Sunday, November 28, 2010

if(Being Employed.equals("

Can't believe its been 11 months since i landed at Madurai!

Never ending deadlines, reports , documents, meetings , customer calls , coding - works been hectic past 6 months- never have faced such pressure in my life,yet.

Mistakes, learnings, people , perspectives - all been a great experience , though stressful.

Bad food, hot weather , worst cafeteria food , absence of physical activity, cups over cups of sweetened coffee - did not help in any way.

Been a long time since i blogged, or orkut-ed , or fb-ed. Or read any book,or any blog.

Its become an obsession to get back to Cbe every weekend to meet friends and family, and for good old home food.

Hoping to get back to doing what i like rather than what others want me to do!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


On the eve of tuesday, i was thrilled and excited - the final game of the World Title match between Vishwanathan Anand and Vaselin Topalov was about to start. Scores were levelled at 5.5 - 5.5 . Wanted to follow the game live, but could nt because i was stuck up at office :(. Couldnt follow it up either till the next day.
Then i saw the newspapers the next day morning :) and felt a jolt of pleasure lifting my spirits - "Anand retains world title" flashed on the front page of 'The Hindu'.And ,he won it with black,with the Lasker variation! Hail Anand!
Worst possible start
Before the series began, i felt it would be really difficult for Anand, given his poor show of form , his age , and more importantly the form Topalov was in, and the sort of performances Topalov was showing the matches leading up to title challenge. To make matters worse, he had a 40-hour bus journey through 5 countries to the venue, Sofia - i play a bit of chess myself, so i know how it can exhaust you physically as well as mentally and that you need ample amount of rest to perform at your best level. And if your playing a world title match, i can imagine the amount of pressure and stress it will have on you!

The first match started, with Anand playing black. He adopted the Grunfeld Defence (my favorite , part of my repertoire) , that too the exchange variation (again my fav, popularised by Kasparov in his marathon battle againt Karpov,1984). And Anand,unfortunately mixed up his moves,and lost badly, in under two hours . I know how demoralising it can get!!

If you're a champion, you have to have it in your heart.

Like the true champion that Anand is, he bounced back in the following games , winning the second and fourth matches,with deadly attacks on the opponent's king. [ And personally, i didnt like the behaviour adopted by Topalov - not speaking a word to Anand, or offering a handshake before the game, as is the norm. Topalov resorting to mindgames outside the chess board - either he was over-confident and dismissed Anand, or he was actually scared. Anand,the true gentleman , maintainted courtesy and respect towards his opponent throughtout the series.]

The long hours of battle, extending over 5 hours , again, a style of play adopted by Topalov to drain out his older opponent , seemed to bear fruit - Anand slipping into inferior positions progessively with the games, and i guess he had to stretch his world renowned defensive skills to the limits to stay in the hunt. Games 5,6,7 were drawn. Topalov was not good enough to convert his slight advantages to wins against Anand's defences. In game 8, finally, after these intense battles, Topalov breached Anand's defenses. The world champ seemed drained, and missed some winning continuations in the games that followed. But clearly, Topalov had the edge and the momentum going into the final stages of the match. (oh no, we all know how dangerous Topalov can get!). But with the kind of dynamic defence which Anand displayed in these matches, the probability of Topalov breaching it was low.

World Champion 2010

Game 12. The showdown . Experts predicted a hung score,and that it ll be down to the tie-breakers (oh yes, we all know how Anand's the best! ). But no, we didnt have to wait that long- Anand won it , fair and square, with a solid display :) (Although the tie-breakers would have been a thrill to follow,and would have taken the imagination of chess fans across the globe to a new level!)

............................................The final handshake...after 56....Qg7

Anand , what a person he is! apart from his skills in chess, his unassuming manners, down- to-earth behavior, his honest and simple personality - who has inspired millions of kids in India to take up chess (I was one of them) - we now have had champs in all categories and age groups - U-10,12,14, 16, junior , senior - Asian as well as World level.Majority do not know this , thanks to media neglect. And I ve had the good fortune to have trained along with some of them. My own friend was an Asian title holder, who is now a grandmaster (S.Arun Prasad, from Salem). I dont think this quantum of achievement at the global level is rivalled by in any other sport in India.

What next

So,now Anand can hold the title for two more years. His meticulous preparation has paid off again (Kramnik was the previous casualty,2008). The next challenger? Might be the Norwegian prodigy, Magnus Carlsen . Till now, Anand has better scores against him,but ,for all you know, Anand's brain cells may wither with age,and Carlsen can be the new King. If Anand holds the title next time also,in his 40s, if not already ,will truely , truely, truely be one of the game's greatest-s.

Congratulations to Anand, Aruna , his seconds and the entire team. Lets all bask in glory!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaya

BottomLine : Great music, neat performances , good dialogues , nice cinematography and a mature love story makes VTV a must watch!

On my first viewing, i thought it was a good movie, which could have been a lot better - certain scenes could have been handled better,that more time should have been spent on building up certain scenes to release the dopamine from the audiences. But after my second viewing , i feel its an awesome movie.

A.R.Rahman - what can i say! The 10-15 mins of the movie were extremely enjoyable for me,with the maestro's score in the background. The songs - sheer brilliance! Gautam Menon has been meticulous in capturing the songs,it works wonders. The timing of Aoromale - one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Speaking of favorite scenes ,there are several - the NewYork park scene, the scene outside Jessi's house when he returns from Goa(the conviction in the voice and the face of Trisha), the calls n text messages to him when he is in Goa, Trisha after going back to her room saying ,"oh what have i done" , Karthik's emotions on hearing 'its over' , karthik locking horns with jessy's brother on the rooftop :) - and how can i not mention the songs,hosanna,anbil avan, mannipaya, kannukul kannai -makes me want to watch the movie again!

For once, Simbhu and Trisha have acted,yes actually acted (thanks to Gautam Menon). Hope Simbhu dons roles with some substance in them in the future. Ganesh has done a nice job :) ('jessy jessy solludha?' is also one of my favorite scenes!). Their characters, Karthik and Jessy, are real life,and the part that i liked most is that Jessi has her flaws,who goes back on her words,who doesnt know what she has to do,who is caught in the middle between her love for Karthik,and the respect for her dad's wishes.

Vinnai Thaani Varuvaya - in a long time, i've come out of a theatre feeling satisfied. Waiting to go for it a third time!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Need of the hour!

"Dai. Antha ithuu appo irunthuchula..."

"??" .

Going through exceptions in a new field can be so bugging and distasteful, sentences like these ('cause-the exception that cause this exception to be thrown' ) introduce some dry humour.

And,when you crack up to a bad mokkai,you know you are doing some terribly dull work. (I do agree,sometimes it does get on your nerves!)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Through the eyes of the Beholder!

A:"Yes,its is a better city.
Yes, the Volvo buses are nice.

Yes, the apartments and the climate too.

Discounts? Too good.
Cuisine? Yes,probably.

But NO,you dont have beautiful girls over there!

B:"Dude,look over there. That's one sure Hottie!"

A:"Exactly! I'm not complaining,but,Just a hottie,not beautiful!"

B:"You alright up there?"

A:"Girls here are well dressed,yes. Look decent too,appear educated. But none of them,as far as i've seen,are actually 'beautiful'! sad,man.Back home,they dont dress so well,but some are really beautiful!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

That Two Worded Phrasal Verb :)

Same phrase. Same Tone. Same Profession.

"Get Out!!"

In school,that was a dreaded sentence to hear.Issued by the teacher for annoying her,it was a source of great shame - standing outside the classroom,and watching other students gape at you like your an animal in the zoo - embarrassing to say the least. Girls would start crying, boys would hang their heads so low in deep shame.

During college :) (brings a smile as i recollect that feeling), as most would agree,it underwent a semantic transformation in the average student's psyche, so much so that sometimes we wished that we'd be sent out,( after giving our attendance ofcourse!) to escape the hour long excruciating lecture (some might argue that you can simply sleep,but my friends,some profs. just dont let you sleep,they crudely wake you up.Bless 'em!)

Sigh. Miss those days.

(Ofcourse,i pray i never get to hear it in the corporate world!!! )

"Copy what is on the board onto your notes!"

Certain individuals readily express themselves in a crowd given an opportunity,while certain others hold themselves back for lack of confidence,or for lack of adequate communication skills. Some individuals do not have the will to communicate,or simply, they are just feeling lazy to do so.( Typical Classroom setting?)

Where does this difference in individuals arise,in the degree of willingness to speak out in a crowd, in the manner in which they carry themselves on stage - i could reach only one logical conclusion(not a critical analysis by any standards,just expanding on the instinct)-the focal point -where attitudes are formed,perceptions are shaped,opinions take hold- our Schools.

Which reminds me of some of the phrases, repeated countless number of times by the teachers in the classroom,especially in the primary and secondary classes :

"Shhhh! Finger on your lips" - early primary :)

"Fold your hands and sit quietly! " - primary :|

"Stand up on the bench! " - upon not folding hands and sitting quietly :x - Primary,Secondary

"Repeat after me" - learning 'memory' poems :( - Primary,Secondary

"Copy what is on the board onto your notes!" - Primary,Secondary,High School, Engineering! :'( :'(

The Killer Line.

Teachers here try to control the class,and the emphasis is on inculcating obedience,and no encouragement for expressing yourself,thus turning down the natural enthusiasm for curiosity and inquisitiveness. Repeated over time, it kills the energy and the will for most students to participate actively in classroom discussions, effectively ending self expression and hence stopping the fuel for individual creativity.

No wonder college classrooms are the way they are,and no wonder placement training is all about getting us to talk and to express,and more importantly, to communicate to an audience- trying to take off the blanket of inhibition,trying to give spark to that instinct which had rusted due to the 10 years of very limited use. Western ideals appreciate individuality,being different from the crowd, and schools over there give space for participation,encourage your touch in what ever you do.

Sadly,even in my engineering studies, the emphasis was never on individual touches,nor was there any scope for thinking out of the textbook,leave alone implementation,save some programming assignments.

"Do the assignments on your own!" , the professors would tell us. Which actually means "Dont copy from others".

The Others would do the assignments on their own , which actually stands for the effort they took for plagiarizing. Assignments were almost always plagiarized, having been lifted directly from books or from the internet. The teachers would not mind it,and it would be awarded an A for their original work.

Some avenue for breakthrough innovation huh?

As one of my prof (prof. emeritus,one of the best btw,who taught us quantum physics) lamented,most breakthrough innovations have come from students from America,Europe or Japan.

Schools are the place to start ? I'd say yes. Needs a fundamental paradigm shift.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hope and Despair.

Thiruparankundram, Madurai.

Walking under the near-noon day Madurai sun,even in early January(winter?ya right),can be agreeably called as a sweltering experience. Hate to imagine how the place would be in the peak of summer,the sun would be at its incandescent best, bearing down mercilessly on the land.

I was late for work that day,having overslept by a couple of hours. Navigating the crowded and dirty lanes of Thiruparankundram,avoiding the mass of humanity on the streets,the dogs,the beggars,and the spit,with the hot sun overhead can make one's patience wear thin and edgy. Added to this,i had a demo to show on Mule ESB to my mentor that day,and hence was typing out a message to my teammate anxiously to enquire if he visited our seats. So it took a little longer to realise that something was tugging at my t-shirt gently from the sides.

Taken slightly by suprise,i turned to see a small boy,about 8 years old holding the edge of my t-shirt by the tips of his fingers.

"Enna da paiya?"(What is it boy?),i asked with a trace of irritation, at being interrupted from my task.

"Anna anna pasikuthu anna. Etha kaasu kodunga anna"(brother,i'm hungry..give me some money brother), he said in a shaky voice.

He had a small frame,and was wearing a white shirt that had dulled to gray with dust and dirt,and grimy dark coloured trousers.He had a thin whip tied across his chest,like the holy thread. A larger whip was slung over his shoulder.Looked like his family earned a living by whipping themselves for others amusement. I wondered what income they would earn a day.

"Dai. Enna vayasu da unaku? School ku ellam porathu illaya?" ( dai. how old are you? you dont go to school do you?)

He mumbled something in response.I repeated my question again.

"7 vayasu anna."( 7 years old bhaiya)

"School? Padikanum nu aasai iruka?" (school? do you wish to learn?)

"veedu illa.."(no home...)

"school la sapadu kodupaanga da. Theriyuma?" (they give you food at school...did you know?)

"veedu illa.." (no home...)

"Hm...un pearu enna?" (Hm..whats your name da?)

"Anna Durai",he said timidly.

Irony,it seemed. I told him he is named after a very good orator and writer,and that he should somehow aspire to have an education. He reminded me that he was hungry,and asked for some money. He sprinted away after i handed him a ten rupee note.


It was 8 p.m.The narrow,stony mud path leading up to my friend's place was almost dark,and it would have been pitch black had it not been for the light that escaped from the houses lining one side of the lane. The other side had weed shrubs, piles of sand,rubble and freshly dug up earth - the result of a demolition of a small theater a couple of months ago,as i came to know later. I took out my mobile,and with whatever light that spilled out from it onto the road, i started walking up the slope. You have to watch where you land your next step,because you never know what you'd step on- toads or dung,for instance. Jumping over the pool of water that had formed due to the leaking road-tap,i proceeded up the slope carefully,and eventually reached the end of the path,and thereby the house where my friend was staying.

It was quite a hard day for me,sitting before the computer and trying to trace that elusive bug,without much success.I was hungry.We decided to go have dinner. I came back onto the road and started walking. He was not out of the house yet, so i decided to wait near the brighter spot a few paces away,courtesy the house that had a tubelight fixed above their doorway.The atmosphere was almost quiet,with only the faint sounds of a television running somewhere nearby. Approaching the spot,i saw ,sitting on the steps near the door,a thin boy,with a book in his hand and a note on his lap.He seemed to be writing,back bent,with his face hovering inches of the note. He paused in his writing and looked up,no doubt hearing my foot falls. I stopped,turned away from the boy and waited for my friend to arrive. The boy went back to his work,i could say,as i heard the scratch of the pencil and the rustle of the pages.

A few minutes passed in silence.


I turned in the direction of the sound. It was the boy,now sitting erect. He had a smile on his face. He wore thick glasses,greasy hair,and looked frail. Maybe it was the glasses that made his head look disproportionately larger than his body. He was wearing a torn vest,and a pair of khaki half-pants.

"Hello!", i said.

"Enna padikiringa?",he asked. (What are you studying?)

"Studies mudinjuthu. Nee enna padikara?" (studies over..what class are you in?)

"9th std. My name is Karthik",he said with a smile.

"Ah,Nice! I'm Karthik,too", i replied.

"Unga 10th std marks evalo? Maths la how much?"( Bro,how much did you score in 10th? Maths?) , he asked with excitement.

"95 percent and 200."

He seemed impressed with the figures,and enquired more about my academics. I obliged.
I told him its nice to see that he is showing interest in studies.

"I want to be an aeronautical engineer!",he said in a loud voice. The english words were pronounced clearly,which took me a little by suprise,seeing that he studies in the government school nearby. He resided elsewhere,and had come down to this house to learn Hindi.

In a place like Thiruparankundram,where you can see lungi-wearing men of all ages loafing outside tea-shops and parotta kadai s almost all throughout the day,such aspiration to progress was really good to see.I told him this.

"We should be friends",he said,and extended his hand. Again,his english tongue was good,and his gesture caught me by total suprise,pleasant ofcourse.I laughed out aloud,and shook his hand.

"Super da! Nalla Padi. Nalaiku meet pannalaam seriya"(Super da! study well. we ll meet up tom ok?),i said as my friend was approaching.I wished him good night,and went to eat,with a light heart,thinking what book i can gift an aspiring,14 year-old boy.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Poachers.

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

- William Blake(

Tigers,one of the most charismatic,most magnificent animals to walk this earth.

Since my childhood,there were several associations with the great animal,albeit only virtually and in my thoughts. In school,The tiger was the emblem of the house,that i was in for 12 years. The flag had the yellow background,and the tiger painted over it in black strokes. The competition among the houses increased my bonding with the symbol,as early as primary school,and with the animal itself,eventually. It became a sort of an identity,and we used to argue naively over the superiority of the tiger over other animals,and how it reflected on the students belonging to the house of the tiger.

Today,it numbers a mere 1411 in the wild in India - Tigers are shot at and killed; snared; poisoned. Poachers roam free, while Tigers are boxed down. Irony.

Could there be anybody who could hate the animal,and gleefully say,"Your days are numbered",and not care about what happens to such splendid animals ?

Seems to be the case.

(Picture is taken from :