Friday, January 26, 2007

Potter Mania

Which HP Kid Are You?

What the Internet has to say about me......

Your Driving Is is: 77% Male, 23% Female
According to studies, you generally drive like a typical male.You're confident in your driving skills, and hardly any situation gets the better of you.And while you may have a few tickets under your belt, you're still a very good driver.

You are Ocean Blue
You're both warm and practical. You're very driven, but you're also very well rounded.You tend to see both sides to every issue, and people consider you a natural diplomat.

Your Birthdate: July 15
You take life as it is, and you find happiness in a variety of things.You tend to be close to family and friends. But it's hard to get into your inner circle.Making the little things wonderful is important to you, and you probably have an inviting home.You seek harmony with others, but occasionally you have a very stubborn streak.
Your strength: Your intense optimism
Your weakness: You shy away from exploring your talents
Your power color: Jade
Your power symbol: Flower
Your power month: June

You Are 5: The Investigator
You're independent - and a logical analytical thinker.
You love learning and ideas... and know things no one else does.
Bored by small talk, you refuse to participate in boring conversations.
You are open minded. A visionary. You understand the world and may change it.

You Should Drive a Corvette
You don't just like to drive on the road, you like to own it. You live to intimidate other drivers with your car's muscle power!

Waiting for the Mahatma

A book I'd been meaning to read for long, was finally available at the school library. The book starts out as an idyllic romance between Sriram and Bharati, setup against the backdrop of India's Freedom Struggle and Mahatma Gandhi.

As the story moves on, Sriram, an idle-brain is sucked into the vortex of the Quit India, courtesy his love for Bharati. When Gandhi advises all satyagrahis to surrender in jail, Sriram gets separated from Bharati and gets entangled with an extremist faction. Due to his ultra radical activities, Sriram is arrested as an extremist.

The rest of the book is about Sriram's travails in and out of jail and whether he is able to locate Bharati and marry her. There is a final twist in this story and it would remind tamilians of Kamal Hassan's Hey Ram.

Verdict: 2 day time pass!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Grateful to Life and Death

This was the title of a R.K. Narayan book which I found in the school library. I was surprised initially to hear of this unknown book from RKN and eagerly checked it out. I read the first four lines and it didn't take me long to figure out that "The English Teacher" in India was called as Grateful to Life and Death here in the United States, published by the Michigan Press.
The storyline is quite simple - Krishnan, a Lecturer in Malgudi, is happily married to Susila and life is chugging along on expected lines when tragedy strikes in the form of typhoid which leaves Krishnan a widower with a Leela, their 2 year daughter. The rest of the book is about how Krishnan copes with life after "death".
As is always the case, there isn't much of a story track. The winner is Narayan's subtle humor, tinted with emotion. I've always been amazed by Narayan's ability to reflect real life in his writings and every dialog and every action seems so natural that you only wish that you were a part of the proceedings.
Apart from the lead character, the child Leela, steals the book, especially in the last part, with her own way of responding to situations, quite opposite to that of Krishnan's expectations. The book is a take off on Narayan's own life and so you are able to relate to the psychic experiences in the later part of the book.
If at all I find something lacking, I found that the ending was a bit hurried and Narayan could have elaborated a bit more on Krishnan's change in his outlook an life - but then Narayan being what he is, expects you to understand subtleties!
If you are a Narayan fan and haven't read this one yet, grab a book!!

Friday, January 19, 2007


I'm Tagged by Nirmal and so here goes.......

1.Were you named after anyone?

2. Do you wish on stars?

3. When did you last cry?
When I failed Communication Engineering!

4. Do you like your handwriting?
Nope. I hardly understand it myself.

5. What is your favourite meat?
I'm a vegetarian! Strictly no meat!

6. What is your most embarrassing CD on your shelf?
A CD of Thirupachi! I'm a Vijay Hater to the core!

7. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you?

8.Are you a daredevil?
Yes, within reasonable limits!

9. How do you release anger?
I use a pressure ball.

10. Where is your second home?

11. Do you trust others easily?
I trust some people very easily while I view lots with distrust.

12. What was your favourite toy as a child?
A He-Man Action figure.

13. What class in school/college do you think is totally useless?
Whole of SVCE was crap!

14. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
Sarcasm is my middle name.

15. Have you ever been in a mosh pit?
Nopes - I'm not a rock music guy!

16.What do you look for in a guy/girl?
I'll look for a person with intelligence, a good sense of humor(sarcasm annd otherwise) and obviously amazing listening skills as I'm a chatterbox.

17. Would you bungee jump

19. What's your favourite ice cream?
Depends on my mood - Chocolate, Butterscotch and Vannilla in no particular order!

20. What are your favourite colours?
Blue, metallic grey(automobiles) and white.

21. What are your least favourite things?
A volatile situation and unsolicited advice!

22. How many people do you had a crush ?
I lost count!

23. Who do you miss most right now?
I miss my sister the most - as I spent most of my waking hours with her for the last 6 - 7 years!

24. What are you listening to right now?
Songs from Varalaaru - Dhinam Dhinam Deepavali, Guru, and my many of ARR.

25. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
White - as it is used the least!

26. What is the weather like right now?
Awfully hot!

27. Last person you talked to on the phone?
Karthik. A coincidence.

28. The "first" thing you notice about the opposite sex?
Eyes and height.

29. Do you like the person who sent you this?

30. How are you today?
Feeling frustrated for lots of things - but this frustration has become a part of life!

31. Favourite non alcoholic drink?
Lemon Juice.

32. Favourite alcoholic drink?
I'm a teetotaller.

33. Natural hair colour?
Brownish black or blackish brown

34. Eye colour?

35. Wear contacts?

36. Siblings?

37. Favourite month?

38. Favourite food?
Home made Indian, Burrito, Pizzas

39. Favourite day of the year?
July 15th

40. Have you ever been too shy to ask someone out?

41. Scary movies or happy endings?
Happy endings - But I see any movie given the chance.

42. Summer or winter?

43. Holi or Diwali?

44. Do you like your name?
I like my name, but prefer being called LKS.

45. What book/magazine are you reading?
Grateful to Life and Death by R.K. Narayan

46. What's on your mouse pad?
I use a touch pad. But at work, it has roadrunner (beep, beep).

47. What did you watch on TV last night?
I didnt see tv yesterday!

48. Favourite Smell?
I like the smell of freshly laundered clothes.

49. Have you ever regretted breaking up with someone?
Nopes! You've gotto go with somebody to breakup!!

50. Most tiresome thing you’ve ever experienced/done?.
Wading thorugh some classes (read HV DC&AC, Machine Design, DSP) in SVCE.

I pass the tag to Mali!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Being the first kid in my family meant I had to grow up alone in my childhood and my proficiency, or rather the lack of it, in English, forced my parents to make me get into the realm of reading for pleasure. I wasn't sure when my parents said many people read for pleasure as the only books known to me till then were the ones associated with my school lessons! And moreover it was sort of a retrograde step for me as till then I had been collecting video cassettes of cartoons - I still remember - of Tom and Jerry, woody wood pecker, Pink Panther, Popeye and Looney Toons. My baptism started with a bedtime stories book and continued with Panchatantra and Akbar - Birbal stories. Comics (Amar Chithra Katha) the closest to my cartoons on TV dominated the literary field for me then. Tinkle Digest was eagerly sought after every month and my parents were very distressed to find me reading "trash"!

As soon as we had settled down in Madras (it was called so in 1992), two things happened. I joined a school where everybody spoke better English than me and the next was that my father bought me "Swami and Friends" from a book fair. The book took me in its grasp from the very first, as I was able to identify myself with the lead character Swami. I was so engrossed in the book that I finished the 140 page novel in 2 days, an accomplishment of sorts for me. I was hooked on to R.K.N and I went on a rampage in the school library - Tiger for Malgudi, The Bachelor of Arts, Talkative Man, A Grandmother's Tale, Mr. Sampath were read and re-read. Hardy Boys were a parallel craze too. Mysteries and Case Files were read with frenzy. I still remember Ashwin Bharadwaj (one of my closest friend in school) and me trading library books every week as our library had a one book per week quota. Now my parents were beginning to sense that what they had thought as a healthy diversion was beginning to develop itself into huge distraction! It was at this point that I went into high school and the new high school library had a far wider range of books and I still remember the first book that I took - The Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I had seen the movie and had liked it immensely. But even then I was bowled over by the book and a Crichton mania followed. Lost World impacted me deeply and when I saw the movie onscreen, it was such a bad onscreen adaptation - it never did any justice to the amazing story telling abilities of Crichton. Congo, Sphere, Andromeda Strain and Great Train Robbery were enjoyed. It was at this juncture that two books made me realize that I was a fiction only guy. The first was Five Patients by Crichton and the other was Coma (it took me into a Coma everytime I tried reading it) by Robin Cook.

The next stage of my reading was dominated by two giants of fiction - Ludlum and Forsyth. The first book which took me in this strain was The Bourne Identity. The book affected me so badly that for the next days, I tried to think if I would do something new at every corner of the school corridor. These authors were basically Cold War Period authors and so every book was a CIA Vs KGB or a full scale USA VS USSR story. Memorable books in this strain are The Day of the Jackal (One of the finest pieces of fiction to date and again, a bad screen adaptation), Matarese Circle (Beowulf Agate and the Serpent haunted me for long) and Icon.

Alongside action packed stories, two authors left the most deepest of impressions on me - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and P.G. Wodehouse. I had had an old copy of Laughing Gas with me from childhood but the cover design and the print from Penguin left me in distaste of the book and I had locked it in my trunk and one afternoon with nothing to do, I tried to give the book a glance and by evening had completed it and was trying to read it once more. This led to the "inimitable" Jeeves and "effervescent" Psmith. I read every Jeeves and Psmith book I could catch hold of, mostly in the form of "Omnibus". The other fanaticsm - that of Sherlock Holmes - made me read all 53 cases in one go and ever since I've re-read every Sherlock Holmes story atleast 20 times and I think this itself is an understatement.

The end of the PGW series and SH series marked the end of Junior College and signaled the end of my manic reading too. College was a place where I developed a liking for films with Rajini Kanth, Ajith and Madhavan in tamizh, Tom Hanks in English and SRK/Hrithik in Hindi. Though the first two years of college was a non starter in terms of books, the third year marked my introduction to one of the classics - "Not a Penny More, Not a Penny less" by Jeffrey Archer. I should say that Archer is the author, who along with Narayan has affected my writing a lot. An archer frenzy followed - Kane & Abel, The Prodigal daughter, Shall we tell the President?, As the Crow Flies, Sons of Fortune, Honor among thieves, First Among Equals, A Matter of Honor, The fourth Estate and the Eleventh Commandment followed. Somewhere around the same time, one of my closest friends in college, Sathya told me about a news article in the Hindu which told that the number of visitors to the Louvre had increased because of a novel by a man called Dan Brown. I'm a strong believer in Hinduism and have been irritated by taunts from people of other religions about Hinduism and so when I started on the Da Vinci Code, it was basically because of my curiosity. The book proved out to be such a taut thriller that subsequent books like Angels and Demons, Digital Fortress and Deception Point just happened. Of these, I would definitely say the Digital Fortress was a very bad book and in fact, I would rate it amongst the worst books I've ever read. With this series along with Barons (:D), my reading phase in SVCE came to an end.

It was the summer of 2005 when I successfully read the first non fiction series - The Prison Diary (I,II,III) by Jeffrey Archer. His short stories collections such as To Cut a Long Story Short, A Quiver Full of Arrows, A Twist in the Tale, Twelve Red Herrings and the Collected Short Stories also appealed to me and I've ever since aspired to be a short story writer.

Currently, I'm trying to develop my reading skills further - reading books like The Alchemist, The World is Flat and Freakanomics.

As a popular poet says,

" And Miles to go before I sleep,
and Miles to go before I sleep"

I think this applies to my literary sojourn as well.

P.S: I get the feeling that this has been one of the worst blog entries from me in recent times - cant help it, as I'm feeling nostalgic about books and have lots of time on hand!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Opinions and Opinionated

Ever since I've been out of Chennai, I've realised that life and people have strated seeing me as ME and not as son of Mrs and Mr. so and so. I've had no qualms about this, but for the queer fact that people want my opinion in lots of issues, but cant bear me if I'm opinionated. Though I agree life is always fuzzy, I believe in being binary as far as my likes/dislikes/passions/hates go. Its either I support it or I'm against it. I dont like trying to be politically correct/diplomatic/wishy-washy in any issue.

The other funny thing is the dictionary meaning of Opinionated. It goes something like this:

o·pin·ion·at·ed (adj.)
Holding stubbornly and often unreasonably to one's own opinions.

I feel that the word has been one of the most misused/abused words in the english language.

My opinions on any issue depends on what kind of an issue it is. For issues which have a straight Right/Wrong, I have seen that almost always I take the right side. It could be basically because I was brought up in a hindu family in India where siding with the wrong was never encouraged that my thinking has been permanently influenced by it. For issues which dont have a straight yes/no or right/wrong, I consider it my preveilege to have an opinion and am entitled to it.

I'm proceeding here to just give a few daily life examples, where people see me as opinionated.

1. Tendulkar Vs Anybody (Dravid/Lara/Ponting.......)

I started watching cricket at the age of 5 and it so happened it was the debut of Sachin then. Ever since I've been fed on Tendulkar's drives, cuts, pulls and sweeps that it is impossible for me to accept anybody else as better. I have seen Tendulkar play for 16 years and I'm yet to see anybody as consistent as him (again my OPINION). People argue that Dravid has been matchwinning. So what? When I see Dravid bat in a test match, more often than not, I sleep. I see Cricket for entertainment and don't care about India winning/losing. For one, the system in India is so corrupt that I want Indian team to be disbanded so that corrupt pigs like Dalmiya will stay away from the game. So from this point of view, I can't support Dravid. Moreover, Sachin through the major part of his playing days played in a team which always ooked at him as the batting mainstay (he still is looked at as a mainstay). Sachin knows that if he gets out the people who are coming in next have two demons to fight - the opposition and also the nagging feeling that the best player is back in the dressing room. I can surely say Sehwag and Dravid will surely feel safe knowing that either Tendulkar is in the dressing room padded up or is already with them in the middle. This itselfis a huge advantage that Sachin doesnt enjoy. And coming to people like Ponting/Lara - these are batsman who are technically less sound than Sachin and are players who blow hot and cold. I know entire seasons when Lara/Ponting have failed. Barring last 2 years (when his body is refusing to cooperate), Tendulkar has never had a full failed season. Give me the statistics to prove me wrong. And my take on matchwinning effort is its pure coincidence that Dravid has scored well and the other departments also clicked in the 2 tests that we won and I know innumerable occasions when Sachin has scored a 100 and still we lose- the reason? bad fielding/bowling/weather, which are not in his control. Cricket is a team game and Sachin is a batsman. As long as he scores his runs, I will worship Tendulkar as God of batting. Period!

There are other issues like ARR - Ilayaraja, Superstar - Kamal, Ajith - Vijay and many more....

P.S: Fortune favors the bold.