Monday, October 31, 2005

Diwali for Indians,halloween for Lankans


Bring on all the milk jokes,he won't mind.As long as he drinks 2 glasses and then makes the opposition look like cows running on the green grass.
Think Diwali,the firecrackers came early for India.Some special rockets-10 of them,and all of them had firebrand Dhoni stamped all over them.The disdain and authority with which he hits is beyond belief.There are other hitters too,just yesterday I saw Kemp hit Shane Bond out of the ground for probably the biggest six I've ever seen,and I've seen many.He hit that 6 when his team needed 9 to win from the final over.And of course he hit the next ball for 4.That was different.So was KP's bludgeoning of Oz attack or Freddie's massacre,and Gilly's riot of runs.They all manage to look graceful,bookish sometimes,sometimes.This man doesn't care.He holds the bat like a mace and is ruthless as you would expect a mace holder to be.You don't get 183 from 140 odd balls just like that.Or hit 10 sixes just like that.10 sixes,huh,that could be the number entire Indian team hits in series,without Dhoni that is.His only method is that he has no methodat all.What else could probably explain this onslaught with the weirdest backlift and follow-through where his bat comes from as high as his chest to as high as his head-all while hitting the ball.No need to wonder where the power comes from.
Now think Halloween,and Dhoni's blue uniform could be the scariest uniform that the Lankans would have seen any halloween,and the ghost of this innings would haunt them for I don't know how many more halloweens.This could scare anyone.

The summer before last,while I was back home in Jamshedpur,there was a Ranji match of Jharkhand vs. Kerala at Keenan stadium.I wanted to see that match,all because I had heard that a certain wicketkeeper batsman called Mahendra Singh Dhoni was making waves all over and was on the verge of a first team place.I asked my friends to accompany me,but as expected I got the dude-who-goes-for-a-local-match look.I wasn't disheartened though.I went and managed to catch the major part of his 47 ball 94 against Tinu Yohannan and co.,and I had a feeling back then that I would see innings like this on TV,from him.Come the Pakistan series and I saw that Dhoni mode when he scored 148 off 124.Today he just went one level higher.And I feel lucky that I just caught a rising star while he was still rising.And feel proud that a small town boy from Jharkhand is having his day in the sun.And I just pray that he has many more such moments.

Now to quote my Yahoo! status message:

Jai Dhoni!!!! Jai Jharkhand!!!!

Among the Believers

I buzzed Krishna to see if we can go out and play basketball or cricket(he's a pro at both :P).He in turn asked me to accompany him to a thing called 'Urban Buffet walk' with Zainab Bawa as the guide of sorts,where we would wander down the lanes around Masjid area and observe the localities during this Ramadan time.All under the pretext of tasting the delicious food of course :) .Half dead by the mess food we have been having for long,I couldn't resist the offer.
It was an amazing coincidence that while I'm reading the book (all details here) with that title,I actually got this kind of an oppurtunity.Now I'm reading it with an added interest.

There couldn't have been a worse time to get a phone called from Mom who briefed me about the bomb attacks in Delhi and told that Mumbai too was on red alert,so not to travel too far.This was at the main gate when we were just supposed to leave.I was too excited not to go.Then while in the auto Krishna too got a call from home and he too was asked to be careful! Moms all round are the same :)

The group of 14 people,5 being fellow IIT'ians,were waiting for us at Byculla station,from where we were supposed to start our journey. Zainab,who was going to be our guide of sorts,told people to ask the food content in case they had an issue with beef.I had only one issue-I don't eat beef,so I missed out on a lot of things others were eating.One place they had this menu which had items listed under 'Tongues','Bheja' and some other really awkward body parts.Krishna wasn't really impressed with that especially with the 'Slurp,Slurp' sound that Rylan and B started to make,to remind him of his choice (tongues of course).You had to choose one body part,better to choose the least awkward.I had something called 'Paya' (trotters as Rylan put it) which was mutton in some very dilute gravy-it was pretty tasteless.Later found out that it was made by the Iraninan method and maybe they like it that way.

Next all places these people were tasting all kinds of 'Kebabs' and 'Tikkas' and I was left to chewing gum-had around 3 in the space of entire journey.We went through a lot of places,one of them was a real eye opener.It was some obscure lane called 'Bacchon ki Waadi',pretty harmless name to begin with.Zainab explained that this was the place where the Mujras happened and the tawayafs lived.She told we could go in,they wouldn't mind.We did go in and it felt like the movies,the ones with all those Kothas where people sit on cushions with harmonium playing while these girls dance in front of them.Some sit outside waiting for prospective customers,dressed up in the greatest superficial make up-face white with powder,lips smeared with lipstick-you'll ever get to see.Needless to say it was highly embarrassing,though quite an experience.And it felt really bad imagining what circumstances could lead to this and what conditions they would be living in now.Krishna and Rylan didn't know what was going on,too less (none would be the better word) of Hindi movies I pointed out.I recommended them to watch 'Pakeezah' to get an idea of the place.To think that all this goes on in a lane you wouldn't know if you didn't know!

We moved through places selling very colourful and embroidered clothes on both sides of the road.A sort of fashion boulevard I thought to myself,only with much,much more involvement and passion as B later pointed out to me.Then there was this Dyer's place where a huge amount of shirts were hanging outside the shop,in 2 storeys of hangers.There were some crumpled red shirts,like the ones B was wearing.So he had found the red shirt paradise,and he took snaps to ensure that other people realised that too.We had a shady sweet on our way,which was later explained to me as being made from a secretion of cow other that milk,something it secretes when it's about to give birth.It tasted like a normal sweet,maybe that's what it was.Das,B and Krishna took 'Attar' from a roadside chap who pestered them pretty persistently.

Right then a very interesting thing happened.One ladyl while talking to Krishna pointed out that the IIT guys had been hanging out together all the time and the others were pretty pissed off at that.All this while when we were being told about the closed community that Muslims have and their sticking togetherness and other facets,it didn't strike to me that we IIT'ians were doing the same.People outside had indifferent opinion about us,and we didn't know and most probably didn't care.I immediately drew an analogy,and went further.I figured out that us IIT'ians were another sort of community,too indulged in ourselves,with our own set of customs and rituals,to interact with others.
It also struck me then that to educate people about us,we should have a guided tour of IIT,I'll be more than happy to be the guide,most probably during Valfi times-where stories of all 4 years of a student's life are dissected upon by merciless friends and hostelmates.The people outside would then come to know of our ignorant set of rituals,our completely different priorities and maybe excuse us for what we have turned out to become.The tour of course would end with a taste of the mess food,which would make them understand why food is so important in our lives.En route we could also show the girls' hostel,people would know then why most IIT'ians have celibacy written on their foreheads,with permanent markers.And the attitude they sometimes show to somehow remove that mark.

Infact the best comment about us came from the same lady,or her friend maybe,who pointed out that we were taking a lot of time eating and justified that by saying-

"I can see by the way that you are eating that you are perfectly starved hostelites"


We smiled sheepishly and said that we couldn't help it.And I bet even she wouldn't if she lived here.See,the tour I proposed would come in handy here too!

Malpua with malai,and Seetafal ice-cream were the two things I ended up the night with.Both of them were amazing,thankfully the best was saved for the last.B and me broke away from the group-B had his GRE on Monday (imagine!!) and I had a prior committment to go someplace else.So with the final goodbye and thanks to all we left,me having learnt a lot about things I didn't know.We should go exploring this city more often.It has much more to offer than what the tourist guide books say.

I met a a senior of mine from school after a long time in the local train.He was not in a condition to talk,it was really amazing how he identified me in the crowd.The conversation,mostly one way,was both insightful and entertaining and not suitable to put here.I watched the NZ-SA ODI before I finally ended the day.Later I found that Krishna,Das and Rylan had roamed around till 7 am in the morning!! Boy!!!!

Today I went to the Suraj water park,courtesy free passes the 2nd prize at the Ent. Quiz in Malhar.I'm sorry Malhar folks for being over critical in my reviews,it was great fun in that park.It was awesome with all those rides and slides doubled by the fact that others around had paid 250 bucks to get in there while the four of us were having fun for free :D .But I'm still angry at the sports quiz folks and I blame them for my 3rd position-so no getting away there :D

Maybe I should do a small post on the Water Park thingie,but if I don't-there,I had a great weekend.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Perception


As the bloke on iitb.general said,this might well be the cover of the JEE brochure next year.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Return of the King

Today somehow I went back 7 years in time.Just 7 years ago,Sachin was batting in a test match at Chennai.Warne was looking for vengeance and he switched to round the wicket,to exploit the rough outside leg,he was at his most lethal under such circumstances.This was going to be the showdown.
First ball,nevermind the turn,the flight,the spin-Sachin got down the wicket and blasted the ball off long-on boundary for a six.The showdown was over as soon as it had begun.Sachin scored 155 (If I remember correctly,and I think I do) and India won that test.Warne spoke about having his famous Sachin nightmares after that match.

The stage was much less important today.The opposition was not that tough.The match was an ODI.But,most importantly,the Sachin was the same.Muralitharan was brought into action in the 5th over after the early carnage by Veeru and Sachin.It was a mini contest when he stepped in to bowl to Sachin.Two balls later,it was a no contest.Sachin despatched those 2 balls effortlessly to the boundary with the vintage shots we were all craving to watch.The first one was a similar advance down the wicket,beaming with confidence.He had found himself again.And I,had seen him return.

He built upon his first match knock and got a 59 ball 67.The way he has played after his return is something we all hoped,rather prayed for.Just being himself again.The confident drives,off and on,the cheeky sweeps and paddle sweeps,the menacing steps down the pitch..ah! It's cricketing heaven again :)

A sad way to end the day though.His partner in crime for most of his opening assaults-Saurav was not included in the team for the next 3 ODI's.I am not a big Ganguly fan,but I honestly think he hadn't done that badly to not be given a chance.OK maybe he has,I'm not sure.Haven't seen enough of him lately.

Most of my favorite players go this way,or even sadder ways.Mark Waugh,Azhar,Cronje...I have a big list :(

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A whole new world

If you look at this map,your first look may lead you to believe that this is some sort of crumpled old map that pirates use to mark hidden treasure spots on.Another look and you would think that this is some child's imaginative portrayal of India as he sees it.

I would have thought that it is the work of a child who wants to become a pirate,had I not known the source of this amazing revelation of a map.It is a part of a site called Dalitstan.org which later branches out into several sections including Tamil and Mughalstan,and of course all of them want to be liberated.

Chitranshu and Yohan while looking for material for a debate bumped into this site.What happened next was that they both spent the entire night browsing through the various facets and parallel truths that this site puts before us.Nevermind the deabte.However serious maybe the intentions of the site owners,unfortunately it does not come out that way to the normal,sane reader.This of course means that site has enough material to keep you amused for many,many days to come.

Once thing that is highly reassuring is the tick mark across Jharkhand.Reassuring because if the site owners,or any of the patrons do come across this page,and more importantly decide to feel offended too,then I have my present home state to fall back upon.

A must visit site.At least they would feel happy that I'm publicising.Who knows,someone may like their ideas and decide to come up with another subtle map like this one.

Gosthan and Gangusthan =))
Next time someone asks me my birth state I'll say it's 'Gangusthan',maybe it will be made less fun of than if I say Bihar.Bored with the same old jokes about Bihar,this might bring out some new ones.

Unbeatable site! And yeah there are many more such maps :D

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Weary Under

There are some difficult choices that you have make in life at times.But,it doesn't get any more difficult than choosing your underwear.Well,sometimes living with what you have chosen gets tough,but certainly not tougher.As the judgement day comes closer (decided when holes occupy more area than the cloth) it's time to share some tips,mostly for my further reference.Lest I forget.

Here comes the do-don't list-

* There is a shop outside main gate rather curiously named Mood Indigo(I hope I don't get sued for this).NEVER go there,even if there is an underwear crisis in the world and it is the last shop that sells those and you have a job interview next day that requires you to come in underwear and your's is pathetically inadequate,NEVER.Well if things really do get this desperate or worse,go alone,don't take friends along.
The reason why I'm telling this is based on the harrowing experiences of friends and myself over the years.A lady in a male underwear shop is never a good idea.They have got THREE! Well it was 3 the last time reports came in.

So you walk in and three not-so-old ladies look at you- typical shopkeeper's anticipatory gaze.You walk to the counter and stand there.

'What do you want?'

You look at your friends and look outside and look here,then there.Your friends can't stop giggling.You gather enough courage.

'Ummm...Underwear?'
'What size?'

What size? What kind of question is that? It suddenly dawns upon you that underwear come with sizes and you don't know yours,never bothered to find out.And you can't just drop and your pants and look at the tag,not here.You suddenly remember your waste size and somehow blurt out.

'Well.....30?'

They start laughing.You look at your friends for help.They already have tears in their eyes.One of them says-

'30 he he hee haaa haaa..abe moron that's waist size,say 85,e-i-g-h-t-y f-i-v-e'

You realise your mistake,slightly late.

'Dude that's your size,how do you know mine?'
'Everyone has the same size'

You look at the shop ladies,they are looking at awkard places.You half expect them to say-
'Turn around,we'll decide that'

They don't,and that's a good thing.You go by what you friend says,thinking to gift him that underwear if it doesn't fit.Anyway you haven't given any b'day gift for long.

'OK I'll go with 85'

A sudden activity results in a minor tower of underwear cartons stacked in front of you.They take out one box.It looks like the sort of thing George Michael or anyone suitably gay would wear into a gay bar.Velevety,shiny and flashy with Tiger-skin prints.

'What is this?'
'The best we have'
'Best for who?'

They smile mysteriously.You begin to doubt yourself.Your friends by this time are almost rolling on the floor.You have a sinking feeling.

'Can we have something else?'
'Sure Frenchie,Boxers,Printed,Plain...'

You utter the first option to stop the pain.

'Frenchie?'

They show a whole lot more stuff,and somehow each one of them looks small.One of friends gathers enough sense to say-

'Abe try them out here,we'll check the size to make sure'

They return into fits of laughter.The ladies grin too.You grab the first piece of clothing,pay and leave.You friends follow,sneering along.Not to mention,the thing doesn't fit.

So do not go there.And ensure that you know your size before hand,takes care of a lot of trouble.Especially at places where they don't have a changing room.

* If you play cricket,proper type with leather balls and pads and all,get your own A-guard and make sure it fits properly.Once one of my friends gave me a tip to wear double underwear to make sure the guard stays in. That day was the closest my human self has come to a blast furnace experience.To add to the woes,I didn't get to bat and fielded and bowled with double underwear all the time in the sun.So either get a guard or quit playing cricket.I quit playing.

* If you are one of those who goes on frequent treks and plays a lot of outdoor sport,make sure you get a good underwear.The last time we had a trek all of us decided that the biggest trouble was not running out of water,not losing the way and fear getting lost,not falling on the jagged stones,not spraining your ankle or hurting your head,not getting bitten by bugs,sucked on by leeches,no sir.It was getting the underwear rash.All those things can heal,pretty quickly at that.Even if they don't people look at you and say-

'What happened,why are you limping?'
'Oh nothing,we just climbed 3000 ft the other day and I just fell off a rock.'

They respect you for that.
On the contrary if you get the dreaded rash and burn,the same people will ask-

'Why are you walking like you have a ten feet pole inserted into your hindside?'

Whatever you say,you won't be forgiven.

So there isn't a substitute for good,clean,nice underwear.Not the velvety type.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A real Cock Fight

Just back from an inter hostel debating event.As an audience that is,came back after watching our team.They did well,but IMHO they had the easier arguments to put forward.

This made me think what kind of debates I like to indulge in.An 'official' debate would be too tough for me,considering my spoken English.And a bit of idealistic crap too.But interesting topics like the conversation that follows would be real fun,instead of the boring ones I've seen.

Canteen.1 month back.

We were having the regular Chicken Noodles when suddenly Rai started wondering-

R:Wonder how they kill these chicks,Jhatka method or the other one.

Me:Yeah some people are pretty rigid about that thing,wonder how they do it?
R:They should use the J method.
Me:Why? We are not rigid about how we eat,at least think about the people who are,let them eat too.And again the packed food company would think about the wider consumer base..so-
R:But think about the chicks.They are killed pretty ruthlessly by that method.J method minimises their pain.
Me:Abe you are KILLING the chick,how does feeling come in between then?
R:At least be considerate before killing,minimise the suffering.
Me:When you are killing that thing,why not think about you? The other method is scientific I guess,heard a lot about blood clotting crap..
R:We have been eating by the J method all our lives,have we ever fallen ill?
Me:No,but we can anytime.
R:We won't if we haven't.I've never heard of cases in hospital where a person is dying beacuse he ate chicken killed by a particular method.
Me:Scientific vs. practicalilty,seen that a lot of times,I guess nothing more to say then.
R:They should learn to eat this way.
Me:Now you are treading on the faith and religion issue mate,and that could take a night and still be unresolved.And the world is debating that everyday anyway.
R:Yeah right and even our Noodle's over.This tells it's time to stop.

So we stop.Chicks continue being killed.Nevermind the method.
And I'm not going into a veg vs. non veg. debate,that I've had a lot of times.This one is different.
See! No laws are going to me made on this.Leave that kind to the parliament.We are not going to be politicians anyway.At least not me.

UPDATE:We came 2nd in that debate.Congrats Krishna,KP and co. :)
A job well done.

Travelling Along

I am reading two travel books currently,of such opposite manners and methods that I might be using them as the definition of the term 'exact opposite' in days to come.Anyone who reads them both may also be inclined to do so,but I leave it on them.

I've just finished the first chapter of 'Among The Believers' by Naipaul.It's a book on his journey through the Islamic nations of Iran,Pakistan,Malasiya and Indonesia to learn more about the most discussed and probably most mis-interpreted faith of our times.One paragraph made me feel how little I myself know of this religion,which he wrote to explain his motivation for the journey-

"What I knew about Islam was what was known to everyone on the outside.They had a Prophet and a Book;they believed in one God and disliked images;they had an idea of heaven and hell-always a difficult idea for me.They had their own martyrs.Once a year mimic mausolea were wheeled through the streets;men 'danced' with heavy crescebt moons,swinging the moons now one way,now the other drums beat and sometimes there were ritual stick fights.
The stick fights were a mimicry of an old battle,but the procession was one of mourning,commemorating defeat in that battle.Where had the battle taken place?What was the cause? As a child I never asked......"

So I read on.Probably wil save me a similar trip.
One thing that becomes apparent in the first chapter itself is the authoritative voice that Naipaul takes.He judges people and sticks to his judgement.I'm not sure I like that,but I guess authors of his stature can take that liberty.
Always wondered what the history of Iran and other nations was like,this book would help.

The other book I'm reading,rather close to finishing it is 'Neither here Nor there' by Bill Bryson.I borrowed this book from Krishna to read it in the train journey back home but it was so engrossingly funny that I decided to save it for later,just like I did with my Seinfeld episodes.So I dodn't read more than one chapter a day-and that keeps me happy.

The book is about the weird travelogue of the author,as he journeys through Europe.The observational humor and seeing everything with a critical eye and then writing it in a manner so funny-'Hugely funny (not snigger-snigger funny,but great-big-belly-laugh-till-you-cry-funny) are so fascinating and inspiring.Seems like I found a literary substitute for Seinfeld.The back of the book elaborates-

"Whether braving the homicidal motorists of Paris,being robbed by Gypsies in Florence,attempting not to order tripe and eyeballs in a German restaurant,window shopping in the sex shops of the Reeperbahn or disputing his hotel bill in Copenhagen,Bryson takes in the sights,dissects the cultureand illuminates each place and person with his hilariously caustic observations.He even goes to Leichenstein"

I guess it's time to have a laugh and sleep.Or to ponder and sleep?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

M*A*S*H and Catch-22

I finally saw Catch-22 today 6 months after seeing M*A*S*H,which was the only reason I wanted to see it-to find out why is it compared with MASH.I had a feeling that both being war movies released in '70 had something to do with that.And that hunch proved correct beacuse they have nothing else in common,nothing.

I loved MASH.The humor,the un-war like atmosphere,the no message-no preaching theme,the sometimes unconnected,unrelated,incoherent and unnecessary incidents.It's so not what you are going to expect it to be,unless you have seen the TV series.It has a great opening song titled 'Suicide is Painless' written by 14 year son of Robert Altman and what I think a good role play of both Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and Col. Trapper (Eliott Gould) as eccentric war drafted doctors looking for a outlet of their out of place surroundings through pranks and caustic and sometimes sexually explicit humor.

It defies convention,makes fun of people and beliefs-isn't that always a nice thing to do? Probably that's why I liked it.

I wanted to write something about Catch-22 too.I generally don't care about what IMDB comments have to say,because I don't have too many parameters to judge a movie (happily superficial),but the one on Catch-22's page really made me hold back-

"Rent or buy the DVD, which is widescreen and restores all this critical image area. Do not judge this film if you can't see it all. I have to wonder how many of the previous reviews here are based upon the unbelievably butchered VHS version."

:)) Maybe I'll give it another shot,when I see the DVD.

One thing I can say though is that I had the book on my mind all the time.I have read the book 3 times and still turn random pages to read from.I have painted a vivid image of all characters and incidents,and this movie doesn't justify those.I know it's very wrong to do that but I love the book so much that I can't help it.Plus the humor and the satire and the deeper message are all so well known that it's difficult to appreciate them watching the movie.It doesn't add to my understanding.It's that's deja-vu feeling which comes in between.

One thing I disliked was the use of close up shots in every scene,turns out I missed a finer detail,as explained by another IMDB user-

"I love the close-up photography, which adds to the sense of claustrophobia & combustibility of the "insane war" situation of the characters."

=)) Too much to learn.The problem is I don't want to.

That's what dreams are made of!

‘‘I’ve never heard 43,000 people shut up like that before"

As a kid or even grown up everyone dreams of hitting a last ball six,making a 3 point shot in double OT on the buzzer,hitting a goal in injury time and then soaking in the moment.A moment of glory that is every sportsman's dream.I just saw one of those today.

Baseball like cricket can be a game of glorious uncertainities.Sadly many people don't watch baseball here,their loss I must say.Right now Astros and Cardinals are playing for a world series spot to play against White Sox.Astros were leading 7 match series 3-1 coming into game 5.

It was the final innings.Astros leading 3-2,one strike away from a WS spot.Right then something happened.There were 3 people on the base.It was now or never.

99 times out of 100 loss would have been inevitable.Step up Pujol.He hits a 3 run homerun (which is pretty rare) and wins the match for Cardinals.The Astro crowd shut up.From imminent burst out to total silence.An unbelieveable contrast.Very comparable to the one at Eden Gardens when Sachin got out first ball to Shoaib.Only there were 80,000 people who shut up then.

Watch that shot here before they remove it.

Baseball is getting exciting.Just last year Red Sox had won gainst Yankees from 3 games down,a feat unmatched in history.It just has a big fan in me now.

And yeah,I do get up at 6 sometimes to watch Baseball (even rugby,basketball etc. for that matter).If I don't I regularly check the sites.Just the way I am.

Missed the Juve vs. Bayern encounter today.But this shot more than compensates for it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Two girls to really watch out for


Tennis is a beautiful game.Women's tennis is an even more beautiful game,in every sense of the word.Players like Sharapova,Hantuchova,Myskina etc. are already being talked about in terms of adding beauty to the game.But the two players I think would be turning heads in coming days would be the two I am talking about now.Tatiana Golovin and Nicole Vaidisova.

Golovin caught my eye and more importantly the world's eye when,all of 16,she reached the 4th round of Wimbledon 2 years ago.She had her motives clear.After losing the match she told this to press-

“I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m waiting for Prince William,I’ll be waiting for him, sitting in the stands."

Golovin

She plays well and doesn't mind getting noticed.That can be clearly seen by her version of hot pants which are probably lower and shorter than anyone else's on the tour.And she has been know to carry a pair of scissors on tour to lower the midriff of her tees.What are you doing Prince William?
Dedicated tennis fans or not-so-dedicated-tennis-fans-but-dedicated-Sania-fans might remember her as the girl who beat Sania in the semis of the Japan Open recently.She beat her in straight sets.



The player who beat Golovin in that match was Vaidisova.She isn't that well known now,but I guess it wouldn't be that long.In fact she has just beat top seeded Petrova to win the Thailand open which makes third title in a row for her after Korea and Japan.Makes a pattern doesn't it?Beware Autralia,France and Englad! She even has her own site coming up,which very few players can boast of.And she is only 16!
By the way she is from Czech Republic.So all the more reason to 'Czech her out' :D

The best thing about these players is that you have something else to look forward to even if they are playing badly.Such a
Vaidisova
departure form the William's sisters heydays.

Rewarding days to be a tennis fan!




Monday, October 17, 2005

Thought for food

I face a very intriguing situation whenever my friends decide to go out and eat.I have a very laid back,boring and middle class approach towards everything,and this is highlighted when it comes to food.So people start talking about exotic names of restaurants and I sit there clueless.The only places I know of serve Samosas and cutting tea and aren't usually considered.

The thing that gives me a complex is the variety of complicated names that they utter with such confidence.They discuss the pros and cons of various places and then after an hour long debate finally decide to try someplace new.I try and convince them to let go all this trouble and eat Mysore Masala or Samosa and they think I'm kidding.So I tag along.

The restaurant itself isn't much help either.A dark place with music no one hears to and not to mention the wait outside.Why should we wait for food? I just don't like the concept.Things get from bad to worse when the waiter comes with the menu once we finally get the table.

The menu looks like a hardbound story book,a fairly tale maybe .I half expect the first page to read like-
"Once upon a time there were hungry people.They remained hungry because they couldn't see what food was served on the menu which looked like a story book"

My friends on the other hand are well versed with the ways of such places.They run through pages with such purpose and elan that often it makes me wonder if they are my friends or some corporate seniors who have spent their lifetime running around hotels.But I guess they have one lesson less to learn in life.

I take a look at the menu and it reminds me of the days when I would flip at the back pages of the World Atlas and look at the names of far away islands in the Pacific,enchanted by their exotic names.Still lost in these memories I hear one of my friends order-
"One Tristan-Da-Cunha with Galapagos toppings please!"
Not exactly but they sound like this anyway.I crave for a Vada Paw but they don't serve it at such places.

After eating some three syallable hard to pronounce food item,it's time for dessert.The only dessert I'm comfortable with is a chewing gum or chocolate and a soft drink if pocket permits.My friends on the other hand know every dessert they serve everywhere else in the world.Sometimes they come up with names not even there in the menu.I try and utter a random term,just like we mimic Chinese and amazingly find it in the menu.Maybe that's how they name such stuff.

Having lived on junk food off thelas most of my life,I don't think I'll be comfortable anywhere else.So while people spend centimeters of currency notes on three syallabled exotic food,I'll be happy handing out a coin and feeling content.Golgappas,Samosas,Chaat,Vada Paw et al are the sort of food for me.If I'm too hungry then the same old chicken dishes that I've eaten all my life.

Will always remain a small town boy.Damn! I miss my small town :(

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A very 'interesting' game

When I was in Delhi during my first year vacations,I figured out this highly 'imaginative' game out of sheer boredom.I challenged my brother to find out the most rotten movie reviews on rottentomatoes.In return I showed him my finds.The motive is to get movies with the lowest ratings that you have seen.Those which you haven't seen shouldn't qualify becuase they can be easily got from the IMDB bottom 10 list.
Quite naturally I beat him,and the movies that did it for me were this and this.I didn't watch the entire movies of course,no one can.(Strangely both were under 10 at that time,seems tastes change with time.Time heals they say)

A variation of this game was designed by me once again,where I challenged my friends to find out the highest rated Hindi movie they have seen on IMDB.Of course with a certain pre-requisite number of votes that is.
Once again I got the lead,with this movie this time around.I enjoyed it very much and so it was quite nice to find it rated this high.

Beat me if you have the time :D

Friday, October 14, 2005

Self experimentation of a different kind


Telegraph was a newspaper I read most of my childhood,maybe becuase it was the only decent English newspaper available in Jamshedpur.Quite naturally I looked forward to the supplements more than the newspaper itself.Know-How being one of the few interesting science supplements that any newspaper brings out.Or probably it seemed interesting beacuse I may have been interested in things related to science those days,not sure I am that much into that now.Blame IIT for that.

Anyway,just for the sake of old times I took the newspaper everyday of my stay back home this week and the lead story of Know-How was quite interesting.It featured the guys who won the Nobel Prize for medicine this year-Barry Marshall and Robin Warren.Now where this gets absorbing is that Warren was finding it tough to prove his findings,which medical people do so conveniently on rats and hamsters and rabbits and what nots.So to prove himself to the sceptics he drunk a broth containing the infected bacteria! Talk about courage.

This article analyses this feat and puts in perspective various other attempts of making guinea pigs of oneself.Some are inspiring,some just plain mad and sad.Anyway all of them are amusing.Science needs such interesting things to keep it,or maybe people like me,going.As aptly put in last para of the article-

“Why call self-experimentation foolish when we climb mountains, become test pilots, build bridges and skyscrapers?” He continues, “In any experiment, the outcome is not known ahead of time. If the researcher claims there is no risk, why is the researcher unwilling to try it? Doctors’ lives are no more valuable than those of the other members of society whom they ask to volunteer for their research.”

Now,what could be the engineering equivalent of this?
I remember reading Halliday-Resnick-Walker and it had a special essay on Leidenfrost effect (a must read) which explains why feet don't get burned while walking on hot coal or hand remains unscathed after dipping in boling lead.It was one of the funniest articles I have ever read and it gave self experimentation new meanings.The ending has a very special suggestion which can be incorporated for us,engineering students :D

I have long argued that degree-granting programs should employ fire-walking as a last exam. The chairperson of the program should wait on the far side of a bed of red-hot coals while a degree candidate is forced to walk over the coals. If the candidate's belief in physics is strong enough that the feet are left undamaged, the chairperson hands the candidate a graduation certificate. The test would be more revealing than traditional final exams.

Now this would be a real 'test' !!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

An irony called growing up

A trip back home always helps put things in perspective.More so when you have friends you grew up with alongside you to talk.I had a few conversations this time around,which although unsurprising and expected did make me wonder-do we always have to change?

For two days I was alone.I passed time watching everything including Major League Baseball,which is in it's most exciting stage,one of the best F-1 races of recent times,world cup qualifying matches,Japan Open tennis,the boring Superseries cricket matches,World Rally re-runs,X-games both summer and winter and a few rugby matches.So pretty much everything live sport had to offer.The next day an old friend of mine turned up,and it was back to long conversations about life,universe and everything else on the grasses of the perennial favourite Jubilee Park.

Him,taking out a cigarette and match:So,I've started smoking.

All first time smokers think that's a big deal.Non smokers like me have learnt that it's not.

Me:Should I be surprised?
Him:You?
Me:I've got asthma and I would prefer having an attack running on a football ground for 2 hours or climbing the top of a hill than sitting idle and smoking.
Him:Then you don't take alcohol too?
Me:Do cough syrups count?
Him,laughing out:You'll always remain the Mr. Witty-Critic,won't you?

I wanted to point out that Benadryl was taken out of stores for it's high alcoholic content,but his last comment makes me do otherwise.

Him:I can always quit,I know that.
Me:Why does everyone say that? If you think it's allright to smoke then why on earth do you want to quit? I won't if I did,unless I had terminal cancer.
Him:No,I can quit anytime I want.
Me,slightly irritated:You won't be doing community service.

I can say these things to old friends.Not so old friends would think I'm being over critical,but older ones know that I am exactly that.So he decides to shut up.

Me:You don't want to go pandal hopping this time,I thought I would do that.
Him:That phase is over.There are all the same things,stupid crowd,heavy traffic,flashy pandals-I'm sick of it.
Me:This way you can trivialise anything.

The last comment was more on me than him.I was the only person who was absent from both the 10th and 12th std. last day festivities because I thought the celebrations were too loud and inappropriate.I was one of the few who laughed and made fun while a host of other cried on the last day.I have boycotted firecrackers for the past 7-8 years in Diwali,and I have quit going out on roads in Holi.And he was saying this to me.

I could have pointed all this out.I didn't because I felt what my friends would have been feeling 5 years back while coaxing me take part in the farewell.And how I had declined all their requests! Now I was the one going back.

The next day I meet one other friend along with him.While wandering about we meet an old schoolmate of ours.She is studying to be a doctor at Jamshedpur itself.After loads of leg pulling and all the doctor jokes in the world,we ask if she is roaming around in Puja this time-

Her:No offences meant,but it's all the same..

Damn! Am I the only one who wants to go back?

Priorities do change after school.I was probably too ahead at that time.But I still don't want to celebrate last day of school like it was done =))
There is a valid reason to that.Everytime I go back to school,some people who don't recognise ask me my batch.When I do tell them,they look back in horror,like I have uttered the unspeakable.And they turn away.What happened that day,in my absence,is stuff school legends are made of.I'm just happy I was an observer rather than a participant. :D

Maybe it's time to grow up.

Friday, October 07, 2005

At home

I will be uploading the India Quiz answers as soon as I'm back.And for all the quiznet and other guys who are looking for answers to the Megaconnect and India quiz too,just wait for a week.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Patriotism and mental disintegration

A very strange thing happened in the class today.People sleeping during lectures is nothing new.Some professors just don't care.Some wake them up and either mildly rebuke them or emabarrass them in front of the class.That's it,no harm done.

Today,something else happened.Three people were sleeping in a row.The professor told us to wake them up and suddenly raised his voice,

"Whenever you are feeling sleepy think of the soldiers in Siachen whose wives may become widows anyday.Think of the hardships they are facing,the extremeties they are going through.They are depending on engineers like you who can design something for the army,for defence to make their lives easier and safe.."

His voice quivered,overcome by emotions,

"Their wives may become widows anyday.And you think they are risking their lives so that you may sleep peacefully? Wake up!"

Angry and emotional,he continued,

"There are little kids in M.P who are picking up leaves to make bidis.The government taxes those bidis,and those taxes are being used to educate you people.And you choose to sleep after all this?"

He said a lot more,but I guess it was incoherent.Or maybe I was too perturbed.No one moved after that.Too moved to move maybe.

Are we this pathetic?

Monday, October 03, 2005

India Quiz-The Indian Way

We just concluded the India Quiz which was an open,intra IITB event.The questions were kept moderately tough to easy,especially slightly easy in the eliminations to encourage participants and participation (Easy as per the seasoned quizzer's perspective,every quiz is tough for me :P).The number of whom has been decreasing exponentially lately.Whether it did that or not,was very hard to judge,but at least we tried.As Chandan (the Lit secy) told me,even some profs were enthusiastic to take part,which probably was a good sign.Not neccessarily useful though.

Anyway Matty did all the hard work of setting the questions and preparing the slides,I just helped him in parts.I suggested the megaconnect (what else) as an option and he came up with an even better idea.Three levels were prepared,1st in which there was a connect after every 2 questions,2nd level in which there was a connect after every 3 (with hint slides in between) and third level in which there was a connect after all 6.I did the 3rd level with a question on Indian cricket,the motivation of which I got while browsing through Sunny Days,a book I have read thrice already and it counts as my favourite non-literary book.Some questions were changed or modified so that the questions and the connect weren't too boring and at least everyone would get the normal questions.The connects for all other levels were cracked pretty easily either by audience or the teams,but it was surprising that my question had no right connect.Maybe it was too arbitrary.

Matty also came up with the nice idea of 'Indianising' the quiz.He suggested both of us whould wear kurtas to the quiz.So I took out my Khadi kurta;old,rugged and wrinkled-it looked straight out from Gandhiji's charkha.A fiiting jayanti tribute from our side.The usual rock or classical or popular hindi music generally played at quizzes was replaced by Gandhi's favorite Vaishanava Jan and Raghupati Raghav,which were not available on the LAN and I reached the venue late in order to download them off the net.The best Indian touch though was the background used in the PPT,it looked so good on the big screen.Well done Matty,I learned a lot from you.Maybe I will use it when I set some quizzes.

The 'sedate quizzer' Lath (don't rub it in again :D) and his not so sedate partner (not me this time :D) MalaD won it in the end,pretty easily so.

Here's the original Megaconnect,it was pretty tough to set questions on such famous people but I tried my best.One of them is taken from an XLRI quiz I attended in school,2 from anecdotes in Sunny Days and the rest from biographies of players on Cricinfo and other places.The connect is an original :D
Here we go:

1.Famous cricket journo John Laker's idea of Heaven: "Lord's in the summer, the sun shining, with ____ _____ bowling at one end and Ray Lindwall at the other".Just fill in the blank.

2.When Waqar younis made his test debut,there was another player who was playing his first test match in the same test.Who? (I know this is very,very easy but I couldn't find enough questions for this man n such a short time :D )

3.His chiselled features and rugged good looks made him an obvious successor to Keith Miller and Denis Compton as a Brylcreem model.Who are we talking about?

4.Hanif Mohammad,Inzamam-ul-Haq and and Sanath Jayasuriya are the only other Asian players to have achieved this feat.Who is the fourth in the series?

5.Once when he visited his uncle,he noticed 4 India test caps and asked his uncle to give him one,as he had so many.His uncle refused saying that it had to be earned.This child went to earn many more caps than his uncle did.Identify.

6.After Scotland were admitted to the National League of county cricket sides on a three year trial basis in 2003,they signed this player as their overseas recruit.Who?

All very famous cricketers and pretty simple questions.The connection is what is needed.

Here is the Megaupload link to download the zipped quiz.
Here is the RapidShare link.
Here is the YouSendIt link.
(I did them all simultaneously incase any failed.Turns out all worked!)

For those in IITB itself,don't bother,just take it from my server (I don't think I can put that IP here,anyway most won't be needing it,those who will can message) in the incoming folder.If there is enough response maybe I'll put the answers somewhere.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Things to do-A wishlist

I have maintained 100% attendance (almost) in my lectures.Physical presence of course,80% of presence in person in required.Thankfully there is no monitoring on the mental side,the 100% would instantaneously recede to 30% if that is done.Anyway the time has come to reap this very hard work that has been done.I am bunking a week to go home for Durga Puja,DP as we lovingly call it.What DP means to me,I have already explained in my hometown community blog here.I hope I can relive some old moments again.

Almost everytime I go there,there are people who ask me what have I done here.Have I met any filmstars,seen any dancebars,seen any gansgsters in action,held hands at beautiful beach sunsets and the usual typical Mumbai associations.I am speechless at such moments.I try and explain that my priority order is entirely different,being the boring sort of person I usually am.But they still don't believe when I deny,sometimes embarrassingly so,everyone one of their enthusiastic queries.

My priority order is somewhat different.I would love to do these things before I leave Mumbai for the final time:

Watch the finale of an exciting Test match at Wankhede.
I almost did that when Australia visited India last time.But Bhajji ruined the moment by finishing the test match the third day itself,when we had found time to go on the fourth.
A day night one-day match would also be nice enough.I have already seen quite a few ODI's at Jamshedpur,but I guess the experience would be different here.India has lost every match I have seen at Keenan,the only one it won was against SA and I had my physics ICSE exam that day :(.How different that time was can be judged by the fact that Gnaguly had scored a cebtury,got the man of the match,and a promotion right there becuase his boss J.J Irani had been watching this performance.Ganguly being employed in Jamshedpur's vey own TISCO.
Watching a match is an experience in itself.Infact my brother on my visit here insisted that we go and watch a Kanga league match at Azad Maidan,relaxing and eating Vada Paw.So idyllic,just like cricket.

Watch a derby at Mahalakshmi.
I have seen too many movies,read too many stories and heard too many tales involving horse races.My favorite mentions being in D.H Lawrence's story A Rocking Horse Winner and Varun's adventures in Seth's A Suitable Boy.I have heard live broadcasts of Ascot,Grand National,Kentucky Derby on BBC radio and watched them live when it came on TV.The tradition,the fashion and most importantly the thrill of making a punt on a horse,cheering it to the finish,never mind winning or losing,are what attract me to that place.

Watch a rugby match at Bombay Gymkhana.
I missed watching India beat Kazakshtan because everyone laughed at me when I asked them to accompany me.Travelling 40 mins in a Mumbai local train alone is horrid,but I still can't forgive myself for not going.I've been watching rugby since I saw the then most watched Wallabies vs. All Blacks match at MCG on TV.That was '97.I got hold of the rules,and have followed it ever since,right from Eales lifting the World Cup in '99 to Johnny Wilkinson mania in '03,I have seen the moments.In fact on of my dreams is to start a rugby club in IIT and maybe include it in Inter-IIT.The few sports shops I have visited to fulfill my sporting needs,none had a rugby ball,otherwise things could have started.I may not have the physiques,but enthusiasm will make up for that.

Visit an art gallery,Jehangir art gallery if I am not mistaken.

I never have had a taste in art.There was a class devoted to the various forms of art and their evolution in the Lit. classes but it failed to create a spark.Maybe sport and art don't go together (although Jack Russel proves they can),but maybe a visit to the art gallery would change all that.

Watch a play at the Prithvi theater.
Another thing that fails to generate any interest is drama and movies.The overacting and pathetic humor of most Hindi movies don't help either.Infact whenever I feel like watching a movie I watch my favorite movies,already seen many times,in parts.So I end up watching Apocalypse Now's final scene and Monty Python series almost everytime.I would like to generate some ineterest though,maybe theater would help.I have heard so much about Prithvi,so none better than that.

Listen to a classical quartet or symphony or orchestra.
Ever since I read An Equal Music,I have been trying to get my self acquainted with this side of music.I had the perception that classical music is for filthy rich people with Steinbacks in their drawing halls and hired tutors to teach their little rich daghters how to play it.Or people who try and be pretentious about their 'high' taste in music.But when I listened to Lark Ascending by Vaughan,I somehow felt that it was far far beyond that.I have always liked Ride of the Valkyries and the way it used in Apocalypse but I thought that classical music at best is used in movie background scores.I am still to listen to the Art of Fugue which is the central piece of that Seth book,but I get an idea now.

Trek the Sahyadris as much as I can.
Maybe the thing I'll miss the most,even though I'm not a regular trekker.I would like to discover all that the amazing Sahyadris have to offer.Don't know if I ever get to that again.

Visit the Asiatic Society Library.
The structure of the library is breathtakingly beautiful and imposing.The fact that they have books inside makes it even more attractive.The heritage and history just add to the incredible aura.I would like to go in someday,someday pretty soon.

Finding company for the cricket and trekking bit wouldn't be difficult.It's the rest of them where I don't want to be the lone one to go.