[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]


Monday, May 30th, 2005

In this internet era, a good habit or not, I am yet to figure out, I don’t spend time online during the weekends. I know countries get erased but then I have grown to like staying away from computers at least two days a week.

This week was truly a long weekend with lots of activities and am glad we stayed home to do all that. Lots of drama in the world of basketball. A few seconds ago, Phoenix came back from being 3 down to keep the series alive. A splendid effort, especially the fourth quarter and the final minute. Yesterday, my alma mater team, detroit pistons played a pathetic game to lose two in a row only to expose their vulnerability. I have begun to doubt them; Reminds me of Indian cricket team.

Lots of physical activities around the house from cleaning up the garage to fixing up some of dying indoor plants. In that process I learnt about Miracle Gro and how it is supposed to do wonders to our indoor plants. Man, this country is indeed great. Think of anything, there is a solution, a tool, an expert and a local shop to deal with it. As I was wondering what I should do if I really find a problem with no solution out there, I realized that I should invent the solution, manufacture it, market it myself and become a millionare overnight after reading this intriguing article from the current issue of business20. [need subscription or use this newstand buyer access code B2JUN9420 and login as a new stand buyer with your email id and this code]

I swiftly read two books for free spending few hours this afternoon at our next door Borders store. I could speed-read “Blog : Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World” in an hour or so since most of what is being said was what I already knew. A few tit bits were worth it, otherwise, its NOT a book for someone who have read a blog before least not for someone already bloggin!. The other little book ‘The Present’ from the famous ‘Who moved my Cheese’ crew was a nice read though the essence of the book was worth 1/2 a page.

Live in the present. Now. Focus on what is happening now.
Learn from the past and let it go. Make the present more effective with lessons from the past.
Plan for the future. Act now so you can get what you want in future.
Live with a purpose which will connect your past to present to future.

The book runs less than 100 pages, I would not recommend buying it (unless you cant remember those four things) but an hour, a coffee, a quite bookstore, and a sunday afternoon would do it for anyone.

In between all this, I was able to wrap up my app for Rutgers with an essay on an ethical dilemma faced in life. I thoroughly enjoy this process of applying to business schools that I would honestly recommend any curious one to give it a honest shot, even if you are not really planning to do anything with it. It puts you into a retrospective mode to inspect your own life and goals that you wouldn’t, I certainly wouldn’t, do otherwise.

Came across Jikku Blog by Ammani in UK. Crisp but provoking. I wish I could write so succinctly without making my blogs as big as this one is!

A reason to start over new…

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

The world is too big for us. Too much is going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will, you get behind in the race, in spite of yourself. It’s an incessant strain to keep pace…and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen so rapidly you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature cannot endure much more!

true. right? The stunning truth is that this was written in the editorial ‘The Atlantic Journal’ in the June of 1833! A mere hundred and seventy two years ago! Google it yourself. Looks like whoever wrote that editorial a century and a half ago had unknowingly discovered the eternal truth about life. So, come on, lets not insert our heads in the sand and gripe. Hope, optimism and perseverence are the way to go. We can find million reasons to not to do something, but there is only one life to do anything.
[Title inspired by Hoobastank]

Choose to be

Friday, May 20th, 2005

“In the end, we are all the sum total of our actions. Character cannot be counterfeited, nor can it be put on and cast off as if it were a garment to meet the whim of the moment. Like the markings on wood which are ingrained in the very heart of the tree, character requires time and nurture for growth and development.

…day by day, we write our own destiny; for inexorably we become what we do. This, I believe, is the supreme logic and law of life. “ – Madame Chiang Kai-Shek

In retrospect, the above statement isn’t totally new. But the statement, “Character requires time and nurture for growth and development” means so much in so little words.

Think about it from another dimension.

Eat juicing oily food and lays chips, ice creams, drink gallons of caffenie & alchohol, gulp kilos of butter sweets every day; the end result is inevitable. Junk In; We will make a junk out of ourselves. Choose to eat carefully, we will make a healthy human out of ourselves.

The world is full of junk today. We breath, see, hear, talk, feel and fully live in more junk than ever before. It has come to a point where we are completely lost that it is virtually impossible to identify what is not a junk. If parents are in the state of plight, imagine children and their future. Without writing a story out of it : ( which a million others have already! ) :

Choose what you see, read and most importantly, how you understand and react to what you see & read.
Choose very carefully what you say & hear. Even before the rest of world listens to us, our subconscious is. Like it or not, we are giving hints to our subconscious mind about our future by our words and actions.
Choose how you spend your time and how you feel about those actions. Fly a kite, Take a swim in a lake, Walk up a hill, Talk about colors to a blind child, Write a peom and read it to none, Escape from the mechanics of the modern world….Laugh as much as you can and love yourself piously.

Just being yourself, being happy and being a human intself is an accompolishment. Anything else we might do beyond that is more needed for the rest of the world than ourselves.

[ – My interpretation of the inspirations I got from the audio-version of the book : “Seeds of Greatness” by Denis Waitley – which I highly recommend to everyone (Most libraries in US will have a audio copy). ]

Higher education in India

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Dr.Kulandaiswamy, writes a blatantly open op-ed in yesterday’s Hindu about the current state of affairs in India’s higher education system, specifically private colleges and the university affiliate system.

“…because universities alone have a continuous flow of young and fresh minds and an atmosphere highly conducive to talent and creative effort. “

Unfortunately, India’s colleges and universities are a far cry from this. The government, general public and the younger student community have the least awareness and understanding of how and why universities play a major role in ‘creation’ and ‘innovation’ aspects of a society. Isn’t that what our Indus valley ancestors envisioned? “The world’s first university was established in Takshila in 700 BC. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.” Yet, as an unexpected cosequence of a copy-cat modernization, the value of higher education is lost in a few thousand years of transformations. Prof.Kandaswamy rightly points out that India’s university system sorely lacks the research backing, both in terms of the funds, skilled teachers as well as the professional and industry support.

However, I do believe there is an inordinate amount of talent in college-going youth of India. Given the right amount tutorship, mentoring and guidance, wonderful things can be achieved. One of my ambitions in life is to cater to this. I also know a lot of people who feel the same. I think it is time to get into some kind action and just do it. I need to remember, ‘Now, is the best time for a baby step’.

Labour day weekend!

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

I know it not, but for us, this past weekend was. We still have tendon muscles all around my thighs and spinal cord sending painful singnals all over the body: We laboured to install ceramic tiles in our front porch. If you had told me last weekend that I would do this, I would have simply admired your sense of humour. Surprisingly, something in me ignited and here i am, talking about a do-it-yourself ceramic tile installation!

Harini resents how life would have been if we had been in India. But here in America, there is only two options -: find a do-it-yourself manual for literally anything: from delivering a baby at home to building a nuclear bomb! or engage obnoxiously priced contractors, again, for everything : to blow your leaves in fall to move your ass from the living room to dining!

And thats how we ripped off a 70 Square feet carpet and installed about 70 ceramic tiles. Let me tell you a secret : Go and pay a cheap damn contractors and get it done! unless, you crave for the honour of being I-can-do-anything homeowner.

Kung Fu Hustle

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

I am sure every director wants to make spoof movies ( movies that make fun of other movies or other realities in life) but Steve Chow, the director (He also stars in the movie, guess as who? Of course, the underdog: Hero!) of Kung Fu – Hustle, brought it into a serious reality. I forced Harini and my two cousins to go and watch this movie this past saturday and consequently, they didn’t really enjoy the movie. They were less furious becoz it was a saturday night and I paid for the tickets!

[Remember Kamal in Thenali? Chow in KungFu Hustle More pictures here]

So what about the movie? Is anyone talking about it? I think it must be watched, for sure. The question is it is a classical spoof movie and there is more to it than what captures the eye! The movie makes fun of literally a thousands of things and you really have to be a movie fan to understand every sequence and every shot, but its worth it. In between the funny sequences the director has skillfully attached a lot of emotions, from love to astonishment. I think we should get a DVD, and better enjoy it patiently. I felt there was too much distraction in the movie. The worst distraction and incidently, the best part of the movie, is the serious and hongkong-fame kung-fu sequences themselves combined with some literally bone-breaking, video-game style stunt tricks. I was flabbergasted by the scene when the ‘The Beast’ holds a stun gun points a gun infront of his foreherad, fires it, then…proves what it means to be a zen of kungfu. Rajinikanth would surrender right royally infront of this scene! In all, the movie is in a comedy-action-graphics-emotions-insanity genre of its own. Another dimension of comedy is the funny names of characters in English. I wonder if it is also Chow’s creativity. A lesson to be read in the world of movie making.


Positive as my words may sound, there was literally 8 others in the theater! But, the truth must be stated : The movie is super-duper-bumper hit in Asia and is the best money maker ever in HongKong’s film History. I wouldn’t be surprised if it sneaks thru the back doors into the Academy Awards. Would you care to see it?

An evening with Kadri

Saturday, May 7th, 2005

If you had read my earlier posts, you might have guessed that we would have shown up at one of the Kadri’s live shows here in new york city. And we did and as expected, it was enthralling. We were there last evening, the second of the three nights in a row fusion Jazz-Carnatic Sax performance by Rudresh Mahanthapa and Kadri Gopalnath at the Asia Society on the east side of Manhattan. The troupe moves to Philedelphia on Sunday.

kadri live
[We were told that cameras were strictly prohibited. We managed to escape from this felnoy!]

The performance is composed jointly by Rudresh and Kadri and they named it Svajanam-Kinsmen, aptly so, since Rudresh is an American Indian with roots somewhere in South India. Apparently, Rudresh is an ardent fan of Kadri and that it was his life’s dream to do a stage-show with Kadri. That said, Rudresh is no less a star, his latest CD, ‘Mother Tongue’ is being voted as ‘One of the top 10 Jazz CDs of 2004″ and I promptly grabbed one from the AsiaStore!

The theme was not necessarily a fusion performance, Rudresh made it clear before the start of the show. Kadri & co performed what they were good at, Classical Carnatic while Rudresh & co engulfed us with some alto Jazz. There were occasions when they performed some pieces from the other side but the innovation in the show was to have every person on stage perform a 1-1 sequence with every other performer on stage.

A.Kanyakumari on Violin was cool and ruthless and she showed no signs of strain or uncomfort even in the fastest of the notes. Rez Abbasi, another new york-based musician of Indian sub-continent origin, was equally good in electric guitar getting applause from Kadri himself on occasions. Elliot Humberto on drums was very isolated at the back of the stage, but took no time to capture the attention of audience with his expressions and body language. When his turn came to do a solo run, he made sure that we remember his name for few more months at least. Carlo deRosa on Acoustic Bass didn’t get a chance to show his talents but it felt that he was key to the whole music ambience in the hall. Gautam Sriram accomponied Kadri with Mridangam and had a real challenge from Elliot.

The King of the stage, Kadri, was flamboyant. I should say an equivalent of a master blaster. I can vouch that he had no notes infront of him but knew exactly every second of the music by heart. His body language was agile and passionate. He was perhaps saying to everyone that he was playing it more for himself than for our pleasure. He stole the audience on his very first piece. It was rightly chosen fast-pace, head-nodding, foot-tapping, adernaline-pumping one. Everytime he was done with his portion of music, he removed his mouth piece and retired his hands on the floor behind him and was relaxing. But what drove me nuts was, after a few minutes, he would pick up his mouth piece, clean it up, assemble it back into his garlanded Sax, tune it and then….he plays…it was absolute timing for his next piece in the sequence. I really went nuts after watching him do this almost everytime. Perhaps, this is how great musicians are. I was happy I had a glimpse of him playing live for all I knew of him was only from the CDs I have heard. Rudresh carried himself thru very elegantly, playing his Jazz pieces with a natural style of a african-american Jazz player. He ensured that he stands next and clearly watches Kadri make love with his sax for he must have wanted to do this so badly. But both Kadri and Rudresh appreciated each other frequently. The respect they had on each other was pretty evident whenever audience applauded Kadri would point to Rudresh. At the end of the show, after introducing everyone, Rudresh introduced Kadri, ‘Let me introduce to you all, The Emporer of the Stage, Kadri Gopalnath…’, the literally packed audience were already standing up for an ovation.

I thought for a second if I should go down to say hello to Kadri, I very well know another chance so close wouldn’t come soon. He was already swamped with fans and perhaps, other local friends and families that I figured it will be too late. We were as such very happy that we could make it and on top of that, the music was truly a joy to be part of.

Do Listen to Kadri speak

Thursday, May 5th, 2005

If you are fan of music and fan of Kadri Gopalnath [ Check http://www.kadrigopalnath.com/], do listen to this wnyc interview of kadri before he goes live tonight in manhattan. A must listen. A genius he is, but really naive the way he speaks. Rudresh jumps in to help with American english and explain what kadri is saying in his south indianized adorable english.

So simple yet so techie

Thursday, May 5th, 2005

[Thank God! The Satellite zoom doesn’t get any closer! Otherwise, people don’t need any more reality shows, chose among the billions of homes across the globe and peep into anyone’s for the ulitmate reality show, all live!!!]

I would think the above picture is as close as a commercial satellite could get to our house. It is interesting because someone sitting in chennai could get a spectacular ariel view of where we live and where we drive day in and day out. Isn’t that fun? Especially, broadband in India is getting close to dirt cheap and someone as savvy as my mother-in-law could be using Google Maps and Google Satellite to tell us that we can take 202 North for 2.4 miles to the A&P Food Market for a $2.49/Gallon milk instead of taking a 3.8 mile ride in 22 West to ShopRite for a $2.79/Gallon. I won’t be suprised if something like that happens (so much faith in my mother-in-law :D). I better start writing a manuscript for a book titled “Google for Indian moms with Idle Bandwidth”.

Click this link. This will open up the real-time google satellite view of our home. You can click on the map with your mouse, hold you left-mouse button and drag it left and right ! You will soon know more than we do about the place we live! Try zooming in and Zooming out. Check out manhattan just about 30 miles east of where we live. Play with it but thank Google.

You might wonder how far one could stretch a map in consumer market? Check this out before making any judgements. Remember to play with the search/filter options for city, price range and dont forget to click on the color pushpins (or as some might think : balloons! )

[Inspired by India’s launch of its own map-making satellite today!]

Kadri Live

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

[Kadri with Rudresh innovating for this weekend’s show. Src:AsiaSociety.org]

I was about switch away from WNYC FM when I thought I heard a familiar saxaphone scream. I was right. It was Kadri Gopalnath. It was nice to hear something totally different from the war in iraq and drug lords of columbia. Kadri is in new york city for the next few days for a world premiere performance at the Asia society with Rudresh Mahanthappa, who I read is a relatively popular american indian jazz pro. Kadri is also scheduled to air live on WNYC’s SoundCheck tomorrow at 2 PM EST. You can hear him chat live with John Schaefer on the web.

This show is part of a broader 3 month long Indian heritage and vision series at the Asia Society, New York City, co-sponsored by the obscure India Brand Equity Foundation.