Saturday, June 26, 2010

Andhi Kadai, my friend Sathya's entrepreneural venture

How I love it when I hear one more person eking out a livelihood living on his own terms. When Sathya called me on Sunday evening to tell the good news I was actually dining in Hotel Saravana Bhavan with my sister.

Sathya's new evening light-tiffin centre is aptly called "Andhikadai" and is located at the Nilgiri's, very close to the Anjaneyar temple in Nanganallur, Chennai.

The menu at Andhikadai's website is surely tempting. Andhikadai takes party orders too. For more details visit

Will check it out if I am in Andhikadai's neighbourhood.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More of Alka Ajith

Five days and counting. I still haven't got tired of watching her videos or listening to her songs. Here are some of the best videos.

Alka performing before S Janaki and the legend mentioning that Alka sang the song it better than she did. Incredible! She even mentions that Alka's voice is mature enough for singing for heroines in films.

"Mannippaaya", the song from "Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya" gets a standing ovation from the judges.

"Sahana", sung in an acoustic setting is unbelievable. Her breath control is amazing.

Duet's "Anjali" - Another fantastic performance with an incredible breath controlled "alaap" in middle of the song.

And finally the video of her selection as a contestant in the competition and another spot selection later in the competition. The typical malayalee girl with flowing long hair and looks. Singer Shalini mentioned then that she would be in the finals and so it was.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Is this the most obnoxious Malayalam pop video ever made?

Thanks to Joby Staneslavose, tour manager of the rock band "Evergreen" who made a post of this video on Facebook so that I am able to mention it here.

I cannot imagine a video as this being made or should I give credit to the maker if his intention was to make the most obnoxious Malayalam pop video, ever!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

DELL after sales service is tops

I learn that HP is the largest selling Desktop computer in India and the world. My sister owns one and I know the pro's (less) and cons (more) of owning that PC. But here I take the opportunity to once again tell you how wonderful DELL's after sales service is. I have made one post previously on a Dimension XPS T450 I owned for a decade without any problems before donating it. You may read it here if you wish to. Although I always dream of building my next computer myself I cannot help mentioning DELL's superior service.

Way back in 2000 when the warranty period for my first DELL, the XPS T450 was just two days from expiring there was a big thunder shower in Athens, Georgia where I used to live. I was surfing the internet using a dial-up connection. The incessant rain was accompanied by constant thunder and lightning. All of a sudden there was a big flash of lightning and soon after by a big noise of thunder. The flash was so bright that I ran to my balcony to see if it had damaged anything outdoors. Power snapped instantly and it was restored to our area only after a day, a rare thing in all my yrs of stay in the U.S.A. When I switched my computer on I realized that the modem was dead. I call DELL, give them details of what happened and a technician appears the very same day, one day before expiry of the desktop's warranty and replaces the modem. Amazing! I used the PC for a decade.

I own a Vostro now and while purchasing it I was offered a 6GB memory card or a 2 yrs extended warranty option. I chose the latter. Just two months shy of expiring the warranty helped me replace the keyboard, the front bezel and the component that performs the power-on switching. Earlier I didn't wait to get the mouse replaced and purchased one myself. I was told by the DELL technician that DELL would have happily replaced the mouse. DELL even agreed to replace my motherboard when the display was giving problems. However, like I did with my earlier DELL I purchased video cards and fixed the problem myself.

Also note that without the warranty, umbrella DELL's services and spare parts can be pretty expensive.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Alka, you blew my mind!..Roopa, the world, are you watching?

Would you believe if I told you that Roopa, my favorite singing star on T.V from the Singing contests from the South has been upstaged by someone almost half her age? Read on.

You can't keep track of every singer, every programme, every T.V show. Can you? For months I have hardly watched Asianet's Idea Star Singer because of the nauseatingly and IQ-reducing things they have been doing on the show. One more look at the host, Ranjini and her histrionics and I feel I am losing my mind. I also don't particularly watch singing-competition-shows of children. This is because their voices are definitely going to change over time, particularly the voices of the boys. But I was in for a rude shock when Chaithu and Jaya kept lauding a singer called Alka Ajith who had won the recently concluded Airtel Super Singer Junior 2, a Tamil singing contest. Honestly I have never watched the Airtel shows for the seniors too.

I dig Alka's videos on YouTube and I was in for a bigger surprise, more than when I did the same for Roopa's. This kid is not even half of Roopa's age and she sings like a God. Video after video I am blown away. I must say that after Roopa (a senior) who won Super Star Global 2 on the Malayalam channel Amritha I have never been floored by someone as this. Literally flawless she obliterates the competition even if seniors were to be competing. For the grand finale Alka belts out S.Janaki's "Singara Velane" with total ease and it sounds as sweet as or even sweeter than the original. The audience filled with prominent singers of our times are awestruck and give her a standing ovation. The expressions on the faces of the veteran singners are unbelievable. Just take a look at Srinivas's expressions in the video below.

I dig more info on Alka and learn that she can sing in a dozen languages. There are videos of her singing in French and Urdu and I cannot believe her diction who has learnt these songs only by ear. Alka who hails from Kerala has been singing from a very tender age and is tutored by her father who is a professional keyboardist. She has performed in over 500 concerts already. Here's another video of Alka singing an Urdu ghazal after singing a small song in French.

Any one of you who has listened closely to "Kannalane" sung by Chithra from the movie "Bombay" will realise that some studio work has been employed in the song, particularly when skipping back to the Pallavi portion from the Charanam. Chithra herself admitted to the fact that there are portions where you will lose your breadth. But Alka sings it perfectly with incredible breath control. Chithra, judge on the show during the performance was flabbergasted. Check the video below.

She does an excellent job singing "Minsaara Kanna" before the original singer, Nithyasree but here's another video of Alka singing the evergreen "Senthoora Poove". Alka lends a sweetness of her own to this beautiful song.

I pray that God bless this child prodigy with a bright future. She must head straight for the studios instead of considering more competitions particularly Idea Star Singer where I am sure they'll love to have her.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A good explanation of an impossible soccer goal

I have watched Van Basten, the Dutch star-footballer scoring a near-zero angle soccer goal by bending the ball. But here's a nice explanation of one of Roberto Carlos's goals.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Avial's Nada Nada, new version

With their original line-up here's a new YouTube video of "Nada Nada" I found
recently reported on Yahoo.

Band mates look much younger.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Socrates and one of the best world cup soccer quater-finals

Mexico, 1986 is in my memory one of the best world cups ever. I started writing this post when "The Hindu" recently published a list of football greats including the Brazilian, Socrates. While I respect Brazil for their football I couldn't forget Socrates that year because of the undue adulation he was receiving. On the contrary I despised the player so much for his penalty scoring style. Before striking the ball Socrates would charge at the ball and pretend that he was going to kick the ball. By then, in a split second the goalkeeper would make a judgement and dive towards the side of the goal where he would assume the ball would be struck. In the meantime Socrates who charged at the ball, wouldn't actually hit the ball with his foot. Just after the goalkeeper would make his diving mistake Socrates would gently kick the ball on the opposite side where the goalkeeper had dived. Check out the video below from 1986 though it doesn't resemble the description I just gave, 100%.

At least in the video above Socrates fakes the action cleverly. In most cases he would raise his leg after reaching the ball very close, literally coming to a standstill. During the 1986 World Cup there were many who argued that Socrates should have been penalized for his penalty taking style.

But his tactic would soon find his nemesis in Joel Bats, the French goalkeeper. His trick failed him when Brazil needed it most. It was also one of the most exciting matches of the 1986 World Cup. During the quaterfinal clash with France the match had to go into extra time and later into the penalty shootout. Socrates was the first to take the penalty for Brazil and when he tried his familiar trick, French goalkeeper Joel Bats (who would later become the star of the match for the many saves he made) just stayed put. By then Socrates had lost all speed and momentum in his kick and when he kicked the ball it was easy for Joe Valt to position himself and make the save.

The match itself was one of the most memorable quarter-finals in World Cup history. France was facing three-time world champion, Brazil. Brazil were well on top in the early stages when Careca put them one up after 18 minutes. But then, five minutes before half-time, France drew level when the legendary Michel Platini scored. Brazil had a great chance to regain the lead in the second half when Branco was fouled by French keeper Joël Bats in the penalty area. The fouled player does such a poor play-acting that he is confused where to pretend his pain is. He tries to hold his knee, then moves on to his shin and then finally pretends his ankle is in pain. A few seconds later you can watch him and his team mates rejoicing when the penalty is awarded to them. Zico got up to take the kick, but Bats made up for his foul by saving Zico's penalty, his first of the many saves he would make during that match.

The match went to extra time, and France had the better of the extra half-hour. Joel also made a great save during extra time and France was not allowed a penalty after one of their players was brought down by the Brazilian goalkeeper. The next six penalties were all converted, and then Platini fired over the bar, a blunder considering how many goals he had scored off free-kicks. Brazil were back on level terms but unfortunately Julio Cesar struck the post with his penalty, and Luis Fernández then scored to put France through 4–3 on penalties.

Socrates never stepped into the world cup arena after 1986.