Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The koward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"
                     oscar wilde , the ballad of reading gaol







When was the last that I thought of you...I know not...but am I the one who goes alone on this path...and should I but care only a little for the souls that follow or those as march ahead?

Mode C is a way of life, perhaps my way of life: C for Cool, C for Cold, C for Chaos, C for Calvin. Ultimately, all of it boils down to the way you look at things. Are they not how they are but just how they appear?? No...and yes...Almost all the seriously critical fundamental concepts of life...aren't they just the bogies under Calvin's bed that he is afraid of? Miss Wormwood, Susie, Mom and Dad, and of course above all, Hobbes...aren't they all merely the means that he uses to attack these bogies?

Reflecting on 'living the Calvin way', I have started to believe that life and our reaction to it can only be explained by a number of Calvin and Hobbes strips combined together. The philosophy, as I like to call it, is to know that you are not alone. It is not just my perspective alone that is going to help me fight my bogies. I will be able to inch towards the Calvin way only when I perceive the other perspectives on my way.



   
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My Past
Loyola High School Patna
Delhi Public School RK Puram
Institute of Technology BHU
Infosys Technologies Ltd
IIM Kozhikode

My Present
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.

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Project Nanhi Kali for the girl child


Movie Reviews at Mode C

Kaminey
Gulaal
DevD
Guru
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
Omkara
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
Batman Begins
Viruddh
Anniyan
Dus
Sarkar
War of the Worlds
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Bunty aur Babli
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Kaal
Shabd
Raincoat
Swades
Musafir
Naach
Veer Zaara
Phir Milenge
Kyun! Ho Gaya Na
Mujhse Shaadi Karogi
Spider Man 2
Lakshya
Yuva
Main Hoon Na


Book Reviews at Mode C

Stay Hungry Stay Foolish
The Inscrutable Americans
Harry Potter - Half-Blood Prince
The Monk who sold his Ferrari
Angels and Demons
Life of Pi
The Da Vinci Code
The Tristan Betrayal


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All pictures and names concerning Calvin and Hobbes are copyright Bill Watterson


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Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Lord of the Rings vis-a-vis Harry Potter

If some people told you that Harry Potter is in the same league as, or even close to, Lord of the Rings, they could not have been more wrong. The above two books belong to two completely different genres. While Harry Potter novels by JK Rowling are modern and cater to the taste of the kids with a 'taste', Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien speaks more about the origin of civilization itself and is more for people who are grown up and yet retain the child in them.

The exploits of Potter, Ron and Hermione take the readers through to the lands where things are still imaginable and, agree to me or not, somewhat believable. You may not have seen a wizard but you may still have heard stories about them. Your grand mother may have told you all about the witches that you ever need to know. The nursery rhyme book may have had a poem or two about the magic wands and the magic potions. The point is that though the treatment of the subject in Harry Potter novels is different, the subject itself is not new, not at least to any of the kids of this generation or to our parents' generation either (which is why Harry Potter is a hit not only amongst kids). In the Potter stories, if you have the Hogwarts School of Wizardry where the protagonist Potter goes to study with his friends Hermione and Ron, you also have the Charing Cross station of London. If you have Voldemort, the dark lord and villain of Potter novels, you also have Dudley, Potter's muggle (non-magical) cousin. The point again is that Harry Potter works are still within the grasp of even the intellectually less endowed ones.

Lord of the Rings, is different, even if subtly so. The characters are such that you may have never heard of. In fact, the story deals little with the history and nature of wizards, despite the story revolving around Gandalf, one of the five wizards that the book gives credence to. Similarly, the characters that are the most important to the story line, Frodo, Bilbo et al belong to a race (can I call them a race, I think not...they are more of an entity) called Hobbits. I bet you don't know a thing about hobbits if you haven't read the book or not seen any of the three movies. As I said, they are a different entity and very, very old...well not as old as elves perhaps :-). If you really want to know their history or background, you have to read the entire 50 page prologue before you actually start reading the 1100 page epic. Not only is this race new, they have a different calendar of their own. As if this was not enough to prove the extent of imagination that Tolkien has tried to create in the reader's mind, there are also the elves, dwarfs and orcs (another new entity you may be unaware of). Tolkein provides the readers a platform on which they can choose to go ahead and develop further on their idea of an elf or a dwarf, or even an orc or hobbit for that matter. The reader, however, must have the intelligence and the patience to go along with Tolkien's story at a pre-decided pace and not jump the gun. The characters and their natures are revealed as and when the reader encounters them. You get to know that elves are fond of singing songs, and when you go ahead, you are also told that they are the friends of trees. There is a concept of heaven which is so much different from what we think. Heaven, for the characters of Lord of the Rings, is not beyond the sky, It is beyond the sea, and yes, you can sail to the heavens in your ship...but only if you have the necessary permissions.

The four novels featuring Harry Potter have a distinctly homogenous line which the author seems to religiously follow. There is Harry, the orphan and hero, and there is Voldemort, the villain, who killed Harry's parents when Harry was just a kid. There are people at both the sides aplenty. The dark side is amply provided with villains who want the dark Lord, Voldemort to rise again and vanquish the enemies of darkness. At Harry' side however is Professor Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of the age and Voldemort's sworn enemy (also his teacher, when Voldemort was at school). Harry goes to study at Hogwarts School of Wizardry with his friends, Ron and Hermione (a muggle or non-magical person). All the days of Harry are full of some adventure or other at the school. This adventure may be a game of Quidditch (this one takes Harry Potter close to the Lord of the Rings for its utter innovation and freshness), a special game that wizards play which is quite similar to and yet different from rugby, if played in the air. The adventure may as well be trying to beat the evil designs of the Malfoys, father and son, who are always plotting against Harry and Dumbledore. However, all these breaks from the story notwithstanding, the author does keep track of the main theme, which is to show the fight between good and evil, something as simple as that and something that can be digested by old and young alike. When Voldemort tried to kill Harry even before the first novel, when he had actually killed Harry's parents, he had been reduced to nothingness (I hope I am using the correct word) while Harry escaped with just a scar. But the truth is that like evil, Voldemort never goes away. He keeps on coming back in all Potter novels in different forms and in the latest, Order of the Phoenix, he has returned to power yet again. But as expected, Harry and his team are able to beat Voldemort every time...just to encounter him yet again a little later.

Lord of the Rings, on the other hand does go in for a different approach. It is not that the book does not have a central theme. The struggle between good and evil is a theme here, too. But the story offers much more than the childish pranks and thrills of Quidditch. The story goes into the lives of elves and dwarfs and kings every now and then. As if the story line was not enough, the author has also provided a brief history of the different entities in the appendix. The story begins with Bilbo Baggins' adventures where he comes across and possesses a ring, among other treasures. This ring is special and makes the person who wears it invisible. But this is not all about the ring. The ring is a ring of power and forged by the Dark Lord Sauron himself (yes, there is a dark Lord here, too). There are 9 other rings that are already in control of the dark Lord. There are three rings of power that are held and protected against the dark Lord by the elves but this one ring, which was lost in a battle long long ago and has now come under the possession of Bilbo and Frodo, his heir, is the one ring that can be used to control all of the other rings and make Sauron invincible. The wizard, Gandalf, and his friends (including the King Aragorn, who is all slated to regain the throne of Gondor) are those who are on the white side. A team is formed and called the nine walkers that comprises of elves, men, dwarves and of course hobbits. The walkers' plan is to throw the ring in the fire at the mountain of doom where it was originally forged. Frodo, Bilbo's heir and the current possessor of the ring, is chosen as the ring bearer. The walkers, fighting against various odds, singing songs, meeting elves and orcs alike, dying, getting separated and re-united, are finally able to finish their quest and the darkness falls…truth prevails.

Good triumphs over the evil in both these creations, but in ways that are so different in treatment and yet fundamentally alike in concept. The third part of Lord of the Rings, which is also the most successful of the movies (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), probably comes closest to the Harry Potter novels in its treatment. The kind of thrills that this book provides, though more glossy and rich in action, is quite close to the thrill factor in the Harry Potter Quidditch games and the cat and mouse wars between the Potter company and the Voldemort gang.

Given all above and much more that many have said and many more might still talk about, both the writers have done a remarkably good job and have really let the readers' imagination run wild. The reader is actually transported into the land of wizardry, into the battles of the hobbits and the Ringwraiths, into the sky on a broom along side Potter as he searches for the gold Snitch in the game of Quidditch, and into the dark towers of Mordor where Sauron resides, scheming and spreading the darkness. And no, this is not just another gas bag...I am reeling under the effect of Lord of the Rings myself, ever since I completed the book this Sunday (one whole week after I started it)...


Posted at 03:24 pm by Nitai

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Rain Rain go away

The sun baked and water starved streets of Chennai have been receiving more water than they could have ever hoped for in the month of May. It has been raining cats and dogs for the past three days in Chennai and if weather reports are anything to go by, this will continue for another few days. Personally, the rain caught me yet again in the full. So there I was reaching office, fully wet from head to toe one more time.

I have started on the Spiderman novel and believe me, it is interesting. The only minus is that I am reading this after I saw the movie. It does take the fun out of reading, somewhat. The reader is not really able to identify with the events as they are told in the book. In fact, his mind wanders once too many to the events that are yet to come in the book but those that he has already seen in the movie. And that was how I was thinking of the Green Goblin even though I was reading the introductory scene of Harry and Norman Osborne. Pretty disturbing, eh?

Today is my Grand Father's birthday. He turns 79 today. I really am fortunate to have him by my side. He is my idol and even at this age, he is better than most people half his age. He is fit, is an active lawyer, tends his gardens himself and really good when it comes to talking to people. Whether it is the small farmer in the village or the highly qualified doctor from the nearby town, he has both of them interested with his conversation. Not only can he talk to them in their respective dialects, he can also talk sense to them. He knows what interests the doctor and at the same time, he can freely talk to the farmer about his problems. I just wish that I will have this ability myself some day. After all, I do carry his genes...


Posted at 10:38 am by Nitai

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Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Freedom in chains??

Sometimes I really wonder...Is freedom really free? The types of costs associated with freedom make it such a coveted possession that the very freedom of freedom comes under the shadow of doubt. Why I wonder thus, you may ask. When I was preparing for JEE, I had one nice thought in my mind which always used to drive me and that was to aim at a peaceful future where I will have the freedom to choose the way I want to shape my own life.

I used to earnestly believe that an IIT education (or an IT education, as in my case) will help me reach just that position. Infosys has indeed been a revelation, however. I had heard long tales of people putting in long hours at work in IT industry but I always used to pass it off as their lack of competence or their absolute dearth of choice. I had none, I believed, that was till I joined Infosys. I have spent so man night outs (as we call them) here that it is really difficult to talk of freedom and my job in the same breath. The reason why I am cribbing right now is that yesterday was another such night out, and no, it was not because I lacked competence. It was not because I did not have a choice. In fact, I had my Spiderman novel all lined up.

The Global Delivery Model, as envisaged by Infosys and other IT gurus does not work so well if you have an Onsite Offshore ratio of 1:5. The offshore team does need to provide support if there is a single person at Onsite working on a User Acceptance Testing Set Up. Similarly, the onsite person does need to stay awake at nights if there are some critical issues that need to be discussed over the phone and can not be really discussed over the email. This model, though very useful for the people who matter (the client and the company), does not really serve its purpose if you consider all stakeholders.

To cut the long story short, I went home yesterday, or rather today, at about 3 AM and all the way home, I was thinking the dark thoughts that I have put above. But I do tend to forget some things whenever I have these dark thoughts. One such thing in this case has been the time I came to office today..2 PM. Justice, what?


Posted at 05:56 pm by Nitai

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Monday, May 03, 2004
One long day

Another day passes with neither news nor immediate hope of the IIMK results. It is strange, the way this thing has started getting a hold over me. Even after busying myself the whole of the weekend in finally completing the book, Lord of The Rings, I could not help thinking about what will happen.

And the dreams turned traitor, too. Instead of counting sheep as the normally normal people (that is, those who are not abnormally abnormal), I was counting the number of times I keyed in my test registration number on K's results site (There too, I lost the count, finally). I entered a wrong number every time but every time, I saw the Congratulations message being displayed. But Oh my treachorous dream! For the very last time, as soon as I entered my correct credentials, I saw what I was dreading and yet half expecting: Sorry! You have not been selected for PGP 2004-2006 at IIMK. This is not a judgement on your abilities and blah....

Yes, I know that it is not a judgement on my abilities and all that but wouldn't it have been all the better if I had been selected. But nothing to worry, Sonny Boy (as Bertie would have said in one of those PGW novels) because as my Mom keeps pointing out, it is the morning dream that's important. No matter how many times all other dreams make you count sheep (or keying-ins, as in my case), they are all helpless before the One. I was happily wandering in my BHU hostel when I woke up and taking this as sign of days to come, (no, I am not just ready to go back to BHU yet, but you know what I mean, don't you?) I guess that I might be in a good shape after all.

Today was going to be a long day, by all counts. As if thinking and dreading of the results was not enough, my OnSite Coordinator wants support tonight for the User Testing setup. Another matter it entirely is, that I was allowed to come to office late to compensate for staying late. And yet another matter it utterly and completely is, that I still chose to come to office early to beat the Chennai heat, and yet another matter it absolutely and convincingly is, that it rained the whole day today in Chennai (yes, you got that right, in Chennai). Just to add, I got drenched while coming to office, in fact, right at the office gates, so to say.
But the one good thing that happened today is this blog. I don't know how long I am going to keep at it. I don't know if it is just a fad that came to me after reading so many of K people's blogs. But still, here goes my two pence worth...

 


Posted at 07:08 pm by Nitai

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