Monday, December 26, 2005

Meme and myself

Vinod passed this meme(sounds a very egoistic word) to me a long long time ago. Finally got down to filling it out only now.

  1. You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451! Which book do you want to be?

    Wodehouse’s Blandings castle series. I know this isn’t a book but the Blandings castle collection with hare brained Lord Emsworth, irrepressible Galahad, forbidding aunts, Efficient Baxter, servile Beach and of course The Empress , provides an amazing milieu for Wodehouse to weave his magic in a typical English county castle.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?


3. The last book you bought is:

’No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency ‘ by Alexander McCall Smith… good buy it turned out to be.

4. The last book you read:

Fahrenheit 451. Very nice book.

5. What are you currently reading?

Following the Equator by Mark Twain , a travelogue. Pretty funny. He’s left Australia and nearing India right now

6. Five books you would take to a deserted island:
Wodehouse’s Best ---- Cause Wodehouse is Wodehouse.

The Collected Works of Rudyard Kipling ----- Captains Courageous is a superbly written story (of Boy V/s the elements and triumphing against the odds), Stalky and Co. is a brilliant book written in boarding school ‘ The Sun never sets in the British Empire’ England (without the saccharine sweetness of Enid Blyton), The tales of the Raj transports one to a different timezone altogether, Kim and Mowgli, well enough have been written without me having to eulogise further.

Captain Blood --- Rafael Sabatini’s swash buckling tale set in the buccaneering age with the wronged Peter Blood outwitting the Spanish, among others, brilliantly described with a panache and well tied plot that seem to be his hallmarks.

Hindu Sunday Magazine Crosswords --- Dunno who sets these crosswords but Sundays don’t seem like Sundays without spending an hour or two on trying to solve atleast half the crossword

And the final one --- throw of the dice between Tintin and Asterix). Probably will be Tintin cause already have the collection.

7 Who are you going to pass this stick to and why?

Nobody because its been ages and anyone who reads anything more than the paper in which sundal is sold in has probably been tagged ages ago.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My Experiments with cooking

Deep-fried, cooked golden brown and crackling and crunchy when popped into the mouth, the taste of the cauliflower perfectly blending into the outer shell of the flour that enveloped it… I could wax eloquent all day about well-cooked Gobi Manchurian. As an avid reader of food reviews, I have learnt that food in most places is really amazingly cooked and the photograph alongside the article convinces the reader on the long hours that must have gone into the presentation (These reviewers must be the luckiest people on earth ---having their cake and not paying for it too) Read on if you want to know how food is not to be cooked and how all people aren’t born with a thumb itching to check the salt and temperature of each dish.

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when my mother had finally procured the requisite ingredients to make Gobi Manchurian, namely - a big gobi( for all those still in the dark- gobi means cauliflower). Problems started when I started cutting it. Not being the most skilful of people with the knife, I was getting along all fine in my own way cutting in various crisscross lines when I saw my first worm. Light green, it stood out starkly against the brown cutting board and watching it move inside the food that was soon to be consumed was a slightly disorienting experience. Its whole body convulsed while moving millimeter by millimeter with the tail moving first then the middle then the head (or atleast what I imagined was the tail, middle and head). After sending it to the extreme corner of the table, I finished my already eccentric cutting in a even more haphazard fashion, rather afraid to find any more creepy crawlies. Then I heated the diced pieces to evilly do to death other light green worms that may be lurking in my gobi.

Then the fun began. One thing that I’ve learnt after many amateurish attempts at cooking dosas and idlis is that flour and I don’t go together. Ours is a soured love affair and somehow the flour tends to win the battle hands down. It starts off by dripping all over my dress, then the coats the stove in a thick layer of white, and finishes off by leaving a pattern all over the kitchen, even prompting allusions that I was celebrating an early janmashtami. Today was no different other than the fact that the red flour paste led to the wall resembling a typical railway station festooned with betel juice. My father’s laconic comments at the end of today’s episode “Looks like a battle zone!”

After heating the oil, I started dipping the cauliflower in the flour and then into the oil. Putting it into the oil is a another great source of trepidation for both me and my mother (who checks up every ten minutes or so to ensure that I’ve done nothing worse than spreading the aforementioned flour in the aforementioned mysterious ways on the aforementioned wall) The oil hisses and crackles every time an intruder in the form of flour coated gobi enters its territory and habitually spits its venom on me. Dodging these high temperature oil drops is a big adventure (and invariably the oil manages to hit me a few times).

The first batch took a long time and afforded me plenty of time to keep checking on the match. With an occasional stirring and watching it closely, like a mother indulgently watching its offspring, I ensured that all the gobi did was lie contented in the oil and turn the golden brown needed for me to remove it out. Mistiming things a little, I found that some had turned a light black when they were taken out but sampling the first batch, I detected to my delight, other than a dash of salt and perhaps a slight spiciness missing, it was quite good. The second batch turned out faster and while it was cooking, I was with one hand turning the pieces over with a ladle and with the other helping myself to the first batch. It was with a slight gasp of horror that I realized that I had cleaned out the first batch while waiting for the second to cook. Determined not to have any more in the midst of cooking, I took out the second and then put in the third (The third was tiny pieces of cauliflower that had disintegrated during my crisscross cutting). Having slightly lost patience and feeling tired of standing in front of the stove for so long, this batch was taken out rather quickly. Still quite decent it was.

My mother pronounced the dish fit for eating and that it was not bad taken with sauce. HOORAY!
Tips that I have learnt during my past forays in cooking ----
i) If one likes broccoli, then fried broccoli is also quite good( though not in the same scale as cauliflower).
ii) Keeping cold water/ice is very handy for treatment from splattered oil drops.
iii) Cleaning up the mess is a really tedious process.
iv) Waiting for the gobi to cook allows one ample time to ponder on various mysteries of life like how the gobi got its name. When God was naming all vegetables, he told the humble cauliflower to just leave and exist and thus the name stuck.(He said ‘Go !Be !’)

So go ahead. Happy cooking!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

15 seconds of fame

It was a dark and stormy day. Somewhere a dog barked. A maid screamed. (Ok nothing of that sort actually happened. Just felt like continuing the famous starting line sequence) It was a grayish day and I was in Besant Nagar beach leisurely ambling along as usual with a few friends. The waves were grayish colour, much much darker than the cloudy sky, and broke to form milky white pools, with the sea slightly choppier than normal. As we were walking down the promenade, a guy with a mike, who asked me if I wanted to comment on Sachin’s 35th century, suddenly accosted me. Not having been home all day my first reaction was “Hooray! He scored it today?” To which he replied with a curt “Yes! Please give us your comments on that. I’m from channel ----------.”

Not unwilling to have my say on Sachin, I instantly agreed and within no time a crowd had formed around the camera, all eager to pour out their views on the Great Man. Turning to the camera, he started speaking in Hindi and told the viewers there that he was getting the reactions from Chennai about this momentous effort. He then smiled at me and asking me to introduce myself and give my views on this. Putting gas I said “amazing effort, wish he had done it here blah blah “ Then he asked my friends these questions too (including a guy who didn’t watch cricket at all)

Interviews with a kid followed.
I ( Interviewer) : So what do you think about Sachin’s 35th century?
K(Kid) : (After long pause) Amazing
K: (Even longer pause, K clearly uncomfortable and fumbling for words doesn’t answer but stares in a sheepish manner at the tv)
(Father prompts from behind to no avail)
I: (Trying to get K to say something changes tack) So what do you feel about Sachin’s batting)
K: (Smiles a little because it’s just remembered another adjective) Fantastic
I discontinues and goes to father
Scenario repeated for another kid among the group

At the end, he concluded “While viewers from Chennai are clearly happy that Sachin achieved this effort, they are disappointed they missed out on it last week when the match was rained out”
Then thanking us, he left and the curious crowd immediately dispersed.

Is this really news? Is there really a market for all this? Do people actually watch this and think “oh Chennai fellows are so unlucky.” Just because they have to fill in a day with 24 hours of distance run, do they have to telecast all these obviously contrived statements. While I’m happy (overjoyed rather) at his scoring ton number 35, how does it make a difference what I think? Whether I’m happy or not, I’m not gonna ruin a perfect sound byte and say “No, I don’t watch cricket, I think it’s a game of 22 flannelled fools. I prefer buzkashi and pelota vasca. And pray tell who is this Sachin?”

Since unfortunately I couldn’t tune that channel, I didn’t watch the fifteen second interview where 6 arbit people (+ 2 kids) helped form the channel’s opinion of Chennai’s reaction to the event.

What would news be like without 24 hour news channels?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Learning how to code

This post has been a long time in the pipeline and I’ve forced myself to writing about it only now. I got head hunted (placed is the right word but head hunted conjures up visions of exotic tribals and big corporate boardroom battles and sounds soooo much better). Training was scheduled for a month or so and was held at a 3 * hotel. Here are 10 things I learnt during training; ten valuable pointers which will greatly aid me in my quest for the software holy grail (according to top techie sites) – how to write a three line program without causing the computer to crash / self destruct / do other stupid things computers are prone to do when executing programs .

1.Linux games rock! – This fact I had learnt in college during programming labs but I realised the full potential, however, only during training. Playing for many hours a day generally helps. Another tip – put tux racer (penguin racing game) in demo mode and watch it the penguin skim across the ice!!!!! ( good fun especially when you are supposed to be listening to the intricacies of database designs or other core techie stuff )

2.Point 1 is reinforced when the trainer walks past all the computers, notes the diverse games being played on each computer and continues teaching the intricacies of database design.Super fun!

3.Continuing on point 1 and 2, realising the utter pointlessness of expecting the students to understand the intricacies of database design while playing games, the intricacies of database design instructor would infrequently cut short the classes and let us off.

4. I’m sure even if I’m not, you should be heartily sick of the intricacies of database design by now. Anybody eager to know more about this revolutionary new subject please don’t hesitate to call. As its such a hot topic, I admit only a few students based on stringent criteria (gender and looks only) Since I hadn’t been listening too much to the I O D D trainer, not too much I could teach you but its worth giving a shot anyway.

5. There Is Some Such Thing As A Free Lunch – food was arranged at the hotel every day. Another valuable tip -- stuff like ‘Maxican Coilslaw’,’Suop’,’Vice cream’,’Bread Butter Putting’ is quite good to eat. In fact, every day, I looked forward more to the name displayed in front of the dish than the dish itself. Still don’t understand how anybody can misspell soup though.

6.One more amazingly useful fact I learnt is that if one squeezes lemon onto tea with milk , it’s not possible to drink it before the milk curdled. Wasted two cups of tea in trying. Keep this in mind when your stranded in a desert island without food or water.

7. Back to techie stuff. It was during training that I realised how beautiful a language java was. Any friends of mine from college who, after that reading that statement are scratching their heads and going to the top of the page to make sure they are reading my blog, fear not an read on. I think Java is the computer’s answer to Captain Haddock. Imagine you’re the computer and a programmer has tried valiantly all night to write, say, a program to print ‘hello world’ on the screen and expectedly has failed miserably. How do you tell him enough is enough and give him not so subtle indications that he should try alternate professions such as maybe intricacies of database design instructor? Don’t show normal errors. Fill up the screen with errors like ‘FormatFlagsConversionMismatchException’ and ‘UnSupportedLookAndFeelException’. If the insulting exceptions don’t work, the impressive capitalisations sure should psyche him out.

8. Daily to training I took the MRTS train. Very fast, sparsely occupied , and providing a super aerial view of chennai. What more could one ask for?

9.How to do 3 crosswords in a day - This was amazing. The hotel had a lobby full of papers and as unobtrusively as possible we would flick the Hindu and Indian Express for the express purpose of solving the crossword. One guy would bring the Economic Times from his home and thus I had plenty to do all day (especially when not playing games)

10 Most useful part of training is that now I can now happily term drop left right and centre. If somebody insults my code I know enough to blame the software, go into its ancestry and version number saying the appropriate patch wasn’t available and then divert the topic into every programmers pet topic – how windows sucks! which should ideally make him forget my inadequacies

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Harry Potter and the Full Time Snogging

Spoilers alert! (Actually I’m fairly sure the only spoiler possible that I can say is to reveal who dies and if you belong to Planet Earth, you would have probably heard everyone right from the neighbourhood paanwala to the irritating kid next door cast his two pennyworths of ideas on why this person should not have died) Other than that, there is nothing here that could radically spoil your reading of this book so if you've still not read it go right ahead and read the book – it’s as well written and fast paced as the other five.

The book as such is quite good, very readable with lots of new ideas (Horcruxes,interesting insights into You-know-who’s past, etc) written in the trademark Rowling style. One can see Harry’s transformation into an adult who’s capable of making decisions (unlike Harry in the fifth who was the most irritating of all five books – constantly shouting at others, expecting everyone to think from his point of view, probably expected at that age but the continual screaming does begin to grate on one’s nerves). Also the book ends very surprisingly leaving a whole host of possibilities for book seven. And the mysterious R.A.B – who’s he? He’s probably going to play a big part in book seven. My money’s on Sirius’ brother Regalus, the ex Death Eater, because of his initials and for the fact that the letter was addressed to the Dark Lord (who’s answers to that appellation by the aforementioned D.E’s).

Now my grouses at the book. What’s with all the romance? One can understand Harry - Ginny, perhaps one can stretch a limit and agree to Ron - Hermione, but why Tonks - Lupin? The constant snogging between Ron and Lavender? That was totally unnecessary. And whats with the Bill Fleur till-death-do-us-part sentimental romance and the moment of perfect understanding between Harry and Ginny passages lifted perhaps from a romance by Georgette Heyer?

Why was the book called Half Blood Prince? Infact this book acts mainly as a filler for book seven and other than explaining new ideas, the story isn’t carried forward until the very end. The Half Blood Prince storyline could safely have been removed without affecting the story too much. What part does the potions book play? Infact unlike the other books, there is no central theme to the book and perhaps thus the name (Harry Potter and the Horcruxes as title sounds totally unsellable) And the first chapter can happily be removed without too much hesitation, as it has no relation to the rest of the story.

Still for all those who haven’t delved into the franchise – do so now! Very good fun!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

That's what we think!

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words.

Left is AC (Arvind Chandrasekhar ) Best Outstanding Student of 2005 (among other things)

On the right, ladies and gentleman, from the city of Chennai, standing tall at 6 feet one, is


loud applause

< /drumbeats > ME!

Photographer: Divya M

The board reads "To develop ---- as a centre for excellence offering Engineering Education to Men and Women ( note the impressive capitalisations!) at Under Graduate and Post Graduate level, bringing out their total Personality, emphasizing ethical values and preparing them to meet the growing needs of the industry and diverse societal needs of the nation""

Now that you people have got the gist of the picture let me plod onto to the finer details and try to write the thousand words this picture is worth. For all those who haven’t studied at SVCE too bad for you, you’ve missed something!

The photographer has chosen exactly the right moment to vividly capture the spontaneous expressions of the two participants and the split second laughter has been brilliantly preserved for posterity. There is a subtle play of light, with just enough for us to distinguish each person being captured, while at the same time they seem to be oblivious of the presence of any photo being taken. The object of their mirth seems to be an old board (perhaps a close up of that would indicate the exact reason!)

Notice the yellowish tinge that adds to the impressiveness of the photo by conferring a-wise-beyond-its-ages-and-historically-old-and-hence-amazing-and-definitely-worth-buying look. The presence of attractive flora indicates that life must go on; whatever happens will happen, according to Schroedinger’s cat (Just wanted to write a line of total rubbish – I have no idea what it means)

If any of you saw the above things do let me know as I sure didn’t. Just wanted to try some general gas as quite a few photos are described in this fashion.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Having recently read an article on the dying art of hitchhiking in The Hindu (hereafter referrred to as HH) and because the movie is about to be released (it might have been released all over the world but here in Chennai it hasn’t), let me give a few ‘rule of the thumbs’ to be taken into consideration while practicing this noble art.

1.Surprisingly, putting your thumb out works fairly frequently. Best place to get a lift is a traffic signal or around a turning where people slow down.

2.Always put your hand out when pretty young things zip by you. The chances of you getting a lift are abysmally low (say lower than the chances of Dubya being able to spell ‘United States of America ‘ correctly) but just assume you convert, then boy oh boy…

3.Murphy’s law of HH – the people who are willing to take you always take the first left. Invariably this involves their making gestures to indicate that they are very sorry but they will be turning left soon and they realise they are committing the worst mistake of their lives and will probably go straight to hell for this but inspite of this off they go, taking the first left, worst fellows. If however you want to take the first right, then my advice to you is to go to the White House, bonk Bush on the head, then come to my house where I will drop you off wherever you want to be dropped.

4.If you ever thought HH was boring, think again. There was this guy who went some distance out of his way to drop me, and then preached to me that at my age I should be walking. Another guy dropped me at home after recognising me (he had seen me on this quiz show on BBC called University Challenge) and kept questioning me about it, how I got there, what it takes to be a quizzer, how Bush got elected twice…. There was this old professororial no nonsense chap who started the conversation on finding I was finishing my B.E. by asking whether Anna Univ graduates were employable and then rubbishing my point of view (thankfully the journey ended much before I abused AU too much). Then there was this pretty girl who offered me a lift…. Wait a minute that happened only in my dreams. Sigh!

Simple rules to follow but if you follow them, and if you can fill a minute with sixty seconds worth of hitchhiking got, then you will be a man, my son!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Me and the Art of Frisbee Flying

From time immemorial, throwing things at each other has been a favorite pastime of Man (and Woman) (as can easily be witnessed by the chipped jugs, saucers and whatnot that have been discovered; how else could they have be broken as badly they are if not for people chucking them about?) Needless to say, frisbees were invented by cavemen to fuel this passion. For readers who have just entered, a little additional info would go a long way into unperplexing them and helping them find their bearings. What is a Frisbee? Who invented it? How? Why? And most important of all, How on earth did George Bush get re elected? Find out the answers to these if you want to understand the rest of the post.

Legend has it that the ape man we know as Homo Floriensus aka Hobbit had chucked his brontosaur breast bone to his friend homo MyPrecious aka Gollum when the idea struck him at the same time the brontosaur breast bone struck MyPrecious, that this was THE THING! Visions of him putting his legs up and retiring at the young age of 28 after milking the commercial success of a professionally managed company to market and sell frisbees floated before his eyes. Unfortunately for him and for the rest of humanity up to the year 1857 which wasted their lives not knowing the noble art of frisbee throwing, the idea died with him when MyPrecious attacked him with his Saber-toothed Rotary Club (made from real Saber-tooth for that long-lasting effect and capable of rotating when jerked) for having pulled that dastardly trick of throwing the brontosaur breast bone on him.

It was a dark and stormy night in 1857 when the idea of a frisbee literally hit
T. Bush, the notsogreatgreatgrandfather of our old Friend George W. Picture the scene. He’s pacing his room, which is adorned with trophies of various regions he’s helped conquer. E.g. the emerald from the eye of the statue in the hindoo temple of Siva the Destroyer from a small temple in North India(any mention of imperialist treasure in India has to have an emerald from the eye of the statue in the hindoo temple of Siva the Destroyer), ivory tusks given by the ‘grateful’ natives of Arrack (for those who don’t know, it’s in Central Africa) and so on. He picks up a gold plate which had been given by the peaceful law abiding villagers of Be (which also is located in Central Africa which incidentally is a big place) and is wondering how best to replace their king by a democratically elected head and to ensure that the contract for rebuilding the village which obviously would be smashed to smithereens would be given to American companies only. He sees the sharpness of the gold plate, calls his chief spy, and tells him to chuck it on the king, sharp side first and hey presto! We have a kingdom without a king!

In honor of his successful plot and using the first words the grateful natives praised him with, on being faced with a new king who had ruined the economy but however had given them the all important ‘democracy’, which happened to be ‘Frees Be! God save him!’ In honor of that incident, any plate shaped device that can be chucked about is called a ‘frisbee’

Now that the history class is over, lets get down to the brass tacks vis-à-vis playing with the frisbee. First, chucking it. Hold it in your hand firmly, release it in the direction your aiming at and hopefully it will fly. If not, too bad for you!You would have criticised George W. at some point in your life and thus are paying the price for that!

Now that you have mastered the simple act of throwing you might want to graduate to other more complex ways of throwing

1.The-release-normally-but-frisbee-turns-belly-up throw
This is normally the beginner’s throw and happens unintentionally. The frisbee starts off normally but lands on the ground upside down. If you do want to throw the frisbee like this, chances are high that you will fail miserably as this throw happens only if you are trying it unintentionally.

2.1 If the wind is sou-souwesterly, aim the frisbee at an angle of 18.5 degrees to the ground so that it strikes the ground, rough side up at an angle of 23 degrees
2.2 If the wind is nor-noreasterly, aim the frisbee at an angle of 23.5 egrees to the ground so that it strikes the ground, rough side up at an angle of 18 degrees
2.3If none of these conditions hold true, god help you!

3. The-smooth-flick-that-scythes-through-the-air-and-swings-in-the-breeze-throw
For this, you need somebody who can do the-smooth-flick-that-scythes-through-the-air-and-swings-in-the-breeze-throw. What you as a beginner have to do is simple. Toss it to that guy. Sit back and watch the rest.

Now that you have mastered the fine art of throwing, we move onto the equally easy to learn art of catching.

This is the catch most suitable for beginners. Pretend you are clapping and watch the frisbee get caught between your hands. Very convenient but awful to look at.

Impossible to catch anything in this method but good fun for you if you have a gullible partner who can be convinced to attempt a catch of this type

3. The-between-legs-catch
This is strictly for advanced players only because you could get hit at all kinds of spots if you miss the frisbee altogether while trying to catch it between your legs.

There are a lot more methods of throwing and catching but I have presented only a small subset of them. And in case any of you do want to play this noble game and happen to be in the vicinity of Eliots Beach, you will probably catch me there. If you are young and female but don’t want to play, do look me up anyway!

Friday, March 11, 2005

BUSHisms and all that

Anand Patwardhan’s award winning documentary “War and Peace” was being screened at Eliots beach and I decided to go watch it, more out of a curiosity to see something in my ‘backyard’, than any deep passion for Leo Tolstoy or absorbing interest in watching award winning documentaries. There was a decent crowd (a few hundreds methinks) ; the setting was amazing, under the stars, with a light breeze blowing. After A.P. introduced himself and the topic, there was a song against the atom bomb. It had a nice kishore song(‘aa leka chalna’) as background music; a very apt accompaniment to the telling visuals, and most amazing of all, it was a hindi song which didn’t have the words ‘dil’,’pyaar’,’mohabbat’ or ’ishq’!

Then came the documentary which was good – started off with Gandhi’s assassination, then India in 1998 exploding the atom bomb, a variety of interviews with the aam aadmi, scientists and villagers near Pokhran, the effects of the fallout, then Pakistan exploding the atom bomb, then their aam aadmi and scientists, then Japan after the atom bomb, then USA and why it decided to explode the atom bomb.

It was all very thought provoking and conveyed a strong message. Fittingly, it ended with Gandhi and the suggestion that non violence was the way out, though without a clear indication of how to accomplish this in order to ensure world peace (which is surely what every young guy, including me, ponders about twenty four hours a day; the main reason why I decided to watch the film in the first place.). Needless to say,documentary filmmakers have to take potshots at politicians and here AP broke the matka with a few powerful blows.

Then there was a question -answer session which brings me to the subject of this blog. Wherever you go, there always is a Bozo Unafraid of Shooting Himself/Herself in public (whom I will refer to in future as B.U.S.H); you know, the kind of asses who make fools of themselves in public by asking ridiculous questions or doing something stoopid deliberately.

There is this old B.U.S.H who comes to quizzes, mainly to win an audience prize. In fact, whenever Derek O’Brien asks him an audience question, this guy tells him he knew his father in 1965, thus exposing himself to a jibe from quickwitted DOB. B.U.S.H grins widely at the joke and takes in the applause like an Oscar winning Best Actor too tonguetied to give any speech. Every answer will elicit a loud explanation from him( one answer given by the quizmaster was something Kapil Dev so B.U.S.H tries to attract the quizmaster’s attention by saying “Ah Yes! the Indian cricketer ” and acting as if he had been born with the answer in his mouth). Nowadays, I go to these big quizzes more to watch B.U.S.H than with any hopes of winning any prize.

So,in the Q & A with AP,there was this B.U.S.H who comes and says “You screened it in Alliance Francaise where there was an elite crowd, now you are screening to the masses …”he stops as he realises he has insulted the crowd in calling the crowd which consisted mostly of college students,retired guy and a few working professionals. AP corrects him. Then he asks when he plans to show it to the masses. AP cuts him down to size by saying that it was clearly explained in both English and Tamil earlier in the program that they were in the process of translating the docuentary to Tamil so that everybody could understand. Sheepish grin from B.U.S.H and exit left centre.

Enter B.U.S.H jr. who thankfully started of with a “ I know this may sound dumb” then went on to elevate herself to B.U.S.H status by continuing with
”Did the Shiv Sena threaten you in Mumbai?”. To those who have not seen the documentary, AP criticises the BJP and the Shiv Sena throughout, showing how their volunteers signed their names in blood after the bomb, blocked peace rallies and so on. So, dunno what B.U.S.H jr. expected the answer to be. No,the Shiv Sena are amazing sporting types. Love a good joke. pukka sahibs all. In fact, they welcomed him with aartis wherever he went and promised to build a temple installing him as the principal deity.

However,all things considered,the documentary was good;definitely worth watching. And, the world, thankfully, is not populated with too many B.U.S.Hes.Yippee!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Sometime ago, I was walking along the paved path skirting Eliots Beach, my favourite haunt, alongside other dandies and fops who were enjoying the breezy evening on the promenade, with my friend Manish(of NIT Trichi now placed in IBM). We were debating the finer points of IEEE protocol 802.11a ( don’t remember what we talking about and no way in a million thousand years it would have been this but to put pseud let us assume this is what we were talking about ). After going one up against him and comprehensively proving that the header format could only be four bytes large and it would take a mentally defective person to argue that two bytes were sufficient, I was about to say “Ha” when I realised with a sudden chill in my heart that in the process of verbally trouncing him, my mobile had fallen out of a small hole in the side of my pocket.

Frantically retracing my steps and calling from Manish’s mobile resulted in my inferring with Sherlock Holmes like accuracy that somebody had picked up the phone and switched it off ( if I had been less distraught, I probably would have deduced that the guy was five foot four; left handed ; came from Adambakkam and had a mole two inches below his neck but I guessed my analytical abilities took a holiday that day). Oh, and as I seem to have forgotten to mention it was Kaanum Pongal day ( the day the beach is most crowded).

At the police assisstance booth, I was told to lodge an FIR in the Police station. Enroute, I made another call to my mobile and to my surprise, a policewoman answered the phone and asked me to come to the booth pronto. There she asked me my phone model and colour and having more than convinced her it was my lawful property, she decided to look into my contacts lists and perform a final check. Now the fun starts.

I must digress here and explain to all those who don’t know me that I am a crossword puzzle maniac. So, all my contacts are stored as crossie clues with the starting letter being present to maintain names in alphabetical order.
eg. NSister finished=Nun done=nandan ;
Hrush=Hurry=hari ;
Amonth in articles is jan in an and a is anjana.

you get the funda I assume.And there are no names, only words like this. The first name was Aa joint hole(A knee rut =anirudh)

To resume, seeing this, the policewoman gave me a strange glance, stared at list and then gave me an even weirder glance.(One that seemed to say –how did these guys escape from Kilpauk) She asked me if these were all codewords and unable to tell her what it was I said yes, and with a doubtful look, she made me file an FIR (yay!I’ve filed an FIR) and then handed me my phone and warned me to be more careful in the future.

Moral of story –If you fill your phone with vague crossie clues,do not repeat do not show it to a police official.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Angry Speech for mannequins

Hoping to evangelise and convert more people to the glorious religion of cruciverbalism,I am putting up a simple crossword (along with explanations of the clues so that next time you see a crossword,you hopefully wont be so baffled/stumped/mystified/puzzled by the clues)

The title incidentally, reads cross words for dummies

This explanation is only for beginners/novices/learners/apprentices/amateurs so others can kindly go back and read/peruse/browse other blog entries.

When you see the answers,they might seem tough if taken one by one, but if you have entered some words the other words automatically fall in place like magic and hey presto before you know it the majority of the crossword is filled.I would recommend starting on The Hindu crossword ,much simpler and lots of easy clues to solve.

1.Two supporters hold dishonourable man for a spell(11)

7.Friend backs a round(3)

9.Metaphorically dead creatures(5)

10.Driver,say,is a horse dresser?(9)

11.Editor returns in average revolutionary and wandered leisurely(9)

12.Leave colour positoned at the end and dance(5)

13.All mixed up,neo sold dish(7)

18.Reportedly ,nail father in capital(7)

21.Sister that is the cause for boredom(5)

22.Reportedly most important law(10)

24.Attractive bowlers aking earnestly((9)

25.A vine,tangled up, is very simple(5)

26.What arrives after wood distillation here(3)

27. Transfers to another place(11)

1.Body part needs to be sorted out from horrible sign(7)

2.Light emitter or cooling device?(8)

3.Enclosed accountants with editor(5)

4.Ditches without help at Sahara or Kalahari(7)

5.Blends love for gentlemen's preference in movie(7)

6.Success of sportsman caused by physically powerful member?(9)

7.Falsehood ruler says to display inclination(6)

8.Forgives mafia leaders after hit back(7)

14.Car built in the north using oil(10)

15.Taken a child and notice choice(8)

16.To carve,excitedly,and in a exagerrated manner(7)

17.A student salesman in charge of copy(7)

18.Begs ride endlessly across connectors(7)

19.Dense record dances and extends further(7)

20. Parsnip errs on finding shooter(6)

23.Let criminal swin on waterway(5)

don’t got through the answers till you have tried each clue atleast twice.


Two supporters hold dishonourable man for a spell(11)

Supporter is usually bra (for obvious reasons!),dishonourable man is cad,hold indicates they have cad in between so it is


Friend backs a round(3)

Round can be lap. Backs/returns/rejects indicates you have to return the word so


Metaphorically dead creatures(5)

This is direct.


Driver,say,is a horse dresser?(9)

Say/reportedly indicates it sounds like

Driver is schumacher.


Editor returns in average revolutionary and wandered leisurely(9)

Editor/newspaperman is ed.revolutionary is red/che.average is indicates the word is present in,


Leave colour positoned at the end and dance(5)

Colour is a type of colour and leave is go


All mixed up,neo sold dish(7)

Mixed up/tangled up/excited indicates jumbles.These are te easiest types of clues and have to be cracked earliest.The anagram is usually easy to spot as it has some word/name which makes no sense whatsoever to the rest of the clue.

Neo + sold =NOODLES

Reportedly ,nail father in capital(7)

Father can be dad/pa

So bag + dad=BAGHDAD

Sister that is the cause for boredom(5)

This is usually a common clue as it helps cruciverbalists out of a tight spot.

Sister is nun + ie (that is) so


Reportedly most important law(10)

Most important principal sounds PRINCIPLE(law)

Attractive bowlers asking earnestly(9)

This kind of clue is sometimes the best(most funny) as it cleverly utilises second and lesser known meanings of words in a clever way


A vine,tangled up, is very simple(5)

NAIVE (straightforward anagram)

What arrives after wood distillation here(3)

Here /found in/indicates the word is found here what arrives and tar is end product of wood distillation


Transfers to another place(5)

Stupid kind of word meaning



Body part needs to be sorted out from horrible sign(7)

Horrible =bad


Body part =ABDOMEN(sorted out)

Light emitter or cooling device?(8)

RADIATOR(clue using alternate meanings of words)

Enclosed accountants with editor(5)

Accountants=cas + ed


Ditches without help at Sahara or Kalahari(7)

DESERTS(fairly obvious)

Blends love for gentlemen's preference in movie(7)

Love/not is o .o + blends =BLONDES(gentelmen prefer blondes is a famous movie)

Success of sportsman caused by physically powerful member?(9)

Member =leg/arm/limb .here arm + strong=ARMSTRONG

Falsehood ruler says to display inclination(6)

Ruler is king.falsehood say is


Forgives mafia leaders after hit back(7)


Mafia leaders=dons


Car built in the north using oil(10)

Another little tip would help here.point is n/s/e/w .quarter is ne/se/sw/nw.north is n and so on

So car + built + n=LUBRICANT

Taken a child and notice choice(8)

Notice is normally ad




To carve,excitedly,and in a exagerrated manner(7)



A student salesman in charge of copy(7)


Salesman=rep(as in representative)




Begs ride endlessly in excitement across connectors(7)

Endlessly means take off the last letter

So begs + rid


Dense record dances and extends further(7)

Record can be EP/LP (As in audio storage medium) so dense + ep


Parsnip errs on finding shooter(6)

Clues can’t t easier than this.parsnip has no relation(brother/dad/mum!) to the rest of the sentence.finding indicating the word is located here so


Let criminal swin on waterway(5)

Criminal is usually al so


The crossword as such might be slightly sad as I finished it quickly using a compiler(People might think I used a gcc compiler on a linux kernel after telnetting on a remote LAN using a …. Oh,drat ,can’t think of any more technical terms to namedrop)a crossword compiler(amazing piece of software)Clues are very direct to make it simpler


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Notes from a small island

“Yours tickets,sir!”The IA hostess said handing me back my tickets,glaring grumpily at me and rudely gesturing towards my seats.As Dennis Bergkamp and I would be close contenders for any airlines frequent flier program,this was the first time I was experiencing IA’s unique version of hospitality.For Gods sake,the hostesses atleast have to be taught to smile and perform basic courtesies.If I’m paying a sum that would ,say, give me 10 years supply of playboy,I expect to be treated extremely well.(The fact that somebody else was sponsoring for my jamboree to Singapore is besides the point).

We(my friend nandan and I) stayed at a hotel called Golden Landmark(that also put on someones tab!).It was decent and what put it high in my esteem was the fact that it had a tub.Just a normal small tub but tub all the same.Also it took getting used to the fact that they drank the water straight off the taps.Hard to imagine doing it here in Chennai.

We decided to go to the zoo and went by the MRT(their metro).The fully automated system to purchase the ticket,electronic trains,automatic doors,you know it was just mindboggling.And just to when you tire of making a demographic profile of your carriage and decide that the Chinese looking guy sittting two seats away was,well,Chinese,they vary the monotony by making the train go above ground where you can get a full aerial view of Singapore with its enormous highrises seemingly a frisbee throwing distance away.

The buildings are wonderful,in various sizes(L,XL and XXL), rising perpendicularly out of the ground;a celebration of glass and cement,in all colours from dull brown to a bright blue,virtually utilising all the 256K colours available in MSPaint;in crazy shapes varying from the short and the squat to ones that invites Newton’s followers to question the blasphemy regarding nonconformance to the first commandment(Thou shalt obey the laws of gravity).And to ensure there is more than just a sea of asphalt,oasises of green have been tastefully set amidst the skyscrapers.

<> However,I digress.We got off the train and then took the bus to the zoo(Their bus also involves an obscene amount of technology that however does save human labour )The zoo is superbly planned,in a natural setting with the animals not caged but roaming about in short expanse of land,a small moat separating them from inquisitive spectators.What is so astounding is that hordes of tourists descend on the zoo and the bird park,knowing virtually nothing of animals ,and on seeing a Greater Red crested Magpie(found only in the Congo region feeding on crickets,tennises and baseball bats and nearly extinct –actually it doesn’t exist ,there might be such a subspecies but most of the names were something like this so I am fairly sure that a bird like this does exist ) and say “Look!Birdie !Sooooooo sweeeeeet!” They see the same type of animal (for example ,there were gazelle,impala,sambar,blackbuck,nilgai,springbok,reebok,
someotherbokwhosenameiforgot,all in addition to the humble deer of course) and still go around and for the zoo to draw huge crowds to see all this is praiseworthy to say the least.The night safari was crowd pulling and deservedly so; it involved well trained animals,crowd interaction and some super tricks.

<> Returned the same way but went to Orchard Road(probably Asia’s swankest road with huge malls,hotels,windowshoppers,and the usual hanger ons)which was brightly illuminated for the Christmas season.Amazing place to walk around but no place to eat anything vegetarian!.I had to make do with a McBurger without the meat ,an apple and juice.

<> Next day,the tourist guy (since I’ve not mentioned it earlier, we had a won a quiz for which the prize was a trip and stay in Singapore) had arranged for tour of the city.Each tourist destination has been well looked after , marketed superbly , lots of signboards ,with commentary wherever possible,and every place of any remote interest to a camera toting tourist clearly indicated(I’m sure if you hunted long enough, you would find a butt of the first cigarette Sir Stamford Raffles ever smoked on the island,carefully preserved in airconditioned splendour in a museum ,with a $10 entry fee and commentary in all the 72345 dialects spoken on earth).

We then got on the cable car to Sentosa. New panoramas are opened as you travel on this jawdropping ride perilously carried on a slender spidersthread thickness rope.You repent for all the sins that you may have committed in your previous life just to thank God that you could get such an superb view .Some distance away are those skyscrapers,pretty hard to miss;in another corner,a toys playground style shipyard and freight region with enormous cranes manipulating even bigger containers;green forests on one small side and the steel gray waters of the ocean right below you.The underwater world in Sentosa is a must see where you look at schools and even colleges of fishes separated by a mere sheet of glass.Also,I found what should be another major tourist attraction here;an entirely vegetarian restaurant serving all kinds of Chinese dishes.I had to ask her more questions than Siddartha Basu has ever asked before I was convinced I was seeing the Eighth wonder of the world.First and only chinese meal(noodles!) I had in the Garden City.

<> Next day,we went to Jurong bird Park,where I saw one of my favorite birds,the penguin at close quarters.Amazing animals to look at,clumsy and gauche on land,but swimming with great ease and elegance.Could spend hours staring at their whimsical movements(Penguins daily schedule –go to the water ,swim with extraordinary grace there,waddle about on land,eat,loop back to step one ) but still fun to watch.Walking through the enclosures,designed to look like a forest and doing its succeeding very well,seeing birds at close quarters(close one eighths would be closer to the point as some were really close)flying about merrily in a riot of colours, and hearing the chirping of the birds in the humid jungle like atmosphere was a great experience.

<> The people there are pretty friendly and were very helpful with directions and other questions I plagued them with like why there was a button on the traffic signal (to speed up the green light!);on where to get vegetarian food(this I had to ask a lot of people and most of them were stumped for an answer ;for best results hunt up a tam looking guy,lots of them, and ask him)

Did a lot of other things but getting pained on writing for so long ,so “So long!”

PS-funny sign at the airport -in addition to the usual list of things not to do,no spitting no chewing gum,no durian there was a no studying!