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 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 ) and from what I have been reading Ghajini isn't short of violence either.


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
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 and 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 (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.

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.