Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Request For Help

I have negatives of photographs taken in late 1970s. I went around some photo developing places in chennai and asked them if they could develop those negatives for me. Unfortunately they said that the machines used to develop those negativeshas been discarded by many photo studios in the city.

Request: If any one is aware of photo studios in and around Chennai who may be able to develop such negatives taken in 1970s - can you please leave a comment or send mail to hawkeyeview@gmail.com. Thanks

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Madras Crowd II

T.M.Krishna concert:

Concert Close Time is 9:00PM and the Time now is 8:58.

T.M.Krishna: Can I sing 2 more songs? (after discussing with his mridhanga companion) I hear today is Chandra Grahanam and so people dont have to rush out and eat.

(crowd laughs)

Voice From The Crowd directed at TMK: You should also not be drinking water now.

(crowd goes silent)


p.s: Mandatory canteen comment: No one ate in the canteen that day because of grahanam. The canteen people seemed to be shocked and had no clue why.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Osthe: Dabang for Tamils is like holding TorchLight for Sun

My room mate in Ohio State made really bad sambar during his cooking turn. Everybody including him knew his sambar did not taste well. It was really really bad sambar. So what he did was affix a proper noun for his sambar. He named his sambar 'The Tasty Sambar'. That was the name. Similar to vattha kozhambu, paruppu kozhambu, vengaya sambar, pooshnikkai sambar - the name of his sambar was 'tasty sambar'. After that whenever you ate during his cooking turn - you couldnt say his sambar was not tasty sambar. Because that was the name of the sambar. So he kept making really bad sambar and we kept calling it 'tasty sambar'.

Osthe is somewhat like that. You cant call the movie 'thazhmai' or cannot claim its 'not osthe' because that is the name of the movie.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Revenge

While attending marriages, I am going to approach any and all elderly relatives I see and ask them "do you remember me? when I was a small child you said cooooo to me. Do you remember me?"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mayakkam Enna

I am getting used to the peculiarities that happen in the 2nd half of a Selvaraghavan movie. Pudhupettai and Aayirathil Oruvan are the Selvaraghavan movies I have seen so far. The other movies I didn't care to see. In all 3 movies the first half seems to be cruising along telling us a good story in an energetic fashion.And the second half takes off in a direction that I never expected it to go. I found the second half of Pudhupettai exhilarating. The second half of AO had its odd moments but was very impressive. Everytime I feel at odds with the direction Selvaraghavan's story progresses in the 2nd half - I kick myself for having an expectation in the first place. I find aksing myself - why shouldn't the story progress in Selvaraghavan's way? It is eccentric but super entertaining nevertheless. Way better than the boring predictability that one is used to.

Mayakkam Enna is a lot about what Selvaraghavan refuses to show us. For example as soon as the second half begins there is a remarkable plot accelerator. I loved that. All the menial aspects of getting to a story milestone were dispensed off with. The story just gets to the point. Then there is another twist that elevates this from a happy-go-lucky movie to something serious. Not that the first half was by any means less good. It dabbles decently on the subject of making a career out of your passion versus having a career and no passion. My wife does not like Selvaraghavan because he has 'vakkra buddhi'. Maybe she has seen more Selvaraghavan movies than I have. But I like his perversion. This movie has a softer version of the same 'vakkra buddhi' seen in Pudhupettai. In that movie the ape just grabs the female from another male. This movie had splendid opportunity to explore this sort of forbidden love. But it plays it down.

What I didn't like about Mayakkam Enna was the angst part. Dhanush's angst wasn't brought out well. The movie spends a lot of time in trying to show it. But it comes off as a little superficial. Instead of showing the angst of a talented wildlife photographer being screwed out of a career, Dhanush shows the angst of a 8th fail boy who has been deprived of a great opportunity to stick Rajinikanth movie posters on the walls of public toilets. Angst has class too. The nick name 'genius' exists for no particular reason. Similarly if in the first half Selva was planning on showing 'carpe diem' as the reason why Richa falls in love with Dhanush then it doesnt come off well. Maybe he wasn't and I was imagining stuff with all that talk about passion and career. I almost felt like the reverse psychology of 'he hates me so much, I gotta love him' was what made Richa fall in love.

I didn't like all this dating, 'I have bought a ring to propose to her' kind of stuff. I also didn't like the 5-6 friends being so close that they live , eat, cry, fry, shit and die together kind of stuff as well. It felt artificial. It seems a little Amerikka wannabe. People who say 'it really happens in India' probably like to think it happens more often than it really does. Even if it really happens, it is so amerikka wannabe that it is an unpleasant sight. There is a cliche with 'wild life photography' being a sole example of having a different career. But since this is the first main stream movie to touch it - I guess we will have to wait until Nanban before really calling it a cliche. I suspect this career will become something like 'I want to be an astronaut' that all 3rd standard kids reply when asked about career choices. The market size for this sort of employment is in single digits yet every school child wants to become one.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Madras Theater Crowd

A scene where Dhanush asks Richa to pose nude for a photograph

Someone from the crowd "saami eallrum ezhunthiruchu veliya poo"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

LSE IX

I wont claim that its been a long while since I have been hit by lightning. However, this one kind of stood out. After 2 frustrating days of waking up at 2;30AM because of jet lag, I was hoping to sleep straight until 5AM on the 3rd day. 3AM: The 'bladder full' sign starts flashing. I had to go. One thing about bathrooms in West Mambalam is that you are never alone. I had about 100 odd Dengue Lakshmis and Malaria Malathys for company. All I wanted to do was take the piss and get the hell out. Flush and twist the door handle. Nothing happens. This is usually when door opens and I run out to get inside my blanket to get that shut eye. Instead I found myself standing and staring at the inside of the bathroom door. I twist and turn that special korean door handle lock that my builder charged a zillion rubees to install. One hand is warding away Virus Visalakshi and the other desperately trying to open the door. Finally I give up and start banging the door. After about 5 minutes of banging - I hear my father's voice slowly seep in. "kadangaara, who asked you to lock the door?".

I wonder about that for a moment and continue banging. I really need to be out of that room soon. I feel a few more physical exertions and I will be fully awake. Then there is no hope of sleep. I was holding on to that rapidly evaporating 'sleep feeling' for dear life. 20 minutes later: I was sitting on the bathroom floor and swatting mosquitoes. Hoping the loud clapping sound will wake up someone downstairs. My father is trying to work the door with spanner and screwdriver yelling "This never happens to anybody. Only you, so much complications. All the time." 30 minutes later, watchman is called, then watchman's son arrives and asks "yen saar lock podreenga". Really, the only answer I have as to why I locked the door is "because it is there". Finally boy breaks the lock open and splits the door into two.

5:15 AM - I commence kshethradam with hope of first visiting Thiru 'which room' temple, then driving on to thiruvengadam, and then visiting kanchi Varadhu on the way back. My chitthappa is sitting next to me in the car and he has opinions on why amerikka returns are such slow drivers. "Viswaroopam at 6:30 AM. Veera Raghavan waits for no one. Rush rush," he whips me. In North Arcot road I feel poor pick up in the car. I would later be giving interviews to press saying "Naan appove lighta doubt aanen saar". The next time I felt the pick-up lag was when I crossed 'where jasmine resides' Valli. Then it was all fine until we entered the first destination of 'which room' place. We are 2 hours away from Madras. I cross a flyover and the car refuses to budge after that. Everything looks fine, but no matter what gear I put, I cant get off neutral. 30 minutes later, a half-asleep mechanic says "Clutch plate outtu saar. 1 week aagum replacement. Towu pannidunga.. back to madras". The previous day I had withdrawn Rs 15000 from ATM with the hope that I would limit the entire Madras trip within the 15K. Towing car back to Madras: 5K. Clutch plate 20K. New Car rental for remainder of trip: 5K.

After the car broke down and we were waiting for towing to arrive, we decided to visit the temple. Don't ask me why? - Due to variety of circumstances and as a result of multiple back and forth between car and temple - I was in a situation where I was near the car, attired in a panchagajam, angavasthram, no shirt (shirt in temple) and Rs 20 in hand (wallet in temple). I had to go back to temple and I was trying to figure out how to get to the temple with Rs 20. The car had stopped right in front of St Antony's church. As I was standing on the road trying to stop an auto, a brother from the church walked out and stood next to me trying to stop an auto as well. We nodded at each other expressing quick acknowledgement of each other's faith among other things. Non-share Autos in 3rd tier towns are also share autos. The Auto that stopped for us had a passenger inside. The driver agreed to take us to our respective destinations for Rs 10 each. And lo behold! the 3rd passenger was a Muslim Bai with skull cap and the works. So all 3 of us sat and drove. The Bai had to get down first. So the brother and I got down as well to to give way for the Bai to come out. As Karim Bai fiddled with his wallet to pay the driver - we stood the three of us - in panchagajam, white robe and lungi. A casual bystander must've thought we were rehearsing for a remake of a 1980s DD advertisement on religious unity.

Why This Kolaveri?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Self Awareness, Steve Jobs etc

People put steve jobs quotes in their twitter, facebook, and blogs. Yes, the ones who put scene on how they admire his ability to 'fight' the status quo, 'think differently', live life in his own terms and rebel against the tide to get his way

These people are the status quo that steve jobs had to fight against. Almost all of them who profess to be inspired by steve jobs and display his quotes are exactly the people who would push back and suffocate someone who thinks differently. They are the tide who will negatively brand a person trying to swim against the tide. Steve Job's life was more interesting and his legacy exists because of the fact that he had to fight the sort of people who put up his quotes after he died. If these people lived in 80s and 90s and met steve jobs in a professional setting - they would be the kind who would strongly oppose his ideas and plans.

I am reminded of people who complain that no one responds to the emails they sent but in-turn they never reply to emails they get. They imagine that a self-professed 'I am inspired by Steve Jobs' quote automatically bestows upon them a cause worth rebelling for. While in reality what they fall in the category of those who block the minority few who actually have ideas.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

J.Edgar

I really liked this movie. I found it surprising that Clint Eastwood managed to keep the pace of the movie really fast. The movie was what we'd call a 'conversational movie' and so keeping a viewer totally riveted is a admirable task. I actually ended up liking J.Edgar Hoover. All I knew about him prior to watching this movie was he was a loony cross-dressing, longest-serving head of the FBI. And this movie completely changed my opinion of him. Eastwood seems to not really care about J. Edgar being perceived as a good guy or a bad guy and simply makes a worthy attempt at showing him for what he was. Yes, he was anti-black, anti-women, was a ruthless self-promoter, and black mailed every single US president to get his way. He (probably) was gay but maintained an aggressively anti-gay public stand. These were the items that were shown to portray his other side.

To portray his positive side, the practices he introduced seem to have helped crime detection/prevention world over. Especially his agenda to use finger prints as criminal evidence, begin a practice of collecting them and building a central data base for finger prints. He is portrayed to have made the Buerau of Intelligence from an agency of no power to the very powerful FBI that it i today. Yes, you need to be a unpopular and a prick to build that kind of beast. And he happened to be the one. And I didn't think he was any more or less biased than an average human being.

There is a unnamable magic about watching DeCapiro play this role. I guess it has to do with the accent and the way he enunciates words. The force of Hoover's personality has been brought out well. Agenda-driven. focused and ruthless men impress me. Even if they are bad men. And in showing all that very well this movie thoroughly entertained me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Heavy D Passes Away

In the gzillion times I listened to this song - Heavy D's cameo was awesome every single time. Etched in memory. Man... I miss the age of MJ obsession.



"Jam Jam
Here Comes The Man
Hot Damn
The Big Boy Stands
Movin' Up A Hand
Makin' Funky Tracks
With My Man
Michael Jackson
Smooth Criminal
That's The Man
Mike's So Relaxed
Mingle Mingle Jingle
In The Jungle
Bum Rushed The Door
3 And 4's In A Bundle
Execute The Plan
First I Cooled Like A Fan
Got With Janet
Then With Guy
Now With Michael
Cause It Ain't Hard To..."

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Kedaram

Whats a Saturday evening if not spent on random patterns of music. Here are some songs in Raagam Kedaram.


Pon Maalai Pozhuthu



Sundari Neeyum



Ennavale (famously called by subbudu as kedarathukku sedharam)



Manam Virumbudhe



Raama Nee Pai thanaku (KJY)



Sawan Ki Bundaniya (Pt Bhimsen Joshi) - Very different :-)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

7am Arivu

I saw the movie on Sunday and wasn't planning on writing a review until I saw this elitist fool tear apart the movie with his '8th std fail 10th pass seeman tutorial' logic.

Let us examine how the logical settings in this fellow's brain is configured. Consider this hypothetical scientist. This scientis extols the virtue of The Sun. The scientist says, " the sun sustains life on earth, the sun provides valuable vitamin D..etc etc". The way Mr. Rangan will criticise this scientist is as follows - "but you are living in Earth. If you like the Sun so much, why don't you go and live in the Sun. Why do you live on Planet earth, drive on planet earth, see the moon every night, drink water from planet earth and go and praise the sun". That is how logic works in his mind. In the minds of elistist tools like him who suck up and pander to indhi audience - the "qualification" someone needs to have to praise thamizh is that one must not (a) wear jeans (b) drive german cars (c) one shouldn't make movies shot in forign locales.

So per the logic of Baradwaj Rangan type people - if you say Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina or claim that Jupiter is larger than Planet earth - the actual fact of whether or not Buenos Aires being a capital or not / jupter being larger than earth or not - does not matter at all. He will refute both points based on something that is irrelevant to those facts - you. He will say that because you have never visited Bueno Aires or Jupiter and have lived all your life in India - you cannot state anything about it. So Rangan does not care about the actual facts that Murugadoss and Surya seem to be saying. Rangan's claim is that because Murugadoss had a song called 'Ragamuffin' and wore jeans and drove in a german car - he is instantly eliminated as a candidate for promoting thamizh history. Less educated people like baradwaj Rangan believe a lot in Mutual Exclusivity. They have rigid narrow views that in order for a person to say X - the person must be steeped in X. Any trace of Y in that person and that is enough to kill the man. Someone wanting to co-exist with X and Y (say drive a german car and want to promote thamizh history) will be trashed as incongruous. That is because people like Baradwaj Rangan cannot comprehend complexity or nuance.

The talent that Baradwaj Rangan type reviewers have is that they can trash or praise any movie regardless of the actual merits of the movie. The logical flaws that he points out in Shruthi Hasan's transport mechanisms - he could have pointed that out in Manmadha Ambu and Ravanan. Instead he over praises those movies. Even Maniratnam may not have realized that the white salwar Aishwarya was wearing in Raavanan represents her chastity, that ploiceman vikram shoots someone in dark night t show his demon'like quality. But reviewers who need return favors will use any angle to over-reach and praise bad movies.On the other hand they will unfairly trash other movies if they have no incentive in the offing.

My thoughts on the actual movie: It is not a good movie. I am not saying this to avoid the perception that I am trashing Baradwaj because I disagree with him and think that the movie is good. The movie is bad - but not for some of the reasons Baradwaj has mentioned. And his reasons are insidious and illogical. I thought the movie had its heart in the right place but Murugadoss' inherent lack of class in story telling brought it down. As I noted in the Ghajini review - Murugadoss lacks class. He is persistently loud and uncouth. The logical flaws in the movie didn't bother me. I was willing to be led by the ambitious approach. The movie claims that we have no sense of preserving historical information and so that in effect means that whatever recourse bodhi-dharman prescribed for the deadly chinese disease - we must've have lost that information. That is the basic premise of the movie. (Note B Rangan's stupid question on the same subject).

Murugadoss cannot seem to decide if he wants to make a movie for A center or C center. He has a story that is inherently A center. But he decorates it with stuff that is targetted at C center. In the end the movie falls through the cracks and is neither sophistcated, underplayed or nuanced nor is it out and out masala. What it becomes is a good story trapped within a formulaic thamizh movie structure and language. Who in the world introduced thamizh cinema to these 50,000 cuts per second rule. Movie makers today sem to think that the faster and higher the number of screen cuts - the more brisk the pace of the movie. That is not true at all. It didnt help that the songs were horrible. It didnt help that the director forgot to have a tense tight narrative and abandoned everything midway to deliver a sermon.

It is true that thamizhs are losing the essence of their culture. It is also commendable that people like Surya and Murugadoss are marketing the features of thamizh civilization to create more awareness. That part of the movie got me on its side. I also thought it was very bold of the movie to state an anti-reservation and anti-religious conversion message. Murugadoss is scratching the edges of what I think is the truth. That I thought was really profound for a commercial director. But at the same time a little more nuanced story telling might've helped. Srilankan thamizh issue is too important and too senstive an issue to be a one-liner. All the items (60% of the movie) he aded for masala effect was not entertaining. I dont think C center people would've been entertained either. But it was important that this movie was made.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

R2I

The debate in the comments section of previous post between IITG and Gaurav prompted this post. While it has become a dead-horse now, a few years ago Return To India (R2I) was a topic - I often liked to discuss with close friends and relatives. This post isn't about the broad topic. But just the portion that is relevant to the debate going on in that comments section.

My strong belief is that - R2I is not much different from preparing for an exam. For the most part if you don't perform well, it is *your* fault. You can come back and say that the question paper was tough or you made a silly mistake or you didnt have time. Its your fault. You screwed up. You failed. Outside rare events where something outside your control happened (someone died, car accident, etc) - the reason for poor performance can be boiled down to the fact that you didn't anticipate what the exam was all about and did not prepare very well. Or you failed to continue to fight everyday life challenges the way other people living in India do. My disappointment with the article was that the author was shifting the blame on an intangible 3rd party.

Returning To India is in general difficult because people don't see it as an exam and don't prepare well enough and fail most basic challenges thrown at them. They sort of have an attitude of 'Its my country. I can wing it'. The following are reasons why I think people say this or fail in the R2I efforts:

1. Returning with a pre-conceived notion of what their experience is going to be. One that is suitably colored due to nostalgia.

2. Returning and expecting special treatment as a result of being NRIs. Going to India on vacation is not the same as going there on a permanent job. Not knowing this makes a person's humility setting as very low. There was a time in 80s when someone who had been to Singapore for a week would put scene for 6 months and people would listen to him with mouth wide-open. The concept of 'foreign return' lost its sheen in the late 90s. And people who R2I have trouble being treated as normal people. They are unable to resist the urge to do running commentary on Indians as if the people living "there" were lab rats. So when you hear some one say 'I cant adjust 'there', cant live with 'them' etc'. The first instinct one feels upon hearing this is - what do you mean "them"? You are "them". What is all this drama about "me" vs "them". While there are logical reasons why one would like to think of non-NRIs as different - the first gut reaction in any person's mind is that it sounds supercilious when an Indian refers to other Indians as "them". I feel that way mostly because *I* mean to be supercilious when I use it that way. So the first suspicion I would have is that the person is trying to put scene and show that they are better people by virtue of staying abroad.

3. Most people I have talked to - fail in their return plans for reasons like "paying electricity bills is such a hassle, they ask for bribes, they are changing me to a corrupt person, traffic problems are too much, people are rude at work". Almost all these reasons are cliched and have been said several times before. The most cliched reason being 'I have changed as a person' and so wont fit there.

All the above only means that you didn't prepare well and so you failed the exam. Running a ball-by-ball commentary on every experience you have once your return is a sure-shot recipe for disaster. Not knowing about the way people pay electricity bills in India or whether you changed as a person - is your fault. Making a choice to come back, preparing poorly at that and putting blame on some vague intangible stuff is just bad. Putting on the garb of 'I want to change the world' as an excuse to criticize everything under the sun - smacks of arrogance and just hides the real problem even more.

There is also another angle to this. When people say they aborted their r2I effort and give above reasons - the 'real' reason lies somewhere among the below two points

1. Wife came back and couldnt get along well with her in-laws. She hates the concept of moving from an isolated environment to one where there s family all the time and everywhere. The complaint noise has increased.

2. Career progress isn't working out and dude is getting screwed at work.

If everything is going well - you never notice the environmental variables. they are just things you have to 'adjust' to. If family and career get screwed up - you are searching for things to blame. I have seen many articles by NRIs that refuses to admit *the person's own* failure and explains it away as some sort of a problem that India has. They blame the failure on some external thing that they had no control over. I usually dont react to them. The reason why I took exception to the specific article that I linked was because the bar was too low. The reason seemed ridiculously silly and trivial.

Now there are many kinds of exams. You can ask a grown-up person to appear for an IIT-JEE exam and if they fail, its understandable. Thats a tough exam. But if you ask them to appear for 2nd standard Math exam and they fail - one should be allowed to say without hiding behind subjectivity that failing addition subtraction type questions is a shame.

I cant imagine the Mungee dude and his wife having a conversation that goes "Honey.. I am treating my maid badly. This country has made me a bad person. boo hoo. I don't want to be this person. Let us go back to USA". At a practical level - I don't see a person changing his life for such a trivial, negligible reason. Losing a few bucks here and there due to someone duping you has been happening since my grandparent's days. I remember my grand mother's mom telling me stories on how her maid duped her of Rs 10. This is the most common form of duping ever. These things are like paying tax. Pay it and get on with life. If you choose to become rude as a result of life experiences - then that is the kind of person you are. Live with that. If you choose to ignore it, continue to be a nice guy and think that in 5% of the cases you will be duped but in 95% of cases you will be all right - then that is the kind of person you truly are. The key thing is - if you decide to enter a jungle then fight like an animal there. Don't compare every single experience to a hypothetical situation of "this wouldn't happen if I were in a zoo or in a different jungle". You are where you are. Deal with it. If you cant - accept it was your fault and go back. Don't shift the blame.

Writing that kind of maudlin and weakling type article that Mungee has written only happens if you received money to propagate someone's narrative.

Friday, October 28, 2011

LIC Narasimhan Passes Away

From acting as Rajini's brother in "from-6-to-60" to playing the Judge in almost every movie that needed a judge character to playing key characters in DD Tuesday 7:30 drama - he was one of those actors who added richness and charisma to a show without being noticed.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Really dude! Everybody gets duped. Not just NRIs.

Sometimes, I think NY Times is paid to run a narrative that stops the reverse-brain drain. Otherwise it is impossible for a regular human being to write stuff like this.

Who leaves the country for such a trivial and idiotic reason? Sometimes I wish such sensitive 'supramanis' are flogged publicly. At least then - they will flee India for a good reason. Because it *is* important that such people are kept out of India for the country to really progress.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Note on Kanni Raasi

I was watching below video again. This is probably the greatest scene in history of cinema (one that inspired this post). And lo behold - look at the maligai kadai boy. It is our Mayilsami.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Anti-Corruption

A standard ethical axiom that is expected from every human being is that - personal bias is secondary when it comes to the 'correctness' of an issue. Meaning - you may disagree with a person on several issues (lets call it issue-A, issue-B, issue-c); however, if you believe he is stating something correct on a whole new issue (call it issue-E) you should be inclined to support his cause. The reason to expect such a behavior is because of an assumption that logical human beings agree and disagree based on the merits of the issue and not based on who is supporting the issue.

Subramaniam Swamy has probably done more towards anti-corruption and has brought more corrupt politicians behind bars in comparison to Anna Hazare. He has done all this by working within the limits of the legal system. If you compare the relative public support of Anna Hazare to that of Swamy - it is safe to say that there is negligible public support for Swamy and overwhelming support for Anna Hazare. However, if you see their respective balance sheets - Swamy has accomplished what no other Indian has accomplished before. He uncovered the biggest scam in the history of the country, put 2 MPs behind bars, preempted someone from becoming PM on legal grounds, and possibly on his way to put 3 more MPs in jail. Anna Hazare is simply not even in the same planet. All Anna has is an idea of a process to get rid of corruption that may or may not work.

Strangely, there is a wall street like behavior in the Indian mind-set where some organizations are rewarded on potential future accomplishments inspite of having average balance sheets and other organizations are penalized based on negative perceptions of their future sustainability even though they have significant accomplishments till date.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Vijaya Dasami

NamAzhwar wrote a set of 10 verses that is colloquially called வெற்றி பாசுரம் (victory paasuram). It is found in ThiruvaiMozhi 7.3 (3rd 10 verses in the 8th decad). ஆழி எழ சங்கும் வில்லும் எழ is not your run-of-the-mill verses. It wakes you from slumber and slaps you in the face. If NamAzhwar was the best of the Azhwars then this is a good contender for the best 10 of NamAzhwar's 1000 verses. He is in full flow and the words seem to jump out and merge with your senses. In olden days many people recited these 10 verses to seek victory in daily endeavors. It is a set of fiery 10 verses that is unlike anything else that NamAzhwar composes in Thiruvaimozhi. Reciting it fills the body with adrenalin purely because of the rhythm and force of the verses. Each of the 10 verses is dedicated to the moment of victory in the 10 avatharams of Vishnu.

Here is what NamAzhwar has to say on Rama victoriously slaying Ravana on this Vijaya Dasami day. If you thought Desikan brought out the warrior qualities of Rama in an epic composition called Mahaveera Vaibhavam (Raghuveera Gadyam). NamAazhwar produces a powerful warrior in Rama with just 4 sentences.

மாறு நிரைத்தி இரைக்கும் சரங்கள்,
இன நூறு பிணம் மலை போல் புரள,
கடல் ஆறு மடுத்து உதிராப் புனலா,
அப்பன் நீறு பட இலங்கை செற்ற நேரே

Here is how Mr. Madhavakannan describes the meaning of these 4

"Sri Raman- the way He destroyed lankaa with His Valour, His Dharma and His Greatness. There was no "mayyam" (no cheating or mischief). There were metallic twangs and sounds everwhere with the twangs of Emperumaan's bow chord (and also of IlayaperumaaL's) and the sound of arrows hitting against each other in all directions. There were hundreds and hundreds of bodies falling on the ground dying. The entire area was filled with blood and it was a blood river that was flowing towards the sea to make it look red. Thus the entire lankaa was made to dust by Sri Rama."

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Online Ads

I have never clicked an Online Advertisement. While I have waited impatiently for any pop-ups or ads to disappear so that I can continue my browsing, I usually never read those advertisements.

When I ask other people if they've ever clicked online advertisements - I usually hear a resounding 'no'. Actually, I have never met a person who clicked an ad-word or some sort of an online advertisement. I wonder who clicks these ads and how it came to be a multi-billion dollar business.

To illustrate my point. What is the market cap of iPhone & how many people you know have an iPhone; What is the market cap of Kindle & how many people you know have a Kindle; Compare that to market cap of Online Ads and how many people you know have clicked an online advt.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Shoaib Akhtar

This never ceases to amaze me. 2 days before his autobiography releases - Times of India reports that in his book, he has come down hard upon Tendulkar and Dravid for not being able to finish games. In reaction to this - a majority of experts and general public are taking digs at Shoaib for 2003 world cup and other such failings.

When will people's reflexes be programmed to immediately ask how much Shoaib's book publishers paid Times of India to report this as 'news'. Does anyone seriously believe that the guy who wrote the report read the autobiography and 'found' this out? Or is it that the publishers gave these snippets to the reporter and asked him to publish? Which is more plausible?

Pataudi

I have never seen him play. So I am unable to indulge in fake condolence that involves words like 'elegance' 'class' etc. More importantly, I don't care whether a blackbuck lives or dies. I actually have no idea what a blackbuck is.

The thing I am unable to comprehend is - although many people share with me the traits that I have mentioned above - a subset of them still choose to eulogize Pataudi and another subset chooses to criticize him for killing a blackbuck. Hard to figure out which group I should criticize first.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Anna Hazare - III

Let us try something fun just to keep the media frenzy continuing on. As time pass.

I would like to request Anna Hazare supporters to find out if he supports (a) gay people (b) gay marriages, (c) pro-choice vs pro-life on abortion and (d) reservation for BC (not MBC/SC/ST) communities in colleges and schools.

I agree that this may be totally irrelevant and may have nothing to do with the issue at hand. But as a social experiment - wouldn't it be fun to just have these people who want to change the country explain their stand on these issues. If not it would be fun if congress started a narrative that claimed Anna Hazare to be anti-gay, pro-life and anti-reservation. Then the team would be forced to explain their stand on these issues.

What would be even more fun is to watch the trade-offs the team would have to make if they were actually put in that situation. I am willing to bet that the intersection of pro-reservation and pro-gay is negligibly small. The team would have quite a survey on their hands.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Happy Thiru Onam

For those who keep track of their birth star: Today's Shravanam is ThiruOnam. For rest of the year, if you are born on shravanam star - you are shravanam wonly :-)

Vishnu temples in South India portray Vishnu in 4 types of poses. It is called 'Thiru kolangal'. The poses are "Nindraan" "kidandhan" "irundhan" "nadanthan" thirukolangal. An example of "Nindraan" is Thirupathi, where Srinivasa Perumal is in a standing pose. Oppiliappan is another example of standing pose. An example of 'Kidandhaan' is Srirangam where Vishnu is in reclining pose. An example of 'irundhaan' is Kanchipuram Varadaraja perumal, where perumal is in sitting pose.

Lastly, Nadandhaan. In Kanchipuram, Kumbakonam, Thiruneermalai and few other temples the Nadandhaan pose is gloriously portrayed. This pose is unique to the Vaamana avatharam. Each temple portraying the Nadandhaan thirukolam shows the famous raised-leg pose at a progressively higher and higher incline. The Ulagalandha Perumal Kovil in Kanchipuram (the uragatthan+Neeragatthan+karagatthan one) is the largest diety. The raised leg is so stunningly long that it is hard to see the tip of the leg without bending down and looking upwards. Thirukovilur (near Kadalur/Vizhupuram/Thiruvannamalai) is the main Vamana avatharam temple. Thiruneermalai near pallavaram has Vishnu in all 4 Thiru Kolangal.

King Mahabali is very dear to Keralites. I have heard that many Keralites, when they see Vaishnavites praying in Padmanabhaswamy temple on Thiru Onam - they say "Today is the day of our king Mahabali. Your vamana wouldnt exist without him."

So I'll leave you with my favorite two passurams: ஓங்கி உலகளந்த உத்தமன் பேர் பாடி and அன்றி இவ்வுலகம் அளந்தாய் அடி போற்றி

p.s: If anybody can locate more Vaamana avatharam based prabhandha paasurams - do leave them in comments section.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Mankatha

Its just surprising that no matter how bad a movie is - the concept of subjectivity still applies. Really, how bad should the movie be for everyone to categorically agree that the movie sucks? When does it stop being "its your opinion. I like it btw" and get right into terrain of being an objective, un-refutable fact. Let us take Sam Anderson - who this movie refers to - as an example of a person who does bad movies. Are there people who still use the 'subjectivity' ticket and claim that his movies are watchable too?

Mankatha should be classified as a factual example of a bad movie with Ajith saying "Bladu bladu bladu bladu" in trailers instead of "money..". Maybe it should be called "A Venkat Prabhu Bore". So that there is no argument on the subject. Sometimes these movie makers shouldn't be allowed to talk about how much fun they had while shooting the movie. And how cool everyone was and what a riot the shooting process was. I dont care if Ajith made biryani for the crew or if he made Punnaku. I'd rather all these people had diarrhea for 60 straight days and were retching vomit - provided they give me a good movie. This way they suffer and I'll have some fun. The other-way around, which is what happened with Mankatha, was annoying.

I think Ajith was the reason why the movie didn't work for me. His lack of acting ability, dancing ability, shabby dialog delivery, dead-man expression, and his poor presence bothered me no end. From the first frame where he bursts into the scene - I saw in him a flabby fat man with a un-hide-able paunch and one who could not fit into police inspector clothes without looking shabby and out of shape. Spending so much build up to show Ajith as cool has not allowed Venkat prabhu to make a movie that is actually interesting. Take the scene where Ajith waltzes to some western classical music as he shoots and kills some burning baddies in a fight scene. I am sure Venkat prabhu intended this to be a cool scene where he wants to portray Ajith as a person who enjoyed being part of tight, near-death situation. But it didnt land that way. Ajith looked pretty much like a stupid fat guy who is so stoned that he cant differentiate being in a duet song Vs being in a fight scene.

No amount of plot twists and turns could make up for the poorly explained, hastily described plot. The actual heist of stealing money from Arumugam Chettiar was dead on arrival and there was nothing clever about it. Premji Amaran's jokes fell flat. Venkat prabhu did not manage to pull a single joke that was irreverent or funny. Goa was more interesting.

I think he was better off making movies without these so called stars.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Teachers Day

Forget about teachers in 80s and 90s. That was a different world. Think about who would want to be a *primary/secondary school* teacher now. I see tomorrow's school teachers broadly falling into 2 categories (a) people who could not be engineers or doctors and pretty much failed in every single attempt to get a corporate job that paid more (b) women who would have otherwise been housewives. Teaching would have been their only shot at an 9-5 relatively low-pressure employment that did not interfere with child/family rearing.

The closest analogy to asking people to take up teaching because its a noble profession would be Anna Hazare supporters asking the corrupt to stop taking bribes because it is the ethically right thing to do.

Sure. Why not?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ajith or Thalai or Vaalu or Whatever body part

I didn't want to be like the perusus of 70s and 80s who took a look at Rajinikanth and said "mechanic shop'la velai paakara madhiri irukkaan. Sariyana porikki look". I wanted to embrace the concept of actor compensating the 'complete lack of talent' aspect with ' i have star power' concept. I wanted to like the 'star' factor. It was fun.

That is until someone as ugly as Vijay stepped on screen. Vijay becoming a whistle'able star is worse than these yuppie english-speaking peter vittufying Madras people suddenly claiming to be Rajini fans who screech "thaleevar valgu" (must blame english news for intro'ing Rajinikanth to them). I really began to think those old carnatic music loving + "andha sivaji madhiri varadhu" perusus were correct.

Then came Ajith.

Ajith is a whole new low. Its not like he is ugly. Vijay is more ugly. But what has always baffled me is - why the hell do people like Ajith? What has he done? He is the Ajit Agarkar of Thamizh movies. His last hit was Vaali and then I think he had a semi-hit called Dheena. You can say 47 out of his 49 movies so far have been "sumaar". And I am willing to bet 30+ of them have been downright bad.

But he seems to have an awesome fan following. Who are these fans? Why do they like him? He dances worse than Rajinikanth. He emotes worser than Arya. Has a voice that would makes "thagara dappa" sound like M.S in comparison. But he has "fans". They call him 'thalai'

Seriously! what is the reason??

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Narrative

Over the last few years, I have become fascinated with the 'narrative'. The 'narrative' is simply a technic that a few clever agenda pushers use to influence the opinion of the majority. 'Narrative' is how you mess with the general public's free will. Sample this. If I were a politician or any person desperately trying to push an agenda into the public consciousness (so that I can profit from it)- what should I do? First, I would want a large set of people to hold a certain point of view. Second, people who hold that point of view - by virtue of holding such a view - should claim that they have a specific kind of problem and should demand for a solution to that problem. Thirdly (since I am anticipating this kind of reaction from people) - I should cleverly position myself to be the provider of a solution to their problems so that I can profit from the whole exercise.

So if you have to move people's opinion in a direction profitable for you - the key strategy is to NOT directly recommend that direction to the broad population. You have to manipulate their 'free will' in order to have them come to your direction "on their own". This is where one employs the 'narrative' to seed an opinion in them. Now don't confuse this with the movie Inception. This is not that terribly complicated. It is actually very easy to manipulate someone's free will. Especially if they are not expecting you to do it. If you are Chinmayi and you come on TV and say that "I am in control of my opinions and no one can manipulate it" - you are a prime candidate for me to manipulate and profit from. Because you are so unaware of your weakness that your natural defense mechanism will not protect you. Whats worse? You wont know that you have been manipulated - after the fact. That makes you a prime candidate for repeat-manipulation.

What are the methods I can use to disseminate my 'narrative'? So if you wanted people to subscribe to an opinion and you have power to influence people in the media - you will meticulously enlist and orchestrate news anchors and 'opinion makers' in TV channels to repeat a carefully constructed message at random moments. Note that the message should be subtly presented as a secondary or tertiary fact and not as the main news. You will echo this message in a variety of news paper articles where a certain view is written every two weeks or so. the message over time should presented as a basic assumption. Then a few bloggers will pick it up and echo it again. Slowly, this opinion will be picked up by influential people outside the sphere of your influence. Then common people will start picking it up echo it again and again. The more subtle and low-profile you are at the beginning the more effective the echo will be. This way a specific view is reinforced so many times that without knowing - the general public will form an opinion that is very similar to the view you are carefully seeding. The best thing is that a large subset of the general population will so firmly believe that it is their own view - that they will start aggressively promoting your view for free of cost. Soon it will be regarded as a basic truth/reality of our times and the real facts cease to matter.

You then have narrative wars. Where enemy camps spin their own narratives against each other trying to influence public opinion. Consider how our CBSE text books show Akbar and Mughal emporers as peace loving moderate Islam rulers. Projecting them as fair, noble and good people. And the fact that life for Hindus was a peaceful haven under them. That is a narrative that brainwashes the children young. You believe this until you see a Muslim in Tamil Nadu who can't speak urdu. And then you go - "but how..". The RSS promotes its counter narrative - the anti-islam ideology is such a careful fashion. You have articles and video interviews that appear like a democratic debate but they really aren't. A person with average intelligence will notice all the cheap tricks Karan thapar employs to misrepresent what swamy is trying to say. Its like reverse-psychology. Thapar has been employed to drive people to a view that is opposite to what he tries to hard-sell. But overall what Swamy has been employed to do - works on stickiness. Let me throw stuff at the public. They may disagree but 'something' will stick and over time more will stick.

Atheism is a narrative that has successful gained ground in the last 2 decades. Surprisingly the religious fervor of people has also risen in the last few decades as more people visit temples today than any other time in history. Each camp spin their own narratives. Narratives haven't become sophisticated. Manirathnam told 2 love stories in the back drop of real sad dramatic events. Events soaked in emotion that people are suckers for. Terrorism and riots cause deep visceral emotional reaction in people. You touch that chord and you can spin any story as a layer on top of it. James Cameron spun a love story around such a emotional event. So - good agenda pushers use a powerful emotional event to squeeze their story in. The actual sadness of the story does not matter to them. They are all about pushing the agenda.

Let us take a event for instance: A 7 year old poor girl was taken by a group of rowdies from slums, was gang raped and then thrown in a dustbin. She lies there for weeks and cries for help. No one helps. And she dies. If I truly care for the girl - I would ensure it happens to no other poor girl again and do something in that direction. But what if I am a evil agenda pusher? I can use this event to spin a variety of narratives. This event is so emotionally disturbing that I can use it to make anyone under the sun look like a villain. Because once people read this event - they feel the urge to punish someone for this cruelty. As a narrator all you need to do is draw them a target. So I can use this event to pick any target of my choice. I can criticise the general apathy of people, spin a narrative that our educational system is so bad that it teaches us only apathy. I can criticise MLAs, the government, rich people, poor people. What the heck I can use this event to make an effective argument to even screw over charity organizations for wasting resources cleaning roads rather than protecting such children. If I wanted to push the religious agenda - I would have 2-3 religious people say stuff that cites "deteriorating moral values, drinking, rowdism, kali yuga, lack of faith in god" as the reason this event happened. I can pretty much use this event to argue against rising petrol prices. However, if I were trying to push an atheist type agenda. I would position myself as a neutral person (i.e not a believer not an atheist) to get some credibility and use the above-mentioned event to say why god is bad. Great Bong does a bang up job here.

But what if you are a minority religion person in India. Let us say, you are a converted Nadar Christian trying to push a pro-christian agenda. The trick is to not say that message directly. But reserve it for the last killer blow. You will first use all the tried and tested techniques. Attack Hindus and make them feel ashamed of their religion. The British have some excellent templates for that. They were the ones who first did 'divide and rule' very well. So one idea you would adopt is to create dis-harmony among Hindus. And make them feel that one subset is trying to screw over the other. The FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) that marketing engines of corporates use - is effective. Periyar used that to a great extent. So what this misguided christian chick does is - use the age old anti-brahmin rhetoric that has the ability to connect *any* two arbitrary things. Karunanidhi has been the master of using this angle to connect any random set of events as a 'brahmin conspiracy' - whenever it suits him. Move Tamil new year's day to Thai 1 by claiming that Chitthirai 1 is a brahmin agenda. Call Anna Hazare movement a upper caste conspiracy to eliminate minorities. Just say that upper caste's are using samacheer kalvi and power cuts to kill off backward caste people. You could even say that the Brahmins created the ocean as a clever agenda to make backward class people fishermen. People will believe it. The bottom line is if you say it enough times it sounds true. and if you confuse a majority of the people they will take refuge in their fears.

This malarvizhi chick worked in a worthless communist newspaper headed by a sino-lankan patriot and one that employs the most kudigaara paapans one can hear of. She experienced something much lighter than what this cross-belt boy experienced in Don Bosco (btw: on such things Court + case is no use - school apparently said teacher was on leave that day). The useless paper she worked for cleverly reported the news but excluded all the religion-related details. Evil, you think? Who is the head honcho of that mount road news paper married to? Malarvizhi puts some veneer of neutrality and says all castes (and she lists gounders, nairs, reddys, mudhliars etc randomly) are equally culpable. She then makes some titular comments about brahmins marrying each other for such a long time that they all look alike. As if people from other castes were travelling to Antarctica to get some variety in their gene pool. After making such crude comments, she gets all offended when some commentor mentions about her physical appearance. And acts all moral.

Here is the thing chic - The problem is within you. You have grown-up with such caste hatred fed into your head and you have been brainwashed beyond belief. I agree, It is hard to be a non-brahmin and go up the ladder in The Hindu. If it makes you feel any better - it is hard to be a Iyengar and go up the ladder in The Hindu. You need to be a DMK'ish+communist+lankan atheist or something in that direction. But the question is - why is this chic spinning this narrative? What does she seek to gain? As stupid or as hate-filled as this chic sounds - the question you have to ask - Is this chic so brainwashed that she she doesn't already know that her experience is similar to a non-nadar who works in Saravana Bhavan/Stores or Rathna Stores or any other provision store in Tamil Nadu. It is similar to a non-Naidu/Vanniyar/Gounder who tries to set up a mill in Thirupur. Or a thamizh-vaathi iyer mama in a Catholic school. She probably isn't that stupid. No one can be. So why such a hate mongering article? Why is an educated christian (nadar variety?) chic trying to spin a narrative that would cause mutual hatred among Hindus? She is neither against caste nor against any sort of discrimination. Don't be fooled by her "erumai maadu" handle. She's probably a sensitive chic who doesn't have thick skin. More importantly she doesn't really care about the oppression of scheduled castes. She just pretends that she does. So, Why?

It is called the 'come convert to yesu' narrative.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Harry Potter Part N^2(1-e^x)*2

The whole series is probably a discarded Vittalachariar script stretched to many thousand episodes. Some Rakshasan type war scenes borrowed from Ramayana and Lord of the Rings to make it look big budget. I don't think the story requires this kind of visual extravaganza. Really nothing ever happens in this story that is devoid of any great plot twists or turns.

Harry potter is a series that has genuinely surprised me in terms of its popularity. Normally, when I don't like a popular movie, I at least get why others like it. This one's popularity has just been hard to understand. To me, most movies in this series have been so boring that I have been unable to even pretend to like it. You know, just to be part of the trend. This series has really tested the boundary of something being childish vs childlike. The creativity in terms of plot development or variety in magic tricks seems very basic and the entertainment seems to be of the trivial kind.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Theory II (Padmanaba Swamy Temple)

Since we are in a mode where vivid imagination is encouraged and possibly even spun off as investigative journalism - let me have my try at it.

The popular theory is that Sunder Rajan committed sacrilege by opening vaults of God and the sarpa dosham killed him. My theory is more along the lines of CBI officer Lakshmi Narayanan (played by SPB) in the world famous movie Thiruda Thiruda. Where he tells all of Thirunelveli that 1000 Cores of money is hid in a Container Lorry somewhere in the Taluk. When "thirudan 100 mile thoorathila irundhale naadi thudikkum" Inspector Santhosam asks Lakshmi Narayanan why he had to disclose such a huge secret when the CBI could have searched for it in stealth. Lakshmi Narayanan's theory is "ooru rendu patta CBI kaaranukku kondattam" which means the 1000 crores will not be smuggled out of the village under the watchful eyes of thousands of villagers.

While you can theoretically claim people behave ethically regardless of their caste or religion - I will take the cynical view. Sunder Rajan, given his caste and background (IPS, Intelligence Buerau, Rajiv Gandhi), must have always known the volumes of treasure present in the vaults of the temple. He must have strong reason to believe that the treasure was being slowly smuggled out of the vaults into private coffers. I am not sure which private party was trying put the hand into this rather large cookie jar. Given that this is Kerala it could be politicians, mafia dons, Christian missionary organizations, Islamic organizations, or (just to be politically "Amar Akbar Antony" correct) even private temple trustees who are in the know. What Sunder Rajan did was to make sure the entire country became aware of the riches of the temple. And the spotlight shines brightly on it. Before this became public no one ever knew what the temple was worth. Given its dilapated state one would assume it was worthless. Since we never knew what we had. we would never miss it. Now that Sunder Rajan has made it public - no one can secretly smuggle away the riches.

He may have died because he opened the vault.If I were to write a story around this, it would have Sunder Rajan knowingly risking his life for the greater good.

Also, while the demand by small section of people that this money be used for development/charitable purposes is stand-alone stupid. Let us set that aside. Is it that hard to figure out that (a) majority of public are satisfied once the money goes to *a* charity and don't care what the charity does with it and (b) most charities are a front end for a "different" kind of organization ?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Theory

Twitter pays media outlets to mention "twitter" during sensational news events. Twitter usually does not provide much incremental value during such events. However, it seems like the company wants to carve a niche for itself when it comes to providing quick (predominantly useless) updates on major events. So once some marketing dollars have been spent on news corporations to mention "Twitter" every 5-10 minutes - a memo automatically goes out to the likes of Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt and they mention twitter as if 'twitter' was some knowledgeable person from the PMO office.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Unasked Question



The average intelligence of Indian journalists is less than plant life. Almost comparable the intelligence level of those who drink liquor. So most of her stupid questions to somehow find fault or sensationalize the issue is not surprising. But I wonder if there is a memo sent to all media outlets with a parcel of money by Liquor mafia people like Vijay Mallya. A memo that instructs them to never point out the evils of drinking liquor.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Sangakkara

One of ICC's agenda in the 5 day Hong Kong conference has been to remove political interference in cricket boards. The immediate spotlight falls on Indian, Pakistan and Sri Lankan cricket boards as they are the ones who are run by politicians.

And then Sangakkara makes this passionate speech. I am sticking my neck out here :-) but I think ICC and Sangakkara have planned this speech well in advance to reinforce the narrative that politician-run cricket boards is bad for cricket. It is not purely Sangakkara's passion for good cricket that caused him to make this speech. It is a stage-managed well-directed pressure weapon applied on Sri Lankan board to fulfill an ICC agenda. And he confesses indirectly that the scheming for this speech and the back-room politicking to apply pressure on SL board start as far back as the world cup.

So we have a speech prepared and delivered using the time-honored tool of politics that criticizes politics and agenda driven approach in their cricket board. And people who are self-professed haters of politics in cricket board are supporting this speech. Not that anything wrong about any of this. But deserves pointing out.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Mottai

...composed this song for Mr. Azhagarsamy's Horse. And I cant say why I like this song but it has me floored. The singer sings it in such a joyful carefree fashion.



Maybe because it reminds me of this song

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rascal Vs Rascala

Why do north Indians think thamizhs say rascal as rascalA? The think we pronounce it with a 'A' sound in the end. In my entire lifetime I haven't heard anybody say rascalA. But north indians truly believe that is how we say it. And all Thamizhs are surprised at this.

Since both set of parties are equally biased as well as equally rational set of individuals the consistency of this phenomenon is uncanny. I am wondering if there is accent issue on the part of the speaker that is causing this confusion or if there is a concept of "hearing-accent.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bala

He is the most overrated director in Thamizh Cinema. Sethu is the only movie I saw of his. I thought it was a bad movie where a stunning last 15 minutes covered up a really bad movie.

Whenever anyone says Bala makes 'realistic' 'hard hitting' movies that bring out 'true reality' - I usually think the person has been consumed by popular narrative. That he/she believes what the media and friends want him to believe. Showing parts of society that deals with prostitution death and other kidnapping related things in exaggerated detail can make up for some documentary but not good entertaining cinema. I am not sure that relying on 'its disgusting' element alone is such a sustainable movie making approach. Bala is an one-trick pony who has over cooked his only angle.

On Missing The Point

While this, this and this is all fine Ms Jayalalitha - there are 2 things you are missing.

1. (won't mention it now as it gets a separate blog post)
2. A minor matter of removing a statue is still incomplete.

Friday, June 10, 2011

8th Year

I start my 8th year of blogging. The next 1 year will be my last year of active blogging. I have a few things that I want to write about and I have been postponing writing about it for a variety of reasons. I hope to get those posts out during the next 12 months.

On Friday evening in 2004 June 11th I was passing time until I had to leave for the railway station (to board a train from Bangalore to Madras). I was doing some general web surfing and on some random impulse created a blogger account. Just feels like yesterday.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vetrimaaran

There is a scene where Pettaikaran is in the police station talking to the Inspector. And for some reason Pettaikaran yells at the Inspector. We are immediatley shown another room inside the police station where a constable is writing something. He hears Pettaikaran yell, gets up to find out whats going on. We are shown in slo mo the constable walking into Inspector's office. No Sound. And we are shown the constable walk out. Everything is left unsaid. And it becomes one of the most powerful scenes in the movie. He could have shown the scene any which way. But Vetrimaaran chose this way.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Free Will

The world would be a much better place when every person becomes aware of the fact that one's 'free will' is often manufactured by others. It is manufactured carefully and delicately for us on a daily basis by people seeking to profit from it.

Someone must develop a theory on why the only way to have free will is by knowing that we never had it to begin with.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Inside Vs River

அகம் means inside or internal. In old thamizh speak, the familial relationship between man and woman, joy, between them, the home they create, personal indoor happenings was called அகத்திணை. The poem அகநானூறு deals with such internal related things. அகத்திணை has several facets such as 1.கைக்கிளைத் திணை 2.குறிஞ்சித் திணை 3.பாலைத் திணை 4.முல்லைத் திணை 5.மருதத் திணை 6.நெய்தல் திணை 7.பெருந்திணை. all these facets typically happened at home. அகம் was also used in contexts such as தாய + அகம் = தாயகம் (Motherland) or தமிழ் + அகம்.

Since all of this happens inside a house or home. Thamizhs referred to their house as அகம். Over time வீடு replaced அகம் as the word thamizhs used in order to refer to their "home". So usage of "என் அகம்" and "என் அகத்திற்கு" became "என் வீடு".Obviously I obtained this knowledge by asking a few thamizh literature enthusiasts. None of them really knew the origins of வீடு. Some thought that houses in the olden days came from ஓடு and so வீடு was derivative of that. But no one was sure. However, even though வீடு became popular over time, many continued using அகம் . But over time அகம் narrowed down in usage to members of specific caste. Also, over time வீடு became architected by madras thamizh as ஊடு. And brahmins began to shorten and mangle அகம் to ஆம் and அகத்திற்கு to ஆத்திற்கு. There is a small minority theory that अहम् from अहम् ब्रह्मास्मि fame was the origin of ஆம். Because in the context of अहम् ब्रह्मास्मि few do argue that the phrase means "ब्रह्म resides inside of 'me'" as opposed to "'I' am ब्रह्म". But except for 1 or 2 people who gave this as the reason the brahminical usage of ஆம் to refer to 'house' seems to originate from அகம்.

Coincidentally, ஆம் has competition in terms of bad usage. ஆறு means river. ஆற்றிர்கு is usage of ஆறு as in ஆற்றிர்கு செல்கிறேன். All thamizhs regardless of caste have consistently murdered this word to pronounce it as ஆத்திற்கு செல்கிறேன். While many often makes fun of people who use ஆத்திற்கு instead of அகத்திற்கு (as in 'enge thamarai Bharani'ya? Kaveri'a? )the reality is there no such word called ஆத்திற்கு. There is आम though. And its very tasty. But its a வட மொழி சொல்.

Disclaimer: All this is kelvi gnaanam. The purpose of posting it is to see if someone has a better explanation


P.S: Inspired by origin of 'summa'

Friday, April 22, 2011

If Money Comes - All 10 will go away

A very bad person, who was backed by a rich evil organization could have bullied you, hurled racist comments at you, caused you to become a drunk, caused you to lose your spot in the team. That person could have caused you your life's greatest heartburn.

But if that evil organization pays you the right price - you will be willing to shake hands, be teammates and laugh along with that person.




Credit: Above image belongs to cricinfo.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Anna Hazare II

I sometimes love it when politicians exploit the general public's weak command over basic logic.

Take this twisted logic for instance - The 'People' believe that in order for someone to be effective in the anti-corruption committee the person must have had a corruption-free past record. Given the gargantuan stupidity of the assumption that merely being a honest person is a *necessary qualification* (maybe they believe it is a *sufficient qualification* as well) for one to be capable of effecting policy changes - why shouldn't a politician take advantage of this strange notion of "qualification". In a way this must make it so easy for politicians to gleefully dismantle Anna Hazare's effort.

So we now have a situation where respective parties are saying following things:

People: A good eye doctor must have never worn glasses.

Anna Hazare: Even if there is a small hint that the doctor has worn glasses, I will take his medical license away.

Politicians: Person A in the committee may have done LASIK now. But he definetely wore glasses in 2006. Look at this a photo where he is shown wearing glasses

Person A: I never wore glasses in 2006. This photo has been doctored and a glass has been digitally placed in the photo.


None of this would ever happen if people didn't have a stupid assumption to start with. Or if Anna Hazare said that he does not care about whether someone in the committee had been corrupt in the past or not. People in the committee must be paid professionals who will execute a task for a salary. But we have this romantic, flawed, irrational notion called "Qualification". And we won't stop to think about it because its just too popular a notion already.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shri Rama Navami

Outside of Paanagam, I have three recommendations for Shri Rama Navami

1. Mahaveera Vaibhavam (a.k.a Raghuveera Gadyam): The very very unique and rapid style in which this prose is recited makes this one of the best Sthothras composed by Desikan. It takes several years for people to learn to recite this correctly. The entire sthothra is culled form different parts of Valmiki Ramayanam and is simply an abridged version of the entire Ramyanam. For once a composer puts the focus on the 'warrior' aspect of Rama. Listen here and read along here and here.

2. MannuPugazh Kosalai (Thaalattu or Lullaby for Rama): A fantastic carnatic style rendition of this prabhandham. A fantastic song for babies to listen as they go to sleep. This is recited sandhai style in a very fascinating way too. Refers to SenPonSei Kovil.



3. Bhadrachala Ramadass by M. Balamurali Krishna: One of the best singers ever at his best.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Anna Hazare

I am pretty sure 99.99% of the people who claim to support the bill have not read even a single section or provision of the bill. This is the new idiot generation that is going to take India forward. The generation that posts Facebook messages and twitter messages endorsing support without spending even a minute to read and analyze the pros and cons of the bill. First of all - what does the title of the bill even mean?

As a social experiment - some political party must conduct survey on how many people supported the bill after reading through all its sections, analysing pros/cons and debating it with friends. Survey questions should include "why did you support the bill" and have a basic quiz on the bill. This will give upcomng politicians ideas on short-cuts to part the fool and money.

Peer Pressure' and wanting to fit in with the cool crowd has much more power than I estimated.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Fasting

It would be a crime to not quote India's biggest philosopher ever on the subject of fasting.





Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Faltering Lullaby

When people think of actress Sujatha the "kadal meengal" song comes to mind. But somehow I feel the pathos in the below song is very chilling. Listening to this song can have a profound effect on your mood. I know Ilayaraja deserves the credit for this. But here is a perennially sad actress at her best playing a very sad role.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The World Cup - A Sachin Tendulkar Story

I have never been this nervous while watching cricket. At some point during the quarter finals against Australia, I understood why. When Tendulkar nicked one off Tait and walked back - we were shown an image of man with small eyes staring upwards and walking back dejected. At that time I felt - Is the world cup dream over for this man? Is that it? He is the only reason why I watch cricket - Will I never see him again in an ODI?

Anyone who has followed Tendulkar's career closely, and many have, would remember the pain of 1996, 1999 and 2003. His very first batting line-up was Shastri, Srikkanth, Azhar, Tendulkar, Kambli, Manjrekar, Kapil and Kiran More. Not the best batting line-up but a combination chosen because of the 1985 B & H cup success. And in his very first world cup appearance Tendulkar went down the way Umar Akmal went down against India in the semi-final. With Shastri occupying so many deliveries, Tendulkar was forced to up the scoring rate and was out caught behind. India never really got going that tournament. The only matches we won in that entire world cup (against Pakistan and Zimbabwe) Tendulkar was the MoM - and a superb 81 against NZ going to waste because of Greatbatch's heroics. No Indian fan really expected India to win the world cup. The team had 3 ex-captains and were generally screwed even before the cup began. But that was the beginning of new India. As the oft-repeated cliche goes. A new economic India was born, The cable TV era began with Star TV coming to India. Liberating us from License Raj and DD. Sachin Tendulkar and A.R. Rahman were introduced to the new India. My generation began to dream.

1996 was to me was the ultimate Tendulkar's World Cup. It was a world cup where we had a real chance. And Tendulkar represented that chance. Anybody who was in college during the time - became part of the Tendulkar generation. He became the reason for watching cricket. And how? In New Zealand, thanks to N.S. Siddhu - who went on to be the worst T.V. commentator ever - we had discovered that Sachin could open and do a Greatbatch. Here was one man who could challenge anybody. The rest were humans. But Sachin was a cricketing god who could tame any team. Even Ambrose went for an economy rate of over 5 an over. McGrath was taken apart in Mumbai. Every single game barring the Pakistan game became a Tendulkar show. He was the highest scorer in the tournament scoring an amazing 523 runs. It was the one man batting line-up with Siddhu, Manjrekar, Azhar, Kambli, Jadeja, Mongia merely acting as props. Unsurprisingly no other Indian was in the top 20 highest scorers list. To put it simply, if Tendulkar failed. Game over. No one would forget the dropped catch in Gwalior by Bravo when Sachin was on 44. That won us the match. The stumping of a wide ball against M. Waugh was stuff of Greek tragedy. In that context - that we reached the semi finals was a super human effort. It showed the distance that one man could carry a average team. In a square turner of a pitch not very un-similar to what Gavaskar played his last innings on. Tendulkar tragically got stumped in the most freakish way possible. Game over. It was probably the saddest moment of my teenage years. No one in my age-group knew how the 1983 felt like. We wanted another one. And we had to wait.

1999. 5AM. A bunch of grad school students in Columbus, Ohio who had installed dish antenna illegally woke up to find out Tendulkar not in the team. Why? It took a while for the commentators to mention his personal tragedy. The only match he wasn't with the team - we managed to lose to Zimbabwe. Damn Sadagopan Ramesh. You may be Thamizh but I will never forgive you for that indiscretion. Even after Jadeja told you not to swing wildly, you did, and you gave away the game. That was the reason we didn't make the semi finals. This was a world cup where we actually had a batting line-up. It was the new generation batting line-up that had the core 3 batsman. This core would go on to redefine the country's cricketing future. Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid were that core nucleaus who were teamed with S. Ramesh, Azhar, Jadeja, Robin Singh. It seemed like a decent line-up on paper but the batting machine took a while to start given Sachin's absence and our fate was sealed by the time the first two matches of the world cup were over.

2003 was the world cup of the awesome Tendulkar and the cup of bad captaincy decisions. We started by leaving out Laxman in favor of Dinesh Mongia. No matter what anyone says India's 2003 campaign was a 1-man effort. The only difference between 1996 and 2003 was that it was no more Tendulkar Vs India. It was more of Tendulkar vs the other team with Indians finally learning how to close matches without choking after their best batsman got out. There was finally some value to the 4th, 5th and 6th batsman (there was no value from the other opener and Ganguly). Sachin started with a 80 against Zimbabwe, went on to hand back Caddick a new ass, and hit some incredible 90s against Pak, SL and NZ. 673 runs. A level of maniacal scoring that surpasses any other sporting achievement I have seen. That we reached the finals inspite of Sehwag and Ganguly sucking beyond belief is a testament to the superhuman efforts of 1 man. And then the finals became Tendulkar Vs India. Again. This time we had a colossal moron of a captain who couldn't score crap against any test playing nation. And upon winning the toss and he chose to field. The least this totally useless fellow could have done is at least not cause us pain. To me - we lost the match then. To a few others we lost the match after Zaheer's frst over. To most the match was beyond over by lunch. I wonder why we walked out to bat. Might as well have completed the presentation ceremony at lunch. Only a few retarded morons thought the match was over after Tendulkar got out in the first over. To see him answer questions asked of him the post-match interview after winning the MVP award was heart-wrenching. It was the most painful thing. More painful than Ian Chappell sadistically torturing Lance Klusner when he won the 1999 MVP award.

2007: We deserved to lose. If there is a captain or a coach who thought that Sehwag or Ganguly (or anyone else) are better ODI openers than Sachin Tendulkar - neither of them deserve anything better than a first round exit. I cannot think of a cricketing strategy that has statistically failed more times, more reliably and more painfully than Tendulkar at #4. This suggestion alone is a high confidence indicator that the person suggesting it has no cricketing brains. I was glad that our exit was as shameful as it turned out to be.

And there we were. In the Quarter finals of the world cup 2011 against Australia. India was still undecided about Sachin Vs India. In the two matches against Eng and South Africa - India successfully pulled off a strong resistance to Sachin's efforts to win us the match. This Indian team had the best batting line-up I have ever seen in any team in any world cup. Every single person was capable of changing the match in their own right. So when Sachin was walking back towards the pavilion after getting caught behind to tait - I was thinking - is this the end? Has all the pain come to naught? Will the greatest batsman of my generation not win the world cup. Then Gautham Gambhir my pre-tournament favorite player stepped up his act. Then Yuvraj and then Raina. Finally it looked like this was India Vs the other team (way better than just Sachin Vs the other team). The icing on the cake was him winning the 3rd MoM award in a total of 5 WC clashes against Pakistan. To me beating Pakistan was high up the priority list. That Tendulkar screwed them over thrice in 5 times was a glorious achievement. Pakistan stand comprehensively defeated by India for the past 15 years. That Javed Miandad Six is buried somewhere in Chetan Sharma's retirement fund.

There were several points in the QF, Semis and Finals where I just couldn't bear the tension. This is the best world cup I have seen and featured some of the best matches involving India. Every single match against a test playing nation was closely contested, could have gone either way and was tense as hell. I am glad we won it the way we did. Just disappointed that Sachin didn't hit a 100 in the finals and take us over the line. Ironically his world cup campaign started in 1992 with a caught behind to Stewart and ended with a caught behind to Sangakara. But as a consolation price my 2nd favorite player stepped up his game and made sure all the bets I kept with anyone I knew didn't go to waste. Virat Kohli summed up the entire history of Tendulkar at the post-match interviews with one powerful line. And I can't believe he was this articulate so naturally. No one could have come up with that line even if they were given a day to prepare. And he said it causally - "Sachin has carried the nation on his shoulders for 21 years, it is time we carried him on our shoulders". They did that literally and metaphorically through their performances. It was the happiest day of my life. After almost a decade of cynicism I truly became a believer. Sachin was the only person I watched the game for. If he retired I may not watch cricket at all. He was the filter through which I enjoyed cricket and I am glad there was a happy ending.

P.s: Contrary to what experts are saying - I don't think this win completes Sachin's list of achievements. To me his cupboard is only 50% full. Lack of Test series wins in Australia and South Africa is a failure that frankly must make him feel ashamed of his 21 year old effort. I fully blame him for the 2007 loss in South Africa (which got re-confirmed later in 2010) and 2003 loss in Melbourne. He had his greatest chance to close out the series in India's favor and he failed. I'd be very surprised if Sachin himself viewed those failures any differently. He may repair the Australian record by beating a dead team this winter but I doubt if he'd be able to get a series victory in South Africa before he retires. That is a bigger gap than a world cup win. But thats for another day.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

When Opportunity presents itself

TV channels are smart enough to build a narrative and story around it. Vijaykanth beats his own candidate. But the narrative we are shown is (a) Vijaykanth spoke swear words (ladies sentiments check) + (b) Vijakanth asked that ADMK and Vijay fan flags be lowered (Internal dissension check) and (c) Vijaykanth intoxicated and says candidate name incorrectly (re-enforce existing suspicions).

I am impressed with this new 'strategic' nature of T.V channels. Adding the sound effects (when Gabtun beats the candidate - a mike tapping sound can be heard which gives an illusion that sound is that of the candidate being beaten). It is put in a loop to make it appear that the beating was a prolonged one as well. After the Kalaingar arrest orchestration video by Sun TV where they did the voice over of "ennai adikaraanga ..ennai kolraanga" later - this is an impressive improvisation. The TN election entertainment begins.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A peep into DMK and its history

This is a very comprehensive review of the state of DMK and its history. Particularly because this author has managed to focus on the behind-the-scenes power of Rajatthi Ammal.

A long read. But worth it. Very impressive article.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Walking

People cynical of Tendulkar's decision to walk are questioning "This is the first time I have seen him walk ever in his career. Why suddenly put scene now? Maybe he was afraid UDRS would embarrass him"

The question they should be wondering about is - do they remember at least one instance where he did not walk and replays later showed him to be out. I can't ever recall Tendulkar getting lucky that way. Ever. He has been given out many times when he hadn't nicked. In 1997 tour of WI, Cumberbatch the chief among the long list of 'bongu' Windies umpires (and windies umpires are the most 'bongu' in the world) gave him out when the ball hit his shoulder and went to the keeper. And then we also had Umpire Rudy from South Africa rule Tendulkar out in South Africa to a dodgy Jonty Rhodes catch because - in Rudy's words - "Jonty is a true christian and won't lie"

I personally dislike walking. Strongly believe one should not walk. You are out only if the umpire gives you out. So didn't like Tendulkar walking. But this still had to be pointed out.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

TN Elections: A Rookie's Analysis

There is a good chance that someone (with more inclination towards politics than I have) who has been following politics closely could see many angles to the recent developments with AIADMK alliance. But I am surprised nobody in the media is explicitly mentioning one specific angle. And I am curious to know why. Which is what prompted me to write the post. I have never worried about politics and don't watch the news. All I know is hearsay. So I am trying to test if I can get the basic electoral picture correct here. So here is a newbie's point of view:

The DMK has long reconciled to the reality that they will never reach the magic 117 number on their own. They contested 132 seats in 2006 and needed to win 88% of their seats to get to simple majority on their own. The congress, PMK and everybody else knew DMK couldn't pull that kind of odds. DMK knew it as well. So its been 5 years since they gave up their ambition of ruling TN without coalition. However, it was an easy change for DMK. DMK cannot be regarded as the single largest vote puller in Tamil Nadu. They've averaged only 60 - 75 lac votes in all elections since 1991. Recently these votes seem only good enough to translate to about 70 - 100 seats out of 234. But to reach 117 seats they've more often than not needed 'help'.

Today they have been pushed down to 119 seats in 2011 elections - which means they need to win all their seats to get simple majority on their own. Its not even a option anymore. DMK have surrendered to the reality that they will never rule the fort on their own.

AIADMK on the other hand - the most popular party in TN in terms of # of individual votes they can poll in their favor - seems to be this old dog who is unwilling to accept the reality that simple majority victories by any party in TN isn't as simple as it used to be. Jayalalitha has consistently 'kazhatti uttufied' her allies post elections. She has contested in 180+ seats giving a comfortable buffer for her to get to 117 on her own. Thats because she can average 80 lac votes in TN. Barring 1996 where she hit a low of 55 lac votes - she has gotten 1.09 crore votes in 1991, 88 lacs in 2001 and 1.07 crores in 2006. Imagine this - She had got 1.09 crores in an election she won with 164 seats. In 2006 she got 1.07 crores in an election and she lost! She won only 57 seats. This is where Gabtun becomes the most important person in her life.

So if you were her - it is reasonable to assume you that you can get simple majority on your own because 45% of the voting population seems to favor you. All you need to do is get the voter mood swing in your direction 3 months before the election and hedge with a few key allies (PMK, CPI and CPM will win in areas that Jaya can never hope to win). But if its head on collision with DMK in 180 seats - her odds are favorable. So even if she got in bed with Gabtun - she needed to make sure her odds of getting to 117 were great. But it was only a matter of time before her allies wised up to this and preempted her before the elections. Vijaykanth pulls in close to 30 lac votes in TN. He may inch up to 40 lacs in 2011. This is 2X more than PMK. And he is pulling the gap further ahead while PMK has never grown in a long time. What makes this whole thing interesting is he doesn't complement Jaya the way the communist parties and PMK (in instances where they allied with Jaya) does. His strength/problem is the spread of his votes is wider and so his vote density is thinner. And he intersects with Jaya's stronghold in a huge way. His strongest 30 seats are probably ranked very high among Jaya's strongest 150 seats. Everytime she gives a seat to Gabtun (or Vaiko) she is giving from her core base of seats.

Vaiko and PMK seem to get between 16 - 20 lac votes. Both seems have peaked and show negigible growth. PMK is in a position to have more clout inspite of getting half the votes of gaptun because its a caste/geography density based party. So its focus allows it to translate votes to seats in a much better way. They have a good chance of contesting in 34 seats and winning 20-25 of it. Vaiko is just another Vijayakanth in terms of spread but with lesser votes. And so gets lesser importance (I like him a lot btw)

In 2011 jaya is probably set to rake in over 1 crore votes again. It is the translation of votes into seats that is being made difficult because of the growth of Gaptun is eating into her victory margins. And unlike her previous allies - gaptun is in a position to prempt her from going for a clean 117. And this is what I think this war is all about. Something that is not being discussed as much as I like it to be (but I must confess to not having read most of the thamizh media's analysis). It is about getting to 117 for Jaya. It is about not letting her get to it for Vaiko, Left parties and Gaptun. But its coming out in the press in a different way. It is not about constituency mix (which is important but not the tilter) or slighting MDMK or their relevance. And it is certainly not about Jaya's arrogance. Jayalalitha needs DMDK to convert her votes to 117 seats. Once DMDK is in the bag - MDMK is superflous. Gaptun doesn't (or shouldn't) care about well being of MDMK. To him the inclusion of MDMK means Jaya will contest less than 160 seats. Will give more of her 'strong constituencies' to Vaiko. Gaptun is making Jaya's odds of getting to 117 difficult. In this context Gaptun is using constituency mix to prevent Jaya from contesting in 150 of their strongest constituencies.

So DMK seems like a party that is already very very screwed. Now they are having their puff of smoke and are watching to see if Jaya will get screwed over.

As an aside - it is fascinating to see Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha go back to contesting in a constituency that is like a real 'home' to them. They've both met similar fates to their political careers and are going back to their roots.

My Quarter Final Predictions

Testing to see if I have any predictive abilities

Aus Vs WI
SL Vs Eng
NZ Vs Ind
Pak Vs SA

And then we may have Ind Vs Aus and SA Vs Eng

Monday, March 14, 2011

TN Elections 2011

Now that election season is around the corner. Non-voting, educated, I-have-Internet-access type idiot people will put maha-blade with references to this 49-O clause. It is the most useless option that exists. But these people will tout it as if it is the greatest invention in Indian electoral system.

Anybody who assumes non-voters didn't vote because they couldn't should be denied internet access. That people who to walk up to a booth to click 49-O are the only ones who think that no candidate is worth electing is a level of delusion that defies logic.