Nov 10, 2007

Confessions of a Professional!!!

I'd always held the opinion that for everyday contentment, one needs to work on something that one enjoys doing most..so that it dosen't seem like "work". "Pursue your passion, and get paid for it"...I jabbered in school. "Convert your passion to profession", I blabbered in college.

Let me try to define profession and passion here. There are a lot of web-definitions for a "professional" - Here are a few interesting ones:
1. The Devil's Advocate definition: A professional is one who is supposed to know everything about something and nothing about the remaining.
2. The Wiki definition: A professional is a worker required to possess a large body of knowledge about something derived from extensive formal academic study.
3. The one I like most: One that is carried out for money, especially as a livelihood.

I'm sure all of we, professionals would fit into one or more of the above definitions to justify our "professional ethics".

And passion - Not many unfathomable definitions. I've a few words though - Love, Desire, Ardent Enthusiasm. I'd consider passion to be synonymous with one's heart. Anything that one's heart leaps at the thought of doing.

Given these "mostly acceptable" definitions, can you try answering the next inevitable question that ensues - "Have you made your passion your profession"?

If you want to poke your finger at me questiongly, here I go - Most of my passions dwindle and burgeon non-linearly with time, and my profession is what seemed most profitable and a little passion-driven on the day of reckoning. And here I am - a "Professional Programmer". That's a politically (or professionally) correct answer - Isn't it??

I had a lot of ideas for "passion-to-be-converted-to-professions" in school. One that I always glibbed a lot to friends is "writing/reading-to-be-converted-to-journalism". I was fond of books and the smell that worms produce on them and wanted to be associated with them eternally. Deep down the corner of my little heart, I did have a regret until recently that I didn't translate that passion into a profession. Until recently, until, I read this short-story by OHenry: Confessions of a Humorist. I'd recommend everyone who has such "extra-professional" desires or affairs to read that great piece of literature.

For those who haven't got serenity to go through the pages, herez a brief synopsis: A humorist discovers that he is a good-humorist as long as humor is not his bread-winning profession. When professional humor is forced on him, it fails him. He snipes on his wife and kids in search of humor fruitlessly and eventually makes life miserable for himself. At the end, alls well that ends well..he takes up a more mundane profession, and humor comes back naturally to him..

Assuming that this theory is true for five-out-of-ten average people according to the law of averages, does it imply that we have to take up mundane jobs in order to thrive our passions?? I gave a lot of thought to this and came up with this little pointer - There is a bit of art and science in everyone. (And to distinguish art from science, heres a quick definition - "Art is I, Science is We".)
The humor skills of the hero in the story or the my reading/writing skills(??) are but art. Art cannot be forced, and hence in my humble opinion, dosen't qualify to be a bread-winner.Science is more indulgent, and so more than certifies to be one "profitable budding profession".

So what about the "Professional artistes"???? Well, I've stirred a hornet's nest in this post, do shoot your ideas and arguments in favor and against..

Jul 22, 2007

Life or Something Like It....

How many times have you heard yourself say this - "Life sucks!!! Why is all this happening only to me?? God is unfair..Or does He exist after all??"Any of these or their variations means you are going through a bad patch or you are having one of those "dog days".

I've has numerous such dog days...Herez one such typical day...I am fast asleep...Its 7.30 AM in the morning..The alarm buzzes..I promptly switch it off anf go back to sleep counting on my body clock to wake me up exactly ten minutes later (I thought I'd programmed my body clock to do that...wake me up ten minutes after that inital realworld alarm .Wait..did I say I programmed??Then you know what to expect)...

So as the story goes....I get up half an hour after the inital alarm...thanks to my friend's alarm..I switch on the geyser...And off goes the power.....I go to the dark bathroom...knock the bucket down..producing some noisy vibrations that ensue a few more noisier vibrations from my room-mate who is still fast asleep..I try to be done with some of the regular morning chores(You know what I mean) and the water dosen't flush....Therez no power for the motor....Now nothing irritates me more than this ...How many of you beleive in Murphy's laws??

I cleanse my body and mouth quickly with ice-cold water.. come out...cant find the best fit apparel for the day....I finally make do with a not-so-good one....get dressed up quickly (just half an hour for getting made up :(...have to make up for the extra slumber)...go down gulp down the dosa without the chutney (no power for the mixie, you see) and walk out in the morning crowd hoping to magically get a seat in any of the BMTC buses.

Having gotton used to the BMTC buses for over six months at Bangalore, I consider myself fairly good at judging a bus by its front and back looks (as well as I do with people - one of my innate snap judgements)...I know which of them to get into in order to find a ladies seat atleast..I skip as much as five six or six buses to get into the seventh...And as good old Murphy would have it, five or six times out of seven, my judgements are wrong...I end up standing my five-kilometre-one-hour-bus-straddle through the traffic pleasantly brushing the equally pleasant co-passengers..

I finally reach my office...and dutifully start working..I check my mails and orkut scraps...An hour passes by and I decide to switch over to my Solaris box finally...There has been this bug that has to be fixed since two months...Its a very simple fix, the testing is just a little elaborative..my team-lead reassures me...I make the code change..itz simple enough...the usual copy-paste...I build the product image...the build fails....Looks like some OS issue...I try to resolve it my way...I reboot my Solaris box....it dosen't reboot....complains something in technically very foul language and expressions...and refuses to honor my commands...I seek my supposedly tech-savvy team-mate's help to resolve the issue...After some dilly-dallying he finally takes agrees to take a look..He tries some commands that he knows I wouldn't know and gives me the same-old expression and conclusion...Its broke....He then retires to his own tech-crunch blogs that he has to catch up with...

I call up a friend in the OS team for help...He promises to come by in an hour....I relax in the relaxing Windows box...orkut and Google Talk again...Just then , (as good old Murphy would have it) my team-lead walks by my monitor and takes a look at those interesting scraps and chat one-liners....(You get the most interesting pop-ups only when your team-lead is standing by your system)..I demonstrate the issue to her and she gives the same old expression again...Try to fix the issue and have the bug-fix checked in....

My friend from OS team does turn up....takes a look at the poor box...types a few commands that I would have been probably aware of, if only I had discerned what they were...These OS guys have a way of typing those fast Solaris commands so fast that they and only they know whats happening...And the box seems to be talking to them in a totally different way than it does when I try handling it...It responds to their touches while it refuses mine...After a few minutes, he declares "I know what it is...you've broken the link to the /bin file". "Oh no, I didn't"..And while I keep rejecting his claims and am trying to think of plausible explanation, he quickly creates the link and reboots the box..and Lo and Behold...it boots......Wow.......Lunch time....

And between the afternoon siesta, I try to build the image and test it...(It takes an hour and a half to test that fix, its just a little elaborative you see)...And the fix dosen't work..I am not shaken....One of the golden rules in Software is that if your fix works for the first time, therez something seriously wrong about the fix, I re-iterate this new-age Murphy's rule to myself and go back to the code fix..I take a deep breath and an astute look...And there...I'd forgotten the negation operator in the condition check, and it devotedly behaved the opposite way, as it should....I make that change, build and test...And this time while I test, the server refuses to start....And the logs report some new error that I have no clue about..(Another of those golden rules - Whenever you look at the logs, you will find an error you have never seen before)..

While I keep brooding about it, my manager walks by with my lead..They look rather annoyed..."Did you test the fix you made about Bug XXXXX on Monday??"He asks rather loudly I thought..."Yeah, I did"...I respond rather meekly...."The product is not installing in Windows, and reports the error related to your bug-fix. QA have raised a new P1 stopper ...This is the last build for the release and this issue is delaying it up...Yyy Xxx from QA says this problem is even reproducible in Solaris....If yes, this is a SERIOUS problem, This is rather shameful of us.Check that out"...He leaves, leaving me thunder-struck.

Now, I am shaken....Not yet stirred though...I try to install it on Solaris....I chant all the prayers I can think of....I call up my mom and ask her to pray....Time dosen't fly...it crawls....And finally yes, it does install on Solaris.... and another round of testing by a team-mate doubly ensures that...The bug was only with Windows...It wasn't as bad as we thought...I heave a sigh of relief....I know I can't take more for the day....And yet the P1 stopper....my manager's temper..

I walk back to the stop reflecting how doggy the day was....Why is all this happening only to me?? God is unfair..I pass a neigboring temple that I used to frequent on normal days...I somehow don't feel like praying anymore....I am too exhausted for it....And then I see him....waving at me enthusiastically from the temple.....He smiles broadly while he waves...And then he returns to sweeping the temple...The old hunchback who has made that temple his home...the wrinkled skinned septuagenerian to whom I spare a penny or two whenever I frequent the temple and get a toothless broad smile in return..Today I didn't give him the penny, but he did give me that smile and a wave...and he didn't know...he also made me realise that I'm blessed after all....and he also made me discern the beauty of life or something like it....It is worth living after all these dog days....

Let Murphy go and hang himself.......

Jun 10, 2007

Thillana Mohanambal.....

Here's some plain speaking...I stay at Bangalore and yet I've never been any good with movies or with catching up with the latest releases. I can never be dedicated to any task for more than a few minutes, and being glued to the silver screen for two-and-a-half or three hours is not, in many cases, an exception. I do have quite a few English favorites though (This is affectionately called the UK effect by some of my team-mates). Given a choice, I would prefer the Tamil oldies to the latest Hindi or the regional masalas. And speaking of Tamil oldies, the one film that pops up in my mind is this evergreen classic Thillana Mohanambal..

It is truly a classic..not only because it is set in the early to mid nineteenth century or because it is of Eastman colour..but also because generations after generations, people (children and adults alike) have found pleasure in every scene of the movie..I've watched the movie a zillion times before and I can play the entire movie in my mind's eye uninterruptedly (sans the irritating ads), and yet, I never miss an opportunity to watch it again discovering newer connotations in every scene and adding richer appreciation to every character. Well, its after all a classic....

For those of you who are not familiar with the story, here is a very brief synopsis of the movie...
Sikkil Shanmughasundaram (a role adorned by Shivaji Ganesan to the extent of religious perfection) is a very talented but rather irritable 'Nadaswara vidwan'. Mohanambal (played by Padmini) is an equally talented and gorgeous Bharatanatyam danseuse. Each of them have their own set of troupes. Balaiya, the mridangam vidwan, Thangavelu, the dance master, T.R.Ramachandran (playing the role of Varada) are a few of them.

Well guys, its the proverbial love at first sight and first hear for them (you got to hear the nadaswaram and watch the Bharatanatyam dance). Its more of a magnetism between the Nadam and Bharatam, the arts, and consequently the corresponding artistes. And that's another reason why its a favourite of mine (its love at first encounter ;) ). Back to the plot, Shanmugasundaram's bad-temper and Mohana's mother's lust for money bring in a few villains. Vaithy (played by Nagaesh) accentuates the rift between them, bringing in the Singapura Minor (Balaji) and the Madanpur Maharaja (Nambiar) who are allured by Mohanambal's splendor.


There is also a contest held between the lead artistes, (nadam or bharatham? Sikkil or Mohana? is the question) and the usual wise judgement of both being equally exceptional is delivered. Mohanambal is rightfully bestowed with the title 'Thillana Mohanambal' by none other than Shanmugasundaram himself in praise of her exceptional talent in that form of dance - Thillana...

To cut a long story short, (movies of yesteryears do have a intricate storyline guyz, unlike the modern counterparts which manage to run the reels for three hours with a three-minute plot), Mohana finally manages to appease Shanmugasundaram with her dedication. All's well that ends well...

Now for the critical analysis of the movie....All the songs are classics, with this one standing out... 'Marainthirunthu paarkum marmam enna..' Check out the video on youtube (link provided in this page)....Padmini's abhinayangal, her charm, lithe dance movements, notwithstanding Shivaji's expressions will leave you entranced. My favorite scene in the movie is the train scene, one in which both the troupes are cramped inside a typical Indian third class compartment and fight their guts out for more comfortable seats, berths, and light. Balaiya (the mridanga vidwan and Sivaji's senior accomplice excels in this scene...his is yet another monumental performance in movie.)The young couple, unperturbed by the surrounding scuffles are in their private world conversing with their eyes. How romantic!!! How intense is their affection!!! I seldom get that romantic feel in any of the modern day movies.....Such is the execution of the scene....

And I have quite a few favorite characters in the movie...Its difficult to pick a single superlative, because every single artiste connects to their roles and plays them to the required level of precision. I admire even the seemingly minor roles of Varadha (TRR), Vaithy (Nagaesh), dance master (Thangavelu) or even the vethilaipotti accomplice of Mohana's mother. And yet, one particular character which deserves awesome appreciation is Jiljil Ramamani (seemlessly rendered by Manorama). Her role is marked by ignorance, innocence, good-intentioned stupidity. In my opinion, her performance in the movie is second only to Shivaji Ganesan's...Do leave your favorite scenes and characters in the comments section.

So if there is something which can keep a true Mercurian like me glued to a spot for over three hours, it is a classic like Thillana Mohanambal. You can laugh, cry, emote, sit straight and connect all at once in three hours. That should explain most of it...I can't think of any modern-day sequels that can get even remotely close to this classic...Can you??

May 18, 2007

The Musical Touch

"Do you sing? Do you dance? Do you play any musical instruments? Do you know anything that is Carnatic at all??? " Well, these are questions one is likely to be asked at certain specific kinds of interviews :). And my answers to some of them would be typically "I do sing, but at rather restricted places, I do dance but with rather restricted shaking of restricted body parts".. The naked truth is that I'm not Carnatic enough...save for a few forced violin classes in early childhood.

It was the year 1992 or 1993 (Oh No, not another nostalgic one..I can hear you whine..but muster up patience and read on..). My grandfather brought home a violin from his shopping. Music was supposed to be running in my mother's family genes. Well, only later did people realise that I had inherited the paternal gene for music, but it was too late then. At first sight, the violin looked sexy ;) with its deep curves and dark complexion. (Trust me, I was only ten then..)The bow, which my grandfather said is made from a horse's tail, was pretty scary though..a sort of manly security to the curvy lady, it seemed to an exaggerated ten-year-old mind.



My mother dutifully enrolled me in a violin class after many rounds of consultations on who is the best teacher around. My teacher was an octagenerian Iyengar to whom every eligible kid in the neigbourhood reported to with a violin. He was tall, fair, had silver-white hair and was never seen without the namam. He had a very sensitive ear to music, but a not-so-sensitive ear to speech. His ruffian voice more than made up for that though.
I didn't like him at first encounter and I bet he wouldnt have liked me either.

I didn't realise it then, but he was one of the most dedicated teachers I've ever come across so far. Very few of us do justice to the profession we take up, forget being passionate about it, he was one of those rare specimens. He thought I played well, though a little too fast (that was a by-product of my natural impatience he said nail-on-head). He greeted me with a broad smile and called me "Nithi" affectionately. I didn't realise how proud he was of me until one day, when he commented to his wife "Look at how well she plays, she will win in any contest that comes up her way". Well that is something, given that he is supposed to be one of those breeds who don't appreciate students point-blank. Sadly, I didn't appreciate his appreciation either.

Call it impatience or egotism or sheer foolishness, playing the violin and the carnatic numbers didnt seem romantic to me. I played for a while because I was appreciated, played a little more because my parents forced me to, and then stopped playing. I was too busy with my class 6 newly discovered Science subjects - Physics, Chemistry , Botany ,Zoology , and wasn't able to manage time with violin classes also - was the reason I quoted to my parents.
Well, there were many such temporary breaks before the ultimate break..And I decided to continue after the first break because of this cute American cousin of mine who loved to play the violin ;). I wanted to go to the same teacher but I was scared that I had stopped sine die without prior notice. My father made up for his angry spasms with a veshti, some sweet talk. God know how many veshtis my father had bestowed upon him.

In between breaks, I progressed upto the varnas.I loved the Abogi raagam in particular,(for it is played mostly with the third string, if you know what it means) though I'm not the kind who remembers the raagas and thaalas, the arohanams or aurohanams. By then, he was kinda used to my intermittent breaks, and noted sometimes lightly, sometimes seriously "Aana oona odi poyiduva, thirumbi varumbothu appava veshtiyoda sibarisukku kootindu vanthuruva".Until the end, I didnt get the urge to stage-perform with the violin, much to the disappointment of my parents. I was more of an academic, I'd be more interested in the physics of the longitudinal waves the violin produces than the rythms of those waves, I kept re-iterating to myself foolishly. I never progressed beyond the varnas.

At high school and college, I developed a renewed penchant for the violin again. But alas, he was not there..He had moved to Madras then. I tried attending classes under a few others, but could't stand starting from the sa-re-ga-ma again from teachers who were not half as good as he was. And I seriously found it difficult to manage time. I discontinued.....

My mother wanted me to practise what I learnt from him atleast...I didn't know how to fix the sruthi without him , but still I did play with abaswarams for a while until one day when the strings themselves couldn't stand my abaswarams and broke. I didnt know how to fix them. That is the end of the musical touch in my life..Well, its just a touch, nothing further ;)....atleast till now.

Many a time in my adulthood, I'd wished if only I'd been a little more assiduous and paid heed to my parents' words, I would have played the violin with elan today. Atleast, I would have been able to recognize the raagas or be able to tell who sings how on TV in 'Indian Icon' (which is one of the topmost regrets in my life today ;). Or when I listen to this scintillating number 'Unnakul Naanae' from 'Patchaikili Muthucharam', I get those memories flooding back.

Well, I hope to take that musical touch a little deeper. When I do find time, I hope to continue my violin classes sometime in the future. As you would have guessed, the old teacher would not be there to accept me, greet me or teach me inspite of my misgivings. Sustaining the classes can be tough in this demanding corporate world. However it is one of the tributes I ought to give to a great musician and an inspiring teacher.

Apr 18, 2007

April..May...Summer...Kids...Camps

Its April-May now...Blistering sun draining out your energy as you waddle your way through the maddening Bangalore traffic in the "peak" hours....Overhead fans gushing out a whirl of hot air in the nights not allowing you to sleep...The irritating and frequent power cuts in an attempt to save power (more irritating to those who cannot afford the inverters)....SPF Sun Lotions and amla hair cremes in a desperate attempt to protect the skin and hair from getting damaged any further...Shopping malls offering summer sales offers to entice the fat-pocketed Bangaloreans to spend their last penny..and Last but not the least....quenching elani (tender coconut) with their nonpareil vazhukkai seen in almost every road (another of nature's balanced equations)..This is the typical Bangalore summer (I know you wouldn't have guessed that I'm at Bangalore until now) to a quarter-aged working (eligible ;) woman like me...

I was trying to time-travel back to my childhood as is my wont (I only wish time-traveling becomes a reality during my lifetime..)..April-May of the 90s..when I was in say class 6 or class 7 or class 8. Oh...How much I yearned for the April-May holidays then....how I wrapped up the last exam with not a single worry about how I did it....threw up the paper pad and empty bag in air once I reached home.....ate..slept and began my April-May journey with a bang....

I didn't live in a flat...I still had so many friends around me...girls with whom I played hide and seek, shuttle, cricket (We played typical Indian cricket - no running...just batting, bowling from the same spot), fought, called names, cried and smiled with, there were a few boys too who joined us when most of their companions had ditched them to go to a friend's or a relative's place..Needless to say, we dominated them...We also watched the special kids movies that were featured in TV(Doordarshan)for us, read kids' magazines ...had scrap books where we cut-copied-pasted pictures from magazines and compiled our own stories...we enjoyed at least this part of holiday homework (HHW) and loathed the rest of it..(This habit of cut-copy-paste proved to be very useful after we became software engineers..My wise suggestion is to cultivate this habit early in childhood..)The same scorching sun was out there then too...but it never bothered us any more than it bothered the buffaloes on the roads.

For some vacations, we did have some summer camps conducted by schools..Summer camps were a rarity then and our parents jointly packed us off to them. We didn't know what to do in those camps, the sad part is that the teachers didn't know either. For us, it was another opportunity to spend time chatting with friends without the constant thought of books. Well, all this was for April...

Come May, I ran to my grandparents' place - Pondicherry. A new set of friends , a newer set of entertainment greeted me every year there. Paati's glorious and nutritious food, Thatha's stories, cousins ' pranks, sungarakkai (the girlie game of pebbles), cards, carom, and of course yummy mangoes....these made my days at Pondicherry. Books for the next year were distributed by the end of May and my dad dutifully collected them and reminded me of the impending troubles ahead.....Those were best days of my life.....Can you hear me singing??

Back to 2007...Well, I don't have a first-hand account of how April-May treats kids today. I don't have a kid as yet...(for I'm still not married you see ;)) . But I do get to know some second-hand information from colleagues and middle aged women who talk about the kids in the lunch sessions. In March, they live in a constant peril of how they were going to manage their kids once school closes for April-May. Most of them have maids and a few of them send their kids to day-care centres. Some of the kids go to the best summer camps, learn swimming, painting et cetera...but very rarely do they go out for vacation..My female colleagues do admit that there is no vacation for kids unless there is a vacation for the parents.

I'm not exactly cribbing or blaming...we'll have to change with times, and if you are a regular reader of my blog, by now you know what I would call this kind of phenomenon - its metamorphosis of the times...My parents used to crib that children of my age didn't have the kind of vacation they had....we will continue doing that as well....

Well, treat this as yet another memoir...We do have April-May every year, but the April-May of the 90's.....

Apr 5, 2007

Tinkle Tinkle Little Star...* * * *

Another unforgettable character (among the ever so many) of my sweet childhood and school days is Enid Blyton - the juvenile storyteller, who created some of the eternally popular children's series - The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Adventures at Malory Towers, Noddy etc. I'm most certain even the worst book haters (dim-witted people who hate reading this posts like this ;)...) would have read atleast one book among the several series created by her.

I am indebted to Enid Blyton in a special way. I wouldn't have developed a penchant for reading at a young age if not for her "mystery" (mysterious indeed ... for kids..)novels. I was fond of the Famous Five series in particular. This consisted of the boyish and bold Georgina aka George, the girlish Anne, Julian Dick, and George's lovely dog Timothy (aka Timmy). The five together solve mysteries which range from treasure islands to bank thefts..I sort of liked George in particular ...and its not difficult to guess why...I wonder if any of her books have been motionized..Wouldn't be a bad idea...they've got enough masala for even the Indian movies...


Malory Towers was a boarding school for girls, and it was a hostel life brought to you in writing..the girls and the pranks they are capable of, their girlish skirmishes, their tearful reunions and of course their atrocious study hours. The Fatty series, starring a fat guy called Fatty (Frederick something..) was also my favourite. I was so obsessed with Enid Blyton's works that my library report card of the seventh and eighth standards carried this "...Likes to read Enid Blyton's works in particular..". And I was so proud of that card.. I am preserving it for my grandchildren to read ..You never know what they may get to read at that age!!!Let them read my report card atleast :)

And how can one forget 'Tinkle'? the fornightly comics from the house of 'Amar Chithra Katha'? It carried stories with illustrations and went straight into your grey cells. Remember, a picture speaks more than a thousand words....and in Tinkle, the pictures speak as well..literally..Tinkle had some regular characters like Suppandi..the good-hearted innocent but foolish servant, Shikari Shambu - the extremely lucky but totally incompetant shikari, Kalia - the clever crow who manages to always outwit the enemies, the tactfult and deceitful minister - Tantri, the Mantri who keeps plotting (and failing) to kill the king - Hooja, the Raja, Anwar - the Indian adaption of Dennis the menace, etc.

Tinkle had some exceptionally good folklore from different lands - Japanese, African, Chinese and of course very very Indian...Tinkle Digest was a richer collection of stories and was released once in a while. I read and re-read the stories until I memorized every page and discussed it with my neighbour. It was a shame if we couldn't recollect a story unless it was too boring. Like a true religious kid, I was fond of the Indian mythological stories beautifully illustrated from the same house of Amar Chitra Katha - Tenali Raman, Ramayana, etc
Champak and Chandamama were two of my other favourite comics of those days. Sometimes I pestered my cousins and grandparents to animatedly storytell those stories (since they didnt have the rich illustrations, and yet I wanted to get the better of those stories).

I then slowly (very slowly) graduated to Agatha Christie from Enid Blyton, post-graduated to Sidney Sheldon , Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham from Christie. Hercule Poirot -the little Belgian detective with his little ideas was my hero...Nowadays I read fiction only if I have to travel( and when I don't have a good-looking co-traveller) and I pick only the bestsellers, unwilling to experiement. If I want to read, I prefer non-fiction and the more serious ones these days...Well, as you know, this is typically what I would call growth.

Am not sure if today's children read Tinkle or Enid Blyton with the same fervour as I or my neighbours used to. Harry Potter is the ubiquitous favourite these days. No, am not fretting, am just wondering as we advance into the information age, children have time for a real physical book at all, and if they do find some time, what would their tastes be???

Do share your favourite comics and books in your comments section...

Mar 26, 2007

The Good Old DD Days....

Wow...How many kaapi fans existed in obscurity!And how many has my blog brought into limelight!! (I know this is some tooooo loud trumpet blowing ;) , this is also to immensely thank all my dear friends whom I pestered to read my blog and post comments, ("Leave your footprints there" - I ordered) . Thanks once again guyz...not just for going through my posts and posting your comments..but also for continuing to be good friends with me after all these rounds of pestering..(Read this as...there are many more rounds to come... :) )

This post, as you may have rightly guessed, is about Doordarshan, not the DD as it exists today, but the DD of yesteryears...when you didn't have the satellite TV or glamour associated with it. Doordarshan had a few serials then and even fewer movies....and even fewer news broadcasts....And thats precisely the reason why it was adored... by men and women and children alike for reasons of their own..

If you are Tamil, you would definitely remember 'Oliyum Oliyum' (the two words pronounced with a subtle difference in Tamizh, emphasizing Tamil's rich phonetics - roughly translating to 'Light and Sound'). It was a compiled collection of Tamil songs from old and new movies alike and was aired on Fridays from 7.30 PM to 8.30 PM. I remember our entire family and neighbourhood (Our home was an easy home theatre to people who didn't have the luxury of the TV) finishing their weekly chores as early as possible to line up for this programme. We yearned to watch our favourite heroes and heroines..My dad preferred songs from the evergreen 'Shivaji and Devika' movies, while the younger generation preferred the contemporary heroes or the latest movies..And alas, you never get to watch songs from the just-released movies, if you thought it was going to be out there, it was usually time up :)

And so..Oliyum Oliyum was a super-duper hit then..People went mad if the power was cut during Friday evenings. Trust me..I dont remember having seen a single ad in between the programme. With the advent of the satellite television and competition it offered, the programme underwent some cosmetic changes intially...Some girls who tried to look cosmetically good, tried to add spice to it reciting totally unrelated poems in between songs, some supposedly funny drama was staged at the background while the songs were being played at regular intervals ....and yet the glamourous competition was too fierce...I should rather say the indigenous programme lost the race..Am not sure if it is still being aired at all...(Any concrete info guyz??)

There are other programmes that I remember as well...Chitrahaar was the Hindi version of Oliyum Oliyum..broadcast on Wednesdays...Though this was restricted to the middle and upper class masses, this was a hit too...until.. you know what..
The most awaited programme of the week was the Sunday movie in the vernacular language..We got to watch atleast one movie per week..We had to watch what was aired...It wasn't a viewers' choice..And yet the same old neigbourhood crowd gathering with cookies and kadalai to watch it(even if it is the umpteenth time, they interpret the movie better each time they watch it)..Answering nature's calls was strictly prohibited during the course of the movie..Remember there weren't any ads either...People could stir only during the news breaks..Who cares about news ;).

I had my personal favourites too. In addition to the above programmes, I was fond of the regional-language movies (supposed to be National award-winning ones) broadcast every Sunday afternoon in alphabetical order(Assamese, Bengali, ....Tamil,Telugu) and was eagerly waiting for the Tamil week( two Tamil movies on a single Sunday then ...hippee..). I patiently watched the news for the hearing impaired (another interesting one) and the Sanskrit news aired just before this movie, lest I miss the start...
And I was simply becharmed with he introductory music of the Doordarshan...recollect it??
I also adored the Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana and Mahabaratha that were aired on Sunday mornings...Mukesh Khanna, Nitish Bharatwaj (Bhisma and Krishna respectively) were literally worshipped then. In my opinion, more of such mythological programmes depicting the epics should be encouraged..After all, we are many centuries old...


Try contrasting all those to the state of DD as it is today...it is pathetic to say the least...Dont get me wrong..Its not that I'm not for modernization or the global competition..I welcome the private channels and the competitive advantage they have brought to the industry...I am just a little unhappy that Doordarshan, still the only channel that reaches out to some of the remotest hamlets in the country is somehow unwilling to improve its standards..technologically or creatively...

This blog is not just the memoirs of the good old DD days...I welcome your suggestions to make DD survive in today's cutthroat television market...not only in India..but also worldwide...
It is not easy, it is not difficult either...We have to identify where exactly the problem lies, lay down our suggestions...wait..all said...when and how is it going to be done...I mean who is going to bell the cat??

Comments and Suggestions are invited...

Mar 18, 2007

Filter Kaapi...


Coffee...Cafe...Cappucino..Kaapi...Call you what you like...Serve it hot or cold....Have it first thing in the morning or the last thing in the night....Take it from the traditional silver 'davara tumbler' or cup-and-saucer...Have it instantly or from the filtered decoction...Have it black or white or the typical Indian brown...If you can't survive a day without this magic potion in any of the above alters, read on, this blog is dedicated to you...

What makes this drink so indispensable everyday? Is it the taste that drives you crazy? Not exactly, I don't get to eat all my favourite dishes everyday..and am sure no one does either..there must be more to it than taste..
Is it then the aroma that can wake you up from your slumber? Maybe, but I wouldn't call it the reason for this drink to be so popular....Is it the pleasure of drinking something hot after a typical cold shower? Could be, but there are many lovers of cold coffee as well...Is it the caffeine that stimulates your nervous system and boosts your energy? Quite possible...Or is it the usual best answer - the right combination (in whatever percentages) of all of above?? Or is it none of the above??? Take your pick...its truly an objective answer..(in the Ayn Rand's truest sense of the word).

My pick is none of the above..To me, its more of a sort of Pavlov's condioned reflex. The very mention of kaapi (mind you, its kaapi not coffee) conditions an avalanche of chemical and
physical actions( and their reactions) in my body. I imagine my mom sitting near my bed (while I'm in my catnap or siesta) with a 'davara tumbler' of hot dark (not black) filter kaapi. I can sense the aroma and fathom the taste. I instantly pull myself away from bed (and the sweetest dreamz) and take my rightful share...Ah, those were the days.......

I became a kaapi addict at quite young an age.I was fascinated by the ads and the captions for coffee on TV. Remember this..."Kaapi na.. Narasus kaapi thaan..Baesh baesh...romba nanna irukku"....and the unforgettable sensual laugh that follows? I was drinking kaapi (I had too many specifications as well....twice as much as decoction as milk...right shade of brown, the right tumbler, davara.....) when my friends were drinking the much healthier Bournvitas and Boosts and Complans....Kaapi was an adults-only drink in my family..It was one of the first rules that I broke..

Well, today things are different...the reflex has been unconditioned...I am not a kaapi addict anymore...I drink kaapi's other alters as well - cappucino, dark coffee, cafe du lait and...... I drink tea as well..
Well, I call it growth....Call it what you like...

The prices have changed as well. A cup of coffee is good enough to be the main course rather than the appeasing drink after that....People are abandoning this all-time-favourite drink to its North-Indian-rival, tea due to health reasons..The world is going green..Tea could adapt itself to this...coffee retained its originality...and lost the race...well..not entirely...Health researches keep oscillating for and against a dish...Choclates that make you gain a few pounds today will prevent heart diseases tomorrow...Our dear kaapi is now being charged for a few heath risks today..but I'm sure time would prove it innocent, not only because kaapi is great and my intuition says so..but also because I firmly believe in the inconsistency of health researches....

Well, my head has reasons for me to drink tea this evening, but my heart is always with good old filter kaapi...Afterall I have reasons to believe that it is filter kaapi that symbolises the Java programming language...:)

Mar 17, 2007

First Thoughts....

Well, I guess I have to explain why I decided to start blogging...A sort of disclaimer..I've always been dangerously encouraged by friends that I have a thing (whatsoever) for writing. Maybe they were too fed up with my bragging and decided to say something for courtesy sake or some of the more daring ones decided to expose me ;). Whatever the reason is, it has brought me this far...

Another reason maybe because I believe that when you pen down your thoughts (or rather key them down), you interpret them better. "But why should you publish them on the web? (open them for others interpretation)? " I asked myself..And I refused to blog until I found a convincing answer..

I did concoct an answer finally..It was simple enough...I didnt pen my ramblings down(neither keyed them down) untl I decided to blog...Now isn't that convincing enough..

And as regards the title, all my scribblings here are those interpreted straight from the heart, not pre-compiled...just like Java..Now wait, isn't Java compiled at times?So is my blog...And for those geeks who've rightly guessed that I'm working in Java, yes, I am supposed to work in Java...

And a final disclaimer..I am certainly not Miss.Spelling...I misspell a lot:)

Those were my first thoughts..Good luck and thanks...