Thursday, December 25, 2008

Off to Kerala

It is my first vacation in a year. Last December we had the good fortune of going to Kerala with parents, sister's family and brother's family and the one day trip to Vega Land wasn't enough. So it is back to loading myself with saturated fat, "marriage sadhya", visiting relatives, temples, rivers, acres of green green fields....

I need to pack but before that I need to drop off the little squirrel at a caretaker who is trained to take care of these little ones. He hasn't opened his eyes yet but will I take him back after the vacation is the question. Maybe I will.

Meanwhile another squirrel began creating its nest in the usual bathroom window.


Jaya, being tired of the whole thing demolished the nest before it could be fully constructed but it may build one in our absence. Anyway gotto get going. The train leaves at 3:30 A.M tomorrow.

Monday, December 22, 2008

One of the squirrels die, pup given away

The smaller one but one that used feed better than its bigger sibling died last night. It was heart breaking. All those efforts and sleepless nights have gone waste. I lived to see the final moments but every effort in reviving it was fruitless. The previous day i.e on Saturday he stopped taking in anything. I forced down the home-made electrolyte and milk whenever possible. He seemed to do well on Sunday morning but his pulse was racing. I could see and hear his heart beat loud. By evening he was reduced to a skeleton. Nothing seemed to improve his condition. By late night I became desperate and called Blue Cross who gave me another number of a person who was looking after squirrel babies in Velachery. I called him and he was kind enough to direct me to someone, another squirrel rehabilitation expert, Subashini Varadarajan who resides in Adayar. In the conversation I had with her I realised there was someone else who thought and felt for squirrels like I did. But here was an expert and Subashini gave me some tips and instructions but that somehow couldn't save the little one. I lost him soon after, around 11.00 PM last night. The final moments were very agonizing for me.

If not for the temptation to see the remaining one open its eyes I don't know if I will wait till the 25'th to entrust him to another care-taker. I pray this one survives. Looks like he will.

Meanwhile two days ago Blue Cross came and took away the pup. I was sat but happy that it would be looked after well. Chaithu cried at night while going to bed but was ok in the morning.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another chipmunk rescue

One thing I realised this time in the rescue is that you will have to sacrifice your time, energy and your most valuable sleep if you want to be successful at rehabilitating abandoned chipmunk babies.

Last Saturday I couldn't help investigating the constant squealing (if that's the right word) from a house near my brother's house. The noise seemed to come from the electric meter box. I instantly knew there was a chipmunk nest there. At my home I had found two nests in the electrical meter box. After calling the neighbour and on opening the box I found a big nest very close to the fuses unlike my box where the nests were built in an adjacent box next to the electic fuses. I found three little ones. The one that was crying out loud had a bruised tail that was entangled in the fibres of the nest. The babies were already pale indicating that they might not have been fed for quite some time. I told the owner of the house to give it a couple of hours to wait for the mother to come and take them away as is the case when you touch a nest or a baby.

After a few hours when I called I was told that the baby was still crying. It was time for action. I removed the entire nest and took it home. I also managed to de-entangle the crying baby's tail. This time I wanted to do a good job and so rushed to a nearby pharmacy and bought a thermal bag. But by the time I came back with Chaithu from school one of the chipmunks, a female, had perished. I felt extremely sad. If only I had given it a few drops of water or rehydrated it I could have saved it. Time is precious when you are trying to save lives. I quickly got the hot pack ready and gave them a solution recommened by this site http://www.squirreltales.org/. There are things I couldn't do that were mentioned on the site - 1. Use Esbilac Milk Powder. This is because you hardly get them in India. I also didn't find an electric thermal pad. I used the hot water thermal pad instead. That was the real hassle as I had to change water almost every two hours. I solved this problem by using a flask.

The night was the problem. How could you wake up in the middle of the night. This was my acid test pending. Will the other two survive? I had to wait for about 5 hours for the next water change. But did I succeed? Oh Yes! The two little ones were doing fine next morning. My sleep was disturbed but it was worth it. I realise it is hard work but the pay-offs and mental satisfaction is gives are worth it.

The babies are doing fine with the home made hyrdrant and diluted cow's milk. On day four one of them is already growing soft hair below his mouth. The two are very active. They scratch at their bodies at times and the most wonderful thing. I have seen them yawn. Wonder who will take care of them when I leave for Kerala this vacation.

Here's a poor shot of them on day 6, blissfully sleeping after a feeding.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Two overly hyped movies

The first one, Slumdog Millionaire and the other Amir Khan's Ghajini.

Answer this question? Do Indian kids living in poverty dangle one another by their feet, from the rooftops of moving trains to snatch and steal food from passengers below through the windows and entrances of the trains? And when the dangling kids are grabbing the food others are fighting them off. We all know these kind of things never happen. Yet that is what one of the clips from the movie show. Preposterous! What was the director thinking of India? What research did he do to throw in such a scene?

A R Rahman has already been nominated for Slumdog Millionaire and I am beginning to get a feeling that he may eventually win for compositions that hardly mean anything. If A R wins a Golden Globe or an Oscar it is a good thing for India and for all of his fans but I only wished he wins for something that is worth winning for. His songs in Ghajini are not impressive either. In one of the songs Asin is doing a "koothu" kind of a dance in an elegant gown. Two of the songs, Guzarish and another a duet sung by Benny Dayal are impressive but they remind me heavily of other English songs. If I recollect them I will report. Songs in the original Ghajini are hard to beat and I don't know why Amir or Murugadoss roped in A R to do the score.

I had already written about the violence in the original film (check this post http://subashsworld.blogspot.com/2005/11/after-almost-decade-i-visit.html ) and from what I have been reading Ghajini isn't short of violence either.

Kolam

It is the month of "Margazhi" and in TamilNadu the festivities for the New Year have already begun. I don't think anywhere in the world people have this many festivals as they have in TamilNadu. Only the festivals in north India come close. These are the best months for tourists in TamilNadu as the temperatures are cool and pleasant though it can get pretty hot in the afternoons.

Thousands of "Kolams", a beautiful drawings done on the ground using rice powder and color powders adorn the entrances of homes all over TamilNadu. The "Kolam" drawings reach their climactic best in beauty and size during the festival of Pongal next month and after which they can be seen only sporadicallly. There are Kolam competitions and if you are lucky you could walk into streets so full of big "Kolams" where you literally have to hop to avoid stepping into one.

"Kolam" does involve mathematics, grace in the flow and movement of one's hands (certainly a girl's or a woman's hand is more adept at this), design and memory skills.

Every morning as I drop Chaithu to school we see a number of these drawings but one among the many catches my eye for its sheer beauty. For days I have been contemplating taking a picture and today I did after taking permission from the artiste, a housewife residing in that home. I also got permission to photograph her new Kolam everyday. Here is the first one.



It is sad that being a motorable road bikers and four-wheelers drive over the Kolam without a care. I wonder if it even elicits a mere glance from them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Now this, IS Quality



In the image above Chaithanya is sitting beside the Dell XPS T450 Dimension PC that I bought in 1999, while in the U.S.A. The reason I put them together in the picture is because they are almost of the same age. The day the Dell PC arrived home was also the day I took Jaya to the hospital where she was admitted and later delivered our son. Chaithanya turned 9 this September and the Dell has provided yeoman service in all these years now in its 10'th year. For one entire year it was also stored away in a Storage in Riverside, California. These days I don't use it much. In 2006 I wanted to donate it but I am glad I didn't.

In 1999 Windows 98 SE was both stable and popular. The labels on the PC still reads, made for Windows 98 SE. In 2002 I installed Windows 2000 SP4 and subsequently no other updates or OS's. It also has had no BIOS updates since I purchased it in 1999. It is a heavy PC for the 196 MB Ram, Original Intel Motherboard, Original Intel P3 450 Mhz processor, 13 GB hard disk, 1.4 inch floppy drive and a 16MB 3dfx graphics card. The system has run literally problem free. After 2002 I added a CD burner, a 40 GB hard disk and recently a networking card. I have removed the networking card after it gave me some problems. Maybe the card was a faulty one.

In the meantime (after 2002) for want of a more faster system I had two systems assembled and both of them crashed. During these days the trusted Dell continued to support my work. In August 2007 I purchased a new Dell Vostro and I am sure it is going to serve me well if not like my former Dell XPS T450. Now that I own a Dell Vostro I am going to donate the Dimension XPS T450. The Dimension cost me $1300 in 1999 but for one third or a little more than that of the 1999 price you could buy one of the latest Dell Vostro's.

It is also wonderful to know that Dell support and now manufacturing is being done from India. Very friendly customer service makes Dell one of the most trusted brands in the world. I must take the opportunity to mention Bharath V at the sales and customer sevice centre at Bangalore for his fine service. Also Lavina Phoebe for her help in resolving my graphics problem which I eventually corrected by getting an Nvidia Gforce Graphics Card.

By the way if you are looking for a graphics card for your Dell Vostro n slim series of desktops go for the slim cards. They also go by other names such as half-size cards, half cards etc. Only one company makes these cards that are reliable for the DELL and they are ATI Radeon. I realised that only after buying the Nvidia card. But I liked the Nvidia card so much that I stuck it into the PCI Express slot and let the side door open. In fact that way you provide for more heat to escape. However I would recommend you go for the ATI Radeon cards.

If you are considering buying a desktop I will highly recommend DELL. These guys know computers best.

If you thought Mona Lisa is the only great female potrait

I am not denying the sheer mystical beauty, the science and the perfection of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece but paintings as the one below titled "Gypsy Dancer" cannot be ignored.



Click on the images to view them in a bigger size.

This one is by John William Godward, an English painter who committed suicide at the age of 61. In his suicide note he mentioned that the world wasn't big enough for him and a Picasso. He created several other paintings of women but "Gypsy Dancer" is my favorite. Another popular painting is "Nerissa". Try and see if you can view bigger images. The attention to details such as color, female anatomy, art, architecture and vegetation is stunning.



John Willaim Godward was shunned by his family because he took to painting as a profession and being ashamed of his suicide, burnt all his papers. What a tragedy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mallu girl is Miss World runner-up

I was somewhat keen on watching the live programme on the Zee Cafe channel after knowing it was a girl from Kerala that was representing India. However the show looked very unprofessional and too much bragging about South Africa. Even the microphone of the male presenter went dead though it was cleverly covered by the female presenter. Mic handling and interviewing were very poor.

When Parvathi Omanakuttan's name was the 15'th in the top 15 list we jumped up in our seats. When her name was listed in the top 5 I was sure she would end up in the top 3 if not for no.1. In the top 5 the other very impressive girl was Miss Angola and in the top 15 Miss Ukraine and Miss Khazakstan. Anyway here's something for us to feel good about. Congratulations to Parvathy.



South Africa is a beautiful country but it is rigged with violence and many living outside S. Africa aren't aware of. A big Malayalee population lives in Durban and Johannesberg and I was told by a South African friend that every year at least one or two Malayalees are shot dead. My friend's uncle himself was one such victim shot in the head. My wife's friend's family was busted by a gang of burglars and one of them shot her father-in-law dead. Meena who was filming for the song in "Avvai Shanmugi" also mentions of an incident she saw from a bridge where someone was being robbed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A pup joins us

I found the little adorable one on the street abonded by its mother. It was easy target for any speeding vehilce and it was so weak it was trying to eat mud. It looked so helpless it was difficult to ignore him. A scar revealing bare skin on its back also indicates it was badly bitten by an adult dog. For a small pup as this I am surprised by its instinct. Don't know if I need to call Blue Cross or keep it. I need to take it to the vet though. But the little fellow has already kept us quite busy.



Here Chaithu is all excited holding her.

Friday, December 12, 2008

How to update AVG if you get the missing .bin file error

AVG has now released a new update for the version 8.0 free program but when you try updating the traditional way you will get a "Missing .bin file" error. From the forums online I tried the following method and it worked.

1) Go to www.grisoft.com/ww.download-update
2) Make a directory on your desktop or on any of your drives (preferably a non-system drive such as D or E if C is your system drive) called AVG
3) Download AVI: 270.9.17
4) Download IAVI: / 1845
5) Move the dowloaded files to the directory you made called AVG
6) Launch AVG
7) Select tools -> update from directory
8) Select the directory called AVG where you put the downloads

and it should work fine. It did for me.

On the recent Mumbai attack

When I first came to know of the attack I was only wondering whether it was a reply to the classic movie "A Wednesday". I had reviewed "A Wednesday" just a few posts earlier.

First of all I salute all the valiant heroes of our motherland who laid their lives so that we may live in peace. May their souls rest in peace.

Mumbai is a city I have never visited. Well, I did once on my very first trip to Singapore way back in 1996 when the now defunct East West Airways took us to the domestic airport. From there we were transported to the International Airport where I tried best to look outside my vehicle's window to catch a glimpse of the Bombay I had read about and seen in scores of films. Bombay at that time was sleeping, a time well past midnight.

I am not going to go through the innumerable topics related to this attack as they have been discussed to boring levels but here are some of my thoughts on topics that aren't and weren't discussed.

1. What to do and how to react if you are convinced 100% that you may die?This is a difficult question to discuss but many people who actually went through near-death experiences came out of danger by doing just one important thing - keeping their cool and not letting themselves die hopelessly by simply submitting themselves to death. As I wrote earlier it is easier said than done but Dale Carnegie discusses one such experience in one of his books. A high ranking official during war and was faced with such a live or die situation. By keeping his cool he came out of it successfully.

In such a situation. You have only two options - a. Let yourself succumb to fate b. Do something to save your lives. Though the second is the most practical thing to do many don't. Fear psychosis envelopes them and instead of doing something which could have given them a chance to escape, it (fear) kills them before anything else.

I am not trying to say that all of us need to become brave soldiers but if you are sure that you are facing death you only have two choices - allow yourself to die or don't allow that to happen. So the obvious question is what to do? Ans - Anything to keep yourself alive instead of just submitting to death passively. With all the intelligence God gave you fight to stay alive and that means even fighting the terrorist if the need be. Who knows, in the process you may succeed and live. You may ask, "Fight the terrorist?" And the answer is "Yes. You can and even unarmed."

It is here that I would like to emphasize the importance of military training. In several countries military training is compulsory for boys after school. After that every two or three years they are back in training camp to keep fit and hone their skills. Singapore is one such nation. It is a shame that many Indians who live there send their children to India after school to avoid the military training. One Singapore born Indian who holds the equivalent rank of a General told me that if there was anything that helped him in his life it was the Military Training imparted to him. Nana Patekar playing the role of an army officer in "Prahaar" (unreasonably violent film) insisted that every Indian go through military training to serve his country and feel true love for the nation. Other than those who enter the army the farthest that many Indian citizens go when it comes to such training (actually not even close to real military training) are when they participate in the NCC, Scouts, and Guides.

Who is better equipped to fight a terrorist? A person who has some military training or someone still thinking of "Gandhigari"? I am not against Gandhi's thoughts and ideals but wasn't it by force and violence that the terrorists were silenced? It need not always be a terrorist attack but it could be a robbery or a gang attack on your family, bank robbers in a bank, the situations are endless. With military training you are not left helpless. In several countries men could even be jailed trying to evade the compulsory military training. Military training is not the perfect solution against terrorism but it certainly makes a huge difference. Israel, an expert at dealing with such situations on foreign land (remember the operation in Uganda where their commandos freed their people from a plane hijacked by terrorists helped by the Idi Amin Government) even offered help to India during the attack and which I believe was denied.

2. The mind of the psychopathic terrorist.
Several years ago I watched a documentary of some young teens in the U.S, shown on one of those NPR/University Funded channels on TV. They were a bunch of about a dozen kids hanging around having nothing to do. These weren't kids that came from poor or homeless families. They were regular kids but they had absolutely nothing to do. They had no direction, skipped or left school woke up and went to sleep as they liked and dressed in ways they liked. They were all by themselves doing the things they wanted like having sex (some of the teens were as young as 14 years of age), drinking, using drugs, watching movies, going around to places they liked, sleeping over at friends' places even hanging out late in public places and stuff. For these kids, career, education, family, relationships (other than their friends), God or the beauty and values of life were absolutely missing in their lives. Similarly many terrorists aren't actually victims of torture and war. Many are doing what they are doing because their minds have been indoctrinated that way. Like the child soldiers of Sierra Leone they are displaced from their families when very young and are exposed to harsh brutalities of life such as rape, torture and murder to get their minds deranged. Others who are aware of these crimes are drugged to do them. It is believed that one of the terrorists in the Mumbai attacks was also on drugs.

I have a strange experience myself. Many years ago while studying at the Madras Chritian College and staying in the hostel during my final year I had the misfortune of befriending a guy from Djibouti. He was african and I noticed that he hardly had any friends. He also refused to be initiated in the Hostel because he didn't approve of the process of initiation. Other hostel mates just avoided him. I took pity on this chap and befriended him. He seemed like a perfectly nice guy until I took the topic of religion. The instant mental-transformation that he would undergo would be unbelievable. Tell him a thing like Lata Mangeshkar holds the Guiness record for the maximum number of songs sung by any singer and he would say that there is one guy in his country who has sung more than her. Anything even remotely simple that he would find challenging to his religion and he would start contradicting. It was like talking to a wall. Nothing would convince him. Many of these terrorists possess a mind as this. They are incorrigible and can never be convinced. Even if they are jailed or tortured I doubt whether they have the IQ and power of reasoning to even realize what they are doing. Their brains are simply twisted that way. I also know of another person who believes that there is a huge conspiracy by the entire world to blame his community for the bomings and acts of terrorism in the world.

Another thing but least talked about is "Identity Crisis". I recall in a T.V episode, when the students who killed their teacher were being interviewed in the U.S one of them replied that it was done solely "to get attention". Many people just get a kick out of it. I also recall during the Columbine Tragedy in the U.S one of the students that got killed was used to telling her classmates that she was Bruce Willis's daughter. Indentity crisis exists in various degrees in many people. To give an example Indians in a foreign country trying to speak their native tongue and that too loudly in public are suffering from a form of "Identity Crisis" too. Maybe the terrorists also wanted such a release.

And of course many terrorists like blaming someone else like a neighbouring country or an enemy or someone they hate as the reason for their suffering and these guys vent thier frustrations on an unsuspecting and innocent victim. But if this venting-out is going to solve their problems why aren't their problems never solved.

3. And finally on all the political parties that were wasting time and energy on frivolous things. Remember the political group in Maharashtra instigating their party people to throw out the non-Marathi's, asksing the Bachans to apologize for alleged anti-Marathi statements and such. If only they spent an infinitesimal amount of that wasted time on the welfare of the people of Bombay or mobilised some protection than blaming the government for everything, they would have won more people support. Where are they now? Why are they silent and what are they waiting for? Another silly scandal to boost their party image or get more votes?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The all new WordPress 2.7 Coltrane

Named after the Jazz virtuso, WordPress 2.7, my favorite blogging software takes a giant leap forward in the world of blogging. I run two of my blogs great-anonymous-albums.com and guitar-appreciation.com using WordPress. The latest version has gone through two Release Candidate releases and the fully tested one should be out soon. I think it should be out before Christmas or New Year. Anyway I just cannot wait to use its new features. Check out the video below.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How to make 1800 calls to the U.S from India for free

I have tried making 1800 toll free calls to the U.S.A with BSNL and with Airtel landlines and it was just impossible. In fact with Airtel you cannot even dial 1800 numbers inside India that was when I last used an Airtel land line almost two years ago. If any of you know how to make such a call with BSNL land line phones to the U.S let me know.

However you can call any 1800 number in the U.S and for free using Skype. I am not sure if you can call similar toll free numbers in other countries but you can call the U.S. Just select destination country as United States and call. No charges are made to your account.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How you can get bad publicity for your organization



These are the guys behind an emerging website for teens called teenfrage.com (Frage, the German word for question). The pic appeared in The Nxg pages of the The Hindu, dated October 23'rd, 2008. The website is about helping teens facing all kinds of problems in their growing-up years. I am sure problems related to relationships and physical relations must be one of the most frequent questions being asked but the words on the t-shirt of the dude on the left is only sending out the wrong message instead. What conselling can you expect from this guy and how much can you trust his advice?

Monday, December 08, 2008

What a forerunner for a wedding

My friend David Ebenezer is getting married 18 days from today and what a way to countdown the days with this novel idea. Check the following link.

http://www.eWedding.com/sites/davejess/

A small new family in the neighbourhood

As I approached the cat and her little ones sleeping with her, the vigilant mother instantly woke up at the sounds of my footsteps.



And after taking the first picture the sound from my camera was enough to wake up the kittens too.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

ISS 2007 participants, singing in a new movie

The movie is the Nadia Moidu starrer, "Pattalam" in Tamil and the music director, Jassie Gift. Jassie has roped in Najeem, Thushar(who sings two songs), Arun Gopan(2 songs), Hesham and William Isac for this movie's songs. Wonder why Jassie didn't select the female singers.

Listen to the songs here.

Not a major album but "Engo Piranthom" is a well-sung by Arun Gopan and "Panivizhum Kaalama" is catchy.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My new blog goes live

Yes, another one. This one's on my favorite musical instrument, the guitar. I tried learning it several times only to give up sadly. But at least I have a blog to show my love and appreciation. Check it out. http://guitar-appreciation.com

Friday, November 28, 2008

Barkha Dutt's "...top c*cks..." blooper on NDTV

Don't know what was in her mind but yesterday morning at around 9.00 AM when Bharka Dutt was in front of the Trident covering the Mumbai attack she certainly did not use the right words. As she was reporting she started speaking to a passer by and was trying to speak in favour of the top cops that died. And speaking of their losses, instead of top cops what came out from her mouth was "...top c*cks...". Barkha either pretended she didn't make the mistake but she was in no mood to go lightly over it. I wonder if she would have done so. For those of you Barkha fans and for those of you who don't like her, this is one of those bloopers you aren't likely to forget.

Here's an edited version of the video posted by NDTV on YouTube. Was it done to cover-up the damage? You bet, it was! I commented on this video on YouTube but the comment has been removed on purpose. The video naturally does not contain the blooper but try and search for the video with the blooper and send me a message if you find it.



And look at how others have handled a similar situation.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Some performances worth mentioning

Here are two videos, whose links were mentioned by one of my readers, Hari. The Sarath/Unnikrishnan performance is worth watching. I thought Unnikrishnan was struggling and was also out of rythm with the beat.



The next one is of Roopa performing on Asianet plus. This must be a lot earlier to her performances on Super Star Global as her trademark smile and gestures aren't there but it is a good performance and evokes some nostalgia too. Some singers of Idea Star Singer 2007 are present in the audience. There is one "ass" in the audience caught continuously mucning and eating throughout the video. Wonder why it wasn't edited.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Help! Yahoo, Yahoo mail screwing up like crazy

I don't know how many of you are having this problem in your countries but I am having major problems with Yahoo.com, and Yahoo mail. It is through repeated tries that I am able to read my mail. Most of the time the Yahoo home page does not display at all. If it does the page looks like it was written in the HTML 1.0 era. Images are also gone.

After surfing the net for a while and after repeated tries using IE and FireFox I am able to get through to mail. I have checked online and it looks like there are many out there having this same problem.

Any workarounds, tricks or advice will be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Adobe Reader 9 has a bug while installing

Since I was using Adobe Reader 7 I thought I would upgrade. So I check www.filehippo.com and Adobe Reader 9 is one of the top 10 downloads there. I download the file, unistall my current version and then install the new one. But things don't go right. The application does install but the wizard just hangs there saying 99.0% complete. If you click the Finish button you may see the Microsoft very familiar "Blue Screen of Death" for a fraction of a second and the system will boot as it happened to me today.

When the system is back on you will notice that Adobe Reader 9 has been installed but you will be surprised to see that it does not appear in the "Add or Remove Programs" dialog under Start->Settings->Control Panel. Surprisingly it didn't show up in my Revo Uninstaller program too. Trying to do another install will give you the same results as before.

So I deleted the folder (as I installed it on my E: drive which is not my system drive) and then ran freeware Eusing Registry cleaner and fixed the registry.

I checked Adobe's site and they seem to offer the same download as "filehippo".

Simply got the old executable and re-installed Adobe Reader 7 without any hassles.

Let me know if you had the same problem.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to change the default program installation folder on your computer (Windows)

How many times has this happened to you in Windows? You are installing a program and you want it to install in a particular folder on your D, E, F or G drive instead of C: where you have installed your operating system and other system files. So you wait for that particular window/dialog of the installer to prompt with a field indicating where the program will be installed and beside it is a "Browse" button that helps you change that location.

But instead of showing you this screen (most programs do and some do if you click the Custom installation option) some programs directly install on your C: drive without any warning.

Now here's a trick you can do so that "these" programs will default to a particular drive or folder where you want programs to install if they don't prompt you with that "folder to install" window while installing.

Note that you will be making changes to the registry and so do be careful. Take this as a disclaimer in that that playing with the Registry carelessly can screw up your computer and make it un-usable unless you do a fresh install of the O.S. At the same time do not be paranoid about the registry editor. A little care and you will do fine. You simply tweak a registry entry and that will do the trick.

To invoke the registy editor or the regedit.exe program and do the tweak follow the steps below.

1. Click Start and from the Start menu click Run.
2. In the Run dialog enter regedit in the Open field and press Enter.
3. The Registry Editor opens.
4. Navigate to this folder:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion

Note: Since there are many CurrentVersion keys in your registry make sure you navigate to the right key as indicated above. The best way to do this is to patiently expand the folders on the left starting with HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and then gradually navigating to the CurrentVersion folder. It should look as follows.



Now here is an important tip. To ensure that you are at the correct folder look for the name of the folder displayed at the bottom of the registry window. It must display HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion under the folder the registry is installed.

5. The ProgramFilesDir key displays the current folder where new programs will be installed. In this case E:\Program Files is displayed.



6. To change this folder to the one you wish to designate as the default folder where new programs are to be installed right click it and from the menu select Modify.



7. In the dialog that opens replace the folder name in the Value Data: field. Make sure the folder exists.



8. Click OK and you are done.

9. Exit the Registry Editor program.

Now even if you forget to change the directory to the folder of your choice while installing new programs will only install in the default folder you have changed to.

By the way that was also a sample of Technical Writing.

Great concerts coming your way

This time the Novemberfest conducted by The Hindu is turning out to be a dull affair for people like me. 4 concerts featuring North-Indian music including one where South Indian singers, Chinmayi, Anuradha Sriram, Srinivas and Naresh Iyer are singing old Hindi songs. I missed last year's Tirlok Gurtu's performance and was hoping for something similar this year but it has only been a disappointment so far.

Meanwhile Bengaluru is host to some fine concerts. The ageless JethroTull fronted by Ian Anderson play in Bangalore
Spyrogyra the prog-jazz/modern jazz band play at Bangalore on the 23'rd of this month.



The Jethrotull and Anoushka Shankar concert titled A night with the Piper and Princess is on Decmeber the 2'nd.



You can book your tickets at www.bookmyshow.com from where I took these images.

But I'll save the best for the last. On February 15'th, 2009 Iron Maiden is back in India and at Bangalore playing their hits from the past in their "Somewher back in time" tour. I may go for this one but I hope instead of going alone I have some good company in old friends.



Shaji, TP, Binny are you reading this?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Roopa vs Gayathri

Like what happened last year with Roopa of SSG I am hunting down video after video and comments of Gayathri on Idea Star Singer 2008 and I must say I am blown away. Jaya's prophecy saying I would be jumping to another singer is almost coming true but not quite.

To me Roopa is a benchmark when it comes to judging singers of these singing-talent shows but then can somebody beat her?

Here are two of the fine videos I found of Gayathri's performances and I must admit she is a talent to reckon with.

This first video is of the song "Sharike" performed by Gayathri. It is followed by Roopa's video and so you can compare the two. My comments follow the two videos.



and Roopa's



With Roopa I found her hand, body and facial expressions dominating her performance. More energy seemed to be spent in those activities. Her singing looked strained when compared to the literally effortless way Gayathri sang the same song. And because Gayathri is more composed and with a great posture most of her energy was diverted to her song. She also seemed lost in the song and the singing as compared to Roopa who was very connected to the audience, judges and Stephen on the keyboard. I must say I found Gayathri's performance much better. It was pleasant for the ears too. I didn't find the relaxed feeling I had with Gayathri's performance in Roopa's.

Here's another song of Gayathri, "Sharapole", which the judges have lauded so eloquently you will have to watch it to believe.



There's another contender for Gayathri on the show and she is Sonia. I have seen some of her performances and they are good. I don't know if I will have the time to check her out too.

Gayathri steals the show again

Exactly one week later Gayathri gives another performance in the Medley round that leave the audience, viewers and judges spellboud. She did make some mistakes in the Tamil lyrics but by the time she came to the "May Madham 98'ill" song from JayJay she we on top of everything. I am not drawing any comparisons here but the ease with which she sang this song is unparalleled in this competition and in competitions that went by. So impressed were the judges that Ousepachan has offered a song for her and Menaka has promised her with another song in her upcoming film.

Check her out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A movie not to be missed



I remember Russel Peter, the comedian who said that even in his most ignorant state he wouldn't waste time watching a Bollywood movie. I am not against what he said. A lot of today's Bollywood movies and music are capable of bringing your I.Q down. But I am sure Russel would go back on his words had he seen this off-beat Bollywood movie. It is called "A Wednesday". Just an hour and a half long it doesn't take three hours or more of your time like the usual Bollywood ones.

"A Wednesday" is a feather in the cap for director Neeraj Pande who also roped in two veterans of our Hindi film industry, Naseerudin Shah and Anupam Kher who give some great performances. So has Jimmy Shergill and rest of the cast and crew. Editing is crisp and the action fast paced. But the beauty of the movie is that Neeraj has voiced not only his but the feelings of many of us Indians. An intense 10 minutes of dialogue between Naseerudin Shah and Anupam Kher towards the end of the film summarizes this feeling. Writing anything more will be simply giving the movie away. Watch it at any costs.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I feel somewhat embarrassed about my previous post

Was I flattered so badly? From the dismal reviews I have been getting when I showed the video to sis, who didn't even want to waste one moment on it I am beginning to wonder whether there was really something good about the Gayathri-Vivekanandan performance I wrote about in my previous post. The same old cringe-material did take me for a ride. Gayathri sure gave a good singing performance. She acted well too but the whole thing still sucks, making her enact and perform all those sensuous things. After all what is this competition about? Acting, Dancing or Singing?

In fact Asianet seems to be doing more damage than good to these young singers. I am told they are made to sign contracts that doesn't allow them to perform for non-Asianet programmes for up to two years. And on top of all this act, dance, mimic, do comical things. Roopa, last years SSG winner on Amritha channel told me how participants had to undergo gruelling hours of orientation and grooming. How many of today's singers did all this to reach their current status in the world of music. For almost an entire year (the entire duration of the ISS competition) these kids will have to forgo their careers, be that even music. No wonder several participants left half way to get back to school and college. They might have realised that ISS is only ruining even their singing careers.

I feel sad for not only Roopa but all the other top singers too. Where they just pawns in a game where television channels are at war with one another for selling more products/services, getting advertising and sponsorships via more viewership.

God save these kids.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A sensuous performance on Idea Star Singer 2008

Unlike Idea Star Singer 2007, the 2008 season completely fell out of favour on me for the following main reasons -

1. It started too soon without giving us a break from the 2007 episode.
2. Ranjini is the host.
3. Other stereotypes like dancing, acting that are getting on the nerves of everyone these days.

8:30 and the T.V at home is invariably tuned into the Asianet channel telecasting ISS but I stay in my room doing my work on my computer. There are songs that impress me and I come out and watch occasionally but most of the time everything sucks and disgusts so bad I stay away from it all. The new stars of this season are emerging but somehow the talent is not like we had last time. Prashob, Vivekanandan, Rahul, Parvathi are names that come to mind as the cream of the crop. Somadas has replaced and even overthrown Sunny of ISS 2007 for the sympathetic vote but Somadas is certainly the better singer. His rendition of Shankar Mahadevan's "Varaha Nathi Karai Oram" during the earlier part of this ISS was splendid. Catch it on YouTube if you missed the show. What a relief to see Ramya in the place of Renjini. Those days are gone.



These days better singing has been tempting me to watch some of the performances. I am going to write about one such performance, the duet between Vivek and Gayathri that was telecast last Friday. Jaya was already shouting from the hall, "Come and take a look at what's going on." and I knew instantly that cringe-material was being shown. But the female portion of the song was so good that I couldn't help listening to the song. I stayed away from watching but I didn't know what I missed. But the comments after the show was so good I realised I may have missed something.

I finally saw it on YouTube last night and I don't know how many times I watched the concluding portions of the performance. Yes, these days ISS is simply pushing their performers but it was not so bad as I thought it would be. Anyway it was simply too good to watch Gayathri. She exuded such sensuousness, honesty, bashfulness and grace that it was difficult to not fall for her. It looked as though she was really in love with her co-singer Vivek who faltered many a time during the performance. Was it because of her moves? Except for some breath control her voice was sweet and perfect. She sang with total ease, something that I have been observing of her in her previous performances too. She not only sang her parts well but did other non-singing parts too which as Sharath pointed out were done by other artistes in the original. Her gaze throughout her performance was a movie Director's delight. Her concluding parts of the song, where she sensuously says her lines and emotes as Vivek approaches her was the real killer. Take a look at the video below.



Certainly I will be looking forward to her next performances but this kind of acting/emoting may not be something we'll get to see.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Unusual flowers?

I found these flowers unusual when I first saw them bloom. Of these two I am told that the Jasmine flower in the first image is Adukku Malli. One person even told me it is Mysore Malli but a single flower was as big as a small rose. The regular sized Jasmine buds are in the background.



The second image shows you white Arali flowers blooming from a bunch of red Arali flowers. Note that it is from the same plant. The whites aren't pure whites as they have a tinge of pink to them. You can see two in the foreground and two in the background but they are from the same bunch that produces only red flowers. This happened only once.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Solution if you get the "Invalid Update Control CTF file" while updating AVG Free anti-virus

I have been using the AVG Free Anti-Virus for about two or more years now and I must say I have had little or no spyware and virus problems. I have used both the 7.5 and the 8 (with anti-spyware) versions. Over the past two days whenever I tried to update the program I was getting the "Invalid Update Control CTF file" error. So if you are getting the same, click on the following blog link for the solution.

http://www.winhelponline.com/blog/error-invalid-update-control-ctf-file-when-updating-avg-anti-virus-80/

I tried the solution and it worked perfectly for me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Some incredible pics

I do get a considerable amount of e-mail with pictures but this is one I want to share with you. The tile of the e-mail is Times when you just have to trust the pilot. Just check out the runways on these airports. The mail concludes with this extraordinary photograph of a rescue mission in Afghanistan. With the usage of Photoshop on many of today's photographs I hope this one and the one before that weren't fakes. All photos are published with due credits to the owners of the pics, whoever they are. You can also view the pics in their original full sizes by clicking on them.


Tioman Island , Off the coast of Malaysia. The tiny runway is just ahead of the waters.


Wake Island, Pacific Ocean


Maco International Airport


Kuujjuaraapik, Quebec


Canadian Labrador Military Helicopter atop a rock, off the coast of Greenwood. This one could have been a Photoshop trick but the next one is unbelievable.

The e-mail says that the following photo was taken by a soldier in Afghanistan of a helicopter rescue mission. The pilot is a PA National Guard guy who flies EMS choppers in civilian life. He has placed the rear end of a chopper down on the roof top of a shack, on a steep mountain cliff, and held it there while soldiers load wounded men in the rear.

The rains are here

Last week Chaithu's school was closed for two days. Every time there is a heavy downpour I wonder where the animals and birds take shelter. I am sure many also perish, nature's way of controlling animal population.

Many places in Chennai are still inundated with water. My greatest joy, the high decibel, ear splitting crackers are quiet, many dampened by the rains. Let it be a peaceful Deepavali.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tragedies behind a moment

It has been well over a week since I recovered from my illness but I still haven't started posting on my blog. There's work to be done and work has also been scarce. So here's one that I wanted to write about when I was sick. During this time I realised that the Koel egg I tried to hatch wouldn't. Another squirrel baby I tried to rescue also died. It was real sad to find it dead one morning, 5 days after I found it abandoned. I learnt that day after reading on the Internet that there's a lot more to rescuing an abandoned new squirrel baby than just feeding it.

Anyway, now for the post I was wanting to write.

In the movie "Saving Private Ryan" there is a beautiful line the character Upham tells Tom Hanks, ..."war expands the consciousness...". In my opinion illness does that to you too.

If you have a watch where you can observe the passing of a second or look at a clock where you can do the same as the seconds needle makes a movement, take a moment and do so. In that one second that passed an innumerable number of tragedies have happened, many natural over which we have no control and others too cruel to describe like rape, torture, killings, bombings. Many good things take place too but take a moment to contemplate on the bad things or tragedies. It took just a fraction of that second for bombs to go off in beautiful Jaipur, Rajasthan killing over 60 people. Bombs later exploded in Bangalore and Delhi killing more people. Elsewhere in the world there is civil war, extortions, assassinations, and more bombings. In the papers and the news there is death, destruction, disease, calamities of all kinds, suicides and the list of tragedies is endless.

So what are we supposed to do. Go on with our lives as though nothing affected us. Do we need to bother only if we are or our own kith and kin are involved?
On the other if we are to do something, are we to stop everything we do and lend our selves to the prevention and cure of this enormous suffering. But then what would happen to our lives, our families and our livelihoods?

The Vedas explain that if it is in our capacity to help and if we don't our part then we are only adding fresh bad karma to our already huge karmic debt that we need to live several lives to exhaust.

But then if we want to do something, how much can we do?

One thing that came to my mind is to be thankful for every waking second we live without the fear of death, disease or other kinds of suffering that so much of humanity is going through. This thankfulness can be in the form of a prayer, the more it is said the more grateful you will become to the goodness that has been bestowed upon you. No wonder the Muslims pray five times in a day. It was for a reason after all. Does that also mean we need to keep praying all the time? I guess a sincere thought of gratefulness all the time when we go about doing our daily routine is also a kind of prayer.

Then there are other ways of alleviating the suffering by doing things like charity.
Tithing is a procedure followed in many Christian homes where 10% of the monthly income is donated to the Church. The Holy Koran also prohibits hoarding of wealth without giving it in charity. All great and true holy scriptures of God teach us these good things by which society as a whole can benefit.

Pray for others and help them to the best of our abilities. Feel for their pain and suffering instead of just reading/hearing/seeing about them and just moving on without any bother. Isn't it said in The Holy Bible in the Psalms that "Blessed are they that mourn for they will be comforted".

In our busy lives where we don't give much thought to the pain of others let us do whatever best we can to help, pray and mitigate the suffering in the world. With our busy lives how much we can do so is the question but certainly even one small step in feeling and mitigating the suffering the pain of our brethren is worthwhile.

By the way I also know that many people out there don't need this post because they are already in the process of serving humanity to their best of their abilities. God save these noble souls. If you are one of them I respect you and pray for you.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Illness....

I am just recovering from Viral fever, Gastritis and Food poisoning and there were times I even decided to shut the blog down. Hope to get back on my feet soon.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

China has every reason to feel proud


Photo courtesy of http://en.beijing2008.cn/

All good things have to come to an end eventually. It is sad that the Olympics came to an end so soon. But truly what a magnificient event for China and the world. What a show of strength, unity and volunteerism. Every Chinese who whole-heartedly worked for this event from sportsperson to the volunteer, from their President to the person who wiped floors of the sports fields, the cheerleaders and most importantly the BOGOC the Beijing Organising Committe for the Olympics games deserved credit. A lot of this success has come with foreign technology but credit has to be given to the Chinese to have pulled off such a wonderful event. The technology, artistic dances, acrobatics, the incredible firework, the unforgettable Bird's nest stadium and the water cube swimming complex.

It was only befitting that China themselves topped the medals tally for the maximum number of Golds won. BOCOG President Liu Qi was presented with the Olympic Order in Gold by IOC President Jacques Rogge in recognition of all the work and effort over the past seven years that made possible this exceptional edition of the Games. I wished Anotonio Samaranch was alive to see how Beijing had defied what he said of the Olympics in Australia. Fourteen other BOCOG officials, including Executive Vice-Presidents Liu Yandong and Chen Zhili and Executive President Deng Pufang, received the Olympic Order in Silver, and Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong accepted on behalf of Beijing citizens the Olympic Cup from the hands of President Rogge.

I was also reminded of what the ousted Romanian Nicolae Ceau┼čescu of Romania saw when he came to visit China. Unfortunately for him trying to imitate the Chinese might (he saw the army parade) in Romania failed.

It was also nice to see Kenya's gold medal in the marathon and to hear their national anthem play in the Bird's Nest just before the Grand Finale events. This Olympics is going to be remembered for Michael Phelps and Umain Bolt.

Is there a lesson for India, its neighbour? One individual performance Gold in the history of the Olympics?

Sebastian Coe has already said London Olympics will not be on such a grand scale as it was in China. It was nice to see Jimmy Page and the familiar London Bus transforming itself like a Transformer Toy so well in the handing over celebrations. Will I make it for the 2012 Olympics to London? Dream on Subash. How many of you are there with me on this?

Following the Summer Olympics, China is all set to host the Paralympics which is due in 5 days (Sept 6- 17). Check the official site at http://en.beijing2008.cn/paralympic/.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Latest update on Roopa



I had a talk with Roopa a few days ago and from her voice she sounded very tired. She told me she was just recovering from a bout of fever. She also told me she was in Abudhabi for a concert and that is why her phone was ringing when I tried to contact her for her birthday. How lame of me to have thought otherwise.

Meanwhile her songs from "Ramanan" continue to comfort my soul like a the greatest soothing balm there ever is, like medicine for your mind. Just don't miss "Kanana Chayayil" and others from the album.

Roopa also told me that her program for Onam is scheduled for the 13'th or 14'th on Amritha channel where she will be celebrating Onam with veteran singer Sujatha, Sujatha's daughter Shwetha and Vijay Yesudas.

Roopa is going to go places. I am sure you join me in whishing her all the very best.

Monday, August 25, 2008

No, I wasn't wrong about Roopa

After being such a fan of her fine performances how could I be so wrong?

Roopa delivers a treat in her work on the concept album "Ramanan". All the sweetness of her voice that I missed in "Enter Sarike" is there on songs on this album. Roopa sounds soothing, lovely amd most important "clear" and un-modulated. Though a bit nasal now and then, this recording has truly brought her mellifluous voice out clearly, something that we all love her for.

The guys who made "Ente Saarike" must listen to this album and then find out how this sweetness and melody of her voice has been brough out by this recording and how they missed it or messed it in theirs.

Check out Roopa's songs at http://rooparevathi.com./audio/Ramanan.htm

"Kanana Chayalil" must be your first song. Beautifully rendered, the male voice also deserves credit. The poetic lyrics are beautiful. I will not be surprised if it is selected by a director of taste for his or her movie. Roopa singing as the character Chandrika in the poem, adds strength to the character of Chandrika that you almost fall for Chandrika.

Other good numbers are "Aarenthum Paranjotte" (male voice commendable here too and song sounds very much like "Theertha karayinile.." from K Balachander's "Varumayin Niram Sivappu", probably based on the same raaga), "Anyonyam", the duet with Gayathri, "Enthu Nee Cholkilum" and "Nirthaye lokame". In "Kandittila Njaan" listen to Roopa speak at the end of the song.

Roopa's voice is on 6 songs of the albums and for Rs.100 the album is a steal deal.
You can buy the album from Manorama's site.

Meanwhile Najeem Arshad who won Asianet's Idea Star Singer 2007 competition has his own big hit in "Ente Pranayathin" from the movie Chembada. You can listen to it on MusicIndiaOnline.com.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Shame on Tata Sky's sports channels

Not one of the sports channels that normally people rave about on Tata Sky could show even a few minutes of live coverage of the Beijing Olympics and we had to watch all the action on good old Doordharshan. True we could watch NBA as if you were in the U.S but it is a shame none of the Beijing Olympics could be covered. Is it because the rights to telecast the Olympics were given to only Doordharshan? Or did DD outbid the other channels for coverage?

Doordharshan meanwhile hasn't changed one bit. Old people are sent to Beijing to cover the events. I am not against old people but isn't the event about youth and energy and competition? The most ridiculous of them all, showing ads in between the prime time live coverages. The Suzuki update would show a screen with information typed on it (silly stuff like who won Gold, Silver and Bronze or the medal standings etc) and the hosts would simply read them. Have you ever seen anything as ridiculous as that?

Although my initial intention of getting Tata Sky wasn't sports coverage of Beijing 2008 was sure a let down.

I save two more birds

This post actually should have gone before the "Kakka Pudichen" post. Had I saved or kept the young crow chick it would have been three weeks in a row of saving one bird.

The security guy who killed, cooked and ate a Koel chick I think was frightened that I would report him to "some" animal activist authorities that he promptly brought me an adult female Koel. This one was pretty tough to handle. The crows were incidentally chasing it and it seemed so desperate that it was trying to peck its own wings while I was trying to hold it. Blue Cross was kind enough to come and take it away. I took a snap of it on my film SLR and will post a pic when I process the film.

The very next day after Blue Cross took away the Koel I was handed over a Mynah chick, this time it fell into the motor room of our colony's water treatment room and it was unable to fly. I kept in the box for two days before Blue cross was able to come and take it away. By then it had eaten well, gathered enough strength and was also able to fly quite well. Here is a pic of the mynah chick.



But a most amazing thing happened when I put the chick into the box I have made for these rescued birds. I noticed a pebble inside. I picked it up and even dropped it back into the box. I first thought Chaithanya, my son would have dropped a pebble into the box but why? Instantly it hit me like a shot out of the blue. It was an egg! An egg the female Koel had laid when I had put in the box two days ago. Here is a poor pic I took of the egg. Unfortunately the focus on the photograph has been shifted to another spot in the image and the egg looks fuzzy.



I am trying to incubate it but I don't think the embryo has survived. It was probably dead in the first or the second day of laying the egg. Will let you all know if the chick hatches.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Will the Singaporean Indians be happy?

While working in Singapore in the mid-nineties a question that I heard more than once from the Singapore born Indians (who were obviously frustrated with India or Indians or India's performance in International Sport) was this - "How come you guys have the second biggest population on Earth and cannot even win one Olympic Gold medal?". I used to shrug and give answers but more of them excuses. In return I could have asked them this question instead then but it would have hurt them. How come you have a sizable Indian population, particularly Tamilians and Malayalees and yet cannot make a decent song, or movie and have to resort to entertainment from India. Certainly that isn't more difficult than winning a medal at the Olympics yet these guys simply cannot do them. I remember watching one such serial in Singapore and it was pathetic.

Now that Abhinav Bhandra has won a Gold medal for us I am not saying we have the perfect answer for the Singaporean Indian but we also need to analyze various things behind this victory. Most important of all, will we make a repeat performance because our Athens medallist in the same sport did dismally this time.

I am not trying to let him or India down but this guy is going to be talked about for the next 4 years like no other sportsman in India, a credit that will not and was not given to several other discerning sports personalities that kept India's name shining bright in the yesteryears for several years. In fact very few of us have even heard of Bhindra till he won the medal. Already 5 lakhs has been promised by the Chief Minister, Mr. Karunanidhi of Tamil Nadu and other states have followed suit with their prizes. His total prize money from India stands over 5 crores now and growing. After the states it will then be the turn of the Central Government to give him prizes. Imagine if a lot more Indians had won Gold medals what would happen to our treasury. I can understand the appreciation but has our state and central governments gone over the limit. I think about the Singaporean Indian's question and wonder if we really have to shower so much praise. In China athletes have been winning Golds by the cart load and yet how many of them get even the smallest of praise that one Gold medallist in India does. Most of them are lost and forgotten after the Olympics. It only shows how medal starved we are. And if we are so desperate then what are we doing for it and where are we doing wrong at winning Olympic medals?

In the current political, social and economical setup for most Indians taking sport as a career is a big decision to make and a big no-no. This is probably one of the fundamental reasons why we are so backwards in sport. This is the prime issue we need to address and trying to solve this issue or find an answer will go a long way in helping us understand or solve why India can excel in sport. On the other hand in countries opting for a career in sport is a preferable choice for aspiring sportsmen. The amazing thing is that several countries who are behind India in terms of economy, political stability, funds and coaching have fared better at the Olympics.

This is the first Olympics where we didn't even qualify for Hockey. Its such a shame having been World Champions and having won the maximum number of Golds in Hockey in Olympics we couldn't qualify. So over the years we have been going backwards in the sport that we were best at and finally we have failed to qualify.

I am sure some or many of you may be even want to quote Lincoln - Ask not what the country did for you but ask what you did for the country". For the country I am only trying to throw more light on this incident. Should we shower prizes and prize money or provide better and coaching after employing impartial methods and unbiased selection? Why waste so much of our time on cricket? There are many among the new generation that do not know that Hockey is our national sport. We need to do research and find out how we can improve our sporting scene instead. We also need to investigate sports medicine and see how the usage of the same can improve the condition of our athletes. The dismal performance at the Olympics continously reveals to us the state of our health systems, the cleanliness of our air, our spiritual, emotional and phycial well being, quality of food, discipline and control of our regimens, our overall vision and the general nature of our beings.

Among our current athletes at Beijing Saina Nehal did a good job on the Badminton courts in Beijing. She was leading 11-3 in the decider before giving the game away to an unseeded Indonesian. The pugilists also did well though Akhil Kumar was carried away by some hype and I wasn't surprised when he lost the quarter finals. Vijayendra Kumar was the best of the boxers and it was good he was able to get a bronze. His attempt is certainly commendable. Anju Bobby George was certainly a disappointment. It is difficult to say if she will be able to get a medal after another four years.

And writing of questions from Singaporeans another interesting question but one that got me into a tight corner that I had to confront from a Singaporean-Chinese lady was, "I have always wondered how Indian women wearing the sari go to the toilet?" I kind-of managed to answer this one. Luckily Jaya was around to help.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Kakka Pudichen" literally

What another strange experience. I trailed the young bird that was hardly able to fly a few feet on the main road. Some passers-by were enjoying the scene. I was able to catch it but soon the sky was filled with adult crows. I tried asking some people who were looking at me with utter disbelief if they could hold the bird sitting on my scooter so that I could take it home to the box I have saved for rescuing these birds but none of them seemed to volunteer. Without much choice I placed him on an abandoned vehicle near a bushy area. Soon adult crows surrounded the little one. I feel guilty that I left him there. Maybe I can still go and search for it even now. But this time I will let his adult friends help him instead of calling Blue Cross.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Holy Crap called "Dasavatharam"

"Ulaga Nayagan" (i.e Actor of the World), Kamal Haasan?

With this movie Kamal Hassan has literally let himself down in the minds of so many of his fans. Hope they don't start calling him "Ulaga Fancy Dress competition artiste" because that is what he has done in this film. I still haven't recovered from the shock of this movie that I watched two days ago. Either it was some silly joke or maybe even some conspiracy to ruin the talented actor's career.

If you are planning to watch this film let me warn you not to waste your precious time unless you wish to change that good image of the veteran actor in your minds. I cannot imagine what Jackie Chan, Amitabh Bachan, Mammooty and the rest of the special invitees had in mind after seeing this blockbuster piece of holy crap at a special showing. I say holy crap because there is a small debate of God vs atheism in this movie. Kamal Haasan being an atheist has tried to offer his views of what happened in TamilNadu on the day the Tsunami struck. He simply asks what God or spirituality did to save TamilNadu from the Tsunami. Spiritually speaking this question cannot be answered in a simple sentence. But that discussion later.

Dasavatharam has even the Chief Minister of TamilNadu, Mr. Karunanidhi, the Indian PM Manmohan Singh and the U.S President George Bush being played out by actors, Bush played by Kamal Haasan himself. The entire movie is being played out as a flash-back but narrated in front of a huge simulated stadium audience (with the three big political heads just mentioned) as guests. It was a stupid way to tell this story and this movie. I like Kama's tamil but even that sucked during these parts of narration.

With "Vettaiyadu Vilayaadu", 2007's no.1 film in TamilNadu still fresh in our minds I cannot believe Kamal's next would be the absurd "Dasavatharam" which had such a huge hype for its launch at a ceremony attended by the Chief Minister, Mr.Karunanidhi.

So why am I so disgusted with this movie?

1. Watching "Indian" I was already sick of the make-up done to Kamal and Sukanya but since it was a novel idea I could somehow accept it though it was beginning to get disgusting after a point. Both Kamal and Sukanya's old-age make-up looked as though they were suffering from sort of skin disease. What you now get in "Dasavatharam" is a super overdose of this make-up. Multiply the "Indian" make-up ten times and that is what you get here in Dasavatharam. A couple of the made-up characters were impressive but the rest of the disgusting characters over-shadowed anything or all the good that was being done by other characters or in the movie itself. The old Paati looks frightening and would easily qualify for a horror movie, another character the tall muslim guy was a perfect Frankenstein look-alike. I still feel Sivaji Ganesan with his 9 roles in "Navarathiri" made decades earlier did a much better job without the make-up and the technology of today.

2. Hero Worship - Sometimes I wonder why there is so much Hero worship that we have in this country. The Heroes of course are benefiting from this. Like Ted Nugent, the self-proclaiming greatest guitarist of the world these heroes either give themselves titles or like being given titles that they proudly self-proclaim or display in their own movies. Many such titles including "Ulaga Nayagan" seem to me that way. I can understand love of fans for their idol but by using titles certainly doesn't make a movie any better. Overuse of these titles in a crap movie only makes the movie more horrible.

3. Superstition - Remember the movie Avvai Shanmugi where in the introductory scenes you are shown a close-up of Kamal's eyes and he winks one of them. You see that in the opening credits of this movie too. I am told that astrologers and numerologists play a huge role in movies particularly when it comes to deciding names (start the name of the title with this syllable etc), names of characters, choosing numbers and dates for the movie, opening and concluding scenes and for several other infinite and infinitesimal things. How can an artiste such as Kamal agree to such things (given that he is atheist, Oh but can atheists be superstitious) and also think such things will go on to make the movie a hit?

4. Kamal either wants to become a white man or he is in complete awe of them. Kamal dons the make-up to resemble an ex-CIA agent and worst of all President Bush. Honestly President Bush looks more like one of those monkey characters from Ramanand Sagar's "Ramayan". In the final credits Mr. Bush is seen dancing to Ravikumar's (yes the director in the song too) eulogy in the song "Ulaga Nayagane" supported by dance and dancers.

Every move made and dialog spoken from the CIA agent made me cringe. Advertisements in "The Hindu" like "Fletcher rivals Hollywood..." (I haven't reproduced the advertisement everything verbatim) make a total mockery of this film. Remember the lines in "Vettayadu Vilayaadu" for Kamal. It was so natural. The English spoken by the CIA guy, Mr.Bush and in his role as the NRI guy is unbearable too. Then there is the Japanese lady trying to speak "fluent Tamil", most of which is hardly understandable.

5. Add to the mess Asin's painful acting. She and her "Perumal". All she does is run after the idol yelling, "En Perumal" and it looked plain silly reminding you of the silly conditions she had in Gajini before she could marry Surya in the movie. I have certainly more of Asin's bore-you-to-the-death acting skills but that will be in another post.

There is enough blood and gore too. There is one torture session in the opening scenes that is difficult to watch too. This scene has no correlation to the movie and I think it was inserted to add an additional character in the movie. Unnecessary Saiva-Vaishnava rivalry shown in these scenes also could have been avoided. The scene where Kamal introduces himself after levitating himself from some underground crevice in the temple sounded so very funny too.

Why rope in K R Vijaya, and Nagesh to do some silly roles when they can be left alone peacefully in their retirement.

Little jokes and funny dialogues are there in good measure but they have become stale.

So isn't there any saving grace? Yes - Mallika Sherawat. She actually proves that she can be more than just a glamour doll.

Just forget this movie and look forward to Kamal's next offering, Marmayogi which is about Kalari Payattu, the ancient martial arts system of Kerala. You will have to put up with Asin's unbearable acting once again unless she does something new (that which I doubt).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wildflower

Remember that song from The Beegees album "Living Eyes"? It keeps ringing in my ears everytime I see this blooming shrub that grows in front of the compound wall to my house. I don't water it. It just grows wild and I am hesitant to have it removed. The flowers fully open at around 11.00 A.M during the day and during the night the flowers have completely shrunk themselves into small tube like things. Can anyone tell me what plant this is?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Heavy engineering

I am amazed at some of the nests that the crows build during their nesting season. I found two near our colony who have built them on power line posts. One of them on a high tension one as this. I wonder how the crow placed its first sticks to lay the foundation and that too with just a beak and two legs. Incredible!



And here's another one I found located on another electric post. Inside this one the mother was sitting on her eggs.



Now here's some trivia. I also believe the nests are a natural turn on for the Asiatic Koels and as evolution or survival of the species would have it they court, mate and the females go depositing their eggs in these crow nests. How perfect nature is.

A little of Heaven On Earth



Legend has it that it was brought to the Earth from the Heavens. Here is the "Parijaatham" flower in bloom in my house. This is the first flower that bloomed after I got the plant from Amma's place. It is called "Gandharajan" (king of fragrance) in Kerala. It is also the favorite of Lord Shiva. Its fragrance can be summed up in just one word - "Heavenly".

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Can India do it?

After watching the superb opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics 2008 I ask myself this question if India can pull off something like this and host their Olympics. China is celebrating an event that is historical. What a show of lights, dances, special effects, acrobatics and fireworks. The entire nation is taking part in some little way or the other. Wish I could be there. Sadly most of the teams were outside the statium. Maybe they had Televisions to watch.

In 2000, Antonio Samaranch in his closing speech said that the Sydney Olympics was the best ever. The Chinese I am sure are going to take it further and even surpass what was done in Sydney and in Athens. Of course the Sydney show was 8 years ago and the one at Athens 4 years ago.

It was a shame to see the Indian team walk with all kinds of footwear and no uniformity. Some of the ladies were in track suits. Has the Indian woman forgotten how to wear the Sari. If we cannot even be united in wearing clothes and parading in a stadium how are we going to be united and conduct an Olympics. It is going to be a very distant dream. Better not to conduct one than make a fool of ourselves hosting one.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Wherever you go, our Network will always follow you."


Here's a picture that I received in an e-mail that I received showing the government's clever use of an ad used by a phone services provider in the country. The advertisement calls to attention the hazards of using your mobile phone while driving. I am not sure if this was done by some prankster for the Govt. too.

The ad is titled "Our Network will always follow you", the caption also taken from the phone company's ad campaign.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The fat cartoonist creates his English blog

My good friend, Sajjive has just started his own English blog. Sajjive already has a Malayalam blog and I was only expecting him to start one in English. The prayer has been answered. Way to go Fatso! All the best.

http://fatcartoonist.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 03, 2008

My chipmunk adopted by another chipmunk family

Jaya tells me that she saw a squirrel jump out from the hole in the Electricity meter box. Actually this chipmunk nest she discovered, was the fourth in our home. This one was inside the electric meter box. Looks like it is clearly the breeding season. I checked it out the day I came to know of it and I was surprised to find the tail of the mommy chipmunk protruding out of the nest. I silently closed the door of the box. The box has two compartments and one window of the second compartment is never opened. I really feared for my wiring and the safety of the chipmunk (and its babies if there were any).

The next day I decided to check the nest. Meanwhile the chipmunk at my sister's place had been transferred to my home. I even tried to acclimatise it to the other abandoned nest I found earlier. So in the morning I made sure mommy chipmunk has left the nest. I opened the second door of the electricity meter box and I was not surprised to find the nest inside. I tried disturbing the nest a bit and the noise from inside confirmed there were babies inside. I took out the nest and tried searching for the babies and as survival would have it the two of them were trying to hide inside the darker areas now that I was trying to open it and let more light inside. What a survival technique I thought to myself, even with their eyes not fully open. The two babies seemed much younger to the chipmunk I already had as their bodies were still pink though the three familiar line marks were already visible on their bodies. I was careful not to touch them lest they mommy should abandon them too.

It was now I had a flash of an idea. Why not insert our chipmunk baby into this nest. So I took the little one along with a little portion of his nest and attached the next to the new one. He seemed to immediately like the new nest and started exploring and then moving deeper into it like his new siblings. Soon only his tail was visible. I took a pic of the little one and his new found siblings before I left the nest back inside the box where I took it from.



Now all I had to do was wait. There were only three possibilities. The new one would be 1. accepted, 2. rejected and the worst 3. killed? I was sure no.3 would not take place.

I had to leave my home for a short while and by the time I rushed back I saw mommy chipmunk already peeping from the hole in the box. I instantly knew she was back for her little ones. Now that the nest had been disheveled I knew she would take her kids away to another place. I closed the door of my home and kept looking at the box from the peep-hole of the door. After a long wait (patience is the key) the mother was back. The lens in the peep-hole was not big enough to reveal what was in its mouth but the mother was already carrying away a little one. But which one, I couldn't make that out. I waited again. This time I decided to open my door a bit and see a bigger picture. It came again and this time I could see it carry another little one in its mouth. As it ran around my house I followed it and with all the speed it could muster carried its little one into a bush outside the rear compound wall of my home. It was aware of me following it. I went inside and waited again. After a short while it came again. This time however it left alone. Then after a long time it didn't show up. I knew then that it would never come back.

It was now time for the acid test. I decided to check the nest. I was only praying that my chipmunk was rescued and my prayer was answered. All three babies had been carried away to a safe place. Thank God Squirrels cannot count or is it that mothers always care for abandoned little ones.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Was I wrong about Roopa's voice and will we ever hear more from her?

It was Roopa's birthday on the 31'st of July. She had told me that the birthday mentioned in the show was wrong. Unfortunately I gave up calling her as her phone was switched off and her second number kept ringing without any response. I didn't care to send an SMS either. Am I being rude? I don't think so. Roopa has been very difficult to contact ever since she won SSG.

Not as a fallout of this but I have been constantly thinking of her voice ever since her song "Ente Sarike" from the Mohanlal starrer "Maadambi" was released and I am beginning to wonder if she would make it big in the movie-singing business. Already she had been telling me that she preferred classical singing to singing in the movies. One thing is clear. Her recording hasn't brought out the best in her. Roopa is awesome in her live performances. I tried listening instead of seeing her videos and some songs do have a nasal quality to them but the song for the movie could have been much better. Roopa did admit that she didn't feel fine in the recording studio as much as she felt on stage. Even Unni Menon had remarked that the song hadn't brought the real Roopa in the recording. If voice is a problem then I doubt if Roopa will ever make it big like I had predicted earlier. Shwetha's song from Madambi sounds way too pleasant.

I still pray good things for her because she is such a great singer. Let us wait and see.