Monday, December 28, 2009

Basically the Pun Da is

I like quizzing.

I like punning.

I like a combination of the two.

Which is what follows ( a small quiz I conducted)

Every answer involves some kind of wordplay.

1. This legend was given various colorful nicknames like Big Mig ( because of his size) and Colossus of Roads (because of his ability). What catchy nickname, was he given because of his name? 

2. Ismay is a town in Custer County in the United States with a very small population of 26. As a publicity stunt coordinated by an American franchise in 1993, the town was renamed as Joe, for a few days. Which state was the town in, and why was it renamed?

3. Earlier this year, there were posters put up which said “Old South Wales Welcomes New South Wales”. What was the occasion?
4. Which award-winning ad campaign used great lines like ‘Leader;s Digest’,’ ‘Makes White Collars Brighter’ and ’Great Minds Like A Think’?

The next set of facts are entirely fictional. They would be good questions ( if they were true), and again, puns are involved.  

5. Angana Mathew was an early 20th century Indian Civil Servant, who led the British government response to tackling the droughts of 1905, 1919 and 1922. In 1926, when a particular area was reeling under drought, a village headman was sent to Madras to report it to her. Unfortunately, he died midway, and his last words, urging a passerby to continue his task, ensured prompt help from Ms. Mathew. To perpetuate his story, the region was named after his last words. Which region?
6. The South African Government, in the early 20th century, was not only brutal against Blacks and Indians, but also the environment. The first demonstration that Gandhi made was to protect the flora in a particular region. The slogan that he used, to urge people to give their lives to save the vegetation, was later reused with great effect in India. Which region was it, and what was the slogan used? 

7. Luciano Benetton became a famous designer using different colors on his clothes. He was particularly famous for his yellow color. When he was asked how he obtained it, he pointed to a vat of green color which he said influenced the adjacent vat of yellow. He said “ --- ----, yellow dyes”. What term did he use, which was later used in another field?

8. A group of 6 countries, historically, had deep enmity between them, sometimes even leading to war. To solve the substantial difference between them, and to ensure they worked together for each other’s benefit, which organization was formed?


1. The person is cycling champ Miguel Indurain. He was nicknamed Singing, so he would be Miguel Singing Indurain.

2. It was renamed Joe, so that it would read Joe, Montana in honor of the NFL legend.

3. Signs were put up at Cardiff, the latest test centre. It's first match was between Australia and England.

4. The Economist. Check out the other ads. It's a great campaign!

5. His words were Tell Angana, and we get the name of the place as Telangana

6. The region is Succulent Karoo, and the slogan is Karoo ya Maroo.
If you haven't heard of the Succulent Karoo, have no fears. This is revenge to a BBQ ( Boring Bangalore Question) where the answer, which no one had ever heard of, was something called Succulent Karo.

7. Green Shoots, yellow dies. Hence the term 'Green Shoots'

8. Tribute to a controversy that erupted in the quizzing circles earlier this year. The organization is the Gulf Cooperation Committee, which was formed to bridge the gulf between the countries.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Monday, November 16, 2009

How it all Ads Up

A Beginner’s Insight into the Advertising World

After finishing my MBA, I had a break of a few months before I formally started working. Wondering what to do, I did what any MBA student is well-drilled in. I analyzed my current situation and evaluated my goals in life. My aims were moderate - I wanted to do something fun, hopefully involving extremely hot women. After ruling out the modeling industry for obvious reasons, I plumped for an internship in an advertising agency. I had figured that advertising was all about a 4S Framework – “Sexy Supermodels Selling Stuff”. This promised to extremely fun, with the first 2S’s adding the necessary spice to life.

On entering an ad agency, I was suitably impressed by its funky atmosphere. Having prior experience in the staid world of software and consulting, being greeted by a billiards table and beanbags was a refreshing change. I met the manager to whom I stuck to the tried and tested goal of ‘Wanting to experience the industry, check out my creative side, blah blah blah’. He asked me whether I was experienced enough to work in copy. Taking this as a grave affront, I looked him in the eye, and told him sternly that as a true blue South Indian, I considered myself a connoisseur of good, filter kaapi and would challenge anyone anyone in a ‘Guess-Which-Plantation-This-Coffee-Came-From-Contest’. I agreed to this role, imagining that I would be taking cups of coffee to Sultry Supermodels. That’s when I got my first insight about the ad industry.
Copy is the (yawn) text of the print ad/script of the commercial. Nothing to do with coffee. Or with Sizzling Supermodels. Bigger Sigh.

Beginning the next day, the first article I was asked to read was on How to Write a Good Print Ad. This informed me that A Good Print Ad has  items in lists (preferably of 5 or 10). So without any further ado, I present –

5 things I learnt in Advertising.

The thing I realized on day one itself was that the-

1. Sensual Supermodels Seldom Seen.
This was an earth-shattering discovery. Most of the ads hardly used supermodels! I was shocked to the core – apparently, people often bought products based on their merits, or based on other factors. What was the world coming to these days? Most of` my product purchases were done on the basis of the hotness of the babe in the ad, and I was stunned to find this didn’t apply, by and large, to the rest of humanity. My earlier theory shattered to bits, I then discovered advertising was really –

2. Passionate People Peddling Products.
Seriously! A lot of customer research goes into paan masala, papads and pickles before people develop ads for them. If you are developing an ad for a safety pin brand, you should clearly know what motivates the consumer in buying Safety Pin Brand A, and not Safety Pin Brand B. Market shares are sliced and diced, focus groups are done to death, and category information is thoroughly analyzed. And once you’ve spent over a week reading on the Safety Pin Using Habits of the SEC B residents of Inner JhumriThalaiya, you feel you know the subject like a favourite brother. This information is lovingly imparted to the creative guy, whose job is to generate -

3. Ideas, Ideas, and More Ideas.
The creative aspect of advertising involves generating plenty of ideas for the campaign. Ideas can range from the absolutely mundane (Film star selling Safety Pin Brand) to the extremely creative (A giant safety pin fastening two pieces of a torn billboard, showing the brand can be used for the tying up anything) Once you’ve done that, the next hurdle is to convince people that No, That Idea Was Not Rubbish, It was Actually Pretty Good. This is a lot of fun, especially if people have really whacky ideas, which they defend passionately. Once the Grand Idea has been shortlisted by the account guy in conjunction with the creative guy, the manager, the art guy, the client and the friendly neighborhood Spiderman, the focus shifts to the–

4. Innovative Illustrator Implementing Idea.
The art guy works hand-on-mouse with the creative guy to realize the Grand Idea. Each of them has his own Grand Vision to match the Grand Idea, and a Grand Ego to match his Grand Visions. A Grand Argument occurs with each person trying to Grandstand. Finally, they settle on some common graund, the ad is produced, and then given to the client for approval. It is then aired or printed in the appropriate media outlet for the public to view, shortly after which they rush to the store to buy the product being advertised for. In theory, atleast.

Given that the ad industry has everything going for it, namely occasional supermodels; fascinating market research; opportunities for great ideas; and a chance to make aam aadmi view your work, you could be expected to pose the logical question – Why are people not desperate to join this industry? That leads directly to my fifth, and mercifully last, learning, which is –

5. Pathetic Pay Puts off Prospects.
Given that most people choose their next job by the amount of money it will bring, it makes sound economic sense to not touch this industry, even with a bottom end of a beanbag. After all, when you can be making your millions in the Lehmanns and Merrills Mckinseys of the World, why work here?

As I review the internship, I find that I have partly achieved my goals. The creative process of coming up with grand ideas has been an intellectually stimulating and enjoyable exercise. My alliterative articulation has advanced to an amazing achievement which has more than matched the adworse consequences of not working with supermodels. With those bad jokes words of wisdom, I bid ad ieu!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One line to rule them all

I present a list of my favourite status messages over the last one year. These status messages either deal with something I'm currently doing or with a topical activity, written in a funny way. To me, both conditions are both necessary and sufficient, to make a good one-liner. A pun on an event in the distant past, or something that never happened, is pretty easy to make. After all, the whole world over the course of time provides infinite opportunities for making good puns. And without a pun, I would be a mere news-reader (Obama gets the Nobel Prize!), or a status-updater( I am looking forward to watching Sun TV's Kolangal tonight ), both of which roles  I find extremely uninteresting.

Sticking to this framework was not as difficult as I had imagined - current affairs does provide a fertile field to plough. (Note - I have presented the topical situation in italics  - its probably clear in most cases, but I'm explaining anyway) These messages are roughly in chronological order, starting from the current time.

  1. Did a person with a split personality coin the word 'Fire Work'? (After a Diwali spent watching awesome fireworks by the beach)
  2. People go to Kashi to die. They should just go to Rashee and die. (After spending three boring hours watching What’s Your Rashee)
  3. Has learnt one thing after a bad experience at titan eye+ " Girls seldom make glasses, for men who have passes". (Had multiple vouchers to be used at titan eye+, which couldn’t be used for a wierd reason and it was extremely frustrating)
  4. Will you brave a Worst Queue to enjoy a Coast View?(I hate the proposed beach expressway)
  5. Jaswant's book is gonna be - wait for it - absolutely - Le Jinnah diary. (After the furore on Jaswant's Singh's book on Jinnah)
  6. Indian cricketers are not following the old song - ' Jo WADA kiya, woh nibhana padega' (After  Indian cricketers refused to sign up with the WADA code)
  7. To sum it up, Obama's Beer Summit teaches us one thing - When faced by troubles, grin and beer it.
  8. Is unclear on nuclear physics. Does an atomic sub use sub atomic particles?(After the launch of Arihant - India's nuclear sub)
  9. An idle mind likes a well-stocked bookshop. (Senti thought which was in tune with my state of mind at that time)
  10. Coimbatore's booming cloth industry should enter F1 racing as KovaiLinen (After a trip to Coimbatore)
  11. From all these conspiracy theories floating around, one thing is clear - you can kill all the mockingbirds you want, but remember it's a sin to kill MJ.
  12. Pondy is dandy, with liquor being cheaper.(After a trip to Pondicherry)
  13. How to describe today's interesting faceoff - Jab Dill mile, will Gul Khile?(The Dilshan-Umar Gul match up had promised to exciting. A rare one where I use Hindi words)
  14. How Brawn GP describes its highly-automated F1 car - "Button pushes the button, we do the rest." ( A take on Kodak’s slogan, given Button’s great start to the season)
  15. So many indian americans in the spelling bee; they sure know they're ABCD.(After seeing a million Indian-Americans in the Spelling Bee)
  16. The plot for devD is shaD - if ditched by BanD, go to RunD ( After DevD release – another Hindi one)
  17. Attending my last class at IIMA and wishes there would be a ReSession. ( Senti message)
  18. If the Independent Project system had continued, then would it have solved the credit crisis?(Major academic war on campus, over subjects)
  19. Why didn't the auditors notice the oddities? (After Satyam – most of the good lines had been taken)
  20. The plot for billu will killu (Billu was oh-so-boring)
  21. has decided to become a revolutionary and fight for lower classes, after having a time-table with a mind-boggling 28 sessions this week.
  22. Moores the pity if England cracks under strauss (Strauss made captain, and Moore the coach)
  23. Resolves to make a Thousand Splendid Puns in 2009 (New Year Resolution)
  24. Its better to bailout than to (let) fade away.(After the wave of bailouts that happened)
  25. The Day That Reeves Showed Skill would definitely be The Day the Earth Stood Still.( Keanu Reaves sooooo Bad)   
  26. Kandy may be dandy, but WACA is quick-ah(After a featherbed of a Kandy pitch)
  27. Found hiking in the Black Forest a piece of cake.(An awesome hiking trip to The Black Forest)
  28. Found Beer Steins in Munich, but sadly no Lehmanade. (Had gone to the Oktoberfest)
  29. Are the waters of the Rhine are full of Eau di Cologne? 
  30. Is back to a full stop in Sweden after a semi-cologne tour.(Had to return urgently to Sweden because of an academic requirement) 
  31. Danes may use Trains, but a Viking prefers Hiking. 
  32. Wants to write a story called 'Stock Holmes and the Study in Sweden.'(Hadn’t written it, plan to start sometime) 
  33. Candy may be dandy, but rasam is awsam! (Senti message on one of my trips home)
  34. Unpacking is truly out-of the box thinking  (After going back to IIMA, and confronted by loads of neatly packed cartons waiting to be unwrapped)
  35. Ledger closes his account in style ( After Ledger’s Death )
  36. Batman was a stormy and dark knight ( After The Dark Knight Release)
  37. Left goes ballistic as UPA goes nuclear ( After the UPA and Left broke ties over  the nuclear deal)
  38. Quickdraw Bindraw wins gold ( After Bindra won the gold)
  39. God phelps those who phelp themselves ( After Phelps won many golds)
  40. I'm.In.Madras.Again(After I came home)
  41. 'Jai Home!'
  42. The best tribute to curd rice is the old jungle saying 'What can't be curd must be endurd'  (After coming home, and realizing how much I missed curd rice)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Why Quick Gun Moorugun Should Take Over The BJP, Or Cow Banega Thalapathy

As we know, the BJP faces many problems. They were bull-dozed in the last election. Raking up the Ram temple issue proved to be a big foaly. Expelling Jaswant for honestly writing the Jinnah Dairy showed the BJP’s herd mentality. What the BJP needs is a new issue that will resonate with the electorate.
For this, we propose they turn to the noble cow for numerous reasons:
a) Voters always consider animals as a big issue. After all, the Ram won BJP many elections.
b) Cows are very punny animals. Can you imagine the above paragraph with the double-wattled Cassowary or the Paradise Flycatcher?
c) If you still don’t believe me, let me assure you “Where’s there is a veal, there’s a way”
d) How can voters not like cows, the most gentle of creatures(‘To err is human, to forgive bovine’.)
e) The world is beset with multiple problems like Recession, Swine-Flu and Shortage-Of-Good- Cinema-Halls-In-Chennai. Cows always display a thoughtful appearance that you know is trying to detect the ‘Cows-And-Effect’ and solve these issues.

Now that we have proved that cows represent the future, it is but a simple leap of imagination to select a cowboy as Symbol of Glorious Cows. QGM as quintessential cowboy who is unafraid to take the bull by its horns will appeal to any cow-lover. He will be The Antidote to those cow-killing Cowngressmen who’s buzzword is ‘Dined it, I say’.
Ok enough bulls*** for one day. Will stop before you start nagging.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Review: Madras Day Quiz

The day dawned bright and and I woke early, as the morning jasmine peeped out amidst the green garden, dewy-eyed and pristine white, like a Test cricketer emerging out on the first day of a match. It was the day of the Madras Quiz, one of the biggest quizzes on the calendar. Looking forward to it, I knew it would be a quiz that would definitely be equal to India's biggest Open Quiz, the Landmark Quiz.

The Madras quiz is being conducted by Team IQL, and was located behind a place familiar to most of us, the PS Senior School . I was slightly late for the quiz and I rushed to the prelims location, but was aghast to find that it wasn't even close to starting. After a bit, it got underway in typical fashion.

The prelims were like a cup of steaming hot early morning coffee. Some questions were brewed to perfection, while a lot others were reused decoctions and left a bitter taste. The answer on AR Rahman was a great fact and I guess it played the level field. Some others, like the first question, left us with a "Eh? Why is it there?" Overall, quite a decent prelims and we hoped we would qualify.

However, there was many a slip between the filter kaapi and the lip. We narrowly missed out on qualifying. It was nice of the quizmasters to follow the Great Derek's style of announcing the teams that missed out on qualifying. It gave us an incredible opportunity to enjoy the limelight and attention that is bestowed on teams-that-nearly-qualify. Wouldn't have missed it for anything. If only, they had announced the scores of all the teams that had made it, it would've ensured complete fairness and transparency to all. After all, what is an hour more or less, when we go to quizzes?

Speaking of filter kaapi, it was a pity that they had not arranged for a provision to serve it to the participants. After all, what is Chennai without a cup of steaming hot filter kaapi in the afternoon? And one more point in the favour of the Great Derek. I notice in the Great Derek's quizzes, something to eat and drink is ALWAYS served. I wish more quizzes start following this noble tradition.

The usual faces were among the finalists - The Legendary VV Ramanan, the Legendary Jayakanthan and the Legendary Gaurav Sundaraman. DP had ( surprisingly?) made it to the finals, and I made a mental note to work harder next time. If DP can qualify, it should be possible for me to qualify too, especially in a quiz on Madras, which is so obviously not his core competence.

The finals were like a whiff of morning jasmine, smelling sweet and pure. The quiz started on higly scented note, with a very interesting picture of the Central Institute of Classical Tamizh Studies. Quite a few other nuggets of information, like a question on Pennathur Subramaniam were present. However, as with any strand of jasmine we get nowadays, there were quite a few genetically modified flowers which had no right to be present.

One-third of the quiz, for good or for bad, was on movies. While I would agree to the odd question on Gemini Ganesan, I draw the line at a question on K Balaji as a child. One more question read - Which scriptwriter blah blah blah? When the first two teams had guessed Anna and the second MK, I had exhausted my stock of guesses. The answer turned out to be Kripananda Warrier ( the only Warrier I know in Tamil Cinema is Sultan the Warrier) And when there is question after question along similar lines, it does get a trifle wearying.

There were two long visual connects, which are like one-minute instant coffee served to quizzers brewed on the traditional thing. It might be easier to make, but unless it is interesting to all, it should not be there. The first theme had 5 unidentifiable people, and Maharajapuram Santhaman. The answer turned out to be Roads in Chennai renamed after people. Some more clues perhaps, to make it more guessable to aam audience?

The second theme, on places in Chennai named after flowers, was a poser to some teams, with the Legendary Gaurav going for the refreshingly different answer of Restaurants in Chennai. From the audience, I established my credentials as a blooming idiot on Madras, by not coming close to answering this theme.

The Madras quiz was won by L.Jayakanthan alongwith Alagarsamy from Hyderabad, with Rajaram and Joshi from Muscat coming second, and Ashwin Prabhu and Ramkey from Coimbatore coming third. The favorites, L.Ramanan and Ramkumar Shankar, and the young team of L.Gaurav and Anirudh surprisingly didn't finish in the top three.

A Madras Quiz is very hard to conduct, given the knowledge of quizzers and paucity of fresh content available. Given that there have been quite a few editions before this, it is increasingly becoming hard to find good questions. Moreover, today's quizzer is an incredibly savvy googler, and finding questions to please him is definitely a hard, if not as difficult, task. Given these constraints, the IQL team did a great job conducting this quiz. Most of the questions were very good, and most of us came away with the feeling ' I learnt something new about Madras today'

And finally - I'm thoroughly sick of a filter kaapi and jasmine analogy parallel used whenever Madras is mentioned. Thoroughly boring. How's this? "AAh Madras. Whenever I think of the old city, I think of Jalapeno-Tomato Chilli-Cheese-Cajun Pepper-Popcorn with a hint of Butter, served by good ol' Sathyam Cinema"? It has so much more of a zing to it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Cold and the Beautiful

One more article from my Euro Trip.

I had pretty much seen all of Jonkoping's attractions in the 2 months I had been there - being a sleepy, small town, this primarily consisted of beautiful women, beautiful lakes and beautiful scenery. Having a small break in my academic schedule, I decided to Boldly Go Where Man Has Seen Snow Before. It was October, and being in southern Sweden, the temperature was irritatingly low, but with no hint of snow. Friends in Germany had ridiculed my lack of snow, while displaying numerous photos of them making snowmen. I was even gloomily told that snowfall was predicted in January, by which time I would be back in India. A brief background - Sweden is like the Arunachal Pradesh of Europe - it just tapers on and on. The snowy, extremely cold bits we read so often in the papers are all in the sparsely-populated north.

I opened the Swedish map, and randomly looked at descriptions of places really, really North. The train time table was opened simultaneously; I had to select a place which would enable me to spend a night on the train, reach there in the morning, and leave that night again by train. (I must add that I possessed inarguably the most essential piece of paper any backpacker worth his hiking boots needed - a Eurail pass. Travel by train was mostly free, and most decisions to go places were dependent on the trains to that place.) I narrowed down my choice to a few places, and finally chose Kiruna.

I left that evening, making a note of train timings, and the places to see. It got dark pretty early, and the train journey was livened up by a group of middle-aged women getting up and singing Happy Birthday to You in loud Swedish (Grattis till er! Grattis till er! Grattis till er, dear Whatzisname! Grattis till er)

What I saw the next morning was truly magical. The landscape was pristine white, the forest of leafless pine trees, which had appeared bleak, forlorn and forbidding, now appeared to be shimmering with light, when draped in white blankets of snow. The air was exceedingly clear and this vista stretched on for miles together. Having lived in hot-hotter-hottest Chennai all my life, it was the first time I was seeing snow. Now, with a cup of coffee in my hand, and snug in the train compartment with the outside landscape to gaze at, I could joyously skim through Raskolnikov's debate to
kill himself. ( Long train journeys with nothing else to do are ideal for wanting to read books one has always wanted to read. Depressing books like Crime and Punishment so aptly fell into this category.)

I reached Kiruna at 1000 AM, and ventured straight out of the station. I rushed to the fresh mound of snow outside, made my first snowball, and 'shot the snowball into the air, it fell to the earth, I knew not where.' I was preparing another snowball to follow its predecessor, when I did know where it had fallen. I was caught white-handed in the act, and profusely apologised to an old gentleman for having pelted his dog with snow.

I shfted operations to another area; after hitting a tree, a stationary car, and a baby in a pram, I decided to ease up on the snowball throwing and decided to tramp about in the snow. The sun was shining above, and it felt mildly pleasant at around 2 degrees( I was wearing six layers of winter clothing - basically every sweater and jacket I possessed) After working out the exuberance of twenty four years of Never Having Seen Snow, and feelingly slightly cold in hands ( normal gloves - after all, a shoestring does not extend to your hands) I headed out to the friendly, neighbourhood tourist office to plan my itinerary. The lady at the counter gave me a map and marked out a walking trail that would take a few hours. She regretfully informed me that it was only the beginning of the winter, so everything was closed, so there would be no Reindeer and no Northern Lights. Drat! I had so wanted to see Rudolf prancing about, with a Red Light on his nose, a green light in the skies above and an amber drink in my hand ( the last mentioned just so's traffic conventions are maintained)

I started walking along the path she had marked, when I saw this middle-aged lady, walking in front, with the professional air of a Nordic Walker. I smiled at her, and that broke the ice between us. She agreed to let me join her in her walk, and agreed to show me the sights. As she quite trustingly unbent, she told me she had lived all her life in the town of Kiruna, her husband worked in the mines nearby and found the 2 degree temperature rather warm. ( These Swedes! Tap Tap Tap) The thought of my seeing snow for the first time was immensely humourous to her, and when she learnt I had worked in the software industry, she was quite respectful.( You do our job so much better, she said)

After a brief tramp through a forest, we came to a hillock where we could view the entire town, where she pointed out Kiruna's sights - a large school where her children studied, a church and ugly black hills in the background which provided the mines that served as the backbone of the town's economy. The entire experience seemed extremely surreal - joining an unknown person on a brisk walk through a snow-clad forest in the Arctic Circle, with the sun shining down.

After a while though, it sadly came to an end she regretfully told me that I was not properly dressed for the walk. Was it my unshaven, three-days stubble, the slightly wolfish look that came from eating only fries for breakfast or was it the ugly red backpack filled with clothes, I asked, feeling the brunt of the backpacker's curse on me. Neither, she said, and pointed to my shoes.
Lesson Learnt: Reebok Tennis shoes bought in Chennai are NOT meant to be used for walking through Deep Snow.

I trudged back to the town centre, and after buying a pizza costing as much money as needed to start a pizza joint in Chennai( Goach's Paradox: Why are Scandinavians the most polite people on Earth, when they pay the steepest prices for everything?) I decided to go into the church. Immensely peaceful, with dark wooden panelling, big candles and bright lights that looked quite picturesque. It was around 1400 hours by now, and the town centre was the only place I hadn't been to, so I dutifully went there and learnt quite a bit on the history of Kiruna ( Amazing fact: Due to mining, the entire town is sinking, and they have to transplant it lock, stock, home and school, to another area. Where exactly is still being debated)

Feeling quite confident in my ability to handle a How Well Do You Know Kiruna Quiz on Facebook, I was told to see an icehotel in Jukkasjarvi, a short bus ride away. I took a bus which deposited me near it( It is the same one in Die Another Day). They were still building it, and I could see huge chunks of light blue ice being cut into different pieces and laid on the ground. The water was taken only from certain pure, pristine streams, so any guests who so desired could have the best Ganga snanam possible. Being quite cold now, I made a cursory trip round it and then went inside a brick hotel. The return bus would be back in an hour, and I was advised to go to a church nearby.

I went there, was not surprised to find myself alone and remained inside for quite a while. You might wonder if I had been entranced by the beauty and magnificence of the 18th century church, or captivated by its bright lights and golden candles? Rest assured - I stuck to my tambram roots. It was just that by this time become quite sick of the extremely dark ( at 1630) and the cold ( minus five degrees) and wanted to be somewhere else( Chennai in peak summer looked so inviting) Visions of frost-bite and snowstorms floated in front of me, especially since no one knew where I was. The stupid bus was taking forever, I needed to go to the toilet and desperately wanted a warm drink, and the church was the only shelter around.

The bus finally came, the walk to the station seemed infernally long, especially against the cold wind, and I reached around an hour before the train came. I waited for the train, felt like killing Dostoevsky for rambling on, and resolved never to go to infernally cold places ever again.

When I reached Jonkoping the next day, I banished the thought of cold to the distant recesses of my mind, aided in this process by an expensive Chai Latte. I brought out my Lonely Planet, all eager to plot the next trip...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

QFI Quiz Fest

(Slightly IIMA specific post disclaimer)

Have you done any of the following?

Taken a Which-Dorm-Will-You-Be-In Quiz?
Taken a How-Many-Countries-Will-You-Visit-In-Europe Quiz?
Taken a How-Many-Movies-Can-You-Watch-In-A-Day Quiz? (Basically, are you on the threshold of being a jobless tuccha in IIMA?)

Taken a How-Many-Facebook-Quizzes-In-A-Day-Can-You-Take Quiz?
Taken a Which-Facebook-Quiz-Are-You Quiz? ( Hello, PGP3 from IIMA waiting to start working!)

Blocked All quizzes on facebook, and refuse to log on for fear of seeing arbit people take arbit quizzes and filling your page with nonsense? ( working professionals)

In other words, does the sight of the word ‘Quiz’ fill you up with strong emotions?
If so, this notice is for you.
If not, its time for you to take the Why-Does-The-Word-Quiz-Not-Fill-You-Up-With-Strong-Emotion Quiz on facebook, and then come back to reading this.

The Quiz Foundation of India Chennai is organizing a quiz fest on June 7. There will be a SpEnt Quiz, on the topics of Sports and Entertainment, and inspired by the ‘Amount-Of-Time-SpEnt-on-Facebook-Quizzing’ Quiz. This will be followed by the QFI Open Quiz, a general quiz, inspired by the answer of ‘Which-Army-Rank-Will-Your-Quiz-Be’ Quiz?
The details are as follows:
Date: 7th of June, 2009 (Sunday)
Venue: Museum Theatre, Egmore, Chennai
Sports and Entertainment Quiz
Quizmaster: Rajen Prabhu
Research Team: Sreeram, Vijay Sarathy, Vinod Ganesh, Krishnamurti Ganesh, Vikram Rajan, Sivakumar V.V.
Timings: Prelims – 10:30 a.m. and Finals – 11:30 a.m.
Team size: Maximum of 2 members
General Quiz
Quizmaster: Vinod Ganesh
Research Team: Krishnamurti Ganesh, Vikram Rajan
Timings: Prelims – 03:30 p.m. and Finals – 05:00 p.m.
Team size: Maximum of 3 members
If, for reasons of IPL team affiliation, you happen to not live in Chennai, I hope you realize now that by living in Chennai, you get to support the Super Kings AND participate in the annual QFI Quiz Fest.

If you are not from IIMA, you are allowed to participate as long as you get an amnesty signed from your board stating that they you will never again take part in any facebook quiz. (Yes, I will start working soon)

Obligatory Questions:

1) American colleges have an annual students directory which have the photo and details of the students. It is officially titled ‘The Photo Address Book’. Being too long a name, what nickname did they give to it?

2) This annual event was started in 1925 by the Louisville Courier-Journal and there have been 78 editions held so far. The event can only be sponsored by daily and weekly newspapers serving English speaking populations all around the world. Which event are we talking about?

1) They call it a ‘Facebook’ and this reportedly inspired Zuckerberg to name his website.
2) The Scripps Spelling Bee

So be there!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Variety is the Rice of Life

Effect of having just finished reading Crime and Punishment, and having nothing else to do all day. Written on a lonely, boring day in Sweden ( where I had to cook for myself, since eating out was insanely expensive; no net or tv in the room either)

He spent ages agonizing in bed, whether he would gain anything by waking up promptly at eight. Was the hot water bath, which was available only early in the morning, worth the long hours spent in the mid-morning with nothing to do? After a quick weighing of the pros and cons, he decided against waking up, and got up at a more respectable ten in the morning.
It was a bright, sunny day, but he knew from instinct that it would be really cold outside. After a depressing breakfast of corn-flakes, which taken on a daily basis, seemed to taste more of wood shavings than anything else, he turned to VS Naipaul's 'A House for Mr. Biswas.', the only book available at that time. His mood turned even more somber as he realized the protagonist was leading an incredibly sad life, and things would keep going downhill for him. The book was put down with a thud, but taken up after five minutes thinking had reasoned out that there was nothing else to do.

When the book was dropped a second time, he decided to turn his energies towards cooking, where he hoped fate would be kinder to him. A mental check-list of the items present followed, and he decided to make up with determination and will-power what items he missed, rather than risk a trip to the super-market in the sub-zero temperatures outside. The ingredients available were beans, broccoli and rice, and he decided to combine the lot with pulao masala. He had no idea how it would taste, but he was sure it would be edible. Secure in the knowledge that there was nothing else to do, he set about cutting the beans and broccoli with a patience he never knew he possessed. The rice was ready in next to no time, and given the ample time present to him, he decided to both boil and fry the vegetables, a practice he had not followed in cooking until then.

Spices were added with gay abandon, as he had still not learnt the proper quantities. Considering he didn't know what to expect at the end of it, he reckoned on adding spices and salt whenever he got bored with things. Which was around every five minutes or so.After about an hour's cooking, the vegetables were finally ready and he mixed everything in the rice cooker, and added pulao masala. On first tasting this dish, he realized he had tasted something similar many, many times before.

After 7 years of school, 4 years of college and 2 years of a software job, where he used to take a lunch box of similar ( but much better) vegetable rice on a daily basis, he realized with a pleasant smile that he had finally discovered how it was prepared.

ps - Mashed pringles chips was used as an appalam substitute.

The blog is dead, Long live the Blog!

Considering this blog is just about dead, I have decided to resuscitate it with a few articles. Given that I've become just so incredibly busy doing absolutely nothing, and given the corresponding sloth associated with it, let me put up a few random articles, that I had started over the last one year, but not posted.
The following article was started during internship in Dubai

This is the story of an epic battle between Iron Mike and me, the scars of which will be present for a very, very long time, especially on the battlefield, which was a formal shirt. At the end of it, both of us were really steamed up over it.

Round 1 - Selection of the battlefield

There was an ironing board in my hotel room, but somehow it seemed really tiny, especially when compared to my shirt.If I spread the shirt fully, it tended to extend beyond the surface. Also, the side stand to hold the Iron didn't seem to be stable enough to hold the iron. After trying various angles and getting board, I chucked the board back into the clothes-stand and decided to use a dining slab made of marble which had more area.
Winner - Krishnamurti

Round 2 - Placing the shirt suitably
I thought I knew the correct way to place a shirt, so that one could iron without further creases. Apparently, I was wrong. I simulated all combinations in order to get a second crease from collar to bottom, passing near the pocket. The shirt was way bulkier and heavier than it should have been. 'Oh shirt!', I thought, as I realized it could not be done. After around 20 minutes, I moderated my ambition. I decided to pleat leave it alone and just iron out all the creases.
Moral of the story : IIMA students do NOT consider placement as the be-all and end-all of life.
Winner - Shirt

Round 3 - The iron is out cold
By the time it took me to place the shirt suitably so that one could iron out the creases, the stoopid iron had gotten cold. So, I had to put the plug on it ( which obviously wasn't nearby). Once I brought it near the shirt, it became cold and lifeless in no time. So, I took it to the plug point, and then back to the dining board. After the third or fourth time this happened, I was really hot and bothered, while the iron remained cool and calm.
Winner - Iron Mike

Round 4 - Actually ironing
After all the preamble, I finally used the iron by brute force. I put the shirt out of the crease, effectively stumping the iron for an answer. Moving the iron up and down, I put my shirt in some semblance of order. Hooray!
Winner - Krishnamurti

At the end of it, A One Hour War resulted in exactly one shirt pressed. I was thoroughly exhausted, and my nerves were frayed. Ah well, looks like I'm making a bad imPression on you with my rusted ironing skills. Who had thought pumping iron was so hard?