|Tell me not in mournful numbers,|
Life is but an empty dream.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.
When I go from hence
let this be my parting word,
that what I have seen is unsurpassable.
Friday, 19 December 2008
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
I am going home initially but then the entire family is taking off to Puri. We might even visit Konark and Chilka if we have time. I have never been to Orissa. Actually, none of us have except my Dad. He has been there four times. It is one of his favourite places. We will all be traveling together after a long, long time. I am really looking forward to it.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
It might have something to do with the fact that I am from Delhi but the first thing that I noticed about the movie was its atmosphere. This movie has captured Dlehi in all its avataars. From the posh colonies of South Delhi to the run down mohallas, Oye Lucky! does for Delhi what Aamir did for Mumbai. Abhay Deol and Manjot Singh as the teenaged and adult protagonist are terrific. Abhay is quickly becoming one of my favourite actors in Bollywood today. His just being in a movie guarantees that it will be different from the run of the mill stuff. Paresh Rawal is great in all his roles. I did not understand the logic behind him playing three characters though. If there is some hidden meaning behind it I totally missed it. Both Archana Puran Singh and Neetu Chandra do justice to their roles. The pace flags a little in the second half but not so much as to prove distracting. This is probably where the director's first movie Khosla Ka Ghonsla scores over it with its tight pacing through out. I liked it the open endedness of the story and the morally ambiguous ending. Any attempt to tie all ends would have made it either sermonizing or clicheed. Dibakar Bannerjee set out to make a more difficult movie than his first movie which was an out and out comedy and has succeeded admirably. I would have liked to see this movie become a big hit but that will be tough considering that it does not offer push button entertainment like most audience seems to expect.
Dil Kabaddi seems less like a movie than a collection of random scenes taken from a different movie. It starts and ends abruptly and zig zags in between. For a movie which claims to be a comedy, very few situations have anything funny in them. The only saving grace of this movie is Irfan Khan. He practically carries the film on his shoulders. Khan has all the rib ticking scenes in the movie and does full justice to them. The movie becomes entertaining whenever he comes on screen and goes back to boring when he exists. Rahul Bose is totally miscast as a college professor and also has the most irritating story arc. But then he also has the best (and only) kiss. Konkona Sen is competent as usual, Rahul Khanna has nothing much to do and Soha Ali Khan is incompetent, again, as usual.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Monday, 17 November 2008
I have been buying a lot of DVDs lately. The sale section at Crossword is to blame for that. They have a "Buy 1 Get 2 Free" offer going and I just could not help myself. I got Blade Runner - The Final Cut, Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima for just 600 bucks. I also bought the anniversary edition DVD of Lagaan at half the price. I also bought a whole lot of books. The great thing is that I didn't have to spend any money on them. I had got Crossword gift vouchers as prize for something I did at work and I spent all of them. I will ramble on and on about my purchases later. Right now I have to go for lunch. Bye...
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
The bit about inheritance being more important than merit is even more ridiculous coming from someone who has spent her life serving a party which has been ruled almost uninterruptedly by a single dynasty for the last five generations. Inheritance has always been of paramount importance in the Congress Party since it first came to power. In fact, none of the rulers from this dynasty have had any claim to the throne - either because of their talent or their experience - except for their inheritance. Ms. Alva is not concerned by the lack of democratic spirit in her party. She is merely miffed that her son was not allowed to benefit from the lack of it.
Saturday, 6 September 2008
I did not sit and go through every feature of Chrome. Nor did I consciously compare it with other browsers in the market. Here are my impressions of the basic product in isolation:
User-Interface - Chrome continues the Google tradition of minimalist product interfaces. Google has maintained this tradition in all of its products till date and has been the gainer for it. The Chrome UI is very elegant and it does not miss out on any major functionality. Combining the address bar and the search bar is a very cool idea. Of course, once Google unveils the API kit to develop add-on plugins for Chrome, everyone will be free to add his/her own bit to the UI and mess it up. But then it won't be Google's fault.
Separate process for each tab - This is one of the design decisions that will have long term gains. Having separate process for each tab will insulate them from one another minimizing browser crashes. It will of course add a lot of overhead in terms of resource utilization. So if you have a not-too-high-end machine forget about Chrome. Also, as of now the product is too unstable to show any benefits of this design. Browser crashes are pretty frequent.
Grouping tabs into new windows - Another great idea. Often when I use a browser for a long time I end up creating a lot of tabs which I subsequently want to move to a new window. This feature will let me do that.
Incognito - A special window whose activity cannot be tracked? Great for watching porn. But enterprises will probably want to be able to disable this feature on corporate networks.
Buggy product - Some problems that I faced:
- I had opened five tabs and was browsing through the Times Of India website watching news clips and reading articles. After one hour of browsing the memory consumption reached almost 300 MB and the machine became very slow.
- I closed the browser but one instance of the process continued to show up in Task Manager. I had to kill the process manually.
- On Vista, if a browser instance is running, the machine hangs when trying to hibernate.
All in all, Chrome has the potential to become a great browser in the future but I am not going to use it till it becomes more reliable.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
The offending screen.
Monday, 1 September 2008
What!! It's midnight already!! Should really go to bed now. Have finished season one of LOST. This is a good time to take a break. Wait, lets just take a peek at season two.
Can't stay awake any longer. Have finished four episodes of season two. Going to bed.
It's morning already? And a hot and cloudy one at that. Feeling hungry.
Am sick of having noodles for breakfast every damn weekend. But its easiest to make. Why can't we have Chicken in Atta Noodles? It will be some variety. Feeling sleepy. Think I will go back to sleep.
Is that a door banging somewhere? Its very quite otherwise. Am I sleeping or am I awake?
Can hear noises outside my door. Roomies must have got up. Lazy bones!! Lets join them. Have to decide what to do for lunch.
Oops... they have already bought mutton. When did they go out? Whats the time? O my God! Its one already. I slept for that long?
Finished lunch. Mutton curry was delicious. Lets finish the remaining episodes of season two.
Did it have to rain now. It is making me feel sleepy. But I won't fall asleep. Otherwise I will have to spend the night awake. Now lets see where was I in LOST. Episode 16 or 17?
Must have fallen asleep. Whats the time? Shit!!
We have some mutton left over from afternoon. Just have to make rice.
Dinner is over. Now, since I will not be able to sleep anyway lets finish season two.
I was watching LOST. When did I fall asleep? What the heck!! Just turn off the lights and go back to sleep. Have to get up early tomorrow. Hope it does not rain in the morning. Have to go swimming . Already missed it on Saturday.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Friday, 15 August 2008
Of the actors Om Puri is the worst. He is extremely irritating. He looks very uncomfortable (as he should) in a meaningless role dancing on beaches with babes in bikinies and leering at any woman who happens to be in front of him. He is only funny when he is with Archana Puran Singh as B.B. This is the first time I have liked this lady in any movie. She is the only one I felt sorry about. The charactor was tailor made for her and she was doing justice to it before being edited out of the movie. Akshaye Khanna and Paresh Rawal were competent as usual but they deserve a flop this time just for signing up for this movie. Genelia does not have much to do. I can't really find fault with the actors when they don't even have a story to back them up. All my venom is reserved for Priyadarshan. He has been going downhill since Hungama. This movie continues his descent. I just can not understand what he was thinking when making MBPA. Somebody should tell him that just having Rawal and Akshaye in a movie does not make it a comedy.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
For illiterates: HTTP codes are the mysterious numbers you see on your browser when you are not able to access a web page. These numbers tell you (or will tell you if you have the sense to interpret them) what the problem is. For example, 404 means the page (or resource) you requested could not be found.
Sunday, 10 August 2008
I have heard Aamir is actually a "remake" of a foreign film. Since I have not seen that movie I cannot comment on that. Even if it is, that does not bother me. A creatively made remake may sometimes surpass the original. Aamir is a serious effort at making a realistic suspense thriller and it has succeeded.
Friday, 8 August 2008
TMSH is a delightful pastiche. Jamyang Norbu has maintained seamlesss continuity from Doyle's stories in both language and atmosphere. His description of 1890s India from the bustling crowds of Bombay to the hills of Shimla is superb. His recreation of Thibet and the forbidden city of Lhasa is fabulous. My personal favourite is the passage describing the traveler's first view of the city as they enter through its gates. Norbu draws his characters from not only Doyle's stories but also from Rudyard Kipling's works, Kim being the most prominent among them. Since Watson cannot be here his shoes are filled in by Babu Hurree Chunder Mookerjee - one of Kipling's creations - who becomes the Bengali Boswell to Holmes. In fact, the tale is populated throughout with characters from Kim and the language is nearer to Kim's than to any of Doyle's works.
The book has decidedly political overtones. This is not surprising given that Jamyang Norbu is an eminent Tibetan political activist fighting for its independence. The events in the book happen in 1892, the Tibetan Water-Dragon year. This is just about the time when China was making her first moves to grab Tibet. Setting the story in this year allows Norbu to introduce a political backdrop. Needless to say, all the villains are Chinese.
TMSH is an extremely well researched book filled with interesting nuggets of information about the peoples, events and places of those times. The narrator is an enlightened Brahmo Samajist and is as such familiar with most of the prevelant philosophies and scientific theories of his times. One of the most amusing conversations in the book takes place when a character mentions that the light waves are electrical and magnetic vibrations. Though we know it to be true today, our narator, true to his times, dismisses it as bakwaas and having "nothing scientific about it"
(To be completed).
Monday, 4 August 2008
i see you'hv been writing quite a bit:)
Sent at 12:55 PM on Monday
u know what
this is the season for girls
most new babies are female
a frnd of mine had a girl
she is the thrd frnd to hv a girl
last year it was all boys
lots of women proposing to you
i wish :(
with such writing
you'll be a hit among women journos
i dnt know any journos :(
neways writing is the last thing women look for
what do they look for then?
writing indicates brains/intelligence
women like that
women luk for dumbos
i thot men look for dumbos
of course they do
both luk for dumbos
and since the world is full of dumbos of both sexes
nobody has any problems hooking up
and getting married
except a few poor souls like me
Sent at 4:13 PM on Monday
i thot u said u r surrounded by intelligent people in ur co. :)
men r married
same here with women
Sent at 4:17 PM on Monday
u know wht this is a funny conversation
i will post it on my blog
after hiding names
yeah i said that "after hiding names"
Sent at 4:21 PM on Monday
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Two things stand out among all others. One is the furious pace of the serial. It covered Dhritarashtra and Pandu's marriage, Pandu's curse and the birth of the Pandavas and the Kauravas in one episode. Coming from soap opera makers who don't make their actors utter a single word without zooming in on their faces from half a dozen different angles this is amazing. Unfortunately, it not done very gracefully. There is a rushed feeling to things here. It is as if they are telling a bed time story to the audience and are worried that the listeners will be late for bed. It also does not let the audience appreciate the significance of these momentous events which shape the epic.
The second thing I noticed was the absolute lack of screen presence in any of the actors. It is hard to distinguish between all the royal princes and princesses. All of them look alike. One can't help comparing them with the cast of B.R. Chopra's Mahabharat. Whatever the shortcomings of that serial, the casting was absolutely spot on. This serial is supposed to bring together the reigning stars of Indian television. Not that I have any respect for the quality of Indian television today but I did expect to see at least a couple of actors capable of leaving their mark on some of the characters. Seems like I was expecting too much. The only actor I did remember between scenes is Shakuni who was trying so hard to look evil that I almost felt sorry for him.
All in all, it was an humourless and empty experience.
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Olive Riley, said to be the world's oldest blogger has died. She was 108. I visited her blog The Life Of Riley to check it out. There are hundreds of comments, all expressing grief and offering condolences. The lady seems to have had a lot of fans. Personally, I think its all a bit of a farce. I mean, this woman never even used a computer in her life. The blog acknowladges that posts were from a documentary film maker called Eric Shackle. He and his wife used to get Ollie to tell them stories about her life and then write them down, edit them and post them. That does not make Ollie a blogger. It makes Eric Shakle a blogger. I could get my mom to talk about her life, write down whatever she says and post it regularly. That won't make her a blogger. It would be my blog. At best, it would be a blogumentary (I think I have coined a new term here).
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Calvin: People who get nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children.
Calvin: Girls are like slugs - they probably serve some purpose, but it's hard to imagine what.
Calvin: Dad, Look! The sun's setting and it's only 3 o'clock.
Dad: It's not 3 o'clock. Your watch stopped.
Calvin: Time doesn't stop if your watch stopped?
Calvin: Phooey. For a moment there I thought I'd get rich patenting this thing.
Dad: I'D have bought one.
Calvin: Why can't I stay up late? You guys can! IT'S NOT FAIR!
Dad: The world isn't fair, Calvin.
Calvin: I know, but why isn't it ever unfair in my favor?
Calvin: I was put on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I'm so far behind I will never die.
Calvin: I liked things better when I didn't understand them.
Calvin: Art is dead! There's nothing left to say. Style is exhausted and content is pointless. Art has no purpose. All that's left is commodity marketing.
Calvin: Talking with you is sort of the conversational equivalent of an out of body experience.
Calvin: Sometimes when I'm talking, my words can't keep up with my thoughts. I wonder why we think faster than we speak.
Hobbes: Probably so we can think twice.
Calvin: I was reading about how countless species are being pushed toward extinction by Man's destruction of forests. Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
Calvin: I can't sleep, Hobbes. I've been thinking.
Hobbes: About what?
Calvin: Well, I suppose there's no afterlife. That would mean this life is all you get. And that would mean I'm sitting here in bed as precious moments of my all-too-short life disappear forever.
Mum: Honey, wake up. Do you hear the television on?
Calvin: The world is a complicated place, Hobbes.
Hobbes: Whenever it seem that way, I take a nap in a tree and wait for dinner.
Calvin: I've been thinking, Hobbes.
Hobbes: On a weekend?
Calvin: Well, it wasn't on purpose...
Hobbes: Are you making any resolutions for the new year?
Calvin: Resolutions? ME?? Just what are you implying? That I need to change?? Well, Buddy, as far as I'm concerned, I'm perfect the way I am! For your information, I'm staying like this, and everyone else can just get used to it! If people don't like me the way I am, well, tough beans! It's a free country! I don't need anyone's permission to be the way I want! This is how I am - take it or leave it! By golly, life's too darn short to waste time trying to please every meddlesome moron who's got an idea how I ought to be! I don't need advice! Everyone can just stay out of my face!
Calvin: I've got plenty of common sense. I just choose to ignore it.
Hobbes: It says on the back of this record that the composer could play the piano at age three. He wrote his first symphony when he was four. That's amazing.
Calvin: When I was four, I think I was toilet trained.
Hobbes: Let's ask the Ouija Board another question.
Calvin: OK, I've got one. Oh great Ouija Board, will I grow up to be president?
Hobbes: It's moving!
Calvin: "G... O..."
Hobbes: "D... F... O...R... B... I... D."
Calvin: When I want an editorial I'll ask for it, you stupid board!
Calvin: I wonder if you can refuse to inherit the world.
Hobbes: I think if you're born, it's too late.
Hobbes: How come we play war and not peace?
Calvin: Too few role models.
Hobbes: Do you think there's a God?
Calvin: Well, SOMEbody's out to get me.
Calvin: Who's the bimbo with you in this old prom picture?
Dad: THAT "BIMBO" IS YOUR MOTHER!
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Saturday, 12 July 2008
However, Banker would have done well to give a little more attention to the settings of the story. I found it very difficult to believe that Rama loves Marathi and Bengali food. But the real low point was having Ayodhyans cooking in tandoors during Holi. For Heaven's sake, tandoors in Vedic Age!!! One other thing, why does everybody speak in Hindi? I failed to understand why Banker tries to give the impression that he is translating from Hindi for the benefit of his readers. He could just as easily have made characters speak in Sanskrit - which was the language of the educated classes in those days. There were no Bengalis, Marathis or Malayalis then. And most of all, there was no Hindi. Moreover, Rama certainly did not dance the bhangra during Holi. All these points take away from the authenticity of the story. However, these inconsistencies may not be apparent those not very acquainted with Indian history (this book marks the US debut for Banker - and is presumably targetted at Westerners).All in all, its an enjoyable book. Ashok Banker is no Tolkien or Shashi Tharoor, but he certainly can write a good story and retelling The Ramayana is not for the weak-hearted. I give the book 3 out of 5.
Kobe Sizzlers opened a branch in Aundh quite some time ago but, with one thing or the other, I never got around to try it out. So last sunday, I convinced P and A to accompany me there. They had never had sizzlers. I told them sizzlers are just the kind of food they like and they will enjoy it. Now both A and P are die hard traditionalists. They don't like anything out of the way in any aspect of life, more so in matters gastronomic. It was unethical but what the heck, I was desparate... Anyways, we went there at around 9:00 PM. It was crowded as hell (the people of Aundh certainly don't like cooking at home). We ordered soups for starters. I had chicken sweetcorn soup while they had chicken soup. Both were excellent. Going on to the main course, we were stuck over the menu for sometime due to the lack of options. They have only steaks on their menu. Granted they have many (and I mean it) varieties of it, but what if I don't want to have steak. And in India, very few people have beef. I guess they realised it as well and have kept two varieties of "chicken steak". Predictably, A and P opted for chicken steaks. I asked the waiter for the best item and he said satellite steak. So satellite steak it was. Sizzlers take a long time to prepare, and there was no crowd worth looking at there, so we got bored for sometime. When the dishes came, my friends were shocked to see that they were expected to eat what they described as "slabs of meat covered in leaves" and nothing else. Anyways, I had no such problems and attacked my food immediately. Satellite steak, however strangely named it may have been, was good. The amount they serve is quite large and I had to exert myself to finish it off. My friends lessened the fun somewhat by keeping up their comments - pata nahin kaise log patte ke saath meat kha lete hain - but I managed to enjoy my dinner. My major complaint is the small menu. There is absolutely no variety in it. Though the food is good, if anybody wants to have sizzlers I would recommend Yanna's. Their food is just as good, and they offer much more variety (since it's Yanna's sizzlers and wok). P and A are definitely not going to go back there. And as I am not going to go there alone, I don't think I will be going there any time soon. Read More
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Posting on Ekta Kapoor's version of Mahabharata inspired me to google for all screen adaptations of Mahabharata till date. Its quite a list. I had no idea that the first movie version of Mahabharata was made way back in 1920. Its a kind of hard to imagine the epic as a silent movie. Wish I could see it. There have been a few attempts to dramatize Mahabharata by westerners too. The most famous one seems to be Peter Brook's The Mahabharata. The western critics have been effusive in praising it. Indian critics have been less kind. See the article Peter Brook's Mahabharata by Pradeep Bhattacharya. I am thinking of putting the movie on my must watch list. There was a rumour that Mani Ratnam is going to make another version of the epic. Don't know what happened to that. I would understand if he chickened out. It's not an easy task. Recently, Amir Khan announced that he wants to make Mahabharata but he will need 10-15 yrs for that. Hope he will be able to satisfy Mr. Pradeep Bhattacharya.
Its already more than an hour since P called. My laptop battery will last another 38 mins. Still waiting...
I had recently said that all mythologies being aired today have the same standard for special effects as the B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharat two decades ago. It seems like this one has done better on that score. But only marginally. But what’s with the costumes? All characters have a Conan-the-barbarian in a dhoti look. That is true for most such serials like Dharam-Veer, Prithviraj Chauhan and now this.
My favourite screen version of Mahabharat was a serial called Mrityunjay. It was told from Karna’s perspective. Unfortunately, it was taken off the air after a few episodes. Mrityunjay was not the sort of serial to appeal to the Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki loving crowd. Hence the demise. Another class work sacrificed on the altar of mass appeal.
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
The book which had me most engrossed was, surprisingly, not a Poirot mystery but one without any detective.It was And Then There Were None. I read it over the weekend. I had asked for it even though Poirot is not in it. I had seen the movie Gumnaam a very long time ago. Someone had told me it is an adaptation of this book. I have been wanting to read it ever since. I was not disappointed. It is one of the most chilling murder mysteries I have ever read. Agatha Christie’s works usually appeal to the head and not the heart. This is an exception. I could not help sharing the helplessness and the fear of the characters as the unknown murderer selected his victims one by one. I had forgotten the movie sufficiently to be kept guessing till the end. And there was no hero to rescue the heroine in the book as was in the movie. I finished it in one sitting.
Monday, 7 July 2008
I can go on and on about Sunday mornings but I don't want to risk being called a bore. Though I am strictly against putting up copied material on my blog, I could not resist putting up the images from the mail. Here they are with my notes (couldn't resist those either):
The slowly revolving logo with the accompanying trademark music which used to indicate the start of any program. I don't think Doordarshan has changed the music even today. And rightly so. No other channel has been able to create a signature tune which identifies it to the viewers. All of them have to resort to something on the lines of "You are watching XYZ" to announce themselves.
The most irritating image on TV ever. It was always accompanied by a mind numbing metallic whistle. I lost count of the number of saturday movies that were spoiled by this image. This was one thing I will never be nostalgic about, ever.
Complan really did work wonders for these two. Did you ever imagine Complan boy and Complan girl would go on to become what they are now? Ayesha Takia still looks the same as she did then. Only a little plumper. Its hard to guess that the boy is Shahid Kapoor. Incidentally, I watched these two romancing each other in the eminently forgettable Fool N Final just yesterday.
Vicco turmeric आयुर्वेदिक क्रीम
I have never used Vicco turmeric cream, but I thought the lady in its ads was simply the most beautiful woman on television then. She went on to played the role of Ahilya Bai in The Great Maratha. I have seen her in a couple of saas-bahu serials which I don't care to remember.
वाशिंग पाउडर निरमा, वाशिंग पाउडर निरमादूध सी सफेदी , निरमा से आए,रंगीन कपड़े भी खिल खिल जाए
This ad showed a lot women creating a lot of foam while washing a lot of white clothes with just a spoon full of Nirma washing powder. I still hear people humming its jingle.
Few screen adaptations manage to retain the spirit and atmosphere of their sources as well as Malgudi Days did all those years ago. Even today, I cannot read any of R.K. Narayanan's works without placing his characters in Shankar Nag's Malgudi. I think this still is from the episode about an old man (pictured) whose son comes back from the US with an American wife.
Enough has been said about the phenomenona called Ramayan and Mahabharat. I won't add to it. Just for the records, my favourite was Mahabharat. I can't help noting though, that the mythological serials that are aired today have the same sloppy standard for special effects that these serials had almost 20 years ago. I guess poducers rely more on viewers' devotion for TRPs than on production values.
Not a patch on Karamchand or Reporter. I was old enough to judge things like plots and production values by the time Tehekikaat was aired. I don't remember ever being satisfied by its resolutions. But it was fun to watch none the less. And definitely better than the later serials like Raja aur Rancho,etc. I think it was Saurabh Shukla's first big break. He played the role of Vijay Anand's assistant.
Before Discovery, NatGeo and History channels made their debut in India, there were Surabhi and Turning Point. As far as I remember, Surabhi used to be aired on Saturday nights. It was as popular as Ramayan in our house. I remember sending answers to the weekly quiz quite a few times. I did not win even once. Thats not surprising really. The response the quiz generated every week would compare with what todays reality shows generate and that too when sending postcards was the only ways to participate. The government introduced special competition postcards priced at INR 3 just for these competitions. Turning Point was hosted by Girish Karnad. He used to give away prizes for best questions on science every week. I sent a number of questions but never won.
Shyam Benegal's adaptation of Jawaharlal Nehru's Discovery Of India was one of the best serials ever aired on Indian televsion. It is difficult to accpet anyone other than Roshan seth as Jawaharlal Nehru. Bharat - Ek Khoj was part of Doordarshan's sunday morning treats. I was an avid follower. I still remember a few of the episodes which moved me most. The ones on sepoy Mutiny and ancient Vijaynagar, for example.
I didn't realize, I have rambled on for this long. This must be the longest post I have ever written. I have got to stop right now. Have to go and cook dinner anyway.
Sunday, 6 July 2008
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Most puzzling though are the comments I am getting from the few people who have read my posts. Or rather, the diverse methods in which I am getting the comments. I have enabled comments on my blog but you won't find a single comment there. So sir, that way is too simple. My readers prefer giving comments in person. It is probably because are people who know me personally. I get stopped in office corridors and parking lots to be told what so and so thought of that post I put up last week. Friends give their opinions over IM and mails or over phone. The weirdest was a friend of my sister's. He read my posts, pinged my sister on GTalk, sent his comments to her over chat and asked her to copy-paste his comments to me next time she chats with me. He also added that it would make me happy. I have been trying to figure out a more complicated way of commenting on any post since I got his comments. I am ashamed to say, I have not been able to come up with any. And I am not even going to try to understand why his comment is supposed to make me happy. However, people, especially people who are little sis's friends, have to be humoured. They ususally have the best intensions in mind. Their comments are always welcome irrespective of the ways they choose to convey them in.
Continuation of Designing the blog
What I really want is a tabbed layout. I found a few hacks which claim to enable that. I am not entirely satisfied with any of them. Guess I will have to implement one myself. Till then I will have to stick to the current layout.
Friday, 4 July 2008
Now for layout. I want to create a website-like look for my blog. Unfortunately, Blogger does not support web-pages like Wordpress does. So I am using simple links on my side bar. Wish I could at least have drill down links from Cuisine to Reviews and Recipes. But thats also not supported. I have also added a visitor counter and a blog roll. The counter is courtesy StatCounter. Its the best I could find and free. I intend to add my favourite blogs to the roll. Looks like I am all set.
Now for the content...
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Say what you will, but I love my name now. It gives me a sense of identity like nothing else does. It is deliciously ethnic and quintessentially Bengali. And now that everything ethnic is in fashion, it seems trendy too. Surprisingly, somehow people generally have no trouble pronouncing the name anymore. So everything should be alright now. But no, I have a new problem now. Some people have started shortening my name and calling me "Raj". It annoys me to no end. This name reminds me of that atrocious Shahrukh Khan movie called DDLJ. I absolutely hate that movie and, by association, this name. "Raj" is so bland and so devoid of character that it makes me feel invisible. I think NJ was the first person to call me "Raj". Since then, a few people in office have started calling me that. Apparently, "Rajorshi" is too long for them to remember. I think it is unfair. Why should my name be mutilated just because they are too lazy to remember it? Well, I probably can't do anything about the people who already call be "Raj", but I will damn well make sure nobody else does so.
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
The condition which distinguishes active animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, functional activity and the continual change preceding death.
Concise Oxford Dictionary, English
The totality of one's existence including karma. the totality of one's existence including karma.
Teachings of Nichiren Daishônin, Japanese
Complex physico-chemical systems whose two main peculiarities are 1) storage and replication of molecular information in the form of nucleic acid, and 2) the presence of (or in viruses perhaps merely the potential for) enzyme catalyst.
Penguin Dictionary of Biology, US
1 a: the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body
b: a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings
c: an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction
Life noun (plural lives) capacity for growth, functional activity, and continual change until death.
1. The aggregate of the animal functions which resist death. Bichat.
2. The state of animated beings, while they possess the power of feeling and motion. It commences in contemplation of law generally as soon as the infant is able to stir in the mother's womb and ceases at death.
3. For many purposes, however, life is considered as begun from the moment of conception in ventre sa mere. Vide Foetus. But in order to acquire and transfer civil rights the child must be born alive. Whether a child is born alive, is to be ascertained from certain signs which are always attendant upon life. The fact of the child's crying is the most certain. There may be a certain motion in a new born infant which may last even for hours, and yet there may not be complete life. It seems that in order to commence life the child must be born with the ability to breathe, and must actually have breathed. 1 Briand, Med. Leg. 1ere partie, c. 6, art. 1.
A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
The average number of hours a bulb will burn.
Lumber terms dictionaryUS
I have always been interested in how different cultures, peoples, professions and philosophies look upon life. I want to collect as many definitions for life from as many varied sources and in as many languages as possible. I hope eventually all major points of views will be represented here.
Note: This is a running post.
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Extract from Epitaph to a Dog by Lord Byron
Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferosity,
and all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.
This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
BOATSWAIN, a DOG,
The full text of the poem can be found in Wikipedia.
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Job Interview: "I am currently working on...". Start of with what you are doing now (proffesionally). Present the major points in your career in reverse chronological order, i.e., latest first. Stick to dates and numbers. Don't try analyze or explain anything. If the other person wants to know details, he/she will ask. Stick to your professional life only. You personal life is irrelevant here.
Social occasions: "I am from...". If you have already told him/her your name, this might be a good opener. You can then go on to mention you profession, etc. Stick to basics. If the other person is really interested, he/she will help you along with specific questions or comments. If not, you can throw the ball right back at him/her by returning him/her the same question. But in social occasions, it all really depends on the mood. I went to a meeting of car enthusiasts once. Everyone was introducing himself with the his car details - "Hi, one Honda, model xxx, yyy years old". It was funny.
Online chats: "Hi, I am xxx, from yyy". Always use your username, not your real name. Never offer anymore details. Don't even mention the area of the city you live in. You never know who is at the other end.
Most importantly, don't ever ramble. This is true for all situations. The person asking you this question does not know you. He/She probably wants a glimpse of specific aspects of you. Rambling will kill all interest he/she has in you.
Monday, 23 June 2008
Each chapter of the story is told from the point of view of a different character. Each of them has a different take on the events. We see each character evolve as the flood changes him or her in unexpected ways and we leave them as very different people than we find them at the start of the tale. Maine injects just enough irreverence and humour to enable us to suspend disbelief and avoid getting bogged down by the fantastic events in the story. In his hands even God ceases to be a unidimensional all powerful entity and acquires motivations and intensions that can be questioned. Towards the end of the tale each character tries to answer the question: Why did God do it? They come up with eight different answers. Answers which reveal more about them than their God. Sample some:
"Because He wishes to cleanse the world of sin and punish the unbelievers"
"Because He can"
"Because He wants to encourage us to do better"
"Because, like most males, He loves destruction for its own sake"
"Beause there is no limit to the suffering He makes available to us, for reasons only He understands"
The Flood is ultimately, the story of a family, its trials and tribulations and individuals who, inspite of all their differences, love and respect each other. Its humour and irreverence hold more lessons in life and love than is readily apparent. But what stands out above all is the humanity in the novel. Its refusal to come to a tame happily-ever-after ending only enhances its humaneness. Blessed with a thousand year life and cursed to out live all his family, Noah's fate is far from being what we would expect.
The Flood is David Maine's debut novel.
Saturday, 21 June 2008
Looks like Hillary Clinton is finally out of the presidential race. Good. Never liked her. Pundits say that President Clinton will be better for India than President Obama but I don't care. Political alliances are driven by need. If America needs us and we need America, any president will fall in line. I would rather choose the guy who I feel has greater personal integrity. Clinton totally compromised hers when she condoned her husband for Monicagate. I can't help feeling she has a "you scratch my back, I will scratch yours" kind of a relationship with her husband. That she supported him in his presidency so that she could use him to get into the senate and then the president's chair. I just don't understand why women go ga-ga over her. I mean, this is the woman who humiliated every self-respecting woman by her conduct during her husband's scandals. Now she is using his name to get what she wants. How is she an inspiration to anybody? A feminist is someone who earns what she deserves by her own merit, not by using her father's or husband's name. Thats why neither Indira Gandhi nor Sonia Gandhi are celebrated as feminists in India, even though both of them were/are the most powerful persons in the country in their own times. I have heard a few of her speeches. They are so rhetorical and jaded. Her favourite line seems to be "It took one Clinton to clean up after the first Bush, it will take another Clinton to clean up after the second" or some such variation. That one sentence tells us all that is wrong with her. It's witty but it says nothing and it proves nothing. All it does is invoke her husband. Compare her with Obama. The first thing that struck me about him was how fresh he seems. The answers he gives to questions are well thought out and consistent. True, he seems a little long winded sometimes but thats because elaborating on some issue takes more time than simply coming up with a witty quip. And more than anything else, the stands he has taken on various issues have been consistent with what he has said and done in his entire political career and not changed with swings in public opinion. For example, he has been against the Iraq war from day one. Thats more than can be said about Mrs. Clinton. Now all I hope is that Clinton stops waiting for him to be struck down by lightening (cause that's the only way she is going to win) and gets out of his way as soons as possible. Let him and the party focus on taking on John McCain and the Republicans.
The Obama vs. McCain battle will have a far more serious impact on the world than Obama vs. Clinton. McCain seems like an older version of Bush, just more pig-headed. He reminds me of the war mongering general from Mars Attacks ("we must nuke 'em, nuke 'em, nuke 'em"). He plans to send in more troops to Iraq. Honestly, you would think that after Vietnam, Afganistan and now a decade in Iraq, Americans have learnt that you cannot crush ideologies. No matter how sick or pervert it is. Force is not the answer. People like John McCain do not understand it. They do not have the balls to stand up and say that what they did was a mistake and it will go no further. And when someone like him becomes the president of the most powerful nation in the world, it can only mean trouble for everybody. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
A chap named Snell proposed a standard called encephalization quotient (EQ) to compare the brain to body weight ratios among various species. I found the following chart showing the EQ for a few mamals:
It basically means that man's brain to body weight ratio is 7.44 times the average ratio for mamals. This really is over kill. 3 would have been sufficient. Look at the state Nature is in today. There is not a single part of her that is not fighting for survival today. And it is all due to the "extra" few ounces of brain matter she granted Man all those milenia ago. The first things man discovered that were more than just survival tools were fire and wheel. That was around 40,000 years ago. Since that day, Man has not done a single thing which has not upset Nature's equations in some way. He has made a mess of whatever he has touched. He is the only species to have single handedly brought the threat of total extinction upon himself. And not just himself, but all of Nature. None of this would have happened if Nature had stuck to her policy of giving just enough resources to enable a species to survive. That one mistake has effectively sealed her fate.