Thursday, June 25, 2009

King of Pop

I have seen politicians in India using the hyperbole unnecessarily on each other! Like once when Manmohan called Dr. Kalaignar as the Architect of South Indian Heritage or something like that - Mostly, they should be taken as the aberrations of a delusional mind - but it won't be an exaggeration if I said a big chunk of the global music industry died today with the inarguably, most deserved King of Pop - Michael Jackson.

I think he was perhaps the inventor of the Music Video concept - with his smash hit Thriller. MTV, VJ etc etc - I think need to start everyday doing a poojai to MJ with the Thriller video on. While everybody recognize his dancing and singing skills, the man was a lyricist and the year after he was inducted to the rock and roll hall of fame, he was inducted into the Lyricist Hall of Fame.

My 5 Favorite MJ Songs (Audio only): Heal The World, Stranger in Moscow, Thriller, Ben and History (and perhaps Ghosts at the same list too)

My 6 fav videos: Thriller, Bad, Beat It, We are the World (it had the leading singers of that time in a single video - it was rumored that Jackson and the other guy who produced it, wrote the song and recorded the video on a single night) and Blood on the Dance Floor and Smooth Criminal (just for its Rajni-esque intro).


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Siesta Beach

Accidentally, while flipping channels on the Travel Channel last week, I heard about Siesta Beach being in the top 10 beaches in the US. So the decision to check it out was made. The telly told me that this beach was special for its water color, sand and the sunset - the typical beach-y things.

The Travel:
The beach is difficult to map/GPS, basically because, it is not your typical touristy beach with lots of shopping areas nearby - so if you are interested, here goes: Take I-75 South, Exit# 205, proceed West on Clark Rd., cross US-41 and you shall hit on the Stickney Point Drawbridge and subsequently, Stickney Point Road. Proceed and the road hits on T intersection. Take the right and proceed approximately 3 miles and you shall see the beach to your left. Alternately, if you are a scenic route person, take the I-275 South, and it will join 75 after SunShine Skyway.

The Beach:
The beach has one of the whitest sands I have ever seen. Mainly, the beach is extremely clean and the absence of the typical beach commerce takes you by (a pleasant) surprise. The beach is quite long, by Florida standards, and on one end you see the skyline (whatever little it might be) of the Sarasota City and the other end of the beach is a awesomely located house which has water on 3 sides! The beach lends itself to a pleasant and long walk along the shoreline. The water, though not comparable to the sublime colors you see in Miami, is a cool blue for the Gulf Coast. The best aspect for me the conspicuous absence of desi junta in the beach.


The Sunset, was surely not over-hyped at all. It was absolutely breath-taking and I think this is the best sunset that I've seen, along with the ones I saw on board the ferry at San Fransisco, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, near the Alcatraz prison. We reached the beach at 6.45 pm and the sun did not show any sign of going down anytime soon, though my Google Weather had predicted that the sun would go down at 8.30-ish. Right on cue, the awesome spectacle began around 8.27pm - the colors and the effect of the rays on the water has to be seen to be believed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Super Commercial

This commercial from AT & T is really good - it has a basic theme, a very strong message, sugar coated enough to not jar you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bing-u Para Bong-u

Apart from shoving Bing (previously Live Search) down your throat by having it as a default browser tab in IE 8, Microsoft has got it completely wrong in trying to somehow make you do a bing search by making links on as bing search results. This is basically a bong-u from Bing in trying to increase their search count and I recently saw a statistic where they said their bing searches have increased by 3 percent in terms of market share. What I do just to thwart is that I hover over the link to see what the search keywords are and google it - there - I added a search to the Google count. As much as it sounds silly - this not too subtle (rather, showing down your throat) approach of Microsoft is going to rant the people. Those who were already anti-Microsoft are going to run like crazy to Google. I guess that Microsoft and subtlety cannot be in the same sentence unless there is a negating term present.

P.S: While playing gilli cricket - there used to be this older guy who will willingly play himself in the weaker team (or the team with lesser number of makkal) and take a double gaaji - this is exactly what Microsoft is doing.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Mentally Detached State

This last weekend, had to make a trip to the airport to pick a friend of mine and I found myself blissfully overshoot the exit - The road to the Tampa airport is peculiar that the airport exit is the last exit before you hit a 10 mile bridge, which cannot and does not have an exit for 10 miles. It just got me thinking as to how you can end up doing something, almost on auto-pilot - without thinking actively about what you are doing.

The first recollected instance of this happening was my english exams - the last time I did any academically related activity before my english exam must be way back in my primary school when we were really tested on grammar and all that stuff. Thankfully, when I was in the sixth, the CBSE had a brain wave and abolished any direct grammar testing questions - or so my school told us. So grammar was more or less nullified to complete the sentences kind of practical testing which didn't demand that I know the difference between adverb, adjective and all those stuff - till this date, I really do not know what an adverb is. One of the best things that was taught to me in PSBB was by my 'class' teacher, Mrs. Asha Kannan, back in my 4th standard who said that a grammatically correct sentence is one which sounds right to you. I  have stuck on to that logic and so far through my school, UG and GRE-Toefl-CAT times, this logic has helped staying away from actually studying wordlists or Wren and Martin or Nurnberg and Rosenblum. In fact, my recommended book for GRE would be the Big Book which has 50 practice tests out of which you take, arbitrarily, 10-15 exams and you should be really fine for the GRE. And the version of the CAT exam that I wrote was more RC specific which helped me ace the verbal section (though I majorly flunked the DA section :) ). SO more or less, my english exams back in school involved taking the question-cum-answer sheet (thankfully to avoid junta from writing their sondha kadhai sogha kadhai, we were given allotted spaces to write our answers). So, my only aim was to finish the paper inside of 1.5 hours and to have a sound nap on the desk. This might sound pure lunacy, but somehow I loved to sleep on the desks - and so throughout the exam, I was more or less on auto pilot with the formal letter, RC and all that stuff.

The next 'remember-able' instance of me being on auto pilot was my electrical machines laboratory in my UG days. The lab was a very simple one. They gave you all the circuit diagrams and all you have to do was to make the circuit connections and take the I-V readings and depending on the experiment, do a plot and end up with the shunt resistance or series resistance of the armature and all that stuff which all had pre determined formulas. So all the work involved was to rig up the connections, take the I-V readings and do a rough plot and see if it looks anything like what it is supposed to. As long as you didn't mess up with your 3ph connections or didn't do outright silly things like connecting a voltmeter in series, you ended up with the correct readings. And the remainder of the time was spent in which guy was line vittufying for which girl in the class - this was a pretty fun activity. We were grouped based on our roll numbers and being named what I'm, I was pretty much preceded by 4 guys with the same name as me and succeeded by the same number with the same name (the first and second portion of my name are perhaps, the most common south indian names ever, though I don't think there are many people with my exact combination - based on the fact that I pretty much got my name in all the social networking/email accounts). And I had these two amazing guys in my group who were pretty much your enthu-pattani kinds. So more often than not, my lab 'experiment' was done and dusted within the first hour and the for the rest of the time, we guys would have a happy time looking at inter-lab-group line vittufyings and intra-lab-group line pottufyings. The fun would be when our crazy EM professor would start on his rant about 'indha kaalathu engineering pasanga' which would provide us enough entertainment for the day.

While in college, I had the other daily routine which involved me in auto pilot mode - the 40 odd km trip to and from our college to my bus stop - through, some hook and lots of crook, I changed my bus to a route which had the Bus Coordinator Prof in it. That guy - as is the thondru-thotta vazhakkam of people who have power - always made sure that the bus on his route was either an air bus or sometimes, air conditioned air bus. So for the 10K I paid every year, I decided to get a bang for my buck and take the air bus - so reach the bus stop at 7.30, talk arbit stuff about anything till 8, board the bus, get the last but one seat and sleep. Some of those days, the bus coord guy would come around asking for our bus pass to see if we were genuinely on that route or whether we were people who pretended to have missed our original bus to be on an air bus. After a while, unwilling to be disturbed from my morning siesta, I had my bus pass and placed it on the next seat and pretty much had a sound sleep until we reached the Chembarambakkam lake, by which point, some guy would SMS you asking whether you had completed some arbit assignment or record or obse or graph... So the last 10 mins of the bus ride was spent in: 1. Getting to know what was that I had NOT done that was supposed to be submitted. 2. Determine if I could escape from the prof who demanded the submission through the gift of the gab (more or less, my college had this typical categories of professors - 1. female staff who had completed their ME a couple of years ago 2. Male staff who had completed their ME a couple of years ago 3. Senior staff). There was pretty much no escape from the 3rd category and it involved me doing some real work in the bus with my calculator and graphs. Category 1 was the easiest - you could yap to them about some arbit thing - mostly, the prevalent Madhavan padam or some indee padam (depending on their geographical background) and you can escape with pretty much anything, including murder. Category 2 were the ones who had various sub categories:
2 a. The rural quota ME guy - you talk 4-5 sentences in english , putting in every complicated word you know and you can pretty much walk away scot free. But the trouble would brew if you did in the presence of category 1 staff as our rural romeo would feel offended that you asinga paduthified him in front of the 'figures'. So in those instances, you somehow create a familiarity, talk in chennai lingo about some arbit stuff and escape.

2 b. I'm-a-know-it-all-and-you-better-lick-my-shoes kind - these were the kind I absolutely detested. These are the kinds who studied ME because they were para aarvam to continue masters after their UG, but due to either financial status/own principles, chose not to come over to the US and do their ME in MIT (Chromepet) or some other local pultu college. Whatever you do, you never want to let these junta know that you want to go abroad for your higher studies - if you do, every instance that they get, these makkal will say, "Unnaku ellam US la MS admit kudkaranga" - You typically say to these makkal that you are 'thalai-la adichufying' as to why you chose electrical engineering and you put in an extra bit - "epdi sir neenga ME pannenga? Sema padips ah sir neenga?" More often than not, this statement leads the 2 b category person to believe that he is a self anointed guru for you and they tell you some arbit mokka logic that they followed to be in the 'successful' position - you listen to that arbit logic/funda and walk away with a sorry  (Naan ennoda appa amma solliye ketka maatein - bloody nee solliya ketka poren plays in your mind when you walk away).

In my department we had a peculiar assistant professor who was once suspended for doing some 3rd rate stuff with girl students - this guy was more or less your sabalist kezham - who at 50 odd years wants to see how he can use his age to do silmisham, which the poor girls would not mind, thinking of him as their thatha at college. So with this guy, we do an Arjuna (of Mahabharatha) - like the way he used Sikhandi to defeat Bheeshma, you channel your gate pass/leave letter (forged) or permission letter (to not submit record etc) through a few of the well favored girls (the thatha, apparently, had some 'taste' in the figures he wanted to deal with) - so you give your requests through one of those favored girls and you pretty much, ended up with his signature on any piece of paper.

I digress - coming back to my point, so, the last 10 minutes of my morning bus journey was most often than not spent in some academic activity. The evening bus journey back was slightly more interesting - as most often my route was linkified to some other route in the evenings (as the bus coord left college at 5.30, he reserved the route to leave at 5.30). So this gave me a ring side view/knowledge of which payyan is dating which ponnu. Which 'pair' was spotted where in Madras - who are all the guys who are putting kadalai to a girl. All this was fun to hear and sometimes, you get to watch these wooings in the bus - and by the time I reached poonamallee, I was pretty much entertained for the day - after which I read the book (non academic, of course) or slept my way through till my bus stop - the good thing being that most of the days, our bus was held up at the Kathipara junction - which, I could have avoided had I just gotten down at Kathipara and walked to my bus stop near the Guindy railway station. But then that would mean that I have to wake up from my stupor and do some actual work, which would have meant that this activity of mine would have never found its way here. :)

After all these auto pilot experiences, I pretty much think, this was my first auto pilot experience in the US, where I was able to do work without actually thinking about what I was doing or why.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Mani Ratnam - Write Up - A request


Planning to do a blog post on the Maestro from Madras Talkies. Please feel free to comment on your favorite 5 Mani Ratnam movies - with reasons if possible. You can also mail me at karthik[dot]sriram[at]gmail[dot]com.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Marriage WebSite Nonsense

I've had a few of my friends getting married (this being the peak marriage maatu-sandhai season) and most of them have the time to come up with a website. Before I start my rant on the website itself - I have a huge problem with people saying, "Please treat this as a personal invite". Till quite recently (before these weblinks became a part of my daily email checking routine), I thought emails were personal. If somebody emails me on my personal email address, I assume that they are addressing a personal issue. Then why this statement? If they mean personal as in meeting us/you personally, then I think that this is one of the oft-used, least meant cliches in normal communication (the first is in tamizh cinema, where there is a dialog - Unga kaiya kaala nenachu ketkaren!). I have made a promise to myself that the next time I see this line in an email, I'm going to press the delete button for the mail.

Now onto the website - most of what I say are observations - add to them if you have come across any other versions/flavors.

1. As soon as you open the weblink, it takes close to 2 minutes to load. Why? Because there is either the mushy romantic song loading or the traditional nadhaswaram and melam music loading. A quick thing to do is while you wait for the page to load is to reply to the original email wishing them the best or whatever.

2. The section which makes my blood boil - Our Story / How We Met or some other such cheesily named section. What I don't understand is there are only options available - either you met someone at work/college/wherever you used to hang out or you had an 'arranged' marriage - which involves the parents putting in spade work to find a well educated and good looking bride/groom and making them talk. A new masala mix which has been added now is this we had an arranged-love marriage, when all it involves is for those makkal who were closet-romantics (either due to parental pressure/considerations or personal incapability) varuthufy kadalai (if they are not in the same city) or roam about the city like let-loose-donkey and then saying - "Oh! we were very  much in laaauv before we got married!!" Thu!! But onto the website kandraavi - so when there are only two options/stories boards (okay, three! ), why should they try to put in the site? We all know the route map a-b-c quite well. While I agree for the junta concerned it is still a story of their lifetimes, do not try to shove it down our throats in your website. I know that I have a choice to not click on that section, which is what I do nowadays. Also, another question that lingers is, when I meet someone (in person) and they tell me that they are getting married, my immediate response would be to congratulate them and in the case I know the person really well, I will go on to ask what their significant other is - professionally. I have never had the urge to ask people - where did you meet? did he lick your shoes or did you stand at the bust stop for him in the hot sun etc etc. These are personal details and I do not know how these makkal are brazenly vekkam-ketta kinds to put all these details in a frickking website. The pseudo category three makkal go one step further. To match the masala the lauv option provides, these guys go to a level of cheesiness which borders on stupidity. A popular line from this category is - "Oh! He travelled 10000 miles to see me". The last time I checked the only way to get to India was by twisting yourself into two and packing yourself into an economy seat in an air plane and make a 10000 mile journey to India. There were no fancy phancy particle transfer process which would make you disappear in the US and make you appear at Ranganathan street in Madras (okay, I saw Star Trek yesterday!). So, why in God's name should such matter-of-fact be romanticized? The levels of the desperation of that guy might have made him travel that distance for any girl, leave alone you. I sincerely hope somebody bans publishing "How we first met", "where we proposed", " What color socks was he wearing when we decided to get married" crap online. As I already said, these are personal stuff and should not shared on a website.

3. Photos/Gallery - I'm a big fan of photos and so do not mind this section. This provides the visitors a chance to see the kannalam kattikara makkal together or the actual kannala pictures - either way, I think this serves some purpose.

4. Guestbook - The section in itself is not a bad idea, but the way it is used by the morons who visit the website makes this a puke section. Visitors put in, literally, Orkut type scraps. The most often used words are "Cute", "Chweet" and "Muaaah" (In decreasing order of popularity and also signifying an increase in the sender's stupidity from L-to-R). Recently Blogeswari , blogged about these dimwits who use funny abbreviations/versions for normal english words - lyk for like, gr8 for great, Chweeeeet (the higher the stupidity, more the repeat of alphabets) for sweet, Muaaaah to signify their overflow of emotions aka a kiss. Ezhavedutha peedaigal! I want to meet the praguruthi who set the rule that using these crazy spellings/words are either: 1. Cool, or 2. Cute. I want to give that person two tight slaps and thirigify their thalai like they do for kozhi(s). And this crib of mine is directed towards the female populace who address their friends of the same sex as DA or YA or Babe. All the three usages are highly puke inducing, despicable usages.

5. Contact Us/Details to Reach the venue etc - these are genuinely sensible and not oftenly misused sections, so let me not disparage them unnecessarily.

Please feel free to add any more details kandravi-er versions that you've seen.

Come As You Are

This is a song which I listen to when I'm not exactly in good spirits. One of Nirvana's best:

Come as you are, as you were
As I want you to be
As a friend, as a friend
As an old enemy

Take your time, hurry up
The choice is yours, don't be late
Take a rest as a friend
As an old

Memoria, memoria
Memoria, memoria

Come doused in mud, soaked in bleach
As I want you to be
As a trend, as a friend
As an old

Memoria, memoria
Memoria, memoria

And I swear that I don't have a gun
No I don't have a gun
No I don't have a gun

Memoria, memoria
Memoria, memoria
(No I don't have a gun)

And I swear that I don't have a gun
No I don't have a gun
No I don't have a gun
No I don't have a gun
No I don't have a gun

Memoria, memoria

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Who Will Be Amazing This Year?

Heart says Kobe, Brain says Howard.

On a parallel note, my workout goal was to reach the Kobe fitness levels - Where you are fit enough and not too huge with bulging muscles and all that, but reading this article left me in no uncertain terms about what my chances are with achieving my goal:

Media cozies up to Microsoft

Courtesy: Wall Street Journal, D1, Dt. Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009.