Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bush nominated for Oscars

Curious Gawker, Indian, resident in US, has a scream of a blog. Sample this.

President Bush's sequel to last year's State of the Union address called "Return of the King", which he will be delivering today at 9:00 p.m EST, is expected to sweep this year's Oscar Awards. The address, which has been nominated in three categories, namely, Best Actor, Best Sci-Fi Film and Best Writing (adapted screenplay), is expected to win all three, thus giving President Bush the distinction of being the first ever US president to have been publicly felicitated for his talent as an actor.

He is a seriously funny blogger and his posts never fail to be spot-on in terms of both satire quotient as well as topicality. Add him to your blog rolls right now.

update: Here is another blog post around the same event, the State of the Union address. Has its funny moments.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pichhurr Hall - Rang De Bakwaas

Every now and then a movie is announced with much fanfare and causes such a groundswell of public opinion in its favor that a strong opening is pretty much given months in advance. Story, direction, narrative, acting, compositions all cease to have any meaning.

And when you have the master of reclusive, and hence supposedly excellent, acting Amir THE Khan himself as your lead, it becomes even worse, or better, depending on your point of view.

The slick promos of RDB left me a bit disoriented. A robot like Amir jerking at Michael Jackson-esque angles in front of a firang girl in the middle of some ampitheater like setting, A bucking bronco being ridden by Amir, again, as if he has just finished the London Derby, half naked youth running in grass fields while jets scream overhead, and the soundtrack in the rear suggesting helpfully, Rang de Basanti, what is all this supposed to mean?

It is only when I started watching the movie that it dawned on me that the title comes from the original song that was made famous by Ajay Devgan in The Legend of Bhagat Singh. Okay, okay, I know it was sung by the original Bhagat Singh but still, I speak only from my own experience ;-) It would have helped if the promos mentioned this trivial link with Bhagat Singh somewhere in the promo but then any Rakesh who has a Y in his first name somehow obviously knows better. Yeah yeah, I know that was irrelevant but still had to put it in.

The first half is pretty tolerable though Amir Khan as five year out of college is quite unpalatable. And "Sue kar mere man ko, kiya tune kya ishara" is not quite my idea of sublime poetry either.

The real trouble is in the second half. Nicely tear inducing scenes apart, there are some obviously outrageous things there. And the second half is what makes me angry, very angry.

It is rarely that a movie forces me to feel irritated at its naive attempt at trying to be so many things, movie, entertainer, comedy, tear jerker, social statement, patriotism booster, Doordarshan documentary, stinging political commentary and a lot more at the same time. And I am insulting DD documentaries here.Due apologies.

A lathicharge on a group of protestors who could be obstructing a thouroughfare =
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre ????

A defence minister in this country, a corrupt one mind you, signs a deal for sub-standard parts for a MiG. The parts get delivered, are needed, are used in a plane, malfunction, the plane crashes. Since when did deals like this start getting finalised and completed within 5 years, the tenure of a government in India ?

And why is only the minister and not the Military top brass responsible for the same ?

If someone is corrupt, you have every right to pick up a gun and shoot them dead? Anyone who is deemed to be their crony, on the basis of a TV report, must be killed as well ?

No one is guilty until proven, anyone ?

And then you take the All India Radio building hostage, broadcast to the nation why you did what you did and the entire nation commends you for your bravery. Is this what this country is coming down to ?

To each his own? What happens to the legal institutions in the country?

What is the kind of message that we are trying to convey to the youth of the nation ?

And what makes it all sacrilegous is the fact that all of this nonsense is justified by drawing senseless and inane parallels from Bhagat Singh's life and times.

If this is path breaking cinema, if this cinema that shakes us out of our reverie, if this is cinema to make us think, then I dont want to leave the path. I dont want to get out of my reverie. I do not want to think.

Why dont these esteemed gentlemen stick to movie making ? For all its shortcomings, Aks was way easier to digest.

Gimme my regular escapist fare of Bunty aur Babli or Zinda anyday.

And what was that about a senior leader in a political party throwing a glass of tea on the face of his junior, who is then pummelled by everyone else present ? Do they really expect us to believe that kind of shit is possible ?

Political differences are not settled with glasses of tea. Acid bottles, petrol bombs, swords, pistols, kattas, tamanchas, rampuris, yes but not tea. Not tea.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Khaali haath shaam ayi thi....

Sometimes life does a neat little number on you and leaves you feeling why exactly do you even need to strive for anything if its so out of our hands anyway.

A huge amount of effort put in, a whole lot of sacrifices made, pain undergone, and a lot of things that cannot be put into words have turned to waste.

Not exactly back to square one, I feel like it will take more than a lifetime to even reach there now.

Enjoy !!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How do I feel

I feel like a kite, whose thread has been cut off, careening aimlessly, with an entire sky of possibilities open before it, but without any ability of steering itself anywhere.

I feel like a pet dog, which everyone says they adore, but lock it up when they go for a movie, and which is called upon and admired for its performances but never asked if it wants to perform at the moment or not.

I feel like a traveler, with no idea of his destiny, plodding on, and his effort fruitless yet obdurate.

I feel like a handicapped person, aware that he is falling down from his high perch, but powerless to stop it.

I feel like an undiscovered source of precious metals, having immense potential to enrich its founders, but unable to do so since the founders haven’t looked in its direction.

I feel like a soul hovering over its dead body, looking at everyone grieving over it and wondering why exactly they are sad since the essence, the soul is still intact.

I feel like a piece of cork tossing and turning on a stormy sea, thoroughly drenched but floating, tormented but defiant, unaware of its destiny yet battling.

I feel like a passenger who is in an alien land, lost in transit.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gaurav Sabnis, one of my favorite bloggers, proud IIML alumni, shining example of ideals over pecuniary gains, quiz - addict and Pune lover to boot, attacks the "call centres are low end" debate and adds some socio-political texture to the same.

In my opinion, this whole call-centre-bashing exercise is an unconscious expression of the deeprooted prejudices in our collective minds put in place due to the caste system. The whole idea of the caste system was, only a few jobs are respectable. All other jobs, be they menial or trade-related, were secondary. So what a brahmin does was admirable, while what the cunning sahukar or the filthy shudra does, was not.

These very prejudices led to the Indian middle class placing too much emphasis on medicine, bureaucracy, engineering and charterd accountancy as the A-grade professions. This unnatural order was further maintained due to the socialist policies of the state which led to unemployment as well as underemployment. So most people with a "mere" BA or BCom or BSc could not aspire to earn more than 1/4th of what an engineer earns. And no one thought there was anything wrong with that.

With the coming of even slightly free market policies, this changed. Improvements in technology made outsourcing a viable...rather a necessary practice. It started with software projects. Indian engineers through Indian companies worked on foreign projects and got paid good salaries. Everyone applauded. Suddenly "software engineer" or "programmer" were added to the A-grade list. The "brainy" engineers were now doing even better work than the early days.

But then call centers came. Anybody who spoke english, or even showed a willingness to learn could now earn good money. Thousands and lakhs of "lower" graduates, even under-grad students, could just work in a call centre and earn as much money as the software engineers!
A plush restaurant, an expensive discotheque on a weekend, mobile showrooms, car showrooms, apparel showrooms..... all these domains which were earlier restricted only to the engineer-doctor-types or the rich-kids were now invaded by hordes of call centre employees. The "caste system" was breaking down.

Excellent point, and one worth pondering on.

Monday, January 16, 2006

I won

After more than two hours of running madly around the campus, looking under pots, wash basins, behind commodes, under chairs, behind bushes and even inside printers, I finally finished the treasure hunt first and hence I get the prize mentioned in the previous post.

It started off pretty discouragingly for me and if I had not had the experience of conducting two treasure hunts as part of KONNECT, I would have given up. I kept plodding on and was finally able to crack the second clue, on which I was stuck for about 15 minutes due to a misunderstanding.

The next four clues went by in a breeze, I acknowledge the comprehensive support provided by Sandeep Gopal here, thanks mate, and after some more hunting I reached the clue no. 9 which seemed to have put quite a lot of teams in a bind. After a quick google search and connecting it with the commercial plaza on our campus, I ran all the way down to it and was rewarded by the security guard with the clue.

This gave me the tenth clue and again this was a tricky one and I saw many people scratching their heads, googling furiously, trying to crack it. A random flash in my head connecting a term given in the clue replicating with printers, a link that turned out be wrong, made me guess the Computer Centre and it turned out to be true.

The last clue was a bit complex, consisting of two parts. The first part was a cryptic phase which if decoded instructed the reader to use Google to translate the different words given the second part back into English from their respective languages. Another team from my own hostel, JC and Vishak had got the last clue just before me and were trying to figure it out. I had not cracked the clue but since I saw the words kantina and dispensador in the second half, I conjectured that the coffee dispensor in the canteen could be the final answer and so indeed it was !!!

And now I am going to get a 3 day / 2 night stay at Club Mahindra 5 star resort at Munnar for two. I am one, any one wanna join me ?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

the booty is there for the taking

The goodies just keep coming. And the first prize package of Backwaters 2006 is going to be found by one lucky team later tonight. Yes, its a treasure indeed, a Club Mahindra holiday package for 2 people for 3 days and 2 nights at the picturesque Munnar Resort.

Treasure Hunt

In other news, the first banner for Backwaters 2006 was finally put up today after 2.5 hours of grunting, head scratching and immense amount of thoughts, logical and otherwise. We thank Sam, Meren, Amos, Shounak, Pooja, Ridhi and Prashant for being there and helping us make it happen.

These days all I seem to be doing is checking and replying to email and working on Photoshop :-) Time has suddenly become a high premium commodity. But on the brighter side of things, the campus is definitely getting into the Backwaters mood and it feels nice to see the enthusiasm among the junta.

[cross posted on the Backwaters blog]

Michael Higgins, the economist (and blogger) is no stranger to this blog. As a blogger, the simple and still highly effective way he has explained fundae of economics and suggested solutions to many seemingly intractable problems is something that I have admired for long.

In his latest post, he tackles the servant - owner culture, as seen in countries like India, and puts across quite a few valid points.

The peon and pooh-bah culture is not unique to India. Europe in the seventeenth century was in many ways the zenith of the peon and pooh-bah culture. Consider Louis XIV of France. He spent everyday the entire day thinking of new ways for people to make him feel more important. This was his life’s work: being the great pooh-bah of France. His greatest accomplishment was inventing new positions to assist him in the lavatory. After using the facilities, one really wouldn’t expect a royal to sully his hands with “paperwork.” No, Louis XIV merely said, “Let the royal bum be wiped,” and it was – with a smile.

You tell this story to a classroom of American kids and you will get a very predictable response, “Ewww Yuck!!” The idea of strange hand touching this area does not appeal (well, not to most people). But they fail to understand the real value of having such a servant. The real value comes in the art of conversation or more precisely the art of belittling others in conversation. A monarch from a lesser nation comes visiting. Louis XIV deftly steers the conversation towards lavatory servants (great skill is needed to steer polite conversation in this direction). The other royal politely and innocently inquires, “What is a bum-wiper?

And at this point, Louis XIV exclaims, “You mean, you wipe your own?? Mon Dieu!

While the post is insightful and readworthy in its own right, what made me feel compelled to link to it is the snide yet highly enjoyable dig at the most farcical situation in Indian Cricket, Dravid and Ganguly.

Read it all here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

what's going on ?

Its 6 a.m. and there is no indication of the sun having intentions of showing its face here today. My room faces the east and its quite wierd. I wonder if the sun has joined the left parties and is participating in one of their regular strikes ;-)

In other news, I spent the last night making two animated gifs for Backwaters 2006. Have a look.

image copyrighted.

image copyrighted.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

the true take away from an MBA course...

... is the ability to fiddle, ala Nero of the burning Rome fame, until the deadline for anything comes so close that you can feel its foul breath and then suddenly find previously unknown sources of energy, ideas and willingness to be able to deliver on time, time after time. Baar baar, lagataar.

This was prompted by my teams', so cornily named, The Vampires, entry for IIT Kharagpur's fest's game Atelier which was finished in 4 hours flat from 8 pm to midnight yesterday when we had all of 1 week to do it. When will I ever learn ?

But on the other hand, isnt this a skill too ?

Moi shortlisted for systems game

Yes, Moi and my partner-in-crime, Surabhi, have made it through to the finals of the systems game at Backwaters 2006. And to top it off, we scored the max in the eliminations, yippee.

Check out the results here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

my design won

Well, the results of the Backwaters T shirt poll are out and it was pretty much of a kick to my ego to see that the overwhelming favorite design choice was my favorite too, that is the Design 4.

Why, you ask ? Well, because it was my design ;-) So were designs 2 and 3, which came second and fourth respectively ;-)

If you dont know what I am talking about, click here.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Backwaters 2006

Backwaters 2006, IIMK' annual management fest, will be held at God's own campus on Jan 21st and 22nd. Head to the Backwaters website at http://www.iimkbackwaters.com for all the updates on the same.

If you have any comments or queries regarding the same, then feel free to post them at the Official Backwaters Blog at http://iimk-backwaters.blogspot.com.

The next 2 weeks promise to be quite hectic as the D-day comes close and the enthusiasm and dedication of the Backwaters committee has got even the normally lazy and laidback me to get excited about the whole deal. Bring it On !!!

Friday, January 06, 2006

bahane of absence

The last some time has gone by in a whirl of passing vehicles and assorted form of transport as I spanned the length and breadth of the country in sporadic sojourns. If I look back to find reasons for the same, I am a bit surprised to find that there isnt any specific purpose apart from a desire to know more, to see more, to get out from the rut I seem to find myself in, to break free and other such nonsense. If you do not understand any of this, you are probably normal. If you do, please drop me a line. I would like to hear more from you ;-)

And it doesnt look likely to stop in the near future either. With my course coming to an end, on the cards are trips to Lakshadweep, Himachal, Kashmir, and many other not so glamorous locations. In fact, as far as my tentative schedule can indicate, I will be more or less on the road non-stop from 28th February to 29th March.

This of course does not mean that I will not be doing any roaming before then, its just that Backwaters, IIMK's annual management fest, has tied me down to some extent. So the wanderlust must be kept on a leash till 22nd Jan, after which I shall be totally free :-)

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