Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Kokomo and other good luck charms....

Rarely has a song influenced a certain event in my life more than "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys. I would tend to believe it's more than coincidence.It's almost been a good luck charm for me (and my team) whenever we have heard the song before/during a quiz. The other good luck charm is something on the lines of the dance the All-Blacks do before they play a game of Rugby. Something which might raise a few eyebrows, considering the violence involved!

It all started out with the BQC of 1994-95 when we were driving to Nanavati in Skywalker's car one foggy November morning and the usual morning show was on Radio MidDay. What plays...Kokomo....and thats where it all started. Back then Nanavati studios was a bit of an underground lair. While getting ready I happened to knock my head against an AC vent overhead. Since then, the minor head-banging became part of the school quiz team and Similar Aspirations "start-up" routine! I know Skywalker sure wasnt amused to get his banged around by me!

I know someone reading this will attribute Campion and SimAsp successes (and failures) to the presence of some folks who were regular flag waving "well-wishers", but then I cant but help wonder and ponder on Kokomo and the head-banging routine! To the VTS one(s) and Saam...Thanks a ton!

And so that's that.....

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Eknath Solkar - RIP

Eknath Solkar passed away in Bombay today. The first time I heard his name was probably in the late 80s or early 90s, when his 'office team' won one of the local tournaments in Bombay - it was either the Kanga League or the Times Shield. ToI (which back then was quite a good newspaper) had profiled him and his achievements for India. I was quite surprised that someone was playing (and winning) local league cricket for his office well after his India career had ended.

What I didn't appreciate back then (rather didnt realize) was the huge difference he made fielding close-up for India, that too without a helmet. I cant think of a greater close-in fielder than him. Today the Shiv Sunder Das', Laxmans and Chopras all field with varying degrees of protection, but back then the helmet was not around and most people just crouched at forward short leg and took the pounding if and when it came. Raman Lamba was unfortunate to take a blow to the head which turned out to be fatal.

And so Ekkie Solkar passes on......and quite flows the Don....


Happened to be driving by University Hills yesterday evening, and found a notice about the 'open house' at the observatory. The UCI observatory is located on a dirt track off the main drive in University Hills, affording a grand view of the whole of Irvine. It was a mindblowing view to just look out on the town. We could see planes land and take off from John Wayne, and somewhere in the distance there were fireworks. The dirt-track leading to the observatory is unlit and we had to navigate it by the light of the moon and my cellphone. It's also supposedly cougar country, but then none of us really worried too much! It's one of those places where the serenity (cougars notwithstanding) just takes your breath away, and I do plan on taking a walk there sometime. It was also a bit of a coincidence that I had been talking to NA about stargazing the previous evening.

My exploits with astronomy have been pretty limited, but I have gazed out at the stars on many a clear night and taken it all in. I'm good enough to make out Orion's belt and Mars and Venus in the twilight sky - the buck stops there with me. I do remember hanging with my building gang back in 1996-97, watching the Hyukatake comet whizz past in the sky. I also have vague memories of being woken up one night when I was 5, to look at the Halley's Comet. At that time it was amusing to think that I wouldnt see the Halley's comet again, unless I was alive into my 80s! AN and I still have a running joke about the Hale-Bopp comet - it reminds us of Cyndi Lauper's song "She-bop"!

Apparently Venus, Mercury and Saturn align in a straight line today(June 25), and the open house was probably in anticipation of it. The main UCI telescope was focused on a nebula 30,000 light years away (!!!). Most of the folks were quite disappointed just to wait 1-1.5h just to see a few white specks on a black background through an eyepiece. But the sheer magnitude of the distance is a humbling thought - much like we look at cells and organelles under a microscope.

We also got an opportunity of seeing Jupiter and Saturn last night in all their glory. We could see the cloud layers on both planets - we couldnt see the red spot on Jupiter, coz the telescope wasnt powerful enough I guess.

It's going to be a heavy duty weekend, with a lot of thinking and analysis - academic and personal. There is the old adage, that it is "written in the stars". I have not really been a firm believer in that, but then was reminded of it last night at the observatory. The next 2 weeks are going to be crucial for me as I take important decisions - some short-term and some long-term, some I love making, but a few which I feel I would be better off not thinking about. I just hope that the plans dont come to naught and I end up with half a page of scribbled lines. Yeah, Pink Floyd's "Time" does ring true oh-so-often. So please do keep your fingers crossed for my sake and hope that it all works out for the best.

And so that's that....

What's buzzing:
Yanni...Live at the Acropolis...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Soda, Jap-cakes, Sunshine Snack Corner and some Ecstasy...

As always, something had to inspire me into posting. This time it was Sunil's memories of the Bangalore Iyengar bakeries and other places he frequented through his school-days.

Most people who know me will probably vouch for my ravenous appetite - it's a different story that none of it shows (except for that not-so-minor-now paunch). I love food, plain and simble. I got my sweet tooth from Amma's side, while the love for savouries came from Achan's side! Quite a combination indeed.

My earliest memories of food would probably be of my maternal grandmother's fried fish (yeah I hear some people going "Siva Siva!!!"). The story about my request for "mo' phish" like Oliver Twist has been repeated innumerable times, that it's almost like family folklore now. Yeah I still relish fried fish. I long for the day I'll be home in Coimbatore, and I can say the same thing to Amma!

I was introduced to the pleasures of plain soda at the age of 3 by my maternal grandfather. Almost every night he'd have half a bottle of plain soda, and I'd get my share in a kutty stainless steel tumbler (geez, it's been ages since I used that word!).

Summer vacations and visits to Coimbatore would be incomplete without jilebis, mysurpa(k) and japanese cakes. I really used to love digging into the juicy j's and mouthwatering mysurpa. There always would be a 6-pack of j-cake waiting for me when I went to the Ammammas' house. Yes, I got addicted to this stuff thanks to my grandparents and grand aunts! Even during my college days, there have innumerable times (on my visits to Odyssey) I've popped in at SKS next door and gobbled a J or Mysurpa(k). Cant wait to do it soon!

Growing up in Bombay exposed me to stuff other than what "mom would like you to eat". I remember buying Ravalgaon's "Pan Pasand" for 25p apiece at the bus-stop while returning from school. When Amma heard about it, she thought I'd get hooked onto it. Needless to say I'm not hooked, but I wonder if the sweet is still manufactured nowadays!

Sunshine Snack Corner was this snack bar around the corner from where I used to stay. It was run by a bunch of bawas/baawis and they sure dished out some really delicious stuff. Their frankies were just out of this world (My mouth just watered at the thought of it!). Apparently some 20 years ago when I went there with my cuzin, I told the guy there "Gold Spot lao.....jaldi lao!". I presume it's a figment of my cuzin's fertile imagination, but yet again the story has been repeated so many times that it's again family folklore now!

Speaking of Gold Spot, it was a HUGE favorite when I was in Hyd. I must have been 2 then, and loved my "Gol-pot", coz it had those rubbery "things under the cap" which had characters from the cartoon Jungle Book. Limca became a favorite, till I had to drink a 300 ml bottle in 10 seconds and answer questions at the Limca Quiz. One Antara Datta (or one of her cronies) ran into a bit of trouble at the quiz once and showered the other teams with Limca. Needless to say the rest of us were so honored that we gifted the La Marts girls the quiz!

College days were the days of chola-poori in the canteen. God knows how many of that Bhillu/Dosai/Puffy/Venks and me wolfed down. Cant ever forget how we'd wait for the clock to strike 4pm and then hangout at the canteen, discussing the days events over pepsi and chola poori. Somehow I never touched the "meals" even once in my college days! Yes, those were good days! I got hooked to spaghetti thanks to the maan himself, Sunil, who back then was an awesome cook - presume he still rocks...should ask Arati for her opinion!

The Infy days were largely spent eating out. No cold coffee/Starbucks Frappuccino will ever come close to the Ecstasy the Mavanes, Yu and Pu used to have at CCD inside Keonics. In Aamanthran and Sukh Sagar, my orders are part of Mavane legend! It always would be Butter naan with either butter chicken or panneer masala as the side-dish. I have been woken up on occasion at 2am to hear that someone was eating my favorite dishes. Ah, and who can forget the awesome egg curry we used to get in the Old Infy building food court. Magnifico! Oh yeah, and the Dominos pizzas on weekends...

Sometime soon I'll be back and possibly check out the old haunts with the gang. Till then it's fingers and toes crossed....

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Playing midfield

Was talking to "Paolo" a few months ago about getting back to playing football (or soccer for all you Americans). I hadnt played it in a long time, especially after my knee injury, and felt really good playing it after what seemed like ages. Watching Euro 2004 was a bit of a strain, especially since my legs got itchy seeing all that fancy footwork from the likes of Zidane, Figo et al.

For some reason, I played very few soccer games during my college days back in Chennai - it was more cricket and basketball. Guys like Pedo, Bhillu and Avishek were regulars on the ACTech football team and used to practice regularly.

So the discussion invariably lead to what positions we played at. Paolo, much like his idol Maldini played defence, while I would like to think I played as a sweeper ala Beckenbauer. Paolo's riposte to this was "Ah, jidhar ball jaaye, udhar gol maare! You can literally score for both teams!", which had both of us in splits. But Paolo being the nice guy he is, clarified that the phrase actually personified midfielders! Ever since, the midfielder has come to personify someone unsure about something and happy to go either way (in a charitable way), and someone who will play for both sides (in an uncharitable way)!

Was walking in Aldrich Park (the central park around which UCI is built) this morning, ruminating on some stuff. I enjoy company, but there are some times when I just need some time on my own, all alone - this was one of those times. It's been two long years here, and to say that I look forward to going home and seeing my folks would be an understatement. I have seen the changes in me and around me. I thought I was a thinker back when I was in college, but having come here, that skill has been sharpened a great deal. Out here I make ALL my own decisions and face the consequences, be it as simple as buying a can of coke or something as tough as planning a skydive!

I have made my share of mistakes and have learned from them. There have been "twice-bitten" cases, but I can rest assured that the third occasion does not/will not arise. I have tried assimilating whatever advice folks pass my way. Most of the time it's been helpful to a large extent, although there have been times I have ignored the warning signs and plunged headlong only to hit the bottom of the pool.

There are certain issues where I have played attacker, and some where I have been content to play midfield (in a good way ofcourse). Like I said in an earlier post, it's all about what one really wants. A chat earlier this weekend with a friend from Chennai also got me (and him) thinking about the pros and cons of the PhD. I definitely want to finish my PhD from a good school, that's for sure - for now I dont know which one it will be! For now I do believe that I dont want to be second-guessed on this one. I may not have a 5-figure salary (bordering on 6) right now, which undoubtedly will be a disappointment to some folks, but five years down the line I have faith that this investment of time/money/patience and a whole lotta other stuff will pay its dividends. It's all about keeping the faith and not losing hope, and also being honest with yourself.

"Bill Gates", "Chris Rock" and I had a very interesting discussion over lunch the other day up in San Jose. Have known them from my college days, thru Infy and now in the US. The last time we met was on Elliott's Beach as the sun set on a fab evening - I think we hung out in and around the beach all day! 3 folks, about as similar as you can get, but with totally different outlooks on life. Bill and Chris both have steady jobs (thankfully), and naturally their folks are on the lookout for a suitable spouse. Bill and "Nancy Drew" have known each other since the first semester of college and have been thru thick and thin together. Both parents are ok with the match, but then the chief protagonists are still unsure, so it's pretty much a roadblock there. Chris, despite all the jokes is pretty worried about the next India trip for whatever surprises it may throw up! The M-word is a non-no nowadays! Ultimately we conclude it's all about holding on/out for what we want, which neednt necessarily be the same as what our parents want for us. But then at the end of the day it's up to the individual to decide whether to pursue something, or just let it die a natural death. Like the adage goes, you can bring the horse to the water-hole, but u cant make it drink! There are a zillion things which might have meant a fair bit to us a few years ago, but today they're just bricks in the wall!

I'm content to otherwise play midfield on the M-issue and a host of others. I have more than enough on my plate, and handling a few more tensions isnt worth it! I got the surprise of my life a few weeks ago, and whatever people may say about omens (reading Paulo Coelho a fortnight ago doesnt help matters!), it's 'better' (using that word with a lot of care/apprehension) to think beyond the present on omens and the like. I guess even the people who kid me about things (some over the past 4-5 years about DESTINY) do realize that everything has a 'darker shade of pale' too! But yes, there has been a bit of a paradigm shift in the way I have analyzed the situation on second/third/n-th thoughts! It reminds me of the discussion I had with a friend the other day about the rules (she called it the 'gospel') we live by. Her gospel seemed simple enough - there is no gospel! She claims she realized this over the years, as her views on different things in life changed with age. I wouldnt analyze things too radically, but I guess our views on things change gradually (for better/worse), but yet certain core values remain the same. She refuses to agree with me on that, counter-arguing that it's against her 'gospel' to have core values! To each man/woman his own!

And so that's that....a pithy patchy post...

What's buzzin...
Blue Oyster Cult...

Farewell Dr. Armstrong

While waiting in line to pick up my graduation gown and cap, I happened to pick up the latest issue of the UCI Alumni Association monthly newsletter. It came as a HUGE shock to read that Dr. Kevin Armstrong was no more. He was just 39!

Dr. A was the doc I consulted when I twisted my knee last year in that infamous accident near Santa Barbara. I still remember sitting in the consulting room at the Med Center waiting to meet Dr. A, and in walks this tall, well built gentleman (I thought he would have played in the NFL!) with a wide smile and booming laugh. For some reason when he examined my knees, I was worried that he just might crack a bone or two, but then he treated it so gingerly - a far cry from that sukdu Dr. Z in Santa Barbara, who tried putting my knee back together without any anesthesia! Like his name, he sure looked strong-armed. Infact he worked with the Pittsburgh Steelers on their medical staff for a few years before he joined UCI.

Over the next couple of months, I made quite a few follow-up visits, and each time I met him we joked about this and that. He kept kidding me about being weak kneed and its implications on finding a suitable girl (Aeromsith memorably sang on the topic of falling in love being hard on the knees!). [I didnt know back then that he was single, and had been voted by PEOPLE magazine as one of the top 50 bachelors in the USA, a huge honor on the celeb circuit; especially to be named up there along with Ben Affleck and other guys women swoon over!].

He was a good man, a humble man. A lot of the people I have worked with and spoken to at the Med Center held Dr. A in great esteem. Dr. S was telling me this afternoon, "He made a mark wherever he went, and made a huge difference in peoples lives". He sure left his mark on my knees.

So here I am, with stronger knees, "playing midfield", ready to take on the world. Everytime I admire 'em quadriceps, I pay tribute to a great man.

Dr. Armstrong - RIP...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Pink Floyd reunited!

This is awesome! Been 24 long years .....

A Mumbaikar in Madras...

Sunil summed up the whole idea of being a student from the vernacular medium studying in an English-medium institute like Anna U on his blog the other day. It inspired me into writing my own views on the whole experience of being an "outsider" in Anna University, like the proverbial
Englishman in New York - recognized, but not really accepted!

Anna University has its set of what Dr.O called "hindi-kaarans". These folks were generally non-Tamilians who generally were from the Northern parts of the country, and from Day-1 itself were singled out for special treatment, both from their peers and from a few professors. I for one didnt really face much of this special treatment from my seniors, as I was a day scholar, plus there were folks who were nice enough to play "protector"!

Being from Bombay, word had gotten around about me on the first day itself, and I was pretty much a marked man. With all due respect to the average guy in Anna U, most of them look like a cross between T. Rajendran and Vadivel. The Leather Tech department was full of the rowdiest of the rowdies, and I got scorched pretty bad by a few folks there. I wasnt spared by the Biotech seniors either (both absolute pussycats as I'd discover later), who got together with two hulks of seniors from my department and ragged the daylights out of me in the ACTech canteen. But I was spared any major ragging thankfully. [Have heard a lot about Sunil's ragging abilities, but he fortunately spared me!!!]. The NCC interview ofcourse was a different story, with Messrs. Mothivel and Hariprasad (along with Sathish and Bruce skewering my best cadet chances with questions outside the 'curriculum').

Overall I got along pretty well with all the professors except two gentlemen - O and Gunz. O as mentioned earlier has generally had his knives out for every non-Tamilian student passing thru ACTech. Combined with the fact that I was a Mallu to boot, he had a sword ready for me. All the same it wasnt much fun having it dangle over my head, as he put deadline after deadline by which I was supposed to converse with him in pure Tamil, which naturally never happened, leading to many a snide remark over the next 2 years. I had the misfortune of having him as my viva examiner for an Organic Chemistry lab, which got me very close to scoring a 'cup'. But overall, he was a decent professor who taught fairly well and was concerned about ensuring that everyone understood whatever he taught.

Gunz was O's sidekick who taught us Math in the 3rd semester. For some weird reason, all the questions in class, kept getting directed at me and I got marked off for all the times (pretty much 100%) of the time I couldnt answer the question. Man, am I glad to have got past 3rd semester!

3rd semester was the craziest semester we AC-techers went through! Berchmans' lab...Cup-Kali's theory and lab....Karthiyaswami's weird Electrical Engg lab....Iyengar-saami's Strength of Materials class....Chinnakali's Materials Science class....amazing days!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The forgotten.....

Prem's post (which linked me to an article by Rajaraman in Outlook) got me thinking about a couple of cricketers who were considered bright prospects, but for reasons unbeknown just never made it big, or had the chance to perform at the highest levels.

I am a firm believer in the general prevalence of a 'godfather' system in the Indian selection system. The 'quota'-raj ofcourse needs to be thrown out sooner rather than later, if we have to have the best team. There have been umpteen cases of lesser mortals donning the Indian cap at the expense of a few good men.

Sometime back Dr. Ramachandra Guha had conjectured on the scenario had Rajinder Goel played for India. He played before my time, and unfortunately I dont think I have seen films of him in action either. I think he was rated up there with the Spin Quartet, but never got a look-in because it would have meant dropping Bedi! In an interview with Cricinfo a couple of years ago, he was pretty matter-of-fact in stating that had he been born in another era, he would have been a shoo-in for the Indian cricket team. Paddy Shivalkar and Dilip Doshi were two other good spinners who lost out like Goel. (Doshi did play 33 tests, picking up 114 wickets, but had an uneasy equation with Sunny that ultimately led to the end of his stint with the Indian team).

Sometime in the early 90s the Haryana Ranji team was a force to reckon with on the domestic circuit. Besides Kapil, Chetan Sharma and a young Aja Jadeja, there was a (roly-poly) gentleman named Amarjeet Kaypee who just kept piling the runs on (to use a cricketing cliche!). He holds the record for the maximum runs scored in the Ranji Trophy (a record that was previously held by another pocket roller and joker called Ashok Malhotra), but never came close to being considered for the Indian team. It came as no surprise to hear his gripes.

One exclusion which has always intrigued me has been Amol Muzumdar's. He was (and is) one talented bloke, but has never gotten his due from the selectors. It is unfortunate that he too played in an era when the Indian middle-order was packed with the likes of Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar and Ganguly. Now with the emergence of Kaif and Yuvraj, I don't see him making the team. Like Rajinder Goel, he will probably go down in the books as one of the greatest Indian batsmen never to have played for India.

Kanwaljeet Singh, the right arm offie for Hyderabad was infinitely more talented than his Hyd counterpart Venkatapathy "Muscles" Raju, but the closest he came to donning Indian colors was when he played for India 'A' against the touring England 'A' side in 1994-95. Though people say that his age was a factor, I guess it was more than that. The selectors probably had forgotten one Pat Symcox who played for the Proteas well into his forties, and was belting the bowlers all over the park!

Vikram Rathour
and Sunil Joshi were two guys who made their debut on the Indian tour of England in 1996-97. Both had done extremely well in the first-class season in India, Rathour with the bat, while Joshi was being touted as the next all-rounder! But then the pitches in England and S.Africa exposed Rathour's inadequacies and he lost his place in the side. The reason he got a look-in was probably as a candidate for the opening slot. Joshi did marginally better than Rathour, but again just faded pretty much into oblivion with the rise of Harbhajan and Murali Kartik. The all-rounder debate still rages on. We have had flashes glimpses, caught out of the corner of our eyes - Agarkar's century at Lords, Irfan Pathan's bat-wielding skills are impressive, Zaheer hoicking Olonga out of the ground; but nothing which we can rely on as yet!

There hasn't been a single Mallu of note who has made waves on the domestic (forget international) cricket scene (Author's note: We're getting parochial arent we!). In my humble opinion, neither Abey Kuruvilla nor Tinu Yohannan (I cant think of any other Mallu who has made it to the Indian cricket team) were Indian-team material. KP Bhaskar was a force to reckon with on the domestic circuit in the mid-80s through the early 90s with Delhi (yeah, all Mallus prosper when they're out of the motherland!). Sambit Bal from Cricinfo paid tribute to the gentleman the other day in an interesting article.

In Sambit's article, he speaks about a few cricketers who were domestic lions, but tame pussycats on the big stage - Ashok Mankad, Brijesh Patel, Ashok Malhotra. Kambli and Graeme Hick (to digress a bit from the Indian system) were two players who were destined for better things, but just never made it big. [I think Hick is the only cricketer in the last 20 years to have scored a century of first-class centuries]. Kambli simply took it easy once he belted the Pommies and hapless Zimbabweans in 1993, while Hick just couldnt handle pace. I remember the Windies tour of India in 1994-95, when Kambli's weakness came to the fore and all of us in class were fervently hoping that he would manage to overcome it. Sad to say, he never did, and remains te prime example of the Indian cricketer who had everything going for him, but never lived up to his talents.

All these guys got "opportunities to fail" (as Sambit put it). On the other hand, poor KP Bhaskar (and Amarjeet Kaypee and Rajinder Goel) will forever remain "what-could-have-beens" questions in Indian cricket!

[This was started out on June 2nd 2005, and finished on June 7th, as u can see!]

Whodunnit in the Army?

Looks like the scandal over the Brigadier who sold Pak plans in the '65 war is making huge headlines. For some reason I find it tough to believe that such a thing happened, and if it did, then like Col.(retd.) Athale wrote, "the Pakistani army would have had to be extraordinarily dumb!".

But yet, the man crying wolf is an eminent Pakistani and son of the Pak President at that time, Ayub Khan. Being a former minister (I think he was the Foreign Minister), I could bet that he knows better than to make empty allegations. And judging by his reaction on being given a list of names by Outlook, I suspect some hero is going to take a fall soon. 3 of the names in that list are familiar army heroes, the most famous one ofcourse being Field Marshal Manekshaw, besides OP Malhotra and GG Bewoor who were both Army chiefs.

As far as I know, in 1965 the Indian Army was within striking distance of Lahore when the white flag was raised and they pulled back (presumably under pressure from some quarter). Taking all this into account, I suspect someone just might have given the Pakistanis the wrong plans! Like the grandson of Deep Throat, we can declare the dude who leaked the plan a hero's salute!


And so Mr. Advani has been making polite noises on his visit to Pakistan. With every passing day he comes up with something "sweet". I shake my head in disbelief! It's ok Mr. Advani, we believe that u werent involved in any conspiracy to assassinate Jinnah.

As I write this, Rediff has a headline which says that Advani has resigned as the BJP President. What will we hear next? "Advani takes sanyas on Mount Kailash"??

It sure was amusing to read that Mr. Advani called Jinnah a man of "impeccable secular credentials". And December 6th 1992 was the saddest day of his life! (Yeah, I am dating Kate Hudson!). As far as I know, Jinnah always wanted two countries, divided on the basis of religion. The end was simply "accelerated" by PJ Nehru's greed for the coveted PM's post (kissa kursi ka, circa 1947)! Although Patrick French (Jinnah's biographer) might call Gandhi a wily politician, imho Gandhi was helpless and hopelessly outmaneuvered by Nehru and gang in pressing for the 2-nation solution! Gandhi was a prisoner of his own conscience (to a large extent) and to a lesser extent I'd put the blame for a few of India's woes squarely on his shoulders. Nehru is ofcourse responsible for the majority of the problemos, though his undoings balanced his doings!

Wonder how many days more Mr. Advani has in Pakistan, and what else he can come up with? Will he apologize for the 1971 war? Will he toe the line of Mushy that Kargil never happened?
I frankly think the man has lost his marbles!

So that's that!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Michael Palin online!

While googling for a link for my previous post, I came across this fabulous site, which has everything on Michael Palin's travels online! Books, photos, THE WORKS!

Vee, now u can read 'em all!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Book tagged...at last!

After reading a couple of book tag memes, I had been fervently wishing someone would tag me. It took a good month or a little more, and finally it was Sunil (who's balanced his life) who tagged me! I'm very passionate about reading, much to amusement of my roomies (who see a book in the mail almost every 2-3 weeks - via Amazon Marketplace ofcourse). At any given time, you'll find bookmarks in 3-4 books. The bookshelf here is overflowing with books, files and the odd CD! The sole reason why I didnt buy one at Ikea was the fact that I'm surely moving within the next 2-3 months. Where I go....that's uncertain, but as the days go by it becomes clearer just a wee bit.

On to the books...

The last book I bought:
I'll name a few here, coz I bought them off the Amazon marketplace together.
Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 days
Michael Palin's Full Circle
Patricia Schultz's 1000 Places to see before you die
Shashi Tharoor's Great Indian Novel

The last book that I read:
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho. Had nothing to read on the train back from Camarillo last night, so flicked the book from N-Ettan's collection. After reading all the travelogues by Messrs. Palin and Theroux, and the mindless (and brilliant) satire by Mr. Tharoor, this was one book which really made me think. Got me into a discussion with a co-passenger, which was really interesting. All the same, good to know that people here do appreciate good literature.

Which books have my bookmarks in them right now?
Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 days
Shashi Tharoor's Great Indian Novel
Rahul Bhattacharya's Pundits from Pakistan (thanks a ton for the book E & RE)
Paul Theroux's Dark Star Safari (last few pages, phew!)

Five books that have made me think/influenced me:
Here are a few of my favorites...
John Grisham's The Partner...The end was bittersweet! I bought it way back in 1997, and I might have read that ending a good 15-20 times, and everytime I read it, I feel kinda suffocated (the feeling that crushes u deep within). It was something totally out of the blue, coming from John Grisham.
Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist...It's a very simple story, almost like a children's fable, but the deeper meaning it carries is phenomenal, and impossible to miss.
Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge..It's all about the choices we make in life, and the way we want to lead our lives. I had my eyes on this for a long time (ever since I did my summer internship in Bombay in 2001, and RR told me about the book), but finally bought it here in Irvine last summer.
The Mahabharatha. This might sound corny, but here is one book I can never get enough of. I might have read this one atleast a good 15-20 times from cover to cover (a huge task, considering that the one I have by Kamala Subramaniam might have atleast 800 pages). There is a lot to assimilate everytime I read it, especially analyzing various characters.
Anurag Mathur's Inscrutable Americans...Another book which had me laughing uncontrollably pretty much all through. As a graduate student in the US, for some weird reason I sympathize with the dude a fair bit!
Vikram Chandra's Love and Longing in Bombay...Bought this is Chennai for just one reason, it had a snap of the Mumbai skyline on it! But the stories in there were absolutely amazing. Captured the essence of Mumbai, the sights, sounds, smells, weirdos, cops....

And so it's time for me to tag:

Bhillu the Rambling Man
Kartik Balasubramaniam who's supposedly playing Mindgames after reading the Vedas and Upanishads.
Dercosyst - supposedly in your face and he aint smiling! yeah right!
Govind of Halasya/Promiscuous Contemplations
Anjana of Afterword- politely rude, briskly vague and firmly unimaginative. it seems!
Sumi/Tinkerbell from Never-neverland!

Bhel on the beach....in Bombay...

Unfortunately of late, my daily dekko's becoming a weekly affair. Sorry 'bout that! It's a tough week, and probably wont post much.

All the same, was linked to Farokh Engineer's reminescences on Bombay via Uma's blog. He spoke about bhel-puri in Chowpatty followed by dinner at the then-Governor Dr. PV Cherian's place, which got me thinking about Mumbai beaches.

I never had bhel on the beach in Bombay, mainly coz Ammamma/Amma thought it was the unhealthiest place on earth. Even sugarcane/sugarcane juice was strictly no-no! Those who know me well enough would be amused to hear that I can count the number of times I have been to a proper beach in Bombay on my fingers.

Most of the visits were on class picnics (in school) to Governor's beach. To use a wee bit of American terminology, it's the Maharashtra Governor's own private beach, secluded from the hustle and bustle that's Walkeshwar, nestled in the Malabar Hill(s), gazing out across Backbay. The only time I remember hanging out at another beach was solitary occasion at the Juhu Beach after the BQC finals. I have never set foot on Chowpatty for some reason, though I have walked along Marine Drive on innumerable occasions.

The Bombay skyline coupled with the Queen's Necklace, is one of the most breathtaking sights I have seen. To stand on the Oberoi and gaze out all along Backbay is simply amazing to say the least. (Calling it the Oberoi Hilton is a joke, imho!). Driven along the entire stretch on a zillion occasions, mostly on #123 enroute to tuitions (at an unearthly 6am); though sometimes at 2am enroute to picking up/dropping someone off at Sahar. I remember walking up the road near Walkeshwar late one night and standing where the road curves into Malabar Hill. I just stood there, waves lashing below me, looking over the Bay...gazing at a city I love so much..pondering on life in general...watching a car once in a while wind its way across Marine Drive.

U can take a man out of Mumbai...but u cant take Mumbai out of a man! (what a way to end....with a cliche!)

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Desi Runaway Groom

This happens in India too!
What if.....Jennifer Wilbanks and Rajiv Bhattacharya decided to take the plunge together....
What if.....both bride and groom did their separate escape acts...would they still be indicted?!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The cricketing debates...

The last week or two has seen a raging debate in the cricketing press/blogosphere about a whole lot of issues.

The main one ofcourse being the wisdom of giving the Bangladeshis test status. This matter's been debating and flogged beyond imagination in a variety of articles out there on the net and in print! All I can say is that it's another one of Jaggu-dada's (vote-gaining) screw-ups. It would be interesting to see if he might be unseated in the near future, as the rumor goes!

Prem Panicker's blog linked me to an article by the well-known sports-writer Rajan Bala in the Asian Age. It evoked a mixture of emotions. much like Prem commented. I sure was amused to read that the eminent writer believes that if the Bengal Ranji team played Bangladesh 50 times, they'd win 49 times! I think it was gross exaggeration on his part. If he said that about New South Wales/Victoria vs. Bangladesh, it might have been a wee bit more plausible. Chester-le-Street is going to be another wake-up call for the poor Bangla "tigers", and I wish them luck all the same!

Despite all their bravado, playing against the hapless Bangladeshi team is probably the worst tune-up the Pommies could have bargained for, especially with the Ashes coming up next! The Pigeon has named his target(s) and it remains to see if someone from the English side can cook pigeon. One classic memory I have of McGrath getting really riled, was at the Chepauk in the 2000-01 series when he tried teaching Tendlya to hook/pull only to get despatched to the deep square leg boundary a couple of times! Tendlya sure gave it back to the Pigeon!

Another reference in the article to Younis Khan pulling strings to get the vice-captaincy ahead of Yousuf Youhana reeks of something unfair. I think (with all due respect to Mr. Bala, and Younis Khan), I dont think this could be true! But in the same breath he does suggest that Younis will take the fall, which cant be too far from the truth. I think for one, Inzy should NEVER have gotten involved in the squabble in the first place. Needless to say Afridi was/is/and always will be one arrogant player/person, and despite his talent and will pay his dues sooner/later.

Four Indians doing the County circuit this year, which is pretty good IMHO. I fail to understand how Laxman lost out to Ganguly at the Glamorgan stakes! I always thought VVS was headed to Swansea, but suddenly out of the blue Ganguly pops-up and takes over! All the same, hope Swansea isnt an out-of-tune swansong for Saurav! I'm surprised that Mr. Bala didnt wonder about any string/rope-pulling in this case! Looks like Irfan Pathan has started out pretty well for Middlesex. Mongia too has been doing quite well for Leics. It remains to be seen whether Saurav and Bhajji make their mark.

So that's that!

What's buzzing:
Don Henley - The End of the Innocence (album)
Beatles - One (album)