Thursday, June 29, 2006

Flyover Construction: Can the Doraisamy Rd/Usman Road problem be solved.

The flyovers mentioned in the resolution are: North Usman Road - Kodambakkam Main Road junction at an estimated cost of Rs. 9.72 crore; Chamiers Road - Turnbulls Road junction at an estimated cost of Rs.12.5 crore; G.N. Chetty Road - Thirumalai Pillai Road junction at an estimated Rs.16.5 crore; and Usman Road - Doraisamy Salai at an estimated Rs.19.8 crore.

The Problem: I have often wondered about the traffic problems in Doraisami Road/Usman Road intersection in T.Nagar. This is my favorite part of the city so I mentally drew plans for a flyover. Sometimes I drew them on paper. You know - If I was suddenly made Chief Minister I needed to have a quick solution in hand :-) . I really couldn't come up with a concrete solution. Well..in all my quick fix solutions nuking out Pothys was as far as I got. Anywho - Lets see this problem;

Place Description/Context: On the Eastern side of Doraisamy road, lies Usman road (which is perpendicular to Doraisamy). From East -> West - Traffic flows through Panagal Park road (which is further East of Usman Road) leading to a left in Usman road and a quick right on Doraisamy road. This whole section has comfortable space for 2 cars to travel side-by-side. Whereas there are 30,000 cars trying to travel side-by-side. How do you allieviate this problem? (asking people to vacate and live in another city is not an option). On the other side of Doraisamy Road is Thambiah Reddy road (which is parallel to Usman Road and perpendicular to Doraisamy road). On Doraisamy road is ofcourse the much maligned subway (underbridge?). The road goes below the North Madras -- South Madras/South-Tamizh-Nadu suburban train tracks (one among the three suburban train line sections in Chennai). Although the poor subway has managed to carry far heavier load than it should have been subjected to, it does get flooded during rainy season (which believe it or not does happen). This is one area which can't even tolerate a small puncture or a vehicle breakdown. The whole process comes to a stand still and things get nasty really soon. I think this area can be ranked #1 in Madras (or the world) as far traffic density is conerned. Oh..one more thing. This whole area (in Usman Road) is the heartbeat of the city's retail shopping experience. The money transacted for retail shopping here is one among the highest in Asia. Pothys, a six-storeyed twin-building textile shop, lies on Usman road directly facing Dorasamy Road (thereby nullyfying the superstition that 'a house/business facing a road will be doomed') and Pothys is the most crowded shop that you will ever see. It pumps out and pumps in 1000 people/hour into (and from) the Usman Road/Doraisamy Junction that we are trying to fix.

Past Solutions by the Govt:

1) After several toggles they have finally made the section of South Usman Road, which is south of the Doraisamy/Usman intersection, a 1-way street. Vehicles coming from East (Pondy Bazar, Gn Chetty Rd, VenkatNarayana Rd) can only go South on Usman or West on Duraisamy, from that intersection. Vehicles coming from the West (Mambalam, Ashok Nagar, Kodambakkam) cannot turn right on Usman road to go South, they have to take N. Usaman road.

2) During Diwali, which is when the area has 10 times more shoppers than normal days, Duraisamy road is made 1-way (allowing East -> West Traffic). Madley road subway acts as a poor substitute for traffic going other way.

3) They removed the bus stop for buses coming from Mambalam (West) to Panagal park (East) in the early 90s. Thats pretty much it. The streetside hawkers in Usman road will always be there inspite of the law against it.

4) The only thing I will commend the govt is for the excellent traffic regulation, which by far the best I have seen. This place could really be bad. That it actually has a throughput is credit to the traffic police.

My (failed) solutions:

1) Firstly, what will you do during the construction perod. It is going to be a big B I G BIG mess. How will you divert traffic - (a) the Arcot FLyover or (b) poor old Madley Road or (c) Rear entry through Anna Salai -> Kathipara -> 100 Ft Road. Knowing the govt - they won't do anything and will let the chaotic public figure it out. So a 1 year construction means the T.Nagar MLA will never be re-elected for the rest of his political career (since the MLA is ADMK it might not be an issue)

2) Panagal park can't be shrunk or demolished. I inquired, it falls under ASI (Archelogical Society of India) or something similar. To cut the long story short -It is constructed-by/the-property-of/in-memory-of the Rajah of Panagal (or something like that).

3) A flyover that starts in Panagal Park Road (opp to Nalli) that curves to the left in Usman Rd goes on top of Dorasamy road, above the Railway track (which is above Doraisamy road) and ends where? Three choices here - (a) Thambiah Reddy Road intersection, (b) Arya Gowda Road intersection or (c) Brindhavan St Extn. All three are horrible choices. There is really no space to land a Bullock Cart there, let alone a flyover. If somehow they manage to put it in a place - then the flyover will have traffic flowing East -> West and Doraisamy will have West -> East flowing traffic( Pothys is East, West Mambalam ofcourse is West :-) )

4) A mirror of item # (3) mentioned above. A flyover that starts in West somewhere in (a) Thambiah Reddy Road (b) Arya Gowda Road (c) Brindhavan St Extn. This flyover goes directly above Doraisamy road and turns left on top of Usman road and ends in front of Saravana stores (which is almost as crowded as Pothys) in N. Usman road. The traffic going West -> East will use this flyover.

4a) This is an extension of 4. But instead of ending the Eastern side of flyover in N.Usman road, we can make it all grandoise and take the flyover above Panagal Park. This would give us the opportunity to fork out the flyover - one would land in G.N Chetty road and the other in Pondy Bazar Road ( a three-way part could make the third land in Venkat Narayana Road). This would be totally awesome and really effecient. The down side is it would take 10 years to build and the traffic would quaraple by then. ( If whats happening in Bangalore is an indication (flyover in Bannergatta Rd & the flyover in that signal near the airport road), governments will change and the construction will stop. I thought something like that is barbaric and would never happen in civilized India - but its happening right in front of our eyes. )
4b) A further extension of (4a) - We fork the West side of the flyover to (a) Thambiah Reddy Road (b) Arya Gowda Road (c) Brindhavan St Extn. This would be awesome but difficult to implement.

5) A flyover that starts in Panagal Park Road (opp to Nalli) that takes a left in Usman Rd and lands in South Usman road: This is a waste. 99% of the traffic goes to Doraisamy. This helps nobody.

6) Don't build subways. Establish one-ways. Improve Madley road and make that as the East -> West flowing traffic. This needs extensive rework and relaying of Western part of Madley Subway roads. Doraisamy would just cater to West -> East flowing traffic. Easier said than done.

What will they do?:

Lets say the ADMK councillors do approve the plan - what sort of plan does the DMK have? I just have a bad feeling of (a) changing landscape (b) dirty construction life (c) falling real estate prices (even though its skyrocketing like crazy now).

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Weird Things

My everyday train travel has led to several observations on the peculiar habits of people travelling by train.

On top of every seat there is a small slit, just wide enough to slide a paper. What passengers do is they just keep their tickets or passes on the slit (for e.g you would keep your ticket on the slit on the seat before you). The conductor won't disturb you if he sees a pass in that place. If he sees a ticket he will take it out, punch it and then keep it back in the slit. There is an option to buy the train ticket from the conductor as opposed to the station itself. Given the way I time catching the train until the last minute - I always buy the ticket from the conductor. After paying the money, he'd take the ticket punch it, ignore my outstreched hand and keep the ticket on the slit in front of my seat. I'd sit there with a confused look.

Also, I noticed, he has a gun holster like thing around his waist. It has three or four cylinder like things hanging from the holster. Each cylinder houses a particular denomination of coins. So if he has to give me 90 cents change back, he would press the cyclinder that houses quarters (4 annas) 3 times, dime cylinder once and the 5 cent cylinder once. Voila! - I have my change. He is like a mobile coin vending machine. The ticket is also uncomplicated - he just needs to punch on a generic ticket the zones I am covered for. Ofcourse our PTC bus drivers have their own system of rupee notes in fingers, pen behind ears, and coins in the bag kind of thing going on. But I couldn't help thinking that this holster might be a good idea for them. Its so effecient, if they have a generic ticket, they can get rid of the bag and just walk around like a western hero with a holster. They will be like the 'meanest ticketman from the west' who draws change faster than John Wayne or Clint Eastwood .

Tag Time:

Sudipta has tagged me and asked me to name 5 weird things about myself. I am not sure if I can name 5 but I'll try.

1) During school, university exams, I had this habit of putting margins on every paper before I start reading the question paper. So the moment the answer sheet is given, I *have* to draw margins for all the pages in the main sheet. I will not look at the question paper before that. For most of the exams during my 12 STD Board exam, the question paper was given immediately after the answer paper. While, all other students quickly started looking at the question paper, I patiently drew vertical left-side margins on all pages, drew the horizontal margin on the top of the front page, and wrote the date before looking at the question paper. I Did this till my 8th semester.

2) If the house has marble mosaic floor, I can't step on the boundry of 2 mosaic tiles. I would carefully step on the center of every tile. If it happened to be a multi-colored tile floor, I'd just go crazy. I couldn't believe when I saw 'as good as it gets'. Thats me. Thats exactly me. In our house in Vellore, the house had black and white tiles. I was learning chess then. I'd imagine I was a bishop and only walk diagonally. It drove everybody nuts. Also while walking on road pavements. I can't step on the boundary of pavement tiles. I have to time my walk such that my right leg crosses into the new pavement tile without touching the boundary. Needless to say I have a habit of putting my right foot first into any room/train/bus I walk - but then again I guess this is not so uncommon.

3) If I am in the car back seat. I'd like to sit diagonally from the driver.

4) When I increase or decrease volume/color/contrast on TV, radio etc. I will set the volume to an even number. Not an odd number. It drives me crazy if the volume/color remains at an odd number if I am visiting a friends house and he changes volume.

5) My temple habits. The less said about it the better. But seriously, prostrating in the temple, in areas beyond/after-crossing the Dwajya Sthambam is so against temple etiquette. Please don't do it. My grandparents unfortunately taught me this when I was a child and it always bugs me when I saw people falling down in arbitrary places. I get so distracted. Especially in Thirupathi right outside the golden temple. There is a reson why Dwajya Sthambam & Garuda (the gap is bigger in thirupathi) is kept near the entrance. C'mon you have decided to go to the temple. Do it right. - anyway you now know why this falls under weird stuff about me.

I am not tagging anyone, but I will just throw open the comment section for people to write their own 5 weird things. If you like, you can write it in your blog and let me know. I'll update it here. Thanks Sudipta for tagging me :-)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

B.E: CSc Vs IT Vs ECE

I noticed these pearls of wisdom :-) given by my ex-H.O.D in an interview with "The Hindu".

P.S: There is a photo in the article for the benefit of my undergrad mates, who, I am sure, miss seeing their beloved HOD. He is especially dear to one undergrad friend, whose 2-wheeler happened to get stuck under the HOD's car.

Movie Review: Click

This is not a comedy movie. The trailors really mislead you. Its a movie which expands on "All work and no play makes jack a dull boy" Adam Sandler is so busy becoming one of the top architects in the city that he forgets to live his life. He has no time for children, mom & dad, wife, and even foreplay. This is when Chritopher Walken walks in and gives him a universal remote. Sandler can navigate through his life using this remote control's menu. It treats his life like a DVD movie and there are "chapters" on his childhood etc. He can see Picture in Picture, reduce volume when his dog barks at him, change his color/contrast/brightness. There is even a "making of .." section which shows his parents in the act of creating him :-)

I expected this movie (beause of the rushes) to be something that plays with time. No thats not it. He mostly fast-forwards aspects of his life that he does not like - like talking to his parents, doing work around the house, when he falls sick, and of course foreplay - he forwards it all. That is this movie's only trick. After you get it there is nothing more to it. He just keeps doing the same thing again and again fast-forwarding life until his own end. The twist in the end is just too obvious. Really obvious. The moment the seed was sown in the initial part of the movie, I turned to my wife and pointed it out.

The twist isn't important. The movie dwells on that fact that family is more important that career. People are so engrossed in salary hike, promotions etc they have no clue what their real priorities should be. Which is true. I think everybody knowse it but we just can't do anything about it. If our bank accounts has 11 digit balances (excluding things after decimal point) then we can consider keeping family first. The movie tries to drive home what every other proverb wants us to believe. Adam Sandler is such a lovable actor. He has a nice way of saying things and you feel like you've known him forever. Walken in the few moments he appears is as usual impressive. In fact he brings the movie alive when it is busy sending us into coma.

Below average movie. You can see it if they show it free on HBO.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Mission Impossible 3

There is an intensity surrounding Tom Cruise that compels us to relate to him. Ethan Hunt wants to be someone, he is unfit to be and gets repeatedly pulled back into being someone he is well trained for. Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt with a good mix of reluctance and competence the role requires. You have to watch it. This is very good entertainment. All the gadgets are there. Despite predictable things happening at predictable time intervals, it is mostly edge of the seat stuff. Ofcourse this is not a noir movie, it is not the first installment, its not some deep profound stuff that would make Kurosawa soil his pants. Its a regular entertainer. So make sure you know what movie you are getting into.

This is a 'masala' movie. But one of the very best masala's you will see. The action is fast paced. Really fast. And it is done in a cool Hi-tech kind of way. You are being entertained by windmills in Berlin, high-rise buildings in China, rendezvouz in the Vactican. You have no time to ponder the way you did when paradoxes in "Being John Malkovich" were thrown at you. It is 'masala'. A kind of masala Rajinikanth will do if he was a hollywood superhero, which is what Tom Cruise is. I love such movies. The whole rabbit's foot concept is similar to a DeNiro movie called Ronin, released 5-6 years ago. My roommates and I, (re)named Ronin "Petti Kulla Enna irukku" (whats in the bag?). Ofcourse K.Balachander, the master movie maker, touched a similar concept in Vaname Ellai several years before.

Rabbit's foot, the motive for this story is completely irrelevant to the movie. Yes! it is funny when I say that. As the tape self-destructs 5 seconds after Ethan Hunt gets the message, it is surprisingly 15 minutes after the movie begins. The narrative arc of the movie is so similar to Kaakha Kaakha - infact it is exactly the same. A tense sequence is shown and the story goes back in time and narrates events leading up to the point. You sort of know whats going to happen but you are waiting to be supplied with context. This makes the movie really interesting.

This MI series has (un)intentionally become the American version of James Bond and is increasingly following the screenplay pattern of its British counterpart. Yes! you have their fancy make-up masks, the voice modulators, Ethan Hunt hanging face-down with a rope tied behind his back. However, it is as unlike MI-2 as it is unlike MI-1. Which is actually good news because John Woo left this series in ruins. Philip Seymour Hoffman has a small part to play. He is much impressive in the 5 minutes he appears than the half-baked Bend it like Beckham coach who plays sidekick.

A must watch. Yes! there are some illogical moments and out-of-real-world scenarios - like songs in our movies. But its well worth the money.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Television, Men and Conversation

I am just wondering if it happens in every house. The husband is watching TV. Stuff ranging from Seinfeld, Friends, Reality shows and sports. The wife says something to him. He doesn't even hear it or at best turns and nods with a tight face all the while thinking "I am missing out on the TV conversation". Upon interrogation later or at a point in future when, the stuff that was said, becomes relevant, he claims that such a thing was never said to him at all. The wife then complains that the TV makes him deaf and totally spaced out. Inspite of all this the wife continues to say vitally important information (when to buy milk, unpaid bills, news from home) when he watches TV. Does - "but you watch TV all the time" justify doing the same mistake again and again?
Didn't the wife hear Ms.Philips talking to Ms.Sony during annual board meeting of the First Wives Club, "who the hell does she think, she is?" or at least the song "whats love got to do with it?" played in the same meeting.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

First Day Blues: A Flashback

The first day in a new school/college/company is always exciting isn't it? The whole geography of the place is new, you are meeting so many people and the names sort of merge with each other. Everything is a haze. Slowly over time the fog settles down, things clear out and you begin to understand who is who and which corridor leads to what room. Having studied in over a dozen schools, worked in a few more places , I still admit to some butterflies hovering in my stomach on my first day anywhere. This could be the 20th time I am a new kid on the block and I have to say its as thrilling as the first time.

Or the ninth time....

One evening way back in the 80s, I was playing with half a dozen friends in my grandfather's place in Madras. I was abruptly pulled out of an argument surrounding a run-out and put on a bogey in Nellai express and sent on my way to a place called Palayamkottai. Little did I know that I was heading towards two of the most exciting years of my life. All I knew was - It was to be my fifth new school and 4th new place in 5 years. This had become a typical ritual for me in June. I wouldn't be enrolled in any school until mid-June given that my father could be transferred to anytown, India. The transfer order (which was based on the weather patterns, planet-alignment, changes to the Sweedish Government) would come mid-june. Schools and houses would be quickly found and I would be evacuated from my grandparents place to yet another adventure in an unknown place. I completely detested going out of Madras. Every June my dad threatened me with new places and I would respond with a "yuck" or a "Ywack". One year, he'd say "Bombay" and I went "yuck". Next year He'd say "Gwahati" and I'd say "ywack". Quite frankly, I didn't know how to respond to a 'Palayamkottai'. I mean - what the hell was that? I had never heard of this place before. A few people who knew the place scratched their head and said - "It has a jail". But what good is a jail for a seventh grader?

So, one monday morning in June, I woke up to find myself in Palayamkottai, Thirunelveli. My house had a few opened and many unopened crates strewn around and my dad was instructing the men who were arranging stuff. I was nervously dressed up for school. My mom always insisted on a 'kungumam' kind of smear on my forehead before I left to school, which my brother and I wiped out 3 milliseconds after we entered the school gate. Not cool enough. We hadn't scoped out the school yet. [The previous year I forgot to wipe it, walked into a Christian school and was made the butt of all jokes for a month]. A few note books were thrown into my bag and there was obviously a pencil box making the "dodak dodak" sound as I walked. The lunch bag had a water bottle, a tiffin carrier and a towel ( also called a 'napkin' :-) ) wedged between the two. A spoon was loosely dropped in the lunch bag. The carrier had three small containers. The middle one housed the vegetables, the bottom one had sambhar/rasam rice and the top most one invariably had curd rice with pickle stains on it. Sometimes the curd would leak in to bag along with some rasam and the spoon, unable to bear the stench, would jump out and commit suicide.

Sidetrack: Remember the obnoxious kids who wore their school bags with the rope handle of the bag wrapped on their forehead. Do you get the picture? I mean the single long rope/cloth like handle, of the bag that is supposed to go over your shoulders. Some village/corporation school students hung the bag behind them with this piece of cloth going across their foreheads. I wanted to slay them just for that act.

The first Monday, I walked in - It had been 3 weeks since school re-opened. And that was typically the case with me. I had never attended school on opening day because at that point in time, I wouldn't even be aware such a school existed. The assembly had commmenced. My parents obviously had no clue about school timings, they just dropped me at a time they guessed would be the regular start time (and they were 10 minutes off the mark). I accosted strangers and asked them " 7 A" - shouted - " SEVEN A" . The students had already formed the class line that would lead them to the school grounds for the assembly. Some pointed their eye up the stairs and some just vaguely waved their hands towards a corner. I was painfully aware that entire lines of students had started to look at me curiously. "new student".... "is he out of town" they were whispering among themselves. Amazing is the pressure that comes from carrying a bag + hand bag in a stange building with 100 eyes breathing down your neck. I felt like I was paraded naked in front of a crowd. The lines began to move to the assembly (held in the school ground) and I hadn't found my class yet.

My desparate eyes finally hit an ugly board that said '7A'. I rushed in, expecting the class to be empty - since the assembly had begun - and a thought struck me "I have no place. No Bench assigned Where do I keep my bags?". I ran in and barged into a guy who had his left hand covered in POP and bandage. He was the only one in class. We looked at each other for a moment. A moment I'll never forget for the rest of my life. He was huge for a 7th grader, like a thug. He asked "new student?" I nodded in nervousness. I quickly realized he had been excempted from assembly because of the hand fracture. He quickly realized I needed a bench/place, showed me one in the last bench and said "Keep your bags here. This place is empty". Then he went out of the class and gestured with his face asking me to come to the corridor outside - like a Mossad agent calling a CIA agent on a stake out. "That line" he pointed from above (we were in the first floor) towards students standing in line for the assembly "is 7A". "Run. you are already late," he said. I saw the line hazily, ran down the stairs and went and joined the wrong 7B line.

In the next 30 minutes, I went through several surprises. The Sanskrit prayer "Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu" that I said in a aba-swaramic way that day was the first non-english prayer I had said in all my school life. My past school assembly prayers were an random assortment of Christian choirs (by virtue of the schools I studied). The prayer later changed to "thaayin mani kodi pareer" and by the time I got over the cultural shock of being part of Tamizh prayer they threw a "neeradum kadlodukka niramadantha" at me. Despite being Tamizh and having studied before in many schools in the same state, this seemed like a new world with strange things happening. I was thankful when the "Jana Gana Mana" eventually arrived at the end of the assembly session. At least I knew something.

Back in class: The school teacher stopped during the attendance roll call when my name came up (perhaps struggling to pronounce a name them did not end with 'an'). Looked up from the attendance book towards me and asked "Tamizh'a?".The whole class looked at me, I stood up and said "yes". He then ruthlessly suffixed a 'an' to my name and moved on. The first interval break, students began to congregate around me. Most guys had 2 litres of oil on their heads, 0.5 litres on their foreheads and a bright shining viboothi, which if Robinson Crusoe had worn on his forehead when he was marooned, he would have been visible to ships sailing near Japan. I thought of my mom and felt guilty. I wanted to go home.

They made me write a sample paragraph in English to check out my handwriting. They asked everything from my previous year's report card to my caste. The two main negatives was (a) I was from Madras - a bad thing down south and (b) could speak English -if i get classified as a 'peter' my social life was over. My Madras tamil was letting me down in my attempts to fit in. They even started joking about it. I began to feel I didn't even know the language anymore. At lunch they interviewed me on my cricket abilities for positions ranging from class team to colony team. Seasoned by past experiences, I underplayed where I had to and lied wherever else I could. Thankfully the guy I met in the morning was kind of shielding me from intense interrogation. He seemed to be the TopCat around the place[ RunLolaRun SideNote: It is strange how the people you meet so randomly become bum pals. Ozdude, the guy with the fractured hand, become one of my closest friends, we moved to chennai together, changed schools again together, later went to the same college and are still bum pals. End RunLolaRUn Side Note ] History class: The teacher asked me a question and I stood up (you have to stand up when you address a teacher) and said "No Ma'm". The whole class went to a hush. Side Track: A decision on calling lady teachers M'a'm' and 'Miss' was one of the most difficult decisions to make. It totally depended on school habits. However, in the instant case I did not expect these students to undertstand my 'Ma'm' as 'man'. End Sidetrack. End of day: I was hoping the nighmare would end when the Math teacher Mr.Rajagopalan walked in. Within seconds he asked "where is the new student". I stood up and he said "your father was on the phone with me today afternoon - it seems you are good in Mathematics and weak in Biology. Lets see how good you are?". .....

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Da Vinci Code

I will follow-up my review of the book with a few thoughts on what I think about the movie. To start with I think my India trip hang over has not left me yet or I am still yetto learn some pronunciational nuances in the U.S. I went to the ticket counter and asked for
Me: "Da Vinci Code 9:45 show".
She: "what show?"
Me: " 9;45 show"
She: I got that but which movie?
Me: Da Vinci code?
She: (looks at the computer and says) What show?
Me: D a V i n c i C o d e
She: oh! The Duh-Vinci code.
So I was saying Da Vinci like I say Vaa-da, Poo-da .Apparantly it is the said the way Big Moose says Duh.
Anyway it is hard to see a movie after reading its novel. The movie almost never lives up to it.As usual the main reason being the novel has the dimension where it can privy us to the character's thought process, tension etc. Movies completely lack the dimension, which understandably is far more powerful than visuals, background music or special effects.
But this movie is so disconnected and illogical that sometimes you are wondering "how they hell did they get out? Why are they here? Who is this?" A simple calculation by the producers would show that if 80% of the people who read the book saw the movie, they would get their money back - so they didn't make the movie for people who haven't read the book. Tom Hanks looks unconvincing. The Nevue girl isnt even dollish, shows no sign of being able to crack codes. She wimps and cries every 5 minutes. The chase sequences are poorly, cheaply made and nowhere close to interesting. The book had a few twists about the Priory of Sion which wasnt even presented half-decently.
Semi-Spoiler Alert: It tells a very strange/controversial story, which in a nutshell would be that Jesus was not a God but actually a mortal man, who was made a God 300 years after he dies by a council of people. This was done to avoid huge religious wars in Rome. To accomadate this, all the hymns were reworded to call Jesus - God and verses by Mary Magdalene were deleted. It seems Jesus had his last supper not with 12 other men but 11 other men and 1 woman - Mary Magdalene, who is not a prostitute as common men are led to believe but Jesus's wife. Whats more? she was pregnant at the time of crucifiction. The story alleges that there is a group which protects the progeny of christ while a hardcore group within the church tries to eliminate the descendants.
I understand why this could cause a furore in the religious world. A couple of years ago I wondered about such things. But it has been released all over Europe, America and even Latin America. The Pope, as far as I know, didn't even give a press statement about this. Its a movie and its left at that. I wonder what the hell is wrong with Tamil Nadu (and a few other states) ? Why did it have to ban Da Vinci code when it can run in many other places in India? I am wondering why Father David Senthamilraju, Alex Alahandra Arvamudan, Immanuvel Suresh and Sheila John's got their truss in a knot for this movie. I don't understand the whole "I am more halwa than thirunelveli itself" feeling. This movie isn't doing anybody damage. Given that the educated people regardless of religion are irelevant to politicians anyway and the fact that more than half of the church's target audience in India can't read/write English - whats the big deal about? The only other thing that is as powerful as protecting-religion is vote-bank politics. This movie is too small a matter for such a big-time politics to come into play.
Waste of $16 and much ado about nothing.

Friday, June 16, 2006

X Men: Last Stand

There was a rumor that Brett Ratner screwed it up. Its not that bad. The 'empathy' factor for superhero movies is okay, once in a while - like spiderman II used it. That movie was where I could certainly see and undertsand the makers trying to make us relate to the travails of the main characters. But too much of it takes away the charm of why people go to see action hero movies. Superman III left a bad taste in the mouth. It is time for some regular super hero movies with the emotional element turned down.
XMen III tries to make us empathize with the rights of mutants. It expects us to say "no wayyy dooode" when they suggest the serum is actually a "cure". Well its difficult. I honestly don't care for the mutants. I dont even care to view it as a metaphor for some other issue in current-affairs. I dont even know where to start if I should begin to act concerned about the emotional trauma of the mutants. I am here to see gimmics, cool special effects and action. If I wanted deep emotional stuff, I wouldn't come to a movie made out of Marvel Comics.
What happens when Brett Ratner and his writers try to cross XMen with Ekta Kapoor or a Selvi is - XMen III? It doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth or completely melodramatic but I came out with a feeling that they could have come out with a better excuse to showcase the action and the FX than such a deep story. Its so complex that while the story in itself interests you, its a small movie with a lot of action to cover, there is limited scope for further story/character development and everybody looks half-baked. Its like seeing the 90 minute trailor of the movie than the actual movie itself.
Dont be misled by my negative tone. XMen III is good and certainly watchable. The special effects are awesome and Patrick Stewart, Ian Mckellen bring their own charm. Although people were upset with Ratner trying new commercial gimmics like the Juggernaut etc, I was happy with those things. To be honest he has tried his best to balance factors which draw non-regular viewer Vs comic book nerds. "Action" is the reason why I go and watch XMen. Give me more of it and less of story (mm..I have said this somewhere else also :-) ).

Thursday, June 15, 2006

'Vejjitariyan' - II

Arguments for vegetarianism should not say things like " all the animals will get depleted, become extinct and the lifecycle/food chain will be upset".

Apart from upsetting Poornam Viswanathan and his fans, such as I (or is it 'me'), who love to repeat his dialog "vayasu ayidthu..... vejjitariyaan" - it violates the arguments logic.

Loss of animals is just notion for us. On the other hand it is food for non-vegetarians. I am sure they will be more concerned than us to ensure that food continues to appear on their plate. They will see to it that the relevant animals don't die/deplete/become-extinct. Especially the ones that are loved a lot and eaten more.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Optimism

Where does it help us? When things are going very well, optimism, is useless and often detrimental. It blindsides us to potential pitfalls along the way. Optimism seems to develop a feel-good blood flow all through our body and we tend to look at every development as a good sign. A Habitual optimismistic approach makes 'optimism' a reflex. The trigger that goes on when you see danger approaching is overwhelmed by these waves of 'optimism'. You think the wave that you are riding is getting bigger, but you could get knocked down by a cliff. On the other hand, by pure virtue of not perceiving every development as a positive effect, you risk being called cynical. You are a cynic, if you tend to respond to 'danger' triggers and believe that such lack of optimism is essential for survival.

So optimism becomes more relevant to unfavorable situations. When things are bad, positive action is like a natural reflex. It is there anyway. Nobody wishes and hopes to die (at least most of us). All of us react in a ways that attempts to improve bad situations. The effectiveness of such attempts depends on our 'ability' and 'intelligence'. So 'optimism' boils down to performing those improvement related actions with a mental feeling of hope as opposed to a fatalistic/negative approach. It is regarded by many that this subtle mental orientation has invisible control over the effectivesness of our actions and influences outcomes. 'Confidence' shares such similar attributes and at this point is liable to be easily confused with 'optimism'. Separate 'confidence' aspects of this mental feeling and there is little left to celeberate optimism.

I have had, what I perceived as, optimistic feelings and in a perverse way I feel good to know that I can resort to it during bad times. But dissecting mental experiences to isolate optimistic impulses have often frustrated me. It is beyond the boundries of what I perceive as 'logic'. So is optimism a function of someother emotion or a incorrect reading of a some other mental experience? Is it a science that is mutually exclusive from logic, like astrology, that offers a mental comfort during distress that tries to tell us that things will become better?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

On Introductions - II

Admist all the introductions I have been getting in the past two days, I tried to remember the first person, I introduced my wife to.

It was my first outing with her after we decided to get married. I was with her and my parents in Marina beach. My parents know a lady who sells Jasmine flowers in the beach for many many years. My parents have been regular visitors to the beach before I was even born and if you walk by Gandhi statue on a Saturday afternoon - you can't miss them. We were walking on the pavement towards Gandhi statue and she stopped my mom in her usual friendly/taken-for-granted tone. When my wife was introduced to her the thrill in her face was unmistakable, she exclaimed a shy congratulation, cut an extra 'mozham' of Jasmine flowers and gave it to my wife.

It was kind of a Tasters Choice/Kodak moment.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Summer Begins

Hunting for an apartment has never been my niche area. Trying to do that in 1 day was in a way more funny than tense because I had no hope to start with. We just drove on the road and stopped by every apartment complex we could see and asked if they had a 1 Bedroom. The 3 month lease seems to be a problem, so we are exploring different ways of concealing that pumpkin while talking to apartments. Its time for the my wife, a Craig's list expert, to do her magic.

Its been almost a decade since I did a train-road-walk commute everyday. I am sure this is going to be much different than those romantic undergrad days.

Summer has begun. Chicago isnt even warm and Superman hasn't even released yet.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tips Regarding Logistics of Conducting Marriage

Some tips on what I usually instruct the caterers and other associated people when they are called to conduct a marriage in my house.

Caterer
  • Coffee should not be reheated on and on from morning 5:00 AM until the last person has had coffee at 8:00 AM. Coffee once prepared should not be reheated. This is the primary reason why marriage coffee sucks.
  • The people serving in the dining room must be neatly dressed. Nobody should serve without wearing a shirt. Should wear plastic gloves. People who have cold and are pulling back phlegm from their noses shouldn't be allowed inside the kitchen.
  • Ghee should be new, good and should not smell. Otherwise it should not be served at all
  • Rice should not be overly watery or over dry.
  • People serving should not be indiffierent, rude and arrogant. They are part of the hospitality group.
  • It is okay if more food is served and is wasted than people wanting food and no food is available.

Photographer

  • Having gimmics and special effects like girl and boy flying to America in some fancy car. Girls photo in Boy's heart and vice versa, Boy opening his Blazer and girl appearing in his pocket - All this nonsense is best avoided. The couple look like a bunch of buffoons 10 years later.
  • The videographer should not be allowed into the dining room. Watching other people eat is not a pleasant sight. Capturing that in video and viewing 'Mani' periappa attacking the Jangiri while rice particles continue to spill out of his mouth is not exactly archive footage material. Infact watching somebody eating and watching somebody shitting is not much different.
  • The videographer's job is to capture the important parts without ordering everybody around. The video surrounds the marriage. Not the other way around.

Visting People

  • Having 2 people who can identify relatives and welcome them is important. Those 2 people are difficult to find as they do not want to miss the function.
  • Use a Mike to announce whats happening in the stage above. For example - announce the name of the girl's uncle who is giving some veshti etc. It helps everybody know whats going on.
  • Take a mike and announce to the audience certain conduct related instructions. Tell them when the marriage is official over (It is NOT over when the boy ties the mangal sutra). And as to when the visitors can approach the bride and groom to shake hands and deposit the gift.
  • For visiting people - It is INCORRECT to go and shake hands with the couple whenYOU think the marriage is over. Some people are particular that the rules need to be followed and ceremony is conducted properly. Respect that regardless of your own personal beliefs. That you have 4 other marriages to cover does not allow you to pause the marriage proceedings and talk to the groom. This is where the mike comes in handy.

I highly recommend the MRC Nagar Ramanathan Chettiyar Hall. It is one of the best Marriage Halls I have ever seen.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

It happened to me - I

Incident from good old school days.

I had just moved from SBOA CBSE school to SBOA Matriculation school. The primary difference in the uniform between the two schools was that the Matriculation school required boys' shirts to have a airforce uniform like flap thing on the shoulder. My father had a low opinion on the school administration and thought that requiring a flap was unnecessary drama/extravaganza on part of the school and refused to buy nw shirts. He sent me to school in my CBSE uniform itself.

After the school assembly got over, we made a line to walk back to class and the P.T (Physical Training) teacher stood in the corridor as the line of students walked passed him. He inspected us to check if our uniforms were in order. I was pulled aside for wearing a shirt without a flap.

30 minutes later.

After being made to stand in the sun for 30 minutes with a group of 20 other offenders the P.T sir started asking us one-by-one - the reason for defaulting. P.T sir was a complete illitrate like all P.T Sirs were required to be. And my turn came.

P.T Sir: Where is your floff (The correct P.T Sir pronunciation for flap)
( I hear floff as flat and am surprised that he knows I live in a flat)
Me: T.Nagar sir (Short for Thayagaraya Nagar)
P.T Sir: how dare you talk to me like this..slap SLAP SLAP

He was short of hearing and he heard T.Nagar as Tailor. He thought I was being sarcastic on him. Needless to say my life during P.T hours were completely ruined after that point.

(Remembered this as I was putting ear drops to remove wax in my ears.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Bitching About Bangalore /10 Things I hate about Bangalore / NRIs returning to Bangalore - Renamed

Note: Read my blog disclaimer. S.Ve. Sekhar would have named it 'Tenant Commandments'

In case you are carried away by the hype - here are some myth breakers.

  • Time to travel from your house to your neighbor's house. (a) 2 Wheeler - 4 years (b)4 Wheelers 700 Years (c) Big 4 wheelers - 3752 Years (d) If you plan to park - Impossible
  • There are no roads in Bangalore. Vehicles travel in the gaps between houses. They fondly remember it as roads even though there is no trace of tar on them.
  • While they claim to speak Hindi and speak something they think is Hindi - its not Hindi. Unless the scale of reference is Madras - Bangalore has no hindi speaking population. Yes! there are many north Indians who have settled down in Bangalore but they dont own shops, drive autos or work in Govt buildings.
  • Tamil isnt spoken in Bangalore either.
  • Did I say they dont have any roads in Bangalore?
  • Commercial establishments are open 4 hours a day. They also break for lunch for 4 hours.
  • Houses in Bangalore have commodes exactly in the center of the bathroom. You have to cross the commode to get the the bath area and when you come back out of the bathroom you have to cross the commode again.
  • Autos cheat in Bangalore.
  • Dont yell at other vehicles on the road if they violate road rules (which is extremely rampant in Bangalore). Its not Madras where they listen to you yelling 'idiot' and continue diving like a domesticated cows. Auto drivers in Bangalore are just looking for an excuse to pick up a fight.
  • It is the only place in the world where people drive 2-wheelers on pavements. I swear I have never seen anything as uncivilized as this. These people are the so-called software engineers, who are stupid and uncivilized.

In short living in Bangalore is like living in a foreign country, with strange language and stange habits, but with horrible living standards. If you cant live in your home town there is no point returning.