Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No More Dhoni! Welgam to Thoni

I haven't seen a single IPL game and have no clue whats happening there but these Dhoni videos need to be watched. Given the stereotypical 'yem' and 'rascal' - one can easily say that the first advt hasn't been made by a thamizhan but the second one has thamizh written all over it. It is so Thamizh in heart that one can say - Dhoni has been absorbed into the fold.




Sunday, April 27, 2008

Children Based TV/Community/Stage Programs

They are extremely boring. The only people who find it interesting are the parents of the said children. In a community event if there are children based song/dance and other "talent show" programmes, it is nothing short of Chinese water torture for people who aren't the parents of the child participants. Even the parents of the child-performers aren't interested in all the child artists. They comfortably ignore the stuff done by the other children. When their child performs they do their handicam thing and stand behind philosophically admiring the child ( I wonder if they might be under the wrong assumption that other people are actually watching or worse judging). They have optimized their routine to pay attention exactly the 7 minutes and 42 seconds that their child performs. But before after their child performs they are found in Khurtas and Jeans talking with strange people and running behind their noisy children. Invitations for community events should come with sufficient warning. If there are children-based talent shows one should avoid it like the way one would imagine avoiding a lochness monster one has never seen.

Take the Vijay TV show 'Kalakapovathu Yaaru' for instance. The show was a good show until some community-minded program director got over-ambitious. They went ahead and recruited an annoying kid for that show. None of the jokes by that kid is funny or even remotely laughable. People laugh at the kid because he is a kid. The only qualification for the mirth that this artist supposedly generates - is that the person telling those non-jokes is a damn kid. Kids/children based talent shows are the worst shows ever. The are so mind numbingly boring. More boring than the class taught by my Statistical Theory Of Communication lecturer. Those were they days I'd write 1-1000 in a paper and strike each number out to pass away 2500 seconds. Those lectures were better because I could openly tell others that the lecture was extremely boring. In a child based program one has to pretend that it was entertaining. It is one of those things one has to agree with to be part of the bloody society.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Show. Don't Tell.

It is ridiculous to assume or expect that others would know and understand us to the extent that we know and understand ourselves. That amount of context about oneself can never be transferred to another person.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More Dasavatharam

Yes! The hype for Dasavatharam has reached Aalavandhan proportions. However, there is some pleasure in expecting something regardless of the payload. Since it is hard to expect and greatly anticipate something after you know how it really is. So I'll savor the moment while it lasts... that is before the movie releases and spoils my expectations.

Crew Interview:



Kamal Rambling Incoherently



Ranganatha Nambi:

The art director mentioned that the 'nambi' character was a real person from Thamizh Nadu. There is no character of religious significance called Ranganatha Nambi that I am aware of. Uttama Nambi, Vaduga Nambi, Kurugoor Nambi are familiar names. This is obviously a fictional character loosely based on some religious character. Who could that be? Seeing the trailer and the Samaasrayanam symbol, shown as a deliberate close-up, in Kamal's upper arms reminded me of another legend in the books that I read about Ramanuja. I love to tell stories. So here is a sad and violent legend. It involved the Saivite vs Vaishnavite feuds in the olden days. Cine actor Vivek couldn't have described it better in Saamy. Kirumi Kanda Chozhan (the name possibly possibly refers to a Chozha king who died of some infection/disease) that I referred to here demanded that everybody regard Siva as the supreme god. When this Chozhan was informed that a saint lived in Srirangam who did not acquiesce with that opinion, the Chozha king ordered that Ramanuja be brought before him. An army was sent to break into the temple and bring back Ramanuja.

Apparently some tense moments followed and finally Kooratalvan (Ramanuja's sishya) persuaded Ramanuja to abandon his sanyasi robe and escape the clutches of the army by wearing non-sanyasi dress. Koorattalvan then assumed Ramanuja's identity and surrendered to the king's army. When brought before the Chozha Raja, he was asked to say and sign that Siva was the supreme and nothing existed in the world that was greater than Siva. Koorattalvan (under the guise of Ramanuja) gave a flippant reply by deliberately interpreting the word 'Siva' to mean the measurement metric of rice and contradicted the Chozhan by claiming that there were higher metrics. The Chozha Raja punished Koorattalvan for his impudence by blinding him. Legend has it that when the hot iron rod to blind Koorattalvan was brought near him, Koorattalvan grabbed the rod plucked his own eyes out - willingly. Koorattalvan is very popular and especially well-known for his tremendous grasp and memory. That if you read out 3 paragraphs to him once he will remember and reproduce it when required.

Kirumi Kanda Chozhan is said to have soon died and his son, who apparently was a more Vaishnavite-friendlier king called back Ramanuja to Srirangam. However, there is no historical record of there ever being a Chozhan called Kirumi Kanda Chozhan. Either he could have be real Chozha Raja whose name was made anonymous or a local Chieftain who was in reality a lackey to a real Chozha king. The promos could lead one to conclude that Napolean plays Kirumi Kanda Chozhan's fictional equivalent. But who knows. That Dasavatharam is a movie that spans different eras which share a common linking theme is the only thing that can be said with some certainty. Here in the movie Ranganatha Nambi is shown to have done something that results in him being persecuted and thrown into the water with the idol. Kamal Haasan can be expected to focus on the evils of religion, jingoism and his religion-leads-to-death theory to show how people lose the plot by 'kallai kandaal kadavul theriyaathu' (if one looks only at the stone one can't see god). However, in the interim one can spend time making silly predictions. It is fun to say these stories or make predictions.

Update: So from the comments section, I have been told that Dasavatharam has to do with events in Chidambaram Temple. I can't believe I missed the oldest story in the book. A long time ago some one showed me a book by this author called Jegansri called ThiruChidambaram (I forget the names now), which had some bayangara stuff. Chidambaram, literally the mothership of the Saivites, does have its share of Saivite-Vaishnavite feud and bloodshed. However, there is no character that I can find called Rangaraja Nambi, who has had any association with the Chidamabaram temple. The timing is also awry as Ramanuja lived between 1017-1137 and the events here are said to have happened in 12th century. So, I don't know where Kamal gets his history from. Anywho - Govindaraja Perumal sits in this temple in the kidanthaan thirukolam (The reclining posture of Vishnu). 32 Paasurams of Thirumangai Azhwar present in the Divya Prabhandam are dedicated to this place called Thiru Chitrakootam. 10 of those paasurams, my good book here says, are composed in the raagam Sankarabaranam, the favorite raagam of Siva. Anapaya Chozhan (Kulothunga Chozhan II - suspected to be the Kriumi Kanda Chozhan), a normally just king, was brain-washed to dispose off the Govindaraja idol. In a weak moment of jingoism he ordered for that idol to be thrown into the Picchavaram sea (This movie apparently has Rangaraja Nambi drown with the idol). Uttai Koothar, Chozhan's poet later composed a poem on how he served a king who threw an idol of Vishnu into the sea.

History has it that Ramanuja successfully managed to restore the idol back to its place many years later. This was so controversial that some Deekshithars jumped from the hill and high walls to their death - in protest(and to make the change inauspicious). The timing of this incident and whether Ramanuja was the one who replaced it is still under severe debate. Chidamabaram has a violent Vaishnavite-Saivite history. The extreme Vaishnavite opinions say that Chidambaram, Kanchi Kamakshi and Ekambareswar temples (all three are still part of 108 Vaishnava Divya Desams) were converted by Chozhas into Saivite temples, whereas the moderate opinion claims that the co-Siva/Vishnu temples were altered to make them primarily Saivite temples. So until the 16th century the services in Gonvindaraja temple were done by Deekshithars (saivite priests) and in the 16th century King Aachudharayar (Krishnadevaraya's brother) employed Bhattacharyas for Govindaraja temple services. This sparked off yet another bloodshed and war.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Movie Preview: Dasavatharam

When Kamal Hasan decides to operate in the 'I am a genius' mode, I get all mahaaaa excited. I am even-more-than-normal high after seeing the trailer. (Previously).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Games we forgot

Sometimes we play these fantastic games in our childhood and completely forget about them. These are games that were as thrilling and fun as any other game I have ever played but unfortunately ignored by the society. The standard joke before every Olympics event is that we should include Kabaddi, Gilli, and Goli as part of the event so that India can win some medals. Well... those aren't the only games. Here are some games, we played in school which we seem to have forgotten and given up. All the 3 games involved use of a tennis/rubber ball and had Halo 3 level bodily injury potential.

Kings: This was my favorite game in school. You need at least 5 people to participate for the game to be interesting. The more the better. Once, I played this game with over 40 people participating and it was madness. The key concept of the game involves a 'chaser' person being chosen. The chaser is essentially a victim selected at the beginning of the game much similar to the 'spy' in 'I Spy' (popularly known as "Ice Boyz"). The chaser is chosen in an interesting fashion. A circle is drawn on the ground. All the participants keep a foot on the circumference of the circle. The ball is dropped on the center of the circle. The person's foot that the ball hits within 3 pitches is the chaser (the exercise is redone if it hits nobody). The chaser gets to choose a partner (who is like a drafted chaser) and together - they hunt down the runners (who are everybody else).

The object of the game is to hit the runners below the knee. The boundaries of the game are arbitrarily defined - the runners are allowed to run within 2 streets or within a cricket round etc. The chaser and his partner round up people and throw the ball on the legs of the runners. If it hits a runner below the knee, the runner is 'out' and is absorbed into the chaser's team. So over time the number of chasers increase and the runner count dwindles to one. If you are the last runner - that is a few seconds of mind blowing fun. You are dead for sure but the number of times you can dodge 10 people throwing the ball at you is a challenge. Its like a tailender trying to hit 100 runs. You jump in funny ways to avoid exposing the below-knee part of your leg.

Seven Stones: This is more popular than Kings but (at least for me) more boring. This game had a different name in each place I went. I forget the exact mechanics of the game but I'll try my best. This game also requires more than 5 participants for it to be fun. The people are divided into 2 teams. Seven stones are arranged one on top of each other to form a stack like thing. A small circle is drawn around the stone for no real reason. About 7 to 8 feet away from these stones a line is drawn. The participants queue up, stand behind that line and throw the ball at the stones. The initial objective is to hit the stones with the ball and make at least one stone fall from the stack. The teams take turns to throw the ball at the stones. As soon as a player manages to topple at least one stone from the stack, his team becomes the 'runners' and the other team comprise the chasers. The runners split and run for cover the moment the ball hits a stone. Now the objective for the runners is to rearrange the stones on top of each other and rebuild the stack of seven stones. The objective of the chasers is to hit the runners with the ball. If the runner is hit, he is out of the game. The remaining runners try and rearrange the stone. There is no below-the-knee rule. You just have to hit the runner.
If the runners manage to rearrange all the seven stones, there are usually hilarious moments when a stone is thrown so far off that nobody can find it and the runners begin to argue among themselves (this is when a cheat stone in your pocket helps), the game is won by runners. For some reason the player, who puts all the seven stones back in order, draws a circle around the stone. I never understood why. Since rearranging the stones is like the key thing, the player who can initially throw down just one of the seven stones while keeping the other 6 intact is a valuable player. This is because the running team will only have to put back just 1 stone on the stack to win the game. This is like serving an ace.

"Moodhugu" Puncture: This vile game is roughly translated as 'Back Puncture'. Of course it is pronounced 'punchar'. This is a fearfully violent game and the main objective is to maim anybody around you. It is really freaking bloody and not for the soft types. The objective here, if you can call that an objective, is to puncture the back side of a person. Any person. The ball (if it is a rubber ball or a wet tennis ball - you watch out) is thrown high in the air to start the game. The person who catches the ball gets to throw on the backside (not just the bums but anywhere on your back side) of anybody he chooses to. So, when the ball is thrown up - you either make sure you get to it or be as far away from it as possible. Of all the years I played this game, I never saw anybody being declared a winner. There were losers though. They were people who stood in the wrong places at the wrong times and were mauled by anybody with the ball. This game goes on for an hour until people are tired of fighting with each other. Friendships are dynamically formed and revenge games are executed at machiavillian proportions.
The most entertaining moments of this game happen when the person with the ball does a throwing action at a target person near him - the target crouches and covers his face with his hand. A few second later he realizes that the ball hasn't been thrown. The target looks up only for the person-with-ball to pretend throwing again. After a few times of the target funnily trying to crouch and run for cover, the target gets embarrassed and runs near the person with the ball in an attempt to snatch the ball. Thwack! The ball is thrown when the target is really at point blank. Maximum pleasure.

We should collect a fund for a premier league involving such games.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cherrapunji

When we read about Cherrapunji in school, we learned that it was the wettest place in India with a lot of rain. I used to think Cherrapunji was this super romantic place where characters belonging to a P.G.Wodehouse book lived. I loved rain and constantly wanted to live in a place like Cherrapunji. The reason for wishing so could be attributed to growing up in a place that had less rains and acute water shortage. Rains, whenever they condescended to make an appearance, were beautiful in Madras and I had a special liking for them. I couldn't associate rain with any negative thing. People kept falling into man holes occasionally but hey! peacocks danced in Vandalur. However, I did not know that Cherrapunji had more water shortage problems than Madras. So years later...
Maybe someone above decided to make those dreams come true. I live in a place just like cherrapunji. If Cherrapunji is more wet I'd like to understand how one can make wet, more wet. Regardless I would like to travel back in time and kick myself for wishing this. It is not just me. Not many from Madras including those who lived in the 'thanneer thanneer' village like too much rain. My grandma is visiting me currently and she keeps using the 'nasa nasa' word frequently. I suspect it is the rain and not me. But one can never be sure. I do not know how Cherrapunji people will feel if they move to Andhra or Thamizh Nadu but I can say for sure - the other way around isn't all that super.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Death By Chocolate

We are all slaves to the Dark Master in one way or the other. In all my years of eating chocolate I would like to pay tribute to 2 chocolate based products that have blown the freaking daylight out of my taste buds. Today, I was in some training class and as it happens when somebody keeps droning on for hours together, I dozed off and actually dreamt about one of these products.
Death By Chocolate: I am trying to remember this place in Pune that sells this product. This place is right opposite to that restaurant in Camp (my god! somebody help me remember the name). This place also sells calzones. It is run by a Parsi lady who yells at customers the way my Math teacher yelled at her students in 6th standard. If she could, she would probably take a ruler and bruise our knuckles. The shop's claim to fame is this amazing cake like thing called 'Death By Chocolate'. This alone is worth the price of a train ticket to Pune.This cake cannot be described easily. the best I can do is say that it a cross between a fudge, brownie and pure chocolate. Its a fat dynamite. The first time I ate it the chocolate just slithered into every single taste bud available. It is just a taste explosion. Those cartoon like crackers keep bursting around your head hours after you have eaten DBC. If you eat more than one of those brown dynamites there is a good chance that your body might not be able to handle it. This is so powerful that people could die before they leave the shop - probably the reason why the 'cake' got its name.
Molten Lava Cake: The restaurant chain called 'Chillies' sell this chocolate based cake. Ladies and Gentlemen just bow to this wonderful piece of innovation. This is a complicated food item. I promise you that every layer of complication adds to the taste. There is a chocolate brownie like cake at the bottom and a spherical thingie sitting on top of it. The spherical thing has a hard chocolate exterior and contains vanilla ice cream inside. Hot chocolate is generously poured on top of this structure. This is the molten lava that the name alludes to. As you poke this structure with a fork the spherical thing eventually breaks and the vanilla pours out of it. I am not glad, I got out of the Lava cake addiction. I still see some withdrawal symptoms. But driving with a group of 10 people for 40 miles searching for chillies at midnight in Michigan was pure bliss.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Woodlands Drive-In

When you are working hard and long the entire day before an important event - be it exam or work or life threatening stuff - occasionally, you take a break for 30 minutes or so. That break is pure bliss. This is your time. You are aware of the worry and the work lurking at the end of the break but it does not bother you. You have given yourself this break and it fills your heart with warmth and happiness. While man's ultimate dream is to have a similar break for the duration of his life the reality is that life is a struggle for happiness. A struggle rudely interrupted by worry, sad events, tension, expectations, responsibilities and sorrow. In between all this people manage to steal away a small moment here or there and escape from reality. Sometimes people spend that precious moments hanging out with friends sitting on a compound wall of their flat talking to friends about nothing as the sun slowly sets. The imminent work is completely forgotten. That break takes one to a separate world full of possibilities and happiness. Like I said - pure bliss. What if all the little plumbings that go into creating such a moment was captured and bottled in a place. The place would be called Woodlands Drive-in. That is the reason why Drive-in exists. That is the essence of that place.

Having been a semi-regular at the Drive-In for the past 20+ years, I visited Woodlands last summer without knowing that it might (its not closed for sure) be the last of my visits. However, I knew one thing clearly - they weren't running a business. That was just an excuse to put up a joint, the kind which cannot exist anywhere but Madras. The compound walls of Woodlands Drive-In enclose a huge space full of trees and is located in what can be easily called as the center of the city. The restaurant is located in a small corner of this huge place. The place is dirty and the waiters are older than your grand parents. Occasionally when the cook feels like it he would give you a great Masala Dosai. He can cook magic but will not because he has done it all before and impressed the people he needed to. So for the most part you get good food that is few notches below awesome. But people don't care. They still come. This place is an anomaly.

When you enter this compound you enter a different world. A world that has no resemblance to the life outside the compound. Regardless of whether you sit inside the restaurant or order food from your car - you should know this. Things take time inside this world. You cannot hurry the waiter. He will patiently listen to you say "please hurry it up" and quitely walk to the nearby table pick up a used plate and go away. But that has no operational impact. The waiter has seen everything. He knows most of the customers by name, knows them well and probably even knows what they might order. You don't rush the waiter or complain about the service or the ambiance. He has served your father and grandfather. He has served mistresses, minors, majors, mamas and maamis. The people they want to serve will come regardless. If you are not the drive-in type - you are just an insignificant little Rs 27.75 that they don't care about. Food is just an excuse to be there. Just the way the restaurant is an excuse for those people to be there. The whole point of drive-in is not driving in or eating. It is just being there.

This unique package has been one of the most unchanging aspects of Madras. I saw a photograph I took there in 1986 and another one I took in 2005 the place hasn't changed a bit. Woodlands is the ultimate 80s middle-class man's evening destination. My uncle keeps saying that the drive-in is a 70s and 80s place. He disallows the 90s folks from entering this private nostalgia club. For employees of State Bank, Union Bank or one of the thousands of private industries around Madras that pays a pittance, for the man who own a Bajaj Super/Chetak scooter, has 2 children (one in front and one sitting between the wife and him) - the dream destination in the 80s for Sunday evening was Woodlands Drive-In. I first visited Woodlands when I was a Mylapore resident. Drive-In seemed like this cool place where the men who had too much hair above their ears (and the hair sort of bushed up near the ear and overflowed beyond it) and who wore in bell-bottom pants hung out. The name "Drive-In" suggested that you could do a little bit more in this restaurant, which you could not do in any other restaurant. It was sort-of true. Drive-In meant that food was also served in the Parking lot and you could eat in the confines of your car.

P.B Srinivas and Co - while regulars at the place don't define the place. However, as they pose for the odd photograph when requested for by fans they know what makes that place. Young men in their 20s and 30s come there to take a break from the daily travails of life. The few moments they spend under the tree or in the parking stand is a brief amnesia from their world. They do discuss the outside world here. If you ask the trees in that place it will tell you millions of giga bytes full of stories. Of love, life, frustration, joy, accomplishment, anxiety, travel, nostalgia, depression and many other 'sions' the psychologists haven't thought of. That is why the term 'restaurant' is such a misfit for this place, where the key point is not food but to get away from it all.

Sometimes a person's entire order is 1 coffee. He just sits there and stares at nothing for what seems an eternity. It almost seems like he grew a beard between the small sips of coffee he takes. What is more beautiful is that the waiter does not hurry the customer. If this were a *restaurant* like HSB the customer would have been kicked out. This is why drive-in existed. Getting spaced-out was the essence of the place. Men with thick moustaches, well-oiled hair and bell-bottom pants did not have bars, pubs, discos, king fisher (well you can factor out the few who went to the Diplomat bar near Luz signal) and bowling alleys. They had drive-in to lean on and cope with life. And in its own way it can never be replaced.

News Item

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The King Kizhangu

This typically happens every Sunday. The question "What is for lunch?" looms large in the mind. When people are the mood for giving themselves a much needed break - it all boils down to the food. Food defines the Sunday afternoon like anything else. A good person has been known to have coffee at around 7:30 AM. Order Idli/Vadai + Sambar from Saravana Bhavan at around 8:00 AM and wait for food to be cooked. Traditionally the accompanying vegetable of a good meal has always been the Potato. One can easily conclude that Urulai-Kizhangu or the Potato has dominated the imagination of the general public like no one else. The dimension shift that this Kizhangu provides to food cannot be described by words. But is it the King of all Kizhangus? Is there a better kizhangu than Urulai? Or have the fanatical rascals, who had ulterior motives behind the success of the potato, promoted this vegetable unfairly? Let us explore the dark secrets behind the Kizhangu world.

A Sunday afternoon lunch without the Potato was punishable by law in the 8th century. A renowned Chozha king call Urulai Chozhan killed people who dared to prepare a Sunday feast without potato. Urulai Chozhan was a vulgar king known to eat three vegetables a day - (a) the mashed potato - that is typically found in the deep dark underbelly of the Masala Dosai, (b) the kutti-kuttiya-narukina potato that has been chopped to 1x1 cm small cubes, and (c) the roasted potato which are 4x3 cm cuboidal forms that have been roasted to the point of being crispy. With such loyalty to the vegetable one could safely assume Urulai Chozhan had a bias towards this gas-inducer and did not take anti-potato people lightly. Several women, who defied his dictat and made Goes-kootu (Cabbage) on a Sunday have been made to stand in the Royal courtyard where people stood around her and threw tons and tons of potatoes on her. Once a woman had undergone the humiliation of being beaten by another man's potato, she could never cook for her husband. It was terrible. All the women cowered at the sight of Urualai Chozhan's tyranny and cooked potato without fail on Sunday.

This forced conversion of people into Potato lovers changed the way the people lived forever. History was forgotten and several prominent vegetables lost their place in the society. This wasn't the case before the tyrannical days of Urulai Chozhan. Another vegetable dominated the minds of the people. The vegetable was un-compromising in its taste, unpretentious like the evil potato, had more gas and packed more power. This vegetable was ruthlessly wiped out of the public memory by Urulai Chozhan and his successors Sena Chozhan and Sarkaraivalli Chozhan. After the passing away of the Chozha dynasty this great, yet unsung, vegetable slowly began to make its way into mainstream society. What is this unsung heroic Kizhangu that seems to be rising like the phoenix? What is this Kizhangu that is sending shivers down the Koyambedu market and Ranganathan street? What is causing all the vegetable vendors to shake in their Bata boots and move the Potato to a corner of their stall and make space for the real King. (silence)

Seiypan Kizhangu.

Also called Seepa Kizhangu (and pronounced say-pun-kizhangu). The return of Seiypan Kizhangu to our conciousness will be so great that many years from now J.R. Seiypan will write a book trilogy with a 3rd book called 'The Return of The Kizhangu' . This was real Kizhangu. Much before the evil days of Urulai Chozhan this Kazhangu ruled the world justly and fairly. Maybe more gas but it did not hurt our eyes with the bright glaze of Ramarajan yellow. It was a sober fair King. Loved by everybody and enslaved only their taste buds. So much so that Vaasuki cooked Seiypan Kizhangu everyday for her superstar-of-succintness poet husband Valluvar. He kept calling her every day exactly when she was drawing water from the well. She had grown tired of the bucket hanging mid-air as she dropped hold of the rope and rushed to attend to his summons. The gravity-defying law suits from Sir Isaac Newton's ancestors wasn't helping either. So she decided to cook Seiypan Kizhangu for him. And he never called her until the plate was empty or the well was dry.

The key to a good seiypan kizhangu is the roast. You over roast it - its blasphemy and you will rot in hell. You undercook it and you have to go to jail. It has to be roasted to the right magnitude. There should be a tinge of crispyness when you bite it and the oil should be balanced. The world of Seiypan Kizhangu is disciplined. Unlike Urulai it does not pander itself to machinations of the world. It arrives in the plate in strict size limits. It always is manufactured in spherical shape, 2.5 cm in diameter with 42 angstrom units of roasted cover around its circumference. The 'thaalichu kottification' of the Seiypan Kizhangu is a major step in the process. the right grams and dhaal need to be added in the right proportions. That gravy must slither over the kizhangu without disturbing the pristine-ness of the Kizhangu but at the same time must suck some flavor from the Kizhngu onto itself. Salt in Seiypan Kizhangu must follow atomic level precision. The salt should merge with the Kizhangu to form perfect crystalline 7-2-7 formation. Every atom of Seiypan Kizhangu must have 2 of its own protons and 3 electrons of NaCl.

So this great kizhangu shall dominate mankind like no Kizhangu before. It now lurks in a corner, far away from the limelight, while its poorer cousin Urulai Kizhangu hogs the headlines. It is plotting. While the Urulai lies in the center of the stall, the real king lies behind the shopkeeper in a sleazy corner with Karuvaipillai, Akka Pullai, Saiva Pillai and other Mapillais. People buy it as an after thought. And the insult hurts. Its eyes can see everything that happens in Koyambedu and Ranganathan Street. Slowly it shall fill the spaces of Ranganathan street, and then its Reliance Fresh. It will then shout the greatest war cry ever. A cry that will be heard in the corridors of Saravana Bhavan, Ganesh Bhavan and Anandha Bhavan. A cry that will echo in the lunch halls of every decent school. The thundering march via Padmanabhans and Arusuvai Arasus into the Muhurtham, reception, & Samandhi Virunthu menu of every Kalyanam Mandapam. Depending on how the Saravana Bhavan treats the new world order in Kizhangu - the Seiypan Kizhangu will march all the way to Wal-Mart Superstores and then there is no turning back.

The age of of Urulai is over. The time for the real Kizhangu has come.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Life & Entertainment

My great grand mother is 96. Sometimes I wonder what goes on in her mind and what she is thinking about. She hasn't left home much in like 10 years, does not watch TV and pretty much does not do stuff that provides her with raw information that she can later digest, analyse and - think about. Sometimes I wonder if she ever got bored. What does one think about in the waking hours when one has nothing much to think about? Average life span has increased. People easily live for 80 years or more nowadays. This means that sheer magnitude of time that one has to while away has increased and consequently the boredom, one has to avoid. is now daunting. This means that the amount of boring work one has to do just to avoid getting bored is more. I used to think there was pleasure in doing nothing. I constantly yelled at my father for not becoming an MLA or MP as that would give me an opportunity to sit idle, molest/seduce arbitrary women and not worry about job security. He is tried of hearing this from me. Having stuff to do was irritating and I used to dream of having an idyllic life where one had to do nothing. I am beginning to think that such a life is probably unsustainable. Reason - boredom. There used to be a time in college when I could sit and stare at a wall for hours together. Having nothing to do was a life style one was proud of. Nowadays one gets bored with a few hours of nothingness. The mind wants to be occupied.

This got me thinking about life. One seems to be always compelled to think about life and draw extremely arbitrary philosophical conclusions on the meaning and purpose of life. If bums like Socrates and Aristotle can do it why shouldn't I? So I'll trouble your mind with my disturbing little insights on life. If one plans to live for 80 years, one really needs something to do. Living that long without doing anything is terribly boring. One always wants to be entertained. So what do we do about that? Human beings are remarkably intelligent species. They can cook up nonsense in no time. So work was invented. That fills up 30-40 years of one's life. To do work, one obviously needs to be educated. So there goes another 20-25 years. So a solid 60-75 years has been taken care of. As you can see the reason behind most of the stuff we do is to be entertained until the cellular organisms that make up our body stop ticking. Entertainment. That's what we all do.

My problem is with people not crediting entertainment when its due thereby depriving it of its rightful share. The achievements of supposedly great people are accounted wrongly. People are stupidly credited as scientists, sportsmen, politician and lot of other crap. The reality is they were just trying to pass time. They were Self-entertainers. Let me take Robinson Crusoe as an example to push home my point. He was desperate to get off that island. why? Boredom my dear L & G. Boredom. Not because he had to rush back and save mankind, contest elections or do science. Robinson Crusoe, isn't really famous for anything else. He is the greatest proof of the danger of boredom. He is famous only because he waged a supreme struggle against boredom and managed to avoid being bored to death in a really boring situation. He was pushed into a situation that only Mr. Cave Man had faced until then. Before Crusoe human beings had spent a millenia trying to get out of that exact same situation Crusoe was dealt with. Crusoe was faced the biggest challenge there ever was because he was deprived of gzillion years of hard work. That brings us to Cave man and how it all began.

The cave man had the most difficult challenge ever. He probably lived for 40-50 years. Never had to go to work or worry about passing XII std. He didn't have to work hard for sex and could pretty much hump any woman who came along. If he got the urge and had the hard-on - the nearest woman was humped. No foreplay, no romantic duets in the rain. Painful for the woman. But who cares? The key thing is he did not spend Age 14 - Death thinking about getting laid or worrying whether he would ever get laid. If a man was not thinking about work, promotions, war, politics, sports, travel, and Tax returns - you could at least say that he was a man and so by definition might have been worried about sex. But apparently that ain't the case here. This dude never had to think about anything because there was nothing to think about. How do you spend 50 years like that?

The cave women were probably happy because the man had nothing to do, no TV, no games to watch and devoted most of his time towards her. But since women didn't value conversation that much back then all the good karma man had earned in those days were lost gone for ever. Only boredom remained. So cave man started doing funny stuff. He had already humped 20 unknown women, their daughters from other men, his daughters, stray women who wandered into his area (so much for 'compatibility' and 'respect my feelings') and even humped 2-3 men in error. Given that toothbrushes weren't in vogue the unmanageable bad-breath must've have driven him to either doggy style or feeling himself up. A few years of that and boredom would have come back. He may moved from feeling himself up and rubbing his balls to rubbing two stones together. He rubbed two stones together just to while away time and voila! fire was invented.

Next thing you know the wheel was being imagined. That was so entertaining that man could play with it for years and years and not get bored. It was so entertaining that several people reinvented the wheel just to pass time. And we thought those people were stupid. They know. Soon people began to invent countries, armies and war. The real problem began when Freud like human beings then introduced crap like ego and self-esteem. So we got more education, better education, different education, better work, greater work, powerful work - all of which may have contributed to more entertainment time but it eroded the knowledge that we were doing all these things to pass time. I strongly believe that all inventions, discoveries and "progress" we have made so far is a direct result of someone trying to avoid boredom. Entertainment is the root cause of that. Look at the number of things Man has invented to spend time. It is just incredible. And to think people associate serious connotations to what is really entertainment.

In reality, we hurtle towards the end of life with the aid of self-entertainment vehicles like career, hobby etc or by watching others entertain themselves. A sportsman is busy playing sport trying to spend 20 years quickly without getting bored. We watch him on TV to avoid getting bored. That's why such luminary self-entertainers are considered better. Their self-entertainment efforts helps them lose big chunks of time while we can only lose a few hours or so by watching them do that. The funny development is that even entertainment has now become boring. People are tired of the self-entertainment stuff. They take a break from career by going on vacations, which really is just entertainment with another name. Its like having meals in-between meals. A better analogy would be - you go to a movie theater to get entertained and play a mini video game inside the movie hall because the movie is boring. Nested entertainments are vogue nowadays. My question is why not skip the middle man. Why not just play the video game which you know is entertaining for sure? Why go through the charade of watching a movie? Shouldn't there be a more fun way to spend life? We need to invent a better wheel.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

SuperStar

When you get a forwarded email and you frown and open it - sometimes you are surprised by the content. I have new regard for forwarded mails now. I have never laughed so much. It might be an old one but very funny coz I read it for the first time.

You want to know who is Rajanikanth....here are the facts


  • Rajanikanth makes onions cry

  • Rajanikanth can delete the Recycle Bin.

  • Ghosts are actually created when Rajanikanth kills people faster than Death can process them.

  • Rajanikanth can build a snowman..... out of rain.

  • Rajanikanth can strangle you with a cordless phone.

  • Rajanikanth can drown a fish.

  • When Rajanikanth enters a room, he doesn't turn the lights on, he turns the dark off.

  • When Rajanikanth looks in a mirror the mirror shatters, because not even glass is stupid enough to get in between Rajanikanth and Rajanikanth.

  • Brett Favre can throw a football over 50 yards. Rajanikanth can throw Brett Favre even further.

  • The last digit of pi is Rajanikanth. He is the end of all things.

  • Rajanikanth does not know where you live, but he knows where you will die.

  • Bullets dodge Rajanikanth.

  • A Handicap parking sign does not signify that this spot is for handicapped people. It is actually in fact a warning, that the spot belongs to Rajanikanth and that you will be handicapped if you park there.

  • Rajanikanth's calendar goes straight from March 31st to April 2nd, no one fools Rajanikanth.

  • If you spell Rajanikanth wrong on Google it doesn't say, "Did you mean Rajanikanth?" It simply replies, "Run while you still have the chance."

  • Rajanikanth can do a wheelie on a unicycle.

  • Once a cobra bit Rajanikanth' leg. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.

  • When Rajanikanth gives you the finger, he's telling you how many seconds you have left to live.

  • Rajanikanth can kill two stones with one bird.

  • Rajanikanth was once on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune and was the first to spin. The next 29 minutes of the show consisted of everyone standing around awkwardly, waiting for the wheel to stop.

  • Leading hand sanitizers claim they can kill 99.9 percent of germs. Rajanikanth can kill 100 percent of whatever he wants.

  • There is no such thing as global warming. Rajanikanth was cold, so he turned the sun up.

  • Rajanikanth can set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. At night.

  • Rajanikanth has a deep and abiding respect for human life… unless it gets in his way.

  • It takes Rajanikanth 20 minutes to watch 60 Minutes.

  • Rajanikanth once shot down a German fighter plane with his finger, by yelling, "Bang!"

  • In an average living room there are 1,242 objects Rajanikanth could use to kill you, including the room itself.

  • Behind every successful man, there is a woman. Behind every dead man, there is Rajanikanth.

  • Rajanikanth destroyed the periodic table, because Rajanikanth only recognizes the element of surprise.

  • Rajanikanth got his drivers license at the age of 16 Seconds.

  • With the rising cost of gasoline, Rajanikanth is beginning to worry about his drinking habit.

  • The square root of Rajanikanth is pain. Do not try to square Rajanikanth, the result is death.

  • When you say "no one's perfect", Rajanikanth takes this as a personal insult.

George! You Are Stealing My Lines!

"Vikram does in Bheema (though Bheema is original to the extent that it is at least a bold throwback to Brokeback Mountain with our own cowboy gangster tattooing his lover’s name on his chest)"

Despite slim evidence, my instincts tell me that this is not a coincidence. Ahem! Ahem! Paging Mr. Sudhish Kamath! ? Ennathu ithu?
Thanks: Jingli.
Choose the Best Answer:
Fake Defense Attorney 1: He coincidentally made the same connection without reading Hawkeye's blog?
Fake Defense Attorney2: Objection your honor! I think a better defense would be to say that the connection is so obvious that anybody can make it. Hawkeye isn't the only one seeing both English and Thamizh movies.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Signature Campaigns

We had this subject called Engineering Electromagnetics (EMT) in 3rd semester. I remember that it had Maxwell's equations, that the text book was authored by William Hayt and that he made a reference to the Star Trek transponder in his book to illustrate a point. Apart from these very important details, I remember precious little from that subject. We were assigned a "different" professor for that subject. He was this educated-in-foreign-but-dressed-like-a-mullah guy (he had a beard up to his knees, wore no shoes and wore what looked like an unwashed white khurta and a veshti up to the knee). He came to class only 10% of the time, conducted 'class elections' whenever he came and when we broke for our 'study holidays' he had crossed the 'Introduction' segment and scratched Lesson 1. We then broke for holidays and EMT exam happened the day after Deepavali.
EMT was a confusing , convoluted, and complicated (The Three Cs) subject for people like us who thought college was good time pass. We neither understood the book nor appreciated the untimely humor of a foreign author. Usually people call friends the day-before exam when study-situation seems out of control. The 10 minute conversation with a co-loser is therapeutic. The traditional phone calls before EMT exam day was very tense. Not a good sign. Even the people who usually continued to study outside the exam hall until 10 minutes after the exam started, gave-up and came in early. The exam was a shocker. We were asked these 12-mark "problem questions" as opposed to "theory questions". This, stand alone, was completely unheard of in the history of Madras University. 20 minutes into the exam people started turning back and laughing. 40 minutes into the exam a few boys got up and left. 2 hours into the exam almost all the boys barring a few had left. The first girl left 45 minutes before exam close - a feat never accomplished before.
After the exam got over, for no obvious reason, a very very stupid boy started a signature campaign for "moderation" of exam papers. I had never heard of a 'signature campaign' until then. Didn't know what it was capable of doing. He thrust a letter in my face and the letter had 35 or so signatures in it. It was a dirty white paper with a few scribbled sentences, which actually meant "respected sir, as I was suffering from poor preparation and no problem solving experience, please give me 45 marks or more". When I refused to sign and I was given this angry traitor look. Finally, I relented and signed. The whole concept of having a paper with a lot of scribbled signatures (with no name, address, or other I.D) seemed absurd. It took him 10 days to find out who to post the letter to. That it was considered to be powerful enough to move mountains seemed even more absurd (Later, I learned that you actually needed such signature collections to nominate yourself for MLA kind of elections). Whenever someone has ever asked me to put a signature on a signature campaign (apparently we now have e-campaigns, whatever the hell that means), I have instantly regarded the person as an idiot and inserted him in my hash table at the appropriate location. Somehow I strongly believe such things should never work and cannot understand how a person could be such a drunken optimist and so disconnected to believe otherwise.
I have this burning question. Has any signature campaign ever worked? I am not that naive. I know such signature campaigns are like soft-versions of bandhs, hartals and fasts - which nowadays are used mainly for posturing or a publicity gimmick. They don't really intend to achieve anything except to check-a-box or to say "hey don't blame me! I have done my part to show my solidarity" (like the Rajinikanth fast on the Cauvery issue). But in the history of signature campaigns - has anything ever been achieved as a direct result just having a few scribbled names on a piece of paper? Or has the only outcome been "the problem still remains, only that now more people know about it". My hypothesis is that 90% of such signature campaigns will never be read by the decision maker (it could be 99% for the e-campaigns). And the remaining 10% increases publicity of the issue and could (really remote though) indirectly lead to the decision-maker being pressured. I don't see a situation where the decision-maker sees a signature campaign stand-alone and goes "my god! since I know that so many people feel this way - let me change my mind. I don't want to hurt their feelings". If the Controller of Examinations had seen, he didn't because the letter was never posted, the EMT signature campaign, I am sure my class would have got more than the 34 arrears it eventually ended-up getting. Is my hypothesis correct?