Mar 31, 2011

Cricket - a strategy based game

I always knew that Cricket is a team game. But it was only while I was watching Pakistan innings against India yesterday in Mohali that I realized its a game of strategy too.

While the whole of India was cheering happily for every dot ball Misbah made, I was awed by his strategy and execution of it. In a slow pitch that offered so much turn in the middle overs, Dhoni gambled with Nehra for Ashwin! That leaves only one class spinner, Harbhajan Singh, to bowl with not-so-consistent-but-currently-in-form spinner Yuvraj at the other end. Together, they finished their quota of 20 overs while the batting power play for Pakistan was yet to be taken.

All Pakistan, especially Misbah, needed to do at that stage was to stick to the crease and save their wickets. Its not going to be difficult to go after fast bowlers, for whom the pitch has nothing to offer, during the batting powerplay.

Unfortunately, even the team Pakistan (minus Misbah) did not understand this strategy, and so everybody went for a big hit, which brought more wickets to India, than runs for Pakistan.

In all, I really feel for Misbah. He reminds me of Rahul Dravid of India in many aspects. When it comes to class cricket, one's character must precede his age. In yesterday's game, I was hoping that one partnership with Misbah can make Pakistan to create history by beating India in the world cup for first time.  But now, for that to happen, I have to wait for four more years!

Mar 29, 2011

An innovative way of cheating passengers

"Give two rupees more, I will give you five rupees in return", told the conductor to me for buying a ticket to Cuddalore from Pondicherry, which cost 7 rupees. The conductors are always in short for the change, thus leaving many passengers to wonder where does all the coins produced by the Indian Government go!

The bus was boarded by more than its capacity, however, I am one of the few lucky passengers to have got a seat to sit. I picked up my purse, took a two rupees coin and flipped it on to the conductor whose hands appeared out of nowhere like a magic, amidst the crowd. He took the change, put it in his bag, searched thoroughly for a 5 rupees coin or note, but found none instead.

"Wait for, Sir, I will give you 5 rupees as soon as I get one", he promised. The office people and school kids occupied every square inch of the bus, with their bags occupying another square inch of the space available. The person who is sitting in the opposite row could not be seen, leave alone the conductor. Thus it was impossible for me to 'see' him to remind him of the change, though I could hear his voice every now and then shout "ticket...ticket...".

It was only when I reached the destination that I could meet the conductor and ask for the change. But by then, he had already seen almost hundreds of faces to remember and recognize mine.

"Will somebody give 12 rupees for a 7 rupees ticket? Are you trying to cheat me?" he shouted. My attempt to explain how he did not have 3 rupees change and so demanded 2 rupees more to round it off to 5 rupees went on his deaf ears.

It took some time for me to realize that I got cheated by yet another innovative way!

Remembering my Peripa

"I will put you in a sack and hang you in that tree", terrorized my peripa for being mischievous. It indeed worked, for when I was a kid, I was afraid of none, but him. Every time I hear the news from my dad that his brother is coming from Thiruvendipuram, I frantically search for a hide out where he can never find me to threaten.

It happened some twenty years ago! The recently turned octogenarian, later became my close friend as I grew up, sharing lot of details about his childhood and my native village, every time I paid a visit to him. "You were born on the same day my father passed away", he once told. His nick is thoppai desigan, for his big belly who is officially known as Srinivasa Ramanujam. I could never meet my paternal grandfather, and so I envisioned my peripa as my grandfather whenever he talked about him.

The day after I finished my class nine examination is still fresh in my memory. It was the day my dad has  decided to conduct Yagnobavitham ceremony for me and my elder brother at his native residence. Since it was decided to perform the sacred ceremony for both of us in single sitting, my dad and my mom planned to sit with my brother, while peripa and perima were asked to sit with me, to put the yagnobavitham (sacred thread) and announce the world that I am a Brahmachari then onwards, and have taken the sacred vow.

Ever since I moved on to college, I could meet him only once in a year or so during the temple Utsavam. The gap between me and him, naturally widened thus. The last time I met him was a week ago at his residence when he celebrated his 80th birthday with his children, grand and great grand.

During that trip, little did I realise that this will be the last time I will see him with his traditional child-like smile on his face. All good things must come to an end, and so does good life. My peripa, after celebrating his 80th birthday during which he saw all his descendants are well off and settled, breathed his last. May his soul rest in peace.

Mar 21, 2011

"Happy Holi" wishes from Mother Nature

Humans are so obsessed with artificiality to an extent that the distance between us and the nature is ever increasing, just the way its happening with our universe. Wooded landscape are paving way to more concrete jungles, shaded trees are being chopped off, only to be replaced with sheets of plastic, a vast population from the human race have the privilege to see the trees and plants only in the form of a commercial product, such as furniture, papers etc.

Has nature ditched us the same way in retaliation? I guess not. In fact, it is desperately making an attempt to call for our attention. A couple of days back, when the whole of India was celebrating Holi, the festival of colors, Nature was silently wishing us on the occasion. But did we care to listen?

One can't unify himself with Nature unless he/she gives up some levels of artificiality. Try walking the path instead of taking your bike or driving a car. Listen to the birds instead of the song being played in your ipod. Tune to nature, instead of TV/Internet. I am sure, Nature loves to talk to us, the way our parents want to when they grow old.

To begin with, I have posted a few snapshots of Nature, wishing us on the occasion of Holi with colorful flowers instead of artificial, health-concerning powders.

Its now our turn to wish back at Nature.

Mar 19, 2011

Review of My Days

We often appreciate good works published by our favorite authors, Sidney Sheldon or R. K. Narayan. But how much do we know about these authors? What made them to choose writing as their profession? What or who is their source of inspiration? Where do they draw their characters from? How do they construct a plot? Are all fictional stories really fictitious? Is there a personal touch of a writer in his characters based on his/her real life experiences? In "My Days", R. K. Narayan has tried to answer some of these questions.

"My Days" an autobiographical work of R.K.Narayan, is worthy of his novels, says his friend Graham Greene. True to this, the book had been written with elegance, like any of his other works. Starting from his childhood days where he used to play with unusual pets of monkey and a peacock, he takes us with him to a journey which shows a peek of his life; the hurdles he faced at war times, personal and financial difficulties that loomed over him on several occasions, and how he faced those issues which never deterred him from writing.

My Days is certainly an inspirational work, especially for young and aspiring writers whose dream is to choose writing as their career.

Mar 12, 2011


The Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Nomad Players have been presenting a play in our institute every year since 2009. They started off with their first successful play "Three blind mice", adapted from Agatha Christie's Mousetrap, in 2009. Their second venture, "Black comedy", was presented in 2010, in which the organizers had used reverse lighting scheme to tell the story that happened during an electrical blackout. This year, the team had come up with another interesting play named "Pratibimb".

The director (third from left) introducing the cast of Pratibimb to the audience

Pratibimb is a story of Dhondya, an ordinary man, who wakes up one morning to find that he has lost his reflection suddenly. With the help from his landlady Muktabai, called as Bai, they both attempts to find explanations for the sudden disappearance of his mind, by entering into each others mind. What happens during their course of finding his reflection forms the central theme of the play.

The set designer has done a wonderful job in designing the stage for the play. The concept of "entering into another's mind" is beautifully told by apt studio lighting and using a "window" as the gate of one's mind. The philosophical story ends with Muktabai letting out a scream after looking at the mirror.

Mar 10, 2011

Review of Chanakya's Chant

Little is known about Chanakya, the author of Arthashastra, who is supposed to have lived some 2300 years ago, believed to be the chief architect of Chandragupta Maurya's rise to power. The unknowns are vast that it leaves plenty of opportunity for historical fiction writers to fill in those gaps with their creative imagination. In Chankya's Chant, Ashwin Sanghi went one more step ahead.

While going through the mind of Chanakya to understand his strategic mind, a number of question arises. What was the political situation like during Chanakya's period? What made him to architect Chandragupta Maurya rise to power? Who were the enemies with whom he fought in order to achieve his goal? If he ever succeeded in his mission, why were his works not popular in today's world? Finally, what was his love life like? Did he fall in love? If so, how did he balanced his love life with politics?

The questions posed above to the reader is not complete, however, it gives you an idea of a good start for a story. In addition to these questions, Ashwin added: "What if Chanakya were to be cursed by his lover due to his greater love for the nation instead of her? If Chanakya were to be cursed, what is the cure for his fault?

Chanakya's Chant is as follows:
Adi Shakti, Namo Namah; Sarab Shakti, Namo Namah; Prithum Shakti, Namo Namah; Kundalini Mata Shakti; Mata Shakti, Namo Namah.
which means
Primal Shakti, I bow to thee; all-encompassing Shakti, I bow to thee; that through which God creates, I bow to thee; creative power of the Kundalini; mother of all, to thee I bow.
Chanakya indeed had a girl friend, named Suvasini. He was cursed by her since he paid more attention to the nation to the extent that he used Suvasini as a whore to achieve his goal. However, Suvasini felt sympathetic with Chanakya for his nobel cause, and hence suggested the following cure
Four thousand days you shall pray
Four hundred chants every day.
Chanakya's power is yours to take
Chandragupta, to make or break.
If there's a lull, start once more.
King must be queen, to be sure.
Suvasini's curse shall forever halt
If you can cure Chanakya's fault.
The chant forms the central theme of the story, the mantra japa gives the contemporary kingmaker Pandit Gangasagar Mishra the Chanakya's power for rising Chandini Gupta to queen (prime minister of Independent democratic India).

While Suvasini herself was chanting for Chanakya in order that he succeeds in his mission to Lord Shiva
Om tryambhakam yajamahe, sugandhim pushtivardhanam; urvarukamiva bandhanam, mrityor mukshiya maamrital.
which means
O praise to the Three-Eyed One, who increased prosperity, who has a sweet fragrance, who frees the world from all diseases and death! Liberate-as the fruit from the wine. Shiva, grant immortality!
Chanakya's Chant is an interesting read for all those who love to read historical fiction. Through his writing, Ashwin takes us back and forth to the Chanakya's time and present day with his vivid imagination.

Mar 9, 2011

Snaptu issue on Nokia 5230

Snaptu is one of my favorite mobile application which enables me to socialize using facebook and twitter on the go. However, the last time I connected my mobile using USB to my desktop, I did something terribly wrong, which led to incomplete removal of some of the mobile applications that are installed in my memory card. This includes Snaptu, Opera mobile browser and Skype among others. But I was fortunate enough to locate the uninstaller of Opera and Skype, which allowed me to reinstall the same later on, and hence recover. But Snaptu is not to be "seen" anywhere in my mobile. Not in the file manager, nor in applications installer folder.

I tried all the basic tactics, including resetting my mobile to factory settings. Nothing worked. Re-installation from Nokia's Ovi store gave me a warning saying the application already exists and hence could not be installed again. It was frustrating experience for me, for I love Snaptu but I could not install to use it. When I connected my mobile through Nokia PC suite, I felt elated as I could see Snaptu in the installed directory against which it showed 0KB. I selected Snaptu, clicked on 'delete' button, and wait to see that nothing happened. After several attempts, I understood that its not going to work. In that desperate moment, I tried Googling for "not able to delete Snaptu, Nokia mobile". Most of the links that came up in the search list told me that I am not alone in this world with this issue. However, I could not find a solution in any of those, including Nokia forums.

Down the list, something caught my attention. It read something like memory card blah blah, which I did not see in any other link. Backed up with my hunch, I clicked on the link to find a solution which is irrational, but promising. The solution goes like this; remove the memory card, install Snaptu again in phone memory, insert memory card again, uninstall from phone memory and reinstall in memory card (if you are having a limited memory constraint). I had done this before with windows machine. Whenever a particular application does not work, I close and open it, or still, I will restart my machine. So far, I had solved a number of such issues in Windows XP. But will it work that way in Nokia too?

What is there for me to lose if it does not work? Anyway its not working now. Thus pacifying myself, I decided to give it a try. I removed the memory card, opened file manager, went to the location where I had downloaded the Snaptu application earlier, opened it to install. The installer popped up with a warning message asking me if I want to overwrite the data for which I gladly said 'yes'. But it appears that time wanted to play with me for some more as I got an error message saying "invalid jar file"!

It then occurred to me that I had downloaded the version from getjar for some other mobile model as one of my vain attempts earlier. Naturally, I opened  Nokia Ovi store from my mobile, went to applications and downloaded Snaptu freshly. Voila! It worked! So, as the forum user suggested, I inserted my memory card, uninstalled Snaptu, reinstalled again by choosing memory card as install location. It popped up with a warning to overwrite the existing 0KB file, which I gladly accepted. The success story ends with a tweet message announcing the world that I am back into action with Snaptu.

Mar 5, 2011

Review of Bertrand Russell and Trinity

Its a story of the relationship between Bertrand Russell and Trinity college at one of the challenging times for humans in history, the World War I. The book was written by the an authorized person, a fellow of Trinity, G. H. Hardy who has access to most of the original sources, and is verified by Bertrand Russell himself.

The story begins with Hardy explaining about pacifist organizations (Union of Democratic Control, No Conscription Fellowship) and their role in conscription during the world war. It then proceeds in explaining why Trinity (council) took a stand to cancel the fellowship of one of the most famous and celebrated mind, Bertrand Russell. The last part is perhaps an unknown to many, even in Trinity itself, the reinstatement of Russell's fellowship and lecture post in post war era. The book is wonderfully written by G.H.Hardy, another celebrity mathematician of his times.