Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shatranj Ke Khiladi

The increase in the blog posts is a consequence of reading Amit Varma's bio. In it, is written, he did dot com time pass during 2000-2001, and then started writing for publications.

So, I am also trying to bring my writing in shape, least a publication wants me to write for them and also pay me. Not that I possess any talent, but there is a saying in our line. There is always a fool in the market, and if you can't find the fool, there is a good chance that you are the one.

A few to do's for me:

  1. Learn to give a structure to your ideas and hence writing
  2. Stop using conversational language in the written form
  3. Stop using, there are, where, there is, that and other crutches of words.
  4. Make your writing crisp
  5. Always end with a punch, like the Economist writers

Now, I don't possess Arundhati Roy's creativity in prose that I can describe a pothole for a page, but there is always ample space for people in the bottom of the pyramid. I should easily get cozy there.

I played another chess game with my Dad today, And I won. I think this is the first time in my living memory, that I have won a game of chess with anybody in my family. Never mind Dad was being over ambitious and wanted to crush me in the least amount of time. Had he been playing his natural game I would have never won. Even I wasn't playing my natural game. My natural game is the one where I want cleanliness from my chessboard during a match and go on a killing and get killed spree, without discriminating between pawns and non-pawns.

So finally after all these years of loosing to everybody, I did it. It took an aeon of time, but finally I got there.

In other news, followed the Australian open women's final radio commentary on my comp. Better luck next time Hardine. Read Ishquiya's review on rediff. And saw a few video promos's also on rediff. Might watch this one. Vishal Bharadwaj has produced it, should be good.

Strange that nobody has launched an Indian version of Youtube. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bucket List Item

My views on doing two bits about the society have been stated before, but I will reiterate them here. Basically, if you want to do something go ahead and do it. Don't just do it for spreading awareness or contributing in my simple way types. I helped a kid today by feeding him lunch or I switched off the lights at precisely 8 PM just doesn't cut ice, with me. 

So I have this dream for long, I guess I had gotten inspired by one of Raj Kamal Jha's editorial pieces, where he is about to go to a village to teach, but receives a scholarship from some American college and ends up studying Conrad when he was suppose to be in a village teaching kids. It might be a piece on the Gujarat riots... No it was the edit he wrote when the IITian was shot dead in Bihar, Satyendra Dubey. 

Express, incidentally was the paper which had reported this news on some inner pages, but the same Sunday, chose to put it directly on the front page top on it's Sunday edition. 

One of the few documentaries I have loved is, Born into Brothel,( where this French woman randomly gives all children cameras in Calcutta's red light area. All the kids click away pictures randomly, but one of them finds his talent and is provided an exit from a sure-shot hellhole. Juxtaposed is the story of a girl, who is tried to be sent to a school, or sent to a foster home. She is not able to adjust there, and unfortunately returns to the brothel. If you can sell a kid a dream, you can forget about aid or money or helping him. The kid will find a way to make sure he achieves his dreams. 

I am not a great teacher and neither my going to some random village for a year and teaching the kids will change their lives in any way. But if I am there for a year, I will certainly interact with them. Tell them about what all is there to the world, beyond their tiny village existence. There might be some discussions on Bombay and it's glamour. There might be other on the educational possibilities, not just in India but also outside. There might be talk about the iPad and my biases of how technology has been just used for one objective till now, saving costs. It can be utilised in many other facets also. 

In a group of 20 kids, I might end up boring 15 kids, but if I can at least sell new dreams to the rest five of them. Inspire them to think outside what they believed till now, were the realms of possibility. Dreams are what makes a person take a whimsical road and think at another plain altogether. But, what if the rainmaker never arrived in their village to show them the possibilities that could have been. 

Exactly about a year back, I was browsing CBSE's website and I cam across a report where they were discussing the demand supply mismatch between teachers in villages, towns etc. 

I am not a great teacher. I might just get along, if I try. But the point is not to teach something to somebody. It is to make people aware that there are a million possibilities. Just like, Ruksar, living in Kurla hadn't been to Marine Drive ever, a distance of barely 15-20 KM, which in Bombay is nothing. She has a right to know about all the possibilities. Ditto for any kid anywhere. 

And that's why there is a need to tweak our education structure in a way so that we contribute back. Not just keep chasing dreams with merely keeping our own parochial self interests as our goals.I guess Harsha Bhogle uses a word here, in the initial part of his talk at IIM C. Prophesizing or something. Or Proselytizing? He says that he just doesn't want to do that. Trying to sound as if he is teaching them something.

Naive is a good word, when pronounced appropriately. With an emphasis like naa'eev. It kind of stretches the imagination. . 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Conversations with parents

Apparently SBI bank has hired some credit card executive from a private bank. They have been harassing Dad with a credit card.

Parents are not aware of a credit card as I am. And when I explained them the utility and the 38% annual interest rates. They were aghast. They asked me if I owned a cc. I told them, I wanted to but apparently I was a high risk segment and hence was refused one.

Then they asked if my siblings own them, and I said, yeah. Fortunately.

Mom on time: Time passes very fast. You will nor realise how fast a year will pass. An oblique reference to me and marriage.

Dad after watching 3 idiots with mom. It was an ok movie . There were a few jokes in it. The trend seems to be to make anti system movies these days. Munabhai was against professors and so is 3 idiots. Let's see how long this trend lasts.

I haven't seen 3 idiots and a few scenes I did over see when parents were watching it, I did not like Aamir's infinite attempts to act a college kid. Each scene he seem to be overdoing it. Trying so extra, that it looked ugly.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Breaking wood

So finally I have a kulhadi and hathoda. And a small log of wood. And I broke it with the help of a 8-10 year old kiddo, in my home in Mumbai. All the while my mother yelling at me to leave doing it. And then she said, just do what you want to do, I am leaving.

And she still did not leave. Mothers, I tell you. I asked her finally , what do you want. She just doesn't want me to hurt myself. And I though I was an old man.

The process of breaking the wood is difficult and should not be undertaken without adult supervision. A pair of glasses can be helpful, as no mathematician has come up with the equation of a particle in three dimension, when a chisel of varying sharpness makes contact with dry wood, with knots. So you never know which piece is coming out and in which direction.

My latest resolution. Follow Damodaran's classes on corporate finance over next few months here.

For those who do not know Damodaran, he writes books in finance which my buddies in MBA use to rave about. At least they pretended. And since I did not as much as touch them, I could not say if they understood anything or not. We had all touched this great wave where everybody was doing an MBA from a top notch school, so an adequate amount of BS was usually assumed in any claim.

Nevertheless, I listened to the first damodaran's lecture on Valuation from here: and found it infinitely interesting and fun. So I guess, I will bite. Because, the dude seems fun and not because he has written a few books.

More video lesson/thought sites are : and

Book of the moment: Portrait of a director : Satyajit Ray by Marie Seton. The eastest I have traveled is hyderabad, I do not understand the language spoken in Bongland, and I haven't seen any of Ray's work.

So I guess there is a trifle of an irony there.

I am also trying to understand what on hell is the principle of fair play. I have downloaded some document from scribd by some one called simmons. Will read it at ease.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The old man and the sea

There was this video I was watching for the nth time. It's there in my orkut profile, where two really old men are having a casual discussion.

So ther is this one man who is talking about Nikolas Tesla, stating that Tesla postulated that this earth is one big magnet.

The other old man is of artistic bent, he recalls some opera song he had heard and I guess recalls New York or some old city of the 1920's.

The men seem to be opposites.
I am lost to the world
with which I used to waste so much time,
It has heard nothing from me for so long
that it may very well believe that I am dead!

It is of no consequence to me
Whether it thinks me dead;
I cannot deny it,
for I really am dead to the world.

I am dead to the world's tumult,
And I rest in a quiet realm
I live alone in my heaven,
In my love and in my song!

( Translated from German, the opera song which is referenced in the video)


I am doing my HSC from a government junior college and the math professor is this uber cool dude, on the verge of his retirement, with his from two tooth missing, just like the character from the movie, Adaptation.

He in known to be of a free will and eccentric. He calls a parameter, a perraiya while teaching mathematics.

Someone stands up in the class and questions about positive infinity. Some one else chirps in with negative infinity and this professor looses his cool, he says, there is nothing called positive infinity and negative infinity, there is just one infinity.

I shrug him off.

I am reading this book, . I at times read books in a random order. I just open up a book, and start reading from which ever page came up and up to the end of the chapter. I close the book and repeat this process again.

I read Earnest Hemingway's A farewell to Arms that way. I have read Alchemist thrice. Once the other way round, backwards starting from the last chapter.

And then this dude sums up Einstein's (Special) Theory of relativity by summarising that there is nothing called mass. There are not two things's mass and energy. Mass is also a form of energy.

It's all energy.

Two old men are sitting on a Beach. Let's say, Arambol.

Both of them walked out of a corporate career. Both started their ventures. Once succeeded, the other failed, in the conventional sense of the words, success and failure.

One is sitting on a private beach he bought out from the money he made. The other is sitting on a public, though deserted beach.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, I guess has used the word stoicism somewhere.


And then, the penny dropped. It took me n attempts, where n tends to infinity, which one, the positive or the negative . :)