Saturday, December 23, 2006

Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

Recently, a teacher wanted her students to read a book she liked. Given their past comments, she felt she would face considerable opposition when she asked them to read it. So, she told them the outline of the book:

The book is about a young orphan, she told them. He lives with his relatives, who hate him. But as he grows up, he realizes his potential. He meets new friends at his school, and learns about friendship, loyalty and other values. He excels at his favourite sport. Then, there is a mass-murderer on the loose, who has killed the hero's parents.

Then she asked them to write a page about whether they would like to read the book, and what will happen at the end.

After they had written in unison about what an interesting book it would be, she told them the name of the book: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”. (this was before the movie was released)

Now, I thought it would be a good idea to ask you to give your comments before reading the last paragraph, so that I can call your bluff when you say in your comments how you don't find the books interesting. But it is not feasible. Instead, I am sure I can safely assume that there is at least one element everybody found in that story which appealed to you, and made you to read further. It's not just a kids' book you know...

As millions of fans around the world (reading in many languages) will tell you, the series is about how an orphan, left on the doorstep of his aunt and uncle finds about himself and his past, and his role in his world. When he enters the school, he is totally ignorant about everything in his past. But then, the most important lesson he learns is that, it's your choices and not your skills that determine what you are. It's not just about magic you know...

The series is also about Hermione Granger, who has magical skills despite being born to “normal” human parents, and even then, she is the cleverest of their class (in fact, in the whole school). It is about how you need not have blue blood in your veins to excel in whatever you do. It is also about Ron, and how friends are loyal to each other despite being overshadowed by your friends at every step. It is also about how size is not an indicator of power, and how there is something more than just academic excellence in life. The series is also about how it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. About how values like loyalty, friendship, bravery are important in life. It's not just about witchcraft you know...

The series is also about Prof. Dumbledore, the most powerful person in Harry's world. He is aware of his powers, but that does not make him lose contact with his students, and he is as funny as best of them. He tries to teach his students the difference between “being dragged in to face lions and entering the arena with your head held high”. He is the person who believes in giving second chance to even the worst persons and criminals, and sees the good in everybody. It's not just about Harry Potter you know...

Any person of any age who is reading these books finds something to interest him in it. There is brave Harry, with his friends, Ron who is a loyal friend, and Hermione who is the bookish. There is Gred and Forge (sorry, Fred and George) Weasleys, the Troublemakers-in-Chief of the school. In their own words, their pranks are “so many that it is hard to keep track of sometimes”. Then there is Dumbledore, who is the most powerful person in the world, yet he enjoys sherbet lemon, lemon drops, and is funny enough to match Fred and George. These do not even cover the complete list of “good” characters, and I haven't yet started on the bad ones yet.

It shows in every page, every paragraph that J. K. Rowling has the complete story in her head from the start. There are clues enough in spread everywhere, which show you the way story will go (and make you go, “so that's what that meant” when you come across the explanation of the clue sometime later, many times in some other book). Just to give an example, a character in book 5 mentions, “" the solstice will come a new... and none will come after..." There were a lot of discussions about what this meant in the fandom. The title of the seventh (and last) book of the series was announced on JKR's website this winter solstice (21st Dec).

I guess at this point, it should save me a lot of words to mention that these are books (along with PuLa's books I mentioned earlier) which are beyond Book(?)...err scale. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is The Book I am waiting for...

For all those people who want to start reading (come on, admit it guys), I will recommend that the best book of the series till now is “Prisoner of Azkaban” (and each book contains enough back story to read independently), but then, it is always a good idea to start at the very beginning.

P.S. For all those people still saying that this is kids' book, about magic and all, please count the number of times I needed to mention magic, spells, witchcraft etc. to tell you about the books.

P.P.S. For all the "grown-ups", there are adult editions of the books too.

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:

"E for 'Exceeds Expectations. And I've always thought Fred and I should've got E in everything, because we exceeded expectations just by turning up for the exams."
- George Weasley

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Those Were The Days...

(a.k.a. The Wonder Years Tag)

This is my 50th post on this blog....

Thank you for all the applause, hope you could see me taking the bows there (not curtain calls, I am afraid. I am going to continue writing). So, I was thinking for a long time what should I write. I mean, I should be writing something important, about a topic I really feel about to mark this important milestone, right? I thought about a lot of topics, including a Marathi book I love, a new author I am reading, a great TV serial I am watching right now. But then I thought, what in the world is more important than... “me”?

So, I am taking up a great tag, started by one of my favourite blog-writers (this has nothing to do with the fact that she called me “The King of Commenters” or something like that)

The Wonder Years Tag

1.Write 8-10 things about childhood ( 1-12 years) that you miss.
2.Write 8-10 things that you disliked about childhood.
3.Tag a few people.

Since the tag is about 1-12 years, I have to leave out anything we did in 8-10 std in school, which is bad, since 10th std was when we had the most fun in school. Also, I don't remember much till when I was 2-3 years old, so cannot write anything about that.

What I miss about my childhood

  1. The long diwali vacations and even longer summer vacations. We used to go to Nasik every summer.

  2. School: I cannot miss it more. We had the greatest group in school, and being the top of class (which directly meant top of batch), we were (almost) every teacher's favourite. I miss that preferential treatment in school.

  3. Cricket matches: we played cricket on weekends using bats and rubber balls. In the school though, it was writing pads and plastic balls. We had the record of scoring 24 runs in an over. In fact that was 24 runs in 2 balls, if I remember correctly, since after so many wides, the over was cancelled, making the score 24 runs, no wickets, 0 balls.

  4. Football in break: This wasn't using normal footballs, or even normal rubber balls. We used to play with the hemispherical rubber balls which were broken due to excessive beating in cricket. The ball used to trace a nice circular route when kicked, which accounted for a lot of kicks to the shins we got while playing. Also, watching the ball turning away from goal without anybody touching it was a bit of fun for everybody involved (in defending team of course)

  5. Competitive exams: and of course, classes for these exams. It was fun attending the classes before and after the school with my best friends.

  6. Playing with my cousins: in nasik. I am older than all my maternal cousins. And frankly, my sister being 5 years older than me, while we all being born within 5 years of each other, she is kind of outside our group. Anyways, I miss playing with them.

  7. Being the youngest of all the cousins on my father's side. Well, I am still the youngest, and still get all the attention I want for that, but it was much more fun when I was in school and “the kid” in all senses of the word.

  8. Watching the Sunday morning serials, with my parents. This was more for the sunday morning heavy breakfast, and second coffee, than actual serials. Well, we had some good serials then, including Ramayan, Mahabharat. Of course, watching Rangoli was a bit of event too.

  9. Late night cards sessions with my parents, my cousins, my grandparents. These were once in a while, holiday sessions, which would later include coffee (I learnt to make coffee when I was pretty young). There were also movie sessions on saturday nights.

  10. “Laurel & Hardy” and “Tom & Jerry”: my friend had video cassettes. Our deep study of these started in his house watching those movies on his VCR. I still have the memories of us sitting in his room on the roof of his house, watching the movies.

What I disliked about childhood

I don't remember many things which I actively disliked or hated in school. Let me try and think some of them up.

  1. I was an accident-prone kid. I broke the bone in my right hand when I was 2 years old, the other bone was broken when I was in 8th standard. I had so many hospital visits that I am pretty much sick of hospitals now.

  2. The teachers who used to beat students up. And then there was a teacher who used to tell me every day that I would do better to not be friends with my best friend.

  3. Drawing class in school: unfortunately, my drawings did not count as modern art too. But though I could and did keep my colors inside the lines, drawing the lines themselves was a bad. My drawing submission eve was the time when my mother and sister drew the requisite things while I tried to fill colors.

  4. Learning Marathi Grammar: I cannot recall even one of the things they taught us, except where to put what in a sentence.

Sorry, I can't go on... once I started, I realised how many bad memories I have... I am sure my (auto)biography will tell all how I became such a great man in spite of such adversities...

Whom I am going to tag

This is going to raise my spirits... So Sid, you do take up tags pretty well, so here's one more. Almost everybody else I know has already picked up this tag, so *donning helmet and protective suit*, I tag, you know.... *running off to bomb shelter*

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:

People who get nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children.
- Bill Watterson (1958 - ), Calvin and Hobbes

Friday, October 20, 2006

Back With A Bang... Sorry, Tag...

If there wasn't another post for last few days, it was because I was reluctant to push the last post down on my page (and that doesn't mean I was lazy as some might think). But, on fear of being frozen, I am back with a tag. And this time I am going to lay my soul bare for the world to gaze at and marvel what a great person I am...

Rules of this tag:

1. Name the person who tagged you.
2. 8 things about you.
3. Tag 6 people.

Question 1: (Sounds like I am writing an exam, right?)
This time, it is the charming etc. etc. (for complete list, contact her) ex-doofus and my partner in crime... sorry, my fellow-philo Kusum who tagged me. And while we are at it, if any of my lines seem a bit out there, remember that we are philosophers and there is some residual effect (*ouch*) of a well-aimed flowerpot...

Question 2:
Apparently, this can be anything as long as it is about me... now that's interesting... so many possibilities, so many things to tell... and nobody to confirm or deny anything I put here. *evil laugh* Now that's my favorite type of post. So, where should I start?

  • I am an aspiring writer. I have written some stories till now, and have played some part in the magazine we used to publish in our department in my engineering college.
    OK, so you know this already, but how many people know that my first piece of writing (and prize-winning, published piece at that) was a poem I wrote when I was in 4th standard? It was about summer holidays if I my memory serves me right...

  • I have a large circle of acquints, but it takes some time for me to become a friend. So, I have very few, but extremely close friends, and we are (mostly) together from our 3rd-4th standard. Yes, you guessed it, we form The Knights of The Round Table. (That post just keeps getting postponed).

  • I find it very very hard to be serious, and I can make fun of almost any situation. I have found it helps keep me the sane, well balanced person I am (no snickering at the back there, I can hear you)

  • I am normally found pulling somebody's leg. The victim can be anybody, and even though teaser can be teasee anytime on The Round Table, I am the person who is the teased least, or hit least (Offense is the best defense, you know)

  • I am a movie buff, and though the number is reduced in last year, I used to watch at least 2 movies every weekend when I was working. I guess I haven't missed any single good (and sometimes bad) movie when we were in college either. I can foretell what is going to happen in almost any movie (which is not saying much, I know) Yes, I have watched movies like Jis Desh mein Ganga Rehta Hai, Yaadein, and recently Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. Which just shows, I have a lot of patience...

  • I am an confirmed fan of Sherlock Holmes. I have read and re-read the books at least 100 times (in fact, if my memory serves me, this was the first English books set I bought, ever). Given my slightly bad memory for names, I can recite the whole plots of every single Sherlock story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, ever, along with its salient points, and recite the name of the book Altamont slipped the von Bork, instead of naval signals, from memory...

  • OK, let's get some things over with. I still read comics like Tintin, Asterix (though I don't like Chacha Choudhary and public that much), Enid Blyton's books and many children's books. I can watch (good) cartoons for hours, and I am a great fan of “Laurel and Hardy” (while we are at it, why couldn't anybody get the references at the end of this post? What are they showing the children now-a-days?). And, I love chocolate in any form.
    In fact, now you mention it, I must agree, I am a child at heart. (Send all your chocolates to my address, none will be wasted)

  • Last but not the least, I can read almost anywhere. I read while I am walking to college, I can read while brushing my teeth, tying my shoes, getting dressed. That, combined with my excellent reading speed, gives me an edge over normal readers, so that I can bombard people with my book reviews. I have finished an entire Champak (when I was in 6th I guess) riding pillion on a scooter in 20 minutes. I have finished the 5th book in Harry Potter series (an 870 page volume) in less than 13-14 hours, in almost one sitting (the day before my project orals in my last year engineering, which is no less an achievement).

Question 3:
And this is where I get to choose my victims... *evil laugh*. You know who I mean...
So, after thinking for a long time (about 2 seconds) about who should the persons I would like to perform open-soul surgery on, I have come up with:
1.Sid (he is always ready to take up tags like the good fellow he is)
2.Silverine (though I think we will get more material out of her brother M)
3.Deepa (she seems to have taken a sabbatical from blogging, which has extended way beyond my patience)
4.Nikichan (of course, the owner of cute mee-chan must be here, right?)
5.Keshi (of course, I would like to know more about the hot ghostess apart from coffee and blueberry muffins)
6.Cuckoo (did you seriously think you wouldn't be in the list? No chance of “later” here)

And, of course anybody who wants to take up the tag, please do so... and please leave a comment here so that I can visit you in the hospital with the Get Well card after your open-soul...

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:
Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.
- Peter Ustinov (1921 - 2004)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pu La....

Update: This post, along with all my book-related posts have been shifted to my new blog.
So please click on

"Vyakti ani Valli"

for reading this post on my new blog, or
"Lazy Habits of Thinking"

for my new blog.

“[If the people in this book come alive and meet me,] I will embrace them warmly!”
P. L. Deshpande (when asked about characters in Vyakti ani Valli)

Almost any marathi person's introduction to PuLa is reading “Vyakti ani Valli”, “Batatyachi Chaal” or “Asa Me Asa Me”. These books, along with his other comedy stories are so engraved on marathi psyche, that just the mention of the names of characters is enough to invoke laughter.

Vyakti ani Valli;” consists of twenty character sketches of fictional characters written from around 1944 to 1968, but we can see those character traits even in people we meet today after so many years. And I think that's why PuLa is so popular even today.

The characters come from various backgrounds, are diverse in their traits. But almost all of them have one thing in common. They all form some part of tragedy of life, and when they try to fight their lives, that's what causes the idiosyncrasies which are the root of the comedy in their life.

So, you meet Narayan, a complete nonentity, but who is the omniscient, omnipresent being in the marriage hall. He is the person who is nothing in normal life, but he is The Person who ensures almost single-handedly that any marriage preparation he is part of will go without any incident, while remaining completely in the background.

And you have Gampu, who is known as Paropakari Gampu (Philanthropist Gampu), born to help others. You can recognize this person easily, as he is the one who will come to invite you to his marriage and tell you while leaving, “I saw some good rice in the market. Will get it for you once I am free from this marriage stuff.” In the same mold is Bapu Kane, who is born to be a secretary of every organization he sees. He doesn't differentiate between an organization which is in birth control and one which helps families arrange funerals.

All these people are nothing if seen outside their “expertise”, are extremely poor to boot. But they don't have to do anything to get their roles when their time arrives, and they have all the qualities (even slight arrogance) when it comes to finish their work.

And then, you have Sakharam Gatne (one of the most famous sketches in the book). He is the shy school boy who eats books as often as he breathes, speaks in Perfect Marathi (which is something beyond even written marathi, think about using words you read in your friends GRE books in normal conversation). And when the writer gives him the message, “Be loyal to literature” along with his signature, he is so faithful to literature that he refuses to marry.

And on the other hand, you have Namu Parit (parit = washerman), who has all the characteristics of successful laundryman: he breaks buttons, steals clothes from his clients (not steal, he wears them in front of same clients) and never gets the clothes back on time. On top of that, he drinks, has some other ahem... unsavory pursuits and is completely unaware that anything he does is wrong. Also, you have Babdu, who is the dada of his class in school, goes to jail on false charges, and comes back in writer's life for a day as a successful smuggler. But at the same time, he hasn't forgotten the laddus writer's mother once gave him, or his english teacher who was the only one who met him in jail.

Then there is Lakhu Risbud, who is an embittered writer, who wanted to change the world by his writing but instead ends up in an assistant-editorship in some second rate magazine. Also, the nameless person who is only recognised as “He”, the person who sells his scholarship to others and helps them gain recognition. “He” has created so completely his own reputation as a deceiver, that when writer gets to know his real story (“He”'s thesis advisor steals his thesis and gains recognition publishing it as his own), nobody believes him.

Then you have representative of all the poor in wealth, having characteristic sarcastic edge in their comments which can cut you to quick, but underneath all are big-hearted people in Konkan area, Antu Barva. Also, the representative of all the teachers who are devoted to their profession, Chitale Master (a teacher is called master in marathi). And who can forget 100% Pestonkaka, the perfect Parsi gentleman of yore. These characters are so representative and so completely part of marathi life, they shouldn't need any more introduction.

There are many others, but there are three characters which in my opinion, form the peak...

Nanda Pradhan, the cursed angel. He is a friend of writer's from college. This is a person whose mother ran away with their neighbor and father died when he was very young. This is the person whose wife was a jew in Germany, when he was there at the time of second world war. This is the person whose almost only love was unfortunately a daughter of an embittered old man, who asked her to choose between Nanda and feeding her three small brothers. Though he is the only person who was paired in almost every cute girl in their college (and who would have given “walk-over” by any boy in college in any affair), he is completely detached from life.

Natha Kamat, the eternal lover. He is the first one to know the complete biodata any new attractive girl in whole Mumbai. People can tell which parts in Mumbai have what quality in girls department by where he stands in local when the station arrives. He is the first one to visit all the colleges first thing in June, the day colleges open. He opens and closes many “accounts”. He gets many “cuts” in love life, but the only one which goes deepest is the girl who marries first the college hero and then a major in army, before killing herself.

Bhaiyya Nagpurkar, the so-called “gunda” of college. This was the first character sketch written by PuLa of the ones in the book. Bhaiyya is navabi, born with golden spoon in his mouth. He loves drinks, music (mehfils) and everything that comes with it. Though he is “brahmin” by birth, he is often mistaken for a muslim because of his mannerisms, not to mention his mastery of sarangi. He is recognised as the “mavali” (=tapori) by almost all, but he has photos of Mahatma Gandhi and autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru in his room. He drinks, but is not enslaved by it (and feels for the poor who spend all their earning in drink), and decidedly keeps away from drink for all the days Gandhiji was fasting.

I can write on and on and on about the book. But I guess saying that this is one of the few books which can score negative 10 on the Book(?)...err scale should tell you what I feel about it.

P.S. Read introduction about Pu La, here.

For all people asking for english translations, check out this excellent translation of "Chitale Master"...

The Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:
He was a genius - that is to say, a man who does superlatively and without obvious effort something that most people cannot do by the uttermost exertion of their abilities.
- Robertson Davies, "Fifth Business"

Friday, September 22, 2006

What Happens In Your Bedroom At Night?

What is the best thing to do in bed at night? What are the things you should not stick in your microwave oven? What are the things that go “boom”? How much weight can you lose in 4 hours? Does the duck's quack echo? What is the best thing to drink after eating hot and spicy food? Do you really believe in science?

If you have these and similar questions, watch “Brainiac: Science Abuse”... the program where they abuse science in the name of entertainment. Or in their own words, “the program where we put science in tight underwear and give it a wedgie”.

I caught the program first when I was in Germany. Flipping channels and ruing the shortcomings in my education (to wit, not having learnt German), I came across a British program, which started off with a bang, literally. And from then on, me and my friends were totally hooked onto the program. Of course, I think it is prudent to mention that the beauties in “Explosive of the week” or the pretty professor who sees “Which fruit floats” had nothing to do with our fascination (OK, very little to do).

After coming back to India and then in US, I constantly surfed the radio waves, trying to find a channel which shows this program. Not much success, although there were some similar program on US Discovery channel (Mythbusters). I was really missing this program... and finally, after much searching I finally got the first season. Party time folks...

Now, before you flag me for “adult content”, let me tell you (at least the people who have read so far), that the answer to the question in subject line is that you lose weight (though sweating) and gain height (and also, don't believe in cassettes which tell you that listening to them while sleeping helps your learning). When you combine this knowledge with the knowledge we get for “Fat V Thin” challenges, we learn that it's better not to face hurricanes in the morning. Or be stuck in north pole in just your swimming costume, or be a passenger on titanic. On the other hand, postpone facing blizzards, or that field trip to desert you always wanted to go on for a morning after a good night's sleep (of course, you can also lose almost 2.5 kg in 4 hours if you are in hurry).

If you can't get on that ride in Disneyland due to height, be there first thing in morning. That way, you can get the help from that added height in morning (or worst case, won't have to wait in line for hours on end before learning the bad news). Also, following things are better out of microwave: a light bulb (of course, the glow is simply great), CD (although it cracks with a beautiful lighting pattern) and a balloon of helium (unless you want the microwave to burst).

If you want to get somewhere in hurry, you can build a hovercraft out of items you get from a store (but don't rely on it to cross The Channel). You can also stick a container of compressed carbon dioxide on it for adding the extra bit of speed, as CO2 has conquered land and water (though space is still conquered by bottled water and compressed air).

But there is a bad news for all of us. If you heard that looking at women's breasts for 30 minutes is equivalent to 30 minutes of exercise, unfortunately it's not so. Also, a duck's quack echoes. And apparently, imagining your interviewers to be nude does not help in case of an attack of interview nerves.

Remember that the cooking oil used in our kitchen is the slipperiest oil, and you can rely on masking tape to hold your weight for almost 20 minutes before giving up. Milk is the best drink if you want to soothe your tongue after that hot and spicy food you ate. Sprouts are the food to avoid if you don't want smelliest f&%t.

Mobiles may not detonate the petrol fumes, but keep your nylon (or synthetic) clothes at home if you want your friendly neighborhood petrol pump to be still in place after you fill 'er up. Unbreakable safes are, unless confronted by a Challenger 2 (in which case, you might as well say good bye to the stuff inside the safe as well as the safe, so that's fat help). But most of the unbreakable household things aren't (of course in normal conditions, they won't have to deal with detonating helium).

For all sportspersons: While it's best to get out of way of a speeding cricket ball or hockey puck, if you want to be a dare-devil, guards are most important thing to wear. Have no sports drink when you are back after playing? Mix equal amounts of HCl and NaOH. And while sports drinks go in faster, lager comes out faster and more.

And finally, remember that easiest recipe to toss a salad, make chips or have a kebab is
1.Mix all ingredients
2.Stick an explosive charge in it.

Now, on to Season 2... Brainiac...

P.S. Check out the Tickle'e Teasers.

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:
If you were on a plane going the speed of sound and walked from the back of the plane to the front, would you be walking faster than the speed of sound?
- Jon Tickle

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Blog About Blogging...

I promised Nikichan I will do this tag, and I keep my promises...

So, here goes the tag...

  • Are you happy/satisfied with your blog with it's content and look?
    - Look - Not completely, can be improved with some more effort, which I will put in some day.
    Content – not remotely.

  • Does your family know about your blog?
    - Not my parents, but my cousins know about my blog, and read it sometimes (at least that's what they say)

  • Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog or you just consider it as a private thing?
    - No, I would like my friends to read this blog. I know most of them don't, which might explain our continued friendship. Still, they don't know what they are missing, and I would like their comments sometimes.

  • Did blogs cause positive changes in your thoughts?
    - Reading blogs? Oh definitely. I am much better writer now than I was before I started reading others' blogs. (I bet you can't imagine what a bad writer I was before that now)

  • Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or you love to go and discover more by yourself?
    - I am Marco Polo and Hiun- Tsiang rolled into one when it comes to blogs...

  • What does visitors counter mean to you? Do you care about putting it in your blog?
    - I have a visitor count on both my blogs and an account at Google Analytics (which I check at least once a day). Go figure...

  • Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?
    - Not real pictures. But yes, I try to imagine how my fellow bloggers would look like (except the ones I already know, no imagination involved there of course)

  • Admit. Do you think there is a real benefit for blogging?
    - When I am down, sad or bored, or when I have something better to do, but don't want to do it, I blog... or read blogs.

  • Do you think that bloggers society is isolated from real world or interacts with events?
    - No isolation here. Bloggers blog about real world events (mostly). Of course, given the fact that it is personal POV, I keep a dish of salt near my PC.

  • Does criticism annoying you or do you feel it's a normal thing?
    - Criticism makes me write better, and of course I can just ignore the comments I don't like any time I want ;)

  • Do you fear of some political blogs and avoid them?
    - I don't fear anything, nor do I avoid any blogs as long as they are not seriously political. (Hooked onto “The Colbert Report” currently, so you know my inclinations)

  • Did you get shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?
    - When I said blogger society is not isolated from real world, I didn't say anything about me. So, which bloggers got arrested? When? Where?

  • Did you think about what will happen to your blog after you die?
    - I would like somebody to push the “Publish” button on my last post (which will be written in anticipation very soon), which would be like my epitaph. And all those who don't comment on that post, you better not believe in ghosts.

  • What do you like to hear? What's the song you like to put its link in your blog?
    - My song? “Main Aisa Kyoon Hoon” - Lakshya. That's what I am. For others though, "Aane Char Aane" - Lage Raho Munnabhai

  • Five bloogers to be the next "victims"?
    - Since I don't want to be a victim, I throw this open. Anybody got time/inclination, do it. Cuckoo, it is not optional for you though ;)

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:
Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.
- Ambrose Bierce (1842 - 1914), The Devil's Dictionary

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Toast To All My Teachers

On this Teachers' Day, I'd like to propose a toast to all teachers...

  • To my parents, because they are my first teachers

  • To my dear sister, because our reputation of “having least quarrels in siblings” is (if I put it egotistically) 70% because of her (and that's patience for you)

  • To my dear niece, who taught me quickly and effectively that “mama is not supposed to get angry”, among many other things

  • To my cousins and brother-in-law, who taught me how to help others selflessly (and are teaching me even now)

  • To my teachers in primary school, who are even now remembered even if I don't remember what they taught

  • To the teacher in my school, who told me that a good boy like me should not be a friend of my best friend (what she had against him, I don't know)

  • To teachers in my school, who used to explode at the least provocation

  • To teachers for whom we were favorites, because we used to be always fighting for first 3 spots in class

  • To teachers who were our favorite

  • To teachers who tried to teach us everything they knew

  • To teachers to whom nobody used to listen

  • To teachers who held the attention of the class for all the time

  • To teachers, whom nobody used to make fun of

  • To teacher, who informed us in 9th std, that "energy crisis is over" (she might have been talking about the chapter, but the choice of words was a bit unfortunate)

  • To teachers who were fun to be with in the class

  • To my college teachers, who taught me many things besides the subjects they were teaching, in and out of class (ok, mostly out of class)

  • To the teachers whose classes I attended who are more remembered for their teaching styles, and whose idioms have become an essential part of our language now (“Kaltay ka kahi?”)

  • To teachers, who produced some gems like "You will be displayed on notice board" and "we need some power to discharge a capacitor", to ensure we never had a dull moment in class

  • To the teacher, who used to line marofy on girls in our class

  • To teachers, who ensured we had free run of department and labs after office hours, on holidays, anytime we wanted, so that we could learn

  • To teachers, who let us go on our "Industrial Tour" without a cheperon professor, and allowed us to come back 15 days after college started

  • To teachers, who let us use any of departmental facilities for creating our magazine and organizing inter-collegiate events, and never interfered in our preparations, but always were ready to help in any way they could

  • To my friends, each of whom has qualities which I would like to learn

  • To many authors (book- and blog-), who are teaching me a lot about how to write (that shows you what is to come, I still fancy myself as a writer)

  • To Sherlock Holmes, because after all, having a bad student is not teacher's fault

  • To Harry Potter, Prof. Dumbledore, Nanda Pradhan, and countless other characters, reading about whom has never bored me, and I read something new every time I read them

  • and last but not the least, to all my readers, and not just because you must be bored holding the glass by now

To All Teachers....

P.S. Hi people, kindly adjust. Apparently, after moving my blog to blogger beta, I cannot comment on the blogs which have not shifted. I can still comment on blogs where blogger account is not needed for commenting, but please to forgive, if I am not able to comment on your posts, at least till Blogger solves this or till you shift to beta.

P.P.S. Kindly adjust again... Thanks to Keshi's suggestion (and Blogger team's too) I have opened a new blogger account just to comment on non-beta blogs (which will be deleted when all blogs move to beta, which blogger team tells me is imminent). So in recent future, if you see somebody named "alias fleiger" commenting on your blog, as you can see, it is my alias.

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
- William Arthur Ward

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Case of Missing Duckling

After this, we decided to raid the studio in order to see the filming of new and improved “Tom and Jerry” episode. But unfortunately, studio was completely sealed to outsiders, and so we could only sneak some hears into the filming. Since there are very few dialogs and almost entire time there is background music playing in cartoon, apparently shouting is allowed on set while filming is on, as long as it is the director who is shouting. In the glorious past [sic] “the shouts of the characters were also allowed and encouraged, as it is very hard to dub the shouts later”, an insider told us later.

We reached the studio to hear the director shouting at the lion, “What are you roaring for? Didn't you get the script? Just smile, you don't want to scare away the children. That's right...” After some time, he was heard directing Tom on his scene, “Why are you looking around the hall? You can't take a nap now, you lazy cat. Do you want our viewers to get lazy? Go ahead, start drinking your milk like a good boy, I mean cat.”

“Ok Jerry, come out of your hole. Why are you peeking like that? No, he won't pounce on you now, you know that. Come out and go to him. No, no kicking, and don't even try to sneak into the fridge. Tom will share his sandwich with you...”

At this point, we spotted a guard, and hid in shadows till he passed by. Next time we got there, we heard the director shouting, “Tom, leave the duckling alone... You are not supposed to eat it now. Jerry catch him, and give him some water. I told you Tom, you are not supposed to run there. Can't you see all of us holding thess big “NO” banners?” At this time, a voice (that was the cameraman, who was exasperated at the idea of shooting the scene again, we found out later) stopped him, “Can't we just keep the scene? I mean, it looked from here like they were both rushing to help the duckling.”

Again the guard, we lost almost 5 minutes again trying to hide. We got back to hear, “Hey, watch where you are landing. You ARE landing, not snatching the duckling, nor the mouse. Just land beside them, and offer your help. Remember your contract. Yes, yes, help them... You know, with power comes responsibility and all that stuff...”

This time, the guard spotted us first. We ran him a merry chase, and just came back in time for, “Tom, no stealing the eggs, remember? And Hen, you are not supposed to peck him. Leave that for your husband. Why are you calling him for? Oh, leave the pecking for later. And you Mr. Rooster, get your sleeves down, no bashing the cat, remember?”

We looked up just in time to see a full company of guards running towards us, and decided that whatever stuff we had till then was enough for the fans. We ran off, and watched from a safe distance Tom chasing Jerry into sunset, both laughing madly. Looks like at least something is going to be the same in new cartoons...

P.S. Apparently, Tom and Tom and Jerry signed their resignation letters (which were forwarded to the new producers along with the entire crews') just after the shooting, and the chasing scene was not a scene. “It was almost like we were filming in good old days” our insider source added later, wiping his tears...

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:
The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.
- Walt Whitman

Sunday, August 20, 2006


O mighty iPod, blessed be thee! Guide us with thy mighty knowledge, o descendant of Oracles (after their Annual Oracle Binge)! O son of Apollo (conceived after he came from a party at Dionysus's/Bacchus') , give our feet the direction to tread the paths of future! O disciple of Narada, help us understand the past, present and future! We entrust our life in thy hands...

This is the tag I picked up from Arti, which actually calls for “you [to] play your whole music collection with shuffle on, ask the question, leave a comment and go to next song.

I deemed my iPod better for this task. It sounded so much like a plankchet or Magic-8 ball that I could not avoid the first para. The references to Bacchus, Binge etc. are due to the fact that currently my music list contains some 1100 odd hindi songs, many of which I haven't heard of (evidence: here) or heard before. So, it all will be a musical trip of discovery for me. So after placing an offering in front of mighty iPod (i.e. After charging it), here goes the tag:

1.How does the world see you?
Main Aisa Kyoon Hoon - Lakshya

Correct, 100/100 to the world.

2.Will I have a happy life?
Such Keh Raha Hai – Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein

Hmm... no more love for me, or am I eternally doomed to be a love-wreck? A pointer please, my dear iPod...

3.What do my friends think of me as?
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna – Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna

Eternal friend and all that stuff, huh? Sure...

4.Do people secretly lust after me?
Right here Right now – Bluffmaster

Saucy... (said in my best “The Mask” voice)

5.How can I make myself happy?
Dilbara – Dhoom

A bit of cross-connection here with question 2, don't you think? Still, tujhse dil lagaoon, mein bhi family banaoon...

6.What should I do with my life?
Aazmale Aazmale – Taxi No. 9211

Ok, I am going to be a love-struck (see 5), broken-hearted (see 2) philosopher (the worst kind). So first chance you see, alert me and run away till I give all clear.
On second thoughts, “Sochta tu aur kuch hai, bolta tu aur kuch hai” - Politician or a successful manager. First sign of anything positive happening in my life.

7.Will I ever have children?
What's going on – Salaam Namaste

Given the context of the song, prospects are good... and bad, I must say. What's going on??? Matches with 5 though.

8.What is some good advise for me?
Paathshala – Rang De Basanti

Lose control? Check... I am a rebel? Check... What's next? Oh yes, chehre ki kitabein and ishq ka practical.

9.How will I be remembered?
Dheere Dheere – Kalyug

So, I will be remembered as a tanha sa chaand, who roshan's sab (lights everything)? Wow...

10.What's my signature dancing song?
Golmaal – Golmaal (new)

Golmaal Golmaal, everything's gonna be golmaal...

11.What's my current theme song?
Omkara – Omkara

Sabse bade ladaiyya re... yup, that's me

12.What do others think is my current theme song?
Aane Char Aane – Lage Raho Munnabhai

Kitne sapne the jo dil mein hi mar gayein
chadhane ke pahile hi parbat se dar gayein
Ab to chandhenge, girenge dekhenge,
Kya hai parbaton ke paar...

13.What shall they play at my funeral?
Tanha Dil – Tanha Dil (Shaan)

Spooky... and philosophical.

14.What type of men/women do I like?
Kajra Re – Bunty aur Bubli

The ones with kale kale nayana? Nope, that referes to Aishwarya Rai.

15.How's my love life?
Shikdum – Dhoom
Do I even need to comment on this?

I tag: Everybody who reads this (I didn't say anybody, so you don't have a choice). Pick this tag up.

P.S. My "new" other blog is now updated: Please check Talons on Board

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:

Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!
- Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (1840-1997)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Some new books, songs and other updates

Since there are still 20 days to go before the school starts, I have infinite leisure right now (even taking into account the small 'work' in library). So right now, I am pretty busy in reading a lot of books (thanks to library), listening to a lot of music (thanks to my friends), and overall enjoying life. I almost filled my 30GB iPod before coming here, sorting through it is going to take me a lot of time. So, here are some random notes about what I have been doing:

  • Read Satyajit Ray's “Indigo” and “Best of ...”. I knew Satyajit Ray was a very good writer (at least since I read Feluda), but his contribution to Indian thriller generations is quite big. Believe me, some of the stories he has written are believably frightful. Not recommended for heart patients. At the same time, I have discovered that reading thriller/horror stories while seating in a virtually secluded corner of a deserted library floor is... well, enough to give you creeps. Case in point: Khagam.

  • Read one book of Prof. Shanku. (Shameless plugging: check this out) Unfortunately no more Shanku books are available in library, and equally unfortunately I cannot read Bengali. Sometimes I feel like I should be able to read all languages just so I can read good books without having to rely on translations. I know what “lost in translation” means.

  • Started “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili” (yey, I got spelling correct first time). For those unfamiliar with the name, it means “Strife for love in a dream” and is the inspiration (or central point) of the book “The Rule of Four”. For those unfamiliar with both these books, it is a book written in middle ages, about a quest by Poliphilo (the hero) for his love, Polia in a dream. It contains a lot of information, and riddles which are still unsolved. And it is HUUUUGGGGEEEE. So huge in fact, that I could not dare to check it out and carry it to my room. I guess I will read it sitting in library.

  • Was planning to start reading “Chandrakanta”. But no english translations exist in library, and my threshold of interest for reading hindi is very very low.

  • Trying to find some more books by Agatha Christie which I haven't read. Very hard to find. Ditto for Tom Clancy and Isaac Asimov.
Music review coming up, so only intrepid should pass.

  • Lage Raho Munnabhai” songs are too good. “Chaar Aane” and “Bande me tha dum” are excellent. For anybody who has heard them, can you imagine the famous out-of-park dance in “The Mask” done on the tune of the remix of “Char Aane”? But meaningful lyrics with something except love after a long time... I have heard these continuously for last 3 days, since I got them. Desperately waiting for the movie, and somebody who can transport me to the theatre.

  • Didn't know “Phir Hera Pheri” songs are Himesh Reshmmia. The voice sounded weird, but not that weird. I think he is starting to grow on me (horror of horrors) (Update : But the day when I can hear "Aashiq Banaya..." till the end are yet to come. I just skipped the song hearing first Aas..,. so I guess my brain is yet to be addled)

  • There is actually a song called “Meri Jawani Ak-47”... Don't know which movie, don't know who is music director, nothing (not even Google acknowledges the fact, but I heard it)... I would call that "leap of imagination" on part of lyrics writer, if the aforementioned imag. stumbled while taking aforem. l. and slipped while landing, breaking its toe and skull at the same time. (Come to think of it, the skull fracturing won't be a disaster, given the fact that it does not contain anything)

Ok, now I am off to college to work for some time, and get new books. Luckily my roommate gets here tomorrow, so I will have some company. Haven't said a word except on telephone for last 4 days.

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:

My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.
- Edith Sitwell (1887 - 1964)

Saturday, July 29, 2006


You Should Be a Science Fiction Writer

Your ideas are very strange, and people often wonder what planet you're from.
And while you may have some problems being "normal," you'll have no problems writing sci-fi.
Whether it's epic films, important novels, or vivid comics...
Your own little universe could leave an important mark on the world!

Who can go against the fate? It orders me to create a new universe like Bramharshi Vishvamitra or at least (compared to B.V.), Isaac Asimov, and I try to fulfill the orders...

Creating a sentient being has long been a dream of Man. Inspired by that dream (and a lot of similar stories), I wrote a story in my third year engineeing which was published in our departmental magazine. Probably the fact that I was Chief Editor (or E-in-C as I preferred) contributed a lot to this. Anyways, re-inspired by Prof. Shonku's "Ashcharya Pranee", I am striving to finish a long-ago-planned project of mine, to translate the story in english. I present to you...


P.S. With this post, I have passed my blog exam, in the true engineering fashion...

P.P.S. Hooked on "Lage Raho Munnabhai" songs.. Waiting for the movie... "Bande me tha dum..."

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:

Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.
- Isaac Asimov

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Getting Back...

I was actually going to write the second part of the travelogue while going to India. But then I thought, I am back in Durham now, and truth to tell I don't remember that much about the journey now after two months, so forget about that. The journey back was more eventful all in all, so I thought I should put it here, and of course I had written the entire thing to my friends in a mail already, so it is easy to post (lazy that I am). Anyways, here is it, after removing the private part...


I reached Durham finally after a looong journey on Saturday night.

Anyways, reached Mumbai airport on 12.30 on Thursday, and reached the Air India desk. It seems there was a place on the earlier flight at 3.30 (which was the one I was supposed to be on from London to New York) had a seat on. Literally like, स्टेशनवर गेलो, conductor म्हणाला आधीच्या गाडीत जागा आहे, बसून घ्या. म्हणून गेलो आधीची गाडी पकडून. Solved a major problem, सकाळी ५ ला उठालो नाही तर सकाळची flight चुकली असती ना... Flight was mostly uneventful, spent some 1 hour in Delhi airport in aircraft, watched Rang De... and Taxi no. again, and watched a movie called Aquamarine. The only event as such was the aunty in the window seat losing her watch one hour into the flight after we left London. Not a pleasent one, but she "saw time at 6.10 and then at 8.15 there is no watch". Sherlock Holmes would have been mystified, as were the air hostesses. Try sleeping when an old man next to you is poking you to so that he can go out... Still no good looking girls sitting near me even though there were some on the flight, some guys have all the luck. The service was good, so was the food, and so now I have effectively survived 4 (ok 3, but the third was a long one) AI flights.

Anyways, reached JFK airport, New York at 3.30 pm on 21st, rushed to immigration. तिथे "रामाच्या शेंडीपासून रावणाच्या दहाव्या डोक्याच्या (सगळी एकावर एक ठेवून) केसापर्यंत" लांब रांग होती. Took me more than 1.5 hours to pass that. Immigration passed good, very happy to see that both my bags got through ok, without missing their way on the way (like last time). But then, I knew this would happen. Then rushed to American counter to get the good news that my flight has already full, since I could not reach there before last call, and all passangers are waiting at the gate. They gave me a ticket on 9 o' clock flight, which was supposed to take me to Durham by 10.30. Then I passed through security and saw that the flight was delayed to 10.50. Oh well, anyways I am going to sleep once I reach Durham, let my friends stay awake for me.

Then at 10.30, they declared that the flight was cancelled due to "Bad weather and traffic control". So I collected check-in bags and rushed back to counter to stand in line for about 2-2.5 hours, and got the good news that they could give me stand-bye (with rare chance of getting a seat) on morning 8 flight, or a confirmed ticket from La Guardia airport at 3'o clock in afternoon. Confirmed ticket it was, and I moved off to see if I can get a place to sleep on the airport. Opened a bag, and started eating the "बाकरवडी" and लाडू, since all the cafes and everything on the airport was closed.

Woke at 7 next morning and took airport bus to La Guardia. Checked the baggage in (again) and went in the security area. The flight to Washington was good, on time, and then the next flight was about 2 hours late. Finally, after waiting for a lot of time in airports and some time in planes, I reached Durham around 10.30 pm on 22nd July, more than 24 hours later than I was supposed to. Slept at about 1-2 am. Was supposed to wake up early on sunday, but had a dream that it was 1.30 pm and I hadnt gotten up yet. So I woke up immediately and checked the time, to see that it was 6.30 pm already. My friends were knocking on the door to see if I was in this world yet. Then I could not sleep at night, and so I had to go through the night without sleep, after which I slept at 6.30 next afternoon, woke up at 2 am, slept at 5 am and woke again at11 am. All in all the time table is completely gone. Calculating the time differences, I have moved from India to somewhere in atlantic near UK, so there is improvement. By this rate, I will be able to get rid of remaining jet lag by tomorrow or day after. And this is the reason I haven't sent mails to anybody till now. Watching TV while half asleep is not a great encouragement to write mails.

And I have noticed two things about my international flights:
1. On first flight to any country, one of my my checked-in baggage gets way-laid. If I have only one checked-in, tough luck.
2. On the second flight to the same country, me and my baggage will be safe and sound, but the flight will be late by at least 6 hours.

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:

Wow, this flight contains a lot of hot men.
- One AI air hostess to another (she was fresh out of academy, in her defense)

Friday, July 21, 2006

4 A Piece

After a long absence from updating the blog, I finally received the “Last Call” from Deepa regarding her tag yesterday. So I thought, I should update the blog, finally...

So, Deepa, here's the tag:

4 jobs I’ve had:
I guess only paying jobs count, so there are only 3:

  • Software Engineer – first job I got, straight out of college

  • Stacks assistant – in my college library, putting books back in place, dream part-time job I can get

  • Programming Assistant – I think thats what I should call it

4 films I could watch again and again:
Many movies will come under this heading and I can watch parts of many more movies repeatedly, and the top honors go to:

  • Andaz Apna Apna - I love eggs...

  • Dil Chahta Hai – beet gayein who din

  • Hera Pheri – Need any comments?

  • Topgun – No surprises given that I am fighter enthusiast.

4 places I’ve lived in:
Let's count the places I have lived in for more than a month (which excludes the places I have been to for long duration camps), and exclude Pune, which is my home town

  • Hyderabad – where I was trained for my first job, 4 months of fun

  • Mysore – where I worked for around 1.5 years

  • Stuttgart, Germany – for 2 months, onsite

  • Durham, NC – where I study currently

4 TV series I like to watch:
No cable where I live, but I watched a lot of TV till I reached Durham, so:

  • FRIENDS – need I say anything?

  • SWAT Kats – T-Bone and Razor, who else?

  • Takeshi's Castle – on Pogo, the only reality show (if you can call this that) I watch.

  • CID – one of the few crime/detective serials which are not unintentionally funny (I had to omit Byomkesh Bakshi from this list as it is no longer aired)

4 places that I’ve been on vacation to:
Of course, I will omit Nasik, which being my mother's place was vacation spot of choice for every vacation.

  • Manali

  • Byet Okha (Dwaraka)

  • Mahabaleshwar (for camp, and more importantly 2 days with my friends)

  • Goa, Kanyakumari, Kodaikanal, Ooty etc (Should not include this in “vacations” list, since technically this was part of our so called “Industrial tour”, but honesty compels)

4 websites I visit everyday:
Barring mail sites, and Google -

  • Orkut – ok, it's not a visit, I am usually at orkut when I am online

  • Google Reader – for keeping track of blogs

  • Cartoon strip websites – that's Sinfest, PhD Comics, CAD and LICD. And Garfield.

  • Blogger – for updating my blog and commenting on others blogs (when in US)

4 books I’d love to read again and again:
Only 4? Ok, then I must limit this to top 4 in the list (And I agree with Deepa, about 90% novels I like are worth nth reading)

  • Sherlock Holmes (The Complete Adventures of ... one)

  • Harry Potter Series

  • Any book of PuLa

  • Mrityunjay – The greatest book on any Mahabharata character

4 favorite dishes:
Difficult question, but here goes:

  • Methi vegetable

  • Potato slices (or what is called batatyachya kacharya in Marathi)

  • Bhel, Panipuri etc chat dishes

  • Any sweet dish (and that is ANY)

4 places where I’d like to be right now:
Aah, Home, Pune does not count currently as I am sitting there. So, I will start from Rank #2, discounting fiction like “with my girlfriend”:

  • Nasik

  • On The Round Table, with everybody in full flow – there is a big history behind this, which will come out soon. Suffice here to say that this was a real table in my friend's house which has seen some of the best hours in our life. This is where we learnt that “stomach ache due to laughter” is not a myth, repeatedly.

  • Any place with my friends – As I said, we don't need a laughter club, its laugh till (and sometimes even after) you drop.

  • Mysore – Ok, I miss the company campus sometimes... there, it's out.

4 people I’m gonna tag:
Many people from my friend's list are missing from blog scene. But still:

Again Deepa, sorry for delay...

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.
- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)

Saturday, June 17, 2006


No updates for a long time, but then try writing a blog when your over-enthusiastic (4 year old) niece is asking to use the laptop (to write A-B-C-D), and when you are moving around in a lot of places. Anyways, now in Nasik, and (hopefully) will update the blog once I get back to Pune as her school started last week.

Sorry all my friends, missed commenting on all the beautiful posts after coming here, thanks to a beautifully slow network, and limited access (can't clog phone line for long time). Will be back in circulation once I get back for commenting.

Deepa, the next post is your tag... will continue with the travelogues later.

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:

If time flies when you're having fun, it hits the afterburners when you don't think you're having enough.
- Jef Mallett

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Travelogue Part 1

This was written sitting in JFK terminal something or other waiting for my flight, and then in the flight to London. The inflight movie (The Californians) is nothing to write home about, and reading Harry Potter VI for about 600th time can be postponed. Not sure when I can upload this given the dial-up at my home, but will try my level best.


“Getting there is half the fun” I know I have said this before, but my trip to India turned out to be pretty enjoyable. Currently I am sitting at JFK airport. In terms of number of flights, half the journey is over. In terms of distance, I doubt even 10% is.

14th May:

7:55 am: I am all ready, packed up and (I) know where to go. When we got up today, me, my roommates and their parents had to get ready early (8, 8.30, 8.30 resp.). But I had a major advantage over my roomies, I wake up pretty early, especially when the day day promises to be good. So, by 7.30 I was all ready, and my roomies were stirring up. This unfortunately spoiled my plans to get a photograph with them in gowns (the graduation variety, not the night ones) and me in my travel gear. So having nothing productive to do (how many times can you check the mail in half an hour) I call the taxi service, knowing that the taxi should be at my door in 5 minutes. Surprise, surprise! The person has no record of my booking, and runs to get me to the airport on time.

8:30 am: In RDU. Trying to check in my bag. I get a good news (what else can you expect from a Tar Heel) that my bag is overweight. After frantic re-packing and movement (mainly of chocolates) I have to check in both my bags, leaving me with only my sac containing my laptop, iPod and the travel documents.

9:30 am: Seating in seat 1A (the front most seat). Pilot asks for volunteers from front of the plane to move back (to balance) weight and I graciously throw in my (truly insignificant) weight in the bargain. And I move back to my customary window seat over the wings. My journey home has started as the flight takes-off.

10:30 am: The flight to DC is late by almost half an hour (weighty problem), so is the flight taking off from DC to JFK. But as I have a lot of time between the connections, the only worry I have is where and what to eat for lunch. McD to rescue as usual.

2:30 pm: Reached JFK. Get across the terminal to collect the bags. Baggage claim area is situated keeping in mind that the average jet-setter does not get enough exercise done in a normal day, and walking is a very good form of exercise. Pick up a trolley ($3) collect the bags, get to the airtrain (thank JFK authorities for the airtrain) and get to the AI counter.

3:15 am: AI counter is just waking up. PCs starting up, personnel logging in. So understandably, it takes a little time to process everything properly. I decide to be adventurous and choose a isle seat. Then the boarding pass printer at the terminal is stuck, and retry-log off & log on-paper in paper out (in short all the normal things) do not work. Maintenance is called and somehow they get the things back to normal. The printer celebrates coming back to life printing 3 copies of my boarding pass, proving to me that PCs are same the world over. The person at the other end of lounge could see the lady at the counter blush.

3:30 pm: Security check done, boarding time is 7 pm. Till then, eat (chips and cookies), drink (chocolate milk and then coffee) and read on laptop (Don't want to use the iPod till its absolutely needed, battery problems you know). Do not have a single WiFi network in the range, so it seems I am out of net-reach till at least London. Let's see how I fare there.

3:00 am (7:00 am in London): Yet to reach London. A very good flight till now, including service and food (no hint of the erstwhile idlis, Silverine) No individual screens though and the movie (The Californians) is unheard of, a typical romantic movie, leaving me a lot of time to read and write. Just helped an Senior Citizen couple fill up their immigration forms. Hope they pass through without a hitch.

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:

The saying "Getting there is half the fun" became obsolete with the advent of commercial airlines.
- Henry J. Tillman

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Status Report

I'm back. After a long time... So, I guess a review of what happened in last 1 month, and what is going to happen in next some months is in order.

  • Exams are over. So, I finished my first year in Graduate school. That's all I have to say on this subject.

  • Watched some good old movies. “Dil Chahta Hai”, “Tere Mere Sapne” and now watching “Saathiya”. (Thanks Lily) Some movies are never forgotten, because of the memories associated with them. Thanks to Citibank and my roomie, can watch “Rang De Basanti” whenever I want.

  • Watched “And then there were none”, on Agatha Christie novel. The only gripe, they changed the end. And I thought only Hindi movies had to have the hero and heroin walking into sunset at the end.

  • Watched “Darna Zaroori Hai”. Not a fiasco as the first Darna movie, some of the stories are pretty well executed. Most of the twists are predictably predictable, but then any hindi moviegoer worth his salt should be able to predict any hindi movie story (even if it is a thriller). Acting is above (expected) par in many cases, even Reitesh (is that the spelling now?) Deshmukh. Only gripe, why did the morning have to come in the end? The movie was 2 minutes too long for me. And still, I haven't found a director who uses silence as well as background music.

  • Watched “Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”. If I didn't know it was kind of parody, I would have picketed the director's house (not sure he is alive yet, still). Holmes was engaged to get married? What next, he was married and his wife died??? And I thought Mycroft was supposed to be quite healthy, if not completely round. But the dialogues are too funny sometimes, and I can forgive the director because he hasn't changed the core of The Great Consulting Detective much. Of course, the references to Irene Adler are too obvious.

  • Watched “Dial M for Murder”. Typical Hitchcock.

  • Watched "Iqbal" after a long time. Great movie. Tried to watch "3 deewarein", got till the second last chapter and the DVD started playing wierdo. Still to watch the climax.

  • Missing a great road trip with my friends here, because I have to finish some work here. They are out for a week, and I have only my laptop and movies to pass the time.

  • Trying to finish “Sands of Time” with my friend. Can't pass one level, even when playing co-operatively. Don't know what we can do when we couldn't pass the Sand King (“uncle” in our language) with full life, and computer feeding oh-so-slowly. Maybe will try again when my roomie gets back.

  • Playing “Silent Hunter III”. Finished one career from 1939 to 1945. Got “Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds”, but my rank was Jr. Lieutenant from start to end. Please tell me how I can get promoted. Started another career, and have advanced till “Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords”. No promotion yet again.

  • Read "V for Vendetta" full 10 comics. Worth reading, and if the movie sticks to the story (except maybe a 16yr old first time pros), I am looking (even more) forward to watching it.

All in all, watched a lot of movies, and played a lot of PC games. Enjoying life as it comes...

  • Last but not the least, going to India on 14th. Will be there for the longest time (without any work) since, let me see, 9th std. From the mails, offliners, scraps, phone calls et al (I love this word) I have got till now, the expectations about me are:

    • I am going to talk with an American accent, and like, start conversations with 'sup dude. (Me, and American accent? That's like, impossible man.)

    • Call taxi cab, and ask for cheque in restaurants. (Fat chance of a taxi in Pune)

    • Start walking and driving on the wrong side of the road (the most probable one, so I am not driving. I am asking my friends to chauffeur for me)

    • Start drinking mineral water only. (Fat chance since I am drinking tap water here, which we use to wash the dishes and all that)

    • And the finest one: Getting down from the plane, I am going to walk to my mother and tell her, “Yeh hai teri noo, teri bahu. Iska naam hoyega Sue. Khas London se pakad ke laya hoon” (Yes, my flight is via London.)

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quotes of The Day:

Haasil kar aaisa shikhar
Parbat ki bhi nazrein uthe
- From the song "Aashayein", Iqbal

Sunday, April 16, 2006

My First (Five) Tags

My first tag... or should I say my first five tags? I have gone straight from Rookie to Ace in one post (One of the few “Ace in a day” in history of the world). Thanks Silverine. This is one big post, so grab some coffee before you start reading. Got some popcorns too? Then here go the fiTags:

5 people who top your shit list and why...

I don't hate any person/persons so strongly that I would want to kill them, or at least hit them on sight. But yes, there are some people whom I wouldn't want to meet in this life.

  • George R. R. Martin: The reasons are detailed here.

  • Politicians: Those who have made the reservations/caste thing a laughing stock of the nation. The laws made by them are just enough to show their vote bank that they are doing something for downtrodden, without the actual needy getting the benefit out of it.

  • Fanatics: In any flavour. Let it be religious kind who think theirs is the only religion and only god in the world, or “movie star fan” types who just disrupted whole Banglore, while saying that government was at fault their star died; they cause at the minimum embarrassment and at extreme inconvenience to the world at large.

  • Sonia Gandhi: I am not xenophobic and I (grudgingly) even respect her as a shrewd politician, but then the Sacrifice drama is being played one time too many for my liking.

  • Mukesh Khanna: Bhishma in Mahabharat was excellent, as was the voice over in Hanuman. But then, even if you copy others to make a so called Indian Superhero, there are some things which you shouldn't do: The Hero having a girlfriend who hates or isn't even aware of his normal person avtar (cliché, ask Luis Lane or Mary Jane Watson), a power hungry scientist (clichier, "paaawar") and a villain who was a good person who turned bad (clichiest, everything from Star Wars to Green Goblin).

Close Brushes with Death/danger:
At least 3 times in my life, I have had death knocking on my door, luckily I was outdoors at the time.

  • We are playing “Hide and Seek” in our yard. I finish counting numbers, and turn around to see all my friends standing on the railing looking at something. That's when I realise that while my back was turned, and my eyes closed, a cobra went past my back to our garden. Now I am a confirmed ophidiphobic.

  • My first bicycle. I am riding the bicycle on the road for the first time. On the slope, I lose control hitting a pole. Just the second I fall down, a minitruck rumbles by my head

  • Me and my friend are on a camping trip with a group. While on the road to Arthur seat, with backpack almost equalling my weight, I slip on the jungle trail. I slide towards the valley about 6 foot before catching a tree with both hands. Otherwise the swift descent was a definite ticket to a swifter ascent.

5 Preferable modes of suicide, in descending order:
There is only one, and I am trying that now, by old age.

5 Guilty pleasures:

  • Chocolate, I love anything that has chocolate in it.

  • Chandoba, Champak, Secret Seven et al. kids' books. I love the stories of Vikram and Vetal.

  • (Re)n reading Sherlock Holmes. I can recite the whole plots with all details (except the names, I am bad at remembering names)

  • Salty Moong Daal, for interested people, you get this from Haldiram's. I can finish 500 gm packet all by myself. It's a legacy from my family, like my liking for coffee.

  • I am a Wordsmith. I love coining new words, even when that is by joining two words together for ease of use. (e.g. FiTags = five + tags)

5 things you never want to forget:

This section was getting a little too big to be made a part of the post. An entire post on this (or maybe 2-3 posts) coming up soon.

5 things you wish to forget:
There are 3 or 4 such incidents. The most harmless and the only one I can disclose without embarrassing the parties involved: my IIT-JEE results (or no-results, whatever you say).

5 really exotic dishes you have tried:

  • Vegetable Pulav (exotic on the account that I made it for the first time, with some exotic ingredients from Mixed Veg)

  • Tiramisu (made by my brother, but not exotic for that reason, but for the taste)

  • Chilli Tofu

  • Kaateri Vaangemasa, a kind of fish, I think. Sorry, can't translate the name.

  • Some fish I tried in a Thai restaurant in San Jose, forgot the name.

5 crushes/loves in your life... in chronological order

Can't remember any more.

Strangest dream you ever had:
I don't remember most of my dreams after the morning after, but the strangest one must be the one containing me, my friends on a trip to somewhere, which included a time travel somewhere in it, where we all travelled to Medieval times and got lost in Pune.

5 most valued personal possessions:
Not in any particular order:

  • My Sony Vaio laptop: My latest acquisition, and believe me, it is great.

  • My black i-pod: second latest, preceding the vaio by about 2 hours.

  • The Mug I got from Museum Sinsheim, showing a concorde.

  • My DSC P-43

  • My book collection: increasing by day.

5 favourite superheroes..... and why:
I don't like Superman, because he is too invincible. I don't like Dark Angel, or any of the X-Men, because they are too dark sometimes. But I like,

  • Peter Benjamin Parker/ Spiderman: A geeky Superhero if there was one ever. Most human of the lot.

  • Tintin: Not exactly tights and cape clad hero, but the first man on the moon. A Belgian young reporter who reports less than he solves crime. When his team of rum-loving, quipping dog Snowy, Captain “Blue-Blistering-Barnacles” Haddock and the Prof. “slightly hard of hearing” Calculus gets on your case, believe that you are busted. Tintin has probably pulled off most escapes from improbable situations.

  • Asterix: With his menheir delivery buddy Obelix (“these romans are crazy”), and the village Druid Getafix (“No obelix” “because I fell in the potion when I was a kid, I know I know”), he is the super duper (secret potion guzzling) Roman bashing machine. And oblique references to recent history (he tells Cleopatra to call the French if Egyptians ever need something like a canal to be built) make it a funnier read. Just don't get on a pirate ship when these people might be on the sea, and keep Cacofonix well tied up and gagged, and the sky will not fall on your head.

  • Phantom: “Phantom is The Superhero” (an old jungle saying)

  • SWAT Kats: T-bone and Razor are one of the first characters/people who started me on my addiction to everything that is flying. I spent many an afternoons (4.30 pm) lying on the couch watching Cartoon Network, just to watch Turbokat foil the Pastmaster's plan once again, and turn Commander Feral into a seething volcano.

Now comes the interesting part. 5 people I tag: Bharath, Deepa, Figo, Kani and Khushal.

Quote of The Day:

You're not Superman you know.
- Aunt May

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ramayan Ramayan

(Say the heading in your best Narad "Narayan, Narayan" imitation)

“Seeta-Ram Chareet Ati Pawan” (the Paa dragged) the only times I have heard these lines were sitting in front of TV or running to get in front of TV, and I am sure many people of you would say the same thing. I don't need to tell anybody who had heard this that the serial Ramayan was extremely famous at those times.

So famous that the traffic on Sunday mornings used to be sparse (the trend taken forward by Mahabharat, when traffic used to be zero). In fact I remember watching a whole episode standing in front of TV shop (/hotel TV) when we were on Banglore for trip one Sunday.

Anyway, the reason I dragged all this history (ancient history for some) out in the open, is: recently I got access to the episodes of this epic, and watching them again refreshed all these memories of sitting in front of TV with the whole family, having the cup of coffee, and getting the dishes of breakfast out during advertisements. Guess many people must have such memories, given the sheer popularity of the serial.

This was one of the first serials I liked on the TV. In fact, I think Ramayan started the whole trend of religious serials (which was taken way ahead by cable channels, so much so that only english channels would be worth watching from all those Gods who visit us through the channels). At least my parents never had problem with us watching this, for the content and after watching again, now actually I am appreciating some of the things about our culture they showed/told in that serial. If the kids are insisting on watching TV, these serials should be recast. It is indeed filled with sometimes in-depth knowledge of our culture. The special effects team was marvellous (for details, see below), and the main actors pulled off very good performances, which actually matched their characters.

But then, the “re”view of the episodes brought some more things to the light, which make these episodes a very good source of entertainment too. For one thing, I am sure the music/song writers must have doubled up as dialogue writers, which must be the reason that each episode has about 80% songs/shlok + 10% music, the rest are dialogues. I haven't yet come across a fully musical episode, but I am sure one such thing is lurking somewhere out there. But this helps when you are watching it again, so that you can forward all these things, and finish a half-hour episode in 10 min.

Then again, kids will be kids and actors will be actors. I am sure I heard little Bharat shouting “Yay!!!” when it was told he got maximum mangoes with his arrows (and I am pretty sure the word originated from “Yes”, giving us a shocking insight into the One Source of All Languages theory). And how many people have noticed the look of incredulity/unbelief/envy on the face of Lakshman when Ram kills Tratika? He has kept his feelings pretty much in control other times, but here, he slipped. And then, when the brothers tease Ram after he is in love with Seeta, the banter is way away from the reality. But then again, they were heros/Gods in ancient times, so may be that will be norm of those times.

But the extras/secondary actors leave much to be desired. The Rakshak mandali normally work by their make-up, and the only acting needed from them is laughing evilly. Still, I am sure the script said that when Parashuram comes in Janak's court after the breaking of Shivdhanushya, he is supposed to be angry. He tries to pull off the Jamadagni, and succeeds in looking as if he is so terrorised that even a cat mewing behind him will be enough for him to run back to Mahendra. The whole scene is so funny, that I was laughing hard even 10 minutes after it was over. The whole sequence contains Parashuram wishing all “Chirayu bhav” etc etc when they welcome him, even if he is angry (try saying something good when you are angry, the effect is irresistibly funny), the Lakshman betting him on about his state and saying we don't hurt Brahman, and the final touch comes from Ram, whose lines when appeasing the old chip off the block (well, they both are Avatars of Vishnu) sound so very insulting.

After I recovered from this, the next episode is spent in all the marriages and all, which are about same as Barjatya films marriages. After the marriages, the whole next episode is spent by everyone asking everybody else not to leave, and live some more days. After Janak to Dasharath, Dasharath to (one of) his brother-in-law, I was expecting the next scene with Vashishth to Vishwamitra, and could foresee the dialogues.

After all the fun, I thought that Balkand was never my favourite Kand anyway, and I shifted my focus to the favourite Yudhdhakand. I guess you must have guessed the subject I am going to talk about next. Yes, the reason many a children lost eyes, and many a brooms lost the sticks in them. The war with arrows (Astras) where the (in)famous special effects team came into their own. The eternally going arrows, with something (either some gas, or some divali-crackers type light and fire) coming out of their tips. When the arrows (finally) met each other, there would a sound, and then one of the arrows would vanish, causing the winner glee and the loser in the bargain much chagrin. I have just seen some of the (famous) Ram-baan returning to his quiver after the exchange. I am sure that's what is called “Akshay bhata”, the quiver of infinite arrows.

And the way Laksham taunts his enemies is, in a word, priceless. And the look on the face of Angad after his tail is retracting in his body after he has talked in Ravan's court is, well imagine the look on your face when something is being pushed into your body, and I mean something the width of your wrist, and length more than your height. After this he challenges the Courtiers/Warriors in the court to move his foot, and the action he does reminds you of a kid throwing tantrum and sitting on the ground.

The first day of war starts with both the sides standing in front of each other and saying “... ki jai” so many times that you start shouting for them to get it over with and start the fighting. And the main players fight in front of a background of war, in which many times the enemies can be seen passing clean through each other.

Well, the post will go on and on, and still there are many episodes to be seen. Of course I haven't mentioned Hanuman anywhere, because his roles in the episodes I have seen till now is minimal. But then, Dara Singh... that should be enough.

I know I have written a pretty bad “re”view (काढलिये म्हणा ना), but then, I guess saying that it is one of my all time favourite serials (along with Mahabharat, Byomkesh Bakshi etc etc) should be enough to show me that I don't think it's a junk.

While we are on the subject, can anybody tell me where I can get Mahabharat or Byomkesh Bakshi episodes?

Quote of the Day:

Television is a new medium. It's called a medium because nothing is well-done.
- Fred Allen (1894 - 1956), on the radio program The Big Show, Dec. 17, 1950

Thursday, March 23, 2006

You know you are...

There are lots of posts about “You know you are ... when” (the blanks meaning anything) on the net. When I thought about those, they were missing some points, IMO. So, here's the missing things, the lists now are complete. You know you are...

  • Getting older when...

    • The girls you (that be you and your friends, matey) liked in high school (Silverine, point to be noted, High school, not nursery) don't look as beautiful as they used to. (and girls who you didn't notice start to take your attention)

    • You suddenly realise that you are the one of the few persons in your friend circle, who don't have a girlfriend, while your friends (girls and boys both) are getting engaged, even married and having babies, left, right and centre (the directions are from your group photograph from some trekking thingy you all did when you were in college).

    • Your life cycle till now is: nursery, school, high school, college, college (undergraduate) and school (graduate). And you are not ashamed that you are going to school even when you are adult now.

    • You are the person the family friends, neighbouring kids and relative kids come to as an expert on (or at least a person who knows) all things college, GRE/GMAT/CAT (whatever you have taken) and career path. (not that that's insulting or I don't like it)

    • You watch the serials you liked as a kid again, and laugh at the things they did back then. This comes after watching first 7 episodes of Ramayana. Everybody knows that they did some funny things about arrows and other weapons (they went on forever and forever, and after they clash, one disappeared causing the owner/thrower of the winning weapon much pleasure, and irritating the loser in bargain), but I just realised that if we take the script for whole serial, the mix will be about 1 parts dialogue to 5 parts music + songs + श्लोक. And as my room mate noticed, we could act better than the extras they had back then, at least expression wise. And how many of you have noticed the envy and a feeling much like “how could he do this” on the face of Lakshman when Ram killed Tratika (or Tadaka or whatever she is called in any language)?

    • You can read this, and resist the urge to try search engines or P2Ps. And come up with most innocent comment.

  • Missing your country (parents, friends, city et al) when...

    • you hear a perfectly cute specimen of American kid asking her father, "डॅडी, मम्मी कुठाय?” (daddy, where is mummy? in marathi)

  • Have been reading a lot of Harry Potter and watching a lot of Friends when...

    • You find Ron and Ross a lot similar (nope I don't think Ron is going to study Dragons or start getting all geeky). But,
      ʹHe's WHAT?' spluttered Ron, outraged, his ears now resembling curls of raw beef. 'She's going out with - my sister's going - what d'you mean, Michael Corner?'
      'Well, that's why he and his friends came, I think - well, they're obviously interested in learning defence, but if Ginny hadn't told Michael what was going on -'
      'When did this - when did she -?'

      Do tell me this is not like what Ross would say, same style.

The Love Story is finally a complete story. The record is finally set straight.

Finished the third and fourth chapters and they are online now. Read the complete story here. The link to my stories is also present under the "I Wrote" heading.

Quote of The Day:

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
- Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), Lady Windermere's Fan, 1892, Act III