Monday, December 28, 2009

A screwed up trip...


A stay is better than a mere visit. Literally, I would love to stay in Chennai all my life if needed but a visit to that place is a strict no-no! Unfortunately, last week I had to visit Chennai. I was visiting the city after 4 long years but nothing changed. Chennai is a city which doesn’t change much. Let me list out few problems at Chennai for visitors.


1) Exorbitant charges by auto drivers-They will charge you 100 bucks for taking you across the street. Pretty cheap in case you don’t know how to cross a road.


Me: Kodambakkam?
Auto: 80 rupees!
Me: That much? It’s just nearby right?
Auto: But there is lot of traffic, sir.
Me: So what? I should pay for the traffic too? I will give you 30 rupees.
Auto: Go by walk for free.
So much for customer satisfaction. I somehow cleverly bargained him for 50 bucks and got into the auto. He steered it into some weird lane. I asked him” which way is this?”
His answer “Shortcut sir, to avoid the traffic.” left me scratching my own head.


2) Language problem- whichever language you ask in, you get reply only in Tamil. The word, communication has a new meaning in this place.


3) Roads- The roads look like they have been last laid some hundred years back. To top it, if it even drizzles, you will have to walk with your pants up.


I thought of listing at least 10 points, but right now I am down with viral fever which I caught at Chennai thanks to rains. In short, my trip was totally screwed. As I said earlier, I would never ever visit that place but would be glad to stay there provided I have a vehicle and a good flat.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A treat to ears...

I am blessed. Ok, WE are blessed.


On September 26th I had written a post called A Musical Journey about some of the rare gems in Hindi composed by Ilayaraja sir. Even while writing that, I was still waiting for that 'Perfect' hindi album from the genius and the feeling I have right now (since one month) is nothing short of divinity. I was waiting for this particular movie from almost 1 and half years. I was merely hoping for a south Indian meals from him and Ilayaraja sir gave us all, not only full Indian meals but also pizza with extra cheese toppings. The name of the movie is ‘PAA’.



Mudi Mudi song is definitely the most significant song of the album. Artistic use of piano, violin and an occasional guitar to support the percussion makes this song very hummable and stays with us on our lips and very pleasant to our ears. It has 2 more versions and they are brilliantly done even though they sound similar. He practically demonstrated how to compose a different song using the same tune-Little difference in arrangement of the instruments. I like the Shaan version (Gali Gali) more personally, as it was much slower and different than the other two and yet had the same melody, tune with different instruments-The magic of Ilayaraja! Why, even the other two which sound ALMOST similar have different lead (more dominant) instruments-Guitar for Mudi Mudi and Piano for Udi Udi.


Hichki Hichki is another magical song. I never thought hiccups can get musical too. A very difficult song to sing and there is a stamp of a genius written all over!


Chorus has always been the main bane in Raja sir’s music and Halke se bole song is another example of his mastery. Beautifully sung and simple rythemic music can get even a wall to cry!


Mere paa is one song, you should listen to believe it. It was sung by Amitabh Bachan himself in the voice of a 13 year old and boy, does he sound convincing! Check out Bachan sir’s comments after he recorded this song with Ilayaraja in his blog.


Here is the link: Big B's BLOG


Paa theme has everything in it-excitement, emotions, happiness, fun and sheer divinity. The violins which form the dominant part, even during the TV ads tell you half the story-a musical treat.


Last but not the last, my personal favorite is Gum sum Gum. It’s actually a very old tune, rehashed once again in this movie with a different orchestration. This song is a treat for all western classical and Indian classical music lovers, because it sways between two different worlds in the same song. With amazing jazz piano interludes, raja sir gives us the taste of western classical and when the vocals have clear Indian classical music touch to it making this song a musical lesson for generations to come. I am sure Mozart must be clapping in his grave. Not convinced? Listen to this song from 2:29 to 3:17-blessed music. The tune of Gum Summ Gum is almost 25 years old and already has 5 different versions of it and has two instrumental versions too. Trust me, NONE of the versions sound alike and yet they are the same!


Finally a fully satisfying hindi album from the music maestro. I am blessed! Are you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Beginning


Many years ago, on a hot afternoon, I took birth. I looked so skinny that the nurse had wrapped me in a thick towel before showing me to my mom, just to make me look fatter. One look at my face, my family had prophesized that this young lad will grow up to be a great man. Even as the jubilant family members each took their turns to hold the ‘would be’ great man, I fell asleep. My first sleep in the real world went unnoticed but little did they know that this young boy was going to turn all their dreams into ash!


Right from the childhood, I had this ability to squash all prophesies and predictions. I remember, when I was in 4th class, my mom took me to some guru at a temple and he looked at my palm and said-“Son, you are a hard worker. Your academic life will be the best among your whole family.” My dad was ecstatic after listening to that and gave him 1001 rupees for his blessings. Twelve years later, his son was still struggling to clear his backlogs in engineering.


Studies were NEVER my cup of tea. Frankly speaking, I have failed in more subjects than those I have passed, if we at all count all the exams that I have written from my 1st class in school to this day. But one thing I always had with me was my parent’s belief in me. To say that I broke their trust would be an understatement. Try words like trampled or kicked. During my inter 2nd year (12th standard), I once scored 14 marks out of 200 at some test at college. I did what I was very good at; I put 3 in front of 14 and showed it as 143 out of 200 to dad. My dad was so happy that night; he took me out for dinner. Three years later he told me, he took me out that night only to make me regret for what I have done.


Life always gives a second chance to everyone, provided you waste your first chance. And that’s why probably life has given me yet another chance, not to redeem myself, not to prove anything to anyone, not to get into the good books of my dad and definitely not to study again but to do something worthwhile and earning my bread & butter with some self respect. Last one and half months was very eventful, filled with some happy memories that I would cherish all my life. I got my first job and received my first pay check too. Yes folks, I gave it to mom. That would explain the only reason why I wasn’t updating my blog or for that matter, not visiting any of my favorite blogs. My journey has just begun, like a runner whose actual winning or losing depends on his last lap.


Ah, it’s so good to be back to writing. To be frank, I feel like superman who can only walk. I would be posting every week and I shall take this opportunity to communicate to all my favorite blogger pals and tell them, I love your writings, people and there is no way I am going to miss even a single post. Rest assured, I shall dig all the previous posts I missed out since a month or so.


Life is full circle and all you got to do is make the ends meet.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Thoughts


I talk to myself.


Now this sounds like an anti climax but it’s true literally. I remember, when I was a little kid, I used to like talking to myself. Talking about oneself and to himself is like two sides of a dice-the remaining four sides are repeated with these two again. I don’t know the inner details of psychology but I can gather my wits fast enough to understand I might look crazy. When you happen to come across a person talking to him/herself, what do you do? You chuckle of course and if by any chance you are with your friends, then the mob factor comes in and you might even make faces at him to have your sadistic laugh. But I believe every one of us, at some point or the other, had talked to him/herself. There is a beautiful world, right inside us which is as imaginative as your dreams, as lovely as your… ok I was about to say ‘wife’ here.


Get my point? Let your thoughts free for a while and you can marvel at the speed by which your thoughts can jump from point to point in fractions of a second. There is a general feeling among us that people who talk to themselves are Mad. By that logic, everyone is mad-the obvious ones are those who get caught. Notice anyone who is driving a two wheeler. Even if he passes by you in a flash, you can notice a slight lip moment on his face even with his eyes, very intense with concentration on road. That’s a synchronization of the conscious and sub conscious world. That person is actually talking to himself, with full realization or not and also simultaneously concentrating on the traffic.


There are disadvantages too. I have heard of people who talk to themselves because they are mentally ill. Well that happens when you don’t have control of your mind-the sub conscious mind takes over your real world in a flash. It’s particularly dangerous when it happens when you are somewhere in a crowd. You suddenly zone out, forget where you are and a separate story track keeps running in your mind-60% of road accidents happen due to this cause.


I have always loved talking to myself whenever I am alone and I find it very refreshing. And there were instances where a different world opens up inside my head and I talk to myself without speaking out loud like those non verbal curses used in harry potter novels. I always had control of these conversations with oneself, so I know I am NOT mad. In fact, most of my blog posts including this one were written in my mind while I was driving. Right from topic to the content and sentence formation, I write everything in my head while driving and thereby composing & posting here is just a formality.


Thoughts are amazing and very original. There is always an element of creativity in our own thoughts. We have an array of creative ideas at our door step and yet we look for inspiration at the most mundane places. I have always tried to remember my dreams-most of them tend to get faded out by the end of the day. I don’t understand the psychology behind these dreams but they always get faded out of head as soon as you wake up. People dream while sleeping and wake up to forget them. But those, few who can remember their dreams, have a library of creative thoughts in his chest.


Ever talked to yourself? Ever got caught and had a sheepish grin on your face? Feel free to share your experiences at the comments section. And yes I repeat or rather I confirm-I am not mad.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Naked Truth

EVERY LINE IN THE STORY IS FICTIONAL AND I APOLOGIZE FOR ANY FACTUAL ERRORS.



  She is a fighter. And so are million people like her.


As she glanced around her room, she noticed everything is in order. She liked it that way and had taken pains to keep everything in place. It’s ironic that her own life is in disarray but that never deterred her to keep her surroundings clean. She paced across the room and sat at her favorite place-near the window which has a wonderful view of the park across the street. She loved the park when she had seen it exactly 10 years ago and she loves it now but with a difference. There were small children playing under the watchful eyes of their parents and something about the scene looked very soothing yet very disturbing. She always loved to observe small details of happiness and the window became her only connect to the world. She looked at the joy in children’s faces and her lips parted automatically to smile. She looked at a young couple who were sitting on a bench, talking to each other and keeping an eye on their kids at the same time. Her smile held but with no meaning. Her eyes looked out intensely but at nothing. Her thoughts had the speed of light but were vague.


Lost in her thoughts, she thought she heard something. She jerked herself back to reality, merely by taking her eyes off the window and into the room. It was her father in law who was calling her except for her; he is more than her father. She knew, of all the suffering she went through, the biggest was the knowledge that her father in law suffered more. And 10 years back, she had made a promise to herself-she would uphold the family respect as a dutiful daughter in law and take care of her family all her life. As she went about her work with endless patience, her father in law looked at her. His face betrayed too much- Sympathy, Pride, Guilt and Pain. He was proud of her endurance and inner strength, while he also had a stabbing sympathetic feeling towards her. She always directly looked into his eyes while talking to him even though she knows his ‘all betraying face’ would haunt her even when she sits by her favorite window.


She always kept herself busy with work to keep herself occupied-be it her job at Indian Airlines or the household chores. The only moment of weakness she ever allows is when she sits by her window to watch people, people who-in her own words- not affected by fate. She understood long ago why she blamed fate for all the suffering in her life-only because there is no one else to blame. Can she blame the government? Or the officials? Or those brutal fanatics? Or The God himself? She blamed Fate only because; None of them are ready to take the blame. She also knew, blaming someone or fate is illogical but her emotions had no other way out-the way her husband has been separated from her is also illogical. What logic can explain the killing of her husband after just 2 weeks of her marriage? What logic can explain the killing to happen exactly when they were returning from their honeymoon? Whatever logic can justify the cause for which he has been killed? In the name of every good thing in this world, what logic can justify her husband’s brutal killing on that ill-fated Indian Airlines flight which got hijacked on 24th December 1999?
But she is a fighter. And she has been fighting for last 10 years and will continue to do so all her life. There are many people out there in this beautiful world who have the same fate as hers-both men and women. Its only when people start believing in the god inside them rather than the god above them, life is not going to change for millions of families across the globe.


**********


This short story is completely fictional based on a true incident-the Indian airlines flight hijack on 24th December 1999 and the killing of Rupin Katyal, who was travelling on that ill-fated flight along with his wife. This December, it’s going to mark 10 years of endless patience and endurance. There is nothing I can really do except to pray for her, for every such family who got/gets affected by terrorism.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Random talk


Sitting on the porch, I was fiddling with Chaitu’s wallet. As usual, I found it empty except for few odd papers. Inside a small punch, I found two photographs. One was his own passport photo while other was a picture of Shirdi Sai Baba. As I was looking at the two, he said “You are looking at two greatest people in this world”. I was amused. I replied “Well everyone knows about one of them...who the hell is the second guy?" with a mischievous smile. He raised his eye brows and silkily said "Sai baba".


**********


We all lined up at the small stall, holding our plates, waiting for the man to dole out the delicious pani puri. Each of us had a plate, a saucer of sorts. Ganju joined in late, he was given a plastic plate instead of a saucer. Chandu was quick to remark-“That’s prevention for swine flu”. Ganju was very amused and retorted-“Oh really? So I won’t get this damn flu eh?” sarcastically. Chandu coolly replied-"It’s a prevention measure for the stall so that they don’t get it from you”.


**********


After we took the tickets, I saw that we had 15 more minutes for the movie to start. I along with my friends sat at a porch near the entrance, waiting for the theatre guy to open up the door. Almost immediately, a beggar came up to us and started begging in his quintessential style. He tapped at our feet with his hand, he requested, pleaded, told us how he didn’t eat since morning. In spite of our repeated declining and ignoring, he was persistent. After 5 whole minutes, my friend couldn’t take it any longer and said-“You and me are the same. You have the courage to beg while I can’t. Now will you please go?”


**********


I was lazily lying on my bed while both my roommates-Ankur and veeru were cleaning the room. The room was very neat in comparison to the usual bachelor rooms’ standard but it was getting too watery and stuffy thanks to the rains. An exasperated Ankur suddenly said-“man if I can, I want to throw all Adi’s clothes out of this room.” Veeru was quick to reply-“Yeah but I want to throw Adi out of this room”


**********


At a recent interview in a reputed company, the interviewer glanced at my resume and asked me-
“You did your B.E in electrical & electronics and then you did a certification in Oracle. After that you did MBA in information technology and now you are applying for a financial profile. In which domain are you exactly good at?”
Her face resembled a cat caught in a traffic jam when I had replied truthfully-“Blogging”.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Musical Journey (Hindi)

NOTE: Click on the 'play' button before the song to listen to it. 


Music is a part of our life. No questions about this-we switch on the TV and we listen to the same song every 2 minutes on every third channel. And it continues-everyday we are exposed to thousands of songs by various music directors, private musicians etc. They are constantly pounded on us whether we like it or not through TV and no wonder, we begin to hum few of those songs due to sheer repeated listening. Then, how do we recognize a real genuine genius work among the hay stack? This post is an attempt to bring out that genius and discuss his works in Hindi. The genius is ILAYARAJA. Stay with me as I take you through the journey of music. Keep your speakers on or your ear phones ready. Click on the ‘play’ button before the song to listen to it.


Prelude-The musical part which precedes the song at its start.


Interlude-The instrumental part which comes during the pause in singing.


Let us start with much popular movie than others-Hey Ram (2005). Composed at Hungary, using Budapest Symphony Orchestra, the whole original sound track of this movie was composed in 10 odd days. Check out this song-Janmon Ki Jawala. Mesmerizing and addictive, it is one of the most haunting score in recent times. You can literally feel every string that is being plucked here, can sense the piano being caressed and can experience the violin in it in most beautiful form.


This song-Har Koyi Samjhe- from the same movie is another masterpiece-sung by Bengali classical singer Ajoy Chakrabarty. A simple song in terms of instruments with the percussion (beats-tabla) restricted to particular rhythm throughout the song, supported by chorus in between and excellent singing by the classical singer. What’s so great about this song?-try humming the song when its playing and you will realize the adrenaline rush you get as you tap your hand on the table to glory.


Get your seat belts ready, I mean your ear phones as I delve into a different world- a world of modern music. In 2007, we all watched how Amitabh Bachan tried his hand in romance with tabu at the age of 60 in the movie Cheeni kum. Check out the song-Baatien hawa from the same movie.


The song-Baatein Hawaa - starts with Shreya Ghoshal singing the first line and immediately followed by guitar in its most admirable form along with keyboard. The first interlude starts at 1:05 mins with the customary violins and suddenly you have the flute come out of nowhere playing the same tune-pure bliss. And if you think this was too good, you will visit the Hawaiian beaches in the second interlude starting from 2:37 mins. Check out the electric guitar at its best followed by beats which you normally associate with those late night beach parties and very smoothly a saxophone joins the party and there you have-34 seconds of pure magical music.


And if you loved the saxophone in that 34 second interlude, then here is the full blown original soundtrack of the same movie using saxophone-Melody (Saxophone). Listen to it to get lost in the world of music. Such meticulous tunes can be written only by a genius. For a music layman like me, who doesn’t understand ‘notes’ in music nor the anatomy of a song, even I can clearly see the lack of randomness in this song, no trial and error method of arranging the instruments.


If you managed to be with me in this musical journey, then let me take you to the platinum era of music-1978-83. Ilayaraja had burst into the Hindi musical scene with his breath taking music for the movie-Sadma in 1983. Who can forget this heart wrenching movie by Kamal Hassan and Sridevi? The song-Aye Zindagi Gala lagaa le is considered to the mother of all songs. Check out the orchestration of the song. Arranging so many instruments meticulously was no mean task-this song had so many of them-keyboards, solo violin, group violins, flute, guitar, veena etc (there are many I don’t recognize). The prelude with soothing violins and joined by a guitar slowly (guess its classical guitar) is just a whiff of fresh air, indicating the musical storm ahead. As the singer goes-“aye zindagi gale laga le’, observe the minute musical backings to his singing with the guitar and occasional violin. The moment the first interlude starts-you will realize, this is a celebration-a celebration of music.


All the classical stuff is getting to your nerves? Follow me as I take you into the world of jazz. This Original Soundtrack is from the lesser known movie-Mumbai express, a dark comedy movie. Like a painter’s confident strokes on his canvas, this piece is an example of a composer’s grasp on music and his strokes are always masterpieces. If I try to analyze this work of a genius, I would sound as stupid as trying to understand the straight drive of Sachin Tendulkar. Listen to it and judge it yourself. Listen to this and ask yourself truthfully-Have you ever heard such music in Indian film industry?


Did you love that? Makes you ask for more? Then tune in to this lone song-Pyar Chahiye from the same movie-let me warn you, this is a very addictive song-if you listen to it three times, you will hum it for at least three days. It’s a 6:45 min long monster-romantic, lovely and very addictive. And you shall notice those confident strokes in this song too; check out the 1st interlude at 1:43-2:32. Now when he sings-‘na na na naa’, you can observe the same interlude continuing but the moment he goes-‘yeh yeh yeaaa’, notice the strokes I mentioned-confident and full of exuberance.


This list is just a tip of the iceberg and I shall bring out more such rare songs in future. We all are lucky and blessed to be living in the era of this legend-a man who composed music for 850+ movies in five different languages and also the first Asian to compose a symphony at Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London. Right now he is the busiest music composer of India with 40, yes you heard it right, forty movies on hand in five languages (Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam and Kannada) and his upcoming hindi movies are ‘PA’ where Amitabh Bachan is playing the son of Abishek Bachan and ‘SRK’, a comedy parallel cinema which has the Oscar winning lyricist Gulzar and Ilayaraja teaming up after 25 years. Check out the trailor of ‘SRK’ here-Trailor


P.S-if any of you want the mp3 files of the above discussed songs, leave your mail id at the comments section. I shall send them across.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Project-The final touch

NOTE: Those who are reading this story for the first time, please check PROJECT-PART 1 and PROJECT-PART 2 before proceeding any further.



It was an ill fated Friday. Overnight, we all became heroes. It was unprecedented. The story spread like wildfire in college with different versions. Right from the security guys to the most studious nerd of the college, everyone heard the story. The rumor mongers had a field day with the happenings-


“They will all be kicked out of the college”


“ Pradeep raised his hand on Murthy sir”


“They would be failed in project. I have inside news”


Etc.


On Monday, first thing we did was, we went and met Jyothi sir. He was looking very grim sitting in his sweaty lab with his right hand on his temple-nothing about the scene was encouraging for us. The moment he saw us, he gave a weary smile which said it all. Even before we asked him anything, we lost all hope. We just walked up to him and stood silently-none could dare utter a single word. He cleared his throat and said-


“ Ok. First things first-go and apologize to…”


“No…” whispered Pradeep slowly.


“After everything that happened… no sir… we can’t do that.”


I looked at Pradeep not understanding whether to admire his courage or kick him for stupidity but Jyothi sir spoke again fast.


“I talked to Murthy Sir. I talked to others too. The HOD doesn’t know it yet…”


We looked at each other incredulously.


“Yes. Once the matter goes to his table, no one can help you. So shut up and do what I say…”


“Yes sir…” we said, at that slightest hint of hope.


“Go and apologize to Murthy Sir. Tell him anything-I don’t care. But apologize. He is very angry; he won’t help you in your project-that’s for sure. After talking to him, come back to me.”


“But sir… our project?”


“I will be your project guide”


Life savior!!!


We apologized to Murthy sir for two reasons-our project is at stake and sheer respect to Jyothi sir.
Jyothi sir took over as our project guide and he convinced the latter to give us the same project-no one really knew how he managed it but he did. Life gives us many chances-we again had a new project guide and a project. But we hadn’t really learnt anything from this incident-we still didn’t work on the code and for a change we had a guide who didn’t insist on our working. The person who was supposed to give us the code had a simple wish before delivering us the code-he wanted to see all four of us together once. His wish was never granted-it was always a one single person who goes to his house and that too, only to enquire whether the program is over or not.


Slowly the D-Day was arriving-externals for Project. Before this, we had a trivial project review which went by without many problems, as this time; instead of the battalion of lecturers in the conference room-it was only Jyothi sir and couple of others.


One day before the D-Day, Subbaraju(banda) went and collected the CD which had the code.


“Got it? “ I asked after he came back.


“yeah man. There is a small hitch…”


“What happened?..” Subbaraju(Potti) asked anxiously.


“The program doesn’t run. We have the whole code written but it doesn’t compile or run.” He said simply shrugging his shoulders.


“What the… We have externals tomorrow. Is that man crazy?” Subbaraju(Potti) almost screamed.


“We were supposed to help him dude. Anyways here is what we do-we have the Output saved on a different file. When we run the program, we will just press “Alt+tab” and show the output." He said calmly.


I chuckled. It was an interesting idea but lest it failed, we would become the biggest cartoons of the college.


D-DAY


Prim and properly dressed, we all reached the conference room where the presentations take place. It’s the same routine-presentation-followed by viva and then demonstration of the project. As soon as we reached the place, the news was in-we had the meanest external professor who is very stingy with marks preside our process. But marks never meant much to us. Once we were in, Subbaraju(Banda) started with the proceedings and quickly followed by others. I explained my part once again looking at the wall behind and everything was going very smoothly. After our presentation, we all stood in a line near the projector for the viva. The external was an old man with specs at the tip of his nose and receding hairline. Reading our report, he asked us a question. None of us even understood what he was asking, let alone answering it. We were fidgeting nervously when we caught sight of Jyothi sir at the back-he was mouthing the answer without sound.


Life savior!!!


Every time a question was asked to one of us, we would look at Jyothi sir at the back as if we were thinking about the question and answered the same after few seconds. Viva went about very smoothly thanks to Jyothi sir’s timely (kindly) help though we didn’t answer a few questions only because we couldn’t understand what Jyothi sir was actually trying to say.


After the Viva we were asked to wait at the laboratory along with remaining groups at our respective places. It was quite a view. Wires dangling everywhere, robots, remote controlled cars and whatnot, that room had everything. We took our place at the lone computer of the room where we inserted the CD and waited.


The old man finally came, after he finished with all the presentations of other groups and the viva. After royally screwing the other two groups before us for their incomplete projects, he came to us and sat at the chair before the system. Subbaraju(Banda) was standing to his left and started showing him the program on the screen. After explaining the program, he ran it and in a flash pressed “alt+tab” and showed him the Output on a different folder. As the old man was seriously looking at the output with his hand on his forehead, I started to feel the heat of the moment. I looked around to see Murthy sir with a smirk on his face and Jyothi sir, pale with tension. I was taking in small breaths and letting the air out slowly, just to try and relax myself when-


“Ok! Everything is in order.”


Phew!


“Interesting program I must say… Change the input values. I want to see a different output”


I and Subbaraju(banda) were exchanging looks when,


“Sure sir. Just a min...” said Pradeep almost immediately who was to his right.


Pradeep started going through the program to change the input values. All three of us looked at each other with utmost shock-we forgot to tell him that the program doesn’t run! DAMN


As Pradeep started entering new values as input for the program, I looked around again-Jyothi sir had both his hands on his head, Murthy sir looked like he just won a lottery, Subbaraju(Banda) was biting his nonexistent nails and I was sweating profusely. Subbraju(Potti), who was right behind Pradeep, was trying to ‘pinch’ him to make him stop but of no use-Pradeep entered the values and ran the program!


The screen went blank.


Pradeep thought he hit the wrong keys and looked at Subbaraju(banda) for help and he got back the most exasperated look. And immediately, he pressed “alt+tab” and displayed the output-the same one.


The old man looked at the screen with attention that I feared he might rub his nose to the screen. After few anxious seconds, the external remarked-


“That’s good. As I expected- not much change. Good good!”


I was almost heaving a sigh of relief when he asked again-


“So how do you calculate the load?”


Pradeep put up his best posture-chest out, standing stiff with his head high and voice laced with confidence and answered-


“We don’t calculate the load sir”


“Oh ... that’s right… that’s fine.” exclaimed the external as he got up from the seat and walked over to the next group.


It was after he went away, Pradeep understood why everyone around were gaping at us. The title of our project was- “A New Algorithm for Calculating the Load”.


We collected our things and walked slowly out of the lab. While we were talking to other friends, Jyothi sir called us with a wide grin on his face.


“Thank you sir…”


“You guys bowled him over…” he said with a twinkle in his eyes.


“Sir…?”


“He was impressed with your work guys. Rest assured, you all are going to get very good marks.” He announced with a huge smile which went from one ear to the other.


Thanking him, we smiled. Our smiles turned to laughter the moment we came out and we laughed till tears rolled down our cheeks. The laughter continued all through the day as we partied till the wee hours of the next morning. Looking at our white covered Project report, we all knew-this is one project we won’t be forgetting too soon and its true-it’s been four years since this happened and I remember it as if it’s just yesterday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Project-Part 2

NOTE: Those who are reading this story for the first time, please check PROJECT-PART 1 before proceeding any further.



A teacher has many facets-a friend during fun, a stern disciplinarian when we cross limits, a story teller when we are bored and last but definitely the best, a mentor during dire situations. One such person in our lives at college was Mr. Jyothi Swaroopan. There are many reasons why we could have liked him, but we like him because he doesn’t say anything against our antics and even understands us more than anyone in the college and he is a kind person at heart. He was our life savior. The day after our little fiasco at the ‘First Review’, we met him. The moment he saw us walking into the lab he started laughing. That laugh had all emotions-joy, amusement, sympathy, sheer fun, disbelief and it was so pure that we all joined in. There is so much difference between laughing at us and laughing with us. After exchanging pleasantries, he said-


“I have something for you guys. Will you do a project in college? Under Mur….”


“NO…sir.” -cut in Pradeep almost immediately.


Jyothi Sir leaned back and smiled as if he expected this answer from us.


“Listen first…”


“Yes sir…”


“Look, this one is much better than your useless projects you buy on the street. Murthy sir will be your project guide and his friend will give you an already completed project along with complete report. You just have to work on a module in it in college for 2 hours a day. Work for couple of weeks and you are done. And mind you, it’s cheaper. You just have to pay 6000 bucks.”


Our eyes sparkled. It was not the project or the fact that it’s already finished that interested us. The fact that it’s just going to cost us 1500 bucks each set our minds racing about how much we are all going to save for our parties. We readily agreed and he set us up with Murthy Sir.


Murthy sir is one hell of a character that it would take a separate blog to discuss him. He was new to our college, joining just that semester and a staunch Tamil-ian. His English would sound like Tamil and his Tamil was Greek to all of us. I would be exaggerating if I say he hated us but definitely he didn’t like us. After Murthy sir gave us his friend’s address, Subbaraju(Banda) promptly went and collected the project report. We had no project one day before and suddenly we had the whole project report to boast of. Strange are the ways of life. It was a simulation project, where we had to execute a program on system based on the algorithm we design. That person said, he was still working on it and he would be delivering us the complete code at the last and expected us to work on the code everyday at college. Those who have read this story till here would have already guessed, we didn’t work even a single day on the code.


Days turned into weeks and weeks into months as the day of the second review was fast nearing. This time however, we were determined not to repeat our earlier typing mistakes. So strong was our determination, that we took photo copies of the project report on OHP slides (no power point then?) and got ready for the presentation. The phrase ‘learning from mistakes’ should have gone extinct after this. However Subbaraju(banda) was very skeptical about this and on the eve of our second review, we all met our guide Murthy sir and showed him the slides. Without even looking at them, he said “Very good. Excellent! Good work guys. All the best for your presentation. See you there” and scampered away. So much for being a guide.


The purpose of second review was to show the progress of the project to the college authorities. This time, thankfully the HOD was not present among the lecturers in the room. Our presentation soon started and I still hadn’t got over my stage fear, was sweating like a man just out of bath. We were not interrupted this time. After we finished presenting, I mustered all my courage and looked at the faces of our professors. Well until then I was looking at the wall behind them and explaining. What I saw in their faces was definitely not what I expected-amusement. Slowly and with a steady voice, our assistant HOD said-


“Everything is fine. But where did you photocopy it from?”


“Sir…”


“You had the material? Or was it a book?”- Clearly amused.


“Actually sir…we…”


“But son, you should not photocopy like this. You should write on the OHP slides with pen and present it. Right?” he said kindly.


“Yes sir…but…”


“I TOLD YOU SIR. I TOLD YOU. These are the students I taaalked (talked) about. Fit for nothing sir, useless I say.”


All four of us turned our heads to the person who said this. It was Murthy sir-Our own project guide.


“I told them. DO NOT XEROX. Did they listen? No no why will they listen? Useless sir I say. All are useless…they didn’t do project even for one day I say. Today they come for presenting. They think they are heroes. I say they are zeros I say.”- He screamed, shaking hysterically.


We didn’t understand it then; he was merely trying to save his ass because he was afraid that we might let out to everyone that it was he who gave us the project report. His tirade continued for few more minutes with everyone including Jyothi sir looking aghast at him and then the asst. HOD kindly asked us to leave advising us to do what our guide tells us to. I went out scratching my head, confused whether he was reprimanding us or advising-he was too kind. Pradeep and Subbaraju(potti) were shaking with anger once they came out. Immediately Pradeep asked Jyothi sir to come out and asked him angrily-


“What’s wrong with him sir? We showed him the slides sir, before going inside”-with his hands stretched wide.


“Relax. Go home now. We will…”


“Sir we want to talk to Murthy Sir. How can he talk like that, sir? If he had problems with us, he should have told us before right?” said Pradeep. It was a silent scream-it was not too loud and yet everyone around could feel the pitch of his voice.


“Whaat did you say? Whaat did you say?” cut in Murthy sir as he came out of the conference hall.


“Sir, We had showed you the…”


“Shut up useless fellows. Fit for nothing I say”-screamed Murthy sir.


“Do…not…call…us…useless” said Pradeep giving equal stress to each word, showing his fore finger at the lecturer.


All hell broke loose.


In any part of the world it’s a career suicide and utmost disrespect to show the fore finger to a lecturer while talking. Murthy sir and Pradeep started shouting at each other, which started with English and slowly graduating to their own mother tongues-Pradeep in telugu and sir in tamil. It’s a fact that when you are angry or happy, you always speak in your own language. Subbaraju(potti) joined the tirade and even before anyone could realize, a huge mob surrounded us-right from all the students of EEE department to rest of the lecturers from the conference room. Jyothi Swaroopan sir was holding Murthy sir and pulling him back while I and Subbaraju(banda)were trying to control the other two but in vain. Jyothi sir, being the senior most took things in his hand, he screamed at us to leave immediately without delay. After few tense moments, I and Subbaraju(Banda) successfully pulled the other two out of the department while they were shouting at Murthy sir at will. Thank god, none of the lecturers know Telugu. We walked out of the department, out of the college gate, to the shop opposite the college. With anger on the tip of our noses, our faces red and sweaty, we settled down on the chairs at the shop. I took a water packet and washed my face. Mopping my face dry, I looked at Subbaraju(banda)and we both had the same thought- ‘we were back to square one. We lost this project as well and we had 2 months left for our engineering’.


TO BE CONTINUED...


Picture courtesy: Google.com


The next part: Project-Final Touch

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Project-Part 1


Whenever we search for something at home, we are most likely to get our eye on something else and our mind gets diverted. It happened to me today. I was searching for few papers and my eyes fell on a book. It had a whitish brown cover (it was white few years back) with black binding and bold letters on the cover indicating the title. The title said “A New Algorithm for Calculating the Load”. I took the book out, dusted it with a piece of cloth and smiled. The smile turned into a laugh and even before I realized, I was on the phone laughing uncontrollably with tears rolling down my cheek. A laugh with tears always bodes well-it means the story is special to me. The book is the thesis I submitted for my engineering project and the story is worth telling here.
Before I carry on with my story, let me introduce my then group members of the project.


Pradeep Reddy-The kingpin! This guy is the unofficial king of the college. Daring and courageous, he is the lord of dark arts in our college.


Subbaraju(Banda)- Banda means Chubby. He is a soft spoken guy with a huge heart and wider smile.


Subbaraju(potti)-Potti means short. This guy is insane, maniac, psycho and a kid at heart. He can screw other’s happiness just for the sake of fun and yet helps even a total stranger when in trouble even if he had a university exam to attend.


Me-No explanations needed. May be I should mention-I am soft spoken too.


We all had one thing in common- We were hopeless in studies and we hated Newton. We never used to understand, why Newton wrote those laws after seeing the apple when he could have eaten it. I mean, what would you do if an apple fell down beside you? Eat it of course. Well I guess the proverb about apple and doctor wasn’t written in his time.


In our final year, when our class was informed that groups of four have to be formed for the projects, it was destiny that we four got together. It was destiny against the institute. I remember, I and Subbaraju(Banda) went to our class coordinator to give our names. Our coordinator was a middle aged woman who doesn’t know a thing about teaching and yet rose to the top slot. We gave our names one by one.


“Subbaraju”
She wrote it down.


“Aditya”
She gave a glance at me and wrote it down.


“Subbaraju”
She had a faint smile on face as if she already knew who is next.


“Pradeep Reddy”


And she put down her pen and asked-“is this some kind of a joke?” None of you know even the ABCs of electrical engineering.”-obviously amused.


“No maam. We will do.” We said earnestly.


She should have stopped us that day. She didn’t and there started the biggest project the institute has ever undertaken. Our group became famous in college not without a reason. Among the four of us, we had 97 arrears (backlogs) and there were quite a few jokes of failing 3 more subjects that semester to complete a century.


We had our ‘first review’ after a couple of months where we had to give a presentation about our project title, objectives etc. It is here where the project gets accepted or rejected-the first step towards a successful project. After we had registered our names, we forgot all about the project until one day when Subbaraju(potti) suddenly announced-“guys, it’s our first review tomorrow. Any idea what project we are gonna do?”. No one did. We did the next best thing; we went to a place where they sell projects for students like us. An old man in that place gave us an array of projects available and was talking about how each one of them would enhance our careers. We listened to him patiently for a while and the moment he asked us which one we would choose, we asked-“Which one is the cheapest?”. After paying him the advance, we informed him about our review the next day. He gave us some study material and we happily went home, laughing at other students who were working since last couple of months on their projects.


We were ready with the presentation the next morning. Dressed in impeccable formals, we were pretty confident of our presentation. When our turn came, we walked in to see the whole battalion of teachers present in the room-right from a junior lecturer to the professors, assistant HOD and the HOD himself. Subbaraju(Banda) started with the proceedings, quickly followed by pradeep and Subbaraju(potti) who explained the Title, Objective etc and finally it’s my turn to explain the components used in the project. It was my first presentation of my life and I had immense stage fear. With wobbling legs, I started talking about each of the components fully realizing I was sweating beyond the usual limits. I was still talking about the components, when the assistant HOD stopped me.


“Go back! Go back”-he said and in my fear, I even contemplated going behind the projector. Then, Subbaraju(banda) pressed the required buttons and the previous page was displayed.


“ 10 Kilo volts motor. Are you going to use this?”


“Yes sir. It’s a very important part of our project”-I said clearly confused.


“Do you have it?”


“Not yet, sir. We will buy it.” Subbaraju(Banda) chipped in.


“Buy this? Are you going to buy this motor?” asked our asst HOD, looking very much troubled. But that didn’t trouble Subbaraju when he said-


“Yes sir. We will buy it” in a thundering voice which for a change matched his huge frame of body.


The old man looked at us with his specs sliding down his nose that I almost feared it would slip down. He asked to wait outside and without a word, we were ushered out.


We didn’t understand anything. We waited outside for a while and couldn’t take the tension anymore. Slightly opening the door, Pradeep called the nearest lecturer (psst psst). He came out with a look of exasperation.


“What happened sir? Did I say anything wrong?”-I asked him genuinely worried.


“You fool! Have you ever seen a motor in your life? You are in your 4th year, have you ever attended a lab class all these four years?-he sneered with anger emanating from his body.


Still not understanding a bit, I tried to look focused and said “Sir, what happened? Please tell us”


“Go. Look in the lab and tell me how many volts is that motor. Go now!!” –he said with a look of disgust.


“Sir…”


“We have a 230 volts motor in our lab and that costs around 20-30 thousand bucks. You are talking about 10 KILO volts, you idiots.”


We looked at each other incredulously and checked our material-it was just 10 volts motor. It was too facile typing mistake that got our project rejected-The only project to get rejected in the whole final year batch of all branches.


TO BE CONTINUED...


Picture courtesy: GOOGLE


The other two parts are : Project Part 2 and Project-Final Touch

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A brochure

Disclaimer: This is a repost of sorts with changes and additions from my old deleted blog.



Being a MBA graduate has its own pros and cons. During the admissions season, I get lot of scraps from different MBA aspirants who find my profile from various ‘college related communities’ that I have joined in orkut. I don’t claim to be the only one who gets them-probably all my batch mates would be getting these scraps asking us to give them information about the college, its faculty, its placements etc with the hope of getting any information which is not present in the glittery brochures or flashy college website. So I decided to write about my management institute.-International Institute of Information technology (I2IT), Pune.


Myth: This is IIIT (triple IT).


Reality: This is I2IT( I square IT)


Few details...


1.Infrastructure:-It’s a five star hotel with hostel rooms for more than 1000 students.


2.Combined hostels:-NO separate hostels for boys and girls. They believe in Unity is strength. So boys & girls live in the same hostel but different rooms.


3.High Security Zone:- Two guards watch the gate and you can take a nuclear bomb inside if you can fit it inside a bag. Well students in my college are all peace lovers-they choose the bottles instead.


4.Internet:-24 hrs internet connection maintained by excellent LAN committee. I say excellent because they excellently dodge your questions when net is down.


5.Entertainment:-A database called DCPP where we can get movies for download, songs, videos, stuff and softwares-name it and you get it. I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say; you would be finding even the Saas Bahu serials (episode wise) in the database.


6.Counter Strike-Every student HAS to play this game. The authorities hasn’t yet decided to make this mandatory for the course but this is the only college where the topper of the class plays CS even before the main exams. The institute has vehemently denied the accusations that students play this game because they have nothing else to do.


7.Library:-The College boasts of a very spacious library. The administration is contemplating to remove the book shelves to make it more spacious. Magazines like ‘The Week’ come once every month. It’s the only library in this world where ‘Silence’ is not mandatory but still maintained by sheer lack of students inside.


8.Trained professors-Couple of quotes by top notch professors:


"Software is a product of software engineering just like a building which is a product of civil engineering."


"To understand particular software, one should go inside the software and then think."


"Title: The word written on top of the sheet is defined as title."


9.Placements- They place you at a very high pedestal with their promises. Promises are meant to be broken.


10.State of the art gym facilities:-This is once again common for both girls and boys. It’s widely rumored that the rules have been designed this way so that more boys get interested in gym(ing) and therefore health is wealth.


11.Tourism & sightseeing:-Symbiosis college (exactly opposite), Wipro, Cognizant, Infosys and Tata. I swear on my blog-the girls are hot.


12.Huge cafeteria- Spacious food section which caters to the needs of every student and staff. It follows a unique pattern-A hungry student walks in, eats and walks out even more hungry. This is a clever ploy by the authorities to prepare its students for the real world ahead.


And many more interesting features. Join in this great institute for just 4 lakhs and enjoy 2 years of royal life in a 5 star hotel ambience.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

In the driving seat


The ordeal is finally over. For the last one and half months, I have been learning how to drive the car and finally my training has come to an end. And needless to say that I am very lazy, this was one hell of an experience. My teacher (driver) from the driving school is a young lad, may be 19 or 20 yrs of age took pains to teach me every morning. I have always been a slow learner; I take time to learn new things. Biggest example for this trait-I never learnt how to play chess or cards. Before the chess loyalists come gunning for me for taking both chess and playing cards in the same breath, I shall explain -both requires brains to play and I don’t think when I am playing.


Driving cars needs remarkable ability to concentrate on different things at the same time. I have heard people say, it’s easy once you get used to it but getting used to it is a problem. That’s sounds like an oxymoron for me. For the first few days of my ‘training’, I was taught how to handle the steering. That was fun. He used to say-“take a left” and I used to turn the wheel to my left and conveniently forget to straighten the wheel after that. After a week of learning ‘how to steer’ amidst his frantic shouting, he tried to teach me to use my feet on clutch, brakes and accelerator. I never understood how to use my two feet for three pedals. If Michael Jackson had seen me trying to pedal them, he would have invented another iconic dance step. The biggest problem I encountered while learning this was-releasing the clutch slowly and raising the accelerator simultaneously. These are two opposite acts-one is releasing; other is raising and it has to be done with my two feet which have to move in opposite direction with one exerting force while other relieving it-Got my problem? My driver desperately tried to teach me the physics of using my feet along with controlling the steering and also constantly praying to god that I don’t hit someone on road. God is never kind-I once hit a can of milk at the corner of the road and my driver had to rush the car away from the spot as fast as he can to escape before the milk man comes. After 10-15 days, he was convinced that I didn’t make any progress whatsoever and there are only some odd 10 days left for my training. So he decided to teach me the third part of my training-changing gears and immediately regretted his decision. One fine morning when I was driving with utmost concentration on the wheel and my feet on pedals, the driver casually remarked “Change to third gear” and I was quick to say-“yes yes change it” –with my hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. He looked at me with agony and with his fingers on his temple, he informed me with all respect that he won’t be with me all my life to change the gears. I managed a smile.


How much ever he might have despised teaching me to drive, he liked me thanks to my bad habit of talking friendly to people I meet. Once he made the mistake of asking me a question I dread the most.


“What do you do bhai?


“me…err I am looking for a job”


“oh! An engineer?”
It’s funny to note that for people, every unemployed graduate has to be an engineer.


“Well yes, but I have done MBA too” I said trying to look proud.


“Oho …nice…so what do you all day?”
Another most dreaded question.


“I blog”-I said without thinking, without realizing what grave mistake that slip up was.


“You what?”


“Well err, I have a website in the internet and I try to keep myself occupied with it”-I said trying make things very simple.


“Oh your parents don’t say anything?”


“Why should they? They encourage me”-I said with a smile.


“Oho okay. But where do you get the girls?”


I thought I heard his question wrong. Girls? Who said anything about them? Clearly confused, I asked him-“what girls?”


“ohhh with guys????”-he was very much looking aghast and I could clearly see this conversation is going somewhere into the taboo lands.


“Relax; I don’t understand what you are talking. What guys & girls? What are you talking about?”-I asked him.


“I don’t know…you only mentioned something about websites. So I thought you have something like sex sites or something.”-he said shrugging his shoulders.


“oh god..no man. Its not like that. I actually write stories.” I said still trying to make him understand things easily.


“oh stories!!”-he said with an understanding smile and I returned his smile.


“Stories for Savitha Bhabhi haan?”-he asked me again after a full minute.


My huge shout of ‘NO’ was actually drowned by the screeching of the car’s tires because I had unknowingly pressed my foot on the brakes in shock. The car stopped in the middle of the road but I didn’t give a damn-hell my image was getting tarnished here. For his own god’s sake, he thought of me as a writer of sex stories. I patiently told him that I don’t write sex stories and I write normal stories about my life. I could see he was clearly disappointed and I promised myself that I would never ever talk to him about anything remotely connected to internet.


Well I had my share of laughs too. I once asked him casually-“what happens if cops catch us?. I am sure none of those who come to learn have licenses.” He gave me a ‘you are so na├»ve’ look and asked me not to worry because cops never catch cars from driving schools. But alas, the very next day he informed me of some new traffic cop who held his car and they had to shell out the fine. He told me vehemently that this was the first time in his career and I desperately wanted to show him my blog post about my luck to him (didn’t take the risk) to make him understand the alarming coincidence between his first time & my casual comment.


I don’t know if I have learnt how to drive-I want to test my skills on my dad’s car now. After all it was his idea that I learn driving. My dad asked me to learn driving so that I might come in handy when we go for long drives. Fat chance-I thought because I know his ulterior motive behind this. He wanted to make sure,I wake up early in the morning. What he didn’t know was, I used to sleep after he went to office and wake up in the evening. The ordeal is finally over and I am sure this is a mutual feeling shared by both me and my driver. I am happy driving my little Scooty Pep and he must be happy to see my back.

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