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Life as I'm learning it

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Location: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States

"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an agèd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Ghajini opens well

Suriya is the kind of actor whose versatility makes you wonder what he is upto next. After the not-so-successful Perazhagan and Mayaavi, and a will-it-won't-it Chennayil Oru Mazhaikkaalam, he comes back with Ghajini (Gajini, Ghazini, Ghazni whatever). The soundtrack by Harris Jeyaraj is already topping the charts, and this adds to the expectation. Of course, there is also Asin! It is already known that it is inspired by Memento, a movie that raised the Hollywood bar by many levels. If Ghajini does even half of that to Tamil cinema, we - the viewers - are at gain.

If hearsay is to be believed, the movie is quite good - slickly packaged and well delivered. And it has taken a grand opening too. A friend who went in search of tickets to Mayajaal in Chennai remarked that "there was a crowd equal to that of 3 huge colleges" that was waiting for tickets. Most of them had to return in dismay. Most other movie halls, especially Sathyam Cinemas, is booked out for the next few days.

Nowrunning.com reports that the movie is poised to open with a bang.

All areas and other rights of Ghajini have already been sold making it a profitable venture for producer Salem A. Chandrasekhar.The original Rs. 5 crore-budget for the film, which was in the making for nearly a year, has been overshot by Rs.3 crore to Rs. 8 crore. Yet the producer is happy that it is worth the money spent...

Murugadoss says "Our target audience for Ghajini are the youth who from 80 per cent of opening viewership". The advance booking for the first week has been on a par with superhit "Chandramukhi" and Vikram's "Anniyan".

Incidentally, Suriya is, for the first time, playing distributor too. The same article reports

Surya himself is so impressed that he plans to dub it in Telugu. "The story and treatment are different and will appeal to one and all," he said on the eve of release of the film in Chennai, the area for which he has bought the distributing rights.
May he entertain us for long!

Appended at 08:30 AM on Friday, September 30:

A friend adds:
Ghajini is amazing. It is quite unlike the run-of-the-mill fare. Contrary to the publicity, the director hasn't really tried hard to mimic Memento. No reverse scenes, no complex logic. But the screenplay is fast and taut. The storyline resembles that of Amnesia.

Suriya has acted well - not as many dialogues, but lots of scenes where his expressions rule. Asin takes the cake. She looks awesome, and acts even better! Nayanthara is the weak link. Background score blends well. Verdict: Superhit!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Splogged by Sun TV

A few days ago, I had posted my comments on Chennai's latest newspaper, Tamizh Murasu (Tamil Murasu). In it, I had been critical of the paper, a view which was later shared by many others in blogosphere.

Today, my blog had received some comments - three of them - supporting the paper, and praising its format and also proclaiming that it was value for money, etc.

Like most other bloggers, I love receiving comments. I would have appreciated these, because everyone has a right to express his / her own views. But there was something fishy about the comments. They were all posted under faked names, and within the space of exactly five minutes!

Not one to let things pass, I decided to find out why IP address the comments came from. SiteMeter confirmed the IP to be 203.145.181.#, and it gave the additional information that it was from Sun TV! Here is a screenshot, for your viewing pleasure.

Why resort to such senseless splogging and get exposed? Blogs rock because they give vent to an individual's opinions. Not for another to post feel good comments to promote their own interests. At least not my blog.

Stand up. Say NO to splogging!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

And Sourav is an honourable man

Dear Greg,

There are certain times when I feel really disappointed. I can feel it because there is that sinking sensation in the heart, that empty feeling. Whenever I feel cheated, ignored or slighted, I can sense it. I feel that way now. For you.

What is there for me to say, that others haven't already? That we Indians are only fit to be losers? That our sick attitude to work makes unworthy of a professional like you? That despite all the outcry and criticism, the Board and their pet captain are the eventual winners? And in protecting that crybaby, the Board has indirectly branded you a villain? That cricket is the loser?

I feel ashamed that I have followed this sport, run by power-hungry monsters like Jagmohan Dalmiya. And his Rabri-like puppet, Ranbir Singh Mahendra. And if they walk about calling themselves Indians, I would be ashamed to reveal my nationality.

Please accept these sincerest regrets, from this powerless fan who belongs to the lot of the millions who have been let down. Greg, you are a champion! But Sourav is an honourable man!

Best wishes,
Vijay Krishna

P.S.: Greg, it always pays to read The Godfather. You would have realized the fruitlessness of all your efforts if you were richer by this line: "I have no intention of placing my fate in the hands of men whose only qualification is that they managed to con a block of people to vote for them..."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Leakingate Scandal

Presenting India's latest blockbuster...

(based on a true story)
Sourav Ganguly Jagmohan Dalmiya Greg Chappell
... now playing on a TV Channel near you

I remember an old Tamil cartoon in which a politician advises students to keep away from politics. Says he, "Dear students, don't dabble with politics. Have we ever dabbled with education?" How immensely would Indian cricket benefit from such wisdom! Indian cricket and politics have been as inseparable as... politics and crime. As Kishore Bhimani said on NDTV last night, "The sad thing is that our politicians are playing cricket, and our cricketers are playing politics." Of course we can't wish away politics from anything. There are easier things to do, clothing Mallika Sherawat fully, for example.

The problem is that the Leakingate (or Leakygate, whichever you prefer) scandal has gone just too far. To use a Shastrism, whatever happens the game of the cricket is the loser. We cannot expect Ganguly and Chappell to kiss and make up, because that wouldn't happen anyway. If they do, that would be disaster. None of us would like a Changuly or a Gappell. They are two headstrong individuals, and neither should (and will) give an inch.

As it stands, Leakingate seems like the end of the road (at least a diversion) for India's most successful but equally maligned captain. Ganguly might feel that he is being singled out by a fickle public, but even he would accept that it has been a long time coming. But will he ever accept that given his poor form, he would never have found a place in the squad? Will he ever realise that he was deadweight?

The Leaky Establishment hits theatres on the 27th.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Why we needn't fear China!

There is so much talk about the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and how China is running mass English language programmes, so that every man (woman, child...) will be fluent in English. Naysayers in India feel that this should be end of the BPO (aka call centre) road for India, because once the Chinese master English, our only competitive advantage would be challenged.

But here's something we can take heart from. If the following is true, millions of Indian who make a living by faking their voices and names can rest assured.

Room Service (RS): "Morrin. Roon sirbees."

Guest (G): "Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service."

RS: "Rye..Roon sirbees..morrin! Jewish to oddor sunteen??"

G: "Uh..yes..I'd like some bacon and eggs."

RS: "Ow July den?"

G: "What??"

RS: "Ow July den?...pryed, boyud, poochd?"

G: "Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry, scrambled please."

RS: "Ow July dee baykem? Crease?"

G: "Crisp will be fine."

RS: "Hokay. An Sahn toes?"

G: "What?"

RS: "An toes. July Sahn toes?"

G: "I don't think so."

RS: "No? Judo wan sahn toes??"

G: "I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'judo wan sahn toes means."

RS: "Toes! toes!...Why jew don juan toes? Ow bow Anglish moppin we bodder?"

G: "English muffin!! I've got it! You were saying 'Toast.' Fine. Yes, an English muffin will be fine."

RS: "We bodder?"

G: "No...just put the bodder on the side."

RS: "Wad?"

G: "I mean butter...just put it on the side."

RS: "Copy?"

G: "Excuse me?"

RS: "Copy...tea...meel?"

G: "Yes. Coffee, please, and that's all."

RS: "One Minnie. Scramah egg, crease baykem, Anglish moppin we bodder on sigh and copy....rye??"

G: "Whatever you say."

RS: "Tenjewberrymuds."

G: "You're very welcome."

Monday, September 19, 2005

Instant Yahoo!

Recently, Yahoo! has launched a new beta Instant Search. The Yahoo! Search blog, while introducing this feature, ponders
If search engines are so smart, why do they give you millions of results when you type in "boston weather"? Why even ten, for that matter? Why not just one? Or better yet, why not just tell me what the weather is?
And here is their answer. The instant search works on a simple principle. Even as you type, a query is run which picks up the first search result and displays it in a balloon / bubble.

Not an entire set of pages. Just one. Similar to Google’s I’m feeling lucky feature. But you don’t need to click the search button! And Ctrl + Enter will take you to that page. (Actually Google launched a feature called Suggest, which actually suggests queries as you type. This goes a step further.)

What’s interesting is that Yahoo! has integrated more than just web search results into this. A query for India returns a set of news results. Also, searches for weather (just type “chennai weather” and see for yourself) work like a dream. However it works only on a limited set of keywords, and multiple words too. It is silent for "vijay krishna" though it returns a bubble each for vijay and krishna.

Though Yahoo! Instant Search is not as revolutionary as they would have you believe, it is well worth a try. Who knows, maybe Google might want to introduce something similar.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

First look: Tamil Murasu

When Sun TV and Suriyan FM deluge you with teaser ads, you know they are up to something. Sambhar Mafia had wondered as much and had predicted that it would be a newspaper, to which most of us mortals agreed. It wasn't Dinakaran, as we expected, however...

Tamil Murasu (or Tamizh Murasu) has been launched in usual Sun TV style. In fact, it is a great idea. Despite being a newspaper-doting city, Chennai lacks quality English eveningers. We could certainly do with one paper like Mid Day. Given the Tamilian's talent for gossip-mongering, such a paper would be a runaway hit! Tamil Murasu might not fill that gap, but Sun Network must be congratulated for concentrating on this space, rather than being an also-ran in a crowded morning paper space. It is certain to eat into the share of other papers like Maalai Malar and Makkal Kural. Here's my first look.

300 paise. 8 pages. Colour photos. DMK bias. These are some things one can easily observe, the last of these being an implicit assumption. A casual perusal reveals no great difference from the normal Tamil daily. For example, the headline screams Actor handed Rs. 5 lakh fraud cheque to Jayalalithaa. Who and why? No answers. Just some general write-up about tsunami, tax exemptions and the like. Politics, and a photo of Beyoncé Knowles and Naomi Campbell adorn page 2.

Chennai news on page 3 - the usual crime fare. More politics on pages 4 to 7. Some sports news, included more to cash in on the Sania mania on page 4, and tidbits from across the world (and raasi palan) on page 7 act as fillers. The publishers have splashed page 8 with photos, which will make you wonder why God didn't put you in the midst of beer-guzzling German women.

Overall verdict: Run-of-the-mill. Nachchunu illai!

Added at 20:40 on September 19, 2005:
SUN's website features the online edition of Tamil Murasu. Each page is an individual downloadable PDF file. They should consider a single PDF also.

Captain audacious

To call him audacious is one of the most charitable acts I've done in recent times. He is selfish, stupid and plain shameless. To cap it all, he cannot play cricket! Hardly the qualifications one can possess and still skipper the Indian cricket team. But this is India, haven to conformists! Sourav "all-talk no-cricket" Ganguly would only be too happy to create a storm and still be assured of his place for the next five years.

Selection ‘rules’

So much has been said about team selection, yet the committee errs every time. India should be only cricket playing nation that honours the top performers at the state level by asking them to carry water bottles and messages from the pavilion to the pitch. And those who are indeed lucky to break that jinx have their performances scrutinized so hard that they feel they were better off running errands.

A Sadagopan Ramesh would average 40+ in his first 20 innings and yet be dropped for lack of footwork. A Hemang Badani would score two successive 50s and a couple of 30s in five games, and would find himself axed for the next series. An Ajay Ratra would score a test century keeping only the lower order for company – axed. Same for Sameer Dighe, Saba Karim, Deep Dasgupta, Laxmipathy Balaji, Devang Gandhi. Even Anil Kumble is no exception.

Teams that have been successful over the past few years have realized the need for squad consistency. Australia, England, Sri Lanka, South Africa… How else do you build an esprit de corps? Inconsistent performers are offered a timeframe to rectify their shortcomings; else they are given the marching orders. But never has it been the case with India. At least not for the senior cricketers. Why?

Because we have to carry along the deadweight of an erstwhile prince! Performance-based selection in India? Heard of a guy called Michael Bevan? The guy with that menacing smile, who rubs salt into every opposition. He cannot break into the Australian squad. If I were coach, I would replace a clutch of Indian (so-called) batsmen with Bevans.

Coach or captain?

If things come to a pass that only one of Ganguly or Chappell should stay, who should it be? Anyway, what is the role of a captain? He is a senior player who can marshal his resources, lead them from the front and accept responsibility for on-field happenings. In short, he should lead by example.

Ganguly? His bad patch is so wide that a couple of airstrips can be planned there, leaving enough space for a Formula One circuit and a golf course. Leadership by example, anyone?

Every few months, there is a pan-Indian debate about Sachin Tendulkar’s form and legacy. They say, he never won a match for us. They call his a legend, but with some reservations. But why do such debates never feature Dada. Of course, we have remixed our old jokes to deride him, all right. But no one ever says, Look, he won this game single-handedly.

The role of a coach is not very evident in a game like cricket. Soccer clubs serve as a good example. Good players alone maketh not a winning team. If so, why is Real Madrid, with all its galacticos being drubbed week after week? On the contrary, even a second-rung side like Porto won the Champions League last year. The reason? Coach Jose Mourinho. It needs a Frank Rijkaard to galvanise Barcelona, or a Rafael Benitez to inspire Liverpool to glory. Need more names? Sir Alex Ferguson, Brian Clough, Carlo Ancelotti, Marcelo Lippi…

Ganguly was blessed with John Wright, whose superior understanding of the game catapulted India to almost the pinnacle of glory. I don’t want to suggest that, like Mangal Pandey, Ganguly is an accidental hero. He has played a part. But when one considers the role played by others (Harbhajan Singh, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Irfan Pathan), Ganguly’s contribution gets dwarfed.

Outside of Kolkata, no one would gainsay that Wright’s influence was lesser than that of his captain. Chappell or Ganguly? Easier questions were never asked.


How many times has the Indian team been penalized for slow over-rates, excessive appealing, misconduct on the field and bringing the game to disrepute! This should be the only parameter in which Ganguly has led the team by example.

Most people misread his readiness for a slanging match as killer instinct and fiery temperament. I’m sure that even the Australians, bad-mouth badshahs that they are, fear Ganguly for this one reason (in any case, who would fear his batting?). Remember “Steve Waugh should mind his own business, which is Australian cricket”?

When Azharuddin was sacked from captaincy, there was some amount of sympathy for him. Yes, his form had been poor for long and there was a public outcry to show him the door. Same with Sachin Tendulkar. That was because they didn’t have big mouths, or at least, they had enough civility not to open it unnecessarily. If Ganguly is sacked, who will empathise with him, I wonder.

The time is now. The opportunity is here. Mr. Ganguly, don’t let them sack you and push you into ignominy. You’ve heard enough; you’ve done enough; but you’ve spoken more than is necessary. Please take a sabbatical, learn some batting, more importantly some civility, and come back to reclaim your place rightfully. After all, it is time you gave us another captain, but more so, one who can lead by example.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Project teams and girls

My friend, Selva, has posted a set of laws that govern the staffing of project teams. Here is that Body of Knowledge!

Law 1: The good looking babes always join the other projects.

Law 2a: Your project is always...

For those who seek complete enlightenment, the full list of laws is available here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Captain Courageous

He's done it!!! Finally, actor-turned-captain has turned politician with the launch of his party, the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (National Progressive Dravida Party).

I am not going to delve into his political stances etc, as I've already written about it in a previous post. Whatever ideas and action plans he has developed for the people, there is only one thing he will be judged by - the number of votes he can poll.

Some optimists amongst us would love to think that he can emulate MGR and NTR and storm to power right away. The probability of that happening is minuscule. Whatever that be, the question is, in an already crowded political landscape, how is he going to position himself?

For MGR and NTR, positioning wasn't difficult. They were idols, in the true sense of the word. The only other thing they had to do was to identify themselves with an ideology. For MGR, it came easy - Annadurai was considered the most important political leader of the Dravida movement. So, MGR caught onto him. In each movie, a photo of Annadurai would be displayed prominently in MGR's house or study; songs would have a reference to Anna's ideology. This came useful later, and the party's name Anna DMK, sounded as if it was that section of the DMK that espoused the views of that great man.

NTR's positioning had a touch of genius. His buzzword - atma gauravam - self-respect. It was as if to command the Telugu world, "Wake up, and demand respect." Again, the name of the party Telugu Desam, suggested the linguistic basis of his political identity. This would have made life difficult for rivals, because a herd would naturally sway towards someone as charismatic as NTR, who promised to rescue them from their abyss - who promised them their respect.

Vijayakanth's charisma isn't on the same plane. He has a following no doubt, but how is he going to market himself? Poverty alleviation, universal education, impeccable sanitation are all buzzwords that even Vijay Krishna can harp about. But it takes much more than that to con a state to vote for you.

Taking on the establishment is the only plank we have heard from 'captain'. That's fine in guerilla warfare, but politics? From the outside, it seems to me that this man has neither a firm ideology nor a marketing strategy. As of now, Vijay seems a far cry for this Kanth... but in politics, you never know. As Trout says, "Perception is all that matters. Don't let facts deceive you!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

2 JEE or not 2 JEE?

Tonight, I made a big decision. I'm going to take the JEE, and go to one of the IITs. I think I will meet the requirements, like 60% in Class 12, and not more than one previous attempt (I have never given the JEE before). There is only one problem: I carry with me an engineering degree, and more than a year of IT industry experience.

That logic sucks, right? So why the debate?

Except for the timing, the Government did get this one right. Surely, 60% in the Class 12 exams is something even a dud like me would have managed... eyes closed. To say, I studied so hard for the IIT entrance that I flunked in English reeks of stupidity of an unclassifiable order.

Secondly, there needs to be a cap on the number of attempts. To limit it to one is cruel; but whether it is two or three is of no real significance. There will always be that odd student who secured AIR 10 at the age of 27, and went on to found Moon Megasystems and became the world's fifth richest man. But that's not an argument we can buy from a hundred thousand people.

Dr. P.V. Indiresan, former Director of IIT Madras, remarked on NDTV tonight that " ...students should also realise that there are more things to life. People can join other good colleges and do well in life."

There is no questioning the pre-eminence of the IITs; they are part of everyone's dream. But those who really succeeded were the ones who woke up and started studying. Not the ones who dreamt that at age 25, when they should have completed their Ph.Ds, they would crack the JEE and get into that "coveted" B.Tech programme.

The week that was

This past week should be a journalist's (blogger's) delight. So many events including...
  • The great Andre Agassi reaching the finals of the US Open at 35, shooting down much younger talents like Blake and Ginepri, only to lose to the Fed Express, who is already being likened to Perry, Laver, Emerson, Sampras... and Agassi himself!
  • Kim Clijsters winning a Grand Slam for the first time.

  • England winning the Ashes for the first time in almost two decades, despite Warne's 40 wickets. Sir Freddie is one of many who will be knighted
  • eBay buying out Skype
  • Oracle buying out Siebel
  • Koizumi romping home to victory in Japan
  • France supporting India's candidature for a permanent Security Council seat (okeh, that's a non-event, yet...)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Quiberon... a poem

I wrote a poem in French this evening!!! Not in some cozy atmosphere, in which I could pay heed to rhyme and metre. It was written in the space of exactly four minutes... during a test. I was supposed to fill out a picture postcard with a few lines, the other side of which (I had to assume) was an some image of this place.

Here goes the poem...

Voici la presqu'île de Quiberon
Fondé par Bobet, le champion

Le célèbre centre de thalassothérapie
Dont on a toujours ravie

Les longues plages, et les promenades
Le vieil port, et les remparts

Vous aurez vraiment de la chance
Pour passer là-bas, vos vacances!

It translates to There is the peninsula of Quiberon, founded by Bobet, the champion... The famous centre for thalassotherapy, that one would always dream of... The long beaches and the walks, the old port and the ramparts... You will be really lucky to spend your vacations over there.

(Bobet - Louison Bobet, French cyclist, the first person to win the Tour de France for three consecutive years; thalassotherapy - sea-water therapy)

One of the things I hate about wannabe poets is their adherence to homonyms. Any poem that the budding poet writes will end in words that sound alike... and on numerous occassions, one can sense the extra effort that has gone into it. I used to comment that such people had a simple algorithm to produce a poem.

1. First think of a subject, or a theme - mostly love.
2. Decide the number of lines, and then divide it into groups of 3 or 4. (12 lines, so 3 groups of 4 lines each)
3. Find 3 groups of 4 rhyming words... moon, soon, noon, boon.
4. Complete the poem with lines ending with these words. For example,
You are like the moon
Bright as the noon!
Come let's go soon,
And read Mills & Boon!

It is an irony that my first attempt at poetry has turned out that way too; but who cares? I am poet, and I've got the poetic license! Monsieur Vijay KRISHNA, the newest French poet on the block, takes a bow...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

There's something about Morrie

Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. Sometimes it is only in your head. Sometimes it is right alongside their beds.
What is there to write about a dying man? That he was gentle, kind and affable? That he was a good teacher? And that he has given us an important lesson...

Tuesdays with Morrie recaptures the lessons Mitch Albom learnt from his professor (of two decades ago) from the latter's bedside. Rare insights that provide a simplified view of our complex world... thoughts on how our understanding of the world, and life, and love, and compassion, and forgiveness, and culture, and money are so flawed. These gems of wisdom would make the reader elevate Morrie to the level of a saint, who shares with us the distilled knowledge of the ages.

Crisp, short and witty, these exchanges will definitely make you ponder about life and so-called conventional wisdom. I invite you to read this book, it is one in a million. Sample its opening lines...

The last class of my professor's life took place once a week in his house, by a window in the study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink leaves, The class met on Tuesdays. It began after breakfast. The subject was The Meaning of Life. It was taught fom experience... The last class of my professor's life had only one student.

I was the student.
I don't believe in celebrating fad days; but Teacher's Day 2005, I dedicate to Professor Morris Schwartz!