Monday, May 31, 2010

Feels like a Video Game


Producer: Walt Disney
Director: Mike Newell
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley and others
Rating: *** (3 of 5)

It's not uncommon for a movie to be turned into a video game. It is however, rare for a video game to be made into a movie. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time stands as out as one such movie. In fact, the movie itself feels a lot like a video game!

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Prince Dastan, a Prince of Persia sans royal blood. Dastan is a fierce warrior and when he is instructed by his elder brothers to raid a holy city, he does so, only to discover a dangerous secret. And so the story goes on.

The action scenes tend to take up nearly the entire duration of the movie. That's not a bad thing, but the story tends to be a little far-fetched at times. Yet, thanks to the regular humor provided by a shrewd Persian tax-evader, there are lighter moments.

First and foremost, the special effects are highly commendable. From showing an entire city covered in dust to a man being covered in fire and taken back in time: this movie stands on its SFX. The actors do very well, although Gyllenhaal's unending smiling tends to be inappropriate at times. Nonetheless, his body and stunts give you the feeling of playing that old video game, where the Prince could jump off a hundred stories and land gently enough not to wake up the palace guards!

The costumes were well-suited for the movie as were the props. The story itself is somewhat engaging, although it could have been better. The only problem I found was that the story was confusing at times, tempting the viewer to just watch and not think too much.

All in all, PoP is a good movie to view if you like fast-paced action and is a must-see if you've played the video game. (OTFS)

Israel must apologize

Normally, I support Israel. It is a country that has very legitimate reasons to exist: a free country of free Jews, who will never have to suffer again. A country where democracy is built into the system and where science and technology allow citizens to live a high quality of life.

However, Israel's cold-blooded murder of 10 unarmed aid workers changes the game entirely. True, the so-called Freedom Flotilla illegally entered Israeli waters, yet the Israeli authorities could have taken several steps apart from the one they took. For example, it could have arrested the aid workers and had them deported; they could have blocked the boat from entering altogether. But to murder absolutely unarmed civilians like that is condemnable and will create a deep wedge between Israel and whatever few friendly neighbours it has.

Already, Turnkey has recalled its ambassador and has threatened to send more ships escorted by the Turkish Navy, setting the stage for a dangerous situation in the Mediterranean. This could have bee avoided has the Israelis shown restraint.

Israel will face a lot of cold shouldering Internationally but that won't harm it much given the support it is sure to receive from the US. Yet, for how long can Israel anatgonise the world and then hide behind the Americans is left to be seen.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Prelude to a Big Fight

The civic elections held in various parts of West Bengal today could just be an indicator as to how next year's crucial Assembly elections play out. Going by the results of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the groundswell of support in WB is shifting towards the Trinamool Congress for the first time in decades.

The deteriorating law and order situation in the state could see most of the civic wards going to the TMC. However, the key contest still remains the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, which the Left took away from the TMC in 2005 in a stunning victory. A lot of time and effort has gone in from both sides for the KMC, with the TMC breaking away from the Congress over it.

However, realistically speaking, less than a fifth of assembly seats went for polls today (mathematically speaking) and the final result may be of some use only if Left bastions are lost.

Overall, the TMC has it all going. With a surprise victory in last year's LS Polls and a host of new Railways schemes for the state, the party deserves to feel confident. And yet, the TMC always has a way of pulling defeat from the mouth of victory. The Left is erudite in politics and will put up a great fight. It has been taking some steps to win back some of its supporters, but the frequent Maoist attacks make it difficult.

At the end, WB is definitely going to be politically volatile until next year's Assembly Elections. Can didi pull off a historic victory, or will the Left "empire" survive?

To be One Nation

One of the key demands of the BJP is to introduce a Uniform Civil Code throughout the nation. Currently, civil codes are different for different religions in India, making the whole system quite a bit of a mess, to put it kindly.

Old Idea
Contrary to what opponents say, the desire for a Uniform Civil Code is not new. In fact, it is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, under the Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV, Article 44). Thus, the founders of this great nation too saw the need to eliminate religion and caste from social life by introducing such a code.

Opponents of the idea call the code a 'Hindu Civil Code,' primarily because it would give Muslim women (in fact all women) the right to inheritance and limit the number of wives that a man can have to one. However, the opposition provides no reasons as to why these would be bad things! For example, it should be welcomed by one and all that women would have the right to inherit their family's assets as it would bring them at par with their male counterparts, thus promoting gender equality. Again, a man having one wife only is the right thing for India, where men (of any religion) are mostly poor and cannot support a large family with up to four wives. The Koranic provision that a man can have multiple wives only if he can support them and their children is often disregarded by both the unknowing masses and the supposedly knowledgeable imams.

The real truth is that the Uniform Civil Code is opposed to because it would bring an end to communal politics, where winning an election would not be a game of simply calling the BJP a 'communal party.' A truly secular idea is being opposed by pseudo-secularists, ignoring the fact that some of the most secular persons ever born to this Nation supported it when the Constitution was being framed.

A Uniform Civil Code is necessary to create a truly secular society, where laws are same for all and nobody can be denied his or her rights on the basis of so-called tradition. I wait for such a day when society would see the merits of leaving religious divides behind and joining hands to create a truly democratic nation. Till then, the BJP must continue with this core demand, for the Nation comes first, then the party, then the people.

(This is the first of a three-part series)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Find the logic in this ad

This ad for Hide n Seek Bourbon is ludicrous. It says absolutely nothing about the product apart from announcing its existence. All we have is Hritik Roshan breaking out into a sudden dance to s0me Chinese tune. The ad is so abrupt that it left me speechless at first.

Unless there are some follow-up ads, this one is definitely not for the thinking consumer.

Found it at last!

I've been searching for it for years but I finally found in in the most obvious place: the Internet. Thank's to an ad for Ralph's Animorphs Forum (RAF) on Facebook, I've finally managed to download the entire Animorphs series on PDF.

And the crème de la crème is definitely the last and final edition: #54 The Beginning. I haven't read it yet, except for the last page. But I can't wait.

OK, so Animorphs is not 19-year-old reading material. But, who cares! I just love the series, the very idea of the books entices me.

So, during this very boring summer, I've found something to do!

PS: This being the most severe summer in decades, nobody is venturing outside until at least 5:00 PM unless it's unavoidable. My heart cries out to those in Haryana, Rajasthan and Maharashtra who are facing 48C+ temperatures. It's about 44C in Hyderabad, marginally cooler :)

New Series: The Age of Reason

Opinions 24x7 presents The Age of Reason, a new series part of the OTFS Editorial label, that will critically examine the three chief political proposals of the BJP, viz.:
  1. Construction of a temple on the Ramjanmabhoomi site in Ayodhya which witnessed the Babri Masjid Demolition;
  2. Revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India; and
  3. Introduction of a Uniform Civil Code in India.
In my opinion, these three proposals are necessary for the establishment of a true secular society and a strong nation. In my deliberations in further articles, I shall explain why. As always, constructive criticism is welcome.

(All articles are filed under the OTFS Editorial label)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

No Caste Census

There has been a lot of political wrangling of late over the need to include caste as a section in the ongoing Census-2011/NPR. In my opinion, it is highly condemnable to do so.

First, consider the practical problem. Caste is not a simple thing: there are thousands of sub-castes, many of which differ only slightly in spelling and not in pronunciation. In some states, some castes are backward while the same in other states are notified as forward castes. For an ordinary person to be able to note down caste names properly at all times is virtually impossible, and any mistake can lead to major political issues (recall the Mala vs. Madiga issue in AP). In fact, this very problem led to the British abandoning the inclusion of caste in the census of British India after the 1931 census.

Now, lets dissect the lies. Politicians say that having data on caste (and this always means OBC data, since SC/ST data is sufficiently available) will help "fine-tuning" schemes like the reservation system. Well, let me ask you: if it is found that only 20% of India actually falls under the OBC category and they get the current 27% reservation, would that reservation be lowered? I'm willing to bet everything I own that it would not, instead more castes would be added or some stupid new doctrine created to justify it ("we have to take into account the social backwardness as well as the total number" something of that sort). and if it turns out to be more than 27%, well, God help us, anything could happen, from a status quo to shattering the 50% ceiling by a Constitutional Amendment.

So, in case of a caste census, politicians would be able to declare either that they have maintained a higher-than-deserved reservation for OBCs or triumphantly increase the percentage or (as is always the case in Tamil Nadu) add hundreds of more castes to the backward list. It's heads-I-win-tails-you-lose.

So, what are the advantages? Well, the Government will have data on caste and political parties can get it very easily. It's good for them, not for us. It would open up a Pandora's box and seeing caste being magnified in India. Not taking a caste census is NOT ignoring caste, it's simply trying to make it less relevant, what our Founding Fathers wanted to achieve in the first place. All parties, including the BJP and section of the Congress, that support a caste census should ask their own conscience as to why they are systematically unraveling the idea of India.

The Final Solution

The recent flash strike called by Air India unions, which caused a great deal of inconvenience to passengers and great loss to the already indebted company, should serve as an eye-opener to the powers that may be that a Government-owned airliner is useless.

Considering the fact that Air India is already in great need of a taxpayer bailout and a restructuring is currently underway, the least the management could expect from its employees is cooperation in times of crisis. Furthermore, there must be a sense of humanity about this, since the incident that led to all this involved a Kingfisher Engineer and the bodies of the Mangalore Crash victims.

The truth is that the employees had the guts to go on such a strike, later deemed illegal by the Delhi High Court, was because they have a guaranteed salary every month and a secure job no matter what they do. This is also the reason why Air India's service and quality continues to be so poor. In fact, most people take AI because they couldn't get anything else! And while the management tries its best to bring back a sense of order, the fact that employees cannot be sacked for poor work will always be an albatross around its neck.

While the Government did fire some employees today, it's only a matter of time before something like this happens again and, if an election happens to be round the corner, be sure that they'll get their jobs back soon enough. So, the only long-term solution seems to be privatization.

Why does the Government of India need to own an airline? So that bureaucrats and Ministers and even MPs and MLAs can get free rides? Oh, how nice! In reality, there is no need for Air India to be state-owned. A special Air Force plane to ferry the PM and the President on official visits is quite enough. Heed this warning: this kind of a crisis in AI will come again, sooner than later. Unless it is privatized quickly, it will remain a sick, loss-making, humiliated enterprise.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Warning: Shopping Ahead

Two girls, good friends of mine. "Please come with us for buying new clothes!" I check my watch. Hmm... one hour to go for an IPL match at Abhi’s place. No problem. Why disappoint the ladies?

Saheli Emporium... fancy name. Fear grips me. Why are there no men? But... ah, there’s one! It’s safe to go in then.

Inside. Sexy posters of women. Nice! Girls smile at me. “Not bored, are you?” Of course not, girls...

“Bhaiya, shaadi mein pehne ke liye kuch dikhao.” “Abhi dekhiye, madam.”

He pulls out something. Beautiful. “Take it, it looks good.” They laugh at my suggestion. Guy pulls out more things... and more. Good heavens!

“You take this one, it looks nice, doesn’t it?” I tried. “No, no, she also has one like that. How can both of us have the same kind of lehenga?” “Uhh... don’t wear it on the same day?” Angry looks. I retreat. Head burns at mad logic.

“Accha, theek hai bhaiya, woh pehle wala zara dikhana.” Oh! So now that she’s seen the entire place, she has the hots for the first one? “Yeh bahut posh aur gaudy lag raha hai kya?” WTF! What does that mean? Think. Men magazine... looking fat, looking old, big nose, big toes... nothing about posh and gaudy clothes!

I take a chance. “Nahi, accha hai, le lo.”Arre, wait yaar, you’re not bored are you?” Dejected face from girls. Emotional blackmail. “Oh no, take your time.”

“Theek hai bhaiya, woh blue wala hi de dena.” “Madam, south ke silk wale suit zaroor dekhna.” I look up. Southern silk? Betrayal from the same species! Anger... Hell hath no wrath as a woman’s friend scorned!

“Madam, yeh latest fashion hai. Sab pehen rahe hai.” Oh really? Tu kyun nahi pehen raha, Mr. Fashion? “Theek hai, woh green wala de dena” Shock! Decision in under two minutes! Third umpire’s magic...

“Ab bas measurements dene hai. No problem na?” Oh no, of course not... smile.

Tailoring section. Measuring tape out. I take a seat and watch.

“Bhaiya, yeh aapne kya likha?! Itna zyaada nahi hai, thoda kam karo!” “Arre bhaiya, aapko itna bhi nahi aata hai? Phir se lo!” I stare in wonder. Some other lady comes to tailor. “Bhaiya, yeh itna chhota kyun banaya?!” I think I can answer that, lady...

Over at last! Bills paid. Phone call... “Abhi! Yaar, match shuru hua kya?” “Mumabi jeet gayi, saale. Kahan tha?”

I look at girls. They pluck a kiss on my cheeks. Very close to lips... “Thanks so much, you’re our best friend!”

I smile. “Bas shopping, Abhi...”

(An OTFS Original)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Don't Mess with the Mess

The mess is the de facto socializing centre in the campus: it's where everybody just has to meet each other: whether it's the UG, PG or Ph.D people, or even the Research Scholars, the mess is the ultimate meeting place.

The food however, is not the ultimate thing in the mess. Though one of the best in IIT Roorkee, the Malviya Bhawan Mess has a lot to do. Undoubtedly, breakfast is the best meal of the day, with many people waking up just for that (and sleeping once done!)

Lunch and dinner can go from good to passable to canteen. Some of the worst ever includes plain dal with unknown vegetable and kadhi (in my opinion). But more than the food, the problem is the monotonous nature of the menu. After all, the menu is so unchanging that by the end of a year, I can guess the next meal.

The post of the Mess Secy is quite powerful, but not enough to initiate radical changes. We get a "special" dinner every Friday night (it was Thursday for a few weeks), which is called so because it includes paneer, naan and some sweet thing (mostly ice-cream or rasmalai). Strangely, girls and boys sit on separate tables even here!

Unfortunately, IITR SRE Campus will be splitting its mess system into two: Malviya Bhawan Mess will be shifted to the new, double-storeyed mess, while the old one will be made the Indira Bhawan Mess. It seems an unnecessary act, but then again, the current mess tends to get overcrowded at peak hours and is difficult to manage. New changes are coming up but I do hope that quality does not take a beating in the process.

After all, nobody wants another RJB mess!

Sweet new Limca Ad

Yet another nice ad from Limca. Like all the others, the music is the USP, although the storyline in this one is a little weak. Overall, the ad is refreshing and light-hearted, much like the product itself!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Humble Beginnings

My first few days at IIT Roorkee, Saharanpur Campus is speckled with memories of meeting new people. It all began with a meeting with the Resident Warden (PP). My allotted roomie never showed up, so I fixed it up with Shashank and we shared room S 11.

A good roomie is very important. Unfortunately, getting a good roomie is all a matter of luck. And I was lucky. But the roomie isn't everything: the neighbours are there too. I was lucky again to have Sreedhar and Narayanan, but the others weren't. S-Block was infamous for the smokers and the ground floor was virtually split into the smoking and non-smoking sections.

In the mess, the seniors initially avoided us. But, once our parents left, the cruel joke called 'intro' began. It was a pretty bad experience and I would never subject my juniors to that.

As days passed on, we discovered the ways of life here. Eating with a fork was a new experience for all of us, but we soon got used to it. Classes are not cumbersome at all and academics are very light, except during exams. In my first week, I was thrown out of the library for taking my bag in!

Life went on as a mix of college, domestic issues (read, the dhobi). And then came the Talent Night...

Time for a German Takeover

So, after much political wrangling and threats, the Germans have shown once again that they will save the Euro no matter what. And in this case, the price was yet another bailout. Increasingly, Germans seem to be looked upon to bail out anybody and everybody: from banks to irresponsible Governments. You could even say that one reason the Greeks joined the Eurozone was to get a pie in the German bailout!

However, given the fact that in the future, Germany will again and again be called upon for money, it seems only fair that the Germans should get a larger say in the monetary policy of the Eurozone. For one, Germans should be able to force member nations to follow the kind of fiscal discipline that it itself has had to.

Indeed, it is time for a German takeover. Countries are joining the Eurozone hoping that their fiscal woes will end with it: well, then they must pay a price. And that price must be accepting stricter controls from the best of the Euro nations: Germany. Call it an interference in internal affairs if you may, but the truth is that without a federal government, the Euro project could very well turn into a disaster. And as the country footing most of the bill, Germany deserves to call the shots.

It is quite a surprise that Angela Merkel managed to convince her alliance partners as well as her own to accept the bailout package. But she won't be able to do it forever and unless other Euro nations accept strong measures, she may just have to make some deadly decisions.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Looking Back

Starting this week, Opinions 24x7 will present a comprehensive assessment of the events of the last year. From the first days in the mess, to the first exams, to Tarang and Cognizance and finally the issue of the branch change, the End-Year Review will set the stage for evaluation and planning so crucial for the next few years.

The End-Year Review
All this and next month

Strange Trip back Home

This time, going back home was quite an experience. I found a wasp on my hand in the morning, which is unusual even in the wasp-ridden place that is IITR SRE Campus.

In the train, the corrupt TT refused to accept our College IDs! The bloody ass accepted it for tw other people but, seeing three of us together, demanded Rs. 2000 as bribe. Luckily, one of us has a passport and he accepted the entire ticket because of that.

Then, there was a long wait at NDLS for the girls. Once they arrived, we took a cab to IGI. The city was so hot and dusty that I just kept sweating all the time. At the security check, the guy felt that my belt was a bomb and had to check. Thanks to the inglorious cyclone Laila, my flight was delayed by two hours, which I spent reading Sons of Fortune (thanks, Akshit).

At the flight gate, the guy checked my ticket and suddenly ran away with it. I suspected he might be telling the CISF that some terrorist was here (my imagination works too much, I know). In the flight, I discovered the greatest name possible for an in-flight magazine: Hello 6E!! In case you're slow, read it as 'si(e)xy.' You can guess the cover picture! The airhostess strangely knew my name ("Mr. Sen, would you like some refreshments?") I must admit, that was very, very turning on.... :)

Once the flight landed, it took me half an hour to find my baggage. The weather was great though, and the ride at home with my father was without event. Finally, at home, I partook in rajma, bhindi and shrikhand... a perfect way to begin two months at home!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sweet Revenge

I had not passed with my sessionals: I had just about crossed 30 out of 60. I was scared. I devoured Boylested and went through JB Gupta as well as I could. Once I got the paper, I saw a huge spiderweb with a generous dose of diodes and transistors and a question that made no sense. I could've written that paper without studying a thing and I would've gotten the same mark.

I got 24/80 or 30%, my lowest ever. With 43 as the final total, I got a C+ after much struggle and pain. That was electronics.

Fast forward to the next semester. It's C++, another treat (!!) from the same department. But this time, it's different. I can actually solve the questions! I can understand what's going on! I don't need the tut solutions! And, most importantly, the teacher is friendly! Oh yes, the stage was set for a grand act of revenge, from a C+ and lots of pain to a much higher grade without breaking a sweat.

Then came the end-term. A question from last sem's paper, another from a tut... it paid off to study for this exam! And I score 70% without a sweat. And the final grade will most definitely be an A.

That's right, I won at the end. I might have been beaten and bruised in EC-102, but I won in EC-101A. And I won with a fury... and revenge is mine at last...

A Long Journey Ends

Finally, after seeing our last set of papers today, I can happily declare that my first year at IITR has ended on an excellent note. As usual, my friends drew up some advanced estimates of my CG.

For this sem, my SG (not including NSS and PR) stands at 9.667, assuming an A in EC-101A and EE-101 as well as an A+ in HS-102 (though an A would not make any difference either). Okay, so I know it's very high. Then, I've got 8.333 last time thus averaging out to exactly 9.000. At that, I've still got no chance for the BCs except CHH. Oh God, I so wish I could revoke my BC Application!

So now, about today's papers. It started with EC-101A in the computer centre. I am happy to say that I have had my revenge with the EC Dept for their atrocities in Electronics. I can expect an A. Although the profs there came with a major attitude problem (one of them threatened to give me a zero in a question for asking a doubt!) I managed to come out rather happy.

Then, after a very long yet enjoyable wait, came EE-101. The EE Dept is rather like a maze and after we finally found the Committee Room, we discovered our dear old prof sitting there in a foul mood as usual. Anyway, despite having to make him come to Roorkee in this heat (his words, although he traveled in an AC Car and went straight to an AC Room while we had neither) he showed us the papers. As expected, the correction was very soft, with the paper itself being very easy. Sure, the examiners tried to provide every excuse as to why they cut marks but at 88%, I didn't care to even ask...

So now, with the end of first year in toto, all I need to do is pack (big job!!) and bare the food a little longer and I'm home for a solid two months. After that, fun again... hopefully without a branch change!

Monday, May 17, 2010

4 A+'s, possibly a fifth? OMG!

Big day at Roorkee today: loads of surprises, some expected, some not (yes, in IIT you have the concept of expected surprises a la "announced surprise quiz"!!)

Alright, it all started with a visit to the HSS Department. After a lull of two years, the crazy teacher finally showed the papers to the highly disagreeable DPT Batch. With a grand total of 78.5, I am assured of an A if not an A+. Then came the BT Department: I always knew I'd get an A+, and with 95/100 as the final total, it was obvious! The sardar even asked if his paper had been leaked!

But then came the unexpected surprises. Bose Auditorium, PH Department was the venue for PH-101. I had pre-calculated that for an A+, I needed 60.75 out of 80. I got 68! So, that's an A+. Lastly, we were shown the MA papers today (thank God, otherwise we'd have to come on Wednesday too). At 88/100 in the finals, my grand score is at 86.5 which, even after statistical grading, is going to get me an A+. Add that to the previous A+ in MI and well... that's a lot of A+'s!

Somehow, I really don't care. One A+ is essential to make the grade sheet look snazzy, but it doesn't matter beyond that. However, seeing as though a CGPA of 9.0+ can get me a branch change, which I do not want, I'm screwed! I've decided to go to the temple and pray that my BC does not happen... I just don't want to leave Saharanpur.

Just today, we had such a great time eating at Snacks Point, Roorkee and chatting in the ultra-cool MG Central Library. It wasn't about the places, it was the people. Such good friend made here, I was hoping to stay with them for 4/5 years. But with a BC... it'll have to be done all over again. I just don't want that. No way. If only the others in PST would buckle up and get a magic CGPA!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Back to Simplicity


Starring: Nana Patekar, Shahid Kapoor, Ayesha Takia, Sunny Singh, Saurabh Shukla and others
Produced by: Eros International
Director: Milind Ukey
Rating: *** (3 of 5)

It’s pretty rare these days to come across a movie that lacks in frills, glamour and slapstick comedy and yet leaves a mark. Paathshaala is one such film sticking out of the comity of absurdity that Bollywood has been dishing out recently (read, Houseful).

The noble profession of teaching has become a profitable business today. So-called ‘International Schools’ are cropping up everywhere and parents are attracted towards them by the prospect of glamour, ignoring the toll it takes on their children. Education means money and few schools stick to the core values of education. Saraswati Vidya Mandir (SVM) is one such school that believes that true profit comes from the success of their children, not by glamour.

Led by Principal Aditya Sahay (Nana Patekar), the school nutritionist (Ayesha Takia), English teacher (Shahid Kapoor) and other dedicated staff, the school lives by its reputation instead of profits. However, as commercialisation begins to seep in, the management turns the school into a ‘5-star school.’ And that’s the main focus of the movie.

Amazingly, virtually all of the actors play equal roles, with Shahid Kapoor getting into the limelight just briefly. While watching the movie, the sheer simplicity of the story will surprise you, while the liveliness created by the children and young adults will keep you engaged. There are the typical characters: the poor, friendless boy, the girl who has a crush on her teacher, the boy who’s daddy to everyone else. The movie sticks to the basics of a feel-good Bollywood movie but does not feel artificial.

Nana Patekar’s acting deserves great praise. Moving easily from the strict Principal to a loving father-like figure, his style and speech fit the character perfectly. Shahid Kapoor and Ayesha Takia play their roles well, simple and down-to-earth as the roles are. The supporting staffs put up a good show, while the children – both the younger ones and the adolescents – keep the movie alive with truly commendable acting. The music is the highlight of the movie, coming in occasionally to fit the moment (rather than making an abrupt entry). My personal favourites are Aye Khuda and Bekarar (which is played with the credits). The costumes and set work well for the movie, although Shahid Kapoor’s costumes seem a little out of place for a school teacher.

Alone, the movie is a no-frills, feel good take on modern education. Put into context, it leaves you thinking about where society is going. At just over an hour and a half long, it’s a great watch this summer. But don’t take my word for it: see it yourself! (OTFS)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Getting Bored

Two chapos, movies and AOE... what else can one do to pass time?

Waiting to see the answer sheets can be a boring, seemingly-pointless task. I mean, for how long can you do the same things again and again? The only interesting part - believe it or not - is going to Roorkee to see our papers.

Of course, it's fun only if you're in the department. The travel is no fun at all, given the heat. Amazingly, Roorkee is hotter than Saharanpur despite being closer to the mountains! And then there was the embarrassment of going to the Physics Dept having misread PH-201 as PH-101!

Luckily, the professor and I cleared things up and we'll be shown our papers on Monday ("you've done well" were his parting words). MA-102 will be shown on the 19th. Fortunately, we got to see our final marks not including the ETE.I got 42.5/50: extremely high,higher than even MA-101, I must admit!

As for the other subjects, there was no news at all... the godforsaken EC Dept had no news on EC-101A, and the EE Dept didn't care as usual.

Well, just six days to go and I'll be home. Can't wait to leave this stupid place...

Collage 3: In the Sky

The construction for the new technical block is going ahead full steam, with more workers from the countryside coming in. The new block is now taller than the existing block and going by the pace of construction, will be completed by the end of this year.

This is the last collage before the summer break.When I return, there will be a lot more things to talk about, as we witness the making of a monument!

Dedicated to KVL

The KVL is undoubtedly the most-used law for any student who is preparing for JEE or is in first year at IIT. The law is like your right hand: you can't do a thing in any subject related to circuits without it.

And I would have most certainly failed in Electronics without it!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beyond his Brief

Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has always been known for his in-your-face style, never ceasing to lose and opportunity to make a few memorable comments. In Copenhagen, his famous "We Want a Deal" remark went around the world, symbolising a confident Indian panel.

And he's done quite a lot of good as well: the thawing of Sino-Indian ties after COP15 has proven to be of great use as the two Asian Giants try to get over their suspicions of each other.

However, in his recent visit to Beijing, the MoEF made a very serious remark, that an "alarmist Home Ministry" was threatening to endanger ties once again, was just one step too far. Agreed that the ties could be strained if the Home Ministry does ban Chinese Mobile Phone imports, that does not mean that we should put national Security behind Economic Gains.

A Home Ministry that takes adequate steps to protect Indians,even if it goes a few steps too far now and then, is far better than the I-give-a-damn Home Ministry that we had under Shivraj Patil. After all, in a chaotic and complex security environment, some sacrifices must be made. The fact that Jairam Ramesh chose to make that comment not in a Cabinet Meeting but before the media just adds to the idea that he wanted to make another memorable statement for the media to digest.

His statement not allowed went beyond his brief, but he also went on to comment on India's foreign policy, which is the MEA and PMO's domain, not his. PM Manmohan Singh's rebuke to him is perfectly justified and Jairam Ramesh should learn to keep to his brief in the future.

The New Room

In typical chaotic fashion, the allotment of rooms for Malviya Bhawan was completed a few days back. As always, we got the lowest priority. The interesting part was that the freshers have been allotted about 30 rooms on each floor (10 on one to make room for the PGs and PhDs). While at first it might seem senseless to separate them like that in full access to their seniors, it's actually working to a plan, as the Chief Warden was telling me. Lets see how foolproof it is!

Anyway, I was so lucky and fortunate that my name was amongst the last dozen to be pulled out. That would have given me an unwanted room: if not for the quick observation that too many rooms were crossed out and there were too few left (2 for 12 actually). So, with two new corridors opened up, I got a room on the top floor. Sadly, all my wingmates are away from me, we've been divided into four groups, actually.

I thought, at first, that I would play enough politics to change my room. I was very upset. But, now that I've evaluated my potential wingmates, I might just stick to this configuration.

There is one more reason: it feels like a war is going on within me. I am attempting to break what I've never tried to break before,a bond that I learned to value since I left Bombay. And yet, the sheer incompatibility: it's like listening and being rebuked for commenting! Let me not go beyond these metaphors, but know that changing my room as I have been allotted will be for strategic reasons as well as convenience: the partial pullout today will end with a complete pull out in July, and a return to Independence. Let me say just that much.

Unless, of course, I get a branch change! Oh God, I've been flooded by the BC jokes for so long and from all sorts of people: from Raman (of course, even though he himself is in the race with serious chances) to Abhimanyu! It would be a great anti-climax if nobody got a BC from PST! But if I do get a BC, it would be disastrous... oh, all my plans down the drain! I don't even want to imagine it now...

Well, so my new room is Sethu's last. The wingmates include some great friends and some not-so-great ones, and one useless bear-like creature to boot. And with Palsule coming to us in the next year, it sounds very exciting indeed!

Looking Ahead

It's May 12 and there's just a week of my stay at DPT left. A lot has happened this year: indeed, life has changed completely!

A complete review of this academic year, right from the first day to the last few days, is on the cards for sure. A lot of changes have happened recently,and I'm excited to write about them.

A new documentary- Now Boarding: IC-814 - will be up in early June. A few funny graphics are also on the cards.

A documentary or series on ragging will be the flavour of the summer,and it will be in two parts, the other one next summer when I can properly deliver an insight from a senior's point of view.

A new Documentary Series - The China Project - will be completed over the summer. I'll discuss it whenever it's unveiled.

A lot of new ideas are on the cards on OTFS. You don't want to miss it!

Welcome another Coalition

Leader of Britain's Conservative Party David Cameron has done it at last: by forming a coalition Government with the Lib Dems, he has ended 13 years of Labour. Unfortunately, the party of Margret Thatcher has had to wed a party that has quite divergent views on a number of issues, serious ones at that.

Nonetheless, assuming that this coalition, unlike all the previous ones,will not end in a few months, a lot of changes are expected to come to Britain. First and foremost, the welfare state will take a beating, as Britain desperately needs to clear its massive deficit. However, with the economy still weak, political rhetoric might have to give way to hard realities.

Then, there's the issue of immigration on which the new PM is quite clear: massive cuts in the number of immigrants from non-EU nations are all but guaranteed.

A word to former PM Gordon Brown, whose three years in the saw his popularity slide despite (in my opinion) his deft handling of the economy. But, given his lack of media-friendliness and the slow movement of Britain towards an individual-centric polity a la the US, he knew what was coming. For Labour, this will be a good time to reflect on why their party fared poorly (to be fair, the numbers were not all that poor) and plan for the near future.

For, the marriage in the ruling coalition might not last long and a fresh election might be on the cards sooner that later.


Oh yes, it's finally over! Seven exams, nine days, power cuts and the heat: that's what went into making the Spring Sem End-Term Exam.

It all started with the exam that commands the highest credits:PH-101. It went significantly better than expected and, coupled with my high sessional marks (49.7/60), could land me with an A.In fact, most of the exams went quite well. MA-102, a most infamous subject, turned out with the easiest paper in several years, leaving a smile on everyone's faces, including the Army of seniors who were repeating the paper (some for the fourth time!)

While BT-101and MI-102 were perfect to the T, HS-102 was also perfect but thanks to Dr. Palsule, who took the initiative to introduce himself to the first year PST students (with a bit of fireworks, of course!), it was a delight (for once) to write a Behavioural Science exam!

EC-101A was a challenging paper and a lot of people felt that they could fail in it. For me, it wasn't all that difficult, but challenging all the same. Still, I'll do well. The real surprise was EE-101: the paper was the easiest in the entire semester. Indeed, given the extremely difficult papers that kept coming, there was a fear that the EE Dept was going the same way as the EC Dept. Fortunately, they made the paper easy, otherwise half the people would have failed, or the cut-off would have gone abysmally low.

So, all in all, the exams went surprisingly well. While I did make a few silly mistakes here and there, I should get good grades overall.