Saturday, December 12, 2009
One fine day, in the kingdom of Alexandria, King Alexander sits on his throne, and discharges his royal duties, that is to say that King Alexander just sits on his throne and … well just sits.
Suddenly, he says to his minister of internal half-hairs, “By Jove, man! I’ve just been pondering…” “About what sire?” asked the minister in all earnest. “I’ve just been pondering ….” And a pause.
“Yes, m’lord?” “Oh, you know … I’ve just been pondering about wondering on what I should be thinking of. I’m sure that it must be something important; after all, I am Alexander you know …”
“I do indeed know m’lord” replied the minister, not a little perplexed. “As you should know. After all, I am the king and that comes with perks you know. Being famous and all.”
“Indeed m’lord”, said the minister begging and praying to God that he be spared this terrible ordeal. ”Hmmm …” thought the king and continued to ponder in wonder.
Meanwhile, in the near reaches of the far side of the nearby room, that is, the room next door, was seated the minister-of-all-things-that-were-sinful, or in short, Sinister. He was himself pondering, but unlike the king, he knew what he was pondering about, and that was to stop the king from pondering; in fact, to stop the king from doing anything at all; even living.
A plan was getting formed in his mind and with every passing instant of ponderous thought provoking wonder, the plan was becoming more and more lucid.
He rubbed his hands in glee and gave an evil smirk. Now the audience certainly knows that he is indeed the evil mastermind; well evil for sure but mastermind? Well, let’s just leave it at that for the time being.
If there was one thing that really fired up the passions of the people of Alexandria, it was the matter of economics. Before ‘The Great Recession’ hit the kingdom, not too many people actually bothered about the entire concept of economics. Indeed, not too many of them actually knew of the term ‘economics’ and they definitely didn’t even know of the existence of the minister-of- economic-issues-that-were-pretty-much-non-issues, much less his name. This story would be incomplete if the reader does not know of ‘the great recession’ that hit the kingdom of Alexandria.
It was one summer when everyone was very happy indeed and going about their business, when ‘TGR’ hit; and when it hit, the effect was indeed ghastly.
Everyone receded, some by two steps, and some by far greater distances, usually four or five. Now what caused this recession?
Well, the great Emperor, on a whim, one day decided that every piece of paper in the land would become money and that his kingdom would thus become the most prosperous in the world. Why did he do this? Well, he just felt like it.
And so, overnight, everyone became insanely rich. No one needed to work anymore. Farmers stopped farming and so there was no food. In fact, even the leaves stopped producing food for the trees because they argued that since paper was derived from them, they were rich beyond their wildest dreams and they would not work anymore.
There were media storms created, newscasters had a field day (though, why the newscasters decided to continue working, in spite of being insanely rich, had most people in a fix) and the minister-of- economic-issues-that-were-pretty-much-non-issues became an overnight celebrity (though no one still knew his name).
Now all this led to a serious predicament. No one did anything, anymore, and this posed a huge problem to the Emperor because he no longer had anyone to cater to his whims.
And so, he came up with the most brilliant solution.
He announced “anyone found with any bits of paper(money), will be prosecuted and hanged until pronounced dead or the rope breaks(whichever happens first)”
And so, fearing the wrath of the almighty emperor, overnight, people burnt away all the paper that they had (the environmentalists went crazy and tried to stop the madness, citing the damage to the atmosphere, but they were thrown into the bonfire along with the paper).
Thus, parity was restored and Alexander had again became the supreme ruler of the land, and in addition, also became the richest man in the kingdom, yet again (inexplicably, when he had indeed collected all his paper to be burnt, he couldn’t find a matchstick to light the pile and he couldn’t call out for help because all his attendants were too busy burning their own paper).
So what was the role of the minister-of- economic-issues-that-were-pretty-much-non-issues in all of this? Well, nothing really except maybe providing some absolutely indiscernible mumble about economic terms like ‘liquidity’ and ‘inflation’ that no one really understood or really cared about.
The final outcome? People knew of the existence of the minister but still not his name.
Back in the room next to the throne room, Sinister’s grin had turned into a full-fledged evil laugh (muhahahahaha and all that). He knew exactly what he had to do to overthrow the Great ruler and in the process become the absolute undisputed ruler of all the land. (Muhahahahaha again)
He knew that the one issue that would certainly impact the people was the economy, and his plan was very simple really; he would make sure that the King committed unpardonable economic offences and then the people would never forgive him. After that, getting rid of the King would be easy and since Sinister would then become the greatest hero, his accession to the throne would be but a mere formality. (Muhahahahaha again)
And so, he set his plan in motion.
Alexander was a great king, no doubt, but his one biggest weakness was that he tended to trust people a bit too much. Whenever he was asked to sign any document, he did so without so much as a glance at what he was signing.
In fact, one of his rather dim witted ministers, who had aspirations to the throne himself, got the King to sign a document that handed over the entire power of the land to him. After he got the King to sign it, he did a dance, shouted his lungs out and proclaimed triumphantly that he was then the absolute almighty ruler of the land. The entire court, but for the great Emperor was in a state of total and absolute shock but the ruler calmly shook his head and said, “sorry my man but I signed it in blue ink and everyone knows that an official transfer of power can be only ratified if it is signed in black ink.”
Since no one actually knew of such a rule but were too dumbstruck by the absurdity of the argument, they could not even so much as open their mouth and so, in his typical manner, the King took this silence to mean compliance and said quite simply, “Terribly sorry, old chap but it looks like I won this time. Guards! Take him away… Now… where were we”, and that was that.
So Sinister went about embezzling funds from the treasury and depositing them in illicit places, always making sure that all of it could easily be traced back to the King. He had the king’s signature on all the papers of course and the color of the ink didn’t really matter.
He did all this over a period of a week and in the end had transferred around one Million Trillion Dollounds in various illicit places. At the end of the week, he laughed out-Muhahahahaha-in happiness and was generally pleased with himself. In fact, he had already bought a scepter and a matching royal robe to go with it.
Tomorrow would be his day. His time was imminent.
The next morning, all was well in the court of King Alexander. He was, as ever sitting on his throne and … well, just sitting. But today, the entire court was huddled in a hush silence. An intense game of GOFL(Go On, Finish Last) was in session and it was a titanic tussle between Tortie the tortoise and Snell the snail. Both both nearing the finish line, it truly was neck and neck.
It was at this time that Sinister made his entry into the court and upon seeing that no one really gave a damn about him, he coughed a little to gain attention. Didn’t work. He coughed again, this time a bit louder. Still didn’t work. Now he positively went into a rampaging, all-engulfing coughing fit that everyone in the court had to look at him and acknowledge him. Even Tortie got scared and went into his shell and Snell just looked bemused (if it is indeed possible for snails to look bemused).
Now that he had the attention he needed, he addressed the court, “I have a very important announcement…” He was cut short by the minister-of-short-cuts who said, “Cant it wait, Sinister? W’ve got a terribly exciting game going on here.” Completely ignoring him, Sinister continued “ … and it’s about the economy …” Suddenly, everyone’s attention was focused on Sinister. It was the effect of the magic ‘E’ word.
“So as I was saying, there has been a fraud to the …”
Again, he was cut short. This time it was the king himself. “The economy, you say? Hmmm… What about it?” “Well, m’lord, as I was saying” “Yes, yes… As you were saying…” “Yes m’lord, as I was saying…” “Indeed man. You have firmly established your point that you were indeed saying. Now say it”
Sinister was getting exasperated but he thought of the glory that lay ahead and kept his cool. “The economy…” Again it was the King. “Yes indeed. Funny old thing really, the economy. Money and all. Bemusing really. I mean …”
Sinister was near breaking point now but he had come too far to let it go. He interjected, “So, as I was saying my lord”, and without taking a pause even to breathe, continued, “ there has been an embezzlement of funds to the tune of one Million Trillion Dollounds” As he said the last two words, his voice leapt to a fever pitch, not so much because of his conviction but quite simple because of his utter breathlessness.
The entire court said “hunnnh”, as one would say when confronted with something that takes one aback, but only the sound here was made by the entire court, and in that hushed silence, Sinister left out his breath, just for dramatic effect (and also because he could no longer really hold it in).
He continued, “And the culprit is ….”
Before the culprit is revealed, we must take a moment to describe the reaction of the mighty Ruler to all this. He was unmoved. Now that we have taken a moment, we shall resume with the scene.
“The culprit is …”, paused for dramatic effect, turned around to face the Emperor, pointed an accusing finger, and said in the most dramatic voice that he could muster, “ ALEX-AND-ER.”
There was another “hunnnh” that followed this dramatic announcement and this “hunnnh” was way more dramatic than the previous one and also way more open mouthed. The entire court slowly turned towards the great Emperor.
Sinister turned to the Emperor and gave a triumphant smile as if to say, “Ha!” The Emperor finally began to take interest in the matter, and leaned forward.
Everyone was absolutely eager to know how he was going to defend himself and waited with bated breath for his response. The Emperor opened his mouth to speak and everyone just held their breath. And then, he spoke…
He asked quizzically, “And who?” Those were his exact words. Everyone was stunned beyond belief. Sinister was so flustered that he couldn’t bring himself to utter anything at all. He just gaped at the King and managed to mutter, “What??”
The King again asked, calmly and coolly, “And who?” In the meanwhile, it must be pointed out that the entire court did remember to release their breath but were still too stunned to speak.
“What do you mean ‘and who’?” demanded Sinister, now in a state of very high irritability. “Well, you were going to name the conspirators; you named one of them and were going to name the other when you abruptly stopped. Now I demand to know the name of the other,” said the Emperor with ever growing authority.
“What??” cried Sinister, just stopping short of pulling his hair out.
“Well, you said ‘Alex and er…’ and then stopped. As your king, I demand that you name the other person involved in this heinous act.”
Now Sinister was absolutely livid. “Me?” he asked again, just to be sure.
“You?” asked the King.
“Me?” asked Sinister in a voice that was a mix between utter and total exasperation and absolute submission.
“Ha! So it was indeed you. Guards! Take this man away. He has admitted that he is indeed guilty of treason against the Kingdom. Issue an all points search out for a gentleman named Alex,” commanded the almighty ruler, raising himself from his throne and standing majestically tall, all six foot of him.
“Oh! And look …” he said cheerily, just as everyone was trying to get their senses back from utter chaos of the scene they had witnessed. “Tortie has won the game…”
So barmy, Oh so loony,
He was the one, he was the only.
So absurd, they couldn’t help but wonder,
Who else but Alexander the Blunder…
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Jenna was pleased with herself. She looked at herself in the glass window of Tiffany’s, small deli that she frequented from time to time. She wore a black suit with a silk shirt and scarf. She adjusted her scarf and blew the loose strand of hair that fell over her face. She felt good. She had just closed a business deal that would make sure that her company got a big guaranteed income for the next two years and her, a nice beefy pay raise.
She was in a mood to celebrate. She looked at the time. It was 9 in the morning; too soon for a drink. ‘What better way to start off than pancakes and maple syrup’, she thought and went into the diner. To her surprise, the deli was nearly full with just a few seats scattered here and there, but no empty table.
Now, Jenna was a very pretty woman, and she knew it. She wasn’t arrogant but knew that she attracted more than a few stares. Naturally, she enjoyed flirting around a bit, and was in a flirtatious mood now.
She looked around the empty seats and her eyes fixed on a table where a man was seated alone and was apparently engrossed in his meal. She sized him up. He wore a pair of faded jeans with a casual checked shirt and a pair of Ray Ban aviator sunglasses. Now, those glasses looked good on most people but on him, they looked awesome. ‘Mmmm’, she thought, naughtily. He had sharp features and though he was seated, she could make out that he was quite tall and well built.
She walked over to the table and asked in a tone that was cool, ‘This seat taken?’ ‘Be my guest’, said the man in a matter-of-fact way, without so much as looking up from his breakfast. Quickly checking to see if he had seen her, and confirming that he indeed hadn’t, she took off her scarf, undid the buttons of her suit and sat down.
He still didn’t appear to take any interest whatsoever in her and she felt a slight pang. Well, she wasn’t used to being ignored, that’s for sure and she decided to restore some status quo. ‘Nice place this’, she said to which the man nodded, still not taking his eyes off his meal. Now, she was incensed and decided to take it up as a challenge. From somewhere, that hidden vanity had indeed raised its head and quietly, she was pretty happy that it had.
She adjusted her suit again and decided to try again. ‘I’ve heard that the pancakes this place serves are the best. I’m Jenna by the way’, she said, her tone cool and measured. ‘Can’t really comment on that. I myself never had anything other than the eggs and bacon’, he said finally looking at her and flashing a hint of a smile. ‘Oh and I’m Jake. Pleased to meet you’, he said and got back to his meal.
Now there was something seriously wrong, thought Jenna. She certainly expected a better reaction, once that he had finally seen her, but apparently he was not in the least bit interested. Now, she was nothing if not a fighter. She decided to pursue her case with a renewed vigor and began to make friendly talk with him, asking him about what he did, where he lived and the usual. He replied to all her questions, in a cool way and even asked her a couple of questions, all the while never giving the impression of being distant, but not showing too much eagerness either. He hardly ever seemed to show her more than a small smile from time to time and seemed to be more engrossed in his meal. After a while Jenna gave up and began to mentally curse this guy. ‘I mean… His loss, if he can’t see what he’s missing. His loss…’, she reassured herself.
He finished his meal and paid for it, leaving a generous tip. She could see that he was indeed well built and tall. She was still cursing him in his mind, when he got up to leave. He pulled on a baseball cap which was on the chair next to him, turned to her, smiled, said, in the nicest possible manner, ‘It was great talking to you’, unfolded his cane, which was kept in the chair beside him, tapped it on the ground in front of him a few times to make sure he got his positioning sense right, and went off, tapping the cane ahead of him, leaving Jenna stunned.
Beauty, it is said, lies in the eye of the beholder.
Friday, November 06, 2009
1. He always plays a brilliant innings before my exam and hence doesn’t let me study.
2. Every time that I think of becoming an atheist, he gets into the nineties and I have no choice but to pray.
3. Every time I take a resolution not to bite my nails, he gets into the nineties and I am left with no choice but to chew on my nails.
4. He keeps all the records to himself.
5. He makes a lot more money than me.
6. He costs way too much on ‘super selector’ but since I have to pick him, the rest of my team gets weakened.
7. During a match, invariably when I want to go to the bathroom, he hits a boundary and hence I have no choice but to sit and watch the replay.
8. As soon as I convince myself that God does not exist, he plays a straight drive and proves me wrong.
9. He brings the whole country to a standstill whenever he bats
10. And the last and the biggest reason why I hate Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar …
He is going to retire sometime in the future…
Two balls outside off stump. Both met with the full face of the bat but straight the fielders in the cover-point region. The next ball was slightly outside off; a small walk across the stumps and with the deftest of turns of the bat, the ball raced away down toward the vacant mid wicket boundary and he picked up three. The entire stadium went berserk, the entire country went mad with joy and yet the man himself was more interested in changing his bat. After selecting a bat that he felt was best, he turned to the crowd and acknowledged their cheers with just a gentle wave of the left hand as if to say, ‘Thank you folks, but I have some unfinished business to tend to.’ A milestone that was thought to be unattainable: 17000 runs in One Day Internationals, had just been achieved, and the only reaction from the man who got it? A nonchalant wave. There was a more important task in hand, winning the match. That, ladies and gentleman, sums up the man for you. It has, is and will always be ‘India first’.
What can further be said about the man who has carried the hopes of a nation on his shoulders for two decades? 17000 runs in ODIs, 30000 plus in all forms of the game, approaching a century of centuries and yet, the innate values remain the same; the same boyish charm, the same enthusiasm and the same passion that has driven this remarkable journey.
Watching his innings last night, was a throwback to the nineties, not only did I witness the same uninhibited and free flowing innings that typified the man in the last decade of the 20th century, but also the familiar theme of a lone ranger fighting against the tide, valiantly and not giving in, even when all the odds were stacked firmly against him. His innings was such a treat to watch that the commentators were quite lost for words. ‘Genius’, ‘Brilliant’, ‘Outstanding’, ‘Sensational’, ‘Incredible’ seemed to be the only words that were being spoken when he was batting.
His undying passion for the game and love for the country was highlighted further during the post match press conference. Looking at his forlorn face, you would never have guessed that here stood a man, who had scaled Everest already, had discovered a peak higher than it, and scaled that too. His disappointment at India having lost the match outweighed the sense of achievement; that, typifies the man. When Arun Lal asked him, ‘Sachin what keeps you going?’ He replied ‘I guess it’s the passion for the game and the desire to play for India.’ If anyone else had said this, they could be forgiven for sounding a bit clichéd but when Sachin says this, everyone has a lump in their throat because they all know that there is nothing but genuineness there.
So, 17000 has been scaled. 45 tons in One day cricket. He’s got most of the records that matter and keeps breaking his own. Yet, in spite of all this, he’s always due for a big score, every time he comes out to bat. ‘What next?’ one may be tempted to ask. Only Sachin can answer that.
He’s been called many things: ‘Master Blaster’, ‘The Little Master’, ‘Tondulkar’, ‘Genius’, ‘The little champion’ and many many more but ultimately, the great man will want to be known thus :
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar – Indian Cricketer.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
He woke up; woke up to the same darkness that he woke up to every morning. He looked around and there was the same stillness all around. He tried to find something out of the ordinary but, as always, there was nothing. All around him was, everything was enveloped in the same dark stillness, save for the one fleeting faint ray of light overhead.
He grew more frustrated. At first, it only seemed natural, the darkness and the stillness. Soon though, he began to wonder; wonder beyond the dark, wonder of the one ray of light that kept appearing overhead from time to time, wonder about the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
The walls seemed to be closing in around him by the day. Either his enclosure was becoming smaller, or he was growing larger. He oft heard voices from the outside his walls of confinement, and had tried many a time to literally kick the walls down, but to no avail.
And so, he decided; decided that he had had enough; decided that he had been in shackles long enough; decided to break free.
Thus, he exerted, exerted himself, strained every last nerve and sinew and began to wade his way out of the stillness. Then strangely, as he began his struggle, he could feel the assistance of some invisible external force ‘pushing’ him toward his goal.
Buoyed by this, he soldiered on until he found an opening. At first, he gingerly pushed his feet through the orifice. His feet were free; free from the stillness. He experienced freedom for the first time. He moved his legs. With renewed vigor, he pushed himself until slowly he inched his way out of the confinement and soon, his whole being was free; free from the confines and shackles of the past nine months.
His baby blue eyes opened and he looked at the world for the very first time.
He had arrived.
As the morning sun, in the East, rose ,
In its glory, a great son arose.
From the depths of his mother,
Staring into the long blue yonder.
Footnote : One day, I was just thinking about what a baby would probably feel inside his mother’s womb and there you go … This was actually an idea that came to me quite a while ago but because of my laziness more than anything else, I never did sit down and pen it, or rather type it down. But hey! Better late than never right J
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 04, 2009
That got me thinking and here's something ..
Nothing is not anything.
Anything is, well, any thing.
Now, any thing, is something.
Again, something is, some thing .. right ?
So now, Everything is some thing. Agreed?
Now, everything is, ... you guessed it .. every thing.
And every thing, is certainly not every other thing.
Now, lets backtrack.
Everything is not every other thing.
Everything is not some other thing.
Everything is not any other thing.
Everything is not not not any other thing
Everything is not not nothing.
A double negation here.
Let us apply the rules of mathematics.
Negative of a negative is ... Positive.
You guessed it ...
Everything, is nothing.
So then, if everything is nothing, then what is nothing ??
Interesting eh ?
Footnote: I was actually to give a presentation for about two and a half minutes on a topic of my choice. My initial topic was about the media and its sensationalism. But, as luck would have it, someone else spoke on that and I was just wondering on what to speak on when, in some context, I got the word ‘nothing’ ( maybe I got the word because, there was nothing in my mind at the moment! ). Naturally, my curiosity got aroused and I looked it up in the dictionary and ‘not anything’ was the meaning that I got. So I thought, why not give it a shot… Made this up in about 5 minutes… And well, the rest as they say, is History … And yes … This, as everything else, is indeed nothing ...
Friday, August 21, 2009
Italy, AD 2079
‘Old man Ves seems to be grumbling an awful lot today,’ said Fabio. ‘He has too much to complain these days, as all the old geesers do,’ replied Franchesco. ‘I can’t really see what he's upset about though. We have food, water and a living. Sure, crime is on an all time high, but what do you expect? I mean, it IS the land of the mafia,’ he continued in a matter-of-fact way.
Meanwhile, in a shady alley, not too far away, ‘The boss wants an even bigger cut from the cocaine market, Al,’ complained Danielle. ‘I think that the boss is getting too big for his own shoes. Looks like someone is gonna have to do something about it, and soon,’ retorted Alberto. And continued, ‘Say, what is it with old man Ves? What is he groaning and rambling on so much today anyway? You, maybe think that he's gonna finally erupt?’‘No way man. Haven’t you heard? Barking dogs seldom bite. Old man Ves is one such dog. Nothing more, nothing less,’ dismissed Dani.
‘I see the city for what it is. I see its true face. Steeped in layers of filth and grime. Hidden behind drug lords and criminal gangs. Murder, rape and extortion rampant in the streets. Children being made into slaves and peddlers at ages in which they ought not to even know the existence of any vice,’ scowled old man Ves.
‘It wasn’t always like this though. It was once a beautiful town. The most beautiful in the world and at its pinnacle, I stood. People were people then, and not the beasts they are today. There were flowing rivers and clean streets. Fields stretched in all directions and people lived real lives, not the sorry excuse for a life that they claim to have now. They lived those days. Today, they rat for an existence. It’s pathetic to even watch,’ rued the oldie.
‘Something must be done. No one is willing to stand up and be counted. No one has a spine any more. People are just happy to scavenge a living and let the town rot. After all, all they want is to be. It pains me to see that the world has come to this. Where is the bright sunshine and where are the vast open fields? Where is the laughter and merriment?’
‘All that remains is a sorry excuse for a town that was once glorious. I have given them a long enough rope and they don’t seem to be heeding to my warnings. I did not want it to come down to this, but I am afraid that I must take it upon myself to end this …. this farce,’ mused old man Ves, almost apologetically.
Thus seething in anger, Mount Vesuvius erupted, spewing his rage far, high and wide. He exploded in a blaze of glory, with golden lava flowing over the sides of the mountain and rapidly engulfing the entire town, burying all the filth and dirt and leaving it cleansed of the grime and crime.
Exactly 2000 years after a young Vesuvius has unleashed his fury on the unsuspecting town of Pompeii, he did so again. He then cooled down.
The town was in peace. After a long, long time, it slept, enveloping each and every inhabitant in a mist of slumber.
Footnote: This, I actually wrote for a competition, for publication in a magazine. I don’t think that they are going to publish it, so I though why not I publish it myself JThe last line, “The town was in peace. After a long, long time, it slept, enveloping each and every inhabitant in a mist of slumber” was given and we had to make a story based on that. Well, as soon as I saw that line, I remembered a story that we had in class 4 or 5, in our English text book about the town of Pompeii and what happened when Mt.Vesuvius erupted on that fateful day in AD 79. This was inspired from that. Also, people who read this, told me that there was a certain lack of continuity in the flow. I agree, but then I was working with a word limit of 500 word ( which I ended up exceeding anyway J ). Also, I imagined the setting to be like the city in ‘Sin City’ or Gotham City in ‘Batman begins.’ Well, this footnote has run into a foot paragraph, I see, but I felt that it must be told …
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I read a while ago about this place called 'Indian Coffee House', an institution in Bengaluru that was going to down its shutters very soon. There were glowering tributes from greats of the city like Ram Guha and others about how it had been a hub for the social and political stalwarts of the city for decades. Being a coffee afficando, I distinctly remember being really gutted about not having visited such a place, savored it and most importantly,
tasted the coffee.
Imagine my surprise and delight then, when, walking down Church Street ( parallel to MG Road ), I saw this non descript medium sized hoarding that simply said 'Indian Coffee House.' I thought it almost too good to be true. I read the board again to see if I had been right in what I saw. I mean, could it be? It was too good to resist and naturally, I went in.
To say that the place was 'bland' would not be an understatement. The walls were painted in an uninspiring tone of blue, with white splashed about here and there. The benches were of a plain wooden variety with equally plain wooden chairs. Most young people would probably be put off by this. After all, what sort of a "coffee joint" is this anyway? Well, it’s exactly that. A "coffee joint" in its truest form. Not the fancy ones that boast of English
music and couches. Just a joint that serves coffee, and my God ! What coffee !
I naturally ordered coffee and the bearer ( dressed in white, with a red turban), placed before me this cup of coffee. I say "cup" very deliberately because it was just that. A plain ceramic cup, no fancy logos or shapes on it, and a saucer to go with it, housed the coffee.
Now comes the best part, THE COFFEE. It was quite simply some of the best South Indian filter coffee that I have tasted. Not too light, quite strong, with the right amount of sugar. Perfect. It has to be tasted to be appreciated fully.( I went three times in a day and a half !)
The place also has other eats like French fries and scrambled eggs, just to name a couple. I tried the French fries. Not too good, I should say, but then, the accompanying cup of coffee more than made up for it.
To say that I fell in love with the place would be putting it mildly. I was positively floored. A place that still has the old world charm in the midst of the modern and the urbane. I was really stunned by the kind of crowd that the place attracted. I could see old timers and youngsters in equal measures. It just goes to show that the place has still not lost its charm and that great coffee is, well ... great coffee.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Weakened in no small measure by the departures of the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo, and the irrepressible Carlos Tevez, this season's squad looks to be thinner than any in the recent past. Although the arrivals of Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen have brought some respite, it remains to be seen as to how much of the void left by Ronaldo and Tevez will be filled. If he remains fit, there is no doubt that Owen will flourish and rightfully earn a recall into the England squad for the 2010 World Cup. With Ronaldo gone, the onus is definitely on Rooney now. He will, more often than not, this season be played in hes preferred central role and expect him to revel. Berbatov looks leaner, meaner and hungrier and has started the pre
season with renewed vigor, as if to prove a point. With Giggs and Scholes, not spring chickens any more, but still capable of putting in stellar performances, the rest of the squad must get their act together. The defence looks solid and the midfield coming together nicely. Hargreaves, when fit, will be like a new signing and he will be one of the most important players. Ben Foster looks nervy and Kuszczack looks just about passable. Van Der Sar looks to have one more season in him. Dont be surprised if Fergie signs Manuel Neuer,
from Schalke, in spite of his public backing for Foster. Valencia looks to be a solid buy and Nani seems to finally be coming good. The key to winning a fourth successive league title, is undoubtedly going to be the strength in depth of the team and how(and if) the "fringe" players come to the fore.
Yuri Zhirkov seems to be the only major signing for the Blues, but I believe that the most important signing they have made this season, is that of a certain Italian by the name of Carlo Ancelotti. He brings with him a winning mentality and also commands huge respect
from fans and players alike. Yet, there are bounf to be skeptics, especially after the same was said of Phil Scolari last season. The squad looks strong with the ever flourishing partnership of Drogba and Anelka up front. Being well covered in defence and midfield, it is only if either Anelka or Drogba get injured, that cracks might show in the Chelsea armor. They look a strong and solid and is Ancelotti can succeed where Scolari failed, and keep the team united, there is no doubt that they will be a force to reckon with and may even get their hands on that all elusive Champions league trophy.
As ever, a lot will depend on the fitness on Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. If the both of them should stay fit all through the season, there is little doubt that Liverpool will be challenging for all the major trophies, come the end of the season. I believe that Xabi Alonso's absence will be felt deeply and more pressure will be on Mascherano. It remains to be seen as to how well Aquilani will do in the Premier League. The defence looks a little wobbly, though they have the best 'keeper in the league. Yet again, the bench strength is not too awe inspiring and will have to drastically step up if Liverpool are to win it all, or anything at all.
Adebayor and Toure have gone. Two massive players and although Vermalen has been brought in as cover in defence, it remains to be seen as to how well he adapts to the Premier League. Up front, the return to fitness of Eduardo has been a lifeline to Arsene Wenger
but again, if he were to get injured, they will be found wanting, with Bendtner not looking too menacing. Wenger has once again kept his faith in youth and its about time that his faith is rewarded. A lot is expected of the likes of Walcott, Vela and Gibbs this term and if they can live upto their billing, it promises to be an exciting season indeed for the Gunners.
Manchester "money" City
After an outlay of close to a 100 million pounds on new signings, Man City finally look to be entering the big league. Undoubtedly, they seem to have the squad to compete for all trophies. While the signing of Carlos Tevez has been a coup of sorts, one may question the need of 10 strikers in the squad. The defence looks to be sort of solid, with the arrival of Kolo Toure and the midfield looks to be shaping up well with a good blend of attack and defence. It will be interesting to see how well Mark Hughes controls the egos in the dressing room and whether he players his best eleven, or 11 of his best players. Also, it remains to be seen as to how his players, especially the "big" ones react to his squad rotation policy. If it goes according to plan, then Man City will, no doubt, be challenging for the major honors, come the end of the season.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Not 'goodbye', just 'bye'. I dont think that I can access blogger from there, but thankfully, blogspot has given me the super tool called "mail to blog" .. So I hope to be posting sooner rather than later ...
Adios, for now ..
Godspeed and thanks for reading ... More to follow, I promise ...
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Ship --- SS
Nothing --- o
Sailor --- ab
Goggles/Glasses/Spectacles --- oo
Journalist/Editor --- ed
Soldier --- GI
Albert --- Al
Edward --- Ed
Gangster --- Al
Quiet --- sh
Left --- l
Right --- r
One --- i
Former --- ex
Accountant --- CA
East --- E
West --- W
South --- S
North --- N
The --- t ( when not used as a filler/ connector word ... How you interpret it, is of course, the question. You'll get better as you keep doing more crosswords )
Numbers --- usually Roman numeral representation ( for eg. Hundred is C etc.)
oddly --- odd letters
evenly --- even letters
regularly --- letters selected in some regular sequence (usually 1 or 2 apart)
in/contained --- the word is contained in the parent word or is more often than not in the conjunction of two words
Words in the middle of the clue with Capitalized first letters --- The first letter
Proper nouns --- first letter(s) (For eg. Royal Air Force is RAF)
heartless --- word minus the middle letter
endless --- word minus the last letter
Perhaps --- er
somehow --- word, in some form, usually a part of it
hollow/within the limits(or boundaries) of --- Only first and last letters of the word
going up/backwards/turned back --- word in reverse ( for eg. 'it' turned back( or going up) is 'ti' )
girl --- usually represents a girl's name ( like eve or anna etc. )
A sort of
I'll keep adding stuff as and when I remember or come across more ....
Pl. feel free to add others in the comment section
Now, creating a clue is simple enough. All you have to do is to break down a word, give its meaning and then somehow, cryptically, clue it. Sound simple enough, and it is. But the real catch is creating clues that are of an acceptable standard.
Here are a few basic ground rules :
1. Every clue, MUST have an indicator to the meaning of the solution.
2. Do NOT over complicate the clues, keep 'em simple.
3. Shorter the double definition clues, the more elegant they are.
4. Use standard abbreviations and annotations while cluing.
5. Try to keep the clues as short as possible.
6. Take care of the tense. ( If the clue indicates the past tense, the solution must be in the past tense as well.)
7. Do not use too many connector words. Use only those that are absolutely necessary. (Connector words are those that do not have any role to play in the solution but are necessary to maintain the grammar of the clue.)
8. Clearly give indicator word for anagrams.
9. Homophones must be indicated as best as possibly by placing the indicator words such as "loudly" or "overheard" close to the homophone, and not the solution. (For eg. Put a lid on the loud rooster(4) means 'cork' and not 'cock'. )
10. Avoid ambiguity. Make your clues as precise as possible.
Most importantly, HAVE FUN !!!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
His arrival in England was nothing sort of sensational. Both he and his fellow countryman, Mascherano were signed up by West Ham in what can only be called a sensational coup. In truth, it was one of the most complicated deals in the history of the game in which both players were bizarrely, not owned by a club but by a company, or in particular, one Mr. Kia Joorabchian. After a slow start to life in the Premier League, he quite came alive in the second half of the season and helped West Ham beat the drop with some sensational performances, and a particularly stunning goal against who would turn out to be his future employers. After helping West Ham to beat the drop, he did what any player in his position would have. He answered the door when Manchester United came calling.
A two year loan deal, with an option to make the deal permanent, was signed and soon Carlos Tevez was the new number 32. His first goal for United was a super one. A diving header at the near post against Chelsea. More goals followed and he, along with Wayne Rooney and a certain number 7 were the fulcrum of the United team that went on to retain their Premier league crown and also won the Champions League (in which he scored a penalty in the shoot out in the final). All was well.
Then came what could possibly be called the beginning of the end. Berbatov was signed and was put straight into the first team. At first, it wasn't much of an impact as Ronaldo was injured and so Rooney, Tevez and Berbatov were accommodated. But soon, Ron was back and Carlos was, more often than not, relegated to the bench. His frustration was for all to see and this was compounded by the fact that Berbatov did not seem to adapt to the United playing style well either. Soon, cracks began to emerge with Carlos stating that he wasn't too happy with the situation and who could blame him!
As the season progressed, it became evident that he would, more likely than not, be plying his trade away from the theater of Dreams very soon. His last appearance for Manchester United was the Champions league final, in which he was introduced as a second half substitute. In his last few games, he performed to the hilt, as ever, and scored a few.
Then came the announcement in the summer that Carlos Tevez had declined the offer of 25 million pounds that United were offering for his services and would be moving out. Duly, he was signed by Manchester City for around the same amount and will indeed wear the number 32 jersey.
All the noise he was making was that he had not been treated with respect, and that he was not getting enough game time, hence feeling unwanted. Fair enough, until you consider his decision to join City. Apart from Tevez, they have 6 other strikers on the payroll. Now if Mark Hughes decides to rotate his squad from time to time, it'll be interesting to see what happens.
At the end of the day, Red became blue. Tevez became a cityzen. All the best mate. Lets just hope for your and everyone else's sake that you win at least as many, if not more trophies in your ENTIRE spell at City than your two glorious years at Man United...
Monday, July 06, 2009
Sampras' seemingly unbeatable record of 15 grand slams has been overhauled. All 4 majors have been won. The no.1 ranking has been reclaimed and all the while grace, poise and elegance has been maintained. Thats Roger Federer for you. peRFect.
If someone had told you about 10 years ago, that a Swiss would become the greatest player of all time, you would probably have laughed, and so would I. But it has happened. Not only has Roger Federer become the most successful player player in Grand Slam history, but has also done it by playing a brand of tennis that can only be described as, well, magical.
When he first burst onto the scene, it was all guns blazing. A victory over the mighty Pete Sampras at Wimbledon ( which ironically became Sampras' last match on the lawns of SW19 ). He had arrived on the scene.
The years that followed can only be described as 'The Federer Era' and there was hardly a hiccup( except in the clay of Paris, which a certain matador from Spain called his own ). Major after major came his way, and world #1 was a given.
Then came 2008. The year, I am sure that tennis fans will remember for a long long while to come. It was when Federer was dethroned as the king of England( well, of Wimbledon at least). In what was the longest final in Wimbledon history and perhaps, the greatest final ever, Rafael Nadal prevailed over Federer to add insult to the injury blows that he inflicted on Federer in the final of the French hardly a month before. And now doubts arose.
Naturally, whispers started of Federer losing it and not having anything left in him. These soon turned into full blown shouts when he lost his world #1 ranking to Nadal later that year. But just as great champions do, Federer won the US Open, albeit not playing the best tennis that he is capable of.
And this vulnerability was yet again exposed by Nadal when he beat Federer in the final of the Australian open. The scenes that ensued will certainly be fresh in the minds of all tennis fans. Federer breaking down and sobbing hysterically with Nadal, in what can only be described as one of the greatest shows of sportsmanship that the sport has ever seen, consoling him. This was probably a bit too much for Roger and soon enough, the axe was wielded and the guillotine lowered.
Yet again, as only great champions can, he rose from the ashes, to claim the one major trophy to elude him. He won the French open in some style and thus joined the pantheon of greats like Don Budge, Rod Laver, Andre Agassi and others, to be only one of a select few to hold all 4 major trophies. He had indeed come a full circle.
Then came Wimbledon and another epic final. Andy Roddick gave as good as he got and a bit more but in the end, Roger Federer had done it. He had eclipsed Pete Sampras to become THE HISTORY MAN ! The Undisputed king. Whats more, he's got his #1 ranking back.
His critics will always say that he never had the competition that other great players like Sampras or Borg had. You know what? It only seems that way because he was head and shoulders above the rest. The competition that Borg had can very well be equated to the competition that Federer had without any disrespect to the players of either eras. The difference was that while Borg and Sampras were ahead of the competition, Federer was well ahead and well, as they say, it gets quite lonely at the top.
He does not have the biggest serve; Roddick does. He does not have the best forehand; Djokovic probably does. He does not have the best backhand; Richard Gasquet does. he does not have the best physique or legs; Nadal does. But you know what? He has what it takes to be a champion, and a great one at that; probably the greatest.
Kudos to the great man.
Monday, June 29, 2009
When he was bought for 12 million pounds six years ago, quite a few eyebrows werre raised as he was quite an unknown identity. No sooner than he had made his sparkling debut, than people realised that the unknown 'X' was quite simply the 'X-Factor'. His first couple of seasons, or the first three even, were quite inconsistent peppered with flashes of brilliance. He was still growing.
Then came the first of three brilliant seasons in which he so famously won the wager with Sir Alex when he scored more than 20 that season. The season started off on a sour note with the Rooney red card incident at the world cup. He was getting stick wherever he played( Well, except OT of course !!). But then he won over the fans with a series of stunning displays. He was developing his game and with it learning to deal with superstardom too. He was still growing.
Then came the season to end all seasons. 42 goals in 49 appearances to go with a Premiership medal and a champs league medal. He simply decimated all and was crowned both the European and World Footballer of the year. He was quite simply on another planet and well, vini vidi vici. Inevitably Real Madrid came calling and quite frankly, United were lucky to hold on to him for another season. But the signs were ominous and it was only a question of when rather than if he would leave. He had grown.
Then was his last season at OT. His supposed "not so good" season. Yeah, it produced only 26 goals. Not so good indeed. Well, the season started off badly as he had a surgeory on his ankle and was out of the game for the start of the season and when he got back, he did look more than a little jaded. Worst of all, he looked as if his heart was quite simply not in it. His attitude did improve as the season progressed and so did his form. Another premier league medal and a Champs league runners up medal. Towards the end of the season, the signs were ominous. The pure petulence on being substituted was well, inexcusible. But then the second half against Tottenham showed us the boy's class and well, it was one last swansong.
Then came the inevitable. Manchester United had accepted a world record 80 million dollar bid from Real Madrid for the the services of a certain Cristaino Ronaldo, and just like that, he was off. The worst part of it was the reaction of all the United fans all over the world. A "we dont need him" attitude. I'm sorry guys, have a li'l respect for the guy and for all that he gave us.
He was brilliant. He was infuriating. He was arrogant. He was pure genius. He was quite simply the guy you would just love to hate. He may well be a whigner. He may well be a spoilt rich brat. He may not have defended or worked hard enough for the team. He may have thrown tantrums and dived on the slightest contact but you know what?? All we can do is look back and say..."That boy!Ronaldo !!"
Adios amigo. Its been a good six years. Thank you for the memories and... Godspeed
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Now onto #4 ...
4. Workable clues
These are perhaps the most advanced of all the types of clues. These are the ones that get you to use your(and my) grey cells that lay dormant most of the time :)...
These are the clues in which, almost every single word in the clue has some part to play in the formation of the final answer.
The clue usually has the defenition of the answer in it, and the rest of the clue has hints to form the entire word.
Here's an example :
Beloved one shows courage, sheltering a liberal(7)
The answer: Darling
Lets break it down, shall we ?
one shows courage : daring.
liberal : L.
so daring sheltering l is l in daring goves darling.
And of course, beloved one : darling !!
Well mannered, but showing anger about penalty(7)
The Answer: Refined
anger in crossie terminology is red ( as in red with anger)
penalty is fine.
red and fine together make refined ...
Well these clues are perhaps the most difficut to crack at first attempt but as you keep solving, you'll get better at them and in time understand the beauty of these clues.
5. Hybrid clues
These are just as the name suggests, mix and match of any of the above 4 types of clues. There maybe workable clues in which there are anagrams that are parts of the answer.
So thats a basic wrap of the different types of clues found in crosswords.
SO the next time you come across these grids in the newspapers, go ahead, give 'em a try ... You never know, you could just end up becoming an addict.
But a word of caution, like most other things, you have to be patient ... Dont expect to complete the crossword, the first time you try it ...
I would suggest THE HINDU CROSSWORD as it's undoubtedly THE BEST one there is out there. The crossies on the other newspapers are just simple trivia type in which you dont actually get to appreciate the wordplay and the skill of the cruci ..
p.s Check out the blog called http://www.crosswordunclued.com/
Absolutely brilliant and a much much more in-depth tutorial ..
Sunday, June 07, 2009
There are basically 5 kinds of clues :
1. Straight clues
2. Double defenitions
4. Workable clues
5. Hybrid clues
1. Straight clues
Very simple. Direct defenitions of the answers form the clue.
For eg. :
They show up the player’s(or umpire’s) skills in retrospect (6,7)
Answer: Action Replays
Easy enough, eh? Well the thing is that sometime the most apparent of answers don’t strike you and so more often than not, you’ll find that these direct clues are the ones filled up towards the end, once you’ve got letters of the answer from the solutions of different clues.
Another one ….
One like Mao? (8)
Answer : Chairman
2. Double Defenitions
These clues generally are very short. These clues can be decomposed into two distinct parts, each a different meaning of the answer to the clue.
For eg. :
The Language of the Britisher(7)
Now break it down into 2 parts:
The answer to this is “ English “
English is obviously a language and a Britisher is English ….
Another example :
Apply the sqeeze on the print media(5)
Answer : Press … pretty straightforward ….
Now, we come to the more challenging clues.
An anagram is a type of word play, the result of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once. (Read the wiki article for more)
Right, so coming to the clues with anagrams, here’s one :
Fish, an amber sort (5)
The answer : Bream ( an anagram of Amber )
Now, how do you discern that the clue is an anagram?
Look for words that indicate that the answer is an anagram of a part of the clue. In the above clue, the hint is the word “sort”. From this you can decide that it is an anagram, and since the answer is 5 letters and the only 5 letter word in the clue is “amber”, its quite simple, isn’t it? Well then again, figuring out the word to be anagrammed is the easy part. Figuring the actual
answer is the more hard part…
Here’s another :
A disturbed sister has the power to oppose (6)
Answer : Resist ( Anagram of “sister” )
The tell-tale word here is “disturbed”
And another :
A conifer from a cadre altered (5)
Answer : Cedar ( anagram of “cadre”)
So look for these words to check if the clues are anagrams.Also, these clues will be complete, as in, apart from the anagram part of it, the rest of the clue will also be an indication to the answer. Like, in the above clues, a cedar is a conifer and to resist is to oppose.
Some of the words that usually indicate anagrams are:
A sort of
More to come ...
Monday, May 25, 2009
To begin with, before I can even begin in fact, I wanna thank my roommates ...
Suresh, Mouli and Suresh in the first year,
Santosh in the second year
and lastly and most importantly Jaga, who has put up with me for 2 years .. Thanks a bunch mates ...
"Sandipani Sadan" ..
no no .. this aint no sanskrit sloka to start off .. this is the name of my first year hostel...
Right ... the first year ... first time away from home .. everyone startin on an even keel ... No one knows too many ppl ... We were lucky actually .. A whole bunch of us from the same school .. Yet, like a gazillion others in the hostel, from all parts of the country ...
All the first week talk was obviously about who were gettin ragged and how .. Quite funny when we look back actually... Once the ragging phase died down, all the talk everywhere was about, you guessed it, Gals !! Oh come on.. dont act surprised .. It's a Boys' hostel for cryin out loud !!! And once the dust settled, there were the fights with the warden about permission to go home( yeah, you read right, we had to get permission to visit home !!)..Then came the tv fights, and boy were they the best .. We basically had only one tv in the hostel( for about 700 ppl) and were only allowed to watch on weekends... Tamils, Golts, Northies ... you get the point :)..And then there were the cricket tournaments, the cricket in the hallways, the football in the corridors, the UNO games, and of course, the studies !!!
The Holi bash(quite literally), and last, but certainly not the least, the fight with the warden which saw a guy actually pour piping hot milk on the warden's head !!!
At the end of it all, I ( I speak purely for myself here) was quite pleased to leave that hostel and get into a "senior" hostel, 'cause quite frankly, I had had enough...
I came about three days after the 3rd sem started and my friends had already picked out a room for me. There I was, standing in front of this wooden door early in the mornin, when the hostel was asleep. I opened the door and before me was this hole in the wall, a small space,7 foot by 10 foot, that was room no. 299, Ananda Vihar(AV) ! My first reaction :" Where's the rest of the room??" ... Well soon enough the morning bathroom rush started and then it was time for college. So anyway, I came back to the room in the evening and I met one of my seniors from school and he said, " You'll get an affinity towards AV." These exact same words, I can remember clearly. And of course, I remember thinking tht 3 years in this
place had finally gotten to him and tht he was all up there in his head !!! But guess what, he was right and I'm still here, almost 3 years later, sittin in AV, only in a different hole in the wall :)
Now, the third sem passed without much of an incident and then came the fourth sem, and that brought with it, the one thing that changed hostel life forever .. THE COMPUTER !!! And boy, what a change in hostel habits it brought about !! Time previously spent chatting and gossipping was now replaced by movies and of course FIFA !!! Hardly any work to do, the computer at our mercy .. need I say more !!!
Another year gone, and another hole in the wall.. room 378 this time and Jaga, my roomie ... Again, the computer, more ovies, more gaming and a whole lot more fun. This was also the time when our gang expanded from 3 rooms to a whole, round 6 !! Oh the good times... Another feature of the third year was the terrace. We were on the top floor and the staircase to the terrace was a stone's throw away from our room... Naturally, a lot of late night talks and star gazing followed... Thus passed the third year with yet more movies and games, and hardly anything productive done.
The final year.. By this time, AV was well and truly our domain, and being final years', naturally, the rule of the land came to us... THE GROUND FLOOR !! No more climbing stairs during tea time or in the mornin .. That was for "the juniors" to do :). AV 178 was my room this year and technically, it remained a single room almost all through the year. Jaga was offered an internship in Germany in the seventh sem and I had the room to myself. In the eighth sem, I was offered an internship in Mysore, and he had the room to himself.
The seventh sem was in many ways, the one semester that I would most remember my hostel life by. Apart from being in a single room for the first time in my life, and apart from the fact that I was, ahem, preparing for CAT, lots of things happened that changed a lot of things. I cant really explain cause I just cant really explain it. But the undoubted highlight of the sem was towards the end when the rain started... Just like the expression, when it rained, it poured !!! But unlike the expression, it didnt just pour, it poured and poured, and then poured some more. And just when we thought that it was over, it poured again !!! The common area in the center got flooded and the water threatened to overflow into our rooms. Add to this, power cuts of about 4 hours a day( close to 7 in the early part of the sem) and just like the rhyme " water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink", only, in our case, there was not a drop to use. It was raining cats and dogs but there was absolutely no water whatsoever in the taps in the bathrooms. As a result, we didnt have a bath when we wanted to, we had a bath when water came( and conveniently, lots of people didnt :) ). We didnt go when 'it' came. We went when water came. It was well, an experience, to say the least.
A quick word on the mess food. It was pretty much bearabl eapart form a few days when, well, I think that my shoe would've tasted better. Insects and flies were quite common in the sabzis and the kurmas. what did we do when we found insects in our food? Why, throw a tantrum and alert the warden of course. NOT ! We just picked it up, put it on the table and continued eating :) Shit happens !!
Now, I sit here, after 3 years 10 months and 15 days after my first night in hostel, and I'm wondering where these 3 years 10 and a half months have gone. Its been a learning experience to say the least and a wonderful one at that. But as with everything else in life, all good things must come to an end, and today or rather tonight marks the end of this chapter.
Goodnight. Godspeed and adios AV. Its been a pleasure.
P.S I have left out India's T20 world Cup win and the two editions of the IPL quite delibrately cause if I had indeed included the details of those, you would probably have to keep readin this post for a very very long time indeed. Maybe another post on them, who knows !!