Thursday, December 20, 2007
One of the most intriguing questions that has troubled mankind since creation has finally taken a turn in my life. How does one bear the weight of expectations; from parents, friends, spouse, boss, the significant other(or in the absence of one, your own!) etc?
Much inspired by one smart alec’s comment which goes like “to fight an ideology, have one of your own”, the realization finally dawned upon me. So dear netizens, the only way to fight the weight of expectations is by mustering some yourself.
With this new found self-belief I started out in right earnest by devouring big mac’s by the dozen. This seemed ok till the inhabitants of my wardrobe refused to cooperate. Humph! The circumstances demanded some tact on my part. After all draping a body that had assumed the shape of an overgrown ectoplasm would be stretching it too far(my poor levis that is). To say I am in good shape would only expose my wicked sense of humour. In fact Euclid himself would have a tough time “figuring” me out at my present disposition.
So now, a new problem? I need to shed some weight to fit in! It’s the time to “weigh” my options. I should probably try restricting my food intake, was a popular suggestion. But given my “never say diet” attitude, the chances of that happening are, honestly speaking, slim! Besides it would force me to eat, if nothing else, my own words, aptly employed at the start of this entry. Maybe I should try some “weapons of mass destruction” ie gym equipment. This would entail a disciplined visit to a gym for at least a couple of months! Doesn’t seem worth the weight...err…wait! I could definitely use some advice. Any suggestions?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
1. Convince your readers with brevity. I never use more words, phrases, sentences, or other linguistic elements and parts of speech than I, myself, can actually and precisely use or employ when expressing myself or otherwise giving voice to what I may or may not be thinking when I am trying to say how many words I should use or not use while using words.
2. And I never begin a sentence with a conjunction.
3. To begin a sentence with an infinitive is incorrect.
4. I avoid clichés; they are old chestnuts.
5. I avoid annoying alliterations that are also abrasive and awkward.
6. And the secret of funny writing? …timing! Let me explain once more, I never drag a joke to such an extent that it outlives its lifetime and is easily forgotten. Did you get it? Wait! I’ll say that again…(read rule no.7 again)
7. Employing foreign words and phrases ad infinitum hovers on ad nauseam.
8. Starting a sentence with a hanging gerund is one of my favourite “no-nos”.
9. I use my commas wisely lest I’m labeled forgive the pun “rebel without a clause”.
10. I hate using single word sentences. Period!
11. I avoid using quotations that digress from the subject. As Ralph Waldo Emerson is said to have once remarked, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
12. Puns are entertaining for kids, or the children-at-heart. For “groan” readers, they are “pun”ishing.
13. I use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
14. It’s my blog. So I make the rules. And I rewrite them with every new entry. So my own suggestion, never follow any rules. Just blame it on your creativity.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
To Bappa, a good friend and the best writer i've ever known.
To Agatha Christie, for the title and lots more...
Monday, February 21, 2001
Arrive on Saturday morning and found all arrangements in order. Settling in has been a tiresome business and so no diary entries for a last couple of days. Professor Jacob invited me over for lunch today, but I was too exhausted to go over. I reviewed my class schedule which begins on Wednesday. I must admit I’ve been fortunate to get to teach precisely the same subject I am doing my thesis on. Teaching undergraduate classes is always boring and more importantly, time-consuming for a doctorate student, especially since I am planning to finish off my thesis inside of four years. It’s a task of mammoth proportions, but I think my idea may revolutionise the entire treatment of schizophrenia. With a co-operative class, I should be able to take out enough time to work on it.
Wednesday, February 23, 2001
I took my first class today. The class I have been allotted does not seem to be all that exceptional, in fact rather mediocre if I may put it bluntly. But maybe, I am being too judgemental about them. They would probably be alright once I got to know them better. Also Professor Jacob dropped into my room today. He is a large man in his mid-forties, mild-mannered and extremely affable. His knowledge of the subject is profound. We discussed the outlines of my idea for a while. He was rather taken aback when I told him I planned to finish my thesis in less than four years. “By all means, do aim to meet that target. Although I must add that you should try and ensure that the shortened time frame does not affect the quality of your research.” He left shortly, waving off my profuse thanks for unbending enough to drop into his student’s room.
Wednesday, May 3, 2001
My work has come to a complete standstill or rather, it would be more correct to say that it had never begun in the first place. My class has, in the meantime, confirmed my worst fears. Dull, lacking motivation and only concerned with clearing their exams, they are a researcher’s worst nightmare. It is next to impossible to raise one’s intellectual state to the level required for my work after interacting with such a dead class. Professor Jacob was quite sympathetic to my plight in the beginning but has begun to grow increasingly impatient over the last two weeks. I do not blame him, I am losing patience with myself as well.
Tuesday, May 23, 2001
The inevitable has happened. Professor Jacob has formally expressed dissatisfaction with my lack of progress. He curtly informed me that unless I manage to get some solid work done soon, he is no longer willing to act as my advisor. This warning was not unexpected and I have been trying to get myself to get myself to put more time and effort into my thesis of late, but to no avail. Recalling my excitement when I arrived here three months ago, the only thing I can say is that I was terribly naïve. Its been only a matter of months and I am already wondering if I will ever be able to complete my thesis.
Tuesday, July 17, 2001
Only habit allows me to make an entry tonight. I am too weary, too low-spirited. I seem to be sinking deeper into a morass with every passing week. I have managed to come up with a synopsis of my projected line of research to satisfy my advisor, but little else. Looking back through my dairy, I found an entry in May saying that I wondered if I would ever be able to complete my thesis. Now I have stopped wondering, I am pretty sure I will never be able to finish my thesis…
Friday, August 1, 2001
I had an interesting experience today. I was killing time at the local café when I happened to meet this gentleman named Dr.Bhaskar. He is also on the faculty of the Department of Psychology although I have never met him before. This is not as surprising as it seems at first as there are more than sixty teachers in the department. But today the place was deserted except for the two of us and we just introduced ourselves. He empathized when I told him of my case and advised me not to lose heart. “You’ve just started out. Once you come up with a clearer picture of exactly you are trying to work on, your work will speed up vastly”, he told me.
Saturday, October 24,2001
I have been meeting Dr. Bhaskar regularly over the last two and a half months. Indeed he has become the closest to what I believe is a friend in this place. He is fifteen years older than I and of Spartan habits. Being a bachelor, he shares my loneliness and we are thrown together very often. He is highly qualified and teaches post-graduate classes. One of his classes, in particular, is supposed to be exceedingly brilliant. His frequent description of their calibre has aroused my envy. My work is proceeding somewhat better now though the pace at which it is proceeding leaves a lot to be desired. I owe it all to Dr. Bhaskar , whose company is so intellectually stimulating.
Sunday, December 28, 2001
At last, there seems to be light at the end of the long dark tunnel. A solution to my woes may be knocking at my door. Dr. Bhaskar has made a kind offer, which would allow me to teach his class for an indefinite period. He has been a patient listener to all my problems and feels my chief problem is the lack of an atmosphere condusive to research. He believes a few hours with his class would get me back on track. Needless to say, I took up his kind offer at once.
Wednesday, May 5, 2002
The last few months have gone by in a blur. I have been extremely busy teaching both an undergraduate and a post-graduate class. In addition to that, my own work has finally begun in right earnest. I claim no credit for this fact, the entire share goes to my wonderful new class who have motivated me as well as challenged me intellectually at a level where all my mental faculties were stimulated to their utmost. Some of the students in particular have been very interesting. There is Sourav who plans to go on and specialize in treatment of MPD, Nithin wants to go into academia and research full time and Deepa who, like yours truly, envisions a future in the treatment of schizophrenia. These three and their fellow students have easily taught me much more than I have taught them. In fact, I have started paying minimal attention to the undergraduate morons I am forced to teach.
Mr. Atul Basu 15th November, 2002
Dept of Psychology
Dear Mr. Basu
Sub: Prolonged absence from classes
It has come to our notice that you have been absenting yourself from 2nd year BA class allotted to you. Your prolonged neglect of this class has caused their performance to fall dramatically as evidenced by their recent examination results.i would advice you to devote more time to teaching this class so that such an episode is not repeated anytime in the future.
Head of Dept (Psychology)
Sunday, November 17,2002
The letter was quite shocking to say the least. I know I have been devoting all my time and attention to the postgraduate class. Dr. Bhaskar did say that he would inform them of the change. I went to the departmental office to discuss the matter with them yesterday but the gentleman there took my protests with a pinch of salt, " Mr. Basu, we know that most PhD scholars neglect their teaching duties in order to take out more time to work on their thesis. Just make sure that this does not recur and let us end the matter there."
Monday, June 9, 2003
I have been taking a back-breaking workload for a few months now, which explains why I have not had an entry in the diary for ages. I have had perforce to teach those undergraduate idiots as well as my post-graduate class. The best news is that my research work continues to make excellent progress. I think I can fully implement the revolutionary ideas I came here with. The sad part is that my post-graduate class will pass out in a couple of months time. I will miss them dearly. I will forever be indebted to them.
Thursday, January 3, 2004
I just received news that the doctors I wrote to at NIMHANS have agreed to try out the treatment I have been working on for their serious cases of schizophrenia. Also my paper on the subject has appeared in the British Psychiatric Journal. Dr. Bhaskar and I went out and celebrated with champagne.
St.Johns PhD scholar pioneers breakthrough in schizophrenia treatment.
Bangalore, 5th November, 2004
Mr. Atul Basu, a PhD scholar at the St. John’s Medical College has reportedly developed a treatment for even the most acute cases of schizophrenia. His method has been successfully tested by doctors at NIMHANS, Bangalore…..
Tuesday, February 21, 2005
Today , four years after I made my first diary entry in this place, I stand on the verge of a momentous occasion. I will receive my PhD at the University Convocation this Saturday. The accolades I have garnered from my faculty members and students alike are overwhelming to say the least. I write this sitting in the main hall of the college. I wanted to invite Dr. Bhaskar to my convocation as a special guest when I realized did not even have his address or phone number. No matter! I’ll head to the office right away and collect it.
Tuesday, February 21, 2005 ....2 hours later
I do not understand what is happening. I went to the office and asked for Dr. Bhaskar’s number, only to receive a mystifying reply that there was no faculty member of that name in college. All my protestations to the effect that I had known the gentleman for four years were of no avail. As I came out of the office, my eyes fell on the board displayed near the main entrance.
Roll of Honour
Mr. Sourav Pal(1969)
Mr. Nithin Ram(1975)
Ms. Deepa Rajan(1982)
… Oh my god! What is happening here? All of them were my students and yet…. The Roll Of Honour…And where is Dr. Bhaskar … and my thesis…ON SCHIZOPHRENIA!! I HAVE DEVELOPED A TREATMENT FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA….ME … ON SCHIZOPHRENIA…HA! HA! HA!
Bangalore, February 25
……in the most bizarre of events witnessed at the convocation yesterday, a graduate walked up on stage to receive his degree – A PhD in Psychology- from the chief guest. Right there he tore it to pieces and threw it down. He then unearthed a cigarette lighter from his pocket and set the pieces on fire.
Friday, November 2, 2007
The authorities now have woken up to the fact the freedom does indeed come “at a price”. So now you can spit at a woman for Rs.50 only. To make the pricing even more attractive, if the lady is in the company of a man, one can spit at him for no additional costs. The authorities with their capitalistic ideologies do know how to set a “Fine” example for the citizens of this great country.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This also influences many Indians to give up on their jobs (non-software) and take a lunge into the software industry. A mechanical engineer may give up on his job in the manufacturing sector to become a software engineer. Ask him why? “ I think I’ve had more than my share of mechanical engineering, I need a change”. Things may be going well, or not so well, but for whatever reason; they're thinking that it's time for change.
I honestly believe many of us people are not in jobs that we planned and studied for. As a matter of fact, it's pretty clear that many people are in careers that just "happened". They started working at a job thinking it was going to be something they'd do until they decided what they really wanted to get involved in, and then they just stayed around until it became a kind of career. “ I’ll work in a software company for two years. This experience should help me in my MBA interviews”.
In other cases, individuals are in jobs or professions based on the guidance or encouragement of other people in their lives. “ I belong to a family of engineers, so I have to become one”. It is simply the continuation of “ My dad is an IITian, it’ll be an embarrassment if I’m not one” paradigm. Regardless of how they got to where they are now, it wasn't, for most of the populace, a well thought-out plan that was skilfully executed.
Which brings me to the three reasons why people like yours truly should not take up the quintessential ITES/BPO job. You are forewarned, the authors opinion is based on the feedback based on engineers working for various IT companies. This does not apply to software engineers who have taken up their jobs for the love of it. Or those who want to believe they love their IT jobs. By no means am I challenging the policies of the IT world. I just intend to warn like-minded folks of what they are to expect.
All work and no play makes Jack a manager
Everybody dreams of 7 digit pay check annually. But what we fail to see is a 16 lakh p.a job comes with a 16 hour a day work schedule. Are you really willing to make those sacrifices? That’s a question one needs to ask himself. Also the ones who earn such a paycheck are the ones who have rightfully earned it. They’ve missed every F1 race of the season trying to meet deadlines. They’ve planned their vacation, which would coincide with a conference. Not to mention the number of meals skipped to take a client call or to close a sales deal.
I also find subordinates always have a grouse against their manager, who quintessentially, does not have a life. Yet, everybody would love to be in his shoes. Everybody loves to become a manager, but hates their own manager. A universal phenomenon indeed! Being a manager is not about winning a popularity contest. So one is required to kill that desire of being liked if one is to go up the hierarchy in IT company and this could probably be extended to the management in every company.
To err is human; to forgive is against company policy
Now some really interesting facts that is specific to ITES/BPO. I’ll neither name the company or the people who have narrated their experiences to me. The pay in IT is good compared to many other professions, but since they pay you well, employees believe companies often think they own you. And if your reason with your manager on why you think its unfair on you, the reply is standard. “This is a part of your job. You are on our payroll. That's why we pay you the big bucks!” You are left to wonder if a payroll and a parole are more than just homonyms. Or is it a sadistic corporate pun?
Another problem, which employees suffer in BPO’s, is an erosion of dignity and self-respect. A customer always thinks its your fault even if his software doesn’t run because he has accidently deleted his software. A customer rep with a presence of mind will probably ask the customer to check out his recycle bin. But with an avalanche of swear words hurled at you, you are likely to forget your own existence. A call centre is “ The customer is always right” taken far too seriously.
And for a person who is reasonably proficient as a tech support representative in office, he becomes a personal tech support for all the non-tech co-workers in office. As a result you’ll take calls 7 days a week, 5 days for your customers and two for your co-workers. You’ll wonder if your paycheck worth the thankless job.
If you think at the end of the day you’ll be dabbling with sophisticated software, think again. Majority of your assignments require you to baby-sit existing technologies. Afterall, a software without any glitches is inevitably absolutum obseletum (if it works, its outdated).
There ain’t no thing as free lunch
Some of the companies that rank very high in employee satisfaction employ this tactic. They simply pamper their employees. The jobs on offer are no rocket science stuff, mundane to say the least. The only factor that keeps the employees satisfied is probably the benefits the company offers. The company that boasts of a 1% attrition rate pays for all the Dominos pizzas that are ordered in office. Some offices have a mini-theatre, others have convenience stores that do not charge employees for the junk food they consume. Some companies go one step further, instead of rewarding the most outstanding employees with an onsite project, the whole team is sent on a company funded US trip. Everybody is happy! Also some companies encourage employees to splurge and indulge in luxuries by rewarding them some surprise bonus check. A good shopping spree can help you overcome the emotional void you are starting to experience at work. Says an employee “ It is an ethical way of killing ambition. Employees will dread to think of seeking employment in another company, simply because they cannot live without this culture”.
I personally feel an employee will find many points to complain about. The one point he’ll hate to admit is the fact that he cannot enjoy what he’s doing. He’d rather want to believe he’s living a rebellious life by bottling up all his anger and frustrations during the day and venting it out every evening. It is not very difficult to find suitable outlets. Reading one book a night, voracious blogging, incessant spending will only take you so far as to survive every single day till you fall asleep. But quality life is so much more than a cumulative sum of every single day you live. The only solution is the clichéd “ do what you love”. It may not satisfy all your needs, but it’ll surely render you impervious to all the aforementioned horrors. If nothing, it’ll save you the attempt and trouble of liking what you do.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Wait till I enlighten you with an account of my misadventure last year...
Coming back from work, I was crossing the main road outside lifestyle, which to the uninitiated is one of the craziest roads if there is one in hyderabad. Suddenly this monstrosity( an Apsrtc bus) takes me by surprise. I was not particularly caught off guard by the sudden appearance of this grotesque apparition, but by its excretion!!!I felt this projectile which struck me on my cheek.When I felt it with my fingers, I realised I had a sticky situation at hand. Some nincompoop travelling in that very monstrosity was in a good mood to involve himself in a spat. And spotting a charming pedestrian like yours truly ( accuse me of massaging my vanity, but an apsrtc bus is one of the few places where I turn out to be the best looking chap!) he'd found his victim. He launched his chewing gum for my face and his aim was spectacular.
After debating the legality of the culprits relationship with his mother or sister in a fit of rage, I started rushing home with one hand covering the affected areas of my face. I suppose a bloke running with a thinker pose can be quite an amusing sight. I did see an odd passer-by giving me a very bemused grin. The thought of it actually sent me into sudden fits of laughter myself but being at the receiving end, I was'nt particularly amused. Still I sported a smile. I could imagine Jagjit dedicating a few lines to me
"Tum itna jo, muskura rahe ho,
kya GUM hai jisko, choopa rahe ho"
After reaching home, I could'nt help thinking of the man who I strongly believe changed the face of mankind. My gratitude for one Mr. King Camp Gillette got the better of me. After all the disposible variant of his invention saved my face. I dearsay it was a Shaving grace at an eventful end of a bad day.As for me, having written this piece, I am hoping not to lose or split any more hairs thinking about this incident.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I’ve always enjoyed sorting out my music on the computer. I don’t even need an excuse to get started. Every track on my computer has some sentiment attached. Every album sends me to unique imaginary realms. There are some tracks that are preserved only for the nostalgic value it provides, even though over the years my musical tastes have changed as drastically as I have as a person. Which is why this vocation (sorting out music and compiling play lists) turns out to be as refreshing as a vacation.
Last month I decided to organize my Hard disk and, it was an impulsive decision. July was particularly characterized by some anxiety and loneliness. My books and my music were my only bedfellows. Once while discussing my music collection with precocious perf(a friend whose name is not to be revealed), I began this odyssey which lasted nearly a month. As various songs played, they formed a soundtrack to the memories they invoked. It was a photo album for my ears; certain songs are inextricably attached to events in my past and when I listen to them, memories return.
My Columbine Voyage to the Newer world of music began with ABBA and Boney M. My sis plainly dismissed these as silly nursery rhymes when I played some of these numbers. She wouldn’t have guessed. I used to hum these tunes even before she was born. “Ring Ring ”, “Super trooper”, “ Another Town Another Train”, “Hasta manana” “Belfast”, “ Rasputin”….
Never understood the lyrics then, but loved the tunes. I subconsciously attached these tunes to all those days spent in Matunga, Bombay. And I’d sing those as any four-year old would.
“ I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore
If I tell a joke, you’ve probably heard it before
But I have a talent, a wonderful thing
coz everyone listens when I start to sing
I’m so grateful and proud
All I want is to sing it out loud”
Circa 1989.Those were the days of the tape recorder. Most Indians in their post-colonial hangover would say “You don’t have to pay at Spenser’s to meet your needs”. As Indians, we’d always found cheaper and more convenient ways to indulge in luxuries. Now, we didn’t need to buy album tapes for just a couple of good songs. We could always record our favourite numbers on blank audio tapes, and pretty good quality tapes ( the red cover Sony tapes) at that. So the music I listened to were not labeled. I had all these songs memorized on School bus trips between Chembur and Ghatkopar in Bombay (if you wondering how, my school bus was one of the very few that had a audio system). Only many years later would I make a serendipitous discovery of the name of the artist. When I listen to these tracks I’m often amused at the fact that as a six year old, the subjects that these numbers addressed were obviously beyond my comprehension, and yet we’d have a careless bus driver playing these in a school bus. “Papa don’t preach” and “la isa bonita” by Madonna, “I just called” and “part time lover” by Stevie Wonder, “Notorious” by Duran Duran, and a few by Foreigner, Boston, Tina Turner, USA for Africa, Berlin to name a few. Music and I were inseparable, and it was beyond my imagination that there is a whole world of music awaiting me. It was heavenly!
“Such a feelings coming over me
There is wonder in most everything I see
Not a cloud in the sky
Got the sun in my eyes
And I wont be surprised if its a dream
Everything I want the world to be
Is now coming true especially for me
And the reason is clear
Its because you are here
You’re the nearest thing to heaven that I’ve seen”
The '90s were mostly disappointing. Some excellent music completely overshadowed by syrupy shit! What I never realized then was the fact that my only source of music was MTV, and understandably music was sold based on visual appeal. This was the time I was starting to be really disillusioned with music. I did find some uplifting moments though.
“I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never going to
Keep me down”
I never really deciphered the “uplifting” pun in most songs and never figured out the drug or sexual connotations in the songs. I guess innocence and blissful ignorance did go hand in hand in my adolescence.
In the late 90’s I’d reached a point of giving up on music. Thought it’d just not be the same. I was probably one of those misguided by what music channels had to offer.
“I ain't saying you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right”
Napster was a boon. It restored hope for a better tomorrow. I started discovering some new music, or some music that was lost in the sands of time. Suddenly my relationship with music took a more philosophical turn. Started believing I’d already missed out on some really good music but thanks to the internet, I did have some access to it.
“I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song.
I’m twenty-two now but I wont be for long
Time hurries on.
And the leaves that are green turn to brown”
And we now have torrents. So my musical tastes start traveling on auto pilot. First there’s metal, then all genres of classic rock, some rock and roll, then some world music and more blues, and even more jazz…I could probably write a book on all the music I’ve listened to ever since.
Some love stories never end. This one has just begun.
So dear bloggers, I implore you to check out your collection and enjoy the trip.
“So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me”
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Firstly theres this undergarments ad that features a physically challenged kid who decides to participate in a race competing with other kids. Once the race starts the kid loses his crutches and falls down. The helpless kid summons daddy dearest. I'd imagined some comic book hero who appears wearing his underwear on the outside. After all, it is an undergarments ad. But hey! who is this? is it a man? is it superman...no its Salman khan! And the buck "or shall i say black buck" does'nt stop here. For some godforsaken reason he rips his shirt off, picks up the kid and starts running,eventually diving at the finish line a-la-rhodes and emerging the winner. humm! the mere fact that i cannot recall the name of the brand seems to defeat the purpose of making the ad.besides i have committed it to mind for its preposterity. Are these ad makers underestimating the intelligence of its consumers?
there is another brand which features ads which are high on pot. one of these harpic type brands which needs to exhibit a pot-pourri of toilets that do not use the product. and suddenly a salesman from the company turns harry potter and uses this magic potion which turns the toilet sparkling white! tasteless to say the least!
now there used to be these itch guard ads which were very disgusting. these ad makers seem to have come of age by shedding the " an itch in time saves nine" paradigm. these guys literally started from scratch and what materialised is an ad thats very subtle but effective. the harpic ad makers better take a good look lest their ads are flushed out of television!
Friday, August 3, 2007
Here's the list of books I read in the month of July.
The Jungle books by Rudyard Kipling.*
Geetanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
How to be good by Nick Hornby
Life of Pi by Yann Martel*
Matilda by Roald Dahl*
How to Advertise By ....
Airforces of the World By David Wragg
Fables by Bill Willingham which includes
Legends In Exile (issues 1 to 5)*
Animal Farm (issues 6 to 10)*
Bag 'O Bones (issue 11)
A Two-Part Caper (issues 12 and 13)
Storybook Love (issues 14 to 17)
Barleycorn Brides (issue 18)
The Last Castle
March of the Wooden Soldiers (issues 19 to 21 and 23 to 27)*
Cinderella Libertine (issue 22)
War Stories (issues 28 and 29)*
The Mean Seasons (issues 30 to 33)
Jack Be Nimble (issues 34 and 35)
Homelands (issues 36 to 38 and 40 and 41)*
Meanwhile (issue 39)
Arabian Nights (and Days) (issues 42 to 45)
The Ballad of Rodney and June (issues 46 and 47)
Wolves (issues 48 and 49)
Happily Ever After (issue 50)
Hitman by Garth Ennis which includes
Vol. 1: Hitman
Vol. 2: 10,000 Bullets
Marvels By Kurt Busiek *
Its very unlikely I'll better this in August. The ones with the * are highly recommended.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Monday seemed like an acronym for monotony unlimited on the 23rd. And then there was a respite. The dark clouds "flashed" a silver lining...and then it rained! It was a blessing. For some reason I still cannot fathom, it stimulated my imagination and took me out of my narrow,humdrum self. I could'nt resist capturing the moment.
On a lighter note, I've come to realise that the rain patterns in a city often reflect the attitudes of its people. At least in the three places that i've lived in namely Bombay, Hyderabad and Manipal(not really a city!), the rains behaved very much like the residents of the respective areas. The rains in bombay work overtime like the quintessential mumbaikar, oblivious of the surroundings,come rain or storm(metaphorically speaking). Its counterpart in Hyderabad is extremely lethargic and laid-back. Extermely inconsiderate of the people who depend on it. One often gets the impression its about to rain, but the overcast conditions flatter to decieve. Its eventually a whole lot of wind. And when it begins to rain, it goes through a characteristic Hyderabadi "light lele mama!" ph(r)ase and lo! There is light! The sun in all its splendor.The rains in manipal however, like the students who reside in the university town require a deadline to function. It is hardly seen during the year and it piles up all its torrents for the examination months of May-June.
Using this analogy, i'd like to extend my observational induction to the city i'm likely to move to next - Delhi. I imagine the rains in Delhi behave like the babu's who bring life in its entirety to a standstill, and who need to be bribed periodically with prayers.Ah! Now I know what Jim Morrison meant when he said "Petition the lord with prayer".He was probably suggesting how one could overcome a shortage of rainfall in Delhi.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
So i'll make it easier both for the reader and myself. Uploading these pics will save me an effort of furnishing some six thousand words at least. Check it out...
Duh! and you thought booking the tickets for the latest harry potter movie was any easier?
we've come a long way baby!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
This Indian team like most teams that have travelled to the sacrosant home of Cricket is as good as it gets on paper. But are they only so good on paper? Have they struck the right balance between experience and youth? Experience of english conditions is imperative for a side thats looking to achieve its first series win in england since 1986. I've followed cricket since 1991 and during this period, the men in blue have travelled twice to England(excluding the '99 Wc and the '04 ICC trophy). The observations I've made are on the basis of these tours.
In 1996 I remember Azar leading the team under the most controversial of circumstances.The team selection seemed to defy logic and common sense.Besides "Nepotism" seemed to be the operative word. The press cried hoarse about 5 karnataka lads who had been picked by the the selection committee led by G.Vishwanath. The three bowlers in Kumble, Srinath and Prasad were easily the best bowlers then. But also in the squad were a few rookies, Dravid and Joshi(of karnataka), Paras Mhambrey, Vikram Rathore and Saurav Ganguly. Also the spin department was heavily loaded with Kumble,Raju,Hirwani and Joshi, while the three seamers Srinath,Prasad and Mhambrey, with the latter two making their debuts,were all new to english conditions.Also the ones who missed out on the team did have their share of supporters- Manoj Prabhakar, Vinod Kambli and Salil Ankola.It looked like India had lost the series even before their flight departed the Indian shores.
India did lose the series 0-1. But the team did have their moments to cheer about. Firstly, Sachin Tendulkar, the 23 year old deputy played with a responsibility that defied his age in years. In what remains one of the best innings he's ever played, desipte the fact that it was one to a losing cause, his 122 in Edgbaston is one of the best "How to bat" guides for all budding batsmen. Srinath and Prasad established themselves as a potent opening pair of fast bowlers. Dravid's and Ganguly's exploits on debut along with Sachins 177 in Trentbridge prompted Tony Greig to say "1973 was probably one of the worst years for english cricket. It was the year Sachin,Saurav and Rahul were born."
Under Captain Courageous Mr Ganguly, the men in blue had a more memorable outing in 2002. Having just won the Natwest Trophy, the team sported positive vibes that probably concealed problems that were similar to what their counterparts in 1996 faced like a largely inexperienced bowling attack and make shift openers.The story lines were somewhat similar.The three bastions of the Indian middle order formed a fort on the foundation of which the team put up huge scores on the board. Also Shewag and Bangar, although make shift openers, did enjoy considerable success and the highly motivated Anil Kumble was desperate to make amends for the forgettable 1996 tour. It showed on the 1-1 scoreline.
That brings us to the present team. It still has Sachin, Rahul, Saurav and Anil in their ranks and it still depends on these four who are experiencing the autumn of their respective careers. Much will depend on how these four lead the rest. Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik play a very crucial role of the openers. And Jaffer has always been guilty of playing away from the body. That would make him very vulnerable to falling for the bait that Hoggard and co present him. Dhoni is going thro a lean patch, both as a keeper and as a batsman. In England, the flaws in a keepers technique are easily exposed and Akmal and Ramadhin will surely bear testimony to that fact.One can expect Dhoni to be subjected to some pressure.
The conditions are going to suit the seamers,but a young fast bowler on his first english tour has often been troubled by the slope in the wicket at Lords. While bowling up the hill can easily wear you down, bowling downhill on the contrary can affect your accuracy. Here's where the bowling coach has a big role to play along with the captain. He needs to identify specific roles for every bowler based on their strengths.And the most experienced pro, Anil Kumble will be expected to use his repertoire very judiciously on pitches that offer little assistance to his brand of spin bowling.
The English team is currently enjoying a high under Michael Vaughan. Injuries to Harmison, Jones and Flintoff notwithstanding, the English side will still have an edge over the visitors. Indian batsmen will still find Hoggard and Sidebottom quite a handful. I expect England to win the series 1-0 or 2-1, if weather permits a result in every game.
This now brings me to the best Indian XI ever to play in England. To mark the 75th anniversary of Indian Cricket, a panel of experts did come out with their list. I'll reserve my criticism of their choice for another entry. Here's my list:
B S Chandrashekar
12th man: Ekanath Solkar
reserves: Chetan Sharma, Anil Kumble and Md Azharuddin.
If a reader finds that the selection has been unfair, let me remind you this based on performances in England.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Federico Fellini's Roma is an autobiographical tribute to Rome, Italy, featuring a narration by Fellini himself and a mixture of real-life footage and fictional set pieces. What sets this movie apart is the fact that it lacks plot. In fact it is an autobiography of a proud Roman, but hardly a story of one individual. The movie starts with Fellini’s first impressions of the city as a student. The nostalgia is clearly evident in the scene when an instructor leads a group of students on an excursion. On the banks of River Rubicon is a revision of Caesar’s “Alea iacta est” before the wards follow their instructor and cross the river enroute Rome. Probably the sequence is reminiscent of Fellini’s childhood.
Suddenly after this is an artistic impression of Rome in the 30’s. After we are introduced to the city, we witness the director's early years, arriving in Rome in 1931 during the time of Mussolini. The 18 year old moves into a tenement building and then embarks on a wild journey as he is inducted into the carnivalesque culture of Italian street life. To accentuate the effect of this breathtaking sequence are the elements of projected light and layered yet amplified sound. The road side eatery is well lit and vibrancy of the ambience is exemplified by the colourful dishes that are being served. The background score is a babel of shouting voices, of customers satisfied or otherwise, of couples fighting, of children playing Football and celebrating a goal, of mothers grumbling and toddlers crying, of waiters shouting out the menu to fresh customers, of tramps who sing and dance to entertain and earn their meal; all this sandwiched between Nino Rota's wonderful music and sharp witty sarcastic dialogues like “ Who’s that? Lellos daughter?” “ Whose do you think, the priests?” “ In Rome, we say no matter what we eat, it all turns to shit”.
The movie however is inconsistent with chronology. The charms of the past are ever present, but often the audience is teleported 40 odd years into the future where a film crew is making a movie on Rome. Throughout the movie there’s never a clear distinction between the past and the present. It is possibly to showcase certain aspects of the culture which do not change with time. The overlapping of the past and the present and the continuation of one within the realms of the other is best shown in this sequence where the film crew is on a site seeing trip inside the newly built sub way tracks. Inside the tunnels, labyrinthine catacombs lead to an ancient roman house, buried several kilometers below the present day Rome. What is unveiled is a spectacular sight. We are shown a glimpse of the past in the cave which is laden with frescoes and statues. But this scene is brief as we see that on being exposed to the atmosphere, these artifacts reveal a thick layer of dust and physical decay, which gives us an idea of a number of centuries that these pieces have endured.
Fellini also employs a style that shifts between the narrative and the documentative, fantastical fiction interwoven with farcical facts. There is this scene when the present day world bows to natures fury. The traffic is stranded because of heavy rain and there is chaos everywhere but in the backdrop,braving the storm bravely is the colloseum. The director’s dexterity is well advertised with his handling of prostitution. The brothels are portrayed the way they ought to be, as one of the ills of society, but the portrayal as such is incredibly chaste. The movie aptly ends with a motorcycle rally at night. The shots of impressive buildings at night with the motorcycles’ vrooming noises in the background is artistic, to say the least.
To sum up, Roma is a love story, where a man professes his love for the city he’s a part of. It’s a tribute to Rome by one of her most famous sons. Your first viewing will invariably result in an infatuation, both for the city and the movie. It is surreal but not very distant from reality. But to enjoy this movie, a viewer should be willing to give it some time. After all, Rome was not built in a day. Nor was Fellini’s masterpiece.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
With the probables list out, the selectors' message is clear. The modus operandi is to let the cubs become lions. Also it helped that the three big guns namely Sachin, Rahul and saurav decided to let this event and therefore this form of cricket pass. Given the schedule that the men in blue are to endure, it would augur well for a few more names to voluntarily step down. What with the english tour, Aussies and Pakistan touring India before India go down under to try and regain the Gavaskar-Border trophy. If my memory serves me faithfully, the Proteas tour India sometime in March. There are a few bowlers who are very vulnerable to injuries like Zaheer, Patel and Sreeshant. Also there are a few cricketers who are just not suited for this form of the game like VVS ,Powar and Jaffer. There are others who may find the most abbreviated form compatible to their brand of cricket like Dinesh Mongia and Suresh Raina but i feel these cricketers have been guilty for not capitalising on the opportunities given to them.
so here's my 15 for the 20-20 world championships:
R P Singh
Now Piyush chawla does merit a place in this team, but then I somehow feel he's too young and still needs some time to work on the nuances of leg spin. Expectations are really high and the 18 year old looks like he is made of sterner stuff. But he does need to be protected from 20-20. It may prove to be a blunder if he's taken for a few runs as it inevitably is in a 20-20 game, and if it affects his psyche as an attacking bowler. We've seen Bhajji going thro those phases but he's overcome those phases because he's a more experienced pro. And this tournament may just give him and other discards like Pathan and Kaif a shot in the arm.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
And then suddenly I wake up and wish I could simply invent a pill for the indigestion that is reality…
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
" It's a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful"
I was so mesmerised by the first lines that I could'nt put the book down. What followed was a fascinating adventure of Matilda, easily the most endearing five year old you'll ever find in literature. The story unfolds with the readers being introduced to the Wormwood household who are queer folks.
"Occasionally one comes across parents who show no interest at all in their children, and these of course are far worse than the doting ones". Words that seem to be spoken by one very experienced school teacher. The Wormwoods' indifference towards their five year old daughter turns to plain old underestimation when she starts showing signs of being a precocious child. As an act of defiance, Matilda enrols as a member at the public library, and despite being forbidden and even admonished for reading books, she finds solace in the literary works of Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, Earnest Hemingway and George Orwell to name a few. These books had a profound effect on the child as she is magically teleported to different lands where she meets new people and discovers new cultures.
By the time she is admitted to school, She's quite in a league of her own. But her extraordinary abilities do not get her into the good books of the head mistress, Miss Trunchbull.
"The Trunchbull," as she is known, is a vicious evil monster.She punishes students who give incorrect answers in class or who talk back to her by forcing them to undergo some form of physical torture. The old-school pedagogue, literally and figuratively speaking will go to any extent of intimidation to enforce discipline. Often the head mistress crosses the acceptable line of punishment.
However Matilda finds an ally in Miss Honey, her kind and soft spoken teacher.Dahl successfully adds interesting twists to this simple tale and unveils a supernatural facet of the protagonist towards the end of the story. Though one may find his excesses with his character sketches too difficult to accept, what I admire is the way he addressed some very serious issues like child abuse and domestic violence and its effect on the psyche of a child without ever compromising on humour. Easily one of his best works and most certainly worth its money, this one ought to grace your bookshelves even if you remotely have an affinity for childrens literature.
Having read this book cover to cover, I've decided that if I ever venture out to become a writer, I'll author a childrens book. And it'll be nothing like the works of Mr.CS Lewis or Mr. Tolkein, who with all due respects are great writers. Their works in Matildas opinion have one failing, in that they lack sufficient "funny bits".
So my book will be full of funny limericks like this one,
" An epicure dining at Crewe,
Found a rather large mouse in his stew,
Cried the waiter," Dont shout
And Wave it about
Or the rest will be wanting one too."
Monday, July 2, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
As I write this entry, I shred the last vestiges of trepidation. i finally overcome my inhibitions, without shame or remorse.Contrary to what the name of the blog would blatantly suggest( the name of the blog being "writers blog"), I am not much of a writer but if you probably decipher the pun, you'd figure out that I do have my sympathies for the someone who claims to be a writer.
I think Benjamin Franklin said something to the effect that an individual should always attempt to do something that'll get people to write about his endeavours, or write something about what he does. Well, I never really found this quote inspiring( which is self explanatory given the fact that I could'nt quote Franklin verbatim), though my years in Manipal (what I believe was my creative playground) taught me that the second half of Franklin's quote was the better half…err, more attainable.
Coming now to my engineering years, my exploits in Manipal are what legends are made of (note the sarcasm!). Till date the only test I've taken whose results bear an A+ is my blood test. Also the faculty of E&C in MIT Manipal are known to preserve my answer scripts for the sheer entertainment it provides them. So I am somehow convinced that my memoirs should make an interesting reading.
Sometimes, situations in life leave me at a complete loss for words. Adjectives, alliterations, exclamations, superlatives et al, all absconding me and leaving me vocally challenged. It would take a wizard to conjure a few words within my comprehension to facilitate the description of my thoughts but owing to my feeble powers of narrative, I’d still imagine the accounts of my experiences to be grossly inadequate in terms of closeness to reality. Given my shortcomings, I endeavour to entice the reader with experiences that totally changed my outlook towards life. If however, my entries turnout to be very sporadic, I implore the readers to decipher the pun in the name of the blog.
Welcome to my world !
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
27th June 2007 happens to be the 68th birth anniversary of the late R.D Burman or Pancham da as he was affectionally called by his collegues and friends.The title for this entry shares it name with what remains my favourite Bollywood number. The title, however is also apt because of what I discovered a few months back. Today may not be the best day for an expose, it being his birth anniversary. What prompted me to post this entry today was this tribute in the newspaper.
When Bhumikak wrote "bringing world music to our ears through hindi films, words are'nt enough to describe what burman did", I interpreted it literally.I do realise that a statement like this would be nothing short of blasphamy. Afterall, Pancham da occupies a sacroscant space in the heart of every hindi-movie lover.I am not trying to question the talents of the maestro,I only doubt his creativity as a music composer. It turns out some of his best numbers were "inspired" from the works of artists whose background varied from the Americas to the far east.
I turned out to be a huge RD Burman fan after the release of what is now remembered as his swansong - "1942,A Love Story". It piqued my curiosity as it did for many who had had the better fortune of growing up to his melodious tunes in the 70's and in the following decades.I followed his works after his unfortunate demise in 1994 and was forced to listen to his works in the reverse order of chronology.His works were path breaking compared to all his contemporaries. But as I was exposed to western pop in my adolescent years, I realised Burman owed much to the likes of ABBA, Chubby Checker, Elvis, The Carpenters, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Cliff Richards and Frank Sinatra to name a few. My own inclination towards jazz music more recently however led me to this serendipitous discovery, which really blew my mind away. Readers please check out Demis Roussos’ "Say you love me" and you'll know what I mean.Roussos' third album, released in 1974, inspired Sholay's "Mehbooba Mehbooba", which was released the following year. Till I discovered this fact, I'd listed down this song as my favourite bollywood track as it was so ahead of its times. I'd imagined that it as a song inspired many a musician to explore new realms of creativity. Suddenly I felt a little betrayed.
Now as I look at it dispassionately and objectively, it did probably spawn a breed of pseudos with great musical tastes to try out a hand at composing music.Afterall, We must remember "Akele Hum Akele Tum", Anu Malik's magnum opus till then as probably bollywoods best tribute to Wham,Deep Purple and the Godfather. Burman however should be remembered as an individual who revolutionised the Indian music industry by his sheer talents.By featuring in Jose Flores' Pantera, he did put India on the world music map. Creativity or the lack of it notwithstanding, I'd still list down the folling as my favourites:
1. Monica, oh my darling (caravan)
2. Hare Krishna Hare Ram ( movie of the same name)
3. Chingari koi badkhe ( amar prem)
4. Kati patang ( movie of the same name)
5. Chura liya ( yaadon ki baarat)
6. Tere bina zindagi se koi ( andhi)
7. Tumse naraz nahi ( masoom)
If any of these have been "inspired", i'd just overlook any such info and say "Ignorance is bliss".
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Critics believed John McLaughlin had committed commercial harakiri by abandoning electric instruments and Western sensibilities of mahavishnu orchestra in favor of an all-acoustic group with Indian musicians. In fact, record sales for this group, Shakti, were quite disappointing. Sometimes though, a musician has to follow his muse. In this case, McLaughlin was led to create a very fertile groundbreaking group in the form of Shakti. Shakti's dependence on Eastern musical models infused with Western jazz-like improvisation made for an exciting and influential stew.
Formed in 1975, Shakti pioneered a groundbreaking east-meets-west collaborative approach. The group, whose name means creative intelligence, beauty and power, consisted of legendary British jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, North Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain and violinist L. Shankar and ghatam player T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram. Together, they created a harmony that managed to successfully combine seemingly incompatible traditions. However, with the exception of a few music aficionados, not many were open enough to accept the genesis of Shakti. McLaughlin’s fans were still recuperating from the irredeemable loss of his absence. It reflected in the dismal sales of Shakti.
"What happens is sometimes you have a vision and an urge to go forward and do something unique at a time when people are still tied to what is, as opposed to what should be or what can be," explained Hussain of the resistance to Shakti's early days. "One must also realize that John had just disconnected himself from the Mahavishnu Orchestra, a very, very commercially popular [jazz-rock] group. In many ways, John made the big sacrifice because he lost a lot of fans who were into his electrical experience and they faded away."
How ironic that 20 years later, a band different from the original Shakti but born from its spirit should emerge to find commercial success. And how ironic that McLaughlin should now turn to the timbres of an electric guitar and forego the sublime sounds of his acoustic approach.
Remember Shakti is the name of the new group as well as its first live album. The 2 CD set recorded over four nights in England in the fall of 1997 features the two founding fathers of the original Shakti, McLaughlin and the tabla master Zakir Hussain. One of