Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Jason Bourne

You wake up, and find that you are in a doctor’s house. You don’t remember your name or anything related to your past. The doctor tells you that you were found floating in the sea by fishermen. Four bullets were removed from your body, and one of them slightly grazed through your brain, due to which, your memory is lost.

The doctor has made some interesting observations on you. He tells you that your body is well developed for a normal human being, which implies that you were in the armed forces or were a labourer. Your face has undergone surgery, and eyes shows signs of regular usage of contact lens, which means that you were not a labourer. So who are you?

You have excellent knowledge of firearms, and you can speak a number of languages. A few of them eastern.

The doctor slowly nurses you back to health, but still you do not have any clue about who you are or where you are supposed to be. That’s when the doctor adds another clue to the puzzle. He tells you that there was a microfilm surgically implanted on your back, which contained the address of a bank and also a bank account number. So now you have a destination.

On one of the many missions made by the doctor to heal you, he sends you with a set of fishermen to familiarize with people. On the boat, you are bullied by a few of them and later attacked by them. You skillfully defeat all four of them, seriously injuring them. You have an excellent command over fighting and protecting oneself.

Having fully healed, you leave for the address found on the microchip, and land up at a port near the city. Before leaving, the doctor tells you that you will start recollecting things of the past as and when you see, hear or smell something familiar. The doctor also tells you that you need not worry about your well being, since you will find your way out of trouble.

On reaching the destination, you find that there are people in the city who recognize you. There are people who are afraid of you, and you also get to know that you are related to violence. You reach the bank, open the account and find a lot of cash, passports and a gun in the locker.

The news of your appearance in the bank has reached many ears and now there are people out there in the city to kill you. There are numerous attempts on your life, some from the authorities and some from the members of a gangster.

Who are you? How did you land up in the ocean with bullets in your body? How did you have so much cash, passports and guns stored in the locker of a bank? Why are so many attempts made on your life? How come you are able to survive each and every attempt skillfully?

This is the brief outline of the story of my favourite novel – The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. Its an extremely quick-paced action story, which I found impossible to put down.

The novel and the character was such a bit hit that, this book was followed by 3 sequels. Two by the same author and the third by Eric Van Lustbader.

Those who have not read any of the four, you can stop reading here. I would recommend this book to anyone, and I would ask people to read it in sequence. Read The Bourne Identity first, followed by The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum and finally The Bourne Legacy.

The Bourne Identity deals with the introduction of the character Jason Bourne. Towards the end of the novel, we get to know that his original name is David Webb, who was settled in Cambodia. A freak accident involving a fighter plane, kills his family. He goes mad with fury, and in his rage, joins an elite and clandestine commando outfit known as “Medusa”.

He is ruthless, and highly successful in carrying out combat and reconnaissance missions. During the war, one of his fellow soldiers, by the name Jason Bourne, betrays the position of the unit. Webb executes him immediately, and completes the mission successfully.

After Medusa, Webb is called once again called to the service. This time, to tackle a feared criminal Carlos. Webb renames himself Jason Bourne, after the person who betrayed him last, and positions himself as criminal for hire. He is positioned as a direct competitor to Carols, which was a well devised plan to lure Carols out and kill him.

His plans go haywire when Carlos gets to know his plans and Webb is shot, as he attempts to kill Carlos aboard a ship, and he falls into the sea.

Upon returning from the doctor, the authorities feel that he has turned rouge, and they set out to kill him. Carol’s men, who realized that they could not get their man in their first attempt, go in for the kill. Webb is helped by a woman, Marie St.Jacques, who he had kidnapped to escape from one of the many attempts on his life. He later rescues her from getting raped.

The woman decides to help him on his mission to trace the truth and together they convince the authorities that he has lost his memory. The there is a final showdown between Webb and Carlos.

The novel ends, with Carlos managing to flee from the clutches of Webb, and Webb slowly regaining his memory.

The sequel to The Bourne Identity appeared six years later. Titled The Bourne Supremacy, the novel is based on the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong.

In the beginning of the story, we get to know that Marie and Webb are married. Webb works as professor of Oriental Studies and their identities and location are protected by the US Government.

The US intelligence gets the news that a Chinese minister is plotting against all other nations with respect to the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong. The minister is using the name of Jason Bourne to instill fear on his opponents.

The US Government decides to get to the bottom of this, but they need the assistance of the real Jason Bourne. Webb is undergoing treatment to get back to his old self and forget the destructive alter ego. So get Webb out of his present penance, the US government kidnaps Marie and lures Webb out to China, where he gets to the bottom of the matter. He kills the Bourne imposter as well as the Chinese minister.

There is no mention of the character Carlos in this novel. So it was evident that a third book was on the way.

The third book, The Bourne Supremacy was out in 4 years time. This book showcases the final showdown between Carlos and Webb.

Two of Webb’s friends who know all his secrets have had an attempt on their life. Webb has a hunch that it is the work of Carols, who is ageing and is dying for the result of their enmity.

The book showcases several attempts by the ultimate killing machines, which ends with our hero Webb killing Carlos. In this process he also unearths a plot by a few companies to take over the world economy.

With the eternal enmity settled between the two enemies, I was not expecting a fourth novel to be introduced. I was surprised when a fourth novel was written by Eric Van Lustbader, in 2004. This goes to show the popularity of the character Bourne.

The book titled The Bourne Legacy, starts with an attempt on Webb’s life as he was continuing as a professor of Oriental Studies in a college. When he tries to contacts his two friends, he learns that they have been murdered and he is the prime suspect.

The person who attempted to kill him as skilled as Bourne and both of them have several showdown before learning that there is a bigger bond uniting them.

Bourne must keep himself alive and also find out who is behind the killing of his friends, as well as try to unravel the identity of the person stalking him.

People who have not read the novel, can stop here. I will be discussing the novel in detail below.

The story starts in Chechnya, where the leader of their upraise against the Russians is killed by a person who operates in the same style as Jason Bourne. His name is Khan. Khan’s next target is Jason Bourne.

Bourne escapes the first attempt and runs to his friends, Alex and Mo, only to find them murdered. The US officials are provided with enough proof by the enemy that Bourne is the murderer and they order a sanction against him.

Khan stalks Bourne, matching Bourne in every field and tries in vain to kill him.

As the story unfold, we learn that all this is a plan by one person, to use the Chechen rebels to spread terror in the world, by attacking the world anti-terrorist summit, which is to be attended by the US president, Russian President and the leaders of various Arab nations.

Khan is unable to kill Bourne, even thought he has a number of chances to kill him. This is because Khan knows that he is Bourne’s son – Joshua, from his first marriage. Bourne believed that his entire family had been killed by the stray fighter plane in Cambodia. It seems that Joshua’s body was not found, and the authorities had dropped search after an hour. Joshua had survived the harsh Cambodian jungles and developed skills equivalent to Bourne.

After they accept each other, they go in search for the villain, who has used both of them as pawns to distract world attention on them, while he plots to kill the world leaders.

Finally all’s well, that end’s well. The villain is killed and Joshua returns to Cambodia, since he cannot stay with Bourne, due to his violent past.

If a fifth book appears on Bourne, I’d be one of the first ones to get my hands on a copy of it.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Boring Weekend

Was bored to death on Sunday. Since most of my friends had gone home and a few were busy shifting houses and the remaining few were too lazy to come out of their houses, I was left with myself on Sunday.

My dad’s birthday is coming up next month, so I decided to move out and get some gifts for him. After breakfast, went to Spenser’s and bought 2 Van Huesen shirts for him. I got a T-shirt, jeans and a belt for myself. In a matter of 1 hour, I blew up 2500/-. God save me and my investment plans!!!!

On my way to Spensers I had a close shave with another traffic policeman. I was speeding along at 60km an hour (Speed limit on Mount Road is 40km an hour), and that too on the wrong lane; on the lane meant for buses. There was another guy, some 100 meters ahead of me, on the same lane and as I was approaching Spensers, I saw two traffic policemen come out of nowhere and stop the poor guy in front of me. I also noticed that they had their eyes on me as well.

In a split second, I shifted from the third lane to the lane meant for bikes, and I was lucky that the second lane, meant for cars was full, so the policemen could not get to the first lane and stop me. I was thus saved from spending another 100/-.

After returning from Spensers, there was nothing left to do. So I spent the rest of the day reading The Runaway Jury, cleaning my flat, washing clothes and sleeping.

Another good news is that I have been doing my exercises regularly. And thanks to the exercises, I have developed a new habit. I stand in front of the mirror and try to figure out whether there’s any change in me, due to the exercise. I keep checking my biceps, abs and shoulders. No major changes as of now. May be, its atrocious to expect changes after just 4 days of exercising!!!!!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Signs of Prosperity

The growth of a tummy and the flab of fat that appears on the sides of your tummy are supposed to be signs of prosperity. Well, I am getting prosperous. My tummy is slowly, but steadily bulging out, and I can feel the fat content in my flab increasing day by day. The increase is slow, but it’s steady.

I have never exercised in my life, because I am extremely lazy. I hate the very idea of going to a gym for a workout; I even hate simple workouts that one can do at home. I did make an attempt at starting an exercise regime, when I was sitting at home after my engineering – preparing for CAT. That’s when I bought a 5kg dumbbell, I might have used it for 2 days, and after that its been lying in our attic. I haven’t even cared to touch it since. My mom keeps reminding me about it every now and then, but I chose to ignore her advice.

A job in the IT field involves sitting for long hours in one’s seat and very less movement. There’s lot of good food available in the locality and one tends to eat a lot. Since the salary is also good, one ends up in a good restaurant frequently and it adds to the signs of prosperity.

Untill two days ago, I was not even bothered about the signs of prosperity, but then when I saw myself in the mirror, I felt that I was getting out of shape. Now that is not good news for a bachelor - who does not even have a girlfriend - like me. So I decided to make an effort to start few exercises, so that I can stay in my current shape.

So I started yesterday. Doing some stretches, stomach crunches and pushups. I am also planning to get my dumbbells from home when I visit there next time. Its going on fine, except for the fact that every muscle in my body is paining, since it’s the first time they are made to do some work!!!!!

I hope I continue exercising for sometime.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Childhood Memoirs - 3

This is not an adventure, but it definitely was the day that molded me into what I am today – whether its good or bad.

I have done my entire schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya or KV or Central School. Since my dad was working in a bank and he used to get transferred every 2-3 years, KV’s were the best option for me. In KV’s you have this weekly affair called CCA or Co-Curricular Activities. It used to last for 70 minutes and there were participants from various houses (the school would be divided into 4 groups or houses). Few of the events I can remember are Solo singing, Group singling, fancy dress, debate, quiz, etc, etc.

When I was in my first standard, I had eagerly participated in a lot of such programs and I still have the certificates with me. If I remember correctly I had won the first prize in 3 events, second in 2 events and the third in 1 event. I have a total of 6-8 certificates at home, for my participation in CCA.

After first standard, my dad was transferred, and we moved over to a new school in Kannur – another KV. Here also I continued to participate in a number of activities until that fateful event.

The event for CCA was Solo Fancy Dress, and I had decided to take part in it - dressed as a drunkard. The events are announced a week in advance and I had been practicing for the past few days. I would be wearing a vest and a lungi, with a towel (torthu in Malayalam) on my head. I would be carrying a bottle of whisky, bought and used by my dad, filled with karingaali vellam (water boiled with the bark of a special tree for medicinal value). I had practiced my walking style and the lines that I had to speak many times and I was quiet confident that I would be doing well.

The D-Day arrived and I was dressed up. Mom had come to the school to help me dress up and there was another neighbor of ours who had accompanied her. There were around 50 odd participants – all between class 1 and 5. Everyone were given participant numbers and once the number was called, you had to come up on the stage and perform. I do not remember my participant number, but I do remember that my number was towards the end. We were huddled to the left of the stage, where we were listening to performance by various students.

Some of the performances were so hilarious that I remember them even to this day – A boy dressed up as a policeman, going up the stage and singing “Aa Gayaa, Aa Gaya, Halwaawalaa Aa Gaya” (Song from a hit Mithun movie - Dance Dance). The entire crown was rolling with laughter. I was so busy talking to a friend, that I did not realize when my number was called. The announcer called my number for the second time and that’s when I realized that my name was called.

I panicked, and instead of swaying on to the stage, I marched like an army man to the center of the stage. I had not even bothered to open the bottle of Karingaali vellam, and drink it, just to show the audience that I was drinking. I walked straight to the mike placed on the center of the stage and shouted at the top of my voice, “TORAKKADI VAATHAL....... TORAKKAN!!!!!”

I shouted so loudly, that I could see a few amongst the audience, who were sitting near the speaker, covering their ears with their hands, to prevent their ear drums from splitting. I walked back, without doing anything more, forgetting the remaining of the lines and acting which I had to do. When I returned, the bottle of “whiskey” was still unopened.

After the event, all my classmates started making fun of me, for the “brilliant performance” I did. My mom scolded me for forgetting everything and asked me to prepare better the next time. The ridiculing by classmates for a few days and at the end of it, I was scared to walk on to the stage alone.

The next event in CCA was Group Fancy Dress, and my class teacher was asking me to participate, but I refused. I was scared to get back there and repeat my performance. I did not want to give my friends another chance to make fun of me, and I refused. The teacher called my dad to the school and asked him to convince me, but I did not budge. After that event, I have never participated in any solo event during my entire school life.

Sometimes when I go home and look into the record, which holds my certificates and progress report cards, I see the marked difference in the number of certificates after my first standard. I had 6-8 certificates in my first standard and in the remaining 11 years of schooling in KV’s I managed a paltry 5 certificates – 4 of them for quizzes and one for Ad-mad, all of them group events.

My next solo appearance on stage was in my engineering college, where there were sets of 5 events (2 individual and 3 group) conducted by a committee. I did well and won around 700/- as prizes, but again the prizes were for the group events, I did not win in the individual events.

TAPMI gave me a lot of chance wherein I had to go on stage an make presentations. The stage fear, which I had from 2nd standard till TAPMI is no more and I can very easily go on stage and speak with ease.

But, whenever I go on stage, my mind goes back to that day in 2nd standard........ just once...... and then it comes right back to the work in hand.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Ctrl+C - How safe are you????

I got the following mail from one of my friends at TAPMI.

We do copy various data by ctrl+c for pasting elsewhere. This copied data is stored in clipboard and is accessible from the net by a combination of Java scripts and ASP.

Just try this:
1) Copy any text by Ctrl+C
2) Click the Link:
3) You will see the text you copied is displayed on the web page.

Do not keep sensitive data (like passwords, creditcard numbers, PIN etc.) in the clipboard while surfing the web. It is extremely easy to extract the text stored in the clipboard to steal your sensitive information.

I use Firefox, and using Firefox, when I did as told in the forward, I was unable to view any text – looks like Firefox has already taken this threat into consideration. So I repeated the above steps in IE, this time I was able to see the text that I had recently copied in clipboard. When I viewed the source of the webpage, I saw that the contents of the clipboard were accessed by a simple command - clipboardData.getData("Text").

This can be a serious threat, since many of the malicious codes are hidden inside innocuous websites. The information that you copied before accessing the website could be confidential and private, and since many of us are not aware of this threat, we would not know if someone would have accessed the information or not.

I searched the net and found a simple way to plug this problem. You need to follow the following steps –

1. Start IE.
2. From the Tools menu, select Internet Options.
3. Select the Security tab.
4. Select Internet, then click Custom Level.
5. Scroll down to the Scripting section.
6. Under "Allow paste operations via script," set to Disable or Prompt, then click OK.
7. Close all dialog boxes.

Now perform the same set of steps as mentioned earlier, and see the difference.

Rather than doing all this there is always a simple way out – USE FIREFOX!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

My Date with a Traffic Cop

I left office early, since I did not feel like sitting there. I reached home at 6:30pm, and I had no clue about how to spend the evening. So I hit upon the plan of roaming around Chennai alone. I had plans of buying a few books and the cassette of Anbe Aruyire, the latest album from A. R. Rehmaan.

I reached Higginbothams from KK Nagar in 20 minutes flat. It’s a 8-10 km ride and it was the peak traffic time. (Bangaloreans, this info is for u!!!!)

I bought The Runaway Jury by John Grisham and The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy, the time was only 8pm, there was still time before I retired to bed. So I decided to go to Spensers Plaza and bide my time there. So I took my bike from the parking lot in front of the Higginbothams, and got into Mount Road, in search for a U-Turn. I went upto the Head Post Office signal without success, and at this signal, I could not find any signboard that told me not to take a U-Turn.

Now, in Higginbothams, I had seen a babe who was in the queue for paying for books, and we left Higginbothams together. She was also in search for a U-Turn and I saw her taking a U-Turn at that signal. So I went ahead and was about to take a U-Turn, when a traffic cop appeared from nowhere. He signaled me to stop, and my first instinct was to run away. So I turned by bike to my left, but the cop quickly moved to his right, and covered the way. In one swift movement, he snatched the keys from my bike and asked me to take the bike to the side of the road and park it here.

So I obediently wheeled the bike to side of the road, put it on my side stand and wait for the cop to come. Finally, after 10 minutes the cop comes near me and tells me that there is no U-Turn here and I needed to pay a fine of 100/-. I pleaded in vain, arguing that there was no signal that warned me about the U-Turn. While I was pleading, I think his sight caught my number plate and he saw the Karnataka registration. So pat came the next question, “Where is your NOC.?”

I had foreseen such an incident before I left Manipal, and hence had procured an NOC, which I promptly showed to him. I could clearly see the displeasure in his face, for if I had not had the NOC, he could have made the matters worse and pulled atleast 500/- from me. Now he comes back to his 100/-, saying that I was in grave danger of being hit by vehicles coming in the opposite direction, and as a lesson, I need to pay the 100/-.

I told him, that I shall pay 100/-, but on the condition that I need a challan for the payment. He did not like this idea, since this money would go to the government treasury and not into his pocket, so he asked me to wait, thinking that I would get frustrated and pay up. But I had other plans.

I parked the bike on the main stand, took out The Runaway Jury and started reading it. It was a hilarious scene, sitting on the sides of a busy road, reading a novel, with all the passerby’s watching me and having a good laugh at my expense. I was sure that the cops duty would end soon and he would be soon coming over to negotiate his price.

I was not disappointed, he came within 5 minutes and told me that I was a decent person, so on and so forth, and for that he told me to pay 50/- and leave. He handed me the bike keys. I still argued with him that 50/- was too much for me and I could not afford it. He kept reminding me of my “grave mistake”, and I never budged from my place. So he left again and I returned back to reading my book and providing amusement for passersby.

He returned after 10 minutes, I had covered 40 odd pages of the book, and this time he told me to pay 20/- and told me about his poor plight, the hard work that he puts in and the meager pay that he gets for all this. After listening to all this, I finally gave up and pulled out 20/- from my wallet. He thanked me and left me.

I was left wondering at the plight of the poor man, the amount of work he puts in, the meager pay that he gets, the mouths that he has to feed at home, and on and on. I did not feel bad for paying 20/-; for it was the first time I was paying a bribe.

Anyway, at the end of the day I was left cursing my own fate. The babe who took the U-Turn was not caught. Then while I was waiting, the cop caught a guy, who had crossed the red signal; he was let off since he was the yoga teacher in the police academy. Compared to those two, I had not broken any law, I was about to take the U-Turn when the cop caught me. I would never have attempted the U-Turn, if there had been proper signposts. But then who is to blame???? I wasted some 45 minutes on the roadside and also ended up paying 20/-.

It happens only in India!!!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hello, Mr. Arun????

Location: Ashok Nagar Pillar Junction. Heavy traffic and noise in the surroundings.
Time: 7pm, 22 August 2005

The protagonist of our story is coming out of the ICICI bank, when his mobile phone rings. He looks at the number, which said it was a mobile, but still unidentified. The conversation went on as follows.

Protagonist (P): Hello!
Annonymous (A): Am I speaking to Mr. Arun Panicker?
P: Yes
A: Well, I am from the HR department of ABC Ltd. I got your resume through one of your friends in the company and he told me that you would be interested in applying to our company.
A: Hello! Mr. Arun, are you on line?
P: [Dazed & Surprised] Yeah, I’m on line. Could you repeat what you said just now?
A: I calling from ABC Ltd, and we have come to know that you would be interested in applying for a job with us. Would you be interested?
P: Who gave you this information?
A: I told you – one of your friends.
P: Okie, so what do I need to do? What post are you offering and what other details are you willing to give me?
A: We know that you are interested in the Enterprise Solutions post and we are in the process of recruiting for the next batch, which starts in December.
P: Ok.
A: So would you be interested in applying? The salary would be at par with what your friends are earning at ABC.
P: Ok, I would be interested. What do I need to do?
A: You need not decide immediately. You can take your own time and call up a number and tell us your consent. Can you note down the number?
P: Wait a minute. Let me take out my pen.
[P takes out a pen and a piece of paper]
P: Yeah tell me.
A: 9884046829
[P repeats the number and confirms it]
A: You can call this number in the next 7 days and confirm your willingness to apply for the post.
P: Sure.
A: Would you like you current employer to know about your intentions?
P: Not at present, but I would definitely tell them later.
A: Ok Arun, we shall preserve this little secret of yours. Do call up the number and confirm for the interview.
P: [Puzzled] Interview???
A: Yeah, I think I forgot to mention that we if you are interested, we have already shortlisted you for an interview at out office in Sholinganallur. If you are willing to apply, kindly call the number and mention that you are interested in applying. After that you need to come to our office at 8pm on Sunday and your interview will be held in Mahavir Hall.
P: Ok. I shall do so.
A: Thank you, Mr. Arun. It was nice talking to you, hope to see you soon.
P: Thank you.

Our protagonist stands rooted to the spot, where he had received the call. The noise of the traffic had interfered his conversation, and he was wondering whether whatever he had heard was true.

Soon he receives another call. This time it was from his college mate. He picks it up and his friend asks, "So, you want to join ABC Ltd..... isn't it????". Thus ends the story wherein our protagonist was fooled by two of his friends.

At the end of all this the protagonist was left wishing that the prank come true, for ABC Ltd is his dream company!!!!!

Monday, August 22, 2005

The weekend that was.....

My bike traveled around 120kms this weekend. Which means that I enjoyed this weekend as well as tanned a lot due to the over exposure to the Chennai sun.

Ganesh had come over for the weekend and he was put up along with me. On Saturday, we started our day with breakfast at Mylapore Karpagambal Mess. Imagine traveling all the way from KK Nagar to Mylapore for breakfast!!!! But the effort was worth it, the food that is served there is delicious. We were joined by another friend Santhosh. After that we went straight to Satyam Cine complex and booked tickets for My wife’s murder at 1:30pm and Sarkar at 10:15pm. My wife’s Murder was the latest release and since it was from the stables of Ram Gopal Varma, we decided to give it a try. Ganesh had not watch Sarkar and since I liked the movie a lot I decided to watch it again with him.

After booking the tickets we went from there to CMBT to book Ganesh’s return tickets to Bangalore. The to and fro journey was tiring in the hot sun. Watched My Wife’s Murder. It was a good movie – though not many might agree with me – the story was plain and simple, the acting was good, and there was no masala in it.

The story revolves around Ravi Patvardhan (Anil Kapoor), who works as an editor and whose family life is in shambles, due to his very nagging wife Sheela (Suchitra Krishnamurthy). She suspects him of having an affair with his assistant Reena (Nandana Sen). One day, Ravi is stretched to his limits by Sheela that he hits and she dies after banging her head on the edge of her bed. Ravi is initially inclined to call the police and report the matter, but he thinks about his children who might be left alone after he is reprimanded by the police, so he decides to hide the fact, and dumps the body in a far off place.

The body is retrieved and soon the long arm of the law gets to the bottom of the case, thanks to the dedicated police inspector whose role is played by Boman Irani. Overall the movie is good, and Jijy does a decent job of his first film. The movie ends with Ravi being released on bail since the murder was not intentional, but I think they forgot that tampering the evidence or abetting such actions are criminal offenses. Anyways at the end of the movie, I was pretty much satisfied.

After roaming around in Spensers and meeting a few friends. We went to Central station to meet one of our friend who was on his way to Mangalore after a week with his parents. He called us to the station, telling that he had lot of eatables from home, so we went and hogged in the station.

Sunday was more eventful. Got up late, and hence could not make it to Karpagambal Mess, so had breakfast at Vasantha Bhavan itself. Reached Santhosh’s house by 12:30pm. I tried a new route to reach his home and ended up spending some 30 minutes extra on the road. Another friend APRKR had joined us by then. We decided to watch The Fantastic Four in the evening, and we decided to watch it in Woodlands Symphony. So we left from his home at 1:30 and headed straight to Ponnuswamy Hotel in Royapettah. Tasted Pigeon for the first time – it was good.

After eating to our stomach’s full we went to a juice center and started drinking juices. We would have ended up drinking some 4-5 variety of juices, and we were amazed to realize the capacity of our stomachs. After the juice we went to Woodlands – only to realize that the theater was playing the Tamil version of The Fantastic Four. We dropped the plan and returned to Santhosh’s house. We were so tired after the traveling and eating that all of us slept off and got up in the evening. After getting up we headed straight to the juice centers to hog on some fruits that we missed.

Ganesh left in the night, and I was back to being lonely again.

My travel plans for next month has changed yet again. I am going home on 3rd and 4th. Onam trip has been rescheduled. Now I will be leaving on 13th night instead of 14th and will return on 19th morning.

I hope this schedule does not change.

Friday, August 19, 2005

God..... Why Me?????

I hate to plan things in advance. My planning starts in at the maximum of 3-4 days for an event or trip. My parents have always lectured me in length to change this habit and plan things well in advance. I got a lecture the last time I went home, since due to my haphazard planning, I ended up spending 700/- for the to and fro journey. If I had planned earlier, ie booked my tickets in train well in advance, I could have made the trip in 400/-.

So I decided to set things right this time. As soon as I came back to the office after the trip, I took out the official calendar and checked out the next set of holidays. I saw that Sept 6th and 7th are holidays and if I take 5th off, then along with the weekends I could get 5 days at home. So I asked my travel agent to book tickets for me and I was surprised as well as happy to get confirmed tickets. Now I needn’t run from post to post searching for tickets and there was no need to travel by the costly Volvo. I was beginning to realize the true value of planning in advance.

But god likes me the way I am. He was not pleased to see me relax without much worries and so he decided to bring about a twist in my plain vanilla life.

So when I arrive in the office in the morning, I see a mail from out HR to all the people in the company. The letter stated that since the company was planning to meet a strict delivery deadline in September, due to which 6th would be a working day!!!!

I could not afford to take 2 days off since I’m planning to take 2 days off during Onam. So either this trip has to be shortened to two days and then take 3 days leave during Onam or take 2 days off on either of the trip.

I have decided one thing - I shall never plan a trip so much in advance!!!!!!

God knows what’s in store for the Onam trip – I had planned it 1 and ½ months in advance!!!!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

More Shortcuts

Continuing from my previous post......

I faced more difficulties while collating the data I collected into a file in Excel and Word. I needed keyboard shortcuts to Paste Special things.

Shortcut for Word is not important since I feel Alt+E and S is quiet a quick option, but in Excel I required a shortcut which would Paste Special only the Values that I copied from one place. Here also I could have used the Alt+E and then an S, but then you need to press Tab and reach Values, which was painful.

So I decided to take the help of Macros. I created a Macro named PasteVal, and assigned it to the combination Ctrl+Q. So in Excel I was doing Ctrl+C and Ctrl+Q!!!

To do this, select Tools from the menu bar and then select Macros. Type in PasteVal and choose Create. You will be taken to a Visual Basic Editor and there you need to type in the following code –

Sub PasteVal()
Selection.PasteSpecial Paste:=xlValues
End Sub

Close the editor and go back to Macros. PasteVal will be shown in the list containing all the macros. Click it once and then click Options. Here you need to assign a key for this action. I choose Q. Click Ok, and close the Macro dialogue box and its done.

Keyboard Shortcut for Creating a New Folder

Are you one of the guys who’s obsessed with using the keyboard instead of the mouse????

I hate to use the mouse and prefer using a keyboard unless and otherwise there is no other option. The reason for that being the non-ergonomic workstation in my office. My wrist pains like hell after I use my mouse for a long time.

Today I had to arrange a lot of word documents in my computer, which required me to create a lot of folders. Initially, I Right-Clicked on the explorer and created a new folder, but after sometime I was bored and wanted to know a keyboard shortcut for the same. I browsed the net to know the shortcut, and could not believe what I saw.

Microsoft has not provided a keyboard shortcut to create a new folder!!!!

The only option I had was to press Alt+F, then W, and then again F, but that was too much, so I went down the search and found an article from Home Computer Magazine, which talked about a software which when installed would provide a one key solution for creating a new folder. The software is called bxNewFolder, which is from BaxBEx Software Products.

Once installed, you can create a new folder by clicking on the new folder icon, which appears on the toolbar and for keyboard crazy people like me, just press F12. It’s as simple as that.

Click here to view the article by Home Computer Magazine. Click here to download bxNewFolder. (You need to scroll down a bit)

Weekend @ Bangalore

After a long time I did not blog yesterday. For the past one month I had been making it a habit of posting atleast once in a day. There were days – occasionally – when I used to stay back after work and make a post. Yesterday for some reason or the other, I did not feel like blogging.

My trip to Bangalore was a good one. Thought I did not have time for anything and since time flies by when you want it to move slowly, the 3 days just zoomed by. The first day I was busy watching the Ashes match. Since I do not have a TV in Chennai, I spend most of my time in Bangalore making up for it. Jaya chitta and Ammu were to arrive in the morning along with me, but their train was late by 22 and ½ hours!!!!!

Indian Railways, especially the western railways had been thrown out of gear due to the monsoon rains in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. So the train which should have arrived in Bangalore on Saturday morning 4, reached Bangalore on Sunday morning 2:30. I had to go and receive them, and thanks to the efficient railways announcement system, I reached the railway station at 10pm itself.

Initially it was announced that the train would be arriving at 11pm, so I reached the station at 10, so that incase they arrive early, I could take them home. At 10:45pm, they announced that the train would arrive at 12am. At 11:45pm they again changed the timings to 1:30am. This time I was really irritated and went back to the car and slept in it for an hour. When I came back at 1:15am, the arrival time was changed yet again to 2:30am. I was totally stunned at the efficiency at which our railways work. Ammu messaged me from the train, saying that they were at Tumkur and would be coming in a hour, so I decided to wait in the platform. Finally they arrived at 2:30. Kannan gave me company during the long wait at the platform.

On Sunday, I went out with Ravi, Sujay and Amitabh to watch Mangal Pandey at Innovative Multiplex. I was totally disappointed with the movie. The reason was that I expected a lot from it, since Aamir Khan was the lead actor and it was his first after a gap of 4 years. Toby Stephens who played the role of Gordon was good, and I felt that his role was more important then Aamir Khan’s. The movie focused a lot in the friendship between Godron and Mangal. The main Sepoy Mutiny started and was over even before we knew it.

There were a lot of scenes and characters the movie could have done without. Kiron Kher’s low cut blowse and the two dancers rubbing their bodies against each other could have been done without. These scenes were added just because sex sells in India. Rani Mukherjee did not have much of an acting to do as a prostitute who falls for the bravery of Mangal. Amisha as the Sati, who is rescued by Gordon is also wasted.

The movie is all about Mangal and Gordon. Both the actors have done justice to their roles and somehow I liked Toby Stephens more than Aamir Khan.

After the movie I stayed back with Ravi in his house and returned home in the morning. Kochakkan Kochacchan had come home in the afternoon and we all had a nice time at home.

I left home for Chennai at 9:30pm. I came by the 10:10 Volvo, and for the first time I felt hot inside a Volvo – there was some problem with the air conditioning.

I also managed to finish reading The Bourne Legacy, shall write about it in a separate post. The book was the fourth in the series of books on the character Jason Bourne, and I had read all the other 3, hence this urge to read this book as well. Shall discuss in detail about Bourne in another post.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Omens & Me

It was 7pm on Friday; my train to Bangalore , Mysore Express, was supposed to leave from Chennai central at 9:45pm. My ticket was still waitlisted, no 13 – the unlucky number – it had not budged from that position after 4pm. I cursed my luck and started towards the railways station. My mind was racing, all the trains and buses were going to be packed today, thanks to the 3 day holiday. Waitlist means that I will not be permitted to enter the compartment with the ticket. Which means – I have to travel either in the general compartment or travel by bus.

I had made up my mind; I would check out the train first. Since the charts are put up at 7pm, I knew the status as told by the Interactive Voice Response system was accurate. So I wanted to go by the general compartment, avoiding the rush and the painful journey in the non-volvo buses. I was thinking about the rush in the gereral compartment and the long night ahead of me. In the hurry, I forgot my slippers back home, which I realized after getting down from my 2nd floor flat. So I kept my bag and climbed all the way up to my house to get the slippers.

Now many of us would have considered this a bad omen – to get back into the house after you have left for an important occasion – but that was not true for me. Over the years I had realized that whenever I got back into the house – mostly due to my forgetfulness – I would achieve what I set out to. So as I locked the door for the second time, I knew that I would be getting confirmed tickets. The omen also told me one thing – I would be benefited in the short term, but will have to suffer in the long term.

I went to the bus stop near my house and wait for a bus. This is the first time I was to board a bus from this bus stop and I was under the notion that all buses going to “High Court” would take me to the central. So I get into the first bus, which was to go to “High Court”. After boarding the bus, I get to know that this particular bus would not be going to the Central, but all other buses with similar numbers would be going to the central. Now that is what I call rotten luck.

I got down at the next bus stop and wait for another bus. This one takes its own sweet time to come. I start praying to god and finally a bus appears and to my utter surprise it was half empty. So I got a seat near the window and under a light, so that I could read my novel. The bus journey was not a smooth one, owing to the numerous traffic jams, and the bus took a circuitous route to the station. Finally I arrived at 9:15pm, and headed straight to the reservation chart to check the status of my ticket, with my heart in my mouth.

As I had mentioned above, the omen proved yet again. I had a confirmed ticket to Bangalore. Due to the lack of time, I had to be content with a chicken burger for dinner and reached home without much hassles.

Now the other part of the omen had to come true, that it would not be beneficial in the long run. This part came true when I returned today morning to my home. I had come early since I had come by bus – I reached the front gate at 5 am. I found the gates locked and searched for my keys, and to my dismay, I found that I had taken the duplicate set of keys, which did not contain the key to the gate. So I was forced to wait outside the gate, hoping that someone would get up and open the gates for me.

Luckily, after 20 minutes of waiting one of my neighbours got up and came over to the balcony. I shouted at the top of my voice and he came to my rescue.

Try as much as I can, I can never stop myself from forgetting things when I leave home and try as much as I can, the omen never fails to prove itself again and again.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Chaotic Life

Today morning, I finally managed to pay the electricity bill. I had to manage, since today was the last day of paying the bill, after which there is a period of 10 days wherein you can pay with some fine and after that – Phut!! – no more power to your house!!!!

Staying alone can be a bit stressful in these terms. Pay your telephone bills, electricity bills and look around all the activities. The telephone bill payment also suffered the same fate, paid the bill on the night before the last date. Chennai Telephones have provided the facility of paying by cheque 24 hours in a day at selected customer care centers. One of them happens to be on the way from my office to home, so it’s easier for me.

I love the system in Bangalore for repayment of all electricity, water and telephone bill. There are kiosks, which accept bills 24 hours in a day. There are a number of them in the city. You can even pay the bill in grocery stores, which is something really good, since you keep frequenting grocery stores.

I usually have breakfast in the office, but today since I decided to pay the bill, I had to give it a skip. So with a growling stomach I made for the TNEB office near my house. I was cursing myself at my pathetic planning and execution skills, but was a both relieved and saddened to see a huge crowd in the office to pay the bill. Relieved since there are plenty like me who lead an unplanned life and saddened since I might have to wait for half an hour in the office and that too in an empty stomach.

There were 10 lines in all, and I choose the shortest one of them, which had some 11 people – so I was the 12th guy. The time was 8:35am and according to rules the bill collection should have started at 8:30am, but this is India and that too I was in a government office. The collection people entered the rooms at 8:45am, and that’s when I noticed that the line to my right is completely empty – the reason being no shutters to indicate that the counter is closed and there were books kept to indicate the same.

Today was one of the rare days when lady luck smiles on me. I saw a person coming to that empty counter and start his computer, so instinctively I went towards the counter. There were 2 others who were smarter than me, who got in front of me, but nevertheless I finished off the bill payment job in 10 minutes. If only lady luck smiled with regard to girlfriends.....

I am leaving for Bangalore today. A few of my relatives are coming down from Surat, so it will be fun. Most of my friends would not be there in Bangalore, since they would also be going to their homes.

Only one of my friends is staying back, and I will be going to watch Mangal Pandey with him. We have booked tickets for the 10pm show on Sunday at Innovative Multiplex. This is the first movie of Amir Khan after his two hit ventures way back in 2001 – Dil Chahta Hai and Lagaan. He is one of my favourite actors after Amitabh Bachchan. Lets see how the movie goes.

Anyways wish you all an enjoyable weekend and a happy independence day.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Addition to The Godfather

I was so much fascinated by the character of Vito Corleone in The Godfather, that I searched the web for more information. The findings were worth the search.

This character was based on a real life don Frank Costello, who like Corleone, moved up the ladder in crime. Frank was a considerate don, who never took any rash or uncalculated decision. He had a lot of political connection, and just like Corleone shunned drugs. There was an attempt on his life due to this decision. He withdrew from most of the business after the murder attempt, but later got the better of his attackers when he got them framed in a drug case and sent them to jail.

Like Corleone, he too died due to a massive heart attack, but Frank suffered it after he had been deported to Sicily.

Another character from The Godfather, which was inspired from real life, is the dreaded Luca Brazi. His character was inspired from one of America’s most feared and dreaded hit man of his time – Albert Anastasia.

Click for details on Frank Costello or Albert Anastasia.

Childhood Memoirs - 2

My first school was KV INS Dronacharya, in Kochi. Our family had shifted from Kottayam to Kochi and we were put up in a place called Chakkamadom, in Kochi. Initially my dad used to drop me to school and pick me up when he came back for lunch, but when he became busy with his work, he arranged a cycle rickshaw.

The first trip was a disaster. The school timings were from 9am to 2:15pm, and on the first day, he came to my home at 8:45am. My house was some 5km from school and in a cycle rickshaw full of children; we could never make up that distance on time. My dad talked to the rickshaw man the next day, and he promised to come on time.

It went on well for a few days until my next adventure came along. I was aged 6, a bit too young for such an adventure.

After school, when I came out of the school, I could not find my rickshaw amongst the ones waiting to take children home. So I waited as others left. There were just 2 children from my school in this rickshaw, and usually we were the only riders on our way home. Today the other girl had left since her dad had come to pick her up, so I was all alone. The classes of senior students got over at 3:15pm, and even they left for their homes and I was all alone. It was around 3:45pm when my rickshaw man came. He was all smiles when he came and was singing a song as he came by.

He said that he was held up with some urgent work and hence was late. He asked me to get in and we left for home. On the way he was singing songs loudly and was attracting the attentions of many passers by. I was enjoying every moment, he had never been so cheerful, and I loved songs. I also noticed that he was having trouble driving straight and also his feet kept slipping from the pedals. I was so naïve at that age, that I thought he was doing it to amuse me, to make up for being late.

He kept going zig-zag and the rickshaw once even went straight instead of taking a turn, crashing on to the gate on the other side of the road. The driver fell off the rickshaw on to the ground, hurting himself in the process, and when I saw stains of blood on his legs and feet, which he suffered from the fall, I knew that the things were not going well. I knew that he was having difficulty driving, but did not know why. Luckily nothing happened to me in this accident.

He got up, with great difficulty, slipping many times, before he got up on the rickshaw and started again on the way home. It did not go long as he lost control again, and this time one of the rickshaw’s wheel went into drain on the sides of the road. Again he fell off the rickshaw, while was safe, holding on to the sides of the rickshaw.

Unlike the last time, where the road was deserted, this one was full of people, who came to help. To my surprise, the people instead of helping, started beating him, shouting at him. A man amongst the crowd, came up to me and asked my name and asked him whether I knew the way back home. He told me that the rickshaw driver was drunk and they were going to take him to police. He said that he could drop me home.

I was 6 years old, had been in that place for a month and was not familiar with the locality. I opened my school diary and gave him the address, but it was of no use, even a few auto rickshaw drivers could not make out the address. We did not have a telephone at home, so calling home was out of question. We had not even put my dad’s phone number in the diary, so I was unable to call him too.

The worst thing was that I was too young to realize that I was in trouble. I was unable to realize that the person who came forward was invariably trying to help me. I started crying when the people started taking the rickshaw driver away, since he was the only familiar face in the crowd.

The man who came to help me was the owner of a cloth shop nearby. He took me to his shop, and gave me some sweets so that I could stop crying. He calmed me down and asked me remember my way back. I was so frightened with the sudden turn of events, but I realized that this person here was trying to help me and if I needed to be back in the comforts of my home, I need to help him to help me get back.

I told him that I have been traveling this way for a month, so I might remember the way. He caught an auto, and accompanied by one more of his helper at his shop, got into the auto. To my amazement, I could tell him where to go. I would have lead him for 20 minutes, when we came upon a junction, with roads leading to 3 other directions. Now I was confused.

It was a major junction, and I knew I had come through this way before, with my parents when we went out shopping. It also told me that we were near our house, since we usually walk to go shopping. Unfortunately I was unable to remember which way of the 3 would lead us home. The person who had helped me earlier asked me the way. He would have realized that I was confused, so he asked the auto driver to stop, and he asked me to have a good look around and then make my mind. I took a look around, since I was scared and also due to the anticipation that I was near my home, I did not pay attention to details. After a look around, I told him that we had to take the road to the left.

The person asked me yet again whether I was sure, he told me to calm down and take one more look. This time, somehow I managed to get a clear view of the things around, and I saw this familiar building on the road leading to the right. I was so sure that I had seen it before and I knew that this was the road that we need to take.

When we reached home, mom was in tears, standing by the door of our house, with a few of our neighbours to comfort her. She had called dad and told him that I had not come home till now, and he had left office in search for me. She could not find words to thank the kind man who brought me home, but she did get a sound scolding from him for being so careless as to send the kid along with a rickshaw man who was a drunkard.

Dad arrived home after a few hours and finally everything was in place.

Dad decided that he would do his duties from the next day, and from then on he dropped me to school and picked me back daily. The very next day, we went to meet the person who had helped me. I took dad to the place where the rickshaw had slipped off the road into the drains, and we looked around at the shops nearby. I recognized the person, and took my dad to the shop. Dad thanked him profusely.

From that day, till the day we were in Kochi, and whenever I passed in front of the man’s shop, I used to wave at him, if he chanced to look out while I was passing by. My dad was transferred from Kochi the next year, and I did miss this person for sometime.

After 3-4 years, when my dad got a chance to go back to Kochi, he did visit this person. He still remembered me and reminded my dad that had I not been a keen observer I would not have reached home on that day.

This was my first real adventure.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Childhood Memoirs - 1

This incident happened when I was 4 years old, staying at my grandparent’s house in Kottayam. My dad was posted in Ernakulam, and he used to stay with us, at Kottayam. He used to travel the distance of 68kms daily to reach his office. I was in the upper kinder garden and was suffering from severe cold. Over the 25 years, I have been unable to find remedies for my sensitive nose, stomach and skin. They react badly to any changes.

My mom was taking care of me, and she was trying to get me to drink some hot milk. I was not feeling well, and was irritated with my condition, which did not allow me to go out and play. The frustration, which was building up due to the restrictions imposed on me, prompted me to ask her to let me out for sometime, so that I could get some fresh air and also drink the milk. Since it was hot and sunny outside and also since my mom knew how frustrated I was, sitting in the house all day. So she agreed.

I went out into our gardens, and in a particular corner of the garden, there was a tank, which was built during the renovation of the house, for watering and curing of bricks. The construction work was still going on and the tank was holding muddy water. The tank was 4feet deep, and I was a little under 3 feet tall at that time. I went over to the tank and started going around the sides. I did not know when I slipped and fell into it. To make matters worse I did not know swimming. I cannot swim even now, which is one of my biggest regrets in life.

Suddenly what I saw before my eyes was so different. While going around the tank, I could see the trees and plants in the garden, my mom shouting at me to come back and drink some milk and other normal things of the garden. Now what I could see in front of my eyes was water, muddy and yellow in color. I could see the dirt floating around, dirt which was lying in the bottom, but was brought up due to the impact of my fall into the water.

I don’t know how, but I knew that I should not continue breathing normally, so I did not try to suck anything through my nose and mouth, and looked around the tank. Suddenly, amongst the yellow water, I spotted something at arms reach, which was shining and was dark yellow in color. I caught hold of it, and to my amazement, I was lifted out of the water immediately. The shiny object was my mother’s bangle.

In one swift movement, she pulled me out of the muddy waters and took me out, and then gave me two painful spanks. In addition to this, I got a sound scolding from my grandparents. I was fully drenched in the dirty water, and I had to be given a sponge bath inspite of the fact that I had cold. All the precautions went waste, as I had to be taken to a doctor the next day, as I was running very high fever. So much for my first adventure in life.

I would not have drowned in the tank, but since I got to mom before she fished me out, makes this event a special one for me.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Godfather

Written by Mario Puzo and released in the year 1969, this book was a huge hit. It was adapted into three movies and all of them were critically and commercially successful. It was the first time a trilogy had been nominated for the best movie category. The book follows the story of a Mafia family of New York, they were Italians, Sicilians to be precise.

The head of the Mafia family is Don Vito Corleone. He was born Vito Andolini, in the village of Corleone in Sicily. His father was killed by a local don, and now they were hunting him due to his known prowess of using guns. Vito manages to escape to New York with one of his family friends, Genco Abbandando. He changed his name to Vito Corleone, so that he could keep the connection to his hometown. He worked in the grocery store owned by Abbandando’s father. At the age of 18, he married an Italian girl and started his family. He had two children Santino and Frederio. He was finding it difficult to make both ends meet, when he lost his job in the grocery to a local don’s cousin.

Vito helped a small time thief Clemenza and they become friends. Through Clemenza he also came to know of Tessio. Through them he got into the business of running smuggled goods from Canada into America. Soon he began to prosper, but the local don caught winds of this and he demanded a share from the profits.

Vito was a very quiet man, of amazing intelligence. His friends knew that in the interiors of the calm and quiet exterior lay a stone cold mind. They knew that he was an amazing strategist, capable to analyzing any situation and coming out with the best solution possible.

Vito decided not to share his profits with the don, but to kill him. He does so and earns the respect of the Italians of the locality. He continues in his job and also helping out people in different ways, earning their friendship and also their word that they would help Vito when he asked for it. Vito soon earned the name of Don or Godfather due to his growing strength.

Don’s powers grew by the day, he left the smuggling business and invested in the gambling and olive oil business of New York. He had made many friends over the years and he slowly grew to be one of the most powerful person in the United States of America. He also had 2 more kids, Michael and Connie.

Santino was his fathers helper in his business. He wanted to succeed his father as the Don. However Don knew that Santino was not made for the jobs since he was not level headed and lacked the strategist thinking of a Don. The second son also was not good enough for succeeding his father. Michael had most of the Dons traits, but was not interested in entering the business. He wanted to be somewhere else, but he had immense respect for his father.

The first son had a wife and two kids. The second son was yet to get married. Michael was in love with an American girl Kay, while Connie was to get married to Carlo. Don had not liked her choice, but played along for the sake of her daughter’s happiness.

Don’s was helped in his work by Abbandando, who helped him in his plans. Clemenza and Tessio helped him carry out the plans. His main force was the man called Luca Brazi, who feared no one on this earth other than the Don. Don used Luca to carry out all his important missions.

Other than the Corleone family there were other families which controlled various parts of New York. Amongst them the Tattaglia family and the Barzini family, were not in good terms with the Corleons. They were on the lookout for opportunities to get even with the Corleones.

Things started turning bad when Barzini family, using the Tattaglia family as a shield brought along a Hungarian drug trafficker, Solozzo, who wanted to use the Don’s powers and influence to sell drugs in his country. Don declined and thus started the decline of the Corleone family.

Don was shot at in a few days, and was admitted to hospital. Santino took over the business only to find that Solozzo had closed in on the Corleone family. Frederio who witnessed his fathers shooting went into a shock and had to be sent to Vegas. Now the stage was set for the hero to prove himself.

Michael takes things into his own hands. He saves his fathers life once by arriving unexpectedly in the hospital and foiling Solozzo’s plans to kill the Don. After going through various options, Michael decides that the only was to save his fathers life was to take the life of Solozzo. Michael kills Solozzo and flees to Sicily.

The story and narration is very fast paced and gripping till now. The reader expects more of the stuff and will be disappointed that the writer goes in length to explain the story of Johnny Fontane, another godson of the Don. Some time is also wasted in explaining the story of Lucy Mancini, Sonnie’s mistress. There’s also another love interest of Michael in Sicily, Appolino, which was the result of a “thunderbolt”. He marries her, but the marriage is short-lived as she falls prey to one of the traps set by the enemy for Michael.

The story picks up pace towards the end wherein Michael returns to New York to find the Corleone family’s strengths depleted, Sonnie murdered and the commanders of the Don in doubt of their future.

Michael takes charge from his father, and sets off to avenge his brother’s death as well as to establish the family’s name and authority over others.

The readers are not aware of how powerful Michael is until the very end. I felt that Michael was just playing safe and trying to get out of the illegal business. The ending is classic, wherein Michael gets even with all the traitors and his enemies within a few hours in one swift and well-planned mission. Carlo, Connie’s husband had betrayed the family by being part of Sonnie’s murder. He was also killed by Michael.

Don Corleone dies before the mission takes place – due to a heart attack.

Kay initially refuses to believe that Michael could be a murderer, until the very end wherein the commanders of the Don address Michael as Don Michael. She reacts instantly, by going back to her parents, only to be assured by one of Don’s godson Haggen, who filled in the place of Abbandando after his death.

Overall, a very good read. Especially after watching Sarkar, the book was even more interesting.

The movie Sarkar did take a lot from the book, but a number of characters were reduced. A movie has a lot of limitation when compared to the novel, but Ram Gopal Verma did a splendid job.

There was a hit Malayalam movie, Naaduvaazhigal, staring Mohanlal and Madhu as the father and son, with a story line, which has stains of The Godfather.

Monday, August 08, 2005


I had wanted to watch this movie for quiet sometime now, and finally after 3 weeks of waiting for an opportunity, I got one. My friends in Polaris had not watched the movie and they booked tickets in advance, and to my luck they had booked one for me too. So once again it was Satyam and for a change it was the morning show.

Parineeta was in the genre that I liked. Movies with simple and realistic stories, good acting and a good directing sense. Parineeta had all. The movie is an adaptation of a novel by Sarat Chandra Chatterjeein written in the year 1912. Parineeta in bangali means “The married woman”. The movie is directed by Pradeep Sarkar, and there are good performances by the lead actors – Saif Ali Khan, Vidya Balan and Sanjay Dutt.

The movie is set in Culcutta in the 1960’s. The narrator is Amitabh Bachchan – it seems that there cannot be a Bollywood movie without Amitabh being involved somethere or the other. The movie is a love triangle between Sekhar (Saif), Lolita (Vidya) and Girish (Sanjay). Lolita is orphaned at a very young age and comes to stay with her aunt. She is introduced to Sekhar, her neighbour and the son of a very affluent businessman. A true friendship blossoms between and they grow up sharing all their joys and sorrows. They were unaware of the depth of the relationship that they shared until Girish arrived.

Sekhar’s father was planning to dupe Lolita’s uncle to usurp his house. Girish intervenes and set things right. Girish also has liking for Lolita. Seeing that his plans were going astray, Sekhar’s father breaks all relations with Lolita’s family. Fixes Sekhar’s marriage with the daughter of another affluent business man. In the meantime Lolita’s uncle passes away – due to the shock he received when Sekhar’s father was buildinga wall between their houses.

During the turmoil, both Sekhar and Lolita begin to understand the feeling for each other and accept their love for each other. They exchange garlands during a very auspicious time and get married without the knowledge of others. After the death of Lolita’s uncle, their family decides to get Lolita married to Girish. Sekhar is heartbroken to hear it and some misunderstanding between him and Lolita prevents him from getting things cleared.

Finally, all’s well that ends well. The movie ends in a happy note, with the loving couple uniting much to the ire of Sekhar’s father, who could not raise a finger in objection. All in all, the movie is good; it’s a mature portrayal of a love story.

Other than watching the movie, I met up with a few friends. Went to Marina beach twice – once with friends and the other with Sasi Chittappan.

Spent a lot of money this weekend. Need to restrain myself.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Shristi Special Academy, Bangalore

After the summers at Saatchi & Saatchi Direct, it was the time to do a 2-week project with an NGO. This was mandatory according to the TAPMI curriculum and I was cursing myself for joining TAPMI. Initially I thought I would get out the easy way – to get a certificate from one of the many NGO’s my dad knew and enjoy the 2 weeks at home. It was my dad’s idea of actually doing some work – he told me that I would be gaining valuable inputs about the realities of life. To add to my frustration, he told me that he would not be helping me in finding an NGO, and I would have to do it myself!!!!

All the other students had decided on their NGO’s. As usual, by the time I started searching for partners to do my project, most of my classmates who were in Bangalore had already decided on their projects also, so I could not join them. But one day, I get a call – it was from Sameer. He was also in the same situation as I was and he could not finalize on an NGO project. That’s when we formed the grand alliance. The world’s laziest guys going to do a project – God save the NGO!!!!

Initially we got a call from an animal welfare NGO. We visited one of their clinics, which was managed by an ex-army man. He was not sure of the project, which we were to do. The first day he took us around the facility and told us that we would be getting out projects the next day. The next day, we went there eagerly to get pur projects. They were ready and the project were –

“Why do dogs bark in the night? Is there any specific pattern?”

Initially we were dumbstruck on hearing the project. We blinked at the ex-army man, and then blinked at each other. We had no clue what to do or say, I don’t know how I was able to stop myself from rolling about on the floor and laugh!!!

I was the first to come out of the shock. I asked him, “Sir, how do you think we can proceed with the project? How do we get the required data and how do we arrive at a conclusion?” I did not get any response for these questions, so we decided that we should quit this NGO and start somewhere else. It was getting late and there was no time to do the mandatory 14-day project.

In the last moment, we get a project from another NGO called Shristi Special Academy. It was an NGO, which looks after, provides training and nutritious food for the mentally challenged. My first day at the NGO was an eye-opener. That was when I realized what dad had meant by inputs regarding the realities of life.

We were taken around the facility in the first 3 days. It was such a heart-warming experience. I had only heard or read in books that when reality hits, its hits real hard. I was experiencing it on that day. There were kids, teenagers and even grown ups, who were taller than me, but there was something common to all of them – Their mental growth did not correspond to their physical growth. There were guys who were elder to me, who were so happy to see me – The caretaker told us that they love visitors – and they took Sameer and me around the campus, showed us all their training facilities.

It was such a different experience. These guys came to us, calling us uncles, showing us the various articles that they had prepared on their own – bags, handicraft, etc. The caretaker told us that some of them were mildly autistic and with proper training and care could go on to become semi-skilled workers. There were others who were severely autistic, who would need a helping hand for the rest of their lives. The academy aims at providing training to the inmates depending on their level of mental health, so that they can live a life, which is as independent as possible.

Our project was to get more customers as well as volunteers for the academy. We were to meet potential customers, get their contact details and pass it on to the academy, who would pursue it later. We were also to get in touch with collages and get volunteers for the academy.

After I completed the project, there were many things in life that I was able to realize. For the first time, I was grateful to god for what I am. During the 10 days in the academy, I was able to experience the pain in he lives of such children. The pain their parents and other family members undergo. As dad had told me earlier, it was really an eye opener to me. That day I decided to help this academy when I would be getting my job.

I am planning to donate a part of my salary every month towards the food and nutrition of the children there. Most of the children who come to the academy are not from a well to do family. They find it hard to give proper medication and food for the children. If proper medication and nutritious food are provided, then its easy to train the children to be self-reliant.

Like minded people can get more information about the NGO, their activities, what they need, how to donate and other information regarding autism can be found here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Maine Pyaar Kyoon Kiya?

I happened to watch this movie two days ago. I went along with my colleagues, and one of them was watching it for the second time. I was hoping for a good movie, but I was so wrong!!!

The movie when released ran into a lot of trouble, due to the release of a tape, which the Mumbai police alleged was between the lead actor of the movie – Salman Khan – and his estranged girlfriend Aishwarya Rai. According to the tape, Salman was threatening Ash that he had connections with the underworld. There was a public outcry against Salman, the posters of the movie were torn down, theaters were prevented from showing the movie and so on. Finally, all the hue and cry settled down and the movie is being screened all over India. Although there were no such incidents in Chennai – some of my friends would contest saying that Chennai is not in India – and the movie has been going on for a long time.

So for the third time after coming to Chennai, I went to Satyam Cine Complex, and for the third time it was the second show. By the time the show was over at 1:30 am, I was crying aloud “Maine Movie Kyoon Dekhi?” (Why did I watch this movie?)

There was no story, the acting was just average, no good songs (The only exception being “Just Chill”), no background score, nothing. There was nothing about the movie, which I could say, was worth the money that I had put into the movie. After watching a movie like “Sarkar”, it was my mistake of going for this movie with a lot of expectations.

The story is about an orthopedic surgeon Salman, who is so handsome and smart that every girl falls for him. He is in love with Katrina, while Sushmita is the nurse in his clinic. Salman’s style of loving is that he tells every girl that he is married, so that it’s easy for him to dispose her in case he does not like her. Sohail is Katrina’s neighbour and has saved Katrina’s life more than once – Katrina has got this habit of attempting to take her life for even the silliest of matters. Sushmita loves Salman, but Salman is not aware of this.

The story takes a turn for the worse when Katrina demands that she meets Salman’s wife. Now to prevent Katrina from another attempt on her life, Salman pleads with Sushmita to act as his wife, who agrees out of her love for him.

For the next one and half hour, the movie has a lot of mindless comedy and double meaning dialogues. To my amazement the whole hall was laughing, while I was hardly able to find one or two instances to laugh in the whole of the movie.

So overall the movie was a big disappointment, and I would advice you to go for it only if you are all alone at home or you have no other mode of entertainment or you have no girlfriend to spend your evenings with – which was all true in my case.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Another lonely weekend

The last weekend was the perfect blend of enjoying to the core as well as getting bored to death. Had a very nice time on Saturday, while I was nearly bored to death on Sunday.

On Saturday, I was in office till 5:30pm, after which I left for Besant Nagar beach. I have visited a number of beaches in my life; but there are very few beaches like the one in Besant Nagar, which beckons me – the beaches near Manipal are always an exception! Met a few of my classmates as well as 2 of my seniors. We sat there in the beach, talking about the good old days at TAPMI. We had dinner at a hotel nearby and the food was amazing. I ate to my stomach’s full.

We split at 11:30 in the night and I moved on to meet some of my office colleagues after that. It was a bachelor’s party, which had started without me since I had made this commitment with my friends from TAPMI. Reached there just in time to enjoy the best part of the party. There was music, dance, drinks and loads of nonsense talk going on. It was in one of the flats of my colleague, which was in one of the residential colonies of Chennai. I hope the music would not have created much of a nuisance to the people around.

The party got over at 3 in the morning. We slept at their place and I returned home on Sunday, at 11am. Had to skip breakfast, and I had my breakfast-lunch combined at Saravana Bhavan. After lunch, I was feeling really tired, the bachelor’s party was taking its toll. So after going thought the newspaper I slept for 5 hours and got up at 7:30pm.

After that I did not know how to kill time. I listened to some music; soon I was bored of the music. So I switched on the radio and listed to the cricket commentary – I do not have a TV in my flat. It’s been a long time since I listed to radio commentary, I very clearly remember the last match that I listened to. It was the test match between India and Pakistan, which was held in India. The one in which Sachin made a brilliant 137, and still ended up in the loosing side – India lost by 18 runs. How I felt bad on that day!!! This time India won, and that too handsomely.

Even after all this there was so much time left for the day. I continued with my reading of Don Quixote. Finally retired to bed at 11pm, where I was greeted by sleeplessness. I had slept for 5 hours in the afternoon, due to which I was unable to fall asleep. I listened to two cassettes on my Walkman but I could not fall asleep. Finally after hours of turning around in the mat, I fell asleep by 1am!!!

Overall, a nice weekend.