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.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A look at Ekta's Mahabharata ... finally

After reading post after post on Ekta Kapoor's Mahabharata on Jabberwock's blog (honestly, the guy is obsessed with it) I finally got around to seeing it this Monday. It did not disappoint. The acting is horrible, the dialogue is contrived and the direction is pedestrian. The costumes of course are ridiculous. The sets are pretty good though. At least, they are not the usual Amar Chitra Katha style sets first created by Ramanand Sagar for Ramayana and adopted by every director since.
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.
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Thursday, 17 July 2008

An old blogger and a new one

Sis has finally published her first post. Now I can add her blog to my blog roll. She has named the blog darkness. She is not very happy with it and is looking for a better name. I am really imporessed with her post. I didn't know she could write so well.

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).

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Tuesday, 15 July 2008

I've got plenty of common sense...

I am a huge fan of Clavin and Hobbes. Here I have collected some of my favourite quotes from Calvin and Hobbes.

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?
Dad: Nope.
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?

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Sunday, 13 July 2008

Bookmarks: Tintin

What is it about Tintin and his escapades that makes them my favourite comic adventures? I really cannot put a finger on it. What is even more puzzling is that my favourite hero is not Tintin. That crown belongs to Spiderman. Spiderman, with his emotional conflicts, the desparate-to-be-normal attitude and existential dilemas, torn between love, friendship and duty facinates me. Any ordinary man faced with huge responsibilities and even huger decisions forced upon him can identify with the dimunitive college boy who suddenly has to look after the whole world. Tintin, on the other hand, presents no such problems. His world is a black and white one, made up of a hero, his sidekicks and a bunch of villains. A one dimensional character who can put any psychologist to sleep, he jumps from one problem to another with the alarcity of a school boy. The only things that keep him alive are his luck and the imbecility of the villains. One would think, Tintin is only for little boys who have not yet started to expect the world to be grey. Yet, strangely enough, I have not stopped loving him since the day I first made his acquaintance. And its not just me. People far older than me are diehard Tintin fans. I have seen middle-aged fathers discuss Tintin among themselves with the same animation as their sons. It seems like people never really outgrow the Tintin-phase of their lives. I can ascribe only one reason for it. That is the simplicity of Tintin's world. Tintin never tries to fit into the adult world. He is happy in his world where good people are good and bad people are bad and you can always know one from the other. Whenever we are stressed, frustrated or plain bored we can escape to his world where we can solve all our problems with a little bit of luck and a little help from a dog.
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Saturday, 12 July 2008

Bookmarks: An Epic Retold

I finished re-reading "Prince of Ayodhya, Ramayana Part-1" yesterday. Ashok Banker's retelling reads like a fairy tale. Now I have no objections to retelling Ramayana like a "The Hobbit", (I enjoyed it well enough to have any), but I would have been happier if Banker had not gone about it in such a light hearted way. A darker tale in the style of LOTR would have been more enjoyable. Banker has attempted to convey a sense of a vibrant and mischevious Vedic Bharat. That is a refreshing change from the "prim and propah" image of those ages we get in the traditional tellings of the epics with adarsh pita, adarsh mata and adarsh putra. Rama and his brothers are typical 15 year olds who happen to be extremely talented. Banker's Rama is much more human with his doubts, weaknesses and emotions without having to live upto the reputation of a God. He actually feels anger at his father leaving his mother for a younger Kaikeyi, kills a poacher for resisting arrest and takes lives with glee when the lust for battle is upon him. This is very different from other works where the you find Rama given a secular treatment only in academic discussions. Having said that, I should add that this is just the first part of the story and I do hope that Rama does not tramsform into an avataar by the time his adventures end.

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.
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Eating Out: Kobe Sizzlers, Pune

This is a review I had written quite some time ago for another blog. As that blog has disappeared, I thought of adding it here as part of the restaurant review series. It is dated Thursday, May 25, 2006.

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

Blogging from my car

I am blogging from my car. I came home today to find that I had left the keys to the flat inside. I was going to go back to office to get P's keys when P called. He said he would be coming home in an hour or so. So I decided to wait it out in the car. Luckily, I had the laptop with me.
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...

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Kunti Ke Bete

What kind of a name is Kahani Hamaraay Mahabharat Ki? It sounds too much like Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki for me to expect it to be any different from it. If Ekta Kapoor had to name the serial with ‘K’, Kunti Ke Bete would have been a better name.
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.
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Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Bookmarks: Reading Poirot

I and my boss have discovered that we share a passion for mystery stories. He is a huge fan of Hercule Poirot and has the entire Poirot collection. My regard for Poirot is second only to that for Sherlock Holmes. I have a small Poirot collection of 12 novels. We have agreed that we are going to exchange books. I am afraid it is going to be a one-way traffic of books. I have nothing that he does not already have. He has been lending me the novels two or three at a time for the past couple of weeks. I have already read Mrs. McGinty is Dead, Murder in the Mews, Lord Edgware Dies and the The ABC Murders. I am currently reading Appointment with Death. It is beginning to head towards its climax.
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.
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Monday, 7 July 2008

Once upon a time in India...

I have taken the title for this post from an email my friend H sent me this morning. The mail contained stills from popular serials that were aired on Doordarshan when we were kids. It brought back a flood of memories from those days. The days when Doordarshan used to be the only channel around seem so long ago. I cannot remember the last time I watched Doordarshan. And yet, there was a time when our daily schedules were regulated by program timings on Doordarshan. The most maddening part of the day was the news hour. Father insisted on watching both the Hindi and the English news. He claimed that the english version contained more information. I failed to find both the difference between the two and why he didn't just watch the English version. What made it worse was that he demanded absolute silence during that time. News hour coincided with dinner time. So we were never allowed to talk during dinner. But it was not all bad. Apart from the special breakfast mom used to make on Sundays, Doordarshan was what made Sunday mornings so special. Mornings started with Chitrahaar at 7:00 AM. That was my and my sister's only chance to see newly released movies as we were not allowed to go to the theaters back then. Chitrahaar was followed by Disney Hour at 8:00 AM. The whole family used to gather around the TV for Ramayan at 10. That ended at 11. Everybody else moved off to do whatever they wanted to do after that. But my day was just starting. I used to stay glued to the TV for the english programmes that came later. Doordarshan provided me my first taste of western serials. My introduction to Agatha Christie was through David Suchet's Poirot. I faintly remember another serial called Bay of Danger. It involved a lot of flying in a sea-plane. I have never heard it being mentioned anywhere since then.

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,
नहीं कॉस्मेटिक,
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.
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Sunday, 6 July 2008

Eating Out: Sarjaa, Pune

I have just got back from dinner at Sarjaa. The Sunday night dinner is a like a ritual with me and my roomies. We never ever cook on Sunday nights. Instead we head out to one or other of our favourite restaurants for a have-to-slog-for-next-5-days kind of dinners. Truth to tell, there aren't many places we like - Pune is definitely not the place for non-vegetarians like Delhi or Hyderabad are. Sarjaa in Sanewadi is one of our favourites. In fact, we have been going there, every Sunday for the past few weeks. In my humble opinion, Sarjaa is the best place for non-vegetarian food in Pune. I have to hasten to add my reasons for conferring this crown to Sarjaa before there are any howls of protest from anyone. I have tried almost everything on their (varied) menu and I have not had a single complaint so far. My favourite in the starter section is Murg Ghee Roast. Roshali Kabab and Tandoori Murg come close second and third respectively. My favourite mutton dish is Mutton Rara while Murg Bhuna takes the honours in Chicken items. If you ask the staff though they will, for some unknown reason, recommend Murg Kalimiri. It is a tasty preparation but for me it comes after Murg Chatpata. Sarjaa is an Indian specialty restaurant and understandably the Chinese and Continental menus are limited and not quite up to the mark. But then, if you wanted Chinese or Continental food, you would go to a specialty restaurant in the first place. What you get here is authentic Indian food along with a great ambiance and terrific service. I am not much of a drinker and cannot vouch for the bar though. Their bar list is long and they stock what they advertise, which is more than can be said about many other places I know. It is a perfect place to take your family to. Also a safe bet for a first date.
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Saturday, 5 July 2008

Of Posts & Comments

Blogging has suddenly become a craze among my friends. NJ and C have already started their own blogs. Others are still at the planning stage. All of them have different reasons for blogging. NJ and I started our blogs on the same day. She said it was for putting down random thouhts that walk through her mind. She has not been able to move beyond three posts one of which was about why she has started blogging. I can only hope that thoughts have not stopped walking about randomly in her mind. C, always the financial genious, has filled his blog with Google Ads. His stated objectve in starting the blog is to earn money from the ads. I tried explaining to him, that the way Google Ads work, it will take atleast 30 yrs for that cheque from Google to reach him. He retorted that if he gets $100 after 30 years it will still be $100 he wouldn't have got otherwise. I can't beat that logic. He posts pretty regularly. No body will accuse him of doing nothing to earn his $100. His posts are always about the stock markets and performance of companies I don't know even exist. Being a complete moron in all matters financial, I find it tough reading any of the posts from end to end. I have read his disclaimer though. It is hard to miss, being longer than most of his posts. It says that C is not responsible for any opinion anyone might form after reading his posts. Before I read it I had no idea, anyone can say a simple thing like that so many times in so many ways in a single paragraph. The weirdest though, is my little sis. She told me she had got an account from Blogger and had tried posting but, somehow, the title of the post had become the title of the blog and the post had disappeared. That was around a month ago. Yesterday, she wanted to know the difference between a blog and a post. I tried my best to explain all the terms but I have no idea if it has made any difference to her. Her ways are mysterious. I have never pretended to understand them.

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.

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Designing the blog - II

Continuation of Designing the blog

I spent last evening exploring ways to give the blog a more profesional look. I have already done all that can be done within the Blogger framework. Now I want to go beyond that. I discovered two important sources of information. The first is from Blogger itself. Its called Blogger in Draft. Its the place where where Google lets users test out widgets and tools that might not be ready for widespread use. To access it, log into instead of You may find options for new page elements that have not appeared in the regular dashboard yet. I got the search widget from there. It is a very useful addition as it allows me to search for any keyword in all posts in my archive so that I do not have to go and search manually. It takes an awful lot of time to load though. I am still not sure that I want to keep it. Thankfully, the rest of the blog loads without problems. the second source is a treasure trove of tips and tricks. This place is called Download Squad. Its a team blog and this post talks about enhancing blogger blogs. It also has links to other resources for enhancing the blogger experience. I have made quite a few changes mentioned there. My favourite is the Tag Cloud in the side bar. I have wanted it for sometime now. Another, change is that the Blogger navigation bar is no longer there. My blog is entirely my own now. Except the domain. I will have to change that soon.

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.

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Friday, 4 July 2008


Today I had the most relaxed day in office yet. Boss took the day off and a network problem in the lab brought all work to a stop. I spent most of the day in the cafeteria or surfing, playing and chatting. I knew the day was going to go well right from the morning when I had breakfast with the most beautiful girl in office. Right after I came back to my cube after breakfast, the lab network had to be shut down. That took care of work. I had to make one brief presentation which went off without a hitch. After that it was all play. But one can’t stay in the cube doing nothing for long. So I had to leave office early. My weekend has begun…
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Designing the blog

I have been trying out various themes for the blog. I want something very simple but elegant. Something in keeping with my "its the content that matters" approach to blogging. If I am writing something I would want it to be easy to read. Contrasting background and foreground colours (black-on-white, white-on-black) without too many decorations are the easiest to decipher. Most themes are too fancy or too colourful or just plain distracting. Also, there seems to be an abundance of themes which center all content in the middle of the screen leaving lots of empty space on the sides. Can't figure out the reason for that. Why not utilize the whole space? The only theme I could find which fulfilled all my requirements is "minima stretch". But I am already using it. So I guess I will have to stick with it. I think all these considerations of space utilization and readability comes from being trained as a software engineer. When designing products our biggest concern is usability followed by optimum resource utilization. Every decision is made keeping these two points in mind. Blogger themes have obviously not been designed for software engineers.
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...
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Thursday, 3 July 2008

A rose by any other name? Never...!!!

I hated my name when I was a teenager. "Rajorshi" seemed long (especially when combined with my double barrel surname), out of fashion and nobody seemed to be able to pronounce it. Worst of all, most people pronounced it "Rajoshri" which is a feminine name. For a fourteen year old boy, that was the ultimate humiliation. Filling up forms used to be a headache. My name always exceeded the space available. All this made my name the biggest source of unhappiness in my otherwise peaceful teenage life. My parents, on the other hand, were delighted with it. They just could not understand what the problem was. Which was why they were shocked when I announced that I would be changing my name. I had decided on "Rishi". A shorter, more pronounceable and, in my opinion, trendier name. My parents, of course, did not agree to it. And, since I was a minor I could not change my name legally without my father's permission. I was furious. I raved and ranted and then begged but he was not moved. He advised me to wait till I was eighteen and then do what I liked with my name. But he was not going to be a part of it. I never did change my name. By the time I turned eighteen I had completely changed my views on it. I had even begun liking it. In hindsight, my father's decision was the best.

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.

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Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Define Life

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

Myô, Inochi:
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.
Merriam-Webster OnlineEnglish

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.
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