Thursday, December 25, 2008

No smooth rides!

I was driving tonight, on one of Chennai's 'prime' areas near my home. Having just overtaken a Premier Padmini which had been ambling ahead and frustrating me, I finally got a clear strip of road ahead, and started to speed considerably. Out of nowhere, at a lazy right turn, came a huge bump! By the time I could acknowledge it's existence and slow down, it was too late. The car bumped on top of it... fortunately no one and nothing was hurt. Ever since, I didn't dare exceed second gear till I dropped granny back at home.

This road is on the route of quite a few buses and one of the main roads in my area. If this city road is not smooth, one can wonder how pathetic other city and suburban roads would be. Can we expect decent roads from our babus at all?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Small consolation ;)

I've been hitting the gym for the past three weeks; and I'm already expecting tangible results. Of course, that may not happen since I've been working on considerably light weights [Thanks to my strong physique :D]

My regular glances at the mirror hoping for a Schwarzenegger to stare back at me have indeed yielded disappointing results [:)].

With no means to actually 'measure' the 'progress' made (if any :) ), I've taken refuge under a rather small shirt which I have with me. This shirt used to fit me rather well - it reflected my thin physique including my embarrassing tummy; nevertheless, it did fit. When I put it on now, the shirt's arms and chest seem to have tightened a bit around mine... Is it real, or am I imagining things? ;)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The value of an Indian life

After 16 terror attacks in the last four years [see pic] that left nearly 7000 Indians dead, we're yet to see any concrete steps to fight terror from our government. Every time an attack happens, all that our politicians do is take refuge in the 'spirit of the people' to recover from any attack, and 'promise' that 'strict action' would be taken against the perpetrators. That none of this translates into real action, is a fact well known. Lives aren't considered very precious in the relentless chase for money and power.

Compare this with how other nations, notably the US, deals with terror. Three instances come to my mind. The Kandahar episode where a single US citizen was part of the hijacked plane, hence inviting the interest of the FBI which ultimately filed a case. Then came 9/11 - and we all know the two wars thereafter. Now, the Mumbai attacks - the FBI was sent here immediately after 6 of their citizens perished. Such is the quality and sheer scale of their response, not to mention their security and anti-terror steps taken to prevent attacks in the first place. It is indeed amazing how every single American life is valued and treated.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Yaaradi Nee Mohini!!

Spoiler Warning: Details of the storyline below

Vasu (Dhanush) is an easy-going youth, who is jobless. He's been searching for jobs for five years now, but hasn't been able to get one. He shares a rough relationship with his father (Raghuvaran) , who accuses him of being irresponsible, when Vasu demands money for buying a job application.

It is then that Vasu glimpses Keerthi (Nayanthara). Vasu is so forlorn and downcast, his application and his dress being just drenched by an outpour of slush thanks to a speeding car. People on the pavement look at him mockingly and pinch their nostrils due to his stench. It is at this point that Vasu gets a fleeting glance at Keerthi and it is love at first sight (so cliched!). Vasu chases Keerthi and dances around her for one whole song :) . The transition in Vasu's mood, from one of desparation and loss, to one of sudden love, is indeed shocking for the viewer.

Keerthi is employed as a manager in a software firm, and becomes an inspiration for Vasu to join the same firm. Vasu starts mugging... "Java is an OOP" :D , and then goes on to get a job at the same firm!! (with some generous help from Keerthi herself!)

Deserving special mention is a particular scene which would make us software engineers feel as fools and cause great offense indeed. Vasu manages to crash an entire lab (by hitting one key!) and then stays up all night to rectify the bug, managing to make the deadline, all for Keerthi's sake!! Only when the monitor pops up a message saying 'Code Activated', does everyone heave a sigh of relief! My God, where could this possibly happen?

Vasu and Keerthi, with a couple of others are chosen for a project at Australia. Vasu expresses his love, which Keerthi refuses citing her orthodoxy and her marriage that has been arranged at her hometown with her uncle's son.

Vasu's so depressed that he cries and reveals his tragedy to Raghuvaran. Raghuvaran, instead of consoling his son, setting him straight and being the responsible dad that he should be, runs straight to Keerthi and pleads on Vasu's behalf!! Predictably Keerthi becomes angry and bellows at him. Enter Vasu, and without showing an iota of respect a manager deserves, abuses her. This is probably the ugliest and the most ill-orchestrated scene in the movie. Who would argue about love publicly in a plush software firm?? Keerthi slaps (accidentally?) both Vasu and Raghuvaran.

Raghuvaran drinks and expires that very night while sleeping from a heart attack. The late Raghuvaran's skill and experience enables him to craft his role very well indeed. The father-son relationship does indeed form a poignant aspect of this movie.

To protect Vasu from depression, his friend Cheenu (Karthik) takes him along to his native village; Vasu learns that Keerthi is the girl that Cheenu is slated to marry.

Second half

The second half is what props up the movie, and salvages it from being a pointless exercise. Cheenu and Keerthi's families are Brahmin families living together, and their mannerisms, which are completely alien to Vasu, evoke genuine laughter.

Keerthi's younger sister (?) flirts with Vasu and develops a crush on him. Her role as a young, starry-eyed teenage girl is humorous and enjoyable.

A series of incidents showing off Vasu's heroics, his supposed innocence, and his presence of mind in saving Keerthi's sister results in Keerthi falling for Vasu this time around (with just a couple of days to go for her arranged marriage :-) ).

How Vasu manages to win the head of the family's approval and marries Keerthi is the crux of the climax.

What was Cheenu's fate, you may ask. Well, as usual, he's the sacrificial lamb, this time too. I do wonder why he chooses such roles involving huge sacrifices :-) . (Remember Kanda Naal Mudhal, where he played a similar role?)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Killer auto!

It was around 7:10 AM on Friday, the 11th of April. Vignesh and myself were on our way to the swimming pool at Gachibowli, on Vignesh's stylish and brand-new bike (you'll know shortly why I mention these adjectives :) )... Oh, and I forgot.. Vignesh was riding.

We were on the three-lane road to the pool, when we got behind a mini-bus on the right lane. There was an auto on the left lane, and Vicky planned to overtake the auto through the middle lane. Vicky being the careful rider that he is, (he never rides beyond 50ks), stuck to proper procedure, shifted to the middle lane, honked his horn and surged forward. We were then almost parallel to the auto.

That was when fate struck. The auto driver, for no reason, swerved suddenly to the right, virtually closing the middle lane. Vignesh tried hard to break and avoid the auto and was sure he'd manage to do exactly that. I being the experienced two-wheeler rider that I am ( 8+ years on a TVS XL super :) ) had no such false hopes, and knew that very instant that we would crash. Sure enough, the handle of the Apache hit the front curve of the auto's bonnet on the inside and the bike fell to the right. Vignesh was hurled to about 20 feet from the bike, and I, a few feet behind him.

We were on our feet fast, and I felt myself. No major injuries, just a couple of minor bruises. Vignesh seemed to have a suffered a few more bruises, on his arms, and there was blood on his teeth and nostrils. We went straight to the auto driver and started blasting him. What surprised me was his age. He would've been around just 14 years, and here he was, driving an auto.

No wonder then, I sighed and thought dryly. Being the young man he is, he would've seen an empty stretch of road in front and zig-zagged his way with glee, the way small kids do on their toy tricycles.

By then a crowd of around ten people had gathered and all of them supported us. I thought of calling the police, but the crowd suggested otherwise. One of them was concerned of the young guy's 'future'. That was indeed a stupid argument.. I wondered how many humans' futures he'd snuff out driving in such a manner. Anyway, being in a hurry to get to the hospital as quickly as possible, we took his keys (which we would realize later was a stupid move) and gave our contact number, hoping to get some money from him for the damage done to the Apache.

Vignesh rode to the hospital, and by then his right foot started aching terribly, so much so that he could hardly walk. An X-Ray was done, and the worst was confirmed; A fracture on his right ankle which would restrict his free movement for the next 6 weeks. The doc applied an orthopedic cast which would have to be in place for the same amount of time.

The bike had suffered considerable damage, and the adjectives that I used in the beginning no longer seem to apply to it now :) . The cap on the side of the accelerator had bent, the electric start and gear display weren't working, and there were numerous scratches and bent structures throughout the bike.

Needless to say, our ploy of grabbing the auto's key didn't work. On the evening of the same day when I was on my way from office, the auto wasn't there. We should've thought better.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"A promise is a promise"

These words, which emanated from Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, literally moved me to tears. Having promised a car 'for the common man' in 2003, he would have found it extremely difficult to keep it, owing to a spurt in global steel and fuel prices over the years. Why then, in spite of this, did he keep his promise? Why didn't he increase costs to reflect increase in input prices?

Mr. Tata contradicts the image of a conventional corporate. The drive to make such an audacious attempt came when he watched a family on a motorcycle, with a wife behind and a kid in front, endangering the safety of the entire family. This sprang up an idea in his head, and keeping the middle class Indian family in mind, created a product that would revolutionize the way the common man travelled. Indeed, he is one of the few corporates who really thinks of improving the condition of the common man, rather than just blindly running after profits. We do need more of such inspired corporate leaders, to make up for the lack of those in our political system.

Instead of taking the usual path of developing a car, Mr. Tata decided to innovate. What enabled him to achieve this feat, is to be analyzed and emulated, not just by auto makers, but by all entrepreneurs. He started with a clean slate, and finished with 40 patents in the process, and a car which defied conventional automobile design. Hats off to a great thinker, a visionary, an innovator and an altruist.