Saturday, December 27, 2008

Year-end scribbles

As I start my last post for the year, inching closer to my (short) return home for a convocation that looks as uncertain as it was 2 months ago, several contrasting thoughts come to mind..

1. The @$#% going on in NITC over the convo goes beyond blog posts now! Wild rumours about the 'expected' dates and even 'official' information of it being held in the 'second week of Jan' dont look so official now. So as the number of days for the stipulated date nears single digits, all I can say is : "Screw the Convo !".. After all, I wanted to meet friends, and do that I will. However and whenever it be.

One of my friends chose to describe the situation as : "Maybe the college authorities want to give us a surprise". Talk about seeing a positive side to everything. And anyway they already have surprised us by doing whatever they have done so far. Which is, nothing. I think an anonymous prank mail blasting our authorities should be in order any moment now ;)

2. Thoughts of spending the New Year moment flying are looking attractive day by day. No, I dont mean 'high' and 'flying' on something else :), I meant flying, as in, on Tiger Airways flight TR638 on New years eve. Wonder if we'll 'have a blast' in the plane.. I should hope not.

3. Despite point no. 1, the thought of wanting to give a boost to our Alumni association is now something for us to think of in a strong way. Proper alumni support is something my college always lacked. Another 'success story' on the part of the authorities, I can say, but instead of pointing fingers at them, I think its time we took matters and responsibilities into our own hands.

Take any other college in India, IITs, IIMs, anything else, and you see alumni support visible in their events, their decisions, even on their college campus. Alumni support makes a statement. That we passouts are proud of our college, and want to contribute to that which made us what we are. At NITC , but, we remember and feel the need for seniors and alumni only when searching for contacts. Say, like when for marketing for Ragam or Tathva.

Its time to change our 'live, enjoy, passout and forget' attitude towards college now. Through 4 years we took pride in our college and tried our best to contribute to it in some way. And at the end we cannot forget it as another chapter of our life. The potential of alumni is something that can change a lot of things that are lacking in a college.

Short chat with some of my friends and I were realised that we were concurring on the possibilities already. Alumni are everywhere - in jobs all over India (or the world).. in higher technical education doing their masters or PhDs somewhere.. in IIM's battling it out to get an MBA.. they are the best contacts we can get any day. They can help you get contacts to obtain an internship or training in some company of your choice. Tell you about the possibilities. Get you sponsorship for some events if possible (thats one thing that goes into everyones head every year around Ragam time :) ). The ones doing higher studies can tell you how to go about it. Recommend on where to go. What formalities they went through, What openings and opporunities are there. The highly placed ones can occasionally give talks when visiting the alma mater. And yes, if we're rich and happy enough, we alumni might even think of contributing something in terms of money :).

I cant think of ideas right now, but atleast a list of contacts of your seniors would be a good place to start for an alumni movement. A decent website wouldnt matter too. Everyone would know where to look to get in touch. Instead of having to go through orkut each time to find someone. Later on, planning annual get-togethers wouldnt be a bad idea.

All this, ofcourse, requires a bit of cooperation from the currently running batch, the passed out ones, and the authorities too. Not at all easy. But this will be what we will be hoping to pull off anyway, hopefully at the convocation itself where we can get hold of everyone. I hope the '08 batch pulls this one off too, like many other things we have pulled off :).

So, hoping for a year of wonders.. signing out.. and a Happy New Year to all of you out there !..

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Star light, star bright..

An experience you would've had at some point in your life : Its night, late night... You're walking alone, tensed, worried about next weeks assignment, or perhaps next month's report. Having no clue on what to do, you look up at the sky. Its night, theres not much sound or light within much distance, and you look up and see something like the one on the left.

And then you just realize : Man, the Universe is much bigger than I thought. So.. why worry ?

Well, maybe not the exact one, but all of us have felt this wave of relief on looking at the sky at some point. Star-gazing.. or just sky-watching.. as Carl Sagan put it.. is a truly humbling experience. Not just fun as a hobby, to spot a Saturn here or an Orion constellation there, or to make up shapes in the stars imagining them to be something out of our imagination.

Its a very relieving one too. How many nights I have looked at that clear black expanse, peppered with infinitely many tiny pinpoints of stars, and felt.. The Universe is so daarn big man ! There are billions of galaxies out there, uncountably many worlds unexplored, forms and phenomenons yet undiscovered ! And we are just a small part of it ! So why worry about some small mistake we did yesterday.. or some deadline thats about to come tomorrow. Its just a small nothingness in the scheme of things of the universe we see out there. Why worry ?

I still recall frequent star-gazing sessions I had with a cousin. The topic would start from astronomy, go over a wide range of topics, and generally always fade into some vague topic about fate or the future or of that sort. We attach so much importance to what happens around us, worry in the smallest of things instead of delighting in them. While all I am, is a single organism among zillions, on a small pale blue dot called Earth.

Next time something insignificant seems to nag you, remember these words from a famous address by Carl Sagan, from 'The pale blue dot' that inspires this feeling. The address is in reference to the photo on the right, a pic of Earth taken by Voyager 1 from a large distance. See where we stand. Earth. A pale blue dot near the centre. (The 'pale blue dot' also carries an environmental message that I simply loved)

" Consider again that dot (Earth). That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, ... every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, .... every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. "

Monday, December 8, 2008

Canvas in the heavens

Walked out of my lab one day and saw this ...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

To all losers (esp the ones without girlfriends) -

http://www.stwing.upenn.edu/~jenf/writing/rant04.html


Think there must be many of you out there who can relate to this one :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

'Gone'-vocation?

Since the great passing out of the NITC 2004-2008 batch in the mid of May 2008, there has been just one thing that 400 odd NITCians all over the world have been looking forward to. And its called a bloody Convocation !

Okay I admit, I'm frustrated, and college sick. No, not sick of college, as in, you know, home-sick doesnt mean sick of home, so, you understand what I mean. I cant wait to meet friends. Old teachers. The old places and hangouts. The classrooms even, yes, I loved them. And the officially recognised last date for doing this is the NITC 2004-2008 batch convocation date. Unfortunately, such a date doesnt exist. Not yet

Every NITcian at any place, wherever he meets up, I think this question is bound to arise. A typical NITcians conversation.h header file :

NITCian 1 : Hi.. how are you.. long time no see..

NITcian 2 : Hey.. how are you..
Heard anything about the convocation?

NITCian 1 : Nope.. last I heard, it was supposed to be held in December 2nd week.. but there was a chance it could happen in 3rd week also
NITcian 2 : Haha thats old info.. latest I heard, it been shifted to last week.. and if there is no time it might be in Jan too..

And so on...

So far, The convocations 'tentative' date has been shifted and delayed soo long now that its giving new definitions to the word 'tentative'. The 'latest' info keeps on changing every few hours. Me and co-NITcian Naren are in the process of finding new sources of information about the ever-so-secretive convocation date, as if it was High Sensitivity Military intelligence. Nope, not even CIA would have a chance at this one for sure.

Last I heard (and you should be laughing at that phrase by now), it has been fixed for Jan 10th. Plus or minus a few months I'm sure.

It seems that even after one year of missing NITC life and yearning to see it, the NITC beauracracy is bent on not allowing us to go for a moment without bitching about our system. It sucks ! having to wait so long to know.. Its just a degree certificate distribution after all, and most of the fun is in the meeting up.. So why make such a fuss about the event ?

Nevertheless we poor souls will, until then, keep betting on the date, calling up everyone from the Director to the Profs down to the students to catch on any rumours about the reportedly 'prestigious' event called a convocation.. Until then..

P.S : 'Latest' Highly confidential reports state that the 'latest' "tentative" date of the convocation is an evenly spread probability among all the saturdays in January, which includes 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th. Wonder why they wont include Feb too

Monday, November 17, 2008

A 'Novel' definition of freedom

(Warning : High FOSS Content)

A really depressing incident that happened at the recent National Conference on Free Software 2008. The event was widely hailed as a major example of how a government initiative is being taken to promote FOSS. Little did the public know that the people to do with the event were neither people who had any sort of experience/contributions in the field of FOSS, neither were they people who were in any sort of touch with what is called 'FOSS Philosophy'.

Bottom line : A 'Boycott Novell' Protester is manhandled at the apparently 'Free and Open' national conference. Why? Because he chose to make public his views on why a proprietary corporate like 'Novell' (which is widely regarded as Microsoft's playpawn against the rise of GNU/Linux) should be the main sponsor for such an event.

To go right to the story, here :

http://playingwithsid.blogspot.com/2008/11/boycott-novell-protesters-man-handled.html

http://boycottnovell.com/2008/11/16/novell-sponsorship-critique/

Read Anivar's full storyon his blog post here - a complete account, and you will appreciate the situation even more if you know what the political atmosphere at CUSAT is like (I have been there, I know).

To cut it short
- Yes, Novell Software (makers of Open SUSE) is no longer one of the heroes of the FOSS world, it has changed its stance well enough to make it no longer 'FOSS' in the true sense of the word. That even 'Open SUSE' may no longer be accepted in all circles as abiding to the GPL.

- Novell turns out to be main sponsor for the above mentioned Conference. Now what they are doing here, dont ask me. Its a sure joke on the moral groundwork for the conference anyway.

-Anivar Aravind, a major Open source activist in Kerala, and also a former student of CUSAT, was at the conference representing SMC along with many others (a FOSS Malayalam computing organisation).

Anivar and other SMC members had previously (on Saturday) taken a workshop on language translation and localisation, and language computing, at the request of the organisers themselves. Ofcourse, seeing the main sponsor being a familiar former friend turned enemy, some of the activists there decided to spread the word about why Novell can be dangerous to freedom, through posters.

Nevertheless, there were some pretty good posters depicting 'novel' ways to spread awareness. 'Say no to against 'Microvell' was one of my favorites.

So, as is obvious to anyone, you dont insult the main sponsor and get away with it ! :). The organisers spent no time in setting the police onto the people behind the incident. Who incidentally were invited guests only 24 hours ago. Ofcourse, no one really cared to ask whether the organisers ever knew what they meant by Free and Open source at all.

Or perhaps the world itself is still confused on what it means to be free :). I still know people who think using pirated Microsoft OS's means theyre promoting Free Software. (Aah.. thats what you thought too, isnt it ? :) )

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Long time no Tag !

Aaaaah... long time no tag.. and since I'm still fishing for topics (being winter, the fish arent biting), time to go for one.. I've got this one from Abhi..

The Tag

Two questions from the past, present and future. Answer them and then tag your friends from the blog-o-sphere. Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged and DONE.

Yesterday - Rewind..

Your oldest Memories..

Ooooldest memory.. maybe I was 2 years old.. a virtual horror movie I had in a lift in my apartments (Dubai). I was playing with a ball, which fell and got stuck in the lift doorway. Then the lift suddenly stopped, leaving us stranded between 2 floors. I faintly recall the firemen having to help us out of the lift. Luckily, mom was there to give me a saree to hold on to and blare away, while she took all the tension :).

What were you doing 10 years ago...

1998.. I am a teenager in the 7th standard in Sharjah Indian School, a peaceful Indian school in Sharjah, UAE. 2nd term exams are over by now, and the UAE national day is about to come up. Hence it is almost festival time, with Sheikh Zayeds photos and the flag and lights put up everywhere. Since it is vacation time, and I am blasting away on the computer playing games !

Today

Your first thought in the morning

Naren is calling me at 6.40 am, waking me up to go jogging with him. My thoughts are : "Oh, why the hell do I have a mobile? Why did he have to wake me up? Why did he have to remember me and call me too ? Doesnt he have any other job at 6.40 in the morning?... Waah, I wanna sleeeeeeeppp....." (Ultimately and surprisingly I did end up going for the jogging session :) )

If you built a time-capsule today, what would it contain ?

A backup of my entire hard disk, thats for sure. All my Photos, Documents, E-books collections, Songs, Movies, that would be enough of a time capsule for me. And yes, wikipedia, (sorry Abhi, couldnt help that one). Wikipedia is the largest definition of 'knowledge' in the world ! And yes, all Youtube videos qualifies too..

Tomorrow

This year ?

What year? Years over, dude !

Hmm, but in the next one year, I will have made some of what they call 'progress' in what I call 'research' here at NTU. I will have compiled 5 reports, a couple of papers, bunch of literature reviews, made a hundred presentations, attended half a dozen courses, met a thousand people, gone to all over Singapore and the adjoining Malaysia, Thailang and Indonesia, added a 100 more contacts to Gchat, and yea, become a total nutcase bugged with life.

Man, I seriously hope not !

What you see yourself doing 14 years from now ...(This sure is a weird tag :) )

14 years. I'm 37 years old ! I'm probably working as a scientist in some defense laboratory in India. Or I'm a lecturer in the Electronics or Electrical department at NIT Calicut, my alma mater. That was quick and highly specific, wasnt it ?


I tag

Aha ! Well, I'm not forcing it on anyone at all :).. So this tag, its open to all, up for the takes, but yea, heres a list of people I think should do it :


- Naren, on his Universal Monism
- My Dear (ex)roommate Drunken Mind, when he chooses to reminise
- Chathan, on his Quest beyond eternity
- Mahesh Mahadevan : Dude ! I just wanna know what you're upto :)


Monday, November 3, 2008

Aah..Life's got a long time to go..

Thats how we always feel about our life.. and death.. That we've got a loong time to live, so we can take it for granted.

We never realise that anyday anytime someone we know, someone who is close to us, can just stop in his tracks. Immobile. Paralysed. Unconcscious. Or worse, those four most feared letters. xxxx.

I bet you that you just rejected that thought from your mind now. Its natural of us to do it. When we think of it, we just leave 'death' as something that is not for us. "I'm young, I've got a loong life, so I can do anything to my body, take risks, smoke, eat uncontrollably, and I'll still live".. Yes, many of us do this often, and take our health or lifeline for granted. Or even if you dont smoke, have a good diet, exercise regularly, etc, theres still plenty of scope for something bad to happen anytime. Lets just call it Fate.

I read a book that says that the human mind tends to make jokes about subjects that trouble it the most, that way tryin to defend itself from its own fear. Its an inbuilt mechanism. Have you ever thought about the immeasurably large amount of humour made on death? Type death humour in google and you'll get plenty to keep you laughing. And movies, what about them? For one, I suggest you see a movie like 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'.. I saw the movie and was surprised that some of the most comic scenes in the movie that left me rolling over with laughter were the death scenes.

Or you can check out the phenomena of 'Gallows humour' about people making humour in their darkest situations. Believe me, that wiki link has got some nice jokes :)

But the seriousness of that dreaded word 'death'.. I come face to face with this reality now after news I hear about people around me. Friends, relatives, parents. People in bad health. Such news forces you to accept things. Things that you took for granted before. And yet after all these happenings I hear around me everyday, I still think I'm meant to live longer and hence dont need to worry about it. I'm just : 'Meant' to live. After all, the average life expectancy of an Indian is around 50 or so, right ? . And yet, someone in, say, South India, doesnt think twice when he hears that a few people were killed in Kashmir, or a bomb blasted in Assam and 76 people died. To him it is something far away and nothing concerning him. Similarly, to someone in the north, the bangalore blasts or the Tsunami, say, is just another news to catch on tv.

Well, so what about it, I cant go fearing our own shadow now can I. No, what I can do is enjoy life while it lasts. And accept that a sudden stop can come to anyody around us anytime . So from now on I'll just be prepared for it. And not take life for granted.

[ Sorry if that post was a scary one. Theyre just thoughts I wanted to let out. Maybe I should add a disclaimer at the top soon :) ].

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Little India in Singapore

Thats what it's called. Little India. Originally a 'district' established by the British during their regime, Little India is the hub of Indians in Singapore.

What strikes you most when you get down at Little India Metro station is that you feel you suddenly popped up somewhere in Chennai by accident ! Look all around, you see Indians, especially Tamilians. Tamil spoken all around, along with Hindi and the occasional Malayalam. Even the announcements at the railway station are made in Tamil, only for this particular station !

I got down at Little India to go to Mustafa centre, a get-it-all place, Mecca for all Indians in Singapore. You can buy anything there, food, jewellery, electronics, clothes, book tickets, send money to India, anything at all. We were at the Mustafa clothes store, tired of hearing some Indian language all the time for the last 4 hours and turning to find all Indians around us. At the bil payment, I was searching around when suddenly I catch some Malayalam being spoken !.. Surprised, I turned, to find out that the cashier guy was a mallu and was flirting with the other female cashier, who, u guessed it, was also mallu :). No surprises, this is Little India. And mallus, we are everywhere.

We went to the mobile store to check out some Nokia handsets. I was secretly passing critical comments to my friends in Malayalam, only to find out that all the salesmen there were mallus and had understood every 'secretive' comment I had made :). Well that was an embarassing situation I wudnt want to have again.

Outside, Little India is decorated for Diwali preparations. (check out the pic on the right) Brightly lit, you'd feel more excitement here than in India. We searched for somewhere to eat, and along the road we see the following : Saravana bhavan, Ananda Bhavan, Annapoorna, and Komalas. All Indian restaurants. How can you blame me for believing this was truly India?

We had some typical South Indian dosas at Ananda bhavan (with the song "Machchaan Peru Madurai" playing in the background). Felt like heaven. And a lot closer home. Even walking on a road here feels like India. Dirty, crowded and noisy. Ironically, some of the people here label Little India also as the dirtiest place in Singapore !

Little India is a true centre for India in Singapore. It houses quite a few temples and mosques, a bunch of cheap shopping centres for all cheap (Indian type) items that you would never in your dreams find elsewhere in Singapore, the main link for anything to do with India through Mustafa centre, and ofcourse, too many Indians walking and talking all over the place :-).


Hah! Did anyone say India was thousands of km away from Singapore !

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Breeding under Captivity?

This is a question I came face to face with through my recent Zoo visits, and a debate I had recently with a friend. Gave me another possible insight into the situation of captive breeding, and its possible implications on our attitude/duties/powers over or towards nature.

So many species are going extinct now. And yes, obviously we (humans) are directly or indirectly responsible for a lot of them. But now, if we cannot help it by not disturbing their habitats, does this mean breeding them in captivity to ensure they survive is a noble option?

Many of us have gone to zoos. And most of us have at some point felt :"How sad.. that animal must want to be free and roam the jungles now, instead of being caged like that".. But we may not think, that the animal if left in the forest by itself might not have survived in the first place. So by capturing it, does it mean we ensured it survived, and hence we have rights over its life ?

I am not taking sides in this argument. I do think that captivity is important sometimes to make sure that atleast the remaining species dont go extinct. But then, when I see the poor cheetah forced to walk about in 20 yards of space in Singapore zoo, I remember the dialogue I have quoted previously also from Wall-E : "I dont want to survive.. I want to live !..".. and I imagine the cheetah saying this while he suffocates in his meagre make-do 20 yard jungle.

So, simply survive, or else live free in some jungle under the risk of extinction. Is that the only options these creatures have now?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Singapore hosts World's First Night Grand Prix..

"... and we dont have the tickets to it!! We must be the worlds biggest losers!!... "
This is the desperate post I was about to post until on Saturday, my luck struck big time, and finally I ended up getting tickets to the Formula One Grand Prix !!!!

Its an amazing experience, in that you feel the sheer raw power of the vehicles as they blaze past you in thunderous speed, the ground virtually shaking under their speed and sound. We had to wear earmuffs to reduce the damage of the sound. The engines and fuel for GPs apparently challenge even airplanes. You can feel the flash as the car goes by at speeds of around 300 kmph, and wonder at the beauty of the car and the drivers skill.

But unfortunately, unless you know what car belongs to who, you cant even make out whether it was a Hamilton who zoomed past you or a Raikkonen :-). We had to stand at the turnings where the cars slow down to even get a look at the cars. You can see the 'whoosh' in some of our pics even (not uploaded yet, will do soon).

The Singapore GP, the worlds record-setting first night-time GP, was held over 3 days. Friday: the Practise sessions for the drivers, Saturday : the Qualifiers, which is what we went to, and Sunday : The main race We went at around 7, watched a practise session, then walked around the place seeing different angles of the circuit. The funny part about the GP (similar to what happens at a cricket match) is that you cant follow anything at all about the race unless you get to a good old TV somewhere. So ultimately we saw in a TV screen that Massa had got Pole position through the qualifiers :-).

Other than that, the atmosphere was thrilling, and the scenery of skyscrapers against a backdrop of the Singapore Marina and some nice hotels was awesome(it was at the heart of Singapore city). There were plenty of Europeans around I can say(theyre apparently crazy about F1), and lots of food stalls and entertainment camps scattered all around the place too.

Could'nt catch much of the finals though :-(, and missed seeing Alonso fight it to the top from the bottom of the list, while Massa, who was at pole position, went all the way to the bottom by the end of the race.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Park Hopping @Spore

So, what have I been doing in Singapore? Heres what the last 3 weeks have been about.

Theres an unsaid understanding among our group of friends here (thats me, Naren, Ravi, Deepak, Ashish and Amrith) that no weekend shall be spent boring away to death at the Laboratory here, like the rest of the week. So we came upon the Park-Hopper deal.

Park-Hopper was a 3-in-1 : the Singapore Night Safari, Singapore Bird Park, and Singapore Zoo. For 40$, I must say it was an awesome deal. We decided to start off with the Night Safari, since it sounded the coolest.

Singapore Night Safari :

Dont be fooled by the name - Night Safari is just a zoo with a more natural setting, and animals that are more nocturnal in nature. It was nice nevertheless. There are 3 'trails' that lead you by footpath among not-so-dense forest covered areas through enclosed areas containing animals.

The night-time experience was good enough, with the nocturnal animals conveniently seeming to appear at the right places for the viewers to see. Though the Night safari wasnt quite natural and adventurous as I expected it, cos the animals were all fully enclosed, it was still entertaining to walk around the 3 trails (leopard trail, fishing cat trail, and tree giants trail).

The worst problem was that being night, we couldnt take too many photos, as flash also was not allowed since it scared the creatures away. So the only photos we could take ended up being those at Z-bar :-) and the entrance.

The night safari ended up being a midnight one, as we lost both our last train as well as last bus. We ended up taking a bus to the closest heard bus stop to our campus, having a midnight snack at MacDonalds, and then walking by foot over 2 hours to our hostels.

Jurong Bird Park

The Singapore Bird Park at Jurong is reportedly the worlds finest one. I had half expected it to be boring, but it turned out to be an awesome experience than ever!

The highlights of the trip, apart from being able to see all species of rare and beautiful birds like eagles, vultures, hawks, ostriches, mackaws, penguins, lories, cockatoos, toucans, pelicans, etc, was

1. Feeding the Lories, at the Lory loft. This was an enclosure in which lories fly freely about. If you're ready to feed them, they get real friendly and even perch on you while having a snack. Beware, really hungry ones can get violent and competitive in stealing the food from their friends.

2. Watching the shows, which were too cool. The first one was in general about bird species, where birds were made to do tricks. For example, one Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo was made to fly upto where I was seated and give me a free-drinks voucher :-). Unfortunately, I ended up buyin a more expensive pic of the same(below)

The second show was about birds of prey, and we got to see some of the biggest birds in the world! Including the Himalayan Eagles, the Bald-headed eagles, Brahmin Kites, etc

Unbelievably, we also got to see, touch and even take photos with a penguin!.. And talk to cockatoos(they say "Hello", their name, etc).. And go into the 'World of darkness' where we caught some really exotic owl species.. The whole package was really entertaining, notwithstanding the good collection of 'Chicks' that were roaming about :-).







Singapore Zoo

So you might think, after all this, what would a zoo have to offer? Well, whatever doesnt fall into the above 2, comes in the zoo.

So somehow we ended up at the last phase of the park-hopper trilogy in the morning(oops, afternoon). By now, we had become experienced 'park-hoppers', and had hence come with full supplies of food and water in our bags, and also the mental courage to last walking till evening.

There was a wide variety of animals, to say the least. I cannot possibly set out on a list of species that we came across. Some surprises for me included the polar bears (here in Asia?), the white tigers and the sealions (I thought they were for the ocean !), apart from the species shown on the right here(the 'park hopper team'). We(especially Naren) engaged in particularly vigourous photography here, not sparing any of the animals from a "Say Cheese.."

There were 3 animal shows here, both involving tricks with trained animals. The Splash show involving sealions was particularly awesome, and the sealions showed excellent form and intelligence in performing the tricks. There were shows by apes, elephants, etc also, and shows centering on rainforest conservation. We got the chance to get kissed by a sealion at one of these Yea.. you guys must be like.. "Yuck!.." now.. it was a particularly juicy kiss. Like Naren said, I hope its not my last kiss :-)

However, I must mention one thing. Going to all these has definitely brought about in all of us a greater sense of belongingness to nature. And a greater want to protect teh environment and save its species ( as if I already wasnt tree hugging enough :-) ). So much that We are all into watching nature documentaries now on DVD :-)

So before I finish, heres a pic of a board we saw at the zoo before we left. Its apparently some native Indian saying. And those lines will remain with me forever.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wall-E.. with a Green message..

I initially planned just a movie review about Wall-E. 'It rocks', 'must see', etc. But thats just not what this movie is about. Its about the message. A message that has been around for sometime and yet finds it hard to enter human brains nowadays. So this will not be a review exactly.


Wall-E by Walt Disney, as you all may already know, is an Animation movie about the robot Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth Class). Wall-E is all that is left on a desolated Earth that has nothing but leftovers of a human civilisation. I wondered whether it would be worth watching an animation movie in the theatre. Maybe, maybe not. But for Wall-E, the theatre makes a difference - The first 10 minutes of the movie will hit you full in the face. A large screen with an earth filled with nothing but trash. A picture of the future of Earth. Scary stuff, man.

Trash, trash all around. That's what Earth is becoming. Or even the space above Earth for that matter. Why dont we realise it? Even if we realise it, why dont we wake up to it? We know the 3 R's (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle - do you know? :-) ). We know we can do it. And yet, why dont we go ahead and practise conservation like our lives depended on it? Cos our lives do depend on it, u know.

"Feel your place is becoming a trash can? Well, dont worry, let Wall-E clean it up for you..".. Ya right..

Plastic bags, for example. We all know how easy it is to reuse plastic bags for our shopping. And yet anywhere I go, no one seems to want to reuse them. All of them want brand new bags from the grocery, more junk for Earth to consume. It is not being miserly, you cannot save money by reusing plastic bags. You can only save Earth.

Just think, if you reused a plastic bag 1 more time by taking it to the grocery store, you cut down your plastic consumption by half! 2 more times, it becomes 1/3rd. If everyone did that, the plastic bag consumption would fall drastically! Why hesitate to take a bag to the store and tell the store-lady that she can pack it for you in your own bags? What right does she have to refuse you and insist you use her own plastic, and thereby add more of her own plastic waste to Earths system? I try my best wherever I am to reduce plastic consumption, many people do. Yet a few people cannot make a difference. Thats why I blog :-)

Yes, Wall-E is scary. Apart from the future of the Earth, and inducing a sense of love towards trees and greenery (the green colour rarely comes in the movie that you actually love it when you see it), it wakes you up to the negatives of mechanization. Imagine a world of couch-potatoes, not used to walking, not used to socialising, stuck to their screens (I am now :-) ), not knowing whats outside. Getting lazier. And obese. Man, I really felt like taking a walk after I saw that scene.

Wall-E ends on a good note. The robot Eve looked cute, and Wall-E even cuter :-). The Robot-romance scences were nice alright, well shown. But the environmental feeling - thats what I carried out of the theatre.

I'll end with a dialogue from the movie. Sorry guys, I may be spoiling a bit of suspense here, but like I said, this is not a review. So if you dont want to lose suspense dont read the below conversation between the Captain of the Axiom ship and the Bot 'Auto'. My favorite dialogue.

Captain : "This place.. Earth is beautiful. Auto, take me to Earth right now"
Auto : "Captain, conditions on Earth are not good. You may not survive"
Captain : "I dont want to Survive ! I want to LIVE ! ..I want to do it on Earth !"

Conservation is no longer our gift to the environment. It is our duty to nature. It is a sin not to conserve. By not conserving, we are guilty of murder. Of our future. This is not a doomsday prediction, or a conspiracy theory. It is, as Al Gore put it, an Inconvenient truth.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Power Of Bullshit

Bullshitting, or technically speaking, the art of effective presentation aided by tools like exaggeration, right tone and facial features, big words and sometimes even bluffing, is much more important to the academic or technical field than one might think, as I came to know here through some seminars I attended recently.

All through college, I was used to seeing people who were good at bullshitting get away with their hurdles like project presentations, seminars , and most importantly, EXAMS, despite having not an ounce of technical content in their work. Theres also the other type of people, who know their stuff, and have content, but do not know how to put it well. They might put in more content than the former type of people, but the former type still has longer answers, more slides, bigger explanations, better diagrams. So the end result usually goes in favour of the bullshitter-who-knows-nothing than the Know-it-all-who-cant-bullshit.

(Comic strip courtesy phdcomics.com Check it out, theyre really awesome.)

Even at our major project presentations, we learnt that learning to speak confident, project your tone even though you dint really know what you were saying, presenting slides clearly, fully and in laymans terms, were of utmost importance to the profs. What you did in the project did matter, content was important, but it was nothing compared to the big presentation.

At a Ph.D confirmation of my friend X recently here, I learnt that the same applies to the whole academic community. My friend X : it was clear X had got results, fairly good findings in the field. But despite this, it was a hard time for X at the end, almost got screwed by the panel. Why? If my views are right, X lacked in presenting his views clearly. The panel was very much like what we had at NITC : Profs waiting to ask qusetions to screw the students. The questions asked were also similar : If u present one method, they ask if you have explored the other methods and why not, etc. X presented ok, not so forcefully, and neither could he answer his questions in a glamorous way or in laymans terms. He couldnt add the masala. He didnt look confident enough. And remember, these are the very principles of project presentation we learnt at NITC.

So people, next time you hear a guy and say "That guy is full of bullshit..", remember, that guy just might be closer to a Ph.D than you think :-).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Friday Syndrome

How many times have we got up on a Friday and thought "Oh Hell, the weekend is here, I might as well take leave today..". Or thought "I cant wait to be free.. " or "I must make plans for the weekend" or something like that. Friday - The last working day of the week, and the best of all too. I have come to notice this mental pattern, and we dubbed it the 'Friday Syndrome'.

It was common for us in College and even here in NTU, to consider Friday as an early start to the weekend. For that reason Friday is not like any other weekday, it is generally the least productive. Half the time is spent in deciding what to do for the weekend. People generally leave early on Fridays to get an early start to their weekends.

And yea, in college, most people used to bunk Fridays totally. In which case their weekend started one day before, and it used to become a 'Thursday syndrome' :-).

Ofcourse, everyone must be acquainted with "Monday syndrome" . The "I hate Mondays" feeling or "Monday-moodoffs" - Monday being the first working day always gets to be the worst. In particular, Monday first-hours were our most hated moments in life. The only thing worse used to be post-lunch sessions on Monday :-). Sometimes, an early manifestation of Monday syndrome appears on Sunday night, in which case the thought goes like "Oh my God, the weekend is over, now tomorrow its back to slogging our ass off again... Groooaaannn.. ".. I think I hate this syndrome even more than Monday (it would probably be "Sunday evening syndrome")

Anyways, so here I am on a Friday, hallucinating(/hoping/wishing) that despite being a working day, my weekend has already started off, and so I should start off my weekly posting :-)..

Monday, August 18, 2008

Open Office 3.Rocks !!


I'm hearing news about Open Office 3 beta version ! And the reports are so unbelievably great !

Open Office, the best Office suite in the world, has now further entrenched its position by blasting away with its 3rd version. Some hi-fi news about OO :

1. The presentation tool Impress is now way too cool, probably has beaten the best in the field. OO Impress even has Apple Keynote's functionality of multiple screens projection and next screen prompt etc.

2. OO owns PDF files as if they made it ! You can now handle and edit pdf files just like an office document !

3. OO can open Word 2007 files ! If the reader is aware from my previous posts on the OOXML controversy, you will understand the cream of the joke is on Microsoft. Because the latest Word format (.docx, .pptx etc) are not open formats, and thus their formatting/processing are not supposed to be known to anyone except Microsoft ! Well, nothing is impossible for the Open source community eh.. they have virtually hacked into Microsoft Words own format!

4. Open.office.Calc has superb features like Optimisation and Solving !


Just Cant Wait to get my hands on it. Well, what are you waiting for? Go

http://download.openoffice.org/3.0beta/

Friday, August 15, 2008

Independence.. is still to be fought for..

Happy Independence Day to All!! May this great nation achieve greater heights still.. May we own this century, like we rocked the world thousands of years ago once..

There's a national flag hoisting at the Indian Embassy of Singapore here.. Might be able to see it if i wake up at 6 tomorrow.. In other words, I wont be able to see it :-)..

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What is Research

That test tube you see on the left. Dont you feel it represents the term "Research" quite well more than anything else? Well nothing could be more wrong.

I never quite fully understood what research was. Or how it worked. How did people think of new ideas just like that? How did they find it? Do all researchers work in labs doing experiements ? etc etc

That was until I met a cousin of mine who was doing research in IMSc Chennai. I was more shocked by the fact that his 'experiments' were all conducted in a closed room that resembled more a cubicle in an IT company than a laboratory !

In fact, in IMSc, all research which spans physics, maths and computer science is done by 'research scholars', much like you and me, in closed rooms like this with AC. I was also amazed by the easy life they led, the fact that they actually got paid while enjoying life researching.

Now I have a fuller idea of it. My research centre, or 'Office', as I call it, at NTU, is called CEMNET. Centre for Multimedia and Networking. And trust me the only multimedia and networking they have is the pc speakers and the Internet on the computers installed at every terminal :-)

Advanced simulation techniques, mathematical modelling techniques, data-gathering techniques, database management systems : these 4 things have made it possible to conduct 'experiments', or research, in 'labs' with nothing more than a computer terminal in front of you ! Its an amazing concept ! So the result? Im no longer a scientist in a white labcoat with glasses and test-tubes, but rather just a guy in front of a terminal with G-chat open most of the time :-)

Well things may not be that easy,because research is nevertheless the most challenging thing anyways because it does'nt ensure results. You'll never know if what you were working on for the past 4 years will be useful or existent. And if it clicks, you have a Ph.D. If you dont, well, you're an unlucky loser, thats all. And in the initial part of research, you have to do a looot of study, literature survey, to keep up to date in the latest research in these fields you are going into. That itself is a hard process that may take upto one year or more, from what I see. And yes, its still a continuous process even when you're researching something new, you still have to keep yourself abreast of the technology by reading.

So basically, thats my job at the Cemnet now :-) Nerd off, read read read, and find everything that is written in my field. And then research to find something new so I can add to that ! Signing off now..

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Kitchen Laboratory

If you're staying outside India, food will definitely be one of your major expenses. So under this assumption we started our research strongly in the kitchen lab (instead of the DSP lab where we were intended to do so :-) ), and have been cooking well for some time now.

Ofcourse, the main thing is that when u cook it, whatever it is, tastes good. Here are some pics of what turned up at our latest experiment. It was (supposed to be like) Sambhar saadam. Theres some potato fries for company too.

One thing I learnt after coming here, even more than my college life, was to respect Mom's cooking. The first day we experimented with Rice and one easy curry we took around 2.5 whole hours to cook it! Its better now, but now I understand how much our mothers put in for us just by cooking 1 or even 2 curries for us daily.

Anyways, I guess 4 years is a long time, I have quite a lot of papers to present in this vast unexplored world of cooking :-)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The One-Month-Smoking experiment

(Wow, I reached a half-century of posts last time! And I dint even know it! Ok I'm not coming up with Singapore chronicles part 2 yet cos I dont have any photos, but what I'll do is post a story from one of my college-memories.)

I referred to it as the "One-month" experiment with Tobacco. Smoking. There was a great deal of talk (and I'm sure all of you know this) that once u get addicted to smoking properly its very hard to stop it all of a sudden, and u can do it only gradually. So this guy at our college wanted to test it out. No names, sorry.

The experiment : Mr X decided to start smoking one fine day. Continuously. In chain fashion. Packs after packs per day. He would do this suddenly and continuously for one month. And then, at the end of 30 days, he would (attempt to) stop it fully! Just like that!

It was an experiment not only to test the addiction of tobacco but also the guys self-control. It was a bad idea, doing that with his own life and health. We were all critical.. What if the guy failed the expt and did get addicted?

As everyone knows, quitting smoking is hard both physically and mentally. Physically, a smoker who stops for even a day, will experience headaches, tirednes, restlessness, and even problems in going to the loo ! (courtesty : friends of mine) Mentally, its hell, really.. you cant keep your mind under control for its cravings, its just restless, and you even lose your mood and isolate yourself from friends. I think these are called the withdrawal symptoms.

I underestimated the power of tobacco myself once. The first time i tried it out I hated it and hence took an oath never to do it again. But amazingly after a few weeks i started fancying another smoke! And to be honest, the first one dint even give me a high and tasted particularly bad too! I was amazed at how tobacco had fooled me! Needless to say, I did have a few smokes after that, but it stopped with college anyways, well, I got from it what change I wanted by testing it.

The point is that Tobacco is a highly underestimated, misunderstood evil, which in my opinion is worse than alcohol but sometimes not feared as much even. No wonder its so badly common then. A recent documentary i saw rates tobacco as the number 9 most dangerous drug on the list. And it comes above Cannabis, Ecstasy and LSD ! And the worst part? Its out there still, so common, that you yourself have a passive puff sometimes..

Anyways, Good news. Because after all this, Mr.X passed the one-month Test ! He stopped smoking one fine day after 30 days ! So, well, I guess the situation is more hopeful than we think finally.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Another war in the Fight to Freedom

The Free Software world will win someday. I'm sure of it.

Heres a story of a knight fighting for his freedom in MES College, Kuttipuram. Its a real treat to read the Open letter by him to his HoD on installing Free Software in his labs for his experiments, especially when these are not only easy to use, but also theres no restriction in the curriculum mentioning what software to use.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Back online!!

"Give me net or let me die here.. "..said Atul Chitnis at FOSSMeet '07 at the pathetic net connectivity in our (ex)college NITC.

Well finally atleast I'm back online already here at NTU!!

So beginning from basics, I reached Singapore Nanyang Technological University on 17th morning. Jetlag and only 2 hours of sleep. Notwithstanding that we went on to our college to proceed with the formalities.

What struck me first was the neatness, systematised (er, is that a word? ) way of functioning of the place. The roads itself were a sight to behold, larger than probably any of our NHs. As I and Naren reached NTU, International Student Services was waiting for us and directed us on what to do. We soon proceeded with formalities and landed in a room in Nanyang Heights.

(not many pics yet, sorry, dint get my cam :-) )

The medical test we had to undergo in the noon was a great experience. We had to undergo all sorts of test, even test our urine using paper sticks!! And there were blood tests and even a Chest X-ray to check for TB !

After that we toured the beautiful campus a bit. NTU looks like a toned up version of IIT Mumbai, maybe twice as big or so. And neater. There were a large number of canteens with enough vegetarian outlets, so I had no trouble finding some vegetable chow for myself.

The only sad part was that theres no more hustle-bustle here because the classes have not started yet. So the crowd is still thin. But yea, there are treats for the eye :-). Still, somehow I dont think the place would match the hullabulloo that we had in night-life at NITC.

In the night I discovered to my delight that I could access wireless net here from my lappie. That was it!! Night out time! It was mailing and chatting till 2 am.

So anyways I guess the blogs not off after all.. Hoping to get a cam and get some pics to post on blog soon..

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vacation ends, New world beckons, Old language makes frontiers


Bottom line : Day after tomorrow I'm off to Singapore to do my higher studies.


So the last few days have been hectic, finishing off all the relatives visiting and shopping. Owing to the timely hartals in Kerala (a blog subject all by itself), I couldnt even put in one decent day of shopping yet.




Linux Translation to Malayalam (for the next version of KDE Desktop) is one of the most satisfying things Ive been doing. It was an adventure all in itself, it started off with a handful of people like Manu, me, the pros Ani, Praveen, Santhosh etc.. soon the group became larger.. our deadline (13th) loomed closer.. people put in more night outs.. we made a wiki to make sure everyone knew what to do and what the other person was doing.. there was a googlegroups to consolidate things.. a project leader.. and even IRC online meetings sometimes..

It was the best online managed project Ive ever been part of!!!
To say the least, we made the deadline!! KDE 4.1.0 will include Malayalam in it!! And I'm an official Linux contributor now! (dont get boggled by that, its really too easy :-)

People who want to know more go to the site KDE Malayalam FCI Wikia
And you can learn how to contribute easily to Malayalam translation in Linux. Even I can add a few pointers, if you want :-)

Other than that, Ive been to Chennai, Calicut, Palakkad and back in a matter of days. Visited my school and met my old teachers. Went around the neighbourhood. These are the nonsensical stuff I've been doing the last few days.

To end it, a foreward bail : I dont know when I might see the Internet world again in Singapore, so my blog wil probably go on snooze for a few days now. Hope I can make it to a terminal on time :-)

Monday, July 7, 2008

After reading my chalified movie review on 'Dashed'-Avataram, Mahesh commented on this one with a few crazily good chalis.

So this one is for the PJ lovers out there (I am one of them, so please keep your chappals down :-) )

Kamal - the 'shava' thaaram
Himesh - dasha avathaaLam
Mallika - the sha-wah! thaaram
Appeasement - desha (I mean rashtriyam) avatharam

Non-Mallus who dint get the puns, please excuse me.. Others, if you're out for mine or Mahesh's blood, you wont find me on my address any more .. I'm in Trivandrum and then Chennai visiting :-)..

Friday, July 4, 2008

Freedom, Finally!

I have done it! On 25th night at 11 pm, my computer was freed (well not totally) from the feudal rule of Microsoft Windows!

I have now shifted usage almost completely to Debian Linux. I dont want to elaborate on the advantages, read Hari Shankar's blog here for a Free man's view on Open source software usage.

But I've to mention specifically that the scalability and the package concept of installing software in Linux really impressed me!

Now Warcraft 3 gaming is all that holds me back onto booting in Windows once in a while. FOSS Contributors, Here I come!..

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Renewal of the Renewable

The Renewable energy and Energy Conservation Exhibition held at Ernakulam Town Hall recently was a major eye-opener.It was a clear sign that 'renewable energy in India' was not just a word chanted by students in school and college (thats 4 words by the way), but a movement being pursued strongly by both government and private parties alike.

Especially in the light of the recent rise in oil prices, the nuclear power deal going nowhere, Iran pipeline still being in the pipeline [:-)], and the increase in electricity prices in this power ridden Gods own country, the fact that renewable energy is all set to renew the bleak horizon of the energy security of the country is very relieving.

The exhibition showcased different emerging technologies utilising renewable energy, some gave even live demos of how renewable energy is tapped, and gave an outlet for renewable energy companies, especially in the solar power field, to market their products.

(This poster has nothing much to do with this exhibition. This was just a last-minute poster made by Me, Naren, Joseph and Lakshmi that won us a prize at ESCT conference in NITC.)

Some nice stuff I noted from the exhibition:

1. The Bio-Diesel dream is not dead, and is being pursued in a major way by some companies. It will soon hit the market.
2. LED lighting bulbs rules the market, even beating CFLs now. It is pretty widespread.
3. Solar water heaters are a moving product.
4. Wind power players like Suzlon and Bio-gas plants are coming on at really low costs, and will soon spread over India fast.
5. Environmentally friendly products that cost 0 power to produce are another way to reduce power consumption.

The bio-diesel production stall was one of the major highlights. It was a relief to know that Indian railways has taken up bio-diesel research in a big way, and even has set up some plants to produce bio-diesel, if only for test purposes at the moment. Also, it has started running trains on bio-diesel blends now! Soon, railways will set up more plants in different parts of India. 'Jatropha curcass', the plant that is most utilised for bio-diesel production, is now being cultivated in some parts of India too!

It was a solar-water heater market, as major players like V-Guard, Hykon, Technomax etc set up stalls to market their products like Solar heating, Solar lighting etc. Most of the stalls innovatively used panels set up outside to light up their own bulbs.The LED bulbs shown used lesser power apparently, and gave better light than even CFL Lamps. whats more, replacement cost for an LED bulb is much lesser!

There was more. A couple of Saint Gits college students showing their major project of diesel production from another source. KSEB demonstrating hydro-turbine power generation. The superior Electronic chokes performance being demoed. All in all, a tree-huggers and Energy-engineers paradise.

Lets hope the movement gains more momentum and becomes a household phenomenon.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Marriage Breakers

Thought that was a spelling mistake? Nope, its not marriage brokers i meant, its breakers, people who love breaking marriages that are about to happen..

In a moment of total desperation I started reading this article in Grihalakshmi (a typical Mallu housewifes magazine :-) ), and this story really struck me as unbelievable!

Think about these true cases :

1. A village in Kalady has had several cases of marriages being broken after the girl-seeing has taken place. 4 of these happened even after the engagement happened !

When people investigated, they caught the culprit, a lady, who claimed she had broken 13 such marriage cases all by herself by way of the tongue !! She did it out of desperation because her daughter's marriage had not taken place an
d she was growing quite old and unable to do it!

2. Case of own family members breaking the marriage, like the lady who broke her own engaged brother-in-laws marriage because she feared the new bride would be more beautiful than her!(I wonder how believable that is)


Or the sister who broke her bro's marriage cos her marriage had not yet materialised successfully!


3. On October 23rd in a hotel in Edapal, Mr. Bava holds a press conference. Its to clarify and bring to light the happenings of marriage breaking, which has happened a couple of times to his son Faizal who is of age now. All of them have been broken by people who give unnecessary opinions to the girl's part, and lots of wild rumours have now gone around about his son.

4. Brokers who break their own fixed-up marriage cases cos they dint get enough money from the marrying parties.

Simply unbelievable stuff.. Just like the movies. only this time, its painfully real.

This stuff happens around some parts of Kerala. The 'Challenger's Club' of Kalady has started a new revolution against marriage-breakers, after one of their own members faced the brunt of unnecessary rumours that broke his marriage.

The challengers club puts up notices warning the breakers ,like the one on the left.( sorry its in malayalam). They dress up as normal people wanting to marry off their kin and try to pick up gossip mongers. They also try to create awareness and bring together marriage cases that were broken under uncertain conditions by breakers.

Some possible reasons why the breakers do what they do :-

1. Because they have had some tragic experience of their own, especially related to marriage.
2. Sheer jealousy
3. Gossip-love
4. The Indian-crab-in-the-basket tendency (they tend to pull down any crab that happens to get one step close out of the basket)
5. Out of professional hatred.
6. Joblessness, maybe !

We'd probably not be able to do something like that, but we can atleast try to spot a marriage-breaker next time we see him. And expose him to the public for what he really is. And also not listen to wild rumours from the public when it comes to marriages, cos rumours have no origins or bounds and should not be taken as a final word when i comes to marriage.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

'Dashed'-Avataram

10 different roles, Crores of rupees, years of making, star-studded launch, Reshammiya at the music and Kamal, Asin and Mallika. Plenty of reason for you not to miss this Tamil blockbuster.

Unfortunately, skillfully as the movie has been made, the screenplay falls apart badly in the last half an hour or so of the movie. And if All's Well only that ends well, nothing is well with Dashavataram. I dont know about the Tamil audience, but the unbelievable stuff at the end invited plenty of boos from Keralite theatres.

Last half an hour apart, bottom line is : Great acting, good music, great action, nice scenes, decent plot, great Kamal, sexy Mallika and cute Asin. So dont miss it.


Ofcourse, not all the 10 roles have been played to perfection. Neither are they all instrumental to the plot, in fact only 3 or 4 characters really form the core of the plot. Make-up looks weird on some, like the lanky 'Khalifulla'(an Afghan?) and the Japanese master (man he was really corny). And again, when you start seeing the hero and villain do superhuman stunts, you know its time to go into 'timepass' mode and not take the movie too seriously, cos from then on apples start falling upwards. The throat cancer curing joke, ofcourse, took the cake.. somehow I expected that one, seeing the way the movie was going (for those who dint understand, watch it, you dont want me to break the suspense do u?).

Then theres the point of trying to satisfy every type of customer- scenes of Jayalalitha are followed soon by Karunanidhi's speech. Bush and Manmohan Singh sharing stage. And a praise to Allah is followed very soon by a Church bell, Amen, and then soon after by a scene of a Hindu idol. I thought that was pretty unnecessary.

But dont let all this take away the glory of the movie ! Kamal is a treat to watch in most roles. The priest rocks, the Vincent and Balram Naidu guys dialogue delivery are awesome, and George Bush make-up looks surprisingly convincing some places. The rest of the characters are pretty good too(except maybe the Japanese guy).

Mallika Sherawat is hot! (or is it just me?) And I thought Asin played her role of a conservative girl well too. She looks nice in the movie too :-).Reshammiya's music is a treat where it comes, especially the background scores.

And the sheer variety, speed and magnitude of the movie is reason for all you people sitting there to go and watch it at your nearest theatre !

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Time time everywhere.... but not a second to spare..

Whoever said vacations were full of time and should be made useful?

Every year at college, a common thing used to happen at our hostels. When the year was closing in, especially during exam time, the guys would discuss and make plans on what to do in the vacations. A long list (sometimes written) of what to do, would be the result of such endless and useless discussions. Mine would last atleast a page. It would include one or more of the following, and maybe other stuff too..

- Do regular exercise, maybe body build and go to a gym
- Read a whole lot of books
- Learn new stuff, maybe a new musical instrument, driving, etc
- Go through next sem's academic stuff (ya right)
- Visit a bunch of places

Unfortunately, not even 3 months of long boring vacations seem enough to make any of these happen fruitfully.

When I'm at home, the timetable changes dramatically. Sleep takes over completely, and even food comes secondary. Bodily needs are barely met. TV may finish up the day, if the computer does not take over. And once in a while, there may be an outing too. Most of the people seem to live on orkut during this time.

This is how my timetable looked during last years vacation :

0800 : Wake up to close door for parents to leave for work. Attend to calls (especially natures), and go back to sleep
1500 : Wake up again, for real this time. Brush up, and read newspaper
1530 : Eat breakfast+lunch+tea, whatever this meal is called
1600 - 1800 : Doze off under effects of huge meal mentioned above, maybe sit in front of TV.
1830 : Have tea or whatever eye catches in kitchen
1800 - 2100 : Try to find something more interesting to do than TV. This could be a) seeing a movie on comp, b) reading a book, c) sleeping again !

Generally, doing items a) and b) would result in item c) inevitably.

2130 : Have dinner
2200 : Sit on computer
2300 : Play Dota/Browse net/Orkut
2400 : Play Dota/Browse net/Orkut
0100 : Play Dota/Browse net/Orkut

and so on, till

0400 : Play Dota/Browse net/Orkut

By now Dad wakes up, so I find its better that I sleep. So..

0500 : Go to Sleep again.

Around 10 hours of sleep per day. And remaining spent on comp and eating. A whole lot productive wasnt it.

So the end result of last times vacation?.. Very pretty :

Stuff learnt : Nil
Exercise done : Nil (few hours if I'm lucky)
Books read : Nil
Places gone to : Nil (a few movies maybe)
Academic stuff gone through : Not to mention

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New season, new language


Well well the monsoons are here now! Its raining so hard you can actually hear the meows and bow-wows of cats and dogs :-).. Its virtually 24-hr rain now.

And the sad part is, ofcourse, this is the season of stinking clothes and slippery roads and dark mornings. Some days you actually wish for the sun to come out. The worst part about the rainy season is that anything left outside for more than 10 hours straight catches fungus and must immediately be washed or kept in quarantine. Sheesh, so tough !

Funny part is that I was in Trivandrum, at the southern part of Kerala yesterday, and the clouds dont seem to have found their way there. While here at the Queen of the Arabian Sea (Kochi), and Thrissur the floods are already starting.

Time for me to experiment on my mother tongue now.. Malayalam blogging. I'll probably create a new blog for malayalam blogs only. So here goes my first post in my mother tongue...

ഓം ഹരി ശ്റീ ഗണപതയെ നമഃ ്്...

...എന്നു തുടങിയേ എനിക്കു ശീലം ഉള്ളു, അതൊരു പുതിയ പുസ്തകം ആ‍ാണെങ്കിലും പഠിക്കാൻ ആണെങ്കിലും കഴിക്കാൻ പൊലും ആണെങ്കിലും. അതു കൊണ്ട് ഇവിടെ ഞാൻ പതിവ് തെറ്റിക്കുന്നില്ല.

എഴുതി വരുംബോൾ എനിക്കു കാണാം, അഞ്ജലി എന്ന സുന്ദരമായ് ഈ ലിപിയിലും പോരായ്മകൾ ഉന്ട്. സമയം കിട്ടും പോലെ അതൊക്കെ ഒരുനാൾ ഞാൻ തിരുത്താൻ ശ്രമിക്കും. NITC-യിൽ FOSS Meet കഴിഞേ പിന്നേ എനിക്കു ഒരു പുതിയ മലയാള ലിപി ഉണ്ടാക്കണം എന്നതു ഒരു മോഹം ആണ്. ഹിരൺ എന്ന ഒരു പുലി തന്ന Talk-ഇലൂടെ ആണ് അതെ എങനെ ചെയ്യാം എന്നു പഠിച്ചത് .

സമയം പോലെ ഞാൻ അതു നോക്കണം. ആദ്യം Open-Source-ഇലേക്കു contribution ചെയ്യാൻ തുടങടട്െ. അതിനു മുംബ് ഞാൻ എന്റെ ഭാവിയുടെ കാര്യങൽ ശെരിയാക്കാൻ നോക്കടെ. അതിനു മുംബ്, ഞാൻ ഒരു മണികൂറ് ഒന്നു ഉരങാൻ നോക്കടെ ! :-)..


അങ്ങെന ഞാൻ മലയാള ബ്ലോഗിംഗ്‌ തുടങ്ങിയിരിക്കുന്നു !

Friday, June 6, 2008

Branch spirit is not an alcohol. :-). But its definitely the most addictive high I've ever had.

When I remember my branch, the EEE batch of 08, my first thought goes back to Debutante and Sangam 04. These were inter-branch cultural/literary fests held for first years exclusively. We were doing particularly bad. There was no cheering. No spirit. No unity. Open quarrels and divides. We lost the competitions badly. We were mocked, and even we accepted- we tricals probably had bad misunderstandings, bad talent and no unity. It had lost us. It was a moment I'd rather not remember.


Then 2nd year came. We had common classes. We started getting along. People started talking. Every persons Birthday led to common Treats in the corps. GPLs every now and then. [For people who dont know the terminology, GPLs are a pain in the ass, you can see my 21st Bday GPL Video on the right here, poor me :-( ] videoAnd ofcourse, a common hatred towards the academic system and a unanimously lazy attitude towards studies and teachers. We definitely had more in common than we had thought.


3rd year was the turning point. First I remember the Kaapad beach trip some of us had, and a Marketing trip to Kochi. The 8-9 of us who were together in this were really gelled together. We thought in the same frequency when it came to the idea of enjoying, or unity, or something like that. That probably started it off. Our group stuck on together for the remainder of college days.



Then it was the Branch trip to Kodaikanal. That did the trick. I remember all the highs and lows we had to go through for it. Being CR, I was in the thick of it all. People pulling out every second. Having to push people into the trip so that another 50 bucks would be saved off every one else's back. Obstacles from the department. Permission problems. Having to bargain and use contacts in everything from transportation to accommodation. Making an itinerary to go with everyones demands and meeting deadlines. Man, that trip was more tension to me than an exam.

But finally it happened. And then I realized the magnitude of what we'd done. Something no branch in our batch in NITC had ever pulled off before. Plus, when you spend 3 days completely together in a bus or hotel or seeing scenery or walking in a park, I dont know why, you just get another mile closer to everyone (how else do u measure how 'close' ? :-) ). That trip did the magic for us. People shared responsiblity, tensions and work for the trip. Our plans worked. And most importantly, we were one branch. Around 47 people thinking as one.

4th year was the final concrete. Classes were much more interesting, something we always looked forward to. Everyone knew everyone else, and not many were actually silent in class. I actually looked forward to classes sometimes just to see 60 people in class.

We pulled off another Branch trip to Mysore. We had to face an equal amount of difficulties this time too. And again, the trip magic worked, we came together like never before. And created a record maybe in NITC. And earned a name among the faculty too as a very united branch, very fond of trips.

Then again we pulled off another trip to Kaapad beach. And followed it up with a dinner. And hot seat. That really finished it. Everyone knew everyone else's secrets. We were completely open. We pulled off another one too, to a nearby river. In a matter of half a day. Treats and trips were commonplace by now. We had learnt the art of getting together, of enjoying as one large group.

And now when I think back, I sorely wish that the unity that followed had been with us since first year. Well, Atleast it was there.

Its one thing to miss your parents and family. But its completely another thing to miss 70 people including guys and girls who think like you. I can only hope that the spark (no pun) of Electrical unity remains a flame forever.

(PS : We still keep in touch, many of us. We've had still more get-togethers and trips since college closed. In Wayanad, Kochi. Trivandrum, etc etc etc.)