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.
Monday, May 23, 2005
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away
War! The Republic is crumbling under
attacks by the ruthless Sith Lord, Count
Dooku. There are heroes on both sides.
Evil is everywhere.
In a stunning move, the fiendish droid
leader, General Grievous, has swept
into the Republic capital and kidnapped
Chancellor Palpatine, leader of the
As the Separatist Droid Army attempts
to flee the besieged capital with their
valuable hostage, two Jedi knights lead
a desperate mission to rescue the
Revenge of the Sith completes the circle for all Star Wars fans and fanatics spread all over the world. Having bathed in this genre of movies (yes, it did create a separate genre of its own), the enthusiasts have all been waiting for the moment of reckoning for Anakin Skywalker where he makes the decision that was to clarify the role of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Revenge of the Sith is where Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, it is in this movie where he has the first of the famous duels with Obi-Wan, it is here that the Chancellor of the Republic proclaims himself to be the dark Lord and tranforms into the Emperor...and of course, it is in this movie that are born Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and the Empire.
Technically, Lucas Films have managed to create some masterful stuff that does not fail to get the adrenaline flowing. The light sabers flashing as Obi-Wan fights his best apprentice, the star ship with all its guns blazing, the fighters with their small cockpits and amazing manouverability, the different creatures that inhabit that galaxy far far away, the holographic meetings of the Jedi Council, and of course the stormtroopers with their now famous costumes, are all there in full glory in this movie. The technical supremacy does put a fresh outlook for the new series as compared to the earlier trilogy but then again, the charm in seeing the green little Yoda jumping around with his light saber in the earlier versions can hardly be matched by the too-digital Yoda who fights but is unable to defeat the Sith Lord.
One more way in which the movie scores over (or I should rather say, is different from) the first three is the undertone of evil that it is able to bring in to the characters and situations. Return of the Jedi or even The Empire strikes back were rather soft on the evil and the villains (even Darth Vader in the last one) were reduced to caricatures. Revenge of the Sith, however, brings all the tomfoolery to rest as it brings out the evil in Anakin Skywalker ever so wonderfully and does full justice to that famous conversion of the most powerful Jedi into the most powerful Sith Lord.
For all Star Wars fans, the two most important sequences of the series are explained in this movie...the way Darth Vader is born is, of course, one of them, complete with the Obi-Wan duel and the moral struggles of the frustrated Jedi under the influence of a wily Sith Lord. The other important thing is the prophecy that says of Anakin to be the one who will destroy the Sith and bring balance to the force and how the coming of Darth Vader and the birth of Luke and Leia seem to negate that prophecy but not really so...
The best part about this movie is that despite its entire story being anything but hidden, it makes the things come live with all the drama and all the unexpectedness that a thriller can hope for. It is so difficult to match the expectations of generations of fans who have grown on the cult of the Star Wars series and give them something that they can believe to be a suitable explanation of all that they had been seeing over and over again in the movie re-runs, of all that they had anticipated to be behind it all, of all that their juvenile minds had made up about the story before. It won't be an exaggeration to say that Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith manages to do all that and more.
As far as the performances are concerned, they had to be creditable to convince viewers of the evil that surrounds the birth of Darth Vader and fortunately, apart from my personal Obi-Wan disappointment (Ewan Mcgregor seems as if he has just been woken up and asked to smile and look silly...he is a much better actor than this and Obi-Wan's character a finer one, too), rest of the deal is quite good. Anakin, played by Hayden Christensen is definitely the pick of the lot as he manages to portray on screen, a person who is evil but also show pretty convincingly that the most evil thing about him is that he does not think that what he is doing is wrong. He believes in his evil with all faith and of course, all the force. Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine is sufficiently dark and manages to bring in a fine balance between trying to be evil and turning out to be comically evil. Even the shorter roles like those of Padme (Natalie Portman) and Mace Windu (played by Samuel L. Jackson) are finely etched and performed to a fault.
The direction is adequately done and as I have already mentioned a number of times, manages to bring about a satisfactory culmination of the Star Wars saga through some wonderful undertones that the different characters are made to display. Whether it be the evil of Anakin or the helplessness of Padme, the compulsion and pain of Obi-Wan or the lusty hunger for power of the Emperor...everything has an authentic feel about it.
More than anything else, this movie can be counted upon to bring the force to even those who have been aloof from the saga for so long...the first timers would love the movie and ask for more and as for the veterans, I can only say that it you have not been able to see the movie yet, it can only be because either the tickets were unavailable or because some one or some thing was cracking up pretty badly near you...so in order to get you free from your ticketless or incidentful worries and move on to the nearest special effects rich theatre...may the force be with you!
Posted at 10:02 pm by Nitai
Friday, May 20, 2005
Since I do not have much to do anyways and since there is not much happening in my life either, I just thought that maybe I should do a little plagiarising (from I-don't-remember-which-blog) and use an idea that I have been "inspired" by. So here go the titles and first sentences of the first entry of the month for all the months that I have been blogging. Incidentally, this month also marks the completion of one year of blogging for me (I started off on May 3rd, 2004).
Once compiled, these do make for some interesting reading, at least for me :-)
May 2004 (the 3rd)
One long day
Another day passes with neither news nor immediate hope of the IIMK results.
June 2004 (the 1st)
Working for free
I have been working for free once again, and that too during my last few days at Infy.
July 2004 (the 7th)
Inside God's own country
Finally, I am in IIMK.
August 2004 (the 1st)
The tragic comedy
The play was a mess...
I must bow down to them, the play was a real torture...
Next time onwards, don't let these junkies come on stage without audition...
What a bore...
What have you made these juniors do...
September 2004 (the 1st)
Dahi vadai...garam samosa...masala dosai
I had promised...to serve masala in this post...and so be it.
October 2004 (the 3rd)
9 days and 1250 kms in God's own country
Day 1: 125 kms from Kozhikode to Thrissur
Day 1: 65 kms from Thrissur to Athirappally
Day 2: 70 kms from Athirappally to Kochi
Day 3: 60 kms from Kochi to Aleppey
Day 5: 120 kms from Aleppey to Thekkady
Day 6: 110 kms from Thekkady to Munnar
Day 9: 300 kms from Munnar to Kozhikode
380 kms in no-man's land
1250 kms of bliss in God's own country
November 2004 (the 9th)
There are times when happiness knows no bounds and yet there are others, when there is no limit to the tears that come to the eyes.
December 2004 (the 6th)
Of winning hearts and heartlessness
Life does seem to have taken a strange turn this term.
January 2005 (the 3rd)
Happy New Year!
Bombay, or Amchi Mumbai, as the locals call it lovingly and often with an awe-struck catch in their voice, is one of the cities that has its own memories for me.
February 2005 (the 1st)
Is it the end...or the beginning?
If they ever tell my story
Let them say
that I walked with giants
i was there!
March 2005 (No post)
April 2005 (the 15th)
Getting a hold over my self
It has been four days since I joined PwC (as the HR guys requested, I must be careful how I write it, even if it is in the short form...in full, by the way, it is written as PricewaterhouseCoopers with only the P and the C in caps).
May 2005 (the 2nd)
Birthday celebrations and Patna eat-outs
It was really sweet of Shanu to have been waiting for me to cut his birthday cake.
Posted at 12:38 pm by Nitai
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
A large part of yesterday, directly or indirectly, was devoted to the mid term review presentation of our summers. All the nine of us (from four IIMs and XLRI) were all keyed up for the show and were wondering aloud about the usefulness or futility of the exercise. We were also wondering as to the audience of our review presentations. We knew that our respective project managers will be in attendance, but exactly what would be the representation of HR and the higher echelons (including partners and directors) was still an open question. In fact, that would have decided the seriousness with which we would have gone into the presentation, assuming, of course, that the respective managers were already aware of our work (or the lack of it).
As it turned out...or as I made it turn out, my presentation had its own share of informal stuff which started giving me cold feet just when it was time for the presentations. By the time the schedule came, I was hoping...no praying that they put me first because as Khaitan had so ominously been wondering (aloud, of course,...curse him :-)) during lunch time, what would happen if the partners say that they wanted me to skip the cartoons and come to the real part. It was not all cartoons, my presentation, but I was still banking on the toons to give that different class to my stuff. The schedule, of course, did not have my name at all. The first six were listed and as for me, Sandipan and another guy from IIMA, with none of us being in the data warehousing projects, we were put on hold.
Fortune takes strage turns, though. Not sooner than I had come back and settled into my seat worrying about my late turn, the presentation co-ordinator came and told me that I had been called by the HR head. Strangely enough, all the time that I was going up the elevator to meet him, I was thinking that he had probably gone through my presentation and was now calling me to admonish me over the cartoons. It was not that, fortunately and more fortunately, he wanted me to start the presentations since the project manager, I was reporting to, would not be available later in the evening. The cartoons went off really well with the two of them and the PM actually seemed to be a Dilbert fan and had already read most of the cartoons I had displayed in my presentation...what good fortune indeed!
The icing on the cake was that the senior partners and directors (just the four of them, actually) came in the latter half of my presentation and as per custom (of not interfering if one is not present from the beginning), did not ask any questions though they did witness the juiciest parts of my presentation. As I came to know later, they were unrelenting and untiring with the other trainees whose presentations followed mine. I got off on this count, too.
As for the other trainees, as I mentioned already, none of them were spared the quick wit and technical skills of the partners. Most of them were on the wrong side of the verbal gun yesterday and were cursing me for my luck...well, a dog has to have his day some day, what say!!! (a nice rhyme, by the way ;-))
But then, there are a lot of things yet to be done. As my project manager told me at the end of it all, the most significant thing that is going to determine my success or failure in this summer internship program is going to be my final gap analysis report which will be a sort of testimonial to my efforts.
I may not have realized it but the presentation had been a source of tension for me over the last few days. When I came back to the PG after the presentation, I immediately fell dead on the bed. As Asif told me later, I had been snoring away to glory, completely oblivious to all the hullaboo that was happening around me with music playing, people shouting and chatting and what not. Though I did go for the guitar lessons when I got up, I did not particularly put my soul into it yesterday...absolutely no practice and almost imperceptible interest in what was happening.
Coming back to the PG, I found that I had been locked out twice in a row (day before yesterday was a late night because of the Joe Satch show). Luckily (my luck was too good yesterday *cross fingers...touch wood*), the maid came to open the door and thus, the PG Aunty had no way of knowing that it was the same guy who had interrupted her dreams two nights in a row with a phone call in the dead of the night (which she defines as 10:30 PM, by the way).
I must start with the rest of my project work pretty soon if I am to complete the thing in time but then, I have to wait for access to be given to me for the new system and only then can I do something worthwhile. As for the time before that, I guess it is going to be another round of net surfing, blog reading, some chatting (at least as much as the highly erratic messenger connection allows me), perhaps even an e-book reading or who knows...there might just be some work :-)
Posted at 11:25 am by Nitai
Monday, May 16, 2005
My Yahoo status message reads: "apun ka weekend...15 hours of movies, 3 hours of guitar concert, 6 hours of French classes, 8 hours of guitar practice, 1/2 hour of work". It does give me a pretty good idea of what I will have to write if I were to cover the events of the past two days. And that is precisely what I am going to do because presenting life as it goes past me gives me the biggest licence to express myself and my thoughts in the way I want to. So here goes...
Kya kool hain hum is an absolute timepass but in the league of movies I like, you will never find a place for this Tushaar (I don't know the latest spelling) and Ritesh starrer. Above everything else, it makes an absolute mockery of the feminine gender and societal issues. In fact, I am pretty surprised why no feminist group has taken up arms against the movie yet. It is so insensitive that it glorifies rape by trying to base the entire story on how a female police officer (the paan-chewing and naturally-sensuous-but-still-trying-to-shed-clothes Isha Koppikar) tries to entice a serial rapist killer suspect into raping her so that she can catch him red-handed. On the other side, the other female lead (who else but Neha Dhupia would be fit for this) tries the same with a guy who she thinks is in love with her brother...man, how uncool can you be!
Main aisa hi hoon, though a non-starter, will certainly find a place of pride in my movie list. Apart from Devgan's acting (which, once again, turns out to be two notches above the rest), the entire plot and the supporting cast (including the for-a-change-looking-good Esha Deol) make for an interesting movie. To add to the flesh, there is the extremely graceful Sushmita Sen (I have been thinking lately...I know it is hard to digest for me but probably she did deserve to win over Aish) and one gifted performer in the girl who plays Devgan's daughter in the movie. The sentiments and emotions are all there in the movie but in as much restrain as ideal...no overdose of loud guffaws or sobs...a balanced directorial outlook and some decent music, too.
It was the third time or so that I feasted myself on these two of Tarantino's amazing works. Personally, I prefer the original Kill Bill to the much hyped sequel. The way Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu fight it out on the snow in the climax of the movie and the scenes in the middle where Thurman demolishes her enemies are pretty much in a different league. Kill Bill 2 is darker and perhaps because of this, did not appeal so much to me. Luckily, I got some amazing prints of the two movies and enjoyed them a great deal.
Swordfish was the umpteenth time, too and so was Face-off. Nevertheless, the movies were on as soon as I heard the familiar Travolta attitude-filled tone coming from the speakers of Anurag's (my PG mate) laptop. Swordfish is certainly meant to be enjoyed all the more by the geeky types...or at least those who know the difference between a 64 bit encrypted string and say...a rope string :-). Halle Berry is great, BTW. Face-off, of course, is full of spice and dares you to let your eyes go off the screen for even an instant. Full of chills and thrills, the chemistry between Nicholas Cage and Travolta is electrifying (BTW, the Amitabh-Bajpai effort in Aks was not bad, either).
The God of guitar was in town. The first ever western music conert by an international artist (I have had quite some experiences of desi bands trying to play foren music) that I attended, I found it worth all the money and hype. Rushing past the barricade into the higher-priced stall was fun as long as it lasted but once we settled down (which is to be read as "once we started to shout our heads off while head banging to the music), the magic began. He really deserves the praise that is heaped upon him and man, does that guy have some stamina! He plays music like triple octave on his guitar (or maybe, I should say guitars, given the frequency with which he was changing them) and keeps moving to the lower end of the fret board, feels as hot as some one in a furnace and yet keeps stringing away for two and a half straight hours without any sort of a break.
The basic difference between an Indian music exponent and Joe Satriani (as also others I have seen performing in video) is, in my humble opinion, one related to the intended audience and its importance in the concert. While the typical Indian musician plays for a higher power (or spirit) and interacts more with his/her music than the audience, a western music performer relies on adrenaline to take the concert through. To get the required dosage, these performers have to be on a platform where they can hear people root for them, shout out, and bang their heads. This is what drives them and this is what gets the best out of them.
The French classes have slowed down a bit or perhaps, all of us in the batch have become a lot more comfortable. Personally, I felt that a lot more could have been covered in the class and we could have gone to at least one level higher in the two days. But there must be purpose in the way things went and the people who designed the course, of course know much more than I do about what they should be doing. And anyways, if we are able to understand this much this quickly, all the better for us.
Unfortunately, I had to miss three straight days of guitar lessons on account of night outs and presentation preparation and what not but I did manage to get in some quality practice time. I am worried about the final shape that this thing is going to take, however. The time that I am spending on this activity, though quite a lot in absolute magnitude, appears quite small when I try to relate it to what I have really learnt. It will suffice to say that in two odd weeks, I haven't progressed much and given the little time remaining, I am forced to think...
After arranging a string of cartoons for my presentation, I did not want to change it and spoil the effect by adding any text :D. All the topics had been covered through some typically satirical Dilbert, CnH and Peanuts cartoons and the real content was as good (or as bad) as a disturbance in the scheme of things. Sivaram (the IIMC guy interning with me) suggested that I let the presentation remain as it is and give printouts of the actual presentation to the audience. Good idea but I did not take the risk and instead put in the real stuff in my presentation itself in a way that the cartoons came first and gradually gave way to the more serious (and relevant ;-)) text.
I have been tweaking the presentation since morning today and have just come back after what, I would say, was a pretty successful and comfortable presentation. This post has ran into quite some length now so I will post more about my presentation and those of my fellow trainees in the next post. Till then...
Posted at 05:26 pm by Nitai
Friday, May 13, 2005
The usual crib and some more
The post-a-day run seems to have run out (literally) and I am back to keeping irregular rendez-vous with the blog. However, it is not too irregular, either considering that I am still able to write about almost everything that has been happening out here in my life and around.
A one-off quiz that I took at one of those livejournal quiz sites put me down (or should it be up?) as a life blogger, essentially someone who writes about what has been happening in his/her life, whether or not that is interesting read for others. I don't know how far it reflects on my blog or on myself, but then again, questions at the seriousness (and the need for it) of blogging keep popping up every now and then. I keep wondering if I should start testing my PG Wodehouse memories and try to re-style some incident (real or fictional) a la Woodie just for the heck of fulfilling that long-hidden desire to write. On the contrary, should I continue to write about things that happen in my life, just as they are...or should I go back to writing about, in addition to the events themselves, my feelings regarding those events and associated people?
Probably, the last one is out of the question, what with the feelings of others involved and all that...but as between the first and the second choices, I am often confused. That is the reason why my blog is home to movie and book reviews (based on whatever little understanding that I have of them), too and not just my raves and rants...and yes, the occasional blurting out of what I have been thinking, even at the risk of sounding like a "serious blogger" and thus putting off some people, certainly adds to the diversity.
Updating the blog regularly or not, one thing that I have been doing regularly nowadays is to not let a second tick by without doing anything enjoyable. Continuing in the same mode, Dan Brown series seems to be over, with the last of my collection, "Deception Point", getting wolfed down last evening. Although science and its discoveries do make their entry into this novel, but the political overtones make it a tad different. I must say that such political thrillers should be best left to the the likes of Jeffery Archer and Co. and Dan Brown should have focused on what he does best, science, religion, symbolism, and of course, thrills.
The story is all about NASA, which is on the brink of being privatized and since it is election time, the NASA is not alone in getting the mud heaped on them. The President of the United States has to save his office from the allegations of overbudgeting and loss making that have been brought forward by his primary opponent in the presidential race. A big help comes to the NASA and the President when a discovery is made of a meteorite with fossilized remains of extra terrestrial life, proving beyond a doubt, the worth of all investments made in the NASA.
The President, in order to bring all doubts and cynicism to rest given the volatile time of impending elections, engages the help of four civilian scientists and the White House's liasion officer, who incidentally happens to be the daughter of the President's opponent, and an embittered daughter at that. The book's title leaves no room for doubt as to what happens next but the way it happens is Dan Brown's forte. He tries to keep the identity of the villain hidden and probably succeeds, too but only for the naive ;-). My logic behind outguessing a Dan Brown novel stands vindicated after yet another of his character-building-followed-by-partial-demolition exercises.
The Joe Satriani show is finally happening in Kolkata on Sunday (at the Ravindra Sarobar stadium) and tell you what, I have got the tickets. Widely touted as The GOD of Guitar, Joe Satriani is credited with tutoring guitar greats like Steve Vai and others including lead guitarists of bands like Metallica, amongst many more. This is probably the first time that I shall be attending a concert by an international artist and it will be interesting to observe the difference between them (or at least the sole representative of them, whom I will be watching this Sunday) and the exponents of Indian classical music, whose numerous shows have graced my graduate college (IT-BHU), situated right in the seat of the Indian classical music, Varanasi. More on that, however, in the next post on Monday.
Monday also promises to be an important day at work. The mid term review of our summer projects is scheduled for Monday afternoon and all the summer trainees in the TAS division are to present a half hour each presentation on what they have done so far and what they shall be doing in the remaining month that they are here in the company. The audience of the presentation is expected to be quite high profile with directors of the company, senior project managers and of course, the HR team planning to attend. I have just kicked off with preparing the presentation. Trying to make it look a little different from what others are going to present (I am sure that in the midst of all IIM students, it will be difficult to score much on the presentation style alone), I have decided to take some risk and go a little informal, making a statement through cartoons and some bold contours on neutrally colored and level plains of presentation slides.
In the meanwhile, the fingers of my left hand (especially the little finger) continue to play tricks with my brain's pain cells and the first few minutes of guitar practice every day get wasted in gingerly checking if I can still handle those strings without some permanent damage to my 'pinky' (this is the term my guitar instructor has for the little finger :-)). French classes are going to happen tomorrow and day after and I have not gone through anything that was taught the last weekend :-). Rohit is in town and I will be meeting him tomorrow and the first question that he is going to ask is about the alumni freshers' meet, which I haven't done anything about :-).
Now that my cribbing is over, I can peacefully go back to preparing my presentation...Dilberts and Dogberts of the world, here I come... :-)
Posted at 01:40 pm by Nitai