Thursday, December 31, 2009

Vettaikkaran - Movie Review

I just happened to see the movie Vettaikkaran few days back. It was an ultimate torture to see the movie for the entire duration. The story and incidents are blatantly lifted from some previous masala movies of Vijay and others. There is nothing new in the film whatsoever.

Vijay has a police officer as his idol similar to Vikram having a Dada as idol in Bheema. Vijay keeps failing in 12th standard like Dhanush in Padikkathavan. Likewise, each and every scene of the movie is lifted from previous movies of Vijay and others. There are some similarities with Thiruppachi as well. Vijay tries to clean up the society without wearing khakee uniform.  There are few love scenes with Anushka in between Vijay's action scenes. Even romantic scenes are handled badly.

Vijay does the routine stuff. The usual charm is slightly missing. Anushka is very bad and looks like an aunt to Vijay. Even Vijay's son dances with him for a song. Other actors in the movie are just average. The music is very ordinary though 2 songs are hummable. The story, screenplay and direction are very poor and there is no trace of originality.

It is high time Vijay does a movie with some novelty. Movies like Vettaikkaran are just waste of time for the viewers. This movie may become hit commercially but joins the league of Vijay movies like ATM, Villu, Kuruvi in terms of content.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Yokohama Conquered

I went to Yokohama, Japan last week to attend SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 along with my advisor and a couple of dual degree students. As expected, the conference was amazing though I could not attend most of the sessions because of my own comitments there. I gave an oral sketch presentation and we had 2 posters as well. I am seen with my posters in the picture. Some of the moments I encountered during the trip are presented in this blog post.

Air India service


We took Air India flight from Mumbai via Delhi to Narita as it had the lowest fare. The inflight entertainment was good as it had lot of decent movies, both new and old. However, most of the joysticks were not in good shape. Some of my co-passengers had problems getting non-vegetarian food. I got good vegetarian food in the flight. Even vodka was served in the flight. Couple of DD guys who came with me had a blast with vodka.


The cabin crew comprised mostly of uncles and aunts in the late 30s and 40s as expected. Getting serviced by them was quite a task. Even when I pressed the button in joystick asking for the cabin crew, they did not turn up any time. Moreover, they used to switch off my request lamp from the back. I later learned that they were taking rest at the back and I decided not to disturb them again. I went myself to the pantry to even drink water. This attitude is common in any government firm I suppose.

Yokohama

Yokohama is the second largest city of Japan and is very close to Tokyo (~30 min by bus). Yokohama is a major port city. We landed in Narita airport and took a bus to Yokohama which is 1.5 hrs trip. SIGGRAPH Asia was held in Pacifico Yokohama located at the tip of the city facing Pacific ocean. The hotel was well equipped to hold a mega event like SIGGRAPH Asia. We stayed at Grandsun Yokohama which was 30 minutes walk from Pacifico Yokohama.

Yokohama had abundant eating places and there was even an Indian restaurant by the name "Mohan's". Food was very expensive everywhere. I entered only one Japanese restaurant on the last day to taste some veg noodles. Articles were quite expensive. We entered a 100 yen shop where all articles have a fixed price of 100 yens and picked up few goods. I got a lot of chocolates in that shop and brought them for my IIT friends.

The city was very busy and very well maintained. The temperature was around 3 degree Celsius during my trip.


MTR to the rescue

As a vegetarian, I knew that I would have some trouble with the food there. I had picked up some MTR ready to eat packs and some Britannia Nutrichoice biscuits with me. Out of various flavors of MTR packs, I only liked the pongal and the kesari bath. Others like sambhar rice, pulao, dal tadka were very spicy and I left them at my hotel room in Yokohama. I managed to get some bananas and oranges. Breakfast was good in the hotel where I lived. I got some breads, buns, butter, jam and milk. Rest of the day I consumed the MTR stuff, fruits and biscuits. Bottomline is that I returned to India without any major food problem. :)


The trip was good but I did not enjoy it as much as I would have liked.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

3 Idiots - Movie Review

I watched 3 Idiots with my friends yesterday at Huma.

3 Idiots is a spectacular movie addressing the key issue of following one's dream. The story of the movie is based on the novel "Five Point Someone" by Chetan Bhagat. I did not like the novel very much as it was quite vulgar at times. Thankfully, Raju Hirani has just borrowed incidents from the novel and has rewritten the entire script with ample fun and suspense. I am not going to tell anything about the story or any scene in the movie as it would become a spoiler.

Aamir Khan is excellent in his great role with great support from Madhavan and Sharman Joshi. Kareena and Boman Irani also deliver great performances. Above all, Omi is the man to watch out for - he is extremely funny. The script is amazing which keeps one engaged for the entire 3 hours. Music, cinematography and direction are top class.

I loved the movie very much as it addresses some of the key issues in the top technology colleges in the country. 3 Idiots is a must watch for everyone as such movies which entertain along with subtle message are rare these days.  I am going to watch this movie again in a couple of days.

Aal Izz Well!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 - The Pulse of Innovation

SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 organized by Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is scheduled to be held on 16-19 December at Yokohama, Japan. It is the largest graphics event in the world along with SIGGRAPH. It feels great to have contributed substantially for this conference. I will write more about SIGGRAPH Asia after 20th December.

Meanwhile, you may visit my homepage for more details on my works towards this mega event.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Men's Tennis 2009 Review

Tennis season for the year 2009 are complete with only a few Davis cup matches remaining. In this article, I shall review how the year was for the top players.

Federer should be happiest of all looking back at the year. He regained No 1 ranking, reached all grand slam finals, won 2 grand slams, completed career slam, and also became a father of twins. He could not have asked for anything more. He himself would not have thought that he could have got all this in 2009 when he became emotional after the Australian open final against Nadal. Though not in top form, he would probably stay at the top of the rankings in 2010 as well.

Nadal
started 2009 very well by winning the Australian open. Everyone thought that he would be No 1 throughout 2009. However, Soderling had other plans. No one expected Soderling to defeat Nadal at the Roland Garros that too in the fourth round. It was a shock for Nadal as well worsened by his knee injury. Nadal lost his No1 ranking, missed Wimbledon and got beaten by Del Potro in US open. He is not the same Nadal who ran and returned every ball which came on his side. Unless he changes his game a bit to not stretch himself too much, he will struggle to be in top 3 in 2010.

Del Potro had a great year. He was on the verge of spoiling Federer in Roland Garros and ended up upsetting him in US open final. In fact, he defeated both Nadal and Federer and promptly crowned US open champion. He is slowly getting the consistency which was missing from him in 2008. This tall man is the one to watch out for in 2010. He has it in him to upset Nadal and Federer on his day.

Happenings in 2009 proved that Murray has all the ingredients in him to become the next Tim Henman. He is a great player, make no mistake. However, he ends up losing to arbitrary players at unexpected matches. He is very inconsistent at the grandslams which is evident as he did not even reach a single grand slam final in 2009. He has to undergo a lot of hardships in 2010 to prove that he is indeed capable of a grand slam title.

Same can be said about Djokovic. Though he played well towards the end of the year to reach No 3 rank, his performance in the grand slams were poor by his standards. Tough times ahead for him in 2010. He is capable of giving headaches to Nadal and Federer in some matches.

I have to really feel for the performance of Roddick in the epic Wimbledon final. He played far better than Federer but ended up losing. He has to improve a lot to compete with others at the top. For that to happen he has to overcome his fitness hurdles because of age.

Davydenko finally won his first match against Federer in the 13th attempt. He is in form and is a great fighter. He is also a player to watch out for in 2010.

Soderling is an amazing player who knocked out Nadal from his empire, Roland Garros. He is improving with every tournament and he should be an exciting player to watch in 2010.

In my opinion, 2010 would be the year which could bring a momentum shift in world tennis. It is going to be a year filled with lot of very close matches. Whoever comes out as victor, would rule the tennis for the next few years. My heart tells me that Federer is going to be that person. My mind says that it is going to be someone else. An interesting year of tennis ahead of us with these players gunning down each other. Australian open 2010 promises to be a cracking tournament.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Federer - The ATP Tour Champion

Federer delivered a great tennis to outclass Murray yesterday. In the process, he became only the second player after Ivan Lendl to regain the ATP tour champion title. It is always difficult for one to regain a world number one title after losing it. It takes high motivation and competitive spirit to achiever that. Federer just has them in him. Apart from that, he raises his game to astronomical levels when he is put under pressure. This is the hallmark of great champions who appear very rarely.

Federer, without any argument, is the world's best male tennis player ever to have played the game. This achievement just shows that he has it in him to scale newer heights in the years to come. However, for a fan the most likeable thing about Federer is that he has entertained and made them enjoy his unmatchable tennis over the past few years. Some of the grandslam finals he played are still etched in my memory. My sincere wish is that he continues delivering such a visual treat for few more years.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Federer inches closer!

With Federer coming from behind to defeat Verdasco, he has almost sealed the year end No. 1 ranking. Another factor which favors him is that Nadal lost in straight sets against his nemesis Soderling. For Nadal to displace Federer, he has to defeat both Djokovic and Davydenko in his next 2 matches. For Federer, he needs to win atleast one of the matches against Murray and Del Potro. Then, he need not worry about Nadal's mataches.

Today's Federer-Murray match is significant as Murray has a 6-3 record over Federer. If Federer wins today, he will be the second person after Ivan Lendl to regain year-end No 1 ranking. Can Federer rise to the occasion to regain the ATP tour champion title?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mohd Rafi - The Singing Legend

Mohd Rafi was a brilliant singer who has offered us a lot of ever-green melodies. Rafi was the voice of Bollywood music for 3 decades. His voice is so unique and it is extremely difficult to match his finesse. He has sung even very difficult songs with minimal effort. His best songs were for Dev Anand and Shammi Kapoor. I am a great fan of his timeless melodies. He is the best male singer of Indian film music without any doubt. In this blog, I list some of the melodies of Rafi which I love the most. Watch them in YouTube and enjoy!

  1. Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhaatha (Hum Dono)
  2. Dil Ka Bhanwar (Tere Ghar Ke Saamney)
  3. Diwana Hua Baadal (Kashmir Ki Kali)
  4. Pardesiyon Se Na Ankhiyaan (Jab Jab Phool Kile)
  5. Aaj Kal Tere Mere (Brahmachari)
  6. Aaja Aaja (Teesri manzil)
  7. Tum Bin Jaoon Kahan (Pyar Ka Mausam)
  8. Chura Liya Hai (Yaadon Ki Baaraat)
  9. Kya Hua Tera Waada (Hum Kisise Kum Nahin)
  10. Dard-e-dil (Karz)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

2 States by Chetan Bhagat - Quick Review

Chetan Bhagat has always been an entertaining modern writer ever since his first novel "Five Point Someone". His novels are usually full of fun in every page. His latest offering "2 States" is no different. This novel narrates the love and marriage of Krish and Ananya from Punjab and Tamilnadu respectively. Though the basic theme of the novel is reminiscent of a latest tamil flick "Abhiyum Naanum", the novel is very different in the content.

Chetan switches to IIM Ahmedabad as premise for this novel and carries forward a character from Five Point Someone. The happenings at the management school set the tone for the novel. However, the ultimate fun starts when Krish joins Citibank after completing his post graduate diploma in IIM. Krish's encounters with his stupid boss Bala, who makes Krish scapegoat for his blunders, are a treat to read. Also, Krish's entry into Ananya's family evoke a lot of laughter. Romantic sequances between Krish and Ananya is much westernized which is not that realistic. It may be due to the fact that they are students of IIM.

The major factor which makes this novel realistic is that Chetan uses all real world entities like IIM, Citibank etc. He does not even spare SPB and Hariharan. Chetan even takes a dig at the atrocities of the auto rickshaw guys in chennai.

On the whole, this novel is a very light and worthy read. I loved every page of this novel. I strongly recommend this novel to any one who likes to chill out for a while on a weekend.

ATP World Tour Finals 2009 - Preview

Barclays ATP world tour finals are about to start from tomorrow. This tournament is famously dubbed as the year end championships. This year it is held in London. Top 8 seeds participate every year. The winner of this tournament has more probability of becoming year end world No 1. This year this tournament is more significant as Federer and Nadal have the chance to achieve year end No 1 rank.

The tournament is divded into two groups of 4 each and there is a round robin stage. Group A has Federer, Murray, Del Potro, and Verdasco. Group B has Nadal, Djokovic, Davydenko and Soderling. Top 2 from each group would reach the semi finals. Here is the scenario for Nadal in the world tour finals to regain world No 1 crown (Federer is No 1 at present).

Group A is the tougher group. Federer is not in form as he lost to Del Potro in US open finals, lost to Djokovic in Basel finals, and lost to Benneteau in Paris Masters over the past few months. Though he seems vulnerable, he can lift his game at any moment. Murray also is not in good shape. He will find it difficult against Del Potro and Verdasco apart from Federer. Del Potro had an injury scare few weeks back. But having won the US open, his confidence will be very high. Verdasco is the dark horse in this group and can upset any of the other 3 on his day. I expect Federer and Del Potro to march into semi finals, though the matches would be very close.

Group B boasts of 2 great players: Nadal and Djokovic. Nadal is not at his best after his knee surgery. He lost in straight sets to Del Potro in US open semis. He lost to Djokovic in Paris. Further, Nadal has never done well in the world tour finals previously. With world No 1 up for the grab, he might find his groove. Djokovic is the man to beat in this tournament. He won both Basel and Paris in last 2 months and is in great form. Davydenko is a fighter but is vulnerable if the opposition plays to his best. Soderling became a hero when he upset Nadal at Roland Garros. He is also an amazing player. I think Nadal and Djokovic would move to semi finals without much of a fuss from Group B.

Semi finals and finals can be anyone's game. I plan to watch the important matches of this tournament. It is surely going to have some great tennis played. As a Federer fan, I hope he wins this tournament and seals the World No 1 crown for few more months. It would require a huge effort from Federer which makes this world tour finals even more interesting.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

US Open 2009 - Preview

As I write this blog post, Cincinnati Masters is underway as the warm-up to US Open 2009 which starts in a week's time. All the top players use this Masters tournament to find their rhythm. In another tournament, Rogers Cup, which concluded last week, Murray played amazingly to lift the crown. Federer and Nadal lost before the semi-finals. In this post, I will analyze the chances for the potential contenders for the US open 2009 crown.

Roger Federer will start as the defending champion. Last year, he dismissed Murray in staraight sets to win US open. He was in very bad condition last year having lost all the majors coming to US open. He is in a far better position this year having won French open and Wimbledon apart from regaining the World No 1 title. However, he is not in good form in hard courts this year. He lost the Australian open final to Nadal. He also lost the Rogers cup match last week to Tsonga which was sort of a collapse. With Federer, one never knows. He can lift his game to very high level in Grand Slams. I think he is the favorite to win US open.

Rafal Nadal has come back from a knee injury. He was scratchy in Rogers cup and lost to Del Potro in straight sets. But having won the Australian open this year, he will be confident of turning out well in US open as well. My only concern is that Nadal has not changed his game in spite of the knee injury. I do not think that running around after every ball is going to help his knees either. Nadal, however, is a master tactician. He will certainly come out with some new game for the US open. Having pushed to No 3 in the world, he does not need any other motivation to deliver his best in US open.

Andy Murray has been playing amazing tennis over the past 2 years. The only glitch is that he is not able to win any major till now. I am sure that he will not want himself to labelled Henman V2.0. Murray has the perfect game for the hard court. On current form, I would label him as the favorite to win US open next only to Federer. Murray's only weakness is that he tends to stutter against weaker opponents in major events. I am sure he would be careful in US open. Having become No 2 in the world, Murray would want to set up a title clash with Federer which will surely be a cracking one.

Andy Roddick is the former World No 1 and former US open champion. He is coming back after that epic Wimbledon final defeat to Federer. Roddick played amazing tennis at Wimbledon and played some exceptional tennis in the Semis and Final. He has improved his game at nets. His serve as always is very tough to break. I hope he will give very tough fight to the top 3 in the world.

I think these 4 will set up Semifinal clashes at US open depending on the draw. Other than these, there are few others who may upset any of these 4 in the earlier rounds.

Novak Djokovic
is not playing his best tennis at the moment. But he is quite dangerous on his day when he plays to his potential. Del Potro is playing amazing tennis over the past one year having defeated Nadal last week. One should not be surprised if he produces a few upsets. Tsonga is an unpredictable player capable of producing few upsets. Soderling is a fighter and all top players are aware of that. He was the one who sent Nadal packing at French open this year. Hewitt, who is a former World No 1, has found his rhythm over the past few months and he is a dark horse in the US open championship race.

There are other fighters like Fernando Verdasco, Fernando Gonzalez, Ivo Karlovic, and Nikolay Davydenko who can create few headaches for the top ranked players.

I am expecting a lot of fireworks in US open this year. I expect a Federer-Murray clash in the final show down. Other players considered above may have alternate plans though.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Shreya's Top 3 Tamil Songs

I love to listen to Shreya Ghoshal's tamil film songs. She is an amazing singer with very good voice and modulations. Though she is not in very good form in the recent times, she has given us some delightful songs in the past. Here is my pick (top 3) of Shreya's renditions in Tamil. I recommend these songs to anyone who is a fan of Shreya.

1. Uruguthey Maruguthey (Film: Veyil)

This is an excellent melody by GV Prakash, made much better by the great singing of Shankar Mahadevan and Shreya Ghoshal. It is a typical folk melody reminding one of Ilayaraja's songs and is sure to appeal to everyone. Shreya's pronunciation is spot on and her great modulations make anyone love this song.

2. Unna Vida (Film: Virumandi)

This is a soul touching melody by the one and only Ilayaraja. I can not think of any other female singer singing this song as good as Shreya. I normally do not like Kamal's singing that much. But he too does a fine job with this song. He complements Shreya very well. This song is a real treat to the listeners.

3. Munbe Vaa (Film: Sillunu Oru Kadhal)

This is a typical AR Rahman melody. Shreya adapts to this song very well. Though her pronunciation is not that great in this song, she compensates by perfect rendition. However, the male singer Naresh Iyer is not upto the mark. Shreya just takes this song to another level which made this song a blockbuster.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Federer - The Greatest Ever !

My last year wish has come true now. Federer has answered my open letter by winning both the French Open and the Wimbledon. Federer has 15 Grand Slam titles now. It was a pleasure to see him regain his No 1 ranking in doing so. One should not take any credit from Federer, who played wonderful tennis, saying that Nadal was not around to defend his No 1 rank. The great Sampras himself confirmed after the Wimbledon final that Federer is the greatest ever to play Tennis. I feel proud in watching Federer play with passion all through my life. As I am just 4 months younger to Federer, I could follow his career from the start and he has been a great inspiration for me in life. I had the opportunity to witness the history being made in the Wimbledon last week.

Federer fought very hard in the classic Wimbledon final, with Roddick in amazing form. Federer was not at his best by any stretch of imagination. However, he hung around without giving up anything to Roddick. I felt that he was a bit over confident in the final. The way Federer won 6 straight points from being 2-6 down in the second set tie-break, I could not do anything but admire the true champion. The back hand cross court flick which saved the first set point was Federer at his very best. Federer had the advantage of serving first in the last set which aided him. Similar situation arose in the last year's classic final with Nadal where Nadal had a similar advantage. In the final set, pressure would always be on the player serving second. Roddick did incredibly well, however, to take the final set to 30 games. Federer's big serves also helped him big time in the final set.

I want to shed some words for the other contenders in this Wimbledon. In fact, I personally felt that the way Roddick approached the Wimbledon final, he deserved to win as much as Federer. Roddick has improved his game over the past one year. Federer tried to rally the ball to his back hand and came to net many a times in the first set. Quite often Roddick passed him without much trouble. Such shots were very rare from Roddick's rocket 3 years earlier. In ground strokes, Roddick matched Federer in every point.

I liked the way Roddick played against Murray in the Semi-final. The whole stadium was against him. Still Roddick won against all odds. I sincerely feel that Roddick has it in him to win many more slams in the near future. As for Murray, I tend to think that he is Tim Henman Version 2.0. This much hype, even when Murray has not even won a slam yet, is not going to help Murray by any means. I thought that Tommy Haas played far better than Murray in this Wimbledon.

I think that no can ever break the Federer's record of 21 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals. He has been very consistent with his performance and he has been a real icon for any one who wants to excel. As a die-hard Federer fan, I salute him and I wish he plays many more great matches in the coming years. It would be great to see Nadal return in US open. With Federer playing without any pressure, having achieved almost everything, it would be fascinating to watch a Federer-Nadal final again. I can not wait for the US open 2009.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fedora 11 -Review

I am an ardent fan of Ubuntu Linux distribution. It simplifies the desktop of the user so much that one can not go and try another linux distro after trying Ubuntu. Ubuntu crashed in my laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad T60)last month after I tried to do some crazy thing in that. I burnt the DVD of the latest Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) to reinstall in my laptop last week. Though the DVD was detected, I could not install it on the laptop.

Around that time, I could locate the latest Fedora 11 in the repository. Fedora 2 was the first linux distro I had tried 5 years back. It was very hard to use for a novice that I started hating linux after a point. Ubuntu again made me appreciate the open source and I became a fan of Ubuntu for the past 5 years. I simply admire the spirit behind the every successive release of Ubuntu. As I screwed up Ubuntu 8.10 in my laptop and failed to install Ubuntu 9.04, I decided to try out the all new Fedora 11. Here is the review of the OS.

Fedora 11 is a more advanced compared to the Fedora 2 I used 5 years back. It is as good as ubuntu in all respects. Fedora 11 has all the latest software releases like KDE 4, Firefox 3.5, OpenOffice 3, Thunderbird 3, etc. Apart from these I was surprised to see that it had OpenCV which is a computer vision library. All these come in the DVD itself.

I had some initial trouble installing other softwares like mplayer and codecs for Totem. However, when I figured out that I had to install rpmfusion to make these work, I became more comfortable with installing new open source softwares. I liked the Gnome desktop more than the KDE one as the KDE just tries to mimic Windows and falls flat. I somehow made the system tray occupy the entire panel in KDE. I still can not find out how to bring it to original shape. Such problems occur if the GUI becomes more and more mouse dependent.

Appearance wise Gnome desktop sports the traditional blue color as is the case with all Fedora releases. The default background images are stunning. Battery comes to around 2 hrs when fully charged. I am also able to use my Intel Core 2 CPU on demand using an applet in Gnome panel. I am able to install most of the open source softwares using YUM. It is as good as apt-get if not better.

Though I was required to fiddle with the OS for initial 2-3 days, now I am quite comfortable with Fedora 11. The performance of linux is amazing as always on my laptop. It takes less than a minute to boot or to shut down, while the vista takes more than 3 minutes either to boot or to shut down. The programs also run very fast compared to that of windows vista as the on demand CPU function makes optimal use of CPU.

On the whole, I like this release of Fedora and this one made me change the wrong myths I had after using Fedora 2. I still can not compare it with the Ubuntu 9.04. My lab system still has Ubuntu 8.04 running on an Intel Xeon. Performance-wise both Fedora and Ubuntu are equally good. However, I think Fedora is more robust than Ubuntu in sticking with the traditional linux more closely. Now that Fedora also has a stunning user interface, it is impossible for me to choose between Fedora and Ubuntu. I love both. Having said that, I strongly recommend Fedora 11 to any one who wants to enjoy the spirit of open source in his/her laptop/desktop.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Top 3 Vadivel Comedies

Vadivel is an amazing comedian with great comic timing. He gets into any character and produces non-stop laughter. I watched a lot of his comedies in "Sirippoli" and "Aadithyaa" channels. As a continuation of the previous post, I write about Top 3 Vadivel comedies which I like most here.

1. Vetri Kodi Kattu

This film has a laugh riot with Parthiban and Vadivel in full form. Vadivel wears a shining kurta and a lungi claiming that he has come from Dubai. Parthiban finds out that Vadivel was a toilet cleaner in Dubai from his own words and teases him. Parthiban warns not to wear Dubai dress in India and keeps troubling him. Vadivel gets afraid whenever he is seen by parthiban in the Dubai attire. The scene where Parthiban tells that he came to India from Dubai without a ticket in flight and traps Vadivel is very hilarious. Watch all the comedy scenes from this classic comedy.

2. Friends

Vadivel comes as a painting contractor and hires Vijay and Surya as his apprentices. He is 'Chittappa' to Ramesh Kanna and others also call him the same. He goes to a wealthy house for a painting contract along with others and the fun which ensues after that is simply rocking. The scene when Vijay and Surya kidnap Vadivel and beat him up with his head between the tree trunks is ultimate fun. Charlie, Madan Bob add to the fun. This is a pure comedy which is a must watch for all.

3. Winner

In this movie, Vadivel comes as the head of "Varuthappadaatha Valibar Sangam" (Sorrow-less Youth Association). Some guys lift him and take him wherever he goes. He keeps abusing many guys and gets beaten up. The scene where Riyaz ties Vadivel on the tree and leaves some stray dogs below is funny. One has to watch this movie scenes to enjoy.

Apart from the above movies, I like Vadivel comedies from the movies Vaseegara, Giri, Rendu, Kadhalan, Sachin, Chandramukhi, Bagavathy, Asathal, Imsai Arasan 23rd Pulikesi, Pokkiri, Arya, Em Magan, Villu, Engal Anna, Marudhamalai, and many others. I wish Vadivel good luck for the future movies and let us enjoy more funny moments in life through him.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Top 3 Vivek Comedies

When I was in home this month, I watched the new tamil comedy channels "Aadithyaa" and "Sirippoli" a lot. The comedies shown helped me to chill out in the vacation. These are 24 hour comedy channels with Vivek and Vadivel comedies shown most of the times. I thought that I would share the top 3 comedies of Vivek which I liked the most. In the next post, I plan to list top 3 comedies of Vadivel.

1. Pennin Manathai Thottu

Vivek's comedy is simply amazing in this movie. He comes as a independent MLA's son who buys a medical college seat in this movie. The scene where he gets his back burnt in a toilet is extremely funny. As a medical student, he makes fun of the system which provides seat to anyone who pays money. Dr. Mathrubootham, his professor, asks the students to call him and ask any doubt any time. Vivek calls him at midnight and asks, "Neenga verum Daasaa, Illa laadu labakku daasa?" (I can not translate these lines) This scene is also very hilarious.

2. Lovely

I like the Vivek comedy scenes from this movie a lot. Karthik (Hero) gives Alagesh's (Vivek) photo as his own to escape from goons, thinking that Vivek has already left for the US. However, Vivek stays still in India and calls himself as Al Gates as he is fascinated by western people. The goons track him wherever Vivek is found and beat him up. The scene where he lies down like a frog hit by a national permit lorry is very hilarious. He lands in the same hospital bed every time he gets beaten up. One has to watch the scenes to appreciate the ultimate fun.

3. Run

In this movie, Vivek comes from Trichy to Chennai in search of his friend Madhavan. The troubles he encounters in chennai are interleaved in the movie. The scene where he comes out of Koovam with dirt and acts like "Moondram Pirai" ("Sadma") Kamal to catch the attention of Madhavan is funny. Also the scene where Vivek goes with a political party parade and misses Madhavan even after seeing him also is extremely funny. This movie has lot of comedy scenes and Vivek finally becomes a fake spiritual guru and does not locate his friend till the end.


There are other movies like Dhill, Parthiban Kanavu, Padikkathavan, Dhool, Kushi, Vaali, M Kumaran, Lesa Lesa, Paramasivan, Anniyan, Saamy, Minnale, Sivaji and many more where Vivek's comedies are the highlight. I like all these comedies very much and recommend these to any one who want to have some fun. I hope Vivek will treat us with a lot more amazing comedies in the years to come.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Federer - The King

By winning the French Open 2009, Roger Federer has proved convincingly that he is the best player in Tennis ever. I take this opportunity to salute the champion of the champions. Bring on Nadal! I can not wait for Wimbledon any more.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Kite Runner - Book Review

I was not aware of the ethnic problems in Afghanistan till recently. I was surprised when I learnt that Afghan people never allowed any foreign nation to dominate them completely. When I found that Khaled Hosseini's 'The Kite Runner' was based on a story in Afghanistan and was a famous one, I just grabbed it. I also found out that there was also a movie based on this novel by the same name. However, I knew from experience how the movie makers screwed up a movie based on the novel 'Q&A'. This forced me to read this novel before watching the movie.

This novel is a pleasant and at times haunting story about two friends, Amir and Hassan. Their childhood days together in Afghanistan and relevant incidents which follow afterwards are nicely conveyed in this novel. The main issue is that Amir belongs to a majority race called, 'Pashtuns' and Hassan belongs to a minority race called, 'Hazaras'. Even though both are very good friends, this difference follows them for years and impacts both their lives quite severely.

The author has traced the history of Afghanistan over a rough period of thirty years. This novel starts at a time just after the Zahir Shah's rule and ends with the present era of the Talibans. Though all the historical facts are not fully reflected, one gets to see the change in glimpses spread throughout the novel. This urged me to read about history of Afghanistan from various sources and I also obtained background information by watching a national geographic documentary called 'Inside the Taliban'.

Here are some incidents from the novel which I liked. During their escape to Pakistan during Soviet invasion, Afghan people encounter a Soviet soldier who asks a married Afghan woman to spend some time with him as a favor for letting them ahead. I feel that this is the sort of danger any nation has to incur if they let foreign force into their homeland. Another interesting depiction of Taliban rule is shown by an incident during a soccer match half-time. Some Talibans bring a woman and a man who are charged with an offense and kill them with stones in the play ground and please the crowd. These acts show how the Talibans once defied humanitarian rules and regulations. Lot more such incidents are very well conveyed in this novel.

I liked the narration and the story of this novel very much. However, I felt that the last few pages were quite slow compared to the pages preceding them. This novel has its own merits and keeps the reader engaged and interested almost throughout. This novel made me dig deep into the history of Afghanistan and provided me a lot of incidents which even I could relate to my early days. I loved this novel so much that I just started reading Hosseini's next novel, 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'. I recommend 'The Kite Runner' to anyone interested in historical fictions.

I will soon have a look at the movie which is based on this novel.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Transcend T.sonic 850

My primary intention was to get a music player like IPod shuffle. IPod shuffle 1GB music player costs INR 2300/-. I decided to settle for a cheaper one with more functions and came across this device. I recently bought the music+video player Transcend T.sonic 850. Here are the features of this device along with a short review.

Functions: Music player, Video player, Sound recorder, FM player, E-book reader, Photo viewer, Clock

Operating Systems: Windows, Linux, MacOS

Memory: 8GB

Price: Indian Rupees 3100

Sound quality is quite good and it plays mp3, wma, and wav files. I think the quality should improve if I use a better headphone (for example Sony). Video player only plays MTP files. The software which comes with this device does not convert all avi, mpeg, dat files into MTP. I am still trying to fix this problem. Sound recorder is very good and I think I will record some important lectures and talks from now on. FM player located around 10 stations in Mumbai and the clarity is good. Picture viewer is also a valuable function.

This device comes with 8GB memory which is useful for storing even large data files apart from video and music files. This device sits as a drive/folder in both windows and linux and it is very easy to transfer files via USB port. No specialized software is required for access to this device. The transfer speed from PC to this device is quite slow (around 200KBps). I did not check the transfer speed from T.sonic to PC. Charging this device is through USB port and full charge comes for around 10 hours. I need to validate this over a period of time to be exact.

For a low-priced device, it has amazing number of functions and all are quite useful to me. It is a good alternative to IPod shuffle which is very expensive and has only the music player. As this device comes with a 2-year warranty as well, I recommend T.sonic 850 to those who want multiple functions in a branded device for an affordable price.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sathi Leelavathi - Movie Review

'Sathi Leelavathi' is a classic Kamal Hassan Tamil movie. This famous movie has been remade in many other languages, the famous one being, 'Biwi No. 1' in Hindi. I do not think these remakes can match the original version. I saw this movie today after a very long time. This movie is non-stop fun from the start to the end. Ramesh Aravind, Kalpana, Heera, Kovai Sarala star in this movie along with Kamal. This film was directed by Baalu Mahendra.

Ramesh Aravind is the hero of this movie with some negative shades. He is quite weak in dealing with girls although he is married to Kalpana and has 2 children. As a part of his job as Managing Director of a company, he bumps into Heera who works in another firm for some business deal. Heera is a girl who wants to marry a rich guy and falls for Ramesh as he hides his marriage with Kalpana. The real fun starts when they are about to board a flight to Bangalore as a honeymoon trip before their marriage.

Kamal is a orthopaedic doctor and a past school friend of Ramesh. He is married to Kovai Sarala and has a boy who always shoots with his handy-cam. Ramesh and Kamal meet in airport which leads to lot of confusions as both go to Bangalore and are supposed to stay in the same hotel. Rest of the fun can better be watched on the movie directly. This movie is strictly for adults and it did not interest me much when I was young.

Acting is superb from all lead actors. Kamal and Sarala with the typical Coimbatore tamil steal the show with great comic timing. Their son also keeps popping up every now and then and his acting is also great. Kalpana as a calm house-wife performs well. Ramesh and Heera also get into their respective characters and evoke laughter throughout. The most funny moment is when Ramesh lifts Heera and gets his back sprained for which Kamal gives treatment.

Music is very good with 'Maarugo Maarugo' song being the pick. Kamal sings this song extremely well. Ilayaraja's background score is great. Crazy Mohan's dialogues are extremely funny with timely jokes providing continued fun. Baalu Mahendra's direction is also very realistic and the incidents flow smoothly throughout.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching every scene of this movie. This movie is a must watch for those who like real spontaneous humor.

Friday, May 01, 2009

What has happened to Shreya?

I have always loved to listen to film songs. I started admiring the masterpieces rendered by SPB during my school days. SPB along with Ilayaraja were the ones who inspired me to listen to a wide range of songs. I still have their golden collection of songs in my system. I also liked listening to female singers, especially Susheela. Janaki and Chitra, though quite good, did not please me that much with their renditions. I was quite disappointed as SPB and Susheela reduced singing over the past few years possibly due to their aging.

The place left by SPB is taken over by the wonderful Hariharan. He is quite amazing with a lot of hit songs to his credit. When Shreya Ghoshal arrived on the tamil film music, I thought that she would be the one to replace Susheela's place. I listened to the song, 'Chellamaai Chellam' from the film 'Album' which was the first time I heard her. I became a fan of Shreya's songs such as 'Munbe Vaa' from 'Sillunu Oru Kadhal', 'Aiyayo..' from 'Paruthi Veeran', 'Uruguthey' from 'Veyil', 'Ninaithu Ninaithu' from '7G Rainbow Colony', and 'Unna Vida' from 'Virumaandi'. Shreya's strength lies in her clear tamil diction along with a clear voice which is very melodious. I am against non-tamil singers singing in tamil unless their diction is perfect. Shreya sang so well in tamil that I had no complaints against her.

Over the past 2 years, I started feeling that she has not been as effective as before. Her voice is quite unclear when singing high pitched verses. I feel that the primary reason to be that the texture in her voice has faded in recent times. Some of the recent songs like 'Kannil Paarvai' from 'Naan Kadavul', 'Oru Vetkam' from 'Pasanga', 'Poovinai Thiranthu' from 'Aanandha Thaandavam', 'Chaaral' from 'Kuselan', and a couple of songs from 'Mariyadhai' failed to impress me. I am quite disappointed with her renditions in these songs. At many places, her voice makes it hard to identify the verses. Even some of her recent hindi songs pose similar problems to the listener.

I still feel that Shreya is a singer with amazing capabilities and the recent songs signify only a minor blip in her music career. I hope she has realized that there is some problem with her singing. The problem may be due to work load, commitments to reality shows, health reasons, or even improper recording. If she identifies and rectifies the problem soon, she can still become one among the legends like Lata, Susheela, Asha, Janaki, and Chitra. Otherwise, she might become one among the passable singers who showed promise but never made it big. Being a fan of many of her songs, I sincerely hope that she recovers fast from this slump and enthralls us with more great melodies.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Vietnam Veedu - Play Review

Sivaji Ganesan's 'Vietnam Veedu' is a famous movie known for its great script and songs. This movie was inspired by a play of the same name. Y Gee Mahendra has revived the play through his United Amateur Artistes (UAA) troupe. I got the opportunity to watch this play with my friends at SNDT auditorium, Ghatkopar this week. This play was launched in Chennai last month. I went there expecting an one hour play. However, the play lasted for two and a half hours without any break.

Since the play had a very powerful script, it was an enjoyable watch. The hero of the play is Padmanabha Iyer (played by YGeeM) who is very much a disciplinarian and has lot of care for his prestige. His wife is Savithri (played by TV actress Nithya) and she is quite soft. Their two sons and only daughter are quite corrupt each in a different way. The play narrated the problems faced by Padmanabha Iyer dealing with them after his retirement in humorous as well as emotional way.

Acting was simply superb by every actor. YGeeM was the pick of all the actors. He was as good as Sivaji. Nithya suited the Padmini's role quite well. The supporting cast also performed admirably. The pace at which every one changed costumes between scenes was mind blowing. The sets were very realistic and the execution was near perfect considering the length of the play. Only average thing was the recorded background score.

I enjoyed the play the most during the first two hours and felt that it was a bit dragging in the last 20 minutes or so. I have not watched a live play over a long time. This was a very nice experience for me. I think the success of this play lies in making it appealing even for current generation. I am sure that many elderly people would simply love this play as it would take them back in time. YGeeM who talked after the play told that he would be performing more plays this October in Mumbai. I hope to watch a few of those.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jaunty Jackalope

Jaunty Jackalope is the new Ubuntu Linux version 9.04 releasing today. Being an ardent Ubuntu fan, I am very eager to try it out as soon as possible.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Indian Premier League (IPL) - Some Thoughts

Indian Premier League (IPL) is an ICC approved T20 tournament organized by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) every year. IPL was primarily started as a rival to unauthorized T20 league called Indian Cricket League (ICL). This year's edition is about to start tomorrow. IPL which comprises around 56 T20 matches will be shown on Sony Max in India for about 36 days. There are two matches to be played on most of the days.

IPL, to me, is the arrogant showcase of money, politics, and power at the expense of the players' fitness and skills. I never viewed T20 as a means to promote cricket. Cricket already has a far reach than many other sports atleast in India. For a sport which is not as rigorous as a soccer or a tennis, I feel that the present exposure is enough for cricket. It does not require a T20 tournament like IPL to enhance audience for cricket. Real cricket action can be seen in test matches where one needs to have great skills to survive over long run.

The most irritating thing according to me is the growing number of celebrities who throng the IPL. They become owners by the sheer amount of money they have and the cricket players are made to look jokers in front of them. Cricketers are made responsible for the losses in IPL games and end up being dragged into controversy by such owners who have least concern for cricket as a game. Like it happened so far, even great players like Dravid, Laxman, and Ganguly are not spared from being humiliated by such owners. I even have an opinion that the cricketers also deserve a stick for joining IPL to just make more money in their kitty.

To make things worse, this year's games are going to be longer by 15 minutes to accommodate more commercial elements. There will be 7.5 minute break for cheerleaders and bands to perform after 10 overs of each innings. This seems to me as utmost stupidity of the organizers. I think these guys blatantly lift some of the ideas used by reality shows in television. I am not sure how will the lovers of classical cricket react to such a nonsense.

In future, I reckon that each IPL match will be directed by some mega-serial (Daily Soap) director. They will instruct players how to play: when to hit a four or a six, when to take a wicket, when to drop a catch, when to get run-out, and when to retire hurt. These amazing directors will make sure that each IPL match lasts till last ball of 20th over in each innings to increase TRP ratings. I will not be surprised even if players are asked to dance duet with cheerleaders in between every over and during innings breaks. Commentators will dance with Mandira Bedi and other ladies in the commentary box.

There seems to be no end for such IPL nonsense. Expect the above and a lot more ridiculous things to happen in the forthcoming IPL seasons.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Garching-Forschungszentrum and Kanjur Marg

Garching-Forschungszentrum is the last underground railway station along U6 (U-Bahn) in Munich. This station is located north of Munich and I think it is some 20 KM from the city center. This station is where one needs to get down to reach Max Planck Intitute (MPI) for Plasma Physics and Technical University of Munich (TUM). Eurographics 2009 was held in TUM Mathematik Informatik located around 200m from Garching-Forschungszentrum. The region surrounding this station is very calm and suitable for academic research.

I travelled along this U6 from the central station (HaptBahnHof) to reach Garching-Forschungszentrum on 29th March to complete registration formalities in Eurgraphics 2009. There were no sessions of main conference that day. I needed to take a U4/U5 train to reach a station called Odeonsplatz which is two stations away from HaptBahnHof. I had to catch a U6 train from Odeonsplatz to reach Garching-Forschungszentrum which took around 30 minutes. The walls of the both HaptBahnHof and Odeonsplatz were filled with advertisements and TV programs. I was in for a surprise when I got down the train in Garching-Forschungszentrum.

Garching-Forschungszentrum station had its walls filled with leading researchers of science and mathematics from Germany. It included a schematic of their work along with some quote in German. It also had the names of the persons and the years they lived. It was very refreshing for me to see these in a train station. The persons who featured included Einstein, Max-Planck, Bohr, Ohm, and many more. I took one such picture which I have shared here. I felt that this was the right way to motivate children to take up academic research. The whole environment was vibrant with famous names and their inventions featured all around me. I simply loved it.

I wonder why not implement such a plan in one of the Mumbai train stations, say Kanjur Marg where the premier technical institute IIT Bombay is located. Kanjur Marg is a sub-urban station in Mumbai located between Dadar and Kalyan. We can also decorate the walls of this station with famous Indian scientists and mathematicians. We have a lot of them like Aryabhatta, Ramanujan, CV Raman, etc. It will be highly motivating for young students to take up research as a career whenver they come to this station. We can fill details for each person in our national language, Hindi. The plan seems to be very good. However, problems will arise once the government starts implementing such a plan.

We should not forget that India is plagued with lot of people who are least bothered about such great scientists and mathematicians, and their inventions and contributions. Unfortunately, these people are the ones occupying top positions in the government organizations to execute any such plan. They will be made to form a panel to identify the prominent researchers or famous people of India. The selection of famous people will definitely involve lot of lobbying, favoritism, and other politics associated with that. Let us assume that these so-called intellectual people somehow get over the differences and ego clashes to come up with a shortlist of famous persons in science and mathematics. This shortlist will be sent to the cabinet ministry guys who may not have heard about any person in the shortlist.

With the shortlist in hand, our great politicians become prominent. They will love to introduce reservation on the shortlisted famous people on the basis of caste, religion, language, region, etc. Placing boards in the memory of some famous people in a small station like KanjurMarg will be made a national issue. Opposition will shout, own party members and other group leaders will also agitate. A committee with non-academic persons will be formed to identify caste, religion, language, region etc of the shortlisted persons. They will also be instructed to adhere to some reservation percentages (for example 50%, 30%, 20% ) while selecting the final names. Crores of rupees will be spent on these committees alone. There will be further disputes regarding tender, bribery and corruption. Finally, they will renovate the station with these names after some 10 years when every dispute is resolved.

The final selected names in the station will hardly create any inspiration in a common man who would have seen in media all the naughty things happened thus far behind the screen. This is just an example of how even good plans are executed in India. I am just afraid that these stupid things will happen in India if a government wishes to mimic Garching-Forschungszentrum. Such comic actions by politicians and others will tarnish the great work done by really great persons. I will be happy if such things do not happen while implementation of similar plan. I will be even more happy if any insane politician reading this blog does not use my presumptions to do politics in future and takes up such a plan.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ayan - Movie Review

I went to watch Suriya's Ayan movie on Good Friday with my friend Prakash. It is a typical masala movie in Tamil. Here is a review of the movie.

Story - Nothing novel. Just it kept me interested till end. It is just another gang war movie like Gemini. Story is borrowed from many movies like Nanda, Gemini, Bheema and many others.

Screenplay - Very good. Kept me looking forward always.

Music - Harris rocks again after Vaaranam Aayiram. Nenje Nenje song tune is stunning with excellent picturisation. Vizhi Moodi song is also a treat to hear and watch.

Cinematography - Cinematography is amazing. Chase sequences in Congo and Malaysia are captured very well. Also, Nenje Nenje is one of the best shot songs in Tamil ever.

Direction - Direction is very good for an average story. Characterisation is very realistic for a masala movie.

Comedy - Comedy is sprayed throughout the movie. There is no separate track to test viewers' patience. Therefore, comedy works.

Acting:

Suriya - Great acting. Excellent varied skills shown through out which make viewers entertained.

Tamanna - Very good acting. She is here to stay in tamil for atleast few more years.

Jagan - Surprise package. Very nice acting.

Villain - Not that good. Passable.

Prabhu, Ponvannan, Renuka, Karunas and others - Good acting.

Overall - It is a good masala movie in recent times. Makes for a good viewing with a family. Do not expect any thing very novel. This movie is just for time-pass and to enjoy a weekend.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Madness at Munich

I started to Munich last month for attending Eurographics 2009 in TUM. It was a nice trip on the whole. However, being the first trip abroad and that too alone, I experienced my share of mad incidents over the 9 days. In this blog, I would like to share some of the comic incidents - many of them occurred due to circumstances and some due to my own ignorance.

Wild Boar!

The main problem is that I am a pure vegetarian who would vomit even if someone eats non-veg item other than egg in front of him. I just wanted to attend the conference dinner which was organized on 2nd April evening at Hofbrauhaus. This restaurant, located in Marienplatz, is quite old where Hitler used to dine with his Nazi mates which propelled me to attend the dinner. I reached exactly on time, the dining area was over-flowing with Eurographics attendees. Band orchestra came first followed by some girls with different kinds of liquor. Then came the popular dish of that evening. Some guys carried two plates with cooked wild-boars whose skins were removed and other parts were left intact. Seeing that, I could not help but run away from that place. I wanted to take a picture of that dish, but I did not have the guts that time to see the wild-boar again. I rushed out of the hall to find that the student volunteers who were outside refused to let me out. I was shocked and asked them the reason. They told that I would not be able to come back if I went out. I told them that I had no intention to come back. They insisted that I had to take a seal in my hand for entry later. I got the seal and rushed to my room. I did not go there again. The very sight of wild-boar dish still haunts me. Anyway, one man's food is another man's poison. :)

Water or Vodka?

I stayed in Euro Youth Hotel which provided me a quite comfortable room. They used to provide me buffet breakfast everyday morning. There were lot of egg and non-veg stuff even in breakfast. I used to eat only breads, corn flakes, milk, and bananas. On the first breakfast there, I noticed two drinks which were kept in the buffet hall. One was orange juice and the other looked like water. I noticed some bubbles inside that container which looked like having plain water. I already knew that vodka also looks like water which made me suspicious. I asked the attender what it was. He replied correctly saying, "Water". However, I heard it as, "Vodka" due to my preconception. This made me think that the water they were serving at conference lunch everyday was also vodka. I thought that the Europeans were very rich to have vodka every breakfast and lunch and wondered about their habits. I did not drink water served during breakfast and lunch for next 4 days, I used to buy the packaged drinking water. During one lunch, my friend in Eurographics was having the water served there. I casually asked if he liked vodka. He told that he liked and asked me why I inquired about that. I told him that he was having vodka then. He told that it was just plain water with some gas (similar to soda water in India). Then, I had to change my opinion about the drinking habits of people there, "they do not drink vodka every breakfast and lunch".

Travails at Emirates

I travelled both ways in Emirates via Dubai. It was a hectic 9 hour travel along with 4 hour waiting in Dubai. In Emirates menu card, I noticed something like this written along with the menu items, "All food items served are Halal. We apologise if our menu items do not match your preferences". (When I later came to know what a halaal food is, through Shvaana, I felt really sick.) I was shocked seeing that. How come the airline decide what the passenger must eat? What the hell! While going to Munich from Mumbai, somehow I managed to get asian vegetarian food because of good cabin crew and I was happy. I am pretty sure even now that the food I ate was devoid of egg also. While coming back, I started from Munich at 10PM. The crew member told that the travel agent did not mention vegetarian food for me in the ticket and she would not give asian vegetarian food. However, she told that she would arrange for a different vegetarian food. I sensed some trouble there itself and waited for the food to arrive. It was looking okay but when I opened the salad, I found a piece of fish. I was damn sure that it was some variety of fish. I did not eat the food and returned it promptly. I needed to travel always in the last row in flights even though I checked in 4 hrs before travel. This was because my travel agent did not give seat preference while booking for me. Seating in Emirates was also quite bad in the economy class. I think they run flights like Mumbai BEST buses as Dubai has abundant oil resources. I will not travel in Emirates even if I have to go to Dubai in future.

Beware of Dubai Airport

Dubai airport may be one of the largest airports in the world. I think it is some 3 KM long with lot of duty-free shops. They sell goods at pretty high price compared to the price in India. I did not purchase any major item there. The strange thing is that Dubai airport has only three restrooms spread across 3KM length in Emirates terminal. Each restroom can accommodate only 3 persons at a time and cleaning guys keep cleaning it always. Even then, the place was quite dirty without proper sanitation. There was a big queue of about 20 persons whenever I went there. It was quite sad to see such a bad design of restrooms in a big airport like Dubai. I suppose people there do not require restrooms quite often as the heat is too much. :)


I will write about some of the good things as well as the strange things which I encountered in my trip soon.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

One Night in the Panther Cage - V

It was four forty-five early morning. Shvaana had already committed one offense. Chiru asked Shvaana breaking the silence, "What do you do in free time?" Shvaana replied, "I usually do not have any free time. I always think of my research problem. That keeps me going ahead. However, I find time to watch some video or movie stuff on my computer and browse arbitrary web sites." Chiru inquired, "How long you normally do such things a day?" Shvaana told, "Only six to seven hours a day." Chiru did not utter any words but just smiled at the kid called Shvaana.

Some conversation went on between the two regarding general things about research and other things in Shvaana's life. Chiru found Shvaana indeed interesting and loved conversing with him more. It was already five thirty in the morning. In summer, sun rises at six in the morning. Only thirty minutes were left for Chiru to talk with Shvaana. Chiru wanted to make best use of the available time by asking Shvaana varied things. Shvaana was also equally enthusiastic about the talk with Chiru though he was becoming slightly impatient. Chiru could not comprehend the reason though, atleast for few moments.

Chiru told Shvaana, "You people are really great. You like to change the current world to a better one through your active research. I like the idea quite well. However, I feel that it is in fact deteriorating." Shvaana barely listened to this completely and he instantly responded, "I think national park is no match for a real world. Real world poses a lot of problems which can not be perceived by you. It may be that your locality is hampered by our research and development plans. We do not care for that in general." Chiru got angry with this reply and wanted to count for the second offense but restrained from doing so.

Shvaana did not stop however. His tone changed, "I feel restless here. I want to go out and just have a walk around. I think we have talked enough." Chiru just told, "Two!" Shvaana was not bothered by Chiru's admission of his second offense. His mind was indeed occupied by a distant moving entity coming for a morning walk. Shvaana was curious to find out who that person was. Chiru's vision of that scene was blocked by Shvaana's body and was quite puzzled by Shvaana's change in attitude. That person was slowly approaching the panther cage from the direction adjacent to Shvaana. Shvaana was very attentive as it seemed to him like a girl. However, he was not that sure.

Once that person reached 400 m from the cage, Shvaana was delighted. It was indeed a girl coming for a morning walk on the hill. Meanwhile, Chiru had closed his eyes and went into silence as Shvaana neglected him. Shvaana waited till that girl, Rimi, reached 50 m from the cage and started moving his arms to attract her attention. After few seconds, he was successful and Rimi recognized that there was a guy inside the cage. She found that the cage was locked from outside. She was brave enough to lift a big stone from the vicinity and break the cage open from Shvaana's side. This sudden jerk disturbed Chiru.

Chiru roared and stood up with anger. He was surprised to see Shvaana and a girl standing outside the cage laughing at him. Shvaana became diplomatic and told, "Goodbye Mr Chiru. Nice meeting you today. I will now take leave and go with her to my hostel. Please do not take offense for this as I had had enough of talking to you. Now you can better wait inside the cage till the security guys come." Chiru eyes became red and he told, "I already told you that I can break open the cage any time I want. I am pretty upset with your behavior. Just get lost with that girl soon and do not provoke my anger any further." Shvaana and Rimi started laughing hearing this. Shvaana told when laughter subsided a bit, "How come a panther break this cage?"

Hearing this, Chiru started making violent movements in the cage. Rimi got afraid and insisted that they must leave. Shvaana agreed and both started ambling along the road to hostel introducing themselves. After two minutes, they found some noise from behind. They could see that it was indeed Chiru coming behind them at brisk pace. Though they were some 200 m ahead, their hearts started beating fast which made them run fast. Chiru was smiling when he shouted loudly, "Shvaana! Shvaana!!" But Shvaana and Rimi accelerated further. Chiru reduced his pace and just ambled behind them as he just wanted to scare them for a while.

Once they were near the hostel area, Shvaana realized that Chiru was not behind them. They started walking slowly after that. Rimi told, "Bye!" to Shvaana and left as her hostel was nearby. Shvaana realized his mistake that he had betrayed Chiru for a few minutes company of an unknown girl and wanted to apologise to him. He did not have the courage to go back in search of Chiru fearing his life. He just remembered the good qualities of Chiru and thanked him whole heartedly for his patience and support the previous night.

After scaring Shvaana and Rimi for few minutes, Chiru had changed direction and found his breakfast in the form of a couple of sleeping dogs on the roadside. Chiru ate them merrily and waited inside the cage for the security guys to arrive. While waiting in the cage, Chiru could not understand the logic behind Shvaana's act of depriving him after seeing a stranger. Chiru, however, thanked him for providing him information about outside world, however small amount it might be. Chiru felt that he was happier inside the park than outside and took a vow that he would never come out of the park as he had enough of the outside world.

The End

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Back from a Brief Hiatus

Last two weeks were quite demanding as I was getting ready for my first trip outside India. First week was used up by the preparation for travel and the next week was spent in Eurographics 2009 at Munich, Germany. I had a good trip and my presentation went well there. I could also meet a lot of interesting guys. While I am writing this, I have made my entry into active blogging again. Those who want to see the pictures from Eurographics 2009 and Munich please send me a personal email at ramshanmuga@gmail.com.

It was a pleasant trip and days just ran fast as the conference was an amazing one. I attended a lot of talks and tutorials. I was forced to miss out some important talks as there were 5 parallel sessions. There is a lot to write about the funny incidents which happened during my trip. Cultural differences I encountered in Europe and the relative merits of life in India and abroad from different viewpoints make good premise for successive blogs. I will keep writing about these things and many others in the coming days.

I am aware that I have started writing a 'Imaging Research Blog'. One can expect regular posting there too from now on.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Imaging Research Unveiled

I have started writing a new blog on imaging research which can be accessed at this web address. Please have a look at my first blog there. I will keep writing on general things in this blog as usual.

Monday, March 23, 2009

One Night in the Panther Cage - IV

Chiru thought for a while and started revealing his rules. Chiru told, "I do not want you to drag me into controversial argument while we talk. I can tolerate only 3 such instances which I will be counting. Once you repeat the mistake for the fourth time, I will make you my breakfast for the day." Shvaana asked, "What do you mean by controversial?" Chiru replied, "I already told you that I will be counting from 1 to 3. If you wish, you can very well stop the conversation after I count 3. You will be safe then."

Shvaana after some thought agreed to the rules so that he can talk with Chiru soon. Shvaana told, "I think you are quite smart in the way you speak. I did not expect this from a panther." Chiru laughed and told, "Thanks for your praise. I also did not know till now that research scholars in IIT are so immature. From what I observed, I think you are very short tempered and keep pestering others for your motives. It is a wrong thing to do as far as I am concerned." Shvaana acted as if he was surprised by the comments, "Is it so? I did not know these things about me till now."

Chiru resumed, "We. panthers, always do our own work and do not persuade our opinion on others. It helps us live happily. Not like you people who always pester others." Shvaana wanted to change the course of discussion. He asked, "Why don't you go back to the park where you can be free of danger?" Chiru replied, "There are problems everywhere. The key talent is that how you tackle those problems. I feel I have that talent to survive anywhere. Those who try to escape from such problems confine themselves to a single place and try to tackle the same problems again and again. It is very boring after a point, you know."

Shvaana sensed some deep meaning in Chiru's talk. Chiru asked, "What do you guys do in IIT? I mean, what are your primary duties?" Shvaana replied, "We are supposed to do research here. We work very hard to invent or discover new ideas which can change the world. We have an advisor who monitors and guides us on our path. We also have an annual review to assess our progress. It is very tiresome you know, unless one enjoys the problem in hand." Chiru thought for a while and then commented, "This is quite interesting. I did not know that these things happen at IIT. I thought that the people here are some privileged class enjoying their past deeds. Please continue. Tell me about your other activities."

Shvaana felt very happy that Chiru was quite interested in his activities. In fact, who in this world does not want to boast about his adventures, however ridiculous it may be. Shvaana with enthusiasm continued, "We work in a lab where we perform our experiments. We generate new results, publish papers, and go to conferences around the world to present our work. That is what expected from us. We are also supposed to complete the work in 4 years to obtain our doctorate degrees. Our work will then set the trend for many successors and change the way our country and even the world functions. We derive pleasure in seeing such things around us."

Chiru smiled and exclaimed, " Dr. Shvaana! Sounds really great!" Chiru giggled for a few seconds and then said, "I believe you mean to say that through your research you guys change the world. I am quite ignorant. I can not understand how some stuff you do in your lab will change the world." Shvaana's ego got over him this time and he replied, "Ha Ha Ha! How does a panther which roams in national park without any objective understand the research which we are doing at IIT. I think we have hardly 100 minutes left. I do not think this period is enough to teach you these complex things."

Chiru did not like the way Shvaana reacted to his queries. He was silent for a while and just said, "One!" Shvaana was puzzled at first and it took some seconds before he could realize that he had committed the first offense. Shvaana told, "I accept that what I told was unacceptable. I sincerely apologise to you." Chiru was quiet with his eyes closed. Shvaana was surprised at this act of Chiru. He could not crack the mystery behind Chiru's silence. The silence however did not prevail more than a couple of minutes.


(To be continued...)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Appropriate Technology

Today, I attended a talk on Appropriate Technology by Prof Anil W Date of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay. He is also the head of Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA) at IIT Bombay. This talk was a part of the lecture series associated with the annual Mechanical Engineering symposium called Radiance. I was introduced to the new area of technology research by Prof Date in this talk. The talk was simply amazing with lot of illustrations and case studies. Here I present some of the ideas I understood from his talk.

Prof Date gave a lot of definitions for appropriate technology. What I could understand was that appropriate technology is the development of techniques which suit a particular locality for solving some key problems there. In other words, the technology developed in India must solve problems in India first rather than addressing problems in US or any other country for that matter. People can be classified into producers (Prof Date might have used a different term for this), distributers, and consumers. Producers are the ones who suffer a lot in rural areas though they are the ones who directly deal with nature and deliver goods. Appropriate technology primarily addresses problems faced by these people so that the economy is nurtured well.

To illustrate, Prof Date discussed two case studies which has carried out some years back. One is a specially designed dryer aimed at drying Paddy grains. The dryer built was an innovation and it was fully automatic and capable of drying 85Kg of grains at a given time. The way he narrated how he got the idea for designing this dryer is truly the way one should aim to solve any real world problem. The other case study is a bullock cart made of steel to account for the lesser availability of wood to build such carts. This also help one to ride the steel bullock cart with minimal noise and maximal comfort. Both the technology innovations solved the problems faced by lakhs of people in rural India.

There is also a new inter-disciplinary MTech program majoring Technology and Development at IIT Bombay from 2007. This program involves 10 weeks study at a village to understand their technological needs. This program seems to be a great initiative to give exposure on appropriate technology to many students irrespective of their bachelors' discipline. I would recommend this MTech program as a very good career option for anyone after their bachelors' degree. I plan to do some courses offered by this program next semester.

On the whole, the talk was a very thought provoking one. There are lot of problems to be tackled in India itself and one needs to be in connection with rural India to get to know of these problems. The primary goal of any technology should be to understand the primary needs of people in the locality. The technology which is suitable in US/Europe will not be suitable here. I have always felt that people in US/Europe create unnecessary problems and spend more time to solve them later. Prof Date asked whether IIT stood for Indian Institue of Technology or Institute of Indian Technology. I feel that latter seems more appropriate and would certainly inspire many students at IIT to solve a lot of problems relevant to India especially rural India. It is always fun to solve problems of our society through the technology knowledge acquired in IIT.

Finally, Prof Date recommended to read a book called Small is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered by E F Schumacher. I plan to get a copy of this book and read it soon. I will post a more elaborate blog once I get more insight into appropriate technology.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

One Night in the Panther Cage - III

It was only fifteen minutes since Shvaana started sleeping again. He felt subconsciously something strange happening nearby. But the pleasant warmth of the woolen cover helped him to continue his sleep. His right leg was very close to the partition. Shvaana's left hand also was somewhat near the partition as he was lying on the right side of his body. There were no dreams as well as he had just started his sleep.

Within a moment, Shvaana felt that there was an earthquake in that place. Shvaana woke up with a jerk as he was in shock. The male panther had just entered the cage and the front door had closed promptly. He heard the roar of the panther who had just become his mate in the cage. Shvaana was in high anxiety and fear. He was sweating and even slightly pissed. The panther was just roaring a few more times. Even though Shvaana was very near to the partition, the panther did not even attempt to harm him by any means. Shvaana was shocked to such an extent that he did not realize that.

After a couple of minutes, Shvaana's brain started functioning again. He slowly realized that he was in no danger due to that panther. His intelligence suddenly gave him a spark that he had talked with Tommy just a while ago. The enlightened Shvaana asked the panther, "What is your name? " To his surprise, the panther did not reply but roared again. However, the panther started speaking after few anxious seconds, "I am Chiru. Who are you, buddy?" Shvaana told that he was a research scholar at IIT and furhter narrated the story behind his adventure in the cage from the previous night. Chiru listened patiently.

Shvaana slowly came to the present moment and asked, "You came into the cage to eat me. But you did not even try to harm me till now." Chiru replied, "Not really. I am least bothered about troubling you. I wanted to go back to the park which is my home. So, just entered this cage." Shvaana told, "I can not quite get your intention. If you had wanted to go to the park, you could have gone by yourself." Chiru was not amused by Shvaana's logic, "The security guys will drop me there tomorrow. By the way, this is none of your business. I have talked enough with you, now I want to have a nap. Do not disturb me."

Shvaana wanted to talk with Chiru for some more time. He was disappointed that Chiru did not want to interact with him. He wanted to pester Chiru some more and convince him to talk. Shvaana told, "I also want to have a nap. I feel that I will not meet you again any time soon. Even if I meet you later, I will not be as protected as I am now." Chiru intervened, "Do you mean that I can not reach you now? I have the capacity to break this partition and eat you. As I already said, I do not want to harm you." Shvaana just ignored that possibility for the moment and continued, "That is alright. What I wanted to tell was, I want to interact with you for 2 more hours till the security guys reach here." Chiru patiently listened without accepting or rejecting Shvaana's proposal.

After a long thought, Chiru replied, "Your proposal seems to interest me a bit and you also seem to be a nice guy. So, I can consider talking with you for a while." Shvaana got excited, "Oh! Great! Tell me about your experience in the IIT over the past few days." Chiru got angry, "I have not accepted your proposal yet. I think you humans have very less patience. I get very annoyed with such creatures. For your sake, just wait for few minutes. Do not try to intimidate me till then, you might be in danger then." Saying this, Chiru closed his eyes and went to some elevated state. It was five minutes past four in the morning. Shvaana used this spare time to eat some more biscuits with honey. He even had some grapes and was quite occupied with his early morning snacks.

Chiru gradually opened his eyes after 5 minutes. Shvaana was fully occupied with eating stuff and did not realize that Chiru was available. Chiru started talking with a smile, "I reckon you do not want to feed any thing to your latest buddy." Shvaana turned towards Chiru as he heard these words and tried to escape by saying, "Not at all. I was still thinking that you were in silent mode and did not want to disturb you." Saying that, he offered Chiru all the stuff he had with him. Chiru ate two biscuits with honey and told, "You will be glad to know that I have decided to talk with you as you had requested." Shvaana was delighted hearing this.

Chiru continued, "But... There are some rules you must follow if you do not want me to quit the conversation in between. You have to agree to the rules if the deal has to be finalized." Shvaana had some suspicion on the rules and told, "I assume that the rules will not harm me in any sense." Chiru smiled and said, "No. Unless you violate them." This reply was a bit puzzling for Shvaana. Yet he trusted Chiru and asked, "I agree to whatever rules you impose. Let me know the rules fast. Time is running out. It is already four fifteen."

Shvaana, however, did not foresee how complex the rules would be and what were the dangers if he violated them.

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One Night in the Panther Cage - II

It was around 1 AM. Shvaana was in deep sleep. He was awakened by a noise at a fair distance from him. He could hear fast footsteps of dozens of creatures approaching him from the direction of hostel 1. He remembered that there was only one panther in the campus and was relieved that there was least chance of them being panthers. However he could see those four-legged creatures which were around 200m away from him now. He got up, made some noise and shook the cage a bit. His noise sounded quite like barking of a stray dog.

To his relief, they were all institute-animals commonly dubbed as dogs elsewhere. He could see them clearly in the moon light. Dogs were quite common in the IIT campus and their primary shelters being the messes and canteens spread across the campus. It was not a surprise for Shvaana when he spotted those dozen dogs. He shouted at them and glared consistently as they approached his cage. One of the dogs from the gang stopped near the cage to have a word with him. That dog seemed to be the most sympathetic creature out of the gang.

The male dog asked Shvaana, "Who are you? Why have you been locked in this panther cage?" Shvaana was quite surprised that the dog talked with him in English. He replied without any direct answers to the dog's questions, "How come a dog speak such a wonderful English? I can not believe my eyes!" The dog replied to his query, "You are a dog. If you can speak good English, so can I." Shvaana was surprised that the dog recognised him as another dog and had no comments whatsoever. By then all the other dogs had slipped into the darkness and sped away from that place.

Shvaana asked the dog, "What is your name?" The dog replied, "My name is quite complex. You can not pronounce it properly is suppose. My nick name is Tommy. You can call me like that." Shvaana was happy that he got a good companion to talk with whom he would be able to kill some time. Tommy asked him, "What are you doing at IIT?" Shvaanah told, "I am a Research Scholar here". Tommy quipped, "Oh! PhD student, really great!" Shvaana offered Tommy some grapes and honey. Tommy saw the biscuits lying with Shvaana and wanted to eat that too. Shvaana gave some biscuits as well to Tommy without much enthusiasm. Tommy was delighted with Shvaana's kindness and smiled at him.

Shvaana told the whole story to Tommy involving why he was locked in the panther's cage. Tommy listened to the whole story patiently. Tommy then asked, "You have not yet asked me why we were running very rapidly?" Shvaana realized that he forgot to ask the main question to Tommy. He asked, "Yes. I am very eager to know. Tell me the reason why you were running." Tommy was very jovial till then. Slowly his face became serious while he started narrating his story. Tommy replied, " Actually we sensed that the panther which is now in IIT campus was just somewhere near Sameer. So, we wanted to run towards lake side or hostel 12 to save ourselves." Tommy paused after that.

Shvaana looked stunned hearing that the panther was somewhere nearby. Even though he was within a cage, he was not prepared to come face-to-face with the panther that night. Shvaana tried to laugh it away, " Are you serious? Or just giving some arbitrary reason for your mad run?" Tommy told, "I am damn serious. You are my pal now. Why should I lie to you?" Shvaana was pretty upset with that answer though it was quite correct. Tommy told, "I can not stay here for long. You are protected inside the cage. I am not protected and panthers love to eat dogs. Time has come for me to leave."

Shvaana did not want his friend Tommy to get into trouble by staying with him. Shvaana told, "Thanks a lot for your information about the panther. Is there any chance that panther will not come in this way today night?" Tommy replied, " I think chance of that panther coming here is almost 100%. If there is no possibility, why should the security officer leave you as bait in the cage?" Shvaana was amazed with Tommy's logic, though it was not favorable to him. Shvaana started sweating even though it was pretty cold. He slowly got nervous with the reality which beckoned him very shortly.

Shvaana slowly became dehydrated and cursed the security officer for not leaving a drinking water bottle with him. Fear started growing on him as Tommy slowly became impatient and afraid about his stay with Shvaana. Tommy said jokingly, "Okay Shvaana. Let us be friends from now on. Meet you sometime later. I have to leave now, otherwise I might need to be in the panther's stomach." Saying this, Tommy ambled away from Shvaana towards the QIP quarters area. It was about 2 AM. Shvaana could not get any sleep after that. He could not think anything other than the panther . He did not realize that even if panther entered cage, he was not in any danger unless he stretched his arms or legs through the partition.

One hour passed. It was 3 AM. There were no signs of Panther yet. Sleep engulfed Shvaana again and he folded into the woolen cover. The inevitable happened rather immediately.

(To be continued...)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

One Night in the Panther Cage - I

Panther cages are used in IIT as traps to catch the panthers which intrude into the campus via lake from Sanjay Gandhi National Park. These cages are often active when many inmates of the campus spot panther over a period of time. A typical panther cage has a unique design with doors on both the sides and a partition inside. A dog is often kept as a bait for the panther from one door and it is tied to the cage. The door is then closed. When a panther enters the cage via the other door, the partition prevents the panther from eating the dog. Further, the second door is automatically closed as soon as the panther enters the cage. The captured panther is then sent to the park next day.

One day, Rhino, Hippo, Vulture, and Shvaana ('dog' in sanskrit) decided to climb the Sameer hill in IIT campus. They were all PhD students (commonly called with more respect as 'Research Scholars') at IIT. They left the hostel 12 at 5PM and took the path near the fencing to reach the base of the hill. On their way, they could see a panther cage kept near hostel 1. They slowly climbed the hill on a cement road and reached a place where another panther cage was kept at 6:15 PM. Shvaana was feeling a little dizzy and waited near the cage while others climbed towards the hilltop along the steep slope. Shvaana was feeling quite bored and was playing some games on his friend God's cellphone which he had carried along.

Meanwhile, many campus people cited a panther at different places over the past two days. Two security personnel at IIT received the panther alert and wanted to capture the panther that night. One was an officer and the other was his assistant. They came in a institute van along with a trained dog (to be used as bait) through the QIP quarters road. The dog somehow sensed that these guys were going to use him as the bait and found an opportunity to jump out of the van, managed to escape. Security personnel followed the dog till Ananta bulding which was some 200m away, but he vanished in the darkness.

Around 7PM, security guys lost the hope of capturing the dog. They prayed to the God to enable them to spot some dog in the vicinity. They slowly reached the panther cage where Shvaana was standing playing with the mobile. The guys who had climbed the hill up were coming down as well. Security officer's eyes lit up when he saw Shvaana standing near the cage. He thought that his problem was solved as Shvaana could substitute for the dog which had fled and escaped sometime back.

He approached Shvaana and asked him to help out by staying as bait inside the cage the whole night. Shvaana was initially puzzled what to do. After much deliberations, the officer convinced him. Being a childish person, Shvaana was pumped up and was thrilled about this (mis)adventure. The security officer locked Shvaana in the cage from one door. He left Good Day biscuits, grape fruits, honey, badam nuts, and an woolen cover with Shvaana. The officer and his assistant promised to come at 6AM in the morning and thanked Shvaana and his friends before leaving in their van. His friends did not want to leave Shvaana alone and wanted to spend time with him. However, they had no other option as the cage could accommodate only one person as bait. If they had stayed outside the cage and encounter the panther, they would be the first ones inside his/her stomach.

Shvaana was completely safe as he was fully protected from panther by the partition and just that there was a small possibility that he had to share the cage for sometime with the panther. Rhino, Hippo, and Vulture wished Shvaana 'Good Luck'. They were a bit worried about the possibility that Shvaana would be in trouble. They were hungry and wanted to go to hostel for dinner. It was getting dark as well. Shvaana offered them the eating stuff he had. The friends did not want to eat that and leave Shvaana hungry in the night. They finally decided to meet him the next day morning to listen to his experience. Rhino, Hippo, and Vulture slowly started walking towards the hostel half-heartedly.

Shvaana was sitting alone inside the cage 7:30PM onwards. The atmosphere was quite silent and there were no human beings around. He could occasionally hear sound of birds in the nearby trees. He could also see the lights in the Ananta building and some people having a walk on the balconies of that building. Fortunately he had a wrist watch to keep track of time. The cage was big enough to allow him to have a comfortable small nap. He ate some of the stuff which were with him and started his nap inside the woolen cover around 9PM. There were no signs of the panther. It was a very pleasant sleep. Even his girlfriend, who always appeared, evaded his dreams that night.

It was around 1AM in the morning when Shvaana's sleep was slightly disturbed by something quite unusual.

(To be continued...)

Friday, February 13, 2009

'Fraud' Haddin ?

Brad Haddin is a typical Australian cricketer who imbibes in him the win at all cost attitude. Last week, I saw his attempt at cheating against New Zealand. This video confirms his cheating. Already he is being dubbed as 'Bad Hands' for his poor keeping. In the last series against India, he tried to stop a ball by throwing his gloves on it. This latest cheating against NZ is another of innumerable acts to justify the ulterior motive behind a typical Australian cricketer to win doing whatever he can.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Trip to Mani's Lunch Home

Here is a blog post from Swanand, my friend, on our trip to Matunga today (to eat!).

Sunday, February 01, 2009

An Open Letter to Roger Federer

Dear Federer,

I was very excited about watching the Australian Open Final between you and Nadal. If you had won today's match, you would have equalled Sampras' record. I am writing this letter just after your today's match to let you know of the feelings of your fan (that is myself). This letter is just a reflection of my emotions after viewing the heart-breaking result.

I reached my hostel common TV room where the fans of Nadal outnumbered your fans, I started watching the match from the first game and was shocked when you got broken in the first game itself. You managed bring all your skills into action in the second game to break Nadal's serve. Though you produced your trademark shots every now and then, you were more worried than ever in a Grandslam final. Still you could keep yourself in contention by sheer determination.

The first set was filled with many twists and turns. I think you were a bit circumspect as you got broken thrice which is quite unlike you. In the process you lost the set 5-7. I was stunned. I sensed that the inevitable loss to Nadal was nearer than expected as he repeatedly targeted your backhand, both during serves and in the rallies. I left the TV hall to my room as I was emotionally pretty down as the Nadal fans became more and more vociferous.

The only option to me was to leave the hostel itself for sometime as my room is quite near the TV room and the shouting of the Nadal fans were quite audible even with the doors closed. I went to the salon for a hair-cut after informing my friends Swanand and Prakash who were watching the second set though they insisted that I should not leave. I simply did not want to see you losing to Nadal as he kept on targeting your backhand.

While I was in Salon, Swanand called me and told that you had captured the second set 6-3. I had mixed emotions in the Salon, though my instinct conveyed me that you would not go down without a fight. When I reached the TV room after 1.5 hours, you were 6-6 with Nadal in the third set. I did not have the courage to see the tie-break and went for bath. When I came back, I saw that you had lost the tie-break 3-7. Then, you were in top form again in the fourth set even though I did not have the patience to watch it fully.

I finally reached the TV hall when you had won the fourth set 6-3. I was pretty confident that the fifth set would be very fiercely fought though you had drained out by then. You gave a tough resistance to Nadal even when going down 2-6 in the fifth set. For me, today was another day when Nadal with his constant running around and hitting time and again to your backhand frustrated you and in the process won the match. Losing is a part of sportsman life, you need not get dejected with today's loss.

For fans like me, you are still the Best in this world. You might not have matched the speed of Nadal today but some of the points you produced through your stunning winners would live for a long time in my memory. I am very sure that you will come with new plans for Nadal's strategy today and you have the ability and skill to defeat Nadal in the French open this year. I just wish that you do not get bogged down by this defeat as you are no more a No. 1 player officially. That is a good cushion to have with you.

When Sampras was playing, I had decided that I would stop watching tennis once he retired. You came into the arena that time and were (are) a notch above Sampras. My interest in tennis increased many folds watching your game. Grand Slam wins 13 or 14 are nothing but mere numbers. The diverse skills you display on a tennis court have no match. To reiterate, you are still the best tennis player in this world. Please do not care about the journalists who thrive on writing articles for money citing statistical data and your vulnerabilities.

I sincerely hope that you will produce a lot more great games of tennis and entertain your fans the years to come. I have stopped watching Women's tennis for years since the retirement of Henin as I hate the games of Williams sisters and the innumerable Russian girls who play nowadays. I take pride in saying now that I will stop watching tennis altogether when you retire. I totally dislike players like Nadal who play the game using their brawns rather than brains. Only when another person of atleast 10% of your class and finesse arrives on the scene, I will again start watching the sport.

I strongly feel that you need to be in the scene for a long time from now to delight us with your amazing skills. You need not worry about Nadal or any other hostile thing for that matter. Even if they defeat you, you are the very best in this world at the moment. Such failures often occur in life to anyone. There can ever be only one Roger Federer. You have taken the game of tennis altogether to a higher plane.

Thanks for the lot of amazing moments of joy you have given us over a period of time. Expecting a lot more such moments in near future. You are very precious for fans like me.

Sincerely,

Your Die-hard Fan