
the part of drunkards, hooligans, counterrevolutionaries and other
persons’…………...In his essay ‘How to Organize the Competition’ Lenin proclaimed
the common, united purpose of ‘purging the Russian land of all kinds of harmful
insects’…..
The chapter also describes the draconian Article 58 of the criminal code under which all the perceived enemies of the state were persecuted. The power of political commissars attached to the military units is also described; to see what powers the commissars exercised, you only need to see the movie ‘Enemy at the Gates’: how Vasily Zaitsyev is manipulated by the commissar – all for a woman. Yes, personal desires of a politically connected officer could land you in imprisonment.
There is a detailed description of the methods of interrogation and torture used by the Cheka/NKVD or whatever the agencies are called. In the middle of the chapter, Solzhenitsyn props up an unexpected gem: how to stand up and screw the interrogator“

From the moment you go to prison you must put your cozy past firmly behind you.
At the very threshold, you must say to yourself: ‘My life is over, a little
early to be sure, but there’s nothing to be done about it. I shall never return
to freedom. I am condemned to die – now or a little later. But later on, in
truth, it will be even harder, and so the sooner the better. I no longer have
any property whatsoever. For me those I have loved have died, and for them I
have died. From today on, my body is useless and alien to me. Only my spirit and
my conscience remain precious and important to me’. Confronted by such a
prisoner, the interrogation will tremble

.”
How many of us will follow such austere measures cannot be foretold until we are subject to the same. The very thought of methods such as a blow on the genitals, drinking the interrogator’s urine etc makes us cringe and want to puke. Lucky for us: such sort of rulers we have never seen (excluding the Emergency period of-course) nor should we ever see, assuming though that the problem of the Maoists and naxalites is eliminated once and for all.
A comparison of the interrogation methods followed under the Tsar and the Bolsheviks can be seen from the following extract:
At the end of the last century and the beginning of this one, the Tsarist
interrogator immediately withdrew his question if the prisoner found it
inappropriate or too intimate. But in Kresty Prison in 1938, when the old
political hard labor prisoner Zelensky was whipped with ramrods with his pants
pulled down like a small boy, he wept in his cell: ‘My Tsarist interrogator
didn’t even dare address me rudely.’
True, nature puts us through ‘worse’ to realize the advantages of ‘bad’.
There are also descriptions of trials conducted by Stalin’s stooges – a mockery of justice; where the prosecutor changed color like a chameleon; double standards were used blatantly and all perceived enemies – church functionaries, engineers, political opposition, and intellectuals were sentenced by sham courts and trials.
The reader is also provided insight into the foolish policy decisions of the Soviet throughout the course of the book. Some of these policies are laughable and some even warranted the arrest of Stalin and his aides, but considering that those Stalinist stooges managed to imprison, execute and exile people under these policies, they cease to be a laughing matter.
The Soviet ‘tamasha’ continues with the description of how they rechristened the death sentence as the ‘supreme measure’ merely to make things look new and changed. There is a moving account of the execution of 6 collective farmers merely for having gone back to their fields a second time to collect hay for their cows – a violation of state planning principles and rules.
Take this extract as an example of ironical comedy:
Of course, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee would certainly have
‘completely abolished’ the supreme measure, as promised, but unfortunately what
happened was that in 1936 the Father and Teacher ‘completely abolished’ the
All-Russian Central Executive Committee itself
.”
The author then proceeds to describe the inhuman slave labour system with chapters on the jails, the slave-convoy transports, the slave camps; how political prisoners are ill treated by the guards and common thieves; how they are denied their rations etc
As a conclusion, in my opinion, what should not be lost sight of is the fact that the common Russian populace is tired of the heavy hand of communism. They love their motherland alright, but not the type of rule that they are subjugated to. Considering the hardships that they were subjected to, with the cream of their population either lost to slave labor or to the jaws of death; the very fact that the cold war went on till 1989 is a tribute to the resilience of the Russians.
But, more importantly, this book proves that individual freedom coupled with the responsibility of humane behavior is the ultimate system which should come into the world. Capitalism, communism, fascism et al be damned. This message is the best review that one can give this book. Do read it.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Childhood - Cricket fades, quarrels fail; but the memory remains

The Hindu of 2nd August 2007 carried this article about children in Britain not playing out
on the streets at all. Instant connections can be formulated from an Indian perspective.

The streets outside my home have gone dead since 2000, when many of us started going about
our professional degrees. Luckily, I had the grounds, courts and pitches of KREC to keep my
sporting side alive. Not so for many of my Bangalore-stuck friends.

Add to this the mushrooming of CCD, Barista and the IT boom; Bangalore lost both it's
street games and its quiet way of life.

Forum and Garuda mall put the final nail in he coffin of the street-playing Bangalore kid.

As the article says, those days I knew all my neighbours well, but now I don't even know
what changes have transpired. Add to that my seven years away from Bangalore.

As the Mettalica song goes, its only the memory that remains. Some unforgettable memories:

1. Being set up repeatedly for a ball similar to the one with which Shane Warne bowled Mike
Gatting
by J

2. Myself and K always being on the opposite sides. Our different styles of play; the
sedate vs the aggressive; silky vs explosive; the high voltage clashes.

3. A 'definite' sixer by K landing on someone's chest prompting accussations of inducing
heart attacks by playing cricket

4. The methodical dismantling of the total by the other J

5. The arrival of the pace battery S

6. P cutting the ball into pieces and sadistically throwing it back to us for hitting it
into her house

7. Secretly eyeing the other J's sister and trying to impress her with our style of play.

Sigh!! Must restart........

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The eyes that lit up a Sunday evening and the Rajni Mecca in Bombay

The best part of staying in Bombay is that there are so many things to do if you really want to do. Say, if you want to really be a party animal, there is no dearth of places; if you want to watch a movie, this is movieland, dude (provided you get tickets, of course!!!); and even if you decide to be one of those like me who prefer not doing anything generally, need some stimulus to decide on an outing (this, after analysing all options etc); Bombay welcomes you with open arms.

It was such an evening that I decided to watch the Amitabh Bacchan-Tabu-Paresh Rawal starrer "Chini Kum". Everything went to perfection except the availability of tickets. One third of me wanted to return home to watch the pathetic Indians "battle" England; one third wanted to return to read The Gulag Archipelago and the last one third wanted to go on a long walk, where you can think, observe, sing to your heart's content. (Trust me folks, solitary long walks are something everyone should do!!!)

Choosing the option of a walk, I started off towards King's Circle in Matunga. Enroute I somehow strayed into Sion Koliwada and landed up on some automobile repair street.Digressing for the benefit of those special folks who know both Kannada and Tamil. Think 'koli' and think 'wada'. Now depending on how you pronounce 'wada' (which might mean the eatable medu-wada or 'come here dude'), it can either be made out as chicken-wada or chicken-come-here-dude!!

Back to the story.....

Following the path through the maze of streets, I finally ended up at the multiplex which I had just left 15 minutes back. I ploughed along and soon was near Gandhi Market. Thats when I saw those almond eyes!!! Almond eyes, somehow remind me of Bambi the Deer, and this lady certainly was deerlike. Her translucent burkha partially covered one of the most beautiful faces I have seen in my entire life. But it was her eyes, her 'kajal' bordered Bambi like eyes which took my breath away. What happened next? Eyes met-smiles exchanged-we went on our way.

Proceeding further, suddenly, I mean without warning, stepped on the hallowed turf of AURORA THEATRE, the Rajni Mecca!!! Any Rajni movie makes it's debut in Bombay here, and tickets can go upto 1000 bucks on the black market. Of course, Sivaji was showing and people were milling about.

My evening was made, Bambi and Rajni; bring out the celebratory brandi (Sic) :D

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Copies

In government offices in India, when multiple copies of any official letter are being sent,
the following terminologies are used:

1. When a copy is being sent to someone who is of a higher designation than the sender

"copy submitted with respect(s) to"

The additional s in respect(s) comes about if someone is feeling excessively respectful to
the 'boss'. But you better have respect at-least. A respect in letter is better than no
respect(s) at all.


2. When a copy is being sent to someone who is of equal designation

"copy fwcs to"

fwcs standing for forwarded with compliments.

3. When a copy is being sent to someone who is at a lower designation than the sender

"copy with enclosure to"

For those of you who are having a slight insulting smile on your face, try looking at it
this way. Think of a very very very traditional family whom you are visiting and are about
to take leave from:

When you take leave from the elders, you generally seek their blessings.

When you take leave from your peers, you generally shake hands or embrace.

When you take leave from the kids of the house, you generally give an affectionate pinch or
a kiss.

Think of government offices as an official version of the same. The same inter-generation
struggles are seen, the same atmosphere persists wherein you don't call elders by just
their name, but a suffix which is generally sir/madam.

Stockholm syndrome at work, you say?? Well, "Say what you mean but it won't change a
thing
", but the undeniable and unchallenged fact remains that no one has better record
keeping skills and a minutely defined set of procedures covering every eventuality as a
government agency. This is true, cutting across national borders!!

And yes, copies play a very very vital role; whether you submit it with
respect/compliments: at the end of the day, all that matters is whether it is in the file
or not and for the good of everyone, it better be :D

Friday, July 13, 2007

Statement of Intent

"In the Mumbai, all over India, we are the Bhai, we are the Bhai"

- Aay Ganpat, Chal Daaru Laa

- song from Shootout at Lokhandwala, 2007

Fotographie

Was in Khandala the last wekeend and managed to click quite a few snaps... Samples shown below
Mountain stream: "Men may come and men may go, but I go on forever" from The Brook by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Hilltop with waterfall

Life's fundas are sometimes explained by beer!!! or in this case by beer mugs.



Thursday, July 12, 2007

For the 'club' mentored KRECian

As a former IE member, it pains me to see the state of the Institution of Engineers, Students' Chapter in comparison with Computer Society of India (CSI) and ISTE!!!

Check the websites....
CSI:

ISTE:

Buck up IE members. Whats happening?

On a related note, Newswagon, the satirical newspaper of KREC also has a 'website' similar to IE.

Wonder of wonders, the students' union, that destroyer of carefully built up friendships has a working website.

Ah, memories...

...the IE 'interviews'

...making a fool of myself @ the newswagon 'interview'

...the proxy war with Newswagon during Crrescendo 2004 over "Anna Karenina"

...THE pep-talk of Elections 2003-04 "We've got them by the balls; and its now time to squeeze"

...overworked and sleepless hospitality committee work

Wish I could live those days again!!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Keeping track - technology help

The internet has literally exploded in our faces, and blogging is one of the main
detonators, if I may use the term. With an ever increasing number of people turning to
blogging; an increasing number of posts end up online and for people who follow a number of
blogs, this is a veritable nightmare. Add to that the number of newspaper and magazine
articles which are quoted and linked to and commented upon by bloggers. Fear not, RSS (not
the Nagpur headquartered, but the internet head quartered) is here to help!!

This entry is going to be about a feed reader called i-fetch. This is a nervous footstep in
the world of technology reviewing, and i have Shweta to thank for this. She blogs
here.

i-fetch is developed by Ideafarms. It's part of an information management suite and this is
what the salient features of i-fetch look like:

- Reduces bandwidth requirements: Good, but with ever growing bandwidth I guess this is not
a very crucial feature.

- Collects information at a single interface: Nice!!

- Pull-based, not Push-based: No idea what this means!!! But I can hazard a guess; it trawls
the web for the articles useful to me, rather than "sending out trumpets" blaring about itself
and collecting articles which have a keyword/link associated with i-fetch.

- Groups information conveniently: Desirable feature, no application can do without this

- Integrated browser: Again, more of a "should have" rather than an "additional feature".

- Auto discovery of feeds: Nice, but suppose it returns feeds that I don't want?

- Support for RSS, Atom & Rdf formats: Cool

- OPML Support: Any support is welcome

- Quick search: Again, "should have" feature

- Predefined with 20 popular feeds: Hmm, this is subject to individual users. If I don't
have any favourites, these 20 will be a starting point; but if I have 20 or more
replacements, I can either add them to these predefined feeds; or if I'm in a really bad
mood, can delete the predefined and substitute my own!! As You Like It, as Shakespeare would
say.

Also do check out the help feature for i-fetch. The interface seems pleasant, the help
feature is detailed and deep, with relevant links provided for explaining terms etc.

Recommendation: Looks good, give it a try!! A free download is also available.

Confession: I have not personally tried it; mainly because I have a set of blogs which I
follow and then just randomly branch out to other articles. Suffice to say, I like to be a
random surfer. But, a part of me says, give i-fetch a try.............................

PS: Also check out their Sudoku application.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A letter to Mr. Kailash Vijayavargiya, Madhya Pradesh PWD and IT minister

Dear Sir,

This is with reference to the hue and cry that you have raised over the matter concerning a contraceptive/protective device manufactured by Hindustan Latex.

Yes, it's a Condom, Yes, it's a sex toy.. Its called Cre'zen'do

According to what I have been reading in the papers, you have said that the condoms have metamorphosed into sex-toys and for added measure you have said, "And sex toys can have serious repurcusisons on the Indian way of life".

Further you have gone on to put your foot in your mouth by saying, "The government should promote family planning and not something that is meant to give your partner pleasure."

Pray excuse me sir, let me have a hearty laugh clutching my stomach and get back to you. HA HA HA HA HA.. ROTFLMAO.... Yeah, I'm back.

Which age are you living in, sir? Sex has always been about pleasure. Can you come out in public and say with 100% honesty that you have never fantasised about how pleasurable sex could be? Let's not hear bull-shit like how 'decent' you were, "Auraton par aankh bhi nahin uthake dekhtatha". Enough!!

You politicians are forgetting one basic fact that your ban of stuff like condoms is going to result in a baby boom. Your priority should be sex education where you teach stuff like

1. how not to treat females like mere sex objects - to males
2. how to be aware of the right to say no to sex - to females
3. understanding of the economic strain in having huge families - to both males and females
4. the deadly nature of AIDS, Syphilis etc - again, to both males and females

Oh sir, I forgot. Sex education is bad right? It corrupts youth right? Tut, tut; where have we landed ourselves? Sex education is bad, pleasurable sex is bad; sex toys are bad; but yet, the population of this god damn country has to be controlled. What do we do, sir? Organise masturbation shibirs/shakas? Prohibit sex? Make homosexuality compulsory? Abolish artificial fertilisation clinics?

Whatever it may be sir, let it be called Cre'Swift'do, Cre'xing'do or even Cre'scorpio'do;let it do whatever it's supposed to do; whats it got to do with you?

All that apart, who are you to interfere in others' bedroom affairs? Every couple has a right to decide their own means of making love. Assume for instance someone were to legislate on how you should make love? Suppose I were to visit your bedroom and carry out a process mapping of your 'roll in the hay', and give you revised procedures/processes how would you feel?

So, shut the fuck up and concentrate on your department - PWD and IT. We all know the condition of your state's roads and IT set up. Look at what you can do there, not in others' bedrooms!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Songs and Pictures

" They" say that a picture is worth a thousand words!!! Is it? And how much is a word worth? Ask Wordsworth, "they" say? Maybe I should. 2/5th of this blog entry is on nature; and who else better than the nature poet to consult? Alas, I cannot; because he is "Khallas"!!!


Why haven't "they" tried to superimpose the two? "They" have, haven't they? What do you think music videos are? An amalgam? A mixture? A compound? An alloy? Should be some beautifully screwed foursome-indulging molecule like Methane (CH4). How else would you explain the fusion of vision and sound? Two necessities, two different energy forms, two unequally matched sensory cousins. If such disparate cousins could get along, why couldn't the Pandavas and Kauravas make peace? The answer, my friend lies in the (300,000,000)^2 separation factor between mass and energy. Thats what separated the Pandava-Kaurava enimity from the vision-hearing togetherness.

In such circumstances, along came Fotocommunity. Their idea, as I have lifted form their website is as below

The idea behind this project is to match a song of your liking to a
photograph that you have taken. Please add the lyrics so that we, your audience,
can see what you associate with your photograph.

Since the contest is closed, my blog is my only hope!!! So, now to indulge in some sono-pictorial fetishes; all pictures taken in Bombay on June 10th.

1. Setting sun @ Marine drive

Song: Daylight, Coldplay

To my surprise and my delight

I saw sunrise I saw sunlight (Did I? I thought I had mentioned sunset, Nevermind!!!)

I am nothing in the dark

And the clouds burst to show daylight




2. Waves beating against the protective stones lining Marine Drive

Song: Sea of Stories, Zebediah Plush
PS: Don't those stones look like a methane molecule?

The stone design brings another song to my mind, "Yaava Shilpi Kanda Kanaso"


3. Ceiling Lights at the World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai
Song: Clocks, Coldplay



Lights........











....go out and I can't be saved
Tides that I tried to swim against
Have brought me down upon my knees






Oh, I beg, I beg and plead.........
You're the fuckin WTC after all, such asymmetry may be good for photography, but not for people straining their eyes to watch gamers battle it out on their monitors!!!
And yeah, for the record, I am a Quake voyeur!!!
Next project: to describe some words with photographs!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sivaji

Watch Sivaji. Not for the story, not for Thalaivar's gravity-defying stunts, not for the comedy and certainly not for the morals. Then why? For these two lovely ladies. Ippudu choodu :-D

1. Nayantara

2. Shriya - no words to describe her, she's flawless!!!



Cool!!!


Monday, June 18, 2007

Hindustan ka Dil Dekho

Folks, if you have not watched the ad for MP Tourism, here's your chance to do so. Catchy, hummable lyrics. Wonderfully executed!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Egg on the BCCI's face; lets egg on whoever threw it

Finally, someone screwed the BCCI; and as cleanly as it can get. It was something awaited for a long long time. From time immemorial these slimy rascals have been throwing their weight around, dictating terms to players, coaches, television channels, boards of other countries and surprisingly, they even managed to rake in the moolah for all their farting.

Now, making money is no sin. But not utilising the money for legitimate and necessary purposes is a crime. For starters, BCCI does not have a website of its own. For any information, one has to either go to Wikipedia or visit this unofficial site which resembles one of those elaborately designed blog sites through which people either keep asking for forgiveness for taking a long time to put up their new template, keep thanking the people who helped them or keep thanking people who liked the new design. Can any organisation be so unprofessional in this new millenium which is defined by Information Technology? Just to put things in perspective, Zimbabwe whose cricketing structure has been destroyed by politics has a website, and a very pleasant one at that.

Another area where the BCCI has failed to utilize the vast ocean of money it commands, is the improvement of facility in stadiums. See any match played in Australia/England and compare them to the matches played in India. The contrast is stark. Do you think you could "enjoy" the experience of watching a match at the stadium unless you are one of those privileged pass holders or are able to get hold of the VIP seats? Hell, going by the scenario wrt public toilets in India, I could also be forgiven to think that the BCCI is not bothered about the existence/state of toilets in the stadiums.

Training facilities for budding cricketers, a talent development program are some of the other areas where the BCCI should have pumped in money.

Instead, the money that has been hoarded by not spending on vital aspects has been used to bully opponents, buy votes and acquire an arrogant swagger. Any tom, dick and harry can occupy top positions in the organisation. I do not see a single professional cricketer in the board. Instead we have a dual tasking agriculture minister (whose advent has deteriorated both the agriculture and cricket sectors in India), businessmen, tycoons and the filthy rich lot who in my gully cricket playing days used to be represented by the neighbourhood scowl-face who used to take sadistic pleasure in ruining an entertaining evening for the boys.

The lack of professionalism was evident right from the time India were booted out of the CWC 2007. Finger pointing, a lack of urgency, a chalta-hai attitude were all evident in the BCCI's press statements. And the way they dealt with Whatmore resembled a sort of back-stabbing that usually happens in the Indian electoral scene. (I'll write about this sometime using the union elections in KREC as an example) It was at that moment that I got the feeling that finally something was brewing. All these days the unprofessionalism used to be cloaked under timely victories, a sense of "team-work" etc. This time, it was out in the open for all to see. It was there in newspapers world-wide. The arrogance that their over-flowing coffers could achieve anything became too much in-the-face for the people.

And then came the rejection by Graham Ford!!!!

After having been disrobed in public, all that remained was to garland the BCCI with slippers, blacken their face and parade them on a donkey. This, Graham Ford has achieved in style. People might say that he used the BCCI offer to up his pay at Kent, but this is precisely why the BCCI should have had a transparent process with a pool of candidates who would be evaluated. Remember how Chappell was selected?

All said and done, the BCCI's plight can be described by way of a Dire Straits song 'Telegraph Road' with minor modifications as follows:

Then came Greg Chappell
Then came The World Cup
Then came Ravi Shastri
And finally 'came' Ford
Then came the rejection and the shutting of the door
Which proved that the BCCI is an unprofesisonal board

What's the way out? The BCCI has to first admit that it's sorry for carrying out shadowy business. The selection of the next coach should start with that basic of communications called an ADVERTISEMENT inviting Expressions of Interest from interested individuals. The process should be transparent with former Indian players and present players also being provided an opportunity to have a say. And please, don't gag the captain and other team members from speaking to the media.

What has happened is a national shame, yes!! But right now, I am extremely proud of the humiliation since it has happened to that inept, slimy BCCI.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

'Spit-fire' the spitters

It was official all these days; it was statistical upto now; it was written about by foreign returned people; but now it's personal. The wretched Indian habit of spitting on the road has finally ripped apart my sad air of helplessness which was characterised by the statement, "Why are some of my fellow citizens like this?"

It's true, for any issue to affect your conscience, you need to be a victim or in my case a part-victim.

The scene: normal traffic signal at Priyadarshini signal, Chembur. Waiting for the mandatory 4-5 minute signal to turn green; when all of a sudden I find something like a red pepper flake that is generally consumed with pizza on the Mumbai Mirror that I am reading. This was simultaneously accompanied by THAT FAMILIAR SOUND; of someone spitting. Rage overtook me and as I looked out of my auto, I saw an aged man in some high end air conditioned car hastily rolling up his window.

"Bastard!!", I said, which would have appeared to him as being mouthed. A look of disgust and a shrug of my shoulders conveyed what I wanted to him. And for a change from my usual shy behaviour, I held his gaze for a full minute and wagged my finger like a primary school teacher admonishing her wards.

"Sorry", said the bastard (I hope) which appeared like being mouthed.

Such defilers should be punished by making them perform fellatio on an Ingram with the climax being that the trigger is pulled.

And holy-fuck, I bet this aged bastard would be a 'respected' individual in his society; giving fundas to the youth on how they should behave; complaining about how the BMC has fucked Bombay etc. "Arre, behenchod!! You are the problem."

Thank You God for saving my white shirt!! Thank You Mumbai Mirror for handling THAT flake.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Prairie Wedding

This song is the one that's got to be the signature song of guys whose fate is to have an arranged wedding. And just for the record, please don't draw any parallels with me.

Artist: Mark Knopfler
Album: Sailing to Philadelphia

We only knew each other by letter
I went to meet her off the train
When the smoke had cleared and the dust was still
She was standing there and speaking my name
I guarantee she looked like an angel
I couldn't think of what I should say
But when Adam saw Eve in the garden
I believe he felt the selfsame way

I handed her up on the wagon
And I loaded up her trunk behind
She was sitting up there with the gold in her hair
And I tried to get a hold of my mind

Do you think that you could love me Mary
Do you think we got a chance of a life
Do you think that you could love me Mary
Now you are to be my wife

We finally headed out of the station
And we drove up the home trail
And when we came on the farm she laid a hand on my arm
I thought my resolution would fail
And I froze as she stepped in the doorway
Stood there as still as could be
I said I know it ain't much, it needs a woman's touch
Lord she turned around and looked at me

Do you think that you could love me Mary
Do you think we got a chance of a life
Do you think that you could love me Mary
Now you are to be my wife

We had a prairie wedding
There was a preacher and a neighbor or two
I gave my golden thing a gold wedding ring
And the both of us said I do
When the sun's going down on the prairie
And the gold in her hair is aflame
I say do you really love me Mary
And I hold her and I whisper her name

Do you think that you could love me Mary
Do you think we got a chance of a life
Do you think that you could love me Mary
Now you are to be my wife

Lyrics apart, the song is so so so so seductive. You just got to hear it

Thursday, May 31, 2007

How the Russians Influenced Hollywood

We have all seen the disclaimer in Hollywood movies, "All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.".

Ever wondered from where this statement came into being? You will be surprised to know that a Russian; infact a Tsarist era nobleman is the driving force behind this.

Read about the nobleman and the origins of the disclaimer.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Abel Prize 2007

This year's Abel Prize has been awarded to Prof. Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York:

for his fundamental contributions to probability theory and in particular
for creating a unified theory of large deviations.


The citation released by the prize committee reads

Probability theory is the mathematical tool for analyzing situations
governed by chance. The law of large numbers, discovered by Jacob Bernoulli in
the eighteenth century, shows that the average outcome of a long sequence of
coin tosses is usually close to the expected value. Yet the unexpected happens,
and the question is: how? The theory of large deviations studies the occurrence
of rare events. This subject has concrete applications to fields as diverse as
physics, biology, economics, statistics, computer science, and engineering.


You can also read the citation in Hindi. Read this article to know more about Dr. Varadhan.

Apart from Calculus, probability has been one of the most fascinating branches of mathematics. Countless frustrating hours have been spent in solving problems on probability from The Challenge and Thrill of Pre-College Mathematics. In hindsight, the effort has been completely useful. It has taught me the art of sitting at my desk for long hours while trying to solve a tough problem. Going further, it really made my job during engineering really easy. The confidence to tackle problems out of the comfort zone was also sown by those solving sessions.

An earlier article I wrote on the Abel Prize.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Tale of Two Newspapers

Shashi Tharoor, India's most famous modern day international diplomat writes for two different newspapers on Sundays: The Sunday Times of India and The Magazine, Hindu. His column in STOI is called 'Shashi on Sunday' and the one in The Hindu is simply called 'The Shashi Tharoor Column'.

Names and position-wise (he's on the op-ed page in the STOI and on page 3 of The Magazine) apart, the quality of articles in the two newspapers is as different as nectar and poison. No prizes for guessing where you are more likely to find nectar or where you might end up choking yourself with one of your own pair of shoelaces!!!

The STOI column I have so far managed to follow has contained a reciprocal praise-heaping article on Jug Suraiya and of late is redefining the alphabet for the modern Indian, with a nauseating listing of everything that defines "Indian" in alphabetical order.

On the other hand, in The Hindu we find a world class diplomat showcasing us his talent. Brilliant incisive articles; which invite debate; stir thoughts are the staple diet. No shameless India-centric-chest-thumping. Infact, there have also been many subtle articles about his Malayali origins. But, not once has there been an article like

A: Acchan (Dad), Ammai (mom)
.........
C: Chechi (sis), Chettan (bro)
.............
P: patti (dog)
..................
etc

No, never!!!

Pray Shashi, why does this rubbish get reflected in the STOI? My feeling is that Shashi knows what the TOI is worth and this sub-consciously shows in his articles. Sir, kindly stop writing for this stupid tabloid; you are doing yourself no good. Leave the TOI to the likes of Jug/Mug/Bug or whatever..............

Monday, May 14, 2007

Criticising the CPI (M)

This blog always stands by the socialist principle of equal development for all and equal distribution of wealth. But where socialism and communism have failed is in fathoming that human tendency of self-improvement far out-shines the tendency of social development. In spite of this, socialism is a respected way of thought.

In spite of its noble intentions, the whole principle of socialism, according to me, has received a bad name in India due to the actions of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Going by numbers and legal status (the Maoists have a greater number of followers, but are an illegal group); the CPI(M) is the automatic leader of the communists in India. It is a known fact that any group is judged by the behaviour of its leader. The group is defined by the leader.



The CPI (M) has come out with its take on the recently concluded UP elections. Have a look at their statement here. Done?? Now please turn your attention to this graph illustrating the party positions in the UP assembly.

picture courtesy: CNN IBN website

Whoever has drafted this press release seems to have been waiting for the second paragraph to start wherein they take on their blood rivals, the BJP and defend their bosom buddies the SP. Please note comrades, the communal card was never flashed during the elections. It was only for that one day when they were caught and had to withdraw the CD. Apart from that, isn't the SP communal? With ministers issuing death rewards to the Mohammad cartoonists etc. What does the "esteemed" left have to say about it?

One thing which is evident from the vote swing shown here, is that BJP and Congress have their vote shares eaten into. The SP and BSP have an increased vote share. The fact that the SP's vote share has risen is reason enough for the Left to rejoice. But the truth is comrades, a defeat is a defeat; whether you score 300 runs and lose or whether you score 100 and lose.


The last paragraph is interesting. A probable indicator of the left's future strategy?

The elections have shown the strong influence of caste appeal in the state
which has been adversely affecting the prospects of the Left. The CPI(M) and the
Left will have to take this reality into account in formulating its strategy to
project an independent platform based on the real issues affecting the
people.


Guys, stick to economics. It yields results anyday; and more importantly in the long term; than caste based issues.

In spite of all the sarcastic feelings building up inside me after reading that article, I applaud the CPI (M) for not mentioning the Congress. Battered, shameless, leaderless parties do not need a mention. Bravo comrades, bravo!!!

Nice Thought

This appeared in today's Times of India.

Enjoy your job, make lots of money, work within the law
Choose any two

-Author Unknown


I feel that I am doing all three; but there is that voice, the voice of sixth sense which
says that I am doing ony items 2 and 3. But as Enya sang, "Who can say where the road goes,
where the day flows; Only Time!!!"

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Great Indian Novel

Shashi Tharoor, for all his literary and diplomatic talent is disliked by some; one of them
being Sharath Rao.

But, even Sharath will end up praising The Great Indian Novel which super-imposes the
Mahabharata on both pre- and post- Independence and Emergency India.

The analogies are awesome:
Mahatma Gandhi - Bheeshma
Jawaharlal Nehru - Dritharashtra
Subhash Chandra Bose - Pandu
Indira Gandhi - Duryodhana (cleverly renamed as Priya Duryodhani in this book)
Jaiprakash Narayan - Drona etc

Go get your copy folks!! Its a nice read; and as a bonus it would help you to understand
better the entity known as India.

Mungaaru Male

"Mungaaru Male" (Kannada) : "Monsoon Rain" (English)

A movie which I personally believe will resusciate the Kannada movie industry which has entered a near comatose state. The fact that this movie ran for 100 days (when I saw it) and is still running to packed houses is itself a testimony to its quality.

Its not the storyline which has made the movie great; it is the camera work in and around Coorg. One needs to view the movie to appreciate this aspect.

Way to go guys, please make such movies which will force me to go to theatres like Navrang in Bangalore; sit in the "Gandhi class" (front stalls) and come out beaming from ear to ear.

13 Tzameti

Good, European cinema somehow never releases in the Indian mainstream cinema halls. College LANs and painstakingly discovered CD/DVD stores seem to be the only source of such movies. Hence, it was a great pleasure when UTV released 13-Tzameti in the Adlabs chain of theatres.

This is a rivetting French thriller made by Gela Babluani. The first thing that strikes you is that it is a modern film made in black and white. Why modern? Well, the use of mobile phones, new Peugeots and of course, the Euro; are the sure shot indicators.

It is a story of how, in his haste to earn quick money, young 22 year old Sebastien (George Babluani) enters the murky world of betting and Russian roulette with guns. Its also a story of sacrifice, tension and quick thinking on one's feet. Beautiful camera work also adds to the gripping storyline.

One important character of the movie should be the humble ubiquitous electric bulb. How it forms the part of the story line will be understood only if one watches the movie. Go, get your DVD folks!!

I plan to catch the following movies if time permits:

1. City of God from Brazil

2. Paris, Je T'aime : a set of 20 love stories from Paris. It stars Juliette Binoche of Chocolat fame. Yippee!!!!!

Au revoir, folks!!

PS: BTW Tzameti means 13 in Georgian; the language of the director Gela. Check out the website of the movie.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

One reason.....

...for liking Nehru is this content of a letter he wrote:

"We have a Muslim minority who are so large in numbers that they cannot,
even if they want, go anywhere else. That is a basic fact about which there can
be no argument. Whatever the provocation from Pakistan and whatever the
indignities and horrors inflicted on non-Muslims there, we have got to deal with
this minority in a civilised manner. We must give them security and the rights
of citizens in a democratic State"

Read the full article and understand the significance of the statement.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Airport Crescendo

The 'tony' people who say that the Shiv Sena holds no threat have not seen them when they are celebrating a victory. If you see a Sena victory celebration, you will never ever make the mistake of doubting their volatility.

For an accurate description of the Sena, no book, not even Maximum City will suffice. You need to experience one of their assaults on your senses: either they make you perform sit-ups on Valentine's Day if they catch you with your GF; or make you tie a rakhi on your BF's arm; or be a victim of their celebrations or violence. Thats when the brute strength of the Sena hits you; its not a sucker punch that you will feel; but a full fisted IMPACT on your solar plexus!!!

I experienced one such assault on my auditory and visual nerves on the night of 12th April 2007. I had just returned from Nagpur; and on the same flight was a prominent Saffron leader . It was the same day, the saffron alliance had won the Ramtek Lok Sabha by-election. As one entered the baggage collection area to pick up one's baggage, the roars of the joyous Sainiks rang out in the clear humid night. The public address system of the airport cut a sorry figure in front of these enthused masses.

One exit gate was sealed off for the dignitary, with a police chain desperately trying to prevent frenzied Sainiks from entering the terminal. Bouquets flew like missiles and slogans; which, in an imperfectly co-ordinated manner obeyed the laws of destructive interference at the point where I stood to collect my baggage; were liberally let loose by the party workers.

It was only when I ventured outside that I could feel the full blast. A frenzied drum beating was in motion; transporting me to a 16th or 17th century Pratapgarh or any other garh where the Marathas would return after a victorious campaign. The battle drums were reverberating to the frenzied pounding; women party workers were trying to make their presence felt from the background and there was a vulgar firecracker display right outside the airport; believe me from the spot where you are allowed just 90 seconds to alight from your vehicle (not that this rule is enforced very strictly)

I was shaken out of my reverie by the arrival of my auto; soon another din was to welcome me --> that of the heavy traffic on the Western Express Highway. The transition from "Mumbai" to "the city that never sleeps" was swiftly complete.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thackerayan Logic

Suketu Mehta, in his book Maximum City describes that humans think in two ways to decide who they are -

1. The type of people who are able to answer the question 'Who am I?' and then arrive at the answer to 'Who is not I?'

and......

2. Those who answer 'Who is not I?'; eliminate answers and then arrive at 'Who am I?'

Supposedly Thackeray and the Shiv Sena fall into this category.

Now, my problem is simple: I for certain cannot answer 'Who am I?'. Have lost my mental peace trying to do that. And, answering 'Who is not I?' has resulted in so many eliminations that the very essence of me is blown away!! Hell, something/someone in me is dying everyday; but yet the entity called ME remains seemingly intact. Does Bombay do this to everyone?

Only one solution remains. DEEPAK, STOP LIVING THE BOOKS THAT YOU READ !!!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Karnad

Will India ever see such a versatile person like Girish Karnad?

I had written earlier about his play called Bimba... The Magazine of The Hindu carries an article on his first play in English called 'Flowers' staged at the Prithvi Theatre in Juhu, Bombay. A pity that Juhu is so far away from home!!! Might have considered going if there was good company; nay, make that SOME company!!!

Loved this extract from the report:

It is significant that the priest in "Flowers" worships with the same flowers,
the Shiva Lingam in the day and the body of Chandravati at night. In the end, in
a dramatic resolution of conflict, the two merge. Physical passion and spiritual
devotion become one as do notions of the male and female. When the king asks the
priest, "Does God have long hair?" Karnad breaks down gender assumptions and
what we have is a poignant soliloquy that questions and debates relentlessly
even as it shares with the audience, the character's anguish in conflict.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The great game

This is a term made popular by Rudyard Kipling in that wonderful book of his, which every teenager should read; Kim.

Now read Atul Aneja commenting upon the great game along the Silk Route.

The part I liked most was the deduction made by Lord Curzon, which I reproduce here....

Alarmed by the Russian advance, George Nathaniel Curzon, 29, who would one
day become the Viceroy of India, began a visit to Central Asia to study the
Tsarist intentions first hand. The first stop was Baku on the western Caspian
coast. From there, he crossed the sea by steamer and soon reached Krasnovodsk.
Curzon's travels took him to Merv, by then firmly under Russian control. The
last leg of his rail journey took him to Bokhara and Samarkand. After halting at
both places, he took the horse drawn tarantass, a typical Russian contraption,
to Tashkent.

Curzon recorded his observations on Central Asia in a voluminous book,
Russia in Central Asia and the Anglo-Russian question. His conclusion: Russia
was not building the trans-Caspian railway for the conquest of India. Instead,
its moves were directed at keeping its imperial adversaries preoccupied in Asia.
In doing so, it sought to protect its interests in Europe, starting from
Constantinople (modern Istanbul) in Turkey. Curzon's findings strongly shaped
British policy towards Afghanistan and Russia.

Read it here!!!

Why the BEST strike is crippling Bombay

-The strike has added a large number of private vehicles on the roads. Jams are very common. Half an hour journeys take upto two hours sometimes

-The scarcity of autos has to be seen to be believed. I have never waited upto 15 minutes to flag down an auto

-Long distance travellers are, to put it simply; FUCKED!!! You might say that they can use the train; but a direct bus is anyday welcome than changing a couple of trains.

But, there are some benefits too:

-You get to meet and make friends with many people by way of sharing autos.

-You end up practising the Scout Movement's principle of 'Do one good deed everyday' by way of dropping people at places which lie on your route home

But, at the end of the day, when you are resting your tired limbs and drifting off to sleep, is when you wish for a personal vehicle, least realising that you are going to add to the congestion which is directly gonna eat your time in getting to office!!!

Such is life!!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Oh Calcutta!!!

Once upon a time, not so long ago, when Bengaluru was still Bangalore; when the only non-Kannadigas to be hated (only during the Kaveri issue) were the Tamils; when IT had not yet reared its head; when it was not yet 2000...... there were only four metros in India namely New Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. It is about one such city that I shall write, the city of joy; the Indian football capital; the left bastion; the land of Satyajit Ray... Calcutta!!!

Come to 2007, Cal was the only former exclusive metro that I had not seen. Hence, it was with great anticipation that I waited for my week long training session to start at Cal from the 26th of March, 2007. I know, some of you may me saying, "Here goes the city crazy wierdo!!" Never-mind, Ich bin Wierdo!!!

25th March 2007

The Kingfisher flight from Bombay to Calcutta was on time and one of the airhostesses was stunning; heart achingly beautiful. Let me confess, there are some women who are so beautiful that your mind refuses to think about them lustfully. You wish that you can enshrine them in your heart, and treat them just like an oyster protects a pearl. And if such a pearl happens to be damn knowledgeable providing you with a wonderful overview of the aviation industry, you feel a strange kind of bliss!!!

But, I digress.

The flight landed on time and I was soon standing at the queue of the Bengal Taxi association to get a pre-paid taxi to Salt Lake. Getting a taxi booked is the easy part. The tough part is finding it in the taxi stand, wherein the onus is upon you to find the taxi. Fun, nevertheless!!

26th March, 2007

Training was done and dispensed with for the day. An evening's date with Cal waited. 6 of us just bundled into the good old Ambassador taxi and asked the driver to take us around the city and drop us off at Park Street. The long drive took us past Park Street, Howrah Bridge, Eden gardens, HQ of East Bengal; Mohun Bagan; Mohameddan Sporting and Writer's building. This was a day to savour and take in as much of the city as possible.

Had dinner at Kwality Restaurant, Park Street. Personal suggestion - the food is kinda OK, but service is poor. Some of my pals call it the communist way of service wherein every customer is treated with the same speed... SLOW!!!

27th March, 2007

Easily the best day of my stay. Went boating on a stretch of the Hooghly called Atramghat. (This is how I have deciphered the pronounciation. Any Bengali reading this may correct me if I am wrong; to be precise, it is the stretch of the river near the restaurant with a glass face through which you can overlook the river; also a railway track upon which the local to Barrackpore runs, lies along the river bank. There is also a ghat called Judges' Ghat). I have to thank my Calcuttan colleagues Soumak and Simran for suggesting this place and coming along with us. It was one of those boat rides where you could literally lie on your back and see the stars. Have to (mis)quote Coldplay, "...I look up I look up at night...and my thoughts move at the speed of light..."

28th March, 2007

This evening was dedicated to THE MALL, City Centre. Its a lovely mall, different from the others that I have seen in that, there is more open green space than shops. Drank tea from Kullads, spilt a lot of mountain dew on the floor of the KFC and bought a CD of Pather Panchali; which I have not yet seen.

29th March, 2007

Nightout time... only break was to have tea at a nearby tea stall. Delirium was the order of the night with pressure and time telling on us. Somehow scraped through.

30th March, 2007

Finished the training and went over to New Market. Located a good book store and purchased Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul and Snow. The owner is very knowledgeable and will help you out with the selection of books. Just look for Mohan's book shop in New Market opposite the Lighthouse Cinema. A short stroll brought us to the Esplanade metro station and at the spur of the moment decided to take the metro upto Tollygunge. One word about the Cal Metro - artistic!! Every station is based on some theme, something that is going to be adopted in the Bombay metro. Kaalighat has pics of Kaali, Rabindra Sarovar has illustrations of Tagore's poems etc

31st March, 2007

Left Cal with a heavy heart and arrived at Bangalore with an open mind ready to enjoy a week's vacation.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Vidharban tug at the heartstrings

Dear God,

I don't know what to say. Nagpur has started occupying that place in my heart which should be normally reserved for a girl!! Either I am a wierdo who falls in love with places or in your 'Great Game' you have identified a girl for me with a Nagpur connection.

I sincerely hope it's the second.

Love,

Deepak

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

300

The most hyped movie of 2007 (Hollywood ofcourse) upto now, has to be 300. Posters, trailers, word of mouth, blogs, print ads and what not, have been used in drumming the details of the movie. Iran has condemned the release of the movie, Parsis in India have expressed their reservations and they are rightly justified. Victors write history is not an empty statement. This movie has gone ahead and shown that victors not only write history, they even distort it.

Everyone should watch the movie ONCE. Graphics and the sound track are the plus points. Research seems to be lacking. Even if Xerxes was a conqueror, it dos not do justice to rip apart a great civilisation like the Persian, in such a shitty manner. See the way Xerxes himself is potrayed. You get the impression that he is a transvestite who rules because of some mystic power. Even the way the Persian army is shown as a buch of bumbling fools is not correct. This was the finest fighting force in Asia once upon a time; and to suggest that some wall which the Spartans build along the coast would stop the Persians is merely foolishness. What are battering rams, trebuchets for? Or did they come only later? And lest I forget, how can a bunch of guys (Spartans) who are shown as carrying no supplies stay fighting fit for so many days? After all, an army marches on its stomach right?

On the technical side, the graphics could have been made more realistic. As of now, eveything looks so UN-MEDIEVAL!!!

The babe who acts as the Spartan Queen is also a treat to the eyes!! Sexy dressing; and ahem... good curves to go along with them.

To summarise, I would give a 2 star out of 5 for the movie. The director had better see Kingdom of Heaven if he intends to make historical movies in the future.