My Last Ditch Attempt To Fight Boredom

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Roads Ahead

I was once asked why Chennai(India in general) have just a handful of theme parks. Leave alone the few thrill rides that these 'amusement' parks have to offer. Dude, we've got roads in Chennai. What better thrill ride does one expect?

I've always wondered what a little kid might think while traveling on wheels. 'People do not seem to use the striped region near the signals. Teacher once told me it was a zebra crossing. I guess its strictly for zebras, not people'

'The bright signal lights...I guess red indicates 'Go'. Orange means 'accelerate.go fast' (Li'l, kid..dosent know that its amber). So when will people stop?'

Then there is this 'Mama'(Uncle) with his scooter. Quite a eco-friendly guy he is. Promptly turns off the engine and stops right in front of the 'stop' line. But when the signal turns 'green', he dosent start. He looks around; makes sure that the road is clear; then he turns on the engine and then slowly accelerates. Imagine the fate of motorists at the fag end of the queue. By the time these people come even close to the signal, 'red' flashes again.

In fact, driving on Chennai roads without facing an accident(minor ones included) should replace the age old 'ettu podunga saar. license kidaikkum'(draw the figure 8 and voila! you are permitted to drive on Indian roads).

With the advent of Nano, things are just getting better for the adventure seeker on two wheels. More IT engineers => more Nanos=> more congestion( => more pollution) => need for enhanced maneuvering skills. God save Indian roads.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Life 'IS' Beautiful

It is Monday morning, 9:30 AM. The time when the mad scramble starts. I see this young man sporting a French beard searching frantically for something. "Where is my watch?",he yells. After two minutes of aimless search he wonders why Google is yet to come up with the ultimate search engine; a search engine to find car keys, watches and spectacles. 'How sad!', I wonder.

As I casually glance elsewhere, I see this twelve year old getting ready for school. His Grandma is forcing her loving grandson to finish his breakfast. With great reluctance, the boy accepts to be spoon-fed. Her mom is busy buttoning his shirt. His dad is trying his best to tie a knot on a shoe which has not seen wax for a long long time. Amidst all these confusion, the young lad, with his mouth full, shouts at the van driver to wait for a minute and at the same time finishes off his school assignment. Multi Tasking at its best.
Drivers hurtling abuses, office goers complaining about poor traffic arrangements, auto wallahs head-banging to Sivaji tunes on Radio Mirchi, students visiting every temple in the city seeking 'Bhagwan's blessings to crack CAT, motorists waiting for the signal to fall, ready to burst of at full speed - sights that are familiar in any buzzing city. I was part of this maddening crowd not long ago.

But now as I continue my ascent, my eyes fall on the rare sights that I had missed. The early morning dew, the squirrel nibbling gleefully at the fig that it just discovered, the happy next door neighbor, sipping a cup of hot coffee and solving Su-Do-Ku in the national daily, late night walks with girlfriend along the beach, weekly get-together with friends at The Dhaba, discussing the most impertinent issues(from the 'acting' exploits of Mallika Sherawat to the flawed design of Microsoft Zune).

I see Vidyakar lending a helping hand to a eighty year old. I silently applaud his efforts in establishing Udavum Karangal single-handedly. Now, THAT is an achievement to be proud of!

I continue my journey upward to the place that some people refer to as heaven, reminiscing the cherished memories of the past and taking in the final glimpses of the city in which I spent my entire life. As I look back, I realise that my life had no purpose.It was like clockwork. I realise that I did not live my life. I just existed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My bike sucks!!!

'MY BIKE SUCKS,'- a statement that you can be sure to hear from seven among ten young Indians. Here I am sitting in front of my lean,mean machine, cursing it at every chance I get. "The Indian Auto Industry needs a rejig; the processess have to be streamlined; the retailer has to tell me the possible problems that I might face; I deserve more than this junk. Probably a car would be the ideal solution". I lament little realising that no one gives a damn about what I think.

Strange! Just a year ago, this bike seemed to be the bestest(?!). I can still visualize myself glowing with pride when the manager handed me the documents(license et al). Though I missed out on earlier opportunities, I made sure I would do the best to hold on to this bike. And it was the best bike in town. I still remember my mom raving about my bike and its features to every Ram,Vicky and Hari.

But only after using the bike for a year did I realize that owning a bike was not all glitz and glamor. I realized how boring it is to ride a bike. I was expecting rides to be pulsating; images of Valentino Rossi flashing in my mind. Smooth concrete roads, sexy women around, an exciting lifestyle in the fast lane. But reality bites and it bit me real hard.

The rides are'nt thrilling anymore. I hardly get to ride my bike. Even if I do, it is in one lousy road; the traffic moving at snail's pace.
Welcome to the glamorous world of Motor Racing.

The deadening effect due to riding bikes is not uncommon. Ask any student passing out of college who has got a new bike and you will hear the saddest of elegies, fit to find a place in any of the daily soaps.

So what do you do once you find that you have had enough with your bike?
a)You go for a better bike. You say,'Pulsar is for toddlers.Come on Thunderbird'.(the grass IS always greener on the other side)
b)You have the b***s to part with your bike and go for a less glamourous vehicle that is close to your heart.It could even be a bicycle. In short, to do what you really want and not what others do.
c) Go for a higher degree vehicle(a small car,an SUV..whatever)

The third option seems to be the safest and is the craze among the average Indian bike owner. Of course, making the shift is not easy. Sleepless nights mastering the art of driving,dedicated practise during driving classes.But the long term goals(if any), do look achievable.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Rock, Raaga and the Indian Mind - 1

"Macha..r u a 50 year old?", exclaimed my friend upon hearing that i'm goin to Zakhir Hussain's concert. His friend followed up this remark with his trademark bellowing laughter. we call it the 'build-up' laugh. Then one of his friends quips "Btw wat does zakhir hussain play??"

I was amused, sad rather, and his remarks have prompted me to write this blog. So i dedicate this blog to my friend, a self-acclaimed iron maiden worshiper, a metallica fanatic and a guy who knows naught about music .

Indian youth consider classical music to be too old for their taste. They are ready to listen to gothic industrial, trance, death metal, alternative rock; the whole gamut of genres except indian classical music. The male populace will probably add 'pop' to the neglected list. pop is considered feminine(i know a person who considers linkin park to be 'female metal' reason: its soft unlike sepultura). it is sad that decibel levels have become the judging criteria for good music.

But are they justified in neglecting genres like carnatic, hindustani n the lot? Western influence has numbed the minds of many a indian youth. they consider listening to Thyagaraja krithis or dhrupads to be out of syncs with their lifestyle.
The saddest part is many people dont know what a mandolin is. people are not ready to even give an ear to music from their nativity. They are ready to sway to the tunes of Kirk Hammett's guitar but shun Srinivas' mandolin.

Perhaps this worrying trend is mirrored in other fields. Fashion is a glaring example.how many saree-clad teenage women do we see these days? Girls want to be in vogue with Gucci's finest.Guys want to flaunt their latest blackberry's fall collection or Tommy's most recent offering. Kurthas n dothis have become a thing of the past.

it is good to be exposed to a multitude of genres. after all, it will develop a better understanding towards other cultures(probably). But not at the expense of our heritage. If this continues our future generations might not know that a person called Zakhir hussain existed. A quick glance at Ilayaraja's photo and they might think he is a sanyasin.

are we over-reacting to the explicit abuses from westeners on celebrity shows and failing to recognize the implicit abuses hurled by a section of the indian youth obsessed with the west?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dude.. Its the System!!!

"India must be the only country in the world where people fight to be called backward". A quote that I read somewhere and sighed, 'How true'. One line summing up the mentality of an entire nation!

The preamble of the Constitution of India reads..

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC....
I pulled out the meaning of certain keywords featuring in our preamble from Wikipedia.

Social equality in this context means the absence of discrimination on the grounds of caste, colour, creed, sex, religion, language, etc. Under social equality, everyone has equal status and opportunities.

There is also a mention of abolition of Zamindari system to ensure equal distribution of wealth among the different sections of the Indian populace. A commendable act. No denying it. But today social equality has donned several roles. Some say upliftment of the deprived; others describe it as reservation for the under-privileged; some others refer to social equality as the logical step to help the impoverished.


In fact, it would not be surprising to see the forward community plea for reservation in the years to come.

The fundamental flaw in the ongoing reservation hassle is the simple fact that reservation based on caste is more of a political tool to garner the votes of the 36% of OBC's in the Indian populace and not directed towards the sections of society that actually are in need of support.

But then one may cite the 93rd Constitutional Amendment that allows the government to make special provisions for "advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens", including their admission in aided or unaided private educational institutions. One might also say that the preamble cannot be enforced in the court of law.

Now, why am I bothered? Because I belong to the Forward Community and though I have not yet been affected by the evils of reservation(probably i wud have got a seat in a better college. But EOD, it does not make any difference which college you study unless in an IIT. Another remarkable feature of our 'system').

I'm no big fan of the so-called Iyers either, who make up a sizable portion of the FC populace and a section of them under the illusion that they are Gods own creations; a sense of belonging to a superior race. This, despite the fact that I myself am an Iyer.

The people who really need support are those in the video below.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

gapten in Dharmapuri

The most awaited movie of the year has just hit the screens(actually its been running to packed houses for around a month). 'Gapten' Vijayakanth's latest avatar is actually that of God himself. He's emulated(maybe even surpassed)George Emery Goodfellow's invention of the bullet-proof vest.

Ladies n Gentlemen..presenting the latest in war technology; the ultimate defensive gadget... The 'Archanai Thattu' [applause]

Monday, November 27, 2006

An interesting article about Web 2.0

I stumbled upon a link from o'reilly concerning web 2.0.(Now don't ask me wat i've got to do reg web2.0) Its one amazing article and an interesting read. for all ya ppl killing time , i recommend this article. U can find it at http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html?page=

A snippet from the article....

Netscape vs. Google

If Netscape was the standard bearer for Web 1.0, Google is most certainly the standard bearer for Web 2.0, if only because their respective IPOs were defining events for each era. So let's start with a comparison of these two companies and their positioning.

Netscape framed "the web as platform" in terms of the old software paradigm: their flagship product was the web browser, a desktop application, and their strategy was to use their dominance in the browser market to establish a market for high-priced server products. Control over standards for displaying content and applications in the browser would, in theory, give Netscape the kind of market power enjoyed by Microsoft in the PC market. Much like the "horseless carriage" framed the automobile as an extension of the familiar, Netscape promoted a "webtop" to replace the desktop, and planned to populate that webtop with information updates and applets pushed to the webtop by information providers who would purchase Netscape servers.

In the end, both web browsers and web servers turned out to be commodities, and value moved "up the stack" to services delivered over the web platform.

Google, by contrast, began its life as a native web application, never sold or packaged, but delivered as a service, with customers paying, directly or indirectly, for the use of that service. None of the trappings of the old software industry are present. No scheduled software releases, just continuous improvement. No licensing or sale, just usage. No porting to different platforms so that customers can run the software on their own equipment, just a massively scalable collection of commodity PCs running open source operating systems plus homegrown applications and utilities that no one outside the company ever gets to see.

At bottom, Google requires a competency that Netscape never needed: database management. Google isn't just a collection of software tools, it's a specialized database. Without the data, the tools are useless; without the software, the data is unmanageable. Software licensing and control over APIs--the lever of power in the previous era--is irrelevant because the software never need be distributed but only performed, and also because without the ability to collect and manage the data, the software is of little use. In fact, the value of the software is proportional to the scale and dynamism of the data it helps to manage.

Google's service is not a server--though it is delivered by a massive collection of internet servers--nor a browser--though it is experienced by the user within the browser. Nor does its flagship search service even host the content that it enables users to find. Much like a phone call, which happens not just on the phones at either end of the call, but on the network in between, Google happens in the space between browser and search engine and destination content server, as an enabler or middleman between the user and his or her online experience.

Guru Audio Review

The audio release of Guru might have had its share of glitz, glamour and panache with the likes of the Big B, Abishek, Ash and Vidya Balan gracing the occasion. But given the lacklustre sales of the audio of Yuva, one might wonder what Mani and Rahman have to offer in Guru.

Doubters raised questions over Rahman's waning popularity and his ability to emulate the success of Roja and the

likes. If Boys reminded the world that he still had'nt lost his touch, Rang De Basanti announced the arrival of a rejuvenated Rahman.

Guru would be a welcome relief to many sore ears wounded by the nasal 'OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH's and blaring remixes revealing more skin than soul. The audio of Guru is soothing, sensuous, meaningful, and it rocks!!!

picture courtesy: www.indiatarget.com

'Barso Re', rendered by Shreya Ghosal, is one number that impresses the listener from the very beginning. This is a rarity as Rahman's tunes generally grows on you as you listen. Opening with a soft 'Na Re Na Re' supported beautifully by Naveen's Flute, the tempo rises rapidly with the percussions supporting the lilting voice of Shreya Ghosal. Definitely one of the best tracks of the album.()

'Ay Hairathe' captureing the Hindustani overtures of Hariharan and the warmth of Alka Yagnik's voice, makes it the best track of the album. This is yet another song which Rahman has played safe and has refrained from experimenting. And there is no need to experiment, thanks to the enchanting tune and the tabla woven seamlessly through the entire song. A must for all melody lovers.()

Bappi lahiri's voice helps 'Ek Lo Ek Muft' sound different. But it is one of the average tracks of the album which fails to create an impression depite hearing it a number of times. Easily the most average track of the album. Probably might sound better when viewed on screen.()

'Jaage hain' is testimony to rahman's love for orchestration. With hardly any percussion, the song has a soothing effect which haunts the listener. Starting slowly with the voice of Chitra, Rahman and some brilliant orchestration work in the latter stages of the song heightens the beauty of the track.()

'Mayya Mayya' might be one of those songs that will feature in every countdown, request show and the likes. Not because of Rahman; not because of Mani; not because of Abhishek or Aishwarya but because it features Mallika Sherawat. It has a feel similar to 'Chori Pe Chori'. Maryem Toller's voice lends freshness to the song. The harmony is another notable aspect of Mayya. But there are some elements that reminds of earlier rahman compositions.()

Rahman's films, especially his hindi albums, are incomplete without Udit Narayan rendering a song. In fact, i don't remember a single hindi movie for which Rahman composed that does not have Udit Narayan sharing the singers credits. 'Baazi Lagaa' is a typical Udit Narayan number and the charm he exudes throughout the song is something we are accustomed to. Madhushree and Swetha Bargavee have done a commendable job. One of the few peppy numbers of the album. But not the song that urges you to rewind and play again.()

Rahman signs off in style with 'Tere Bina', a soulful number that showcases Rahman's vocal talents perfectly. Probably the best song of the album, it is perfect in every sense of the word. Be it Rahman's mellifluous voice, Chinmayees's rendition, the accompaniment; it is one of those rare songs where all the elemnts fit on aptly. A fitting tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan()

Overall, Guru( which I read is supposedly based on the life of the Late Dhirubai Ambani), has scored brilliantly in the music department. Again, the songs might not appeal to the rock loving, hip-hop frenzied youth. The music is soulful; the calming influence it exerts on the listener is unmistakable. More on the lines of Swades, Guru's audio would be the perfect foil for Mani's latest offering.