Monday, December 21, 2009

Books books books

The Smile of Murugan: Michael Wood

It might look like a nice bollywood flick movie after "Quick Gun Murugan", but it is more mock bollywood or tollywood. Michael Wood, a journalist for BBC usually makes documentaries for BBC. His visit to South India, has been a great voyage. He has written this experiences and situations he faced, his trip to different places like Rameshwaram, Tiruchendur, Cape Comorin, Suchidram, Courtallam, Srivilliputtur, Tiruparankundram, Madurai, Palani, Kumbakonam, Tanjore, Suryanarcoil, Thirunallaru, Chidambaram, Thiruchandur and last but not the least Chennai, then Madras. He did mock the Tamil cinema a little with his neutral views, it is hilarious.

The humorous incidents that happened on the way, the video bus and many other such instances made me laugh my guts out. It was totally entertaining book, though the description and story telling is slow. I just love the way he describes a situation. He was at Thiruchandur and in front of lord Murugan, son of lord Shiva. There was a aarthi taking place and old guy and his grandson seated near him. The old guy burst into tears looking at the aarthi. He was so impressed by the smile of the Murugan statue that he named the book after it. Documentaries are always slow but it depends on who it is described, in which Wood has taken it into an different orbit.

Having been to these places and seen things, now hearing it from a different prospective from a guy who is totally tangent to these places feels really great. I never saw so many things which are really humorous and now I really feel I should visit all these places again.

Go Kiss The World: Subroto Bagchi

I got this book in the airport for dirt price of just 120 bucks, the actually cost was about 400. I did not realize the hidden part which I would go on to find out some days later. The author of the book is Subroto Bagchi, I never knew him. I found out that, he was one of the hands with Azim Premji in building the now Wipro. The story has been divided into three stages.

His dying mom has inspired this story I would say. He comes to India to see his ailing mom. The last words his mother spoke to him were "Go kiss the world". Lot of anecdotes. Bagchi attributes the fighting ways he developed to take on the world to his parents. He explains his life starting his childhood and then the way he struggled as a youngster in this demanding job world. Lot of job changes before he finally the come into the Wipro cloud and not the least his own company "MindTree Ltd". For a fantastic review on this book, please read the below link. The catch of 120 bucks was that, there were 25 pages missing. :( :(
Personally I did not like this book very much, though I like the way he has come up from struggling situations. Read on your own risk.

The Man Who Knew Infinity: The life of the genius Ramanujam

Genius people are a different breed they say. Truly, after reading this book, I feel they are born with extraordinary talents that no one can inherit otherwise. I was really taken aback by the amount of research the author, (not an Indian) has put into in writing such an extraordinary book. The amount of data he has collected is exemplary . I really liked the way, he has separated the book into parts.

He explains Ramanujam's first days at school and the way he tried so hard to clear subjects at college. His childhood friends and all his college friends eclipse every now and then in the back ground of the story. The author Robert Kanigel must be credited by the way he has built the story line in his words. Throws light into the incredible genius who has been completely lost now a days. The notebooks Ramanujam maintained wherein he noted down all his formulas and statements was the invaluable basket of totally different dimension in mathematics which only he could have done.

In those days, they used to communicate using letters. The letters form the story line. After initial struggle to get recognition for his notebooks, Ramanujam wrote and wrote to all well know Mathematicians of England. Nobody could understand his mathematics ways. Finally Hardy, the mathematician from Trinity replied him. Asking him for proofs for all his formulas. This started what one could say the deciphering of one of the greatest mathematician of 19th century, if not the best.

Letter after letter the formulaes poured in; some Hardy could easily identify, some he had no idea. Finally he would call Ramanujam to England, for which Ramanujam being a very religious person would accept after great thinking. Going to England is what changed Ramanujam's world altogether and eventually brought about his death after he was back to India.

Being a brahmin he was very religious and did not eat any meat and non-vegetarian food. It was very difficult for him to live and eat there. World war I playing a major role in food deprivation in England which made him fall ill and be in hospital for more than a year. It was very difficult time for him as he was not used to the cold of England. He did publish lot of papers along with Hardy helped him decipher his note books and make meaning out of the jargons in it. The book has so many formulas and also explains some of it. It is a must read for those who want to be mathematicians.

The latter part of the book is very touching especially when he gets his fellowship at Trinity. For an Indian and especially for a guy from Tamil nadu, I have lot of pride in the fact that a person from near my home town could do such a thing. Great mathematicians are not made, they are born......
This is one of the best books I have read so far.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Healthy heart

Healthier lifestyle means a lot to an Indian today. I went jogging this Sunday, and most of them are standing at the pav bhaji stall and looking at me as if what they are doing is awesome, and what I am doing is show off. The look says it all, they are so surprised to see someone go jogging.

The attitude of Indians today is more of laziness and less exercise. When I go by cycle, everyone is really taken aback by the amount I sweat. One humorous incident that happened was, once when I went cycling to office, the door man asked me if it was raining outside. I was covered ofcourse with some sweat.

When I had been to Israel, just a stroll in the beach side or any park, you will know the amount of effort they put in to keep themselves fit. They go jogging, cycling with all the gears. I developed a small tummy with the food I had there. I was really embarrassed to be among such a fit young crowd. I could not see a fat guy. It was so rare. Everyone was slim and fit. I consider myself a little fit than the normal Indian crowd. Even I was made to eat mud. The ladies on the other hand, not all are fit. But they try their level best to stay fit.

That kind of an attitude has to be imbibed in the Indian lot. Most of them neglect health, even I am included in that. They don't take workout or a jog very seriously. The office going lot have time to blame. But they can infact make time during the weekends, or may be wake very early in the morning for a jog or a walk. Heart is one valuable asset that we posses, the more we keep it active, the more it will give back.

If you allow the heart to go for a sleepy lazy lifestyle, then it will stop cooperating with you. One day it will stop all of a sudden, only to fill the eyes of your family in tears. If not for you, take up exercise for your family's sake. I am not a genius in this, but I know if we can exercise the heart for atleast 4 times a week, you can save those precious tears.

It is a challenge I have taken up. I don't know how much I can do justice to it. The lazy Indian lot, should get a kick on their back and get going. India has the most number of heart problem cases. This should change for good. I hope people will eventually show some heart to care for their heart!! :) :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009


It was like years that I had accessed my yahoo account. I had left it to rot, literally. My teenage and probably most of my college days and my first job searching days, is when I used yahoo. I used to check mails very often, almost every day. The net connection then was not great, and yahoo had a bulky mail account, which took several minutes to load and login. Five years ago, yahoo had more than an influence on me. We even created yahoo groups during college days where we could keep in touch forever(it seemed).

Then came the Google bubble, the orkut bubble and now finally the facebook bubble. Not to say the farmville bubble coupled with many other attractive timepass games with facebook. Twitter is looming large on one side. With all these taking middle seat, yahoo has been completely pushed of its place once it had. May be it is still not that intriguing as others. But it does bring me back after all these years the nostalgia of yesteryear.

Coming back to Yahoo, the site has not changed a lot over the years. The thought of logging into it brings back memories of my college days. How I used to wait for a reply from someone..... How I used to mail......The language I used to write a mail. The broken vocab of an immature adult. I am still immature (that is what some think, I am neutral). The sent mails gives me an complete idea of how clumsy I was. As you learn from your mistakes now, the clumsiness has been refined now.

I had around about 2000 mails waiting for me; 90% was spam. I learned that the job sites I had registered were still sending me mails for 0-2 years experience. When I started, I took up a call center job and worked for a US process. It felt like heaven during the training session. My first job; I got the offer through some job-site and ofcourse Yahoo mail. When I started working, my sleep cycle and the repetitive job played a huge role, in me quitting it.

After that, I got my second job, I had forgotten about yahoo. I started using gmail and was very happy with the speed at which it operated. Gmail and then into Blogger, I never looked back. Now facebook and twitter, the years have just galloped yahoo. No wonder yahoo as a company is not doing good. Even the new advts of yahoo, did not give that much zeal to get back. But now all of a sudden like as if, I am out of a coma, I logged in. The most important thing was that I still remembered my password. :) :)

As the trend goes, yahoo has been hit very badly by its competitors. The new CEO of Yahoo, is getting things online, giving it a "Everthing starts with You" motto. Yahoo is the same after so many years. God knows, if it will come of age and come back again. I updated all the job sites. Lets see if I get another job. :) :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rest In Peace

It is difficult when someone suddenly goes missing from your friends circle. Very difficult to comprehend that he will not be coming back. Tears fill my eyes, when I think of him. My throat goes dry, when I hear his voice still reaching my ears. I can hear him call my name out.

Being close to a person, leaves a big remark behind; when you lose them. His smile and his words have lightened up my day a lot of times!! Tears coming from eyes, just exemplifies that fact that how he influenced someone who just happen to travel with him at some part of his life.

Its been a tough time for me. I have not lost someone so close before in my life. It takes time to sink in, I guess. I still cannot grasp the gravity of the situation. Mentally disturbing, hope to recover soon. :) :)

May his soul rest in peace. I will remember him and his voice for a long time to come!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Content Life

Thiruvanmayiur felt like a really quiet place. With the Thayagaraya nagar beach adjacent to the suburb, the cool winds from the sea made sure that this place remained at its pleasant best. The roads were made of thar unlike the concrete roads of mumbai. The trees on both sides of the streets made an arch like shape, which seems like as if they are welcoming you.

The rainy season was on the way, but not yet started. There was a cyclone, which was to pass the Chennai city during the weekend I was there. Did not affect my stay a lot though. The share auto's helped me reach places without buring a hole into my pocket. The climate so soothing as compared to Mumbai, made me think twice to leave the city.

I just love this arch formed by the trees!! amazing....

The end of this street is the Thiruvanmayiur beach!!

I went to places like Adayar, Mylapore, Guindy, Madipakkam, Meenambakam, Tirusulam, Triplicane, Besant Nagar, Shoulinganallur and T-Nagar. I walked almost 5-6 kms on the beach from Besant nagar beach to Thiruvanmayiur beach. Went to Marina beach in the night, got some CDs at a local store, visited some temples. The Parthasarathy temple in Triplicane, the Padmanabhaswamy temple at Adayar was another gem of a spectacle; like an icing on the cake of my trip.

The share auto!!

The town bus
Inside the bus

I forgot to mention two main places, one is Kalakshetra in Besant nagar and the another one is the Vani Mahal at T-Nagar. The later was a drama done by "Crazy" Mohan. It was damn hilarious. Made in both English and Tamil. Kalakshetra is something out of the world. As soon as you get into it, you get lost in the music and dance rendering there. Carnatic music and also the dance style which is very much the jewel of Tamil nadu, Bharathanatiyam. I so more than 4-5 foreigners learning it. Totally amazing atmosphere where in you can literally breath music. I saw some classes there also got a chance to talk with the art teacher there. This is one place I will not forget.

Evening time it was wonderful to see school kids return home. Amazingly quite streets, with only the sound of roaring engines of cars and bikes. The temples with religious songs, buzzing buses, cute kids, quiet a site. From coconut cycle to the the onion vehicle everything felt different about this place.

Something that hit me more than anything was an incidence that happened on the share auto. My cousin had a 500 ruppee note and could not get change. We just got down of the share auto and I had the change, just 20 was the fare. Just to get lower denominations of 500, my cousin asked the auto driver for change. What the auto driver said, shook as for a second or two. He said, I would have gone home if I had 500 rupees and still not be driving auto.

My cousin told me something that jolted me to reality of situation. He said, the auto driver has his limit. He is happy with the 500 rupees he has and is not greedy for more. Only software engineers like us, slog it out and still find ourselves unhappy when we get the pay check. Many might say, the auto driver does not think of a better life or he does not dream more or may be even better standard of living. Well I feel he is content with what he has. Some day when we find out the reality of this, we can be contempt. :) :) I still feel I am underpaid :P