Monday, March 31, 2008

Google April Fool's Pranks - 2008

It was Gulp, jobs in the moon, MentalPlex, Pigeon Rank, Gmail Paper and Tisp in the last two years. What will Google do this year??


This the new one I found this morning on my Gmail Login Page:

The next one: Click

Build You Own Airplane

One more here.
They are coming thick and fast! What could be next?

I'm the conphused!!

I'm not a great economic analyst nor a politics guru!

But this and this doesn't add up!!

Well, for all I'm concerned is whether my H1B Visa will make it to USCIS before the deadline and will I get to stay here in the US and be the lazy, irresponsible person that I'am for the next six years, at least?

April 1 - Usually the Fool's day, I don't want to be made a fool of by USCIS this year.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lessons from the India - Australia Series Down Under

I did a similar post once and this is the second time, though the circumstances differ!

1. Agarkar less India managed to win the CB series. {I know I'm picking on the poor guy, but: Of course, the group of people who don't answer to the name Ajit Agarkar will go to sleep knowing that he got Rs. 80 lacs. I sincerely hope they actually get some sleep. As a member of this illustrious group, I can tell you that sleep is hard to come by.}. Hopefully with 'real' allrounders emerging and 'genuine' pace bowlers performing, Agarkar won't be getting any more of those "Rs. 80 Lac Prize Money" Cheques!!

2. Thatha Tendulkar, did prove that even when walking with a walking stick, in determination and hard work, he had no equals in Indian cricket.

3. Sodha a.ka Dada Ganguly's, and Past-his-prime Dravid's sympathizers were given a sucker punch when the team won in the CB series final, 2-0. Once again, the game proves to be bigger than a few big-mouthed men.

4. Piyush Chawla seems to be a fine prospect. Compared to the over-hype pakoda... sorry Bhajji, this kid seems to still remember that a spinner needs to flight the ball to get wickets!

5. Dhoni, is the latest no nonsense player who seems to be a more sensible version of motor-mouth Ganguly. Hope he stays this way.

6. Much has been said about I. Sharma being the find of the tour. I agree, but his hairstyle does play a part too in his success :P

7. Rohit Sharma is being over hyped - He is good, no doubt, but too many have been killed by the "Next Tendulkar"tag noose.

8. Praveen Kumar will last exactly for an year after which he will join the ranks of Nehra, Sodhi and Balaji.

9. The series win took the spotlight away from Yuvraj's pathetic form. In the test series he was sleeping and in the ODI series he was sleep walking. And is the knee injury for real or is it Ganguly's Injury Saga, remade with Yuvraj (with Deepika Padukone getting a heroine role?)

10. Do India really need a coach, especially in ODIs where Thatha has played more matches than all the other team members put together have played?

Sensibility - thy nickname, Dhoni?

The Captain of the Indian Cricket Team for ODIs and 20-20 Matches gets vocal here and here.

This bloke seems sensible and I hope he stays this way. After all the Indian captaincy has laid low much greater men before.

If you want to read the whole interview, click-ify!

Certain excerpts from the i'view which i found to be interesting:

His Cricket Watching.....
"I'm not really a keen watcher of cricket. Even in the last World Cup, in South Africa, I just watched Sachin [Tendulkar] bat. The last game we played, we lost to Australia, and I only watched Sachin bat. I cannot sit in a chair and watch. I don't study cricket too much. Whatever I have learned or experienced is through cricket I've played on the field, and whatever little I have watched. And statistics, I know nothing. If you ask me "Who is the first player to do this or that?" you won't get anywhere close to a correct answer from me."

On Sledging and the likes...
I just tell them, "Look, the ICC is there. They have guidelines. You are not dumb or stupid not to know the limitations. If you overstep that, everybody feels you have crossed the boundary." And the guy who oversteps also knows that.

I'm not the guy who will go up to the match referee and beg and say, "No, no, it's his first time." If you have done it knowing everything, then whatever punishment is there, you should get it. Everybody realises, everywhere in the world, that there are certain guidelines that need to be followed.

And being a professional cricketer, playing at the highest level - you are earning most amount of money over here - you have to be at your best. People may provoke you to do something but if you do something, one thing is sure: if you cross the boundary you will get punished. Personally, I believe if you get punished a few times, you know what's happening and what your boundaries are. There are times with young bloods, they don't know much about it. You need to be careful and you have to say things to them. Most of the guys know. If you've played ten or 15 games you know each and every thing about international rules and regulations."

An honest response as to why he didn't jump like a monkey....
"It was good to see the reaction of the other players. Of course, I could have reacted in the same way but seeing others gave me more pleasure. I had back pain as well - whenever I tried to do anything it was paining a bit.

It was great to see each and every one enjoy the success, enjoy the victory. Not only the guys who were playing, even the outsiders, support staff, the 17-member squad."

On Kumble..

"He's a great guy, leads from the front. He's the sort of guy, if he's on the field, he's always there to win a game. Even if the opposition needs one run to win and they have 55 balls, if he's bowling, he will look to get the batsman out. He's like, "Till they win, I'm not losing." His communication is a lot better than mine. It's one of the things I'm learning and should learn. The rest I think we're the same. I think communication-wise he's a lot better than me."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Google - New Feature

Thanks to the Seattle Shahenshah, I came to know about this new google search option. Should say its going to give one more mile for Yahoo and MSN to catch up, if at all they are still nurturing hopes of beating Google. Google is NOT God, but something close to it!!

Raghuvaran passes away

Any accolades will sound cliched for this actor who gave his own style to tamil cinema villainy.

Forever he remains the Mark Antony in Baasha, for me.

May his soul rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Down the Memory Lane.... 1

You never know, but there are certain things which throw you back to your childhood days. They could be that photograph where you and your sibling stand before a faded wall or could be the smell of rain soaking the earth.. for me a lot of things remind me of my child-hood days. This Down the memory lane series of blogposts is dedicated to enlist some of those "port keys" which transport me to another world, another time.....

This video... I think first came about when I was in UKG or 1st Standard, when advertisement slots were the only time when I could be fed. I still remember mom and dad keeping food ready and as soon as the advertisements started rolling, used to "ooti"-vittufy me with sadham and kari. This ad was one of my favorites. I was so affected by this ad that my dad had to get me one pencil each day as I used to run the pencil on the road on my way back from school. And even in school, my friend and me used to race our pencils on bench tops. He used to have another brand of pencils, supposedly the "American" pencil, characterized by those yellow colors and a "rubber" on top of it. So it was more or less like India Vs USA kinda battle in class and I used to remember other guys in class crowded around our bench to watch our pencil fight. And frequently, I won (more due to fraud), I used to eat the eraser from his pencil, with the result that his pencils always had a chewed top and I invariably always had a bad stomach due to over eating of erasers.

Thats it for now and hopefully will find more stuff like this online to remind me of my antecedents... :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The man who didn’t know too much

A Story by Cho Ramaswamy which appeared in The Hindustan Times.

Dr Manmohan Singh was worried. No, not worried, but concerned. No, not concerned, but agitated. Yes. When curiosity starts biting viciously, the mind cannot but get agitated. He was, of course, curious. And there seemed to be no way of quenching that curiosity. The media were agog with rumours about an impending cabinet reshuffle. If it had been an official announcement, the PM would not have bothered. He knew that a formal denial would follow. This was a rumour featured in all gossip columns. The greatest gossip of them all, the visual media, were also forecasting a cabinet reshuffle. One can ignore news, but the man who disregards a rumour, does so at his own peril.

So the cultured Doctor was sure that there was going to be a reshuffle. But who was going to barge in and who was going to be kicked out? Will the portfolios of the ministers be changed? Who will get what? The PM was anxious to know. Of course, being only the PM and not Sonia Gandhi, he had no right to expect to know anything in advance. His lot, he knew, was to wait and watch.

He would come to know, when the ministers would be sworn in by Abdul Kalam. No, no, not Abdul Kalam. He was no longer the President. That woman — what was her name? — some Patel. Ahamed Patel? No, a woman. Some other Patel. Ah! Pratibha Patil! When she would say 'I...' and rest her office, the ministers — at least the new ones if any — would have to confess their names and admit their identities. Then the Prime Minister would know.

But curiosity is something that cannot wait to be killed at the last moment. He wanted to know in advance, at least before the invited audience at the Rashtrapati Bhavan came to know the names and the faces. What faces? Does it matter at all? After all, whatever the face is now, it will be lost once the person joined the cabinet. But that is a side issue. Who are going to become ministers? That is the question now. Curiosity, earlier biting the PM, now started eating into him. He had to do something about it.

He could ask Karunanidhi. At least he would know, whether his daughter was going to be inducted into the cabinet or not. But if Dr Manmohan Singh talked to him, Karunanidhi would definitely talk about the Ram Sethu issue. He would want to know the Centre’s position on it and the line it was going to take before the Supreme Court. And what could the PM say? If the government knew what it was going to tell the Supreme Court, it would have already done so. The government, being a secular one, had nothing but contempt for Rama. But he seemed to carry some votes in his pocket. If there was a way of keeping the votes and letting Rama go, the government would have embraced the idea with enthusiasm.

But Karunanidhi would not listen. He wanted the bridge to go along with Rama, making way for TR Balu, the Shipping Minister to sail in the Palk Straits. So talking to Karunanidhi would only be inviting acrimony.

Lalu Prasad Yadav might know all about the cabinet reshuffle. But if the PM asked Lalu to satisfy his curiosity, Lalu may use the occasion to demand a Bharat Ratna for Rabri Devi. Sure, anyone who would be prepared to accept the award from the hands of the present President would be making the ultimate sacrifice. The sacrifice of self-respect. That itself, being an act of the highest form of humility, would make the person deserving of the highest award. But then, if Rabri was given the Bharat Ratna, the next in line would be Mrs Deve Gowda. And Sonia Gandhi would not like that.

So Lalu cannot be approached. Who else? Pranab Mukherjee? He was already considering himself to be more important than the PM. Why confirm it by seeking enlightenment from him? Chidambaram could be knowing some particulars, as his son was close to DMK circles, thus being in a position to know Sonia Gandhi’s mind. But, after the recent coronation by a TV channel as the Indian Politician of the Year, Chidambaram would be assuming airs. Not that he did not have any earlier. But the air assumed by him now could be so dense that he may be causing a low pressure area around himself. And worse, under the pretext of mentioning in passing the next budget, he may start giving lessons in economics to Dr Manmohan Singh. That being the ultimate in humiliation, would be the limit. No, no Chidambaram. Anyway who knew what was going to happen to him in the reshuffle? The Leftists were already baying for his blood.

Talking of Leftists, Prakash Karat would certainly be posted with all details about the reshuffle. But if he was approached, he may start talking about the nuclear deal. It was already exploding in the PM’s face, and he did not want to invite another blast. The effects of radiation had started to tell.

Arjun Singh may be expected to find out at least some aspects of the reshuffle. But he would carry tales to Sonia Gandhi, accusing the PM of being a nosey sort of man, exhibiting an inquisitiveness, totally unbecoming of his office.

The PM was by now a man resigned to his fate. He wrote on a piece of paper lying on his table, “Who am I to aspire to know anything in advance? I am only a Prime Minister. There are higher powers.” He studied it to steady himself, and stifle his curiosity. And to divert his mind, he switched on the TV set. Someone was giving a pitch report prior to a one-day fixture and pointing to a spot on the pitch said, “Look… over here, yes over here…”

The other words were lost on the PM. The words “over here” had an electrifying effect on him. Yes. That’s it! One can ‘overhear’! Sonia and Rahul Gandhi would definitely be discussing the cabinet reshuffle, to decide who was going to be made what. If only he could go to Sonia Gandhi’s residence, hide in a convenient corner, and listen, he could get all details. But could he? The hiding part of it, he could carry out with consummate skill, having perfected the art by sheer practice. After all, whenever the communists came to discuss the proposed pact with the US, he had successfully hidden himself.

When he started weighing the pros and cons of attempting to overhear the conversation between Sonia and her son, his enthusiasm diminished. There were no pros, but plenty of cons. Just then, he heard some footsteps. Someone was approaching. No, there were two of them, somebody talking to somebody. Yes. They were Sonia and Rahul approaching his room.

Dr Manmohan Singh was shaken. Their arrival on the scene, just as he was considering the outrageous act of overhearing their conversation, disconcerted him. He felt as if he was already eavesdropping. His conscience castigated him. He felt guilty. He also knew, that his face would reveal all. His was the face of a nobleman, and it would not hide his inner secrets. One look at him, and she would know. He must avoid the mother and the son. He took a decision. His face would not hide anything, but he could hide himself. He jumped from his chair, jumped around the sofa set, jumped over a table, and the final jump led him behind a wardrobe. As he stood motionless, a practice which had grown on him through his years of prime ministership, Sonia and Rahul seated themselves near the table where he had been sitting and brooding. They thought that he had gone to the restroom, and would be returning shortly.

Just then, Sonia Gandhi’s eyes fell on the piece of paper on which he had been scribbling. The words, “Who am I to aspire to know anything in advance? I am only a Prime Minister. There are higher powers,” stared at her.

She was impressed and showed it to Rahul. He too was impressed. “Could we ever hope to get a Prime Minister like him? Whoever comes or goes, he must stay.” As he heard these words of Sonia Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh, heaved a silent sigh of relief. Whatever the blasted reshuffle did, it would not touch him.

This is a word by word reproduction from the hindustan times website and can be accessed here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

India wins the CB Series and Hayden Calls Harbhajan "an obnoxious weed"!!

Hayden, Symonds and Ponting, perhaps form the top 3 of the list of cricketers with bad attitude and zilch sportsmanship. No wonder, somebody calls Hayden as an Overgrown Mutant Potato!!

Overall, this was one of India's best ODI conquests and Sachin Tendulkar still showed why he was not dropped when the other two of the troika - Saurav Chandidas Ganguly and Rahul Sharad Dravid were dumped from the ODI team.

The finds of this tournament from an Indian perspective have to be Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar and to a lesser extent, Piyush Chawla, who, at some point in the future has to take the mantle from Anil Kumble.

Rohit Sharma just established himself as the front-runner for the "Next Tendulkar" tag (previous players being Sehwag, Yuvraj and Raina).

Touche, Dhoni! Excellent man management and ringed in crucial changes like a seasoned pro. Please don't go the same way as Dada The Sodha, Saurav Ganguly did!!!

I thought I could upload the radio interview of Hayden and a video clipping of Sachin Tendulkar and leave you to judge the greats from the also-rans!

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Anjaadhey - First good movie of 2008

Saw Anjaadhey today - albeit online streaming video.

Well, I thought of Kakha Kakha and Kurudhi Punal as defining movies for the cop genre. But I think Anjaadhey, minus a performer like Surya, story-wise has definitely scored over Kakha Kakha. Instead of going in for a usual review let me list the features which appealed (and which didn't) to me.

Good Aspects:

1. No glamorization of villain or hero - in fact, IMO Ajmal was given almost as much importance and scope as Narain, the protagonist.

2. No gross visuals (Gautam Menon, are you listening?) and no justification for Prasanna's obsession - it is shown that Prasanna is, naturally, a person with a psychological disorder.

3. The screenplay was taut and gripping. No unwanted Amma, Thangachi sentiment scenes which tend to put me off. On the same vein, thank god, Narain and Uttara were not shown to be doing "lauvs" in usual tamizh cinema paani.

4. Stunts, whatever little there was were natural and no rope oriented flyings... And the fights were shown to be short and swift.. Much like what Vishnu varadan told in his Tv interviews before the release of Billa. That lent more credence to the encouters/fights.

5. Awesome characteriastions - Ponvannan was very good. Livingston and MS Bhaskar were correctly underplayed. Pandiarajan was very efficient too. And I don't know whether it was for that reason - but Narain identifying the voice of Pandiarajan was believable. Pandiarajan's voice is not ur usual voice. Touche, Myskin.

6. BGM was not a cacophony - I found the BGM in Kakha Kakha whenever Jeevan came, to be outright "the rejected" . The Music director has lost the plot in the songs (will talk about it later) but has scored in the BGM dept.

7. I liked the way Mysskin had avoided to show anybody as good or bad. Everybody was portrayed as normal human beings, having shades of grey - nothing more or nothing less. There is often a tendency to portray people as caricatures (either too good or too bad).

8. The way Ponvannan investigates the case is superb. It seems much more closer to reality than stuff like "Raghavan Instinct" kinds. For this alone, Mysskin deserves praise, if not for the other reasons.

9. This movie, once again reiterates that you don't need 'kuthu' paatu and a comedy track to make the audience like the movie. And thankfully, there are no punch dialogs like "Nee adicha piece, Naan adicha maasu", "Naan onnu ninaichenna, Ennalaye Kaaya vaikka mudiyadhu" kinds. I still maintain that apart from Rajni Kanth, anybody else mouthing punch dialogs looks funny.

10. Amongst cop movies in tamizh cinema, I liked KurudhipPunal and Kakha Kakha. But after Anjadhey, I would say, in order of merit, it is KurudhupPunal, Anjaadhey and Kakha Kakha.

Aspects which I didn't like.

1. Except for the Kathaala song, others were downright horrible. Mysskin, who goes on record saying he doesn't like having songs could have avoided those songs - the movie would also been shorter, adding to the already good screenplay.

2. Some scenes were too dark for my liking. But that could also be because I saw it on my comp and not on the big screen.

3. I felt Narain was very limited in his acting skills. I think Mysskin should try to convince bigger stars (I Know he will say that the big stars are afraid to experiment....). But this movie is not experimental. The protagonist wins at the end, which is what those big stars want and so, I think Mysskin should be more convincing when narrating scripts to those stars.

Overall, the first good film of 2008.

I would give it 4 Starts out of a possible 5.