Monday, November 24, 2008

A movie review - Vaaranam Aayiram

I happened to see the much hyped Tamil movie “Vaaranam Aayiram” yesterday. Don’t know what public opinion is and how the movie is faring in theatres but I was totally disappointed with the movie.

The first mistake Gautam Menon did was the title. “Vaaranam Aayiram” is the beginning line, of a famous Tamil poem by the renowned Tamil poet Andaal which beautifully illustrates the arrangements for her marriage with Lord Vishnu. "Vaaranam Aayiram" means a thousand elephants. Imagine Lord Vishnu walking in a marriage procession with thousand elephants! And you don’t even get to see Surya walking as his normal self in this movie. The title sets a huge expectation but is not backed up by a good story.

“Vaaranam Aayiram” is a haphazard collection of events. A more suitable name would have been “Nigazhvugal Aaayiram” (1000 incidents) because there are too many incidents to digest. Don’t know if I sound extremely critical, but the title that comes to my mind is “ Oru Udhavakkarai Payyanum Urupidaatha Appanum” (The story of a wastrel son and his useless father).

There is no depth in the father son relationship. The son seems to do whatever he wants and attribute it finally to his father. There is not even one scene that appealed to me though there were so many incidents. A 60’s romance, Drug addiction episode, Kidnap rescue, A 21st century romance (totally illogical) but none of them stand out. The movie looks very amateurish for an established director like Gautam Menon.

In short this is the worst movie that I have seen in recent times and one of the very few movies which I have stopped viewing in between.

A Nostalgic Weekend

I went through a nice romantic and nostalgic weekend. We just completed ten years of married life. That is what started all this. I went back 10 years down memory lane and recapped all the lovely moments over 10 years. I also reminded myself of all those nice Songs which appealed to me in those moments. I have added at least 15 videos to my Orkut profile and there are a lot of songs still left.

I have read in one of Stephen Covey’s books that every relationship should be associated with an emotional account something like a savings account. When you do some good things you get a credit and when you do something bad you get a debit. At the end of the day you need to have a positive balance to keep your relationship going.

My exercise with recapping songs has made me feel 10 years younger. I somehow feel like Marlon Brando feels in the movie “Don Juan De Marco” after meeting Johnny Depp, who thinks he is Don Juan de marco, the greatest lover in the world. The only difference is I have just met myself as I was ten years ago! Just in case you have not seen the movie Brando plays the role of a Psychiatrist who has the task of curing Johnny depp by the psychiatric sessions have an impact on Brando and rekindle romance in his otherwise mundane life.

While Ten years is a landmark to celebrate and be happy about, I feel it is time to unwind and start from scratch. It is time to start working on adding credits to the emotional account.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Second Life

I was introduced to a Second life by my good friend A.G.B. Now don’t let your imagination run wild. It is not a new habit or a real new world that A.G.B has introduced me to.

Second life is a website.

You need to register yourself and download an application and Voila, you are all set to explore a new world.

This new world is a 3D virtual world where you can just let your imagination run wild and create things, things that you wanted to but could not do easily in real life! You can choose your own avatar, build houses, conduct events, meet people, build relationships and so on and on an on. The possibilities seem to be endless. In fact you can even convert your real money into virtual money for this world through some websites and conduct business here. You can fix a price for your creations and make other people pay when they use it. Well there is no escaping from money even in a virtual world!

If you have watched the Tamil movie Anniyan, it might sound to you like th website Anniyan.Com shown in the movie. Well there are similarities, the purpose of this virtual world is to satisfy people’s alter ego in one way. Ambis can definitely become Remos in this virtual world and roam around as Romeos. However I don’t know what kind of an experience it will be to fall and love in a virtual world! Also don’t know if Ambis can become Anniyans and go around killing people. (For the benfit of those who don't know Anniyan or find the names Ambi, Remo and Anniyan strange, Anniyan is a Tamil movie on split personality. Ambi is the soft hero who sometimes becomes Remo a modern romantic guy to impress his lover and becomes Anniyan at times and goes around killing all the bad people he meets as Ambi)

One of the good things about second life that I liked is that you can fly. Yes “You can fly, You can fly, You can fly” as in Peter Pan’s Neverland but without pixie dust. Even before going into the experiences, it really feels different when you have to choose a name for your avatar. Yes, you cannot retain your real life name in second life.

The concept behind Second life is interesting. Imagine you had the opportunity to have a real second life. Where would you start? What all would you do? Would you approach life the same way or would you try and correct your mistakes? Second life helps you have a preview of this.

I didn’t have enough patience to explore this world. May be one of you has and will come back with some more stories and things that can be done which I have missed out.

If this post prompted you to try out Second life, do let me know your experiences with Second life and more importantly don’t forget to thank my good friend AGB.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dr.Kalam's favourite poem

Following up on my ealrier post, I also came across this poem by Dr.Kalam. Titled "Vision", this is supposedly Dr.Kalam's favourite poem out of the ones written by Dr.Kalam himself. I remember hearing him recite this in the wharton interview which I shared in an earlier post but got hold of the lyrics only today. Dr.Kalam apparently narrated this poem in Parliament.

I climbed and climbed
where is the peak, my Lord?
I ploughed and ploughed,
Where is the knowledge treasure, my Lord?
I sailed and sailed,
Where is the island of peace my Lord?
Almighty, bless my nation
With vision and sweat resulting into happiness

A dose of good Music and Poetry

I was feeling very low today. Not really sure why as it had nothing to do with what happened today. I didn't have such a bad day after all.

I had no option but to go back to the magical voice of M.S.Subbulakshmi, particularly the song "Kurai ondrum illai". Thanks to M.S's divine voice and the involvement with which she sings this particular song written by Rajaji, I was brought back to normalcy.

You can listen to the song here. It is actually a video which gives you the additional opportunity to glimpse the heavenly face as well.

Kurai Ondrum Illai

Inspired by the song and its wonderful lyrics, I suddenly felt like reading Bharathiyar's poems but was not sure if I could get hold of one sitting in a foreign land. I started a search on google and was happy to find this site which has all of bharathiyar's works in Tamil.

Particularly liked this one which I had read before but had lost track of over the years. Maybe I will translate it someday in english for people who can't read this and understand. To me it seems like Bharathiyar was in a similar state of mine when he wrote this, though his outlook was more global. He must have been frustrated with the state of his nation and her people.

In essence in this poem Bharathiyar shares his frustration that inspite of knowing very well that conquering oneself is the key for success and knowing that this has been endorsed by all the scriptures, books and the wise men over the years, the people of his nation don't seem to be taking any step towards it and continue to be down trodden.

ஆத்ம ஜெயம்

கண்ணில் தெரியும் பொருளினைக் கைகள்
கவர்ந்திட மாட்டாவோ?-அட
மண்ணில் தெரியுது வானம்,அதுநம்
வசப்பட லாகாதோ?
எண்ணி யெண்ணிப்பல நாளு முயன்றிங்
கிறுதியிற் சோர்வோமோ?-அட,
விண்ணிலும் மண்ணிலும் கண்ணிலும் எண்ணிலும்
மேவு ப்ராசக்தியே!

என்ன வரங்கள்,பெருமைகள்,வெற்றிகள்,
எத்தனை மேன்மைகளோ!
தன்னை வென்றாலவை யாவும் பெறுவது
சத்திய மாகுமென்றே
முன்னை முனிவர் உரைத்த மறைப் பொருள்
முற்றுமுணர்ந்த பின்னும்
தன்னை வென்றாளும் திறமை பெறாதிங்கு
தாழ்வுற்று நிற்போமோ?

Thanks to the internet, I got a dose of music and poetry to pep me up. Just what the Doctor ordered!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Advertising through a Dabbawala

I came across this interesting piece of news on dabbawalas in mumbai. The news item claimed that Dabbawalas in Mumbai have started including pamphlets containing ads along with the lunch boxes they deliver.

I did a subsequent search on dabbawalas in wikipedia and google. I was reassured of the power of google and wikipedia. I wonder what will happen to me if I don't have wikipedia and google and at my service.

Google returned the information that dabbawalas have a website of their own. Here is the link

The site has this introduction which summarises it all

5000 Dabbawalas 200,000 Dabbas Six Sigma certified ISO 2000 certified

From the site it looks like advertising and dabbawalas have been going hand in hand for atleast a year. I came to know of this through NDTV only today.

It is not at all surprising that someone thought of using these dabbawalas for advertising. They have such a big network! Afterall even in this digital page connecting to people personally does matter.

A Tamil Poem - மறக்க முடியாத அந்த கடைசிப் பயணம்

A poem I wrote today.

புத்துணர்ச்சியுடன் புறப்பட்டேன்
உன்னுடன் பயணிக்க ..
நீண்டதொரு இடைவெளிக்குப் பின்
பூங்காற்று திரும்பியது
ஆனால் நான் எப்படி உன்னுடன்?
அந்தக் கடைசிப் பயணம்?

மறக்க முடியாத அந்த கடைசிப் பயணம்
பரபரப்பான மாலை நேரம்
சிக்கி நின்ற போக்குவரத்து
அமரர் ஊர்தியின் நிற்காத
ஹாரன் சத்தம்
மூடாத பின் புறம் வழி
முளைத்த பல முகங்கள்
மூங்கில் படுக்கையில் நீ
அருகில் நானும் தீச்சட்டியும்
உன் முகத்தில் தான் எத்தனை அமைதி?

மறக்க முடியாத அந்த கடைசி பயணம் ..

எத்தனை பிறவிகள் எடுத்தாலும்
திரும்பாது உன் தெய்வீக முகம்
கடைசி முறை பார்த்து
தீயிலிட்டு அன்று திரும்பினேன்

நான் எப்படி இன்று உன்னுடன்
மறுபடி புறப்பட்டேன்?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Tricolour on the moon

Following up on my earlier post on the moon, today is another landmark day in Indian history. The Chandrayaan launched a lunar probe that planted the Tricolour on the moon today.

This I believe was Dr.Kalam's idea. A great idea! India is only the fourth nation to do this. I also liked Dr.Kalam's message congratulating the ISRO team. This is the message I heard him say on NDTV "On children's day you have made the children of India dream of walking on the moon, walking on mars. I am sure in 15 years Indian scientists will make that possible"

I told in my earlier post that I see patterns and faces on the moon and today we officially have the tricolour on the moon!

Talking about Dr.Kalam , I am reminded of another great Indian who was also supposed to be close to children. Today is Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's Birthday. I was not able to see the moon today but if I had seen it, maybe it would have shown the face of one of the greatest Indians, sitting in peace and at his creative best as he was in Ahmednagar fort prison in 1942.

A different Birthday wish

I saw this slightly different B'day wish in the daily mirror for Prince Charles on his turning 60 today

"Happy 60th birthday Prince Charles but long live the Queen"

You can read the article here

Apparently "The mirror" conducted an opinion poll on the future of the English Monarchy with 4200 people and 89% of them wanted the Queen to continue and felt that Charles should wait to become King.

An interesting Birthday wish well summed up in one line by the mirror!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

India's date with the moon

Chandrayaan has gone into lunar orbit today. A landmark in Indian history as India joins the exclusive club of only six moon farers in the world.

The moon plays a great part in everyone’s life. The attempts made to land on the moon and the different lunar missions over the years prove the fascination man has had for the moon. I am no different and I simply love the moon.

Enough has been said about the moon by poets and authors all over the world. I don’t know if I have anything different to say but I just wanted to write this post on the moon, thanks to the Chandrayaan and the team of ISRO scientists who launched it.

The moon has been a great source of inspiration for me and the relationship is longstanding right from the days my mom used to show me the moon to the recent days when I have shown it to my daughter. I always think of the moon when I am low on confidence thanks to some internal politics which has become a permanent factor in organisations these days. I like the moon’s attitude; it carries on just the same though it is masked by the sun for half the day. It vanishes completely and then rises from scratch to a full moon. The moon carries on pretty much the same, though how people see it differs thanks to some external factors like the sun. The moon goes to prove that everyone can get their turn and share of limelight just by being themselves. External things like internal politics are only short term and can’t mask someone for ever.

Sometimes I think of the sun as the hare and moon as the tortoise. Don’t you agree that the sun wastes all its energy trying to defeat the moon but ends up losing and moon surfaces finally as the winner! Have you ever heard of the sun inspiring poetry?
The sun reminds you of work, your duties. The moon lets you relax and unwind!

There is one other thing about the moon which makes it very close to me. I sometimes see some patterns that resemble some familiar faces. Thos familiar faces of so many people I have been associated with in life, through books, through their music, through poetry. Sometimes it is my mom, sometimes it is the Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathi and at times I see Jawaharlal Nehru smiling at me. Whatever be the face it has always been interesting to decipher. The moon not only reflects the sun's light, it seems to reflect my feelings as well.

The moon will always be a special part of my life. What is your experience with the moon?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On Quotations and Contexts

Oscar Wilde had to say this about the passion for quotations

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

Well this is one of my favourite quotations!

I send out a quote every morning to a considerably big list of people in my address book. It is not that I borrow these words and try to mimic people it is just that I feel it is a good way to start a day. I think I just imbibed this habit from my earlier bosses. Sometimes I wonder if I am shooting these quotes just like the sun not knowing if people really find it relevant but once in a while I stop sending these quotes and someone comes back to me asking to start again. That keeps me going.

I came across a few interesting quotations from Sports people, thanks to the Blogosphere.

“Everyone has a plan until they're punched in the mouth” from Mike Tyson

Some really good ones then by Yogi Berra thanks to JPs blog

Wikipedia claims that Yogi Berra has a tendency towards malapropism (a new word for me) and fracturing the English language in highly provocative, interesting ways.

Am giving some of the good ones below. You can get the complete list from Wikipedia or Wikiquote

"Nobody goes there no more, it's too crowded!" - This was his response when asked why he no longer went to a popular St. Louis restaurant.

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
This was said when giving directions to his New Jersey home, which was equally accessible via two different routes.

"It ain't over till it's over."
This was when his team 1973 Mets trailed the Chicago Cubs by 9½ games in the National League East; the Mets eventually rallied to win the division title on the next-to-last day of the season.

Leave alone the context where these were said and just look at the quotes. Isn’t it amazing how people pass a remark which is business as usual for them but the remark has relevance in a wider context and can be interpreted in different ways?

No trick Only treat for Obama

It is all treat for Obama a week after Hallowen. I hail America and all Americans for the recent presidential election results.

What impressed me was that people have given priority to current issues and have also gone for a younger person over someone with huge experience.

The media says Barrack Obama has made history. I think it is the American citizens as a whole who have made history by giving preference for the above two points over something trivial as the Colour of the skin.

I have listened to Martin Luther King Jr's powerful "I have a dream speech" fully and he makes the following remark in that speech.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

It is arguable whether King's dream has fully come true given that Obama is African American but I think it is great to see it atleast partially come true. This must have definitely made Martin Luther King stir in his grave. This is a defining moment and borrowing words from King himself, this is not an end but a beginning.

At this moment when the world is showering praise on America for a bold decision, I wonder how good it will be if we get some fresh faces in the Indian political scene as well. Does destiny have this in store for mother India in the near future? Isn't it upto the people to shape a country's destiny?

An Incomplete Poem

An incomplete poem written in July 2005. Have never been able to complete this ever since.

இதற்குத்தான் பெற்றாயோ என் அன்னையே ..

உயிரெல்லாம் உறைந்து போகும் ஓர் நொடியில்

மலர் போன்ற உன் முகமும் மறைந்து போக

விட்டன என் கைகள் எரியும் நெருப்பை

இதற்குத்தான் பெற்றாயோ என் அன்னையே ..

The end of Windows 3.X

I read this news on bbc website today

I don't know if you have used windows 3.x. I have used it for a year in 1999 when I was in the US. I used to do production support from home for a legacy system.

I remember waiting patiently for 10-15 minutes several minutes to even get connected to the client network when I had a priority issue that had to be solved in 1 hour. Those were the days when netscape was popular as a browser and we were still using MS DOS. Windows 3.X was very primitive though it did throw out some better OS in those days like IBMs OS/2 , APPLE MAC just because of the GUI. It is supposedly microsoft's first GUI based OS that was a great success but believe me we have come a long way .. It was however good to read this article and to come to know that windows 3.X was used as an embedded system for powering in-flight entertainment on aircrafts. Didn't know that earlier.

Though this article made me conscious of the increasing grey hair on my head, it did remind me of some good old days. Long long ago .. So long ago .. when I was a developer.

Bradley effect

I Came across something called the Bradley effect on the news channel thanks to the world attention on American presidential election.

This is what Wikipedia has to say on Bradley effect

I think it is not only about black candidates. This theory has a wider context which is that in general people prefer to say what is more acceptable and fashionable rather than what they actually feel when it comes to opinion polls.

I have always felt that opinion polls are more a creation of the media to build a hype rather than something useful. I think this theory makes sense and there are enough examples that stand testament to that.

Will the Bradley effect influence the current polls and prove the opinion polls wrong? We will have to wait for a few hours to see ..

Unlike Poles?

This is more of a followup to my previous post. I was just looking up James Carville on Wikipedia. There was this small section at the end on his personal life.

James Carville who is a Political consultant for the Democratic party and was managing Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign against George Bush is now married to Mary Matalin who is known for her association with Republican Party and worked for George Bush on the 1992 campaign. They got married in 1993.

Sounds like a real life version of "You've Got mail". It is known that "Unlike Poles attract each other" but in this case I am not sure whether to call these two like poles or unlike poles or "like unlike" poles.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama vs Mccain!

The whole world is waiting for the results of the American presidential elections. The Press has gone all out to create a big hype that this is a historic election. This election is supposed to be historic no matter who wins and the media has collected lot of firsts .. The first African American president or the oldest president in first term or the first women Vice president and the list continues.. Obama or Mccain?

I am glad to say that I don't have any political leaning be it the US or India. This post has nothing to do with the elections, it is only about election sentiments!

You might have heard about the sentiment that Barrack Obama has. It seems he plays basket ball on the day of election. Apparently he has done so in the past and won and he didn't do a few times and lost. I heard on the news that he is going to find time to play basket ball today amidst his busy schedule.

Here is an article on the superstitions associated with some of the people who are part of the campaign.

The one that stands out is this:

"Barack Obama’s Ohio campaign manager Aaron Pickrell has neither shaved his face in a month nor has he shown up to the office without his Columbus Clippers baseball hat. Apparently he associated Obama’s uptick in the Ohio polls in late September with his personal hygiene and wardrobe choices at that time, so he kept the look."

As if that is not enough this article quotes another extreme case of compromise of personal hygiene for electoral sentiments which Aaron Pickrell has not been able to match.

Apparently James Carville, campaign manager for Bill Clinton in 1992 took a decision not to change his underwear for an extended period of time when things were going well for Bill Clinton.

Superstitions and Sentiments! Are we in the 21st Century?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nasa's Zero gravity pen

Came across this interesting piece of information today.

"When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered the ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and Million dollars to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300C.

Russians were faced with the same problem and they used a pencil."

Did a subsequent search and found the following article which claims
that the pen was developed by Paul Fisher and not by NASA.

Irresepective of who spent the money I think this is a good example to illustrate that the Costliest solution is not necessarily the best!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

An attempt at Haiku

Haiku is a Japanese form of Poetry mainly used to describe nature, the uniqueness being its limited syllables.

I remember having a discussion on Haiku with the threesome of my sister, my mom and my wife on a lovely night on the terrace, several years back. We even tried some sample ones, the theme being clouds. I don't remeber the ones I said that day but for some reason I was reminded of Haiku again yesterday and I tried some out again on the same theme.

காலையில் நிலவோடு ஊடல்
மாலையில் வானத்தின் வெள்ளைக் கொடி

வானத்தின் அடங்காத காதல் பித்து
கிழிக்கப்பட்ட தலையனைகள்

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Mahatma's lighter side

I watched an interesting documentary on the Mahatma in Youtube. It was in 5 parts. Here is the link for one of them

Some interesting things I learnt about Gandhi mostly his lighter side thanks to this documentary.

It seems Gandhi’s highest ambition when he first came to London to study law was to become an English gentleman. It seems he sported a top hat and silver tipped cane and even took lessons in dancing, violin and French in an attempt to become one.

In 1930 Gandhi was arrested for the famous Salt march and then released subsequently by the Viceroy Lord Erwin due to international pressure. The Viceroy offered Gandhi a chance to negotiate and Gandhi went from prison straight to the viceroy’s house. He was offered warm water as per his request. It seems Gandhi took out a packet from his loin cloth. The viceroy was curious and asked him what it was and Gandhi said in a hushed voice, “Your majesty, don’t tell anybody. This is the salt I made illegally” and added that to the water and drank it in front of the Viceroy.

Gandhi travelled to London in 1931. Apparently he travelled 3rd class and in London stayed with the poor in East London.

Gandhi was invited to the palace for Royal tea and was criticised for appearing before the king in a loin cloth. Gandhi’s response to the criticism was “The King was wearing enough for both of us”