Monday, December 24, 2012

Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin officially retired today from ODIs. He will still continue to play in test games for India. And i am sure he will continue to play for Mumbai Indians for few more years. But this is such a monumental moment. End of an era. Kinda tells me i am getting old as well.

Sachin's international career experience  is almost the same as my age. I grew up watching and idolizing Sachin. When i was a kid, my mom wanted to get me a bat. And i chose the one with the MRF sticker just because it was used by Sachin back then. I had no idea what MRF was..But still wanted the same bat. I wore tshirts that had number 10 (Sachin's number on his tshirt) and had Sachin posters all over my room. End of an era. Truly.

I will never forget the 98 against Pak in 2003 world cup. That, to me is the best innings played by Sachin. I am not saying this just because Sachin told Cricinfo that the innings was his favorite too. There is so much heroism in that innings. I am glad i caught that game live on TV. I watched the entire Pak innings and was absolutely sure India was about to loose. When Waqar and Akram and Akhtar started bowling aggressively i knew India were finished. But then again, Sachin did this awesome upper cut off Akhtar, which just set the tone for the entire game. I remember sitting on the edge of the seat wondering how this is going to play out. That shot almost made me jump off my seats. For that second i thought my heart stopped..thought the third man would catch it. But again, the ball went for a beautiful six. I can still imagine that six as if it is happening now. I can still replay it in slow motion and occasionally feel happy remembering that moment. (starts at 00.29 in this video)

And that almost catch with Razzaq dropped when Akram was bowling was another heart stopper in this innings. I thought he was out. And then Razzaq dropped. he scored only 98. So if you compare all the other innings where he scored so much more runs than this and just look at this as a number, you wont know the significance. But this innings according to me is the best of Sachin.

People talk endlessly about the Sharjah innings. I was too young to remember that innings. But i do remember seeing Sachin coming all the way to the mid pitch and hitting Warne for a six. And Tony Greig yelling, "what a player. What a wonderful player" But i dont remember the entire innings.

I am not going to talk about how Sachin led a life without mistresses or drunken driving. Even if he did, i would have still liked him. Sachin has inspired an entire generation. He has single handedly made cricket the unofficial national sport of India and inspired a whole new group of people like Virat.

There is a famous saying in China. "May you live in interesting times" It was actually meant as a curse. But i dont think of it that way. All of us should live in interesting times. If not, what is the point in life? Thank you Sachin for making my child hood interesting. Thank you Sachin for making my childhood memorable. Thanks for making our lives interesting. Thanks for the endless hours of entertainment. It is not an easy job. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the best player in his best form. Thanks for letting us witness that. You are and will always be a legend. The poster i have of you with the helmet on one hand and bat on your other hand looking up at the sky will remain in my wall forever. And i will be endlessly talking about all the amazing innings in dinner tables and in parties and continue to re-live my childhood by reminiscing the centuries and victories. A heartfelt thanks.

Cricket will never be the same. Indian cricket team will never be the same. There might be another new batsman who might surpass Sachin's records, but cricket will never be the same. Thank you Sachin. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Where are the good old times?

My article got published in Spark magazine. You can read it here. It also has some other really good articles. So also check them out. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Nenjukulle umma mudinjirukka

It has been a while since ARR worked on a tamil movie. I was quite disappointed by that. Hindi songs translated to Tamil dont entice me. They dont have soul and have funny lyrics. (kattu sirukki song from Ravanan is an embarassing example. Kattu siruki? really? What were they thinking?)

Today, saw this new song. And i am just completely in love with it. Apparently this song is from Vairamuthu kavithaigal book. I have that book, yet dont remember this particular poem. That is when i realized, music can truly make lyrics come to life. An excellent poem went unnoticed and ARR music gave it life. Everyone in the video seem to be really enjoying creating something so divine.

I am truly blessed to be born in ARR era. People in my generation basically grew up listening to ARR songs. I still remember chinna chinna aasai.

It is so nice to have ARR and Maniratnam working on a tamil movie for tamils. Last one was kannathil muthamittal i think. Thank you ARR. Thank you Maniratnam. The market is small and more often that not, you dont get the money you guys deserve for your work when it is only Tamil. But you gotta do this once in a while for fans like us. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tamil writers

I love S.Ramakrishnan's writing. Easily one of the best contemporary Tamil writers around. I have read almost all of his books, except for few books including the one he wrote for kids, a fantasy titled "Eluthalai Nagaram".

S ramakrishnan used to write a series for Ananda Vikatan, which i used to read every week without fail. Eventually i bought the collection when Ananda Vikatan published it. I honestly believe that if he had written all his books in English, he would have received all possible awards. Booker, name it.

I have been reading "Yamam" last few months(Tagore Literary award winner in India). Havent finished the book yet. Been quite busy at work. But i love the book as of now. Yamam keeps traversing between different timelines and is quite intense for a novel. His books are not for those people who want to finish it in one flight trip. these are not fast paced page turners. These are books that flow like a river. You have to read them patiently and understand them to like them. That is what makes his writing so special to me. My mom is a huge fan of Ramakrishnan. When i was in school, Ramakrishnan was writing "Thunai eluthu" in Vikatan. Then I left India and came to Singapore where i didnt have a chance to read thunai eluthu. So my mom used to save up all the ananda vikatan issues for me to read during my summer vacation which i spent in India. I must be thankful that i had almost 3 months of summer vacation during university days. Such an amazing writer, who not many people know of.

I dont think he is writing anything in Ananda Vikatan now, but he has been writing this series called "Enathu India" in Junior Vikatan. I have been reading it on and off. I will surely buy the compilation book once it is released. Enathu India, translates to 'My india', is not about the future of India or the present economic crisis or power crisis or communal crisi..(etc etc etc..we have lotta problems in india right now) This book is a compilation of India's forgotten past. The good, the bad and the ugly of India. It just doesnt talk about the glorious past and the story of kohinoor diamonds. It also talks about the brutality of sati and devadasis and talks about the history of ice cubes in India. (yup, you read it right. There is an entire chapter on Ice cube trade in india. Some ice cube salesman in the US got filthy rich by exporting ice cubes to India by ship)

I have always liked this kind of history books, irrespective of countries. I am always looking for books like this. another very interesting book on Indian history is "Vanthargal Vendrargal" by Madhan. This is another gem, which many people dont know of. The entire book is about the advent of mughals up until the time when the british crown officially took over the British East India company.

This is another fascinating read. Written like a novel with classic Madhan style humor. Worth a read. In my opinion this book should have been published and marketed as a fictional paperback with a historic background. Vikatan blew it by publishing an A4 book which is quite frankly difficult to read with one hand. I read this book when i was in 11th standard. This history of India is much more intriguing than the historical freedom struggle, in my opinion. School history books predominantly focus on freedom struggle..the likes of non-violence movement and non-cooperation movement, etc etc. So one must look at other avenues to learn this kind of forgotton history. I was in India on company business two years ago. Me and my singaporean colleagues travelled around in North India and visited so many new places and historical sites and i kept remembering this book everywhere we went.

Not so surprisingly, many tamilians dont read tamil books. Some say, they dont enjoy it. Some say, they cant recgonise tamil letters (what a shame right?). They have no idea what they are missing. And this comes from someone who has read a mere handful of books. I havent even scratched the surface yet.

I have read sujatha's novels and love sujatha's writing, which is still relevant. I read a sci-fi story that Sujata wrote in 1979 that talks about time travel and alternate reality. Mind blowing stuff. And Sujatha's "kolaiyuthir kalam" is easily one of the best thriller novels i have read (except for the cheesy title, everything else is good in the book). Un-put-downable. Same goes for all Ganesh-Vasanth stories, based on Sherlock-Watson theme, with a bit more funny version of Watson.

These days i have also been reading Sujatha's "401 Kadhal kavithaigal" (not the kind of book you think) This book is Sujatha's explanation of Tamil poems in Kurunthogai. And i must admit, i am not liking this book very much. Too much for my standard. Tough to understand the poems AND sujatha's explanation. This is how it basically works. I read the poem..dont understand a word. Read Sujatha's explanation..understand barely. Then ask myself, "okay, what does that have to do with anything?" So i dont recommend this book unless you are an "advanced" reader, so to speak.

Same goes for the Purananooru book by Sujatha. Too much for my standard. But i will return to these two books some day. Kurunthogai and Purananooru are the books which are constantly referred to when scholars talk about tamil history. So that is basically the reason why i want to read these two books. Reading themselves without explanations is like reading Urdu. Old tamil is just whole different language. While i dont have difficulty understanding contemporary Tamil poems, this is whole new level of difficulty.

In conclusion there is still so much left to explore in Tamil. One of my uncles is a retired Tamil professor in Karaikudi, who has been the one suggesting me good tamil books. And he has a mini library at home. I will surely catch up with him this time i go to India. And what is taking Amazon so long to support other languages in Kindle?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Steve jobs

Just completed the book on Steve jobs by Walter Issacson. Felt very emotional after reading the book and envy the life that Steve managed to live. He wasn't necessarily as smart as Einstein. He didn't have the product knowledge, which bill gates did. Bill has always been an excellent programmer. Steve knew nothing about programming. (One reason why bill believed he was better than Steve jobs.)

It is a very moving, touching book. I started off the book by saying that i knew everything that happened in his life. We knew he was ousted from apple; we knew of the miraculous comeback to apple; we knew about the gem he unearthed called pixar, and we all knew about the iPod, iPhone, iPad and a myriad of idevices, which ended up deciding what we do with our life and which ended up changing our life.

But reading the book is a whole new experience even if you knew all the above. It talks so much about how he worked and what he believed and what went through his mind. It explains his thought process...That is the only reason i read biographies. It explains a great man's thought process. And the hope that i might improve mine. Even one in hundredth of that skill will make me a better person. And this book is no exception.

Moving on the book itself, i found it un-put-downable. I was awake until 6am reading the book. Author talks about the early life and pixar days a lot, which was fine with me. But i expected similar depth for the later life too with the iPad and iPhone. But i find the later part is missing the depth. Probably author decided to cut them down given the much publicized product launches and the numerous stories. The book is like a novel. It talks about what happened in Steve's life in chronological order. But the author is clever enough to build the expectation a bit by saying how much every incident will impact the future. One other thing i liked about the book is, the author has managed to bust all myths about Steve. If there were actually any rumor he confronts Steve directly. He confronts all sorts of people will all these interesting questions, including people like Bill gates.

One other revelation in the book is that bill gates is not such a bad man after all. And he has an amazing sense of humour. I must add one instance in the book.

It is the all things D event. Jobs and Gates are supposed to be on stage at the same time, fielding questions. This was during the peak of the Mac V PC war. (After iPhone success and all that) The talk was scheduled for evening. Steve had given a presentation few hours, before the big Jobs-Gates talk, and while fielding questions, someone highlighted that iTunes was the most downloaded software for windows PC. Steve gives his trademark smirk and says, "of course. iTunes is like giving a glass of cold water to someone in hell" The whole auditorium erupts in laughter. But the organisers were not. They were worried that Bill might react to this comment badly during the meeting later where he has to come face to face with Steve. Anyways, it is evening and the meeting is about to begin. Bill Gates is aware of Steve's comment earlier in the day. But he simply walks to the stadium shakes hand with the organisers. Steve is already on stage, waiting for the presentation to begin. Bill comes close to Steve, closes the mic with his hand and asks him, "So i am the representative from hell, huh?" Steve is taken back a bit at that comment. But manages to laugh a bit. Bill laughs and the incident is forgotten. Steve remembers this incident in one of his interviews with the author.

There was another incident. This is when Steve is extremely sick and is in his third medical leave. This time everyone is aware that he wont make it back to apple campus. This is when Steve's pictures got released in the internet, where he looks terribly thin and broken. Bill sees this photo and calls Steve and asks to meet him. Steve agrees, but then cancels the event in the last minute. Bill doesn't give up. He goes to Steve's house and walks over to the backyard and sees his daughter playing. He quietly asks her if her father is awake. And when the daughter says yes, co-incidentally Steve walks out to the garden and is surprised to see bill. They end up spending the whole day talking about their past, and about Microsoft and apple and about their families. Steve later recalls this incident in the book and speaks highly of Bill and his charity. I recently learnt that bill gates gave away half of his wealth and saved 6 million lives so far. 6 million. New found respect for Bill Gates.

One thing that struck me was how difficult it is for a honest person with honest taste to survive in the world. How much purity and openness are under valued. Though his Mac failed, i am glad iPhone got its due respect. "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" says Steve in the book. How true right? Though it is a cliche, to be simple is not simple at all. It is a conscious choice in life and precisely why it is difficult. If you read the book, you would be amazed at the detail in every product that apple made (i still wont convert to an iphone though) and how much Steve cared about his products, even when his company was in a dis-array. Only a maniac would not compromise in that situation.  Maybe that is why Steve was so successful. He was such a maniac, when it came to his products. The brilliant apple ad says, "Only people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do" And Steve was certainly in that group of misfits.

They are going to make a movie out of Steve's life. I think the movie should start when Steve was ousted from Apple and it should show the less-talked about, but the most wonderful time in his life, when he starts pixar and next and how he gets accustomed to normal life. The movie should focus on this part of life and should end with him becoming the iCEO of apple and connect the dots in his past. I think that part of his life is truly worthy of a movie. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The city dark

I love trailers. I think i love trailers more than movies. That would be my ideal career option. Give me a movie. Let me watch the movie three times and i will give you the best possible trailer you can have.

So as you can imagine, apple trailers webpage, is one of the top 10 webpages i frequent. On my chrome, that is usually third or second most visited webpage, after facebook and gmail and possibly engadget.

I saw this beautiful trailer few days back. And immediately understood the movie and felt it is worthwhile to share it. I have attached the youtube video below, since i am yet to figure out how to embed quicktime videos. Apple runs a very tight ship.

I have not seen the movie yet. I havent read any reviews yet. But i must agree with what is said in this trailer. Some of the most beautiful moments in life are when you realize your life is immaterial. That is what always strikes me, every time i am confronted with nature. The 2 or 3% return on your investment or the bonus that you are missing out on or the promotion which you didnt get are all so immaterial. Every single time, i stand before an ocean, i am confronted with the depth and the secrets it holds. The vast nothingness hits you in the face every time. Maybe it is just a pessimistic view on life. We do lead a rather immaterial life. Little murmer from nature can simply wipe us out. But all that matters to us are the simple silly things.

It is astonishing how much people forget their place in life. It is astonishing to me how useless we have been and how short sighted we have been and still are. This movie to some extent reminds me of that. This trailer reminds me that people have forgotten what their place is. Us not seeing the sky at night does have a subtle effect in our thinking.

Leaving all the psychology, sky watching is just an amazing experience. I had a friend in school. We both loved astronomy. He once told me, all he wanted in life was the hubble telescope and he would happily spend the rest of his life watching stars. That sounded a bit far-fetched for me. But i admired his passion. My friend could plot the constellations and he could always differentiate the stars from the planets. To me it looked the same. There is no way of knowing if he was actually right, but i admired his conviction and his enthusiasm rubbed off a little bit on me. That is how i got interested in star gazing.

I rarely see stars in singapore. This place is easily one of the most-lit places in the world. I did an internship in an engineering company and was incharge of circuitry for an oil plant. As part of the job, i was asked to read through so many industry regulations. One thing that struck me is the lumen requirement in singapore standards. The govt here actually specifies how well-lit a place should be. There are minimum standards. A place has to have so much lumens of light. There are so many rules on avoiding and overcoming shadows and so many rules on the type and colour of lights to be used in public places. It is just overwhelming. Dont get me wrong here. These rules exist in every country. But singapore govt rules sounded a bit over the top. But in their defense, they are trying to be more secure and create a safe country.

My point is, i rarely see stars in singapore. That is one of the things i miss here in singapore. It is not just the inability to see due to light pollution, but also the lack of time and the hardships of a urban life. It is probably not worthwhile lamenting about this now. We cannot give up the busy lifestyle that we lead. We cannot just switch off the lights during nights. In places like india, entire country would be robbed if we live in darkness.

But one consolation is, there are still few places in the world, where you can still be lost in nature. There are few places in the world, which are still offline, so to speak. Laos is one of them. One reason why i love the country and why i keep going back there, even after facing life threatening problems.

My Laos experience was amazing. That is for some other time.